I’ve actually gone and done it: committed to a month of living on a Norwegian farm and taking the time to learn about communal living, farming, beekeeping, and many other things that I have wanted to do for quite a long time. Added into the mix is a large boat that is in its fourth year of construction and will soon be setting off to sail around the world.
As I flew to Norway, I felt rare peace on the aeroplane. I was away from cities, heading to a quiet world. At the airport, a kind CouchSurfer picked me up and my first day of explorations was spent with him. Then, as I have often done, I hit the road with my thumb, aiming for a small farm a couple of hundred kilometres away where I would be living for a month. Ffteen minutes after putting my thumb out, I slipped in a muddy puddle and stumbled along the road, only for three young girls to stop and pick me up, then buy me strawberries. The strawberries were delicious.
Ten minutes out of their car, I was picked up by an elderly couple who went out of their way to drop me at my farm. As the new kid at school, I had no idea what to expect from the ‘Sea Gypsies’ I was about to meet. Nor did I know what to expect of communal living. Would the people be crazy hippies? Would I fit with this communal living? I was pleasantly surprised to find three lovely people and cake.
At seven on Monday morning, we were woken by a bell and porridge filled with fruit. At eight I headed into the field with a strimmer. I finished strimming at six.
I was still there the next day when it started raining.
In the evening, we began to brew nettle beer for the weekend.
Each day, meals are cooked by one person and everyone eats together, allowing us to spend a lot of good time together. All of the food comes from local skips, and I have been treated to all sorts of culinary delights – reducing wastage, we cook with what we have. So we went ‘shopping.’
Part of my interest in this farm was first sparked by the thought of bees. When I was checking out the hives, I stood with my hands over my ears for around ten minutes before realising that they weren’t going to sting me. Ten minutes after taking my hands off my ears, a bee went in my ear and stung me. Next time I will wear protective clothing. The evening was made better by a swim in a pretty lake and a ride in the back of a van.
I worked on a boat. Not THE boat, but a boat.
With three functional bicycles and one lacking pedals or brakes, we took to the roads and suffered nine crashes due to the fact that we tied the four bicycles together and had no way of slowing down, other than going uphill – at the same time. On the final crash, I ripped open my thigh, knee, and landed on an electric fence which shocked me in the head. It was quite a ride. I limped for a few days, but I’ve had plenty worse. I didn’t even need hospital this time around.
With a day off work, we fixed up another boat, this time a kayak.
Then headed for the forest.
We found a cabin.
And slept in it – with a little guitar playing and nettle beer before bed.
Stopped at the shop for yeast – found 8 packets of cream cheese and 1.5kg of marzipan in the bin as I was leaving. The sun still doesn’t set until after ten at night. It’s still light around midnight.
While Norway is beautiful, the constant interaction with people, of helping each other, but still having time and space for yourself has really got to me – in a good way.
I think I love Norway. And this communal living. Sometimes a place makes a place good – sometimes people make a place good – sometimes it is both.