Friday, 31 March 2017

Sunny Sundays!

This has been, in many ways, an odd month. The first weekend, which we spent in England, seems like such a long time ago! Ok, so the fact that a month has passed in the blink of an eye is not in itself a strange thing, seems to have become the norm a bit. It's more just the sense that I can't seem to remember where it went that I find a bit unsettling. Although, I do have a nagging suspicion that I'm repeating myself :-).

Back to that weekend though! We ended up renting a car this time, and that got off to an interesting start. An Italian car in England, left with the language set to French. And trust the Italians to have hidden away the setting somewhere so weird that I can't even remember it now :-). After a long week it did rather put me off a bit.

The rest of the weekend in contrast was just lovely!! The weather was fantastic! Probably felt even better than it was, given that spring was all around, compared to the frigid end of winter in Norway.

I managed to pack in a trip to Brighton! A first, and hopefully not my last. Though my visit was extremely brief, I was rather charmed by the fun mix of casual and bustling and the proximity of waves with their crests being snatched off by the wind :-).

I can't help but relapse into a spot of nostalgic reminiscing about my sunrises and sunsets spent on the bridge wings of the Trident at this point :-D. Thinking back, that is probably what I miss the most from all the years spent offshore. Yes, all the travelling and visiting new places had its moments, but the dreary regularity of long distance travel did get very tiring. And the massive amounts of time off was a big plus, but that came at a price. It was the few minutes each day spent watching the unending play of the water and wind that I look back on with no buts attached :-).

I suppose meeting an old friend from the boats may have had a bit to do with that! But yes, Brighton was fun! As was the supposedly clandestine cake baking :-D. We even managed a longish run in the sunshine! All in all a big tick. Except for the continuing distress of the rental car situation in the UK :-P.

Then there was the other weekend away in the middle of the month, to Trysil! Over the period of my stay in Norway, it has become pretty much my favourite place to go for a weekend (or more :-)) of downhill. A couple of years ago we even managed two trips in the same season! Or maybe it was the year before. But last year I didn't go at all!

Now, I feel my snowboarding skills have come a fair way in these last few winters when I've had my own board. So it was great fun to spend two full days practically racing down the hillsides non stop in the best weather possible :-). Yup! There's not a whole lot that can beat a weekend of almost constant sunshine in weather just warm enough to keep you from freezing on snow covered hillsides!

In the end it served as a rather nice way to sign off on the winter. And even though it was just the week in Geilo around Christmas and this weekend, I feel rather satisfied with my snowboarding this season. I suppose it's been one of those years where there never seemed to be the promise of a lot of snow.

And then as if on cue, the weather warmed up brilliantly to give us the first day of temperatures hitting 20 degrees this year! Only for spring to then choose to turn over and hit the snooze button! It actually snowed yesterday! Loads! Yes, it was the kind that was more wet than anything else and disappeared by evening, still, for a day it looked like we had been transported back in time by a month!

So those were a few highlights I suppose, and in between there has been planning for the summer. Many lazy evenings and quiet days at work blending into each other. Not the worst thing really :-).

Monday, 20 February 2017

The magical and the mystifying

Having regressed to the end of month catch up post schedule, I've been missing out on writing about some of the little things that have been happening in life. Books for instance. I can't remember writing about a book since Shantaram, and that one got a mention mainly because of the pain it caused me to drag myself to the end :). 

(OK, so I checked, and books seem to be something I have been writing about regularly enough :) oh well.)

Last month however, I read a very different sort of a book. The Watchmaker of Filigree Street. It was one of those, hey, this is a new book none of us have read sort of a pick at the book club :). So I dutifully got a copy and found the green pages and the hole in the front cover of the paper back version a touch odd, but the blurb in the back seemed harmless enough.

I think it was at the clockwork octopus that I really got into it :).

It was an odd sort of a book in the end. Varying pace throwing me off sometimes while reeling me in at others. A story that was very happy treading the line between just your usual fiction and wild fantasy. Characters that seemed to form slowly out of shadows and smoke.

But then the ending happened. To say it was a bit of a let down would be to miss the point. Which was that I felt this story had so much potential :). It's like watching someone play an amazing knock against a proper bowling attack and then throw it all away five away from a century. It doesn't qualify as a bad inning, of course, but you are left wanting.

And then there was the book we read this month. So we rotate the person proposing the books every month at our book club. (Which, seeing as it has dwindled from a pretty solid 10 down to 3 members since I joined three and a bit years ago, is more of a - let's hang out once a month and if we've managed to read the book we were supposed to in the mean time, all the better - sort of a thing. So the rules are pretty relaxed :). ) I only mention this to deflect any judgement about the choice of book, i.e. left to my own devices I wouldn't get anywhere close to The Woman and The Ape

I suppose every now and then it's good to explore a bit outside one's comfort zone. Otherwise I'd never end up reading anything other than sci-fi or Gaiman :). But this was one of those times where I somewhat acutely felt that life is probably too short to be reading books that baffle you. And yet. 

I managed to finish reading it in record time. (Being cooped up at home with a cold might have helped with that, but still.) There's a weird sense of morbid curiosity that kept me turning the pages. Until at the very end even that gave way to leave me wanting to forget the pomposity of it all.

So why am I writing about this at length? I suppose as a warning :). And also felt like posting something that didn't sound like a recap for a change :D.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Memories, like fingerprints

This has to be the least work I've done in the first month of the year since moving to an office job :). The fantastic Christmas - New Year holidays ended on the 1st with a nice drive back to Asker, and barely ten days later, off we were on a trip to India!! And now that I'm back, it seems to have all passed in a bit of a daze!

