Thursday, June 10, 2010


Tjonnstaul is a small homestead some 4km from the tiny village of Morgedal in the Telemark district in Norway. Morgedal has a population of about 200 people, mostly farmers and seasonal home owners. Before coming to Norway I had looked online for a cheaper place to spend my four days before my conference in Oslo, which is notoriously expensive. I found this "wilderness cabin" on a well developed site for the township of Morgedal ( and sent them a note. It was all set up before I left Christchurch, all I had to do was figure out how to get there from Oslo when I arrived.

After a 16 hour journey, sick as a dog, I arrived in Oslo from Singapore. In fact, with the public transportation system they have established here in Norway, I easily found my way from plane to bus to bus to Morgedal, where I was picked up by the local baker and dropped off at the homestead. What a lovely location. But frankly, after all that travel all I wanted to do was fall into bed. Which I did as soon as Inger-Maria (the baker) left. I didn't wake up until the next morning. Sicker than ever.

Unfortunately, the next four days were spent mostly in a state of recovery from the cold. The lovely sunshine outside and the brilliant wildflowers called me out periodically, but mostly I spent my time in bed. One day, I managed to get out on the little lake below the house and paddle around looking at ducks and tussock islands and watching the sky.

Later still, once I could breath again, I made the 4km hike over the little range of hills between myself and Morgedal, and explored the little ski museum they have set up there for Sondre Norheim, the local ski legend who ended up being the father of modern day skiing. Most importantly, telemark skiing. It was a lovely museum, put together with a lot of thought. I wandered from Sondres' birth place (which is actually one of the other wilderness cabins you can rent here), to his workshops to the South Pole, where another local hero helped Admunsen get to. After that, it was a wax factory, an Olympic exhibit and a roller ski show case. The museum ended with a 10 minute video following two men down a mountain on the traditional telemark ski equipment.

But beyond these two exciting adventures, I spent most of my time in bed, outside on a blanket or hovering over the table finishing up my conference presentation. Various different community members came out each day to check and make sure I was still alive and before too l was being picked up by the famer/bakers husband and dropped off at the bus stop. He very graciously waited with me until 20 minutes after the bus should have been there and then called the bus company. Apparently Saturday is a different schedule than in the little booklet they gave me, there was still another 2 hours to the bus. So we drove back to his house, where his daughter, who speaks english, made us lunch and then drove me on to the neighbouring town with a bus depot. I was very well taken care of at Morgedal and enjoyed myself despite my cold. Hopefully I'll be able to come back some day when I'm feeling better (and maybe when there's snow).

Now I'm in Oslo at the International Polar Year conference, hob nobbing my way with scientists, teachers and researchers from various disciplines (including Bob Sharp). Soon, it will be London to see family and then Hobart for another conference. I am most certainly looking forward to eventually getting home and falling into my own bed, but until then, there is a world to explore and stories to share.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry to learn you were sick for the better part of your time in Norway but also very glad to finally hear from you. Norway must seem very calm and familiar after being in Singapore.