Sunday, 19 December 2010

A happy birthday

I thought Reidar wouldn't be able to do much about my birthday, so was prepared for the usual anticlimax, but the day before, while we were at the hospital for Reidar's chemo, my friend Annabel rang and said she was sorry she and Jørgen wouldn't be able to come the next day. She also asked how many would be coming. I gave a vague answer and began to wonder a little.
On my birthday Reidar went off early in a taxi, first to more chemo, then on to his daytime session at the hospice. I was eating breakfast when he rang to say he had the car-keys in his pocket, leaving me high and dry with no way of dashing about, doing my planned pre-Christmas errands. I rang a good friend and she drove me to Hamar to fetch the keys. In the afternoon I got a crypical text-message from May Sissel telling me to dress up in something nice, and to expect her at 18.30. After that there was a whirlwind of activity in the kitchen, and the guests began to arrive. Reidar had invited a whole crowd of friends and we were 16 people who spent a very happy evening with good food and drink. I got lots of presents, flowers and, as you can see, cakes. All this was planned in secret and I knew nothing until the day before. It was my first surprise party and I loved it!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010


This is Reidar and his family, taken on the occasion of his mother's 90th birthday. In the back row are Sigrid, Else, Dagfinn, Wendy and Margrethe.
Nanna wasn't too keen to be celebrated, but soon enjoyed being surrounded by her six children,
and various grandchildren and great-grandchilden. A few were missing, but the majority were there, and even a couple of dogs.
I wonder what my 90th will be like? I wonder what my 60th will be like?

Monday, 29 November 2010


Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent, and in every traditional norwegian home a six-armed (electric) candlestick will be placed in the window, also often a star-shaped lamp is hung in another window.

These will shine all through December and into the New Year until Twelvth Night -the 12th day of Christmas, January 6th, when all the decorations are tidied away. Some even hold out till the 20th day, but I think that's something Reidar made up, to makeChristmas last longer. A lot of people also put lights on a tree in the garden. All these lights make the houses look so pretty and cheerful in this the darkest time of the year. The sun rose at 08.53 today, and set at 15.15, which gives us 12 hours 16 min. less daylight than we had at midsummer. It always makes me sad to drive in the dark when the lights have been put away, and I miss the friendly glow in the kitchen at night. So much so that I bought another small lamp which sits in the kitchen window and shines day and night to drive away the darkness.
On Wednesday we can open the first window on the advent calendar - always a reminder to we busy housewives who have gifts to buy and wrap, cards to write and send, rooms to clean and decorate, cookies and treats to bake, and 101 other small tasks to do before the big day. By the time we find time to sit down and catch our breath it's all over, the sun has "turned" and the days have started getting a little bit longer every day. Hooray!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

...and some showers

Life is not all sunshine, and we do need the rain to survive.
What we don't need is bad health. On June 4th 1977 I stood beside Reidar in St Gwinear parish church and promised to stand by him for richer or poorer, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health til death do us part.
Now the time has come to make good my promise. His illness has taken a turn for the worse, and he is in hospital. A series of constant infections and a lot of unnecessary pain have left him tired out. Now he's got good pain relief, is able to sleep for longer periods, has had a blood transfusion, and his poorly kidneys are getting the attention they deserve. He looks rested and healthier than he has done for some time, and should be allowed to come home soon. If he continues to gain strength he should be able to get some more chemotherapy or radiation treatment. This will not, unfortunately cure his cancer, but will, hopefully prolong his life.
I know that I've kept my head buried in the sand, and every day that he's been able to get out of bed and lead a fairly normal life has been a day that I can pretend that the cancer has lost its power. Stupid really, but it was nice while it lasted. Time for some loin-girding, and doing all that I can to make his life pleasant, comfortable and safe.

Friday, 22 October 2010


I love this picture of Espen. The reflected light gives a very special effect. It also reminds me of the way our cats always seek out that stripe of sunshine on the floor to sun themselves in.
Espen is a ray of sunshine in our otherwise gloomy household. Han er bestemors lille solstråle!

Happy birthday Gwenyth Zillah!

