Returning to my second home
Another year, another Oslo gallery. Since I will not spend so much time in Oslo this year, I will use a single gallery, and extend it to include any visits.
The first visit was in winter, and strikingly different to our first winter visit. For one thing, it had snowed. Not just snowed, but really snowed. Since the snow does not melt properly during the winter, it just built up on the streets, pavements, and parks. On the roads it had been mostly melted or converted to ice by salt or cars, and some pavements had the same treatment from pedestrians, but generally, walking means taking your life into your own hands, or feet. And I enjoy every moment of it.
- The English countryside.
- A 1 second exposure at 500 miles per hour, over an English town.
- The English Coast.
- A funnel of Sun streamers over the English Channel.
- Looking down on the North Sea, off the coast of the Netherlands.
- A storm cloud pushes up through the thin cloud blanket.
- And a raincloud over Amsterdam.
- The calm before the storm; sunset over stormclouds, over Amsterdam.
- Drainage in the Netherlands.
- Details of the drainage system, showing how each firld is surrounded by drainage ditches, so they fit together almost like brickwork. This is one of the parts of the Holland that is below sea level.
- Another couple of hours waiting in Schippol. For an airport so big, you would think they could at least provide some entertainment - apart from overpriced cafes and shops.
- The three control towers of Schippol airport, lit by the setting sun.
- My next aeroplane (and yes, that is the correct spelling - it is not a plane made of air, it is a plane that utilises air [aero-] - get a copy of the Oxford dictionary if you need clarification).
- Drainage canals on the West Frisian Islands, with the colours almost inverted by the reflection of the sunset.
- Details of the canals.
- A negative version of the canals picture - looking like a snowy version of the same thing, with a deep blue sea. This image is edited to the extent that it is fantasy, included only for interest.
- Some stunning islands off the Danish coast - the underwater dunes are particularly impressive.
- At the hotel. This room was just down the hall from mine. In just one night, the two girls (probably in their early twenties) staying in the room had managed to produce 6 bags, yes; 6 dustbin bags of rubbish, including a bottle of denture cleaning tablets! The cleaners were calmly cleaning the room - I certainly would not have accepted it.
- Just outside the hotel, the snowfall had been enough to almost bury the bikes in the bike stands. It's too cold for them to be rusted by the humidity, and they are completely frozen in place anyway.
- Just down the road is Slottsparken. The reason for the bridge is hard to make out, due to the snow. It's a bit dark, but that is because of the time of year. The day does not last very long, so it's usually dark on the way to and from work.
- Barely recognisable as the same place - as seen the summer before.
- A little way along the road is this little treasure that I missed on my previous visits.
- And I had also missed this, but I stumbled on it while trying to escape from the Jehovah's witnesses who were sending out their most attractive damer with multilingual leaflets (you can't even get away with trying to claim to be a foreigner).
- The Oslo Domkirke in the centre of the city, complete with 2 metre deep pile of snow.
- Gluckstads Gate, showing the normal street conditions.
- Alexander Kjellands Plass. In summer, this is a park with a stepped waterfall and fountain.
- Aker Kirke, the oldest building in Oslo.
- Reserved parking in Telthusbakken.
- Thorvald Meyers Gate.
- The water in the main part of Oslofjorden was kept open by the shipping and island ferries.
- But with a temperature of -14°C, the Bunnefjorden was frozen all the way accross, a distance of 5 km. The ski tracks used to reach the houses on the islands were quite easily visible. This is the first time I have ever seen sea water frozen, so excuse me if this is a little bit special for me.
- A little crude I am sure, but I liked the idea of a mineral-water ass. The pants will cost extra, and must be purchased separately.
- Or perhaps this intimate operation. 50% removed.
- The snow that had overtaken the Opera balcony. No lunches on the balcony in winter.
- But in summer...
- This is what passes for a swipe card at Opera. Amazingly it still works, even though he does not look much like his picture on it. The fancy looking hall is one of the new office wings that we acquired from Trolltech when they moved out. Opera is growing as a company. Your face could be here - not on that swipe card though, obviously.
- Something we inherited from the old occupants. Google are not the only ones that have fun in their work environment.
- Something else we inherited, and I promise this is not a setup.
- The only problem with working at Opera; you enjoy it. Too much sometimes. Forgetting to go home is a common affliction - give him another couple of hours, he will be working again. Can't be good for the back though.
