Monday 31 December 2012

Looking back...

Several years ago I did a post about the year that had passed and with everything that happened this year, I thought I would do so again. Click on the months to go to the 'post of that month'. So, here goes...

January: This month I kept up learning a new language, trying to figure out how and what and work as a tourbusdriver. 

February: It was cold in February with icy landscapes and lakescapes. It made for beautiful photos though...

March: Wuppie gave me a big worry with his hematoma (which never really healed by the way). I worried myself by becoming ill (urinal tract infection) in France.

April: I went to Norway for the very first time. I spent time in Oslo and in the Telemark region where it was still the middle of winter! 

May: I finally found a lot of photos back again. I was so happy! Remember: never hit a computer: it will hurt you back, especially if you haven't got any back-ups!!

June: In June it was time for the housing association to pester me again about the garden. I had to remove some trees that were too close to the fence or some such nonsense. I never did, since my neighbours hadn't had that note. And when I moved out in November, I never heard anything about it...

July: I got stuck in the sand. Unlike at this moment: I am stuck in red tape. I prefer the sand!

August: This was a strange month. I had a really horrific accident in France and ended up at a French police station for a day. It left me thoroughly shaken and I was off my driving game for a bit. Fortunately I got a lot of help from family, friends, colleagues, my job and a social worker to help me deal with it all and I can safely say I am over it. I also went on a job interview in Norway, which felt great!

September: I had to start driving again and was quite nervous about it. It did all go fine though and I went back to driving as if nothing ever happened. At least, after a few weeks that is...

October: Finally: news from Norway. They offered me a job and wanted me to start as soon as I could. So strange to deal with all that, but so exciting as well!

November: My old life in the Netherlands ended and a new life in Norway started.

December: Red tape and new colleagues, snow and learning to understand people. And my sister of course!

Sunday 30 December 2012


We needed to do the dishes first.
In an organised fashion of course...
My sister and I felt that even though neither of us is living in the Netherlands at this point, it wasn't necessary to miss one of the best Dutch foods: oliebollen. I have written about them before, but only slightly, so I thought it might be a good idea to do one again. And I am cheating a bit, because I thought it might be fun to show you the answers I got on Facebook after I told my friends I needed a recipe. Names have been removed and turned into initials. Since the whole thing was done in Dutch (apart from the last thing), it has been run in Google Translate. 

Using J's recipe-link for the batter here
Me: We have donuts prescription. No self-raising flour, no oliebollenmix, NO sukadeviezigheid, but with raisins and beer. Bring it on! (Basically we needed a recipe for oliebollen)

B: With beer. Hm. Well. Well. Uh. Well ... Well. No. Sorry.

Mara Jellema That do not shoot! (That won't work!)
Like · 1

E: I use for years fritters mix and replace half the water with beer works fine and delicious (he uses oliebollenmix, which I didn't have)

After waiting for an hour for the dough to rise
the balls went into the hot vegetable oil
E: I only raisins for currants are hard and I'm also small pieces of apple in (Google Translate doesn't seem to like any verbs)

E: Success

J: ff Look on my posts, with yeast, but you can of beer instead of milk take part (ff = short for a minute, and again no 'using')

There were turtles and I think this is an alien!
J: In've been baking mix, ie, baking powder or baking soda or soda, all the same.

J: Das for the rise, yeast gives off carbon dioxide iok and mandate by the rice batter ... Blub blub blub (Das = It's)

Me: E: WE HAVE NO OLIEBOLLENMIX! I live in Norway and they sell not. We need a prescription from flour, milk, yeast, beer and raisins ... (the pharmacy would see me coming, of course I needed a recipe and not a prescription. In Dutch however it's the same word for both)

E: Then you follow the advice of J

The finished product! About 50-60 oliebollen
Served with icing sugar
Me: I think that it is indeed going to be. But how much milk replaced by much beer? Or just the beer and drink the milk used ... (Now, obviously I said drink the beer and use the milk: Google Translate again...)
Like · 1

E: Haha can even replace half is good and the rest do you drink

J:  Drink half the beer and leave behind some milk, for if it is too thick
Like · 1

Kay: The English translation of this is an absolute hoot, Mara.

I never did use the beer though. I will drink it instead!

Saturday 29 December 2012

Mara's Christmas Marathon

As you may already know, I have a great love for Christmas films and I do own several on dvd. And with several I mean around 200. You can see all of them in the photo above. Minus two because they are still in Northern Ireland: they hadn't arrived in time for my sister to bring them with her.

Anway, all those films aren't just decoration, they are films I will actually watch as well. Especially (but not only) at Christmas. Which makes sense of course, them being Christmas films. Now, this week my sister is staying here with me and you might be forgiven to think that she is not such a Christmas film fan. Which is true: she doesn't go as over the top with them as I do, but she doesn't mind watching one every now and then. She should probably have gone elsewhere in that case, because here she gets to see them everyday. 

