Destination Stjernøya

stjernoya-day1-1 Our private boat to Stjernøya at the Alta westside docks.  It does 28 knots so no standing on the deck because you might blow off! stjernoya-day1-2 The boat is named Nefelin IV which is named after the mineral that the mining company extracs from the Nabbaren mountain on Stjernøya. stjernoya-day1-3 Even though it was a beautiful sunny day it was still below 2 degree celsius.  This is sunshade arctic weather. stjernoya-day1-4 stjernoya-day1-5 Dogs are allowed to travel on deck.  Bear, our Saint Bernard, loves going to Stjernøya because he can run around free all the time. stjernoya-day1-6 It takes about an hour to get to Stjernøya.  The silos in the background are where the minerals are stored for shipping. stjernoya-day1-7 The mainland isn't that far away. stjernoya-day1-8 On Stjernøya the mining company has apartments for overnight stays for their miners and scientists.  Without production over the Easter holidays the site is like a ghost town. stjernoya-day1-14 Spring is coming through on Stjernøya early.  It is said that Stjernøya has half the temperature and twice the weather as Alta. stjernoya-day1-16 Wildlife is all around.  There are hares jumping around, snow grouse on the hillside and white-tailed eagles which have a two and a half meter wingspan and which are one of the largest birds of prey in the world,  soar in the skies looking for fish.  Hopefully we will catch them in the act during our stay. stjernoya-day1-17 stjernoya-day1-25 stjernoya-day1-26 A ship is stranded at the docks with a Russian crew.  It is waiting for a tugboat to pull it into Alta to be fixed.  Even though the ship is docked at the island and that they are using a Norwegian ship, the Russians are not allowed to step one foot on land.  It is because they are shipping internationally and there is no official custom service on Stjernøya. stjernoya-day1-27 Waiting for us in the kitchen was a huge pot of freshly cooked lapskaus.  Very salty, just how Norwegians like it! stjernoya-day1-29 We are lucky enough to have free access to the kitchen, since we are the only ones on the island, and all. stjernoya-day1-30 The amount of food they have bought for us to survive the five days could feed a small army. stjernoya-day1-31 stjernoya-day1-32 stjernoya-day1-35 Lets see what we can make in the professional kitchen.  I have to remember the days when I was a chef in London.  (It sounds a lot cooler than it was.)  And oh my!  I found 'English' sugar in the pantry.  English sugar is made from sugarcane while Norwegian sugar is made from sugar beet.  It means I have the potential of making lovely caramel and toffee sauces!  This working Easter holiday is going to be yummy! stjernoya-day1-36

Stjernøya

oya Stjernøya is one of the islands in the Alta fjord.  It is full of arctic wildlife and is home to one of the biggest mineral mining operations in Finnmark, Sibelco Nordic.  The island is also the summer grazing pasture for reindeer that are ferried across on barges.  You can read more about reindeer herding to Stjernøya in the post Reindeer Herding: A Family Life. The island has a very small population, just 80 people, made up from a few sheep farms on the north side of the island.  The only way to get to the island is via private boat or public ferry from Øksfjord to the north of the island.  Stjernøya is popular for fishing and hunting.  Snow grouse, seagull eggs and trout are common favorites found. Easter is a time when Norwegians spend their holidays up in the snowy mountains in their cabins to enjoy the sun and outdoor snow activities.  This year our family is spending the Easter holidays on Stjernøya, on the south side.  It is a working holiday, as Moose works for the mining company, so we will be well looked after with accommodation and food.  However, having a huge mountain separating us from the north, we will be all on our own.  No shops, no cars, no people.  It will either be absolute bliss or drive us nuts.  We shall see. Over the next five days we will be posting about our adventures and discoveries on Stjernøya. blatur-14

Chocolate on Sale BEFORE Easter

before-easter-sale-3 Is this happening anywhere else in the world?  In the last two years I have seen a new sales trend in Norway around holidays.  Instead of items going on sale after the event, they go on sale before it.  Back in the day sales used to stop before Christmas in October so people would end up paying full price for presents in November and December, (and perhaps a little more).  It was well known that before Christmas was the most expensive time to buy things in the year.  So people started to pre-buy presents at the after Christmas sales for the following year. before-easter-sale-2 Now in Norway, I see that a lot of items go on sale leading up to the holiday.  It has been discovered that people buy more before the holiday than after (duh) and so retailers want to now cash in with pre-holiday sales.  It happened last year with Sales Before Christmas and now it is happening this Easter. Norwegians have just gotten over the Christmas food binge, having so much cheap chocolate around is sure to bust all those healthy New Years resolutions.   before-easter-sale

Easter Flowers

easter-flowers Easter flowers in Norway are commonly yellow, orange, white and green.  They reflect the brightness of the returning sun and the sprouts of green coming back into the landscape. In the North, Easter flowers are a sign of what is to come.  We are still under four feet of snow so it will be another month before anything green has a chance to sprout up.  Having warm-coloured flowers in the home brightens the way for Easter. easter-flowers-2

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