Friday, 28 October 2011


I began my stay in England with a visit to my eldest sister Clare who lives in Somerset. The train stopped in Bath, and I could see some of the lovely old buildings. I commented on this to Clare and Pete, and that I'd never been there, so the next day we took a trip there. I don't know so much of the history, but the romans built a city there, and the baths they built are still intact. It was fashionable in Regency times to visit Bath to "take the waters" and Jane Austen refers to this in several of her novels. You could feel the atmostphere of history in the streets, mainly because things have not been allowed to change too much. There was a shopping precinct built in the sixties, but this has been pulled down, and a new one built in its place in lovely golden bath stone, with very discreet signing. MacDonalds have to make do with a wooden sign with foot-high orange "golden arches" carved into the wood. We found the city's oldest house, from 1482,(eat your heart out americans!) which is still a bakery/cafe, and still sells "Sally Lunns" - a cake that has been eaten for hundreds of years.
An elegant city, situated on the river, with a lovely public park (unfortunately closed and locked the day we were there ) I had a very enjoyable day there and hope to go back there again one day.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

My trip to England 9 - 18 October

My main reason for travelling to England was that my brother-in-law David was marrying Pat, the new love of his life. Earlier this year his daughter Susie (left) married her Steve, and in June his son Robert (right ) married Claire. Their daughter Sophie was bridesmaid in all three weddings! Susie's wedding was in Cuba, but she had a family party in England later, which Jeremy and I went to. Reidar, Tamsin, Nick, Espen and I all went to Robert's wedding. This time I went alone, and thouroughly enjoyed a very relaxed wedding with a fun reception in a pub. Lots of lovely food and drink, and a good jazz trio that played music to dance to, so a good time was had by all.

Sunday, 2 October 2011


I feel so rich! We have five giant sacks of lovely dry birch-wood, safely stored under tarpaulins near the back door, then Reidar's friend Arild came the other day with this and dumped it in the middle of the drive. We've enjoyed three days of lovely hot sunny weather, but today was forecast rain ( and rain it did!) so yesterday Mia and I tackled it. She loaded the wheelbarrow with logs and wheeled them round the house and tipped them on the lawn. I stacked them on the veranda. Easy to say, but a lot of work. I was so pleased and proud when we were finished, and I feel so rich with such a lot of lovely dry wood.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Apple pigs

Plenty of apples, delicious to eat,
juicy and crunchy, crisp and sweet.

The more we ate the more they grew.
We began to wonder what to do.

We ate apples for breakfast, sliced on toast.
We ate apples on Sunday, baked with the roast.

Apples for dinner, apples for tea -
too many apples, we all agreed.

We just couldn't eat them. Too mant we said.
So we stored them under the biggest bed.

And so on, and so on...

This was a book I used to read to Jeremy and Tamsin when they were small, and I was reminded when I noticed how our tree is weighed down. They don't keep well, so we need to enjoy them now. Where did I see that apple-cake recipe?

Monday, 12 September 2011


Earlier this summer we bought two cherry tomato plants, and planted them in a big pot which stood onthe veranda. We watered them faithfully and spoke encouragingly to them (at least I did) as well as dosing them with fertiliser. They shot up in all directions, and we didn't do anything to restrict them. Autumn storms blew the pot over, so we've had to bring them indoors. Our sitting-room has plenty of space, and big sunny windows, so there it stands -drunkenly propped up against a handy table -and grabs at anybody passing by. It's like a triffid, and I'm expecting any day to wake up dead, with its long green limbs wrapped tightly around my throat.
The fruit has started to ripen now, and we've eaten plenty of them. I'm happy to report that they're the sweetest little tomatoes I've ever tasted.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Harvest home

Today the corn in the field next to our house was harvested. We live in farm country, and farm machinery is part of our everyday life, but the sound of a combine harvester stll thrills me. As a child living on a farm, harvest-time was the highlight of the year. A stranger would appear one day with an enormous machine, and soon the neighbouring farmers would appear to help. (Later my father would take his turn to help them with their harvest). We were five children, and probably got in the way, but we begged for a ride to the field in the trailer that would soon carry the sacks of grain home. When the men took a break for lunch my mother would come out to the field with a huge basket, filled with sandwiches, cake and old mis-matched cups. She had a big enamel jug of strong, sweet tea, and sometimes a fizzy drink for us kids. This picnic was enjoyed by everyone, big and small. Later, when the straw was baled, we were sometimes allowed to ride home perched high on the top of the load.