It's my mother's birthday today. She was born on 22nd October 1913, so she's 97 today. This picture was taken almost a year ago, and she's holding Lawrence Henry (Laurie) one of her four great-grandchildren.
I wish I could be with her today, to help make her birthday special, but that's not possible because Reidar's quite unwell at the moment. I spoke to Mother yesterday and she wasn't specially looking forward to her birthday. She reckoned she'd had far too many. Just think of all the changes in the world that have happened in her lifetime and that she has learnt to accept.
Happy birthday Mother!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

The unkindest cut of all

Ninja's been to the vet today, and he isn't feeeling all that great. He's had a full anasthetic and is still a bit woozy. You can't see his scars because he's sitting on them. Tomorrow he'll feel a lot better, and on Saturday he can go out in the garden again. After that hopefully all forgiven and forgotten.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Nicholas North

This is my one and only son-in-law, and as sons-in-law go, I think I picked a winner. My daughter Tamsin couldn't be in safer hands. She's loved and cherished, treated like a lady and maybe even a little bit spoiled.
We spent three weeks in their company earlier this year, and the prospect of having anybody to stay for three weeks can be daunting, but Nick remained polite and considerate, patient and caring, even when we all got a tummy bug! He's a prince among men, and I love him to bits.
Have a very happy birthday Nick!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Skyping with Espen (and Tamsin!)

I haven't held him in my arms since May, when he was only 12 weeks old, but thanks to Skype I see him every week, he hears my voice, and now I think he sees my face and we have begun to communicate. When he was tiny, he looked round to see where the voice was coming from, but now he seems to know. Through the wonders of modern technology I've been able to watch his growth and development. I've seen his first tooth (with accompanying grumpiness, red cheek and dribble) I've seen his triumph at being able to turn himself over or reach for a toy. I've heard his giggles and chirps. I can see when he's tited, almost before his mother.
His eager expression in this picture is not entirely for Granny, more for the computer with exciting cables and keyboard. I don't mind - I can see, from the other side of the world, that he's a chip off the old block.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Meet Ninja

Jeremy's beloved cat, Little Black, has been missing for over a month, and is sadly missed. A week ago this little chap appeared on our veranda, peeping in through our windows and miaowing pitifully. He was very thin, so Jeremy took pity on him and gave him some milk. We asked around if anybody knew where he came from, but drew a blank. Once inside the house he has blossomed. He is happy and friendly, confident and extremely energetic. Our white cats are not too thrilled about him, but manage to co-exist. We've chosen to call him Ninja, because he's a slinky little assassin, dressed in black
Little Black is a hard act to follow, but our Ninja has certainly livened up our household.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Jeremy meets Bethany Daisy Mary

While in England we met my nephew/godson Robert, and his little family. I last saw Bethany in March, when she was only 3 weeks old and slept all the time, so I noticed a tremendous change in her. Jeremy had never seen her, and never got close to a small baby before, so we plonked her in his lap. He was terrified to begin with - Bethany took it all in her stride.

Monday, 16 August 2010

A lovely holiday

Having my two favourite men ( after George Clooney, Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt, who couldn't come with me) with me in my favourite place - St Ives - in beautiful sunshine, which we reached with a magical trainride along the coast, was like a little bit of heaven. Yes, it was full of tourists, and yes, you can smell the suntan lotion everywhere, and yes, the seagulls will try to snatch any foodstuffs you might unwisely carry in the street (like a scene from "The birds"), but the sheer beauty and charm of the place make it all worthwhile.

The streets are very winding and narrow, and cars do try to push their way through the crowds of pedestians, the houses are whitewashed or built of granite, with no room for gardens, but make up for it with an abundance of pots, window-boxes and hangingbaskets. There's even an old boat overflowing with flowers.

The blue of the sea, and the gold of the sand are breathtaking, and there are three sandy beaches right in the middle of town. We ate our lunch in a pub which was built in1312! It's right across the street from the beach and is probably the most well-known building in St Ives, although those interested in art would know about the Tate of the West, Barbara Hepworth's house and Bern
ard Leach's pottery.
Sorry to sound like a tourist guide, but this is a wonderful place that I love - a lot!

Monday, 2 August 2010


We're all going on a summer holiday
No more working for a week or two
Fun and laughter on our summer holiday
No more worries for me and you
For a week or two...
Today we're off to England - Reidar, Jeremy and I, all together, for the first time in many years.
We're borrowing a car from my brother-in-law, David, and will drive down to Cornwall tomorrow.
(Little bubbles of excitement! Tomorrow!)
Beautiful St Ives is one of the places we'll visit. You can't go to Cornwall and not go to St Ives. So think of us, raise a glass to us and wish us a lovely time!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

White car, white cats

Elegant - aren't they?

