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Bonnie Scotland…

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Our trip to Scotland wasn’t exactly what I’d call a vacation, but it was however, a very interesting trip…

As our plane reached cruising altitude and the captain was about to give his customary announcement on weather conditions and flight time, I heard something odd. He started the announcement saying, Your Royal Highness, ladies and gentlemen.

Hmmm… Could I have heard wrong? No one else seemed to notice, not even my husband or son. I took a quick look around and saw the whole first row was empty except for one man, sitting next to the window, on the other side of the plane. Behind him, in the second row there were just two men sitting in the isle seats. By now my mind was racing (out loud) and my husband had to tell me to calm down, but I couldn’t. I finally asked the flight attendant, right out… Is there a royal onboard this plane?

Sure enough, Kong Harold, the King of Norway was sitting fifteen seats in front of me and it turns out he always flies commercial.

The King was the first one off the plane where a car was waiting for him. I took this picture from inside the plane, it's the closest I've ever been to a king!

The King was the first one off the plane where a car was waiting for him. I took this picture from inside the plane, that’s him getting into the car. It’s the closest I’ve ever been to a king!

When my son came to me last summer and said he wanted to learn how to play the bagpipes, I thought it was a joke. Turns out he was serious and has worked diligently this past year learning to play the chanter, which is the part of the pipe with the finger holes. The next step is getting the actual bagpipes, which is what brought us to Scotland. We spent five (cool and drizzly) days in Glasgow, where we stayed and my son attended a piping course at the National Piping Centre. He got his pipes and his kilt should arrive in about six weeks (it had to be custom ordered).

This is the tartan my son chose for his kilt

This is the tartan my son chose for his kilt

Because he had four classes a day with a lunch break of two hours in the middle of them, it was impossible for us to get out and do very much. All the sightseeing points of interest closed at five, which is when his last class ended. I did however, manage to get in a wee bit of shopping on Buchanan Street. We took evening strolls in Kelvingrove Park and the Necropolis Cemetery next to the Glasgow Cathedral. I know it sounds weird to stroll around a cemetery but the gothic-style mausoleums and giant headstones are quite a sight.

The headstones almost look like giant chess pieces.

The headstones almost look like giant chess pieces.

The other thing I did, was drink tea. It’s one of my favorite things to do in the UK. I’m always in search of a tea shop and I found some nice ones in Glasgow. Among them, Bradford’s, The Willow Tea Rooms, which were designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1903, and my favorite, Cup Tea Lounge. Where I had the most amazing cup of White Jasmine Tea imaginable! And the cupcakes weren’t bad either 🙂

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I’ll leave you with this:

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Words to live by…

Going Home

 

I know my last post was about life getting back to ‘normal’ after a long and exciting summer, but summer’s not quite over yet. I still have two trips to take…

First, I’m going on a mystery trip to Scotland. The reason I call it a mystery trip, is because I’m going to meet a group of writers, I don’t really know. We will be discussing a joint venture, I know nothing about. I’m not even quite sure why I’m going, all I know is something in Scotland is beckoning. More to come on that…

I am also going on a trip to Dublin, with my husband, four of his old football (soccer) buddies and their wives. This trip is strictly for pleasure. More to come on this trip too…

What I can tell you about now, is my trip ‘home’ to New Jersey. I still call Jersey home because it’s where I come from, it’s where my family lives and where all my childhood friends are. No matter how long I’m gone it always feels familiar and I still sound like I belong there. Now you’re probably thinking… What?

I’m talking, or should I say, ‘tawking’ about my language and Jersey attitude. Living in a foreign country, talking ‘their’ language, with an accent and not having a clue how to joke around, mostly leaves me feeling like an outsider. Not the case in Jersey…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few more reasons I like visiting Jersey in the summer are, warm weather, something you canNOT count on in Norway. Shopping, there is 0% tax on clothes in NJ and 22% on clothes in Norway. I could sit here all day telling you reasons I love the Garden State, but guess what?

Norway is my home now, it’s where my father, husband and two of my sons were born. I have three children and three grandchildren living there (two of my children and two grandchildren live in the US). I have friends that feel like family and my two pets, Khloe and Mia are there. The house my husband built and the home we built together are there. I feel safe in Norway and have soon lived there half of my life (six more years). I guess I have two homes…

What do you think, is home where you come from, or where you’ve gone?

