~ One Year of Sparkles ~

After an initial flurry of activity, it has been an age since I last posted here! Work has been absolutely hectic lately, but I see light at the end of the tunnel now (and I don’t think it’s a train).

This Wednesday marked one year of me wearing my sparkley engagement ring from my lovely Mike. We celebrated with a sunny walk on Sola beach, followed by a home-made meal of breaded fish and potato wedges – the same meal we ate on the evening of our engagement (except that time, Mike had actually caught the fish himself)! Mike bought me some gorgeous flowers – stargazer lilies that are currently sweetly scenting our whole apartment – and Mum gifted us some beautiful table decorations to make our meal a little more special.

On the day Mike proposed, I was keeping a journal; we were on holiday in Norway and staying in a little place called Gjermundshavn, on the banks of Hardangerfjorden. This is my entry for 10/09/2014:

Safe to say that today has been the happiest day of my 24 years on this earth. This afternoon, as M and I sat on the palisade of our balcony, watching the herons fishing in the fjord and the water underneath the huge mountains on the far side of the inlet gently rippling in the breeze, M asked me to do the honour of becoming his wife. I said yes, of course! He had picked out an antique ring for me, just like I wanted; a platinum band with a princess-cut diamond in a beautifully classic setting.

We’d started our day with breakfast outside, but when I’d popped in to make some extra toast, I’d heard a commotion from where I’d left M. I ran back out to see my coffee spilled everywhere and M looking sheepish. He’d heard an animal of some description rattling through the undergrowth, making its way toward the cabin. Expecting a mountain lion, a bear or perhaps both, he’d leapt up onto the table (there goes my coffee) just as the tiniest, fluffiest, most unthreatening Pekinese dog you’ve seen in your life emerged from the brambles. How I laughed! Our new friend stayed until we’d finished breakfast and fed him the bacon rind, then made its way home to its owners.

After we’d eaten, we spent a while picking brambles on the waters’ edge. We filled a big ice cream tub, and later in the evening I turned our hard work into a rather delicious crumble. Nam nam! Later, we took a drive into Gjermundshavn for some groceries, then decided to take our wee boat across the fjord to Rosendal. We potentially set the bar a little high for our 6-horsepower-beast… It took 50 minutes and sounded like a hairdryer the whole way! It was a lovely journey, though, and we even spotted a pod of dolphins! When we arrived we had kaffe og kaker in a gorgeous bakery (Pedar Baker) before having a wander round the other 4 shops on the main street and deciding to head back home for a Hansa or two. I drove the boat some of the way home and gave myself a fright by crossing the wake of one of the ‘fast ferries’ that run between islands – it was much bigger than I expected and I hit it at full speed. I screamed and M laughed!

When we got home we sat outside and listened to the radio for a while, before M disappeared inside and came back with my new sparkely diamond ring and the Big Question! We decided the best way to celebrate would be with a can of beer in the sauna, swiftly followed by jumping into the sea from the end of the marina – although only I was brave enough to do that! We had M’s big cod from yesterday for tea, breadcrumbed with mashed potatoes and peas; it was the best ‘fish supper’ I’ve ever tasted!

Going to bed with excited butterflies in my tummy, a new diamond on my finger and a sets of happy parents back home getting stuck into the celebratory wine (they swear they wouldn’t have been opening it anyway)!

10/09/2014

A year on, and we are now happily living in Norway full time. We’re planning our wedding (317 days to go!) and I think all our guests have now received their Save the Date cards. My Dad did a fantastic job of designing them. I asked him to paint us a watercolour, but left him to choose the colours, layout and style… He incorporated a heron for us, as the cabin in which we spent our holiday in Gjermundshavn was populated with hundreds of them. The text was overlaid digitally, and the finished product was printed on thick card and sent out in a pearly golden envelope. The picture here doesn’t do it justice – it’s just an iPhone snap of the one we have stuck to our fridge – they are so beautiful in real life.

