Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Perfect Shot...


Well today I went for my second rifle training course in Svalbard to refresh those skills lost in the past year. Off I set to UNIS (the university) for a hafl 8 start, only to find that the range was over booked so we had to wait until 10 - an early start for nothing...We got to the rifle range, had a brief lecture about how to handle a polar bear attach, where to shoot etc, and then the fun began. It was basically the same format as last year - we shot 20 rounds in total; 8 in a lying position, 8 in a kneeling position, and 4 in a standing position. I was actually pretty impressed with my aim (especially laying down and kneeling) - most of my shots went within the centre black circle! Much improved from last year I believe...Unfortunately I have no pictures - there were only four of us and we were all shooting at once so nobody to take pictures for me.

This afternoon I had the pleasure of witnessing a seal dissection! It was actually pretty gross but very very interesting. We had a baby and an adult - they were both shot last week and kept in the freezer but we didn't get the adult out early enough so it was still pretty frozen! So the baby seal got the full blown treatment and slowly lost one organ at a time! The woman actually cut the penile bone off the adult male - now that was gross! I was going to put a picture up but having looked through them, they aren't very pleasant - so if you want to see one, just let me know and I will be happy to send you one.

Off to Kappe Linne tomorrow (another early start) so no new blogs for three days...how will you cope?


Monday, 28 June 2010

Back in Svalbard!

Hey guys/gals!
Firstly, I have updated the previous post so that it now has pictures!

I've been back in Svalbard for two days now I think. In case I didn't mention before, I'm up here helping out in the field school that I attended last year. Sean and I (Sean is another survivor of the field school last year and was in Oslo and Stavanger with me) arrived on Friday night. Unfortunately the views weren't that great, well for me anyway. It was pretty cloudy so I was denied the fantastic views of the sea ice and southern Spitersbergen that I got last time I was here. I stepped off the plane, into the Arctic, in my shorts so I can now say I have worn shorts in the Arctic. It seems much the same as when I was here last year - perhaps with a little less snow (it's slightly later in the year) and with a few more new buildings!

Perhaps the one good photo taken on the flight..

On Saturday the attendees of this years field school were on a permafrost excursion in the morning so Sean and I got to have a lie in and recover from our busy few weeks. We then went down in the afternoon to meet up with Elise (the organiser of the course and the one who paid for our trip up here) to see exactly what we are doing, sorting out internet access etc. We even got given an office! It's crazy, I feel important....We met the attendees in the afternoon and went off to enjoy a fantastic meal that evening.

The next day was the students day off which meant a day off for me! I should mention that all the students had already been here a week. 19 of the 25 students had already organised to go on a cruise to Pyramiden, an abanonded Russian mining town, and to see some glaciers I think. The rest of us, me, Sean and two others, instead went on a short hike up one of the local mountains - I think it's called plateufjell or something - basically just the plateau to the west of the Longyear valley. We orginally planned to walk across the plateau and come down on Longyearreen glacier, just behind where we are staying in Nybyen (converted mining barracks). However, we met some people half way along and they said the path down was pretty steep - we therefore decided to just come down the way we came. It was a nice hike though, and we had some fantastic views of the the Longyear valley. Here are some pics...

Today (Sunday), the students were back for some lectures in the morning and a botany/bird field trip in the afternoon. I wasn't really looking forward to this excursion (which was in Adventdalen and Endalen, just further down from Longyearbyen), as the topics didn't really appeal to me. They were actually really interesting though. Plus the weather was bloody fantastic so no complaints whatsoever from me! Some pics...

Sean and I are off for our rifle training (again) tomorrow and then everyone is going on a two day trip to Kappe Linne (the extreme west of Isfjord) and Barentsburg (the Russian settlement), on Tuesday, Will update when I can.

It's good to be back! Perhaps I should change the name of the blog to "my norwegian adventures"....

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Sailing the high seas (or fjords)


I have been back in England for all of two days so I thought I should really fill you in on my last few days in Stavanger, and what my plans are now.

The day after our fishing adventure we went for a hike up to the radio tower, just on the mountain/hill on the opposite side of the fjord from Vegards house. The original plan was to go to kjerag, another pretty famous rock landmark in Lysefjord; however, due to very strong winds, cold temperatures, and even predicted snow I believe, we decided to give that one a miss. So we hopped on the boat, crossed the fjord, and started the climb, stopping periodically to play on rope swings, rock climb and enjoy the scenery. The hike wasn't too long but I was pretty tired (I blame this on the walk from a few days before!). We reached the top, took some standard jumping photos in front of some fantastic clouds and waved to Vegards dad who could see us from the house with the telescope.

The following day (I think I have this in the correct order anyway), we went on a lil road trip to Kvitsoy and karmoy - two islands north of Stavanger. The weather wasn't great but we had a damn good time anyway. The highlight was perhaps our ferry adventure - we were up at the lighthouse on Kvitsoy when we saw the ferry come in that we were supposed to be taking. After Vegard spoke to the lighthouse keeper, we said we would never make it in time. Us being young and foolish, thought the man was wrong, so we sprinted to the car to try and make it. Our first challenge was that Rogier couldn't open the gate for us to get to the car. Second challenge - there were loads of cyclists immediately after the lighthouse blocking the path. Third challenge - a big lorry nearly blocked the road. However, after Vegard driving pretty damn fast through this little village, we reached the ferry before it left! WOOHOOO! We got on and the car was facing the opposite way to everyone else; Vegard started a 3 point turn, and whilst this was going on, the ferry driver person started lowering the gate thing to seal us in - the massive metal gate nearly closed on top of the car! Luckily Vegard moved out just in time! That was our adventure; I probably didn't describe it very well but it was bare hilare (or bare-a-licious as Vegard now says)! Good times!

