NORWAY • DAY ONE|PLANES, LAMA’S & PAVLOVA

Friday 29th July 2016 – Day One

Having been approached by a homeless drunk  asking for money (who turned out to be very pleasant), and being glared at by the girlfriend of a man I’d previously asked for help, I boarded the National Express from Bath 20 minutes late and began the 4 hour journey to London Gatwick.

The journey was fine, I slept on the coach and quietly ate my breakfast. It was still sinking in that I was on my way to an airport and I wasn’t coming home later that day. Twelve years on since my last trip abroad, I was not used to getting into the mindset of leaving England and my family, for such a long time. And to be honest, the whole feeling was rather exciting.

Arriving at Gatwick Terminal South, I slung my over-filled rucksack over my shoulder and clutched the handle on my suitcase and set off in the direction of check-in.

Going through security and check-in at Gatwick was single-handedly one of the most stressful experiences of my life. And I’ve been through a lot. Walking up the stairs to security, having ditched my water bottle and leaking banana, things felt reasonably calm. A feeling I would soon realise to be a false sense of security.

With the scene in front of me resembling what I imagine to be something quite similar to a Syrian border office, I was met with a wall of people queuing, bags and suitcases in hand, pushing and shoving each other. Each face had its own concerned and troubled expression, with eyes like a rabbit in headlights. I fear it wasn’t long before I looked pretty similar.

I spotted a free inch or three on a table where people were shoving liquids into a clear plastic bag provided by the airport, and becoming unusually territorial, I trotted like a kicked-up-the-arse-cow over and nabbed those precious free couple of inches. I had been organised enough before I left home to separate the liquids I was taking into a clear bag, but I noted here was a size limit on the bag’s provided by the airport. So conscious of not making my first criminal offence, I adhered to procedure’s and transferred it all into their own bag.

It was at this point the zip on my new (new) rucksack decided to break. The panic and fury that started to build inside me put me rapidly at risk of looking even more like a nervous wreck, so I did a pretty thuggish kick of my rucksack along the floor in order to keep my place at in the packed queue. There I was, juggling a passport, boarding pass, plastic bag of liquids, a broken rucksack and trying to fish out my ipad so I didn’t hold said queue up, I already looked dodgy as hell.

After about 5 minutes of being bumped into, shoved and stared intensely at by a 7-year-old boy holding a teddy, clearly trying to work out in his head how airlines allow twitchy human beings such as me to get on the same plane as potentially him, it was suddenly my turn to go through the beep machine.

Putting on my “I genuinely have nothing to hide and I was once a member of GirlGuiding” face and placing my belongings neatly in the trays, I proceeded to nonchalantly wander through the beep machine.

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP!!!!! 

“Oh Holy Jesus” I screeched as what seemed like every alarm in the building went off following my emergence from the beep machine. Before I knew what I’d done, I was immediately told to stand to one side and take off my shoes. I did a little prayer that my feet hadn’t acquired any fluff since 6 hours ago.

What occurred next can only be described as a necessary evil. Not only was I now bearing skin (feet and ankle) in public, I was then frisked (by actual hand) by a woman officer. Legs, waist, arms. And then I was shouted at for having something in my pocket. Upon being told to remove it, and noting that the officer had stepped back for the removal, I did a mini prayer that the passport I’d previously shoved in my left pocket had not suddenly turned into a pound of class A drugs. Fortunately and unsurprisingly, it was still my passport, and after more frisking, I was waved on. Shaking and with the driest mouth since chewing on a plain Rivita, I hurriedly collected my things and walked through duty-free in a frenzied daze. Completely bypassing anything ‘discounted’.

img_0393  

The rest of the morning went fairly smoothly and without drama. After trailing around the airport looking at the shops with hiked up prices, I acknowledged my rumbling tummy and went to a place called Wondertree for brunch.

It was good, but what really made everything great; I could see the planes landing and taking off. There were a couple of incidences where a man thought I was taking a deep interest in his face but I didn’t have the heart to tell him that a very fast KLM had just taken off out of his left ear. Essentially. He was sat by the window…

When asked what I would like to order, I indulged in being quintessentially British for one last time, and felt compelled to order avocado on toast with tea. It was yummy.

Ok, a million hours later and 11.20am finally comes around. Boarding time!

Clutching my passport and boarding pass, standing in line grinning to myself like Mr Bean on his first holiday, I catch a glimpse of the massive creature that’s about to fly me 37,000 feet in the sky. I’m talking about the plane, not the pilot. I didn’t see him but I’m sure he’s very slim. He had a nice over-the-tannoy-voice too.

