Sunday 29 June 2014

My Saturday

My Saturday passed as most of my Saturdays. With a few exceptions however. Because I made a husar salad, which is basically a potato salad with a few extra ingredients. It came out pretty well. I also made some coleslaw, since I had this white cabbage in my fridge doing nothing. It wasn't as finely chopped as it could have been, but it was quite good. Both will be made again.

I let Oswin out for the first time. Unleashed and all. She loved it. All this garden to explore and discover. Bugs and butterflies and birds. Perhaps love is a bit of an understatement. Of course her enjoyment of the garden (and the field beyond) were greatly enhanced by one of the visitors I had (hence the salads). A girl of about 8 years old who played tirelessly with Oswin. The fish on the string is nearly dead and will have to be replaced. The ball fared a bit better, but I think I had better buy another one of those as well. 

Now, those visitors were here partly to welcome them in Norway (they hail from Germanland and have been here about 8 months now) and partly to celebrate my upcoming birthday. When I had invited them, he had suggested a barbecue and since I do have one of those, I figured why not? As long as he did all the bbq stuff, I was fine with the idea. They brought the meat as well, so great! We spoke German for about an hour on top of that and it didn't go too bad. Nowhere near to the level I once had, but well enough for a first proper time anyway. 

The bbq was cut short somewhat by some ominous looking clouds and even more ominous sounding thunder. We were hoping it would just blow over, but unfortunately it came closer and closer. So, in the end we moved everything indoors. Well apart from the bbq itself, which was manned by colleague until the meat was done. Even though it was already raining. In the end though, it looked more menacing than it actually was. Fortunately!

My very own Beauty!
After my guests had left again I watched Beauty and the Beast. I had seen the theatrical performance (in Dutch) way back, but had never seen the film. Apart from the fact that the Beast turned out to be quite a horrid looking prince, I thought the film was really good. It certainly was a good note to end a good day on.

Photo on Sunday 2014-18

When I was in Scotland visiting that little farm museum with Yamini, we saw this little bird that couldn't get out of the barn. We both tried to get a photo of it, this one was the best. Albeit from below! Yamini said it was a little housemartin. I believe her.

Thursday 26 June 2014

At night in Norway

Yes, there is room for a mini-bus between my home and the road.
That's it!!
A couple of weeks ago I hadn't gone to bed yet at about 10.30pm when there was a weird rumbling noise outside. At first I thought it was a tractor, but when I got up to have a look, the vehicle had passed. Half an hour later it came back. This time I did catch a look. Making me none the wiser. Yes, it was a lorry and it drove slowly and it was spraying something. But I couldn't make out what. The following morning I found that he hadn't sprayed anti-weed stuff (as my idea was), but the lines on the road. 

A couple of nights ago, as I was in blissful slumberland, I woke up to a strange rumbling noise outside. It sounded like a tractor, but I couldn't be bothered to get out of bed. It being about 2am and all. Half an hour later I was woken up again: the same rumbling noise. When I drove to work in the morning, I realised it had been a tractor and it had been removing the weeds at the side of the road. Along with grass and whatever else happened to be growing on the verge of the road.

This morning, as I was in blissful slumberland, I woke up from a single miaow. Oswin apparently wanted some attention. At 2am! Determined not to give in, I snuggled in my bed again, but to no avail, since pretty soon the leg started playing up again. So, I got up around 3am, gave Oswin a few cuddles and a scold (which she underwent with perfect indifference I hasten to add) and went downstairs. I noticed the sky outside and grabbed my camera to take a photo of it. 

Living in a country that is quite high up on the map of the world, daylight during the summer lasts quite long. As a matter of fact, while I was on holiday in Scotland a few weeks ago, it was quite strange to me that the sun set so early. It being dark around 11pm! 

Facing North/East
I live at 59 degrees North. Meaning about Orkney level (north of Scotland), Alaska, Northern British Columbia/Manitoba/Quebec in Canada, Stockholm, Helsinki, St Petersburg and everything North of that line. Which means that in summer, it doesn't go dark dark. If there is quite some cloud covering, it will go dark blue at best, but when it is a clear night (like last night): see photo taken around 3am! 

Perhaps that is the reason why all sorts of people work alongside the road in the middle of the night. Because it certainly can't have anything to do with the traffic. There is hardly any! Unless you count escapee sheep and cattle!

