Ugh. I am exhausted. Just two days away from the end of a busy busy fortnight. Last night instead of preparing my teaching I had to take Felix to the emergency doctor because of compromised breathing. Luckily after getting some medicine and inhalations he improved so much that I could take him home again, and he’s ok now. Here is a picture of my favourite coffee shop, where Felix and I spent a lovely quiet hour this morning. (I took the photos moments before the place started filling up with happy customers.)
I’m kicking myself for not packing my camera this morning, though I had two exams, so I guess I had other things on my mind. But my Norwegian exams were held in Gamlebyen, which is pretty at the worst of times, but a winter sunrise while the world is covered in fresh snow is something else altogether. It really is so lovely here. The clouds were dissolving as the sun came up, the sky a warm yellow behind the paper cut-out trees.
The tests went as well as they could have, I guess. The spoken test was fine and quite fun, really. The written test was split into listening comprehension, reading comprehension, and writing production. It’s the last section that I’m most unsure of – I guess it just depends how many little errors they let through. At this level they tell us it’s about communication more than perfection, so I should be ok. I’ll get the results in a month. These were level two tests, which are the end of the beginner’s level. I can’t wait till I’ve learnt enough to come back for the intermediate ones!
Looking at my schedule I thought – oh, good, I’ll have just enough time after the exam to go to a coffee shop and work on some teaching preparation before picking up Felix. And I may take out my books in a minute. But right now it’s so nice just to sit for a moment, amid the increasingly comprehensible conversations going on at tables around me.
You’ll learn a language just to be able to eavesdrop in cafes? A friend asked me while I was in Australia. There are other reasons, but, well, yes, actually. It’s very alienating not to understand the words spoken by strangers.
Teaching last week was wonderful, by the way. We spoke about sonnets, and my students were lovely, and it made me remember that there’s not too many things I would rather do than talk about poems.
We are back in chilly Norway. The house feels small. The snowy expanses were very beautiful when we came in to land. Felix was an absolute darling throughout the whole trip. He slept quite well and the rest of the time was cheerfully occupied observing and commenting on everything that went on. He loves planes. He loves airports. ‘Lady make it dark!’ he declared when they switched all the lights off for landing. When we finally arrived in Oslo after stopovers in Singapore and Frankfurt, he said ‘more plane! More in the big plane!’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘we’ve had enough of planes now.’ He looked out of the window. ‘More plane! Blue one!’ ‘Do you want to go in the blue plane?’ ‘Yeah!’ He was so excited when we got off the plane that he ran all the way to the luggage belts with only one crash. He was still talking about the planes on the train home.
Our good friends picked us up from the train station and cooked dinner for us, which was about the nicest welcome back imaginable. Felix finally and comprehensively conked out about an hour before we arrived in Halden, so we laid him down on their sofa and he didn’t make a sound.
Now we are home and the fire is burning. It is hard to say goodbye to the beautiful light-filled love-filled days in Adelaide. Having a toddler to supervise on the long journey back, I haven’t had a lot of time to dwell on it. And here I must hit the ground running. I have a Norwegian test on Wednesday and another one next Monday; I’m back at work on Tuesday, and on Thursday I have four hours of tutoring at Oslo University, with some preparation still needed. (I’m tutoring an introduction to British literature subject this semester, which is exciting.) When this crazy fortnight is done and dusted, I have a meeting about some other possibilities for the autumn. I take a deep breath. I will do my best.
You have had a beautiful month here in Australia. You recognised my parents, brother and grandparents immediately from seeing them on Skype, and you have felt at home here from the moment you stepped off the plane. You are talking so much now it amazes me, and you come out with new phrases every day.
This months has been filled with playgrounds,
beaches, friends, and babycinos.
You’re so impressed with the babycinos that you sometimes talk about them immediately upon waking. You’ve grazed your poor knees over and over but like to point at them and reassure us that they are ‘all better now’. You like to talk about how Grandma goes to work to make ‘other people better’. You are obsessed with water, doors, cars and all your favourite people.
When we get out of the car you say – ‘careful! lots of cars. hold mama’s hand!’ You chatter away to yourself and us nearly constantly and make me laugh and laugh. You’ve also recently suddenly got interested in giving us huge cuddles and it is quite adorable.
Everyone here is going to miss you terribly, but I can’t wait to see what you come up with next.
My Dad keeps trying to get Felix to call him ‘Gren’, but Felix named him ‘Poppa’ in September and for the moment it is sticking. One of Felix’s favourite phrases at the moment is ‘Poppa mo-ker-bike . . . helmet on!
He also enjoys scurrying into Dad’s studio at any opportunity. He agreed to wear the apron because, as he proudly told me when I poked my head in the door, it is ‘Poppa’s’.
We had such a lovely day today. We met Mala (and parents) at a beautiful beach in the morning. Felix spent a long time building a wall. Mala helped, and fetched water, and danced about, and sat on the wall and dived over it, but Felix’s concentration could not be broken!
Then we all went out for lunch and reminisced about eating pizza in Berlin all that time ago. We stayed out way past Felix’s nap time and it didn’t matter at all. He and Mala held hands and practiced their jumping, and Mala let Felix drink her babycino as well as his own and it was just the loveliest day.
Michael has been taking so many beautiful photos while we are here and I am getting very behind in posting them. But I want them here, as a record, as a memory. We are soaking up this summer as best we can, for too soon we return to the cold.
These photos were taken on our first beach trip a couple of weeks back, and we have been many times since. Felix is now a lot less cautious than he was that first day. Today he spent ages chucking shells and bits of seaweed into the waves. It’s just the perfect place.