Will try to post a few more updates from the last couple of weeks…

K

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~ Wedding Diets ~

In the past few weeks (since the countdown to mine and Mike’s big day dropped below the one-year mark – yippee!) I’ve been trying to be a bit healthier than usual in the hope that I can shift a few pounds – 27, to be precise – before next July. My fitness app, on which I track my running and any other activity I do, tells me that this is a sensible goal. I’ll be within my “healthy” BMI range for my height and the loss rate would be approximately half a pound a week, which is apparently very achievable. I am very lucky in my body shape in that I don’t actually carry weight in a specific area… When I gain a few pounds, it all goes on quite evenly. I have a flat tummy and my bum is quite a normal size. I’m just a bit larger all over than I would ideally like.

Thing is, most wedding magazines, website or articles have pictures like this in them:

Thin Bride

That girl is a total stunner, but I do rather wish that you saw a little more of this:

Plus Size Bride2

… Which also depicts a gorgeous girl in a pretty dress. The problem comes when we see so much of the former, that we think we can’t POSSIBLY get happily married until we’ve dieted ourselves away to something resembling the first picture.

When I bought my dress, from Perfect Bridal in Aberdeen, the lady in the shop was significantly larger than me. She still casually hinted (while helping me into my dress, in the world’s smallest changing room, me wearing nothing but a pair of knickers… Trying wedding dresses on isn’t half as romantic and exciting as I thought it would be) that I might like to lose some weight for my wedding. “Make sure you don’t lose more than two dress sizes, though”, she huffed, tugging me almost off my feet as she fasted up the back, “any more than that and it becomes very difficult to retain the style of the dress. You might have to buy a new one”.

I nodded and smiled – I had been planning to lose a little weight anyway – but now I think about it again, that was very insensitive.  The dress I ended up buying was a size 10, and fit like a glove. A close friend that just got married had a similar experience. She lost a whopping 4 stone (25.5 kilos) in under two years for her big day and in one of her later dress fittings, commented to her seamstress that she still wanted to smooth down her “jelly belly” a bit (I did tell her that she was very hard on herself throughout – she is like me and sometimes is a little over-focused on her flaws). Instead of a supportive comment, perhaps a note on how lovely she already looked, the seamstress just eyed her critically and queried “Have you tried exercising?”

I don’t know why it’s OK for people to ask how “the wedding diet” is going, even though you haven’t told them you are on one. I don’t know why it is just expected that you will spend the year before your wedding (when you are in a whirlwind of planning, phone calls, questions about bunting and other irrelevant-at-any-other-time items, seating-plans, family politics and a-million-and-one other attention-seeking details) starving yourself for one day. I don’t know why more people don’t say: “well, he must have loved you exactly how you are to propose to you, so maybe there are more important things to worry about”.

I totally understand how many women want to be the best version of themselves for that one day. To be a princess for the day, to put on that dress and feel like a trillion dollars, to look make their husband-to-be’s mouth fall open as they walk up the aisle. I understand that most people hope to have photographs taken that they will look at again and again, perhaps display in their house, and pass onto their children. Even I want to lose weight for my wedding – I just want other people to stop assuming I do!

No-one at your wedding would ever look at you on your big day and think, “she’d look lovely if only she’d lost a few pounds”. And if they do? Well, they probably don’t deserve to share that special day with you.

I’m going to continue running my 5Ks, not because I enjoy it but because it makes me feel healthy. I will continue to try and avoid too many sweet treats. But the next person that asks me, “Should you be eating that? You’ve got a wedding dress to fit into!” will get the sharp end of a fork in their eye.

I’m 5′ 8″. At the moment I weigh 167 lb. I’ll maybe do a monthly update here of how I’m getting on. My goal of 140 lb is still a long way away yet. I might stop before I get there (remembering the shop assistant’s warning); I might go further than that if I want to. But I will not let it be the be-all and end-all. I’m getting to marry the man of my dreams in 339 days! I get to spend the rest of my life with the guy that makes me belly-laugh, teaches me new things every day, has expanded my wardrobe to include walking boots, waterproof trousers and a sensible rucksack, and made me the happiest girl in the world when he asked me to be his wife.

K

~ Frogs and Blueberries ~

After a pretty hectic (and challenging) couple of weeks at work, Mike and I have just returned from an ace weekend in the mountains. Sometimes I am blown away by the culture here in Norway, and how different it is to the UK. One of the best things we’ve discovered so far is the ‘DNT’, or Den Norske Turistforening, cabins. DNT is an association that builds fantastic cabins on popular hiking trails all over Norway – so far they have 460 – which can be used by anyone for a nominal nightly fee. Some cabins are very basic: just a warm bed for the night; some are staffed and there will be someone there to cook you a hot meal at the end of your hike; the rest are halfway between. We chose one of the halfway cabins to walk to: Tomannsbu.

