Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Garden of Evil

Doesn't it look like a llama's face?
Yesterday I showed them the house. The living room and kitchen, the bathroom and my bedroom, the small bedroom that will become the honorary tent/office/whatever and of course the basement. They seemed to like it, even though there were some comments about the amount of locks on the various doors. And then we went outside. 

Now, I have shown you photos of the outside. If you can't quite remember: click here. I had however only ever been quite close to the house and taken photos. This time, the three of us went towards the trees to see whether they were in fact cherry trees or not. Well, we (actually she) had established that they most likely weren't cherry trees, when Peppermaggot asked us something.

In the middle of the strawberry plants as well...
"Is that a bone?" As I was looking in the field beyond the garden, I answered no. Turns out, he didn't mean the field, he meant my garden. And it was a bone. In fact there were quite a few bones! Of what though? A sheep? But there were some smaller bones too. So perhaps a lamb? Then again, it could have been a dog or a cat. It's a mystery. I just hope that mystery will not be a haunting mystery.

Mwoah mwoah mwoah...

Monday, 29 April 2013

Visitors

How does this work again?
I had had a party on Saturday, but I left early because on Sunday I had to leave early to drive to Stavanger. First it was an hour to the ferry, then a 20 minute ferry ride and then about 45 minutes to the airport. Pepperfly and Peppermaggot were coming!

I had to wait for ages (about 20 minutes) and I was getting quite impatient. And besides getting impatient I was getting emotional. So, when they finally came through the doors she and I hugged and cried and hugged some more. Peppermaggot was of course not amused and pretended not to know us. (by the way, he was not amused about Peppermaggot either, but until he comes up with another name, Peppermaggot it will be)

I just about managed to eat the hot dog!
After the hugs and kisses and paying the parking, we left the airport and made our way back to the ferry. It was absolutely pissing down (excuse my French) and the ferry ride was even worse than the one I took earlier. It was a good thing the ride only lasted 20 minutes, because I would have been very green and sick otherwise!

The drive continued and after showing them where I could have moved ("no, not a good place", she said), I drove them to the hotel. Peppermaggot was basically out for the count, but Pepperfly and I met up a few hours later (more on that on Wednesday). Later that evening the three of us went out for pizza, where I horrified Peppermaggot by saying a beer cost around 10 euros in a bar! 

The pizza at the bottom was Pepperfly's
They will be staying until Friday, when they will take a bus back to Stavanger. I just hope we will have some better weather, because just having rain all day is no fun at all!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Photo on Sunday 2013-6

More photos of my walk from last Sunday. This time of a cross. I must admit that when I saw this cross I was at a loss. Why was it there and what purpose did it serve? It stands on top of a small hill overlooking the sea. There is a camp site below it and on the other side the main monument of Haugesund. Fortunately I found the answer only a bit further on, so this is the transcription from that. 

The stone cross and Haraldshaugen
The stone cross at Krosshaug is believed to have been erected in early Christian times. Early stone crosses of this kind indicated that the country was Christian, and they were erected to both 'christianise' heathen graves and indicate Christian gathering places before churches were built. They may also have been erected as monumental stones. This cross stands directly on the rock, with no burial mound underneath. Bishop Fridtjov Birkelid, who studied the Norwegian stone crosses closely, suggest that a monument may have been erected to King Harold the Fairheaded's eldest son, King Eric Bloodaxe, who died in England in the year AD 945. 

A view over Haraldshaugen from the cross
The cross is almost 3 meters tall. It broke in half in the winter of 1846-1847 and was reconstructed in 1869 with the two parts joined by iron rings. Rogaland and Sunnhordland are the regions outside Great Britain with the largest number of stone crosses from early Christian times. 

PS: I just noticed the engraving has a mistake in it: The cross was fixed with irong rings in 1869, so the cross in the engraving should have those on, since it also shows Haraldshaugen which dates from 1872!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Right...

Good thing I have plenty of 'under the eaves' storage,
but I just wanted to show off...
Busy today: took boxes to new home, unloaded the summer tires (don't need them yet: temperatures aren't even over 10 degrees Celsius yet), got internet sorted tried to get internet sorted, must do laundry, must do washing up, must do some cleaning, must do some packing, have to pay a bill and I have a party tonight (friend's birthday). The sun is shining, the sky is blue and life is good. 

