More coffee, more cake!

Wednesday 11 September 2019

(Most of this post written by FIONA Illingworth, whilst enjoying her well deserved holiday with me here in Norway)

8.30 am

We are already on the road! It is both windy and fine this morning and we are driving along a rather poor single track road through the sizeable villages of Austre Nesland and Vestra Nesland. Before roads, these places must have seemed quite accessible by boat. The road becomes increasingly bumpy as you get to the end. I do wonder how many of the houses we see here are occupied all year round and how many are summer houses only. According to the guidebook, Nesland was quite an important port in Lofoten when boats were the main means of transport.

The plan today is to explore a few of the quieter roads on the Vestågøy island before catching the ferry from Fiskebøl to Melbu, which is at the tip of the Vesterålen islands.

10.50 am
Visiting the sculpture at Eggum, designed by the Swiss sculpture Markus Raetz. “The Head” is beautiful and somehow, at certain angles, turns upside down. Very imaginative. The idea was to display the transitory nature of the sensual experience and how things are not always what you expect. I like it. It is very small and seems somewhat lost in the incredible landscape that surrounds it. But maybe that is the way it should be: we are not masters of this place but merely one species amongst many. The place we hold in the grand scheme of things is small indeed. You only need to look at the landscape and see evidence of the impact of the stone and ice ages to realise that.

“The Head” by Markus Raetz

I am looking out to sea and observe nothing on the horizon. We are creeping closer to the north of Lofoten here but not quite. There are other islets jutting out on both the inner and outer side of Lofoten as we drive further north. We are in Vestågøy municipality now and will head further into Vågan and the Gimsøy Nature reserve.

At the carpark we looked at the circular stone building, up on the hillside. It was used by the Germans during the war to service a listening station. Some of it remains to this day, all broken up and rusted but enough of it intact to see what it is.

All that remains of the early radar device abandoned by the German army during WW2.

1.55 pm
Wow. Hov is a beautiful place where you can go horse riding. It truly does appear idyllic. From the cafe you look out onto a small field where there is a campsite (not good reviews due to the complete lack of decent washing and toilet facilities), but beyond that there is a fabulous white sand beach and sea for as far as the eye can see. Just stunning .

The cafe was in what appeared to be (in appearance and name) a converted barn. (Låvan i Hov). It was beautifully done out, with old tin milk urns used as lampshades, wooden tables and sheep skins on all the chairs. There were large windows looking out to the bay and easy chairs with low tables, where we sat and ate our cake. It definitely had a woman’s touch.

In the field adjacent were a whole bunch of sturdy looking ponies. Clearly horse riding is a thing in the summer. I loved it. I don’t think John was quite as enamoured. He didn’t have any cake as it didn’t really appeal and he only had a little bit of mine to try. I had to eat the lot myself; it was gorgeous! It felt so decadent to sit in such a fabulous setting, drinking coffee (sadly not very hot), eating cake and looking out onto an amazing scene. The sun was shining and we had nowhere we had to rush to. Just perfect. As far as I was concerned, it was worth the £10 we paid for one cake and two coffees.

Coffee in the converted barn
Great view

5.10 pm
We have driven slowly up through Vestågøy and Vågan municipalities towards Svolvær, where we are again camped for the night. On route we went via Eggum and Hovsund, both of which were worth the trip. We found another sculpture at Lyngvær, which was designed by the American artist Dan Graham. It was essentially a mirror in which you can see the landscape reflected. As you approached it, the perspective changed. Sometimes you saw yourself in the panels and sometimes not. It was so simple but very powerful. It doesn’t have a name but has been parochially named “the shower cabinet” and it was easy to see why. The panels were like the heavy glass doors of a walk-in shower. I really liked it and think it is the best one we have seen. Interesting that none of the artists who have contributed are Norwegian, but from all over the world.

“Untitled” by Dan Graham
Fiona contemplating the artwork by Dan Graham

John has gone for a shower with the single 10 NOK coin that we have. Hopefully we will get some change from reception when it opens at 6 pm. We have been on a lot of beaches in the past few days so there is sand everywhere. I have just given the van a really good brush out and wiped down the floor. It smells much fresher. We bought some bleach the other day and I’ve just soaked the two dish cloths, one of which was getting a bit smelly. Not easy to keep things clean when we are in such a confined space. I do think that we could use the space in the van much more effectively. I have had a glimpse into other people’s van as we have been travelling. Many of them have a much better storage system than us, with hooks and shelves all over the place, to be utilised. We have lots of potential to do the same so we need to think about that.

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