Tag Archives: Covid

Equinox and Cake

Sunrise/sunset: 05:48/ 18:05. Daylength: 12hr17min

It seems that today is the spring equinox, here in the northern hemisphere. We actually hit twelve hours of light a couple of days back, and I expect spring is still a couple of months away, but we are approaching Easter, after which there are lots of bank holidays in Norway.

Covid is still kicking my ass. I returned to work on Monday, but then woke up during the night with my heart racing at double its normal rate. I ended up at the emergency doctors, where they couldn’t find anything specific, but hooked me up to a drip and let me sleep for an hour, before sending me home. It’s been an up and down week since then, but it seems this is not uncommon.

I did manage to get into work for an hour on Thursday, when I had my annual review with Hilde. She’s quite satisfied with my work and I’m quite satisfied with how it’s going, so it’s all good. Next week I need to sit an exam (which she’s not expecting me to pass, thank goodness) and hopefully, on Wednesday, I’ll be flying off to Lillehammer for a veterinary conference, so I’m very much hoping that I’m well enough to go.

John took me out for a drive yesterday, which was lovely. He’s bought his first car – an old Ford Mondeo – which he is naturally, very proud of. Hopefully he’ll pass his test soon, and then he’ll be very much more independent. But yesterday, he took me up and down the E6, and we ended up in a café in Setermoen, where we had coffee and cake.

So, this entry is both short and late, but I hope that normal service will be resumed next week! A few photographs from our trip yesterday. It’s been raining for a couple of days, and the big melt is well underway.

The snow has melted from the frozen river, revealing blue ice
Looking downstream to a lake – note the dirt on the ice and snow in the bottom left
The walls of ploughed snow at the sides of the road are dissolving, leaving an alien landscape

Walking the Dog

Sunrise/sunset: 06:23/ 17:33. Daylength: 11hr10min

I don’t have much to report, as you might imagine, after last week’s realisation that I had Covid.

It’s not been too awful: exhaustion was the predominant feature. There was horrible night around day eight when I woke and lay feeling breathless for an eternity, unable to raise the energy to lift my ringing head, wondering whether this was the infamous deterioration that can occur round that time. (It wasn’t. I woke in the morning feeling much the same as I had the day before.)

We didn’t get to Tromsø, and had to rearrange Andrew’s wisdom teeth appointment. It was a bit sad to miss my short break, but it did cross my mind that I will probably have top level immunity now for a few months, so any worry over getting Covid will be lifted for a while.

John joined me in the viral soup for a couple of days, but bounced back quickly. Andrew didn’t succumb at all, which is great.

Yesterday, for the first time, I had enough energy to actually want to take Triar out. He was very patient with me: I was walking as slowly as a slug. My heart was lifted half way round when a woman passed me and paused to comment on my very fine dog! How right she is!

Everything’s melting at the moment. I don’t suppose spring will be here before May, but there’s definitely a feeling that winter is coming to an end. The sound of running water in the woods and some cheerful birdsong were wonderful additions after the months of silence.

Stream, still half buried in the snow

Ice that has formed over the months takes a while to melt away. Its clear edges have gone, and now there’s a blurrier look.

Melting ice on a rocky outcrop

And as the snow melts away, you can see the layers that have formed over the winter months.

Anyway, thanks very much to all my well wishers. I’m feeling optimistic now that I might shortly be fully recovered. Onwards and upwards!

Rivers of Ice

Sunrise/sunset: 07:25/ 16:37. Daylength: 9hr11min

I feel I may be writing this in the shadow of another huge event in history. I grew up in the latter years of the Cold War and remember the time when Mikhail Gorbachev brought the concepts of glasnost and perestroika to the world and then the Berlin wall came down and Europe opened up. I don’t want to see that go into reverse, but there is fear in the air as Vladimir Putin invades Ukraine.

All of my memories are from the perspective of a westerner, of course. I have a number of friends from the Eastern Bloc now, and the former Soviet Union. It’s not something I’ve discussed with them in a big way – language still tends to get in the way – but I realise these events must affect them in a different (very likely much more intense) way than they do me.

As well as that, another very different historic event is finally coming closer to home. For much of the covid epidemic, the north of Norway has been a place of relative isolation, but the inevitable wave I spoke of a few weeks ago has finally arrived both in my office in Finnsnes and in the Mattilsynet office in the abattoir in Andslimoen.

