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Home → February, 2022

Monthly Archives: February 2022 − News & Stories


Black Febru­a­ry

Of cour­se it had been my inten­ti­on for a while alrea­dy to wri­te again here. But life in Farm­ham­na is main­ly hap­pe­ning off­line, and that is good.

And now the world isn’t any­mo­re what it used to be. The who­le popu­la­ti­on of Farm­ham­na (cur­r­ent­ly two peop­le) is deeply sho­cked about the news that reach us here. It would just feel com­ple­te­ly out of place to wri­te about the beau­ty of the natu­re here in the far north and about the simp­le, but good life in a remo­te trap­per sta­ti­on while the world is on fire.

It is about 40 kilo­me­tres from Farm­ham­na to Bar­ents­burg as the ful­mar flies. We can see the light of Bar­ents­burg reflec­ted by low clouds in cer­tain wea­ther con­di­ti­ons. It is not far at all. Bar­ents­burg is a Rus­si­an sett­le­ment, but with many Ukrai­ni­ans amongst its 300-400 inha­bi­tants. So far, Rus­si­ans and Ukrai­ni­ans were living the­re tog­e­ther peace­ful­ly, also after the Rus­si­an occup­a­ti­on of the Krim pen­in­su­la and the con­flict in the eas­tern Ukrai­ne sin­ce then. How do peop­le feel the­re now? How are they, with the know­ledge about the situa­ti­on in their respec­ti­ve home coun­tries? Impos­si­ble to ima­gi­ne for me. Sys­sel­mes­ter Lars Fau­se is in regu­lar con­ta­ct with Bar­ents­burg, fol­lowing nor­mal rou­ti­nes, and says that it is a “good and nor­mal dia­lo­gue”, without going into fur­ther detail.

So I finish my con­tri­bu­ti­ons here for Febru­a­ry with the fol­lowing pic­tu­re, which is cur­r­ent­ly often shared in social media to express the hor­ror about the situa­ti­on, pro­test against the Rus­si­an inva­si­on and war in the Ukrai­ne and com­ple­te digust for tho­se who are respon­si­ble for it.

Ukraine

The Ukrai­ne

On skis to Eidem­buk­ta

The days are quick­ly get­ting lon­ger after the return of the sun. This is inde­ed an ama­zin­gly quick pro­cess. Just 2-3 days after the very first sun­ri­se of the year, the sun is alrea­dy for several hours abo­ve the hori­zon.

The fact that we have a clear sky again after more than a week of clouds does, without a doubt, also con­tri­bu­te to the sub­jec­ti­ve part of this impres­si­on.

Time to get out and see a bit more of the sur­roun­dings. Some of you may know Eidem­buk­ta from the sai­ling ship tours in the sum­mer sea­son. This lar­ge bay is just a few kilo­me­tres north of Farm­ham­na.

Skiing to Eidembukta

Ski­ing from Farm­ham­na to Eidem­buk­ta. Towards the sun 🙂 at least for a while.

Stay­ing out­side for some time is inde­ed a refres­hing expe­ri­ence, with tem­pe­ra­tures around -15 degrees (C) plus wind­chill. It is much, much less win­dy than in parts of NW Euope up here the­se days, but the­re is a pret­ty con­stant bree­ze blowing, which feels qui­te icy.

I sche­du­le the day in such a way that I make use of the sun­light as much as pos­si­ble, but the idea to see and pho­to­graph Farm­ham­na from a distance with the sun­set in the back­ground fails due to a bank of clouds. It doesn’t mat­ter. The­re is beau­ty all around me whe­re­ver I turn my eyes. The wide, open, snow-cove­r­ed land with soft colours ran­ging from red through pink to blue, the drift snow being blown over the low hills. The lar­ge and beau­ti­ful­ly cur­ved coast­li­ne of Eidem­buk­ta. I fol­low the beach for a bit without fin­ding a sin­gle pie­ce of drift­wood, to my sur­pri­se. A litt­le can­yon sculp­tu­red by the meltwa­ter river of Venern­breen, one of the near­by gla­ciers. I fol­low the can­yon for a bit, kee­ping a good eye on the cor­ni­ces, but whe­re­ver they look sca­ry, the­re is enough space to stay away from them.

Canyon in Eidembukta

Can­yon in Eidem­buk­ta.

I see some lonely rein­de­er on the way back. The only living crea­tures out here today, apart from a glau­cous gull and a few nort­hern ful­mars.

