Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain… (#Perfect)

For several weeks (that feels like years) it has depressingly snowed and snowed and snowed and the damn shuffle has now become an integrated attachment to my sensible (now blistering) office-hands both before and after my actual day job. With streets so full of snow that cannot be removed by plow trucks due to idiot car owners not able to read signs telling them there is a temporary parking prohibition in the city center, it is quite the adrenaline kick to try to move around.. Outside my own house, I now have to shuffle away additionally 5 meters of snow due to the missing access for the plow truck. And even then, people have been parking their cars at the plowing edge, making the street so small that now the plow truck cannot drive there at all and I have to wiggle around to even be able to get my car into my yard. Those cars (or more specific, their owners) have now become my personal hate objects (even though I know that if I had been in their shoes (or car) I might have done the same if I was desperate enough for a parking space…)

Just when there was actually not any room for any more snow and I was about to give up on the whole winter, the weather forecast suddenly promised rain! But, given that they also forecasted -7 degrees Celsius, it of course ended up in snow/ice (what the H*)# were they thinking???), I must admit that meteorologists in general and Yr weather forecast in particular also ended up for my seasonal hate list. Yesterday, however, we suddenly migrated to degrees on the good side of 0 and in the afternoon it finally started to rain. Of course, rain on lots and lots of snow, gives ice and slushy conditions, so today the streets are a mess and I fully intend to stay as much indoors as possible. But, on the good side, I was able to see with my own, blue eyes, how the snow had retreated to the point where I can actually start to see the floor of my terrace! It would of course be better if we had even higher degrees and lets say… sun, but at this point I am settling for ANYTHING that can make the snow go away.

Unfortunately there will be a few days with slushy streets, and with the stupid parked cars not going anywhere, I am not that optimistic about anyone coming to remove the ice/slush. So maybe I will just sit this one out and take the bus for the next few days. Anyways, I hope this is the last we will see of winter this year (or at least until I leave for Dubai and Tokyo in a week). I choose for now to be a slight optimist but with the option of blowing up if more white goo finds its way here…

Have I mentioned how much I really hate snow?

From Manual Labour to Cat Café (#ChangesInTheWorkPlace)

100 years ago times were good for unskilled workers and one could any time drop out of school and get a fair paid job on a boat or in construction and from there work one’s way up. Today, along with technology being an integrated part of our working life, it is not that simple. More and more of so-called “manual jobs” are now obsolete and have been replaced by automation and this lead to many workers not able to get a job.

But, new times also brings new opportunities. There are some innovative souls out there who are capable of seeing possibilities where others only sees obstacles and this has resulted in a range of totally new jobs who non-existent just a few years ago. Here are some examples:

Dog Hotel

Dog hotels have been around for some years, but the range of their offering keeps on expanding. It is not just a place to look after your dog, but can also include extra service as forest walks, dog park, spa, pedicure for dogs etc. I think it is safe to say that “Fido” will be in the best of hands if you are out travelling or just need a sitter for a day.

Personal Trainer (PT)

Personal trainers are now not only limited to actors and rich people. Also us more of the regular sort, have discovered the benefits of having a personal trainer putting together a realistic training plan and making sure we are as efficient as possible and are able to reach our goals.

Cat-café

Then, a new type of work of the more stranger sort, namely the increasing number of cat cafés. The concept is, as far as I understand, to 1. enter, 2. Buy coffee, 3. Look at cats playing, 4. Pet the cats. Such cafés can now be found all over the world. However not yet present in Norway, they are in quite abundance in Japan.

Swamp and Mosquito Museum

Usually I am more than average interested in museums, but even though we have both a mosquito and a swamp museum right here in Norway, I have never made my way there of some mysterious reason. Of course, there might be a level of entertainment in this concept that is completely lost on me (it is not like I have done a lot of research on the topic…), but I feel that they are playing a bit fast and loose with the word “attraction” when they in fact try to pass this on as an attraction.

