From 2009 to 2010 we will spend a year in England. It is a kind of a "replacement" for neither of us having studied abroad, and to see more of a country that we both like very much. Tollef will work part time for Redpill Linpro and part time for Collabora, and Karianne will try to get a part time job of some kind.

Preparations to go there and back again.

Karianne's gallery

Map of the places we have been to

Our list of places we'd like to go to during our year in England

The last day in England

So is it here. It feels really weird, and I am really sad.

The last few weeks have been quite busy. Giving away things we don't want to bring back. Trying to get in touch with the agent or landlord for the house did appear to be an easy task. The landlord is regularly travelling to South Africa, he was there when we moved here, and again when we are leaving. After a week of emailing and phoning, we finally got hold of the agent, who promised to call us back, but never did. When I called the office again, two days later (after Tollef called the day before, and had a message left for him that it was urgent -again), the agent had gone on holiday! After a lot of phoning, I finally got the mainentance guy to contact another guy who is somewhat involved in the letting, and could squeeze in a short meeting at the house to go over it and pay the deposit. There, we had to talk to the actual landlord on the phone (which he answered, to my surprise) about the deposit, that he meant was a month and a half, not two, as the contract stated and we actually paid. He trusted my word (and the contract) though, so we got the whole deposit back, save from the rent for the last month.

Last Monday, we made a short trip to Bristol and Swindon. First, we got some things for a friend of mine that is moving back to Norway. It was a bit more than originally planned, but we managed to get it all in the car, and continued to Swindon to leave some leftover things for my cousin. Back home, we "only" had the job of sorting out what we needed for the two weeks until the moving company arrives in Norway, and what we should just throw away. Selling the car also didn't go easily. I dropped by a couple of car dealers, but they didn't want to give me much for it, so I tried privately. Daniel had offered to sell the car for me if I didn't get rid of it, but today, the last day before going back to Norway, I sold it to another car dealer, quiet cheap. It felt kind of good to get done with it, at the same time it was the last thing to get in place before I was all free and ready to go back, and I don't want that just yet.

Tollef and Odin left on Friday, because dogs aren't allowed to fly in weekends, appearantly. And then it was practical for Tollef to go the same day to be there when Odin arrived. Luckily the flight and all went well. As the house was transferred on Friday, I am staying on Denton house for the last two nights. It's easier, both because I don't have a car any longer, and my employer is away tonight and tomorrow, so I will have to look to the horses a bit more than usual. The last thing I'll do before going to the airport is taking the horses in and feed them in the afternoon.

There's a lot of last times. I went to the city centre for the last time, with it's old buildnings and currently quite full with tourists. I had a last milkshake in my favourite milkshake bar, before I took the bus back to Denton. I have walked Elsa, the house labrador, for the last time over the beautiful fields. I will miss the animals, people and the atmosphere here so much. I always thought I couldn't live on the countryside, but this year makes me think I might enjoy it. And I will definitely be back here, some time.


Posted lø. 31. juli 2010 kl. 21.01 +0200

Two final visits

While we are now in the middle of packing up all our things and preparing for the move back to Norway, I haven't written anything about our two last visits.

My father and stepmother came over for my birthday, getting here two days before and leaving the day after. We went what has now been established as the usual route with a visit to Denton house, a trip to the city centre and so on. In addition, we decided that making a trip to a garden centre we had visited earlier would be fun. As suspected, my father was quite happy to wander around there and they ended up buying some anti-squirrel cages which we'll be bringing home for them, as they are somewhat large.

On my birthday, I got the kitchen machine I have been wanting for a while, a choice between a mountain walking trip or some power tools and later in the day, my mother told me I would get to buy a leather coat. As my father is quite interested in birds, we went to the Cotswald Falconry Centre. Keeping birds of prey is legal here in the UK and so we have seen a bunch of both the birds as well as the flying shows they do with them. Still, quite good fun.

Just two weeks ago, my brother and sister came visiting. They were supposed to be here a few months ago, but an icelandic volcano and an ash cloud made that not happen. They got here in the evening and we had a meal and managed to get through an impressive amount of our alcohol stash, which is just as good, since we are going home soon.

We originally had planned to go to Blenheim Palace, but ended up going to Windsor Castle instead. Very large grounds and impressive amounts of armour and weapons, but we are getting a bit jaded in that it is just yet another palace, cathedral or castle, even if they are very, very impressive. My siblings did some shopping in Windsor before we headed home again.

We also spent some time in Oxford itself for more shopping and of course a visit to Denton, complete with a pub visit in the nearby village before we put them on the coaches to Heathrow and Gatwick.

Posted to. 29. juli 2010 kl. 16.08 +0200

Isle of Wight and more

The 1st of July, after breakfast, we headed south again. First stop was in Winchester, to see the cathedral, and have lunch. We also dropped by a nice old sweet shop, and of course, Shakeaway. We also went by Currys and Jessops, to look for a new digital camera for me. The "old" one kept eating batteries on a large scale, and the power-button constantly turned on when I had the camera in my pocket (which didn't help on the battery problem). After a lot of back-and-forth thinking I landed on the Panasonic Lumix ZX1. The model is discontinued, and thus on clearance in a lot of stores - as long as they have any left. No luck in Winchester, but the guy said they had some left in Portsmouth, where we were going a couple of days later.

Winchester Cathedral

From Winchester we drove through the New Forest, to Brockenhurst. The nature reserve was very different from Exmoor and Dartmoor, but still very nice! Getting close to the Ford Park Stables, we saw wild ponies grazing on the roadside and further in on the fields. Arriving in the stables, we waited a while until the girl there could see us. Meanwhile, I had a look at the horses there. The stables were very nice, but a couple of the horses were very skinny, and I decided not to do my booked ride if the horses we were going to use were as skinny. Not to worry though, the group from the previous ride came in, and all the horses there were well fed and looked healthy. I got a medium-sized gelding called Bailey. Tollef and Odin had a walk on their own, while two leaders, me and to beginners hacked out in the New Forest. One of the leaders tok me off the track for some trotting and cantering, and we got to see more of the wild ponies, and some cattle that was also grazing there.

When we got back from the ride, Tollef and Odin waited impatiently, and we drove on to the Lyminghurst ferries to the Isle of Wight. We reached a ferry earlier than we had booked, but it appeared to not be a problem, and we literally went straight on board, instead of the expected half hour wait. Apart from that they didn't have "svele" (a Norwegian pancake/waffle-like dish that they have on the ferries in the western parts), the crossing was nice. We checked in and set camp on a camp-site not far from Yarmouth, were the boat landed. Being dinner time, we ended up on a nearby pub. The food wasn't very impressive or cheap, but at least it was enough.

On Friday morning, we started out going to Newport, the capitol of the Isle. The city centre wasn't very exciting, and the photo stores were out of the camera I wanted. On the way out, we dropped by a Sainsbury's and got lunch to have at our next stop, Carisbrooke Castle. The castle is known for its donkeys running the watermill to get water from the well. They all have names starting on "J", as that was the letter king Charles I used to sign with, to fool his enemies. He was a prisoner there, and also got his head stuck in the bars on a window, in one of his three non-successful attempts to escape.

Jigsaw well

From Carisbrooke we drove south to the coast, and along the southern coastline up to the western end with the "Needles". They are chalk peaks just at the end of the island, and there's a theme park on the best view spot, with a sweet factory and fun rides. We got there just before closing time, so we just took our photos, grabbed some sweets and headed back to the camping site. There we had a takeaway meal from the local shop (they were better with pizza than Maroccan lamb...), and watched the evenings entertainment of Morris dancing.

The next day, we started off on the Garlic farm, where they grow several different types (!) of garlic. Of course they also sell a lot of products made on or from garlic, and we got some sauces, garlic butter, bread, and even a beer. I didn't really feel like garlic fudge... Then we went on to Fishbourne and the ferry to Portsmouth. The weather was nice and clear, and I am sure there must have been hundreds of sailboats in the water between the island and the mainland. We also passed some sea forts that were used for protection against the Germans in the WWII.

In Portsmouth, we left Odin in the car (parked safely in the shadow, with enough water and his cooling fan running), and walked towards the city centre. We miscalculated the distance, and it wasn't much of any interest for the first couple of miles. There we had lunch on "Kraken Awakes", a café/night club place that had really good food. I had real home made tortillas with chili con carne, very special and tasty! After lunch, we walked to the shopping centre of the city, and I finally got my camera, after using my mobile the whole weekend (and being over all impressed with the results, though!). We had ice cream, before we found a bus to go back to the car and Odin. Then we took Odin for a walk on the marina, enjoying the sun, watching all the boats go by.

Ice cream Tollef

Spinnaker Tower


Odin shadow

After a while, we left Portsmouth and drove towards Gosport, wherever that is, and the camping site for the night. We've been to better camp sites, but at least it was only for a night. Instead of going somewhere else to eat, we went to the onsite restaurant. The food took 45 minutes to be served, and it wasn't even good... in the meantime, Odin had growled at two other dogs where we sat outside the restaurant, and probably wasn't too comfortable either (wish I could have him growl at the waiter instead!).

Camping boys

The last day of our last weekend trip, we started out on Porchester castle. It appeared to be an interesting property, and we climbed a lot of steep stairs to discover the history of the nearly thousand year old castle. Possibly our last in a while... Then we went on to Swindon, to see my cousin Arnstein's new place there, as he is working for Honda this year. The apartement was very nice, a lot nicer than the one in Bath. We all went to have lunch on a nearby pub, our second in Swindon in short time! Being quite tired, we went off straight after the lunch, and headed back to Oxford.

Porchester Castle


Probably being our last longer trip here in England, it seemed to be a lot of "lasts" this time. It just appears to me clearer and clearer, that we are soon going back to Norway. There are some things happening first, a visit from Tollef's siblings, a board game convention, a BBQ, and hopefully some nice, English summer. But in the moment of writing, there's three weeks until we are back home in our house in Oslo. It feels like we just came here, still we have travelled and seen a whole lot of cities, towns, villages, castles, ruins, cathedrals, pubs and England.

Posted on. 07. juli 2010 kl. 22.32 +0200

The Southwest

Our year in England is going towards an end, far too soon. We have just spent the last week on our long longed for trip through the South of England. We had put the South off towards the summer, in hope of good weather and views from the famous coasts of Devon and Cornwall. And what views, both over land and sea! If I didn't love England before, I certainly do now. There is a lot of beautiful landscapes in England, but the moors and hills in the South was absolutely stunning.

Day 1

After I was finished at work on Friday, we set off towards Bristol, to deliver some Norwegian brown cheese to Veronica, and eat dinner, before we continued south to Wells. Setting up camp on a site in a hidden village (after having some breathtaking views coming down over the hills), we realised that Tollef's camerabag was left in Oxford. Just a short 2 hours drive back to Oxford, it was still to far to go back for something not really vital for the trip, so we had to do with my compact camera for the rest of the trip. During the night I had quite bad backpains, assumingly from lying on the ground, and the wind had made quite a lot of noise with the tent, so we decided to fasten it a bit better for the next night. Not the best nights' sleep.

Day 2

After a picnic-breakfast, we drove in to Wells to see the cathedral and walk through the town. A very typical southern English town, with a nice marketplace and cute old-fashioned shops. We bought some lunch to have a picnic in the Exmoor National Park. We also found a nice a postcard with a cow and Glastonbury tor (tower) on it, which we bought for my sister. Heading off from Wells, Tollef decided we had to walk up to the tor, so we drove to the village and parked on the bottom of quite a steep hill (for England). It was a nice walk up, and I am sure we had the view of most of Devon from the top! Odin loved it, of course, running up and down the hill around us.