I try to find a shel­te­red place for a lunch break, but my spot under a litt­le rock cliff turns out to be the win­diest and col­dest place any­whe­re around. I don’t stay long and rather return to the hut with the cozy wood-bur­ning sto­ve.

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Sun fes­ti­val in Farm­ham­na

In Lon­gye­ar­by­en, 8 March is the day to cele­bra­te the return of the sun, main­ly becau­se the place is sur­roun­ded by moun­tains, espe­cial­ly to the south.

Not so here in Farm­ham­na 🙂 so we had the plea­su­re to see and cele­bra­te the sun alrea­dy today, 16 Febru­a­ry. It is the first sun­ri­se after 112 days, the last one befo­re had been on 25 Octo­ber. As far as I am con­cer­ned, I have been here now for not even 3 weeks and still, it is qui­te spe­cial to see the sun again. Let alo­ne for Rico, who hasn’t seen the sun for mon­ths!

Farmhamna

Clear view to the south: no pro­blem in Farm­ham­na.

So we made sure we were the­re well in time, up on the “tele­pho­ne hill”, and we also made sure we were well equip­ped with came­ras, some stan­ding on legs, ano­t­her one with wings – the who­le lot.

Farmhamna sun festival

“Sun fes­ti­val” in Farm­ham­na. It wasn’t real­ly a mass gathe­ring.

And we were lucky, becau­se during the morning the sky had been com­ple­te­ly clou­dy. But just in time we got a low stri­pe of sky clear enough bet­ween the clouds and the hori­zon in the south, whe­re the oran­ge glow beca­me brigh­ter and brigh­ter, and final­ly, the­re she was, the sun – what a view, what a moment!

Farmhamna sunrise

The first sun­ri­se after 112 days.

Later in the after­noon, the clouds cove­r­ed the who­le sky again. Talk of luck!

If you want to read a bit more about mid­ni­ght sun and polar night, click here.

And here, some more impres­si­ons about this beau­ti­ful day in Spits­ber­gen.

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Farm­ham­na

Now I have alrea­dy been here in Farm­ham­na on Spitsbergen’s west coast for a while and some are won­de­ring how things are up here, so far north in the polar night. Well, inde­ed, when I am tra­vel­ling the same area under sail during the sum­mer, my tra­vel blog updates are a bit more regu­lar. But the days are not only beau­ti­ful but also usual­ly well fil­led with work and other acti­vi­ties and the mea­ning of life in such a place is pro­bab­ly not to spend every minu­te pos­si­ble on the com­pu­ter, is it? 🙂

Farmhamna

Farm­ham­na: Trap­per sta­ti­on on Spitsbergen’s west coast.

I will wri­te more here later, but to start with, I thought that I should intro­du­ce this beau­ti­ful and unusu­al place, so I have crea­ted a dedi­ca­ted Farm­ham­na page (click here to open). It has the 360 degree pan­ora­mas that you may know from simi­lar pages in that sec­tion of this web­site, but also two pho­to gal­le­ries with images from both sum­mer and win­ter, the lat­ter ones also giving some idea of what Rico, I and the 7 dog­gi­es are doing here the­se days.

Data cable bet­ween Spits­ber­gen and main­land Nor­way dama­ged by human action

The dama­ge that occur­red to one of the two com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on cables that con­nect Spits­ber­gen to north Nor­way a few weeks ago attrac­ted a lot of public atten­ti­on (click here for more infor­ma­ti­on). The case is by no means sett­led, but the owner of the cable, Space Nor­way, and the respon­si­ble poli­ce agen­cy of Troms in north Nor­way have been in the area and were able to gather first data with an under­wa­ter robot.

Accord­ing to NRK, the poli­ce told Nor­we­gi­an media that human action appears to be likely as the cau­se for the dama­ge. Natu­ral influ­en­ces seem less likely now.

Telekommunikation Spitzbergen

Making a pho­ne call in the sett­le­ments of Spits­ber­gen is done in a more modern fashion than pic­tu­red here. And it’s not just about pho­ne calls.
But almost ever­ything depends on the deep sea data cables to the main­land.

Not­hing was reve­a­led about the natu­re of the dama­ge or even pos­si­ble respon­si­ble peop­le or groups; it was only said that the­re are so far no suspects. It is also not yet publi­cal­ly know in which depth the dama­ge occur­red. The cable sec­tion in ques­ti­on is about 100 km long and leads from the rela­tively shal­low shelf on the west coast of Spits­ber­gen to deep sea are­as.

It is actual­ly not the 2 cm strong cable its­elf that is dama­ged but its power sup­ply.