Sunday 22 June 2014

Photo on Sunday 2014-17

The sink. It was in the house that had been occupied until the early 1950's and clearly been put in later than the house was built. Yamini was standing with her back to it when I spotted it. I told her to turn around and at first she still didn't see it. But when she did... Excitement wasn't the word! Ecstatic might be more along the lines. I am just sorry I didn't have a photo of her reaction, so you will have to be pleased with the sink itself!

Friday 20 June 2014

Alba (or Scotland) IV

After two days spent mostly on my own visiting Glasgow and Mount Stuart, the question was: what are Yamini and I going to see on Saturday. My original plan had been to visit Edinburgh, since that was where we were heading anyway. But having spent a whole day in the bricks and mortar that make up Glasgow, I felt that Edinburgh might not be my best bet. So...

A leisurely drive through Scotland it was. North of Loch Lomond and then on to Stirling and Falkirk, where we would see the horses' heads. Yamini had expressed a great desire to see them since she had seen a documentary on the making of those heads. I didn't really mind either way. 

Of course, since it was my holiday and hadn't been plagued yet by the dreaded H, it was time to be and when we finally made it to the horses (or Kelpies), my head was interfering with my enjoyment of the Kelpies a great deal. That didn't mean I didn't take any photos, I certainly did, but I would have enjoyed them a lot more had I not had the H. Which in turn wasn't helped by the fantastic sunny weather.

The Kelpies name reflected the mythological transforming beasts possessing the strength and endurance of 10 horses; a quality that is analogous with the transformational change and endurance of Scotland's inland waterways. The Kelpies represent the lineage of the heavy horse of Scottish industry and economy, pulling the wagons, ploughs, barges and coalships that shaped the geographical layout of the Falkirk area. (Shamelessly stolen from Wikipedia)

One of the horses is named Duke, the other one Baron and they weigh 300 tonnes each! And even if I didn't show that much enthusiasm on the day, they were beautiful and I did like them very much. 

After our visit to the horses, we continued on our way. Since I had to take quite an early flight the next morning, we were staying at Yamini's father's place. Nice dinner, nice company, nice present (rhubarb and ginger jam, very nice). I had a great week!

Thursday 19 June 2014

Alba (or Scotland) III

After my day in Glasgow I was in dire need of some peace and quiet. No hustle and bustle of loads of traffic and people, no huge amounts of brick and cement. I wanted nature. And a stately home. Yamini told me about the Island of Bute, not too far from where she lived and the big house on that island. So, I set off at a decent time to make my way to Bute.

One thing I always find very funny/annoying (equal measures really) is the fact that everything is labeled and posted. It was a single track road, but about every two to three miles there would be a sign saying it was a single track road. There were plenty of overtaking places and most had a sign saying that it was an overtaking place! Mad I tell you, mad! 

After about an hour's drive I made it to the ferry. I waited for longer than I was actually on the ferry: the ferry is about five minutes, including drive on and drive off! And expensive as well. I thought Norway was expensive, but I pay the same for a ferry here and that takes up to half an hour to cross. Anyway...

Bute is quite a simple island. Follow the road and you're bound to get to somewhere. I wasn't sure where the house I wanted to visit was, but figured that I would see a sign at some point. Which I did. Right before the entrance to the estate. 

Mount Stuart has been in the family for centuries and is still being used as well. Not only for weddings, but privately as well. They were setting up for a wedding in the big hall and chapel, but unfortunately I wasn't allowed to take any photos. Which was such a shame, because there were so many beautiful and quirky things in the house. 

I think the only way to be able to take photos of the inside were either to get married there and paying an extraordinary amount for the privilege or to hook up with the owner. Alas, he was not in need of a Dutch woman currently living in Norway; he is already married. Ah well, can't win 'm all I guess!

The way to see the house (without photos) is by doing a tour. And we had a great guide. He was human, he was funny and he didn't know everything. If I am in the neighbourhood of Mount Stuart again, I would love to do the 'behind the scenes' tour (still without photos), which is about three hours and shows a lot more of the house. But, seeing the drawing room, one of four(!) libraries, the chapel, some bedrooms and some bathrooms was already fantastic. 

There was a big park around the house, which was mostly filled with trees. There was a Wee Garden, which was filled with huge plants. Perhaps the 'wee' on Bute means something different than the 'wee' in the rest of Scotland?

