“You are going to live/work on a small island that is under quite strict protection due to quite a few very special species of flora and fauna.” they said to me before I canceled my already signed contracts and rearranged my life to move to Norway.
Getting on a train from Oslo, I would have never expected where I am going to end up. I had seen quite a few pictures and videos, but as everybody knows from Tinder, Facebook or Instagram, pictures can be deceiving. That is why I thought it is better not to over imagine things before you actually get to see it. And do not get honey coated by the vast stories which tend to give places the reputation of heaven on earth. There is no such thing.
But boy was I in for a treat. As a person with an adventurous soul who has lived/worked most of his life in big cities, I am drawn to remote locations and situations that bring me out of my comfort zone. Although our island is not that remote, as we still have a takeaway pizza place in the village next to us, using a boat is the only method of transportation to get where you want to go.
Boat trip to a bigger city takes around two and a half hours.
The island has a magnificent although strange history. It was owned privately until the 60s and donated to the local community after that. Our restaurant building was built in 1770 and used as a bakery to produce honey cake for southern Norway and Denmark. But the history goes quite the way back. The king of Denmark built a salt refinery here around 420 years ago which was producing salt for nearly 50 years. I guess Norwegian waters make a better tasting salt.
Our restaurant building.
Now for the strange part. The island has been frightened of for quite a while. In 1999, it got the world record for having the most ticks per acre. Back in the days, the island was completely full of undergrowth and had plenty of wildlife who had probably swam on the island for a holiday but stayed for good. This combo on a small semi-isolated island gave the perfect conditions for ticks to thrive and take over their small kingdom. Nowadays, the undergrowth has been taken care of and the hosts for ticks are perished from the lands, which has made the island a popular getaway place for locals. Although without the major contribution our company puts in keeping the islands flora and fauna under control, the ticks would once again take over what is rightfully theirs, and the joyful memories spent on the island with ones family would seemingly diminish from the hard rock of history.
Cows are brought to our island every summer to munch away on some prime wild garlic and help keep the undergrowth down,
“Livet nytes best i dorgefart” is the moto on the island. That means “life is best enjoyed in trolling speed”. For those who do not know what trolling speed is, it is the speed you drag a fishing lure behind your boat to catch fish. And that tends to be quite slow. The seemingly calm environment turn into havoc around our house when the actual summer season hits. As our restaurants à la carte is open only for 7 weeks a year, people start booking tables even before xmas. No wonder that there is a sign in our staff toilet that says in capital letters “TROLLING SPEED MY ASS”. Although times can be stressful, the kindness of the people and positive attitude makes up for it. There is not that many owners, especially from where I come from, who will gladly jump in and do a few hours of dishes if you are, for some unforeseen reasons, low on staff in the kitchen.
This picture gives the real feel of “living is best enjoyed in trolling speed”.
When the havoc finally settles, the true nature of the island shows its perky cheeks. As our company specializes in everything that is tied to forests, the real fun starts in August. The majority of time is spent taking care of nature reserves around the county. Now how good does that sound? Pretty f*cking amazing if you ask me. As mushrooms start to grow, they get hand picked by the soft fingers of nature lovers and then dried using coastal salty air that has been pushed through a warming system to accelerate the process. Kettles full of meadowsweet are boiled into syrup for you to top up your pancake with some distinctive flavours or add some extra punch to your morning tea. Meadowsweet syrup is the next level of syrups I would say. Ask your grandma, she should know.
Marinated red beets with staranis is one of our handicraft products.
I asked one of the owners that where is the “but” in all of this seemingly too perfect island life. After living and working here for about three months I can say that there are no “buts”. The unfamiliar feeling of being treated like a human is soaking in and slowly but steadily filling my heart. That is the luxury a lot of people in my line of work can not afford. Living in a beautiful place, being surrounded by amazing people and getting to work with quality product makes you smile every morning. And oh, did I mention that we have 6 different in the house handcrafted beers on tap?
I must be in heaven.