Tag Archives: Baltic sea

Episode 6. Skagen

Skagen
June 6th
“Sandra, please wake up.” Someone was shaking me out of a dream where I was at the opening of the youth centre and where everyone except me had dressed up as unicorns. And I was told off because I didn’t know we were supposed to dress up as unicorns.
“Sandra, wake up.”
I groaned and slowly opened my eyes. My body was heavy, as if I was sick and my mouth was dry. Emma was leaning over me with a cup of coffee in her hand which she put down on the bedside table.
“What time is it?” I groaned and pulled myself up into a sitting position. God I was tired.
“It’s five. Happy birthday. You’ve got to be down in 30 minutes, because as your birthday treat, I’m taking you to spend the day in Skagen.”
I was suddenly wide awake. I hadn’t been to Skagen since I was a teenager. I loved the atmosphere of the small Danish town by the sea. Moreover, I also enjoyed going on the boat from Kristiansand to Hirtshals. It meant buffets and duty-free shopping. And I was definitely in the mood for both. I picked up the coffee and started sipping it, trying not to burn my tongue. “I’ll be down,” I assured Emma. “And thanks.”
Thirty, I thought as I tried to decide what to wear. A nice, round even number. In the weeks leading up to my birthday, I’d been sort of panicking about this day. Leaving the comfortable young twenties. Thirty sounded so grown-up. But now that the day was here, it didn’t feel all that bad. Or perhaps it would later, but for now, thirty felt pretty good. In the end I decided on some raspberry pink three-quarter length pair of stretchy trousers, a navy blue t-shirt that was short at the front and longer at the back and my light windbreaker. I put my hair in a loose pony tail. I knew the walk to Grenen, (the branch) where the Baltic Sea met the Northern Sea would be both wet and windy, so I had to dress practically, choose clothes I didn’t mind getting wet in, but since it was my birthday, still made me look neat and pretty.
Emma had brought one flask of coffee and one of tea so that we could keep ourselves caffeinated throughout the journey. We drank coffee in silence as we waited in the queue at Kristiansand port to be let onto Superspeed 1, the ship. There were a lot of people who were going on a shop till you drop trip. There were families with children, elderly men and women who drove too slowly and today, there were a disturbing number of defect Polish cars. I hadn’t yet told her about the articles I’d found yesterday. There was a lot for me to digest and I had spent our one and a half hours of swimming and our lovely Italian meal afterwards doing just that. It was so crazy and complicated. It seemed as if everybody in Homborsund was related to each other in one way or another. Even Gerda was kind of my step-grandma twice over. Her first husband being my paternal grandpa and the second one my maternal great uncle. I wondered what other surprises would come tumbling out when I dug a little deeper. As we sat in the car, I decided that this evening was perhaps a good time to talk. I was going to Denmark for the day, it was my birthday and He would not know I was in Denmark, so I decided it was entirely ok and appropriate for me to just enjoy the day for what it was. Markus had contacted his cousin Merete who was more than happy to meet me on Monday after work. He had also asked if I wanted to go for a coffee some time, which I did. It was good to get to know some people around here. Even if I did end up returning to my old life in London, which was unlikely at this stage, having friends would give me more excuses to come back here often. And if not, if I stayed, I really had to make some new friends.
Finally, we were being let on to deck three behind a midlife crises, a.k.a. sports car belonging to a man in his forties who refused to admit even to himself that he was in his forties, and a defect Polish. DP for short. Emma had booked breakfast buffet for us and by taking the stairs, we managed to avoid the worst of the cackling hens, a.k.a. those middle aged to elderly ladies who always find out that having a conversation on the ship, is most meaningful in the middle of a shopping isle, at the checkout or on the stairs. But most of them seemed to have chosen the less tiresome option of the lift. A young waiter ticked us off on his notepad and showed us to our table. I was starving.
After eating ourselves silly at the buffet, we sat down with a cup of coffee each to browse the deals catalog before embarking on shopping. If someone tries to say that shopping isn’t good, calorie burning physical activity, I’m inclined to disagree. After having walked around and bought a few things we needed, a few things we felt strongly that we needed, and as much wine and gin as our quota would allow, navigate the cackling hens and general crowd, I was certain I must have burned at least 1000 calories. It was all exactly like I remembered, except, I couldn’t remember Captain Kid, the childminder sounding quite so ridiculously cheerful. I wonder how he managed to master that so early in the morning. Probably huge amounts of caffeine. I’d need at that, and some other mood altering substance if I was to handle strange children at all. Probably the reason why I’d never become a nursery nurse or teacher.
My phone vibrated as we drove into Hirtshals. I jumped, thinking I’d left the phone at home. But it was only a “Welcome to Denmark” text message informing me of calling and texting rates.
The drive to Skagen took about half an hour. We decided that the first thing we wanted to do was Grenen. It was warm outside, but love and behold, we’d not taken our bathing suits with us. “If we had brought them, the weather would have been shit,” Emma said as we walked down towards the water. Dipping our toes, it was a little cold at first, but as we waded out towards the point called Grenen, the water felt warm around our ankles. One is not really supposed to either swim or walk in the water around the area. When it’s windy, it is very very windy and it could be dangerous with currents. But everybody does it and nobody really says anything.
After about three quarters of an hour, we finally reached Grenen. Having one foot in each ocean is one of my favourite feelings in the world. You can really feel that it is two oceans because the waves are actually going in different directions and are colliding. The Baltic Sea is also ever so slightly warmer than the Northern Sea.
When we returned to the car an hour later, we had a quick tea and chocolate orange cake break, before we went to the sandy church. It wasn’t a favourite of mine like Grenen, but since we were there, we might as well. The sandy church is a church completely covered with sand, but still possible to enter. The tower is the only thing sticking up. I have the feeling of stepping a thousand years back in time when I enter that building though the church isn’t more than a few hundred years old. And walking up in the tower, I think of a book I once read, The diary of Idilia Dubb, which is the authentic diary of a young Scottish woman who died of hunger in a tower of some castle ruins. She was unable to get down, and nobody heard her cries. Only on the fourth day, her German lover came to find her there, dead. Luckily for me though, the church had a few other tourists climbing up in the tower and there were no crumbling stairs. The view was gorgeous too and we could see all the way towards the Baltic sea.
“It’s just crazy.” We had gone to Jensens Bøfhus for our dinner. Another tradition from the past. I stabbed some feta cheese onto my fork. “Everyone seem to be related somehow in Homborsund.”
I was telling Emma about the revelations of yesterday. Of course she hadn’t been shocked about what I had to say. She knew about Nils Strand being my great uncle. “I never knew him of course,” she said as our food, chicken fillets, vegetables and crisp like potatoes were put in front of us on the table. He died five years before I was born.”
“Have you any idea who Karl Lund is?” I said, pulling out the copy of the opinion column. “She scanned it and shook her head.
“I really don’t know. We don’t always know everyone around.” She laughed and tucked into her food. “And as for your mum having an affair, I don’t know that either. She’d hardly tell her kid sister.”
Full and happy with the day, we walked along the pier, past happy Norwegians drinking beer and chatting and walked towards our car.
For most of the journey back to Kristiansand we sat quietly reading a book each. We only got up towards the end to buy stuff from the food shop.
We reached Homborsund after midnight and started unloading the car. I was totally ready for both bed and a lie-in. tomorrow; I decided to talk to Gerda to find out who my grandma Arlette was and whether she was still alive. Emma had already walked into the house, so I picked up the last bags and double checked that the car was locked. It was then I saw her by the hedge. I completely co-incidentally looked over my shoulder, to see a lady standing there. I couldn’t work out much because it was dark, except for her long coat and elaborate hat. But before I had time to really take her in, she was gone.

