Tony Penultimate

A Trip to the North Pole

Children, our own little bullets into the future, are a far more reliable indicator of the passage of time than any timepiece can ever be - I came across this old scrapbook of my daughter Poppy's (she's now 11) made when the UOGB went to play the Polar Jazz Festival near the North Pole, its almost exactly five years to the day (February 2013) and I thought it would throw an interesting perspective on the whole experience, to show you (its definitely one of the more peculiar gigs that we've done).

Just to keep you some background - we were invited to play at this annual festival on the Norwegian island of Svalbard (the closest landmass to the Pole - 1000km). This involved three separate flights to get there: London-Oslo, changing planes for Oslo-Tromso (top of Norway) where we spent the night, and then another flight to Longyearbyen (capital of Svalbard) the next day.  So I’ll let Poppy tell you the story (with some annotations by me).



 Eating sushi at Heathrow before the flight to Oslo

 Goodbye Heathrow




Tromso (later the next day)



Family Brooke Turner at Tromso - note that at age 6 - Poppy has already mastered the art of the showbiz smile....

 Another view of Tromso

Poppys ticket

Departure board Tromso airport - showing our flight to Longyearbjen

Getting on the plane to go to Svalbard

Allways worth trying to get to see the Captain!


She did actually get in to see the Captain halfway through the flight, but we took this photo when we landed


It's cold here!

Arrival in Svalbard

It's true, the Queen of Norway was passing through....

The Spitsburgen Hotel - it was a Radisson Blu that we stayed in (and played in)

Signpost giving distances to major cities, plus a warning to watch out for polar bears!


We played in the hotel itself, a venue which holds approx 150/200 people - so, in retrospect, we had taken three flights and flown 3000 miles to do what was essentially a pub gig! I understand that the festival is subsidised by the Norwegian government, as some sort of cultural entertainment for residents of Svalbard (many scientists work there).

Poppys Artists pass.

The gig went well

Dad sings 'Hot Lips' - perfect for a cold climate.
The next day, Poppy, Gilly and me got up at the crack of dawn to go on a sleigh ride, pulled by husky dogs, it was cold and dark and we had to wear heavy clothes to keep us warm.

With Jonty in the boot room at the Spitsbergen Hotel

Skidoo ride to the Husky Dog place....

The kennels where the dogs lived/slept etc. I didnt take any photos on the ride as I was hanging on for dear life trying to steer the thing.

One of the dogs says hello

This is Roger (above) who was our guide on the sleds - he pulled one with my wife Gilly in it and I rode the other sled with Poppy, talk about scary! Roger had a rifle to scare away (not shoot) any polar bears we might meet (Svalbard has a population of 2600 bears - all protected). However sometimes when they get hungry, the bears often wander into town searching for food!

We met a Norwegian family who were also taking a sleigh ride and Poppy made friends with their daughter Karolina.

Dried seals hanging up!

During the afternoon, we rejoined the rest of the Ukes at a typical trappers lodge nearby, to jam and hang out - Poppy asked the band to send a greeting to her schoolmates! Later we performed a ritual burning of a sacrificial ukulele to appease the Nordic Gods (or something like that) it must have worked, as we're still gigging.

Damn, those tricky chords!


Sacrificial Ukulele

Then, almost as soon as we had got there, it was time to go back - it had been quite an adventure!

Goodbye Svalbard! 

Statue of a Polar bear at Longyearbjen airport......

Beautiful Oslo in the snow

While the Ukes continued back home to London, Family Brooke Turner stayed over one extra night to go and look around Oslo. capital of Norway. For a family that is always yelling at each other (wife Gilly and I both have bad hearing) it seemed like a good idea to visit the National Gallery and pay tribute to Edvard Munch's classic painting "The Scream"

Heading home to London

here are some more facts about Svalbard from her scrapbook




Magical stuff!
Adventure in cold north!
Wow! That was awesome. A great documentary of a trip to the North Pole! Well done Poppy and Dad!

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