For months before Christmas, I was planning to go to Yorkshire to visit my parents during Andrew’s winter holiday the week after next. I thought it might be stable enough then to go. A few weeks back, I decided it wasn’t worth the risk of booking tickets. It’s not so much that I couldn’t go to the UK; I could. The borders are open now. But if I did, I couldn’t do much more than chat to my parents in the garden. What would be the point of them keeping themselves safe all this time, only for me to pop over from Norway and bring the infection right into their house? I have begun to think about a plan C, which will involve taking three weeks off in the summer. That way, Andrew and I can go over and isolate before visiting them. How odd it all seems. Life is now more complicated than it has been for a very long time.

Back to more local events. Those still bring joy into my life, which I want to share. Earlier this week I went for a doctor’s appointment in Tromsø. Nothing serious at all. Just a routine test, which for various reasons is proving difficult. Apparently it still didn’t go to plan this time and I may have to take another trip to the hospital so they can use a different method. The hospital is in Tromsø as well, so that will involve another long day of driving. Not that I’m complaining. I love a good drive.

Anyway, the small thing that brought me pleasure this week was the discovery of the ice bridge. I had seen this mentioned online once before when looking at houses for sale. This is probably best illustrated with a map!

Currently I live in Finnsnes, which is marked with a blue dot with a white border on the far left. The abattoir where I sometimes work is a little bit south of the green circle near the bottom on the right. When I drive there, I follow the road west to Karlstad (in the centre near the red spot) then south until it meets the E6 (which is a major road that runs the length of Norway and goes into Sweden).

Houses in Karlstad aren’t too expensive. Houses where the red dot is on the map are, however, very cheap, because that area is relatively isolated. The little white road on the map on the west side of the Målselva river doesn’t really go anywhere. In summer, to get to Finnsnes (which though it’s tiny, is still the biggest “city” in the area) you have to drive all the way south to the E6 to cross the river, then backtrack all the way to Karlstad, which was very close to where you started, but inaccessible because of the wide river in between.

Karlstad then, is a place where I would consider buying a house. It’s an easy drive from there to both Finnsnes and Andslimoen. But because of the way maps work, when I look up houses in Karlstad, properties on the other side of the river also pop up in the search. It was on one of these that I first saw mention of the ice bridge. The area might be cut off from Finnsnes and Senja in the summer, it said, but in the winter, the ice bridge was a great connection.

I read it, then forgot about it, as you do, but I was driving John to work last week, when he suggested that we could perhaps go over it, as it wasn’t too much out of the way. He had been over it with a friend, he told me.

There’s a big bend in the road in Karlstad, and almost on that bend, there’s a road off to the left that I have taken a couple of times. Turn left again and there are farms along that road. But I had never gone straight on. This time we did, and to my amazement, immediately over the brow of the hill, I got my first glimpse of the ice bridge. Having seen it, I will definitely go and have a look in the summer. I hadn’t realised the river was so close. It must be beautiful. But now I was greeted with this amazing sight.

Ice bridge over the Målselva river

Ice bridge – drive at your own risk, reads the sign. And so we did. It’s quite an amazing experience to drive over such a wide expanse of ice. We didn’t stop that day because John needed to get to work, but when I was driving to Tromsø on Tuesday, I reached that corner in Karlstad and couldn’t resist taking another trip over. This time, I stopped the car in the middle of the river and got out to take some photos.

An incredible feeling to stand in the middle of a river, but it was also quite chilly at around minus twenty, so with my fingers nipping, I got back in and carried on. It didn’t take long to get to the main road.

It was really a little bit too cold to spend a lot of time wandering round Tromsø and I sat for quite a while in a coffee shop as I had set out way too early. I did pause to take a photo of this little fellow outside an outdoor sports shop. Last time I was there, he had a tent. Now he he is keeping warm inside a natty grey hoodie.

I also stopped to take some pictures of a mural; a nod to my fellow blogger, Iceland Penny, who writes the Walking Woman blog.

Even though my appointment was in the afternoon, it was still light for part of the drive home, so when I saw these beautiful ice formations, I had time to stop and take some pictures.

Blue icicles on a rock face
Another mass of icicles, formed over months of cold weather

And that’s about it for this week, I think. I hope that you are all managing to find small things that bring you joy. Only one week to go now, before my holiday. We’re only going to Tromsø, so no flights to worry about, and if we have to cancel, it won’t be a disaster.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. I’m very glad you’re here.

Wet, Wet, Wet

Sunrise/sunset: Down all day.