Sourdough Hotel

OK, when I first read about this, I thought it was a joke. But, evidently, there is a hotel for sourdough in Oslo (Oslo Surdeigshotell). Here you can leave your sourdough for cultivation and care. But, by all means… Kudos to the owners for actually pulling this off as a business idea.

So, what I guess I am saying is that there is always hope. Where one window closes, another window (or at least a cat door) opens, so here it is all about “going with the flow” for the ability to change will definitely be a success criteria in the workplace of the future.

Life with a big brother – A constant fight and a friend for life

Just to clarify, I love my brother. Even though we are quite different in personality and manner, I could not ask for a better brother (or for a better uncle for my son, for that matter), and I know that he would do anything for me (as I would for him).

When that being said… It was not always so easy growing up with a big brother and sometime during our childhood it was a matter of survival (metaphorically speaking, of course…).

The Monopoly Challenge

I have, to put it mildly, an overdeveloped competitive instinct and all games growing up were a fight for life and death (at least it felt that way). I especially have a tense relationship with Monopoly due games with my brother in early childhood. He would hide away money, pretend he was loosing and hence lulling me into believing i was winning, before he would go for the kill and ask me if I needed to borrow some money… I clicked of course, and more often than not, our game ended in a fight (I did have some anger issues back then..).

The Skiing Challenge

We used to do a lot of cross-country skiing back then and every ski trip was of course a competition. My sore spot was that I could throw a tantrum and my brother’s strategy was of course to get me pissed, something he often achieved. If I was in the lead, he used to walk on top of my skis (very annoying) and use his ski pole to make snow fall off the tree branches over my head and onto me and my neck. The goal was of course to make me click so that I would stop and attack him (something I often did) and then push me to the side and retake the lead (he is after all a couple of years older than me and was quite capable of doing that). This strategy of his worked more often than I would like to admit, since I at the time had no sense of strategic thinking or the ability to learn from my mistakes.

The Joke Challenge

We grew up in a house without modern utilities like dishwasher, microwave oven or even a functional kitchen. We were, however, early adopters of our own video camera, since our father was quite the film buff. One afternoon he asked my brother and me + a friend of mine to tell jokes to the camera. My brother then asked me which joke I was to tell, something I didn’t want to relieve. He kept on pestering me, however, until I caved and told him. When we started with the jokes, he was the first joker out and he….told MY joke!! Guess what happened.. Or, you actually don’t have to guess since it’s all on tape (link). I promise, it is well worth a look.

Then fast forward to my first day at high-school. New, big school and the feeling of beeing very small. Already before the first class, some older students I had never seen in my life (including some very fine masculin specimen) came over and asked if I was the sister of my brother. When I confirmed, they told me they had watched videos of me and my brother for an entire vorspiel the weekend before, so lucky me… Not exactly the start I was hoping for at high school, since I was not exactly an attention seeker at that time (that came way later…)

The Air Challenge

Already at a young age I was very into books and could spend hours and hours reading. My brother was not much of a reader and when he was bored, he would go out of his way to disturb me from reading. He would then place his hands between me and my book while chanting “the air is for everyone..” over and over again. Did I mentioned I had anger issues back then?

The End-Of-The-Table Challenge

OK, when you read this paragraph you will think this is a story from the previous century, but the fact is that we use to have a grandmother with some old-fashion way of thinking. We grew up in a home with more or less gender equality and with no gender bias. Grandmother, however, was another story and my brother knew how to use this to his advantage. For instance, if I had taken the place at the end of the table for breakfast, he would order me away from it. When I (of course) told him to sod off, he would tell our grandmother who in turn will ask me to move, since “in our family, the end of the table is reserved for the man of the house”. Not exactly a message that was well received by me, especially not with my brother grinning in the background.