- In case you are not aware, Opera is the browser that runs on the Nintendo DS (albeit very slowly due to the impressively low CPU clock speed), so we have quite a few of them lying around.
- A games evening with some Operators.
- One of the opera bars - and this time I mean the music, not the browser. It is a very enjoyable way to spend an evening, watching live Opera performances in cosy little bars like this. For free.
- A duet by some opera damer.
- Another duet - this couple were particularly impressive together, very entertaining. This was one of the best duets I have seen there - both are very powerful singers, and this piece involved detailed body language as well as singing. At the end of the performance, they are supposed to walk offstage together, but since the only way offstage is out of the door, they ended it standing in the doorway, singing out into the otherwise quiet street, at the passing pedestrians.
- Opera at the opera. Or half of the Opera group anyway. We do tend to take over this small bar. It has nothing to do with the name of our browser, we just happen to enjoy watching live performances.
- The words say Thai, but the flag?
- No arguments here.
- The summer weather in Norway is pretty much the same as Britain. Mostly hot enough, but with plenty of this.
- The result of the rain - there is a human on the path to the right, to give the ricochet splash some scale. Normally, this is a mild waterfall, that could be climbed while remaining dry.
- And it only got worse...
- The houses on the bank are having to use sand bags to stop the river flooding them.
- Long exposure of the raging waterfall at night.
- And with higher water.
- Inside a rare cheap resteraunt. I am not particularly fond of mounted animal trophies, but I found this one amusing. If you look closely, you can see that as well as the usual split antlers on each side, it has a third antler growing from the right side of its head (the left side of the picture) extending across the middle of its forehead.
- A tall frosty one (not Eira) at the other cheap resteraunt.
- "Honestly, baby, it's not mine".
- Eira playing with fire.
- On my way to work, I saw this. Ok, just a digger, but the lights were on, the engine was running, and it had driven along this road, when the driver...
- ...fell asleep at the controls!
Why? Why? Just ... Why?!
Because, well, I like to try foods from other countries. Generally, I find Norwegian meats to be past their best-before
dates (that's how they like it), and several of them are on my personal taboo list - even though I ended up trying one of
them without realising. But fish are good. And the Norwegians really know their fish. So if I am to try a true Norwegian
classic, it might as well be fish.
Lutefisk is the classic Norwegian fish. Classic to the point that it is revered or feared by many. In Norway,
it serves as a traditional Christmas dinner, as well as something to frighten tourists with.
The preparation is long and quite strange. Firstly a fish is gutted, then slowly dried. Then for about 5 days, it is soaked
in fresh water to plump it back up again. Then it is soaked in a solution of lye and water for two days. Yes, sodium
hydroxide, caustic soda, dangerous chemicals. These start to artificially digest the fish, and I am told that it stinks. Then it is soaked in fresh
water for another 5 days. After that, it is gently heated to poach in its own moisture.
- This is the result. An odd fish, that looks
like jelly (jello if you speak Americanish). It smells strange. Like raw fish, but with a slightly unpleasant after smell
that occasionally catches you unawares, and lingers for quite a while.
- The taste, on the other hand, is virtually non
existent. Plain and very boring. So much so that it is served with several other flavours to make up for it. Potatoes,
bacon and bacon oils, mustards and mustard sauces, and thick mushy peas.
- Perhaps the most difficult part of
lutefisk is the consistency. It not only looks like jelly (it is even translucent), but it feels like it too. Like
gelatine, which can make it difficult for your mouth to accept as food if you are not ready for it.
You could almost suck it through a straw, though when properly prepared (like this), you can pick it up with
the prongs of your fork.
- Eira hides from the camera, in case
she turns out not to like it, and has to hide in shame later on. Despite being from a seaside town, where things like this
should be common, she turned out to be a lye virgin, so I was not left to have my first time alone.
- Success. It has been (mostly) eaten.
Not bad. Not especially good, but not bad either. For a food that is so infamous, there really is very little about it that makes it
important enough to deserve its status, and it is hard to see why it is so expensive (except perhaps the macho aspect
of eating food that is prepared in caustic soda). But thankyou Jorunn, the experience
was appreciated. Would I repeat it? Maybe, if someone else wanted to try it and I was there to keep them company. Will I
go out of my way to try it again? No.