Early autumn on a rocky Arctic Islet

THE LAST THING you want to a pack for a small island in the Arctic is a mobile phone. And I don’t mean it’s the last thing you want to pack, I mean you don’t want to pack one at all. Leave the thing at home. Like packing a low slung Colt forty-five in Dead Man’s Gulch, […]

Arctic life can be a real beach

HAVE YOU EVER woke up after a couple of drinks feeling a like gang of Ancient Egyptians must’ve broken into the house overnight and mummified you? So it’s not just me then? Seriously, opening my eyes to find myself wrapped tight in a sleeping bag, in a very small attic, of a very small schoolhouse, in […]

Life on a small Arctic Island – part one

FOR THE FIRST time since starting my epic northern journey, I managed to write the whole day with hardly an interruption. The other hostel guests had either checked out, or gone sightseeing shortly after getting up. That left the table in the kitchen-cum-dayroom all to myself. Well, not quite; Ann-Ulrika was about. The Swedish photographer […]

The Morning After

IT WAS HALF AN HOUR into Sunday afternoon by the time my gooey eyelids managed to wrench themselves apart. The resulting sensation was a bit like having fine sandpaper coated in blear drawn across your eyeballs. An ensuing blitz of excruciating light had my frontal lobes throbbing like they were attempting to break out of […]

The Secret Island

THERE IS A SECRET island far beyond the Arctic Circle where people don’t lock their doors at night for there is no fear and there are no thieves. An island where small children play on homemade rafts in sparkling waters on summer days that last forever… AND SO BEGINS chapter eight of Pedersen’s Last Dream. Oddly enough, though […]

From Nyksund to Bodø

MY FLIGHT from the ghost town was on. The Lithuanian students would drop Mark and I off, on their way south, next morning. As they’d been far from happy with the paltry wages they’d received from Olau, in return for their long hours of labour, there was a sense of schadenfreude in the arrangement. Even […]

Murder in a Ghost Town – part one

TWO TRAVELLERS with rucksacks wait outside a small hotel in Myre, a nonedescript town on the northern edge of Langøya in Vesterålen. Just up from Lofoten, and beyond the Arctic Circle, it gives the impression people only go there on their way to somewhere else. The midsummer sun has barely managed to heat the stiff afternoon breeze […]

The best hostel in the world – part three

SEASIDE DRIZZLE IS A FEATURE of Britain you get used to from early childhood. No holiday by the sea would be quite complete without it. “Didn’t rain the whole fortnight we were there,” is often said with an air of slight disappointment by many a returning holidaymaker. Being forced to play knockout whist in sopping […]

The best hostel in the world – part two

A ROUNDED MAN in a lived-in sweater, and permanently in need of a shave, Roar has lived on the Lofotens all his life. Like most islanders, he is a man of the sea. Though you wouldn’t think it to look at him, he runs, what was once described as ‘the best hostel in the world’ […]

The best hostel in the world – part one

BEFORE WE START, the one hostel, B&B, pension, whatever you want to call it, in the world, definitely worth avoiding at all costs, is at windswept Ezurum in the far northeast corner of Anatolia. Or used to be. Once you were there, it wasn’t hard to locate. You just asked your helpful bus driver where […]