Tuesday, 29 May 2012

My Norwegian Life

Since I've lived here over a year now I would say I'm pretty muched 'settled' into my life here. As much as is possible anyway. Of course I miss home, my family, Irish food, all the usual things etc. But sometimes I have to remind myself just how different my life in Norway really is, and all of the good things about this new life.

I feel much healthier in Norway. And I actually am. I cycle about 40 minutes every day to get to and from work, I walk a lot, swim a couple of times a week, drink plenty of pure, clean Norwegian water and because I live in the countryside I'm surrounded by beautiful open spaces and fresh air.

I have more free time. Norwegians really value free time. Almost everybody is off on weekends and most places are closed on Sundays (so if you work in a supermarket or something you have at least Sunday off). Family time is big in Norway and there are many family activities Norwegians fill their time with, such as; camping, barbecuing, going 'på tur' (on a trip), hiking, boating, pic-nic-ing, skiing etc. The list is really endless. And you'll notice that most of these activities are outdoor activities, which leads me to my next point:

I'm outside a lot more. Norwegians love being outside and make the most of every good day (and the bad ones too really, remember: Ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær!). One of the ways I know I've become really Norwegian is that I feel guilty if I'm not outside when the weather is good. In work we're outside as much as possible with the children and they even sleep outside in their prams. Even when its snowing and -10! This is a really good thing as it builds up the immune system and the children sleep better in the fresh air etc. In Ireland I was never really outside because quite simply, there wasn't really anywhere to go. Or, maybe there was but nobody else really seemed to be 'out' so it just didn't really occur to me either..

I appreciate different things. I guess I've always been good at appreciating the things that I think are important, but even more so since being in Norway. I've also learned to appreciate new things too.
I appreciate my family and my time with them a lot more than before, which is natural seeing as I live in a different country now and don't get to see them often.
I appreciate sunny days and try to get the most out of them.
I appreciate food. Not that I 'like' food more, I've always loved food, who doesn't?! But since food in Norway is so expensive I try not to waste anything and to make the most out of everything.
I appreciate children, and this is a big and new one for me. I had never really been 'exposed' to children before being in Norway. I have younger siblings but there's not such a big difference in our ages, so I don't really remember when they were babies. My cousins have only recently started having children, so its just been so that I have never spent time with small children really. Also, I was a bit unsure if I ever wanted children myself, that's changed a bit now though! :) Since being in Norway and working in a kindergarden I have to say that I just adore children :) Yes, some days are difficult and are filled with screaming and 'bæsjing' but to be able to go to work on a Monday morning and get smiles and hugs makes me think that I have the best job in the world :)

I'm sure this post could go on forever but right now that's all I can think of! I might do follow-up posts every now and then when I have something new to add to the list or if something changes :)

Good Wednesday everybody! :)

Monday, 28 May 2012


Hi everybody! Sorry for leaving it a while between posts again! Its been a busy week at work AND we've had the most amazing weather!! Super sunny and 25-30 degrees celsius!! So I've been outside a lot instead of at the computer! But I have nice pictures to share! :)

All of our neighbours are away so we had the garden to ourselves! Its also the long weekend here, so we had Monday off too! We decided to enjoy ourselves by doing one of the most Norwegian activities possible! 'Grille' (BBQ!)!!

                                                       Trampoline to ourselves! :)

Those pictures were taken on our walk to the shop to buy some food for our barbecue :) Of course we had to get ice cream for the walk home :P

Then we came home and set up our little grilling spot on the lawn :)

                                                          Our little disposable grill :)
                                                             Look at that sun!

It was all super delicious! And so nice to be outside in the beautiful Norwegian nature, just relaxing and enjoying the moment :)

On Sunday evening I baked bread and then we went cycling, just around the 'neighbourhood' and visited our old friends, the alpacas!

                                                               Bread I made :)


I have to say it really was the best weekend ever :) But unfortunately its forecasted that the good weather ends today :/ Oh well. It was great while it lasted! And I'm glad we made the most of it. They do predict the summer will be great too, so we'll see what happens!

