Day 190 Straumfjord to Tromso, Troms, Norway.

Yesterday was our last night of camping with Oliver, before returning to Tromso. It was a warm, balmy evening, and no-one on the campsite seemed to want to go to bed, except Howard and Oliver, that is. I sat up for a while typing my blog, and then realised it was nearly midnight.  A soft pink glow enveloped the camping ground, and I couldn’t resist going to check it out. I walked the short distance down to the water’s edge, and stood with some of the other campers. The sun was blazing, well above the horizon, casting a bright orange glow across the sky. It looked absolutely incredible – the best display of the midnight sun we had seen during our time in the Arctic Circle. I scurried back to Oscar, and asked if anyone was awake. Both Howard and Oliver stirred, so I coaxed them out to see the sun. Truly memorable!

At about 3 am, the wind picked up. I peeped my head outside Oscar, to see the awning flapping around. I woke up Howard, who decided we should take it down. Oliver remained tucked up asleep in his tent in the middle, whilst Howard and I struggled to dismantle the awning. Norwegians staying in the hut next to our van were still up drinking, and were vaguely amused by our antics. They asked if we were leaving, and I explained that the wind was too strong for the awning, but also mentioned to them that they were making a hell of a noise sitting outside their cabin, laughing and joking, at 3am. I think they got the hint, because within the next wee while they retired to their beds.

This morning, we were all a bit bleary eyed after our late night, but knew we couldn’t hang around, since we had a ferry to catch, or to be precise, two ferries. We had opted to cut the corner on the long drive back to Tromso, and save ourselves a hundred kilometres or so by catching ferries straight across the fjords in the heavily glaciated Lyngen Peninsula. As on our drive northwards a few days earlier, the scenery was amazing. As we drove along Lyngenfjorden, tall snow clad Lyngen Alps and glaciers emerged straight from the fjord on the western flank. Truly stunning, and all the better for the glorious sunshine that was still upon us.

We caught the first ferry with literally minutes to spare. We sat out of the deck in the warm sun and admired the fantastic views of glaciers in the distance.

After disembarking, we stopped off to buy bread rolls for lunch, and then headed across Lyngen to catch the next ferry. As we drove along the fjord, we could see the ferry in the dock. Howard sped up, for fear we would miss it. However, it was another twenty minutes or so before it eventually started boarding, giving just enough time to make our cheese rolls and eat them. The second ferry crossing was a lot quicker, and barely gave us time to down a cup of coffee, before it was time to disembark.

We then had just under an hours drive into Tromso. Approaching from the east, we stopped off at the Ishavskatedralen, or Arctic Cathedral, built in 1965 with eleven triangular concrete arches, covered in white painted corrugated iron, giving it a glacier-like appearance. On dark winter’s nights when it is illuminated, I’m sure it looks absolutely stunning, but close-up, in the by now cloudy sky, it looked less than spectacular. One of the draws of the cathedral are the series of nightly midnight concerts throughout the summer. We enquired at the desk, and managed to bag some tickets for the concert later that night.

By the time we had checked in to our accommodation in Tromso, the weather had changed completely. First a heavy cloud layer built up, obliterating the sun, and then within an hour, it was raining. We had a quick walk around town, until the rain became so heavy, with accompanying thunderclaps, that we retreated back to our rooms to dry off.

If we had experienced weather like this when we were away camping, it would have been truly grim. We could only count our blessings that we had managed to bag the best spell of weather in Arctic Norway that they have seen for a long time.

Once dry, we walked into town again for supper, before heading off to the Cathedral concert. I made the critical error of suggesting that Howard and Oliver grab a quick beer or two beforehand. We arrived outside the cathedral with Howard singing, ‘Take Me to Church’ by Hozier. A bit of an error of judgement on my part!!

Day 189 Alta, Finnmark to Straumfjord, Troms, Norway.

Today, the weather has been utterly incredible. Northern Norway is experiencing a period of freak unseasonably hot temperatures. Whilst today in Edinburgh the average temperature was forecast at 14 degrees, at our campsite in Alta it was forecast to rise to 25 degrees, whereas in Nordkapp it was destined to be 28 degrees – unheard of! Whist we are loving this lovely hot weather at last, I find it pretty worrying that at 71 degrees north it can be so hot – climate change is well and truly upon us.

