Tuesday 31 December 2013

Looking back on 2013

This year contained a lot of firsts. A lot of things I had never done, seen or heard of. And I just wanted to look back and see how much I do know now and have learned. Click on the coloured months to go to the post of that month!

January: I had a run in with a large bread knife (which I still own by the way), it was cold, the dentist and I finally started driving on my own. 

February: Losing weight and househunting. Especially the househunting. And realising I should listen to Pepperfly. When she says I have as much chance of getting something, she is right! Oh, and an interview.

March: Again to the dentist, a new (well...) car, talking to myself, feeling under the weather and another interview. 

April: This was a month about proportions and walks, getting the keys to my new place and friends visiting.  

May: Friends and family, underdressing, parades and rowing and goats. And Wuppie.

June: Pepperfly knows all about birds, German and problems with the mail. 

July: My parents were here, the weather, the water, red shoes and the garden. That big big garden. That needs a lot of tending to. Because it's big, did I mention that already? And of course Preikestolen. That first lesson in 'how to go on a Norwegian walk'. 

August: 'How to go on a Norwegian walk, part 2', protest against cabotage, falling in love, escaping sheep and Herman's mackerels. 

September: The best job in the world, friends, booboo with the big cahuna and the potato-race. And plums. Lots and lots of plums.

October: A third interview, learning how to knit socks and Sweden.

November: My one year anniversary of living in Norway, being the bravest driver, the calendar for 2014, firewood and curly kale. 

December: Christmas dinner à la Norvège, storms and Wuppie. Especially Wuppie. 

So, this was 2013, tomorrow a new year starts. With hopefully a lot more adventures. 

Saturday 28 December 2013


Okay, after three different attempts of writing about this storm that is ravaging Norway, I have decided to give up. Let me just say it's a doozy and that will do. 

In other news: I should have taken the car to the shops. That way I would have saved myself from waiting in a cold, windy and wet busstop for 30 minutes. Not good if you have a cold/cough/tickle/headache/fever.

But now I am home again and enjoying the view of raindrops on the window, white foam on the sea and grey clouds continually moving in. 

I think I will fire up the woodburner and watch a Christmas film. Perhaps a bit of hot chocolate and a nice croissant. Yeah, that sounds like a grand idea!

PS: the photo shows my newest home accessory: a tea towel. Used to mop up the water that comes in due to the driving rain. 

Friday 27 December 2013

One extra present

The day before Christmas Eve I had to work. And there was a tickle in my throat. Which caused me to occasionally cough. And for some reason I knew it was the beginning of something bigger. I wish I had been wrong...

Because whenever there is anything the matter with me, the headaches come as well. Instead of just having a tickle in my throat that made me cough, I had a developing cold and a headache. So, out with the paracetamols and the tissues. The cough didn't get better, nor did the cold or the headache. I spent Christmas Eve feeling very sorry for myself. 

That feeling didn't change on Christmas Day. Tickle, cold, cough, headache? Check, check, check, check. And guess what: Boxing Day saw no change either. At least during the day. Because at night, the headache seemed to disappear. As did the cold. Now it was just the tickle.

Well, the tickle is probably here to stay a bit longer. Since I woke up three times last night, coughing my insides out. It was during the second time that I thought about my throat pastilles. Wondering if I still had them. Which I did. What bliss, what... cough cough cough... bliss. I was lying in bed sucking this throat pastille and trying to stay awake long enough to finish it. After all I didn't want to wake up choked to death on a throat pastille! I managed.

Today it's back to work. After three days of relaxation, coughing and headaches. Ah well... that's life!

Thursday 26 December 2013

Thank you Santa

As I wrote in my last post: I didn't grow up with Christmas presents. Nor did I miss it, since I didn't know better. But from the moment I started celebrating Christmas on my own, I started buying myself Christmas presents. 

This year I had bought several presents, some in Sweden while on holiday, others here in Norway. Because you can actually get them giftwrapped in the shops if you like. Of course the good thing about buying your own presents: you never get something you don't want! And if you bought the present long before Christmas, you may forget all about it and not even know what is in it! Which did happen this year!!

