Av og til

Av og til ønsker jeg at jeg stepper ut av huset mitt en tidlig, sol-full morgen. At døren låses automatisk bak meg mens jeg åpner porten og kommer ut på veien. At jeg tripper nedover gaten og kjenner at varmen fra solen allerede er sterk i ryggen. Jeg krysser veien, i skjørt og topp, mens en tynn cardigan ligger og hviler vesken. Jeg stikker ned en sidegate, den som er litt raskere, og trekker pusten dypt mens jeg smiler litt. Tenker at disse øyeblikkene, de må jeg huske den dagen jeg er tilbake i Norge og vinteren står på som verst. For selv om jeg er trøtt, og jeg skal på jobb, og det bare er en vanlig tirsdag i dag, så nærmest dirrer luften av spenning. Det er alle tingene inni mellom som gjør det, alle de små magiske øyeblikkene som følger en dag. Jeg er utendørs, det er sommer, og trærne er grønne, og jeg tenker at det huset der borte, det hadde det vært fint å bodd i. Kanskje en dag?

Jeg nærmer meg togstasjonen, stopper for en kaffe på hjørnet like ved. Jeg blir smilt til, snakket med, jeg venter mens jeg blar i dagens avis, sniffer inn lukten av ny brent kaffe og bacon, får med meg kaffen ut døren og traver opp på perrongen mens toget ruller inn på plattformen. Jeg smetter inn døren, er heldig og finner en sitteplass innimellom alle de andre som er på vei til jobb denne morgenen. Ørepropper i ørene, musikken på, smugtitting på de andre passasjerene mens soundtracket til livet mitt ruller avgårde.

Det er bare en ny dag. En ny dag i et fantastisk liv.

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Where’s that hipster cafe and where’s my coffee?

When I was living in Melbourne, it was never a far walk to my nearest hipster joint to pick up a deliciously prepared coffee every morning. Nor was it ever a far walk to a cafe that served to-die-for breakfasts on the weekend, or somewhere to grab a bite when you got home after work and realised all you had in your fridge was a piece of cabbage and an old jar of strawberry jam. The last suburb I lived in was Yarraville, a place booming with everything delicious and of course ‘hipster’ (the two just seem to have a lot in common). Just walking into the village on a sunday morning was an epic journey in itself, and you could smell the fresh coffee beans roasting from well beyond the train station. After breakfast, I’d pick up a lovely sourdough loaf from the local bakery, along with a cheeky croissant or two, and walk home in the early afternoon sunshine, contemplating where to have dinner that night. Ah the choices, the choices.

Going into the city and picking between sushi or laksa, Chinese or italian, Vietnamese or traditional British, Malaysian or Indian, contemporary Australian or Greek – the food choices are endless, in the multicultural hotpot that is Melbourne. Hell, I’m sure you could even pick up more authentic Japanese cuisine than in Japan. Melbourne is just that kind of city. Everything is real. Everything is awesome.

Now, anyone that has crossed my path would well know that I have been an Australian convert for many years. I have praised the laid back lifestyle, the open-minded and witty people, the fact that wine seems to compliment pretty much every meal (even breakfast at times), not to mention the rich multicultural society that gives Australia some of the best food and restaurants in the world (without a doubt!). And don’t get me started on the weather. I’ve never been one for snow, cold winters and rain. In other words, Australia has been my absolute Mecca!

Now that I’m back living in Norway, I’m having issues accepting that these wonderful things are suddenly gone from my life. Don’t get me wrong – Norway is great. It’s just different. For example, it’s hard to get a decent cup of coffee out of any major city. Sometimes it can even be hard to get a good one IN a major city . ‘Single, or double’ the waitress asks looking at me like it’s the most commonly asked question in the world. For some reason, coffee isn’t small, medium or large over here. All they want to know from me is whether or not I’d like a single or double shot of coffee. The size, or amount of milk poured in, is not even remotely up to me. One time, I got a coffee served in a soup bowl. I was confused to say the least. Another trend seems to be to serve a cafe latte with a plastic straw.  I guess the reasoning behind it is that it’s a coffee with much more milk therefore aligning it with the milkshake family.

Then there’s the food. Now I do love my Norwegian food, and I do getamungstit with both liver pate and brown goat’s cheese. It’s just that no matter where you live, it’s nice to change it up once in a while. Like go to a proper Italian restaurant for a wood fire pizza, or how about Greek for fried saganaki, and I’m simply hanging for some authentic Chinese dumplings. However, this is simply a no-can-do over here. These immigrants just aren’t around to set up their restaurants. Instead, we have a few Pakistani kebab stores, and a few Chinese restaurants that have clearly done the whole Norwegian interpretation of their food (making it more suitable to the Norwegian pallet), except all it does is break the heart of someone who actually knows how Chinese food is meant to taste (and let me tell you there’s much more to it than simply throwing in a bit of oyster sauce). So, you may ask, what’s all this whinging about? Why don’t you just try and make this at home? Just try and re-create some great Mediterranean or Asian dishes in the comfort of your own kitchen. Yes, of course, that is all completely possible, and it’s just what we’ve been trying do. It would just be nice, every once in a while, to have the option to go out. Other than that, I suppose we can always fly straight to Rome for pasta, or Paris for cheese. It is, after all, just a few hours away.

