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November 5th, 2014

utsira school visit, norway 2014

If you visit the island of Utsira (the one in the radio Shipping Forecast, in the North Sea, off the west coast of Norway), you may spot a little eeping Sea Monkey on one of the rocks. And you may wonder why it's there. Well, here is its story...



If you read my last two blog posts, you'll know I've been taking part as a barnebokforfatter (children's book author) in the SILK Festival in Skudeneshavn, on the island of Karmøy. When Utsira island librarian Margrethe Djønne saw me in the programme earlier in the year, she asked if Stuart and I would like to make a detour to Ustira for a couple nights, to visit their school. So after the festival, Margrethe (Maggie) and her mother picked us up at the local cafe and drove us from Skudeneshavn to Haugesund, where Stuart, Maggie and I caught the evening ferry boat.



Whenever we'd mentioned to Karmøy people that we were going to visit Utsira, they'd suck in air and shake their heads, warning us about the rough sea passage and telling us to lie down flat on the ferry to avoid getting sick. And that evening WAS quite windy.



We didn't sit up on the deck, no one did; everyone stayed on the lowest floor of the passenger section. And I thought the advice about lying down would just be for visiting tourists, who didn't have their sea legs. ...Nope. The ship was pitching like a galloping horse in slow motion. By the end of the 70-minute journey, EVERYONE was lying down flat.

But the advice was sound, no one got sick. At Utsira North Harbour, all the passengers put on their shoes and headed out into the darkness. And gosh, is it DARK on Utsira. Island resident and artist Marit Edie Klovning picked us up and drove us to a fisherman's house, where Maggie jumped out to collect some crab he'd caught for us, and his mother had prepared. Then Marit drove us all up the hill, stopping to turn the car headlights onto a mural on the water tower, painted of the island's first female mayor. The first female mayor in all of Norway, in fact, a midwife named Aasa Helgesen, who served from 1926 to 1928. In the dark, her massive head looked quite scary.

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Sarah McIntyre

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