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Fields of gold and pretty clouds

This year the fields around our house are planted with oil seed rape - an unattractive name for an amazing-looking crop. When the yellow flowers are gone the seed-pods fatten up, and when harvested, are crushed to produce bio-diesel. The plants actually smell pretty bad - a cabbagey, farty sort of smell - but the sight of acres of golden flowers is very uplifting.
The sweet little yellow house belongs to Anne Mette.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

A bouquet of wild flowers

I'm sure Tamsin misses her childhood widflowers so I've been out and picked a bunch for her. Buttercups (smørblomst), Rosebay willowherb (geitrams) and Harebells (blåklokker). Hope you like them!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Cabin fever

We've always been lucky with having friends who have holiday homes in nice places, and for the past three days have been exceptionally lucky. On Friday we were invited to Else's cabin by Rokosjøen - our local lake. We brought ice-cream with us, and Else and her daughters had strawberries, so we sat on the jetty enjoying our treat in the sun. Anne Solveig has a little Cavalier King Charles spaniel who loves water, so we had great fun throwing sticks into the water for Sonja to retrieve. We've been visiting this cabin for many years now, and always enjoy the privacy and peace there.

The following day was Arnold's birthday, and to celebrate he invited a group of friends to his private trout pond to eat home-caught, homesmoked trout. It was absolutely delicious! We later went back to his house for birthday cake.Another peaceful and relaxing evening spent close to water.

Today we went to visit Anne Mette at her cabin by lake Mjøsa - Norway's biggest lake. This cabin was built just before a law was passed, stipulating that no cabin can be built within 100 metres of the shoreline of any body of water.
The picture shows the veranda with three steps down onto the rocks on the lake shore. We drove down a remote track and parked the car. We then had a 300 metre walk through a pine forest, then there was the cabin - right on the edge of the lake. Walking into the cabin was the strangest thing, because as you enter the living-room you're immediately confronted by the lake! There is a glass door and a large window, so you
get the feeling that as soon as you get indoors, you're outside again!

We spent a lovely day there, sitting in the sun chatting. Anne Mette's son Sigurd was there with his girlfriend Anne Grethe, although they went off on the boat Sigurd built, to sail. Isn't it a beauty?

Did we get fed? But of course we did! Waffles with strawberries and cream when we arrived, and later a beautiful danish-style sandwich called Hakkebøf.

I've spent three days sitting in the sun ( or rain in Arnold's case) in idyllic settings with good company and wonderful food. Does it get any better?

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Midsummer madness

Living in the land of the midnight sun is confusing. Today the sun rose at 03.41 and will go down at 22.54 ( 10.54 pm to those of you that don't understand the 24 hour clock). We now have 12 hours and 58 minutes more daylight than we did on the shortest day. This means that it's not completely dark, and the birds sing all night. People sit out on their verandas all evening - well covered in insect repellent, because the mosquitoes are at their most active then.
So when the sun wakes me at 4 am I must remember how much cold and darkness we get in the winter, and how we long for this time of year - and put the pillow over my head and go back to sleep!

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Getting to know you

This is my grandson Espen David North. Isn't he wonderful? We met for the first time in April, when we travelled halfway round the world to meet him. It was love at first sight. we spent three intense weeks in his company, and I wouldn't have missed a second of it. He is, of course, the most beautiful, intelligent, talented and witty baby in the world, and is destined to be great.
Thinking about our time together, I must admit I talked the most awful rubbish to him and he didn't seem to mind at all. It's a good thing he can't talk yet, or he'd make some cutting remark like;- "Get a grip on yourself, Granny! you're babbling again. People are looking at us!"
It was really, really hard to say goodbye to him, and I hunger for new pictures of him and reports of his progress. I miss Tam and Nick too, but I've known them for much longer. It's a bit like being in love, so I say;- "Thank goodness for Skype!"

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Honey, I'm home!