There is obviously a lot on offer in Norwegian cities. I’m sure Oslo has a wide selection of cafe’s and restaurants, and so does Bergen, which is the town I live close to. However, out here in the suburbs, around 30 kilometres from Bergen town, it is simply just not happening. There are supermarkets, check, shopping malls, check, petrol stations, check, but no hipster cafes or cool coffee bars. No wine bar down the road, or excellent Mediterranean restaurants close by. Sometimes this new mother would have loved to leave the house with my baby-in-pram, head down the road and immerse myself in an inspirational coffee house. Forget for a moment that my hair is unwashed, tied up in a hopeless bun, because I didn’t have time to wash my hair today; hungry and coffee craving, because it was just too hard to butter up a sandwich at home with an infant in tow; to see other new mothers there, with their jumpers on inside-out, no make-up and that desperate look on their faces saying ‘I need a coffee, and you better make it a strong one!!’

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Summer to-do list

  • stay up really late at night, to make sure I don’t miss a single ray of that midsummer sunlight
  • wash my sheets weekly and hang them up in the garden, so they always smell of warm summer sun
  • sunbake at 8 pm
  • jump into really cold sea water and dry slowly in the warmth of the midday sun, with a towel wrapped around my waist
  • get up really early, like 5 am, and have a coffee on the balcony while the world is quiet and the birds are my only company
  • eat strawberries for supper and watermelon for breakfast
  • meet strangers in the street, and stop for a chat just because
  • bake banana cake and enjoy it on the balcony after 9 pm, while reflecting on the day just gone
  • eat ice cream with a child who really loves ice cream
  • lie in the grass at least every second day, with a book or just marvelling at the sky, contemplating life and summer and the endless cycle of the seasons
  • watch movies in bed late at night, with tanned legs and a big bowl of grapes

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2 weeks & a day

he’s getting bigger now. 2 weeks and a day. the world is getting safer by the minute, and it’s ok to investigate new things, to smell, to feel, and to taste. to wonder. he is vulnerable, but tough, unexperienced but a fast learner, soft but with an edge, sceptical but curious. feet are more steady, and running around is easier. mum’s not chasing so much anymore, because she knows, it will be ok, he will be ok. he is here to stay.

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country + life

I love this country living. The familiar smell of freshly cut grass in the warm summer sun makes me so happy I’m about to burst. The subtle, but distinct sounds of the farm surroundings – some birds chirping, insects buzzing and the quiet wind brushing over the green landscape. It’s absolute bliss.

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new country, new blog

I wasn’t quite sure if this blogging thing was right for me. That’s why I kept quiet for ages, and let my old page turn dusty.

Now I’ve got a second wind, after the talented hjartesmil worked her magic and created this new, pretty page for me.

So much has happened in my life in the last 6 months. New country, new home, new job, new daily life, new routines, new existence. Baby boy due in 8 weeks. Matt practicing his Norwegian with me every night at the dinner table. Feeling like life is starting again, somehow, and that the past is just a distant dream. All thanks to this growing presence within, the one I can feel, but who I don’t know yet. It’s a beautiful thing.

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aurland

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talking, small scale

When I first came to Australia as a young gal, I remember so well how confronting I thought it was when shop assistants asked me ‘how are you?’ Or ‘how’s your day going?’ and I immediately had to resist the urge to run out of the shop and hide somewhere. Born and raised in Norway, I just wasn’t used to this random chit chat. What was I meant to respond? What did they want from me?

Later on, this obviously became the norm even in my life, and I found myself asking people the same questions, forgetting that I was once so intrigued by the real meaning of such phrases. I now understand that these types of questions work as a social lubricant – meaning that they make it easier for us to approach each other, making strangers into another version of you. It cuts through our scepticism and fear of other people when we look into a stranger’s eyes and realise that we are both making the same effort to have a conversation about something relatively ‘empty’, like the weather. In other words, it’s not about the content of a conversation; it’s about the people, and our willingness to communicate with those who share a part in our day, whether it’s at the super market, the coffee shop or whilst waiting for a tram.

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‘Phatic communication’, or small talk, is still something I’m learning to master. Aussies, on the other hand, are excellent at this art form. Whether in country towns or in Melbourne CBD, at restaurants or shopping malls, people often strike up a chat just for the sake of a chat, and there’s never any time to be offended. ‘Where did you get that skirt from?’ ‘What’s that dish you’re eating?’ ‘Can it get any hotter?’ ‘What are you up to on the weekend?’ and the list goes on. Ahhh, the small talk and its associated gestures. What a brilliant way to make a society run more smoothly. The laughter when the 5 pm commuters are all crammed into the loaded train carriers. A situation that could make anyone ‘go off’ so to speak, suddenly becomes so ridiculous that all you can do is giggle, like an ‘oh well, it could be a lot worse’ kinda scenario. It seems to me that one of my greatest lessons learnt whilst living in Australia, has turned out to be the ability not to take people and situations too seriously, to be able to giggle at most things, and be less afraid of strangers. I now realise that most people are really only a reflection of myself, with their similar lives and ideas and wants. Who would have thought??!

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