Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Brom does the trikk


I bet you didn't expect me here today! Well, it was a surprise to me as well, but it was a lovely surprise. Because we took the plane to Oslo today. So, we caught an early flight, went on a very fast train and then went on a trikk. Or a tram in English. 

'Our tram'
First Mara had to get photos made, but because we were very early, we had to wait for nearly an hour for the shop to open. Fortunately Mara had her book and there was plenty to see in the street as well. When the photo place finally opened, Mara had her photo taken and after the man fiddled around with it for a long time, we could finally leave and go to our real destination. 

The Dutch Embassy
We didn't take the tram this time, because it was so close. Instead we walked. Well, Mara walked and I enjoyed the view. After only ten minutes we arrived at this big big house. It was the Dutch Embassy. Because we are going on a really nice holiday later this year and Mara's passport was about to become invalid, she had to get a new one. 

Det kongelige slottet (or the Royal Palace)
The appointment was for 11am, but we were very early. The lady said that she could help us immediately however. There was another man who had an earlier appointment, but he didn't have a photo or a paper saying he lived in Norway or the document he had to fill out. So, he had to go away and it was our turn. Ten minutes later we were all done!

My favourite fountain of the day
Because we were so early, we did some sightseeing. Mara had been to Oslo before, but I hadn't been allowed to come then, so this time I got to see a bit as well. I saw the castle where King Harald and Queen Sonja live, a fountain and a flower market. 

Don't you just love orange flowers?
It was only a short visit though and we had to leave pretty soon again. Mara wanted to take another tram back to the train station, but in the end she walked all the way. In total she walked nearly 10 km today and she doesn't know where she did that. She is silly sometimes!

Monday, 30 May 2016

It matters

Let me start by saying this first: I don't believe in diets. Unless medically necessary, I don't believe in them. That is not to say I never tried one. I did. Years ago. A cabbage soup diet. Consisting of cabbage soup. Cabbage, carrots, beans and that in a soup. It didn't fill. It didn't give me any nutrients. And on the one day I had to work, I became so woozy, I had to get some chocolate milk to give me enough sugar to give me enough of a boost to continue work!

I do love food. I love vegetables and fruit. I love my pizzas and my pastas. My bread, my meat, my deserts. I love cooking as well. And with the dishwasher that I can now use, that means that cooking becomes even more of a joy (those that have known me a long time, know what I mean with that, and the rest of you can easily figure it out). 

So, no diet then. But I do realise I do need to watch what I eat a bit more. Especially with becoming fit. Walking those 5k on Saturday was great. My time was great. And I felt fine afterwards. At night however, my knee started hurting. And that has all to do with the extra weight I am carrying. Which means, I will have to loose some of that extra weight. Because that 5k is part of a triathlon. 

I will not stop eating pasta and bread and such. I eat wholemeal pasta and wholemeal bread. I fill my pasta sauces with fresh vegetables and plenty of them. The portions will just have to be that bit smaller. A piece of fruit for desert. A few sandwiches less to work. Pizza will have to be home-made instead of those factory made ones. 

The one thing I won't do though? Give up ice cream! One a week should be fine during the summer!!!

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Photo on Sunday 2016-19

The house, I live in the downstairs whitish part
Now, I have shown you the view from my new place. But I have yet to show you where I live. Today there will not be any inside photos (it's still a bit of a mess), but I do have some photos of the house I live in. 

It is a big house and is owned by someone from work. He and his brother live on the floor upstairs, there is a tiny flat in the attic (that I can use to store my empty boxes) and a massive full height basement, that is used to store lots of things and where I park my bikes. Yes, plural.

The kitchen window to the left and my bedroom window to the right (partly behind the tree)
I live on the ground floor and have most of that area to use. The only thing not actually within my apartment is a toilet, but there is one right outside in the hallway. I am the only one using it, so not that bothered.

PS: update from yesterday: the final time was 51.50. 

Saturday, 28 May 2016


It's been a while since I last wrote anything. My week has been filled with training and work and yes, occasionally sleep. I took a day off training on Thursday, but was due back yesterday. Little did I know that the gym closes early on Friday: by the time I arrived, there wasn't a car in the car park. And no, I didn't drive there, I walked.

This morning was a bit different though. I had plans to join another 5k run, but was a little unsure as to whether or not I would be allowed. My last 5k had been a 62 minute affair and the maximum today would be just under an hour, since the half marathon was due to start exactly an hour after the 5k!

But, I was allowed and I started jogging with the other 50 or so runners. I didn't keep that up for long though and quickly settled in a fast walk, using my arms to propel me forward just a bit faster. I wasn't even half way into my first round when one of the other contestants came flying past. And about two thirds of the way in, he came flying past again. By the time he had finished, I was still on round one!