We had a relatively leisurely start in the campsite this morning, eating our breakfast in the sunshine. Our drive today was also at a more relaxed pace than the last two days – a modest hundred mile drive, which took us nearly three hours after stops. We first headed to the supermarket in Alta for supplies and diesel, then retraced our steps back down the E6 southwards. I felt a pang of sadness as we crossed out of Finnmark and into Troms again. Finnmark had exceeded all my expectations – a stunningly wild beautiful lace with wide open skies and crisp air. I think we would be hard pushed to experience this area under such ideal conditions again – we really were very lucky indeed, especially with the addition of Oliver tagging along on our long road trip.

We stopped for a picnic lunch at a lovey beach just after Reisafjorden, at a narrow strait of water called Rotsundet. A couple of other people were also on the beach, enjoying the extraordinarily hot weather. First one couple, then another, braved the ice cold temperatures and plunged into the water. Oliver couldn’t resist a quick paddle, but opted not to go the whole hog and have a swim. The boys enjoyed a couple of cold beers from the fridge, after I offered to drive the last leg to the campsite.    

We are staying on a small campsite on the shore of Straumfjord. It is a sublime spot by the water, with a splendid panoramic view. Once set up, we took a FaceTime call from Thomas and Katy, who leave for Australia tomorrow. They are obviously very excited about their new adventure, and I am happy for them, although I had waves of sadness as we disconnected the call. A year away is a long time – but I’m sure we’ll manage a visit at some point.

The boys are currently cooking tea – salmon, potatoes and salad for Howard and I, grilled halloumi and vegetable burger for Oliver. Howard and I had anticipated eating salad for much of our trip. In reality, it has been so cold a lot of the time, that we have opted for warmer meals. I think the last time we ate salad was in May! So we will make the most of this wonderful warm evening – the last of our camping days with Oliver. Tomorrow we drive back to Tromso, and give him a real bed for two nights – talk about over-indulged children! I think we had now reached his camping limit, but he has done well to fit in with our routine. I don’t know how we would have coped if the weather was bitterly cold or wet, so we have picked a really good time to have him with us.

Tonight we will raise a glass to Thomas and Katy – happy travels in Oz!!

Day 188 Nordkapp to Alta, Finnmark, Norway.

Oliver survived his night in his tent in the most northerly campsite in the world. Pretty impressive! Despite gearing him up with extra thermal layers, he reported that he was hot in the night. That must speak volumes about global warming!!

We opted for the optional breakfast at the campsite – a first, and very much appreciated. After packing away, and went to visit the tiny fishing village of Skarsvag, just along from our campsite. It’s claim to fame is the most northerly fishing village in Europe. Unlike Hammerfest, the day before, this place had real charm. Reindeer wandered across the football pitch, and the harbour was lined with attractive fishing craft. We then headed back to Nordkapp, to make the most of our 24 hour ticket.

The day was unusually warm, and once the sun was out, it reached 17 degrees at this most northerly point. After another look at the view, we went in side to see IMAC presentation of Nordkapp throughout the seasons. After that, we visited the underground exhibition space, and took a look at the tiny chapel, where some people opt to get married. We grabbed a quick coffee, then it was time to leave this extraordinary place. Despite the tourists, it has a kind of draw to it – this place at the top of the world. The light is unique, and there is something very ephemeral about looking out over the Barents Sea towards the Arctic. It is hard to describe, but it leaves an impression on you – an experience that I will never forget.

We headed south again, stopping off at Honningsvag, claiming to be the most northerly city in Europe. It is a Hurtigruten port, and on cue, the black, red and white Hurtigruten was sitting in dock, waiting to depart. We had a walk around the harbour, which looked gorgeous in the sunshine, and opted for another coffee before departing. A slightly inebriated local came and talked to us. He was a fisherman of King Crab and cod. He claimed to have caught his quota for the year, and seemed to have earned a shed-load of money as a result. His wife also ‘owned’ a fishing boat, meaning that in effect he had two quotas, although I am almost certain that his wife doesn’t fish.

We escaped our dodgy friend, and headed back to Oscar. We had a long drive back to Alta, but the scenery, particularly on the road leading down from the Cape was sublime. We had to keep pinching ourselves about how lucky we had been to catch this wonderful ‘weather window’. To experience Nordkapp in wall to wall sunshine is quite exceptional. We had been very lucky.

