Norway Trip November 2017.

There has been a lot of bad news these last years coming from Norway as members of the oldest generation have left us one by one. Illness has taken its toll on many as well. So it was with a heavy heart that I left for Norway this time around since the occasion was a funeral. I didn’t really feel like taking any pictures and felt very strongly that the ceremony was for us only, and not for social media or my blog for that matter.

With me I had my mother who thankfully travelled with me. We always have such a good time when doing things together, and this trip was no exception, despite the circumstances. It was great to have her there next to me as we said our last goodbyes to a grandparent that meant a lot to me.

Funerals are really tough and I felt extremely silly as I was standing there crying for all to see, even though I was trying my best to hide it. Not that I succeeded.

The highlight of the journey was the fact that we got to say hello to plenty of people that we normally don’t see. It felt really  good to come back home again to England though, I have to say. There isn’t a lot of respect in Norway, generally speaking, towards musicians and artists regardless of how good you are, even receiving airtime on TV doesn’t shield you from intrusive questions and well-meaning ill-placed advice.

Each time I return home to England from abroad I love it more and more, probably because it now feels so familiar after many years living here, combined with good memories from my music, not to forget the fact that our abode looks amazing.

As I’ve written before it has been so good for the family that my mother remarried, it felt so right to come home and hug my lovely siblings. Family is really important, and whenever a dear one leaves us we get a reminder of the greatest of unions: souls that connect.

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A rare photo of these two together. My dad was funny enough wearing one of my t-shirsts 😀 ha-ha

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Me when I lived in Florida and looked good. The one of my face is from when I was all punk-goth.

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Norwegian kids!

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I love you kitty, come here and be with me, even if you don’t want to.

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A cat is a girl’s best friend.

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A typical Norwegian residence for typical Norwegian people. You know … those who traditionally come from Norway and a Norwegian lineage……

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Here we go again…..

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Lots of books left to me from my grandfather. He had all the classics.

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Ce n’est Pas Mon Problème!

The title of this entry translates to: “It’s not my concern,” or “that is not my problem”and it can be easy to feel that way if one lives, works and/or travels within a bubble….

Leaving a quiet hamlet in the Cotswolds to travel via Heathrow’s Terminal 5, to fly with British Airways towards Nice, with Marina Baie Des Anges as your final destination can certainly evoke that feeling of safety from the 90’s, if one is to ignore certain signs altogether.

My travel companions were two of my siblings this time around, which was very nice.

Our journey into the airport was seamless, moving around Heathrow was as well, and when we came out to our largely desolated gate we could hear beautifully spoken French and saw only what appeared to be locals and/or probably some expats here and there. It certainly looked like a very well dressed bunch, contrasting greatly with the usual suspects and diversity of characters one will see when travelling elsewhere. I received another reminder, by looking around, that a personal wardrobe update was much-needed…. :/

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The scenery reminiscent of the 90’s was only emphasised once we landed at Nice airport, which appeared to be completely unchanged. As we moved within the time capsule, making our way to the exit, memories were evoked of a past when travelling around in Europe felt safe, familiar and easy.

This bubble was burst the second we came into the Arrivals area as we bumped straight into heavily armed soldiers, patrolling the airport with a serious aspect. This was the only point during our journey when Europe’s current reality reared its ugly head. As we all gazed upon those who were armed to the bone I quickly asked my dad: “Are we in danger here? Has there been a threat?” I think we were all eager to get out of the airport as soon as we could. For a brief moment we were reminded of France’s “State Of Emergency,” Hollande’s total lack of control and France’s descent into total perdition. These thoughts crossed my mind  but not for long as I was greeted by palm trees and sunshine once we’ve made our way out of the terminal….

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A quick drive away from Nice, passing Cagnes-sur-Mer and we arrived at the “Marina Baie Des Anges.” A place I had seen countless times in the distance when we lived up in the hills, but a place I had never visited. Surrounded by yachts, and yuppie looking locals (to use a very American word) we raided the Marina supermarket for typical Mediterranean food, before we reached our final destination: Dad’s apartment.  I had never been there before, so I was utterly shocked to see the location, not to mention the view!

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The expat life-style at the Marina Baie Des Anges surely contrasted greatly with the reality of a family living up in the hills.

When we lived in France, as a family, the stress was never-ending. Due to the location of our home we depended on our car and it wouldn’t have been a far cry to suggest that my mother could might as well have moved into our vehicle. Life on the Riviera was stressful, a hassle.