I got encouragement though. From my colleagues who were there as well, from my tri-trainer and from random runners. A thumbs up, a pat on the shoulder, a big smile or just a few words of encouragement. By the time I had finished the second round, most of the other runners had come in. I had one more lap to go. I was joined by one of my colleagues and we kept walking and walking. 

When I finally came back into the stadium, it was filled with runners, all there to do the half marathon. I stuck to my guns and stayed in one lane, they could avoid me! The last fifty meters or so I jogged and once across the finish line I was received by my tri-trainer with a big hug! 

The time though? Well, it wasn't as good as I hoped it would be (just under an hour). It was much much BETTER!!! The time for my first run had been 1 hour, 2 minutes and 19 seconds. I haven't got the exact time yet, but it looks like I did it in about 51 minutes and 30 seconds. That is over ten minutes faster!

I may have come in last. I may have looked like a huge tweety bird, I may have lost my bottoms when running, but I made it. And I am proud of myself!!

Monday, 23 May 2016


I'm running! And winning!!
I had my first real training today as sanctioned and advised by the physiotherapist. I saw her on Friday and once she had the lay of the land (or the aches and pains of me), she advised me to take it easy, especially in the beginning. 

She told me that for the first two to three weeks I should do most of my training indoors, ie at the gym and then we would evaluate and see how I should continue. I try to cycle to work every day, and that was good, but a big event coming up in a few weeks was a decided NO! from her. Mind you, it is about 70 km (I think you can do half as well), but that would still be over ten times what I do now. So, no. 

Apart from the gym however, I am supposed to go outside at least once a week and do a proper walk. Like the one we did last week to Mount Hodna. There is a big nature area quite close by and there are plenty of walks I could be doing there. I have done several of them before, but they are always nice to do again. Especially if my condition is on the up.

The physio did suggest to me to keep a log of what I did at the gym. Also, so she could keep tabs on me. So as not to bore the living daylights out of any of my faithful readers, I started a new blog. Called Tri-Mara. A blog where I tell exactly what's what. The whats, wheres, hows and how longs. Oh, and the how much, once a week. It should be going down. I hope. 

If you are interested, the only thing you need to do is to click on the little link all the way at the top at the right. The one that says Tri-Mara. And you will come to an absolute boring blog. Well, it is now, but it should be getting a bit more interesting after a while. 

I will of course still be telling you about my achievements along the way, but at least the boring "I did 769 meters on a rowing machine today" will not be happening here!

Saturday, 21 May 2016

The ever present H

I have been rather quiet lately about the dreaded H. Or Headache for the uninitiated. I have been quiet about it before as well of course. Not because I didn't have one, but because I didn't want to go on and on about it all the time. 

The last news on the H-front was that I was going to see a physiotherapist about it. At least that's what the gp told me. But since then: nothing. I never heard from the physio and I sort of forgot about it as well. I went to stay with my parents over Easter and had several days of H and once I got back I was due to phone the gp. However, in the weeks following, it didn't seem that important anymore. Because the ever present H is no more. Ever present that is. 

So, what was it that caused H to return time and time again? Was it the chocolate? Or the cheese? Well...

Neither really. I still shouldn't eat a lot of chocolate at once, but it turns out it has nothing to do with the often recurring H. In the end it was much simpler. Something that I could have figured out over 17 years ago, even if the problems had only gotten worse during the last few years. 

WHAT WAS IT??? I can hear you scream right now. Well, it was the armrests. Told you it was simple. The armrests on the driver's seat in the bus. They made it nice and fine for my arms to rest on, they also made my shoulder and neck muscles tighten up. And that caused the H. After Easter I stopped using them and bar two tiny attacks that were easily dealt with, I haven't had a problem since then. The last one I had was on April 28th, which is over three weeks ago now. 

Of course, I shouldn't count my chickens and such, but I think I am on the right track here. Let's just hope it continues...

Friday, 20 May 2016

It was COLD!!!

Now, for some reason or other, I thought it might be a good idea to get fit. I have noticed that when I cycle to work now, I don't just stick in the lowest gears anymore, but other than that, I am not quite there yet.

One part of this whole endeavour will be swimming. And because we will be going out in not that warm water, I had to get a wetsuit. Which aren't cheap. Fortunately there is a company in the area that, because of this project, has decided to lend us the suits. And if we want them afterwards: we pay half price. 

So, the other day I got one. The largest one. For men! Not really what I had in mind, but there you have it. The day I got the suit, there was also the kick-off. Nothing to do with balls or kicking even, but everything to do with getting the suit on for real and going out into the water. 