Odin on Glastonbury tor

We had our picnic on the Glastonbury tor hill, and then we went on through the Exmoor National Park, which was another stunning view. It was slightly like Norwegian Highlands, with heather (lyng) and rocks, though it was a bit greener. We decided to go over one of the "mountain tops" in hope of seeing any of the famous wild Exmoor ponies. We saw only a few on a distance for the first part, but on the way down again we saw a quite large group of young horses and a couple of foals. Further down in the valley we stopped in a village to have some local made ice cream before we continued for the day's intended destination; Tintagel. Arriving in Tintagel, we camped on a site with a nice view of the Cornish cliffed coast, and the sunset in the Atlantic Ocean. Windy, but very pretty.

Exmoor ponies

During the day, the car had problems starting several times, it seemed to get worse the longer we had driven, and I got quite worried. Asking the attendant on the camping site, she reminded us it's Sunday the next day, and we just crossed our fingers our car would keep on going until Monday.

Day 3

That night, my back hurted so much I had to move to sleep in the car half way through. I didn't really sleep well, but better than nothing. After breakfast and packing up the car started all fine, and we went off to discover Tintagel Castle. While we had breakfast, the "Strawberry Man" came calling, and we bought a basket of strawberries for lunch.

The castle was pretty much ruins on a cliffy island, but the walk and story was very nice. Odin had his backpack on, carrying some dog treats and our strawberry lunch, and got quite a lot of attention from other tourists. A German lady was quite surprised that he had actually walked up the steep rocky stairs up the cliffs, that I haven't carried him on my arm. Unfortunately my German isn't good enough to express my offense on that comment! We sat down to enoy our nice strawberries, but it appeared that Odin had shaked them almost in to strawberry-jam, and his backpack was all sticky. Lesson learned...

K and Odin on Tintagel

Tintagel view

We had lunch in the Tintagel Village, which is pretty much a tourist place, but very nice. From Tintagel we drove quite far south, to Penzance. Before we left, I got into a camping-shop and bought an air mattress, hoping to finally get a good nights sleep. On the way we shopped some food for bbq on the campsite. The place was very nice and had accessible power outlets to charge our mobiles and laptops. We just had our food and settled inside the tent when we had some severe rain showers.

Camping bbq

I slept better that night, but was still stiff in the morning. We had reservations on a hotel in Torqay from Tuesday night, so I really started longing to get past that last night. The car had been troublesome and even gotten worse during the day, so we decided to find a garage in the morning, after going to Land's End.

Day 4

The next morning, everything was quite wet, but we didn't have rain, so it wasn't that awkward to do the packing. It was still quite grey and windy, so we put on rainproof clothes before going for a walk on Land's End. Of course that kept the rain off, and before we left we had blue spots and sun in the sky. We saw rescueboats and a sign telling the distance to London and New York. The weather, of course, made it impossible to see that far that morning. There was also a farm with pigs, goats and hens, and Odin got quite excited about the pigs.

Land's End

Rescue boat


The car had stopped again while Tollef tried to park on Land's End, so we got the car going again, deciding to go directly to a garage in Penzance to get it fixed. We got a tip about a garage a bit outside the town, and went there. They took our car in, and had a good idea about the problem, and would call us when they had checked it out. We packed out backpacks and brought Odin, and took the bus to Penzance.

Within the time we got to Penzance the weather was quite nice, and we walked along the marina from the bus station. There, we passed a harbour for sailboats and smaller boats, that was completely dry on the low tide. It looked very funny with all the boats lying on their sides or keels. We walked up through the city centre, and had a light lunch at a Wetherspoons (pub chain), before we had a sun-break writing postcards on a bench on a pedestrian street.

Dry harbor

Wet harbor

We walked further up the pedestrian street, and found a pet shop, the second I had seen that day. We dropped by for a chat, Odin got some treats, and I bought some more for him. After walking another 20 minutes and going for an ice cream break, I realised my wallet was gone. We traced our walk all the way back, through backstreets and mews, to the pet shop where I last used it. No one had seen it, but just as we talked to the pet shop man, a guy called me and said he had found it. I was really relieved. It didn't have much cash in it, but all my cards from different places, it's a lot of hassle to get new ones.

After getting my wallet we just had time for an ice cream/milkshake break on the marina, before catching the rush-hour bus back to the garage. They had fixed the car, and we made the drive back north without any problems. From Penzance we drove to Healy's Cornish Cyder Farm, where they make cider and other fruit-based drinks and jam. Very nice place, except from the horses, who appeared very thin and not happy at all. The other animals looked healthy and well cared for, and they had a lot of piglets just being born the other day. We ended up brining a lot of cider and some strawberry wine, before heading towards Newqay.

In Newqay we set up camp on a very nice site with loads of rabbits running around. We were quite happy that Odin had had a good walk, first on Land's End and then in Penzance. After drying and setting up the tent, we went in to Newqay for dinner. It appeared very much like any southern tourist town, just with less open restaurants and shops after six in the evening... We walked a while, before we decided to resign and eat on the first pub/restaurant we had seen, of course. The food was good enough and the TV without sound, so it was nice.

Day 5

Waking up to another sunny day was very nice, and the tent was mostly dry when we packed it in the car. My back was still stiff and hurted a bit, but this was the last night in the tent for this time. After breakfast we went back into Newqay and to the zoo. It was nice enough, but not very impressive. From there we headed further north towards Wadebridge and the Bee Exhibition Centre, who had a nice exhibition about bee-keeping. We had cream tea with honey (of course), and bought some honey and mead to take back home. On our way back to the main road we also stopped by Sharps breweries, who has some nice beers.

Driving through Dartmoor was, at least from my view, the best part of the trip. It appeared vast, like the Norwegian highlands, but with granite structures and rock formations spread around. On the moors around the roads we saw wild Dartmoor ponies and sheep grazing. We saw quite a lot of ponies, and also came quite close up on them. First, there was a few grazing just on the road edge, and we stopped to take some photos of them and some nearby grazing ponies with foals. A bit further down we came upon a parking lot with several ponies on and around. One stood right in front of a car, and there were several mares with foals and youngsters around. They didn't mind us cuddling one of the foals at all, and seemed quite used to tourists. One of them even tried to get in the car when we were leaving... I wouldn't have minded bringing it, but the car was too full already!

Tollef and foal

Resting foal

Horse in car

On the other edge of Dartmoor, we had a lovely salmon dinner in a nice restaurant. They also had a gift shop, so I bought a booklet about the Dartmoor ponies. From there it was just an hours drive to Torqay, "The English Riviera", and the Bute Court Hotel.

Day 6

The hotel, though being only two stars, was very nice. We got a big room on the ground floor, probably because they tend to put dogs in accessible rooms. I still god a bad back from sleeping in a bed, but less bad than the other nights, at least.

After a nice English breakfast, we walked along the marina and over to the Living Coasts-centre, where they had penguins, seals, coastal birds and fishes. The penguins were walking free in part of the centre, and some of them had chicks, the latest had hatched that same day! Apart from being there along with three school classes, it was very nice. Because we made a gift aid donation, we had a free hot drink in the cafè afterwards. Even though it was sunny the wind made it a bit chilly, so a cup of hot chocolate was very nice.


Penguins 1

Penguins sign

Penguins egg


Torquay beach

We had lunch, and then headed back to take Odin for a walk through the city centre. Torqay was even more than Newqay like a tourist resort like the ones they have on the Canary Islands or similar places. A lot of beaches, shops, eating places and of course surf shops. The largest drawback was the big hill we had to walk over or around to get from the hotel to the city centre...

Before dinner we sunbathed by the hotel pool, and Tollef had a short swim. Though the sun was quite warm, the wind was still keeping the real heat away. We had also noticed a garage next to the hotel that did MOT's (EU-test). Ours were soon due, so we got an appointment in the afternoon. Everything was fine, but they did point out a couple of things, like an oil-leak that the garage doing service on the car a couple of weeks ago should have fixed (together with the part that the garage in Penzance had to change). I'll have a talk to them just after the weekend, getting some money back for service not really being done...

Day 7

After a week on holiday, I finally had a good nights sleep, having built up with spare pillows to halfway sit up when I was sleeping... Tollef was supposed to go diving this morning, but the diving-people didn't get in touch or answer the phone, so Tollef and Odin walked around the bay and the cliffs outside Torquay, while I had an easy morning by the pool.

The pub right by the hotel had really good food for lunch. After eating, we went to the nearby Torre Abbey, an old abbey having been a private residence for several hundred years. It was very nice and had remains from quite far back in time. In the evening we had a nice dinner on Beefeater, and after that mostly relaxed, being quite tired from a busy week, and decided to go to Exeter and then home the next day.

Day 8

It's always quite weird when holidays comes towards and end. You kind of get used to being "elsewhere", eating out, discovering new things and places, and do everything om a day-to-day basis. But we had quite an eventful week and felt very ready to go back home.

First, we drove the short way up to Exeter. The cathedral is well known, and was very nice. The city centre of Exeter is a lot of pedestrian streets, so we pretty much strolled through it, enjoying the sun, and in time, a nice lunch.

On our way back to Oxford we decided to have dinner in Swindon, and take the opportunity to drive through the magical roundabout. That is a large roundabout with 5 small roundabouts around it, the middle one being anti- clockwise in direction. Very funny and a bit confusing. We had food at a nice local pub, before heading on. Appearantly we were lucky with our choice of time and directions. The radio reported of queues and traffic delays on many of the main roads, also in some parts of Oxfordshire that we might have come through, if we hadn't chosen to go via Swindon. Contrary to many others, we didn't strive to get back to a certain sport event starting, but it was really nice not having to queue to get back home.


A nice, maybe the best so far, week exploring England. I love it!


Posted lø. 19. juni 2010 kl. 14.35 +0200

Tea and stuff

A small by-the-way-post.

For christmas we got a giftcard on "Champagne tea" on The Old Parsonnage Hotel, one of the older and not cheaper hotels here in Oxford. The week after going to Liverpool, we finally found time to go, and had a delightful afternoon tea, with a glass of champagne, and the best scones I ever had! Thank you, Marit!

When we got back from London the 17th of May, I didn't take my bunad off before going to Denton house, as I figured that Waveney (my employer) would like to see it. She absolutely loved it, and the day after, Tollef took some photos of me that I will give her before I leave.

Karianne on Wizard


Posted fr. 28. mai 2010 kl. 21.27 +0200

May, part two

Monday 17th was the Norwegian constitutional day, and we went to London to celebrate. I dropped Odin off on Denton house in the morning, and we took the bus in to London, both dressed in our new traditional clothing, bunads. On our way to Southwark park, we met up with my friend Veronica who lives in Bristol, and went on to the park together. There, it was about thousand Norwegian gathered for the day, and quite a few in bunads. Even both in my "hometown" one, Romsdalsbunaden, and the one I got myself, Hedmarksbunaden. We went in a parade with a 10-person marching band, and had Norwegian hot-dogs and ice cream. There were speaches and a lot of chatting. We met Anne-Marie, who also lives in Oxford, and I also met Eva, who is from the same area as myself in Norway. We became quite tired after a while, so we decided not to go to the evening party, and had dinner on a pub together with Vero, before returning to Oxford. Then to Denton house instead of home, for staying there for the week to look after the house again.

This time we stayed almost a week, and had a lot of nice weather to enjoy the garden, and to have a barbequeue. I spent some time reading and relaxing in the garden, and got a good sun-burn on my back. It was a busy but very enjoyable week on the English countryside. A couple of days after we went back home this time, we were going to Yorkshire to take up on our earlier planned trip. With the very nice weather, camping was also a lot more tempting now. I was a bit in doubt whether to go, because Daniel, that was supposed to help out in the stable, had been ill for a few days, but assured me he would be fine with working when we were in York.

In York, we went to see a few of the things that we missed last time. The Minster looked to me less grand and more modern than many of the others we've seen, but it has a lot of history to it. We also saw "Barley Hall", a medievel great hall that really wasn't as interesting as I expected it to be. We climbed the Clifford Tower to get a view over York and surroundings, and had tea, scones and ice cream in a cafè, before we went back to the camping for some rest before dinner. After dinner, Tollef met up with a friend in York.