One of the views on outward hike.

I don’t like to paint a bad picture of the UK – I was born and raised in England and spent many happy years in Scotland – but the level of trust here in Scandinavia is so high compared to back home. The DNT cabins are unlocked to allow anyone to enter at any time. Tomannsbu was spotless when we arrived, clean and cosy. The food larder (in case you don’t want to heft your own food for the weekend on the 3-hour hike it takes to get to the cabin) was also unlocked and fully stocked with tinned food and a price list for each item. You pop in your name and bank details in a locked box so that DNT can charge you for your stay later. There is nothing to stop you spending the night without paying, emptying the larder of food and leaving the place in a mess. Yet, nobody does that here. There is always a certain percentage of any population that might take advantage of such a lovely system, and I’m sure it does occasionally happen here, but I know for sure that the percentage of bad apples in the UK is significantly higher.

Mike and I managed to finish work early on Friday, and drove up to Hunnedalen straight from the office. We were faced with a fairly steep climb up the side of a waterfall to begin with, and I immediately began to regret bringing so much stuff with us in our bags! When we reached the top of the first hill, the terrain flattened out for quite some time, and we began to really enjoy our hike. The scenery is quite similar to the Scottish hills, but on a much larger scale – and really stunning with the light running in time with the clouds over the valleys and mountain lakes. After two hours, we were about 2/3 of the way there, so stopped for some crisps and grapes by the side of the clearest body of water I’ve seen in ages – we were a few metres above the surface on the path, but we could see all the individual pebbles on the bottom. Along the way we stepped over scores of frogs ranging from a couple of centimeters long to quite gigantic in froggy terms! We passed a group of two mums and their 5 daughters who were heading in our direction, knowing we’d see them again soon once we reached our destination. 3 and a bit hours later, the cabin popped into view from behind a heathery hill – a welcome sight for sore feet and shoulders from our bags.

We were the only occupants so we chose a room on the top floor and changed into some comfier clothes for the evening before exploring our surroundings. The cabin was very traditionally Norwegian – wooden and cosy, with two wood-burning stoves for heat and a couple of Primus hobs for cooking. There were two small living rooms with soft sofas and lots of board games for the kids. A huge dining room lead off the kitchen, big enough to seat all of the 30 people the cabin was equipped to sleep. We’d brought up some leftovers from last night’s dinner with us, so we heated those up and opened a bottle of wine, too. The family of girls arrived and the kids were so excited to be on a sleepover in a cabin – they were lovely smiley little things that were too shy to speak to us and just listened as we chatted in a language different to their own.

After dinner, we lit the wood-burning stove and some candles and opened our books to read for a while. The cabin did have some electricity, fired by solar panels on the roof, but there was no need to use it. We headed to bed early, and found our room to be really cosy (it was above the wood-burner!) and comfy. We must have been asleep in seconds! When we woke up, the sun was out and Mike was brave enough to have his morning wash in the lake – brr! I just heated a basin of water on the wood-burner and threw it over myself on the balcony instead – much warmer :o) After a very chilled out morning, we were left alone in the cabin so we decided to head our ourselves to a nearby lake. While Mike fished I picked wild blueberries – I was much more successful than him and we came home with no fish but a bowl full of berries. On our arrival we discovered we had some new neighbours for the night – a group of two dads and their kids, and two men who both volunteered for DNT and who were up to do some odd jobs around the cabin. We spent another lovely night eating some great food that Mike cooked up and drinking wine by candlelight.

The next morning we woke to clouds hanging low over the surrounding hills, and after a very brief wash in the lake for me, and a sweep and mop of our room, we decided to head back to the car. The hike was a little more challenging on our return journey as, although it was dry for our walk, it had been raining heavily all night and the moorland was slick with mud. We both plunged into deep boggy puddles a few times on our way home! As much as I enjoyed the walk, I was awfully happy to see Viking (our Norwegian Volvo) in the car park at the bottom of the waterfall we had first walked up.

