Saturday, 31 August 2013


Cabotage is the transport of goods or passengers between two points in the same country by a vessel or an aircraft registered in another country. Originally a shipping term, cabotage now also covers aviation, railways, and road transport.

I live in Norway, work for a Norwegian company, earn Norwegian wages, pay Norwegian taxes. But there a lot of companies in Norway that are not Norwegian. They may be Spanish coach companies, Estonian or Lithuanian lorry companies. They charge a lot less, don't pay their drivers much, don't pay taxes, don't pay tolls and quite often have bad equipment (like summer tires in winter time).

Today there was a protest against this cabotage. Because jobs are getting lost and companies are going out of business, because they can't compete with the foreign companies. Three places around Haugesund saw buses, coaches and lorries collecting to then drive in convoy to a Haugesund industrial estate. After everybody would have arrived, there would be speakers from the union, national lorry organisation and several political parties (there is a general election coming up in September).

I was in the group coming in from the South and we were the smallest group. The other two groups came from the North and East respectively and were much larger. It was great to see them arrive though (we were first). A lot of people worried for their jobs and livelihood!

We hope something will change. That rules will be stricter, that foreign companies will be forced to shorten their stays which in turn makes it unviable for them to work here. That there will be more controls both at the borders as inland.

Well, that was my Saturday. A little different from last weekend, but no less interesting!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

The result

The original plan had been quite simple: start hiking at 8am, be down around 4pm-ish and then drive home. Be back home well before midnight. That plan had a few flaws. Firstly, we couldn't get breakfast until 8am, which meant we left about 45 minutes late. Secondly, there was this awful descent that took three times longer than an ordinary descent would have been. And thirdly, they took me along!

By the time the coach was moving, it was 7.45pm. Almost four hours late! But the distance hadn't shrunk, that was still a six/seven hour drive! And we had to get some food into us as well. So, in the end it was half past three in the morning when the coach rolled onto the lot! I had tried to sleep on the coach, since I had made a fatal booboo: I had forgotten to change my shift and had to work an early shift! I finally hit my pillow at a quarter past four in the morning. Only to be rudely awoken again an hour later!! 

I was late for work by only a few minutes. But I made it through the day. Some how. Because as the day wore on, I started feeling worse and worse. The backs of my calves were burning, as were the fronts of my thighs. I couldn't lift my arms higher than my shoulders and my back was hurting in places I didn't even know I had (the places I mean). By the time I went home, I walked like an arthritic 120-year old! Getting down steps was agony, as was getting down slopes. 

I got home and on the couch. Laid down to watch some Doctor Who and eat some white chocolate (she must be psychic). When it was time to go to bed though, ooh. It took me the longest time to get into a sitting position, let alone off the couch. And don't even talk about getting up to bed! 

In the middle of the night I woke up because I couldn't even turn around in bed anymore! By the time I had managed it I was so awake I had to go to the toilet, which meant a further twenty minutes! Tuesday was therefore even worse than Monday had been. On Wednesday I started feeling better again though. On the mend so to say.  

The question now is of course: would I say yes again, after all, this is my Yes-year! Welllll.... With some adjustments, I might! First of all, I need a bit more (read a lot more) training. I am so out of shape, getting up a 25 meter incline is taking my breath away. Secondly: loosing a bit more weight would be good too, but I guess that once I get more training, I will loose weight. Thirdly: I need better gear. I have good shoes, but they are Dutch path shoes, not Norwegian stony mountain path shoes. I have a lovely bag, but it's way too small. I need good clothes, although the clothes I wore on Sunday were good. And fourthly: I need to take better care of my feet, regarding blisters and the like! So, perhaps my next tour will be...

Trolltunga! I will keep you posted...

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The fumes

The huts in the olden days. We slept in more modern quarters
After a glorious trip, having dropped off the cyclists somewhere on the way (it was a joint cycling and hiking group, we would meet up again on Sunday, when we would drive back together), negotiating narrow tunnels and sheep sleeping in the middle of the main road from Oslo to Bergen(!), we made it to our night quarters. 

Two sets of bunkbeds for me and my one colleague
There are lots of huts being run by the Tourist Board and this was one of them. We got our beds, since there was enough room, but if there hadn't been, we wouldn't have been turned away: matrasses would be found and if it would be the dining room or the bathroom, some place to sleep would be found! They are like that over here. 