I had thought of visiting an old castle as well, but in the end I used up all my time on Mount Stuart itself. And well worth it too. When I came back to Yamini's place that evening, I had plenty to tell and show! Now, if only I could get some photos of the inside...

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Alba (or Scotland) II

My second full day in Scotland would be spent on my own. Yamini needed to do some work, so I made my way on my own to the big city. The ferry and then the train took me right to the heart of the city.

St Andrews in the Square
I knew there was a stop for the hop on-hop off bus close to the trainstation, but I never saw it, so I started walking. Until I saw a bookshop that was. Which always attracts me! I came out with only seven books.

I kept walking, still looking for the bus. Nowhere! I couldn't find it anywhere! Very grrrr. In the end I took an ordinary bus and asked the driver. Some passengers had overheard me as well and when they got off, I needed to get off. And there it was: the big red double decker bus that would show me the sights of Glasgow!

A newer addition to Glasgow, this is Italia
completely made of plastic from credit cards and the like!
Douglas was extra (the pigeon on top)
Of course the first thing the bus did, was turn in those streets where I had been looking in vain to find a stop! How annoying. But I was on the bus and the tour was nice. 

There was a proper guide instead of those earplugs and he was talking all the time. A bit of history, a bit of new, a bit of everything. After I had done the whole tour, I stayed on, since I now knew where I wanted to go! The People's Palace.

The fountain in front of the People's Palace
The People's Palace is situated in one of the 70 parks in Glasgow and it's a museum of the history of Glasgow. Not with bones from prehistoric times, but with stories and photos and items of the more recent history of the city. 

The People's Palace
It wasn't very big, but when the museum was closing at 5pm, I hadn't seen everything yet. I then took the bus back to the trainstation and went back home. I had seen enough brick and mortar and concrete and people for one day!

I think this was the back of a museum

Monday 16 June 2014

Alba (or Scotland) I

I will just skip over the first day since it mainly involved delayed planes and rain. I will hop on to day two. A day Yamini and I spent together. Now, since Yamini doesn't have a car and I had rented one, we decided that instead of going to Glasgow, we were going to go down the country and see some of that. Leaving Glasgow for another day. 

We drove, we stopped, we drove some more, we stopped again and then we drove some more. Before we stopped for lunch in Invereray. My sister may remember that place, since that is where the gaol was that we visited all those years ago. We didn't visit the gaol. We did however have a fantastic meal of fish and chips. Yum yum, really good. Fingerlickingly good! After that we strolled through the town and I walked up to the bridge to take some photos of Invereray Castle. 

After our lunch and our stroll we continued on our way. Ten minutes later we stopped again. An old farming settlement had been turned into a little museum and we both agreed that would be a good stop. We were not wrong. All those little houses and cottages and especially the contents of the buildings. I got excited over a lovely gramophone, Yamini got even more excited about a sink. Just an ordinary sink. 

The settlement had been home to crofters and cottars, small farmers that would rent the land and grow enough to feed their own family. It was interesting to see how they had lived. Some houses were one-room dwellings with hardly any furniture, some were used for animal and equipment only and then there were some that had been a bit more fancy. Seperate living area and kitchen, sewing machine, baby's cradle, gramophone. And of course the famous sink. 

When we felt we had seen everything, we made our way back to the entrance for a drink and a bit of cake. We felt we had deserved that! Since it was already after 5pm when we were done in the museum we made our way back home. Although we drove past it and continued towards Toward Lighthouse and some gatehouse or other which was situated even further. 

Lovely photos, lovely weather, lovely company, lovely day. 

Sunday 15 June 2014

First things first

Okay, I know today is Sunday and Sunday's are usually reserved for Photo on Sunday. But then again, the other days of the week are usually reserved for some type of ordinary post. Which didn't appear. It wasn't a case of not wanting. I did want, since I had so much to tell. It wasn't a case of not being able to. I had access to a computer and could have posted ten posts a day if I had wanted. It was a case of severe brain freeze and my fingers not cooperating. In other words: I had forgotten my password!

So, there I was at my new friend Yamini's place over in Scotland and my fingers were hovering over her keyboard. And for the life of me I couldn't remember my password. At all at all! There was a letter missing (which I found again after a while), but the numbers never came. At least not the right numbers or not in the right order. I was unable to post. 

