Day 177 Moskenes, Lofoten Islands, Norway.

jxu8VchNRLah5bV8feQYesterday evening was sublime. The skies had been clear blue all day, and only late in the evening did a few scanty clouds appear. There was barely a wisp of wind, and as we sat in Oscar looking out over the ocean, the sea glistened silver in the late day sun. At midnight, it was still light, with an eerie pink glow on the horizon. The entire campsite seemed late to bed, seduced by the warmth and the light. People sat outside their tents and vans chatting and sharing a few drinks.

It was gone midnight before we finally put our heads on the pillow, too.

At 5am I awoke abruptly, conscious that something was different. I could hear the wind howling, making the topper flap, and when I looked outside, there were significant white horses on the sea.

I got dressed and took myself off to the bathroom. On the way back I noted that all the campsite flags were blown horizontal, indicating a significant wind, side on to our roof canvas. I woke up Howard, and we discussed options. In the end, we decided to bring the roof down, for fear of damage to the bellows. So, needless to say, it was a very early start to the day for both of us.

By 8am it had started to drizzle, and the sky looked leaden with rain clouds. This was just as had been forecast, so we took stock, and formulated a plan.

Yesterday, in ‘A’, we had passed by the Lofoten Stockfish Museum, and so in an attempt to keep dry at least, we decided to give it a go. I must admit, that I anticipated that a museum that told the story of drying cod might be as interesting as watching paint dry. But I was wrong. It turned out to be a most enlightening little place, run and hosted by the dedicated Mr. Larson, who had been a cod trader for his entire working life. When he ‘retired’, he started up the museum, to teach visitors about the industry that he knew like the back of his hand.

It turned out to be utterly fascinating. Every year, tens of thousands of cod migrate from the Baring Strait to their annual spawning grounds in the the waters off Lofoten. They usually appear in late January or February, and persist here for about three months. Over this period, on average, 50,000 tons of cod are harvested every season. This makes cod fishing the single most important source of income in Lofoten. Virtually every family here has some connection with cod fishing or processing, and it turns out it is a very lucrative business.

There appear to be two types of dried cod, one which is salted and air dried, and the other which is just air dried. The salted variety is called Baccala or Clipfish, and is exported almost entirely to Portugal, where it is prized. Before it is hung up to dry, it is decapitated, and the heads dried separately and exported to Nigeria. The air dried variety is hung up whole, and is referred to as Stockfish. This delicacy is exported to Italy, where it is used primarily to make stock. Every piece of cod is used. When first caught, the tongues are sliced off, and considered quite a treat locally. Their livers are pulverised to make cod liver oil and the cod’s roe used to make caviar. I am now such an expert in cod, you wouldn’t believe! This whole lesson was made all the more interesting by dear Mr. Larson, who finished his presentation by making us coffee, and custard creams served up in a codfish’s dried mouth – lovely!!

Education complete for the day, we headed off. By now, the rain had stopped, and so I took a few more photos, and of course, we couldn’t pass the lovely bakers without purchasing another chocolate and walnut pastry – delicious!

Yesterday, on our marathon day out, we had passed by a lay-by with a sign indicating there was a sculpture to be seen. The province of Nordland has a series of open-air sculptures or ‘Skulpturlandscap’ dotted around in various locations, many by leading contemporary artists, including Antony Gormley. We stopped in the lay-by to prepare our lunch, and decided to go explore. Well, could we find this blithering thing?! We scrambled down rocks and followed a well worn path towards the sea, but it was no-where to be found. Eventually, we gave up and headed back to Oscar. Just as we nearly reached the van, Howard spotted a tiny sign in the undergrowth with an arrow. So the intrepid explorer went off to find it, while I made lunch. He returned considerably underwhelmed. It turned out to be two granite slabs, made to look like a cave entrance, of sorts. That’s contemporary art for you!

In the afternoon, we wound our way back to the campsite, and are currently doing domestic chores like washing. It’s looking pretty grey outside just now, so I think we will have an earlier night, and then head northwards tomorrow to explore the middle part of Lofoten.

Howard appears to have developed ‘Big White’ storage envy. He has just watched one owner remove a Wire Fox Terrier from the side cupboard, where presumably he sleeps. Seems a bit cruel to me! Our neighbours on the other side have just removed a huge barbecue from their cupboard, which also contains two bikes and a coolbox the size of our entire living area, full of beers. Dream on, Howard!

Still no joy with the photos – I have sat outside by the campsite’s router for nearly an hour to no avail, so have had to decamp to the ‘pub’ to warm up!

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