Friday, 19 August 2011

Party on til the break of dawn

I'm going to Copenhagen next weekend.It's all come around a bit fast and really,I could do without going what with the new job and moving house happening etc etc.But I've already packed my bag,got a vague itinerary sorted out,and I am very heartened indeed to see the price of CDs in Denmark.Looking at the TPMUSIK website it seems all the ones I want are at least half the price of what they are in the Faroes and (from what I remember) Norway.Anyway,all I need to do now is get some kroner from somewhere,book my train ticket to Sweden (I went to school with a Swedish-Iranian guy once,he said Malmö is shit,but hey it can't be as bad as Tønder),and listen to more stuff like this to get me in the mood.I've not heard a song this catchy since that Faroe Islands rap.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Faroe Islands Day 3: Andvekur

Forgot to mention- last night I had a kebab from Cafe Sandwich.Apart from me there were 3 guys in there all watching MTV on the massive plasma screen.The power kept going off and a bit of a comical farce ensued when the chef had to keep turning the generator on and shouting "is it back on?" Cue "Yes.No.Yes.No..." from the guys.When it did come back on,the telly went to default channel Kringvarp Føroya,which unfortunately happened to be showing a documentary about childbirth.A screaming lady's undercarriage on a 50" HD screen isn't what you want to see whilst waiting for your dinner,and all the men made disgusted noises and shouted at the chef to turn the telly off again.It's little incidents like this that make me love travelling.

This morning at breakfast I feel sad that I'll never again taste bacon the way the Faroese cook it.I don't know what they do,but anyone who can make streaky bacon taste palatable let alone amazing,deserves an award.I have 5 rashers.As well as lots of scrambled egg and toast :/

Today I decide to walk to Hoyvík to visit the National Museum.When I see the Skansin lighthouse I realise I've gone the wrong way.Back at Steinatun I've missed the bus,so I go for a walk.I briefly went to Vidarlund Park yesterday but I didn't realise it was so big.There aren't really any trees in the Faroes,so if you want to see some,Vidarlund is the place to go as most of them were planted there within the last century.There are also plenty of ducks there,pretty views of the city and the countryside,and a war memorial statue which scares the life out of me as it's massive and I'm not expecting it.

This is the first day that the sky has been blue and that there's been any real sun.I think about grabbing a sandwich or something and sitting by the duck stream but no,it's my last day- I have to at least go to Hoyvík or find the Nordic House.It turns out that the park ends about 100 metres from Steinatun so I just sit and wait for a bus.Local buses in Tórshavn are free,yet in northern European fashion they're still all clean and unvandalised.If you need to connect with another line somewhere,just tell the driver and he'll radio ahead to let the driver of the other bus know to wait til you get there.Things like this make you realise (as if you didn't know already) that Britain is crap.

Not knowing the name of the bus stop I need,I think Hoyvík School sounds logical,and work out that it's 7 stops away.It's about 7 stops when the last person gets off,so I get off too.Turns out I'm still a good 10 minutes away from Hoyvík and I'm actually in a suburb called Millum Gilja,which is actually beautiful and has gorgeous houses and lovely views of Nólsoy.I take pictures for a while then get on another bus.

The museum is good for its £4 entrance fee and there are exhibits about fishing,knitting,Faroese national dress (including an outfit worn by Eivør Pálsdóttir that's like a modern twist on the traditional),and (my favourite) three stuffed Lítla Dímun sheep- a breed that was purposefully made extinct in the 1860s.Most strange of all was a fragment of an old ceramic pot from the 13th century (I think),that came from Frechen in Germany.Why strange? Well,I'd never heard of the place until May this year when I stayed there on Eurovision weekend.*Whistles "It's a Small World..."*

Coming out of the museum I see the Atlantic Airways helicopter which serves as a form of public transport in the Faroes.The Faroese word for helicopter is "tyrlan" which makes me think of "twirly" which is appropriate considering the rotors.Yesterday I contemplated getting the twirly to Klaksvík this afternoon,but in the end decided that would be too much effort.Next time though.It does only cost around £15 after all.

