Category Archives: travel
The word ecstatic means: Feeling or expressing overwhelming happiness or joyful excitement, and that is what I’m doing here today.
I haven’t posted in a very long time. I’m not sure anyone out there remembers this site or will even read this post, but that doesn’t matter.
Let me explain… I do not consider myself a writer.
I am a reader.
I wrote a book that did not come from talent or imagination. It was just me telling my life story, punctuation, spelling errors and all. I started this blog to publicise that book, but soon found myself happier reading other blogs than writing one myself. So I stopped.
Now why am I sitting here today?… Writing. Good question!
The only answer I can think of is excitement. I’m so excited, I can’t sit still and I want to shout from the roof top.
I’m going to England!
I’ve been there before. Many times actually, but this time is different. This time I’m going on a ‘literary pilgrimage’.
My parents are coming to Norway (where I live) for a visit, this Spring. My mother suggested that maybe her and I could take a little trip, an excursion while they are here. My first thought was Paris but then a friend soon put another idea into my head. Her and her daughter had just purchased cheap tickets to London and asked if we would like to travel with them.
Except for seeing a show and afternoon tea, London didn’t tempt me. Knowing however, that my mother didn’t care where we went, a thought crossed my mind. The same thought that crosses my mind whenever I think of England. Jane Austen.
Jane Austen has long been my favorite author. I’ve read all her books and although pleasurable, not an easy task. At least not for an American like myself. It’s like reading in another language, new and romantic. I love everything about them. While there is plenty of plot and adventure, they are genteelly written and domestically structured around marriage. They are about women.
If you have never attempted to read one of Jane Austen’s novels, you should, or at least see one of the many films based on them. I’ve seen both the Hollywood and BBC versions, (many times over) neither of which disappoint.
For me it’s not just her writing, but the author herself that entices. I want to walk where she has walked. And that is exactly what I am going to do come June, with a trip to Bath and Chawton cottage.
We will be taking a bus trip from London to Bath, stopping off at Stonehenge. Jane Austen lived several years in Bath. Here we will see the Roman Baths, take afternoon tea and of course visit the Jane Austen Centre.
We will also visit Chawton. I have a friend living near London named Claire, who has kindly offered to drive us. We will visit the village and cottage where Jane Austen spent the last eight years of her life. The literary shrine where six of our greatest novels were first written or given their final form.
I can already hear the birds singing and I’m ecstatic…
A list of my favorite Austen books, in order:
- Sense and Sensibility
- Persuasion (surprise)
- Pride and Prejudice (usually the most popular)
- Mansfield Park
- Northanger Abbey
Start reading, Mom!
I’ve been following a blog called My French Heaven for quite a while, it’s written by a Frenchman named Stéphane. Stéphane lives and runs a Chateau (B&B) in a small town outside Bordeaux. All of his posts are written in both French and English. I can’t remember how I came across the blog but what attracted me most, were the photos. Stéphane takes the most beautiful photos of people, scenery and food! Pictures that draw you in, and make you want to get on the next plane to France.
That’s why when recently planning a trip with friends, I suggested we fly to Bordeaux, drive out into the French countryside and stay at Stéphane’s Chateau. After showing my friends his photos, they were in total agreement. All info about the Chateau and surrounding area can be found on his blog.
Tucked between vineyards and not far from Saint Emilion, the Chateau was the perfect place to stay. It was especially nice to finally meet one of my many blogging buddies (I wish I could meet you all). Stéphane was a friendly and very helpful host.
Although I’m not quite the photographer Stéphane is, here are some photos from our trip…
Chateau St. Jaques Calon
A trip to the Farmers Market in Libourne
The charming city of St-Emilion
A tour and wine tasting at Chateau Cardinal-Villemaurine
A bicycle trip
The only thing missing from our trip was the sun and we hardly even noticed.
Every year it’s the same story… Where should we go this summer for a suntan?
The reason is simple, we live in Norway.
Here in Norway, you can never-ever count on good weather.
Not even in summer!
Most Norwegians head south but not us. We go west, towards New Jersey. The Jersey Shore is a great place to spend summer.
This year, with my granddaughter coming over from the States we decided to stay right here in Norway. We were invited to a friends place, way, way up in the top of Norway and so while everyone else was flying south, we flew north…
I promised the locals I wouldn’t give our exact location, because they don’t like tourists wandering around while they’re trying to skinny dip ;)
I will tell you this… We were above the Arctic Circle and no one was more surprised than me at how beautiful it was.
It was a perfect, Norwegian summer!
Did you know…?
Northern Norway lies above the Arctic Circle and is a wonderland of treasure…
The Northern lights illuminate the dark skies of winter, and the midnight sun provides endless days of summer.
The midnight sun also gives extra energy making it very easy to forget to go to bed at night.
