Christmas is always a special season, and this year, we spent our holiday in snowy Norway.
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The Christmas season is upon us! I made a ginger Bundt cake and hosted Taskmaster games at our staff Christmas meal.
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The themed fairy trail at Mottisfont had us finding all sorts of hidden things. Tiny Cow made it onto the Nice List, whereas I was naughty, apparently.
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Some lovely Christmas images
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Some of our favourite Christmas ornaments, chef Robert Thompson getting his OBE, and some free tulips from Waitrose, which made me very happy
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A big lifetime achievement for me, my Sicilian composition, premiered on November 28th, sung by 175 pupils and staff and some very special alumnae. Click HERE to see our trip to Sicily, where the piece was written, and HERE to hear the video recording.

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After a wonderful trip to Copenhagen in 2021, we decided to return to Scandinavia in search of snow, trolls, and other wintry delights. We spent our first week in Trondheim, overlooking the snowy park, above.
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Nidaros Cathedral and the Old Town Bridge were first on our list of things to see.
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It was snowing heavily, which made us rather cold and wet, so the hot chocolate and Danish were well earned.
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The Bakklandet area of town was beautiful under a blanket of snow. The skater statue is Hjalmar Johan Andersen, a gold medalist from Norway.
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Snowy scenes from Trondheim
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We went to hear an organ concert of Christmas music at Nidaros Cathedral. The blue building is the town synagogue.
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The Trondheim Art Museum is one of the cleverest I’ve ever been to. Whoever comes up with their concepts is really revolutionary. Rather than displaying precious statues on dusty plinths, they cradle them in beanbags. I don't know if they're intended to be touched - we didn't dare - but it certainly made them accessible. Also shown is a chair by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the snow wolf.
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Some of my favourite artwork in the museum. The hare painting reminded me of Renato Guttoso's La Vucciria, which we saw in Sicily.
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We fulfilled our bingo obligations by creating Tiny Cow and a Lego Viking in art. Each moon painting is hung according to the height of the moon in the painting. Katinka Goldberg projected images onto the sculptural relief of Hell to show her Jewish grandmother's escape route from World War II. In the centre is onf othe only Edvard Munch paintings we saw.
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The traditional Norwegian bunad on display, bottom right, are kind of like Austrian dirndls. We bought one of the paper stars, shown above.
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Svartlamon is Norway’s only “free state”, an experimental self-governed community comprising a “free shop”, an anarchist bookshop and a cafe, as well as a cluster of residences, many of them built by Svartlamonites themselves. The demographic is a mix of retired punks, hippy artists and communists. I felt they needed s snow frog.
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Tiny Cow enjoyed playing in the snow in Svartlamon.
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Bottom left is our apartment building, with its pizzeria at the bottom. We found the local bakery, but it was closed for Christmas.
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Reflections in the Bakklandet area of Trondheim
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Shown above, top right, is Saint Olav on Christmas morning. The Christmas market filled this square and must have had thousands of visitors. We got there the day after it closed. We had a hot dog from a convenience store for Christmas lunch, directly across from the yellow building that is home to the Norwegian royal family.
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Shown above are Rockheim and Trondheim's fortress.
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We left this snowy town in search of other adventures.
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A short plane flight brought us to Ålesund, a town that burned down in 1904 and was re-built in Art Nouveau style. We arrived in heavy snow, which continued through much of our two-day stay. Walking on the ice was treacherous and slow, but we managed to see a lot of interesting and beautiful things.
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A morning walk took us to Ålesund's stone church and the fish wife statue on the harbour. The Dune boots were an impulse buy back in the UK, which were lifesavers in the snow.
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Our visit to Ålesund's KUBE gallery coincided with an exhibition of work by Per Inge Bjørlo, one of Norway’s most renowned artists.
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We were most interested in the Art Nouveau stuff, including the grey pot and dish decorated with guilloché, a technique in which a very precise, intricate and repetitive pattern is mechanically engraved into an underlying material via engine turning.
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The rug, top left, seems to depict both Invaders and Tiny Cow.