I did well and liked living there, but for parent’s of a newborn baby, having to drive the older kids back and forth to school, having to take care of errands, dealing with a shady land lord and the difficulty of finding houses to rent long-term, not to mention the difficulty of getting anything done on the Riviera…. etc; Well…the situation was exhausting, especially due to countless relatives and friends visiting non-stop since they all wanted to come to France, especially when the accommodation and hospitality was for free…. This hotel-activity only added to the work load in an already chaotic existence, add to the picture how child-fiendly and unforgiving the school system can be to those who struggle with the language and/or fall behind and you certainly won’t have much of La Vie En Rose….

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Living as a pensioner, without small children, in an apartment on the beach is a very different situation and can therefore not be seen as representative neither for the vast majority nor for those living a regular lifestyle.

My latest France-trip was altogether a very different experience and I can finally say that I actually enjoyed staying on the Côte d’azur for the very first time. I suspect that this had a lot to do with the nature of my travel and the location….far removed from the tragedy of Nice…one had the impression of “space” and peace, something that is almost unattainable on the modern-day Riviera. You literally have to find a little “pocket” far away from the over crowded beaches and tourists, which is easier said than done….

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Life in Baie Des Anges appeared easy enough. Waking up to the wonderful weather, eating light Mediterranean food, abandoning devices and the never-ending torrent of horrible news, to “promenade” past the peaceful Marina, heading towards a small local coffee shop on the Beach.

Because this little restaurant is as close as it is to the Marina, you didn’t get the same amount of people as you would other places. The clientele seemed to be expats killing time and local Frenchs who were dressed as if though it was autumn or winter….

Properly equipped with wetsuits we went swimming, as one does, especially if Scandinavian….I will not claim that the water was particularly pleasant, but it felt good to swim and be active even though it left me exhausted every time.

….And so the rhythm works at the Marina…. You go about things as I described above, including a very long coffee break before and/or after you swim. You then go back to your flat to eat lunch on the terrasse, followed by a prolonged siesta…..whatever happens after that is up to chance, followed by a prolonged dinner and a good nights sleep. Things can certainly drag out…..as seems to be the norm the further south one goes….

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Not being particularly keen on neither siestas or taking things easy, I was trying to experience as much as possible. Whether it was walking for two hours on the promenade with my brother, or chasing everyone out to partake in a collective bicycle trip, or hiking in the mountains! The most enjoyable activities on the Côte D’Azur are those that cost little to no money and take place in little “pockets” in a considerable distance to Nice or any other densely populated area. Whether you are eating like a Frenchman (which is worth the cost) in the hills or reading Nice Matin on the beach, you want to avoid any place that is too “accessible” such as “Galeries Lafayette.”

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As I mentioned above, it is easy to forget about France’s “State Of Emergency” and I was therefore really surprised when my mother mentioned during one of our evening talks that there had been a terrorist attack in Paris!

Since I had officially taken a “holiday” from my phone I was utterly ignorant of the matter. I then decided to bring my phone with me as a “security measure” in case of an emergency, which seemed almost comical while hanging around in the bubble of “Baie Des Anges.”

Reality burst the bubble once again though when I was stopped by a security guy over at  Galeries Lafayette who refused to let me into the building without going through my bag first. The fact that the guy stood there all by himself didn’t exactly make us feel any safer, so we moved around the shopping mall, vigilant and cautious, as the place was overcrowded. It was also significantly more diverse than other places with a plethora of traditionally dressed Muslims. It is easy to see why such a place would be an ideal target for Boogeymen looking to inflict as much damage as possible…not that it would be easy to pick them out from the crowd….the air quality inside the mall was poor as well, so it felt good to get out of there as quickly as possible…there are other shopping opportunities around the Riviera….

Reading about terrorism and the increased threat in the local newspaper “Nice Matin” day after day, seemed surreal. One can easily throw both hands up in the air while exclaiming “what Islamist problem!?” if not exposed to the real world or if paying no attention to alterations in the current European environment, subtle, but still noticeable if one remembers…. 

The greatest curse of humanity is its short-term memory….I’m sure….

