Made it, Ma! Top of the World!

Boxing Day in Hammerfest, we are at the world’s most northerly town.  At only -4c it feels spring-like compared to Kirkenes.  At the Polar Bear Club adjacent to the ship’s mooring we are briefly over-awed by a stuffed example but, not so much as to be enticed into buying the equivalent miniature version.  I am too cynical about souvenir shops (and much else besides 😉 ) such that I close my mind to thought of buying anything.  My suspicion is that everything is made in China – I learn from a fellow passenger that even Helly Hansen is manufactured in the Orient.

From the quay we climb the ridge above the town, closed in winter due to “the risk of serious accident” – everyone is ignoring the sign.  There are steps but we never feel them beneath our feet, instead, we trudge through deep snow to the 80 m summit – it is a struggle but worth the effort.  The views across the bay to Melkøya are stunning.

Hammerfest feels prosperous and across the water is the explanation – vast tanker ships laden with LNG (liquefied natural gas) from the Barent Sea, heading for southern Europe.  It is highly advanced extraction technology such as this which enables us the luxury of considering suspect alternatives; the dream of replacing that which works with that which does not.  I have not seen a single wind turbine on this entire voyage.

That said, much of the journey has been in darkness so there is every justification for returning on lighter days to confirm my prejudice.

HammerfestPolar bear at ...HammerfestThe streets of ...

We had planned ahead fully aware that the quieter moments onboard would be inadequately filled by Scandinavian television – actually many of the programmes are bought in from the UK and broadcast in English with Norwegian subtitles.  However, I have no desire to see repeats of Midsomer Murders – I didn’t want to see them first time around.

Consequently among our winter baggage are The Wire Seasons 4 & 5 and The Sopranos Season 3.  I love these edgy series but sometimes struggle with  the Baltimore and New York street dialogue – in part because my hearing is no longer fully Dolby compliant. This got me thinking – I also love Spiral (and Caroline Proust!) and Scandinavian crime series such as The Killing and The Bridge – and why are these foreign language TV programmes so popular with those of a certain age?  It’s the subtitles 😉

To round off, this is not the best photograph due to the intrusive light leaking from the streetlamp but the subject I know to be utterly mischievous – it is of course the good lady, undoubtedly up to no good 😀

Pam in Tromso ...

(click on the images to enlarge)



  1. kiwiskan · January 18, 2015

    great shots

  2. suej · January 18, 2015

    Apropos films – I am a subtitle junkie, and love the Nordic Noir, and indeed Engrenages ….

  3. Graham Stephen · January 18, 2015

    The light in these shot is just lovely.

    You might be on to something with your (age/hearing-related) subtitle theory you know! Anyway, Spiral, Montalbano, anything Nordic… I much prefer them all to anything in English.

    And that’s not one of Gormley’s iron men in the final shot, is it?

    • northumbrianlight · January 19, 2015

      Thanks Graham. The iron man is certainly Gormley-esque – it is uninspiringly sited outside a hotel in Tromso. Pam is a Geordie so it could be the Angel of the North stood next to him 🙂

      • Graham Stephen · January 19, 2015

        Was it the Clarion Hotel? A little research yielded this page:

        According to Mr Google, a couple of extracts of this (machine) translate to:

        The lobby has a sculpture by British artist Antony Gormley earned its place on one of the large slate walls, which ascends through two floors and hides hotel elevators. The sculpture, which is specially ordered to Clarion Hotel The Edge, is a cast of the artist himself, in rusted metal. Another artist who has been involved in decorating the lobby, is Swedish Kristina Matusch.

        A little later in the afternoon will further a sculpture by Antony Gormley mounted up, but outside the lobby, overlooking the sea, mountains and another famous landmark, the modernist Ishavskatedralen, which was inaugurated in 1965.