Tomorrow my friends Pepperfly and Peppermaggot will be arriving and I will pick them up. Oh, and rain is expected during their stay. I hope that will not be a normal occurence though: Mara has visitors, so let's chuck it down!

Anyway, short post, busy day. 

Oh yeah... 

Friday, 26 April 2013

Haraldshaugen

Probably the most well-know monument in Haugesund is Haraldshaugen. A 17 meter tall granite obelisk surrounded by 29 stones. I cheated a bit here with the explanation, because it's a transcript from the information table. Forgive me...

In 1872 an obelisk was raised at the Gard Church ruins to commemorate the battle of Hafrsjord 1000 years earlier. The elegant spike symbolises the unification of Norway and the surrounding stones represent the Norwegian counties that Harald (see Monday) brought together. The commemoration obelisk can be seen as a product of the National Romanticism that raged in the late 1830's. It was a period when the country's ancient history was being tapped to cultivate a new, national self-esteem. 

One of the 29 surrounding stones
The monument was the brainchild of Haugesund's Ludolf Eide, who put forth the idea in 1863 and won country-wide support. All towns and cities, many communites and even private people helped to raise the necessary funds to raise the obelisk. 

The national monument was unveiled on 18 July 1872 by Crown Prince Oscar, later King Oscar II. Representatives of the royal family, the national assembly (Storting), goverment and county dignitaries attended this "1000 Year Jubilee", which occasioned much popular celebration and merrymaking. It was a holiday all over the country and about 40,000 traveled to Haugesund to see the unveiling!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

'Transportation'

Well, being a busdriver I couldn't not post a photo of a bus, so here it is: it's a Setra from 1964. I actually saw it on the motorway in Germany heading in the opposite way. It was agonising! And the next day I saw it again, this time in a parking lot! I actually got to sit in it as well and had my photo taken. Unfortunately that photo is lost, but I still had this one! Taken in 2006.

Of course I did a lot of traveling and therefore saw a lot of different modes of transport. Like this one: a Search and Rescue helicopter from Germany I saw in 2009 in the Netherlands. Not on the job though: only a show and tell so to speak.

Not only did I see helicopters, I saw planes as well: this one spotted at the annual (or semi-annual) Airforce days in the Netherlands, later that same year (2009). Not quite sure what this plane is or where it's from though. 

And then there are the water transportation modes of course. Like ferries. This one being the ferry from Killimer to Tarbert in the West of Ireland. It crossed the widest bit of the river Shannon, right before it ended in the Atlantic Ocean. Photo taken in 2009 as well.

I spotted narrowboats in Manchester. Beautifully maintained and as the name suggests: narrow! Used in the past as working boats to haul coal, nowadays used as homes or moving holiday homes. Photo taken in 2008.

I went canooing in the Netherlands once. Beautiful weather and good company. Great fun. Photo taken in 2006. And no, I am not in the photo!!

Later in the same year I tried to learn how to sail. In a small boat. But I don't see the point of having the steering at the back: it should be at the front! Besides, I got sick. In one of those small boats. On a lake. Without wind! Needless to say: first and last time!!

But wait a minute: I've only shown you one land based transportation so far! Here are some more: a battered Fiat 500 I spotted in the Vatican in 2009 (busy year that). So vibrant and Italian. 

And a bike? I can't not include a bike can I? So, here is me on a bike. Taken in 2001 and it even includes me! And if you look closely you can see the trailer behind the bike. Making the trip very tiring I can tell you!

Or you could get transported by a horse and carriage, posh style! Photo was taken on Prince's Day in 2001. The day when royalty get out of their cars and in to their royal carriages, the fanciest being reserved for the Queen and no, this is not that one!

There is of course also the not so posh horse and carriage. In which I sat in Ireland in 2007. Bobbing up and down and getting all my internal organs put back in some sort of order. All the while smelling horse! It was fun though. 

This is my 51st entry for Photo Theme for Thursday. Why not join?

