Tuesday 29 October 2013


Remember the post about Eurovision I wrote a short while ago? No? Well, here is a link to it, so you can reread it. 

Anyway, yesterday a Polish colleague told me he had looked in two different shops over the weekend (he was in Poland obviously), but had failed to find a flag. He will however be going back to Poland soon and will have a look in some other shops. So, basically the Polish flag is in the bag. 

This morning I got a package in the mail. Containing a flag. Unfortunately an elephant must have sat on it, because the little stick was broken, but a bit of duct tape will soon mend that. 

And before anybody asks: no the United States of America do no enter the Eurovision Song Contest. But a flag is a flag is a flag and I can always wave it about when I don't have the flag of the country I should be having a flag of. (does that still make sense?)

Thank you Debby!

Saturday 26 October 2013


Perfecting the art of being lazy. Although it's not hard for them.
At all!!!
I am going to do the lazy thing in my post for today. I am lazy today anyway, just hanging around and doing a bit of internetting, reading, knitting. But the lazy thing for my post today is quite simple. I have noticed several new commenters (welcome by the way) and they and you long-time followers might actually want to know a bit more about yours truly!

So, instead of me telling what I did today (not much and not likely too either), I am asking you: what would you like to know about me? Chances are I've written about it already, but in that case I will put up a link to the corresponding post. And in case I haven't written about it yet, I will do! 

Do your best! Or worst for that matter. 

On an other subject (sort of). I tend not to reply to comments made on my blog on my blog. I prefer to do so by email. That way I am able to give a few more details without the whole world knowing. However, several of you have a no-reply address, which means that questions go unanswered. So, if you want to be answered, please change the settings on your whateveryacallit to include a working email address. I promise never to use it for anything other than answering comments and very very very occasionally send an ordinary email. No spam-like things and no 'funny' emails, since I don't like to get those either!

So, lazy? Perhaps a tad!

Friday 25 October 2013

My life 4

As I was telling a story to some people the other day I was told I had been a spoilt girl! Now, I can see both my parents looking at each other and wondering who they were talking about, since they certainly didn't spoil me! The story I was telling was about me in high school. But it started a few years earlier than that. 

In December 1983 there was a lot of hooha about atomic weapons and atomic bombs and the like. To a sensitive girl like me it was all very disturbing. So, one night that disturbance came to fruition by me having a dream about atomic bombs falling. Fortunately I woke up, but when I fell asleep again, I started dreaming again on the same topic. And then again. Three dreams all about the atomic bomb and the end of the world. 

That day in school I was tired and felt sick. I kept thinking and thinking about those dreams and when I finally came home to do my homework, someone on the radio said the end of the world was close. I lost it. Com-ple-tely! I didn't sleep in my own (attic) room ever again and instead bunked with my sister, one floor down. Much safer! We moved at the end of that week (completely unrelated of course, we were due to move anyway). 

Fast forward a few years and one day while in religion class our teacher tells us we are going to see a film. Called 'The Day After'. About the effects of the atomic bomb! And I didn't want to see it. I refused to see it. I made such a hooha myself, in the end they phoned my parents and were told that if I didn't, I didn't and I didn't have to! So, for the next few lessons, while the video was shown, I sat in the cafeteria downstairs waiting for my next class. 

Was I spoiled?

Thursday 24 October 2013

The book

A few posts ago (about school and money and things) I was given a suggestion: write a book and recoup some of my losses. Sound advice of course. Especially since I have always wanted to write a book. 

But the question is: what would I write about? Should it be fact or fiction or a mixture of both? Should I write about all my adventures in foreign and not so foreign lands? Should I write about the inner workings of the cow that swam the Atlantic? Should I write about... 

And who would read it? Of course my parents will get a copy, because they are proud of their dearest oldest daughter. My two siblings might do so too. And some friends. Blog friends. And then who? Because only selling about ten books would not make me recoup any loss at all. 

Any ideas anybody? 

On the update side of finances: I don't have to take the course this year and will not have to pay the second installment. However, I won't be refunded the first installment and it will serve as a downpayment for next year's course. I can manage that!

Wednesday 23 October 2013

The paper

I don't read the paper. Unless it's lying on a table at work, I don't read one. So, knowing what goes on in the world means listening to the news on the radio. But sometimes I buy a newspaper. Like when I'm in it!!!

Today I bought one. Because I was in it. A small photo on the front page leading to a two page spread about me and the company I work for (Tide). 

Here's the translation of part of the article on page 4 and 5:


Mara J from the Netherlands learnt Norwegian before looking for a job
Moved North to drive a bus

She knows the district like the back of her hand and speaks fluently Norwegian. The accent says Mara J is an immigrant.

