Saturday 30 July 2011

Going home...

I am sitting waiting to board the ferry from Harwich to Esbjerg on my way home to Norway.

I wonder how it will be. Not only do I expect it to be emotional since it is my first trip back since Mamma passed away in June, but I wonder how my country has changed after the atrocities last week. It actually feels like much more time has passed than just about a week.

My thoughts are still very much with the victims and their friends and families.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday 29 July 2011

Rock On!

last minute practise while waiting for the exam

Throughout the years, Our Boy has tried out numerous hobbies.
The interest for some only lasted a term, some lasted longer.
We were never bothered about how long they lasted.
Our views were
'this is life - you've got to try out various things before you know what is for you'.


 So in line with this philosophy we bought Our Boy an acoustic guitar a few years ago (neither of us are particularly musical although I used to sing in a choir many moons ago - I definitely have a 'choir voice').

We have been happy to take him to lessons (he has a very cool and patient teacher), but we never pressured him to practice. There are so many other areas of his more formal education where we have had a much stricter view, so the guitar has been his choice to take more seriously if he liked it.

The first year he hardly touched the guitar between each lesson, but there seemed to be progression...
He then passed the Entry Exam in the Rock School's examination system.
It was as if something loosened and we started hearing him playing in his room.
He saved up money and bought his first electric guitar and an amplifier.
He has even built two electric guitars himself which he regularly plays on (one of them is pictured above!).

Do I sound proud?
Yes, I am!
I can't play any instrument properly and
 would certainly not entertain the idea of building my own guitar.

As I mentioned previously, Our Boy just completed Grade 3 in Rock School's examination system.
Rockschool is Europe's No. 1 rock music exam board offer rock musicians the opportunity to get the same qualifications that classical musicians can get.

Our Boy's current aim is to complete Grade 5 by the time he goes off to University in a few years time as you can apparently get extra credits for having taken a grade 5 exam on an instrument.

I am just glad he has found a hobby for life!

Thursday 28 July 2011

Not Even Funny...

Talk about self induced stress:
I took Our Boy to his guitar lesson yesterday
and while I was waiting for him in the car,
I relaxed and had the radio on for company,
as well as a good book and
the sun was shining.

I also had left the lights on and
apparantly the car fan was running
(nope, too engulfed in the book and didn't notice).

45 mins later Our Boy came back from his lesson and was very happy
as he had passed grade 3 in his guitar studies
and we were all set to
drive home and cook dinner.

Or not

The car didn't start...
and I realised I couldn't hear the radio any more...
I admit I know very little about cars,
but it didn't take a genius to realise the battery was flat.

"Not to worry", I thought after the first panic when I realised most of my friends are away on holidays had subsided.
"We have break down insurance!"

Except I couldn't find any papers with any information on in the car. 
I had a vague vision of seeing the papers at home and
"somebody" must have taken them in for one reason or the other...

New panic!
I couldn't for the life of me remember which company we are with!
As I annually review our insurance policies to get the best deal and therefore often switch both breakdown company and insurance company, I couldn't remember who we were with this year... While Our Boy started walking home to find the papers, I started calling the various companies I thought it might be and on the fourth attempt I struck lucky - yes, The AA confirmed we are indeed current customers!
If I hadn't found out which company it was it would have cost me £130 to get somebody to come out...
Within 30 mins the nice man from The AA was there and sorted out the car immediately.
The battery is once again healthy and I hope I have learnt a lesson.

So, perhaps the question is - 
does this then mean I have saved £130 I can spend on something more fun than breakdown insurance...?

Tuesday 26 July 2011

Dignified Pride

The pictures from the marches around Norway have moved an entire world.
This quiet, determined protest makes me proud to be Norwegian.
It gives me great pride to see how dignified and how strong the spirit
 of my fellow country men and women are.

We will not to be defeated by evil but will show 
love, support and solidarity.

We will not be scared.

And we will not forget.

Saturday 23 July 2011

My Country...

Our thoughts are with those innocent people 
who have suffered so incomprehensibly in 
Oslo and Utøya.

Words fail me

Thursday 21 July 2011

Big Moments of Happiness ...

picture borrowed from the big wide web

These quiet summer days where
seems to be happening is actually filled with some
pretty BIG moments:

* a friend got his PhD this week
* a cousin had a little baby girl in Sweden yesterday
(welcome, little one!)

and not least...

* Our Boy is coming back from his epic mountain trip today!

Tuesday 19 July 2011

End of Childhood...

borrowed from the world wide web

We went to see the last Harry Potter film this weekend.
In 3 D!
Wow! What a ride!
I won't spoil it for anyone and say too much, except
I loved it and
I was literally exhausted at the end.
And yes, I cried -
probably the main reason Our Boy has stopped taking me to the movies...


Somebody else who grew up with the Harry Potter books made a comment saying
it felt like their childhood was now officially over...


