No More Nomad in Norway

The Irish Nomad is no longer in Norway :(

She has moved on to adventures new in Malaysia, after a brief stop-off home in Ireland.


Nearly finished in Norway

I've done my final post from Norway - I think. It's over at The Irish Nomad in Malaysia Blog where I'll be blogging from now on. Hope you'll come and join me there.


Goodbye Norway, Hello Malaysia

After almost six years living on the edge of a large field where deer roam and skiing tracks run from the door in winter, where we can look out onto hills and Oslo Fjord, we're moving to a tropical city of skyscrapers, traffic jams and slightly less-endearing creatures than deer. It's not quite a case of country hicks moving to the city, as we've lived in Asia before: two years in Singapore, three in Manila, but going back is going to be exciting and certainly different. and very, very sweaty.
When we arrived in Norway at the end of 2004, I had two daughters, aged 3.5 and 2 years old. They'd never seen snow; I'd never dressed myself or a child for it. We're leaving with a 3.5 year old son in addition; Norwegian souvenirs don't come much better than him. He'll miss his matpakke with Prim, his pølser, the snow, his best buddies Andre and Markus, and much more. I hope we'll manage to preserve his Norwegian language and forget the brown dairy products and sausages.
I won't even go into what I'll miss, because I'll miss all of it, even the feckin' snow. But, it's a time to look forward, to pastures and Blogs anew. There's a substantial English-language press in Kuala Lumpur, as well as plenty of cultural idiosyncrasies for a foreigner to write about. I'm certainly looking forward to that - once the novel is finished, of course. We have friends in South East Asia and we're going to embark on travel adventures as a family. I can't wait to show my girls Singapore, where they were both born. The kids are going to love swimming every day, and will forget about those nasty parkdresses they wore for half of every year they spent in Norway. We'll miss the bright summer evenings but will sit smugly on our terrace in November and think of the dark days and nights back up north.
And then there's the food. I'll be honest and say that it won't be a wrench to change the Nomad family kitchen offerings and savour what Malaysia has to offer our palates. If the chicken a Malaysian friend brought to our BBQ last weekend is anything to go by, then I'd better find a gym in KL very, very fast! Already we have a brunch and dinner booked with two sets of friends when we arrive. Yes folks, in Malaysia, the Nomad family is going to be able to afford to eat out!
Thanks to all of you who have read and commented here since 2006; I hope you'll follow me to Malaysia as I start over and attempt to see the world with fresh eyes. There will certainly be cockroaches, complaints about the heat and traffic, and a longing for the relative transparent bureaucracy of Norway, but I know there will be far, far more. Join me on my adventure: Irish Nomad in Malaysia.
We're leaving Norway in 2 weeks, and after a trip to Ireland, will head to KL at the end of July. I'll update via Twitter as we go, when I have internet access.
Bye for now :)


Bloomsday in Oslo

For anyone interested in James Joyce and, more specifically, the connection between Henrik Ibsen and James Joyce, members of the Norwegian Irish Society have organized a great evening of events in Oslo on June 16. Click on the image above to enlarge.

There may still be a few places left for the lectures at the Ibsen Museum (contact John Fitzgerald for details: 93068032) and all are welcome to join in the post-lecture festivities at Lorry on Parkveien. Costumes welcome but optional.


Win a trip to Northern Norway

I dislike travelling. Hardly a nomadic trait but there you go. I move from one country to another, and once ensconced in whatever house we choose as our latest home, I tend not to venture far. I am rarely a tourist. This is partly due to the fact that we spend much of our holiday time going back home, to either Ireland or Denmark, but it’s also down to the fact that with three youngish children, travelling anywhere is a planning and logistical exercise this insomniac tries to avoid. That’s why, after almost six years in Norway, I’ve hardly been anywhere. I’ve done one winter work day in Bergen, arriving and leaving in the dark, and seeing only the inside of a drab engineering office (where all the women, to my disgust, wore unflattering jeans).
I’ve spent one wet holiday weekend near Arendal. Another wet weekend on the edge of Hardanger Fjord. And. And well that’s it really. Oh I did go to one book club meeting in Spikkested. That’s my version of Norway: Oslo, Baerum, Bergen in the dark, Arendal and Spikkested.
It's not too late though, even with only four weeks left in the country. Thanks to Innovation Norway's latest marketing campaign, I can now make virtual postcards of myself visiting lots of Norway's most beautiful and popular tourist sites, all without lifting my bum off my seat. I might even win a prize by doing so - a trip to Northern Norway (in person) is on offer to the winners. But of course, I don't like traveling and I'm going to be on the other side of the world by August, so I'll give this one a miss. That's not to stop any of you lot out there entering the competition. Oh, it seems that you have to be British, and ordinary, and presumably photogenic, which disqualifies me completely - phew!

