A few weeks ago, first light in Halden was around 3:30am and the sun appeared over the hill at about 7:00. I left the quayside an hour later and came back to work as the sun was going down. It was almost dark for an hour or so around 1:00am before the cycle started again.
At home, at this time of year, the sun’s daily routine describes an arc which appears to be roughly semicircular. Here, it seems to be more like a horse-shoe. It’s perfectly obvious why but, until you notice it, you don’t notice it – so to speak (photos of the factory premises are strictly forbudt, hence the artwork). I mention all this because I find myself back in Norway, though this time on the day shift. My fellow magnetiser, Janecki z Krakowa, drew the short straw as, in sharp contrast to a couple of weeks ago, the temperature slips below double figures during the night. Locals concede that they have two winters – one white, one green. The problem is that when the green one comes along, the heating’s gone off.
It must have been the subject of some discussion because on two separate occasions, someone has popped their head around the door of our magnetising hut and remarked that an Englishman drinks tea from only china and perhaps I would like a cup from the work’s canteen. They’re a generous and obliging lot and I’m careful to decline their offers with a jolly discourse on the merits of my paper cup (which I notice has sprung a leak) and the evils of the ubiquitous earthenware mug. One of them wouldn’t hear of it and brought me a porcelain mug from home!
Looking South from the factory, down the Ringdasfjorden, you’d be forgiven for assuming (as I did) that Sweden would be on your left but at Vassbotten, 40 kilometres South of Halden, the border between the two countries hooks back on itself and runs North along the Idefjorden before turning East and heading out to sea. That makes the big lump on the right, Sweden.
My last but one visit to the Skagerrak was memorable for various reasons, but the thing that stuck in my mind was a piece of fillet steak I had in the mess for which you might recall, I noted the cooking instructions. There’s a temporary chef on board at the moment and I’ve had this evening, another superb piece of fillet, every bit as good as the last. I think it’s about giving the meat plenty of time to stabilise at room temperature and then cooking it slowly at 150°C. I bought a square inch of fillet (short commons that week) to test the theory, but promptly forgot about it. That’s the trouble with freezers – they’re a bit like attics in that respect.
In the factory’s canteen here in Halden, there are daily, several dishes to choose from but no indication of what costs what. That’s because at the till, your plate is placed on a set of electronic scales and you’re charged by weight.