If you like the Harry Potter books,
I am sure you will love the film.

I would recommend seeing the first part of this last book before going
because it is amazing what you forget...!

Or maybe that is just me!

Monday 18 July 2011

On Familiar Ground

I tend to re-visit my favourite places over and over again. 
This weekend we had a couple of the younger relatives from Norway visiting with a friend 
and I took them to one of my favourite places which I have written about before - Wimpole Hall.

The weather has not been brilliant lately, but the colors in the picture above are true. 
Shortly after taking it we were surprised by heavy rain - twice - on our short walk 

- but hey! you can't let a thing like the weather stop you!? 

And the rain gives other photo opportunities, as well.

That is the true nature of this part of the country 
- we often have rain/thunder/sunshine and gales within 30 mins.

You often hear: 'if you don't like the weather, just wait 10 mins...'

The goal for our walk was the old folly. 
A folly actually has no other purpose than purely ornamental. 
This one is designed to resemble the ruins of a medieval castle and was built on the grounds in the mid 1770s. It is substantially built and stretches for two hundred feet in length and include a four-storey Gothic tower. 

I love coming out here and find the entire area very romantic 
and it virtually 'echoes' with voices from ancient times...

- no matter the weather!

Friday 15 July 2011

Shhh...! Why is it so Quiet....?

The house is so quiet.
And it is tidy.
It is even tidy hours after I leave a room ...
I wonder why...?

Ah, yes - Our Boy is away in the Scottish Highlands with a group from school.

This hiking trip is for 126km and they are spending 10 days on it before they might be climbing the British Isle's highest mountain, Ben Nevis (1344 m to the summit). They are carrying all their equipment with them, so I am sure this is a trip that will build stamina!

I hope they don't meet too many of these guys...
nor the infamous Scottish midges!

I am sure they are having a great time and I admit it
- I miss him and can't wait to hear about the adventures!

Btw - just for the record - it probably isn't Our Boy making all the mess...
Nah, it is purely accidental that the mess happens when he is around!


PS: all pictures borrowed with courtesy of the world wide web

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Tip for Visiting the UK: Saffron Walden

After sending Our Boy off on his epic hike in the Scottish highlands on Saturday
my Canadian friend and I went to Saffron Walden. 

Our goal was an exhibition of Eric Ravilious and Edward Bawden at the Fry Art Gallery
These are two war artists I was not familiar with and I enjoyed the exhibition. 
The style reminded much of Norwegian 1940s/1950's 'let's-stand-together-and-rebuild-the-country-type-art, if you get what I mean. One could almost be forgiven for getting the feeling it might have been commissioned to give that kind of message. There was also some more whimsical art, both styles very enjoyable. 

The path from the street to the gallery was lush with blooming plants and I found this little bust almost hidden in the hedges. 
We also met the local cat who was extremely affectionate, but not much of a poser for pictures...


I brought my camera with me and took some pictures of this lovely medieval market town. Some of the old  roofs come down really low to the ground - I am actually standing on the ground taking the two pictures of the moss covered roof tiles (no, at 1.67m I am not a tall giant). 
I must admit was really pleasantly surprised over this lovely little town. 

It is full of little shops and plenty of sales. There is also a cute market in the centre. 
I thought this decoration around the light was rather interesting and I am sure it isn't hard to make something like this myself...!

The city's main car park is kind of hidden inside a park and was one of the nicest car parks I have ever come across - never thought I would say that! 
On our way back to the car park we passed this lovely, lush garden and I quickly snatched a picture...

I will come back again soon!

Monday 11 July 2011

Living the High Life with the Greatest Friends

Images from Fortnum & Mason
What a weekend!

Our dear friend from Canada and her lovely family have been visiting us this weekend. 

It started on Friday with a gathering in the pub 'at the end of the path' where several of their friends joined us for a meal and a chance for them to see as many as possible. All the boys gathered and had a sleepover together. They have know eachother since they were 4, so I think they all enjoyed catching up... Even if it meant that Our Boy was not fully rested for his 13 day hike along the West Highland Way which he went on on Saturday... But, hey! it was impossible to separate him from the rest of the old 'gang' and I am sure he got some rest on the train up to Glasgow...

On Saturday we went to Saffron Walden to see an art exhibition (will write about that later) before we gathered at our Welsh friend's house with the rest of the Ladies Who Dine and we had a lovely evening together.

The tea and sweets counters at Fortnum & Mason 

Sunday was the real deal - the Ladies Who Dine dressed up and we went to London to meet up with our other Welsh friend! The train was very busy, and we were almost resigned to stand for the hour it takes to London. But to our amazement a (young and cute) man gave up his seat to me and my Danish friend so we could sit together! Chivalry still exists  - he stood the entire way! (Ok, the question begs to be asked: did we look so nice or did he think we were 'in need' of sitting down... - we elect to believe the first option, of course!)