The Protector

Up until this point I have only told you about the competitive relationship between my brother and me. I will emphasize, however, that most of my childhood memories are of a warm and good nature. For instance, he often took the blame after a fight, no matter who started it. One time, when he had locked me out and I, in a furious rage, threw my fist through the glass of the door, breaking it and making blood gush all over the place, he instantly called my mother and started the conversation to claim responsibility for the incident. He as also worked as my protector throughout my whole childhood, scaring away anyone wanting to harm me. The protector behavior lasted also through my high-school years, all though not quite as much appreciated at that time since he had a few good looking friends he threatened to beat up if they tried to make a move on me.

The Spirit of Christmas

We all have our traditions for how to get a perfect Christmas. For some that is to bake cookies, make the house shine for the holiday, invite friends and family for Christmas parties, cut their own tree, decorate the entire house, make tree ornaments, sing Christmas carols binge on not so healthy food. There is no correct answer to which traditions one should keep; every family have to come up with their own and they should not br critisized for their choices. The point is that traditions should give you a good and warm feeling inside, not make you feel like a prisoner. Familytime should be the priority, but that comes in many shapes and forms.

I felt for many years trapped by the expectations of my surroundings of what constitutes proper celebration of Christmas. But no more; me a and my family have chosen to follow our on path and for Christmas that path leads us to Dubai.

With that in mind, have a very Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays where ever you are and what ever way you choose to celebrate. Enjoy, and live & let live..

Kristiansand Zoo – Why We Always Return

Kristiansand Zoo 30 km south of Oslo i Norway is not just an ordinary zoo. It’s a zoo, wilderness experience, themepark and waterpark all rolled into one and that is the reason we keep coming back.

The zoo oudates me with 10 years (without revealing my age) and when I was a kid I always wanted to go there, but never got the chance to (took forever to drive in those days). I guess you can say that that left me with a lifelong quest to finally go there.

When my son was little over a year I finally had a reason to go, and from our first visit we simply fell in love and in our first season we returned 10 times (with a total of 5,5 hours of driving for a return trip, that is considered crazy..). The next couple of years we went even further and bought season passes.

The reasons why we fell in love with the place are plenty, and here are just a few:

1. The animals

Of course, it is called Kristiansand Zoo, so I have to start with the animals. The place really focuses on animal welfare and they are also a part og global breeding programs and I also love the fact that the animals have plenty of space and you are not guaranted to even catch a glimps of them. The wolves, for instance, we are only able to spot like 10% of our visits.

2. Pirates

Kristiansand Zoo has their very own pirate, called Captain Sabertooth and he has both his own village, pirate boat (in which you can join and fight another pirate ship) and he also has severeal freebee shows during daytime in the summer and an evening show (extra cost) in July. Need I say that we have been to his show around 7-8 times?

3. Cardemom Town

Cardemom is a small village inside the zoo, that is based on the very popular children’s book “When the Robbers Came to Cardemom Town” by Torbjorn Egner. Here you can visit the houses of many of the main characters and in season you can even stay the night in one of the houses. Several times a day during summer, the characters also come alive and play out some of the scenes from the book. In Cardemom town you can also buy legendary cinnamon buns.

4. The Huckybucky forest

Huckybucky forest is also based on a book by Torbjorn Egner; “Claus Climbermouse and the other animals in the Huckybucky forest”. Her you can take a train through the forest and watch scenes from the book played out.

5. The Waterpark

The waterpark is located next to the zoo and you have the option of either buying a combination ticket to both parks or standalone tickets. The first year the water was freezing cold, but now it’s better and last summer they even made an artificial beach here. In addition you have waterslides, an obsticle course, wace pool, baby slides and an indoor pool.

6. Crowds

Or, lack of crowds to be more specific. In the zoo (granted that you stay away from the feedings and freebe shows), you can find spots where you are more or less alone. Also, there are plenty of picnic areas where you can enjoy food you have brought from home. During winter they sometimes also make a fire where you can warm your own hot dogs.

7. Amusement park

Kristiansand Zoo also has an amusement park with obsticle courses through the forest, lotteries, carousels and much more..

