At about midnight. Back in the harbor of Funningsfjørður, coming in from a successful fishing trip. Engine switched off, boat silently sliding towards the berth. Hauntingly beautiful. Water surface as smooth as a mirror. Clouds, mountains, light posts, peaked roofs and boat hulls, all being reflected in the fjord. A brief moment of magic, carefully wrapped in navy blue night sky and elegantly curved lines.
Life in a northern village in the month of July. Neighborhood telephone chain (usually on short notice and weather-dependent), followed by chain of action: uphill for hours, encircling shaggy sheep in the mountains, relentless and yet controlled pursuit downhill, herding nervous protagonists into yard, short break, and, finally, all set for several hours of blade shears work, accompanied by a setting that – as for my part – creates sudden inspirations, including word combinations such as „sheep rodeo“ and „the temporary taming of the shaggy shrew“.
Sheep shearing in the Faroe Islands, first-hand: This is what it takes to do a good job. Four essentials in brief. TEAM SPIRIT, MEN AND DOGS. Needed: Just the right mixture of boldness, vigilance, caution and common sense, in order to be successful for one thing and get back safe and sound just the same. Pictures foggy mountain top scenery and friend and farmer Eivind, together with Malan's untiringly sheep dog Blakk: courtesy of fellow team member Francesco.
PROVISIONS. Soft drinks, coffee and tea; pancakes sprinkled with sugar; skerpikjøt, dry-aged Faroese lamb, and bread; all served right after the sheep have been herded into the yard. Equally indispensable: Joint evening meal, quite possibly roasted lamb, potatoes and brown sauce. Dessert: Coffee and ice cream. Or súreplakøka, one big bowl, æblekagerasp (sweet roasted bread crumbs), applesauce and whipped cream put in layers one on top of the other.
EQUIPMENT & TECHNIQUES. Walkie-talkies and shouting (communication up in the mountains and sheep dog commands). Outstretched arms (stopping naughty four-legged balls of wool from running into wrong direction). Clipping sheep: Sharp blades. Clothing: rubber boots, hair ties, short sleeve tee and sweater, layered, suitable for Faroese weather, and rubber pants. I rather like to wear an old pair of jeans. Cheerful countryside dress code note: Organic remains such as grass stains and traces of discoloration caused by animal excrement tend to stay in the denim for good.
BODILY POWER & ULTIMATE SHEARING PERFECTION. Getting the sheep up on the clipping table, one by one: physically demanding, as the day progresses. Shearing itself: Best done in sets of two 'haircutters'. Next challenge: wool. Wool??? Where to cut without doing damage: Stretch sheep’s shock-headed dress and clip threads appearing between skin and the continuously growing piece of glorious wool mess. Jumping-jack-sheep treatment: Some soft-talk and gentle head massage frequently works miracles – in my experience.
Another practical approach (admittedly uncommon): to bribe the sheep in question. Simply present a dainty bouquet of hand-picked flowers. Like I did, on the occasion of My Faroe Islands’ 3rd birthday. Sheep shearing: The perfect way to celebrate that kind of blogaversary, isn’t that so? My Faroe Islands, Anja's blog. Pictures and stories from a windswept archipelago in the middle of the North Atlantic. Readers from more than 50 countries taking an interest in 18 lush green, mountainous islands half way between Scotland and Iceland – and in my blog. Thank you for following!
My Faroe Islands on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/myfaroeislands/
Crowded in Elduvík! The people of the village (15 registered permanent residents plus summer house owners) and several hundred visitors are celebrating Summarhugni, as the day progresses. A cozy summer get-together. Open church, guided village tours, photo exhibition and hitapottar (outdoor bath tubs or whirlpools). Guests, friends & families gathering in houses, gardens and a big party tent.
Slush ice, waffles, homemade cakes, dried fish, skerpikjøt (dry-aged Faroese lamb), all kinds of food, many people contributed. The credit for Summarhugni belongs to Bjarni Garðshorn, Alexandur Joensen and Beinta Dam. The idea has been born in Elduvík’s old school, a traditional meeting place for the villagers. Later on tonight: tug of war and barbecue. Gonna go now, back to the social gathering – in anticipation of another long day and short summer night in Elduvík.