During the first whole day in York, I felt a bit cold, but thought it was because of my sunburn. Tollef also had a cold again, so we decided to book in on a B&B for the last night, staying just one more night in our tent. Once again, we ended up on a Campanile hotel, the same as in Cardiff and Runcon/Liverpool. The interesting thing about these is that they look identical, no matter where you are. The reception building with the restaurant is lying in the same direction (and distance!) towards the building with the rooms, and even the colour of the floor carpets and tiles are the same!

The next day I was even worse, and appeared to have a stomach bug, but we still decided to go on with some of our plans. We drove up through Yorkshire moors and to Goathland, which is known as the village of Aidensfield in the TV-series "Heartbeat", or "Hjartet på rette staden" in Norwegian. It was a really nice place, and the moors was really different from any other places we have seen here. We were almost ran down by a huge flock of sheep on the way down to the village. Afterwards, we went through Withby and saw the abbey there, when I got so ill we decided to just stop in Scarborough to have lunch (or, Tollef had while I slept in the car), and go to the B&B. We stopped at a superstore for some pain relief medicine, Ritz crackers and Coke, and camped in the hotel room for the rest of the day. The next day, we talked to NHS direct (National Health Services) on the phone, and the nurse assured me it was "just a nasty bug" and told me to drink enough and take som paracetamol for the pains. Tollef packed and sorted out everything, and I got myself together and in the car for the last 3 hours drive back to Oxford, and straight to bed.

Not the most successful trip, but now we are looking forward to travelling the south of England, and Wales. A map of where we have been to is presented here:

And the gallery is regularly updated with pictures from our trips, and from our local surroundings, now turning into spring and summer with all its bloom:


Posted fr. 28. mai 2010 kl. 19.01 +0200

May, part one

May was a somewhat eventful month, even with not much success on the travelling part.

The first weekend we stayed at Denton house, to look after everything while the owners were away. Elsa, the Labrador of the house, recently had a surgery, and was rambling about with a cone around her head, hitting everything in her way. We took it off whenever we were with her, but poor Odin quickly learned to stay out of her way. It was a nice weekend, even though a bit cold and rainy, so we didn't get to enjoy the garden very much. Also, primarily Tollef, but me too, got a cold, so we had to postpone our planned camping-trip to Yorkshire the weekend after.

Instead, we made a daytrip on Sunday 9th, to Haywards Heath and ACES (Athletic Canine Dog Society). There we met a crowd of people with athletic bulldogs, bullterriers, mixes of those two, and the occasional lurcher and smaller terrier breed. Odin got to try weightpull, a sport where the dog is up to pulling as many times his own weight as possible. As not being trained for it, Odin "only" pulled the wagon itself, weighing about 100kg. The wagon is on rails, so it's not that hard to pull when they first get it startet, but that is hard enough in itself, and takes tecnique and focus. Very fun, and definitely something that we want to do more with Odin. We also tried running a 100m sprint after a lure (being pulled by a wire with some motorized device), and Odin did quite well. We look forward to the next meeting in june!

That week, I had to go to Oslo to sort out the house, as the tenants were moving out. I also took the opportunity to visit the breeder we are hoping to get a puppy from when we get back in august. A very nice meeting, and we also talked a lot about UK, since she had lived in Scotland as a child. The dogs were very nice, and the puppies were soon due to arrive! I also had dinner with Michael, who is looking after the house for us until we get back. And also turned the attic up side down to find some of the things I needed to bring back to England. Quite a lot done in very short time, before I got back to Oxford.

Saturday 15th, it was the Cuddesdon Fete, a local gathering to collect money for mainentance the local church roof. First, we met up with Per and Marianne in Oxford and did some sightseeing, before we went to the Fete together. It was a lot of food, games and dog shows. We got in a dog show with "musical sit" (almost like "musical chairs, just withour chairs and having the dog sit instead of yourself), and went out of the game first, as Odin was more interester in the cute bitch beside us than he was in listening to me. We also got to se some Morris Dancing, finally!


Posted fr. 28. mai 2010 kl. 18.39 +0200

Liverpool and Chester

Some time ago we went to Liverpool, and Karianne asked me to write the blog post about that. I've been putting that off for a bit, but figured it was about time to actually get it done now.

We had decided to stay in a small place somewhat outside Liverpool, called Runcorn. Found the hotel quite easily. Same chain as when we went to Cardiff. They seem to be based outside town centres, but are reasonable hotels with ok rooms and wifi.

The first day, we went into Liverpool and down to the docks. Parking was easy to find, and cheap. The docs were beautiful, except for a big road going alongside. After crossing said road, we passed a big yellow duckmarine, which are DUKWs, a type of World War II era amphibious transport, basically a waterproofed truck with a boat welded on and a propeller added. The yellow ones are painted bright yellow, this of course being a play on the yellow submarine Beatles song.

We started by going through the Beatles museum, having their early life stories retold and saw some of their early instruments before moving on to their trip to Germany and later the Cavern club and becoming famous. All in all quite interesting, even if it was somewhat expensive.

Afterwards, we picked up tickets for the next duckmarine trip and found some drinks to wait us over until lunch. On the way in, I'd spotted a brewpub and declared lunch to be there. The duckmarine was manned by two crazy men, going about the city, telling stories about the various buildings. We had a splashdown and went for a small cruise on the various docks before returning to dry ground.

We went to lunch at the Baltic Fleet brewpub. Their food was good, their beer was better. I had one of their smoked porters, which was really pleasant. Afterwards, we were getting somewhat tired, but decided to see at least one of the two cathedrals in the city, so we headed up for the Anglican Liverpool cathedral. In a way, it felt quite different to other cathedral's we've been in. I don't know if it was the height, the layout or something else, but I enjoyed walking around, taking pictures.

Visiting churches and cathedrals for a non-believer is always slightly odd. I enjoy the art and all those bits, but I don't parttake in the worship/belief bits. At the same time, I want to show respect to the people who do believe and not end up disturbing them or causing offence.

After the church visit, we just went back to the hotel for a small nap and then first out to a grasslands area on the other side of the river for a walk around there with Odin. Afterwards, we started looking for food and both of us wanted pizza. We finally ended up in a small fast-food joint and had some decent-ish pizza after going across the bridge to Liverpool once more. While we'd both enjoyed the view, it was beginning to be enough now.

The day after we went to Chester. That is, we first went to Chester Zoo. As Odin was in the car, we parked under a tree and went to make sure he was fine a couple of times during the visit. We saw quite a few animals of various kinds, most of them seemed to have at least adequate space and weren't too unhappy. Lots of zoos are like that. Not great, but not crap either.

Afterwards, we went to Chester and wandered around a bit. Looked at the cathedral from the outside, Karianne found a milk shake shop (which was just good, not great, apparently). Then we went to see Chester Fort, which was closed, before heading off to the amphitheatre. They are doing a fair bit of reconstruction work there to make it work as a modern amphitheatre. It will be interesting to see what it looks like and how it works when it's finished.

All in all, a short, but interesting trip.


Posted sø. 23. mai 2010 kl. 15.48 +0200

Ashes and Brighton

The second last weekend in April, we expected a visit from Anja and Kristian, Tollef's sister and brother. We were all very disappointed when the ashes from the volcano erruption on Iceland made the trip undoable. We really hope to be able to have the visit at some later point. As the weather was still incredibly nice, we decided to go to Brighton on my day off. Apart from wanting to se the famous Brighton Pier and the Prince Regent's Royal Pavilion, we both have people we know there, through software development and boardgames.

We didn't get on the road as early as we wanted to, but arrived in Brighton just after noon. We walked through the city centre to the Royal Pavilion and had a guided tour around the building. It was very special, more like a Indian/Chinese/Eastern palace than an English castle, which is of course why it is so special. The Prince Regent was not known for his modesty, and the decorations throughout the building was impressive, with dragons, phoenives, and bright yellow, red and green colours.

After the Royal Pavilion, we had lunch at a pub in The Lanes, old market streets of Brighton, and the main city centre from before Brighton became a popular tourist city. After lunch we met up with my friend Helen, and we walked down to the pier for ice cream. All the fun rides were moved out on the end of the pier, and it looked rather scary with some of the high and fast rides out over the pier edge. It was quite crowded but very nice to be close to the sea and all the nice views. Not very far from the Brighton Pier is the remains of the West Pier, that burned down some years ago. It looks like a skeleton pier and a bit of a special site compared to the other one. Out on the pier we met a couple of Tollef's friends from Debian, and as Helen left ut, the boys went for beer, while I got Odin. We caught up with them on a nice pub and had a drink, before Odin and I walked to a nearby park to relax in the sun.

Before leaving us, Helen was kind to invite us to dinner, so we set off from the city centre to her place, a very nice house outside Brighton. The food was very good and a nice change from the planned pub food, and we ended up leaving a bit later than we intended. A car accident just on the way out of Brighton delayed us for another hour, and we came home about midnight, rather tired after a long, but very nice day in Brighton.


Posted to. 22. april 2010 kl. 12.41 +0200

Leo and Coventry

Time flies when one's having fun and the sun shines.

Coincidenses made it so we didn't have any more dogs from Barking Mad for a while. The week after Easter (when most English people still have holidays) we had Leo staying with us, a small Working Spaniel. Odin was bullying him a bit from the start, but after a couple of days they were the best friends, running and playing together in the fields and at home. Leo had to lose a bit of weight, so we used the exceptional good weather and had long walks every day. When we were not outside, Leo laid on the sheepskin beside me in the sofa.

On Saturday I had a day off, and we decided to go to Coventry to see the cathedral, which is supposed to be exceptional. Having seen a lot of old and grand cathedrals, I was a bit sceptical that a post-war one could really be that grand. The cathedral is build right beside the ruins of the old one that was bombed to pieces in WWII, and it actually is very impressive. Apart from the cathedral, there is not much particular about Coventry, but it is a very nice city for shopping and just walking the city centre. After having done just that (mostly the latter part), we got the dogs and walked to a nice park, where we relaxed in the sun for a while. It was really warm, and it showed on the dogs as well. Reminding us the importance of bringing enough water everywhere we go, and to park in shadowy places.


Posted to. 22. april 2010 kl. 12.25 +0200

Thame Country-Faire

The Saturday before Easter I was on TringCon, a one-day board game convention in Tring, not far from Oxford. On my way to and back from there, I saw signs for the Thame Country Fair that was taking place in the Easter Weekend. On Easter Monday I had a day off, and we decided to take Odin and go there.

Country-Fairs appears to be big things for all the family. There were fun-rides for children of all ages, and stalls with sweets, ice cream, strawberry with cream(!), bakery and a lot of things. The whole faire ground was parted in to different areas for dog activities, hunting, fishing, crafts, food, equestrian, falconry and fun fair. Along all the areas there were sales booths selling equipment for most of the mentioned areas of interest, and even a rabbit- and a hamster-display. We got to se mounted games, horse-logging, hunting bird displays, pony driving, ferrets, lurcher racing and terrier racing. We put Odin on a terrier race, but he just ran off with one of the others to play. There were so much to see and do, that we didn't get to see half of it in the time we spent there. There will definitely be another country faire on our schedule.


Posted on. 07. april 2010 kl. 20.52 +0200

A visitor's guide to Guildford

In the Easter-week, my aunt Marit came from Oslo to visit us. It's been over a month since the last visit now, it's almost been quiet. Tollef was away working in Amsterdam for a couple of days, so the first day it was just the two of us. We went shopping sports clothing and food, and had a rainy but nice walk around Denton House, before Marit had to be the stable hand's helper and help taking the horses in.

On Wednesday Tollef was back, and we went to the city centre, visiting the Covered Market and ShakeAway as the compulsory visits, and more of the shopping centres. I found myself some needed work clothing, before Tollef and I left Marit to do a bit more of shopping on her own. Despite being sunny, the weather was quite cold, and it was good to get back home to a hot cup of tea. As an experienced English citizen and tea-drinker, we had some cups of tea during this visit, we are not always good enough at putting the kettle on.

