Saturday, 13 August 2016

Leygardagin 13th August

Leygardagin 13th August  13.08.16

Wine for breakfast thats good going but many were drinking it. Im unsure ive recovered from last nights beer yet to start this early! Waylaid by locals last night, women unusually, for they are not often out drinking, we trekked from marquee to pub and back again. I found myself dragged into a polka like leap, dancing around the room with a ONE two three, i didnt quite get it but perhaps the alcohol contributed. it was good to be asked. Mostly, i find men leery, touchy, winky, particularly older men, reminds me of the way men behaved when i was much younger, suggestive winks and touches. Revolting.

This mornings swim was good, the morning air warmer than usual and these days i just get in and swim, no delay or fret about temeperature. Daily swimming is good. The body acclimatises.

Few people actually swim. If you look carefully there is a head swimming out to the tiny boat that is tied to a buoy sitting in the middle of the harbour, thats me. Two laps today, this must have been the first when i was still in breast stroke, not quite acclimatised enough for crawl. Yesterday i saw jelly fish, just smallish ones but it put me off and im pleased i havent seen them previously.

Afterwards we bathed in the hot tub, put on for this weekend. There is a long story about the malfuntioning wind turbine, bought by some members of the community but forever breaking, damaging itself, not working. It seems they now save it, switch it on only for ovastevna and then use it to heat water for the hot tub!

I treated myself to breakfast afterwards, had heard about the crystallized flower muesli. Such an inventive little cafe menu, i think trying to support the current move to making the Faroes a place of 'gastronomic delight'. There is a wealth of knowledge on the island about edible plants and the cafe use them in all of their dishes. I declined the museli though as it was just a sprinkling on the top of a pot of clover flavoured yoghurt, with clover syrup, not quite what i had envisaged. Instead i had fresh, warm bread with cheese and pickled rhubarb. Tonight they are serving cod with wild greens salad, freshly picked yesterday by AnnaMalanj

The rest of the day is quiet, nowhere near last years alleged, eight thousand people. I wander, watching the flotilla of boats making their way across the five kilometer Nólsoyerfjørdur, each one with a swimmer close by its side. As they draw closer i think this one challenge within my grasp and for a few moments consider the training i might need to complete it next year but know i would not be serious about returning just for it, its like the triathlon i said i would return to newfoundland to complete and never did. Too many miles for such pursits.

We gather for a walk around the village to identify plants of interest, i know from the name, Disa, that this will be about edible plants for i have already eaten her candied angelica and dandelion marmalade. I get an unexpected interpreter in Sarah from Birmingham who, having lived here as a child is fluent in Faroese. I am surprised to learn little but guess we are not so far from home in plant life terms but it is of interest all the same.

The history walk, that i was looking forward to, turns about to be lengthy recounting about individuals from the village more than looking at building ages and designs. I abandon this and sit in the cafe where a small space is available at a table with just a woman sitting at it. A man comes to join her, i look at him and look at him. I think perhaps this may be ocean rower Livar Nysted, with whom i have unsuccesfully been trying to connect, but think he looks too young. I notice a tattoo of the world on his arm and think his journey across the atlantic is marked on it. Sarah calls me to sit elsewhere so i leave. 

I load FB and find a picture of Livar and his wife. I return to their table..... Livar, i enquire and am rewarded when he is as pleased it is me as i am it is him. Apparently he looked at me and thought it was me but didn't like to ask, just as i hadn't liked to. Good old facebook. We chatted a while and hugged as we left, he to talk about his ocean rowing and me to the concert in the church, with the old man who had given me a lift two days previously singing.

The flea market and art exhibition have nothing to hold me and i am relieved that the summer choir concert is a relatively short thirty minutes, serious, formal music, no fun or lightness. Pimped wheelbarrows along the quay are more fun with the winning entry being a model village of nolsoy, complete with intermittently working wind turbine. In second place comes a fishermans world and third place goes simply to a wheelbarrow full of sheep shit with a placard announcing 'relations'. That the judges selected this as third prize causes comment. I understand there is a deep rift, going back years between the two sides of the village. I learn no more than this but undertsand that, at school, where there might only be three children in a year group, some may be barred from speaking with others. Island life.

There are a number of lectures on offer for the 'ladies' and even though i have been here seven weeks i am nevertheless still surprised by the content: How to dress creatively followed by personal advice, Learn how to dress for the shape of your body, dont choose the wrong clothes, Knowledge, education and stylish clothing. i realise i have barely scratched the surface of this country, yet know that it would not be somewhere i could choose to live. Too many puritannical views, abortion illegal, same sex relationships disproved of, girls falling pregnant at fifteen, marrying early, moving on to the next partner and the next having children they cant care for and i remember my conversation with the student social worker who talked about mothers who couldnt even look after themselves and i understand at last. Later i try to google statistics for age at first birth but find no data. On a site with countries listed the Faroes do not appear, on a site showing data in map form the islands dont even exist. I begin to undertsnad the call for independence.

It is good to see the harbour full of boats and i enjoy my voluntary role selling beef casserole, beer and cigarettes from a little boat house, that we share not with a boat but a big motorbike. The evening is cold and misty, people keep saying how good the weather is and i suppose no rain always mean it is good. We sit and sell occasional items watching and listening as bands play, the ferry and hugh speed rig, move back and forth and boat decks in the harbour are full of beer enlivened owners. Many have been drinking long and hard since yesterday morning. This is the first heavy input of alcohol i have seen here and along with it the expectation that many will spend much of the weekend in an altered state.

Nights have drawn in and it is now quite dark, people sport mobile torches to read the words on the song sheet as loud chorus songs are shared. The tunes are easy and quickly become familiar to me. I love the swell of the voices. I join in lah-ing the tunes and even the words when i recognise a rhythmic repeat of 'Nolsoy'. I work my way into the middle of the throng. Many are holding hands and swaying. I have been swaying in time to the music for a long time. My hands are taken, interlocked on either side and i join the sway. 

Chorus songs end, it is time for the chain dance, the traditional song dance i have waited so long to see. The dance that held the language alive, danced in secret when Denmark forbade the use ofthe  Faroese language and Danish was the common tongue. the words tell tales of independence and strength, the tenor of each tale demanding a different interpretation of the one simple move, two steps to the right, one to the left but they might be small glide steps or rumbustious glorified leaps and anything in between. The hall is locked. I am told it will be midnight not eleven pm. 

Disappointed, I wander to the pub but am unimpressed by contemporary music having been in the middle of traditional singing. I leave without buying a beer and return, hang around, look for the chain dance again but discover i was looking in the wrong village hall at eleven pm and here, there is only a dance band for which i must pay. I decline.

Back at Hannes, soon after one am, i find three friends of theirs there, drinking heavily. Happy to join in, but without alcohol, i sit down and hope to be offered some but it quickly becomes apparent that Hannes and Sari do not really want their company. The tables are littered with beer bottles, wine bottles and lemonade bottles. Hannes and Sari are not big drinkers if at all. I am pleased ive had little to drink else i might not have picked up on this and would have joined straight in. I sleep around two am. So i will lesve the faroes without one four am morning, no night on the tiles, i must be growing up at last.