The First Sunday of Advent

Nothing yule-related enters this house until the first of December, with one exception: if the first Sunday of Advent takes place in November. (I wrote a bit about Advent last year, see here) That was the case this year, and I had big plans for this Sunday. Unfortunately, a series of unexpected circumstances, the plans were changed (I’m no longer that big a fan of plans anyhow). Poor Son has been ill all weekend and Husband dearest has been off to Liverpool looking at 22 men trying to score.

House chores were not top priority, chores that really do have to precede decorating, so decorating was put off for a while as well. Except (yes, I know, I’ll soon have more exceptions than a book on German grammar), the four purple (violet?) candles. I was fortunate this year to have Son help me decorate, and, after debating a bit, I have convinced him that the cinnamon sticks are not sables and should not be used for sword-fighting. Pirates are extremely cool these days.

We had a wonderful wee session on Sunday afternoon. Son was allowed to light the candle and almost burnt his finger. We sang a few songs and ate clementines. Due to the inability to get any shopping done over  the weekend the gløgg and cookies will have to wait for the second Sunday of Advent.

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For the love of books

I cringe when I see someone highlight something in a book, unless they’re doing it very gently with a soft pencil that can easily be erased afterwards. I like my yellow marker myself, but always copy before I highlight, so I never highlight in the book itself. If someone tears a paper from a book, part of me dies. If someone burns a book, well, that’s on them!

But, I have now come across a story in which someone do tear books apart. And, I believe this will be the only time I’ll ever say anything like this: The person makes these books unreadable but yet doesn’t ruin them. Now, you must think I’m out of my mind, but have a look at this:

Now, if you don’t like the artwork in itself, then let me tell you a wee bit more of the story. The artwork you see above was evidently left inside the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh. A note said: “This is for you in support of libraries, books, words, ideas…”, but the artist was anonymous.

Then it happened again, in the National Library of Scotland. A note said: “A gift in support of libraries, books, words, ideas…(& against their exit)”, but the artist remained anonymous. Five more appeared and the story, of course, hit the news. And then the most magnificent thing happened:

Edinburgh Evening News claimed to have cracked the case and could reveal the artist. Except, they didn’t! Instead they took a poll and asked their readers if they wanted to know. The readers answered that they would prefer not to know, and rather let the artist keep his/her anonymity. Consequently the paper did not tell and the artist is still not known.

I’m blown away, just as much by the artworks as by the story. However, I only read this story here, after Stan here linked to it, so it might not be real at all. I don’t really care, it made me smile 🙂

Kilchurn Castle

Things didn’t go according to plans after we reached Oban. We didn’t really have any plans as such, at least none that were set in stone, and sometime the things you don’t plan, or the things you would never even imagine, result in memories you’d rather not be without.

We were fortunate enough to find someone with a bit of local knowledge and an opportunity to tail these locals on or way to Edinburgh. The new route would be about an hour longer, but it would include two castles we otherwise wouldn’t have seen, good company, and cheap petrol at a petrol station in Glasgow (which in theory makes up for taking a longer route?).

I do believe it was indeed the most sensibly alternative, as a severe lack of sleep due unforeseen events the day before, could affect my sense of direction, mood, and in general my ability to think. Driving behind a huge white van made life a little easier. Even if it did get quite close every now and again, when I forgot I was driving a Vauxhall with a set of breaks quite different to the set of breaks I operate on a regular basis.

It was, anyhow, the castle I wanted to mention here. I say mention as I have very little to say about it. It seemed to be somewhere in the area of Middle of Nowhere, which made it perfect. Due to a lack of wellies, a flooded river, and travelling companions who weren’t too eager to have shoes and trousers ruined by wading across said river, we only saw it from afar. But in return, nature put on a display of colours that made up for not getting to climb the walls and search every nook of a ruined castle. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

A Scot I’ll Never Forget

This blog is called Anne blabbers. This is one of those post that will show you why. And since that is my name in front of the verb: allow me.

One of the wonderful things about travelling is meeting people. We had pictured late evenings in Scottish pubs, laughing and chatting with the locals while sipping on a pint. Listening to music and, listen to the varieties of Scottish accent as we travelled from one part of the country to the next. We met quite a few interesting people, most of them men, as a group of three ladies seem to attract them more easily than other women. And as you know, when meeting a lot of new people, someone might come around who’ll take up permanent residence in your head. This happened to me.

The depressing blue skies of Scotland

I was, as you know, travelling with the most wonderful travel companions I can imagine, two of the most wonderful ladies I’ll ever know. Now, I could go on and on about the amazing qualities they possess but I will focus on one thing that one of these ladies shows immense talent for and that is finding people to talk to. More specifically: in a pub she walks over to the bar to order a drink only to return to our table with the most interesting people in said pub.

After finding the perfect company for us in a pub in Oban, we hit the pubs in Edinburgh, looking for another night of perfection. We sent our lovely blonde off to the bar to get us drinks, as that would guarantee a man following in her path back to the table. She did not let us down. Introduced to us was a man who’ll we’ll never forget.

Let’s call him Scott, or, let’s not, that could be interpreted as us seeing him as the stereotypical Scotsman, which I don’t don’t think he is. In fact, this is the type of man you don’t come across every day, and thus also one who leaves one heck of an impression.

He didn’t really stand out in the crowd, but then he opened his mouth. And then, my friend, I realised a few life-altering truths. The first was that we had obviously lost our good luck somewhere around Glasgow. Second was that a nice Scottish accent is not synonymous with being sweet, kind, and polite. Can you imagine our disappointment?

