Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Of rivers and ruins

August in Norway is a bit of a wildcard month. It could be one of the better months of the summer, with the long days still lasting past 9 pm and the warmth of the sunshine a practical rather than theoretical matter :). Or it could be well and truly into autumn. This year, as with the previous two seasons, it can't seem to make up its mind. There's been a bit of warm sunshine, a bit of cold winds and quite a lot of rain!

After a few months of lots of driving, there was a bit more of lazing about locally. Although there was the brief weekend trip to Fredrikstad. I'd never been there, but a friend was visiting Norway and flying in through Rygge, so it seemed prudent to explore that side of the fjord for a change. And it was totally worth it! The AirBnB flat we had for the weekend, though suspiciously low on lighting, was otherwise very nice and in a really nice location!

The weather was split, one day of overcast skies and rain, and another of bright blue skies and dazzling sunshine :). Definitely better than both days being rained out! We took the opportunity to explore the older parts of the city, especially the old fort surrounded by a real, proper moat! And many many cannons, that in some places looked like they were quite enjoying their retirement :).

I also finally managed to make use of my rather recently acquired UK visa with another trip to Bath, this time a short one just for a long weekend. And again, the weather was split :). We did manage a nice picnic, despite the overcast skies, and some amount of city exploration was done.

I find Bath quite amazing in its ability to confuse a casual acquaintance with its many alleys, lanes, bridges and tunnels! The trick, I think, is to use as many different paths as possible between the same two locations :). I did quite well on that front this time around, and there is a small part of the city where I'd be quite comfortable to walk around without being led by someone who actually knows their way around :D.

The thing is though, it's also one of those places where I'd probably be quite happy to be lost for a few hours. (Given decent weather!) The architecture is classically interesting and the streets and lanes busy and thrillingly twisty and disorganised. This isn't unusual for most European cities, but still makes me quite happy :).

There was also a new kitten in the house, which not only managed to drive the more senior feline lodger up the wall, but also thoroughly endeared herself to all who met her :). Except for the bit when she put massive scratches down my leg with her un-retracted claws.

Other than the travelling the month seems to have flown by in rather a tearing hurry. As a lot of this year seems to have done. I did finally manage to finish Shantaram! An exercise in perseverance that I wouldn't have believed myself capable of, except that about a third of the way through, the story finally got me interested enough to want to know quite what happens in the end.

I was not impressed. I mean, I will grant that the author does have a flair for the language and a remarkable eye for details that bring a lot of the places to life (or maybe it was just that I've spent time in Bombay myself), but near enough as makes no difference a thousand pages of listening to a protagonist who is just so full of himself can get trying. The sequel came out earlier this year. I believe I will pass on that one. 

As for the rest of it, I do feel I've let the sunnier days get away from me a bit. Not a lot by way of cycling to show for the summer. I suppose you can't have everything :). Have started running a bit earlier than usual. Normally I wait till the cold of September to get started. I guess I am a lot less bothered with the weather when running. If it rains, well, so be it :).

I guess, it would be nice to have a dry September, even though the days are beginning to shorten dramatically and the evening temperatures regularly dropping into single digits. It is still some way to winter :).