Settling myself into my seat (17c for those closet plane enthusiasts), I spot the man I’m sitting next to and launch in with introducing myself. “Hello, I’m Amy. This is my first plane ride by myself so if I start getting freaked out, don’t panic!” I say with far too much enthusiasm in my voice.

“I’m sure you’ll be fine.” He says with a slightly nervous smile on his face, and without even looking at me, plugs his earphones in to his ear and ‘reads’ something on his phone. We didn’t exchange a single glance or word the entire flight. Take off was bloody scary and how I didn’t inadvertently clutch the man’s leg or scream, I don’t know.

For the majority of the flight I kept dozing. Or at least I think that’s what it was, and not passing out. I’d taken travel sickness pills which cause drowsiness, so I was thankful I had a solid reason for occasionally missing chunks of the flight. I hope to god I didn’t dribble.

The fun came when we started our decent into Norway. I decided then would be a fabulous time to put some make up on so I didn’t resemble an extra from The Walking Dead when I greeted my friend at arrivals. Maneuvering the small space, ear pressure and a heavy rucksack, I retrieved my make up bag and started to line things up on my fold down tray. Well, anyone would have thought I’d started to unload little toy bombs and missiles given the amount of tut’s and sighs I was getting.

Apparently ladies, making yourself look pretty for arriving in a new country is off-limits. Who knew?

Landing was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. After bumping the back wheels like a kid on a new bicycle, the pilot then whacked the brakes on, what I considered to be far too early, and there was a sort of metallic grinding sound as we continued to bump along the tarmac.

Disembarking from the plane was relatively easy, as was customs and baggage reclaim. Very speedy and with such a small airport, there was no option for getting lost.

Before I knew it, I was walking through the doors of arrivals and when I saw my friend standing there, I don’t think I can explain how happy I suddenly felt.

The adrenaline was soaring through me and we chatted and chatted in the car, on the way to where she lives with her husband. I could barely stop smiling. We stopped briefly at a place called Aksla, in Alesund, where the following pictures were taken.

image

image

And after chatting quite a lot more about the last 3 years of our lives, we arrived in the town of Tresfjord, where they live. And where I would be staying for the next week.

image

As you may be able to tell from the above picture, I was introduced to some lama’s. This was my first encounter with a lama outside of a zoo and without a mesh fence as a barrier. It went well, but given the look on my face, a Vallium would have gone down well before the meeting.

Only a month previous to this, my friend posted a picture of one of these Lama’s on her front doorstep.

There was so much to look forward to already…

Their house is beautiful. Set basically in a forest, every window I looked out of were either trees or mountains. The view from their living room was fresh out of a fairytale.

And just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, Ewelina presented the most delicious looking Pavlova she’d made for my arrival. It was spectacular and very yummy indeed!

image

My first evening in Norway was spent eating delicious food, in the company of great friends, having a good old catch up.

Being able to visit friends after three years apart and just pick up where you left off, as though time never really moved, is a very special thing.

I went to bed with a huge feeling of happiness and excitement for the week to come.

 

 

My Healthy Eating Challenge

 

 

It’s safe to say, I’m a free eater. A liberated eater if you will.

I eat what I want, when I want. And I’m not bragging or making myself try and sound like the greediest human alive, I’m just saying that when this girl is peckish, delicious morsels are hunted down and consumed. Generally not in the form of a carrot stick being enthusiastically swiped through homemade hummus either.

I’m the girl who eats biscuits or oat cakes for breakfast, will snack on biscuits or chocolate in between meals with the odd bit of fruit thrown in for good measure, and when it comes to meals like lunch and dinner, my portion sizes are what Gillian McKeith might call “mammoth”. But what a normal person would call “a plate well loaded.”

So I have a good appetite. Yay for me. But after spending months giving myself pretty much a free reign over food as a mild, fairly immature two fingers up to being broken hearted, I have reached the moment in my aging life that this irresponsible and unhealthy attitude towards food has to stop. As much as a large part of me delights at the idea of spending life with a box of Kripsy Kreme in one hand and a huge bowl of mac and cheese in the other, a smaller, healthier part of me is having frequent panic attacks at the thought of how unfit I am and how I could make so much more of an effort to eat a lettuce leaf.