The graveyard in the grounds
After a lovely dinner, a good sleep and a hearty breakfast, we started our hike at a quarter to nine in the morning. According to the information we had, it would be about a six hour hike. (See how I have decided to change walk to hike?) The weather was fantastic, sunny and almost without wind, so pretty soon the hot stuff (ie sweaters etc) came off. The path was okay, a little gravel, a few stones, nothing to worry about. 

Now, we were to follow the path along the river, but even though the river went down, the path went up. Which led to my first steam train impersonation. It was heard many a time during the day. A few extra pounds and no fitness level whatsoever will do that! Anyway, I made it up, I took photos and we kept on walking. And walking. And walking. Until the split in the path. 

Off on our hike
There was a 'short' route following the river (ahem) and there was a 'long' route going up quite a bit and then down again along a path that had looked quite tricky. According to all present I would manage quite fine on the long route. So, up we went, me huffing and puffing at the rear. When we finally made it up though, the view was absolutely breath taking. So beautiful. Definitely worth it!

Well worth it!
We had a meal break while enjoying the view and then started our descent. Well, that wasn't tricky. It was downright harebrained and dangerous. And that was the general consensus! The tricky path that had been there only two years earlier had been hit by a rock avalange in 2012. According to the receptionist at the huts, it was quite safe, but it certainly didn't look or feel it! Basically we had to scramble down a steep mountain over smaller and bigger rocks. Some of which were loose!

This is what the descent should have been like
Since there were nine of us, we couldn't go down too close to each other, just in case stones and rock would come down, so it took ages to get all of us down. Probably about an hour and a half in all! If it had been a path, it would have taken us about a third I would think. I had to grab rocks, roots, trees, I had to slide down, find my footing, make awkward turns, but I did in the end manage to get down. Thanks to one of my fellow hikers who told me where to go!

This is what it was!
The first people had been down for over half an hour by the time we got down, so my rest was quite short, but we had to press on, after all, the cyclists would be waiting. By then however, my legs were starting to feel the strain. The leader of the pack told me about half an hour later that it was only an hour longer. FOUR hours later I was still struggling. Up and down and up and down. Rocks and stones on the path. I had lost all joy in the hike. When we would catch up with the rest I would flop down, in one case right into sheep shit and not even caring!

No path, just rocks and rubble!
In the end, it was me and two colleagues who made it down last. Very very very slowly. Because by then I was going on fumes. I needed to rest about every five to ten minutes. But getting strength back was nigh on impossible. The breaks needed to be longer and longer. I drank river water, ate nuts and carrots, but I just got slower. The tears were close, I was dizzy at times, my legs wobbled and my knees buckled with almost every step.

An early photo. I was still smiling!
In the end it took me ten and a half hours to get to the coach. And only because at some point we were met by two of the cycling party, who told us the path would be rock for only 500 meters more, before turning into a flat gravel road for about twenty minutes. I could have kissed them! I had a good drink of water, found strength again and after only one more short 30 second stop half way, I finally made it to the coach! It was 7.30pm!

More to come tomorrow!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The flutters

When I first thought about moving to Canada, I had never been there. I don't even think I had ever met a Canadian! But I persevered. It came to nothing. So, no Canadian lumberjack for me! Then I set my sights on Norway. A country I had never visited. Went on two short holidays, liked the place, got a job and moved. 

I love where I live. It's beautiful. I like my job. Of course it has its ucky yucky moments, but doesn't every job? And I decided at the start of my new life that yes would be the word of the day. Would I like to come on a tour? Yes. Not knowing where it went, not knowing what it was about. I would answer in the affirmative. 

There were blue plums, yellow plums and morelles for sale all along the roadside
So, that's how I found myself on Saturday morning on a coach headed towards the innards of Norway. Where we would go hiking. Now, you may remember my previous hiking experience. If you don't or are new to my life: here's a link! I told everybody about my experience, but I was told it would be allright and it would fine and it would be fun. So, YES it was. 

It would take about six or seven hours towards our destination and since I have this little condition called car sickness (don't snigger), I sat in the tourguide chair the whole way. Taking photos of this, that and the rest. The main road towards Oslo was little more than a country road. Then again, the traffic was little more than country traffic too! 

We saw some cyclists clearly on holiday. We saw a cathedral like roundabout in the middle of a tunnel. We saw some more cyclists on a tour from Voss to Geilo (mad the lot of them). We saw waterfalls and plums, tunnels and sheep and lots more besides that. 

