Wednesday, 30 January 2013

When in Rome...

I decided I would join a sports club here in Norway. Partly because I might have a chance of becoming a little fitter, partly because it is yet another way of meeting people. Now, there are several sports Norwegians luuuurve. Either to see or to do. So, I just had to pick.

The main indoor sport is handball. As in the other Scandinavian (ie Danish and Swedish) countries, it is very big here, both on tv and to do it yourself. I used to love playing handball in school. But I also remember from school that when someone throws that ball at you, it can be very painfull. Especially if you're a goalie (which I always seemed to be in school). So, no handball.

A Northern Irish football team I ferried around a few years back
Another big summer/indoor sport is football (the one with a round ball). Let me not waste any time on that: NO WAY!

In 1992
Then the Norwegians are even bigger on the wintersports. You name it, they love it. Anything on snow and in a lesser degree on ice. But there is not really that much snow around here. At least not in Haugesund. Which in turn means no downhill skiing, no ski-jumping (as if I would ever do that) and certainly no crazy antics on a snowboard. 

There are of course the lesser (ie less dangerous) snow sports: cross country skiing and biathlon. But again: no snow, even though I would love to try out cross country skiing some day. Biathlon is a bit much. I might have won a trophy once in shooting, but I think I would be rubbish at the outdoor version with a heartbeat that's going through the roof. Both of those therefore are also out. 

Ice hockey training in Edmonton, Canada (in the mall!)
The ice-sports then. Like skating. Well, my father may be a bit disappointed that I never took up skating properly, but really, the only way I was ever able to stop myself on skates was just to ram into a wall or fall over. So, speed skating on both long and short track and even more obvious figure skating are not for me. Ice hockey does have a lot of ramming into walls, but I doubt my way is the way to do it. 

The last sport on ice is of course curling. Or, as my Mum would say, tea kettle sliding. I know they have a club here. And I know it's highly addictive to watch it on television. But no. It's just not... no...

Did I fool you?
So, what sport did I pick? What did I go to the sport shop for to buy. Getting everything from shoes and shirts and shorts to... a badminton racket!

It may be a sport more associated with the Chinese and Indonesians, but I have always loved to play. I looked up where they were to play, sent an e-mail, got a reply and last night I made my way over to the training area. There were two more 'elderly' women (I am elderly?) who I played with and had a great time. I will definitely go back! 

Monday, 28 January 2013

The Union Gazette

Mara Jellema had joined a union and spoke Norwegian
when she came to Norway to drive a bus
Photo by Vegard Holm
As I got back to the staff room today, the union rep asked me whether I had been on Facebook today. Well, no, I hadn't as a matter of fact. Turns out, the interview was published! Remember about the interview? If not, read here!

And here, for your pleasure, the English translation of the Norwegian article:

With the union book in her luggage

Dutch Mara Jellema is not like most.

After thirteen years as a coach driver in her home country she wanted to go out in the world. It was a choice between Canada and Norway. It became Norway, because it was here she found a job as a [bus]driver. Today she drives a bus for Tide in Haugesund.

She started to learn Norwegian in November 2011. Mara Jellema never went to Norwegian classes {not quite right, he must have misunderstood slightly}, but learnt the language from a book course, but first and foremost through listening to NRK P1 {Norwegian national radio station}, something she did in all her free hours. 

Organised before she arrived
Mara has always been union organised, so when it became clear that she had gotten herself a job, she sent an e-mail to LO {National Union}, in which she wrote that she wanted to become a member. The e-mail -which was written in both Norwegian and English- got an answer three days later. From the union rep for Tide in Haugesund, John Terje Nordskog. He also got Mara a place to live.

She has already been to the first annual meeting in the club {Tide has its own NTF-club for all its members}.

The best job
On the 27th of November of last year Mara came to Norway. On the 2nd {3rd actually} she started her training to get her Norwegian kjoreseddel {well, not quite, but let's not get back to that story}. On Wednesday 9th of January Mara Jellema had her first ordinary shift as a bus driver in Norway and Haugesund. 

-I like to drive a bus and I like to communicate with people. It's the best job to have, she says.

-How long do you think you will stay in Norway?
-I have no idea. Perhaps five years, perhaps the rest of my life, she answers.

Mara has lived in several other countries before: England, Italy, Yougoslavia, France and Belgium. In March she will move into a newly done-up apartment {well, that was before...}. And her two cats Wuppie and Linette will come to their new home in Haugesund.