A landscape of skerries, boat-houses, lapping waves and the cries of gulls ease away tension.
Would you like to see the treasures I found on my recent trip north…
Magma Geopark is an area of unique geology. The geopark is located in southwest Norway and is a member of the European and Global Geopark Networks. These networks are under auspices of UNESCO. I live in this area.
Yesterday my husband and I met up with friends in the next town over, called Sokndal. Our goal was to find the abandoned titanic, iron/ore mines at Blåfjell (Blue Mountain), which were mined between 1863 to 1876 and where a total of 90,000 tons of ore was exported. We followed an old railway trail, which was once used to move the ore from 106 m above sea level to the coast about 8 km away.
The nature was breathtakingly beautiful, too beautiful not to share…
Before reaching the mines we passed Ruggesteinen, which is a large “rocking stone”. It is a huge block of anorthosite that fell from a steep slope. When it came to a halt it was balanced on small rocks, which makes it possible to move slightly -if you push on the right place.
We found some other interesting things along the way as well…
We also came across an abandoned movie-set used in the filming of a Norwegian historical murder mystery called, Skumringslandet. The English title is The Veil of Twilight and is set in 1349. The production ran into problems when two of its men were swept out to sea and drowned while filming scenes along the coast, during a storm. The film has yet to be released.
Finally we came to the mines, which had chains across the entrances and signs saying, Enter at your own risk. We of course entered but didn’t stay long. It was dark, damp and I was suddenly afraid there may be bats lurking…
it was a nice Sunday!
Our trip to Scotland wasn’t exactly what I’d call a vacation, but it was however, a very interesting trip…
As our plane reached cruising altitude and the captain was about to give his customary announcement on weather conditions and flight time, I heard something odd. He started the announcement saying, Your Royal Highness, ladies and gentlemen.
Hmmm… Could I have heard wrong? No one else seemed to notice, not even my husband or son. I took a quick look around and saw the whole first row was empty except for one man, sitting next to the window, on the other side of the plane. Behind him, in the second row there were just two men sitting in the isle seats. By now my mind was racing (out loud) and my husband had to tell me to calm down, but I couldn’t. I finally asked the flight attendant, right out… Is there a royal onboard this plane?
Sure enough, Kong Harold, the King of Norway was sitting fifteen seats in front of me and it turns out he always flies commercial.
When my son came to me last summer and said he wanted to learn how to play the bagpipes, I thought it was a joke. Turns out he was serious and has worked diligently this past year learning to play the chanter, which is the part of the pipe with the finger holes. The next step is getting the actual bagpipes, which is what brought us to Scotland. We spent five (cool and drizzly) days in Glasgow, where we stayed and my son attended a piping course at the National Piping Centre. He got his pipes and his kilt should arrive in about six weeks (it had to be custom ordered).
Because he had four classes a day with a lunch break of two hours in the middle of them, it was impossible for us to get out and do very much. All the sightseeing points of interest closed at five, which is when his last class ended. I did however, manage to get in a wee bit of shopping on Buchanan Street. We took evening strolls in Kelvingrove Park and the Necropolis Cemetery next to the Glasgow Cathedral. I know it sounds weird to stroll around a cemetery but the gothic-style mausoleums and giant headstones are quite a sight.
The other thing I did, was drink tea. It’s one of my favorite things to do in the UK. I’m always in search of a tea shop and I found some nice ones in Glasgow. Among them, Bradford’s, The Willow Tea Rooms, which were designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1903, and my favorite, Cup Tea Lounge. Where I had the most amazing cup of White Jasmine Tea imaginable! And the cupcakes weren’t bad either :)
I’ll leave you with this:
Summer is suppose to be warm and sunny! Right?
Growing up on the Jersey Shore we had our share of bad weather, but summers were always spent at the beach, or in the pool. We’d pack up our winter clothes in May and wouldn’t need them again before at least October. I remember how hard it was getting use to wearing shoes again in the fall, when school started. I have such fond memories of how summer is suppose to be…
Now I live on an island off the southwest coast of Norway, where summer is about as predictable as the stock-market. This week alone we’ve had two days with a cold wind, one warm day, one day that started terrible and ended nice. That happens a lot, it’s gray and damp all day and then the sun comes out, just as we’re heading for bed… Today it’s raining.
There is however, one sure sign that summer has arrived here in my little corner of the world. The salmon are swimming in from the ocean and up into the rivers to spawn. To do this, they must swim through the sound and directly past my house. For the next month (with a special license) we are allowed to set nets from Sunday night until Thursday afternoon. This is a big deal for the locals, who check their nets several times a day and then gossip over who’s catching the most. I’ve seen two salmon hop through the water, just since I’ve been sitting here writing this post. (There’s a window right behind my computer screen).