We eventually arrived back at our campsite in Alta gone seven. The sun was still blaring, and we enjoyed a pleasant supper outside in the warmth. Gone eleven, people were still sat outside, enjoying the sunshine – what a treat!

It has been the most remarkable couple of days – a real ‘road trip’, but worth every long mile. It is an experience I will never forget. We have been very lucky to have seen Nordkapp at it’s best. I count it amongst one of the remarkable experiences of our trip so far. I give a big thumbs up for Nordkapp!!

Day 187 Alta to Hammerfest, and on to Nordkapp, Finnmark, Norway.

We all slept well, although I think Oliver was awakened a couple of times by Howard’s snoring. Welcome to my world! 

Before leaving Alta, we decided to check out the museum, which is host to the UNESCO listed Prehistoric Rock Carvings. The carvings date back to the Stone Age, and were inscribed between 2,000 – 7,000 years old. In total there are about 6,000 figures depicted, an exceptional testimony to aspects of life of the hunter-gatherer societies in the Arctic. They were discovered in the 1970s by a father and son who sat down for a rest on a flat rock leading down to the sea whilst walking. The first section of rock paintings has been painted with red pigment not long after they were first discovered, to make it easier to pick out the pictures. I imagine if discovered today, this would not happen, since to my mind anyway, the red paintings takes away some of the authenticity. The painting are mainly of men hunting or fishing in boats, or of animals – mostly reindeer, but also bears, elk and wolves. In addition, the archaeologists also claim to see whales, halibut, cod, salmon and cormorants – they must have a better eye than me!! The second group of  carvings were unpainted, and in my opinion, by far the best. In the bright light they were quite hard to pick out, and apparently the best time to view them is later in the day, when the sun casts shadows on the inscriptions. Overall though, it was remarkable to see such a collection of prehistoric art-work.

Leaving Alta, we headed first to Hammerfest, the mainland Europe’s most northernmost town. Historically, Hammerfest was an important way station for shipping, Arctic hunting and fishing. It was set alight by the British in the Napoleonic Wars, and again by the retreating Nazis in 1944 as part of their scorched earth policy, so there are very few old buildings in Hammerfest. The subsequent regeneration resulted in mainly functional utilitarian buildings, rather than anything of beauty. As a result, it is not a particularly attractive fishing port, and the large offshore liquid gas installation does little to enhance it’s appearance. However, we were keen to visit Hammerfest for one particular reason – to visit the Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society. Only visitors to Hammerfest itself are entitled to join this quirky society, which donates it’s proceeds to conservation, mainly of Polar Bears, obviously. We couldn’t resist the chance to join this prestigious society, so having looked around the exhibits, we duly signed up!

After a quick look around the town, we tended to agree with Bill Bryson’s summation of the town, and I quote, ‘an agreeable enough town in a thank-you-God-for-not-making-me-live-here sort of way’. We made our way to the campsite that we had searched online, and all agreed that it looked pretty grim. We parked up in the lay-by just outside, and considered our options.

In the end, we decided to head for Nordkapp, three hours drive away.

It was, in fact, the most glorious evening, and what could have been a tedious drive, turned into an absolute pleasure. Once we had turned north onto the road that led up to Nordkapp, the scenery was absolutely magnificent. The landscape transitioned from flattish moorland into spectacular mountains and beautiful little coastal communities, hugging the shoreline in increasingly isolated locations. The evening was sublime, a clear blue sky with a glowing sun, and the most magnificent light. I tried hard to bite my tongue, to stop making Howard pull over every mile or so, and had to resort to taking iPhone photos out of the car window – a photographer’s nightmare.

We arrived at our designated campsite ‘Nordkapp Basecamp’, just before nine o’ clock. It had a lovely situation by a small lake, and the added bonus of a small onsite restaurant. The lovely lady on reception told us that the restaurant was just about to close, but if we ordered quickly the cook would stay on. So we ordered a couple of pizzas and a fish soup, and scuttled off quickly to set up camp.

We were all hungry, and the pizzas tasted delicious. Over dinner, we discussed our plans. In the end, since it was such a gorgeous evening, we opted to drive the five miles or so up to Nordkapp, to witness the midnight sun on the Cape. It transpired to be a brilliant decision, since arriving just after ten thirty, we had enough time to take a few photos of the iconic globe, before watching the sun, still way above the horizon at midnight.