(Really, it's her own fault: she was talking about Harry Potter marathons: watching all 8 films about that wizard boy in one weekend. You see where I am going, don't you...)

So, we started Boxing Day and have watched 14 films on dvd so far. Arthur Christmas was new to both of us and we both loved it. Even though it was a cartoon, it was a lot more believable than the next film (which was also new to us), which was just a cheap story with some Christmas sauce. But we also watched the Muppets, the Grinch and the Snowman (thanks to my brother who first showed it to us: that is a definite favourite of both of us).

It turned out my sister was hard to please. Now, I had picked only the best ones (ie the ones I like best), but when the film was over quite often my sister would just say "okay". Not the best, not the worst, passable! Infuriating. Of course that doesn't put me off, I have after all a vast array to try and make her really like a film. We saw the Ref (very funny, she thought so too), Unlikely Angel (with Dolly Parton: okay), All I want for Christmas (okayish), a Holiday to Remember (with Randy Travis, she liked that one), Grounded (or Unaccompanied Minors, she liked that one too), Santa Claus is coming to Town (okay) and several more. 

Don't worry though, there will be a lot more films we will be seeing over the next few days (she's leaving the day after New Year's, she will be fed up with Christmas films). There are however a few we will not be watching: Santa Claus (a Mexican monstrosity), Santa Claus conquers the Martians (another monstrosity you should only watch with a large amount of alcohol nearby) and two Norwegian films. We will however also go touring a bit more. No point in having a car here and then not using it...

Friday 28 December 2012


The wind was blowing quite forcefully and was very cold.
I was glad about my new scarf my Mum had knitted for me.
Today was the second day we had the use of a car and we decided to get the second load of boxes. We can fit about 8-10 boxes in the car each time, so I think we will need at least another trip, perhaps two even. But before we got to the boxes, my sister and I decided to take advantage of the dry weather and do some touristy things. Like visiting a church. 

The church with it's upright stone
The church in question is the St Olav's church in Avaldsnes. It looks like any ordinary church, but on the other side is a large upright stone. According to legend, once that upright stone touches the church, the church as a whole will disappear from Norway. So, whenever the stone nearly touches the church, the top is cut off! Saving the Norwegian church from eternal damnation. I would have thought strenghtening the stone at the base would probably work better, but I do admit that the story wouldn't be nearly as good!

The stone in close-up.
It's not touching the church though.
After taking some very cold and windy photographs of the church, we walked around a bit to see what else was there. Well, a Viking museum of some sort, but the path to it was closed. We later found out it was due to excavations and archeology work. Hopefully we will be able to get to see it in the summer though. When it won't be so very windy and cold! 

Yeah, I know, the pose is wrong!
After the church we decided to head for a miniature New York. Or at least, a miniature Statue of Liberty! There are some coppermines in Visnes and apparently the statue in New York (which was a gift from France) was made with the copper from the mine in Visnes. Which in turn was owned by a Frenchman! It's a small world, isn't it?

This cat wouldn't come to me: it loved my sister!!
The next thing to do was get some food and we decided to do that in Skudenes. One of my colleagues had said it was a charming little village with a very pictoresque center. So, off we went again on our little road trip. I must admit it was a charming little village, but when it started to rain, both my sister and me got fed up and decided to get some nibbles at the grocery store and then go get my boxes. 

Thursday 27 December 2012


View over Risøy from Haugesund Quay
As you may know my sister arrived on Christmas Eve and we have spent a nice and easy Christmas here in Haugesund. On Christmas Day we went to church, although if we wanted a full (people wise) service we probably would have been better off going on Christmas Eve. The church was really beautiful, but there weren't that many people attending. It showed again how important Christmas Eve is in Norway. Right up to opening the presents! I didn't have any real festive clothes on though: they are still in Åkra.

After church on Christmas Day we made our way back home through the sludge. I started on my pea soup, we watched television (although for some reason my sister didn't want to see any French or Swedish programs) and generally did nothing of note. We wouldn't have minded playing cards, but they are in Åkra. 

On Boxing Day my sister decided a walk would be good for her stuffy nose and out we went. The weather is expected to become quite dreary here over the next few days (rain, rain and more rain), so we took advantage of the dry. We made our way towards the water and took a little walk along the quay. By the time we were back in town however, it started to drizzle again and we made our way back home again. More Christmas films, because all my other films are in Åkra.

We even saw a Viking ship. Covered in a white tarpaulin.
The masts belong to the ship behind it!
We were supposed to eat the pea soup (which would have turned to snert) yesterday, but unfortunately it is a green soup and everything has gone soft in it, but it still has some massive great lumps in it. I want to use the blender, but alas, that is still in Åkra.