And I fell, finally, head over heels in love. Flutters included. I love Norway!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Falling in love

I will tell all very very soon (probably tomorrow), but I need some rest and some Doctor Who, not necessarily in that order! Because, yes, I gone and done it again: climbed up and down some %#$@* Norwegian mountain. I didn't know hair could hurt, nor did I know there were muscles in my back. I do now!

For now however, I leave you with the photo of the backside of the package I got in the mail today. Thank you Pepperfly (and S)!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Photo on Sunday 2013-21

Did you know about how the Lamborghini cars came into being? No? I will tell you then...

Mr Lamborghini was an Italian who had made his fortune making and selling tractors. But just having a fortune and not being able to show it off, was not in his nature. So, he went to Mr Ferrari and told him he wanted a car. A nice car! Mr Ferrari was obliging and soon the deal was done. Mr Lamborghini drove a lovely Ferrari home. Very soon however, the car developed problems. And more problems. In the end Mr Lamborghini was so fed up with all those problems he vowed he could make a better car. 

I don't know whether a Lamborghini or a Ferrari is the better car. I doubt they come in shocking pink and I loose all interest then. However, the photo at the top is a Lamborghini tractor. The fortune-maker!

Thursday, 22 August 2013


I think I may have mentioned the occasional animal walking in front of my car or bus. I've had sheep in front of the bus, cows in front of my car, deer crossing the road and of course plenty of birds. A few weeks ago however...

As I was driving towards the start of my line, I all of a sudden saw a horse! in the middle of the road. I slowed down immediately (from about 30km/hour), because I know how horses can be spooked by a speck of dust and having my bus ruined on a near-deserted road was not my idea of having a nice day at work. Fortunately the horse was a clever horse and although it wasn't as fast as sheep, it wasn't as stupid as cows either. It trotted off to the nearest field and when I came back only three minutes later, it was still there. Good horsey!

This is my 63rd entry for Photo Theme for Thursday. Why not join?

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Death Comes to Pemberley

I love the books of Jane Austen (apart from Northanger Abbey, can't seem to get the hang of it) and have read several adaptations, prequels and sequels. So, when I saw this one, I knew I had to get it. 

The blurb: The year is 1803. Darcy and Elizabeth have been married for six years, and the orderly world of Pemberley seems unassailable. But all this is threatened when, on the eve of the annual ball, a chaise appears, rocking down the path from Pemberley's wild woodland. As it pulls up, Lydia Wickham -Elizabeth's younger, unreliable sister- stumbles out screaming that her husband has been murdered. 

My verdict: When you read any book about something contemporary, there is no need to explain anything, after all you know the 'time'. And when Jane Austen wrote her books, everybody who read those books knew about the situations, the surroundings, the conventions of the age. There was no need to explain anything. Because it was contemporary. 

PD James may have been able to set the scene, but in my view there were too many explanations about almost everything. Adding staff to the mix felt out of place, even if it had to do with the plot. Having Darcy behave the way he did was diminishing the strong figure he was. And even though there were no loose ends, it felt as if there were. 

So, would I recommend this book? This thin, over-explanatory book? Which would have been half as big if all that had been taken out. Well... no. I wouldn't. Because it didn't feel right. PD James may be a brilliant writer, but I feel in this case she made a bit of a booboo. It felt too contrived. *spoiler alert* Especially when letting in characters from other books. Just... wrong.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013


Sheep is on the left side of the road
As I was walking along the road on Sunday, I all of a sudden saw a sheep. Now, it's not so unusual to see a sheep in this here neighbourhood, but this one was on the run so to say. Which come to think of it, is not so unusual either!

Catch me if you can...
I managed to take a photo of it as it darted towards the field where it belonged, but it didn't couldn't get in said field. Then a tractor arrived with the owner of the sheep behind the wheel. He tried to corner it in that little piece of land, but the sheep was having none of it. The sheep escaped and the tractor followed. To the right and then fortunately it 'escaped' towards a house. The farmer parked his tractor, got his dog out and disappeared.

I think they managed to get the sheep back into its field. Reunited with its fellow sheep. Because about five minutes later the farmer and his dog came back. 

I do wonder about all these sheep (and cattle) though. Are they so clever in this part of the world? Or are the farmers just a bit lazy in putting up good fencing? Because as I was driving home from the shops yesterday I saw three escaped sheep...