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My 2013

During my years in the BBC, I had a colleague who read palms. Upon reading mine one day, she said “I’m surprised you’re not more confused than you are. Your creative and sensible sides are very conflicting with each other.” She is very right, which made me respect her skill. She didn’t know me very well at the time. And my 2013 has been very much like my colleague described me. It has been an extremely happy and uplifting year, but also a painful one. But let me rewind and do this month by month.

January: I fell onto the subway tracks and I survived! I think that was very miraculous. It’s one of Oslo’s busiest stations, and I fell at a time when there was no train coming. As I couldn’t get up because I had fallen backwards, a man jumped down to lift me up and a girl received me at the top of the tracks. Luckily for me, I was on my way to the doctor and feeling slightly hysterical from the fall, I got there with my two rescuers walking me.

Despite being in quite a lot of pain from the fall, I boarded a plane four days later and went to Monaco. I stayed with some Egyptian friends there on the 25th floor of a block of flats and I had the time of my life. Me and my friend who are both singers, held an impromptu concert in a bar in Monte Carlo that had karaoke, and it went down so well that we were asked to come back the next day.

February: I fell again. But this time I fell in love. That can be more dangerous and painful than falling off a subway platform, but it is more fun, those times when it is not agonizing of course. The man is a bright and good looking Ghanaian student, who like me, work for the student radio station in Oslo.