About 20 drivers with foreign nationalities work as busdrivers for Tide in Haugaland. A handful of these moved North on their own initiative. Amongst them Mara J (42). 
-I wanted to try something else than the Netherlands and the EU, she says. 
The busdriver from the Netherlands loves winter and is very interested in biathlon. She had Canada as her first choice but quickly found out that finding a job as a busdriver in Canada was impossible. So she learnt Norwegian. 
In November last year she moved from her job as a tourbusdriver in Emmeloord in the Netherlands to a job as a public transport driver in Haugesund, Norway. After first finding out the possibilities in Bergen, Norway. 

Loves it
-I came to Haugesund on a Tuesday and the Monday after I started training, the 42-year old says, who previously also worked in England, France, Italy and former Yugoslavia. And speaks 6 languages fluently [not quite true, I speak 5 languages fluently and am able to understand basic Italian]
She quickly found out that the Norwegian learnt in school is completely different from the Haugesund and Karmoy dialects. She needed 3-4 months to really get to grips with the language and the routes. She found a place to live in Torvastad and loves her job and private life. Perhaps the 42-year old has put down roots.
-I like it here. The [my] social life is better here than in the Netherlands, according to the busdriver. 
She only knew the union representative on Facebook before moving. Nobody else. 

Learnt Norwegian first
It so happened that another Dutchman started at the same time as Mara. A total of three Dutch and two Germans work for the company. The thing they have in common is the fact that they learnt Norwegian before coming to Norway. Most come with their families. Mara is single.
The education system and a society where everybody has equal opportunities is tempting for some. Unemployment and bad economic times in large parts of Europe are another important cause for people to consider Norway. 
-It was one of my reasons to move too, even if I did have a steady job in the Netherlands before coming over. 
She realises it's expensive in Norway. That is compensated by the higher wages though. -I have as much money [at the end of the month] as I had in the Netherlands, says the 42-year old. 


So, there you have it: another interview with me. Another fifteen minutes of fame! The article continued about the company and how the company is faring this year (pluses and minuses etc.).

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Oh dear...

I do apologise! You would think I had mended my ways and it certainly seemed that way, but in the end, I hadn't. I didn't visit any of your blogs and I didn't update my own. I even missed Photo on Sunday!! What my world is coming to? I don't know! 

But do you want to hear about the boring day to day life I lead? Getting up early, driving to work, working, driving home, feeding myself, watching television, going to bed? Because that is basically what I have been up to lately. Honestly. 

Although, honestly? I have been doing something else as well. I have been knitting as if it's going out of fashion. Which, by the look of all the magazines and books about knitting here in Norway is not likely to happen any time soon. Yes, I have been knitting socks. And lots of them. Five completed pairs so far (adult ones) and one children's sock, the other one isn't finished yet. All with the yarn I bought in Sweden or the Swedish yarn I bought in the Netherlands. 

The Swedish yarn I bought in the Netherlands is actually my favourite to knit with and I thought it would be easy peasy to find it over here! Not so much. Yes, I can find it, but only in boring colours like blue and yellow and green. And I prefer my sock wool in a variety of colours: three different coloured threads worsted together. Not one after the other (plentiful here in Norway), but at the same time. In the end I resorted to good old internet and after some serious searching I finally found an online thingymebob that now has an order for wool from yours truly. 

Because I have an order as well: one pair of men's socks size big. And he is not into purple or pink (which I still had), so new yarn it is: brown and blue and black and grey. Like the second pair from the left. 

But isn't that child's sock adorable??

Friday 18 October 2013

Back to school

During the summer I was asked whether I wanted to do a course. A course where I would learn all about my job basically. And if I passed said course, I would earn up to 2 euros and hour more! Payment of the course would be easy: I would pay half, the union would pay half. So far so good.

The first evening of the course was during my holiday. As was the second evening. The third evening I missed, because I didn't realise it was a course night and then finally the fourth evening I made it to class. This week was to be the fifth evening. And I didn't go. Not because I couldn't, but because I can't afford it.

The problem is this: I moved to Norway late November last year. Which means I have been a member of the union for 10 months now. And you have to be a member for at least 1 year before any financial aid is forthcoming. Any thoughts about being extra nice to me can be forgotten, since they are already extra nice to members of our particular branch (usually you have to be a member for at least 3 years). Me having been a member of a Dutch union doesn't help either.

That is not the only part of the problem though. The other part is the fact that I don't get any holiday money, since I only starting earning this year! Which means that any holiday has to be paid for by me. I was told I had to take three weeks (which I did), but the financial repercussions will have to be carried by me.

