Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving
From Tautra we headed to Munkeby in the late afternoon. We had booked to stay the night at the Pilgrim Hostel. Our host was a gentle Norwegian farmer named Håkon.
Håkon gave us the use of a 6 bed room in a barn dating from 1681. We climbed a steep set of steps to reach the room. The beds are handmade and comfortable. The room is freshly lined and well insulated and would be cosy in winter. We selected to have sheets and towels provided and they were clean and good.
The combined laundry, bathroom was in the shed next door and we shared that with a French couple and a Norwegian man from Trondheim that paints for a living and goes to the hostel any spare time that he has.
After Håkon showed us the room he asked at what time we would like to dine and suggested 8pm. We looked at our tired children and asked if any earlier dinner could be served so that our children could go to bed. Håkon’s wife was briefly hesitant and explained that the meal of venison that she had intended to serve would take a long time to cook. After a brief consultation with Håkon she cheerfully announced that she could serve us chicken meatballs at 6:30 instead.
Håkon then offered to show our children his goats. He has 4 lovely cashmere nanny goats. We all enjoyed patting and feeding the goats. They loved eating the fresh branches that Håkon broke from his trees and hedges for them.
Next he invited our children to see the playground next to his huge shed. He lets the space to a childcare centre and he helped to build the fun play equipment. It’s a great facility and in keeping with the farmyard theme, he showed us their rabbits.
Our dinner was huge and delicious and hearty. Our children were initially hesitant but soon their meatballs disappeared with gusto and all 4 plates were clean. Served with the meal was a homemade plum cordial from their own plums.
Once our children were settled in bed we took turns going for a walk in the lovely long evening. I was a little nervous about waking down narrow farm lanes on my own as the sun set but Norway feels very safe. I walked to the ruins of a 13th century Cistercian monastery. I spied some toilets nearby and was about to gratefully avail myself of their services when I heard a voice say Hei. I jumped and was so spooked that I didn’t dare to enter the toilets. I don’t know who spoke but a woman was walking her dog about 50m away so perhaps she greeted me. Instead I took a stroll along a Pilgrim trail and ate some berries.
We all slept well and had a hearty breakfast served to us by Håkon. The highlight was the homemade raspberry jam. We asked if we could buy some but they haven’t made their new batch yet so we couldn’t. During breakfast Håkon chatted with us and told us about some of the pilgrims that stay there. Memorably a soldier just returned from Afghanistan had arrived at the hostel in December, his hat covered in snow. He was hoping that the pilgrimage would calm his mind. Håkon is obviously happy with his life and it was a real pleasure to spend time with someone so calm and content. I’d like to stay there again.
After breakfast Håkon was pleased to take us into his big barn to feed the pigs and hens that are kept by the childcare centre. The pigs are 3 months old and will be slaughtered in October. It was pretty difficult to contemplate that while watching those intelligent animals. Two of the hens tried to recapture an egg that one had laid and amazingly they were able to roll it back up the wire netting. They wanted to sit on the egg but couldn’t get it back into the box. It was sad to watch.
After packing up we headed up the hill to visit the Cistercian monastery. We had read that the monks make good French cheese and we were keen to buy some. I had an interesting conversation with a young monk about the origins of the Cistercian order and after a few minutes he invited us to attend the special mass that was about to begin. I pointed to my son and said that we weren’t always good at being quiet but he reassured me that it would be fine. The French couple from the hostel were there and we discovered that they are his parents. We sat along the back row of the small Chapel and our children were amazingly quiet. After the 1 hour mass the monks chatted with us, gave us chocolates, remarked on us being Australians and when they discovered that we live in Trondheim they invited us to come back again!