March: I took the radio presenter’s test, which meant that I put together and presented the hour long news and current affairs show on our radio station by me. I passed and I now have an official paper saying I’m a qualified radio presenter. Live radio presenting is something I’ve grown to love more than I thought I would and I do hope I have my own show some day.

March/April: I also did the longest trip of my life so far. I traveled alone to New Zealand to visit a cousin and then on to Australia to visit a friend. I did so much on these two trips that I wouldn’t do them any justice by summing them up in this post. But let me say that I recommend anyone who can you should go there. I hope to go back one day, but preferably with some company because the flights are long. I slept as much as I could and I made some friends on the plane, for the duration of the journey, but still, company would have been nice. And I’d love to share a trip like that with somebody simply because it’s so incredible to be on the other side of the world. I did get to touch both koalas, kanagroos, wallabies, wombats and a kiwi.

April/May: I went to Iceland with my fellow master students. Iceland is also very amazing and we had so much fun walking on volcanos, soaking in natural baths and going out every evening. Of course, this all happened when we weren’t doing something study related, which was quite fun too. Especially because during our trip to RUV, the Icelandic broadcasters, we were shown around by Iceland’s most famous news Anker.

In May I also hosted a party with my partner for the first time ever. It was a Ghanaian party, meaning we served Ghanaian food. I learned never to mix Amarula and wine again!

June: I went to Skagen with one of my closest allies. Or is it called closest friends? No, ally is cooler I think. Skagen is that place in Denmark where you can walk out on the beach and have one foot in the Baltic Sea and one in the North Sea. I was there as a child, but didn’t remember because I was little. The place is magic and when you have a foot in each ocean, you can literally feel the two meet because they strike against each other

July/August: I wrote a teen novel for my niece for her confirmation. The title Vilde Gudenes utvalgte translates as Vilde, chosen by the gods and is about a girl Vilde who enters into the Greek mythological world to help make right a wrong that has been done and which have caused the world of the gods to die out. Writing it was a strange experience in a good way and I felt as if the story lived its own life and that I was just sent by someone to write it down. Writing in Norwegian was difficult for me however, because English has over time become the language I prefer to express myself in when writing unless we’re talking about informal emails and so on, where it doesn’t matter to me which of the two languages I use. But getting reacquainted with writing my mother tongue was also good.

August: I went back to Skagen with my same close ally who I’d gone with in June as well as my other half. That too was a nice trip and we had better weather. Next time I go to Skagen, I hope to swim in the Baltic Sea.

October: I made my first full length radio documentary. It’s entitled Faith as career, and features three people who have incorporated their faith into their life style or career choices. The first one is a girl studying to become a catechist in the Norwegian Lutheran church, the second a guy from a Pentecostal background who is the leader of the Oslo Youth party of a prominent Christian political party. The third person is a Catholic sister of the Dominican order who is also a physicist and who had and is continuing to have, a profound impression on me. The three made for a very good and dynamic documentary for which I’ve had some good feedback.

I also had a splendid girls trip to Copen Hagen. It was crazy, a little Sex and the City style. And yes, I did spend money on a pair of expensive high heels. Italian high heels.

So a good year. But despite all those good things, I have had some painful times too. I don’t want to talk about them in detail, but they have taught me a few lessons. Firstly, that only sadness can show you what really matters in life. Secondly, that people you thought were not that close to you can be of good help. Thirdly, that pain makes you a better person, because it forces you to develop, think and reflect and it makes your appreciate even small moments of happiness a little more. And finally, despite wanting to delete most of the last three months of 2013 from my life, I am in some twisted way grateful that I have experienced the depth of the pain I’ve been in. Because I am still here, I am still laughing and little by little, I remove myself from it all and show myself how incredibly blessed I am to have what’s even more important during sad times than good friends or a partner. A strong personality, psyche and sense of reality. And that’s how I know; I’ll eventually be completely alright again.

I have had over 20.000 hits on my blog all time which is amazing considering how boring my posts have ben of late. I will try to amend that in 2014 and I may even post some of my short fiction from time to time. Thanks though to those of you who have read my ramblings and thanks for still returning. If you are on twitter, why not follow me at @Linn_M21 And if you enjoy my writing, you can read all the articles I have posted on http://www.styleable.co.uk
That is to say different articles than you find here, but probably some of them are on interest to some of my readers. On Twitter I also announce everything I publish. And should you be curious to see what I look like, you will find my picture both on Twitter and Stylable. I may include one on this site too at some point, though so far, I’ve left it as just a thought.

Happy 2014 to all of you and May the entire year be filled with laughter, good madness, and heart stopping moments of joy and peace and harmony.

Happy new year!