On Thursday I was off work, and we had planned a trip to Jane Austen's House Museum and Guildford, where Marit lived when she was here. Tollef had gotten a severe cold after the trip to the city centre, so he and Odin stayed home, while Marit and I left quite early heading east. The Jane Austen's House Museum is a museum that is set up in the house where Jane Austen spent her last years, before she died from illness. She lived there with her mother, sister and a friend, and they loved it there. The house kept several original furniture and general furniture from the time period, as well as writings and accessories from Jane Austen. After the visit there we had lunch in Cassandra's tea house across the street, which was very nice.

From Chawton we went on to Guildford, the university city where Marit studied. We went to the Friar Square shopping centre, and the main shopping streets. Unfortunately, the castle keep in the city centre was closed due to frost damage. But at least it had a lovely garden that we got to see. We also went up to see the cathedral, which was very different from all the other cathedrals that we have seen so far. Most of all it was more modern, as they started building it in he 1930s. It was very nice though, and I really like the gold angel on the roof.

On the way home, traffic reports warned us of queues on the main roads, and it was also heavy rain and even hails. We ended up taking a detour around Staines and Windsor, a very nice detour despite the weather. Safely back in Oxford we did some shopping, and Marit could stock up on some Indian ready meals, before we got back home. A very nice three days before the Easter weekend got here!


Posted on. 07. april 2010 kl. 19.43 +0200


I'm a harpist! After seeing the harpist in York, Tollef noticed a harp in a local music store there, and said "it's not that expensive". I thought that I might give it a try then. After some research it appeared to be more expensive to get a decent harp, but by then I had decided to give it a go. We went to Cardiff and looked at harps, I tried out a handful of them, and found one that suited me quite well. I got it just before Easter, and have already had a couple of lessons and been to a harpist's night.

It is very easy to get nice sounds out of a correctly tuned harp. As a pianist the concept of playing a harp is quite easy to learn, the tuning itself not so much. The harp is the most sensitive instrument I've touched so far when it comes to tuning the strings, and I still have some training to do when it comes to that. A digital chromatic tuner, that gives me the tones by their frequency, helps a lot. Another challenging part is to get the techniques for playing the strings efficient and correctly, not having your fingers sabotaging the sound while rambling around on the search of the right strings to pull.

I try to play daily, and is less lost behind a harp than I was a month ago. Sound and pictures will be coming!


Posted ma. 05. april 2010 kl. 21.06 +0200

A Week in The North

Our long planned trip to The North was to be our longest roadtrip so far. The main plan was to go along Hadrian's wall and learn about it's history and see some roman forts and places nearby. Tollef went up to Newcastle on Friday already, to attend the Maker Faire 2010. It's a festival for, you've guessed right, making things. Anything, from old fashion hand crafts to modern technology and things that seem more like science ficton. I had to work the weekend, so on Sunday I got in the car with Odin and drove up to Newcastle to meet up with Tollef.

It's been an incredible week where we've gotten to see a lot of both past and present England. The weather was all over very nice, and apart from quite windy parts it's been warm and dry. The landscape and views of the North is impressive and beautiful, so different from what we are used to from Norway, except from the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales, which felt more like home than anything else. The trip feels very complete, and full of experiences and new impressions.

Day 1

After checking in on the hotel in Newcastle, we had just enough time to have a walk through the Discovery centre, where a part of the Maker Faire was held. There was an old-fashioned steam wagon outside, and inside there were lego-building, tablet weaving, robots and other things. We also had a walk through the permanent Story of Newcastle-exhibition. In the evening we walked in Quayside along the river, to look at the bridges of Tyne that connects Newcastle together over the river. All the bridges are very different and from different times, a very special view.

Day 2

On Monday morning we went to Prudhoe castle, just outside Newcastle. It appeared to be closed, so we just walked around it outside and in the courtyard (that was open because they were doing some mainentance there), and gave Odin a run in the nearby field. Since the steel furnace not far away was also closed, we decided to go to Durham, a small city just south of Newcastle. They have a nice cathedral that we visited. There's also a castle which is now partly student accomodation(!), and a nice covered market.

Day 3

As we had planned to go to Durham on Tuesday, we decided to take the time and go to Lindisfarne instead, despite the somewhat long detour in the wrong direction. Lindisfarne, the Holy Island, is said to be where the first Christians in England lived. Also the saint Cuthbert was buried here, until vikings raided the island, and the inhabitant monks had to flee the island with his body. Later on, a castle was built on the outer edge of the island, wathing out over the North Sea. It's been used both as a fortress, residence and museum during its time. Today the castle is available for wedding seremonies, and for tourists to visit. Also ruins of the old monastery remains, not far from the castle. It is a very pretty and peaceful place.

What is a bit special about the island is that it is reachable only when the tide is low. The tide covers the road to the island, so by then we had to be back on the mainland - or stay on the island for another 6 hours. The island is inhabited by about a hundred people, and does have a couple of cafes, shops and several bed and breakfasts, so it is definitely not deserted, but maybe a bit boring to be stuck on anyway. After visiting the Holy Island, we drove the coastal route back down towards Newcastle and then to Hexham, some miles west of Newcastle along Hadrian's wall. There we had a walk through the city centre, before we checked in at the Boatside inn, a very nice and friendly inn just a bit outside the city centre.

Day 4

Due to our luck and bad planning, the roman town we were going to visit was open in weekends only, until April. That left us heading towards Chesters Roman fort, which was a cavalry fort just along the wall, with the rest of a bathhouse, barracks and turrets showing. There was also a museum with findings from different places, fractures and bits of stone monuments, sculptures, tools and everyday things from the Roman era. We went further on to Housestead forts, where we could actually see a part of the wall itself connected to the remains of the fort. To get to the fort we had to pass through a field with sheep, and Odin had to be kept on a lead to not chase them.

In the afternoon, we had lunch in Hexham, and had another walk through the city centre. They have an old gaol, which was England's first purpose-build prison, through the Jaccobean uprisings. We also went via Tesco for Tollef to by a Nintento DS XL, so we could play together, as he's been borrowing mine quite a lot. From Hexham we decided to go to try and find the Allendale village, which also has a brewery. I thought it was also a pub, but after a while of searching, we found the brewery, being "only" just that. The guy there was very friendly and gave us a short tour through the brewery, before we bought a decent selection of his beers. Very nice! He also recommended a local pub who had their beers, and we ended up going there for a nice dinner in the evening.

Day 5

Thursday morning we checked out of the Boatside Inn and headed off to Carlisle. We had very good time, so we kept a lot to the sideways along Hadrian's wall. It was very pleasant, and also the sheep had started getting their lambs, so we saw a lot of them running in the close fields alongside the road. Some of them was not more than a few hours old! We stopped in a village called Halfwhistle and gave Odin a nice walk along a gorge there, before continuing towards our goal of the day. In Carlisle we walked through the city centre, and then visited the cathedral. It was very small for a cathedral, a part of the original building being gone. Carlisle also have "the Lanes", which is roofed lanes with shops and booths, where we had a milkshake.

Day 6

One thing that is very good with English Heritage, is that they allow dogs on many of their properties. Friday morning we took Odin and went to Carlisle castle. First we saw the "Wardens rooms" in the first tower, which was very nice. The castle was also very nice, and a lot of original building even though it has had some reconstruction work done. The castle had a long military history, and there are still military headquarters within the walls of the castle. The tower where Mary, Queen of Scots, were held prisoner by her sister Elizabeth, was unfortunately not there any more.

After seeing the castle, Odin was left in the hotel, while we went for lunch and more sightseing. We first visited the Guildhall Museum. It's one of the oldest guildhalls in England, and it told the story of how guilds worked in the city in old times. The exhibition was very interesting, and even today there are members of three of the guilds. Then we walked through Carlisle's own covered market, and back through the lanes again. In the evening we saw Alice in Wonderland in the cinema right by the hotel, in 2d. The movie was very good, though I was a bit disappointed about the mad hatter, I thought he ought to be a lot madder.

Day 7

For the last full day of our trip, we had decided to go some of the way south, to shorten down the last strech home on Sunday. Having all day to get to Manchester, we decided to go through the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales, which are supposed to be very beautyful scenic areas of England. Having been quite lucky with the weather all week, it was pouring down when we left Carlisle. Fortunately it cleared up, and Odin and Tollef had a nice walk to a small mountain top in the Lake District. The surroundings was very much like Norwegian hills and valleys, and low mountains with white and grey sheep dotting the hillsides. On parts of the mountains it was even some snow left. The roads all the way was quite narrow and somewhat rough, and we were well shaken on the way. In the evening we met a couple of friends for dinner in a pub, before we went to some other friends to stay the night. They already had some guests, and we ended up sitting up quite late talking, very nice. The hostess is Mexican, so in the morning next day we had corn bread with chorizo and mexican sauces, before we sat off on our last stretch towards home.

Home, sweet home.


Posted ma. 22. mars 2010 kl. 20.43 +0100

After we came back from York, Karianne decided she wanted to learn to play the harp. First, we went to a meeting of harpists in a pub in Oxford and she had a lesson where she learnt a bit about how to play. By then, she had decided she wanted her own harp and suggested we go to Wales (as there quite a few harp shops there). So, last weekend, we went to Wales. First to a small shop about half an hour from Oxford. There, Karianne found a harp she absolutely fell in love with and decided to buy on the spot:

Karianne with harp

No, not really. Pink isn't her favourite colour and the sound wasn't great either.

So, we went to Cardiff where we stayed at a reasonable enough hotel. We didn't see that much of Cardiff itself during daytime, just its castle, a couple of harp shops and a little bit of the high street and St. Mary's street. However, one of the harp shops (which wasn't really in Cardiff, it was almost in Newport), was situated just next to a great old house, the Tredegar House. The gardens were open, so we went for a pleasant stroll there before lunch and then heading back to the final harp shop of the day. In the evening, we first went to the Cardiff bay, an area reminding me quite a bit of Aker Brygge in Oslo or a (much) livelier copy of Docklands in London. They have something they call the Norwegian church there, which didn't look like any Norwegian churches I've seen, it looked more German or city hall-ish.

I had been craving a good steak for a couple of days and so had decided to go to the Taurus steak house. Unfortunately, when we finally made it there, we discovered they had closed up, permanently. Another steak house, Charlestons Steak House was just around the corner, and from reviews it looked quite good. We got in, and it looked a bit odd, a bit more of a night club than a restaurant. They also had an odd policy of "you pay when you order", which I guess means fewer people run away from their bill, but also affects tipping quite a lot. The food was ok-ish, but not that great. Maybe I just have high expectations, but it was nothing special, just decent enough. Just before this, Karianne's hips had started acting up, so we went back to the hotel afterwards.

On Sunday we first tried to find a Sports Direct shop to buy walking sticks for Karianne, as we would be spending the day in Bristol Zoo. After a small adventure including driving around a huge strip mall outside of Bristol, we found some that worked well enough. Karianne's friend Veronica lives in Bristol, so we picked her up before heading off. They had a decent selection of animals, most of which seemed to have what they needed space-wise. We also got to see lots of penguins and some seals too before we had food and drinks at the local microbrewery (called 0°) and then headed home.

Posted lø. 13. mars 2010 kl. 18.20 +0100

Shopping visitors

The week after we were in York, we had visit from my aunt and uncle from Oslo, and my cousin Tonje. Tonje is currently working as a volunteer in Stuttgart in Germany, you can read her blog here. They all arrived and spent a day in London on Wednesday, before coming to Oxford for an evening meal with sausage rolls and winter pimm's.

On Thursday, we headed off for the compulsory shopping on Tesco. We got all the food we needed there, but the real shopping didn't start until we went over to NEXT and across the car park. Tonje got a pair of shoes and Marita a sweather on NEXT, before we all went crazy in the sports store. I think we spent over an hour there, buying sports clothing, jackets, cycling wear and I don't know what else. Compared to Norwegian standards sport equipment is very cheap in England, so the general consept is that we saved a lot of money. In the afternoon, we all went to my workplace, and our guests had a tour around the garden and the house, and had afternoon tea.

