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5:27pm on Friday, 7th July, 2017:



We awoke this morning in the town of Andalsnes, or Aandalsness if you want to pay attention to the circle there should be above the A, or AndalSNES if you're a Nintendo console fan. With a population of 3,000, Andalsnes is a cheerful town, somewhat more modern-looking than the places we've been to so far; but for its mountainous setting, it could be pretty well anywhere in Europe.

Andalsnes fought hard to get the "town" designation, I assume because by Norwegian law you can't have a state monopoly alcohol store unless you are one. It's so remote that the house prices are on a par with those of Colchester.

Many of the shops in downtown Andalsnes seem to be multi-purpose. The opticians is also the jewellers, for example. This is how things used to be in England before cars became popular, but you don't see it so often now; a shame, I quite like the element of surprise. The clothes shops sell either hyper-new sports gear for climbing rocks and jumping off mountains and so on, or they're still trying to shift all that stock they bought in after the end of wartime rationing.

Our trip today was to a stave church in a place famous for its stave church. It was actually quite pretty, although I don't know how much of it is original and how much of it is "the wind blew the roof off in 1734 and we had to put on a new one". After that, we went to the Troll Wall, which is a sheer rock face that's quite impressive but I don't know that I'd have realised it was famous if I hadn't been told. Apparently, you can see the faces of trolls in the various patterns on the rock faces. This seems to be the Norwegian equivalent of Disneyland's hidden Mickeys.

Trolls are big business here. Every town and village, no matter how small, appears to have display of trolls in at least one of its shops. The thing is, though, that they're the same trolls. It's as if the state monopoly on alcohol sales extends to troll sales, too. No matter where you go, it's always the same damned set of trolls on sale.

There are no different kinds of trolls from different manufacturers, just these. I suppose if there's only one supply ship traversing ythe fjords then there will be a lot of similarity between what shops cn sell, but Andalsnes has a railway, it can bring in goods from other sources, yet it still only sold those trolls.

No, I haven't bought any. I don't actually like them. I might like other ones if I ever see any, but I don't like these. The comedy long noses put me off.

Every Norwegian town and village, no matter how small, also has a shop selling wool. Given how expensive jumpers are here, I'm not surprised they prefer to make their own.

Latest news on the crewmember who was helicoptered off is that she's stable and recovering. We haven't had any news on the passenger who held up our departure today by being carried off in an ambulance, though. They're probably on a train to Trondheim.

It's "60s and 70s" night on the ship tonight. We're supposed to dress up like we did in our teens. Good luck with that, P&O. Maybe if you'd mentioned it before we set off, we might have packed something to wear (although obviously I wouldn't have done so myself, because I'm a spoilsport when it comes to sartorial matters). If they'd chosen 50s instead, at least we could have bought something from the clothes shops in Andalsnes.

Not sure if I have a signal on my phone now, so fingers crossed...

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Copyright © 2017 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).