Tag Archives: holiday

Visiting the Lofoten Islands – Norway

lofoten

The Lofoten are arctic islands. They are dramatic in every respect. From the jagged mountains that stretch out of the impossibly blue seas, to the never setting sun, right through to the eye watering prices they ask for their locally crafted ales. Incredibly, everyone I meet on these islands seem oblivious to it all, quietly going out to their work which seems to be mainly farming or fishing.

Maybe because of the never setting sun, but these islands hold a timelessness. The islands support some of the oldest mountains in the world that stand as watchman over every day’s activities. Time ebbs and flows intertwined with just the occasional break for dried fish, homemade waffles or, I’m told, the alarming local specialty –lutefisk!

At any time in the never ending day you can glance up in any direction to see mountain peaks. Often they are lit with unworldly pinks and oranges as the sun roller-coasters through the sky dipping precariously close to the horizon before soaring back up to warm this unlikely mild arctic climate.

As you travel along single track roads every house you pass seems to hold the archetype of the Norwegian Grandmother with the smell of waffles wafting through the air by every open window. Step away and this sweetness sits in juxtaposition to the smell of the sea salt mixed with ever present the potent ever present fishing industry clustered around every port.

The coastline dominates both the industry here and the geography. Wherever you are on these small island it seems you’re always close enough to hear the sea perpetually lapping against the shores. The same back and forth that defined these islands for millions of years that offer a reassuring promise that they will do for a millennium to come.

With waffles seemingly cooked continuously and with the sun refusing to set, the need to distinguish between breakfast, lunch and dinner melts away like the soft, sweet brown cheese that melts into the hearts of the freshly cooked waffles. As a visitor, it’s hard not to melt into this routine of existing.

Despite all this, despite the magnificent mountains, despite the crashing sea that stretches out in every direction, despite the spectacular light that shines a warmth gently onto everything we do, despite all this, everyone I meet seems unaware of it. Or at least, only interested only in making sure we, the visitors, are well fed and enjoying our time here.

Dried fish and wet shores, a warm sun perpetually in a cold sky, such massive mountains on such a small series of islands. In a way this juxtaposition of life, land and beauty makes perfect sense. In many ways little seems to make much sense on Lofoten. The one thing you can say for sure though, is that everything on the Lofoten Islands is dramatic and that if you haven’t already, you should visit.

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In defence of Cameron taking a holiday

Labour MPs and the tabloid’s show themselves to be interested only in cheap political point scoring by attacking Cameron for taking a holiday. 

A number of Labour MPs have today attacked David Cameron for “swanning off” on holiday when “the country struggles to come to terms with the vile crime in Woolwich”.

This move smacks of cheap political point scoring. Cameron, like the rest of us, needs an occasional holiday. To expect otherwise is to expect the impossible from our politicians – a problem at the heart of our political system.

But hey, what do our tabloids like more than cheap point scoring politics?

The Mirror states:

The Sun goes with:

The Mail, not to be outdone, asks if the PM is ‘chillaxed enough’:

One word that keeps coming up in this fawned outrage is – ‘terrorism’, or ‘terror crisis’. The tabloids in their never ending thirst for outrage asks, how can Cameron swan off ‘at a time like this – a terror crisis’?

I would love to hear from their editorial teams about how they define the words ‘terrorism’ and ‘crisis’ and then whether they can substantiate their claim that Britain is “gripped by a terror crisis”.

At this point, if you have not already, I strongly recommend you read Glenn Greenwald’s article in the Guardian where he asks, “Was the London killing of a British soldier ‘terrorism’?

In this article he makes the point:

“there are few terms – if there are any – that pack the political, cultural and emotional punch that “terrorism” provides” and that we should treat the term with a little bit of respect.

When it suits him, Cameron, like the rest of our political elite and the tabloids, is happy to use and abuse the term all too aware of its emotional punch.

It suits him for example to not completely disown the Blair year’s war on terror rhetoric. Just as the term ‘terrorism’ has been systematically abused and made devoid of all meaning to justify everything from illegal wars to abolishing due process, so Cameron is now learning it can be used by tabloids and opposition MPs to make cheap political gains.

Although the Labour and the tabloid’s attack on Cameron for ‘swanning off’ is – and I am with Nadine Dorries on this – pathetic, Cameron has enabled them to use this term ‘terrorism’ by purposefully not defining what he or anyone else means by the term.

In short, Cameron should be allowed to get on with his holiday and enjoy spending some time with his family.When he gets back though, lets ask him what definition of terrorism he uses that manages to include the Woolwich attacks but excludes the UK’s illegal war in Iraq.

Until then though, as far as I am concerned, let the man enjoy his espresso in peace.

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