Friday, 25 January 2013


I blog. As you know. Because if you didn't know, you wouldn't be here reading what I blog about. Which is sometimes interesting, sometimes weird, sometimes boring. I know. I will blog about nearly anything. When I visited Jacky in Canada last year, she actually said I would blog about a wrong fart or something like that. She is right. I probably would. I think it's interesting. If you don't, no bother. You don't have to read what I write. I am not forcing anybody. 

But apparently there are a lot of anybodies out there who read my blog. My family for one. And my friends. When the accident happened last year and I didn't blog, family friends were on the phone within no time to ask my parents what was what! It's a comforting thought. Through my blog I have also found new friends. From Canada and the United States. From Belgium and Great Britain. And lately quite a few of my facebook friends have found their way to my blog. Some of them are former colleagues who want to know what's up with me. They wonder how I am getting on at 59 degrees North. 

There are however also people that read my blog that I never hear from. I know a lady in the Netherlands who reads my blog. She never replies, we have never met, but I do know she reads my tiny blog (hint hint). 

And then there are the Russians. This month, most of my 'visitors' came from Russia. I don't know anybody from Russia. I have never met a Russian. I have never been to Russia. The only words I know are njet and borsjt. And what about the Ukranians? The only thing I know about them is that they were the bad and then the good guys in the remake of 'The Italian Job'. Swiss, Germans, French, Swedes? Really? Who are you people? Would you be so kind to just leave one comment here to let me know it's not some weird computer thingy that is trying to hack my blog? 


United States
United Kingdom

Thursday, 24 January 2013

To move or not to move...

Not my view right now
There are too many trees anyway
I live in a small one bedroom apartment. It's quiet here, I have a little bit of a view and even though the rent is apparently quite high, I knew that coming in and am not too bothered by it. Besides, included in the rent (of 6500 kroner) is electricity, which can easily run up to a 1000 kroner a month, water, tv and internet. So yes, it may be on the expensive side, but I don't have to bother with anything. 

I think it's a woodpecker
Of course, one bedroom is not really enough. For my books and dvd's alone I would need a second room. Oh, and for guests of course. But they are not a permanent feature. Another of course is that I would love to have my big red monster here. Yes, Linette would be very welcome too, but it's Wuppie who has always been my favourite. For crying out loud: I cried out loud for him when I had to let Pepperfly take him to the best home he could dream of! Probably even better than my own... Anyway....

Wuppie and Linette would have a field day with this view!
I had an offer for a two bedroomed place. Where I could have cats as well. There was a garden and all! Right next to a huge concrete car park and a rather busy road! The price of the apartment was lower than what I pay now (only 6000), but only water was included. So, in the end I decided to stay put and keep on the search for another place. One that does have a green garden next to more green gardens! After all, I don't want Wuppie and Linette to be run over by a car the minute they move to Norway!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013


When my sister stayed here, she was treated to a lovely cold bedroom. I have never liked a warm bedroom, and since I only have a sort of space heater to heat the bedroom up, I don't bother with it. 

Well, my sister might not like my cold bedroom anymore. I know I don't. Because I start feeling like a polar explorer in there. I have added three thin and one thick blanket to my winter duvet, because it is quite cold in there. 

Look at the thermometer. Yes, you read it right: it says five degrees Celsius (41 Fahrenheit!). Which means my room is only five degrees! That's the same temperature as the inside of my fridge! 

I might use the space heater for an hour before bedtime now. Just to get the worst of the cold out. Although I still have two more blankets, a thick pair of pyjamas and an old fashioned hot water bottle to stave off the cold!

Monday, 21 January 2013

I got out!

The beginning. As you can see I wear a hat and my hoodie.
It was too cold otherwise!
Of the house that is. And I went into the backyard. Of Haugesund. Which is basically a large nature reserve with lakes and mountains. But I will start at the beginning. First I walked down-hill to the busstation. From there I took a ten-minute ride on the bus. And then I walked. Uphill. For two and a half hours! 

The path started off smooth and nice and there were even streetlights. And then the streetlights stopped and the path got progressively worse and pebbly and stony. And as I said, it was uphill. Now, I wasn't really sure where I was going. I figured if there was something at the other end of the path I would see it and then go back the same way. Or, I would find a name that was familiar and go there. Which was what happened in the end. I walked to the end of the path to Kroken Lake (I think), turned back and headed up to Steinsfjellet. Which is where I wanted to go anyway, even if I did know it was uphill. 