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Keys

After a bit of confusion today (the landlady thought the hand-over of the keys was at 2pm, I knew it was at 4pm), I finally got hold of the keys. They were waiting for me under the doormat! I let myself in and was again surprised by the spacious hallway. I walked into the living room and it was quite big as well. The kitchen I knew to be small and old-fashioned and the bathroom like-wise. 

The small (read absolutely tiny) 2nd bedroom
I went upstairs and found closet after closet and a lot of spaces under the eaves (not hard with a sloping roof). The bedroom will hold my bed and my chest of drawers, however the large wardrobe I own and that Pepperfly and Mr Pepperfly took apart... ehm... will not fit. Too tall, too big, too much in a large enough but not that large bedroom. I started imagining what would go where and after I had done imagining I went downstairs again. 

This time I went all the way downstairs: to the basement. Which in contrast to the upstairs bit is not empty. There was a brand new wooden fence, ready to be put up. There was a small cupboard with jam jars filled with things only grandfathers have in jam jars. There was a ladder and a door, there were gardening tools. And then there were two things that I took to be a sign, even if I don't believe in signs.

The first was a horse shoe. An actual horse shoe! In my house!! Fortunately no horse came attached to it though. The second was a flag. Well, the flag. Of Norway! They seemed to be saying to me: welcome and good luck in Norway. We are glad to have you here. I couldn't stop smiling and the only thing that could have made it any better would have been sharing it with somebody (like Pepperfly and Peppermaggot in a few days). 

In the living room!
This week the house will be cleaned again. Because even I saw that it wasn't clean. And after that I will be moving in. 

Yeah!

Bad

"There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing"

There is a group of people at work who organise the Monday walk. I have been on a few and they are good fun. Every time I see a new bit of Haugesund and its surroundings. Beautiful walks through the countryside. It doesn't really matter however what the weather is like. The tour must go on. And it does! Everybody comes prepared: good walking boots, good coat, good trousers. A hat, scarf and gloves in wintertime and a rain suit when it rains. 

I am not everybody. Yes I have good walking boots, although they aren't walking boots as such. My coat is a nice warm coat. And my trousers are fine too. If it's cold I do don a scarf and gloves and if it's very cold I will even put on a hat. But that rain suit? 

I used to own one you know. Back in the Netherlands. Where I needed it if it were raining when I had to cycle to work. It was yellow and made me look like a very fat Tweety bird. As you can see in the top photo. However, that suit had been through a lot of rain and in the end a lot of rain came through the suit. So, I chucked it out when I moved. 

Last night there was a walk. One of the organisers had arranged a lift for me, because I didn't quite know where to go. I arrived in my jeans and coat and boots. Camera as well of course. The camera never left it's camera bag. Because it was absolutely chucking it down! All. The. Way! At first it was only the front that got rained on. But then we changed direction and it was the back. When I got home, everything was wet. No, not wet: soaked, drenched! 

Needless to say I need a rain suit!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Walk

Last week I had been told that it would be good for me to eat less and move more. So, when the weather was quite nice yesterday, I decided I would finally do my walking tour of Haugesund. I had wanted to do it for ages, but had always found excuses not to do it. Yesterday I waved all excuses away and told myself quite sternly to get a grip, get my shoes and get going! And I even listened to myself!!

The first two photos are of Harald HÃ¥rfagre (Harald Fairhair). It's a statue that has recently been re-erected at the viewpoint where it stands. He was a Viking king who lived in the 9th and 10th century and strived to unite all the provinces of Norway. Which he did as far as I know. In the top photo you can see that he is holding a helmet. Contrary to popular belief, Vikings didn't have horns on their helmets! And his hair certainly looks great. 

Perhaps that's why there are so many hairdressers in Haugesund!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Photo on Sunday 2013-5

Well, thanks to the rain we've had lately (and more expected), spring has finally sprung. Most of the trees are finally budding, most of the spring flowers are finally up. This here is a photo of the daffodils I saw the other day. Double headers as well. Today is another fine day here in Haugesund, cloudy but dry with the occasional peep from the sun.

Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, 20 April 2013

The list

Oh yes, he's on the list too!
I have a list of things to do in the upcoming month. It's massive! It includes Pepperfly and Peppermaggot visiting me, moving house, a sloop race, a visit to the Netherlands and by the time it is May it will probably include many more things!

