Reading, Looking, Thinking
This is a place for me to prattle on about things varied and unspecified. You are invited to participate.
As regular followers of Book Jotter will know, I recently returned from a cruise to the Norwegian Fjords, having sailed from Liverpool on board the MS Magellan in the company of my partner and four friends. Since this trip is still very much in my thoughts, I will use this post to share with you a few pictorial memories of my voyage north.
Kirkwall, Orkney Islands
Kirkwall is the main settlement of the Northern Isles and capital of Orkney, an archipelago in the north of Scotland.
Naturally, I tracked down the island’s solitary book shop.
I also enjoyed spotting plaques in memory of local writers.
The leaving of Liverpool
We left a drizzly Liverpool – the first rain we had seen for weeks!
Heading for Norway
A comfortable reading spot!
Guess who? Posing with early sightings of the Norwegian coast in the background.
Founded over 900 years ago, Bergen’s roots reach back to the Viking Age and beyond. It is now Norway’s second largest city and the country’s ‘fjord capital’.
A small village located at the inner end of the Nordfjord.
A gateway to the Hardangervidda, the largest high mountain plateau in Europe and Norway’s largest national park.
Gallery N. Bergslien – above is a picture of Nils Bergslien (1853-1928), known for portraying the Hardanger way of life.
Home and here I go again!
I must confess to a recent trip to the cinema to see Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again – that cheesy, cheerful follow-up to Mamma Mia! The Movie, based on the songs of ABBA. Yes, it was as schmaltzy as expected, but I loved every mushy, melodious moment. And while I’m in the mood for cringey revelations, I may as well cough up to being a life-long ABBA fan. While my school mates went through the obligatory tartan-wearing Bay City Rollers fad; as they pogoed maniacally about their bedrooms to the sound of the Sex Pistols; and when they tottered awkwardly in their mod-revival pencil skirts and two-tone high-heels; I was that uncool friend who worshipped at the feet of the Super Swedes. I even took a taxi all the way from Llandudno to Stafford in 1979 to see them perform live – but I never regretted it for a moment!
We spent a number of days at sea, giving me ample opportunity (on the rare occasion I wasn’t engrossed in a book) to ruminate the nature of existence – though not, I’ll admit, without regular and intrusive thoughts about the day’s menu. I was also, during these times of deep contemplation, able to watch gannets, guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes bouncing in the ship’s backwash.
As we meandered back towards Liverpool, I thought quite a bit about a fascinating talk given by the on-board Guest Lecturer, Geoffrey Farrell, on the subject of The Vikings and their Saga. He had spoken towards the end of his discourse about Viking ancestry, asking who among us believed we might have Norse genes lurking in our DNA. I immediately put up my hand (along with several others) as my mum spent years tracing our family history and came up with a likely link to Count Rollo the Viking on her father’s side. She found this impossible to prove conclusively, but was able to establish a definite link with Norman nobility.
Mr Farrell, an archaeologist and natural historian, encouraged us to discover our true origins by taking a simple DNA test with a reputable company, which typically costs about £100. However, speaking to a couple sitting next to us in the theatre, I discovered they’d recently had theirs done for £60. I rather like the thought of having Viking ancestors, and it may well explain why I am consistently drawn to countries in the northern hemisphere.
I shall cogitate further on the matter!