Today we will be renting a car however. In which we will drive to Åkra and pick up boxes of books, clothes, kitchen utensils and a whole lot more. I prefer stacking them up here where there's not really the room for them, then leaving them in a cold and quite wet environment. We will have the car for several days and will take some tours out as well. Just to see what's out there. Not that I know that much, but that's okay, we can discover together. 

Sunday 23 December 2012


See: I won't starve!
I went grocery shopping yesterday. Which is easier said than done in Norway. Not that there aren't enough supermarkets around: I counted about 5 within 15 minutes walking distance and many more if I take the bus. It's not even as if they have limited opening hours: from 7am to 11pm on a weekday and 8am to 9pm on a Saturday is quite normal. The main problem is the supply. 

I was spoiled in the Netherlands, having a large selection of fruit and vegetables, dairy and meat. And not overly expensive either. In Norway it's a bit different. There is plenty of milk (skimmed, semi-skimmed, full fat, buttermilk, kefir, non-lactose, soy, rice etc to be had). But yoghurt only comes in small pots and custard is something they apparently don't know over here. So, you are reduced to buying small pots of vanilla pudding and the like. Nice, but fairly expensive.

Fruit comes a plenty: apples and oranges/mandarins are quite cheap, others you need to fork out a bit more for. Fresh vegetables however is a different matter. They have all sorts of cabbages (red, white, Chinese, cauliflower, broccoli) and root vegetables. They sell some lettuce and salad as well and of course leeks. Which is mostly the same as in the Netherlands. But where I was able to buy potted veggies in the Netherlands (leeks, spinach, endives, peas, carrots, beans), they have not such a big choice over here. They love corn and you can get canned beans and peas and I think carrots. Oh, and tomatoes. But nothing else. Not even apple sauce, which was always my go-to vegetable if I didn't want to cook. 

Meat is yet another matter: they have plenty of it, just different from the Netherlands. They love their kjøttkaker (meatballs), which are about half the size of their Dutch counterpart, which you can find everywhere. They are also big on sausages, all different sizes and tastes apparently (I have yet to taste). They have their 'normal' meat and their pinnekjøtt (stick meat). That last thing is something specifically for Christmas and I am not really sure what it is! The thing that surprises me most though is the fact that minced meat is really expensive considering. 

The worst thing though is the bread. Which is difficult in any new country, since they never have the bread you want. I have now settled on polarbrød (translated: polar bread), flat bread that has been frozen the minute it has baked. It looks like a mixture of crumpets and ordinary bread and tastes quite alright. What to put on it is another matter. But fortunately there the choice is more like the Netherlands. Except for the hagelsag (chocolate sprinkles), which is something that I can't find anywhere here, not even in the cake decoration section. 

Now, if you are reading this and thinking I am going to starve to death: it won't come to that. There is plenty out here for me to eat. Then again, if I do loose a few pounds, that won't be so bad...

Friday 21 December 2012

And yet another...

A week or so ago I had sprouts for dinner. This was one
of the smaller ones!
The path of a new emigrant/immigrant has its fair share of bumps. But this week there was actually some good news as well. After I had made an appointment with the dentist for a check-up early next year, I thought I would try at the bank again. This time I had brought all the paperwork I had and lo and behold: not only do I have a bank account, I have a savings account as well! It worked! Not that I can use it yet, since several things have yet to arrive. But I have an account and that is what matters. 

When I got back to work, the risengrøt (rice pudding) was ready. There was sugar, cinnamon, butter and raisins and everybody was getting a bowl (or two). There were chocolates and several companies had delivered cakes! So, during my afternoon trip I started to feel decidedly worse for the wear. All that sweetness combined with very narrow and bendy roads combined with writing things down, do tend to make me kind of green. And not the enviable kind either!! 

Anyway, today was a fresh day with new routes, which was kind of funny: the instructor had never done the route before. However, he knew the area and managed to show me exactly how and what. And at the end I got to drive home! Which felt really good. At work there were more cakes (amongst which a meringue cake) and smørbrød (open sandwiches). If they do this every week, my grocery bills will definitely shrink!! Although I think it's a Christmas thing only!

I will not have so much to do the next week or so, since it's the school holiday and there are hardly any shifts. Which is both nice and not. Nice because my sister will arrive here on Monday and now I can spend time with her. Not because I would rather be working (and driving solo) and earn some money. But since that is obviously not going to happen, I will enjoy my free time!

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Another day

I was a good boy:
I was allowed out and got back in!
Another day rolled around. Another day of learning new routes and rehashing 'old' routes. Trying to get everything into my head as well as I possibly can before I can finally start driving. It's annoying, but I heard on the grapevine they had similar problems in Bergen with foreigners coming in as well. I have also heard that more Dutch are expected to come and work here, so I think I had better make a little to do-list for them. I will give it to my manager who can then send it to them when needed. Save them and the company a lot of bother!