I was sure we were going to have a white Christmas this year. There has been snow on the ground for weeks and the temperatures were securely in double minus figures, or so I thought. And then a day of rain appeared on my weather forecast app. The temperature was to bounce right up, round about the date that Anna was due to come home on Wednesday the 15th. When the first day appeared, I hoped they’d got it wrong. And the temperature wasn’t to go that high. Wholly possible they’d be out by a couple of degrees and we’d have snow instead.

But then another day of forecasted rain appeared and another. The temperature was higher too. This was the screenshot I sent to Anna last Sunday.

They don’t use much grit on the pavements and roads round here. Mostly they concentrate on keeping them relatively clear of snow. So when I went out on Wednesday morning and saw that the pavements, roads and carparks were densely strewn with the small stones they use in place of salt and grit, I knew that they thought that a major thaw was on the way. This was the carpark at work. They may not grit often, but when they do, they do a proper job!

Still, life had to go on. Monday and Tuesday this week were a little hair-raising. On the Friday of the week before, I felt like everything was well on track. I’d done three visits and written two reports. We have to send them past a colleague first for quality control and then an official quality control team checks them. After that, they go to my boss, who sends them out. These two reports were past the checks and I’d sent them to Hilde, so all I had left was one report to write. It was complicated and I would need help, but I had four days to do it. So when Line sent a shout out to see if someone could translate an official document from Norwegian to English, I said that I would be happy to do so. Kristen, my colleague in Storslett had got in first, but I indicated that if anything cropped up, I would be more than willing to step in.

My peace was slightly disturbed late on Friday afternoon when, for the first time ever, Hilde sent back my two reports for amendment. It didn’t sound like anything too major, but I had to include a short summary of what Gry had observed. Still, hopefully Thomas would help me with that.

So I wasn’t too worried when I opened up my case inbox on Monday morning. I had two reports to amend and the complicated case to write up, but I had until Thursday. But when I looked through the list, I saw another case had come in. Some cases you can leave for a few days. For example, if someone isn’t walking their dog often enough, it’ll probably be okay if you leave it a week or two. But if someone is leaving their animals outside in all kinds of weather, without food or water, then “It’ll be fine, I’ll leave it until after my holiday,” really isn’t an option. And of course, it was one of those cases.

To make matters worse, Kristen had bowed out of the translation. So now I had three reports, a new case, and a complicated document to wade through.

Thomas came to the rescue. He could fit in my new case on Tuesday, if I wanted. Hilde was on holiday by now and he was having to sort out all the paperwork around an outbreak of strangles in a horse in our region, but he could fit me in between that, a bunch of reindeer rampaging around a housing estate over Tromsø way, and a case of his own that he was tackling on Wednesday. He also found the time to help me sort out my two returned reports.

Anyway, all’s well that ends well. I stayed late on Monday evening to get the translation done. I asked Line to help me with my complicated case report and she made everything so wonderfully clear that by the time I sent it off for the first check with another colleague, there were almost no errors. Hooray for that! And to my relief, the case on Tuesday turned out to be much less complicated than I had feared. So I was able to collect Anna from the airport on Wednesday afternoon.

And all this was going on against the backdrop of increasing rumblings about locking down again due to Omicron. From next week, Andrew will be homeschooling. Working from home is now the norm again. And when I went to the gym, I was surprised to see notices on some of the running machines that said not to use them. For a bizarre moment, I wondered whether they had been contaminated somehow. Had someone with Covid used them? Should I leave quickly and rush home? And then I remembered that it was nothing to do with that. It was just a return to the stricter distancing rules. The machines were too close together. Similar notices will have reappeared on pub and restaurant seats and in the waiting room at the doctors. Life can continue for now… but don’t get too close.

So there are no lovely pictures of pink and blue skies this week. The garden is a muddy mess. There is a tiny ray of hope on the weather forecast. It’s to turn cold again from Monday and there might be a little snow on Wednesday. I live in hope! Even if it doesn’t snow, Anna got here safely from the UK. And I’m on holiday for a week and there are presents to wrap and cakes to make.

I’ll leave you with a picture I took on Thursday evening when I was out walking Triar. It had been raining, but the ground has had weeks to become very chilly and huge chunks of ice take a long time to disperse. The sky cleared briefly and the moon was shining through. I loved the way the blue moonlight gleamed on the frozen waterfall. Whatever the weather, there is always beauty to be found somewhere.