Plus robins, black birds and a woodpecker!
The surroundings were beautiful though. Not a sound to be heard, other than the occasional bird or the whistling of the wind. Oh, and the water of course. Because even though the brooks and creeks were all frozen over, you could still hear the water running and babbling beneath the ice. The path was quite tricky at times, especially the bit up Steinsfjellet. I had to cross a bridge and from there on, there wasn't so much a path as a way up I suppose. At times I wasn't sure where I was supposed to go, but I just had to follow the tracks made by others. 

This was the pathway up! And yes, it was pure
The way up was made even more difficult by the water. Because that has a habit of running down. And of freezing when the temperatures are below zero. And I had to go up. I managed to stick mostly to the rocks and stones though and made it safely to Steinsfjellet. From where I had an amazing view over Haugesund and its surroundings. This time in the bright sun. 

The view from Steinsfjellet
From there however it was another 2,5 km hike. Granted, the road was a proper road and it was all downhill, but I think I will sleep very soundly tonight. And I guess I am lucky I am a busdriver: I sit down for a living...
Running downhill? He must be mad!
He wasn't the only one though...
The top of Steinsfjellet

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Party Time!!

Sometime last week I got a phone call from our company's union rep: whether I was coming to the party yesterday? Since I was thinking he was talking about the party in Bergen (which was next month?) and I had to work both yesterday and today I told him I couldn't! But while I was at work yesterday he phoned me again: what time was I working yesterday and today? Well, early yesterday and late today, so perhaps I could go. 

He picked me up from the busstation to take me to the venue where the party would be held: only a five minutes' drive (Bergen is over three hours). I had seen on facebook that it was some sort of fancy dinner we would be attending, so I was fortunate to have changed from jeans to proper trousers. Turned out to be a real fancy dinner: men in suits and ties and women in dresses. I stood out a bit in my black trousers, but I had made the effort I could, since I don't have all my clothes here and I certainly don't own anything that fancy. 

This is NOT crème brulée!!
I met the big boss of the union (I think), there were greeting drinks, white table cloths and candles and nice food. We started off with asparagus soup, the main course was some type of meat which tasted really nice and I could use it to finish off all those sopp (or mushrooms in English) and dessert was crème brulée. Now, that is my favourite type of dessert, so you can imagine my surprise and little disappointment when the crème brulée arrived and it turned out to be a chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream. It tasted great, but it was no crème brulée!

The live music reminded me a bit of those hotels in England.
I left early, partly because I was cold (the heating wasn't working), partly because I was tired and I guess even partly because I still wondered a bit what I was doing there (apparently a lot of the original invitees had cancelled because of illness and they needed to make up the numbers). It was a nice evening though and I had a lovely chat with a nurse-to-be, who was seated next to me. Because of the music (live) she was hard to understand though, so I had to lean in time after time to hear what she was saying. But I think I got it all or at least most of it.

Friday, 18 January 2013


Healing well
Last Saturday I had the tiny mishap with a sharp knife (one of the stitches came out today: all by itself) and I had a union meeting. At that union meeting several people were present, amongst which our local union leader. And at some point she told me that they all thought my story was so good, it should be written about. As a matter of fact, a reporter for the Union Gazette (not its real name by the way) was coming to Haugesund this week!

So, yesterday as I was dreaming a nice dream, I was rudely waken up by the phone: could I make it down to the LO-headquarters in Haugesund before 2pm? I got showered, had some breakfast, picked up the mail, went up to the office to (finally) hand in my tax cards and went to the LO-headquarters here in Haugesund.

They had better use photoshop to get rid of that nasty zit!
I was met by the local union rep, the company union rep (who had helped me find my place to live) and the reporter. I was asked when I started to learn Norwegian, how I did that, why I chose Norway and all sorts of other questions. He even wrote down the names of my two most beloved in the world: Wuppie and Linette. After that he took some photos and that was it: the interview was over. 

It will soon be published in 'Transportarbeideren' (or the Union Gazette, whichever you prefer) and I will be read about by thousands of Norwegians. Of course, when it is published, I will make sure to get a copy to put on here! Which could then mean I will be read by thousands tens of anyone out there!


Tuesday, 15 January 2013


There are several colleagues of mine who are not of Norwegian descent. Icelandic, Danish, Polish and of course Dutch. Some have lived here for years, others (like me) have only just arrived. And they will tell you different things about how to deal with a certain issue. Like the dentist.