It didn't stop me having a good time over there in Scotland though. Because yes, this time I did go to Scotland. Flew out to Edinburgh, rented a car, drove, took a ferry, drove a bit further and arrived at Yamini's doorstep. During the whole week the weather stayed good. Only giving us/me a few drops every now and then, but never so much as to ruin anything. 

Yamini, I thank you for your hospitality and hope to be meeting up with you again in the future. The photos today are just a bit of a tease for you all. Over the next few days I will be posting more and telling more. 

Tuesday 10 June 2014


I thought you might like to see a few photos of my housemate Oswin. Who is getting bolder by the day, having found that a bed can actually be really nice to sleep on! Although she is a bit (read incredibly) scared of the vacuum cleaner. Good thing she lives with me then!

I don't know how she will fare this coming week. I've got a boy coming every day to feed her and possibly give her a cuddle or two. So, no worries about her welfare at all! It's just that she hasn't really been socialised in my home. Ah well, I will be back on Sunday!

Monday 9 June 2014


Amsterdam - Chicago
I was about 16 when I phoned to my parents and said to my Mum (who answered): when I get back home, I may have flown. Well, when I got home, I had flown. In a glider! Despite the weather (not cloudy as such, but a bit murky) it was fantastic. My Dad nearly had a fit when I told about it at the dinner table that night. And when he found out my mother knew, he was ready to explode. 

It was (obviously) not the last time I had flown. My next flight was from Pula (in Yugoslavia, now Croatia) to Amsterdam. The year after was Brussels to London and then London to Catania (Sicily). Catania to Rome and then on to Paris. 

Haugesund - Copenhagen
Since then I have flown to Dublin, Belfast, Glasgow, Malta, Ibiza, Chicago, Edmonton, Houston, Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, Copenhagen and Haugesund. In fact I live quite close to the airport here (ten to fifteen minutes by car, I can actually see planes land and take off), I have been taking planes quite regularly to get to places abroad or even in Norway.

People keep telling me there is a direct flight from Stavanger to Amsterdam, but that would mean I have to first get to the busstation, then take a long distance bus to Stavanger, change to the airport shuttle and then get on the plane. The time that takes is about equal to the time it takes me to take a plane from my local airport, fly to Oslo and change planes to Amsterdam! And the cost is quite similar as well. 

When I went to visit my sister, I flew to Oslo and then on to Dublin. On my return I flew to Copenhagen and then to Oslo and then home. And tomorrow will be another flight. Or three. First I will take the plane to Oslo. Where I will have little time to catch my flight to Stockholm (where I have never been). And then from Stockholm I will take a flight to a city in Alba.

So, when you don't hear from me this week, or only sporadically, know that I will probably be enjoying myself a great deal. 

Wednesday 4 June 2014

The plan

I started working for Tide a year and a half ago. And since then I have had six different duty plans. I started off with one. Then came the summer plan. Then an autumn plan. Then another autumn plan. A winter plan and then a spring plan. Which will soon be replaced by a summer plan. After which we will (hopefully) return to the current spring plan. 

Since my first plan, a lot has changed. My first few plans saw me working one weekend out of three. There were evening shifts, split shifts, day shifs and early shifts. But with the arrival of plan number 4 (or 5), I only work one and a half weekend out of six and no evening shifts. Which is quite nice for a tv-aholic like myself. Were it not for the fact that the early shifts usually start somewhere around six, meaning that I have to get out of bed at around 4.30/5am. 

My newest plan was not the plan I originally wanted. But, since it's very much hierarchic how it all works over here (ie longest serving member has first choice to a new plan) and I am quite low on the list, I am happy to at least have one that might have been further down the list, but still on my list. I didn't like the plan when I first saw it. But it has since grown on me. For one major reason!

There is one week where I have to work three days in total. In fact, that week is coming up next week. I have to work Monday, Thursday and Friday and am off the rest of the week. But, I hatched a clever plan. If I were to take Thursday and Friday off, I would have nearly a week. So, I could go and visit my father who is celebrating his birthday next week. 

I asked for time off and then thought to ring my mother. Since my parents usually go on holiday at the beginning of June. And yes, this year is no exception. They are going to be away. What to do and where to go though? Because I now had this time off, I was sure going to use it. 

Well, the plane is booked, as is the car. I have got a place to stay and according to the weather forecasters it should be quite nice weather. And I am not telling where I am going. Let me just say it has something to do with my bucket list!