And it wasn't just any India trip. This one had a definite greatest hits album sort of vibe to it :). For one thing I hadn't been back in the winter for a while, and the clear blue skies (without skin melting heat) that greeted us on every single day for two weeks were a great start. :)

Old places I hadn't made the time to visit in many years were visited. The school for instance, where I hadn't been for almost ten years. And the first place I grew up, which I hadn't seen in maybe twenty. (It's a bit crazy to think I have clear, consistent memories of places, people and events that have happened over two decades ago. I mean, it's not unusual to expect this once you're in your thirties. I know this. But it is a bit unreal to sort of face that fact.)

There's nothing like a trip to old neighbourhoods to make you think back on things that had hidden themselves in the back of your mind. Not big things necessarily, just details. Little things that used to pack themselves densely and gave life a sense of solidity. It's a bit like all those things you never think of saying when you are describing something to someone who wasn't there. You don't even realise you are leaving things out, but invariably you are. 

Sometimes you just have to go back and take a look. And although much may have changed, the bits that remain are enough to remember just what the sunshine felt like on a winter morning long long ago as you stood in that same spot.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Many skis and a snowboard

Posting from the phone has never been my favourite thing, but one must make an exception when it comes to the end of year post :-). And especially this year, when much has happened!

Looking back at new year's eve last year, there was the beautiful snowy weekend with friends in the hills north of Lillehammer! From then on there's been a lot of travel, and I'm extremely happy to say, none of it was for work! :-)

There was that period of a month or two early in the year when I couldn't travel while waiting for the permanent residence. Which brings me to another rather important thing that got sorted out this year. The permanent residence makes life a lot easier with uncertainties that abound.

But back to all the travelling! There was the May road trip around the west coast and the June one around the south coast. There were also the trips to the US, France and the Netherlands! Most of which was visiting family or travelling with family. There were also all the trips to the UK! So a healthy mix of Norway and beyond.

In the end this summer was a mix of running swimming and cycling, but not very much of either :-). The autumn kinda came and went rather quickly for a change, and then came the early winter! And for the last week of the year we decided to celebrate the festive time with family in Geilo!

There was a lot of snow soon after we arrived and since then it's been almost non stop skiing! Some cross country and a lot of downhill. But for the last couple of days it's become a bit warmer and consequently very icy. Probably for the best as a week of skiing every day can rather wear one out! Although all the active stuff has been handy in burning up all the good food that's been on offer :-).

So it's been a year of seeing places, but more of seeing people. Some familiar, many new. Life is moving forward in ways I would not have expected some time ago :-).

Listening to the wind and the constant rush of water flowing in the river just outside, it is hard not to be amazed at the world that surrounds us. I suppose it is easy to get drawn into the unhappiness and discontent being broadcast all over. But life carries on nonetheless, and happiness is in finding oneself content to look around and remember the good bits :-).

Here's hoping for another year of good surprises, things working out better than expected and remembering to cherish the small things!

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

A thousand words

Wow! I never actually got to those photos from the US I was planning to post! In fact, I don't think I've even managed to sort them all out and even get them pointing the right way up or stitched together where that might be possible. Yup, it has been that busy!

Best thing though! Snow!!! Yes! Snow in November! That's like the whole miserable pre-winterness slashed to bits :). In case you were wondering, snow in winter in Norway is a good thing! The darkness doesn't seem quite as dark any more and skiing plans can start getting made! To be fair, snow that comes this early is hardly usable. Ordinarily this would be true, but this time around we actually managed to get a couple of pretty decent days of cross-country skiing!

One of those was actually in the night. Without the lights switched on by the kommune, no doubt highly sceptical of the possibilities of anyone deciding to go cross country skiing on a Friday evening :). As it turned out though, the moon was out and the clouds were not! So we had quite the fantastic time in the surreal bright snow covered landscape :).

Then of course it all melted, or nearly all of it. There was enough cold to keep some of the local lakes well enough iced over to allow a particularly adventurous fisherman to walk on, drilling holes into said ice looking for fish. Yeah, people can be weird like that here :P.

The other thing worth mentioning would be the travelling I suppose. My first visit to the Netherlands! It was quite nice! Despite the slight wetness and windiness. It was like winding the season clock backwards for one long weekend! Suddenly trees had leaves, and leaves had colour! And then of course there were stroopwaffels, pancakes with bacon and ginger, cumin flavoured cheese and other such awesome things :). Well worth the flatness shock for one used to Norway! Although the train ride from Schipol did remind me a lot of train rides in West Bengal. Lots and lots of flat green fields.

My first trip to Cambridge (the English version, not the American) was, in contrast, spent mostly at the mercy of a 4 month old :). Although I should add that lately I'm not quite so terrified around human beings that are too little to actually speak!

And finally there was Funny Girl. I hadn't actually read Nick Hornby in some time! Even one of the older ones I love. (I don't think I even re-read A Long Way Down before going to watch the film when that came out, what was it? Last year? Or maybe it was the year before. Time really has been getting away from me lately!) So it was quite interesting to see that I'd almost forgotten what it was like to read him. But I suspect some significant part of it may just have been that the author himself is a rather different person now than say when he wrote Fever Pitch!

It was a more relaxed read I found. I wouldn't rate it higher than the current holders of my personal top-rated-Nick-Hornby-novel award (which currently is a toss up between Fever Pitch and A Long Way Down with About A Boy a not too distant third) but it was definitely a solid middle-of-the-pack :). I particularly enjoyed the very end, having been rather let down on my second or third read of A Long Way Down when I though my copy must be missing a few chapters only to realize that my head had written in quite a bit of story after the actual ending in the book!

So there we have it. Autumn has firmly turned into winter and this year seems to be, if anything, hurtling even faster towards the end! But what a happening year it has been :). I'm not even going to pretend this time that the photos that should go with this post will appear within any reasonable sort of time-frame :D.