Anyway, on Christmas Eve I followed Norwegian tradition and opened all my presents. And Santa spoiled me! A lovely jug and jampot, a Moomin breakfast set, a frog in an envelope. And then there was the one. The one I had completely forgotten about! I couldn't for the life of me remember where or when I had bought it. I was very excited when I opened it though.

Because this came out. A Norwegian flag tree ornament. To be hung in the tree immediately!

Of course I didn't just get presents from my own personal Santa, I also got some other presents: my sister gave me some lovely bonbon dishes (Christmassy) and Ginny Marie sent me a book (Chicken Soup for the Soul: the Dating Game). I got spoiled this year!

Thank you Santa!

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Home for Christmas

Most people of my generation hailing from the Netherlands, will not have gotten any Christmas presents at all when they were growing up*. I know for a fact, there was only one girl in my class that did. Out of 35! No, Christmas was for one thing only: celebrating the birth of Christ. Which meant that after our sit-down breakfast (sometimes with my grandparents), we would head to church. After church it was home again. Lunch would be sometime in the afternoon, after the pre-lunch drinks. We children would be allowed to have one alcoholic drink, usually rosé with our lunch. To finish off, my dad would read the story about the birth of Christ from the youth bible or the grown-up bible, depending on how old we were. 

Television in those days was governed by my parents and it usually showed the Christmas concert from Vienna. We might watch the Sound of Music, which always seemed to be on at Christmas, but I can't recall much else. Probably because with only two/three channels to choose between, there wasn't much else. Did we play games? I honestly can't recall. And as for visiting the grands? Well, since we didn't own a car for quite a few years, I don't think we did. My maternal grandmother celebrated her birthday a week before Christmas, so we usually headed over for that, but would celebrate Christmas in our own home. 

Then I moved away and celebrated Christmas in other places. Like France, while working. Or Great Britain, while working. Different countries, different customs, still no gifts. I moved back home again and Christmas was more of the same. And even when I moved to my own little place, I would still go home for Christmas. And then one year it changed. 

I had moved a bit further away from my parents due to a new job and I didn't want to go home. I just wanted to relax, eat whatever I felt like eating, dressed in whatever I felt like dressing in and watch whatever I wanted on the telly. I loved it. And over the years I have perfected my Christmas rituals. I amassed a few Christmas films (5 bookshelves full), I got some great Christmas ornaments and I did Christmas my way. I would go over to see my family once every two to three years and that was fine. For them as well as for me. 

And then I moved to a new country. Norway. And the question I got last year was: are you going home? Well, no actually, my sister is coming. Which was good. Since Norwegians equate Christmas with family. This year: the same question. Are you going home for Christmas? And I thought, well, I am home! I live here in a beautiful wooden cottage in the Norwegian countryside and I am home! Why would I want to go somewhere else? So, Christmas this year is spent on my own. With my fire roaring (the wind is howling, which always makes the fire roar), the Christmas tree, candles, Christmas ribs and my Christmas films. 

Merry Christmas everybody!

*In the Netherlands, children get their presents from St Nicholas, who lives in Madrid and comes to the Netherlands late November with his Black Peters and his white horse Amerigo. He delivers presents to all the children on December 5th, the eve of his birthday. 

Monday 23 December 2013


Last week was madness. Mayhem. Mental. Everybody and their aunt had decided to take the bus. Saying it was busy is probably an understatement. It was beyond busy. I am lucky I can't do the work of two! 

The shifts weren't that hard. Basically the same every morning and then something different during the afternoon. Easy enough to remember. But I missed my old job: get on in one place and a straight line to the other place. I was delayed every day due to the amount of people standing at every busstop. Or wanting to get off. Having to buy tickets, having questions, coming in with too much stuff. 

I knew exactly what I wanted to blog about. I wanted to blog about the perfect gift I got from the USA (Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game, thank you Ginny Marie), I wanted to blog about how my decorations were up, I wanted to blog about friends. But in the end, I just about managed to play a game of bingo or two on Facebook, before shutting my laptop again and watching television. 

