Tag Archives: Norway

Kongeveien Jæren

This is one of my favourite short walks along a section of the old King’s Road, or Post Road that runs along the coast. There are many such roads around Norway and until relatively recently, these were the main roads around the country.

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My first view of the sea, through an avenue of trees between two farmsteads.

I’m not actually on Kongeveien yet. The first thing that comes into view is the tiny church at Varhaug.

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Varhaug gamle kirkegård

It hasn’t been cold for long. The river is still flowing, albeit with some ice around the stones.

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From the bridge

It’s such a wonderfully clear day.

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Looking north
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Looking south

If you look at the two photos above, you can see the snow has melted on the south side of the stones and not the north, a reflection of the sun’s low winter path across the sky.

I saw a number of other people out enjoying the sunshine. Below is a typical grouping, two young women, two dogs, one pushchair. When the sun is shining, it’s time to be outside.

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Not alone

It can be difficult to photograph all the things I love to look at. I am always fascinated with the rugged outlines of the stone walls, so different from those in the UK. I also love the clean lines of the branches against that vast sky, but it can be difficult to capture.

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A typical Jærsk wall.

The sea is almost completely smooth, so different from last week’s storms.

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Clear and calm

And now I’m heading back.

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I stop on the bridge to admire ice that has formed around the stones in the river.

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Patterns in the water

And then I’m back at the church and it’s time to go home.

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Buzzing!

Spring is arriving here at last. Marian and I have finally managed to find some time for walking. As you can see from the picture at the top of the page, Bijke came too.

We took the Vestlandske Hovedsvei as it isn’t too far from home.

I actually only started taking photographs when we reached the top of the hill and sat down for coffee . . . here . . .

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I always find this landscape hard to photograph. It’s very rough terrain, but the horizon is flat. As you can see, everything is still winter brown.

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Bijke seemed to be enjoying the sunshine.

We sat for quite a while. The sun is beginning to have some real warmth. While we were sitting on top of the hill, I could hear a skylark singing.

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As we walked down this hill, there was a ringing sound in my ears.

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Not such a good photo because she was a long way away, but we did find the source of the soothing clank clank . That is one of the sounds of summer here.

As we passed by a rocky stream, above the rushing water, frogs were croaking out their spring song.

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Anyone want to live in this house? I know I do. Note the grass roof.

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Almost back at the car, our footsteps were arrested beside this tree.

It wasn’t the sight of it that caused us to stop and take a closer look. The tree was humming.

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Bees! There were thousands of them. I’ve never heard anything like it. I can see two in this photo alone.

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And then we were back at the car in the farmland at the bottom of the valley where it’s possible to grow crops.

I’m off to Yorkshire on Thursday. I’m hoping for sunshine and lambs. Not sure when I’ll be able to blog again (I’m not back until Monday) but I hope while I’m there to do some research for Christmas at Mistletoe Cottage.

Julebyen – Egersund Christmas Market

With the heavy snowfall late last week, it seemed like a good time for a Christmas pilgrimage. And so we made our way, by bus and train to Egersund, to join the Egersund monks in their annual Gløg Festival.

 

This is where the bus dropped us off by the harbour. It was truly a beautiful day, though perhaps not the best weather for sitting down to admire the scenery.

Then we walked across into the market.

The Christmas tree was the first thing that caught the eye. It was beautifully decorated in red and gold, then nature had added the best touch of all with snow that sparkled in the winter sunshine. The stall is selling ris grøt – a kind of rice pudding eaten with cinnamon and sugar and sometimes butter or cream.

We paid our first visit to the gløg shrine at this point. Gløg, for the uninitiated, is Norway’s version of mulled wine. It’s sweeter than the more familiar beverage, and improved with the addition of nuts and raisins. All in all, it’s very welcome on a cold day in December.There’s an alcohol free version for children and anyone driving home. The bottles at the front of the picture are of Norway’s other traditional Christmas drink, Julebrus.

There were lots of different stalls, selling everything from miniature Christmas gardens to Dutch cheese.

 

There were traditional toys.

All kinds of sweets.

 

And more decorations.

We went for a wander through the main shopping street where they were setting up trees for a tree decoration competition

Still too cold to sit down, but in the picture, the tree is garnished with a bundle of straw. I’ve seen many of these in the city, often tied with attractive red ribbons. This tradition began as a way to provide food for birds.

But we were drawn back by the singing monks.

Who kindly replenished the huge copper containing the gløg so we could have another cup.

Some Thai street food followed, then back for another walk round the market as the sun sank lower.

