Posted by: All Things Norwegian | December 6, 2015

I’m getting ready for Christmas…

Oh Christmas splogs! I had kind of half planned to stay in London this Christmas and not go back home to Norway. For various reasons, such as I’m flat out broke and everything is totally and absolutely expensive back home! But having a stepdad who can read my mind from Bergen to London, he called the other week and asked how I was. I had the whole speech prepared about being stressed, tired and in need of some much needed ‘me time’ in London, but not like Bridget Jones (all by myself time). Sensing my hesitation, he launched into how unwell he has been and how unlikely it would be for him to see another Christmas (sob, sob). After the 10 minute tirade of all the illnesses of a 78 year old, he put on his lonely dad voice and said that he had his calendar in front of him and was ready to write down my flight arrival times. So of course, I could not let him down and during the rest of our conversation; I was amazed how quickly he appeared to get much better by the minute!

Next on my list was to try and angle in on the subject of ‘we really don’t need Christmas presents this year’ with my baby sister Nina. I lost the battle as soon as she said, ‘so does that mean you will not be bringing ANY presents this year at ALL?’, followed by a long pause. I did not see any point whatsoever to suggest the same to my brother who had already sent me his short wish list. Something that smells nice that he could wear, could be anything from body lotions to aftershave, but I’m opting for aftershave (a cheap one from Boots).

Having thought that I would get away with one night in Bergen followed by the rest of the week on Stord – a small island via long bus ride, ferry ride and another bus ride before being picked up by my nephew. My on the paper, biological father called to inform me (not to ask) that all I had to do on 25th December was to take the ferry (splogs me boots) from Jektevik on Stord at 11am to Ranavik and he would drive me to his holiday home in Jondalen (photos to come). As I’m sitting at the other end of the phone and contemplating the amount of cheer travelling I have to do, he finish off the call by saying lunch had been arranged with my half-sister in Bergen on the way back before I return to London. The half-sister who can’t as much as boil water and who thinks lunch is just another breakfast! Oh splogs me boots!

On the issue of Christmas presents and travelling light, I have however come to a very jolly conclusion (yes I know, this is starting to sound like Christmas ravings from a mad woman) that I will buy all the men in my life (all 8 of them) hats from Asda and here they are!

Novelty Reindeer HatStag Bobble Hat

Posted by: All Things Norwegian | February 14, 2015

Another year and another trip to Bergen…

I’ve been too busy with work lately to post anything to my soon to become out of date blog, so here goes as my English friends always ask me what I actually do when I’m at home.

So what do I do when I travel home to Norway? Well after consuming several glasses of chardonnay or if I feel flush (Cava) at Gatwick airport with scrambled eggs at Café Rouge, I hit the duty free shops for tobacco for my dad/sis/bro and blended whisky for my dad, and sickly Baileys for my sister. Flying with Norwegian has so far always been effortless with very few delays (apart from in the snow storm last Christmas). Having an elderly dad who now only drives a mobility scooter and even that too fast, I tend to just hop on the buss from Flesland airport into the city centre of Bergen. It’s cheap at just kr. 100 (approx £10) and gets me safely into the centre of Bergen within 25 minutes.

In recent years, I’ve started to stay in a hotel rather than choking half to death in my dad’s flat from tobacco fumes. I like being in the middle of town, so my favourite friendly and not too expensive hotel is Hotel Bristol, which is part of the Olav Thon chain of Norwegian hotels. It’s clean and I always get the room I request (could be due to my old boss is Olav Thon’s best friend) and best of all it has a well-stocked mini-bar.

Normally I just dump my bags and then have lunch with my father (yes, I have two as my mum married my dad instead of my biological father – not really that complicated after all). After lunch I often do a bit of shopping at the Galleria, which has great selection of shops and is right across from Hotel Bristol. The shopping trip normally involves a call from my dad as he loves the food shop on the ground floor, but feels it is too expensive for him to shop in with his pension and all, so last time involved finding ready-made rice cream (traditional Norwegian pudding eaten mainly at Christmas), strawberry sauce (stop laughing) and napkins (Norway produces some fabulous paper napkins and I always stock up on those).

Norwegians are a food loving nation and loves to cook, bake and eat. All three categories describe my dad who loves cooking, baking (mainly bread) and eating. So last time I went home he cooked homemade meatballs in brown sauce with mashed peas and something we Norwegians call ‘almond potatoes’ (basically almond shaped potatoes, which taste delish).

As for sightseeing in Bergen, there are quite a few interesting places to visit like the fish market at the harbour known as ‘Bryggen’ and if you are not afraid of heights, a trip up one of the seven mountains in Bergen by train called ‘Fløyen’. My favourite walk is out to the Nordnes outside swimming pool which is surrounded by a beautiful park and a very popular place in the summer. Also, if you are heading out to Nordnes with kids, then the Bergen Aquarium is also a popular place to visit.

