Calling on Kittelsen – demons, ghosts and ghouls (Norway)

February 16, 2014

4m waves batter our ferry on the fiercest piece of water in the world. We’re 100km west of the Norwegian mainland and this is the Maelstrom, first mentioned by the Greeks 3000 years ago and immortalized in the iconic writings of Edgar Allen Poe and Jules Verne. But it’s the artist and poet Theodor Severin […]

Clarisse of Arabia – teaching the children (Helsinki, Finland)

January 19, 2014

Outside the station I squint in late summer sun, a grand entrance clad in grey Finnish granite and guarded by lamp-holding titans: stern-faced stone men far too serious to be the animated rap stars of railway advertising campaigns. At their feet, there’s a kid busker with peaked cap and grandmother’s clarinet. With a population of […]

Lofoten Lost Dogs – back from the brink (Norway)

September 14, 2013

“Puffin dogs?” Hege shakes her head. “You know, there are none on the island at this point in time?” I’m speechless with disappointment. “Yah,” she adds, “but there were hundreds here last week.” It seems we’ve just missed the Norwegian Lundehund Club 50 Year Anniversary – a meeting of puffin dogs from around the world. […]

The Real Wild West – inside the Arctic Circle (Vesterålen, Norway)

May 20, 2013

The narrow road is a roughed-out, potholed track gouged from ragged Norwegian mountains. Winding alongside a grey Arctic Ocean, it’s graced with the occasional passing bay and kept in place against northern tempests by discarded mountain boulders. Turning a last cliffside corner I stop the car and push open the door, buffeted by a wild […]

Meeting Saint Louise – a Nordic sense of deja vu (Trondheim, Norway)

November 26, 2012

We’d passed by here before, tall and ornate, diamond timber-panelling on grand double gates, always shut; the name in sweeping letters across the arched pediment above. This time – en-route to Nidaros cathedral – I pay little attention, until my girlfriend stops. Today, it seems an inset central door is open. We brave the stream of […]

Rumours of Wrongdoing – finding Tennes Kaspara (Lofoten, Norway)

November 23, 2012

Cars and trucks wait in orderly lines, the Moskenes-Værøy ferry still one hour distant.  It’s the northern autumn and rain arrives as I leave my car. The church I pass is small, the wet bluestone black. Behind, a mound rising to leaden skies, its sides shrouded in bush and showers of rain. Not far now. […]