Friday was planned to be the Oxford-day. We visited the covered market, and had milkshake on Shakeaway. Marita bought a phone, after ensuring several times that it was unlocked, could be used in Norway, and had Norwegian language. After turning the phone on to start using it, we very quickly discovered it did not have Norwegian as a language option, and returned to the store. They asked us to come back a couple of hours later, as the guy that could fix it was back then. So we went shopping for a while, nearly hoarding clothes in the larger clothes chain stores. After a while I was quite tired, not being used to so much shopping in one day, so I went back to the phone store together with Ove. There, the guys talked a bit among themselves and made a call, before the seller took us outside and said we had to go somewhere else. Then he walked us to this very shady kind of Pakistani store with money exchange and mobile unlocking services. They would install new software for £10, the seller told us. Of course we denied to pay that, since we actually bought a phone we thought had Norwegian from the start. It would also take an hour, and we didn't want to wait that long. The seller denied to take the phone back, as "they had no return policy on handsets". I suppose he thought we all were tourists and would be gone the next day. I would have pursued it if the matter had gone further, but in the end, the Pakistani guy (in whose store all this discussion took place) offered to buy the phone, and gave us the money we'd paid for it. A bit annoyed for the waste of time, but happy enough, we left to have dinner. We'll not be returning to Phones 4U in some time... Tollef hooked up with us, and we had a nice dinner in Eagle and Child, the regular pub of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Tonje was quite popular with the bartenders as well.

On Saturday, Marita, Tonje, Ove and I took off to see Stonehenge, and visit Arnstein in Bath. Stonehenge was quite windy, so I stayed in the car, since I'd been there before. In Bath, we picked up Arnstein at his place, and went to the city center. After having brunch at SubWay, the boys went off for sightseeing and beer, and I took Marita and Tonje to the Jane Austen centre. After leaving them there, I walked further on to the Assembly rooms, that Jane Austen mentions in at least one of her novels. It was a very pretty but not spectacular old house. I'd like to attend a dance there! In the cellar there was a fashion museum, unfortunately most of the exhibition was quite modern.

After picking up Tonje and Marita, we went sightseeing and shopping. We was the Bath Abbey and passed the Roman Bath. By then it was raining, so we fled in to the clothe stores to do some more shopping. Tonje and I had "lunch" at Shakeaway again, before we found the guys on a nearby pub. The place where we had decided to have dinner was full, so we ended up having dinner at a Wetherspoons right by the car park. We had an all right dinner while watching rugby games on the sports channel.

On Sunday, we went to Tesco to do some food shopping, and also ended up going through Boots and Sportsdirect, before returning home. Our guests left for the airport in the afternoon (Stansted is definitely the worst airport to get to and from Oxford), and we were once again on our own. A very nice weekend! I got myself two new jackets for the spring, new trousers, sweaters and some sportswear, and I definitely won't be shopping much for a very long time!


Posted ti. 09. mars 2010 kl. 22.25 +0100

Jorvik Viking Festival and Robin Hood's trail

February started quite nice and easy, with Tollef going off for a weekend on Fosdem, a conference taking place in Bruxelles. Nothing else really exciting happened before the half term, when we were going to York and the Jorvik Viking Festival. This was something I'd been looking forward to for some time, and we did a lot of planning on everything we wanted to attend there.

Arriving at the hotel, we realised that they had no parking, and we ended up paying loads of money for parking the two days, also due to a misunderstanding with the hotel personnel. Note to self: Check that hotels and B&B's have parking facilities before booking!

Unfortunately, the festival was in itself a bit of a disappointment. We started off the first morning to the textile demonstrations at the quilt museum. That appeared to be a volunteer, instructed for the day, showing some embroidery examples, spinning and a few other things of historical textile work. It all took us 10 minutes to go through, and there were nothing that I didn't really know from before.

Next, we went off to Murton Park and the Farming museum. Though it was primarily intented for children, they had a quite good introduction to vikings, and some practical acitivities with toy weapons, and making oil lamps out of clay. Absolutely one of the hights of the festival! After having lunch on our way back, we walked through the town center in the afternoon, finding that the queues outside the Jorvik Viking Centre was as short as it would ever get, and decided to go in there. Being a permanent attraction, they had done absolutely nothing (obvious at least) extra for the festival. It didn't even qualify to a "centre" in my opinion, more like a introduction-to-vikings-tour.

In the evening we had tickets to a theatre performance, also with music entertainment in the evening-show. It was another great disappointment when it appeared to be modern music being performed. Wasn't this supposed to be a Viking-festival? The play was very good though, telling the story of Egil Skallagrimson and Eirik Bloodaxe, in a real, authentic bardic way.

Thursday morning, we headed off to "Design your own dragon"-workshop at one of the historical centres in York. It was related to the "How to train your dragon"-movie, and I was hoping that it would be some kind of digital workshop. It appeared to be a kindergarden-type of making with paper, glue and feathers. We left quite quickly, and headed for the Viking craft fair in the Guildhall. That appeared to be one of the positive surprises on the festival, and it did not surprise me, when another Norwegian participant could tell me that it was not organised by the same people that organised the festival itself. We got to see a lot of very good historical crafts both in jewellery, textiles, weapons and other things. We bought a sheep hide and I bought a drinking bottle in leather, and some glass beads for a viking necklace.

After lunch, we met Dagfinn and Karen and had a tour of York Brewery. It was short but nice, and we had a few beers before leaving.

Heading from York, we went to Nottingham to follow the tracks of Robin Hood. We arrived late in the evening, accompanied by very heavy rain. Due to our bad planning this hotel didn't have parking either, so we ended up paying for another night in an expensive city-center parking house. Friday morning we headed off to follow the Robin hood-trail. After discovering how to get the gps not to just take us to any pub called "Robin Hood"-something, instead of the sites of the trail, we had a nice walk in the Sherwood forest, or "Thieves forest", as it was called back then. We also visited Sherwood forest visitor centre, and the ruins of one of King John's hunting castles. Along the trail we learned a bit more about Robin Hood and the time he lived in. It was a very nice outdoor day, and even though it was cold, it was at least sunny, for once. Odin came with us all the way, and was quite exhausted when we finally arrived at home at the end of the day.


Posted on. 03. mars 2010 kl. 13.06 +0100


January became quite an eventful month here in England. Both expected and unexpected events and encounters, both of positive and negative outcome, took place.

The second weekend in January, I went for a short trip to Norway, to attend my grandfather's 90 year birthday celebration. It was good to see everyone again, and very strange to come to Norway as a tourist. I have never been away from Norway that long before. It was cold, dark, they drove on the wrong side of the road and had all strange food! I was sure to stock up on tyre chains and brought the lot of four sets back to Oxford, to different people. Already the first two days after getting back I got to use them...

The next week I believe will be a week to remember for some time. First, I got a letter from NAV, the Norwegian social services. I have been entitled to some payments since I moved to England, but have got none. Now, this letter didn't only give me a confirmation of getting payment through the coming year, but I also got repaid all the money I'd been entitled to since September, which is a nice sum of money. Even though a good part of it went straight to the house mortgage, I kept some for myself also. Just another two days after this event, I got another letter. This time from my book club, who could tell me I'd won 10,000 NOK (about 1000GBP) in their lottery. Such things doesn't happen to me! It feels very comfortable to have a handful of money in backhand, and I also have afforded myself a few treats.

The first thing I did was to buy myself a couple of board games I have wanted for some time. One of them was Oregon, a Norwegian-made board game which appeared to be very good. I saw it first time when Kristine and Geir got it, and got very eager to try it. Unfortunately, it didn't make it in the mail before the boardgame weekend here in Oxford, as I hoped it would.

The weekend January 23rd/24th, OxCon was taking place in Oxford city centre. I was there together with Anne Jorunn from Trondheim and a lot of townies from Brettspielwelt, which is an online board game portal. Anne Jorunn and her husband Håvard drove from Trondheim to England mcuh for the same as us, to see England. Just in less time, about two weeks. Tollef met up with them on Cambridge beer festival, before they drove to Oxford for the boardgame weekend. We had a great time, learned some new games, rediscovered some old, met some new friends and old faces. It was very nice to meet all our online friends, which we talk to almost daily but have never met before. My only regret was that I lent my totally new Puerto Rico game to the tournament, and afterwards it seemed to have disappeart. I didn't even play it myself.

As Anne Jorunn also is sewing a lot of things, she was looking to buy an overlock machine in England, since they are quite a lot cheaper here. I searched up a few places on Internet, and on Monday after the boardgame weekend, we went to Banbury on overlock-shopping. We found a nice sewing maching-shop with a nice man. He was quite surprised and very kind when we said we were buying two machines, and we got a couple of decent machines, already on sale, with an additional discount. It was even a good deal cheaper than I had expected it to be, and I am really looking forward to starting using it!

On Tuesday, we followed our friends to Milton Keynes, where we visited Bletchley Park again. Last time we didn't get to see other than the main building, and the area is quite big. It was rather more spread out than more interesting, but it was all right to have seen it. A lot of exhibitions were also closed on weekdays. But fortunately a very nice man gave us a private tour of the computer museum, which was really a treasure!

Afterwards we went to the Milton Keynes shopping center for dinner and shopping LEGO in the brand store, before going to an excellent pub. Tollef and I drove back quite early not to leave Odin alone for too long, while our friends continued their pub-and-brewery-tour.


Posted lø. 30. jan. 2010 kl. 21.54 +0100

Snow in England

Last winter, England was shut off from the rest of the world for a few days, because of a quite heavy downfall of snow, appearantly the worst in 20 years. And appearantly it was not to be a once-in-a-lifetime either. Around christmas time we had cold periods, and in the week between Christmas and New Years the horses had to stay in. It was snow and ice everywhere, and we couldn't risk the horses going out and slip on the ground. Towards New Years it got better, and we carefully longed the horses before riding and letting them out in the field again.

The day after we got home from Scotland, my employer went on skiing holidays with the family, and left me and Daniel to look to the horses. All fine, but then came the snow again. This time it was a lot more snow, but less icy, so the horses could still get out in the field. Worse was, that the rest of England couldn't seem to get anywhere. It seemed a bit ridiculous to us Norwegians, but of course they don't have the routines and equipment to handle the snow here in England, as is in Norway.

As the cars doesn't have winter tyres, it was hard getting anywhere. Only the main roads were gritted, and everyone were warned not to drive anywhere unless they had to. Well, the horses can't tend to themselves, so I managed to drive as far as to the nearest village, Cuddesdon, and walked to Denton House from there. The roads became very icy, so I didn't take the chance of driving down to Denton House the rest of that week. The horses seemed all right with the snow, and were for once all clean when day got back in the stable in the afternoon, instead of covered in mud.

Another funny aspect was people hoarding milk and bread, and some other food. We didn't bother to, of course, but it lead to the grocers having short supplies of a lot of things, and of course the deliveries were lacking due to the weather, as everything else.

After a good weeks time the snow disappeared again, and things got back to normal. The experts says it's going to be another snowy period like that in February, and people are awaiting, a bit nervous and expectant, to see if it will be so.


Posted lø. 30. jan. 2010 kl. 21.33 +0100

A New Year in Scotland

Quite early on, we decided to go to Scotland to celebrate the New Year, of Hogmanay, as they call it up there. After some research we found a good new year's package on a hotel in Stirling that also allowed dogs. We've stayed at Barcelo hotels other places and like them really well. This was no exception.

We left early on Tuesday morning the 30th and drove northwards. It was a bit exciting due to the weather, but apart from some snowy showers and queues about Carlisle, we came well out of it, only about an hour delayed. On the hotel we had a nice 3 course-dinner, and had a short evening walk trough Stirling "city center" before going to bed.