This morning I had to learn a partly new route. I sort of knew it, but not the whole stretch. But when I arrived at work, it turned out the driver who was supposed to do that line, didn't know it at all! So funny. In the end shifts got switched and I managed to learn the route. 

I have noticed a big difference in drivers as well. Not so much their driving style (a Dutch driving instructor would have a massive fit), but more the way they are towards me. Never bad mind, but some are very chatty and others just keep schtum. And when they do talk to me, I really have to pay attention. Some are easier to understand than others. I had one who was doing his very best not to mumble and to speak in clear and simple sentences (he was a great teacher). Then there was one and the only thing I got was something about a ghost wearing a skirt and carrying a stick and I needn't stop if I ever saw her. 

The easiest to understand seems to be a Polish driver. He is also new to Norwegian so he isn't using any difficult words as yet! The hardest to understand is a Danish driver, since his Norwegian is very heavily influence by Danish. Although I do get more now than I did in the beginning. 

Monday 17 December 2012

Red, white and blue

Almost sixteen years ago we met. The first day for both of us in a new job. I asked her name, which I promptly forgot (I do that, I try repeating and it works a bit better, but I still forget names). I liked her and thought she would be a good friend. When we started working however, we didn't see a lot of each other. But somehow or other we did become friends. She had a husband, two sons and some cats. I had two cats. We both loved going to the sauna and did so with another friend and my sister. 

They loooove Peppermaggot!
When I found out Wuppie and Linette weren't going to be able to come with me to Norway, she stepped in and took them home. They are now living the life of a god in France: food, cuddles, the lot! But, she isn't only somebody who looks after my cats, she also felt she needed to look after my patriotism. Something red, white and blue was in order. She posted it on Facebook about a week ago and I thought it looked like washed out old grey sports socks. Not very nice. Little did I know they were for me.

Well, the socks she knitted for me look a lot better in real life than on the photo on Facebook. They also fit to a t. Pepperfly, you are a great friend, not only keeping my cats warm, but also my feet and my patriotism. 

Thank you!!

Friday 14 December 2012

Not my day

After the joy I felt yesterday on receiving my social security number in the mail, I feel very deflated now. When I went to the police two weeks ago about my driver's note, I wasn't yet as used to Norwegian as I am now and it was pretty hard for me to understand everything. So, when they told me I needed a social security number, I understood. And about the doctor's certificate, I got that too. I knew I had to fill out the application form as well and that was all I understood. 

So, I walked to the police station this morning to hand in my paperwork and was told that something was missing: proof of good behaviour! And the one I had, was two years old and wasn't acceptable, it had to be new! I felt quite down after that. But I felt I could get what they wanted and went on my way to the bank to open a bank account. Where I was told that not only did I need my social security number and some form of ID, I also needed my tax card and that hadn't arrived yet!

I walked back up the hill and got on the phone to the Netherlands. I needed to fill out an application form ànd the police here in Norway needed to fill it out as well! I printed the lot, walked down the hill, got permission to miss work in order to get that driver's note and went to the police again. I explained about the hows and whats and they filled out the form. I walked back up the hill.

I scanned everything in and emailed it to my last place of residence (where I had to apply). I then walked back down the hill to get at least a bit of training in. After going along with a route where everything I thought was wrong (I thought left, he went right; I thought straight ahead, he went left etc etc), I made my way to Amanda (a mall) and finally got me some curtains. I took a bus back home and walked up the hill again. But when I opened my email, there it was: the files I had sent were too big! They have a 10mb limit and my file was 10,2!!

I am at a bit of a loss right now, but I can sort of feel where this is going: I will need to go back to the Netherlands to get my application in! I certainly hope not, because that will cost me money I would rather save. It certainly is extremely annoying and I probably will need some chocolate to get over it!

(By the way: if I do get it sent, it will then be sent on to the Ministry of Funny walks Justice, who will do a check and hopefully send me the Proof of Good Behaviour very soon. I then have to take that and go back to the police station here to apply for my driver's note. Which will take a further two days. I will be lucky if I get to drive before 2013!)

Thursday 13 December 2012

My promise

I finally took my camera to work today. I had already learnt most of the routes of today, so it was a bit easier to focus on what photo to take. The first photo however was taken while I walked to work. And as you can see it had started snowing again. It actually snowed all night judging by the amount of snow I had to plow through!

Of course it didn't stop then: it snowed most of the morning as well, causing more delays. The schedules are quite tight and there's not much room for error, so any snow (or people wanting to buy tickets for that matter) wreak havoc on said schedule. It doesn't dampen our spirits though as we see snowplow after snowplow making the roads driveable again. And if you have roads like the one above, what's not to like?

After selling more tickets to school children today, we made our way back to the busstation. We were finished for today. I walked back up the hill and took some more photos. They will probably be the last for a while with all that snow, since there is thaw coming up. Although that while might be only as much as a week, since there is also more snow in the pipeline! This photo is of my home, well, the house in which I have my home.