My Dutch colleague never goes to the dentist in Norway: too expensive. Nor does he frequent a Norwegian hairdresser: too expensive as well. He travels to Germany quite often and goes to dentist and hairdresser there (hm, just thinking how in the olden days, that would have been one visit!). It's cheaper there. Then again, he can use a hairtrimmer if he needs a haircut. I need a bit more. 

His advise to me was to wait until I would go home to visit either a dentist or a hairdresser. But that would mean my teeth might be so bad by then (as if) that I would need a complete pull and wooden teeth! It would save on dental costs in the future, but I don't think it's an option. Same with the hairdresser. I have had long hair and am not planning on going back to it, no matter how much my father loves it. So, dentist and hairdresser in Norway it is. 

NOT a new photo, but my hair looks similar!
First it was the dentist. She took x-rays and checked my teeth. She removed plaque and complimented me on my good teeth: it was very seldom she saw anybody over the age of 30 with teeth as good as mine! Then she told me to come back in a year's time. And all that for only 752 kroner (about 100 euro/135 US dollar). Not bad!

Then it was the hairdresser. I had been to the hairdresser shortly before leaving the Netherlands, but the colouring hadn't been done as good as it otherwise had been done. So, I needed double colouring here. Which meant that it cost more than it usually would. But she did a great job and next time it shouldn't be double the amount I pay in the Netherlands. 

And now I don't look 'mevrouwish' anymore!!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

The union

The room where the meeting was held. I was sat right behind
that pole, which seriously impaired my vision!
I knew before I came to Norway that the unions were very important. Since I had been a union member in the Netherlands during my busdriving carreer, I wanted to become a member again once I got to Norway. So, I got in touch with the biggest union in Norway and got some information. Which in turn led to me being a member from the second day of my being here!

Thai food and Danish beer. Yes, I am in Norway!!
Last night we had a union meeting. The boss of Kolumbus (which is the company that hires Tide Buss to do all the public transport in the area I live) gave a little presentation, as did a traffic/transport rep to the Parliament. We had a great Norwegian dinner (consisting of spring rolls, rice and chicken curry. Something to do with our leader being married to a lovely Thai lady). with beer and wine and then two more people gave a little talk. The first was the leader of the Bergen branch, which basically oversees the Haugesund branch and the second was somebody from Oslo who was a representative for the whole country apparently.

We voted (before dinner by the way), although I wasn't quite sure who or what for. Then again, neither did my neighbours, who are both Norwegian! Turns out, a member wanted to be part of the 'board' and that meant the other person had to come out. So, we had to vote. There were several more members who wanted in or were already in and wanted to stay in, but that didn't require any voting. A bit confusing.

fltr: the rep from Oslo, the rep from Bergen and the rep from Haugesund
I am standing behind them
I was asked out after dinner, but what with my visit to the doctor and my upcoming visit to the dentist and not having been paid yet, I was lacking somewhat in the monetary department. So, I decided to go home. I said goodbye, got involved in a chat, said goodbye again, got involved in another chat and in the end I stayed until a quarter to twelve! And then I went home! 

I think I may have understood about a third of all that was being said that evening, but then again, a month ago it would have only been about a tenth! With the chats being one on one (or two/three on one) they were easier to understand. We talked about how I got here, what I could offer the union (my languages being one) and several more subjects. It was good!

There is also a surprise coming up (it certainly was a surprise to me), but since I only know the basics at this point, I will not elaborate and just keep you in suspense. 

Saturday, 12 January 2013

The Saturday Plan

Imagine this when it's bright and sunny and the sun is going down!
I had a really good plan for today. Since the weather is beautiful, I thought I would go hiking and possibly see the sunset from the vantage point my sister and I found together. Until I realised that that wouldn't happen until after 5pm and I have a union meeting at 5pm! So, on to plan B. 

Plan B was to clean my house, do some grocery shopping and watch biathlon. And then go to the union meeting. A great plan and it started off really well. Because you can't clean a house (or a small apartment for that matter) on an empty stomach, I had taken some rolls from the freezer and stuck them in the oven, so I would have lovely warm buns for breakfast. As soon as they were hot, I took out my new Norwegian breadknife (the one I had used to nearly slice the top of my finger off only a few weeks ago) and proceeded to try and half my hand. 