Much to my husbands dismay we’re heading for Scotland next week and that means he’ll have to take a break from fishing. My son is enrolled in a week-long bagpiping course at the National Bagpipe Centre in Glasgow. I’m not exactly sure how an American/Norwegian teenager got interested in bagpiping, he just did.
And I doubt we’ll find summer in Scotland either…
It’s Thursday and that means tomorrow is the last day to get your FREE Kindle version of Fly Away Home (Just by clicking on this link)
For those of you who have already read, or are planning to read… Here are pictures from some of the different places I write about in the book.
Chapter 2, Jersey Girl
The Jersey Shore is the 130 miles of New Jersey coastline, where summertime tourists come to enjoy the white sandy beaches and boardwalks. By day they pack the beaches, soaking up the sun and cooling off in the rigorous Atlantic surf. By night they flock the boardwalks, emptying their pockets at the arcade, riding the roller coasters, enjoying things like snow cones and cotton candy. In winter the action slows and the locals can stroll along the boards, breathing the salt air and enjoying the peace.
Chapter 3, My Maiden Voyage
In New Jersey everything was spread out and people would drive here and there, for this and that. There was a constant blur of activity everywhere. Norway was the complete opposite, I never saw any traffic or crowds, just small towns with quaint little shops located in quite, pedestrian only areas. Egersund reminded me of a miniature town I’d once seen on a train board.
Chapter 17, Mixed Blessings
We could hardly believe our luck. We built the house of our dreams on one of the most idyllic spots on the island. I now had my own little place in the world and over the next few years, life couldn’t have been any better…
Chapter 19, Life Goes On
All I wanted to do is run away as far as I possibly could. In hope of breaking the circle of grief, Harry, Alexander and I took a trip to Hawaii. It was not a vacation, more of a distraction.
Chapter 20, A Window Opens
The house the company rented for us was on a shady cul-de-sac in a quite neighborhood. It had a built in swimming pool in the back yard and palm trees in the front. The house looked like a mini mansion with 4000 square feet of pure grandeur, which included Swarovski chandeliers hanging in both the marble foyer and formal dining room. A spacious living room with a fireplace, a game room, modern kitchen with breakfast nook, three bedrooms, plus a master suite and five bathrooms all for us! The house was light, airy and adorned in crown molding, it was, in a word, elegant.
Chapter 22, Going Dutch
They say God made the world, but the Dutch made Holland. The Netherlands is an architectural masterpiece. It’s designed down to the last detail and only a minute portion of the country has been left in its natural state. Because of their struggle against water more than a quarter of its surface is below sea level. The Dutch leave nothing to chance, instead they create their own nature and this makes the Netherlands a beautiful and fascinating place.
We cycled through the most magnificent vineyards where clusters of dark purple grapes hung irresistibly from the vines. We rode through fruit orchards and dried up sunflower fields. We pedaled down tight little streets lined with crooked stucco houses painted in pale colors, with shutters hanging on every window. We stopped along the way to eat cheese on long loaves of French bread and drink wine among the olive trees. We spent our nights tucked away in tiny old provincial towns oozing with charm. After making our way down to the Mediterranean we headed up through the Alpilles Mountains of Provence and back to Avignon. The jagged rock formations protruding upward through the oak and pine forests created panoramic views at every twist and turn of the road. We were escorted everyday through Van Gogh country by a warm September sun, and the experience was unforgettable.
Here in Norway, Easter is called Påske and after a long dark winter Norwegians are more than ready to celebrate. They do so by filling backpacks with goodies (mostly chocolate and oranges) and go ‘tur’.
Going tur means getting out. Skiing, hiking and boating are at the top of the list. And this year we’ve been blessed with beautiful weather. It’s a bit nippy here on the southwest coast of Norway, but the sky is clear and SUNNY!
Here are pictures from this year’s Påske tur…
Songdalstrand, which was once a busy fishing village is now a quaint little tourist attraction, adorned with well-preserved wooden houses. The narrow road leads out to the open coast.
Rosslandsguden, here we had to trudge through some snow to get up to the Sacrificial Stone and Giant Rossland God’s Head, which dates back to the Iron Age (500 B.C. – 550 A.D.). The God’s Head is actually a replica, the original is in the Dalane Folkemuseum.
Helleren, is an overhanging rock formation 60 meters long and 10 meters deep. Archaeologists have traced settlements from the early Stone Age here. The two houses standing today date back to the early 1800s and were abandoned in 1920.
Gloppedalsura, is the site of a tremendous landslide, caused by the melting of glacial ice and is one of the largest in Europe. Blocks as large as houses fell from these steep cliffs.
We also passed by a frozen lake where we saw cars racing on the ice! We did not join in on the fun… I’m not even sure it’s legal.
I hope where ever you are in the world – you’re having a fun but safe, Easter also!