Dear reader,
you must think that our plane crashed into the volcano, never to be seen again!
We've had all sorts of adventures and a few trials to get through - like a house fire and losing the internet ( not sure which was worse, probably the net) but now I'm back on track.
I kept a sort of diary when we were on our travels, so i now propose to post it, along with the photos we took at the time. If I can figure out how to do it.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010


Still no further forward. In 24 hours we should be sitting on a plane on our way to Salt Lake City, but probably not. A new ash cloud from the Iceland volcano is on the move and the Oslo airport may shut down this afternoon. We should know more after 2 pm. When I look at my travel information online, I'm told to check on the day of the flight - a little awkward when thw flight leaves at 06.30 am. I've found luggage, I've found the clothes and stuff we need to take, but do I pack? I hate uncertainty, and this is driving me nuts! But there is no-one to blame, no-one who can help. chewing my foot off won't help, but it would pass the time.

Friday, 16 April 2010

To America or not to America - that is the question

We've been looking forward so much to our trip to America, counting first months, then weeks, and now days. The planning of what we're going to do while we're there, what we're going to pack, telling everyone we meet, and smugly accepting wishes for a great trip - all that's been taken away from us. Instead of "when we go" it's become "if we go". All because of some dust! Quite a lot of dust, actually, and of course we're not the only ones affected by this disaster, but it's rather taken the shine off the whoøe thing. My grandson will be shaving before we meet him!

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Three springs!

I recently took a few days in England, mostly to visit my family, but a little bit to get away from the dreaded white stuff. One of the days was sunny, and iit was liberating to walk briskly on ice-free pavements. Mid-March is a bit early for full-blown spring, especially after an exceptionally cold winter, so it was lovely to see big clumps of snowdrops growing wild at the roadside and in the woods. Most gardens had a display of crocuses.
In Cornwall, way down in the far south-west, and warmed by the Gulf Stream, the daffodils were just coming into bloom. What a treat after nothing but snow for many months.
Back in Norway, we've been enjoying some warmer days (by that I mean above freezing) but any careful optimism is soon quashed by a new snowfall. Yesterday all the snow turned wet and slushy, but last night there was a bright full moon, which means clear cold weather. Sure enough, when I got up today the lovable slush had turned into lethal rock-hard ice. Thank goodness for my magic boots.
My second spring will come in three weeks time, when we go to Utah to visit Tam and Nick, and our little gullklump Espen. It will be green and fresh, with flowers.
When we get back after three fun-filled weeks Norway will be waking up to spring, the birches will have tiny sweet-smelling leaves, the woods will be carpeted with white wood anemones - Tam's favourites. And then it will be 17th May, national day Hurra!

Friday, 5 March 2010

Good news

There's a reason why Reidar's a happy chappy today. We've been to the hospital to hear the results of the latest tests. All the tumours, big and small, have responded to the chemotherapy and are smaller! That means that he will continue with a new course of treatment, starting on monday morning. We'll still get out 3 weeks in USA in April, and Reidar will complete the treatment when we get back. He is even well enough to go back to work part-time.
So we've celebrated with fish and chips and lots of happy phonecalls to our friends.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

The wonders of Skype

The day our grandson was born, on the other side of the world, we visited the new little family. We sat at Tamsin's bedside and gazed in wonder at little espen. He was unwrapped and displayed for our inspection and admiration. We saw him from all angles and heard his voice As it happened, i had a nasty head-cold that day, but it didn't matter because I was thousands of miles from breathing germs on the baby. It was such a thrill to feel that we were with them on that very special day.
Yesterday was a special day of a completely different kind. As one life starts, another one ends. Reidar's auntie Peggy died in England, aged 90. Reidar's mother, aged 89, was terribly disappointed that she wasn't well enough to travel to England for her sister's funeral. A niece got in touch with us and we arranged a Skype meeting. Yesterday we arrived at the rest-home where M-in-law is currently having physiotherapy, armed with a laptop and an order of service which we'd printed from the net. We sat in a quiet room, and at the appointed time got contact. Suddenly we were in the church , with all the relatives smiling and waving. Their camera was then placed on the front bench and the funeral service began. With his opening words the minister mentioned Auntie Bar, so she felt included. A letter she'd written to Peggy was read out. She joined in as the hymns were sung, she followed the readings in her bible. She nodded in agreement as Peggy's blessing was read. Afterwards all her nieces and their children came forward to speak to her. It was exactly as if she was present at the service.
Skype is wonderful!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010


We are grandparents at last! Our daughter Tamsin and her husband Nick became parents to a big little boy today.
He's 4,266 kg (9lb 6 oz) and 55cms (21.5 in), with lots of dark hair.
Mother and son are both doing well.
We'll be meeting them tonight, thanks to Skype.
Happy! Happy! Happy!