 

Book Giveaway

A quiet summer at home, well that was the intention…

The only plans my husband and I had this summer were to paint the house and work in the garden. After finishing up a lot earlier than expected and in desperate need of sun, we decided to spend a week in Italy.

Some friends have talked us into taking a long-weekend in Dublin, at the end of August. I’ve been invited to join a group of women-writers, meeting in Scotland the weekend before that, and now a trip to America has unexpectedly dropped into our lives.

My husband was asked by his company to give up a week of his vacation and go to Houston on business. Of course he agreed to do it, as long as they were willing to buy a ticket for me too. I then decided to trade in my ticket to Houston for a ticket to New Jersey, which is where I come from.

Tomorrow morning I’m heading home to the Garden State, for a whole week with family and friends. (Plus shopping, no tax on clothes in NJ). When I get back, my new baby granddaughter will be coming to stay with me, while my daughter and her family go to Lego Land in Denmark. There’s nothing like cuddling with a new born.

There is also an Austen in August reading challenge over at Roof Beam Reader. If you’re a Jane Austen fan (like me) check it out! I will also be participating in a book giveaway there…

Leave me a comment if you’re interested in winning a free copy of my book, Fly Away Home. At the end of August, I’ll pull one name out of a hat, contact the winner, and send the book anywhere in the world.

Sense and Sensibility is my favorite Jane Austen novel however, I’ve decided to read Persuasion, because Anne Elliot is my favorite Austen heroine. I’m also very fond of Elizabeth Bennet, from Pride and Prejudice. Which one will you read?

I’ll be gone for the next two weeks, but am leaving you with these awesome pictures, people have posted on Facebook. I hope you’re all having a great summer…

Summer is almost here!

I love summer, its my favorite time of the year. There are no guarantees the weather will be nice in Norway, but thats why we have airplanes to carry us off in search of the sun. When my children were little we always went to my parents house in New Jersey. There the weather was always warm and the kids enjoyed the swimming pool in my parents yard, while their mother enjoyed the air conditioned shopping malls (just kidding…).

Now the children are grown and my husband and I like to travel around and see new places. This years vacation spot is, Cinque Terra. Whats interesting, is how I found this location… I casually stumbled across the picture above on Naomi Baltuck’s blog, Writing Between the Lines and immediately commented, Where is this place? Three days later our trip was booked! I’m sure once you read about “the five lands” on the Italian Riviera, you’ll be dying to go too…

Blogging has been quite rewarding lately, not only did I find this year’s vacation spot, but I’ve also had three blog awards bestowed on me. First was the Versatile Blogger Award which I received from Beth’s blog, it’s a whole new world. Beth is one of those people who feels like a good friend, even though we’ve never met. The second is a Liebster Award from Robin Coyle her blog is, The writing Life of Robin. Robin has a great style and her blog is overflowing with writing tips. Since I already have a Versatile Blogger and a Liebster Award, I’m going to jump right over to the third one which is the Sunshine Award. I was nominated for this one by Paula’s blog, stuff I tell my sister. Paula is also a delightful person and her blog is a warm and cozy place to visit. Check them out, you won’t regret it!

The Sunshine Award guidelines are:

  1. Link the award to the person who gave it to you.
  2. Answer the questions that come with it.
  3. Pass it along to other bloggers and let them know they have received it.

Here are the blogs I nominate, (I tried to see who already had the award, but that was a lot of work and then I got my lists confused, so I’m just randomly throwing some names out there. If you already have it, then I’m sorry. If you don’t have it and your name is not on the list, just take it, I’ll never tell…)

1. An American Hermit Crab in Denmark

2. Expat Alien

3. The Wanderlust Gene

4. Expat Lingo

5. I was an expat wife 

6. Building Bridges

7. M. Latimer-Ridley

8. it’s a whole new world

9. How the Cookie Crumbles

10. Writing Between the Lines


Now for the questions…

  1. Favorite color-  When the sky is solid blue, thats my favorite color.
  2. Favorite animal- Thats a toss up between Mia and Khloe…
  3. Favorite number- That has to be six, because I have six kids.
  4. Favorite non-alcoholic drink- Easy! Tea (warm or cold).
  5. Facebook or Twitter- Definitely Facebook (thats where all my real friends are)
  6. My passion- Everyone will expect me to say writing, but its scrapbooking.
  7. Giving or receiving- I love to buy gifts but when people ask me what I want, I always answer, “I don’t know.”
  8. Favorite pattern- Hmm… Burberry plaid.
  9. Favorite day of the week- Without a doubt Friday night, I love having the weekend in front of me.
  10. Favorite flower- After living in Holland for three years, I have to say tulips.