Waiting for the bus on the way back,an impatient looking man comes up to me and asks me (I presume) "has the bus been yet?" I say no and he paces up and down,sighing and checking his watch.I reckon he's a driver who's never taken a bus in his life and feels put out doing so.I like this.It reminds me of home.

I stop at SMS for supplies and come across some excellent additions for my collection.A shame most of them are imports from Sweden and Denmark,but still...

...and my favourite...

Human Juice.As the Faroese speak perfect English,I wonder how well sales are doing?

I have lunch at the Hvonn restaurant at the hotel.Chicken club sandwich with rock salty chips and the best caramel iced coffee I will ever taste.I do a bit of shopping at Andreas i Vagsbotn (2 pairs of wonderfully soft and thick woolly socks and an incredibly itchy scarf which I'm going to use as a blanket) and a Faroese flag.When I get back to the hotel,there's very loud,very heavy metal music coming from the music school opposite.Très scandinave.This is around 4pm.

Havnar Kirkja is right opposite the hotel so I have a look around,and then one last walk around Tinganes and the shopping streets,despite the shops being shut ages ago.Back at the hotel I munch on one of those nice triangular sandwiches and some yogurt,pack,have a shower and then get the televisual surprise of my life.There's been a lot of coverage of the Tour de France on Danish telly,but never in my wildest dreams would I have thought they would show an hour-long documentary about Andy Schleck,the man who made me want to become a cycling WAG :) What do I learn? That he doesn't like going downhill,he really loves his brother,and that he needs to lose 2 kilos (!) Anyway,what a nice way to end what's been a lovely holiday.

The heavy metal finally stops at midnight.

(By the way,I just found that documentary on youtube)

Friday, 12 August 2011


After nearly 9 months I've finally ended the second part of my retail career.I never thought the day would come but I'm glad it has.No more weird,fishy smelling,malfunctioning air conditioning units,no more answering the same dull questions 3878 times a day and no more awful black,restrictive uniform.But it hasn't all been bad- I've made plenty of good friends there (one of whom bought me these rather fab gerberas),and I have managed to squeeze a couple of great holidays out of the wages :) Next stop,working in Maidstone.But not before a week off in which I don't intend to do very much.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

It's kind of in the middle like...Sciceland

This is actually the best thing I have ever seen.EVER.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Faroe Islands Day 2: Káta Hornið

Early morning walk down to Tinganes after a breakfast of ham and cheese smørrebrød (cannot for the life of me remember how you spell it in Faroese).I find the Prime Minister's Office...(It's the one on the right.)

And the view across the harbour is pleasant enough despite the white sky.

At 9am it's all aboard the Norðlýsið schooner for a trip around the neighbouring island of Nólsoy.I'm (predictably) the only British person on the boat,along with a crew of 4 Faroese,a Norwegian couple with a baby and a Danish family with 2 teenage boys,one of whom clearly resented his parents from the minute they came home and said "right,we're going to the Faroe Islands for our holiday this year."

I speak to a couple of the crew in English- including a boy of around 15 who does that typical Scandinavian thing of putting you to shame with his perfect language skills.He makes us all coffee and one of the other guys says "we're all Scandinavians here aren't we? Good,I'll speak Danish" in Danish.At this point I'd feel a bit silly pointing out my nationality,and as I once spent a day at Schleswig-Holstein parliament pretending I could understand what all the Danish politicians were saying,I figure I can do it again.Five minutes out of Tórshavn and all the Danes/Norwegians are putting waterproof trousers,wellies,woolly hats and gloves on.I'm just wearing jeans and a thin cagoul.Alarm bells in my head "WHERE THE HELL ARE WE GOING???!!!" But I stay calm and don't question anything.That's British isn't it?