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After explaining how one can come to the Riviera and leave again in good faith, believing that the panic of the right is greatly exaggerated; it was then suggested that maybe it would be a good idea to go into Nice….The idea of public transportation was quickly rejected, as there is certainly no need to expose oneself to unnecessary danger, the idea of going into lost territories where one can no longer see a single Frenchman was rejected equally quickly, but we decided to drive through Nice, which is probably the best thing to do….when we did we were reminded once again of the “current France” as we drove past heavily armed military men, patrolling Promenade Des Anglais….

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We drove along the Mediterranean, looking at the Villas, the boats and the view, driving through Monaco, where I witnessed the most ridiculous spectacle ever: car chasers. At first I thought that there was a huge celebrity behind us, after driving into the onslaught of big lenses and manic looking people. But I realised while we drove around in the tiny Principality that no; these were “car stalkers” wide-eyed and mad looking, throwing themselves after any fancy looking car….with their oversized lenses or cellphones…  Of all things…..

My stay in France was “lugnt” but the ghost of a France in shambles was lurking in the background, albeit discreetly. Posters were on display everywhere of the various candidates for the French presidency and the papers were writing about increased, heightened security at any voting station….bringing to mind the state of affairs in other countries, in far away places, where voting can be a lethal affair…..

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In addition I couldn’t help but notice how the region could benefit from an infrastructure update, just like its other western counterparts, such as the USA. The west in general gives off an air of being “passé,” let’s cross our fingers that this can be changed….with the right anti-globalist, pro-western leadership…

“Wouldn’t it be nice” I mused; “to own a boat and escape away from it all, soaking up the sun in the middle of the Mediterranean in peace?” Only to realise the moment that these words had left my mouth,that you can might as well run into bandits as you lounge on your yacht. For all I know you might run into a rowboat with Migrants who’ve kindly thrown Christians over board, as Muslims aren’t too keen on sharing a boat ride with infidels….There are few places where one can truly “hide.”

“Experts” lament the tragedy of divisive leaders, utterly ignorant of a divide that already existed, as a result of previous leadership’s fiascos and idealistic self-destructive ideologies. These things along with all other problems faced by Europeans are easy to forget if one strive to deliberately remain ignorant. By self-segregating in a pleasant bubble while avoiding any news and online activity, one can delude oneself into thinking that there are no issues. The bubble is increasingly shrinking though and can be blasted into pieces at any given moment if you are unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time….

I predict that gated communities will become increasingly common and that personal security levels might reach those often portrayed among whites in South-Africa…

Heading back home after a wonderful week of peace and quiet, a reminder of the current state of affairs resonated once again when a Muslim-looking-man right in front of us was denied entry by the passport controller…. Reality reared its ugly head too when the British Airways flight captain included this during his announcement: ” I just want to add, that regardless of your religious believes and where you come from you are always welcome into the UK” … great I thought to myself … another one completely ignorant of the fact that we do have enemies … sure it’s nice to be welcoming … but you cannot be welcoming to all….especially not towards those who want to kill you.

After a flight that was notably less glamorous than the previous one, thanks to a family behind us with a baby crying all the way, accompanied by parents who were complaining about the baby to the baby….not to mention the fact that said baby threw his pacifier hitting my head…..we finally landed…..

As our journey came to an end I couldn’t help but notice that none of the people working at Heathrow were British, besides the Border Control Agent….contemplating gradual, deliberate, demographic displacement and replacement, I thought to myself how strange it must seem to those visiting Britain for the very first time, to not see any Englishmen employed anywhere as they land and set foot in England. These thoughts though abandoned me once again as I headed out into the countryside, where remnants of genuine English culture still lives, while it gradually fades away everywhere else, especially in urban  areas….

One can easily say: “Ce n’est Pas Mon Problèm,” but for how long will it remain so?

London……..

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Can you see it?? 🙂

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This is Europe at its greatest. Truly.

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Europa.

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The American colonies…

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Obey.

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The royal birds

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The animals of the Royal Parks are so tame it’s incredible.

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Selfie Swan.

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Getting inspiration for the gardens.

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Where William will move and stand the whole day…either talking himself into parliament or…prison 😛

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Nobody had anything to say that day…

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The best burger place in London is no more 😦

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When I was a kid I grew up seeing “cars” like these everyday, where do you think I grew up?

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Because the French ❤

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I honestly wonder what sort of people use these toilets, when a sign like this is necessary…

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Salvation.

 

Back home. Spring has been quite delayed…

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Winter Is Coming!