Monday, 15 February 2010

Birthday Boy

On Friday 12th of February Reidar celebrated his 59th birthday.We had a group of good friends to dinner and cake As you can see, his party turned into a short jam-session - so a good time was had by some.
We also celebrated completing a course of chemotherapy on the same day. This hasn't happened before because the other course made him so ill. now we wait a couple of weeks before he gets a scan done, and we can see if it's done any good.
He had another tea-party on Saturday, so has been well-celebrated. It will be a long time before I bake like I baked for him this weekend, but you know the way to a man's heart,don't you girls?

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Cabin fever

Everyone I know is suffering from it. If you're not the great outdoorsy type who loves swooshing around on skis, then the white stuff is what I call pretty but not practical.
For a start, when it lands it's usually in the way and needs shifting. It sticks to your boots when you're getting into the car, which then melts and makes the windows steam up. This then freezes and you get ice on both sides.
You have to wear a lot more clothes, which take longer to put on and take off, and make you feel all bundled up Hats squash your hair flat and ruin your day :(
So here I am, on the inside, looking out, and wishing it was April.
Another one with cabin fever is Tamsin. She's stuck behind a bulge that is threatening to obscure her completely. She hasn't seen her feet for months and her bladder is constantly under attack. Only 9 days to go. Maybe.
Our cats are nearly driven crazy with cabin fever. Wading through chest-deep snow is not really their thing, and it's limited how many houts of the day they can devote to eating and sleeping. They chase each other, wild-eyed around the house, upstairs and down, and lie in wait and ambush one another. They play enthusiastically with anything we care to wave on front of them and trot often to the door, asking to be let out. When the door is opened and a blast of chilly air blows in, they look accusingly up at us and do a u-turn in the doorway. This is repeated every 15 minutes, morning and night.
Come on Spring, come on freedom, come on grandbaby!

Sunday, 24 January 2010


I was invited to a babyshower. It took place yesterday, so I gathered the gifts I have for the baby ( and his mother ) put on a pretty dress and a touch of lippy and was ready to go.... to my laptop, where I sat patiently waiting for Nick to connect to Skype. You see, I was in sunny Løten, Norway, and the party was in Spanish Fork, Utah, USA.
I saw the guests sitting round the table (didn't get a close look at the refreshments, unfortunately!) and other places in Stepper's living-room, even saw Stepper's lovely little brand-new daughter Daphne.
When I got Tam's undivided attention I held up the gifts to show her what they'll get when I send them. I also got a look at her expanding "waist"-line. Having Skype means that they don't seem so far away. I felt like I was there at the party, and joined in the fun they were having.
When Sprinkle is born I'll see him straight away, and after that I'll see him as often as I like, so I can see him grow and develop. I'm so happy!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

New year, new life, new hope.

The gifts are given and recieved, the food and drink consumed - Christmas has come and gone, and a new year has been seen in.
I wasn't sorry to see the end of 2009, because for us it's been a pretty bad year. It began promisingly enough in the US of A. After celebrating my birthday in Las Vegas, visiting the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon, celebrating Christmas in true American /Norwegian / English style, we came back to frozen Norway and got on with our lives. However, in May Reidar was diagnosed with bowel cancer, and the rest of the year just dribbled away with hospitals, doctors and treatments. We had a long weekend in Edinburgh in May, and a trip to the Norwegian revue festival in Nord-Trøndelag in June (both of which were lots of fun) but no proper summer holiday, and no trip to England to visit my family. Reidar's mum (89) had major heart surgery, with major complications, in November, and has pulled through surprisingly well
Now I plan to look to the future, and not look over my shoulder. The one good thing about 2009 happened the day Reidar started his first chemotherapy treatment. Tamsin and Nick rang to hear how he'd got on, and changed our rather subdued mood by announcing that we are to be grandparents! That was a turning point for me -February 16th shines like a beacon, giving us somthing special to look forward to. We plan to visit the little family in April - Reidar's treatment allowing.
So, onwards and upwards! Let 2010 be a year to remember - full of happy memories.