The three p’s

Found this today. A blog I failed to post. No longer am I living in Norway but thought it should be added to the rest of my adventures…..

Yes it’s been 6 months since my last post…. this is down to a number of reasons.

1. I’m lazy.

2. The weather here has been amazing and I have been spending many a days swimming in the fjord.

3. I go through fazes. One minute I want to be a writer, the next a yoga teacher… but more recently I think I have what it takes to be a farmer.

So whats new?

I no longer attend Norwegian lessons. I would love to tell you this is because I am now fluent and can confidently converse with the locals. Sadly this isn’t the case, I dropped out. Yep, I got to level 1 and just couldn’t take anymore. It wasn’t the tutors, the people or the language… it was me, I’m just not made for speaking another language. At least not at the pace everyone else was learning. Instead I have a very kind Norwegian neighbour who sits with me for a couple of hours a week and patiently helps me understand the basic Norwegian I am yet to grasp.

But…….. I can proudly say I now know the difference between:

  • Pølse (sausage)
  • Pose (bag)
  • Pause (break)

I know what your thinking… there is an obvious distinction between all of them, Nope! Not to my ear. For a long time I thought everyone who said one of these 3 words to me was asking if I wanted a sausage.

Example: I have just finished loading my trolley of groceries at the local supermarket. I walk up to the cashier and start putting them onto the conveyer. As the cashier is scanning them he/she (this has happened many a times) looks at me and says “pose” but what I hear is “pølse”. I raise my eyebrows as if to say…. If I wanted a sausage I would have asked for one, but instead I say, “Nei, Takk” and smile politely. I then stand patiently waiting for a plastic bag. When the plastic bag doesn’t appear I get the cashiers attention. “Excuse me, can I have a bag please”? They look at me strangely for a second and then pass me a couple.

Another example: I am sitting in the classroom of my Norwegian lesson waiting for break to arrive. The tutor stands and says a few sentences to the class (I have no idea what they mean) but I do hear one word that I understand… again, ‘pølse’ (He actually said ‘pause’) As I look I notice everyone including the tutor starts to make their way out of the classroom. I take this as a sign that break has arrived and everyone is off to buy a sausage. I stay back and text Paul. “I have just been told to go buy a sausage for dinner, what if I don’t want a sausage?”. I didn’t want to appear rude so I quickly packed my things up and went in search of one. On my return I pass two girls from Thailand who are also on my course. I noticed they were eating what looked like home cooked Thai food that smelled amazing. I took a seat in front of them continued to eat my sausage and thought… A bit rude really, we were told to try the sausages, not bring our own food.

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Getting Naked



I need to share something with you, here goes…….

I am unable to shower naked. Don’t be too alarmed by this, I don’t mean when I am alone in my own bathroom, in my own shower. I mean when other people are around. The only example I can offer of this is at the local swimming baths. Friday evenings are known as swimming and mexican night in our house or at least will be until my Son swaps the swimming for street dancing lessons (he watches one film where a bunch of kids learn to body pop and he wants to join a crew!) So every Friday evening off we go to spend an hour sharing an overgrown bath of freezing cold water with a bunch of strangers.

As you can probably tell I am not a big fan of swimming, I don’t like how my feet and hands shrivel up leaving soggy bumpy grooves in my skin, even the thought of it makes me feel a little queasy. I spend most of the time holding my hands in the air as not to get them wet. This looks a little silly but does the trick. But I go relentlessly every week to keep the lad happy.

The first time I entered the door of a Norwegian female changing room I nearly walked straight back out. There were bodies in every position, of every shape, size and age all completely butt naked. I’m guessing some of you are reading this and thinking “well, what does she expect it is a changing room”. I will tell you what I expect….. I expect a person to juggle holding a towel covering up every private part of their body while at the same time drying themselves. At no point is that towel allowed to drop and bare all, not until wearing at least underwear. I do not expect some unclad woman with her back to me bending over and drying her feet!!

After the initial shock of the amount of skin on show I walked towards the corner of the changing room and began to undress. I didn’t need to wrap my towel around me, I was prepared, I had my swimming costume underneath my clothing ready for this event. On my way to the pool I knew there would be more nakedness in the showers so I quickly diverted my eyes, but I couldn’t escape from the naked chatter around me. I was alarmed to see people taking their swim wear off to shower before entering the pool. I completely understand the importance of hygiene but really… is there any need to strip naked to do this?? At the far end of the room were two elderly women chatting away as if going for a stroll in the park, before entering the sauna forgetting to wrap a towel around their exposed selves.