On coming home there was a letter for me. Something was scribbled on it as well: to not forget to put my name on the post box as well. Oopsie. The letter was my very first letter from Norway though, so I was quite curious what was in it. I won't keep you in suspense: it was my social security number! Not my tax card yet, only my social security number. However, having that will allow me to apply for my driver's note, which in turn will allow me to drive passengers! How brilliant is that???

Wednesday 12 December 2012


The question I got a lot when I was deciding on moving was: but why Canada/Norway? It's cold over there. And dark. And there's snow! Ha!!

Well, people, just so you know: I like snow. And as I walked home yesterday it snowed. Only a bit, but still. When I went to bed, it still snowed. When I woke up: snow. When I walked to work: snow. And the entire day while driving: snow! It stopped when I was walking home again. But since it started falling right up until now, I think about 20-40 cms, perhaps more, must have fallen. Depending on where you are obviously.

It made it both easier and harder to get to work: easier because the ice was covered. Harder because the snow was quite deep. And while at work today we were basically behind ourselves the whole day because of the snow. The main roads were (being) cleared, but all the other ones weren't. Which at times made for beautiful routes I must say. It was a shame I didn't have my camera with me today, I will take it tomorrow!

One good thing though: I didn't need to put the lessons from yesterday into practice. I think it needs at least 50 cms of snow on the main roads without any means of clearing it, before the chains are used. Or when you live in a more rural area where the roads aren't cleared at all. 

Whenever it snows however, I think about this song from one of the best Christmas films ever: White Christmas. No, it's not the title song, it's a song sung on the train while they are heading to Vermont and to the snow! And it always makes me feel happy.

V is for...

Viking Ship

When you are in Norway, you can't really not see anything to do with Vikings. After all, it's the basis for a lot of things in Norway (and the rest of Scandinavia). So, I made my way to the Viking Ship museum when I was in Oslo to see what it was all about.

Well, an unassuming building housed three ships varying in size and beauty and a large collection of 'treasures' recovered from one of the ships. It wasn't a large museum and it didn't really go into the whole Viking thing, but it did show and tell about the three ships that were there.

The one in the photo was the biggest of the three and the most complete, although I can't remember whether that was because of restoration or because they had found it that way. As you can see it is on the flat side with a lot of holes in the side. Those holes were for the rowing oars. When I look at that ship and then imagine it could have gone all the way to Northern America, I wonder how they did it in the first place. It must have been quite a hard journey to undertake, but they not only did it once, they did it several times!

This is the letter V for ABC Wednesday. Why not join? 

Tuesday 11 December 2012

In chains

Since I wasn't really sure what to do today, I decided the best thing to do was just to show up at 6am this morning and figure out what to do. And that's when I learnt they had thought about giving me an evening shift! Funny... But, since I was there, I might as well get on one of the buses and learn some new routes. And then at 9am they wanted me to join a group of drivers getting a small course in how to put on snow chains. Because it mightn't happen that often, but it still could that there was so much snow that you did need to put on snow chains.

It took some time for the instructor to finally show up, but he made it finally and then he got to work. He showed us how to do it, some of the others disappeared due to their work schedules and I was left together with Mr Slinger. He had put on snow chains countless times before, but of course I had never done so. Well, I got going and after about half an hour I finally had the chain on. Not very tight admittedly, but it was on. I then took it off again, cleared everything away and actually drove the bus (all of 200 meters, if that) to the parking lot. 

But that wasn't the only thing I did today, I actually sold my first tickets today. As the regular driver was outside having a smoke and a banter with another new driver, there were children coming up to the bus that needed to pay. So, I got them to pay and handed them the tickets. It felt really nice to finally do something, since I still have to wait at least a week before I can actually start driving a bus with passengers. 

However, I do know what I have to do the next few days, so that is pretty good. Even though it does involve early mornings, which are not my favourite...

Monday 10 December 2012

The fall

Snow? Ice? Remember: I am grounded!!
When I looked at the weather report for yesterday (I did that yesterday), it warned of severe traffic conditions. And I looked outside and thought: huh? Because it was nice and bright outside. No heavy winds, no heavy snow, no nothing. This morning as I stepped outside and went up the steps I nearly went flying! It was very dangerous! I quickly realised the hill was as dangerous and I needed to keep my wits about me to get me down in one piece! (turned out it had rained on Saturday night and into Sunday morning)

I made it down and I spent the day with a jolly driver who intends to spend most of his time in Spain once he's retired (returning theme amongst Norwegians apparently). I learned more routes, asked questions about the on-board computer and at the end of the day we parted ways again. I then went to the post-office for some stamps. As I came out again and walked down the small hill, I all of a sudden found myself on my backside! Yes, I had fallen. 