The man seemed to be thrilled to be the only man at our table, and he was not going to waste his time. He blabbered even more than I tend to when I’m nervous. And to give you a brief summary of some of the topics we (or, rather he, as this was more of a monologue than a dialogue) touched upon:

  • “Everybody hates the Brits. Nobody likes them at all. They’re in the European Union, but really, they shouldn’t be because everyone hates them. They get along better with their closest neighbour(?), the US, but unfortunately they don’t really seem to notice them at all.” How we can be so sure everybody hates them? “Well, have you ever seen the results of Eurovision?” I now pointed a finger and tried to remind him of what the previous British entries have been in the song contest, with which he replied: “Well, everyone hates us anyway and nobody’s going to give us any point anyhow, so why bother sending anyone good?” There seems to be a bit of an evil circle going on there, but who am I to talk? Norway is attached to the continent and thus I am biased as I already loathe them. Fortunately there’s Australia. Australia rocks and is by far the best country in the world.
  • “The UK is the most corrupted nation in the world. Every politician is corrupt. They will do anything for their own personal wealth and can be turned in any direction with the right amount of cash. Of course may of them start out nice, but once they smell money their souls are sold to Satan and they cannot be saved.” The poor man did not get the expected responses from us on this subject which resulted in a silent moment, where his eyes flicked back and forth between us. He gave off a nervous laughter before he asked: “You’re not politicians, are you?” He was never really convinced we were, which in fact really made my day. I can now proudly say I have been accused of being an undercover politician set to infiltrate society in order to see what Average Joe thinks about how we run the country. Badass!
  • “Scotland sucks! The weather is horrible, it’s cold, it rains, and the sky is always grey. There is basically no reason to live and every Scotsman we’d ever meet would be depressed and grumpy.” ( I assume all other Scots I’ve ever met have just been extremely good at hiding this). “What makes them all so depressed is the weather and the cold. Nobody can live and function normally under such circumstances,” he said and looked at us who were both smiling. We had to remind of where we were from, the amounts of rain we get, the fact that our country is further north and thus is probably both colder, and definitely has fewer hours of sunlight during the winter. He could not explain this, but it could have something to do with our blond hair and blue eyes. Duh!
  • Oh, and being a Glaswegian in Edinburgh is worse than anything else in the entire world!

Castles and blue skies - to depressing for words

The guy left our table in a fury when we counter-argumented and happened to say something about Scotland that he misinterpreted as criticism. “Who were we to criticise his country!?”

We were glad to see him go. Before leaving the pub, we were asked by a few men(lads) at the table next to ours, where we were from. When Norway was our answer, they looked at us in bewilderment, shook their heads and said that we could not be. We looked as confused at that comment and wanted them to elaborate. With which we were met with “You can’t be! There was a terrorist attack in Norway. You were shot!”

We then left the pub, never to look back. But with memory of Scott, far from the average Scot, who we’ll never forget.

The traffic hazards of Scotland

In not many of the world’s countries can you find yourself on a coastal road boasting splendid views around every corner, only to find the cherry on top, a freakin’ castle stuck on a small islet a stone-toss from the shore. I did not see it coming and immediately became a significant hazard to others driving the same stretch of road at that time. I can’t remember the two lovelies in the car with me saying anything from me spotting the castle, to making an abrupt turn out onto a muddy side road which seemed to lead nowhere except closer to the sea.

We parked the car near a wee house (we were good at finding those that day). The house seemed almost deserted and I simply had to get closer the castle asap. I crossed my fingers and hoped nobody would mind our mischievous parking, but I wasn’t even out the door before the door of the house opened. A man appeared and I expected to be chased from the property with a stick. I was getting my my heavy Norwegian accent ready as well as the innocent and naive, hopeless-tourist look. But, apparently, a group of thee young women seems to have a good effect on polite Scots. He smiled at us, explained that he was expecting a lorry and gave us instructions for how to get closer to the castle as well as where to find a shortcut that would take us back on the main road afterwards. I love Scotland!

A bit of jumping over small brooks and joking in and around a kissing-gate took us down to the beach where the view silenced the three of us. Or silenced us the best you can silence a group of three, who, combined, have been through a few too many literature courses.

(and yes, the castle is the one from the Monty Python films)

Norwegian cuisine – Chinese apples and rice

Now, I don’t really now if this should be classified as Norwegian cuisine, but as I’ve never had it anywhere else, I’ll be so bold as to at least add it to the recipes from my kitchen, making it at least slightly Norwegian…

This is a simple dessert made from rice, oranges, and whipped cream. The unjust title is due to the Norwegian name for orange (appelsin /a:pelsi:n/ that is with a back vowel /a/) which is borrowed from Dutch, which has again just translated from French ‘Pomme de Sine’, which means ‘Apple from China’. The Norwegian name for this dish is ‘appelsinris’ (orange rice), and thus: Chinese apples and rice.

This is what you make for dessert when you have leftover rice from dinner (or make extra rice when you want this for dessert). And it’s dead simple. Peel and dice the orange, whip cream (add a bit of sugar to weigh up for the healthy dinner) and mix it together with rice. I would say even portions of rice and cream, but that depends on how you like it. Sugar also depends on your sweet-tooth. I add about one teaspoon pr decilitre (about two teaspoons pr cup). Serve cold. Enjoy 🙂

Evening bliss

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Some evenings there is just nothing better than this. A first shot at green gunpowder. I’m so convinced I’ll like it that I’ve aimed for no less than a pint. The book on the other hand I feel like I have to finish in spite. I can’t start reading a new one before this is done, but there’s a reason this has been on my nightstand for months already!
Have a wonderful evening wherever you are and thanks for dropping by 🙂