Posts Tagged ‘Foroyer’

Faroese Sheep

January 29, 2016

Father in Law spent time in the Faroe Islands towards the end of World War 2. He was a radio operator in the RAF and was able to help have knowledge of what was going on in the North Atlantic – a vital zone for preventing supplies reaching Germany.

He took quite a lot of photos – a sort of snapshot of Faroese life just over 70 years ago.

It is now more than ten years since we were there at times tracing his footsteps.

Doug (Father in Law) took a photo of Faroese sheep.

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He captioned his photos and here we have two captions for this one.

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We were not there in spring so I can’t match his cute lamb. But sheep still scratch a living on the hillsides of the islands and here’s my photo.

image008What a gorgeous beast. The owner has had to trim the horns. Sometimes a curly horn can point straight into the face of the animal and keep growing. Trimming the horn is not a problem. These sheep aren’t particularly tame. Getting close can be a problem.

Our visit to the Faroe Islands was interesting. Much had changed since Doug’s time, but much still remained the same.

Kollafjordur Church

January 17, 2016

When we visited the Faroe Islands, up in the North Atlantic, we found we had entered a different world in many ways. This was a location short of many resources we take for granted and where people had to come up with workable solutions to many problems. One such was keeping the rain out of buildings – often solved by using turf as a roofing material as we see here on the church at Kollafjordur which is a few miles north of the islands’ capital at Thorshavn.

image002 This little church caught the eye and also the ear for a bell ringer was at work. This was a simple, single bell – not at all like the change ringing which I do at my local church.

Perched up in the little tower, below the date pennant for 1837, a man sat, tolling the bell.

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A noisy job for the ringer. No wonder he wears ear protectors.

Drying Grass

August 19, 2015

From time to time I do a post about the Faeroe Islands. These specks of land,, way up in the North Atlantic towards Iceland, were important in World War II. Information gathered there helped our side to know what was going on in the vastness of the ocean and helped in making sure conveys carrying cargoes got through to the required destination.

My father in law, a wireless operator, was sent there in 1944. He had time to take photos and record what they were. This is one of his shots.

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It looks like a couple of buildings, but those aren’t fences.

It would be hard to know just what was going on without his caption.

Father in law explains what the picture is about

Father in law explains what the picture is about

What looks like fences is actually grass being hung up to dry. Some winter hay was needed to keep horses going through the cold season but the uncertain weather on the islands made producing hay quite a problem.

Sixty years later when we travelled where father in law had been we could still see the same process.

The same process 60 years on

The same process 60 years on

Nets have been hung up to contain the grass which keeps it off the ground and allows the wind to do its drying best.

Back then – and it was ten years ago – the Faeroes were an odd mix of seemingly archaic agriculture like this alongside very 21st century living.

Perhaps that’s what made them such a magical place to go.

Midvaag Post Office

March 22, 2015

was recently contacted by somebody else whose father served in the Faroe Islands during World War II. I was able to look at his photos, which made me think I should do another Faroese post.

Midvaag is one of the villages on the island of Vagar. That was where many of the British troops on the islands were based. Nearby there was an area flat enough for a landing strip for aircraft and also a lake big enough for landing sea planes.

My father in law took a photo of the Post Office when he was based on Vagar in 1944/45.

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Father in law did a very good job captioning his photos. This image is clearly labelled as ‘Post Office’ and the whole page in his album is dedicated to Midvaag.

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Back in the 1940s the island was given its name in Danish rather than in the Faroese language. Similarly the place is now Midvagur

You might note the two small trees near the post office door. Sixty years on, in 2005, they came to dominate the scene.

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Trees are a rarity on the islands but these two seem to have coped with the potentially wild weather of the North Atlantic.

The local starlings thought these trees were a great place for a roost!

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That picture shows the top of our car as well. Back in 2995 it was possible to get a car ferry from a British port (Lerwick on Shetland) to Thorshavn, the capital of the Faroes. An undersea road tunnel links the island of Streymoy (Thorshavn is on that island) to Vagar.

Let’s finish with another image of that Post Office.

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Litla Dimun

November 14, 2014

One of the more memorable days in my life – and I guess that of my wife as well, was the day we took the ferry from Thorshavn down to Suduroy. For those not in the know, Thorshavn is the capital city of the Faeroe Islands and Suduroy is the southernmost island in the group. It’s a journey of some two and a half hours (much further than Dover to Calais) and it takes you past a range of other islands – some inhabited and some not. Litla Dimun is not inhabited and is a truly remarkable lump of rock.

August 20th 2005 was an overcast day at times, but a first photo of the island of Litla Dimun gave a clue to its remarkable shape.

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It’s like a giant haystack.

The ferry passes quite close to this amazing rock.

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We can see it is grass covered and that grass is valuable to people on other nearby islands. They get sheep onto Litla Dimun. That’s no easy task!

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The sheep have to rope hauled from boat to the grassland. It must be even harder getting them down again for they need to be caught on those steep slopes above the cliffs.

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As we approached Suduroy, the weather closed in a bit more but we could still see four islands.

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Skugvoy is on the left with Stora Dimun in the middle and Litla Dimun on the right. The island of Sandoy lies behind them.

Our daughter has produced a few works of art for us and for one of them she took this photo and lightened it all up a bit. She was able to turn it into what the mind saw.

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Fantastic and we feel lucky to have an original piece of art of a very special place by a very special person.

Geese

August 26, 2014

I like geese and used to keep them in the days when foxes followed the rules and only came out hunting at night.