8. Playground and petting zoo

In the park you can find several playgrounds for the younger ones. It aldso have several petting zoos where you can get up close with goats and pigs.

9. Hotels/cottages

If you want a stay-over you have plenty og offers. Across the street you have a nice hotel with a heated pool and right next to the entrance of the park you have the Dyreparken hotel, where all the rooms have an animal theme. If you want to live like a pirate, you have Abra Havn close by (here you will get a visit by pirates every morning during summer) and next year they will also offer tree cabins (can’t wait to try these out…).

I sincerely hope I have been able to transfer my love for Kristiansand Zoo into this post. It is really a haven and a perfect spot for me that are not really a fan of big crowds and long lines. The ticket fee is a bit steep, but once paid most of the avtivities inside the park are for free.

Christmas in Dubai 2018 – First Day in The Sun

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Alas, so my first day in Dubai has come to and end I must confess that (as usual) Dubai has delivered on all levels. Well, maybe except for the breakfast experience… Since we arrived at the hotell at 2AM, we tried to sleep in and were not on our way down for breakfast until 10:30. There we were met by an insane long line, which is very unusual for me since I tend to arrive when they open for breakfast.

After breakfast we went straight for the beach. The best spots were of course taken so late in the day, but we did manage to secure some really good spots to the side of the main beach area, where we could freely move our sunbeds around after the sun. The sea temperature was about 22-23 degrees, so perfect for a colder-than-most Norwegian.

Since last year, the hotel had gotten an app where you could enter an order of food and/or drinks and it would be delivered at your sunbed. How we were able to survive all these years with a manual beach butler is a mystery (irony, for those who didn’t get that, but jokes aside; I very much liked the new app).

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After a few ours of sunbathing, regular bathing and reading, I started to get bored and decided to go for a slo Z2 run on the beach. The pace was awful, but I choose to blame it on the uneven sandy conditions. I also managed to get a couple of ugly blisters, which one should think were impossible given that I was running barefoot.

After the run, we had about 30 minutes in our room before we headed out for a walk. We ended up in Blue Waters Island, a brand new peninsula by JBR, with hotels, condos and restaurants. From here you can see the Jumeirah Beach Residence skyline perfectly.

On our way back to the hotel we very much enjoyed all the Christmas decorations along the way. Back at the hotel we went for happy hour at Wavebreaker before ending up at The Grape Escape for raclett and fondue. Here we met a couple from UK who were living in Dubai and they had the most interesting stories to tell.

Tomorrow it is time for one of the highlights of the trip, namely the Friday Brunch at Al Qasr. I cannot begin to describe how much I am looking forward to that..

Stockholm Marathon – Storm and heart problems, but third time’s a charm…

First time I tried to run the Stochkholm Marathon was in 2012. Race day started out with heavy rain and stormy conditions and it hadn’t been so cold on June for almost 100 years (#luckyme). As if that was not enough, I had come down with a cold and was a bit feverish. Safe to say the conditons were not exactly excellent,

At 10 km I was soaking wet and at 20 I start loosing sensation in my fingers. At 25 km, most of my fingers were blue, and I started to fear for my life. At around 30 km I caved, and surrendered to the medical personell who brought me back to the starting area.

It was a real downer to get a DNF (Dod Not Finish) on my resume, and I was a bit bummed out when I later went for dinner with my boyfriend and a couple of collegues who had actually made it through. In a moment of severe lapse of reason (with his finisher’s rock in his pocket; they did not start with medals until 2 years later), my boyfriend managed to mention his favorite quote later that night: “Pain is temporary, quitting lasts for ever”. Safe to say I could have killed him on the spot, but I settled for a promise to myself that I would eventually complete this course.

The next year, I was about to try again, but ended up at a cardiologist right before the race due to chest pains, so had to forfit once again.

The chest pains turned out to most likely be benigned, so then I signed up for Stockholm Marathon for the third time. This time I finally made it and was 5 minutes away from setting a PB. This year they also started with real medals instead of rocks with bo other function than serving as a door stopper.