Thanks everybody!

It’s a girl

The phone call came at three o’clock this morning… It was time. I rushed up the road in my pajamas and watched as my daughter and son-in-law drove off to the hospital in Stavanger, to bring their third child into the world.

The other two children were still fast a sleep, so I crept into the spare room and tried to go back to sleep too. I tossed and turned with worry (that’s something I can’t control) and at the same time, was positively giddy with joy. Excitement got the best of me and since it was too early to start calling people in Norway, I started texting people in America. There’s always someone to talk too in another time zone…

I think I may have dozed off a little before six and then heard my granddaughter getting up. After explaining where her mom and dad were she climbed into bed with me, but she’s apparently inherited my stress gene and couldn’t stop talking. By six thirty we were downstairs making tea. Her brother got up around seven thirty and took the news in more quiet, typical male fashion.

I figured the best thing for us to do while waiting was to keep busy. We visited a friend for morning tea, went food shopping, then shoe shopping (not for me… for them). The good news actually came while we were in the shoe store (good things always happen in shoe stores). The tiny package in which we’ve all been waiting for had finally arrived. At eleven o’clock in the morning on a beautiful May day in Norway, a healthy baby girl weighing in at 3800 grams, was born.

Visiting hours weren’t before five, so we went home, jumped on the trampoline, searched for bugs, played with the dogs and went crabbing. They unanimously voted on pancakes for dinner and then afterwards, it was our turn to make the one hour drive to the hospital in Stavanger.

My baby looked wonderful basking in her new mommy glow and her baby, although tiny and helpless was able to instantly claim a giant place in my heart. I lifted and drew her close, smelling her new scent and feeling her soft skin against my cheek I whispered a promise to her ear, “You don’t know this yet, but you and I are going to be great friends.”

A new chapter in book shopping


I love to shop!

Its true, and the things I like to shop most for are shoes, bags (especially Coach), scrapbook supplies and books! (and not necessarily in that order)

Reading is one of my favorite pastimes and I’m always either starting or finishing a book. Because of where I live in Norway, I haven’t always had the best selection of English books to chose from. Thats why whenever we were on vacation and came across a bookstore, my family would moan as I made a beeline to ecstasy. They know me well and therefore had good reason to moan. I’m like a kid in a candy story. It’s always been one of my greatest pleasures to wander through racks of colorful books, feeling and smelling my way through in search of a new gem. Thats right, smelling…who out there doesn’t like the fragrance of a new book?

The only problem is, I was left powerless in deciding which ones to buy and would end up taking all I could carry. Then we’d fly home with books evenly distributed amongst our suitcases. For years my husband accused me of being a book hoarder, and I would again have to explain the importance of not running out of books to read.

While I still feel an actual shop is a book-lover’s treasure trove and a novel in your hand is worth two on your Kindle, we have entered a new age. For Christmas this year my husband gave me an iPad and I must admit, its a handy little device.

I can download any book or magazine I want and now have more room in my suitcases for shoes and bags. I wile away the hours in online bookshops, drinking unimaginable amounts of tea, all in the comfort of my own home. My iPad has literally freed the book shopper with in, and my husband no longer sees how many books I buy.

I will now post the logo of my favorite online bookshop and hyperlink it so you can go directly in and take a look. It’s a warm and inviting space where book lovers from around the world can shop.

The Expat Bookshop was started in late 2011 by Jo Parfitt and the team at Summertime Publishing to showcase books by people living abroad for people living abroad.

Here you can find: anthology, fiction, how to books and memoirs, like my own. You can also get information on how to publish your book, or have it featured in the Expat bookshop.

Go on, check it out…