I spent some time going through entries in a “hyttebok” (literally cabin bok) or “dagbok” (diary) for a small cabin owned by the family of my great-grandfather some two hours hike into the forest from my mother’s hometown Hegra. These cabin guestbooks are a wonderfully fun source to read through as well as being of special interest to my family since some of the entries are written by my grandfather, great-grandfather and other relatives.
Like many such cabins in the region, anyone passing through the forest was free to stay (one entry shows four men, probably loggers, stayed for three months) as long as they cut wood to replace what they used, cleaned the floors, made the beds, and any money visitors left in the cabin was used for upkeep. Some of the entries are simply hilarious. Some contain poems, some have drawings, and others scold previous visitors for not chopping up wood to leave for the next visitor. Some reveal interesting customs from decades past or talk about the activities of the inhabitants. August entries almost all refer to picking tyttebær, and in one 1932 entry we learn that my great-grandfather and grandfather had a father and son stay in the cabin that involved the recreational, “firing of revolvers.”
One entry I came across from 1935 was, alone among all the entries, written in English. The entry was signed, “From an Englishman” but I think some careful textual analysis might furnish some reasons to doubt the nationality of the writer:
We was coming here about one o’clock, and we like this småll hous very good. Åsta is gon and fiks the bed now, and she want me to go too and I hope she will get an good bed friend. Olav and Marie shall altso go to bed, but I think they do something rong, because Olav is like an young horse. Marie says kiss me but I don’t want it because Olav don’t want it.
The best wishes to every body.
From an Englishman