Scenes from Aursfjord

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Aursfjord is a branch of Malangen Fjord in Balsfjord. It is a beautiful little drive just 40 minutes south-west of Tennes. Autumn was an amazing time to visit, the trees were definitely giving us their best and the water was a gorgeous blue.

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The main attraction is the old saw mill, Aursfjordsaga, which was officially opened in 1799. It was restored from 1977-1982 by one for the descendants of the original owner. An old school building has been moved to the site where you can view a display of old artifacts, browse the local craft shop and top up with coffee and waffles.

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Aursfjord was originally a Sami settlement dating back to the late 1500′s. The area was later deserted for a decade before Norwegian farmers settled there around 1660. In 1796 the Aursfjord sawmill was built, but because of a dispute with the landlord and owner of another sawmill nearby the mill was not taken into use until it received a Royal permit in 1799. Unfortunately, the permit did not allow for export of timber out of the Malangen district, but the locals used it diligently.

Aursfjord has an interesting story from criminal history. In the mid-1700′s, a man was murdered by his wife and her brother in the nearby town of Kjervik. The two killers fled to Aursfjord where they were later arrested and sentenced to death. The two managed to escape from prison and fled to Sweden. They were re-arrested and their death sentences were carried through in 1742.

I wish we had known that when we were walking through the thick, dark forest…

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Across the road from the saw mill is a beautiful little fishing river. It has walking tracks that lead through a fairy forest with lots of native treasures to discover. The cliff track takes you along the water and to a small waterfall. Fishing is controlled by permits which need to be bought at the City Council or sporting goods stores – but you need to be fast because they quickly sell out.

I must admit, whenever I see such a beautiful Norwegian mushroom I am tempted to look for the fairies. They must be hiding somewhere nearby, but I guess they are too shy to show themselves.

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And yes, we did have to stop to do some berry picking!

Pappa’s Day

Norway celebrates Father’s Day on the second Sunday of November. For me, this is my first Father’s Day where I am at the receiving end (although L-Jay and Lilu did surprise me with breakfast in bed on Australian Father’s Day in September). It feels different – I guess I’m still getting used to being called “pappa”.

Lilu has started to say “puh-puh-puh-puh” and I guess she is referring to me. The rest of our conversations normally consist of grunts and squeals, but hey – she’s only 11 months and already walking! She has been saying “mamamama” for a long time now, so it made me feel extra special when she started saying my name. Or title.

L-Jay keeps pointing out the fact that if we had lived in an English-speaking country, Lilu would have been saying my name much earlier. This is because Lilu was saying “duh-duh-duh” before “puh-puh-puh”. L-Jay found the “pappa” thing a bit odd at first, since a “papa” in Australia is an old pizza baker and not something you call your father (but she’ll get over it…)
;)

Since we’re on the topic of language differences: in Norway, a “dadda” is a nanny. So I think “puh-puh-puh” was worth the wait.

15 Things I’m Not Afraid to Admit

love-blogging.jpgI have been tagged! Debbie from Heart Choices would like to know 15 Things I’m Not Afraid to Admit.

Living in a different country where you don’t speak the language can be empowering and terrifying at the same time. I have accomplished things that I never thought I could do – every now and then I have to pinch myself to make sure Norway isn’t a dream. However, giving up my home, my friends and family and the familiar can make me feel lost and very insecure – almost… displaced. I’ve gone back into a child-like realm – ordinary things are new to me, daily life needs to be learnt and people talk around me even when I am right there. It feels like being an adult trapped inside a seven year old. It is a humbling experience to be an immigrant.

There are many things that an immigrant finds hard in daily life in Norway, here are just 15 things I’m not afraid to admit:

1. I try to sit where the teacher can’t see me in Norwegian class so I don’t get called upon to read out loud.

2. I feel embarrassed when they take my finger print at the airport to let me travel even on a domestic flight.

3. Norwegian feet are much wider than Australian feet and so I can’t find shoes that fit.

4. I feel like a leather bag standing next to a Norwegian – my face has been so damaged by the Australian sun. Norwegian’s have beautiful clear skin.

5. One time I booked the wrong air flight because I couldn’t read the Norwegian site properly.

6. I feel unwanted in Norway.

7. When strangers talk to me I just smile and nod because I don’t want them to know I’m an immigrant.

8. I hate Fårikål.

9. I don’t understand why Norwegians don’t care about the war ruins that were left behind by the Germans – and that they just leave them to fade away into the landscape.

10. I pick the worst spots to walk and always slip on the ice.

11. I feel guilty whenever I go to the immigration office because they always treat you as ‘other’.

12. I don’t understand how there could still be a communist party in Norway.

13. I am afraid of walking in the forest in the dark.

14. It is custom to take off your shoes when you enter someone’s house in Norway and to walk around in just your socks. Sometimes I forget to wear socks and feel embarrassed when people look down at my bare feet.

15. I’m sick of eating hot dogs!

Next tag: I have a friend who is studying in Bergen at the moment. Becky blogs about her experiences in Norway being on a study exchange program at http://alieninnorway.blogspot.com/

All Hallows Day

It would seem that Halloween is a new celebration in Norway since trick-or-treating has only become popular in the last ten years. However, this holiday has a long tradition in Norway that started in medieval times. In the 10th century A.D. the Catholic Church had become established among the pagan Norsemen under the iron fist of St. Olav. The Church celebrated All Hallows Day, now also known as All Saints’ Day, on the 1st of November every year. Traditionally, All Hallows Day started at sunset the day before, which was called All Hallows Even (Hallow E’en or Halloween). The holiday was adopted by the Protestant Church after the reformation in the 16th century, but was altered to be a commemoration of the dead.

Today, All Saints Day is marked on the calendar, but is not widely celebrated as a religious occasion. However, the day has instilled a tradition with Norwegians to visit and tend the graves of their loved ones with lanterns and flowers – be it on All Saints or any other day of the year.

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