~ 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.

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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).

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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

~ Weekend Sun ~

It’s been a wonderful weekend in Stavanger. 31 degrees Celsius, all-day sun and even the largest of the nearby lakes now warm enough to swim in! Mike and I cooked up some tasty food and spent time with friends; I thought it was a good time to start the blog I’ve been meaning to post since we moved over in March.

Mike had to work on Saturday morning, so while he was away I took myself off for a run. It was 24 degrees by 10.30 and although the first 3k went past quite quickly (I was on-track for a personal best!) the last 2k nearly beat me, and I finished at 36 seconds under my PB (32 minutes 43 sec). Very disappointing – all I want is a 30-minute 5k! After speaking to some friends who have been running much longer than me, the advice seemed to be interval training. The idea of intervals does make my heart sink a little, but I think it has to be done.
Once I’d recovered and Mike had arrived back home from the office, I baked a cake for our friend Andy as a belated birthday celebration and took it over to his house. We had a lovely walk in the forest at Brekko then a dip in Ålgård lake before heading back to Andy’s for a BBQ and a soak in the hot tub. Perfection.

Unusually, Mike had to head back into work on Sunday (neither of us has had to do much overtime since we started working here!) so I decided to go with him and help out. Having never worked in a workshop before I’m not sure if I was just a hindrance, but by late afternoon I felt like I’d had a workout! Mike’s not often in the workshop – his main job is business development – but he enjoys getting his hands dirty sometimes. We came home via the lake near our apartment (Stokkavaten) and washed some of the dust from ourselves in the water, then spent the afternoon sleeping on the decking in the sun.

Post-swim paddling at Stokkavaten.

Post-swim paddling at Stokkavaten

Excepting the part where Mike was working, this weekend was fairly typical of our life here in Stavanger and we had a really relaxing couple of days. I hope to update this blog fairly regularly with recipes, photos and other bits and pieces to record the kinds of things we get up to and the things we enjoy. That’s all for my first post for now, thanks for reading :o)

K