I needed this weekend. I went Christmas grocery shopping, I did laundry, but other than that: nothing. A bit of food, a bit of drink, a lot of Christmas films. I tried to finish a cardigan I had started years ago, but in the end I made several mistakes (it's not easy counting to 100) and had to unravel the whole thing. 

I have to work today and then I will have three days off. I am so looking forward to it! 

Sunday 15 December 2013

Photo on Sunday 2013-32

Imagine my surprise when I opened the little box it came in and found this little ornament. It is easily my favourite ornament!

Saturday 14 December 2013

The tree

After grocery shopping, chatting to my mum on the phone, watching 'Drei Nüsse für Aschenbrödel' and some other things, I finally got the tree out. Now, I was going to get myself a tree with lights included, but found that if one light wasn't working, I couldn't replace it. And since I had 4 boxes with 50 lights each... So, I bought a fake tree. A few weeks ago!

I love that crown and it is sterling silver as well!
It's not a high tree, since basically, it's not a high ceiling. In the living room, I can touch the ceiling while on tippy-toe, so having a 2.10m tree was a bit ridiculous. Especially since I had to fit the 'piek' on top. So, a 1.80m tree was high enough. Mind you, the amount of ornaments I have, I could probably have had a 3m tree and still have ornaments left over. As it was, I didn't use half of them. Mainly because there was too much colour on them. I like my tree simple: silver and white with glimpses of red or blue here and there. 

I wanted a bus, I had to make do with a train.
As I was unwrapping the ornaments, one was in pieces and had to be thrown out and one fell to the ground, shattering as well. All the others made it safely. And my were there others. I have lovely Belleek (Irish china) figures, some real silver ornaments by Braybrook & Britten and a fantastic ornament I didn't even know I had. Or at least had completely forgotten about. It will be shown tomorrow! There were glass figures, the usual baubles and birdies, snowmen, a trumpet, Santas and angels. 

Bring on Christmas!

Wednesday 11 December 2013

How to loose a friend, part 1

The other day I was thinking about how to make friends. And how to loose friends. When you are in primary school, it is easy. Usually class mates equal friends. Of course whether they will still be your friends when you are all grown up is of course a completely different matter. My best friend when I was 10 was Marieke. Same age, different class, even a different school. But she was my friend and we did a lot together. When I went to high school, she was still my friend, but the school I went to was completely different to the school she went to. And when I moved only a few months later, the friendship was doomed. 

Then in high school I made a few friends. One who came over regularly and I would go over to hers as well. Even if it was about an hour to cycle! In good weather. But then again, I never went to her in bad weather. We stayed in touch after school as well, until at some point (she had children by then) it sort of fizzled out. Nothing bad was said on either side I think, it just fizzled. And then there was Simone. 

Simone was in some of my classes during the fourth year. I don't know how we hooked up, but we did. I remember going (cycling again) over to her place on New Year's Eve, I remember her coming over for visits. I also remember her mum occasionally phoning us to ask me if I had seen her, since she was missing. Again. For several days. After her return I don't think I ever asked her about it. It was just... it. By the time I finished high school, she had dropped out. Started a course of some sort. Which she hated and dropped out of. Blaming something or other.

She then changed her objective again and went back to school. This time a tourism course. For which she had to spend some part of her summer doing some sort of practical work to gain enough points for the course. After about two weeks in Belgium, working on a campsite, she phoned me up. 'If I didn't come to Belgium, she would drop everything and come back to the Netherlands'. After talking it over with my parents (I had only just turned 18) and with the owners of the campsite, I made my way by train to Belgium. 

Within a couple of days I had a nickname: Turbo Mara. Since I actually did something. Compared to her! And I didn't have a clue about what I was supposed to do. I stayed for three weeks. And at the end I got a small payment. Simone was furious: she had been there for six weeks, working her butt off (as if) and got nothing! She blamed everybody and their aunt. 