Now, when I first got to Norway and asked my landlord about the hill and dangers concerning snow and slipperiness, he had told me about the spiked rubber bands that should be worn over your shoes. Which I of course didn't get until I had made my acquaintance with Norwegian soil!! I put them on after my trip to the supermarket and they were horrid to walk in. Until I got to the icy and snowy bit that was. Then it was heaven: I didn't slip and I felt a lot more secure.

After dinner my doorbell rang someone knocked on the door. It was my landlord. He told me that while walking his dog, the dog had pulled him a bit fiercely and he ended up on the ground! So, I wasn't alone today in falling...

Sunday 9 December 2012


The leather band is Wuppie's and is there to remind me to get
him as soon as possible
Last week I went out to get some of my stuff by myself. Took the bus to the storage area and took it back home again. It took me some time to get everything up the hill, but I managed. I did however also have a wish to actually have some of my own furniture in my new place. And dragging a large seat on to the bus and then up the hill was more than I was prepared for. Step in one of my new colleagues...

Yesterday I took the bus to the storage area where he had arrived with his van. We started loading the bed, the chair, the weapons' chest (holding an airbed and a sleeping bag, nothing lethal) and boxes galore. We had to stuff and restuff several times, but we managed to get quite a bit on. He then drove me up the hill and helped me unload again. And I could start getting everything sorted at home. 

The first thing of course was getting the dvd-player up and running. It took some time but I managed to get it all done. And I only had to use two nails to get the wire to go over the door. Then I started to unpack a few boxes. But I decided to leave the Christmas boxes until today. After all, there are only four of them! Today I got going on them, but I used about half of all of my decorations. A bit much otherwise, it being not too big over here! It looks a lot more like home now though. Plus I got to put up my nativity scene. I made it years ago, but was never able to put it up. Not unless I wanted to go and find Baby Jesus every day, since Wuppie thought it was a toy for him to play with (or Mary or Joseph or one of the Wise Men).

Friday 7 December 2012

Blowing my own horn

When I first started learning Norwegian just over a year ago, I just thought it was one long word that sounded remarkably like huffuknuffuduffu. Or something similar. It certainly didn't sound like a proper language to my ears. And then I started to listen to the radio and actually recognised a word. And another and another. I got (sort of) the hang of the easier grammar and managed to make small easy sentences. 

I then took a class in February/March: four days of intensive training. I went to Norway in April and tried my best to speak Norwegian. I kept on doing my correspondence course (without the correspondence by the way) while at work and in July/August I did another four days of intensive training, after which I went to Norway again. But since then: nothing. 

Not completely nothing of course, I kept reading the diaries of Roald Amundsen and I read the subtitles of any programme available with Norwegian subtitles. But I didn't study anymore. Not the best thing to do of course, but there you have it. 

I have been here little over a week now and I do get complimented a lot on my Norwegian knowledge. I notice that I understand more and more, although only in conversation towards me and not in general. And the main reason for that is the dialect here. They definitely don't speak the way I have been taught. Then again, I knew that before coming! The funny thing is though, some of the words they use over here, sound a lot more like the Dutch words than the original Norwegian words!

Anyway, just blowing my own horn here, but I am getting along better and better. I spoke Norwegian with Norwegians today. As well as with a Dutch person, a Polish person and a 50% Afghani person! Toot toot!! 

Thursday 6 December 2012


As I was looking over Facebook today, I saw several mentions of snow in the Netherlands. Which turned the roads in the Netherlands into parking lots apparently! Over 450 km from what I can gather, which is basically North to South!! But did I tell you at all that there has been snow here for a few days now?

Well, there is. It started last Friday, only a flurry of snow then, but when I woke up on Saturday, there was lots more snow. And because the temperatures here are below freezing both night and day, the snow stayed. I think they do clear it to some extent on the main roads, but since I live on a dead end street, no clearing or gritting at all! So, I really have to pay attention to where I go so I won't fall and break my neck. 

Last night there was another few centimeters of snow and as we were doing a school run this morning it started to snow again. Not much, but enough to cover the roads again. But what I have noticed so far is that nobody seems to be that bothered by all that snow in the road. The busdrivers certainly don't. They may slow down a bit, but definitely not enough to cause a traffic jam. Even on roads where no gritting has taken place they keep up their speed. 

The funniest thing though? The drivers complaining about the cold! I would think they would be used to it, but apparently not. According to one driver, they were more used to autumn storms coming off the Atlantic and hitting Haugesund with rain and wind and more rain. Not snow and absolutely freezing days! I haven't taken any photos yet, but I will try to do so tomorrow. For now you have to settle for a snowman I made in Germany nearly two years ago.