Mike and I split the drive home and then took turns to have a reaaaaaally long, hot shower when we got home. I made us salmon with dauphinoise potatoes for supper and we napped on the sofa as half-watched comedies played on the TV. A fantastic weekend and one we will definitely repeat in future.

K

~ Ceilidh Bands and Caterers ~

Spinning at the Music Hall in Aberdeen last year!

Spinning at the Music Hall in Aberdeen!

The wedding planning has begun in earnest this week. After a old colleague of mine became engaged last weekend (pause for an excited squeal!) I realised I really had to get on with planning mine and Mike’s big day.

My first port of call was the butcher who provided a hog roast for my friend Anna’s wedding back in May. It was easily the best hog roast I’d ever eaten, and the pig itself was outdoor-reared which is something that matters to me. That was an easy one to book – although I did baulk at the weight: your average pig weighs 55kg and we only have 50 guests! I am assured that the weight relates to the whole animal rather than the weight of the edible meat – we won’t have to get through a kilo of pork each!

Next stop was the Finzean Farm Shop, a really sweet restaurant close to our venue. I have asked them whether they can provide some scrummy side dishes to go with our pig – salads, breads and maybe a quiche or two for anyone who isn’t keen on the idea of pork. Hopefully they get back to me soon; they look like a great option, as they serve really good quality, local produce.

Finally on the food front, I’ve been thinking of cake plans. My Mum is a fantastic cake-baker and icer, and she has kindly offered to make ours. Her and Dad’s cake was made by my Grandma, so I’m happy to carry on the tradition! On top of that, Dad is an artist (a really good one – click here to see!) and has agreed to hand-paint our cake with food paint. I’m hoping to use some sort of flower design, which we can also add some real, fresh flowers to. I thought the idea was quite unique, but it turns out that it’s really not! There are loads of lovely designs floating about on the internet…

The next thing to organise is music for the night. If we needed any confirmation at all that planning a wedding needs to be started early, this was it. Our first choice was Clachan Yell, a ceilidh band that Mike and I have seen several times. Their music is great and their frontman is fantastic. Sadly, weekends in July fill up fast (even 12 months in advance!) and we were the 2nd couple to enquire about our date. The first enquirers seem to have gone a bit quiet, apparently, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that they’ve found another band, or moved their wedding date.

I opened it up to my Facebook friends to recommend ceilidh bands, and we got three more to try – the first of which was also booked. Eeek! Luckily there are plenty of bands to choose from in the Aberdeenshire area, most of which have YouTube videos up so you can hear their style. I’ve got queries out with Iron Broo, Hip Flask and Big Shoogle just now.

For those unsure, a ceilidh is a traditional Scottish dance event – usually saved for weddings and other special occasions – with organised dances that most Scottish kids learn in school. The dances are really energetic and can get a bit wild: they are so much fun! It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the moves, because a good ceilidh band will usually have a ‘caller’, someone who shouts out what you should be doing next. I just can’t wait to ceilidh in my wedding dress… It’ll be such a challenge!

That’s all for the planning this week I think. Our next job is to organise a bar and serving staff… And after that, we’ll be onto the invites. There seems to be an awful lot to do! If any of you are organising your own wedding just now, leave me a comment and let me know how you’re getting on!

K

~ Green Fingers and Golfing ~

All this outdoor living, good food and more free time has inspired me to begin gardening. I’m starting small, with some herbs. I usually buy a plant when I need herbs for a recipe – basil, coriander, chives – and I usually kill the entire plant within the week: first by first overplucking its leaves (have you ever seen a recipe that calls for less than a handful of coriander?) and then forgetting to water it, followed by a deluge when I suddenly realise it’s drier than Ghandi’s sandal. 

Getting into the planting - crazy fringe due to a warm, but very strong, breeze!

Getting into the planting – crazy fringe due to a warm, but very strong, breeze!

Hopefully the 4 herbs I chose (basil, mint, coriander and rosemary) survive a little longer. I’m leaving them outside for now, but I suppose they will live indoors in the winter. Mike says if I can keep them alive for 2 months, he’ll buy me a watering can. 