If you are the musical type of tourist, then a visit to the home of the famous Norwegian composer Edward Grieg is a must. The place is called ‘Troldhaugen’ and is approx 15 min drive outside Bergen. A lot of none ‘Noggies’ does not realise that the following tunes were written by Grieg; In the hall of the mountain king and Morning mood etc. Sit back and enjoy!

For the bonafide crime lovers, I can recommend any book by Gunnar Staalesen as I’ve read them all and I’m a huge fan of the private detective Varg Veum, so much so that if I had a son, I would call him Varg. Some of the books have also been made into films and needless to say, I’ve watched all of those as well as read all the books. Sad? Just a tad! And for those of you who are interested in film production I thought I might as well mention that my father used to have a production company called HOT International, which produced only ONE film with Donald Sutherland as the lead actor called ‘The long lost friend’. Sadly it ended up as a long lost fiasco and never hit the screens. Norwegians are not famous for their film production that is for sure! Saying that, I think they are improving like the rest of Scandinavia when it comes to moody crime like the ‘Troll Hunter’, which I fell asleep in halfway through the film as I got bored. Whereas the ‘Head Hunter’ by Joe Nesbo I can highly recommend, so much so I’m going to buy it on Amazon and watch it again. Keep your eyes peeled out for the new and hopefully fab disaster film buster called ‘Bølgen‘! Everyone in Geiranger’s worst nightmare!

There are quite a few popular places to eat and drink in Bergen and here are some tried and recommended haunts.

  • Dickens Restaurant & Kontoret Bar – my father’s favourite and mine and we normally have at least one meal there when I visit Bergen. A fab place for people watching as well.
  • Egon – my dad’s favourite and mine as I normally have breakfast there when I stay in Bergen and I can recommend their prawn sandwich or their ‘Chilidog’.
  • Zaccen – where I tend to meet up with my brother for some God awful wine and you have been warned – wine by the glass in Norway is both expensive and tasteless. You are better off getting a bottle! Also any attempt of humour when it comes to buying a glass of wine like; ‘… at that price (£10 per glass) I assume I have paid for the whole bottle as well, falls on deaf ears.

Easter is just around the corner and I will be flying back home with Norwegian for an Easter Feast in April, so will keep you posted.🙂

Posted by: All Things Norwegian | May 14, 2014

The big day is almost here…

Celebrating 17th May is pretty big in Norway and both young and old hit the streets in their finery (often in Norwegian costume’s called bunad). When I was a child, we used to get new clothes for 17th May and allowed to eat and drink soft drinks as much as we could manage after going in parades for our schools with banners and flags. It is was all great fun!

Celebrating 17th of May in Oslo

The Constitution of Norway was signed at Eidsvoll on May 17 in the year 1814. The constitution declared Norway to be an independent kingdom in an attempt to avoid being ceded to Sweden after Denmark-Norway’s devastating defeat in the Napoleonic wars.

The celebration of this day began spontaneously among students and others from early on. However, Norway was at that time in a union with Sweden (following the Convention of Moss in August 1814) and for some years the King of Sweden and Norway was reluctant to allow the celebrations. For a few years during the 1820s, King Karl Johan actually banned it, believing that celebrations like this were in fact a kind of protest and disregard — even revolt — against the union. The king’s attitude changed after the Battle of the Square in 1829, an incident which resulted in such a commotion that the king had to allow commemorations on the day. It was, however, not until 1833 that public addresses were held, and official celebration was initiated near the monument of former government minister Christian Krohg, who had spent much of his political life curbing the personal power of the monarch. The address was held by Henrik Wergeland, thoroughly witnessed and accounted for by an informant dispatched by the king himself.

After 1864 the day became more established when the first children’s parade was launched in Christiania, at first consisting only of boys. This initiative was taken by Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, although Wergeland made the first known children’s parade at Eidsvoll around 1820. It was only in 1899 that girls were allowed to join in the parade for the first time.

By historical coincidence, the Second World War ended in Norway nine days before that year’s Constitution Day, on May 8, 1945, when the occupying German forces surrendered. Even if The Liberation Day is an official flag day in Norway, the day is not an official holiday and is not widely celebrated. Instead a new and broader meaning has been added to the celebration of Norwegian Constitution Day on May 17.

The day focused originally on the Norwegian constitution, but after 1905, the focus has been directed also towards the royal family.

(Historical extract from Wikipedia)

Posted by: All Things Norwegian | April 16, 2014

Sweet Easter…

Easter is one of the top celebrated holidays in Norway. It’s the time when most Norwegians retreat up into the mountains to stay in cosy wood cabins and do some serious skiing. For me when I was a teenager, it was all about cross country skiing and skating on frozen lakes, plus eating sweets till you felt sick!

As for Easter eggs, we don’t have the same tradition as in the UK for buying massive empty chocolate eggs (never seen one back home), but rather buying a big paper Mache egg and fill it with the sweets that you love. In my family it was a competition every year to find the biggest paper Mache egg and to fill it up to the brim.