My landlady has this strange thing about wanting her rent every month. And my body feels that food is quite nice to get once in a while. So, I have asked to do the course next year, when I will be eligible for financial help from the union, will have holiday money and will be more settled than I am now. Today I got an answer to my email and they will take it up on Monday. Hopefully with a result that is good to me! Otherwise I will need to get a loan from somewhere and that is something I wanted to avoid at all cost this year!

Oh, and before anybody asks: I did need the holiday. It was my first in several years!

PS: photos taken during a walk last Sunday. A long walk.

Tuesday 15 October 2013


I already posted this on Facebook, but I thought I would post it here as well. You never know, it might help!

Anyway, as you are undoubtably aware of, I love the Eurovision Song Contest. Don't talk to me about the Eastern block sticking together, so does the Western block. And the songs? Of course they are awful, but there are some really nice ones out there too! The costumes they wear? Brilliant! Wouldn't want to wear them myself really, but then again, I am not a singer performing for the ESC!

As I love the ESC, I thought it would be really nice if I were to be able to join in a bit more. Not just by watching television, but by waving the flags. But for that I need flags. And right now I haven't got any have only two. Norway and Sweden. But since there are a lot of other countries out there that join in too... 

So, can anybody help me? Do you have or can you get hold of a flag? About 20x30cm, attached to a little stick? Usually found in souvenir shops? And would you be willing to send it to little old me here in Norway? If so, why not send me an email? My email address is on my Me-page (next to the Home-tab).

The video above is not one of my favourite songs, however it talks of flying the flag! 

Monday 14 October 2013

The Hundred Year Old Man who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared

I had vaguely heard of this book and then I saw it in a Swedish bookshop. Feeling that it would be rude not to support a Swedish author, I decided to buy the book (in English). After all it is 'the International Bestselling Sensation' as it says on the front!

The blurb: Sitting quietly in his room in an old people's home, Allan Karlsson is waiting for a party he doesn't want to begin. His one-hundredth birthday party to be precise. The Mayor will be there. The press will be there. But, as it turns out, Allan will not...
Escaping (in his slippers) through his bedroom window, into the flowerbed, Allan makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque* and unlikely journey involving criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police. As his escapades unfold, Allan's earlier life is revealed. A life in which -remarkably- he played a key role behind the scenes in some of the momentous events of the twentieth century.

My verdict: Honestly? Well... The story flows. You feel for Allan (after all, he was 100 years old and not allowed to have some vodka? That's just not on!) and his adventures in the present sound very plausible. He (Allan) has a very dry sort of humor and he doesn't dwell on the bad things too long. As long as there is vodka, he is fine. His past is revealed in detail as well and every bit as fantastic as the present, if not more. The ending was totally unexpected and fitted perfectly to the whole story. He might have been 101 by the end, but nowhere near being finished. 

So, would I recommend this book? Eh... YES! It is hilarious. I laughed and chuckled my way through the book, which probably earned me some strange looks at Copenhagen Airport (where I read part of it). I for one am glad to be supporting a Swedish author!! 

*Picaresque: pertaining to, characteristic of, or characterized by a form of prose fiction, originally developed in Spain, in which the adventures of an engagingly roguish hero are described in a series of usually humorous or satiric episodes that often depict, in realistic detail, the everyday life of the common people.

Sunday 13 October 2013

Photo on Sunday 2013-27

I found this sign in a bookshop in Kristianstad, Sweden. And because you have to relax (especially on a Sunday), I thought it would be quite fitting. I don't know whether you will be able to read it properly though, so I have put the instructions below as well!

1. Place [poster] on FIRM surface.
2. Follow directions in circle.
3. Repeat step 2. as necessary or until unconscious.
4. If unconscious, cease stress reduction activity.

Saturday 12 October 2013


You could be forgiven in thinking I am not blogging anymore. Even though I have had a post appearing every day during the last week, they were all pre-posted! But, I am. Stil blogging that is. I just had so many Sweden posts that I didn't write about anything else. 

Mind you, there is not much to write about. It is holiday time this week (autumn break) which means no school transport. Which I found out on Tuesday when I arrived at work and realised I was a full two hours early!! Hm... All the other driving was quite uneventful. Well, apart from the scenery that is. 

Take away clouds, add mountains, colour the trees in red and orange and yellow,
put some more bends in the road and make it narrower. That's how it looked like here yesterday!
Because not only is it autumn in Sweden, it is also autumn in Norway. And where the first few days back at work were filled with rain, from Thursday the clouds moved away, the temperatures dropped and the scenery is a painting of reds and yellows and still greens. Add to that bright blue skies and it makes for a beautiful painting! Taking photos while driving is highly discouraged though, so no images of what I see while driving, but take it from me: stunning. 