On the new years day we had planned to see the Stirling castle, but I was a bit tired, so we went for the brewery that Tollef wanted to visit instead, hoping it included less walking. We tried to find the Allan Bridge brewery last time we were there a couple of years ago, but gave up finding it by foot. It appeared we turned around just a few hundred metres away from it. Of course. As we were there an hour before they opened, we decided to go to see the Wallace monument that we'd seen on the way to the Allan Bridge Brewery. It appeared to include some walking, but as we could bring Odin it was a good way to give him some exercise before the long evening ahead. It was a 15 minute partly slippery walk up to the monument, where Tollef and I walked to the top of the castle one by one, the other waiting with Odin outside. It was very nice and a lot of history to learn, and the view from the top was very nice when the snow showers stopped.

Both back down on the ground, we went to the brewery, which appeared to be very nice. We got to taste some very good beers, and bought a good bunch of them. The brewmaster was very nice and told us a lot about his beers. He also had a dog that wasn't there that day, because she didn't want to get out of bed. But he had a beer named after her, and we got one of those as a gift. I also bought some dog biscuits for Odin, that they made from the leftovers from brewing! We bought a good lot of beer to bring home, especially a bunch of the 1488 whisky beer, which was one of the best. It is actually beer made just like whisky, without the destillation!

We had a light lunch before going back to the hotel and got a couple of hours rest before the night's dinner. It was 4 courses, including haggis, with a lot of ceremony around it, with a kilt-dressed man playing the bagpipe and proclaiming Robert Burns poetry. I will now defer all rumors about haggis, it really tastes quite good! A bit like Norwegian meatcakes, just a bit more spicy. All the food was good, and afterwards we went to the "Academy Hall" for dancing. Tollef and I joined in one of the Scottish dances, and was complimented by some of the people there.

Just before midnight we dressed warmly (Odin also), and walked up towards Stirling Castle, where the fireworks would be. There was a concert by a Freddie Mercury-performer which was very good, and a lot of people in and around the castle. It was also a lot of ice everywhere, fortunately we got away with no accidents. The fireworks was a bit disappointing, it was only the one from the castle and nowhere else. But again, it was kind of nice knowing that there wasn't a million pounds "blowing up" that night.

After a good breakfast the morning after, we headed back towards the South. The weather was nice and clear, and ice cold, so the wiper liquid had frozen. The landscape looked like it could be anywhere in Norway, snowclad hills with some rocks and trees here and there. We passed the Camelot Theme park and decied to go there some time later. At dinner time we took off towards Stoke-on-Trent, and tried to find somewhere to eat. Everything was closed, all shops, restaurants and kiosks, and we used google maps and an hour to find the nearby retail park and Pizza Hut. Not being one of my favourites, we were both surprised by getting good food and good and fast service.

It was really good to get home, and we are happy to know that we are not going anywhere this far again in England. 60 Norwegian miles are a lot more in England than in Norway!


Posted sø. 03. jan. 2010 kl. 18.45 +0100

An English Christmas

Just a week after coming home from Cambridge, my sister Kristine and her fiancé, Geir, came from Norway to celebrate the holidays with us. The events started right away, and we went straight from getting Kristine and Geir from the bus, and to the annual christmas party in Denton house. It was a very nice gathering with a lot of neighbours and friends, and we had drinks and christmas carols.

On Wednesday, to us Norwegians the "little Christmas Eve", we went off to Kenilworth Castle just outside Coventry. It was more ruin than castle, but they also had a nice exhibition, a garden which is probably very pretty in summer, and a nice shop. On our way home we had plenty of time for me to be in time for work, so we decided to have lunch at a local pub. The food took ages before it was served (even though the place was not very busy), and while we waited for the dessert, I discovered that we were out of time. We hurried back towards Oxford, but unfortunately it started raining heavily, and combined with a road accident we got completely stuck in a queue. So in the end I had to call Daniel and ask if he'd be fine on his own, which he fortunately was.

Christmas eve is a quite normal day in England, so we went to Oxford for some sightseeing and shopping. In the Covered Marked we bought four small cakes for Christmas Day, and we had some milkshake at Shakeaway. Both Kristine and Geir got some new clothes also.


On Christmas day, we were determined to celebrate the English way. We had a rather good breakfast, before we opened the load of packages that awaited us. Odin got a toy and some treats, I got a green sou'west and matching socks(!), and Tollef got a tie with penguins on it. When I got back from my afternoon work, we had a decent christmas dinner with turkey, pigs in blankets, "medisterkaker", parsnips, carrot, sprout and potatoes. Very good! For dessert we had, of course, christmas pudding with brandy butter, custard and merengues. We were stuffed, and had both a round of board games and a walk(!) before we continued the eating. To our great disappointment, the cakes we bought the previous day appeared to be christmas pudding camouflaged in marzipan AND sugar icing. We barely had any of it.

On boxing day we went to do some shopping, but unfortunately most shops seemed to be closed. Kristine and Geir got a viewing round at Denton House, before we went food hunting. It appeared that few pubs serve food on boxing day. At last we found one not far from home, and it was in the same chain of pubs as the one in Kenilworth. It also showed to be as slow with the serving, and it took more than half an hour before we got our starters, and 45 minutes before we had our actual meals. Ok, it's franchise, but I will not visit another pub in that chain again very soon...

In the evening we went to se the Creation Theatre's Beauty and the beast. It was special, but very well made and performed. We had drinks and some pancake (or crêpes, rather) in the break, and were very satisfied when the day came to an end. On Sunday morning I took Kristine and Geir to Tesco for some "allergy-shopping", before they headed back to the freezing Norway.


Posted ti. 29. des. 2009 kl. 21.36 +0100

A Christmas party

Monday a week ago, Collabora had its Christmas party in Cambridge. Lots of people had taken the trip from other places in England, and so did we. Getting to Cambridge was a small adventure in itself. First, we made a silly detour while going to Bletchley Park, then we had too little time at Bletchley itself. We only got to look at the B block, which houses the Enigma machines and the story of the "Bombes", the electro-mechanical machines which helped break the Enigma codes. Luckily, the ticket is valid for a year, so we can go back and visit the Colossus museum and other bits later.

After we left Bletchley, we ended up getting stuck in traffic, a few times over. We ended up getting into Cambridge more than an hour later than expected. A quick change and a taxi ride later, we got to the Felix hotel where most of the crowd already was busy sipping champagne. Some hours later, food had been consumed, drinks had been had and Karianne and I found ourselves in a taxi en route to Christian Schaller's house. He's one of the directors of Collabora Multimedia and a fellow Norwegian. We had a few drinks there before Karianne headed home and the rest of us headed to Robert McQueens place. I hung out there for a couple of more hours and had good fun before walking back to the hotel for a couple of hours of sleep.

Tuesday, Karianne went shopping and got some tops and skirts while I worked a bit before we had some excellent pizza lunch at the Cow. Some other Collaboreans joined us too, in various states of hungoverness. A short, but very nice visit. Good to see people again.


Posted on. 23. des. 2009 kl. 19.16 +0100


A couple of weeks ago, a robin settled in the stable. Since then he's been around, faithfully watching everything we are up to. So faithfully, he almost makes me nervous. He's sitting there on the door or anywhere, watching when I'm feeding the horses, cleaning out their boxes, taking them out in the field in the morning and back in again in the afternoon. He's not very afraid, barely a meter away and I wouldn't be surprised if he suddenly landed on me. The horses doesn't seem to make anything out of him, and share a tiny rest of their feed with him. He's very sweet, I just hope he doesn't start talking to me one day...


Posted lø. 19. des. 2009 kl. 21.20 +0100

Bristol and Thame

I had the Saturday off when Hanne was here, and we went to Bristol to see the new aquarium there and the German christmas markets. The aquarium was quite nice, if not as grand as the one in Ålesund. Odin came with us, and while Tollef and Hanne watched an IMAX movie about whales, Odin and I did a bit of training and sniffing (most of the latter, really) in a very nice square nearby.

After seeing the aquarium we walked up to Bristol Cathedral. I guess it was nice enough, but somewhat a diappointment to me and Tollef after having seen Ely and Canterbury cathedrals. Then we had some cornish pasty before we walked through Bristols main shopping street and the German christmas market. It was really a bunch of stands selling sweets, hot food and some christmas decorations, and a few stalls selling mulled wine and beer. We had some mulled wine in one of them and it was nice, apart from that it had started raining. On our way home the rain came pouring down, and it was a quite tiresome drive back.

Last weekend we had a nice and slow time, just having a Saturday trip to Thame, a nearby village. We found the nice bookshop rumoured to be there, and bought a couple of books. A nice typical English village, really. The food at the local pub was good enough, but too little.


Posted fr. 18. des. 2009 kl. 11.37 +0100


The only baking I was supposed to do this christmas was cookiemen, or "kakemenn". For this I need "hjortetakksalt" called hartshorn, bakers ammonium powder, ammonium bicarbonate or any variation of those three. Despite it's many names, it seems to be impossible to get hold of it in the UK. It is available on the Internet through (not .uk) and some other sites, but none in UK. No pharmacies, health and herb stores, big supermarkets or any other we checked had it. Except for Boots. You can order it on their website. If you have a prescription from a doctor. And to a horrendous price. "Doctor, could you please prescribe me some cookies for christmas"? I tried to do it with baking powder and bicarbonate from soda, and that didn't work. I will give it another try with baking powder only, tomorrow. Or I'll just buy some shortcake instead.


Posted fr. 18. des. 2009 kl. 11.36 +0100

Dancing with lions

The week after my parents visited became somewhat busy. Tollef was in Dallas at a Ubuntu Development Summit (UDS), and Odin and I were on our own. On Friday evening, I went to the train station to get my cousin Arnstein, coming from Bath together with two of his friends to look after Odin in the weekend. Early Saturday morning I went to Gloucester, or more specifically Bishop's Cleeve outside Cheltenham (with the soccer team and the racecourse) to a lindy hop workshop with two of the best lindy hop dancers in the world, Ryan and Jenny. Among the other teachers were also Duncan and Louise from Plymouth and the local organisers, Gary and Sara Boon. It was a wonderful weekend where I had lots of fun and learned a lot!

On Monday, Tollef returned from Dallas, and we both had a few quiet days to relax. I got most of the weekend off, so on Saturday we decided to go to Cotswolds Wildlife Park", a zoo not far from Oxford. On our way there on Saturday morning, we drove over Swinford Toll Bridge, which claimed the whole amount of 5p for our passage. That is a little less then 0,50 kr. We had a good laugh after passing that one.

The zoo was a very nice one. We watched the penguins being fed, and walked through the "Madagaskar walk" with a lot of different kinds of lemurs jumping around all about us, not being very shy at all. We also saw some huge rhinos, wolves, pygmy sheep and goats, lions and leopards, and a lot of other more and less exotic animals. Contrary to the weather forecasts we had blue skies and sun all day, even though it was very cold. But the train that normally went through the whole park was off this weekend, so we kept warm enough walking in the park, with some inside breaks.

Next weekend, Tollef's mother Hanne comes to visit, and we look forward to that.


Posted sø. 29. nov. 2009 kl. 12.52 +0100

Our first visitors

Last Thursday, my parents came to be the first people from home to visit us here in England. Unfortunately, that weekend was also the first with so much bad weather at once since we came here. But hey, we're Norwegian Vikings, we can take a little wind and rain. On Friday we went to Oxford city centre to do sightseeing and shopping. We went to se Christ Church college and cathedral, which was very nice. Appearantly, some scenes from Harry Potter was also taken here. Then we walked through the Covered market and to Mark's and Spencer. There, my father got himself a couple of new sweaters, before he and Tollef ran off to a pub, and left me and my mother to do a bit more shopping. The day was finished off with a decent lunch on The Blenheim pub before we went home.

On Saturday we went to Bath to see my cousin Arnstein, who studies there. On we left early and headed for Stonehenge to stop and see it on our way. It was a very windy but nice experience, though I did find it a bit expensive to be allowed to look at a bunch of big rocks... Just as we set off further towards Bath, the rain came pouring down and lasted most of the day. We picked up Arnstein from his nice house outside Bath, and went to the city centre. There the guys, Odin included, went to a pub, while my mother and I went to the Jane Austen centre. It was a very nice experience, and I learned a thing or two about Miss Austen that I didn't know from before. I also spend an amount of money in the shop there, buying myself some piano records, a new and authentic fan and a couple of books. After catching up with the beer-boys we went for shopping and lunch in the main centre of Bath. The food was good, even though we ended up right in front of a big screen that showed a very loud international rugby match. We had dessert on Shakeaway before we brought Arnstein home and headed back towards Oxford.

