Touring with Cathleen

Neighbor to the Jorvik Hotel, Cathleen Alfredsson, gave me one of the best days I’ve had since being in Thorshavn. I met her yesterday when I saw her husband Solvi working in his garage on the fetching little people he makes that enhance his front yard.

She graciously invited me into her kitchen for a cup of coffee held in a dainty teacup.

She’s Irish, and has lived in Thorshavn for over twenty years and has raised two sons in the town. She considers herself Icelandic now.

Recently recovering from breast cancer, she was feeling good enough to take me on a long drive to key parts of the area, beginning in town, across the fjord to a farmer’s house, where the young farm lady welcomed us into her home. We were entertained by the cutest baby you could ever see. He didn’t stop smiling at us.

She explained that this is the lambing season going right now. Farmer’s are in their busiest season, shearing the back side of the adult sheep, which keeps them warm, and the farmer’s see to the health of the baby lambs.

I can thank a lamb for the wonderfully warm sweater I wore everyday.

Cathleen drove slow and stopped often whenever I wanted to take a photo, and that ended up to be about fifty shots of sheep, horses, the Fossa waterfall, the clam dump, the harbor, a fisherman and more.

A tall clump of rocks sits near the Fossa waterfall with a little shelf, she told me was used  in the past to place lanterns on so the fishing boats could see they were close to the harbor.

The clam dump looks like a small snow capped mountain. Broken pieces of clam shells have been dumped there from the factory that is now closed. Cathleen, who worked at that factory for awhile, said the fishermen stopped fishing for clams, and the factory closed down. Town folks began to take the shells away for decoration, but the town has decided to do something with the shells that would benefit the town financially. She isn’t quite sure what that is, but as it stands, it’s illegal to take away the shells.

Cathleen drove around the soon-to-be quick freeze, fishing, production plant,to be finished in August.  She showed the current plant that turns fish into fish meal, and also where she has worked in the past. Her sons, and other boys and girls in the town work during the summer months in the factory. I had seen many of them in the Grillskillin, wearing the required hairnets.

Soon herring will be the predominate fish caught and the workers will work in twelve hour shifts, including kids beginning at fifteen years of age.

By the way, Cathleen told me the Grill, as I have been calling it, is referred to as “The Shop.”

We were almost on our way back up the hill when she spotted a fishing boat coming into the fjord, and I had previously told her that I was happy with everything I had seen on my month-long stay, so far, except a fishing boat unloading the catch.

She turned and headed back to the harbor where the fisherman came in and who was met by two examiners. They aren’t in Thorshovn often, but come in once every so often to greet a fisherman, ask for their papers and to look at the fish.

The cod was considered too small by standards, but since it was a small catch, the examiners approved it anyway. One examiner lifted up a fish and said it was too dark of a color, and then showed another one of a lighter color which was more of the standard requirement.

The fish were brought up in baskets and dumped into another bucket filled with ice.

The fisherman, with a ruddy complexion, looked exactly how I imagined a hard working fisherman would look at the end of a fishing trip: strong, healthy and tired at the end of the day. Bet he sleeps well.

The tour with Cathleen ended at “The Shop” where we had a cup of coffee and she greeted nearly everyone who came into the shop. It’s a small town and everyone knows everyone, I have often heard here.

After I was dropped off, I picked up my swim suit and headed to the hot pot and swimming pool, where I met the new headmistress of the high school.

A brilliant sunset closed the brilliant day.

Tomorrow is the last day here, and on Friday morning, I fly to Reykjavik.


2 Responses to Touring with Cathleen

  1. Carla Hamelin

    Next to the boat, their catch and the water…I can imagine the aroma in a good way. Such things are so simple yet give way to rich memories…this adventure of yours is very interesting Laureen! I am enjoying your blog! 🙂

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