Archive for January, 2007

The Sounds of Snow

Or “Miss Ine’s Feeling for Snow”… Seriously, you can’t sneak up on people on snow. When it’s -15°C (that’s 5F to you foreigners), the snow CREAKS — LOUDLY as you walk on it.

Woke up Monday morning in the guest bedroom of my parents’ house to a healthy, if freezing, -10°C — rapidly dropping to -20°C over the next couple of days — clear sunshine and a thick carpet of snow over the landscape and adjoining gardens. Not a breath of wind to be felt. Freezing temperatures are acceptable under those conditions only. After so many years living under more temperate conditions the cold came as a bit of a shock. And the memories… the smell of the snow, a sharp, metallic smell, the nose going numb as you become aware that you have nasal hairs since they suddenly all feel like little icicles… the noises the snow makes when you walk on it, the way you tense up when walking across icy bits…

This is the view from the guest bedroom:

If you thought Norway was perpetually dark throughout the winter, you are wrong. We get both daylight and sunlight even if the sun doesn’t get very high up in the sky and the daylight lasts for not very long. You have to go a fair bit further north of Oslo to get no sunlight. It’s a long country.

I’m visiting my parents for a short week trying to help them learn more about their computers. They have both got into computers in their retirement and want to know it all! And more. But there’s a lot to learn and remember when one hasn’t grown up with it. I’m actually really, really impressed with their efforts. And I’m sadly not always the most patient of teachers.

In between the ‘classes’ I have been lucky enough to find time to drop by my hairdresser in Oslo… funny thing that, hairdressing… once you’ve found a hairdresser you like it’s really difficult to let go… I’ve been going to Helen for years, I’d even say decades, and never managed to find one in London or Vienna as good as her. She’s just brilliant. I hadn’t been to a hairdresser in 1 1/2 years (the last time I went to see her); that’s how dependent I am.

Here’s a picture of the famous Holmenkollen Ski Jump seen from a slightly different angle to the usual shots:
(Seen from the Bjørvika harbour side where the train comes in from the Stockholm/Gothenburgh/Moss/Ski-direction)
This was another gloriously cold day in Oslo. And I do wonder… how come McDonald’s expect people to sit outside with their hamburgers in -15°C? What’s WRONG with these people??
This is the first McDonald’s branch in Norway, and though I spent an idiotic amount of time there as a teenager I have since developed a real hatred for all things McDonald’s. They represent nothing but CRAP! Including their food.

But one can hardly argue with this little banner I found further along the street, advertising for Kilroy Travels…

Another name for Oslo, at least locally, is Tigerstaden — directly translated as Tiger City; thus the big bronze statue of an enormous, lean tiger on the square outside the Central Station (the old building). But at least now I know why he’s normally photographed from the front.

Now there’s only a few days to go before my return to Vienna. I haven’t been in Norway in January in many years, and I can’t really say I miss it in any way. Even if the weather has been fantastic and I’ve seen it from its very best side (tiger included). I really do believe I was made for a warmer climate.

I don’t have too many friends left here either, and this time I had not informed the ones I do have left that I would be visiting — mum and dad were my main reason for my visit, and I’ve wanted to give them full priority. I surprised one good old friend with a quick call after my visit to my hairdresser, and he was able to spare a little time on extremely short notice. Some friends will stay friends no matter where they are or how long it is between meetings.

Well, nuff for now. I can hear a wee glass of redwine calling my name — or is that my dad’s sonorous voice…?


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I HATE spitting! Why do people spit? They (Austrians too) complain of dog-poo on the pavements (that’s ‘sidewalks’ to you Americans), but there’s more giant gobs of SPIT to be seen than dog poo – and there’s a lot of dog poo here! In fact, Vienna is famous for its doogie-poo’d pavements. I hereby elevate Vienna to SPIT CITY NO. 1.

And that’s not a compliment.

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America Gets Everywhere

With technology shrinking the world at the rate of knots, it’s hardly suprising that countries copy eachother’s success shows. But sometimes the original show just can’t be beaten. And sometimes they can’t not only not be copied to suit another country, it doesn’t in any way export.

However, here are some of my favourite US shows:

M*A*S*H (discovered the TV series before I saw the film, which is another favourite)
Desperate Housewives (had decided not to watch this as the title made me think of German porn films featuring overly young girls and men with sideburns and moustaches)
House (OK, so it’s got Hugh Laurie in it, but his American accent ain’t bad, and I’ve had a crush on him for years…)
Spin City
The West Wing (fantastic writing!)
Charmed (not the greatest show ever created, and most of the guys are fairly dire, but it’s uncomplicated entertainment, and the girls are sexy, according to my husband…)

I also quite like Gray’s Anatomy, King of Queens, Raymond and The Cosby Show. And Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

None of the above shows should be done by other countries as their ‘Americanness’ is part of what makes them good.

Among my favourite non-translatable British shows are:
Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister (wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!!!)
The ‘Carry-On … ‘ -films (these are actually popular in Germany, dubbed and all – I don’t ever want to see them as the Germans see them!)
Dad’s Army
Simple Life
Monty Python (TV stuff and the films they did)
Fawlty Towers
Coupling (apparently, this is the UK version of Friends, but uniquely British and hardly comparable)
To the Manor Born
One Foot in the Grave
As Time Goes By (Judi Dench is my all-time favourite actress and just about the only celebrity I would like to meet)
Oh, and then there is the more serious stuff, such as Inspector Morse and Spooks.

And this is without going into any of the wonderful British radio programmes. I’ll only mention one of those; Sorry, I haven’t a Clue. If you get THAT, then you’re British.

As for what’s come out of Norway, well… bugger all, really, but there’s one programme I’ve never understood that no-one at least tried to buy/copy:
Pompel og Pilt. It completely defies description and explanation, but the creators labelled it as ‘pre-ironic’…
I love it! I even use the show as a video-lesson for my Norwegian students here in Austria – I consider it an important part of their insight into the Norwegian psyche.
PS Thanks to Laurel for inspiring this post!

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