After splurging on my new plants, Mike and I decided to have a quick go on the driving range at Sola Stranden. I’ve been thinking about buying myself a new set of clubs for a while – the ones I own were bought for me by my parents when I was 12 – so I made a casual enquiry about 2nd hand sets at the pro shop. The guy behind the desk was stunned at the coincidence: they normally don’t keep 2nd hand ladies’ clubs, but a member had sadly recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and was looking to sell her set. They were really good quality, almost mint condition and a good size for me. I paid 3 000,00 NOK (around £300) for a set of Taylor Made irons (5-9), a Taylor Made driver, a Calloway hybrid and a lovely putter. They came in a nice Titleist bag, too, which was stuffed full of golf balls, a couple of gloves and other paraphernalia. I don’t think I’d have got a better deal in the UK – especially with what I’d have had to pay to take them back over here with me on the plane. I had a go on the driving range, then on Sunday tried them out on the 18-hole course, too. Good fun – especially the driver – and I finished only 18 strokes behind Mike: not too shabby since I was using the men’s tees.

Made a very disappointing chicken tagine on Sunday – one of Tori Haschaka’s, who is a favorite of mine. Bland in colour and taste, and severely let down with the poor-quality chicken we got from the supermarket. It’s very hard to find chicken that isn’t breast here – or so I’ve found. Must have a look in the butcher’s tonight to see if I can get hold of some thighs to freeze for use later.

Finally, I had a really exciting message from one of my old work colleagues on Sunday evening – her and her partner, who met on Match.com a couple of years back, are engaged! I am so incredibly happy for her. I was really lucky to work with some fantastic girls around my age back in Aberdeen, and I’m so glad we’re still in touch. I can’t wait to see the diamond in real life soon – it looked gorgeous from the pictures. 

My own wedding planning hasn’t really taken off yet – I must get on it this week so that I can update my Wedding Planning page with a bit more information!

K

~ Trinidadian Chicken with Mango Chutney ~

Oh boy, what a treat! Mike cooked dinner for me tonight and it was deeee-lish. I only managed a quick iPhone snap before I absolutely demolished this plateful.  I promise to re-make this curry with a proper ingredients list and some better food photography – because this does not do it justice. Fresh, green, healthy, different and mouth-tinglingly hot.

The main reason I’m posting today (despite showing off that my wonderful husband-to-be is a fabulous cook) is for an update on the mango chutney I made last week. I’m definitely counting it as a success. Sweet, tangy, spicy and fragrant – I won’t be buying the supermarket stuff again.

I’m planning to give a few jars out to friends and family so I might have to make another batch.

K

~ Spanish Chicken ~

I’m a big fan of recipes that can be whipped up in 30 minutes or less for those days when you get home from work and just want to flop on the sofa with a bowl of something hot and tasty. I had a fairly rubbish day at the office yesterday, so Mike and I pulled out an old favourite: Spanish chicken. It was ready in 25 minutes and is spectacularly easy.

Ingredients:

(Serves 3-4)

~ 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
~ 1 large onion, sliced
~ 1 red bell pepper, sliced
~ 8 chicken thighs, boned (or drumsticks – not chicken breast)
~ 1 1/2 tablespoons paprika (smoked or regular – I like smoked in this)
~ 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
~ 1 good-quality chorizo sausage
~ A handful of your favorite olives (I like green, Mike likes black – I won last night!)
~ A 400g tin of butter beans (the best ones are the fancy artisan ones in tomato sauce, but I can’t seem to find those readily in Norway. Plain is fine.)
~ 2 tablespoons chopped sundried tomatoes
~ 1 tablespoon tomato puree
~ 1-2 tins of chopped tomatoes (depending on how saucy you like it!)
~ 1 teaspoon oregano
~ Salt and pepper, to taste

For the quinoa:

~ 50 g quinoa per person
~ 100 ml (ish) of stock per person
~ A blob of butter

To serve: A good dollop of creme fraiche per person, some basil leaves.

1) Heat the oil in a heavy-based, deep frying pan with a lid. Fry off the onions and pepper until just starting to soften.

2) Bash out the chicken thighs and slice them in half. Rub in the paprika, chilli and a little salt, then add them to the frying pan. Don’t substitute chicken breast – it just goes dry. You can add a splash more oil at this stage to make sure the onions and peppers don’t catch and burn – but I usually add a bit of water instead to keep the fat content down.