I actually thought about it not so long ago. Why I prefer to do in reality a fairly boring job, especially compared to what I had before. After all, I could have done that in the Netherlands. I wouldn't have had to move, needed to learn a new language, had to make new friends and a new life. And then I look at the scenery over here and know I made the right choice. Hills and mountains with the sun coming up over them. Sheep in the road (it adds to the beauty you know). The view over the sea every single day. 

Yes, the temperatures are dropping. Yes, the daylight is becoming less every day. And yes, it is expensive (especially if you just went on holiday to Sweden). But, yes, I love it. All of it. 

And having a sister who asks if I would like her to come over for a weekend? Makes it even more perfect!

All photos taken in Sweden

Friday 11 October 2013

My life 3

The hokey-cokey?
As I am telling you a bit more about my life, I thought I might tell you about the very first time I actually got drunk. Now, I never was much of a 'typical' teenager. I didn't go out, I didn't drink on the sly, I didn't smoke on the sly. Mostly I stayed in my room playing solitaire when I should have been doing my homework. I had had the odd glass of rosé at Christmas, but that was about the extent of my alcohol intake. 

My first real job in Yugoslavia changed that. I went out more, either with my few colleagues or with guests and I started drinking a bit more. I was still only 19 and still quite shy (compared to now anyway) and I still didn't drink a lot. And then that night...

I can't recall much of that night, but I do remember rum. Lots of it. So much of it that when the night ended, I was violently sick and threw up in the bushes behind the hotel where I lived. And I lost my purse with my money and bankcard! 

The official police report
So, after only a few hours sleep I made my way to the police station in Pula, the nearest town. Where, with a crippling hangover, I had to tell the officer in charge what had happened. Fortunately not in Yugoslav or whatever language they spoke, but in English. And then again, but in German. 

I had called my parents in the dead of night telling them I had lost my bankcard (they were not amused, not about the loss nor about me calling at that unseemly hour), so they contacted the bank at a better time to block it. However, I still had a few more months to go in Yugoslavia and I needed some money. So, the bank and the hotel reception and me made a deal. I could still use my cheques to withdraw money from my account. The hotel receptionist would just copy my details of the older cheques!

The hangover had just passed!
By the way: that summer? I didn't drink again. 

Thursday 10 October 2013

Autumn in Sweden

Why do geese pull up one leg when they sleep?
When they pull both up, they fall over!

The autumn colours were starting and against that beautiful blue sky it was just stunning

Geese in the South of Sweden. Many more expected, either to stay for the winter or to move further South. I wonder whether Nils Holgersson was with them!

They tasted yummy. Very sweet. 

I didn't try this one. 

Natural Christmas decoration.

Wednesday 9 October 2013

New skills

I know how to knit. I know the difference between knit and purl and I can knit a mean ladder! Or a paintbrush, elephant, Christmas mouse. I have knitted scarves, sweaters and in my younger (foolish) years even pyjamas! But I had never knitted socks. Because knitting with four needles was aaaaarrrggghhh!

But I wanted to be able to knit socks. I wanted to make my own and not having to depend on my psychic friend Pepperfly to make them. I wanted socks that looked like my paternal grandmother could have made! However, my paternal grandmother passed away a few years ago, I never asked my aunt who knows how to knit socks and then I moved to Norway. Where they knit in a way that baffles me every time I see it. Mind you, my way of knitting baffles them. Something to do with how we hold needles and yarn. In the end the result is a knitted product though, whatever way you knit.

Anyway, while in Sweden we were in one of those shops that sells yarn and needles and stuff. And it turned out that one of my friends knows how to knit socks. So, I got me some needles and yarn and decided there was no time like the present to learn. 

The first thing to get used to was those awfully short needles. I am used to 40cm needles, one of which will be clamped under my arm at all times. Now I had to get used to five 20cm needles which seemed to be going everywhere! I lost stitches (picked them up again), swore a lot (in Dutch, no need to offend my host), but I soon started to get some sort of hang of it. It actually started to resemble something. 

The friend who knew how to knit socks, had to explain every step of the way. First she had to translate from Swedish to Norwegian and then she had to get me to understand what on earth she was on about. I had to do it and I had to write it down, which was a mixture of Dutch and English, so it was a real international affair! But the end result was... a sock! An actual sock, knitted by yours truly! Yes, there were some flaws, but that didn't matter: I had enough yarn to make more socks. 

And not even a week later, I have a total of three pairs of knitted socks. Ready to replace the pairs my grandmother knitted for me all those years ago. I have a feeling she would be proud!