I have featured some of my own geese on this blog before. Click here to see/read that post.

Today we are looking at geese on the Faroe Islands – those magnificent dots of land in the North Atlantic between the Shetland Islands and Iceland.

Father in Law was based on these islands towards the end of World War Two. He took this picture of geese.

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There’s not much livestock that can cope with the pretty harsh environment up here. But geese can and (apologies to vegetarians) they’ll make a decent meal. Actually, on the topic of vegetarianism – I dare say such folks can survive on the Faroe Islands, but traditionally food has been scarce and islanders ate what they could. It wouldn’t be an ideal place to have too many food restrictions.

Of interest in that picture from about 1945 is the peat stack. The Faroes have got energy sorted. Electricity is all generated from renewable sources on the islands and as a result the peat stack is no longer much in evidence.

But geese are. This is a photo I took in 2005.

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There are these handsome beasts enjoying a bit of sunshine as they convert indigestible (for humans) grass into poultry meat which we can eat.

And after all that a confession. I have tried eating goose – one of my own – and I thought it had quite an unpleasant flavour. These are very much birds I’m happy to look at and chat with (They don’t understand, of course, but it can feel like they do). I’d rather not eat them.

And with that I’ll remind anyone who feels they look cute, beautiful or anything like that, that these birds would not be there if people didn’t eat them.

And don’t be put off visiting these islands. You can get imported food perfectly easily in supermarkets and the islands and people are just fantastic.

Thorshavn – then and now

April 1, 2014

Thorshavn – then and now

On this blog I write what I want to without much thought about whether others will like it. But I have to say I was touched by comments on a recent piece I wrote on the Faroe Islands and that has tempted me to revisit, as far as this blog goes, those wonderful islands. This time we look at the capital of the islands. In truth Thorshavn is quite a small town.

This photo was taken by father in law when he was posted to these islands in 1944/45.

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Here we see a vibrant, lively street although Doug never recorded what was going on at the time. But clearly there are a lot of islanders out there.

And the Faroe Islands are no different from other places. Where once people ruled the streets, now cars do. This was my photo in 2005.

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Now in truth, when the cruise liners called in, the streets did throng with people. They were people we felt profoundly sorry for with their couple of hours to enable them to say they had done these fantastic islands. The souvenir shops did a roaring trade in those few hours as cruisers had no chance to get out of the town to see other parts of the island.

They probably wouldn’t even have had time to find the waterfall in the park.

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Back in the mid 40s that park looked to be a work in progress. It looked rather more likely in 2005, but we couldn’t guarantee the same view – just a similar one.

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I can find more then and now photos.

Sørvágsvatn

October 21, 2013

 

Regular readers of this blog may recall that Father in Law spent some of World War II as a radio operator in the Faroe Islands, midway between the Shetlands and Iceland.

Whilst ships and boats could brave the wild seas of the North Atlantic, there was no aerodrome at which to land even the smallest of planes. However, the lake on the island of Vágar near the little village of Sørvágur provided a smooth landing for sea planes.

Doug, my father in law, snapped this photo of a seaplane ‘landing’ on the lake. I have been told the plane is a Catalina flying boat. Seemingly these aircraft were in military service from 1935 until 1980

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Doug captioned the photo in the then more prevalent Danish version of the name.

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Our visit came in 2005 when we met a chap called Lars Larson who showed us around the former military areas. This is the lovely Lars.

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Behind Lars, who is sitting in his hotel, you can see that the area now sports an airport. When British forces arrived on the island during WW2 they found an area where a landing strip could be built and this is now the Faroese airport. Jet planes can now make it to these wonderful islands and to make the point, one flew over us, coming in to land.

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Lars was able to show us many places Doug would have known and used. For example, we’d never have known that this block of masonry was the remains of the forces entertainment area. There is every chance that Doug watched films here.

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But Lars also knew what was where on the lake and this was the slipway that Catalinas could be hauled up to get them out of the water.

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It is recognisably the same site as in Doug’s photo from 60 years earlier.

One more photo from Doug’s album I can’t match. It is the outlet and waterfall from the lake, straight into the sea.

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Again, we have Doug’s caption.

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Apparently the winds could be so strong that the falling water got blown back up the waterfall!

Akraberg

July 1, 2013

Akraberg has a special place in family history. My Father in Law spent some of World War II at this very southern outpost of the Faroe Islands. He was a radio operator and this little base helped control the North Atlantic seaways.

Doug (that was his name) took photos and here is one of his snaps. This would have been in 1944 or 45.

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There wasn’t much at Akraberg. We can see on the right there is the lighthouse and the small hut was the paraffin store. Herr Hansen was the chief lighthouse keeper and the nissen, at extreme left provided accommodation for the small band of wireless operators.

There were two other lighthouse keeper houses. One belonged to the Berg family and the other to the Polsen family. This tiny community looked after our boys. One of the Berg girls married one of the RAF lads. They lived in Leeds in Yorkshire, England.

We now move forward 60 years.

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A big radio mast has sprouted up but otherwise it looks much the same. The lighthouse, paraffin store and Herr Hansen’s house are still there. The nissen hut has actually gone but the main difference is that people have gone.

The lighthouse is entirely automatic and people are not required. Two of the houses remain. The third was taken apart and rebuilt in the nearest village, Sumba.

Back then, in 2005, we met one of the Polsen girls who had a house in Sumba

Photography has changed a great deal, of course. I do not know what camera Doug used. I was using about a 5 mpixel camera in 2005.