3) Meanwhile, prepare your quinoa – remember to keep jiggling the chicken, onions and peppers about every now and again. Rinse 50g per person of quinoa thoroughly in a sieve. Pour into a saucepan and add water in a 2:1 ration (i.e. 100ml water for each 50g quinoa). You can use stock rather than water for extra taste. Cover and leave to simmer away for 15 minutes. If it runs out of water and looks dry, just add another splosh of liquid.

4) Slice the chorizo and add it to the large pan. We usually add a whole chorizo sausage, which is probably a bit much for some people – you can just put in as much as you fancy on the day. Wait until it goes a little bit crispy on the outside.

5) Add the rest of the ingredients and bubble away until the chicken is properly cooked and the sauce is reduced. 

6) When the quinoa is ready, it should have tripled in size and the grains will have a little spiral-tail. Add a blob of butter and stir through for extra richness.

7) Serve in a big bowl with a huge dollop of creme fraiche. Deeeee-lish.

Let me know if you give it a go…

K

~ Stargazing and Sunrise Watching ~

 

What a belter of a weekend. Scorching temperatures in Stavanger again! After growing up in England and living my last 7 years in Scotland, I cannot stand to be inside when it’s warm. On Saturday we spent the day at the Gladmat festival (see my recent post under ‘Cookery’!) followed by a trip to Ikea and some flat-pack-furniture assembly.

 

 

As the evening wore on, warm and clear, Mike and I moved our furniture outside to enjoy the sun for as long as possible. We’ve found the best way to be comfortable outside is to disassemble our sofa and make a nest from the cushions on the decking!

 

 

 

We both had a good book to read; Mike was enjoying a bottle of rioja and I was enjoying a pot of tea; the stars were starting to come through and even though the sun had dipped below the horizon, the air was warm. I’d read about a meteor shower in National Geographic so we decided to take a blanket outside and stargaze for a little while.

At just gone 12:30am we hadn’t seen any meteors, but we’d had a lovely evening and were ready for bed. We decided to set the alarm for 03:15am to get up and see the sunrise, so we had a couple of hours’ sleep before I shook Mike awake. While he stumbled around in a sleepy haze, I made some jam sandwiches and a flask of coffee, and we drove out to Dalsnuten. We parked in the car park and walked for 30 minutes uphill to the viewing point, 323m above sea level. The sky was rosy as we arrived, and we had half an hour to wait until proper sunrise.

We opened our coffee and ate our jam sandwiches in total silence, gazing out over Gandafjorden and the twinkling lights of Sandnes and Tasta – where we’d left our apartment. A strong but warm breeze tugged at our clothes, so we sheltered by a cairn while we waited for the sun. It was absolutely magical. As the sun rose over the mountains to the east, the light levels crept up and the sky became blue rather than pink… The start of another beautiful summer’s day. We began our descent and were back in the car by 06:00am, back home by 06:30am and in our bed again by 06:35am. We slept late and woke up at lunchtime. What a lovely start to Sunday.

K

 

~ Gladmaten 2014 ~

Photographing Gladmaten.

Photographing Gladmaten.

Gladmaten is an annual food festival in Stavanger; the locals all get really excited for this one and now I see why! It ran from Wednesday to Sunday and I headed there 3 times over its duration. It was a great place to take some photos, so I had my Pentax out and hope to get the film developed this week. For now, I’ve posted a couple of iPhone snaps and an overview of all the lovely things we ate!

The harbour in Stavanger was transformed into a Mediterranean-feeling walkway last week, lined with lots of small – and some larger – stalls and tents selling every kind of food you can imagine. With everything from traditional Norwegian bakeries and fish restaurants to Indian, Italian and French cuisine, there was almost too much to choose from! The smells were incredible, the food visually appealing too, and the atmosphere happy and relaxed (despite the ongoing terror threat from Syria).

French patisserie stall.

French patisserie stall.

On Thursday I headed along with a couple of ladies from work. We sat in the sun and drank pink wine and champagne before enjoying some of the more traditional Norwegian food. I had a lamb fricasse which was absolutely beautiful, and one of my colleagues had a seafood platter. Mike joined us for a drink later and was nearly dribbling over Anita’s lobster, so we decided to head back again the next day.

A happy Mike and his iced shellfish platter.

A happy Mike and his iced shellfish platter.