Changing amongst the trees, trying to get this suit on, walking barefoot over pebbles and grass and little sticks and goodness knows what else, I made it to the water's edge. And yes, I did walk in. And yes, I did swim. Not long mind, but I got wet! 

Soon after there was a group photo, then I went in for a second time and then I got changed. Under the trees and in the pouring rain. After which I went home to a hot shower and some hot food. 

And just for those who are wondering: air temperature was about 10 degrees, water temperature was about 13 degrees. In other words: it wasn't tropical by any stretch of the imagination!!

Thursday, 19 May 2016


Now, with all this running and cycling and rowing and walking and other physical stuff I am doing at the moment, I almost forgot the biggest party in the world. The Eurovision Song Contest of course! And this year it was not only broadcast in Europe, but also in Australia (which takes part now, don't ask), China and yes, even the United States.

I found my favourite in the first semi-final: Austria with a beautiful song in French (again, don't ask). Mind you, I think more than half of my points went to her dress as well, because it was just gorgeous! My other favourite was Douwe Bob from the Netherlands, who sang a country song, the only one in the whole competition.

There were a few weird things, like the astronaut, a hoop with two people in it which didn't make any sense and a song that just a lot of 'ponk' noises. But overall, it was quite a muted affair. 

In the end, one of my 'right below the favourites' songs won. Ukraine with 1944 which tells the story about how in 1944 the Russians came to the singer's family's home, took them away and put them in one of those horrid camps. They were gypsies as far as I could tell. It was quite a dark song, but she sang it beautifully, both in Ukranian and English. 

Numbers two and three were Australia and Russia, both with really good songs. There were some songs though that climbed up the ladder that I just didn't get. Armenia had an awful song (in my ears anyway), but they did quite well by getting to seventh place. Spain decided to go back to the roots of Eurovision and had a lot of lalalalas, it landed them in 22nd place. France sang in English this year and had a really good song, they finished sixth. 

And my favourites?? Well, Austria came 13th and the Netherlands came 11th. 

Tuesday, 17 May 2016


It's always difficult getting in and out of the boat. 
I had to get up early this morning, because it's May 17th today. Which is the National holiday in Norway where they celebrate their independence really. At least that's what I understand. One of the traditions I have been in since my very first year here is the rowing race.

We should have started training right after Easter, but birthdays, work, moving and lots more came in the way. So, we finally started training last week. Even then it wasn't easy and we totalled three training sessions. This year we didn't have enough female rowers, so I had to row, while one of the men took over as captain (we didn't qualify as a mixed team otherwise).

I am the third one from the left. Without hat this year!!
Our aim was to beat our best ever time of 6 minutes and 2 seconds, but alas, we didn't. We did however beat last year's time of 06.44 and we beat our direct (mixed team) opponent. Which was good. At least we can bring the cup home again!!

The rest of the day will be a departure from other years, since I will have to work. 

Monday, 16 May 2016

Hodna Mountain

I got a text message yesterday. Whether I would like to come on a tour. By now I know what to expect when asked to go on a tour: good hiking boots, good clothes, hiking poles, food, drink and of course a camera. 

'Neeh, just some weirdos who don't eat grass'
When we got to the site from where we would walk, all I could see was this massive block of rock. We had to go up there? For real?? For real! So, I took a deep breath and started. And stopped after only 100 meters or so. Out of breath and panting like I had just completed a triathlon. Which for the record, I won't do until August 28th. After getting my breath back, on we went. Until... Basically, the 350 meter high mountain was up all the way. And up and up and up and up. It was tiring and they had to wait for me a lot! Besides that, I had to take photos as well...

The time given to get up said mountain (called Hodna Mountain by the way, hence the title) was given as one hour. I knew that one hour normal time, meant two hours Mara time. But, I surprised myself and my two companions. It only took an hour and fifteen minutes! And from the top, we had a great view across a valley. 

Because there was quite a cold wind and since the temperature had not gotten into double figures just yet, we had to find a nice secluded spot to have a bit of lunch. After which we made our way down again. And before you say that that should be easier, it was. Quicker as well, since we managed to do it in about 50 minutes. Including photos!

The order I had gotten this week was: one one hour walk, one one hour cycle thing and one half hour jog (or trying to anyway). I think today counted as a one hour walk. Easy! 

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Photo on Sunday 2016-18

In order to build team spirit among work colleagues, I had signed up for a 5k run together with some other colleagues. Of course running for 5 kilometers was out of the question, but we were told that we could walk as well.

So, last Thursday we made our way to a local factory and started our 5k around said factory. It took me 62 minutes and 19 seconds to cross the finish line. 