Wednesday 5 December 2012

On the buses

Yum, a Christmas tree!
No, I will not talk about that show from the dark ages, but about the buses I saw on the inside today. Four in total, but only three really 'en route'. The first route I had to learn was in the dark, which definitely doesn't ease the job, rather makes it a lot harder. I was sat on the first seat with a piece of paper in my hand, scribbling away so I would have the route on paper. Marking turn-offs and landmarks and hopefully not forgetting anything. People got on and off and I just kept scribbling. Learning about the dash-computer had to wait today, although I did do a tiny bit.

The first route as I said was in the dark and it ended in the dark too. After that it started to get lighter, but we did the first part of the second route in the dark/dawn. Fortunately we did that route again though, so I could see how it was during daylight as well. Last night there had been fresh snow, but that didn't seem to slow anybody down. Of course, they have a lot better tires than we do in the Netherlands and even though it is quite unusual to have snow at this time of the year apparently, I never noticed in the way they drove. Mind you, they don't seem too keen on clearing the roads of snow, especially the more minor ones.

Anyway, after our break (partly unpaid), we did the third route and I had actually done part of that route as a passenger a couple of times, so I knew a little about how and what. Plus we did that route twice as well, which made it easier. The final route of the day was a school route from some tiny village to Haugesund busterminal. Basically the way there was almost the same as the way back!

So, that was my day. Tomorrow another early day: 6am and I will be going along with another driver to probably learn some other routes. I just need some paper!

U is for...

part of my stuff prior to leaving

Well, since I couldn't think of anything else for the letter U, I thought Upheaval was a pretty good one. Especially since I went through quite a bit of upheaval during the last few weeks. Not only did I pack up a lot of stuff, I also gave a lot away and all that was left was thrown away. 

I had colleagues, friends and family come over and help, I did a lot myself and in the end a lorry came to pick everything up that I wanted to take. And if you don't know what I am talking about: I was taking it all to Norway. Yes, you read it right: I moved from the Netherlands to Norway. Actually by the time you're reading this, I have moved into a new (smaller) home and have been at work for 2 days!

I have been through a small bureaucratic mill, I have had to speak Norwegian all the time (I made it a point to start out in Norwegian, it's the best way for me to get to grips with the language, even if they all do speak fantastic English here) and I am still figuring out what to do about the furniture that couldn't come with me to my new place. 

There is still a lot of upheaval in my head as well. It still hasn't quietened down, even though I am now sleeping better than I did the first few days. What with the language, all the new people, the new surroundings and everything else, I guess that will probably linger a bit longer. But I have some great help in the area and people so far have been very nice and kind to me! 

This is the letter U for ABC Wednesday. Why not join?

Tuesday 4 December 2012

One week!

Since it's getting on to Christmas...
I have been in Norway for a week now and it's getting easier and easier to understand people. When I first got to my new place, the landlord spoke English to me, but I put a stop to that immediately: if I need to learn the language, speaking English is not going to help. So, ever since, he spoke Norwegian to me. 

At work too: I speak Norwegian. I don't always understand everything and at the end of the day I am so happy to be able to just watch Bones or NCIS in English (Norwegian subtitles though), so I can have a little reprieve. I even speak Norwegian with my Dutch co-worker, unless we are alone, then we speak Dutch. 

Today at work was another day of listening to Norwegian and hoping I got everything. It didn't always work though and several times I had to ask. But even then we try to do it in Norwegian. Sometimes I just have to read a bit further and it all becomes clear, other times they have to explain the whole thing to me. And I doubt whether tomorrow I will have retained only half of what was being said today. But I am getting there.

There is however one person that is extremely hard to understand. He comes from Denmark and where I feel American English always sounds like an Englishman being lazy, it's the same for Danish people: Norwegian the lazy way! But fortunately he is willing to repeat whatever he said (and he had to do that often). He is also new to the company and still learning his way around, although he is a bit further along.

Tomorrow I will be getting my first route-taster, as I will be going along with an experienced driver. Unfortunately I won't be able to do any driving for about two weeks still, since I don't have a social security number which I need to get both my driver's note ànd my company pass. But, I do of course get the chance to learn all the routes and how to handle the tickets before that. 

I should also be learning how to put snow chains on the bus, although according to today's trainer, they are not used that often. But I should still know how to put them on, just in case...

The weather so far has been really good. It started off with really nice weather, turned to a bit grey but dry, then turned to snow over the weekend and this week is supposed to be dry but very cold (-6 during the day). They don't seem to be big on clearing the snow away here and it can be pretty slippery in places. They tend to use grit on areas where there are a lot of pedestrians, but the street on which I live is a dead-end street and it has not been cleared at all, so I walk very cautiously. 

It has already been one week since I have arrived and so far (bar one day last week where I was wondering what the &*%$# I was doing here) I am enjoying myself. Yes, bureaucracy is bad, but it is everywhere. Yes, the weather is cold, but that was to be expected: Norway in winter! Yes, I only have a small place, but I have a place and don't have to sleep under a bridge or anything. Yes, the people are a bit stand-offish, but the ones I got to know so far have been very helpful and friendly. 