That autumn we were due to go out and afterwards she would come over to my place to stay. I cycled (returning theme here) to town with her on the backseat and we went to one of the discos. She drank, I didn't. She flirted with all sorts of men that just set my alarm bells ringing. And when I was finally fed-up and ready to go home, it was a drag getting her out of there. I managed in the end though and I cycled home. One hand on the handlebars, one hand behind me, trying to keep her from falling off, since she was asleep! But we arrived home safely and went to bed. 

The next morning, I was up quite early and was downstairs having my breakfast, when she came down. She didn't want breakfast, she was just going to go home. And for some reason I decided to go up and get dressed. When I came to my bedroom, I saw that the bed she had slept on, had a blanket on it. As I grabbed it to fold it away, I noticed something else: she had wet the bed!

After that we sort of lost touch. I certainly didn't instigate any contact. And then, after I had been back in the Netherlands for a few years, completely out of the blue, she rang. She was living some place or other, had a crappy job, a crappy apartment, was angry with everybody and anybody, blaming them all along the way for her misfortunes. She asked whether I wanted to come over to see her and go out some time. She knew some nice men. I declined. What about without the men. I declined again. How about her giving me her number so we could get in touch at some other point. I declined. 

She was the only one I ever refused to have anything more to do with. And have not regretted it one moment!

Sunday 8 December 2013

Photo on Sunday 2013-31

Well, the storm from Thursday and Friday did certainly wreak havoc in the area and my home didn't escape! So, today's photos are the damages done to my home! The first shows the missing rooftiles. Five made it down and a few others shifted place up there. 

The second one shows the fence I had in the garden. Now, to be honest, it was in a weird spot and should serve as a fence to an enclosure, but with my gardening skills(!), it was a completely unusable area. 

And the final photo shows the flagpole. It just snapped at the foot and fell over. Not where it is right now though, that would have been too much to ask. It fell down on the fence between me and my neighbour. Fortunately that didn't do any damage. Now, you can also see some of car in this photo. I always park my car next to the house and I think I must thank my lucky stars, that the tiles that fell off the roof, fell on the kitchen side of the house! Otherwise, I would have had severe damage to my car as well!!

Saturday 7 December 2013


One of the very early photos when he was still a tiny ginger ball of fur!
The very first time I saw him, I fell in love. Head over heels in love. A little ball of ginger fur getting stuck in my hair. I immediately knew he was going to be part of my new 'family'. He loved sleeping on the towels, loved boxes (like every single other cat I believe) and peed on my bed until I moved the bed to a different position when it finally stopped. 

He got stuck in a tree once. Trying to get hold of a bird. He caught frogs. Once brought a bird home (still alive, I managed to grab hold of the bird and set it free). He opened my parents' fridge and nearly absconded with a large sausage. He was overweight for the latter part of his life. Loved attention and if I didn't give him attention when I had just returned from a long trip, he would get grumpy! He loved sleeping on my bed and if it was cold in my bed. 

When I moved to Norway last year I had to leave him behind. I knew he was going to the best home he could ever want or dream of, but it was hard. I cried my eyes out and had a near break-down. Pepperfly and her family loved him as much as I loved him. He lost some weight, which was good. He loved trekking outdoors and was aided by his new friend Mickey. 

Then there was blood in his urine, tests and medication. It seemed to go better again. But his walking became worse, probably arthritis. More medication. It didn't work. Yesterday it became clear that he had tumors on one of his feet and probably more in his lungs. The decision was taken by Pepperfly (one with which I totally agree) to not prolong pain and humanely euthanise him. He died in her arms. 

He is missed in the Pepperfly household and also very much here. 

Friday 6 December 2013

Letting go of Wuppie

26th May 1998 - 06th December 2013

Thursday 5 December 2013

Just call me Dorothy!

I live in a lovely cottage in the Norwegian countryside. It overlooks the North Sea, it has no adjoining neighbours and it fits me just fine. The basement is built with brick and the rest is made of wood. And last night the storm started.

Now, most of northern Europe is dealing with severe weather at the moment. Scotland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and even down in Belgium. And of course here in Norway. Where it seems to have started by the sound of it, since it's moving downwards. Well, everybody living South of me: beware: it's a doozy!