The move is getting closer now. Only two more weeks before I head over. Two more weeks before I move everything I own that is in Norway from four (yes, four!) different places into one. And that doesn't even include the washing machine which will be delivered. It's a good thing I am no owl, because my head would be spinning all the time.

Concerning washing machines: I've got one. A bit more expensive than I originally wanted, but I won't have to pay for television for the first four months. Besides, I had rather pay a bit extra and have a good machine. As I said already: it will be delivered! In the same shop I could also get my satellite dish. But if I want to have the BBC, they can't help me. They can get me the equipment and all, but I would have to get a subscription from the UK myself. At some cost as well. So, now I only got the channels they have here in Norway. Plus some film channels. First four months will be free (as I said) and there will be someone out to install the lot. 

A bit further in that shop I could also get internet, but since they needed the whole address (streetname, postcode and village weren't enough, they needed plot number and something else as well), that will have to wait a bit. I will try and get that as soon as possible though, since it will take about two weeks to hook up apparently. And I don't want to be internetless. 

A good day. Expensive maybe, but so far I have been able to pay for everything myself. And feeling proud about it too!!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

'Reflection'

As soon as I read the prompt I knew exactly which photo I wanted to show. Or at least the subject of the photo. Because as it turned out, I did have the subject several times, but the best of the lot came without reflection! Grumble. 

Anyway, three years ago my parentals invited their three children, one in-law and three grandchildren to spend a week with them near Paris. We were able to go to Disney and to Paris itself. Which we of course did. I loved the Louvre, although only from the outside, neither me nor my sister wanted to go in and see all this old art (some other day). Two men were in the middle of cleaning off the pyramid of glass that has become so iconic of the Louvre. So when we took our photos it was shining and really pretty. 

The top photo shows the reflection in the glass of the actual museum building. The second photo is just showing off!

This is my 50th entry for Photo Theme on Thursday. Why not join?

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Proportionally big

Skinny period in Italy. Without glasses, but with a tan!
There was a health check at work today. Everybody who wanted could get their BMI, fat ratio, blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol checked out. So I did. The first thing I had to do was take of my shoes and socks and stand on some type of scales. The weight wasn't a big surprise, if you don't count the fact that it was less than when I still lived in the Netherlands that is. However the lady told me something else. 

I have always thought of myself as proportionally big. In recent years anyway. Before I was normal or too skinny. Now I am big. Not according to her though. She said I was obese. Top end of the scale obese. Unhealthily so! BMI of 34,8. Fat just below 45%. She gave me a lecture. Move more, eat less. Loose at least 8 kg (about 20 pounds). Get within a healthier range. 

Next was blood pressure. Which was at its normal level 130 over 80. It has never varied that much. She pricked my finger to get some blood. My blood sugar was within a healthy range: 5,3 which is between 4 and 6 and that's as it should be. And my cholesterol was fine too. Low in fact at 3,94. 

So, I have a goal. Loose weight and lessen my chances of heart disease, diabetes and other nasty things I don't want. Now, where did I put that chocolate?? 

Monday, 15 April 2013

*Yawn*

After a day with much needed rain, it was dry again today. The temperature went up as well and all in all it was quite a nice day. I worked early, had Norwegian class, worked some more and am now completely pooped. Not so much because of today, but more to do with the fact that I worked yesterday as well and went to bed a bit later than I would have wanted. 

So, it will be an early night tonight, because tomorrow it will be another early day. I leave you with the one-legged gull called Pete I met some years ago in Ireland. He says hi (and probably thinks I'm an eejit for working so much).

Good night!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Photo on Sunday 2013-4

When I posted this photo on Facebook some time this week, I got a comment about Nessie. Perhaps Norway have their own Nessie? Personally I thought it looked more like the bow of a viking ship. Either way, I liked the photo. What is your take?

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Een stukje doorrijden...

As I was going up Strandgata today, the car with the yellow license plates* was coming down. It was still quiet and the driver motioned me to stop. He said the name of a hotel in a questioning way. I told him: een stukje doorrijden en dan is het aan de rechterkant (continue on this road and then you'll find it on the right). As I drove on, I saw his mouth nearly falling to his knees.

Always nice to do a fellow countryman a service!

