Alone with the stillness

Most people have been drinking prosecco to celebrate Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership win…I have had to make do with bread and peanut butter to toast his success. That’s all I’ve had to eat in the last 24 hours, and while I am massively craving some vegetables, I think the simple living has done me good mentally. I woke up to the pouring rain but looking out my living room window onto the stunning fjord hasn’t tired. I had a lazy morning, hoping the rain would pass, so I just did nice things for myself: did a bit of yoga, revised some of my Spanish grammar and got lost in the pages of a man’s recovery from addiction. It was a totally indulgent morning, complete with bread and peanut butter, but I was craving the outdoors after a few hours.

I headed out early afternoon, and though the rain had not subsided, I was armed with waterproofs and the temperature was warm. One of the guys I hitched a lift with yesterday told me there were plenty of trails going up into the hills, so wandered around trying to find out where they were. I walked around Herand first. There’s a shop, which was closed, a restaurant which was closed and a tourist information centre, which was closed, but with the door left open so people could pay for the parking into an honesty box. There were some handpainted signposts in Norwegian that looked like they might take me to a walking trail, so I followed one of those. It took me up to a cluster of wooden houses, then to a field, then dead end. I followed another signpost…the same. I started looking for little paths, they all took me up to houses where they seemed to stop. I walked back down to the tourist centre to see if there was a map outside. There was one, but it was more general, of the wider area, so no foorpaths. It did show me where Folgefonna National Park was, where there’s a huge glacier, so I thought I might try to get to there. I went to the bus stop, but there was no timetable and I thought I could be waiting indefinitely, as it’s Sunday, so I left it. In the end I just decided to walk on the roadside up into the hills. I walked for about 2 hours and it was beautiful and still and I was  surrounded by nature and I was happy and I know this sounds cheesey, but in the moment I let go of a lot. I let go of anger and sadness, because I felt pure, unadulterated joy and this was all that seemed to matter. I love places like this because of the feelings of smallness and insignificance, but also feelings of empowerment. I did find a footpath after a time that led me into the trees, off the main road, but I didn’t stay on it for long as I was really thirsty and didn’t have water. I turned back, and I felt light, and I just enjoyed the quiet. There were cars on the road, but maybe one every 10 minutes, so it was mostly very peaceful.

On my way back to the apartment, I saw someone come out of the restaurant. I thought it would be nice to meet some locals, so after going back to base for water, I went in. There was a bar, a widescreen TV on the wall, a kitchen area, unlaid tables, one of which had a family sitting around it. When I came in, they got up and went up the stairs, where I’m guessing there are maybe rooms for rent. I couldn’t see anyone who appeared to work in the restaurant, so I just sat down with my book and waited. The place smelled strongly of cooked meat and there were no menus around. After a while I wandered around the downstairs, and called out ‘Hello’ but there was no one. There was a cash register there that probably had money in it, but no one in sight. I just left and came back to the apartment and had bread and peanut butter, but the restuarant was very strange.

I’ve loved Herand – the quiet and stillness were just what I needed, but I look forward to going to Voss tomorrow. I have to catch an early boat there, but I have no idea where the boat leaves from and there’s no one around to ask. I think I’ll have to watch out of my window, which is only about 40 metres from the sea, and try to ascertain where it’s headed. Or hopefully the shop will be open and I can ask someone there. Fingers crossed I make it to Voss.