Here are the details:

‘…Innovation Norway, the official Norwegian tourism and trade organisation, has launched a major new UK marketing campaign to find four British ‘postcard models’ for a series of photo-shoots in Northern Norway.

The competition will be hosted on a specially designed Facebook page (http:// www.facebook.com/postcardmodels). Applicants will upload images of themselves into picture-perfect Northern Norway postcard-scenes to enter. Applicants require ten or more ‘likes’ from their Facebook friends to qualify for the competition.

Catherine Foster, Country Manager, Innovation Norway UK, said: “The aim of this initiative is to highlight the fantastic scenery and exciting activities you can experience in Northern Norway.

“Targeting nature lovers aged 25-65 who enjoy outdoor activities, we are hoping to find ordinary individuals, who have a vibrancy about them to match the Norwegian landscape.”

To apply, potential models must be available to travel to one of three destinations in North Norway with a partner of their choosing from August 14-17, 2010.

The winners will take centre stage in a photo-shoot with a professional photographer in beautiful Northern Norway landscapes. Postcards will subsequently be printed and sold in Northern Norway.

Please take a look at http://www.visitnorway.co.uk/postcardmodels and http://www.facebook.com/postcardmodels for further information.

So go on, have a go.


The fleshy truth

Yesterday I cancelled my gym membership, with tears in my eyes. I seem to do everything these days with tears in my eyes; I’m a big cry-baby. Back to the gym. Could it really have been more than five years since I took a tour of the facilities? Since I stood aghast at the sight of the communal showers? You mean there’s no privacy? I asked, feeling certain that the young man was in fact hiding proper shower cubicles from me. (After moving to new premises, slightly segregated showers were built, but with no curtain or door to hide behind.) Back in Asia, not only were there private showers that allowed the utmost discretion and cellulite cover-up, but there were even changing cubicles in case, God forbid, someone saw one’s knickers. But no, not here.
I still haven’t got used to the way Norwegian women walk around stark naked amongst strangers they have just shared a Body Pump class with but never a smile. They may not say hello to you but many of them are perfectly happy to bend over to dry between their toes, pushing their rear ends in your face, showing off the squidgy tan mark they’ve acquired on the sun- bed, and more besides. (I’ve assumed this is what that white bit is.) I’m being harsh. Of course, after five years some people say hello. And then you have to be sure to keep your chin up and not let your gaze drift south; I don’t want to know if someone has real breasts or fake, waxed or not. OK maybe I do, but I don’t need the fleshy, visual evidence, thank you very much.
So you may have gathered, that I mostly shower at home when I do a gym class. When I don’t, I’m very discreet with a towel. Not that anyone looking at me, you understand. No one would be that intrusive. The girl at the reception, getting me to sign the cancellation form, wasn't intrusive either. If she noticed my tears she didn't let on. Actually, I really don't think she'd have noticed if I had an monkey sitting on my head, and for once, I thought this a good thing.


Eurovision & Madcon

If you were strong enough to resist the lure of Eurovision last saturday, well done. I wasn't. It was on in Olso after all, so how could we ignore it. I stayed up well past my usual bedtime - as did my kids - but then went wearily off to bed, when it was already tomorrow, remembering why I haven't watched the show in 20 years. Nothing against Niamh Kavanagh - she sang well, and I love the song - but clearly it wasn't to Europe's taste - I use the term loosely here - and it did dismally. As did the Norwegian entry, which had been much hyped, and expected to do well. There was even talk in the Norwegian papers over concerns abut the cost of hosting the event again next year. There was no need to worry. Norway came something like 20th out of 25.
The event itself though was a triumph for Norway and the highlight was the interval act. It was worth staying up for. Good old Norway for resisting the opportunity to promote Norwegian tourism to millions of people and instead keeping to their 'Share the Moment' theme. It really, really worked and turned what has often been a cheesy, cringe-worthy competition into a modern, well choreographed, show of unity throughout Europe. Or at least the interval part; there was plenty to cringe at during the rest of the show.
If you missed it - here's the video (probably better watched on You Tube itself). I love it. The music starts a couple of minutes in and is worth the wait. Try sit still - bet you can't ;)