*Norway uses white license plates on its cars. Unless it's a white van man's van and then they are green. The only countries in Europe sporting yellow number plates are Luxemburg and the Netherlands. And before I get any comments from Brits: they only use yellow on the back and not on the front.

**Apparently there was a boat fair in the harbour. The union lady photographed a Dutch ship yesterday as well.

***Hm, I just looked at the accompanying photograph. Let me just say it has nothing whatsoever to do with the story. It was just a photo I picked out.

One year ago

Exactly one year ago I first set foot on Norwegian soil. I spoke some sort of horrendous Norwegian, but got the car rented, the hotel room I wanted, and a job offer that week. I visited the Norwegian parliament building (see photo), the Fram museum, Heddal Stave Church and Eidberg Stave Church. And I spent my week on top of a mountain in the snow. A bit unexpected, since I hadn't done any homework prior to the trip!

Haugesund manhole covers
It's now a year later. I speak some sort of Norwegian that some think is from Bergen, Oslo, or Kristiansand. Although I am also mistaken for being Swedish or Danish. Hm. I live here in Norway now and am thriving. I am joining up with whatever I am asked to join up in. I have bought a car, I will be moving soon to a lovely little house and my first visitors to see my new home are soon to arrive.

I may miss some aspects about my former life in the Netherlands, but I am happy I made the move. From small acorns and all, I have come a long way from only knowing God Jul!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Happy

As I was walking up the hill last Tuesday it suddenly hit me: I like living here. I like interacting with all my colleagues and I like meeting new people. I may still miss my old life a bit, but I am getting into the swing of things and understanding more and more. 

Now, of course when you're happy, you should show a happy photo! Although the me in the photo might have been happy for a slightly different reason (something to do with a very sweet strawberry liqueur). But, happy is happy!!


Thursday, 11 April 2013

'Pink'

It took some looking, but I did find something pink: suckling piglets. About two years ago I found myself (once again) in England with that school. And once again we went to Wimpole Hall. Now, I had seen Wimpole Hall on the inside several times by then, but I had yet to visit the farm. So, I trudged my way over and saw all sorts of animals. There were turkeys and geese, horses and cows, sheep and of course pigs. 

Since it was spring time there were lots of pigs and piglets. In assorted ages. However the bigger ones lost most of their pink colour. Besides, the smallest suckling piglets were the cutest anyway. It's a good thing though the internet is not smell-o-net, because the stench of all those pigs was something awful!

This is my 49th entry for Photo Theme for Thursday. Why not join?

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

A little mathematics

A few months ago I had gotten myself a travel insurance. But for some reason it never happened: the money wasn't taken from my account. So, yesterday I went back to get the thing sorted properly. As I was there anyway I wanted to know how much my car insurance was as well. And then it started to get complicated. 

Now, there are 365 days in a year (apart from leap years, but it's not this year). And there are twelve months. Nothing complicated so far. In the Netherlands, they calculate your monthly insurance payments by seeing how much insurance they want you to pay in a year and then dividing it by twelve. Giving you twelve equal payments (365/12). Not so over here...

Here they have decided that would be too simple. In stead they divide the amount (x) by 365. Then they use that number (x/365) and multiply that by 30. As in days of one month. But, since not all months are 30 days long, they only let you pay that amount 7 times. After that they use that number (x/365) and multiply it by 31. Which you have to pay for the remaining 5 months. 

Clearing it up a bit: if x equals 365 and you divide that by the number of days in an ordinary year you get 365/365=1. You then multiply that number by 30: 30*1=30. Which you pay for seven months: 30*7=210. The other 5 months you have to pay: (31*1)*5=155. Adding 210 to that 155 you get 365. Of course in a leap year there will only be six months of 30 and then six months of 31. I presume. 

You are wrinkling your forehead now aren't you? The sums are easy enough, you all get it, but you know that there are not seven months of 30 and five months of 31 days in the year. For a start February only has 28! Plus there aren't only five months of 31 days either! There are seven (Jan/Mar/May/Jul/Aug/Oct/Dec)! What can I say: the Norwegians probably felt it was a good thing to difficultise a very simple thing and then decided it was too difficult and tried to simplify it again. 

It made my head swim a bit though...