We had pretty much the perfect evening. After dinner on our deck (mashed potatoes, carrots, peas, meatballs for the kids and yesterday’s pasta sauce – supplies are running low) Michael suggested we put the picnic rug down on the lawn and soak up the sun. So we did. And Felix ran and jumped off our big rock – watch me! Look at my new trick! And Antonia tried the same – watch me! My new trick! She couldn’t manage to jump off the rock (thankfully) but climbed up and slid down on her bum. And then we all ran races back and forth and the kids were stralende (glowing, radiant – not sure if this is the correct way to use it but for some reason this word seems perfect). Ah so so nice.

And tomorrow I’m off to Stockholm with my baby girl, for a conference, along with one of my favourite colleagues, and I’m going to meet my Mum there! Michael’s excited about a boy’s week at home (has never happened before). My conference paper has had great difficulty attracting my attention over the past couple of weeks (and still does), but it’s not till Friday, so all will be well. Happy. Happy. Happy. 11 pm and the sky is still pink. But yeah, better finish packing my bag.

Beautiful Berlin

It was a weekend more reminiscent of the gorgeous sunny visit to my brother last September than the rainy but lovely couple of days we spent there this May. Sigh. I would love to live in Berlin. I have thought so for ten years, and every time I visit I think it even more.

We went to our favourite pizza place twice, ate many falafels, waffles, and seriously good slow breakfasts.

We did one day of touristy things with my aunt, before deciding to leave them to it and sticking to the cafes, parks and flea markets.

Michael took lots of pictures. I didn’t take any.

I found an amazing fabric shop and bought fabric covered in fairytale characters, mushrooms, dinosaurs and birds. Now I’m not sure what to do with it – I just chose the ones I liked and didn’t really think about whether they would go together…

This is me gazing wistfully through the locked door on Sunday – I had hoped against hope that I could go in for a second look. (But now I have found the online shop! Hmmm…)

My aunt was super excited – about seeing us, but especially about seeing her son and his wife, who she hadn’t seen for over a year, and who are expecting a baby the same week I am. Here we all are comparing baby bumps:

I’m not sure what Joseph is brewing in this one:

The leaves were just about to turn.

Lots more photos here.

The Great Parent Adventure

We all look happy, right? I must admit, I was slightly apprehensive about spending a week with all four parents in the Norwegian mountains, especially as my parents don’t speak a word of German, and M’s parents don’t speak more than two or three phrases of English. And then there’s the different backgrounds, the different ways of doing things, the stress involved in spending time in such close quarters with family you only see once or twice a year. (With my parents it’s usually only once a year, but this year it’s twice.) But when one family lives in Australia, one in Germany, and we live in Norway/England – how else can you do it? Anyway, it turned out great. As Moni put it: ‘wir haben uns gut unterhalten’. Which means they understood each other. And they liked each other. And it was fun.

We saw some amazing fjords, and passed through Jotunheimen, the home of the giants. And there were reindeer, with their babies, grazing on one of the mountain passes. They are funny things, with their blunt faces and shaggy coats.

We passed glaciers, and plateaus of snow, and speckled mountains, and great lakes melting in jagged slabs. Rainbows bloomed in waterfalls, and orchards perched on the slopes of fjords. We weren’t quite north enough for the midnight sun, but even here it didn’t get dark – the sky was pale at midnight, and the sun surged through the curtains at three a.m., blazing all day on the snow and the rock and the green.

More photos here. It was amazing how quickly the landscape changed – in some places dry, others lush, others icy. Sometimes the mountains were spiky cathedrals, and other times they were rounded like whales. Bright streams gurgled through the valleys. The air was clear and the colours were pure, and it all felt so old, even as it flushed with spring. Yep. We like it here. And it’s fun to share it.

A weekend of decadence

Just for the record… Afternoon tea in Betty’s stretched for two hours: sundaes, berries and rose-petal tea, followed by smoked salmon sandwiches and vanilla slices. Mmmmmmm…

After that, we sampled the respective glories of York and Leeds: the minster, the corn-exchange, the angels playing bagpipes, the red-brick canal, and opera – ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, in the refurbished Leeds Grand Opera House.

I’d never walked so far along the canal before, but all these other places are dear to my heart – from music, from countless visits, from the people I’ve met there, from the things that have changed. Places like this don’t disappear when you leave, you carry them with you, like some sort of silent, internal architecture. And – yep – it’s nice to visit them with Mum too. Who told me, the first time I mentioned York – that’s a good idea.

Our newest toy

The very clever lovie has found these beauties. They pump up in five minutes, and then you’re away! They’re called dive-yaks, and are made so that you can paddle out to a spot and then go diving, something we won’t be trying. But they work just fine for paddling around.

This lake is a popular bathing spot for Halden residents – there were lots of kiddies paddling around. We saw ducklings, and a baby seagull chick on a rocky island. Its parents weren’t too pleased when we tried to take a closer look. And we saw waterlillies, up close.


We are very excited. We are also quite tired, mildly sun-burnt, and covered in odd little scratches and bruises. We just got back from two days paragliding in Hemsedal, central Norway (about five hours north-west of Halden, half-way between Oslo and Bergen). This picture was taken last year in Austria, but I’ve included it in order to give you non-paragliding types some idea of what it’s all about. Basically it’s connecting yourself to a big kite and flying with it. The wing folds up and fits in a backpack, along with your helmet and harness. You then drive, or climb, or ride a chair lift up a mountain, set it all up, take a few steps, and you’re in the air! That’s me, launching.

This trip, the snuggle-car performed admirably, as you can see below. Not only transport, but a home away from home.

Hemsedal is gorgeous. The tops of the mountains are still streaked with snow, which as it melts pours down the mountains in streams and waterfalls. We met up with the Oslo Paragliding Klubb. They gave us a lift up the mountain in their minibus, and then it was a 20 minute slog up to the launch site, pictured below. Very very pretty – mountain tops all around, purple flowers on the heather, patches of snow. But I was concentrating on carrying my 15kg backpack.

Here’s the exciting bit – we got 5 flights over two days!!!! (Once, in Austria, we got 7 flights over three weeks.) Until now, I’ve flown with radio contact, but this time I did it all myself! One of my launches went wrong – I was dragged along the rubble and have a grazed elbow to prove it, but that didn’t stop me getting up straight away and trying again. The landing site was on a golf course. We were told to please not land on the greens. The hardest thing about landing is judging when to come in. I got it right most times, but once I was too high, which meant I missed the landing field and… landed in the green. Oops. I stood up sheepishly, and about fifteen Norwegian pilots were staring at me. But I did it right next time. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to fly. To just step off a mountain and into the air. I love it. Love it. Here is the lovie coming in to land in his beautiful brand new Atis II.