Good Monday everybody!! :)

Saturday, 19 May 2012

17th of May, Southwest and Farmers!

Hei and sorry I haven't written for a while! Its funny because I've been free from work so I've had more time than usual but somehow less motivation, how does that happen?!

On Thursday it was the 17th of May (Syttende Mai) which is Norway's National Day. The whole country gets together to celebrate its independence and the writing of the constitution on that day all those years ago in 1814 :)
All the schools and kindergardens walk in their local parade (tog), followed by the Russ (Norwegian youth soon graduating from high school, usually decorated colourfully and crazily in red or blue and newly black!), and often other groups from the local community. Everybody is dressed in Norway's national dress which is called a 'bunad' and everybody has a Norwegian flag to wave. Each region of Norway has its own style of bunad and they're usually passed down from generation to generation. The parade in Oslo goes up by the Royal Palace (Slottet), where the Royal Family of Norway sit and wave to everybody :) It really is the children's day :) Its also traditional to eat sausages (pølser) in a kind of potato pancake (lompe) and eat lots of ice cream (is)! Unfortunately the parade in our town had to be moved this year and seeing as neither of us drive (yet!) we decided to stay at home and watch everything on the tv :) Because of this I don't have any pictures... :(

On Wednesday after work I found a 'note' in our post box saying that my new things I'd ordered were ready to be picked up at the post office! (in Norway unless you have a special, big post box any larger parcels are delivered to the local post office and you have to pick it up from there. You usually get a note with a picture of the parcel on it and information on how to collect it!) However the post office closes at 17.00 so it was too late to collect my parcel, and everything was closed on May 17th, so I had to wait until Friday! Yesterday before swimming we popped to the post office to get my parcel! And here are its contents:
                                                             New backpack! :)

                                                And a cool, classic Southwest hat!! :)

The package came really fast (dispatched on Monday and arrived on Wednesday) and everything seems to be of great quality! I'm so happy to have a new backpack seeing as the one I was using up until now had been previously owned and a few weeks ago the metal zip broke off a little bit making it really sharp and a bit dangerous. I suppose I could have repaired it somehow and didn't need a new one, but its nice to have :)
The Southwest (Sydvest) will really come in handy when I'm cycling to work in the rain! I really find I need something to protect my face so I can see where I'm cycling and also to protect my hair because if it gets wet it becomes really curly! :P
The last part of my Norwegian rain-defence will include my Viking wellington boots! I'm waiting to hear back from the company that they've received my return package so I can re-order a bigger size! Then I should be all set! Its funny since living in Norway that you have to think so much about the weather. I guess its because we're outside a lot more here, so its important to have the right clothes!

And oh yes, the farmers! I've decided I'm very much on the side of the farmers. I think they are undervalued and that we need to take care of them more. Farms are a huge part of Norwegian culture and I think that with the EU (Norway is not a member) we lost a lot of farms in other European countries, which is such a shame :( We need to protect our farmers and our farms! And as one spray painted hay bale stated 'Ingen bonde ingen mat' - 'No farmer no food'.
The farmers are planning a 'protest' of sorts in Oslo Center on Monday. They're going to drive their tractors in there and disrupt traffic and cause all kinds of chaos! More power to them :)

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Norwegian madness..

Today was a good day! I got extra hours at work and tomorrow we're having a little celebration there, seeing as the kindergarden will be closed on the 17th of May, Norway's national day :)
Norwegian people love their flag and its always on show at every possible opportunity. On birthdays or other special days its totally normal to see the flag up outside somebody's house. We have the flag up outside the kindergarden if any of the kids or staff have a birthday and schools and supermarkets etc often have the flag on display. There is also something called a 'vimpel' (not sure of the English word!) which looks like this: http://www.drange-produkter.no/minsket-norsk%20vimpel-4.jpg
Its not a proper flag but it has the Norwegian colours and can be up constantly in your garden or whatever, since these rules regarding the flag don't apply:
The flag must be taken down before it gets dark.
The flag must never touch the ground.
The flag must never be pointing downwards.
You must have a Norwegian passport to buy a Norwegian flag. (okay, this last one isn't true at all but my boyfriend tricked me with it when I first came to Norway, can't believe I believed it! :P)

All of this flag business came as quite a surprise to me becuase in Ireland we don't have our flag on display at all really and it would be unusual to have an Irish flag in your home in the first place, never mind displayed in your front garden!

