Easter at home

Thought I’d better do something about the lack of content here. I’m still only taking photos on my phone (something I plan to fix within the next month) but these are better than nothing. This morning Antonia totally bailed on the Easter egg hunt (she’s not into sweet things and couldn’t see the point) but Felix declared today to be one of the best days of his life. He woke up early and put two fleeces on and went for a solo ‘expedition’ with Whitby to the forest to check if Easter Bunny had been yet. She hadn’t. Luckily Easter Bunny managed to sneak out quietly before making waffles.

20170416_085739

Easter starts early in Norway (it’s closer to a week than a weekend) and it’s been so lovely to have this time to potter around with the kids. It’s been filled with everything good: gardening, hiking, crafting, baking, reading, knitting, hanging out with friends, and wandering down to our little beach. With some cleaning and sorting thrown in as well. At times (especially Friday, when Antonia had a fever all day) there has been a bit too much screen time for the kids, but it’s always worth it when we manage to peel them away. Michael’s been making a real effort to take Felix hiking – he complains a bit but I think he’s getting better. We’ve been pushing Antonia a bit too, though if we make her walk anywhere it’s slow going as she likes to roll around on the ground every 20 metres or so…

It hasn’t been entirely without challenges but on the whole it’s been really nice, and exactly what we needed. We finally sold our old house on Tuesday, and we had a somewhat stressful few days of emptying our loft and basement before we handed over the keys. (We’ve thrown a lot of stuff away but are still not sure where to put everything, so will have to get rid of a bit more.) But it’s been so nice just to slow down and hang out with the kids and enjoy being here. I remember really enjoying staying in Norway for Easter two years ago, when Antonia was still a baby. We tend to try to get to Germany for Easter, but last year that was so gruelling that we’ve decided to take a break from that particular endeavour. It’s just not warm enough yet to make it easy to hang out there with the kids.

Also it is just so lovely to get the chance to cultivate a few of our own traditions. We’ve never spent Christmas in our own house with the children (in fact we’ve only ever spent Christmas in our own house once, when I was eight months pregnant with Felix). So it feels special to have this time just for ourselves, to have an egg hunt, to make the hot cross buns. You can’t buy them here and Easter just isn’t the same for me without them. Felix helped make them so they are quite rustic to look at but they were delicious. They have orange rind, apple pieces, sultanas, dried apricots and cranberries inside, and plenty of spices. We spent last Easter dreaming about this house and deciding to try to buy it – we had a look at it the day before we left for Germany, and bought it the day we returned. I looked out of the window this morning and saw a squirrel preening itself on a tree branch. It is good to be here.

Yesterday we walked down to the beach after dinner. The sun had come out. We had to pester Felix terribly to get him out of the house, but as soon as we got to the beach he saw that the little wooden landing was in the water again, and he clambered out to it straight away, deciding that it was a magical vehicle that could be a boat or a plane or a car. Antonia was more or less happy to go with his storyline (“you’re fishing in the air now, Antonia, not the water, we’re flying.” “Ok”). He navigated us to magic land and cloud land and beach land, fetching rocks to throw into the water to get the “bad guys”. And it was pretty perfect.

Advertisements

Happy Easter!

eggs

We normally go away for Easter, and so, for that matter, do most of our friends. This time, we all stayed put, and it has been so nice. I’ve made hot cross buns (twice), done Easter crafts with Felix, lit candles, chilled out with the family, dressed Antonia up like a little bunny, and taken the kids on a walk to look for beavers. And today we went around to our friend’s house for an Easter egg hunt – four little boys careering round the garden collecting their sweets were a sight to behold. Happy Easter!

eggs5bunseggs4  eggs9eggs10eggs7easter2015-1

The Easter Train

Easter-23

Last year we went down to watch the steam train leave; this year we were lucky enough to hop aboard. And it was much nicer weather. The train meanders for about an hour and a half before stopping in a village for a few hours – time for an Easter egg hunt, relaxing in the gardens, a train museum and an ice cream. When I asked Felix what the best thing about Germany was, he replied without hesitation: the engine.

Easter-21

Easter-19

Easter-24

He was, however, not too pleased about having his photo taken, which is why he looks pensive in these shots.

Easter-20

We also went back to the animal park. Felix adored the waffles and the penguins: ‘he’s swimming all by himself!’

Easter-29

But the biggest hit was undoubtably the digger. It was very hard to leave.

Easter-30

Easter-31

 

Wildlife park

DSC_0121-1

These are photos from a (very cold) afternoon at a wildlife park in Germany over Easter, which I’ve been meaning to put up for a while.

DSC_0104-1

We saw rabbits, pigs, penguins and raccoons but Felix was most excited about the little train. He was desperate to get on it but didn’t enjoy it as much as he thought he would as it was a bit noisy.

DSC_0130

Waffles certainly cheered everyone up. Then I even got to meet some old friends.

DSC_0138-1

Good Friday

DSC_0047

German Easter decorations are out in force!

DSC_0051-2

Our favourite ice cream cafe

DSC_0052

Also, snow.

DSC_0069-2

Sigh. We are so ready for spring.