The five of us first went to Fortnum and Mason for a glass of bubbly in the wine bar in the basement. 
In the words of our Welsh friends - Marvellous! 
We also had a quick browse around the shop before we walked to the main event of the day:

I had booked us a table at Claridge's where I had booked us in for afternoon cream tea with Champagne. I highly recommend this experience if you are in London. Be warned, you MUST book in advance, often months before you want to go. This is the second time we are here, and it was just as big a treat as the first time.

Claridge's is an iconic grand 5 star art deco hotel in Mayfair and includes among other things one of Gordon Ramsay' restaurant. Their famous afternoon tea consists of a selection of 30 different teas, the lovelies little finger sandwiches (you can have as many as you like), two types of scones with clotted cream and Marco Polo jam, and I think there were 4 types of cakes/sweets (again - as much as you like!). The picture does not do the food justice. 
The entire experience, the elegance, the opulence, the service - it is just such a treat!

Claridges has their own china, of course and sell it in their gift shop. (Un)Fortunately for me, it was closed so I had to contend myself with some pictures from their display cases...
At the end of our visit the waiter presented us each with a small box of some of their exquisite tea. It doesn't take much to make us feel special 

It was with sadness we bid farewell to our friend who went on to visit relatives while we jumped on the train happy, content and feeling very privileged for having such great friends and experiences.

But I promise - next year we will do it all over again! 

Sunday 10 July 2011

Tried and Tested: Eton Mess

This dessert epitomises a very summery English dessert to me. 
'Eton Mess' originates from Eton College where they apparently have served this during their cricket game against Winchester College since the 1930s. 
Be warned, it is rather rich, 
so small portions are recommended unless 
you are more generous with the strawberries than the other ingredients...

What you need is:

Whipped cream
Meringue - which you crush up into small pieces
(I took the easy way out and used shop bought)
Chopped fresh strawberries

Mix all well - a real mess!
But oh, so nice and very quick and easy.

If you want more details of a recipe Delia has one here

Saturday 9 July 2011

Tried and Tested: New Version of the Old Brownies Classic

this picture is from when I made Brownie cake with Oreo's but apart from substituting the Oreos for peanut butter it looks the same

As you may have noticed, I tend to bake quite regularly.
To be honest, both The Professor and I limit our intake (and we have both lost some weight this year!),
but our very active teenage boy has a larger consumption ability that doesn't seem to impact on his waste line... Ah, those were the days!


To Our Boy's defence I must add that he actually never buys sweets, chocolates nor cookies, but prefers that we bake and make our own treats. I also prefer to bake as I feel I have more control and know WHAT we are eating. 
We are not paranoid about it, but it just doesn't feel right to stuff ourselves with all sorts of added preservatives which you find in shop bought cakes, cookies and bisquits.

Last night after a lovely, healthy salad with just some fried strips of chicken in it,
we experimented with an old favorite for dessert, Brownies.
The difference to our old recipe was that we added 3 tbsp of peanut butter.
It worked well and was quite nice!

Stir (don't whisk) 4 eggs with
6 dl of sugar
Stir in 200 grams of melted butter with
2 pinches of salt and
2 tsp of vanilla sugar/powder as well as
3 dl of flour and
8 tsb of cocoa powder
3 generous tbsp peanut butter

Remember NOT to whisk as you don't want too much air into the batter as it helps keep the brownie a bit heavy and gooey on the inside.

Pour into your baking tin and
Bake in the oven on 175 degrees for about 45-50 mins

Don't put it too high in the oven so the top won't be burned.

Friday 8 July 2011

My Little 'Assistant'

The Cat is definitely my 'baby'. 
Wherever I am in the house, he will be close by, watching and waiting for me to sit down 
so he can jump on my lap. 
In the evenings he will sit at the bottom of the stairs and 'tell me' in no uncertain terms 
that it is time to go to bed. 
I am sure he loves that I have a TV in my bedroom as this MIGHT mean I will go to bed early...

He is also very fond of Our Boy, not so much of The Professor...
It is kind of mutual...


However, he is not too happy when I sit at the computer, 
but has learnt to be patient and wait for me... 
sometimes sitting on my hands while I type (!) and 
sometimes curled up in front of the screen under the lamp. 

Yep, there is definitely something in the saying that 
'You don't own a cat, he owns you!' 
Or me, in this case.

Thursday 7 July 2011

Justifying a Summer Gift to ME!

I admit it... 
I was jealous.

The Professor decided he 'needed' an Ipad2. 
I didn't know I had the 'need'. 
Not until we had had the Ipad2 in the house for a day... 
and he then took it with him to Edinburgh and left me with no Ipad.


It was easy to convince myself how useful it would be when I go on holiday and can have all my reading materials on the Ipad instead of dragging with me heavy books which lead to added luggage charges. 
So, perhaps I can claim it is actually low-cost airlines 'fault'... 