The skipper tells me to move to the other side of the boat as we're getting close to the bird cliffs and you can sometimes see puffins there.This is interrupted by another one of the crew shouting "SEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAALLLLL!" I get a brief view of said seal but he soon dives into the water,quite possibly scared off by the shouting man,who incidentally sounds so much like Georg Bjarnfreðarson from Night Shift that I can't help but chuckle.Especially when he comes out with the Georg-esque comment "he obviously doesn't like Danes," referring to the seal. Anyway,we don't see anything more exotic than sheep or seagulls for the rest of the trip,despite there being 206 species of bird in the Faroes apparently.But Nólsoy is very pretty and we see some sights that you wouldn't really expect to see in the North Atlantic...

...Far cooler than Capri's Blue Grotto :) The Norwegian guy obviously thinks so too,and gets a bit arsey with his wife for not taking enough pictures of it despite the fact she's struggling with the baby who's now getting a bit arsey herself because of the rather large waves.According to Georg these waves are nothing- he used to work on the trawlers in Iceland and it's much worse there.Still though,my camera and cup slip off the wooden seat onto the deck,covering the camera in coffee.It makes quite a loud noise,but again,I do the British thing and pretend nothing's happened.

Back in Tórshavn I have to take the obligatory picture of a flag.I like the Faroese flag,not only because of the colours and the fact that it has an interesting story behind it but also because it's used in Björk's Declare Independence video- the lyrics of which are dedicated to the people of the Faroe Islands (and Greenland).I'm frozen through (turns out those clever Danes brought extra layers with them purely for warmth after all),and on the (90 second?) walk back to the hotel,I fantasise about turning the radiator up to 4 to see what it's like.

Time for a walk around town again.Well,along Niels Finsens gøta anyway.It's the main shopping street and I haven't bought anything yet.I take a picture of Káta Hornið,which is of course what Teitur's Faroese album (and one of the best songs on it) is named after.The song goes "I always stop at Káta Hornið,have a talk with someone who likes to talk.It's not Picadilly or Piazza Navona,but a very good friend that is so much else." Káta Hornið also means "happy corner," and for me today,it's certainly that.Tutl is right next to the fountain and the board outside declares that the free show today will be by none other than Jens Marni! We've played him on Sounds of Europe a few times after discovering him through the Danish Melodi Grand Prix in 2010.I'm stupidly excited and go back home to listen to his album,doing the "I bet he'll do this one,I hope he does this one..." routine that I always do before gigs.

I watch the Tour de France on Danish telly- it's going to be a sprint finish which I always love watching,but with about 6km to go,I have to leave.I can't be late to Tutl today! Jens is already there,setting up,and it's the most awkward gig atmosphere ever,as it's just me and a teenage boy who was there yesterday too.Jens looks different to what he does on the album cover so I'm not convinced it's him.When he plays about 4 Faroese songs in a row I think "he must have cancelled,I have no idea who this is." But the songs are pleasant.Then suddenly he starts playing Heroes Will Fall and I get a massive smile on my face.To go to a foreign country and happen upon a completely unexpected show by a singer you really like in a very intimate setting is an amazing experience.The poor guy has a really bad cold,you can practically feel how sore his throat is when he hits the big notes and he keeps coughing during the instrumental bits,but he plays for nearly an hour and chats a lot to the audience (sometimes in English too,weirdly).He does a very intense cover of Billie Jean,a few more Faroese songs and most excitingly,this...

Back in June,I was in a foyer in London basically on my own with Tim Schou,but I was so starstruck I couldn't even look at him.I didn't want this to be the case this time,and I planned everything I was going to say to Mr Marni,but when it comes to it,I'm too embarassed again.So I just buy both of Høgni Reistrup's albums and Brandur's album and leave.With Jens' album on my iPod as I walk up to SMS.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Travelling hearts fill the sky and the ocean

Got Brandur's album on this evening (I'm not quite out of the Faroese mood just yet),and there are no words for how much I love this song and what it's about.