      • northumbrianlight · January 19, 2015

        Well done Graham, it was! Many thanks for the research, I will inform the good lady/Angel 🙂

  4. LaVagabonde · January 19, 2015

    I agree with your choice to not buy the souvenirs. It is disappointing to see that Made in China tag/stamp. Looks like a pleasant little town. I suppose it’s a reward for living up there all year round. Cute photo of your lady. 🙂

    • northumbrianlight · January 19, 2015

      It is a fantastic town considering the location – there is nothing remotely equivalent in the southern hemisphere. I had forgotten that it is where Bill Bryson starts his journey in Neither Here Nor There – a book I enjoyed when I first read it but I suspect a little dated by now.

  5. easyweimaraner · January 19, 2015

    it looks like a totally different world… but so beautiful…. and I would like to have such a polar bear (even made in china lol)

    • northumbrianlight · January 19, 2015

      It is a wonderful place – a polar bear should be more fun than a penguin – remember to ask Santa next year! 🙂

  6. socialbridge · January 19, 2015

    Wonderful, Robin.

    • northumbrianlight · January 19, 2015

      Thanks Jean – I have been cruising around the local Hammerfest roads on Google Earth – interesting to see in the summer 🙂

  7. restlessjo · January 19, 2015

    At the risk of starting a tirade, Robin, what have you got against wind farms? 🙂 🙂
    The photos are stunning, and how good tempered your wife looks. You must have done something right 🙂

    • northumbrianlight · January 19, 2015

      This being an apolitical blog, absolutely nothing Jo 🙂
      Many thanks re the photos and my angel of the north.

  8. greenmackenzie · January 20, 2015

    What magical captures of the snow and darkness splashed with light….lucky you 🙂

    • northumbrianlight · January 20, 2015

      You would love it, one day you must go. We were lucky with the weather and seas too – the rough stuff was always either ahead or behind us.

      • greenmackenzie · January 20, 2015

        One day I will go….we were looking at doing it this year in Februaury, but alas it doesn’t look like working out. Oh well your photos will have to satisfy me for now!

  9. Cindi · January 21, 2015

    Great photos and thoughts, as always, Robin!

    Jan and I enjoyed The Wire, several times. Always with subtitles. Even then, I had to “translate” some of the street lingo. My Baltimore Yank-ness comes in handy sometimes! 🙂

    (I don’t know about further north, but there are wind turbines in this part of Norway. I can see them on clear days when we’re out and about.)

    • northumbrianlight · January 21, 2015

      Many thanks Cindi.

      I could probably do with your Baltimore expertise – even when I hear what Snoop is saying, I have no idea what she means 🙂 Omar Little by contrast is positively Shakespearean.

      I thought there must be wind farms somewhere but fortunately I never saw them. My prejudice is based on real world experience – it was one of the coldest nights of the year but our modest turbine at the golf club never moved an inch – power but never when you need it most. The larger versions are diabolical – there are some awful installations across Northumberland which are simply industrialising the landscape – moan over 😉

  10. SJ Foster · January 21, 2015

    Those photo’s are super lush!

  11. Lynne Ayers · January 30, 2015

    At least you don’t have to wait long between dawn shots and the wonderful light of golden hour 🙂

    • northumbrianlight · January 30, 2015

      A very astute observation 🙂 The trouble is there must be loads we didn’t see during the dark hours – nothing for it, we will have to go back in the summer.

      • Lynne Ayers · January 30, 2015

        That is true. A friend in Helsinki told me that this past November they had 8 minutes of sun. EIGHT minuties! I couldn’t take that – emotionally or photographically speaking 🙂

  12. Scott Marshall · July 24, 2015

    How did I miss so many of your Norwegian posts I don’t know – it seems you completely pass bloggers like ships in the night whilst our lives whiz by – excellent memories to recall you Scandinavian trip

    • northumbrianlight · July 25, 2015

      The problem is there is just too much stuff out there – getting the balance right between the real and virtual world gets ever more difficult. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment – time is a precious commodity.

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