To continue the entry from my Norway trip last month, here are some photos of Norwegian mountains and lots of snow 🙂

I’m glad that I finally got to see Norwegian winter again ;);)

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I was really excited about getting to drive! I tried to drive several times which was great fun! I could see myself become as obsessed with driving as I’ve been with my guitar, this is where I was driving, it was right next to a steep precipice, which you cannot see on the picture….

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Some snapshots of Norwegian-ness ( check the food below)….my grandfather used to carve figurines out of tree 🙂  This was a work of his that I had never seen before ↓ It represents Life.

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I was a hair model and I also sat in the jury of a local talent competition that scouts talented young people to send on to a national competition 🙂

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If you are going to be an industrial town you gotta have the appropriate art ( insert Soviet Music) ↓

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Here we go…. here are pictures of the stunning Norwegian winter!!!!! ↓↓↓

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Arriving late back in Oslo on the 28th of the 2nd month, I went for a lovely walk in the dark, returning back home to England the day after 😉

Norwegian Winter.

Holiday…..that’s right. I usually only travel when I’m working so whenever I’m in Norway I end up juggling work and leisure.

I have to admit that I felt a bit empty and weird walking around Heathrow without being on a mission of conquest 😛

My flight with BA was smooth, (extra points for having a vegetarian meal option).

I couldn’t help but smile when we landed and I actually saw some snow 😮 I haven’t seen proper snow in yeeeears!

My travel route was actually quite funny, 2 hours with buss to reach Heathrow buss terminal, then walking forever, taking the shuttle to terminal 5, then flying to Oslo in less time than it took to drive to Heathrow. I arrived late in Norway and took the airport express train to the National Theater, walking from there to a desolate Akerbrygge, Oslo’s port ( I seem to remember that this is the right word). I ended up beign awake all night talking with family friend and my host Kjell. The next morning I hurried out to purchase a couple of buss tickets with #ruter. You cannot buy tickets on the busses/trams/trains in Oslo, you gotta buy them at the kiosk.

A good old friend of mine from high school invited me over for lunch at her apartment, which was very nice indeed, then I had to hurry back to Akerbrygge to pick up my luggage, and jump onboard another local Oslo buss that took me down to Oslo Buss Terminal.

From there started the next part of my journey. 6-7 hours on the “Norway-Buss”, crossing the big mountain and beautiful Norwegian winter landscapes to reach my final destination in Sogn & Fjordane.

My first full day in the Norse mountains I spent with my 85-year old grandfather, who I figured is my number one fan 😉 Check out my travel pics below ↓

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Hmm….I found ants in grandpas “saft”… what are they doing over at the nursing home?

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Swimming on a roof, how to cook Mussels and Sogn & Fjordane! Lots of pictures!

It’s so wild to experience the tube with no people. So surreal.

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The best spot is wherever there is a power outlet. So funny.

IMG_0005 IMG_0007Me looking very cheerful.

This is the best view ever, btw. Nothing beats seeing the world from the skies.

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Hunting for food, in the middle of the night over at the hotel.

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“Mandatory” make-up selfie.

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When you’ve been living in the UK for way too long, you re-create the “meal-deal” when you are abroad 😛 See what I mean?

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When my stay was over at the hotel, I had the most amazing host ever. An old family friend of ours called Kjell. A former business man, he told me of all of his adventures from doing business in Africa, to being a ski instructor in California, from being a teacher, to working at a hospital being in charge of a number of exciting things. He told of fist fights with a gang in America, hunting trips to the Balkans next to what would become Tito’s hunting lodge and a scandalous, headline grabbing news story involving a sea plane and a police officer who decided to hang onto one of the floats on said plane, as he was trying to catch the pilot ( a friend of Kjell), who had been shooting whatever deer he could find, which is illegal 😮

A very entertaining stay indeed, I had the time of my life. Here you got Kjell, a real life “Indiana Jones” type of character, a proper adventurer \m/

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“The life of the rich & the famous” 😛

Swimming on top of the Aker brygge skyline in Oslo. The most exclusive area to live in Norway.

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If you are ever making Mussels….I’ll help you out a little…

First, you gotta sort them out. Any mussel that is open already from the store you gotta throw away.

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Then you gotta “steam” them. Which means that you need a steam cooker!

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If a Mussel doesn’t open up after steaming, you have to dispose of it. Steam them until they open up and have a nice orang-y colour.

