Friday, January 20, 2012

Farvel byliv (Farewell City Life)

As I prepare to say goodbye to the apartment to which I could first call home in Norway, I cannot help but feel a little sad.  We moved here in August 2010 nearly 18 months ago, and everything from the kitsch loft-style layout to the art nouveaux façade is still as lovely today as it was when we first saw - and consequently fell in love with it.  

The central location was fabulous for shopping and the endless nights out that we would enjoy here... it was also easy to stumble home after nachspills.

So yes, despite smelling like an ashtray because of some inconsiderate neighbours downstairs we absolutely adored the apartment in the town... but times change... as do circumstances.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Hesitance is the act of waiting before doing something.

intr.v. hes·i·tat·edhes·i·tat·inghes·i·tates
a. To be slow to act, speak, or decide.
b. To pause in uncertainty; waver.
2. To be reluctant.
3. To speak haltingly; falter.

I love Norway... I really really do.  And I love the less than especially sunny state of Sunnmøre even though it rains almost every day.

I am however discovering exactly why the OFT figures stating that Norway has a worse road safety record in terms of death by road traffic accidents than we do in Britain.  I should explain that while I have driven around most of the southern part of Norway and visited all of the major cities that most people know, I am referring to the driving experience in and around where I live in Ålesund which of course includes a increased variety of agricultural and haulage vehicles and ergo 'country drivers'.

Before you say it, I am no perfect driver.  I speed, I am sometimes a victim of my frustration and I do have what some would describe as an overconfidence in a cars ability to maneuver and stop.  I do however, take a lot of pride in the way I drive, and take a great interest in driving itself which probably spurs from a love of motoring from a young age.  Additional to this, being a newcomer to this country I studied up the local highway code and probably have it fresher in my mind than others might.

The displays of driving I seem to be subjected to almost every day seem to almost always fall into the same category of late decision making or as the title suggests 'hesitance'.  This seems apparent almost everywhere, almost like the driver does not want to make too much of a fuss to some people, but then the irritation of waiting takes over and they drive into roundabouts and junctions without looking.
Just this week, I had two such displays:  the first in which the driver in front was trying to overtake a mobile home, he waited and waited until the road markings spread apart and the view ahead became clear and importantly safe.  So he should have overtaken him here right?  Well he had a look, then pulled back in... and then had another look, and pulled back in.  While all this was happening the gentleman behind me decided he was sick of waiting, overtook me and decided to over the hesitant chap as well... only to be forced to brake while he was overtaking because the chap in front finally decided to overtake ON THE CREST OF A HILL!  Anyway, no one was hurt, but the chap who was behind me maybe needed a change of pants after said experience.
Almost poetically after this incident we were met with this:
This truck driver narrowly avoided somebody who was overtaking too slowly and on a corner through an area of reduced speed (60km/h).

Today, as myself and a colleague were returning home from work we were overtaking a truck in the tunnel near my home and yet again hesitance struck... gentleman in a Tafjord van decides to merge with the overtaking traffic.  Except he managed not to see me, hit his indicator on after he moved and then consequently didn't overtake the truck.  Still having his indicator on, he continued not to move around while I was holding up the overtaking traffic behind me because this numpty cannot use his mirrors.

Like I said before... I do love Norway, but I will love you even more when your countrymen learn the rules of the road better.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sommer i Norge

When I first met Anita, my wife of 2 1/2 years now I remember her telling me of the amazing summers she experienced in Norway, in contrast to the seemingly perpetual 'nothing' weather we had in Edinburgh.
Road to Kristiansand

Most of what she said was true, apart from the endless rain regardless of what part of Norway you are currently visiting.  When the rain stops however, the resulting 'fint vær' is just lovely as my next pictures shall testify.
View from Fjellstua, Ålesund

Operahuset, Oslo
The summer is ending however, the endless days will soon turn into perpetual darkness and freezing fog... and you know what?  I cannot wait.


Two words... Night skiing.  Til next time folks.

Monday, June 6, 2011

When obsession becomes a dangerous reality

Anyone who knows me knows thrill seeking is not a pastime of mine, nor will it ever be.  I enjoy driving fast cars and skiing but otherwise pretty boring in terms of extreme or even normal sports.

Perhaps this is why I will never understand when people cannot differentiate between thrill seeking and stupid, dangerous behaviour.
I am all for drinking a bottle of water and living for the moment... but this is ridiculous.

Speaking of bottled water, here is the reply Imsdal sent, following some 'critical' feedback I gave them about their new advert

"Dear Anthony.

Thank you for your mail and for your observations. However, I do not agree with your interpretation of our message.

The new film shows in a funny way that if your body gets enough water, you'll be ready for whatever the day may bring. It's about seizing the opportunities that present themselves. We are not talking about "dare or die" challenges like extreme sports, but more positive "seize the day" activities. We follow a group of girls who challenge each other - from cutting off their fine, long hair, to ride fast on horses and jump into a cold waterfall.

When it comes to the appearance of our actresses, I'll let you decide on what you define as less attractive. In our opinion, all girls are healthy looking and cool. Some of the girls in Punk-outfits are skinnier than our lead cast, and we have blondes and brunettes in both groups. However, we have focused on creating two different styles to make a point that they do not belong in the same group of friends in just few seconds

Best regards,
Having spoken to notable friends, colleagues and even some people in advertising, the suggested reply I liked the most came from my 18 year old brother in-law:

"Whatever makes you sleep at night love"

Friday, May 6, 2011

Ambitious... and not even slightly rubbish

As you may all know, I had a wee accident with two sticks of fibreglass and a ski jacket a couple of months ago.  So following a wee visit to see a smug doctor called Bjørnar who told me I was genetically incapable of skiing you'd think I would have learned my lesson and called it a day.