PS: I had bought some yarn while still living in the Netherlands. Guess where it hails from! Right: Sweden! With the pattern on the back of the paper!! 

Tuesday 8 October 2013

Sweden is really beautiful!

Our massive plane! Ahem...
I had been to Sweden once before. Two years ago the World Jamboree (scouting) was held near Kristianstad in the South East of Sweden and me and 24 other Dutch buses made our way over the Bridge from Denmark to Sweden to drop our scouts of and pick them up again a week later. I loved the countryside and it was actually the first time I wondered whether I was making the right move in moving to Canada (which was still my goal at that time). Because it was so beautiful there and I guessed (correctly) that Norway would be equally and more beautiful. 

Well, it's a bus wouldn't you know!
So, when I was invited to come to Sweden with my new-found Norwegian friends, I said yes. Even though it would be a stretch financially. Once in a while you have to be a bit reckless after all! I allocated an amount I could spend according to the other expenditures coming up and on September 25th the five of us flew to Kopenhagen. Which is in Denmark. From there we took a train to Malmö (Sweden), another train to Simrishamn and then the last bus to Kivik. 

Church in Simrishamn
Thursday was a bit of a lazy day. Exploring the small village of Kivik, getting the first round of shopping in, seeing some of the many apples. Friday we headed back by bus to Simrishamn to do more shopping and in my case also sightseeing. The weather was great, the town was quaint and picturesque and I took lots and lots of photos. 

Kivik is located at the Östersund
The sea between Sweden in the North and Germany/Poland in the South
Saturday we stayed in Kivik. Saw the unveiling of the tableau (see last Sunday's post), did more shopping at the market and I took more photos. Sunday was another lazy day, although I did go for a lovely long walk, coming back with some real nice chocolates. Monday was another bustour, this time to Kristianstad. More shopping, more sightseeing, more photos. Tuesday was yet another town: Ystad. A town I loved for its... well... everything really. The shops, the buildings, everything! More books, more knick-knacks and more photos. 

Streetart in Kristianstad
Our last full day was another day spent lazying about. I went for a long walk in the afternoon, saw more apples, ate some blackberries, photographed a snail and in the evening I tried to pack my suitcases. We left at ten on Thursday to make our way back to Kopenhagen to catch our direct flight to Haugesund. Normally they would have a bit of a stop in Malmö to get some more shopping done, but this time they decided to do that at the airport. Where I had had enough, grabbed some lunch, plugged my ears and got out my new book about a hundred year old who climbed out of the window. 

Monastery in Ystad
It was a lovely holiday, but I must admit I was glad to be home again. On my own. To rest my brain before going back to work again on Monday. 

Monday 7 October 2013

Retail therapy

I love those types of signs!
This one found in Ystad
Don't get me wrong: I love shopping. Put me in a bookstore and pick me up a couple of hours later and you will probably have to search for me and my pile of books. Artsy, knick-knacky shops are great too. But I am not too fond of clothes shopping. Two reasons: I have enough clothes and I need larger clothes which most shops don't have. 

And yes, they did sell hats!
So, when I was on holiday with four other women and we were going places, I got bored real soon by going in and out of clothes shops and shoe shops. Especially when it was almost the same shops in every town! I went ahead, looking at other shops. Bookshops, artsy, knick-knacky shops. I was tempted to buy more copies of Pride and Prejudice (I think I have four), but resisted. I was tempted to buy beautiful artsy things, but resisted. 

It's water and bread (with home-made jam) for a few months now!
Not always though. I actually had to buy another suitcase to get everything home! I think I got 8 books, a milk jug and sugar bowl, lovely red coral and silver earrings, two small serving trays and a host of other small things I don't need (although books are something a person needs. Always). 

Meeting up with my friends for tea/coffee, lunch/dinner
This was not one we went to, but I liked the sign
The average town does not consist of lots of bookshops (two if you are lucky in a smallish town) and artsy, k-k shops. Which meant that my shopping was fairly limited. Which in turn led me to use my camera. On the buildings, on the art, on the surroundings. I walked lots, saw more and in the end came back from my holiday with over 500 photos! I promise I won't show all...

Sunday 6 October 2013

Photo on Sunday 2013-26

As you know I spent about a week in Sweden. In Kivik on the South East coast of Sweden to be precise. We were there during the apple market or apple festival and saw a lot of apples. Not only growing on the trees that were in and surrounding Kivik, also in the apple orchards around Kivik and even pinned to a large board! 

Every year there is an artist who makes a painting with apples. In other words: she/he uses only apples to make a piece of art. This year was no different and the photo above was the art made for this year's marknade! I heard a lot of people saying there was something missing though...