We retreated back to our campsite, and were all tucked up in bed by 1am. All credit to Oliver. He slept outside in a flimsy pop-up tent all night, in the most northerly campsite in the world. Talk about tough parenting – I think this beats the lot!!

It had been the most wonderful day – incredibly full, but absolutely superb. We had achieved one of the key goals of our trip – we had reached Nordkapp, 71 degrees 10 minutes north, and witnessed the midnight sun. Utterly brilliant!!

Day 186 Ivgobahta, Troms to Alta, Finnmark, Norway.

Our first night camping with Oliver went remarkably well. We had selected a lovely campsite, surrounded by mountains, with a glacier in the distance. We pitched up on a grassy area so that we could put up the awning and place Oliver’s tent inside. Howard cooked tea of tortellini and vegetable sauce, and we had a pleasant evening sat outside in the evening sunlight.

This morning we treated Oliver to our breakfast ritual of cereal with blueberries and banana, yogurt and orange juice, which he seemed to appreciate.

We then packed up, obviously taking longer than usual since we had to work out how to pack up the tent (much to the amusement of our neighbours!), and take down the awning.

We had quite a long drive today, all the way to Alta, at 69 degrees north. We stopped a couple of times at splendid viewpoints, looking out over the fjords. At one stop, we spied a herd of reindeer grazing on a patch of snow – remarkable. We stopped for coffee at the only real town that we passed through – pleasant enough.

The scenery on our route was utterly stunning – quite different from what I had expected. I was anticipating scrub and arctic tundra. Instead it was green, with steep mountains and fjords all along the route. We were lucky with the weather, and so we saw the fjords at their best. These fjords easily matched up to the more popular western fjords further south in Norway, but without the crowds.

We arrived at our campsite late afternoon, a small site but perfectly adequate. We had arrived just in time for Howard to see the second half of the World Cup final between France and Croatia – France won 4-2. Once more we managed to find a nice grassy spot to set up camp. We had vegetable omelette for Howard and Oliver, and I had scrambled egg for tea (pan not big enough for a three person omelette!). We also opened up the limoncello that we had bought in Positano, which went down well with Oliver. We purchased a new zappy insect bat, since I had managed to sit on ours – and we certainly needed it, even with the insect repellent coil burning in the awning. We are definitely in fly country now!

We got chatting to a Dutch couple and their 11 year old son, who had just travelled down from Nordkapp in their VW California. They were very interested to see our awning and external topper. I put them in touch with the California Club website shop, where we had sourced ours. Cali owners are always interested in each other’s set-ups. It’s also remarkable how much more friendly Cali owners are. Big White people generally tend to keep themselves to themselves, I guess because they have a living room and TV, and don’t need to sit outside with the bugs! They left us saying they would buy their son a pair of ‘eyes’ like Oscar’s night-time windscreen cover for his next birthday. I love Cali owners!!VV

Day 184 Botnhamn, Senja Island, Norway.

We spent the first half of the morning trying to get vaguely organised for Oliver’s arrival tomorrow. We really hadn’t given it a great deal of thought up until now, apart from picking him up in Tromso. The plan will be to head north, and explore some of the remotest part of Arctic Norway, called Finnmark. I must admit, I do have considerable reservations! Howard has decreed that Oliver should bring a sleeping bag with him, and sleep in the pop-up tent like Edward had done in Croatia. I keep saying to him, ‘Yes, but that was Croatia in the warm spring – this is Arctic Norway in their very cold summer’. But Howard is taking none of my suggestions on board about perhaps renting a cabin. We will see. If the poor lad starts to freeze, we will have to re-think, I suspect. Talk about tough parenting!!

Back to today. After a very murky start, the sun peeped through for about half an hour, I guess. We drove first to check on times for the ferry tomorrow morning, to take us into Tromso. Job done, we headed along the northern coastal route, first to a lovely little village called Husoy.

Husoy is in fact a tiny island, joined to the mainland by a man-made 300 metre causeway, that also acts as a breakwater for the small harbour. At one point in it’s history, Husoy had one of the largest fishing fleets in Senja, and clearly from looking round the harbour, fishing is still the mainstay of income here for the two hundred residents.