My father was brought up Methodist, and we children went to Methodist sunday school. Harvest Festival meant that the chapel was decorated with corn, fruit and vegetables. Each child brought a decorated shoe-box filled with fruit, which was solemnly laid on the altar-ring and later given to local old pensioners. My father went to chapel once a year, and that was to Harvest Festival - but not a Connor Downs Lower Methodist chapel - he preferred to go to the tiny thatched chapel in Roseworthy, a place even smaller than Connor Downs. The chapel had a special smell - of corn, apples and the beautiful bread on the altar, baked in the shape of a sheaf of corn. The hymns were so cheerful, and my father sang them with enthusiasm :-

"...all is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin...", "We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land" , "Come ye thankful people, come..."and my favourite lines:-

"Bright robes of gold the fields adorn, the hills with joy are ringing,

The valleys stand so thick with corn that even they are singing".

On a perfectly ordinary Saturday afternoon, we were working in the garden in the sunshine when I heard the combine in the distance. At once the old feeling of excitement came to me, and I found myself humming the old and loved harvest hymns.Thank goodness the rain has stayed away long enough to get the corn safely home.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Artistic talent

As usual I thoroughly enjoyed having lunch with Espen on Skype. He wasn't wild about the food, but when he was promised colouring if he finished his food, the last morsels were stuffed in his mouth so he looked like a cute hamster.

The crayons and paper were quickly found, and Espen sat up to the table like a big boy. His eyes shone with joy as the colours were tipped out on the table and he could begin to express himself on paper ( and on the crayon box -which makes a rather fetching pillbox hat, don't you think - as well as his face ). Maybe Picasso started like this - at the kitchen table, having the loveliest time with his mummy. Simple pleasures!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Morello cherries

This is my attempt at an artistic still-life.

I was eating cherries and had the dish on the sofa beside me. I was putting the pips and stalks neatly on a napkin, and I though "Wow! That looks nice! I'll take a photo."

Friday, 29 July 2011

No title needed

This is what it's like living in Norway right now.

Friday, 22 July 2011


At 03.00 am yesterday the earth moved in Hedmark county in Norway. For some more than others - the epicentre being Rena in Ă˜sterdal, where they measured 3.7. We woke from hearing a bang and feeling the house shudder like it had been hit by a truck. There was no damage anywhere in the county except for one tragedy. All the ripe cloud-berries (multer) that grow in the mountains and are prized by all norwegians, squirrelled away in the freezer and kept as a treat at Christmas, were shaken from their stems!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011


Some of the plants are very new, so haven't settled yet. The pedestrian-looking geranium is an unusual deep blood-red. Lots of work, but very satisfying.

Monday, 27 June 2011


A funny thing happened to me at 4 am today. I was woken by a very strange noise which made we wonder if the radio or television was on. The noise became more intense, so it sounded like two cats locked in mortal combat, or a cat being killed, so I jumped out of bed and into my slippers and hurried downstairs to rescue my pets. I was hurrying down the drive when two badgers came hurtling round the corner and up the drive towards me. Thoughts of badgers having a tenacious bite that doesn't let go until they hear the bone snap sent me full speed indoors to safety.
Now, I didn't know I could still run. Due to arthritic knees, replacement knees and stuff, I haven't tried for many years, so when I'd caught my breath and calmed down enough to go back to bed, I was strangely comforted by the fact that, if I need to run for my life, I still can!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Little North family 2

So, there they are at the airport, about to start their 18 hour journey home. Espen has never waved goodbye as well as he did today - maybe he knows that "East West, home's best". We've all had a great time, but there's comfort in familiar surroundings and safe routines.
Five weeks melted away like snow in June, but we all had some wonderful experiences and have met a lot of friends and family members, some old, some new. They've visited the Netherlands and Belgium, and we've all been to England. We travelled all the way to Cornwall and Espen has met his fourth great-grandmother. We've been to the sea-side ( in my beloved St Ives ) and seen lots of other beautiful places. Espen has met a large number of dogs -all shapes and sizes, and a lot of cats. -he loves them all and is never scared. We've been to a family wedding where he has patiently been photographed countless times, we've spent about 25% of our time squashed up in cars, we've feasted and eaten strange picnics and snacks,we've slept in several strange beds, we've had late nights and some early ones, and through it all he has remained cheerful and uncomplaining, friendly and curious about his surroundings. He's been a star.
I wish them a safe and comfortable journey and look forward to our next Skype meeting.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Little North family