Here are 10 reasons to eat a healthy balanced diet:

  1. Cholesterol – My family on both sides suffer from high cholesterol and untreated, can lead to a number of serious health conditions like strokes and heart disease.
  2. Your immune system will function better and be stronger to fight off bugs and colds and all the nasties.
  3. Your risk of heart attacks and heart disease will be less and your arteries will be clearer with less fat consumed.
  4. Cancer prevention.
  5. Weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight.
  6. Digestive health.
  7. Fertility.
  8. Healthier skin.
  9. Increased brain function.

I am fortunate to an extent that I grew up on a pretty balanced diet and was never given sugary fizzy drinks, so have no desire to drink them in my adult life. I never have a MacDonalds or Burger King etc, but I know full well what I do eat, could be a lot healthier. So, my mission from here on in, is to stop snacking on the rubbish and replace rubbish with healthier alternatives. Despite the serious cravings, cut down on my chocolate intake. To eat a healthy breakfast before work and make time in the morning to sit down and eat, to reduce my portion sizes on my plate and not have eyes bigger than my stomach, and to make sure that I have a good amount of vegetables or salad with my main evening meal. OH!! And I almost forgot, I want to start drinking less caffeine. Coffee mostly, I like my Twinings English Breakfast too much to abandon ship with that, but less coffee is a must.

Or at least, that is the plan.

image4

BREAKFAST

I love lemon green tea. Green tea is great by itself, but with that hint of lemon, makes it crisper and fresher and I think I would prefer to wake up to a cup o’ this instead of the thick, foul after-tasting sugar filled coffee, which never even wakes me up. Read this snippet of glory from the box of Clipper Tea Bags…

A light, crisp and highly refreshing green tea with a delicious lemony citrus zing.

Doesn’t that sound lovely to wake up to? Yes indeedy and I have considered getting a kettle for my bedroom…

image2

BREAKFAST

Keeping with the “most important meal of the day”, I am replacing my very unhealthy breakfast of biscuits or oatcakes, with fruit mix on top of whipped Greek yogurt with honey clusters sprinkled over. Trust me, this looks and tastes so much more refreshing and satisfying than stodgy oats and the bonus of it all, is that it’s healthy. If you’re on a proper serious health kick, you could opt for the low fat yogurt and no honey clusters, but a little sprinkle of those never hurt nobody, OK?

I love the variation possibilities with breakfast’s like this. Mix match of fruits to choose from like banana and kiwi and mango and orange segments… An endless fruity opportunity to start your day.

I would say stop me if I’m starting to sound like one of those annoying health freaks who thinks a fun Friday night is watching You Are What You Eat whilst using a home enema kit and munching on a grape, but I fear I’ve already hit that level and you can’t exactly stop me so, soz not soz.

image5

SNACKING

Oh me oh my.

Yushoi Snapea Rice Sticks are the finest little snack since the roasted soy bean. They are 95 calories per serving of 21g. They are baked so already healthier than a Roast Chicken Walkers crisp, and they come in a variety of glorious flavours. These are Soy & Balsamic Vinegar which are the nicest I’ve tried so far. These little beauties are made from green peas and rice (what more could you want, apart from a Bounty?) and are Japanese inspired.

Delicious!

image3 (1)

MAIN MEALS 

On to the biggest meal of the day and the largest opportunity for all your hard work to go down the pan whilst you glug a 175ml of red wine and chew your way manically through a Chinese take away.

I am absolutely loving and craving salads at the moment and I’m trying to incorporate them into the majority of the main meals I have. Salads and vegetables should be the most of something you have on your plate, with potatoes or pasta coming second and meat being third. I am in total agreement with this and always hate it if there is too much meat on my plate. On the subject of meat, I also want to reduce my intake of red meat like beef and bacon as I really don’t enjoy it all too much and it’s not the healthiest meat option out there. I would like to focus on chicken and fish mostly, with a healthy portion of crunchy salad on the side.

And you can add so many tasty things to salads like, avocado’s, beetroot, radish, red onions, peppers, chickpeas, raw chopped vegetables, the list, again, is endless.

Just because it’s healthy, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Mix and match things, try new and exotic foods and make it look nice on the plate. We are a nation guilty of judging things by the way they look, so if you take the time to present what you’re about to put in your body nicely, then you’re definitely going to enjoy it a hella lot more.

To take away: I would advise the app + website Yummly. It’s great for recipe ideas and making lists of ingredients and meal type categories.

I am going to be posting pictures of my culinary adventures on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #whatamyeatsnext so keep a look out for my posts. You too could try this with the hashtag #myhealthyeatingchallenge and we can create a community of healthy eaters.

Don’t I sound like the most fun blogger you could be following right now?!

img_7001