The third day of Staff Mobility Week was an all day excursion, visiting interesting places key to Norwegian economy, life, and culture. It was an early start, which wreaked havoc on my body clock. Because gets light so early, we all had trouble sleeping – it only got dark after midnight, and you’d wake up at 3am thinking you’ve overslept because it was as bright as midday.
All three groups – Library, IT, and Health & Safety – went on the excursion. It was really nice to chat with the other groups and catch up on what we’d all been doing. The day was excellently planned, and I commend the SMW organisers for shepherding that many people so effectively. We were like excited children going on a school trip.
First was Technology Centre at Mongstad oil refinery – called by the Norwegian Prime Minister “Norway’s moon landing”. We were given a presentation in English about this the largest carbon capture test facility. Unfortunately, due to the specialist nature of this subject, it included quite a bit of jargon – I sometimes struggled to follow it, and I know my European colleagues garnered even less. However, a guided tour in our coach around the facility was a interesting experience.
We also had a tour around the oil refinery – again fascinating, but I found it a strange experience to reconcile with my own political/environmental views. Nevertheless, it is something I would never have had the chance to do otherwise.
Following this, we took a ferry to the North Sea island Fedje (pronounced Fii-ya). Here we had a warming lunch of creamy salmon soup.
A local of Fedje gave us a guided tour and a little of the history of Fedje, including a mercury-laden German U-Boat which was sunk just off the coast. A few years back, Fedje experienced an awful oil spill from a tanker, but there was no trace of it due to fantastic clean-up efforts.
Hopping back on the ferry, we travelled to the Norwegian Knitting Industry Museum in Salhus (Sol-hoos). I can imagine many librarians in the UK would be excited by this museum!
The museum used to the factory for Krone-Marco knitwear, but went out of business in the 1980s. It’s since been converted to a museum, but still retains the working machinery. Our guide was able to demonstrate the machines, which really drove home how loud, claustrophobic, and dangerous it was to work there.
The community of Salhus had formed around the factory, so it is great to see it living on as a museum. Though the working machines may have worried some of our Health and Safety group colleagues!
We returned to Bergen, having seen a side of Norway the tourists may not get to. The oil refinery at Mongstad, the fishing and whaling community of Fedje, and the legacy of the textile industry in Salhus, all offering a unique insight into Norway – but, as my Norwegian colleagues pointed out, certainly not the whole story.