I am not the only person who struggles with this. My Son aka ‘The Nevernude’ is exactly the same. He is the only child to put swimming shorts on before showering after gym at school. Every week he vocalises his disgust at his Dad for joining in with the norwegian naked shower ritual and when he bumped into his head teacher in the changing room he spent the whole time staring at the wall. We have also took family swimming when they have visited from England. My Daughter and her friend refused to shower and even went as far as saying that a sign should go up in the changing rooms and showers stating NO NUDITY. If someone would have been asked to spot the english folk when my in laws visited it wouldn’t have been too difficult… they were the costume wearing people standing in the showers offering no eye contact.

In the last 8 months of living here I have managed to shower naked once. This was with a little voice in my head repeatedly saying “oh my god, I’m showering naked… oh my god, I’m showering naked”. After, I was so proud of myself that I blurted out to my Husband at the top of my voice in the reception area, “I showered naked!!” Of course this only happened once, the week after my reservations returned and I went back to being the only person not strutting around with securities of a naturist.

So, I would like to know….. is this an english thing?

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Learning Norwegian

SDC14565After struggling (still struggling) with the fact that I am now a housewife, a spell of believing I would find a career in the entertainment business as a choreographer (this mainly involved making up dance routines in my kitchen) and saying roof to people instead of thank you for the past six months. I decided I needed to do something more productive with my time so I enrolled on a Norwegian language course.

It has been four weeks and this is what I have learned to date:

  1. My accent is not made to speak anything other than brummie.
  2. I am the only person who is unable to say ‘English’ in Norwegian. (This is a tad embarrassing as I am also the only English person)
  3. I have no idea how old I am.
  4. The Norwegian language needs to be reevaluated.

The first week was a bit of a shock to my system. My arrogant English self really believed that I would be taught Norwegian in English, this wasn’t the case. The lessons are completely taught in Norwegian, which means at least 60% of what is being said to me is lost in translation. I then had the embarrassing problem of being the only person not to master the art of saying ‘Engelsk’ (English). This is how most of my first day went:

‘Jeg snakker engelsk’. I said quietly to the class.

‘Nei, kan du si engelsk?’

‘Engelsk’ I repeated.

‘Nei, engelsk’.


‘Nei, Engelsk’.

I think you get the picture. This went on for what felt like forever until the tutor realised I was completely incapable of saying it.

Just before this though I was asked to come to the front of the class, introduce myself and write my name, age and where I’m from on the board. So with my heart racing and face bright red I walked up and said, ‘Jeg heter Emma’, wrote on the board and quickly walked back to my desk and sat down. As I could feel my face resuming back to a more human colour, I looked at what I had wrote:

Emma, 38, England

For those of you that know me will know I am not 38, I am in fact 34. So why I felt the need to add four years onto my age is beyond me. As I sat there I started to panic. What if they ask for my date of birth? Do I lie and give them a false one as not to look stupid? Or do I come clean and tell the class I momentarily forgot how old I was? Nope, I had a better idea. I decided that the way to go would be to reduce my age by one year every time I was asked. Looking back now the simple thing would have been to jump straight to 34, but my brain didn’t come up with this little gem of intellect at the time. So, for the first day I had to stay 38. This was because it was written in big white chalk under my name. Thankfully on the second day this had been rubbed out so I proceeded with gradually reducing my age until I got to age 34. To my surprise no one picked me up on this but there did seem to be quite a few puzzled faces. But thankfully I am 34 again.

Being on this course has made me realise how simple my own language is. I don’t role my rrrrrrrrr’s or make a funny throat clearing noises at the end of words, my sentences don’t go up then down then up again and I certainly don’t feel the need to hold my nose to get the right sound when saying numbers 13 – 19. Which brings me to the subject of why I believe the Norwegian language could be made so much simpler.

  1. If you have to hold your nose when teaching how the numbers 13 -19 are said I think its a pretty good indicator that maybe Norwegian people have been saying them incorrectly. For instance, 18 is spelt ‘atten’ – just pronounce the e, it makes it so much easier.
  2. If you’re not going to pronounce a letter, then why is it there? e.g. ‘gjenta’, not only is the g silent but further confusion comes when the J is said as though it were a Y.
  3. Other words that confuse the shit out of me: Brød is said as brur, og as oo, jeg as yay, under as unner, gjør as your and so on.
  4. But the hardest thing for me to remember is the pronunciation of the three extra letters in the alphabet Æ, Ø & Å. Why oh why are these even needed?!

But of course I am only moaning about any of this because my plain, slow english voice prohibits me from saying anything Norwegian without sounding like a brummie Del Boy.

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4.30pm and still light!!


One of the many things I love about winter is the darkness, but since moving here it has been a bit of a shock to my system. On entering the country in August, I gave up smoking and took up running, over the past three months this has become increasingly difficult.
I have been saying goodbye to my Son at 7.20am as he goes off to school in his high visibility vest, turning back into the house and wanting nothing more than to either get back into bed or drink copious amounts of coffee and smoke cigarettes.
Today is the first day I have noticed a change. It started to get light at 8.11am and it is 4.45pm now and darkness is yet to fall.
I can feel my energy returning as I type.