We returned to the harbour to catch the bus back to the station. The sky was beginning to turn pink, but the fjord was still bright with the reflected light.

It was dark by the time we got off the train and tramped through the snow towards home…

…where we lit the second of our advent candles: a peaceful end to a beautiful day.

 

 

 

The Advent of Advent

It’s the first day of December, and happily, also the first Sunday in Advent. Candles are a much bigger part of Christmas here in Norway than they were in the UK. Every supermarket has its candle section, usually with a large array of coloured and scented candles. They are there all year, but when November comes around, suddenly all the shops are also filled with the purple candles that are traditionally used in the advent crown. In schools (including the Opplæring Senter where I sat my Norwegian course) they have an advent crown where they light the new candle each week. Anyway, I fear I have broken with tradition, and have used white candles because I prefer them.

I also love the gjenbrukt shops here. Gjenbrukt effectively means second-hand, though the Norwegian name literally translates as “again used”. They have massive collections of second-hand decorations. Last year I found the “God Jul” table mat in the picture above for only 30kr (roughly £3). There were metres of it, so now I have enough for the coffee table and the main dining table, though I did have to cut it up and hem it. This year I found a large glass platter, which I have used to make this decoration.

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Last but not least, Charlie (wonderful husband that he is) brought me back a Thornton’s Continental Advent calendar, so in a minute or two, when he makes me my evening (decaff) latte, I will be able to open the first door. A very pleasant end to the evening.

Revelling in inefficiency – and a cause for celebration

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It’s not the driest of weather today. In fact, it’s been pouring all morning and as it’s only about three degrees above zero, it isn’t conducive to going out. I was meant to go for a walk today with my friend Marian, however when she called to suggest coming round for a coffee, and perhaps a trip to the Co-Op, I wasn’t in the mood to say no to the change of plan.

I’ve never really understood those who love to shop, and yet this morning, bathed in the brightness of the fluorescent lighting, and with parts of the store all set out for Christmas, it was infinitely more cheering than going to the beach. On the way home, she mentioned that she had to do the hoovering. It’s a hard job, she told me because they have two cats and a dog but, she added, it always helped nowadays that she could think about all the exercise she was doing as she manoeuvred back and forth.

Funnily enough, I too have been feeling the same about certain aspects of life here. Charlie (my husband) has set me up so that I can use the Striiv app on my i-Phone. It used to be, as I went outside and hauled the wood into the house (for the wood-burning stove) that I would thrust as much wood as I could into a bucket, and then stagger back into the house with it, making as few journeys as I possibly could. We didn’t light the fire so very often. This year however, I find myself happily wandering back and forth to the woodpile in the garage carrying three or four logs at a time and smugly thinking of all the steps I am taking, of the energy I am building up to buy new things in MyLand, and how many calories extra I will be able to eat as it transfers its step information over to MyFitnessPal. Obviously this is all very sad (it may be that there is going to be a recurring theme of me being sad in my blog), but somehow I seem to get pleasure these days from so many small things.

At this time of year here in south-west Norway, it seems that there is almost invariably a spell when there is just rain on rain on rain. It can come down for days on end, and the skies are grey and the days are short. It would be easy to get down. So it’s just as well for me, that every year, at this time, I have a wonderful cause for celebration. For three years in a row, 2009-2011, every year, at about this time as the rain came down, the ground water began to rise.

And in each of those years, as the waters rose, into our cellar came a delightful surge… of sewage from the septic tank. This would result in a sickening stench throughout the whole house and days of having to wade through diluted human faeces every time I wanted to get to the washing machine. Somehow, it invariably happened when Charlie was away on a trip.

The first time it happened, we thought it was just a septic-tank blockage. At great expense ( to the insurance company) a massive hole was dug in the driveway and the waste pipe from the tank was replaced. The man who came to help also told us that maybe the blockage was to do with the ground water. Thirty year floods, he said comfortingly, leaving us with the impression it would be a long time before there was likely to be any recurrence. So when it returned the next year, we were somewhat disappointed to say the least. And when it came back the year after that, we decided that whatever the cost, we had to do something about it. When you sell a house in Norway, you are obliged to buy insurance to cover for any problems the buyer might have and we had high hopes… however sadly you have to claim within three to five months of the original problem. The fact that we hadn’t known it was a problem until it recurred was not relevant apparently, so we had to cover the cost ourselves.

Nonetheless, we did so, and so, every year at about this time, as the heavens open and the deluge comes… at least I am able to celebrate in the happy knowledge that however high the water may rise… at least the contents of our toilets have travelled safely away into some unseen sewer. And I am enduringly glad that I won’t have to spend Christmas looking at them again.