Repair works are sche­du­led later this year, in spring and/or sum­mer.

Farm­ham­na

Arri­ved!

Farm­ham­na is a litt­le hun­ting sta­ti­on on the west coast of Spits­ber­gen in For­landsund, north of Isfjord. A wide-open, wea­ther-bea­ten low­land; often, it is win­dy on this rather expo­sed coast­li­ne.

You can find a lot of small bay and beaches, some well known and others well hid­den, behind small islets, rocks and pen­in­su­las. We have explo­red and enjoy­ed many of them during our sum­mer sai­ling ship trips. Also now, in the polar night, they can be use­ful; get­ting here and away is anything but strai­ght­for­ward, and the litt­le bit of traf­fic the­re is is usual­ly by boat. Over land, the area is pret­ty inac­ces­si­ble.

Farmhamna

Farm­ham­na.

This pho­to gives an impres­si­on of Farm­ham­na at this time, end of January/early Febru­a­ry. Around noon, the brigh­test time of the day.

The light of the north!

Farmhamna

Farm­ham­na: mid-day twi­light.

And here an impres­si­on of the outer coast of Farm­ham­na, loo­king to the south, around mid-day. The­re is cur­r­ent­ly no more than twi­light, we won’t see the sun befo­re 16 Febru­a­ry at the ear­liest. Depen­ding on the wea­ther, it may well be later. Or, actual­ly, even a litt­le bit ear­lier … we’ll see.

In any case, it is still two weeks away. But we have alrea­dy got several hours of twi­light, when the sun tra­vels bet­ween 5 and 7 degrees below the hori­zon, pro­du­cing the most beau­ti­ful shades of yel­low, oran­ge and red on the sou­thern sky and all sorts of blue else­whe­re.

And the­re is, as you may expect, some­ti­mes a total­ly dif­fe­rent kind of light shi­ning in the evening. Much wea­ker than the sun, but infi­ni­te­ly beau­ti­ful.

The light of the north!

Northern light, Farmhamna

Nort­hern light abo­ve Farm­ham­na.
A bit weak, but a beau­ti­ful start on my very first evening here!

Yes, the­re may be the odd nort­hern light pho­to com­ing up here the next weeks … 🙂

Nor­way opens up

Nor­way dis­con­ti­nues most coro­na restric­tions as of today (1st of Febru­a­ry) 2300 hrs local time, accord­ing to a govern­men­tal press release.

This inclu­des signi­fi­cant ease­ments wit­hin edu­ca­ti­on, cul­tu­re and gas­tro­no­my, but also for tra­vel­lers: inter­na­tio­nal tra­vel­lers do not need to get tes­ted at the bor­der direct­ly after arri­val any­mo­re. Ful­ly vac­ci­na­ted tra­vel­lers with an accep­ted vac­ci­na­ti­on cer­ti­fi­ca­te and reco­ve­r­ed peop­le with appro­pria­te docu­men­ta­ti­on may enter without test; tho­se who do not have this sta­tus need a test taken befo­re depar­tu­re. Ever­y­bo­dy inclu­ding Nor­we­gi­an citi­zens still need to regis­ter online befo­re arri­val.

corona testing station Oslo Gardermoen

coro­na tes­ting sta­ti­on at Oslo air­port Gar­der­mo­en: here seen calm, but often very busy.
Soon it will most­ly be reli­ab­ly calm here.
(addi­tio­nal deco­ra­ti­on digi­tal­ly added by the aut­hor).

For peop­le tra­vel­ling to Sval­bard, the requi­re­ment to get tes­ted in Nor­way wit­hin 24 hours befo­re depar­tu­re is dis­con­ti­nued for regis­tered lco­al inha­bi­tants as well as ful­ly vac­ci­na­ted tra­vel­lers and tho­se who have reco­ve­r­ed from a recent Covid-19 infec­tion (accep­ted docu­men­ta­ti­on nee­ded in any case). The requi­re­ment to car­ry out a self test wit­hin 24 hours after arri­val is still in for­ce.

Ever­y­bo­dy is still asked to keep a distance of one meter or to wear a mask whe­re­ver it is not pos­si­ble to keep this distance.

The Nor­we­gi­an government plans to dis­con­ti­nue all coro­na restric­tions until 17 Febru­a­ry unless new and cur­r­ent­ly unfo­re­se­en deve­lo­p­ments requi­re a new chan­ge of plans.

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News-Listing live generated at 2022/December/03 at 03:01:13 Uhr (GMT+1)
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