The people who live here must be tough to survive the harsh winters. Many of the older timber houses had wire stays fixing the buildings to the ground, to help protect against the fierce winds. I’m not too sure how I’d feel about living in a place where you had to wire your house to the ground, for fear of it blowing away! But today, there was no sign of bitter conditions. In fact, Howard and I were totally stunned as we walked around the village. All the pretty wooden clapboard houses had beautifully kept gardens, many with a profusion of flowers growing. It was extraordinary to see blue Himalayan poppies in bloom, alongside lilac, roses, pansies and penstemon. Once more, we had to prick ourselves that we were in the Arctic Circle. I’m guessing that Senja must also benefit from the Gulf Stream, like it’s neighbour Lofoten – although this afternoon, once the sun had disappeared, it definitely felt like Arctic temperatures.

I asked a local lady walking her dog if there were any cafes in Husoy, since this place is so far off the main tourist route, I had thought it unlikely. It turns out, though, that there is one, in the building that doubles up as the village hall. We walked in and were pleasantly surprised. Many locals were sat around tables, mostly eating some of the delicious cake selection on offer. We opted for coffee, and Howard tried their fish soup, which he reported as excellent. The table where we sat had a white tablecloth, lantern, and white rose in a vase – very sophisticated.

After our lovely coffee /lunch stop, we headed westwards along the wiggly northern coastline. Unfortunately by now, the weather was closing in, and the spectacular views of steep mountains plunging into the sea, largely evaded us. All the mountains were enveloped in cloud and mist, so we just saw the very last fifty feet or so plunging into the deep fjords. I can imagine, on a good day, that this place would look sublime, but just not today. Along the route, there were a series of single lane tunnels, always an interesting game, praying that you don’t meet another vehicle in the middle. Some were almost a kilometre long, with just the odd place hollowed out a bit more, which served as a passing place. There were plenty of cyclists out today, and we both commented to each other how ghastly, and dangerous it would be, cycling through these tunnels. On the way back, we realised how they had solved this problem. At the entrance to every tunnel was a sign, reading ‘Cyclist in Tunnel’. Next to the sign was a button, for the cyclist to press as they entered. This resulted in a post with flashing lights being activated – very smart, but still not attracting me to tunnel cycling!

A little further on we came to a viewpoint. In the lay-by were brightly painted old tyres, being used as plants tubs, with a profusion of plants growing – very effective. There was also a poster on the notice board advertising ‘The Tour de Senja’, a cycle race around the island, which takes place tomorrow. It’s a shame we will miss it.

Also on our route, we passed by Ersfjordstranda, with it’s lovely white sandy beach at the head of the fjord, and famous for it’s rather quirky gold-plated toilet facility. We stopped briefly in Mefjordvaer, another fjord-side habitation, and finished our tour at a viewing platform made from Siberian larch on a promontory separating two fjords. In the tourist brochure we had picked up, it promised us stunning views of the razor-sharp mountain peaks. We laughed – we couldn’t even see the mountains, yet alone their peaks. There was, however, some remarkable rock formations by the platform, carved out by glaciation, along with huge ovoid ‘incidental’ rocks, spat aside by the glacier. Probably a geologist’s dream location.

By now, it was getting late, and so we turned tail and headed back to our campsite. We still have some ‘van tidying’ to do, before we pick up Oliver, and we need to make an early start (well at least, early for us), in order to catch our ferry.

I imagine that since we will be on the road with Oliver, I am unlikely to get the opportunity to blog, so I will take a rest for a few days, and resume once he is away. I’m really not sure how the poor lad will react to this tiny space, and the cold conditions, so I’m guessing there will be lots to report. Watch this space!!

Day 183 Sandsletta, Lofoten to Botnhamn, Senja Island, Norway.

fullsizeoutput_9bf5Sadly, as you will already know, England didn’t win the football. In the end, we were gathered with about twenty three other campers of varying nationality, mostly Germans, but also Dutch, French and Norwegians. It seemed that Howard and I were the only ones supporting England, which was sad. We took our defeat in good spirit, having lived through this agony for the past fifty or so years, it came as no surprise really. Howard did concede though and treat us to apple pie for pudding, which was some consolation, I suppose.

This morning on the campsite, it seemed that everyone was being especially nice to us. More people smiled and said ‘Guten Morgen’ or ‘Goedemorgen’, than at any other time. I guess that they were just feeling sorry for us, or perhaps surprised about how well we took the defeat. One eagle-eyed Dutchman commented that we did have a Croatian flag in our boot window. We explained that we had travelled there earlier this year, and had loved the place and the people, just not their football team!

