Wednesday, 14 July 2010

More Norwegian Adventures - Ås

After leaving Svalbard, I headed off to Ås to visit my friend Berit who was at the field school last year, and Inger, who was there this year (Berit and Inger are good friends!). It’s about 40 minutes south of Oslo and a small town with university. On the way, we stopped at the supermarket to get some food for a BBQ - the weather was fantastic; clear skies, and nice, bearable temperatures. Whilst at the supermarket Berit got a parking ticket for ~£60 – whoops!

The following day we planned on heading to the beach and just relaxing. Unfortunately, mother nature did not like this plan – I was awoken at 1pm to the sound of rainfall! Firstly let me just say that I didn’t get to sleep until 3am so this amount of sleep was well justified, especially considering my lack of sleep for the preceding days! Secondly, the sound of rain was actually quite comforting – after being in Svalbard where it never rained/snowed once and the weather was pretty constant (mostly cloudy), it was nice to get some variation and obviously the sound reminded me of home!

Our plans obviously changed and we decided to head off to explore the town. By this time, the weather had actually cleared up and the sun even began to shine a little bit. Ås was bloody tiny! I would go so far to say that it’s actually about the size of Flitwick. Considering that Ås has a university, this seemed very strange. After exploring the town, we went to wander around the university which was lovely. Apparently it used to be an old agriculture college (it’s pretty flat here) established in the 1850s – accordingly, the buildings were really nice and old and there was lots of green! I was also surprised to hear that there are only 3000 students at this university – so whats that, about 4x the population of Redborne?

The following day we headed off to the “beach” – the beach was actually a small gravel and grass area on Oslofjord in a place called Drøbak, a short ride away from Ås. The town was really nice and reminded me very much of gamle Stavanger (old Stavanger) which I visited a few weeks earlier. The weather was fantastic once more but the water was bloody freezing so no swimming for me!

On my final day in Ås and Norway, Berit and I headed off on a bike ride to a place called Hvidsten, further south than Drøbak. Unfortunately the weather was pretty overcast and rainy, but this didn’t dampen our spirits. Having not ridden a bike for probably 15 years, I was pretty impressed with myself, especially considering this place was about 14km from Ås. The countryside was very beautiful and reminded me a lot of the English countryside, perhaps mixed with what i imagine the French countryside to look like. We stopped on the way back at some local farm place where I had the best skillingbolle I have ever had! It was bloody amazing! After developing a headache, we head off for home, but not without getting a little bit lost....

That evening I left Norway – I had a great 5 weeks (maybe longer?) there and I cannot wait to return very very soon!

Hade Svalbard


The last few days in Svalbard have gone by without anything interesting happening. The attendees of the field school have been busy doing their group projects which meant no field work or excursions :( This did, however, give me and Sean time to start completing jobs on a big long list of things that had accrued over our time in Svalbard, including making sure all the blogs were done (they can be seen on a link at, sort out other odds and ends, and start making the movie. Exciting stuff eh?

With the final presentations of the attendees came the end of the field school which meant home time the next day, but not before one last party at UNIS. Once again, this meant a late night sleep and considering I was up early that day, I ended up being very tired. The next morning I awoke early for our last group activity – lunch at 10.30am! Crazy Norwegians...! Following this, I was in a meeting for nearly three hours with the course organisers for an evaluation, fun times! As our flight was at 04.50 , I managed to get a few hours sleep before being picked up at 03.00 for the short bus ride to the airport. I did wake up at 2am, got myself ready and decided to just lie down for a bit. Obviously I fell asleep shortly after and was woken by Sean 30 minutes later – I was very confused and according to Sean, I didn’t even speak English when I replied.

Glad to know my help was appreciated...

I was hoping for some clear skies on the way home to get some nice views of Svalbard. This was not the case so it was back to sleep for me! Almost 2 hours later, I was once again woken from my slumber, this time by the air hostess – why are people so adamant that I shouldn’t sleep?

Me, Sean and the course organisers on the UNIS roof!

I had another fantastic three weeks in Svalbard. I met some great people, learnt a little bit, saw some great scenery; not much more I can ask for really! Hopefully I return once again!

Monday, 5 July 2010

More Svalbard Adventures!

Hey guys,

It's been a few days since my last blog, but in fairness, I have been uber busy!

On Tuesday the IPY field school set off to Kappe Linne, the most easterly point of Isfjorden, and home to Isfjord Radio, an old radio station turned hotel. The trip out there was pretty intense; we set off in three zodiacs and although the wind was light, the water was pretty choppy. We were pretty much being slammed into the water every 5 seconds as each new wave came - so much so that someone even jarred their back pretty badly. I really enjoyed it though! Upon arrival at Kappe Linne, we dumped our stuff in our rooms, and set out on a tour of the geology and botany of the region. The trip would have been much better if it wasn't so bloody cold! The wind had picked up at this point, and with a lot of standing around to look at plants etc, we all soon got very cold. After a quick game of stuck in the mud, we soon warmed up...!

The next day we went on another trip, this time to a rock glacier and Lake Linne (which was still frozen). We had some fun on the way back when out one the students got stuck in some mud - after some time we eventually got her out, but I nearly got stuck in the process...I don't think the teacher was too happy about all this. Following our hike, we hopped back onto the zodiacs and set off to Barentburg, the Russian mining settlement. After going there last year, I was a bit dubious about returning. The place is very strange and very Russian. However, the sun was out and it had a much better feel to it this year. The food wasn't great though (it wasn't last year either so I came prepared with sandwiched) - I got a plate of rice with a few peas in it, yummy! The trip back to Longyearbyen was much smoother and we even got to stop off at the bird cliffs which was really cool.

Since returning from Kappe Linne it has been non-stop. Jenny, the director of APECS arrived and she is a heavy drinker so we had two late nights with her - one of which consisted of "speed dating" with Scandinavian politicians which was very interesting (especially as a good few of them were partying with us until 4am!). We also had a "friday gathering" (pretty much a party they hold at UNIS every friday night, although ours was on Saturday) so there was another late night last night. I'm definitely not designed for three late nights in four days. Although today, the majority of us got up and went for a hike. We are hardcore!

Over and out!