NORWAY 2016|PHOTO’S 2 

Trollstigen (Path of the trolls). The long and winding road.

On a coach tour through Geirangerfjord. I was the luckiest girl alive to get to go on this trip. It was an incredible day with breath taking scenery, stomach churning drops down mountains and smoked salmon and cheese sandwiches.

Geirangerfjord. This needs no words 🙂


After the coach tour, we had the best hot chocolate ever in an adorable café Geiranger Sjokolade. We chatted to the tour guide who was lovely. She moved to Norway with her husband from France and lives on a little island just off mainland Norway.

Being in this unique café, having such relaxed and friendly conversations with people, some I’d just met and some I hadn’t seen for years, gave me a huge feeling of warmth and happiness.

This cafe was opposite where we had the hot chocolate. I love how fresh and coordinated it looks. And with the steep hill with houses on in the background, I felt like it was a true Norwegian sight.

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’.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

 

 

EIGHT DAYS

Eight days to go…

With my trip to Norway only just over a week away, the excitement is building and my thoughts are beginning to turn to making the most of my time over there.

This will not only be my first trip ever to Norway but is also my first time out of the country for 12 years and the first time I’ve traveled by myself.

Only ever having traveled as a child with my parents to places like Greece and Spain for beach holidays, at 25 I feel quite behind in the world of travel, and I honestly cannot wait to experience every single part of being in a different country as an adult.

I am staying with friends I haven’t seen for three years. They are two of my favourite people and having gone on adventures with them before, staying with them in Norway will be a wonderful way to catch up and see the life they have built together since moving there.

While I’m there, I plan to study a bit and write. I really want to get into to travel writing so I will be live blogging for the week I’m there. I’m reading Michael Palin’s Himalaya book currently and am feeling so inspired to document my travel’s, and know I am going to want to go on so many more of them once I’m back from Norway.

I know deep down both traveling and writing are in my heart, each as strong as the other, and so the obvious way forward is travel writing. Whether that will be in the form of travel blogging or travel journalism, I don’t know. But I am so certain that’s where my heart and my future lies.

I see this trip away as a massive opportunity for me. A break yes, from everything that’s bringing me down and emotionally stopping me from getting on with life and making important headway. But I’m basically escaping to the mountains with amazing, cultural people, eating good food and hopefully, giving myself the chance to find the answers to some of the questions whirring round my mind.

So far, I have no nerves or serious anxieties about the trip. I have been known to get very uptight and stressed just going to London for the weekend, but the prospect of boarding a plane by myself and leaving the country for a week seems to have chilled me right out. That or I’m in complete denial.

I’ll be leaving the house to catch the coach to London at three in the morning, arriving at Gatwick half seven am and flying at lunchtime. Meeting my friends at Alesund airport, we’ll then make the one and a half hour journey to their home arriving about half five pm. I’ll be traveling for about 14 hours, which I have to say does excite me, but I’m sure the novelty will be absent on the return journey.

Oh, and the other little nugget of new experience; I’ll be helping to look after an Alaskan Malamute while I’m there. He’s not my friend’s dog, it’s their friend’s and he looks beautiful. Massive and 52kg’s. But beautiful.

So, hopefully I’ll come back in one piece.

All that remains is to pack, do a last minute trip to Primark next Wednesday and then I’ll be good to go.

In truth, I can’t help that but feel like I’ve forgotten something really important, but we’ll roll with it and see what happens…

Takk and ha det

Amy x

My Holiday In Devon & The Tragedy Of Dining Alone…

20th June 2015

Yesterday, I returned home from my week in North Devon with my wonderful friends.

The train journey there had started off rather dramatically, and I always welcome drama, when on the opposite platform, a man was taken away by police… It attracted, as expected, quite a lot of attention from fellow train-riders and I pretended to be absorbed in my book about Bletchley Park, but peeped over my glasses the whole time to gawk at the welcomed altercation!

That was all over fairly quickly, which was a shame but in hindsight, quite fortunate as if it had carried on until my train arrived, I probably would have stayed to carry on spying!

So yes, I got on the train a couple of minutes later and the hoards of loud people in groups also boarded too, much to my disappointment. A group of men in there 30’s and 40’s had been gathering round on the platform, clearly excited for whatever rowdy, drunken event that was about to take off.

And only a few meters apart from them, was an age matching group of women, dressed in matching t-shirts, making just as much noise, just as excited and also getting on the same train…

I reluctantly boarded a carriage and made my way in true disgruntled fashion down the narrowest alley way I’d ever known in a train.

The carriage was packed and so was the luggage rack, so with weekend bag and rucksack in hand, I squeeze messily into a seat by the window, and begin to pray I’m not going to be joined by any of the rowdy lot or a pervy letch!

I thought my luck had been chucked at me 10 fold when it seemed like everyone had found their own seat successfully and I was left with a whole seat next to me! My thoughts were confirmed when the train started moving slowly out of the station and a small, smug but victorious smile crept on to my face as I proudly placed my own luggage into the seat beside me.