I didn't... now I am almost certainly going to hurt myself next season both physically and financially... unless I buy skis in Scotland on my next visit.

2 years... 24 months, 104 weeks or 730 days as a married man was celebrated at the beginning of this month by a jaunt to Copenhagen.  I hate to say it but despite having an awesome glyptotek, stunning architecture, amazing views and some world shopping centres... my fondest memory of Copenhagen was... wait for it... the bicycles.

I know, I know, most keen motorists hate cyclists and to some extent with good reason.  However, Copenhagen's organised and flowing bicycle lanes and traffic systems totally changed my view.  They have proved it can be done, and with the all important sense of fun that any daily task requires... I felt out of place walking.  Also, not to be missed is restaurant Peder Oxe in Gråvbrødretorv... superb anniversary dinner.

Top Gear Live was predictable... and so it should be.  Jeremy Clarkson promised us girls on fire, power sliding cars on fire and a set that was... erm, on fire.  The highlight was when he spoke to the audience and managed to pick possibly the stupidest Norwegian countrywide.  Clarkson asked a man if he liked the Maserati they brought out to which the reply was ' I drive a transit.'  Deary...
Despite the spirit of Top Gear, I think next year we will fly down.  The 1200km route involves a couple of mountains and as the next picture describes, there was a wee bit of snow.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow = soft and fluffy. Compacted snow - neither

'Snow is surely evidence of a Greater Being. It has no other purpose than to delight and frighten us.'

Couldn't have put it myself better, thank you Nevissport.  However, given I am still walking with a limp and I am facing an £800 dentist bill I am still at the frightened stage.

Anyway, what happened was a classic example of a tourist on the slopes, ploughing everywhere with my skis awkwardly criss-crossed to prevent me from gaining too much speed.... or so I thought.  I had spent a little while on the baby slope and built up a ridiculous amount of confidence, somewhat contributed to by an energy drink called Urge, the rest being the friendly encouragement from my highly accomplished Scandinavian friends who surprisingly, have been skiing since they 6 months old.  
Anyway, I decided to have a go at the other training slope and then it happened... no stopping me!  I tried stopping, I was too afraid to fall over and then before I knew it I had taken out the fence and landed on the other side of a pathway up to the slopes.  
Thankfully, I landed on snow, hard snow, but snow.  What did frighten me a little was how close my torso was to a brass valve which connected to a snow blower.  30cm to the left and who knows... rather not think about it.
End result was a smashed jaw, bent teeth, broken ribs and a torn thigh.  All on one side of my body too, felt like I had a stroke.

I hope to get back on the slopes in the next couple of weeks, got some lessons booked and I am excited.  Still frightened, but not enough to not make me go back.

Still loving Norway, my job and our new life across here, however I have come across some aspects of this country that are a little, well embarrassing in my 8 months:

  • They are incapable of queuing.  It is not uncommon to see a young, sharp elbowed man mashing his way through a crowd of old grannies with sticks.  Slight exaggeration I know, but it is almost true.
  • Despite regularly boasting about how rich their country is, you wouldn't know it from looking at their roads.  I learnt to drive in Scotland's east coast and I thought those were bad.
  • While their driving prowess on snow and ice filled roads is admittedly quite impressive, they are some of the most impatient and downright dangerous drivers I have ever seen when the cold stuff disappears.  Most of the drivers in the UK and France I ever came across that ticked me off where either very very young, or very very old.  Over here, the ones overtaking on corners in the rain at 100km/h+ are parents with children in the back.  Disturbing.
  • The immigration system is a joke.  It would have been easier for me to move here if I came from the Congo.
  • Anita, a Norwegian national was told by the toll authority when we were bringing our furniture in that our customs form was in the wrong language I.e. English.  Despite the fact we got it from their website from a link which said, 'Download this form in English'.  After she explained this to the chap in of course her native Norwegian, she was told 'Du er i Norge nå' or 'You are in Norway now.'  Plain rude.
Anyway, that is it for the negativity.  If you wanted more proof of how lovely where I live is, have a nose at the article from a UK paper:

Friday, December 31, 2010

Mistletoe and brennevin

Just a quick holiday post, most of you will hopefully be preparing to say goodbye to 2010 in traditional style.  Traditional of course having distinction dependant on where you are.  
In Scotland, you buy enough booze for 30 people despite inviting only ten who will bring their own booze anyway... or go down the pub, drink until blindness sets in and do something/someone you will regret.

På Vest-norge however, you spend around £50 on fireworks and share some champagne with family.  Alternatively, pay the same amount to visit an awful nightclub where they play 'We are the World, We are the Children' until you leave.  If you are really lucky, you can find a house party where you can spend the £50 on 2 bottles of vodka and repeat the last step of the Scottish experience.

Norwegian Christmas food by the way, I officially love pinekjøtt(lamb rib), rødkal(red cabbage), surkål(pickled cabbage), medisterkake(meatloaf), ribbe(pork rib) and kalrabi(type of swede).  Should any of you come visit, I will be sure to introduce you to this wonderful combination of flavours.

Past couple of months has been fun, had a Mexican come live with us following her having a none too pleasant experience with her host family.  Their loss was our gain and we now have someone to say hello to when we get to the Americas.

Almost got all my ski equipment now, just need boots and skis.  Prepare for pictures of me falling down a hill, damaging the equipment I saved so hard to buy.

In any case, I/we are still very much seduced by the life over here and having said a proper goodbye to Edinburgh a couple of weeks ago, the new start is really gathering pace now with both of us having perm jobs, our own car and plans to buy/build a house perhaps in the summer.

Happy New Year, Godt Nyttår and all that jazz, I wish you all a happy 2011.




PS - Returning to Edinburgh just after Easter, seeing a new mummy and daddy.