Monday, 19 August 2013

Fresh air

Now, you know I live in a cottage in the Norwegian countryside. I have shown you photos of said cottage, both inside and outside and even showed you my garden! I haven't however, shown you anything else. Nothing from the neighbourhood. And the reason is that I hadn't seen anything of it! Of course that isn't quite true, since I do drive to and from work and even on the job I drive past my home on occasion. But unless there are cows in the road and I manage to grab my camera, I haven't taken any photographs. 

Yesterday I was feeling a bit ucky and decided fresh air was needed. I donned my walking shoes and a coat, grabbed my camera and headed out. And here are some of the photos I took. Let's start with the top one shall we? This is the road I drive to work every day. It's 3,5 meters wide (about 12 feet) and it's not very busy. The second photo is of a little house that my sister might actually recognise. It was the one I pointed out as 'would like to live there if only there were glass in the windows and good insulation'. It is one of several empty and decaying houses in the neighbourhood. 

The third and fourth photo are of Torvastad Church and part of its cemetery. I have not yet visited the church, although I do believe it has regular Sunday services. The cemetery is massive. Especially considering the fact that there are not that many people living in the area. It did look lovely and peaceful though and I wouldn't mind spending eternity there. Once I am dead that is of course. Which I hope will not happen for a good many years to come!!

The last photo is of another small dwelling that has been left to its own devices. I was able to look inside and there were upturned beds, an old sink, paint pots and lots of other junk. It is such a shame and I wouldn't mind owning that little one. I would turn it into a small guest home for friends and family I think. I can just picture it in my head. I wonder what I would have to do to get that done??

I took lots more photos and will be posting them over the coming few days. I will also be making my way outside a bit more often. And of course I will bring my camera with me!!!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Photo on Sunday 2013-20

Autumn is starting to set in. Days are getting shorter. Schools will be starting in earnest tomorrow. And the first geese are making their way south!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Doesn't time fly?

The first time I saw her was when she was about 4 months old. She was due to be christened and I was asked to be one of her godmothers. When she was about four, I took her to the zoo in Bristol. When she was nine I took her to London where we rode the underground and saw Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. When she was about fifteen/sixteen I went shopping with her (that's an experience by itself: shopping with a teen).

She is 18 now. And off to university soon. I am a proud godmother! 

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Herman's mackerels

Herman needed a hobby. So, he bought a fishing pole. Went fishing in the North Sea (or the Sound of Karm). Caught a few fish. Gave me some, because I had invited him for apple pie. To which he had arrived on the wrong day, so I gave him some apple pie a few days later. 

Herman didn't just give me two fishies. He gave me ten! Ten mackerels to be precise. What was I supposed to do with ten headless and tailless mackerels? Don't get me wrong: I like fish and I like mackerel. But me and cooking fish don't really go together that well. I either burn it or I ruin it some other way. I didn't want to ruin those ten mackerels. Because as I said: I like mackerel. 

It took me a few days thinking about it. I then decided to just use a frying pan and fry them. Use a bit of fish herbs and hopefully enjoy it afterwards. Well, you know what: I guess I can do something with fish, because they taste great! 

Thank you Herman. Or should I say dziękuję... (however that may be pronounced)


No, this isn't a photo of Norway. This is a photo I took (or my sister, I am not quite sure) when I was in the Netherlands in May. It's quite easy to spot the difference: Norway has mountains and hills. The Netherlands do not! At least not to the extent that Norway has. 

But the prompt this week asked for blue, so I had to look for one with blue in it. I think I found one! The photo was taken while we were driving along the River IJssel to get to a mill where they sold rye which my sister wanted for some reason. 

This is my 62nd entry for Photo Theme for Thursday. Why not join?

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

A year on

It's been a year now. A year since the life of a young man changed forever. A young man who only wanted a better life for himself and tried to get to England. But he died crossing the motorway in northern France. He might have thought I drove a lorry. That he had enough time to get to the other side. I drove a coach. He wasn't fast enough. I saw him too late. And in an instant his life was over. 

I was in shock that day. The adrenalin kept me going. I didn't know what to think or feel, I just knew I had to answer the police's questions truthfully and correctly. Submit to alcohol and drugtests. Allow them to take all the paperwork I had on me. 

By 4pm (over 12 hours after the accident) I was told no charges were filed against me. It had been an accident. I was free to go home, come back to France if I wanted. Free. I was collected by one of the bosses at the company who took me home to my parents. Where I explained the whole thing again. The next day I visited my parents' gp. She told me I was good to go. Blood pressure and heart rate both normal. It took another day and a half before I felt like I was me again. Sort of. 

