Thursday, 30 September 2010

A Time For Scarves and Cardigans

Spring is probably my favourite season. And summer is lovely. But I sort of like autumn too, with its crisp air, subacid scent of apples and multicoloured leaves.   

This weekend the weather was much too nice to stay inside, so I went to a lake nearby, along with joggers, families and dog owners. Some kids were selling coffee and lemonade. A happy dog came by to say hello. A cute girl smiled at me. A nice walk.  

The seasons return every year. But of some reason the current season always evokes associations to one particular autumn: The one in '94.

This year I finished my studies, got my first job, and moved out to no man's land. I guess you often experience things more strongly when you change your environment. And since the initial part of this "new life" of mine took place during the autumn months, I've always associated my memories of this period with this particular season.   

During this autumn sixteen years ago I also got the first record with The Cardigans. I listened a lot to it in this period, but hardly ever later on (like most music from the '90s). Consequentely, I'll always associate "Emmerdale" with cool mornings and golden leaves. And vice versa.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Indie Nights

Two weeks ago I had a lovely stay in Stockholm with my colleagues. There was, however, a fly in the ointment, as the trip coincided with a planned visit to my brother. (Social gatherings often seem to come "en bloc".

Fortunately, I managed to kill two birds with one stone. As soon as the plane from Stockholm had arrived at Oslo Airport on Saturday afternoon, I jumped aboard the first available bus to Fredrikstad, and thus got the chance to see my brother for the remainder of the weekend after all.

After my brother moved back to Eastern Norway, it has become somewhat easier to get together. This weekend he was a grass widower with little Bo, but it all worked out just fine.  

On Saturday evening we made our famous Koren pizza, and on Sunday we had a nice excursion to the neighbouring (and our childhood) town of Sarpsborg. We strolled in the city park, which now had got a nice playground which Bo seemed to enjoy. 

What I enjoy the most with our brotherly get-togethers, however, is just chilling and talking about this and that. Mostly music. In the evenings we often end up like two Beavis and Buttheads, commenting music videos. Great fun. But maybe a bit passive. 

This Saturday night, however, we chose a slightly different variety. My brother's (and my) cable company offers various radio channels playing non stop music in several different genres. This evening we ended up listening to the channel "Indie Classics", playing music we both can relate to ("independent" music from the punks' "Year Zero" until the millennium shift). Quite a lot of it we knew from before - or were at least able to identify (The Smiths, The Cure, XTCSiouxsiePistolsJamBeckCostello etc.). But lots of it was also new to us.

Eventually we ended up trying to identify the artists. The fact that there were no intros or outros to the songs made it a bit of a challenge. The solution was noting down fragments of the lyrics of the songs we didn't know, and then google them. It turned out we've actually got a rather good intuition about indie music we've never heard before. In the small hours we concluded that this had to be a great radio concept: Two brothers discussing songs they don't know what is...

At any rate, it was a great weekend. And little Bo seemed to appreciate a visit from "unca" Torgny. When I had to leave on Sunday evening, he seemed almost a little dishearted. I guess that's a good sign. :-)

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Stockholm in September

As you probably know by now, I've got lovely students at work. But my colleagues aren't too bad, either. Unfortunately, we don't see each other that often outside work.

Last week, however, we went on a four-day trip to Stockholm, Sweden. A welcome opportunity to socialize with one's workmates in a slightly different setting than usual.

A great deal of the stay naturally had a professional focus, like visiting some of the city's adult education centres. In this respect, I'm not really sure how fruitful this stay really was. We could probably get similar insights without crossing national borders. In fact, I think visiting the classroom of a colleague could have been just as informative...

But personally I appreciated the stay of other reasons. Firstly, Stockholm is a lovely city - with its islands, bridges and water. And secondly, it's nice seeing one's colleagues outside the four walls of our workplace. Travelling abroad does something to you. Getting away from the routines of everyday life tends to make you a bit more open and relaxed.

In addition to the professional content, we also had several social activities, including a lovely three course meal at a nice restaurant in the Old Town. And on Friday we got all afternoon at our disposal, giving us plenty of time to stroll around in the shopping streets, and then spend the night at cozy bars.

It all was really nice. And hopefully this might inspire me and my colleagues to more social gatherings here in Oslo as well...

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Frustrated House Hunt. Again

As some may remember, last year I decided to start looking for an apartment. After several viewings, however, my inspiration faded, and I put my house hunt on ice.

I'm not sure if it's because of my summer holiday or something else, but during the last month my motivation for finding a place of my own has to some extent returned.

Until recently I've mostly focused on flats in the central area of Oslo. I guess I'm basically a rather urban kind of guy, preferring asphalt under my feet.

Lately I've changed my strategy a bit, though. On the tram on the way to work I daily pass nice and green areas in the more suburban parts of the town. Charming houses with gardens and flagpoles.

Consequently, I recently went to this year's first viewing. The place was idyllically situated between a lake and the Oslo woods, but still with enough asphalt to make the urbanist happy. Besides, I liked the flat itself - an "exclusive and attractive apartment with a balcony facing west".

To be honest, I hate looking for a flat. Viewings, bidding rounds etc. I actually just want to get it over with. But as a flat searcher you obviously either 1) sit on the fence forever, or 2) settle quickly and make a bid.

Until now I've stuck to the former strategy - with no results so far. Consequently, this time I took heart and made the first bid of my life! I may have swallowed heavily and wiped off a bead of sweat from my forehead. But I did it!

The next day hell broke loose, with phone calls from the estate agent with continual counterbids every second minute. The other guy kept adding a few thousand every time, until my wallet was scraped. If that's how it's gonna be, then screw it all!