On Sunday, Tollef left for an Ubuntu Allhands conference in Dallas, US, so it was just my parents and I, and Odin of course, that went to see Denton house where I work. To everyone's pleasure we had blue skies and sun, and the place was shown at it's best. We saw the stables and my parents were guided through the house and the garden, before we had a nice cup of coffee. We decided to have lunch at the local pub before we went home, and came back to Oxford just in time to do a little shopping in Headington before we went back to the house.

My parents were going home on Monday morning, so I drove them to the bus before I went to work. It's been a very busy but likewise nice weekend!


Posted to. 19. nov. 2009 kl. 13.52 +0100

Sightseeing Oxford

I had both Saturday and Sunday off this week, and we decided to discover Oxford, as we haven't really done that yet. After deciding to skip Oxford castle we walked through the Covered Marked and to the museum area. There we took our time in the Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum which is inside the first one.

After the museums we were hungry, ended up on O'Neill's, and had their absolutely delicious chocolate fudge cake for dessert. Then we walked through the city centre and did a little shopping, before we did the last museum of the day, Oxford Museum. It was nice to learn about the history of Oxford; a very interesting history as well.

On Sunday, our plan about walking the Wittenham Clumps almost was spoiled by the bad weather, but it cleared up and we had a nice walk in the afternoon. A very nice weekend, and we know a little more about the place we actually live.


Posted ti. 10. nov. 2009 kl. 22.55 +0100

Barking Mad - Are we?

Barking Mad is a home-kenneling franchise, to offer people to put their dogs in private homes instead of kennels when they go on vacation. I was tipped about it at one of the dog training clubs I visited, and thought it might be a nice experience and extra income for us to be hosts. So I contacted Catherine Court who runs the Oxfordshire franchise, and after an interview and a visit to meet Odin, we became approved hosts.

We were supposed to have a dog on try-out next weekend, but then I got an email from Cate that his owners brought him on their holiday, but if we could take on another client instead, that didn't work out in the home she was put in. Just a couple of hours after we got home from Warwick castle, Cate came to deliver Eilidh, a cute Westie lady, to stay with us for the week. Eilidh and Odin came along quite well, and Odin even invited her to play. Of course, being an old and proud lady, she would have none of that, but didn't make any fuss about it either.

On Monday I brought Odin to work, while Eilidh stayed at home with Tollef. Odin was in his (open) crate in the back of the car in the stables yard, when the resident labrador Elsa came to say hi. They are normally good friends, but Odin is very protective about his crate and they ended up having a dispute, and Odin of course hurt his paw. So the next couple of days Odin had to stay at home when Eilidh came with me to work. Today Odin tread on his paw during the morning, and since it's Eilidh's last day with us I brought them both to have a run and play. They played for a bit, then came with me to move the ponies from a field to another. Odin rolled in the muckheap and was lucky to have a nice, warm bath when he got home (not that he appreciated it that much, really). Currently they are both asleep on the sofa/bed in the office.


Posted to. 05. nov. 2009 kl. 21.31 +0100

Warwick castle

When Tollef came home from the last day of the diving course, he said we should go to Warwick castle, since they had been driving past Warwick and it looked very nice. I had the Sunday off, so we decided to make it a daytrip. Sunday morning it rained cats and dogs, and there were several accidents on the main roads. Fortunately we were not in any of them, and shortly after we came to Warwick castle the weather cleared up.

Warwick is one of the oldest still-standing castles in England, and I expected it to be very interesting. Unfortunately it is owned and commercialised by the Tussaud Group, so it is made a bit of an amusement-park, but it was really not bad for being one. There were good presentations of Richard Neville the Kingmaker, a Royal Weekend Party from the 1800s, a trebuchet-demonstration, a falconry display and of course for the occasion, a Halloween Haunted Hollows-walk. The last one was really scary. We've seen some falconry-displays now, and seem to learn new things every time.

After walking in and around the castle for some hours, we took our newly aquired dragon (the sweetest ever!) and had lunch on the Tudor Inn, before we went home.


Posted to. 05. nov. 2009 kl. 21.19 +0100

Dive certification

At the beginning of the year, Karianne and I were in Egypt and I went through the first half of the "PADI Open Water" dive certification. The first half earns you the certification "Scuba Diver", which doesn't actually give you much apart from the ability to build on it and get an "Open Water" certification. When we came here, I decided I wanted to finish what I had started and found the Oxford Dive Centre. I had to do about half a day of theory with an exam, a pool dive in an actual swimming pool and an open water dive. The theory was easy enough, it's mostly fairly sensible stuff and some easy maths (addition and subtraction) to find out maximum length of dives. Diving in a swimming pool was odd, but went well enough, even if it was slightly boring more than anything. We were supposed to do all kinds of stuff like regulator recovery, exchanging snorkel and regulator and such. Quite basic stuff, really.

For the open water dives, we went to Stoney Cove, which used to be a granite quarry up until 1958. When they stopped quarrying, it started filling with water and people started diving there. There's a small dive centre there with showers, a place to get some food and drinks and a parking lot. The water was almost choppy and it had been windy for quite a while, so visibility was almost non-existent. The water was surprisingly warm at +14°C, and with a wetsuit, hood, boots, gloves and oversuit, it wasn't too bad either. We mostly did the same exercises we did in the pool as well as some underwater navigation (using a compass). All in all, not too bad, though I got cold by the end of the second dive. 40 minutes in that cold water does that to you, I guess.

All in all, it was a fun experience. I don't think Stoney Cove will be a favourite of mine, as it is too cold and visibility is generally not that good. The team at the Oxford Dive Centre was great and friendly and I'm already considering taking another course there.


Posted ma. 02. nov. 2009 kl. 21.05 +0100


This country has a weird relationship with ginger. Not only do you get ginger beer, both the alcoholic and the non-alcoholic variant, but you can also find ginger in random other foodstuffs. Some days ago, I bought a smoothie made of pineapple, blueberries and ginger. This sounds quite odd, but was actually very good. There wasn't more than a hint of ginger, so it mostly tasted of blueberries and a smaller bit of pineapple. Quite yummy.

Posted ma. 02. nov. 2009 kl. 20.35 +0100

Canterbury - Dover - Hastings

Last weekend, we did the South East of England, more specifically Canterbury, Dover and Battle of Hastings.

After my morning work on Friday we went off, first stop in Staines to have lunch with some colleagues of Tollef. The food were incredible late, and free drinks on the house didn't mend our lost time, so we came just too late to get to see Rochester castle from the inside.

As we headed on towards Canterbury and our lodging for the night, I realised we had forgotten Odin's things, his food, his collar (he wore his harness in the car, luckily), his coat in case of rain and a few other things. So, we dropped by a supermarket and bought him some fresh meat and a small bag of some decent dry food. During the last hour of our trip that night the rain was really heavy, and I could barely see the next car about 50 metres in front of me on the motorway. Luckily, it didn't last the night.

On Saturday, Odin had to stay in the car while we visited the Canterbury cathedral, and the Canterbury Tales. The cathedral was very nice and it was exciting to discover more of its history. The Canterbury Tales was an expensive, but funny visualization of the Tales. I have not read them before either, but I will have to now. Afterwards we took Odin for a walk in the city centre, where we saw a lot of old and new shops and nice old buildings.

Dover Castle was a big experience, with buildings and history from many time periods and regents. I got a bit closer to some of the royal history of England, and the castle was a really exciting view. A lot of photos can be seen in my gallery. Unfortunately we was a bit late to see the famous white cliffs of Dover from the tourist-site, as it was closing quite early, and the sun would go down. We got to see a little of it, and let Odin have a run before we headed for Hythe, where we would stay the night. On our way we decided to be a bit adventurous, and ignored the GPS, driving a different way. Very nice, and we got to see a bit more.

When I was checking up on opening times and admission fees for the weekends sights, I became aware that the yearly reenactment of the Battle of Hastings was taking place just this weekend! With a detour to have a look through the village Rye, we went to Battle (an actual place a few miles north of Hastings) to see the abbey raised on the battlefield, historical battle demonstrations, and, of course, the Battle of Hastings itself. This year it was a rather small one, with merely 200 reenacters taking part in the battle itself. Every 5th-6th year there's a big event with thousand or more participants. I'd like to see that some time. Still, the highlights for me included walking around the camp and the market to have a look at all the well-made costumes and equipment, it was a sheer pleasure to see!

On our way home, the GPS decided to drive us through Brighton, so we had dinner at a nice pub there before heading home. I really believe we are going to be tired of those last few miles to Oxford after some time... Next time we'll probably go west or north, at least.

Posted fr. 16. okt. 2009 kl. 22.15 +0200

Our English life is coming along. We've figured out Tesco (the supermarket, which also has gas stations, insurance and misc other branches), tea, left-hand driving, jobs, and generally getting used to the English way of living. Last Thursday, Odin finally came by plane from Norway. There were a few problems on the way, but he got here and seems happy enough in his new home. We've discovered a few of the parks in the area already.

I have been working for over a week now, and love it! The place and people are lovely, and the horses, of course. I'm still not completely into the routines of working a couple of hours in the morning (from 7:30!) and then an hour again in the afternoon, but it gets better every day. Getting up in the morning is not really a problem, and I feel less tired after work than I could expect.

Odin has come with me a few times now, and seems to settle very well on the farm. Today he met Elsa, the labrador who lives there, and fortunately they came along quite well. Odin's a lot more interested in the squirrels though, and pops through the fruit garden to the field to check if there are any squirrels where he saw them the last time he was here. They are too quick for him, and luckily he gives up quite soon when they get to the treetops.

When he doesn't chase squirrels, he helps out with the stable work:


A nice view of Oxford from Southpark:


Posted to. 08. okt. 2009 kl. 22.14 +0200

A visit to Redwings

Last Sunday, we went on a trip northwards, past Banbury, to a small place called Oxhill. There, a horse rescue organisation called Redwings has one of its centres. We adopted one of their horses, Boo, two years ago and even though he doesn't live in Oxhill, it was a good excuse for a day trip. We wanted to pick up some lunch on the way, and I had planned for us to stop in Kidlington, but as fate (or rather, the GPS) had it, we didn't pass through Kidlington and I almost forgot all about lunch. We got to Banbury, but the first pub we ran across only had carvery that day, and we didn't feel like that. The Italian restaurant next door was a bit pricey, so we ended up just picking up some sandwiches at the petrol station down the road.

Armed with fuller stomaches, we set off once more and got to where the GPS told us the centre was supposed to be. Except, there wasn't a sanctuary there, just a place selling coal. We couldn't immediately see anything, and we started looking for a map on our phones, but also decided to just go a bit farther to see if it was just along the road somewhere. Just as I found it on the map, Karianne spotted it.

They had a small visitor centre/shop there, where you could buy everything from post cards and books to chocolate and stuffed toys. The horses, ponies and donkeys are kept in large paddocks outside. We had a walk around and said hi to some of the horses, but as they were being fed at the same time, they weren't particularly interested in us.

Nothing really exciting happened on the way back. I fought a bit with the GPS to get it to route us via Oxford centre, and it somewhat did, so we at least got a drive-by of some of the areas we hadn't looked at before, particularly to the west of the river and train station.

Karianne and donkey

Posted sø. 04. okt. 2009 kl. 20.35 +0200

I've got a job!