DSC_0071-3

Felix never wants to take off his pyjamas in the morning and for once we indulged him.

eggs

It has been a little stressful as Felix appears to be allergic to something in this house, but his ventolin puffer is keeping it under control. He just loves his Oma and Opa and has been practicing counting to ten in German.

DSC_0083-2

Hann. Münden

Hann. Münden is a town with a medieval centre, not far from Michael’s hometown of Kassel. Once Kassel itself had a centre like this, but now, since the war, it looks more like this. We had a lovely, if chilly, afternoon in Hann. Münden on Easter Friday, stopping for coffee and waffles to warm us up. Moni was born here. I love this photo of her so so much.

Easter in Kassel

An abundance of chocolate aside, it’s all about the decorations.

This display was in one of the shopping centres. Felix enjoyed walking along holding on to the little fence, swiping other small children out of the way.

He liked the purple cows.

Michael liked the watch-makers.

I liked the fuzzy goats.

Moni has been looking forward to showing Felix the rabbits for weeks, but I think she liked his snuggles best of all.

Generations

My grandparents left yesterday. They caught the bus up to Oslo, for a night there, before flying back to Amsterdam, from whence they are hopping on a boat which will meander down various rivers all the way to Budapest. They truly are world travelers! I was sad to see them go, but the memory of those few days we had together here in Norway will be precious to me forever.

As we were walking through Gamlebyen on Thursday, Grandma said if anyone had told her several years ago that she would one day be walking through Norway with her great-grandson, she wouldn’t have believed them. It would be better to live close to family, but one gift of living so far away is that it makes the time you have together so special. And we are planning to visit Australia in December, so we look forward to seeing them then!

The evening before they left, Michael’s parents arrived! It was only a little chaotic having everyone here at once, and they were very pleased to meet each other. Michael’s parents don’t speak much English, and my Grandparents don’t speak any German, but they managed to understand one another ok. Anyway, says my Grandma, there’s always the international language of smiles.

It is a very nice thing to share a child, to watch others loving him. Especially as I have absolutely nothing to complain about regarding any of Felix’s grandparents – you hear stories of mothers receiving unwanted advice, but there has been nothing like that coming my way. Michael’s Mum, Moni, said she likes my Grandparents very much, and wishes she had had such nice Grandparents. It doesn’t matter, I tell her, because you are a most wonderful Oma.

Easter

Michael’s parents arrived yesterday for Easter. They seem to like our little house! Although it’s raining at the moment we saw a deer sauntering along our driveway this morning, so Norway is still doing its best to impress. Yesterday we spent the whole morning sorting things out – vacuuming and tidying, clearing the third bedroom which had remained a sort of dumping ground from our move, putting the back seats back into the car and cleaning that up a bit, and wandering around our driveway and garden picking up all the bits of rubbish and cigarette butts that had been hiding under the snow for three months (the previous tenants weren’t the tidiest folk). It all looks pretty good now. Then Michael went to pick up his folks and I put a banana cake in the oven.

It’s lovely to have them here. The weather’s looking up for tomorrow, but I don’t think anyone really minds just relaxing in the house for the moment. We had a lovely slow breakfast of coffee and jam and bread and cheese, and now Monica is getting stuck into our little pile of ironing. (She really really loves ironing and folding clothes. I used to feel a bit funny about that – in regards to our clothes – but I am totally over that now!)

Anyway, here’s the current status of Henry. I reckon I’ll finish Jane Seymour’s head this weekend. First there’s about fifteen essays left to mark, and a novel to read for my class next week. But it’s so, so excellent to have six days off!

Snø!

Much excitement!

The master photographer in the house says this photo isn’t blog worthy, but as it is difficult to snap anything much more exciting from our lounge room window, and as it’s not exactly tempting to venture outside, it will do for now. I didn’t think I’d see snow in Halden this year, but it’s snowing at Easter, just like it did last year. It’s not meant to venture above zero for the next couple of days, so it should stick around. We’re quite happy to be inside with the fire and candles and pancakes and Easter eggs and writing projects.

Speaking of snow, there’s a low pressure system wreaking havoc in Germany and Switzerland right now, called Melli! God help them…

Easter

We hired a car over Easter and did two trips down the Swedish coast, one trip to the islands near Fredrikstad, and one trip on the ferry across the fjord into central Norway. Halden is right in the south east corner of Norway, next to Sweden. It was good to finally explore the area further afield than you can reach with a bicycle! We also spent an eminently horrible day trying to look at used cars in Oslo (me in charge of directions, not a good start…). Unfortunately the weather, which had been glorious, turned a bit nasty on us, but it wasn’t too bad.

The rocks on the Swedish coast are amazing. I love bleak landscapes – bare rock and sea and sky. It’s why I love the North York Moors, and the Dales, and the Australian desert. It was fun to get away from the pine trees. Unfortunately it was too windy for ground-handling (paragliding practice where you try to get the glider above your head and keep it there), but that didn’t stop Michael trying, resulting in several frenzied efforts to fold it up again before it blew us away.

And then on Sunday it snowed! You can see it through the windows of our flat. Snow on the spring branches of the tree outside, snow on the riverbank and the rooftops, snow on the little car.