The offender
Yes, you read right: I sliced right into my hand and it started gushing blood. Fortunately I am not squeamish or I might have swooned right there and then, but I needed something to stop it from bleeding asap. I nearly ran into the bedroom and raided what is left of my first aid kit. I had a lot back in the Netherlands, but I had decided I didn't need most of that stuff. So, I had thrown it out. Just a sticky plaster would have to do.

The cut was however on the deep side and as I was getting onto my computer, the sticky plaster was already obsolete and I needed a lot of tissues. I got a new sticky plaster, closed the computer and decided I would go to the A & E department. As I headed down, the landlady came back from her run and she took me in, gave me a better bandage thingy and then proceeded to drive me down to the doctor's office. 

Three stitches underneath the bandage.
Not bad for a Saturday morning...
Well, I was in and out in an hour, it cost me 353 kroner and I now, for the very first time in my life, have three stitches. Which need to be removed in two weeks' time! 

Does anybody need a good breadknife? I'll mail it anywhere in the world, free of charge!! No bandages included...

Thursday, 10 January 2013


I loooove catnip!
Yesterday I started my very own shift and a late one at that. I had to start 14.16 and would be finished around 23.30. And it started off fantastic: the on-board computer was out of order, so no tickets could be sold, but I could also not see whether I was on time or not. Fortunately I had my work sheet with me and I think I did relatively well. 

The second part of the shift was a route that was a bit further out of town. For safety reasons I had written the route down and taken that with me, so I would be sure I wouldn't make any mistakes. Plus, this time the on-board computer did work. Of course the on-board computer together with my notes made sure I got confused and I exited the main road one exit early. I realised immediately though and turned around at the end of the exit and got straight back on to the E134 towards Oslo. I lost about 3 minutes, but in the grand scheme of things: what's three minutes in a lifetime?

It was hard to see the road at some points, because of the massive glare from within the bus and the oncoming traffic, but I don't think I left anybody behind and if I did, they probably didn't use any reflectors of any kind! After I had a short break in the middle of nowhere I drove back to Haugesund, this time the correct route, and had a larger break in our break room. 

The third and last part of the shift was town work again. Which quickly got quite boring, since it was already late and there were hardly any people on the bus! Which in turn led to me having to drive well under the speed limit, so I wouldn't be early everywhere! That was a change I can tell you! 

I made some money for the company though, I didn't shortchange anybody and missed all major potholes. Today I will have an even later shift, only starting after 5pm. On the plus side though: we get a 25% addition to our pay for every minute over 6.30pm, which isn't too shabby! It should make my paycheck come February quite nice!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Potholes and old ladies

My very own money bag!
Late on Monday I finally got a text saying I would have to start between 7 and 7.30am on Tuesday, which is definitely a lot better than starting at 6am I can tell you. I think I was at work sometime around 7.15 and my coach was there as well. I haven't been coached by him that much, because first he had another driver to coach and by then I had decided to go it alone and get as many routes under my belt as possible. And the only time he did coach me it was only a half day ànd he had never driven the route before himself!

Anyway, I would have to start close to 8am and then make it an incredibly boring day for the regular driver. Since all he had to do now was sit or stand and watch. And I know exactly how boring that can be. I had to do two routes yesterday: route 5 and route 2. And apart from the regular driver telling me once to take a right hand turn (I knew that, I just hadn't seen the right hand turn yet, it is in the middle of a field really), I drove like I had driven the routes before. 

I managed to hit one pothole and a big one at that. I shortchanged one lady, but the regular driver was there to correct me, especially since it was his money I was playing with and I closed the doors on some old ladies who were in the middle of getting off. I noticed however and quickly opened them again. The second time around I managed to miss the big pothole, drove slower over some nasty speed bumps, didn't shortchange anyone, used my mirrors for passengers getting off and was able to tell people what bus they needed, which felt great!

As we finished the last route my trousers started ringing. Someone at the office was calling me. Since I was near anyway, I went to see him immediately. And guess what. As of this afternoon I will be going it alone! Yes, you read right. They are trusting me enough to do it on my own. Either that or they have a lack of drivers, I just hope it's the first one. So, they gave me a money bag and they gave me some money so I can start. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013


Guess which one I like!
One of the things that you notice on tv here in Norway immediately: they don't dub. Which is great of course, since I have always found it very off-putting to hear a voice say things that you know the mouth you see doesn't! Plus they always seem to sigh and heave a lot more in the dubbed versions. At least in Germany they do and I have never yet noticed the Germans being a very sighing and heaving nation. Back to Norway however...

