The weather’s turned bad on us of late, meaning that we tend to spend more time in the vehicle than we’d like. Two people and one wet dog in a confined space makes for a ‘friendly’ atmosphere and eventually the dry kit runs out. Luckily our current hit rate of one night in every three at a proper campsite means we can visit the washing machine and tumble dryer fairly often, which is just as well.
These pauses also allow us to carry out some essential admin – you know the sort of thing, cleaning the vehicle up, checking tyre pressures, painting wheel nuts red (no, scrub that last one, that was only in the British Army of the Rhine in the Cold War days). Between scrubbing out cupboards and that, I got to thinking about the amount of stuff we’d taken with us. Not a huge amount, but everything has to pull its weight as it were. Some things have been better than others – and some have been absolute boons, so to give you a quick glimpse into the intellectually barren wastes that I keep between my ears, here are my thoughts on things that have really made a difference to our travelling lives:
An Aero Press coffee maker, with hand operated coffee grinder AND a small pillowcase full of coffee beans. Tom and Patrick gave me this collection for my birthday, bless them, and it is absolutely number one in the list. It makes coffee so well that we’ve almost given up going anywhere else for the stuff, and we’ve taken up the unvarying routine of stopping at around 11 each morning for a brew. Thanks T and P!
A selection of Rohan clothing. This stuff weighs very little, is hand washable and dries in next to no time. Perfect for this sort of trip, particularly when the weather’s as crap as it is at the moment. Sadly for the old school type of chap, there is hardly an ounce of natural fibres to be found anywhere in the Rohan collection, but never mind – we’re abroad, so the chances of meeting anyone we know are slim. Having said that, I noticed from F Book that an old Army mucker and a friend are also touring Norway, heading for Nordkapp – but on motorbikes, so they’ll probably be back home by now while we flog on through wind and rain in our behemoth on wheels.
A £4.99 toaster from Sainsburys, so that when we’re hooked up to the mains on a proper campsite we can make toast. This turns out to be surprisingly important, especially at breakfast time and around 4:30 in the afternoon.
Finally and inevitably I’d have to include the internet and all its digital accoutrements. There’s almost no getting away from it – and without it I wouldn’t be able to inflict this sort of thing on an undeserving world.
Leaving behind comparative philosophy and returning to more existential matters, we have now entered the Arctic. We crossed the Arctic Circle at the Arctic Circle Centre (although of course its actually a point on the Arctic Circle Perimeter) to find that the Arctic appeared to be populated almost entirely by little piles of stones. The sort of thing that the more thoughtful elements of the UK press inveigh against at this time of year. You can see why:
Inside the centre itself, which is the thing in the background looking like a crashed UFO, there were all kinds of diversions. You could buy pretty much anything that was capable of having the words “Norway – Arctic Circle” printed on it. The restaurant offered a range of reindeer-based food – we settled for two plates of Reindeer Stew – and there was even a stuffed polar bear to amuse the likes of me:
All very droll, I’m sure you’ll agree.
With that excitement out of the way, it was time to resume our journey north and head for Bødo and the ferry for the Lofoten Islands – but not before pausing briefly to admire the remarkably rustic approach to roofing that one tends to find in these parts:
Next stop, Lofoten…