However, this isn't the madness I'm referring to.. Anybody that's lived in Norway in the last few months will have probably heard about the 'butter crisis'. Yes, the butter crisis. This is when a huge amount of people in Norway went on a low-carbohydrate diet and the butter suppliers couldn't keep up leading to a shortage of butter. It was right around Christmas time too! There was even butter for sale on Finn.no, a Norwegian market place type website, for 300kr per half kilo (40 euro)!!!  Eventually we got butter from Belgium, Denmark and even Ireland! :) It was great to buy Irish butter in Rema 1000!
 The butter crisis is over now, but! A new and perhaps even worse crisis has struck Norway today... The Bread Crisis!!! Today after work me and Lars Erik went to buy bread in our local supermarket, but... there wasn't any!! Everybody was looking around totally confused as to where the bread had gone. Then Lars Erik said 'Its the farmers...' 'The farmers?!' Yes indeed, it is the farmers! Norwegian farmers have gone on strike and today decided to buy all the bread that was in the supermerkets to really get their point across.. There have been articles about it on the Dagbladet news website and even recipes and advice on making your own bread! Actually, some of the recipes sound kind of good so I might try at the weekend! If it turns out good I'll let you know and post the recipe here :)

                                                     The last of our precious bread!
                                                          We'll have to ration it :P

Luckily, there are other alternatives available so we'll be eating this for lunch for the next few days:

                                                                 Knekkebrød! :)

Yes, knekkebrød! I guess it would translate as 'crack/break bread' or 'crisp bread' or something. Its hard, thin, crispy bread which is really yummy and a common lunch time staple in Norway.

Yes, its the knekkebrød we'll be having while the bread is in short supply! And if my own bread is really good I may start making it all the time, it would even save us money! The average Norwegian loaf is about 25kr or 3.25 euro. The bread here is fantastic though, the best bread I've ever eaten actaually! Not a sliced white loaf in sight! That's something else interesting, the bread here isn't sliced! But that's another post all in itself really :) I think I'll leave it here for tonight. Time for a cup of tea and then bed :)

Happy Tuesday all! :)

Swimming and dinner!

Ahh :) The coffee is soon ready here and I don't have to be in work until 11 (its 9.10) now :) I slept long and relatively well last night. We were both SO tired after finally checking out 'Badeland' (bathing land). Its literally 5 minutes down the road from us and despite having lived in this apartment for over a year we hadn't been there yet!

It was brilliant! They really had everything! A big 'cold' pool for swimming laps, a big water slide (which I tried despite being a big coward for that kind of stuff!), a 'warm' pool which wasn't very deep and was a 'stille sone' (quiet zone), so no screaming and jumping around, a jacuzzi and perhaps most importantly for me, a sauna! :)

We tried everything and were really impressed! The warm pool was so relaxing! And I forgot how tiring swimming is! It was my first time being in  a jacuzzi and I wasn't THAT impressed. Yes it was okay and I guess nice but, not exactly what I expected..
Then there was the sauna :) I should mention here that I have a 'history' with saunas, going back to 2008 when I used a 'real' sauna for the first time in Finland. I haven't used any sauna since so it was really exciting to try again yesterday and wow.. It was so great! Of course it wasn't the same as a real Finnish sauna given that it was indoors, it was electrically heated, there was no cider (even though I don't really drink alcohol) and there was no 'sauna whisk' (bunch of twigs tied together that you use to hit yourself): http://www.mynorth.com/images/_Fresh_Daily/081216/Northerner/whisk-t.jpg. But still, the 'smell' of sauna was there and of course the heat, so I really enjoyed it :) I hope to build my own sauna some day :)

Then we walked home admiring the beautiful evening and made dinner as fast as possible because we were both hungry monsters! We decided to make Thai chicken curry seeing as its quick and yummy!