As I was lying in bed last night, I thought that it was occasionally moving. The storm wasn't at its height yet, so tonight I will be bunking in the spare room: no wind hitting that side of the house. Especially since when I got home, I realised there were several things on the floor that usually reside on a small ledge near the ceiling!

This morning the weather was stormy, but still doable. By early afternoon it had deteriorated. Very much. I had to drive across the big bridge. I was scared! The wind was coming directly from the right, the bridge is high and the water is in an open connection with the North Sea. When I came back only 20 minutes later, the bridge was closed, due to some tall vehicle having a bit of bother. Turned out, one of the buses had lost its windscreen!! Fortunately there is now a tunnel, so I turned around and made my way to Haugesund the long way round!

By the time I got to town, some scaffolding at the hospital had come down, so a road was closed. The Christmas market in the center was frantically trying to rescue/salvage/secure as much as they could. Buses were late, passengers were trying to stay up in the fierce wind. I then had to make my way back to the island, this time by tunnel only. By the time I was well on my way the message came that all routes to and from the island were cancelled due to the weather. 

And it wasn't just the strong wind that was bad. Winter had decided to arrive as well. Temperatures close to zero resulted in snow, sleet and hail. Sometimes all three at once. When I finally got home (via the tunnel of course, since the bridge was still closed), the wind was so strong I had to make three tours from the car to the house to get everything in. 

So, when you don't hear from me in the near future, the house has lifted and taken me somewhere that is not Karmøy! Somebody got a dog I can borrow?

Wednesday 4 December 2013

The radio

I was slowly and carefully starting to think I might get myself a second satellite dish for Christmas. One that would enable me to watch the BBC. Until last Thursday!

Because last Thursday the car started making a funny noise. Something wrong with the exhaust. And when my sister was here, it didn't go away. As a matter of fact, after I drove my sister to the airport and drove home again, there was an extra noise: a massive clanking underneath. Fortunately it stopped after a while (probably lost whatever was clanking). 

Yesterday I was due to see somebody about a horse my car. But his wife threw a spanner in the works by crashing her car. So, tonight I saw somebody about my car. And he quickly realised what was wrong. Something was hanging loose and there should have been a bit more as well. But since I lost that...

I took the loose hanging bit off, telling me I would need to get a replacement for it. And then he closed the hole that made the noise. Right now the car is sounding smooth again, but it is only a temporary fix, so I need to get it seen to as soon as possible. So, tomorrow night I will go back, hopefully with the needed spare part, which he then can install. 

I wonder how long the car will go on. After all, nearly 18 is a good age! So, I have to rethink my finances and possibly even get myself a car loan to get myself a better car. 


Tuesday 3 December 2013

My sister and I

The Cantus Vitale 
My sister was here over the weekend. She arrived on Friday and left again this afternoon. Not much time to do a great deal. Especially since the forecast was rain and even if I am equipped to deal with that, my sister not so much. At least not here!

But, as I drove to the airport on Friday afternoon, the rain ceased. On Saturday, we saw blue skies and while we were in town it stayed dry. It only started raining after we had gotten home again. Then Sunday saw beautiful weather, albeit with a fierce wind. We didn't go out however. We sat on the couch, reading, knitting, crocheting, watching television and dvd's and internetting. It wasn't until late in the afternoon that we got our act together and got dressed. 

We were going to church! Not for a regular service, but for a Christmas concert with 11 local and regional choirs. I like Christmas music, my sister likes Christmas music, we both like choirs. It was a no-brainer. 

Sveio Songlag
The Christmas music we heard was mostly Norwegian. Every choir sang two different songs and it went like clockwork. They sounded good and there were even some choirs that sang a song in English. We had a favourite as well: Carol of the Bells, which was sung beautifully by the Sveio Songlag Choir. The last song of the evening was to be sung by everybody and I was able to do so. My sister didn't even try, since what's written down doesn't sound like anything she thinks it might sound like!

She left again today. I took her to the airport (only 10 minutes away) and my weekend with my sister was over. The next time we will see each other will be next year, when I will visit her.

Thank you for a good weekend!