Chuffed with my unexpected solitude, I decided that then was a good point to eat my egg sandwich I’d bought, as let’s face it, no one wants to be sat next to anyone eating an egg sandwich on a small train… And that was when it hit me, when I was at my most smug… I was travelling backwards…

That’s when my hand grasped egg sandwich came to a halt mid munch, a churning feeling in my stomach appeared and the words “only I could travel backwards on a train while trying to eat an egg sandwich” came into my head.

And then, just to add to my horror, my head slowly turned round, egg sandwich still planted in my mouth, to see this young girl smiling gleefully back at me, with not a smile of amusement, but a smile of no holds barred pity.

So after dealing with apparent trespassers who were somewhere between where the train was and the next station, the driver picked up full speed and I arrived a little calmer than when I started, just after lunch and waited for my friend to pick me up.
The first evening was spent on the beach with Prosecco, music and lots of giggles and I felt as free as a bird. We were listening to music from The Zac Brown band, who I found a few summers ago and their music fitted so perfectly for our evening on the beach and the words in the song rang so true for me at that moment.

For a girl who has never had more than one and a half glasses of wine before, the three Prosecco’s I’d had by the time the sun was setting on the beach, we’re definitely taking hold of me and the evening danced by with a light hearted frivolity. Pictures, giggles, dancing, singing and spending time with two of the nicest people I know. I felt truly lucky and very grateful for that evening and its San be perfect start to my week.

The rest of the week there passed very well, with explorations of the town and shops, a spontaneous trip to the local museum which turned out to be very interesting and I had a lovely chat with one of the ladies who volunteers there. I went to the beach again by myself and wrote my post cards, thought at one point I was going to be gobbled up by a dog, who just wanted to say hello, managed to get half the beach on my skin after caking myself in sun cream, and was sat there for a good two hours with my late grandma’s tartan umbrella to keep the sun off me. I must have looked like something from The Darling Buds Of May!

 


However, things took a bit of a nose dive on Tuesday lunchtime, when I found myself in a restaurant for lunch, in town…
I’d walked in the door and was greeted by a young girl who had rings on all fingers, red hair and was thin as a rake… Who promptly blurted for all the restaurant to hear, ‘Table for one?’

And that’s when it hit me. I hadn’t actually prepared myself for dining alone and the tragedy that comes with it.

No, I had been used to walking in proudly with my beau, waiting to be walked to a table for two and then going on to enjoy having company while I ate and moaned about everything I didn’t like with where we were. A favourite pass-time of mine.

But now, in a frenzied, tear-filled gaze, I was being led to a massive table at the window which felt like it played a part in the Banquet in Macbeth. All the time, I was being paraded to the village outside and my loneliness and raising level of uncomfortableness was being cast in an exhibition titled, ‘The Tragedy of Heartbreak’.

So, I sat there, sipping my new favourite drink Elderflower Bubbly, waiting 45 minutes for my food to arrive.

During that time, I had to endure every table in my sight containing smug couples, one table of which right opposite me, acting very loved up and kept looking my way in confused pity. I had to stop myself from glaring at them but their brazen public displays of affection were getting the better of me.

And then my distressed brain tuned into the music that was playing through the speakers. A medley of sad songs continued to pour out all the time I was there and I spent the entire time fighting back tears in public, once again.

There was no escaping, I’d ordered food, hadn’t paid for my drink, not to mention starving. I was trapped in the love torture pit of hell and I felt like everyone could see me squirming, everyone knew how sad and low I was. Horrifyingly humiliating, but in recent months, not something I’ve been a stranger to.

After a hideous wait, 45 minutes later, my food arrived and I was bitterly disappointed. It was a linguini carbonara and it was swimming in oil. By that point I had lost my appetite anyway, and with the amount of oil I was having to consume, I plonked my fork down mid meal, huffed loudly and sunk back into my seat tearing up and feeling queasy.
After paying and being polite enough to not moan about the quality of my experience there despite it bringing me to tears and queasiness, I made a hasty retreat and fled back to my friends house where I spent the afternoon feeling incredibly sorry for myself and yes, I watched The Jeremy Kyle Show.

One of my lowest points.

And it began to dawn on me that the more time I spent by myself, the more I was starting to think about him again, the lower I was feeling.

By Thursday night, I was a teary wreck again and needed to get things out of my system. Which I did thanks to my heroic friend who drove us up a hill at night to view the sea and talk. It lifted me so much by the following lunchtime and I returned home feeling a lot more at ease and settled again with my feelings.
The things I learnt while on my holiday, are pretty different to what I thought I would. I learnt that being by yourself at home isn’t always a good thing, I learnt that dining alone really isn’t something to launch straight into if you’re newly single with a broken heart, I learnt that friends are your life line sometimes and I am incredibly lucky to have some that care about me along with my family, and I also learnt that caking yourself in that much sun cream will only ever result in looking like a colourful version of the sand man.
An enlightening week which ended perfectly by being greeted at the station at home by my dad who took my bags from me and gave me a hug:)

I should be keeping a Gratitude diary from now on as I really am starting to notice the little and big things people do.
Not a changed woman yet, but a woman who is doing things she didn’t think she could do and who is getting stronger by the day.
Amy 🌸