It was a nice cosy evening with that feeling of being tired and like we'd accomplished something. The laundry battle also continues..

I think it really is such a 'battle' because we have no tumble dryer, which to be honest we can manage without, but it just means we have to wait until the first clothes are dry before we can wash more and I just want everything washed now! :P

Anyway, we were both so tired and couldn't wait to go to bed, so we decided to sleep a bit early and were in bed by 21.20!

We really want to buy some kind of 'monthly ticket' or something for Badeland, but a quick search of the website reveals no such thing! You can buy a 3 month or 6 month card. However there is something which sounds like it would suit us, a '12-klippskort', which I'm told means you can use the facilities 12 times. That would cost 850 kroner which is really the price of 10 uses (85kr per single ticket) so you'd save 170kr with that, and I don't think there's a time limit to use it up by. I think we'll do that :)

Happy Tuesday! :)

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Søndags kos :)

'Søndags kos' basically just means enjoying yourself on Sunday :) We had a nice cycle in the fresh air and now we're watching Lars Erik's mum's dog, Buddy :)

                                                                          Buddy :)

Sundays in Norway are typically quiet seeing as all the shops are closed, so its normal to spend the day with family, going 'på tur' (on a trip of some kind), or cleaning and getting other things done.

I've been doing laundry since yesterday, finally washing all of our wool under clothes and storing them away for next winter, and today I was washing all of our everyday clothes when suddenly I heard 'Oh no!'. I ran to see what it was and our washing machine had leaked loads of water out on the bathroom floor! We got the problem under control and are now using the washing machine again without any problems. I think the cause could have been that I *might* have put too many clothes in the machine. But there seems to be no damage done so we'll wait and see...

                                                         Stupid washing machine :P

                                                   Just some of our wool 'longs' :D

Yesterday I bought some things online. Things I badly needed! A 'sydvest' or 'southwest' hat and a new backack! I bought them on the Helly Hansen website as it was free shipping and even though the hat was a bit expensive, 250kr, cheaper southwests worked out at about the same including the shipping, so I thought it best to buy the better quality one :) Here's the link: http://shop.hellyhansen.com/NO/item/67620/?partner=6025
I'll post pictures when I get the parcel!

I also bought some new wellies recently as its been raining quite a lot and my job (in a kindergarden) means I'm outside for a good part of the day, in all weather, so it made sense to invest in some! I bought a nice pair from Viking and got them in record time (ordered on Monday arrived on Wednesday), however they were a bit too small :( I bought a 38/5 as that's my size but even with normal socks they were quite tight so I'm sending them back tomorrow to swap for a 39, so I'll post pictures of them too when I get them! :)

In Norway weather and clothes are a big part of daily life. In the kindergarden (barnehage in Norwegian) all the kids have several sets of clothes. They have regntøy (rain clothes; wellies, waterproof pants, rain coat, rain hat and even rain mittens!), vintertøy (winter clothes; usually a winter suit, like an all in one, winter boots, many pairs of mittens, wool socks, hats, and scarves or 'hals', (literally means neck) but its one of those tube scarves that you pull over your head, they're actually considered safer seeing as they can't catch on anything and strangle the child/adult (I use one!)), they usually have a lighter 'suit' for early autumn and late spring and endless amounts of fleece and wool clothes. There is a famous Norwegian saying: Ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær - There's no bad weather, only bad clothing. And really it is true, if you're properly atired for the weather then there should be no problem with being outside!

Some pictures from our tur:

And some Søndags kos pictures :D :

Chocolate chip cookies and lasagne! The recipe for the cookies is from a packet of shop bought cookies-they actually tell you how to make them yourself at home! If anybody wants to know how to make them I can translate it for you and post it on here :) I should mention they are 49% chocolate ;)

Happy Sunday everybody!! :)