What's the expression again: the only way is up??

Wednesday, 11 May 2016


These three swimsuits I had already
Has anybody out there found some marbles? If so, could you please mail them to me? Because I think I lost them. Fully and completely!

No, I haven't bought a house. No, I haven't gotten married on the sly. No, I haven't gotten pierced in places where no human being should ever get pierced. Instead, I have signed up to get fit. 

Nice new pink running shoes
I hear you think right now: that is not a bad idea, getting fit. In fact, it is a very good idea. And I do agree with you there. And when I first heard about it, I thought, sounds good. And then I thought: madness. And then I started to wonder...

Let me start at the beginning. A few weeks ago there was the annual health test at work. Two lovely young ladies come in to take blood pressure, measure our blood sugar levels and cholesterol and to weigh us. As usual I was fine with everything except the weight (big surprise), coming in at a BMI of over 36. Which is not good. 

Animal print, wow!
The next day there was a notice on our notice board. The health people were looking for a man, a woman and a team to get fit. Follow the link. Which I did, because I want to get fit. They not only talked about getting fit, they talked about getting fit to do a triathlon at the end of the summer. 


That is swimming, cycling and running. The last time I swam must be last century. I only ever cycled at a sedate pace and the last time I ran was when I needed the loo. Badly. 

Yep, it's a new bike!
At first I thought madness, but I kept thinking about it. And then I thought, if they think I can get fit enough before the end of August: show me! I will do my best as well. So I signed up. 

Signing up wasn't the only thing needed however, I needed to write a little something about myself and then I had to picked out of a long list of women wanting to get fit, including one of my own colleagues. 

But I got the call last week saying I got in. I was picked out of 20 women. I will get a talk with a physiotherapist to decide what sort of training plan would work best for me and my body. I will have one swimming session a week, one running session and one cycling session. Plus a lot more besides. 

Oswin agrees: safety first!
I will be doing the full triathlon, which will be 750 meters swimming in a lake, 20 kilometers cycling and then 5 kilometers running. If I have to come in crawling so be it, but I will be coming in!! 

Marbles, please??

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Gently down the stream....

Our first year, we came 2nd out of three
I am the one with the hat
That's how the song goes, doesn't it? In our case though, the gentle part is replaced by the forceful part. What am I talking about now, you wonder? The annual rowing race of course! Isn't that obvious??

Well, it mightn't be to everyone, but every year some of my colleagues and me take part in the rowing race organised on May 17th. Which is Norway's national day, to celebrate their first constitution and their independence and such. 

Year 2, we came 1st out of 2
Out of the three times our company has taken part, I have been part of the team three times as well. As a cox or the steering/yelling lady who makes sure everybody does what they are supposed to do. We always row in the mixed league and that means at least two people of the opposite gender have to row. Ie, two men in boat full of women or two women in a boat full of men. The cox can be either. 

This year though, one of our ladies became ill and the other has shoulder problems. Which means neither could row. Only one rowing lady left and me as the cox. Which in turn meant that I had to give up my seat at the helm and take over the rowing from the lady with the shoulder problems who can steer.

Year 3, we came 2nd out of 2
Last night was our first training. And miraculously, it went well! I kept time with the others, even managed to talk. Wasn't sure about how I would feel today, but so far, so good. Yes, I have blisters on both hands (they will be taped up, before I don my gloves) and I can feel my back a bit, but otherwise I am fine! 

There will be more training sessions this week, although I am quite busy from tonight onwards and then next week: ROW, ROW, ROW, ROW, ROW...

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Photo on Sunday 2016-17

Well, as long as they are here and very much in the way, you might as well use them for something good!

Up on the table, up on the little cabinet and then up on the box. 

Saturday, 7 May 2016

The house

This will be the last time I will directly write about the little red cottage in the Norwegian countryside. Or more specifically its owners. Now, I had payed a deposit three years ago and of course wanted that back. I had checked my bank account several times, but as of today it hadn't come in yet. And then she called.

We met up soon afterwards and she payed me back the money owed, with some interest and some money as a 'we've done wrong with the water-thing'. Not much, but by now I was so fed up with her and her house that I just wanted at least that money that was mine and then never see or talk to her again. 

And then she came up with another doozy. I mean really: she must be on something or other, because how could anybody think that was a normal thing to do. First I want some financial compensation because I hadn't had water in over a year. She kicks me out (be it three months or five days, I was kicked out). Then she wants to remain friends? What was that about?? And today she offered me the house back once the water was okay! 

Come on, really? Did she honestly think I would move there again? With her as a landlady?