They arrived here three weeks ago today. We hadn't seen them since we visited them a year ago, but have had weekly contact via Skype. Espen has always been happy to talk to us and seemed to like us. When they arrived at the airport I was expecting some reticence on Espen's part - what with having travelled for 24 hours, and being confronted with two strange people. Imagine my joy when he saw me, beamed a delighted smile, shouted "Gi Gi" and stretched out his arms for me to hold him. Walking from the airport to the car with him in my arms was a magical moment. Since then we've spent a lot of time together and had endless amounts of fun. We make each other laugh. We like each other. Oh, Tamsin and Nick came too, and we've had a pretty busy schedule.
This evening they flew to Amsterdam to visit Nick's sister Tess. On Saturday they'll take a train to Brussels and spend the night there before taking the Eurostar (Channel tunnel train) to London, where we'll meet them. We're hiring a car for 9 days, and will travel down to Cornwall to visit my family before driving up for Robert and Claire's wedding on June 4th (our 34th wedding anniversary). Espen has been gone for only a few hours but I miss him already. However it is nice to have the time to take care of my sadly neglected household duties. Like writing my blogg.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Jeremy is getting better

Jeremy and I took a bit of a risk recently. We had planned a trip to England to go to my niece Susie's wedding party. Jeremy's "incident" threatened to scupper our plans, but we decided to take a chance. So off we went, with me managing the luggage, and Jeremy nursing two broken shoulders which could dislocate at any moment. He did have a certain amount of pain, and he did get tired, but all in all we both had a great time. Thanks to the willingness and kindness of my lovely family we were able to get around and see everyone and everything we wanted. It was great to see my mother (98 in October!!) looking so alert and content, and to see all my relations apart from one brother-in-law and two nephews. The weather was positively summery, the spring flowers were at their best and St Ives was as lovely as ever. You can fill it with tacky tourist shops and tacky tourists ( the Cornish people's bread and butter) but you can't spoil its magic.
When we got back Jeremy got new x-rays taken of his shoulders and back. His back damage is only muscular, and his shoulders are almost healed! So now he can start physiotherapy, and start getting back his strength again.

Friday, 1 April 2011


"Happy" is one of Espen's favourite new words. It is also the name of Wenche's 8 month old puppy. He likes to climb into my lap, and doesn't understand how much he's grown. He's a Belgian shepherd.

Friday, 18 March 2011


On the same day that Japan had their earthquake, we had an equally devastating experience. As a child Jeremy had mild epilepsy, but after the first tablet had no more attacks for over 20 years - until Wednesday 9th March, when he had such a massive seizure that he managed to fracture and dislocate both shoulders, while sitting on the sofa! The attack lasted so long that we needed an ambulance, and he needed drugs to stop it. He was taken to the hospital in Lillehammer ( a good hour's drive from here) because they have a good neurological department there. The severe spasms made his muscles give off an enzyme that was at such a high level that he was in danger of kidney failure. He also inhaled food or vomit during the attack, so had pneumonia. He was in intensive care for the next four days, and was barely conscious for the first two. When he was well enough to be moved he was transferred to the neurological ward where all sorts of tests were done. His shoulders have been very painful, so he needs to keep them as still as possible until Tuesday, when he gets an operation. His left shoulder is a mess, so he may need an artificial joint, and he has been told that his shoulders will never be the same again.
So there he is, patiently waiting for things to happen, desperately hoping to be well enough for our planned trip to England 6th April, and having plenty of time to ponder on what the future will be like.
Poor Jeremy!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Happy birthday 3

This little man (who looks awfully like his daddy in this picture) is one year old today. He has given his granny and grandad 365 days of pure joy.
Have a happy one Espen! See you soon!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

A very happy birthday 2

Reidar had his 60th birthday on Saturday and we celebrated in style. I hired a local hall and invited over 40 people. Due to long distances, sickness (two in hospital and one sudden death!) we were 39 who sat down at my carefully decorated tables and enjoyed my bountiful ( a lot made and/or provided by friends and family) cold buffet. There were many speeches, a specially composed song in Reidar's honour, and several sketches performed by his acting friends. There was lots of laughter and constant chatter. No-one looked bored or left-out. Reidar especially loved the big screen with pictures of himself, and the slide-show of his acting career. I bought him a hat that looks like a birthday cake, complete with candles (musical too!) and he got lots of presents and flowers. He got enough cash to buy a very decent new computer. He smiled and chatted all evening and ate like a horse. We were able to give everyone the good news that the cancer specialist told us that the chemo is working and his tumour is greatly reduced in size. He'll start a new course of treatment on Thursday.
Planning the party was a lot of work and worry, but was one of the best I've been to, because there was so much entertainment. When I started I wanted to make it extra special because it could well be his last birthday, but now things are looking brighter I think he may have a few more birthdays yet - lots, I hope!