On to week 2!!!

Monday 3 December 2012

Bus! What bus?

View from my (very dirty) window
I had to be in the office today at 8am and when I got there, it didn't take long for the instructor and the other 'student' to arrive. We introduced ourselves and it became pretty obvious that I wasn't the only Dutch person working for the company, the other student was also from the Netherlands, albeit a few years ago. Now, for anonimity reasons I will call him Mr Slinger (for obvious reasons to me and some of the people who worked with me in the Netherlands). 

Anyway, the first thing after introductions was tell a little about ourselves, which took all of five minutes and then we got to work: how to work the little board computer, which apparently is an extremely important piece of equipment. Not only is it a machine that tells you where you are on the route, it also sells tickets! And there are many of them. Very many. Fortunately we don't have to know them all: there is no train anywhere near here (the nearest is Stavanger, an hour and a half away on good roads), we don't deal with boat/ferry tickets either and the other three concessions in this province (Rogaland) are served by other companies and we don't sell tickets for their areas. 

Early in the afternoon I had to leave though, since I had a doctor's appointment. She checked my eyes, my blood pressure, my heart (by listening to it). She looked into my throat and I had to say Aaaah, she asked whether I could hear well from four meters, she asked about tremors and spasms and diabetes and after all that, she gave me a piece of paper that I need to hand in to get my driver's note. I think, they kept talking about my driver's licence, but that cannot be renewed just yet, since I haven't got my final course work done yet. 

When I got back to the office, the teacher and the student had already left, so I went shopping to get some food in. Now, if you have read this post carefully, you might have noticed there has not been any talk of a bus and that's because the only buses I saw today were the ones I took to and from the doctor's office! I don't know when I will start getting to know the routes, but I will find that out in due course. Tomorrow I have to start at 10am (loving this job so far), so it will have to be an early night (as if) for me!

Ha det!

Sunday 2 December 2012


My friend Pepperfly is looking after my two monsters as you know. And just a few days ago she sent me some great photos of Wuppie sniffing and sniffing everything outside. Yes, he had been let out. He was back in ten minutes. No problemo!

This morning she let him out again. Around eleven. And after a very nerve-wracking day with lots of opening strange sheds, looking under hedges and wondering if and how to tell me (they did, through e-mail, early on). 

The clock moved on however and there was still no sign of the big Wupster. Until just before nine, he just sauntered in. As if there was nothing wrong with him or the world. The most normal thing to do!! My guess is that he probably was somewhere close by anyway, but loved the great and new outdoors so much, he wanted to spend more time in it. Ten hours long!!! 

For the foreseeable future however: he is grounded!

New home

The bedroom. Not my bedding yet, that is still on storage!
As you may know I hadn't see my new place yet. At least, not until last night, when the former tenants had gone, my landlord was home and he showed me around. Mind you, there isn't much to show: a bathroom (very roomy by the way), a kitchen (also quite roomy), a living room (very long) and a bedroom. There are some things that will be tossed and replaced by yours truly, other things will stay in place. All in all it's not a bad place.

So, this morning I moved everything from upstairs to downstairs and I finally have views again. My bedroom had its window blocked by one of my matresses and the 'living room' didn't have any windows at all. I kept thinking it to be a great place to keep a prisoner, but that might just be a bit too morbid!

The place looks inhabitable again, although the furniture is even more of a mish-mash than I ever had back in the Netherlands and the colour scheme in the bathroom is pretty gaudy (with gold!), but it will do for now and if I can get most of my furniture in here as well, I should be doing pretty well. Apart from the furniture I need to do something about the curtains: there are none in my bedroom and the one covering the front door is just way too old-fashioned! But that will have to wait a while.

The landlord's cat. Her name is Sofie and she is very bushy.
She is also very skittish and is usually outside!
For now I am in and once I get the tv up and running (I have to ask my landlord for help here, I don't want to drop my nearly new tv), I should be quite fine and happy. I am not quite sure yet how I am going to get my other stuff out of storage, after all it's over an hour's drive away. I may get some by bus, but the furniture definitely needs another way. I'll keep you posted!

Saturday 1 December 2012


What's unemployed??
Years ago, while living in England I had a discussion with somebody about work and unemployment. He said that if he were to go back to France at that point, there would not be job out there for him as a waiter and he didn't want to do anything else. I said that any job was better than no job, at least it would show a prospective employer that you are not afraid to work!

I have been unemployed several times in my life, but never more than a month. Usually it had something to do with the fact I had just come back from wherever I was working at the time and was waiting to go to wherever I would be working next. I applied for the dole on several occasions, but more often I just lived of my parents and enjoyed some free time. 

Yesterday my last job ended. So, I am now officially unemployed. Which is not such a big problem, since my new job starts in two days time. I am looking forward to it. I will be in my new home and start a new job and try to start a new Norwegian life.