Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Arriving in the Land of Snow

We realised last night it's been nearly a month since we arrived here in Oslo! Wow, how fast the time has gone.

We left Melbourne in the afternoon of Saturday 12 Feb, flying Thai Airways via Bangkok. This is the only carrier that has just the one stopover on the way to Oslo - very important when travelling such a long way with kids. We also chose Thai airways because the plane is laid out with the seats in a 3-3-3 formation (rather than 4 in the centre), which makes the aisles and seats just that much wider and more comfy. The planes look pretty new, the seats are covered in mock silk fabric, in an assortment of gold, hot pink and purple - visually stunning. The food was good, with many choices of yummy vegetarian food.

The best bit was the individual screens on the backs of the seats. There was a kids' channel, so the girls were well entertained for the entire time. They also managed to sleep reasonably well during the flight (phew). I'm not sure about the wiseness of having touch screens on the backs of the seats though - I felt the pokes through my seat a number of times, but it wasn't too bad. The controller in the arm rest worked perfectly well too.

We had LOTS of stuff to take with us:
  • 4 suitcases
  • 4 big warm jackets
  • 4 backpacks
  • a booster seat
  • an onboard bag for our thermals and warm stuff
  • 2 toys (Pandillo and Monica) for the girls

Made getting out of the airport a bit fun, with tired girls

It was pretty chilly getting off the plane, and the girls were so excited to see all the soft fluffy snow outside. We were sure we'd misheard the announcement by the pilot about the temperatures outside when we landed, but no, it was confirmed by the friendly lady at passport control: it was indeed -25deg outside. BRRRRRRRR! Once through customs we went and layered all our thermals jumpers and jackets on, before heading to the train station.

We took the train from Oslo Gardemoen airport into Oslo Sentrum, and then got a taxi to take us to the apartment.

First time outside in the snow

The views from the train over snowy fields a little after dawn were truly magical - they didn't photograph too well because the train was going so fast, but here are a couple:

Dawn over the trees

It looks like Christmas, Mummy!

The apartment we're staying in at the moment belongs to one of Bron's colleagues, who is working in Melbourne until June. It's in a pretty new area to the north of the city, and our building complex overlooks the river.

The view from our balcony towards the river
(which is covered in ice and snow - it's in front of the brown building to the left)

Looking the other way

The apartment seemed very small to us initially: it's a 54m2 two bedroom place. However now that we've settled into the place it's not that bad. Certainly not too hard to keep clean and tidy!

More later...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Two weeks in Tasmania

As a side trip between packing up the house and jetting off overseas, we spent two weeks in Tasmania with Bron's family. One of his sisters had recently given birth, so we had to meet our beautiful baby niece, Minnow. The girls were thrilled to meet their first cousin, and had lots of cuddles - especially Ember who was so enthralled by the gorgeous bundle and was always asking to hold her, and was even interested in watching the nappies being changed!

Remember to support her head, darling!

It was a lovely relaxing fortnight of card playing, baby cuddles, swims in the lake, card playing, visits to neighbours (the neighbours have two girls, the older being Ember's age, and they get along famously), egg collecting, salad harvesting, card playing, bread baking, sewing, knitting, card playing, path building, bridge fixing, and bridge boasting!

I finished knitting a jacket for Minnow on the second day down there, and it was well received (even though I was annoyed that the sleeves were proportionately too long for the width of the body). It fit her straight away, even though it was meant to be the 3-6month size. Ah well.

The front of the jacket: it's knit diagonally, in self-striping sock wool

And the back, in her Daddy's arms

While down there I also finished sewing a hat for myself: I have a big head and it's impossible to buy commercially made hats that fit me, so I have to sew them. I made the size L and it's a little snug, but I'll upsize it a little next time. It's so nice to finally have a hat I can wear and stuff into my bag when I want to take it off (as opposed to my custom-made straw hat that needs looking after).

During our previous trip to see the family in Tassie, Bron built a bridge over the creek, on the path down to the garden. He made it wide and solid, and we didn't hear the end of it for a very long time - especially so when he discovered it was still fine after the awful flooding that northern Tassie suffered this summer. The creek had flooded, and had moved a lot of debris from under the bridge - but the bridge was still strong! So this trip he (and the wwoofer, Iannis) made the path to and from the bridge passable by the 4W motorbike.

The man, proudly showing off his hard work

I brought down to Tassie two plain white baby suits for the kids to decorate with fabric textas. What little artists they are: they spent a long time doing such intricate detail on their suits.

The artists and their work

The end of our time in Tassie was celebrated with a camping trip to Circus-Fest in the NE of the state. Four days (three nights) of workshops, demonstrations and performances by circus people from all around Tasmania, Australia and even International acts! We saw many stunning acts, awesome works, but we got a little thrilled-out by the end as we'd seen too much fabulous stuff.

Highlights for me were the "BBBeetles" - a family of Beetles (2 parents, 5 kids) doing balancing acts. The patter from Big Boss Barty Beetle had so many 'B's in it, and it was clever and funny - and those kids were amazing, all talented gymnasts/circus performers in their own right. I also like "Strings on Fire" - two violinists going acrobatics and balancing in precarious positions while still playing, including lighting the ends of their bows and continuing to play. They also danced while both playing the Habanera from Carmen on the one violin (two bows). I appreciated their musical talent as well as their acrobatic skills.

I had never heard of the slackwire (as opposed to the tightwire) before, and was blown away by the lady who performed in the closing act. Her balance on this slack piece of wire was completely amazing.

Della and Bron also attended one of the workshops - Parent and Child acrobalance - held each day at the same time so they could practice and develop their skills. They now have lots of skills with balancing D on B in various positions.

Standing on Bron's hands, up in the air!

Next stop, Melbourne for three days, then a long plane flight to the land of snow.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Moving Out

Yes, yes, I know, it's been a while since we moved out. I've been between computers and unable to access all my photos so there's been somewhat of a delay there.

Packing up the house was such a big job. It's amazing how much STUFF we have, and how so much of it really isn't all that necessary. We accumulated what seemed like an alarmingly large pile of things to be shipped to Norway, and the kids found it tough to decide what should be stored and what should be shipped. I suspect when we unpack their stored boxes we're going to find a whole lot of things that they've outgrown but couldn't part with right now.

Just like cats, it seems kids can't resist boxes -
they were supposed to be packing their things in these boxes, not themselves!

B & I thought the trip was going to be quite peaceful,
but then the girls decided they'd prefer the plane ride to three months on a ship.

Packing and cleaning the house was a big job, and we had lots of late nights - and lots of standing around looking at everything and not knowing where to start. There probably would have been fewer late nights if we'd worked out that starting point sooner...

Packing is a tiring job for a small girl

But it all got packed, it all got cleaned and the house was emptied. It looked so huge without our stuff in it! Quite a lesson to us actually, that there's really only so much STUFF you need to function, the rest is just clutter.

And the cupboards were bare

Next stop, Tasmania, then on to Oslo.