After a week in Oxford it was clear that my chances of getting any job within office/reception/archivist work was quite non-existing as I don't have any working experience in those areas. So when I saw the local Sub-way advertising for extra help 2 hrs a day during lunch rush, I dropped my CV and hoped for the best. After the interview on Thursday my hopes were up, but I checked the job ads anyway. And somewhere between the phone sales and accountancy jobs, there was a "part time help with horses needed". I called them up, and got a meeting the next morning. The stables were on a private old English farm with stone buildings, a fruit garden and large field around. There were two ponies and four horses, a very nice labrador, and of course the very nice owners of the place. I realised it's a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and called up in the afternoon and said I wanted the job if they'd have me. They was to interview another candidate this morning and call me afterwards.

I grabbed a "Horse and Rider" magazine on Tesco (the local supermarket) and couldn't wait to get the answer. I was pretty nervous about not getting it, when I turned down the offer from the Sub-way. As all the blog readers have understood from the start, I got it! Starting this Tuesday at 8 o'clock in the morning, half an hour later than I will start normally. The first week I will work together with the owner to get to know everything (and the English terms for it), and then it's off on my own. I will be there a couple of hours in the morning to feed and let the horses out and clean the stables. In the evening I go back to get the horses in and give them their dinner. Initially there's no riding, but I will have opportunities for that as well. Every Monday it's handicap riding with authistic children. It will be a very different year in a very different job but I'm in no doubt it's going to be fun and healthy! And even better, I get paid more than I would at Sub-Way.

To mention that as well, we were a short trip in London in the start of the week. Tollef were working (for LinproRedpill, in Canonicals offices) Monday and Tuesday, and I came after on Tuesday for socializing, sightseeing and shopping. I got to see some new museums (none historical, not that interesting really ;) ), have dinner with Dagfinn, and do some shopping.

On Tuesday, I had a horrible shopping experience. I had been recommended the pet shop on Harrods, Pets Kingdom, and found my way there. They had a lot of more or less interesting things (very nice coats, puzzle games, beer for dogs, and most of it was expensive. I got to the back part of the shop, and there, in a glass cage, they had two Lhasa Apso puppies for sale! There was a sign about the animals being from serious breeders, that they come with all vaccinations and vet's papers, BUT WHAT SERIOUS BREEDERS PUT THEIR PUPPIES OUT FOR SALE IN A GLASS CAGE ON HARRODS? Pups that age should be running around in gardens and exploring the world and fighting each other! I was so shocked by the sight (I barely noticed the kittens in the next cage), I just turned and went straight out, fighting back my tears.

Wednesday was a lot better. I found a nice new corset, and, not intended but very much needed as my army boots is worn out, a nice pair of green Dr. Martens boots.

After getting home from London on Wednesday we've been all busy with the house and job hunting. We've gotten the oil tank filled, a decent electricity system installed (instead of the pay-as-you-go system we initially had), and gotten our stuff a bit more organised. Next Thursday Odin will come, and I miss him so much and longs for him every day. There are so many nice parks and green areas around, and he will join me on work also. We're getting settled in England!

Posted lø. 26. sep. 2009 kl. 22.05 +0200

Roundabouts and dead animals

That's what we've seen the most of this weekend. On Thursday, we went off to Cambridge for Tollef to do some work and me to do some touristing, and also to drop by IKEA in Milton Keynes for some houseware-shopping.

Out of Oxford towards Milton Keynes, there was never less than a mile between the roundabouts! Mostly it was about half a mile with national speed limit (which is 60 mph or about 90 kmph) between the roundabouts, and then on again. We were already amused by the mini-roundabouts in the city centre and local areas, which mostly consists of white circles in the middle of junctions to make the traffic float better. It works, but it looks pretty funny to us Norwegians.

We decided to go for IKEA on Thursday, to be a bit more flexible about our return on Sunday. We got almost everything we needed, including a couple of foldable chairs, a coffee table, a cover mattress and some kitchenware.

The last bit to Cambridge had several parts with up to 5-6 miles between the roundabouts. We arrived the Collabora offices in the city centre of Cambridge just in time to have some rest before going out with Tollef's colleague Sumanah and her husband. We went to a very nice restaurant and had a nice evening, before heading off to Steve who had been so kind to lend us his sofabed for the weekend.

On Friday, I didn't feel to well, so I had a pretty lazy day with relaxing in the park before going to curry dinner with the Collabradors (...?).

Saturday I had decided for us to go to the horseraces on Newmarket, which is just a short way from Cambridge. Tollef came with me, maybe not too enthusiastic. The weather was lovely, actually it has mostly been sunny every day since we moved here! We saw a lot of pretty horses, I won a pound and lost a handful. Just for fun, of course. It was nice, but not something I would do a lot even if I lived in England permanently.

From Newmarket we decided to take a detour back via Ely, which has a wonderful large cathedral. It was really stunning, and I do actually believe it is the most beautiful cathedral I ever saw.

On the road Saturday, we noticed a pretty fair amount of dead animals along the road. Especially on the local roads, but also along the motorways there were dead rabbits, pheasants, badgers and other birds and small animals. At some point it was less than 20 meters between each, and I felt really bad about them. In Norway, warning signs and speed limits would be in place pretty quick in those circumstances.

On Sunday we met up with Colin and his family for lunch on Carlton Arms, before heading home. Colin's 9 month old daughter Judith was adorable and pretty much stole the attention. We had also planned to visit Trinity college on our way home, but unfortunately it was closed. Well, we will probably visit Cambridge again during our stay in England.

Oh, btw. I joined Skype. A lot cheaper to call Norway, especially when my parents get it as well.

Posted ti. 22. sep. 2009 kl. 23.49 +0200

We got a car!

Most of the weekend we biked around Oxford to look at used cars. Starting out a little late in the afternoon on Friday, we checked in on any car dealers we saw along the way to the city center (with a good detour), but didn't really find any very interesting cars. Most of them were too expensive for our budget and compared to the ones we had looked up on the Internet. On Saturday we called up a car dealer that we had seen had a Ford Fiesta, and made an appointment to look at that one. We tried the Fiesta, and also an Opel (or Vauxhall, which is the UK equivalent) Astra that seemed like a lot better buy. We got home and checked up on insuranse and everything, but when we called to say we had decided for the Astra, the guy had sold it!

Very disappointed, we searched the Internet for similar Astras, and found a couple not too far away. On Sunday we made an appointment to have a look on one of them, and to make a longer story short, now it stands just around the corner of our house. It's a newer model than the first one (2000 vs 2003), but it's also been going longer. Anyway, we're happy to be done with it, and will head off for Cambridge on our first weekend-trip this first Thursday.

On Monday, I went to the city centre to get a Resident Parking Permit, so we can park in our nearby area. After getting some visitors permits, as I needed some more papers for the resident ones, I went to explore the city centre and find some recruitment agencies. I found three, that all asked me to email them my CV and references, but hopes of getting any job with my (lack of) experience are pretty low. Well, I'll just apply for everything that comes along.

Before I was to be headed for Headington to pick up the car, I got some lunch and just wandered around. I saw the sign of the Sweet shop that Jo's wife mentioned the other day, and decided to go in to some backyard-marketplace. The first thing meeting me was "Shake away". I love milkshake, but in Norway you only get them at McDonalds and Burger King, so I had to try them out. Not too bad. They also had a vacancy, unfortunately it was full time only. :( I walked further in, and came into some roofed market. I got a taste and bought some sweets in the sweet shop, and then went on through the market. There were a western shop, another milkshake shop (!) and a lot of other things. I didn't have the time to explore further, so that's on my list for another day.

I hope to get my camera today also, so I can start getting photos from around. Besides, we got REAL internet now. Our server will also soon be up, and hopefully some ip phone system, so we can get cheap calls to (and from) Norway.

Oh, and in the evening, I went to the local dog training club to watch their courses. It's a bit different from how we do things in Norway, but it will be nice to have someone to train together with. I've contacted the other club also, hoping they have more organised training than simply courses.

Posted ti. 15. sep. 2009 kl. 16.49 +0200

Finally, all set in the new house in Oxford!

I joined Tollef here last Monday, and so far so good. My first impression of the house was far better than expected, it's a bit worn but absolutely ok. There's a few things that need fixing, the landlords will bring some furniture and paint the walls, and I think it will be really nice here when all that is in place.

Of course, the first days always goes to get things settled, like figuring out where the nearest food store is, the bus stop, pet shop etc. Wednesday night came the moving company with all our things, and not to mention our bikes. Flat as England is, bikes are a good way to get around. Already two hours after delivery, I biked to Barton, about 15 mins from here, to attend the first dancing classes at Oxford Swing Dance Society. Contrary to Norwegian classes, they start teaching 6-beat steps without the triple steps, so it was a bit different from what I am used to. I started out with the basic class, but will follow the intermediate class from next week on. Then we're going to learn 8-beat steps with the triples!

I miss Odin, and I am convinced he'll like it here. He'll get his own corner in the living room. Since Sunday he's been staying with Linn-Ingunn and Nila, until yesterday, when he moved to Matija and his wife. Thanks for taking care of my baby! I worry a lot about his paw, probably more than he does himself...

Today, one of the landlords showed up with a wardrobe and a chest of drawers, so I got to unpack my clothes. They also painted the rooms downstairs. Right now there's some guy here that's supposed to change our cooking top for a new (it was completely broken, we discovered when trying to make dinner yesterday), but the new one appearantly doesn't fit.

No photos yet, I have ordered a new camera which will hopefully turn up early next week.

Posted fr. 11. sep. 2009 kl. 15.13 +0200

Each year, the Debian-UK barbecue is held at Steve McIntyre's house in Cambridge. In order to see people, I took the bus over on Thursday, worked a bit out of the Collabora office, met up with some people there I hadn't met before and generally had quite a nice evening. Colin Watson also called me and we met up for beer in the evening.

On Friday, we had breakfast at a cafe down the road, said goodbye to Christine, Daf's girlfriend who were going back to the US and I got to borrow her bike. At work, I rewrote most of the accounts database and added a load of checks to make it work better and hopefully be more flexible so it can do what we want it to, properly. Learning a bit of pg/PLsql was fun too. Robert McQueen and I were supposed to head out for curry somewhere, but ended up not, and had just made some food when Daniel and Rob showed up. Went to bed far too late.

Saturday morning, the back tyre of the bike was flat, so Rob biked off to a nearby bike shop and got it fixed for me. I'm not exactly sure what we did during the day, but we met up at Steve's house in the afternoon sometime and ate, drank and were merry until the wee hours of the morning. Sunday proceeded somewhat similar, but I went to Steve's a bit earlier and we went home a bit earlier too, after playing Mario Kart and mostly doing quite well doing so. Amongst crazy ideas we had were my idea of using Mao as a metric for how good they're at debugging.

Monday was reserved for breakfast and punting. Nobody fell in and the weather was splendid. What more is there to ask for? Had dinner with Neil, Doree, Steve, Jo and Simon (and a couple more). Very nice and good food with a bit of green bits after weekend was quite useful.

I've taken a few (not many) pictures, they will appear at some time.

Posted ti. 01. sep. 2009 kl. 01.32 +0200

First week in England

I've now been here for a week and got quite a lot accomplished:

  • We have a house (or at least, almost, contract still needs to be signed)
  • I've been to London to drink beer with friends and acquintances. Very nice.
  • Some of the surrounding area here has been explored, both to the north and the east. Beautiful countryside, very easy to bike in.
  • As we are buying a car, I'm going to have a few driving lessons.
  • I have applied for an account in a bank. Hopefully all that goes through and I will have somewhere to put my money.
  • On Wednesday, I met up with a local DD and his wife and had some beer. Excellent fun.
  • In the local pub, I managed to beat the bartender at dart, at least once (out of two times). This made me really proud as I suck at darts and haven't played for years.

The house is located in Headington, which is slightly to the east of Oxford.


Map showing house

This week, I'll get the contract signed and travel to Cambridge to attend the annual Debian barbeque. In addition, I'll have my first driving lessons here. It'll be an interesting week, I hope.

Posted ma. 24. aug. 2009 kl. 14.40 +0200

First post to this blog, let's see how it flies.

Posted to. 06. aug. 2009 kl. 23.18 +0200