Tag Archives: Hurtigbåt


Sunrise/sunset: 03:44/21:.58 Daylength: 18hr14min

My divorce from Charlie came through this week. I don’t talk about the past very much, but I will say that I feel more free to be myself now than I have in years. It took a lot for me to leave, and even more to free my mind, but I’m getting there.

Project House is now well underway. I have ripped off the skirting boards in my currently pink bedroom (Norwegian skirting boards are commonly narrow strips of pine, nailed on – I haven’t prised off any heavy-duty British style ones) and, with John’s help, flattened all the lumps caused by badly inserted screws and filled the resulting holes. Today I will be sanding them down, then hopefully starting to turn it from pink to yellow. John’s room is more complicated. It’s currently black and lilac, and the walls are in a much worse state, so he has his work cut out. That said, it’s wonderful to see him tackling the job with enthusiasm. He wants to create his own space, and that’s making me feel very happy.

The house makes me happy too. John and I were taking a break, sitting in the kitchen a few days back. There’s a breakfast bar beside the window which looks out over woodland. John saw movement among the trees and he realised there was a moose there, which seemed to be watching us. It stood stock still for several minutes before turning and walking away. It felt like another very special moment.

The weekend in Tromsø went well. We went to Tromsøbadet swimming pool on Saturday. I say swimming pool, but it’s much more than that. There are diving boards, a wave pool, slides, a dimly lit hot pool and a «sea temperature» plunge pool – bracing! The swimming pool has a section outside too, so you can swim outdoors, looking out over the surrounding countryside, then sit on an underwater bench where the edge of the pool temporarily becomes a jacuzzi. I want to go back when it’s snowing!

On Sunday, John took Andrew for his first ever climbing session. John has been climbing for a while. Here he is making his way up a wall.

John on a climbing wall

Andrew did remarkably well. John took him up to a practice room and he very quickly started to get the hang of it. Once I’m feeling better, I hope to have a go too.

Andrew on the practice wall

Lastly, I had my MRI scan yesterday in Tromsø. It was quite long, and involved a lot of breathing in and out, and breath holding. The results will probably take a week to come back, so I will get as much done in the house as possible before then.

I took the hurtigbåt (fast boat) and on the way back, I had a window seat. As well as the wonderful scenery, I was lucky enough to see a puffin, flitting over the waves, and later, several cormorants, which seemed to be fishing off the channel markers as we approached the dock in Finnsnes. It felt good to be coming home. One day, I’ll have to take the boat in the opposite direction. It goes to Harstad, stopping off at Brøstadbotn and Engenes. So many things still to explore.

Have a good week all.

White bell-shaped flowers

Carry that Weight

Sunrise/sunset: 09:52/ 13:14. Daylength: 3hr21min

I love being a veterinary surgeon. I am in the privileged position of having a career that is built around helping animals and in addition, I get to spend some of my days driving round in wonderful scenery and meeting farmers and their animals, and that’s something I value highly.

But there is a flip side to being a vet, which I discovered very early in my career, and that is that there is a lot of responsibility and that sometimes we find ourselves dealing with very heavy events.

I qualified when I was twenty two and started working at twenty three, and still have a stark memory from that time when I had been sent out to euthanase an old lady’s dog. I had driven out to her house and was still green enough to be worried about the process itself. Even when you’ve done it a thousand times, there’s still a risk that something untoward will happen, but you learn to navigate around potential difficulties, explain the possible issues beforehand and cope on the odd occasions when something unexpected does occur. On that day however, I was still completely green and very nervous. The old lady grabbed my hand and looked up at me from her chair. “I don’t want her to go,” she said. “Can’t you take me with her as well?”

I had no idea how to respond then and I probably still wouldn’t. Fortunately I had a wonderful nurse with me that day who did manage to say something and even after all these years, I remember how wise she was in comparison to me. Nowadays, when things get tough, I have more experienced people like Hilde and Thomas I can call on. Good colleagues are incredibly valuable in a crisis.

This week has had a couple of those moments when I have been reminded of how fragile everything can be. The first was the discovery on Monday that there had been a horrible event on Sunday in which a number of animals had died. I can’t give details: the investigation is still underway. But the quiet Monday I had planned, where I caught up with some overdue paperwork, was disrupted completely as I ended up driving to Tromsø with some of the animals that had died so that post-mortems could be carried out. There’s an extent to which, when tragedy hits, you have to act first and deal with the situation before you start to think too deeply about it, and that’s what I did. It wasn’t until I came home at the end of a twelve hour day, that I had time to process what had happened and what the animals had gone through, and then I cried briefly and hugged Andrew and Triar and then posted on Twitter, asking people for pictures of their pets and what they loved about them, so that if I woke in the night, I’d have something lovely and positive to read.

Our events here however, have been rather overshadowed by the news that Norway is experiencing its first ever outbreak of bird flu in domestic hens. Periodically last winter, there would be reports of bird flu being found in wild birds and Norwegian hen keepers have strict rules about outdoor access for their birds. When migration is happening, they all have to have a roof over them at all times. It had struck me, when doing our twice yearly emergency readiness exercise that if there was an outbreak of a serious illness in our area, that we would be in the front line and would be part of the team who had to go out and deal with the consequences. What hadn’t really struck me was that before we attended, there would likely be another vet who had been called out and might have been exposed first and a farmer too, and that they would be even more at risk, because they wouldn’t know beforehand that layers and layers of PPE were necessary.

This only came home to me when I read where the outbreak had occurred. It was (is) in Rogaland, where I used to live and work. Before I got the job here, I had applied for a job working with chickens down there, and it struck me that I could potentially have been that vet. Then it struck me further that the vet in question might be someone I know. It turns out the vet is indeed someone I know and they are still dealing with the possible fall out. So now I am hoping that there is nothing more serious to come, but the weight on them must be very heavy indeed.

But there was some lightness this week too. I have a busy few days planned, with lots of farm visits to different types of animal and with lots of different colleagues. Yesterday morning, I headed down to the fast boat in the dim pre-dawn November light. I was going up to Tromsø, where I would meet Birgit and we would visit a pig farm in the area. It was a routine visit, taking samples and carrying out a welfare inspection as part of Mattilsynet’s campaign to improve pig welfare.

The boat trip was a wonderful start to the day. The waters between Finnsnes and Tromsø are sheltered by islands and peninsulas and so it was a very smooth journey. It was getting lighter as we travelled and we went from farmland backed by low hills to much more sheer mountainsides, their peaks shrouded in snow and clouds. I had brought a book, but in the event, I couldn’t stop looking out of the window. The sunrise (picture at the top of the page) came when we were only a few minutes outside Tromsø. This is definitely a trip I want to repeat in my spare time.

The farmer was lovely. His pigs all looked in very good shape and he proudly showed us his sheep afterwards. Not all visits are like that, but it is great to see healthy animals being cared for well.

And it was fantastic to meet up with Birgit again. She had driven down from Storslett for a meeting the day before and had stayed overnight in Tromsø. She had her dogs with her and after the visit, we stopped briefly to give the dogs some fresh air. Kvaløya is beautiful. As I work in this area, I often look around me in wonder and think how lucky I am… as well as that I want to spend more leisure time exploring these different areas.

There was just time to stop for something to eat before I headed back on the boat. I ate a very tasty smoked salmon and cream cheese roll and was very pleased to see that the coffee shop were selling Senja Roasters‘ Christmas coffee. It was a good end to a very pleasant trip.