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Then you are ready to dive in 🙂

Perfect dinner for two 🙂

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The only thing nicer than reading to yourself, is reading aloud.

Especially if the literature of choice is amazing poetry.

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I love Jakob Sande.

I don’t know if you can find his work in English, if you can’t you should learn Norwegian so you can read this 😛

Yes, here is a picture of something seriously mundane. A dishwasher. But I had never seen anything like it and loved that you put your cutlery up there in stead. Apparently it makes your forks & knifes cleaner. So there, I learned something new.

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Hmmmm…..no Cecil the Lion? I used to sleep on top of that Canadian Bear when I was a kid, I would sleepover in the room where all the hunting rifles were. It made quite an impression on me as a child.

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Whenever I was in Norway as a child I always felt that there was a Moose head staring at me. Seriously, there was always a moose head or a reindeer head hanging somewhere when you went to a house.

I remember I saw my “uncle” cut up a Moose once, Jesuuus, poor thing.

There was always a spinning wheel to be found somewhere as well….

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Look at that view!

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You will never run out of shrimps in Norway.

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No excuse. If you can’t go online, go for pen & paper.

Here are some pics from Aardal ( Fossenes dal = The Valley of the waterfalls) in Sogn & Fjordane.

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A Norwegian bakery.

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This Ladies & Gentlemen is a proper Norwegian mountain tunnel. I was so fascinated that I took a gazillion pictures and even some films. It’s so tight that only one car can drive at the time, meaning…you got some “pockets” on the side of this…ehm…road..where you can go if you encounter any traffic in the non-existent other lane.

This was very cool though. Notice how you are truly in a cave. Hardly any smooth lines.

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We went for a picturesque drive to check out “Offerdalen” which directly translated, if you were to be creative, sounds more like ” The Valley Of Sacrifice”… sounds very Viking-ish to me!

That is a very Norwegian looking farm btw, that’s the style.

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Here they would cut up trees…or would that be timber? Not quite sure how to explain it, but this is old and out of use obviously. They cut down the trees in the forest and sent the wood down the stream and that eventually led the trees here, where they were cut up. These buildings are a fine example of Norwegian heritage when it comes to old buildings and how things were once upon a time.

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The water is so clean that you could actually drink right out from the stream. I was so tempted but I didn’t dare…I was afraid of catching an infection or something, so silly. If I ever go there again I’ll give it a go.

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Dad & me.

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This Ladies & Gentlemen is a Norwegian “ute do” ( outside toilet)

It’s obviously the ancient version of toilet. But for some strange reason there is this Norwegian tradition that you should keep a cabin up in the mountains, this cabin should preferably have no water ( so you will have to go and pump it out from somewhere or collect rain water) and to stay true to tradition this cabin should also include the “iconic” “outside-toilet”. So when I was a kid, believe it or not, I also had the privilege of experiencing the “ute do”. I don’t think it is that common anymore now. But here you got one.

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More of the lovely panorama.

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Some information…We had an ancient Stabbur when I was little, in fact we had two. And we also had a house where one half was modern and the other half was really, really old, with a “Grue” which is a fireplace you put a cauldron in & stand upright in…and there was also grass on the ceiling. So pretty, so romantic.

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Just a random waterfall…

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Quality time with Grandpa 🙂

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In Norway, we watch chess tournaments…Here we are watching Magnus Carlsen kicking ass.

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And here is a picture of Grandpa playing chess with his brother. Look at the style. So cool.

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There are some old copper & silver mines in Aardal so we decided to go and take a look 🙂

Check these pictures out, so cool! I can’t believe I’ve been inside a REAL mine!!!

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You gotta write down your name!

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And here we have reached our destination!

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Check out how awesome this looks like!!!!

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I was almost expecting a Dragon or something.

Aardal by night.

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Yummy. I love Marzipan cake. Yum yum.

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There is no end to how many books Grandpa has. It’s so cool. I love literature and once again as I said previously, reading alone is great but reading together is way more fun.

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Grandpa loves Russian culture. He made the Icon in the middle himself.

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Saying goodbye after a week up in the Norse mountains.

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Suitable reading material. Funny enough I wrote an entry on the 8th of March about badass women where I included a number of female Russian snipers. 20 Badass Women! It’s so weird for me to read Norwegian these days. I gotta do it more.

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Back home in the UK!

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And back to doing this sort of thing…

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