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Enjoying the snow!!

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as seeing your children enjoying the outdoors.

Enjoying the snow!!

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A spot of cross country in Furedalen.

A spot of cross country in Furedalen.

A spot of cross country in Furedalen.

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A Norwegian Christmas…..

SDC14313We did it…. we successfully celebrated our first traditional Norwegian Christmas.  Weeks were spent leading up to this date researching  what was involved to ensure it all goes smoothly. This is what we found out. Christmas Eve seems to be the main day, consisting of a light breakfast, church, a big festive late afternoon meal and then the opening of presents. Christmas Day is a day of rest, Starting with a big Norwegian breakfast, testing out the presents, then another big festive meal, followed by plenty of alcohol….. I think we may have made the alcohol bit up ourselves. Then comes Boxing Day…. after the food, chocolates, beers, red wines and aquavit, this is also a day of rest.

SDC14435It was really important that we got everything right…. including the meal. So much so, that we were invited to a dry run of the Christmas dinner weeks before the event. This was hosted by a lovely couple known through Paul. The main menu for Christmas Eve was pinnekjøtt, this is grey salted inedible looking lamb that needs to be soaked in water then boiled on top of sticks in a big pan. Sounds awful but tastes lovely. Christmas Days meal was svineribbe…. which is basically pork ribs. This was my favourite. Each meal was a success, which is good because Paul always feels the need to ask any who has tasted his cooking to score it out of ten. I always give 10/10… its just easier.

So Christmas here was very different to previous years, this is down to a number of reasons. Firstly, it was our first Christmas without Sharnai and this was hard, but I was comforted by the fact that if we were to have served her grey lamb and surkål (similar to sauerkraut) she would have probably walked out anyway. Secondly, the change in routine made for a more relaxed Christmas and finally CHURCH….. yep, I attended church!!

Before moving here we lived in a small village surrounded by churches, some of the most picturesque churches I have ever seen. In the time we were there we never entered a single church, not even at Christmas. This was down to the fact that the village was also surrounded by pubs! Every Christmas we would contemplate going to church, but the lure of the local was too much to ignore. Here it is very different….. unfortunately there is no pub culture. We do not have little caverns nearby that we can drop into for a pint after a long walk. We do not have cosy welcoming huts filled with neighbourly people shouting “skål” while holding up tankards of ale and wearing  bunad’s (traditional Norwegian dress) and clogs. Instead, I am surrounded by farmland dotted with sheep, houses and one big beautiful church. So because we have no pub to lead us into temptation we attended church : /

On entering I was surprised to see how popular it was. The magnificent structure was overflowing with smartly dressed people waiting to enjoy the service to kick start their Christmas festivities. Paul and I sat on the back row as to not bring attention to ourselves. I’m not sure why we did this but I have a vague memory of attending church in my late teens and a Pastor shouting out pointing to me “HAVE YOU LET GOD INTO YOUR HEART TODAY”? I remember panicking and answering in a very small voice “No not today”….. I then went home felt guilty and nearly joined a cult. So, after making ourselves comfortable in the warm welcoming house of God I was happy to see a brass band and choir up front. “Cool, that should mix things up a bit”, I thought. Then came the singing of the hymns. Paul, who can sing and also in his own words “can read Norwegian” joined in. I looked at Ben who seemed to have fallen asleep on my arm and started to feel the need to distract myself and pretend I was busy doing something else. I undid my laces…. then did them back up again, I searched in my pocket for a tissue that I didn’t need and I stroked Ben’s head as though he needed reassurance…. he was fast asleep at this point. All done so I wouldn’t have to sing a Norwegian hymn. Thankfully the hymn eventually came to an end and I relaxed a little. The priest said a few words, Paul and I looked at each other a few times and shrugged, he then must have said something funny because people laughed, so I laughed also. Then came the next hymn I decided to give this a shot until I got to a part that was written on the page as ‘og fred på jorda blant menneske som Gud har glede i.’ I started to wonder who Fred was. In my early teens my Mom came up with the idea, that to get us from under her feet she would send us to Sunday school. I hated it, but I was reassured by the certainty that if I attended every Sunday for ten weeks I would get a gift at the end. On the tenth week I skipped to Sunday school and sat with a huge grin on my face until my name was called to come up front. As I walked to the stage I noticed that the Pastor was holding a bible…. “shit” I thought. “thats my bloody present”. I was not impressed. I did however have a go at reading it and I do not remember it referring to a Fred.

After an amazing performance from a choir boy and the brass band the Priest said a few words and the service came to an end. We walked out into the afternoon damp air and made our way back home. As I walked I felt a surge of contentment. I’m not saying that I will be attending church every Sunday but with no pubs within walking distance this definitely came a close second to begin our Christmas celebrations!!

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