Friday 6th October 2017, 8.05am (day 2,234)
One of those days when the sun just comes up at the right time, two minutes before the train arrives to take me to Manchester.
I have never noticed before taking this picture what a masterly piece of architecture the National Graphene Institute is. The crane you see in this picture is not a reflection. In fact, it stands behind the building, which is therefore translucent in its upper portion. Graphene was discovered by Andre Geim here at Manchester by how it adhered to pieces of sticky tape used to clean graphite, and look — here are those pieces, lined up, black, translucent — just like graphene. It’s brilliant, actually.
The light over landscapes can be capricious so by no means do they always look the same, but nevertheless there is a certain permanence about them. Cloudscapes, on the other hand, are totally transient. This beauty, which formed itself over southern Sweden today as I made my way home, will never be seen again… except here.
This really was the view from my place of work this morning, with my University of Tromsø colleagues having installed us in a cabin on the coast of Ringvassøy for a couple of days. Call it luck if you like, but I’m not a complete idiot — I have generally managed to set up my life in certain ways so I do end up spending time in places like this. Mind you, the guy shown here gets to work here every day. To me, he’s the lucky one.
“Come on a walk after work” my colleagues said, and it would, indeed, have been great, had any of them had the slightest idea where the paths were…. Still, at least there were some good photo opportunities.
The island of Ringvassøy lies north of Tromsø and now takes the record for the northernmost photo on this blog, and the northernmost place I have ever been, at approximately 69º 55′ N. The mountains look like I imagine Mordor might. It’s a place, northern Norway — that’s for sure.
More football; in case you hadn’t realised I am going for it this season when it comes to experiencing different competitions. Seventh match of the season, seventh competition — today, the Norwegian Eliteserien (top division) and the world’s northernmost top-flight football club, Tromsø IL. Although there is a danger they will not be top-flight next year as they are struggling against relegation; however, today’s 2-1 win over southern softies Lillestrøm cannot have harmed their chances. Here, the ultras arrive for the game. The woman in front is sort of in the way of the shot, but she’s carrying her scarf so what the hell.
One thing that differentiates Norwegian mountain landscapes from their equivalents in Britain is that they are so colourful. There is no sheep farming round here so the vegetation can flower and fruit on the ground instead of being chomped if it dares to poke its head up. At higher altitudes the rocks are a forest of lichen, which is the only explanation I have for the blatantly light green colour of the mountain nearest the camera, Skarsfjellet. This picture was taken from near the summit of Tromsdalstinden, which is the mountain visible in the shot of the city that I took on my first visit in March: an obvious destination for a hike, and an obvious day on which to do it, a truly perfect one of sun and blue skies, more colour to the mix. And the aurora borealis this evening too. What’s not to like?
In Manchester this week, yes, but it feels like a brief interlude, my October looks a little different than in previous years for various reasons. One constant though — Manchester’s a building site. It seems always to have been one, and possibly, now always will be one.