We were also sad this morning, because it was the day we were leaving Lofoten. These islands really are sublime – such beautiful scenery and quirky little fishing villages. We loved them, despite the summer crowds, and are certainly a place I would love to see in another season, especially in the winter.

Before we left, however, we got our final ‘fix’, and travelled the short distance up the fjord to the northern coastal town of Laukvik. On the approach road was a small cottage with a B & B sign outside. The outside of the cottage was decorated in pieces of driftwood and whale bones, including the ribs and vertebrae, and pieces of fishing equipment. It sounds odd, but it really looked most effective, and made one wonder how it was decorated inside.

In Laukvik itself, we sourced a coffee shop near the harbour. I spotted a sign for ’Kaffebrenneri coffee roastery’ and ‘Keens Beans’. I remembered that the baker back in Kabelvag had told us about this wonderful independent organic coffee roaster along the coast. The inside of the coffee shop was gorgeous, very eclectic with comfy sofas. We chatted to the owner and coffee roaster, and as we selected a cinnamon bun, we told him that his coffee had been recommended to us by a baker. ‘Ah – that will be the baker who made the bun you are about to eat’, he replied. Turns out they are good friends, and in Lofoten, I imagine everyone one knows everyone, and mutually supports each others’ businesses. After coffee, we had a quick look at the cod-head drying racks by the harbour – huge triangular affairs, and unusually, still with the cod in place. I cannot describe to you the unbearable stench that exudes from these drying racks – but let’s just say, it isn’t pleasant. After I had taken some photos, Howard remarked, back in Oscar, how much the smell lingered. I didn’t take that as a compliment! 

We wove our way along the narrow northern coastal road until we finally reached the main road, just before it crossed the bridge out of Lofoten – a sad moment. We hadn’t made any fixed plans for our onward journey. We had looked at a coupe of campsites on the way to Tromso, and had thought we would see how far we got before we decided which one to aim for. An hour or so later, we stopped for a pee at a Sami restaurant, and sat with the map whilst we had the statutory cup of flask coffee – the trade off for using their restrooms. In the end, we decided that rather than splitting our journey over two days, we would go the extra mile today, and reach the island of Senja, where we had planned to visit before picking Oliver up. This way, we could spend two nights here, and explore the island tomorrow, before catching the ferry across to Tromso on Saturday morning.

Not long after leaving Lofoten, we passed a sign to Andoya, one of the Vesterelen Islands, home to 333 Sqaudron of the Norwegian Air Force. This squadron was formed in 1940 by members of the allied Norwegian Air Force, after Norway had succumbed to the Nazis. They based themselves in Woodhaven Harbour in Wormit, Fife, now home to the Wormit Boating Club. From Wormit, they flew Catalina Sea-Planes up into the North Sea, providing vital information to our convoys. There remain close ties with Wormit and the 333 Squadron, and is why both the skiff rowing boats are named in their honour – ‘Catalina’ and ‘Flying Boat’.

The drive along the main road was amazing. From a very dreary start, the sun suddenly came out, and the scenery looked wonderful. For much of the drive, we were beside fjords, and in the sunlight the colour of the water at the edges took on a vibrant turquoise colour. It looked more Adriatic than Arctic! It was hard to believe. At one point in the drive, we were incredibly close to the Swedish border, near Narvik, and in the distance we could see the mountains of Abisko National Park, that we had visited at New Year, two years previously.

We eventually arrived at Senja in the early evening, just as the flies were coming out. We took up our pitch by the fjord, armed with our trusty electric bat. It made us reflect on this morning’s antics as we were packing up the van in our previous campsite, which also had been beside a midge-ridden fjord. Inspired by Howard’s downloads of ‘Our Girl’ off BBC iPlayer (you know the programme, about the female army medic), which we had only just watched two nights previously, we had taken on the role of army personnel. So, as I rushed out of Oscar to dis-assemble the table, I had shouted across to Howard to ‘Cover me!”. At which point, Howard rushed out with the zappy electric bat, swotting madly at the little buzzy things. Unbeknown to us, this whole episode was being watched by the Dutchman in his Possl van. As we retreated into Oscar away from the flies, we saw him giving us the most perplexed look. ‘Poor English’, he probably thought, ‘All because they lost the World Cup!’.