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You call this summer!

Here is where the salmon's journey begins as they swim in from the North Sea

Here is where the journey begins as the salmon swim in from the North Sea

Summer is suppose to be warm and sunny! Right?

Growing up on the Jersey Shore we had our share of bad weather, but summers were always spent at the beach, or in the pool. We’d pack up our winter clothes in May and wouldn’t need them again before at least October. I remember how hard it was getting use to wearing shoes again in the fall, when school started. I have such fond memories of how summer is suppose to be…

Now I live on an island off the southwest coast of Norway, where summer is about as predictable as the stock-market. This week alone we’ve had two days with a cold wind, one warm day, one day that started terrible and ended nice. That happens a lot, it’s gray and damp all day and then the sun comes out, just as we’re heading for bed… Today it’s raining.

There is however, one sure sign that summer has arrived here in my little corner of the world. The salmon are swimming in from the ocean and up into the rivers to spawn. To do this, they must swim through the sound and directly past my house. For the next month (with a special license) we are allowed to set nets from Sunday night until Thursday afternoon. This is a big deal for the locals, who check their nets several times a day and then gossip over who’s catching the most. I’ve seen two salmon hop through the water, just since I’ve been sitting here writing this post. (There’s a window right behind my computer screen).

Much to my husbands dismay we’re heading for Scotland next week and that means he’ll have to take a break from fishing. My son is enrolled in a week-long bagpiping course at the National Bagpipe Centre in Glasgow. I’m not exactly sure how an American/Norwegian teenager got interested in bagpiping, he just did.

And I doubt we’ll find summer in Scotland either…

My catch, holding his catch ;)

My catch, holding his catch 😉

 

Scotland

I was in Scotland this past week to meet with a group of women writers. All of us have written or are in the process of writing books about women and the perils they sometimes face. We were there to listen and support one another through the tough process of writing, publishing and promoting our stories. I feel honored to have been included in this newly formed alliance and look forward in seeing where it takes us…

Ingrid Schippers the Dutch co-author of Bloodlines Touch Not the Cat, and I, stayed at the Bargany B&B in Troon. I had a beautiful view of the Firth of Clyde from my room and woke up every morning to the delightful smell of a full Scottish breakfast waiting. Ingrid is also in the process of writing a life-make-over book for women.

Full Scottish breakfast

On our first evening before meeting up with the others, we had dinner at a local pub and were joined by her co-author of Bloodlines, Tom McKerley. Tom lives in Troon and their book is a Scottish Genealogy Mystery Novel, which is a fantastic book that I highly recommend. No surprise Ingrid and I ordered fish & chips for dinner, while Tom ordered Haggis (I did try it and here is the picture to prove it) It tasted okay, I guess, but I don’t think I’ll be eating it again.

When in Scotland, do as the Scottish…

The following day, Ingrid and I set out for the town center and what do you think was the first thing we came across? A used bookstore – which is every writers dream! I was thrilled to find a book of Scottish Love Poems. A great souvenir.

We also stumbled across a great little coffee shop that sold original Scottish arts, craftwork and jewelry called, The Little Shop With No Name. Where we procrastinated intensely over a selection of homemade cakes offered and ultimately ended up with an assortment of them all. They were delicious and easily washed down with two cups of piping hot, green tea.

Lemon Drizzle Cake, Scottish Dumpling, Rich Macadamia Fruit Cake and Cinnamon Apple Scones – yummy!

We worked off our sugar rush with a long walk, on the soft sandy beaches of Troon…

Later that evening we joined the others in a literary powwow, which lead the way to plenty of laughter, a few tears, some spicy Indian food and Champaign. I’m glad I went.

Troon Center

The promenade along the beach

Thanks for a great day Ingrid!

The Adventure Begins

I’m back and fully charged after five glorious days in sunny Italy.

We flew from Stavanger to Oslo, and then on to Pisa. Our final destination was Cinque Terre, located in the westernmost area of the Ligurian Riviera. Before heading out to the sun drenched oasis, we took a detour into Pisa, to see its famous Leaning Tower. The Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles) consists of four buildings, the Cathedral, Leaning Tower (bell tower), Baptistry, and Campo Santo. They stand close together on a green lawn and were even more beautiful than I imagined but what surprised me most, was how pristine they still look today.

Afterwards we took a train to La Spezia, which is often called the doorway to Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre, in Italian means, “The Five Lands” and is called this because it is composed of five villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare. These five villages, the coastline and the surrounding hillsides are all part of a National Nature Park and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here we were able to buy a Cinque Terre Card, which enabled us to take the train and walk on the paths connecting the small villages as much as we liked. From La Spezia to the last village, Monterosso (where we were staying) was only a twenty-five minute train ride.

We stayed at the Hotel Baia which was located directly across the street from the beach. Monterossa is the most touristy of the five villages because of its long span of beach and promenade along the sea. The hotel was an old, four story building with high ceilings (twelve feet) and steep steps leading up to each floor. There was an old glass elevator, but used only for transporting luggage, pregnant women and the elderly. Every room had a balcony, but only the ones in front and on the sides overlooked the sea. Ours was in the back, yet lovely and private just the same. The room was basic, but clean. A buffet breakfast was served every morning in a sunny dining room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monterossa is uniquely protected by hills, olive groves and lemon trees. In the backstreets of Monterossa is the old part of town, where there are shops, cafes and of course, churches. Here is where you can also pick up the well-trodden paths connecting the five villages. Trekking from one village to the other can be a little challenging in some places, due to the heat, slopes and steps.

 

There is more to come on the other four villages, our hike, the local wine, Italian food and the breathtaking beauty of Cinque Terre… But first, I have to read the seventy-nine new posts waiting in my inbox, wash three baskets of dirty clothes and go food-shopping. I won’t even mention what my house looks like after leaving two teenage boys and two dogs home alone to fend for themselves all week. Oh, its great to be home…

A Special Place

 

For those of you who do not know, I live on a small island off the southwest coast of Norway. Although I was not born here, I do believe it is where I belong. I tried to fight it, but is there any use in fighting fate?

Unless its pouring (which happens – not complaining) I walk my two dogs Khloe and Mia everyday. Our goal is always Skadberg Sanden, which is a little beach about a kilometer down the road.

 

Unless the weather is exceptionally fine, I mostly find myself alone here. And that makes it a perfect spot to think, or scream into the wind, “Why am I here?” 

I feel closer to God and better in touch with myself in this place. It is also the ground where my ancestors walked and that makes me feel less foreign, in this my adopted land.

 

 

There’s a charming old house standing close to the dunes, which is particularly special to me. I was no more than eleven the first time I saw it and can remember thinking how beautiful it was. I visited Norway often when I was young and every time I saw the house, I would picture myself living there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t live there, but I live a lot closer than I really, ever thought I would.