Norwegian Easter Egg

My mum also used to make ‘false marzipan’ and we got to make all sorts of shapes in different colours and I never forget the year when my dad who has a terrible sweet tooth eat our whole farm of Easter chicks, which we had painstakingly made the day before Easter. His excuse was that he had woken up in the night feeling peckish and decided to taste one chick and then ended up eating all ten of them.

Posted by: All Things Norwegian | April 16, 2014

Who said that Norway has no singing stars?

As quoted from Wikipedia: Espen Lind released his first solo album, Mmm…Prepare To Be Swayed, in 1995 under the moniker, ‘Sway’. Only released in Norway, it received mixed reviews and sold approximately 5,000 copies. His commercial breakthrough came in 1997 with the single “When Susannah Cries” which was a hit in several European and Latin American countries, including Norway where it was number one for six weeks. His second album Red went on to sell more than 100,000 copies in Norway, and 350,000 copies worldwide, earning Lind three Norwegian Grammy awards (Spellemannsprisen) in 1998, including Artist of the Year.

2000 saw Lind releasing his third album, This Is Pop Music, and the singles “Black Sunday” and “Life Is Good”. The album also contains a duet, “Where the Lost Ones Go,” with Norwegian singer Sissel Kyrkjebø. The album reached gold status in Norway but was generally perceived to be a commercial disappointment compared to its predecessor. After a 3 year break Lind released a new single, “Unloved,” in December 2004, followed by the album April, in January 2005.

In 2006 Lind, together with fellow Norwegian artists Kurt Nilsen (World Idol winner), Alejandro Fuentes and Askil Holm released the concert album Hallelujah Live, featuring songs from the foursome’s solo records as well as several songs by other artists, most notably a cover version of Leonard Cohen‘s “Hallelujah“.

 

Lind released a new single, “Scared Of Heights,” in May 2008. His fifth album titled Army Of One was released on the 23 June 2008.

In January 2009 he received the award “Årets Spelleman” (artist of the year) at the Norwegian Grammy Awards (Spellemannprisen).

Writing and producing

During the past few years Espen Lind has done a lot of writing and producing, most notably as co-writer of “Irreplaceable” by Beyoncé and “Drive By” and “Hey, Soul Sister” by Train. Together with writing partner Amund Bjørklund in the production team Espionage he has also written and/or produced songs for artists Lionel RichieNe-YoChris Brown and Leona LewisMorten Harket covered Lind’s “Scared of Heights” for his album Out of My Hands.

Selected credits[edit]

Posted by: All Things Norwegian | December 16, 2011

Pinnekjøtt

Coming from the west coast of Norway, my family celebrate Christmas Eve by having pinnekjøtt, which is a main course dinner of smoked lamb or mutton ribs. We serve it with mashed sweed and potatoes, beer and aquavit. The ribs are traditionally steamed over layers of birch twigs for several hours, which my dad used to collect from the garden, but these days you can buy ready made twigs to steam the ribs over.

Around 31% of the Norwegian population have pinnekjøtt as their main Christmas meal. For dessert, my family and I are a big fan of risgrøt, which is cold rice porridge mixed with whipped cream and sugar, served with a berry sauce. My mum used to put a couple of drops of rum essence into the risgrøt, which gave it a rich taste, plus a blanched almond and the person who got the almond would then win a large marzipan pig as a prize.

Posted by: All Things Norwegian | November 13, 2011

Guess what I have just discovered?

A shop that sells some of my favourite Norwegian food in the UK! Bring on the Freia chocolate! ;o)

www.scandikitchen.co.uk

Posted by: All Things Norwegian | November 13, 2011

Polar bear club…

I will definitely take a trip to the nearest A&C shop in Norway next time I’m back home as I just love this polar bear necklace!

Polar bear necklace

Posted by: All Things Norwegian | April 19, 2011

Glorious Tine Yogurt

I had forgotten until yesterday how good the Norwegian produced yogurt from Tine tastes. As I was admiring the fjord in Jondalen, I managed to eat two pots of creamy blueberry yogurt, which just can’t compare to any other brand of yogurt that I have tasted.

www.tine.no

Posted by: All Things Norwegian | February 20, 2011

Easter in Norway…

For the first time in 23 years, I’m going to spend Easter in Norway. My father wants me to spend most of it in Jondalen at his new ‘eco friendly’ house and it has to be said that Jondalen is a place of stunning scenery and perfect for long walks or even skiing if the weather permits. Norwegians takes their Easter holidays seriously and it normally involves loading up the car with rucksacks and putting skiis on the car roof and heading up into the mountains.

A lot of Norwegians have mountain huts, which are cosy little huts where you rest after being out skiing all day. My parents were not that keen on skiing, so I can remember spending a lot of time in the kitchen with my mum making what she used to call ‘false marzipan’. We eat a lot of marzipan during Easter and ‘false marzipan’, which does not contain any almonds used to be a big hit! Not only that, decorating for Easter used to be even more exciting than decorating for Christmas and we used to paint eggs and make Easter chicks from wool. A tradition which now is less common.

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