On our final full day in Stavanger we went on a sailing trip on the boat of a friend of Vegards dad; it was a 40ft Beneteau if that means anything to anyone - very posh! We had to earn the trip so spent about 45 minutes polishing the boat. After this, we prepared the sails and after a pretty major problem of the front sail getting stuck, we set off! I was pretty much handed the steering wheel (if it's called that on a boat) straight away which was very scary! The wind was very strong so it was actually really difficult. I would like to say we took a nice stress-free sailing trip but that wasn't the case - we were very hands on, pulling the ropes, takking or something so we (well except Melinda who was taking it easy as she is off sailing the English/French channel this week) were constantly moving. We stopped to have a nice lunch on an island, played some Frisbee golf, before heading home. I bloody loved it and definitely want to go sailing again; it was so much fun (although knackering)!

We got home about 10pm, ready to join the family party in celebration of the summer solstice (a few days early) - or as the Norwegians call it - the midsummer party! We enjoyed a nice BBQ (there was some chicken bought especially for me), a bonfire and a good ol' sing song. A lovely end to a perfect day!

Melinda and I left the next day for England. I was sad to leave Stavanger as I had such a fantastic time but I'm sure I will be back someday. As I mentioned, I am currently in England but leave for Oslo again tomorrow. I then fly up to Svalbard on Thursday! Whilst at the IPY conference we met the organiser of the field school I went to last year; she is basically running the course herself this year and said that she may be looking for some help....well Sean and I instantly volunteered our services so we are going up together to help out (videoing, helping with the group posters, organising social activities etc) - a free trip to Svalbard, what more could you want!

I will try to update whilst on Svalbard but we shall see!


Thursday, 17 June 2010


Hey - I know it's been a while but my excuse is that I have been very busy.

The rest of the conference was OK. My talk went fairly well; apparently I seemed pretty confident and my talk was clear. Plus no horrible questions! I had one free day in Oslo on the Sunday after being busy conferencing for a week; this was a day of sight seeing so we checked out the Opera House, Karl Johanes Gate, the Palace, Frogner Park etc - the typical touristy things but all stuff I have done before.

All in all, I had a fantastic time in Oslo though, it was great to catch up with Dale, Sean, Melinda, Berit, Vegard, Ane-Sofie, and Hanne again - these are mostly people I met in Svalbard last year but also people I met whilst in Trondheim visiting Vegard last November.

After our day of sight-seeing, Vegard, Sean, Melinda and I went off to the train station to catch a train to Stavanger (south-west Norway), where we are staying with Vegard until Sunday. 8 hours, and a restless nights sleep later, we arrived in Stavanger. As we were all so tired, we didn't really do much. I should mention the fantastic location of Vegards house though; he lives right on the shore of a fjord (can't remember which one) so the views are absolutely fantastic. I am very jealous! We also went to the beach to check out some of his friends kite surfing - apparently one of them broke his arm (or leg) earlier that day - I wasn't surprised, the wind was very strong!

This is the view from Vegards house:

Yesterday we went on a trip to Preikestolen, a pretty famous tourist location about an hour and a half drive & ferry ride away - again some fantastic views on the way. Once arrived in the car park, it's about a 2 hour uphill hike to reach Preikestolen - this is basically a square slab of rock on Lysefjord. Some pictures are seen below. Twas fantastic weather (I got a sunburnt nose) and a thoroughly enjojable day. Rogier (another field school guy - a right reunion) also arrived that day. So all was well....until I got home!

After arriving home, checking me e-mails and bank account, I noticed that my Australian bank account was $1000 down - I also had an e-mail from the bank saying they had barred my account due to unusual activity! After trying to ring the bank (pretty difficult and costly from Norway), they told me someone had used my details on a gambling website. So they cancelled my card, and I had to ring someone else to start a dispute to claim the money back. This, I was told, would take up to 6 weeks and even then, there is no guarantee I will get my money back! Such a palava, especially as I'm not in the country! I was not a happy bunny!

Today, our international group headed off to check out Stavanger city itself. We had a mooch around, enjoyed a skillingsbole from godt brod (my favourite), and being general tourists. Oh, we also went to the oil museum which was pretty interesting! This evening I experienced my first fishing trip. As Vegard lives right on the fjord, we hopped in his boat, equipped with fishing rods, and went out on the fjord to attempt to catch some fish for dinner tomorrow. Everyone was being pretty successful except me - after nearly giving up and stopping off one last time, I finally caught two Cod in one go (they were fairly small) - I was extremely happy! I didn't do the killing of the fish, but once back on shore, I did de-gut it; I was quite impressed with myself.

Not sure what the rest of our plans are for the week.

Over and out

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Back in Oslo!

Halaien alle sammen!

After ~24 hours in the air, I finally arrived back in Oslo - it's definitely good to be back! My journey was extremely uncomfortable after pulling a muscle in my back somehow on my way to the airport so it kept on spasming the entire journey - GREAT! Luckily I managed to change my flights once I got to Heathrow so I didn't have to wait 12 hours waiting for my flight to Oslo.

Just completed a two day career development session in which I was a organiser for one of the sessions (alternative careers in polar science); it went really well and we got good feedback. Hopefully the participants got something useful out of it. Yesterday (sunday), we got to go on a cruise on the Oslo fjord which was ace - some amazing views and it was all free!

Tomorrow the actual conference starts so I imagine I will be busy seeing many people talk over the next 5 days. I really need to practice my own talk as well - it's on Thursday, eek! Hopefully it will go OK, I will keep you all posted.

Well not much else to tell you all. Will try and update soon.

Hade bra min lille due!