After work on Friday Mike and I had a lovely meal (and a couple of cold beers) at Fisketorget, Stavanger’s fish market, which has a lovely restaurant attached to it. Mike ordered the shellfish platter, which came with crab, king crab, lobster, oysters and prawns. It was an order-by-weight dish, so he missed out the oysters and just took 200g of everything else… Which turned out to be quite a lot! He thoroughly enjoyed it, though. I had the “catch of the day”; a salmon dish that was quite frankly the best salmon I’ve ever eaten. Two beautiful pink fillets sitting atop boiled waxy potatoes, parsnips and a lovely seafood sauce, with salmon roe sprinkled over the top. I’m not usually a fan of caviar – my marine biology degree being the main reason I don’t like eating fish very much – but this was absolutely fantastic. I even tried a bit of Mike’s shellfish (crab: yuck, lobster: OK, prawns: surprisingly tasty but not worth the hassle of peeling).

Catch of the Day at Fisketorget.

Despite two lovely meals on Thursday and Friday, I was desperate to go round all the smaller stalls and have some of the little tasters they were selling for a few NOK. Saturday turned out to be yet another gorgeous day of sun – the 7th in a row with a temperature of 30-31 degrees C. We had a bit of a wander round the town, then back along the stalls. We tried a slice of pizza from Al Forno which was lovely (one of their restaurants is right by our apartment so we’ll have to try it one day), then a couple of dishes from one of the Indian stalls. I had green garlic chicken and Mike had a tandoori spiced chicken, then we shared a vegetarian samosa. All delicious, but Mike’s was definitely the winner – and the garlicky raita  and salad that was served on the side deserved a spoon to ensure every last drop was demolished.

Glatmaten5

Samosa and grilled chicken with raita from one of the Indian stalls.

Stavanger is such a lovely city to host festivals in; the harbour is a brilliant central point and affords lovely views out to the mountains and North Sea, too. The city itself is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen and incredibly arty and cultural. There are sculptures everywhere you look, and local graffiti artists have been allowed to spray huge murals on lots of the blank walls in the centre. One day I’ll do a post about them and take photos of my favourites, but for now, this one of a colourful lady caught my eye (and the eye of the little girl who is trying to copy her stance underneath).

Glatmaten4

The locals here really dive into events like Gladmaten and I lost count of how many Norwegians at my work encouraged me to attend. I’m so glad that the “concrete” but “unspecified” threat from Syrian extremists on Norway that is forecast over the next couple of days did nothing to dampen the spirits of everyone who enjoyed the festival. That would be letting the terrorists win, and we can’t have that.

K

~ Wedding Hairstyles ~

A quick post this morning about hair. I have super thick, frizzy hair that needs a lot of work. This means that I’m quite specific about the kind of hairstyle I want for my big day, and am probably giving it more priority than most brides! I need an updo as there’s going to be a lot of dancing at our wedding and if I leave my hair down, I’ll look like Monica in that episode of Friends when they go to the Caribbean…!

I’ve been pinning on Pinterest and a few designs have caught my eye. My requirements are:

  • I want it to look loose and natural, but it mustn’t come down (even with lots of Scottish dancing!)
  • It must be fully off my face at the front: the hair most likely to frizz up and leave me with a halo of out-of-control flicky bits is all around my forehead!
  • The bun at the back must be central, like in the last picture. I had a side-bun for Anna’s wedding last month and after enduring a day of one hellishly tickly ear (due to heavy hairspraying and more than 35 bobby pins), I have decided I don’t want to put up with that on my wedding day!
  • The bun must also be quite high off my neck – the back of my dress is very detailed and I want to make the most of it.
  • I would like loads of wildflowers woven in.

Most of the images I’ve posted above fill my requirements, but I especially love the second picture – if the hairdresser can do that (while adding lots of flowers), I’ll be a happy lady!

With just less than a year to go until the big day, I think I’ll only be able to keep my fringe for one more haircut before I start growing it out. It’s a shame as I do really like it (even if that’s only because I think it looks a bit like Zooey Deschanel’s when it’s styled) but I always think braids work best without lots of different lengths at the front.

I’ve got a wedding to go to at the end of August so I’ll have my fringe trimmed once more for that, then start the delightful job of growing it past that awkward stage where it just looks bizarre. Butterfly clips. Lots of butterfly clips.

K