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We crossed back over the Arctic Circle, 66’33″N, at 8.45, but I didn’t go on up on deck this time. An hour later we were invited to go up for the appropriate ceremony.

As we had been told in the previous day’s briefing, this time there was to be no ice down the back. Each would be invited – no compulsion of course – to take a spoonful of cod liver oil. And we could keep the spoon from which it was served. “If you want more spoons… [you can buy some more in the shop? Oh no] … you’ll have to drink more cod liver oil!”

Excursion Manager Heinz and hotel manager Sigmund played out a scenario of how this would make us all roaringly strong. No hardship, I thought, I’d had to drink masses of the stuff as a child.

It was Sigmund who served me. The spoon was/is of an excellent quality – but I didn’t need any more. Instead I availed myself of the excellent hot chocolate being served in the adjacent Polar Bar, in a metal mug also to keep, which got rid of the unpleasant taste left in my mouth

I didn’t go to a talk on ‘Norwegian fairytales, myths and legends’. And I stayed in my cabin during a brief stop at Sandnessjøen.

But I did go onto deck 6 to try to take photos and a video of the Seven Sisters, ‘female trolls turned to stone’, about which we had been told in the previous day’s briefing. But as the PA announcement said, today they were rather shy, scarcely visible here behind the low-lying hills, because of low cloud.

The English-language briefing was at 14.15. At 15.00 we would be stopping at Bronnøysund for a couple of hours where there was the chance to go on a flat walk with Heinz, or to ‘visit the salmon‘. While I don’t eat meat, I do eat fish, including farmed, but I had no desire to see the farming operation. The walk promised to be a gentle one, so I had booked on to it. It would be on the green (in summer) part of the town, which was comprised of several islands.

On the other hand it would be dark, and because the weather was unseasonably warm – it should have been below freezing at this time of year – underfoot it would be rather slushy at times.

Indeed, there was melted ice on top of solid ice at times. We were all obliged to wear what they called ‘spikes’. I had bought some Yaktrax with me, but I was not sure that they would serve for all the surfaces we were to walk on, so I accepted the team’s offer of a loan. I felt totally secure with what I later found were also Yaktrax, the Diamond Grip version. Mine were the Walk version. (The guy in front of me kept losing his, with me picking them up, as he didn’t even realise they had gone. He was OK once Heinz had shown him that he should make sure they came well up the sides of his boots!)

The walk was partly in the town and partly through forest. As the forest part was on a Nordic walking track, it was pretty well lit all the way. Heinz was full of anecdotes and information about Bronnøysund and life in Norway generally. He loves talking, and I should have loved to have asked many supplementary questions, but we had to get back to that boat!

It wasn’t as light as this – it was fully dark at 15.00.
It was neither as light as this, nor as blue as this…
It was a little darker than this but the main interest of this picture is that it is of the town’s sports hall and indoor football pitch. Every town in Norway has one, said Heinz. The town of Bronnøysund has only 5000 inhabitants, the municipality just 8000…
Much of Bronnøysund is water…
Brand new hospital, and beside it what I understood to be sheltered housing

The walk ended at this church, the agreed meeting point with the coach with the salmon visit people, which was to take us back to our temporary home.

At 19.30 I didn’t, for obvious reasons, go to watch King Harald V’s new year speech on one of the public television screens.

A five-course meal was served at the special New Years’ Eve dinner, and fortunately the portions ranged from tiny to medium, which meant one could really enjoy every one of them, right to the end.

At 22.00 we were invited to take a book we had bought from the shop to be signed by the main managers of the ship. I wondered whether my very modest purchase of this wonderful little paperback book was not a little too modest, but I saw that people were offering just postcards, or even leaflets, to be signed, so I hesitated no longer.

The book describes every town in detail, making you want to get off at every one of the 34 stops and spend at least a night there.

23.30. Heinz, Sigmund, and two others poured champagne in the Polar Bar. (There were about 450 passengers on board.)

At 21.00 we had arrived at a town called Rørvik, where normally the stop would have been for just 30 minutes. But it was celebrated for its New Year firework displays, from private houses that is, not a municipal show. So we were staying on until 00.30. The time would be caught up by a shorter stay at Trondheim.

The town’s display started gently, a few minutes before the turn of the year.

The redness is caused by flares set off by private individuals. They come down very slowly – as they’re meant to!

And then things went mad!

I understand that some didn’t retire to their cabins a for quite a while. I turned in around 00.30.

Happy New Year!