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Jugendstilsenteret is located in the old Swan Pharmacy from 1907 and is both a museum and a national centre of Art Nouveau. The newspaper boy statue and Art Nouveau houses were on our route.
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Trolls were everywhere in Norway.
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Kongens gate was built in 1904 and is known as the narrowest building in Europe. It widens as it goes further back. Top right is the place we stayed, at the top of a steep, icy ramp which made us fear for our lives each time we ventured out.
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Norwegian doorways
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It snowed a lot in Ålesund, refected in the 1998 gingerbread house on display in the grocery store.
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Sverresborg Trondelag Folk Museum, an open air museum with a collection of 80 ancient houses, some dating back hundreds of years.
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There were Viking boats in addition to the houses on display.
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There was a general store and Shell station, as well as a huge longboat. The mittens, bottom left, show photos of the grannies who made them.
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KHAK Kunsthall was filled with artwork that was for sale. We had a burger meal on our final night.
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Next stop was Bergen, where we spent New Year's Eve. It was very difficult to buy alcohol, and we showed up half an hour late on December 30th, so we went without.
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Bryggen, the old wharf of Bergen, is a reminder of the town's importance as part of the Hanseatic League's trading empire from the 14th to the mid-16th century. Many fires, the last in 1955, have ravaged the characteristic wooden houses of Bryggen. We saw the bearded Christmas ornament early in our stay and went back every day to see if the show was open. It finally opened on our last day, and when I described the sailor I was looking for, she corrected me by saying it was one of the "Fagottchor", a gay men's chorus from Oslo. The green statue is Amalie Skram, a Norwegian author frequently considered the most important female writer of the Modern Breakthrough..
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I had several hot dogs in Norway. This was supposedly THE place to buy them. They sold reindeer, wild boar, vegetarian, and other specialties.
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The construction of St Mary's church is believed to have started in the 1130s or 1140s and completed around 1180, making this church the oldest remaining building in the whole city of Bergen. We heard an organ recital here on New Year's Eve, music by Bach, Buxtehude, and Messaien.
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We had duck with fried apples on New Year's Eve. I also made a Nigel Slater apple cake with marked-down apples. I loved peeking into people's candle-lit houses.
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Very few museums were open over the period we were in Bergen. The Stenersen had a fascinating exhibition of 20th century geometric-abstract concrete art that we probably enjoyed more because everything else was closed.
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The colours in several of the 1960s paintings reminded me of the covers of Highlights magazine from my youth.
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This was my eye-popping introduction to Victor Vasarely
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We splashed out on our last night at Spisekroken, who served interesting, local, seasonal food that was beautifully presented. I got to mark cloudberries off my bingo card. While in Bergen, we started watching Kenneth Branagh's Wallander, which also starred a young Tom Hiddleston. Our house is circled in the photo above, taken from atop Bergen's hill.
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Endless cobbled streets with colourful houses. The littlle boat was a taxi that ferried us across the harbour, one of my favourite bits of the trip.
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Some of our last sights of Bergen, including statues of Ibsen and local musician Ole Bull, The blue bakery was recommended to us by the sales assistant at the Gant store. She also recommended Smash to us as a snack for the train - a life changer. They're like salty Bugles covered in chocolate.
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Scenes from the train journey from Bergen to Oslo. The train broke down twice and we had to be evacuated before catching a bus for the final hour back to Oslo.
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Souvenirs from Norway: 1) a fair isle sweater from the Gant shop in Bergen, 2) a woollen blanket from Ålesund, end-of-the-line, only one left item. The motif is a traditional grain symbol used in Norway. During Jul (Christmas) in Norway, oat sheaves decorate peoples’ homes and barns. They are called Kornband (grain band) or Julenek (Christmas sheaf), and they are always made out of oats, a paper star for our window next year, and the Fagott Christmas ornament.

Christmas: 2022 (Vienna), 2021, 2020, 2019 (Paris), 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 (Gers), 2014 (Paris), 2013(Freiburg), 2012 (Dordogne), 2011 (Salzburg), 2010 (Vendee), 2009 (Vendee), 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000

Our Christmas Ornaments Collection

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