Nearly all programs are actually subtitled, the exception of course being most Norwegian programs plus dubbed cartoons and disney series (like Hannah Montana and I-Carly). My favourite program to watch is a Swedish program: lyxfällen. They had a similar program on the BBC years ago, about some nitwit who's gotten him/herself so deep in the mire, straws are the only thing providing them with oxygen. Money wise that is. Actually it was that programme from the BBC that gave me the kick up my backside to do something about my own precarious situation several years back. But I digress. 

The Swedish have a similar program, although they have cut out all the mumbo-jumbo about bad childhoods and stuff and just get on with the matter at hand: no money for the rent, but a closet full of clothes. People have to sell their cars, their clothes, their mantoys. All to get out of that mire. Now, the reason I watch a Swedish programme with Norwegian subtitles isn't so much the programme itself as it is one of the presenters. Someone I wouldn't mind sharing a beschuitje with I can tell you (see photo at the top). 

This post however wasn't going to be about a Swedish programme with Norwegian subtitles. It was going to be about television in general and the BBC in particular. Because for all the channels they have here (Norwegian, Swedish and Eurosport, Discovery and the like), they don't broadcast the BBC! They have BBC news, BBC entertainment with a massive backlog of QI, BBC Lifestyle with a lot of Extreme Home Makeovers which isn't even from the BBC and BBC ? which is all about documentaries. But no regular BBC 1-4. 

At Christmas this lack of channels was severely felt by myself in particular! Because no BBC equals no Doctor Who. And if you've read my blog before, you know I love my Doctor Who! No point in crying over spilt milk (or in this case absent milk) though and we watched Christmas films instead. Plus the dubbed version of the Gruffalo, which even my sister understood. Sort of...

Fast forward to this week. When I got a package in the mail. I didn't recognise the address, nor was the name of the sender mentioned anywhere. I opened it on my way to work and out came a dvd. BBC-Christmas Evening it said on it. I was hopping with anticipation, but had to wait until work was finished before I could watch it! Well, you have probably guessed it: it was (drumroll): Is there room on the broom! Yes, it was a cartoon! Followed by the news. And the weather. And then, finally, Doctor Who, the Christmas Special! 

I know who the sender is. I have deduced that from the address and the fact that I have a great friend who has a great friend who is himself a great Doctor Who fan. We have never met, but according to my great friend, her great friend and me have a lot in common! One day I will meet up with him. And we will probably love each other. Or not. Until then, I am going to watch Doctor Who again. Thank you S!!

Monday, 7 January 2013


So, this kjøreseddel. Which seems to be so important it kept me from doing my job for nearly a month. All because I needed one and didn't have one. And without one I cannot drive a bus with passengers. Annoying to say the least and I won't go to the most, because my parents taught me better!

Anyway, as you can see from the photo, this kjøreseddel is nothing more than a small piece of paper. Granted the paper has been stamped and signed and dated by someone from the police. And yes, it has been plastified (is that the proper term?). But come on! I was expecting a bit more than this. It looks like something I could have made myself. Before you ask however: I sold my plastificator. 

The good news is however: I've got my kjøreseddel and am now allowed to drive with passengers. I will start tomorrow on some of the easier routes (as they say), without too many daypasses(!). And after that I should be working normal hours. A whopping 37,5 or 35,5 hours a week, depending on the amount of weekend shifts I will be doing. What a change with my former job, where I would have to work a lot more and for a lot less money!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The sun

Sunset on Lifjell (where I stayed last April)
When I first told people I wanted to move to Norway, there were several replies I would get. It's cold there was one and it's dark there was another. Well, so far it has only been cold here during the first few weeks. Right now, the temperatures are above zero and not really expected to drop anytime soon. Which in turn also means that there is no snow, but there is rain and plenty of it. 

The dark is another matter. During my first week in Norway I didn't really notice it, since the 'living room' I used was windowless. However, now I am in my own place I do notice it. According to the official thingymebobs, the sun rose today at 09.32 and it set again at 15.57. Of course that is not the complete story, since dawn starts before half past nine and dusk only starts at four o'clock!