Anyway, it helped to convince myself of my 'need' when I saw Cath Kidston had a SALE(!) and found a cute cover
Or can I claim that living with two men (three if you count The Cat) 
I can't avoid getting hooked on gadgets?


Wednesday 6 July 2011

Winner's Luck!

I 'never' win anything, so I was thrilled to win Fredrikke's give-away on her blog Kort og Som a while ago. 

She makes the loveliest little (and big) bags, notebooks of various types, cards, bibs, childrens' clothes and scarfs. The list of her production is much longer than I mention here. She is a very creative lady I recommend you check out her blog

I received a great little makeup bag which I immediately realised was perfect for taking my makeup in for the gym! 
The little red one will be perfect for my headphones - also mainly used in the gym. 
I thought I would use the notice book to note down information when we go away on holiday. I get fed up with my post-it note system and can now keep it all in one handy place!

Tusen, tusen, tusen TAKK!


Tuesday 5 July 2011


Our Boy and I spent a lovely summers evening last night with our neighbours in the shared garden. 

Our town house sits in the former garden of an old estate (which you can see a bit of the corner of on the picture). In this former apple orchard there are now 10 townhouses where we live! We all have a mini garden each and then share a larger garden which is maintained by a gardener.  In total we are 19 units as the old house has been split in to various sized apartments. 

It is a very international crowd in our little cul-de-sac which is very symbolic of the rest of our town. Amongst these 19 units we have people from Norway (of course), Iran, Italy, The Netherlands, France, Poland, Australia, Germany, Hungary and the UK (of course!).

Last night the Italian/Dutch family encouraged us all to come out for a potluck so we all just brought some food and drink and spent a very pleasant evening in each other's company.

It was great to talk and laugh with the neighbours about other things than boring accounts and maintenance work
Spontaneous gatherings are often the best!


Monday 4 July 2011

Tried and Tested: "Sun" Dried Tomatoes

It is my former neighbour's birthday and what do you give somebody who has everything??? 
Edible gifts are always a good choice, I think.

Well, these tomatoes are not sun dried, but rather oven dried. 
It is amazing how the flavour intensifies. 
Makes you think of more southern shores!
As they are made from fresh and with no preservatives, they should be eaten within a week. 
Not a problem in our house!

Cut tomatoes in two or three, depending on the thickness. 
Spread them on an oven tray 
and drizzle over some good salt (I like flaky Maldon salt), 
olive oil
 and I also used dried oregano.

Pop it all in the oven on 130 degrees for about 3 hours. 

Cool and add them to clean jars. Add olive oil till it covers the tomatoes. 
That oil will be amazing on salads once the tomatoes are gone!

Sunday 3 July 2011

Tomatoes Galore and Garden Joys

The tomatoes are coming along very well this year. 
Might have something to do with the fact that I bought some special tomato fertilizer and have been rather good at watering them...?
On the weekend I picked up this hanging basket with tomatoes from the garden centre. 
I haven't tried that way of growing them before, so this will be an experiment. 

One of my chili plants mysteriously died so I got another to replace it. 
We are waiting in great anticipation to make more of Fru Tunheim's Sweet Chili Sauce which has become a favourite in our house.

The mint, basil, chives and rosemary are also thriving giving us lots of lovely herbs for our meals. 
Nothing worth freezing or drying - we are loving eating everything fresh!

I really love my tiny little garden and marvel over all the different foliage and shades of green!

A small garden does require some work, 
but there is plenty of time to sit down with a book and a glass of something nice to drink 
while enjoying the warmth from the sun, reflecting on life and
 watching the flowers grow. 

Friday 1 July 2011

Recommended Reading: The Lost Art of Gratitude

Sitting in the garden last night I completed yet another book by the very prolific author Alexander McCall Smith. His books and series are becoming like old friends and I am always a little sad when I complete a book. However, he is extremely productive and there isn't much of a wait before there is a new one in the shops. I am following all his various series and have no problems switching from one to the other.


This one is from the Isabel Dalhousie series on the Sunday Philosophy Club (set in Edinburgh!) and is among my favorites. Actually, I have noticed there already is another one in this series "waiting" for me!

Happy Days! 

The short resume of this one I just completed reads:
Isabel Dalhousie, philosopher and amateur solver of other people’s problems, meets an old foe, Minty Auchterlonie, at a birthday party attended by their young children. Ambitious Minty, now the head of a small investment bank, is in trouble with her shareholders. Isabel becomes involved, and is drawn into a murky world of financial concealment.

Minty is not the only high-flier in Isabel’s life; her niece Cat has just become engaged to a tightrope-walking stuntman. Isabel fears his next job – and the engagement – could end in disaster. Meanwhile, her own boyfriend Jamie has marriage in mind too .