A slice of heaven. Oh please, can I keep it?, he said. First, I didn’t have an answer. Then I said: It’s a rainbow. It will vanish. You can’t keep it. But don’t worry. It’s the Faroe Islands. It won’t be long until you see the next one. Ælabogin, the rainbow. That day, building a magical bridge between the villages Hellur and Oyndarfjørður (left) on Eysturoy.
Two schoolboys, jeans, jackets, sneakers, sitting face to face, table by the window, rhythmically swinging their legs, eagerly playing around with their drinking straws. Room: walls and ceiling covered with wood paneling. Furnishing: lime green sofa corner, checked retro floor lamp, museum piece-like map of the world, large chalkboard, more wooden chairs and tables, people sinking into vintage armchairs. The old school of Hvannasund, having turned into a super cozy café for some time past, lavishly decorated with handcrafted products. Music playing: Frank Sinatra’s ‘The Lady Is a Tramp’.
A few steps away, in Hvannasund harbor, the ferry puts out to sea and sets course for the outer islands Svínoy and Fugloy. Inside the Cafe Old School, Myrna Lind Jacobsen unwaveringly heads for the next table, takes the orders, cuts chocolate cake, brews beverages and serves freshly baked waffles, whipped cream and home-made rhubarb jam. Together with Hallgerð Akurstein, Signa Ellebye, a few other local women and some local teenagers, Myrna – coincidentally a teacher – runs the Cafe Old School. Voluntary work. Only the young get a little bit of money for the commitment. A unique café as the result of a municipality competition in search of a new utilization concept for a former village schoolhouse.
Stirring my tasty coffee, ensconcing myself in a ruby-red armchair, looking around. Right here, in 1983, local kids attended class for the very last time. Afterwards: Different types of use. Office. Bible study. Kid’s playroom. Daycare moms’ “hangout“. Here and now: most well-liked meeting place, popular among well-informed tourists and villagers.
“The locals are glad about the café, and they are proud of it“, Myrna tells me. At her school, the Skúlin á Fossánesi in Norðdepil on the other side of the sound, she teachers i.a. math, geography and Danish. The connecting dam road between Hvannasund (located on the island Viðoy) and Norðdepil (located on the island Borðoy)? Construction work. “The dam road was built in 1974“, Myrna says. “Before that, anyone who wanted to cross the sound had to row. Children on their way to school included, in all weathers, a lot of times using one oar only, because of extremely strong currents. That’s what my parents told me.“
In connection with my visit, Myrna sends me several pictures afterwards, one of them being a black and white shot, showing a man and a woman, both sartorially dressed, at a certain place. Myrna’s note: “My grandmother’s brother and his wife. The picture is from the late 50s or early 60s.“ Clearly visible in the background of the photograph, at center: what is now a café and stage for experienced boys’ drinking straw artistry that day – the old school of Hvannasund.
The café on Facebook: Cafe Old School. Sundsvegur 31, Hvannasund, currently open from one thirty pm to half past five every day. Last day of this year’s summer season: Sunday, 30 September 2018. If everything goes according to plan, the café will be open again at Christmas time. Local history footnote: Over the decades, the local school has either been located in Hvannasund or Norðdepil.
The kind of picture taking that leaves damp and dirt on your camera lens, pics and video footage efficiently adorned with sea spray and tenacious salt water drops, an occurrence that starts with brilliant image sharpness and ends in shaky fuzziness. How it's done? Like that: Being onboard a Faroese fishing boat, waters between Kalsoy and the northern tip of Eysturoy, heading for Gjógv.
Take a look: The red ball of wool on the map below, that’s us. We have already been sailing through the waters of Funningsfjørður, as you can plainly see, passing this spot called Múlin (close to the little ruby red wool fiber boat position mark on the map). Status so far: camera fine. Pictures clockwise: map showing i.a. Kalsoy and the northern part of Eysturoy, the village of Gjógv as seen from our vessel and the rock formation of Múlin.
A little later, so to say around the stony „corner“ Múlin, that’s when the real fun begins. All of a sudden the kind of sea I like – the one in motion. Wind, waves, sun, straddle-legged fisherman at work posture and an all-embracing feeling of happiness. Sea foam on my camera lens? You bet. Also a thick, compelling salt water spot clouding the video footage. Another and yet another. Frankly speaking? At such a moment. Who cares!
Boat and waves in motion video link: https://vimeo.com/287693803
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