I got psychological help. I told people about what had happened. The first time I drove on my own again I noticed everything coming out of the shadows. It lessened fortunately. I became more confident again. 

Then I moved to Norway. Started a new life. Forgot about it. A bit. Because it will always be there. In the back of my head. Tucked away. Knowing that whilst I started a new life, he didn't. Couldn't. Because man is no match for a coach.  

Monday, 12 August 2013

Mojitos and herring

The weekend just gone was the annual Herring Jazz Festival here in Haugesund. Which for the company I work for and especially the people who organise the staff outings (fellow colleagues) is a good enough reason to organise a party of their own. And in contrast to almost all other parties, this one was going to be an all-you-can-eat-and-drink-for-a-set-price party. Which for Norwegians (and import Norwegians) is a great thing. 

I dressed up in some of my finest and took the bus into town. I was one of the first to arrive, but that was good: it gave me a bit of a headstart. The food consisted of meat and salads and the drinks were plentiful. Beers, white and red wines from the box, vodka drinks, mojitos (from a can) and something that sounds a bit like piranha, but obviously isn't. I made it my goal to try one of each. 

Yes, this is raw herring I am guzzling down. At 11.30pm!!!
The party was great. Of course I hadn't thought of bringing my camera, but there were several others who had and they took great photos and not so great photos. I don't think I was drunk, but even tipsy will make me a bit louder than usual (and I am loud to start with), so I was doing great! When the party seemed to be winding down a couple of us went down into the center of town. Hopefully we would catch some jazz. It was really busy down there though and when it started raining we decided to head back. The party itself had finished, so it was only a question of how to get home. In the end one of our sober working colleagues drove us home. It was a good night!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Photo on Sunday 2013-19

Do I really need to say something about this view from my living room? No, I didn't think so either...

Thursday, 8 August 2013


Over the past week and a half we have had some strange weather here in Norway. At least the West coast where I reside. Like the past weekend. Friday had been awfully hot and the expectations had been that early Saturday morning (basically the middle of the night) there would be thunderstorms and a lot of rain. A great deal of rain! But I slept soundly and when I woke up to go to work, the roads were dry and the sky wasn't clear, but it wasn't threatening either.

Only an hour or so later it changed. The professed rain was arriving! And my did it arrive! Within minutes of the rain starting, rivers came down the road. Swirling water where it would go down into the sewage system, deep puddles and even bigger splash-ups while driving through said puddles. 

It seemed to come down in waves though. It would ease off for a few minutes and then a new load would be coming down. The photo was take from the bus during a lull. It was still raining, but not as heavily. This brave man is holding an umbrella, but I know from experience that that was quite futile, since there was quite a bit of wind as well!

This is my 61st entry for Photo Theme for Thursday. Why not join?

Monday, 5 August 2013


I like meeting up with friends. Either at a restaurant, or at home, or on top of a mountain! It's fun. One of my friends makes absolutely yummy cakes. But... so do I! For the Eurovision party I had (which nobody but me watched by the way), I made a Dutch apple pie. And they loved it! So, I decided to make another one and have an apple pie night. 

Now, I needed to invite some of my new friends. After all, having a lovely apple pie and then having to eat it all by myself is not nice. I started asking people over. Some of my female friends, some of my male colleagues. 

One of those colleagues is Polish. He isn't that fluent yet in Norwegian. But I like him, he is nice, he is funny and I feel he needs a bigger dose of Norwegian. I invited him along for my Wednesday apple pie night. In Norwegian Wednesday is onsdag. Sunday is søndag. He understood Sunday. And as I was watching a film last night, I saw him coming of the bus. 

We had a nice evening. He told me about how he got to live in Norway, a bit about his wife and daughters, about his home, about his life in general. He might not be able to come on Wednesday, but one piece of apple pie will certainly be going to Herman*!

*Herman is not his real name. But since he looks a lot like a Dutch comedian called Herman, I tend to call him Herman, before calling him by his real name!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Photo on Sunday 2013-18

As I was sitting behind my computer the other day I looked up and saw this vessel come past. I wonder what 'new' country he will be looting, pillaging and plundring! Of course I couldn't really get a nice photo from inside (I tried), so I had to go outside, walk a bit down the road and try again. 

By then he was already moving off into the distance. Ready to conquer!