Did you happen to know ... guided tours and overall picture of the busy village
Social gathering and all kinds of food in the party tent, houses and people's gardens
Welcome to the old school. Inside the house: Elduvík-history and photo exhibition
Beinta preparing food, and a moment of silence in the church. Below: Rope ready for tug of war
Driving back from Runavík after having done some shopping. Visiting my friend Frida Meinertsdóttir Reyná on the other side of our village. Cleaning our kitchen and working on the computer in our living room afterwards. Four activities, having one thing in common. Superstructure: Extraordinary window views. Pictures: Three times our village Elduvík and one passenger seat shot taken in Funningsfjørður on the way home. Have a great week!
Kitchen window view. Above: Elduvík houses and bay as seen from our living room window
On the way back home. Car front window: Passenger seat photography of Funningsfjørður
Visiting our friend Frida on the other side of the village. Mountains and boathouses within sight
There is a place out there, on Eysturoy, that keeps reminding me of one night in particular, each time I pass by. Wooden field gate close to a striking mountain road, picturesquely framing the small village of Funningur, home fishing waters and rugged shoreline of the next island Kalsoy within sight. Right here, that night, I reentered the world of light.
Previously on My Faroe Islands: Fall and me being out of doors on the hunt for Northern Lights. Aurora borealis forecast: delightfully promising, except for one little thing – the local weather conditions. A kill-joy by the name of overcast night sky, causing a major disturbance. I tried my luck, here and there, but to no effect. Once I arrived in Eiði, I came up with the idea of checking out the mountain road that runs eastbound towards Gjógv and Funningur.
Half way between starting and arrival point, between boulders, grassland and serpentines: That’s when the penny dropped and I pulled over. Kaboom! All alone in the middle of nowhere, car’s headlights turned off, not a single pinpoint of light around. Have you ever been part of absolute thick complete mind-blowing darkness? Awe. The vastness of the universe. The true meaning of pitch-dark. All this I experienced that night.
Shooting a photograph of pitch-dark? Rather pointless. Compensation: aforesaid scenery by daylight. Winding road, village of Funningur (from our place: kind of just across the fjord) and home fishing waters in the month of May.
A beautiful piece of private land up in the mountains, owned by a dear friend. My all-time favorite lake, bathtub hideaway and cold water retreat. That day: Wind tickling brown grassland while simultaneously drawing soft ripples on the surface of the water. Twittering birds every now and then. For the rest: absolute silence. Not a soul around.
April. As for me, the proper time of the year to start the jump in now and enjoy the excitement of wild swimming season, based on experience. Lake: small, gorgeous flat pond, stony bottom, just deep enough to slide in. Thrill of chill, adrenalin rush and million dollar view scenery all at once. Shortly after: Cloudier, but still awesome. Towel, Thermos bottle filled with hot coffee, the comfort of a Faroese woolen jumper and happiness on the way back. Couldn’t ask for more.
4 other great wild swimming, splashing around and bathing spots: The sandy shore of Húsavík on Sandoy (left), Norðragøta on Eysturoy (picture taken at G! Festival), the island Nólsoy (i.a. little beach at the harbor) and Tjórnuvík on the northern tip of Streymoy, a place that's also popular among divers and surfers.
My Faroe Islands' video: https://vimeo.com/265980808
Not a desert, not a Fata Morgana, but still! Sandur beach. The place to be, in case you’re looking for white sand, barefoot moments and beach grass. Mølheyggjar, sketchbook of winds. The sand dunes of Sandoy, gently decorated with wave-like patterns and yesterday’s footprints.
Sandoy, the „Sand Island“ of the Faroes. 125 square kilometers, 1,235 inhabitants. In comparison to all the other islands: smoother, flatter, shinier. More silvery and pastel-colored. Looks and vibe: Champagne instead of craft beer. As for me, that’s exactly what Sandoy feels like on many days.
A „Tórshavn close-by prime site“, now more than ever. A projected subsea tunnel will connect Gamlarætt on Streymoy to Traðardalur between the villages of Skopun and Sandur on Sandoy. The completion of the tunnel is scheduled for 2023. Whether or not the tunnel will be finished on time: The winds that toy with Sandoy’s dunes couldn't care less. Unwaveringly, they give birth to shapes and ripples in the sand, the neighboring sandy beach always within sight.