Every day however a few minutes are added to the 'day', sometimes two, sometimes three and I guess pretty soon it will be more than that. Until at the height of summer (around June 21st obviously) the nights will be a lot shorter than I have ever known them to be before. For now however I enjoy every ray of sunshine I am not seeing (very dark, murky and foggy days we've had of late). And as I am finishing this post, it's nearly dark, over half an hour after sunset...

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Day pass

She wanted a ticket: a day pass. Which of course I would have to sell her! After a little search she handed me her pass and all I now had to do was put the day ticket on that pass.

I pressed 'kort' (which means card) and a massive menu came up. My teacher in the mean while just sat behind me, not taking much notice of what was going on. But the thing was: not much was going on, because the massive menu was utterly confusing. 

Now, I have learned how to sell a day pass. I know how to do it. Or at least I should know how to do it. But for some reason that enormous menu with all those different ticket types had me utterly confused. My teacher wasn't much help either, since he just sat there. I am not sure whether or not he was talking to some passengers, but he certainly didn't offer any words of advice. 

Anyway, after a long time trying out various ticket types on that menu, I finally gave up. She could just get on without paying. And then for some reason I was in a small room with someone else, while there were others coming through the windows putting luggage in it. 

I woke up: it was nearly 9.30am and the sun was about to be up (09.33 this morning). It was only a dream. I just hope I will do better when the time comes next week to really sell day passes! I think I will go over my notes today to make sure I know exactly what and where!

Friday, 4 January 2013


Every day this week I had anticipated mail from the Netherlands. And even though I did have mail from the Netherlands every single day (apart from New Year's Day obviously), it never was what I wanted it to be. 

Now, the mail arrives sometime around midday and today I would only be working until about 1pm. I needed groceries, but decided I would go uphill first to see whether there was mail from the Netherlands. Which there was. And it was the letter I had so hoped of finding: it was the proof of me being a good girl!

I tell you, I was really happy and nearly skipped down hill again. A colleague dropped me off in the vicinity of the police station, where I was told by the police officer at the front desk that it would take between 2 and 4 weeks! When I questioned him, he told me to go talk to the people downstairs. Who then told me it never took that long. If I had all the required paperwork it could even be a matter of less than an hour. Unfortunately their computer system was down (she said), but my driver's note would be ready and waiting for me on Monday!

So, as of Monday I will be able to do more driving than just empty driving (I did another bout of it today) and can finally do my job the way I am supposed to! 


Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Red tape

I finally got on the phone to them this morning. I had tried on New Year's Eve, but they were closed that day which didn't lighten my mood that much. So, at 9.05am this morning, I was on the phone to the Dutch Ministry of Justice. To ask them where on earth my 'I am a nice person' form is!!

Well, it turns out I am a nice person, since they sent it on December 19th last year!! Meaning, the Norwegian postal services are very very slow. I knew that to begin with, but still. So, I am hoping that it will arrive this week so I can start driving as soon as possible. 

Hello Norway!!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Day 1 of 365

Well, the old year has gone and the new year is here. All 365 days are fresh and exciting and full of promise about what they will bring. My sister and I didn't do much last night: we watched Christmas films, a bit of tv and when the clock struck twelve we went outside to enjoy the fireworks. Mostly sparkly lights and not as much hard noise and by the time it was half past, it was all but done. As we stood outside there was another sound we could hear though: ships' horns! 

When we got back in, my sister's phone rang: our parentals! After the 'happy new year etc' from my Dad, it was my Mum's turn. And then she told us, she would phone us some time next year! Well, thank you Mum, but this year would be a bit nicer...

View over Haugesund
This morning started bright and fresh and no sign of the rain that has been falling ever since my sister arrived. We decided we would go out again and see a few things/get the remainder of the boxes and off we went. Up a hill in search of a view of Haugesund. We were not disappointed, even though it had started to rain/hail a little. Unfortunately my sister wore the wrong shoes for walking and we decided to get back to the car and get the boxes. 

All the boxes are here now. There are still a few plastic and metal containers there, but all the cardboard boxes have made their way here. Today I will pack my Christmas stuff away and put up all the 'normal' stuff. And then I will make walls with the boxes and cover them in blankets (I have plenty of those). It's not ideal, but there may be a chance of a two-bed apartment coming up soon.

My hopes and dreams for this year? First of all, get that &^%$#&% driver's note so I can actually get behind the wheel and start driving a bus! Hopefully find a bigger place where I will be able to have all the furniture I own. And of course I am thinking about my monsters, but that is a difficult and very 'weighty matter'!