Glue. Or perhaps marker pens. Perhaps her water is bad and affecting her brains. Whatever it is though, I turned her down. I will find a place of my own and love it. 

Friday, 6 May 2016

Fort McMurray

Now, you may know this, but before I made my move to Norway three and a half years ago, I was planning on moving to Canada. I had done a lot of research and found that the only province that would be likely to have me was the province of Alberta. But alas, the job could not be bus driver, but had to be something else. Something more flexible. Like hotel receptionist. Which I had done like a lifetime ago and never really liked that much.

Finding it very hard to find a job, I decided on coming back from my one and only holiday in Canada, that I would switch my view to Norway. I got hold of a language course, booked a holiday to Oslo, booked another one to Bergen and by the time I was offered a job as a bus driver in the town I now live in, it was a year later. 

And then I got an email. From my Dutch/Canadian contact. He could easily get me a job, he said. Just say the word and I could be working as a hotel receptionist, he said. There were plenty wanted, he said. In Fort McMurray, he said.

Now, you all know about my latest troubles, but they pale in significance when you hear about Fort McMurray. All eighty three thousand residents have been evacuated. Most of the town has gone up or is going up in flames. All due to massive forest fires. 

I did make some Canadian friends several years ago. I met them in the Netherlands and I met one of them again in Canada. In fact, she showed me the coulees and the hoodoos. They live in the South of the province. However, he was in Fort McMurray and was one of those thousands of evacuees. He is doing fine and so far, all those other evacuees are fine as well. It's just a case of finding them a new home now. 

I could have been one of those evacuees. Could have been one of those people without a thing to my name. Instead I live in Norway. In a lovely apartment with a fantastic kitty cat. 

Get home safely Richard and give Kay a big kiss and Lindy a big hug!!!

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Miss Oswin on the move


Now, that was a to-do! Incredible. First Mara starts making an almighty mess. Boxes and stuff and things everywhere. Then there are strangers in our house. Making a mess as well. And after the mess, there is stuff missing. It's in the boxes she said. 

And then on Caturday, so many people arrived. With cars and trailers and such. And everybody went in the house and came out with the boxes. Fortunately I was allowed to go outside. It was much better there. Even if it did start raining half way through the day.

Finally everybody had gone. Including Mara! But she came back to open up the door to our house. I went in and... there was nothing there! Nothing at all!! Not a speck of dust on the floor, not a chair, not even my food bowl! I did not like that. And then Mara scooped me up and put me in that cage and said we were going home. I was home!! 

After a while we made it to wherever this 'home' thing was. All of our things were there, but it smelt funny. And there were a lot of strange noises that gave me the heebie jeebies. Mara says I will have to get used to it, because we will be staying here a while. 

She also explained why. Because of the water. And then the woman who owned the house had said to Mara that it was probably my fault the water was bad! Well... I cursed a bit you know. In Dutch Cat of course, so nobody would understand, but still. MY FAULT???? That woman must be crazy!

Anyway, I have a new home. It's not as nice, but at least the water is good and nobody blames me for making it dirty...

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Moving day

Part of the living room
Moving day started bright and early for me. 5.45am and I was wide awake. Wondering whether everything would be going to plan, whether everybody who had promised to come would show up, wondering where I was going to live. 

Well, everything went quite smoothly. Thanks to a few colleagues who had come to help me during the week, I had managed to get most things packed up. The few things that were left, were done before anybody arrived and the television and the bed were done by some of the helpers. Who all showed up. Several trailer loads went to storage and everything else went to the new address. The first two cars went during the morning and I finally got to see it during the afternoon. 

Stacking them up. And yes, the ones at the top weigh almost nothing
By about seven pm everything had been moved, the house had been cleaned, the satellite dishes had been taken down and we were shattered. The only missing link here was Miss Oswin, who I had not seen all day. All those people were quite scary. However, when I got back to the house after the last load had been delivered, she was already waiting for me and I was able to take her to our new home.

On Sunday I showed the house to the owner, who was surprised I was out already. Turns out she isn't as horrid as I thought. She had meant that I had three months notice starting May 1st. I had understood that I had to be out by May 1st. Her final words were 'I hope we can remain friends'. I told her, no. Not enemies, but certainly never friends. 

My 'new' wardrobe. The empty space is where Miss Oswin likes to sleep at night
The new place is roomy and much bigger than I expected. Most of the boxes are now sorted, either stacked up (books and dvd's) or empty (kitchen). There is still some work to be done, but it will keep a few days longer.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Photo on Sunday sometime during the week 2016-16

The view as was...

The view as is from the living room...

From the kitchen...

From the bedroom... (and yes, it is that close)