My week in Norway.

As I finished for the summer at one of my jobs early this year, I took the chance to travel home for a week to see my family.

I wanted to get the chance to see them now, as I am unsure I will be able to see them for some time with Husband needing me to support him through the changes in his medication.

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Sister’s farm. They are dairy farmers. Home, sweet home.

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Three of the heifers on the farm. Southern Norway has much like a lot of Europe not had any rain for weeks now and farmers are pulling their hair out as they desperately need rain for their animal feed to grow. Sister and brother in-law are currently at a third of the food they need for the winter and have had to cut all the grain they planted to use for animal food. If they don’t have a significant amount of rain this or next week, they will have to start sending animals to the abattoir as they can’t have livestock and not be able to feed them.

One tip I would like to share: If you’re on summer vacation in Vestfold County, the bus company there sells the Vestfold Card. You can buy it onboard or at their bus offices and gives you limitless travel for one week within Vestfold County for 110 NOK. Travelling one way to see my mother cost 60 NOK alone so it’s a great way to get around and save money.

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My Vestfold Card – great value for money ^_^

Spending time with family and friends was lovely – I got to see two ladies I hadn’t seen since leaving high school and spent two mornings with my best friend.
I also ate and drunk far too much, so it’s back in the saddle with sensible eating now that I am home.
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A very Norwegian thing to do in the summer and something I miss over here: Eating prawns. You defrost them (if frozen),and sit and peel enough to put on a slice of bread you have buttered. Add some mayo and dill (and lemon juice if you like), just heavenly.

There has been a lot of talk in the UK about reintroducing the bottle deposit for plastic bottles to ensure they get recycled. I think this a great idea – it’s something we do in Norway and it means 97 per cent of plastic and metal drinks containers get recycled.

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The large majority of bottles and cans produced in Norway will have the Pant icon on it and the value which means it can be returned and you get the deposit back. For smaller bottles and cans it’s 1 NOK you get back, for larger ones it is 2.50 NOK for each.
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Return them at the deposit machine, found in the very large majority of grocery stores. Just put them in the hole and press the green button when done to get your voucher.
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Take your voucher to the checkout and they will pay out the amount on the receipt.
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Result! So 13 bottles got me 13 NOK, about £1.

Hopefully it won’t be too long before we have a chance to visit again.

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Visiting NTU Brackenhurst campus.

Tuesday we visited NTU’s Brackenhurst campus as part of a work event. During lunch we had a chance to explore the gardens and we were given a tour of the Animal Unit they have there.

Brackenhurst is where NTU delivers its courses in Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences.

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Lovely Orca; he’s retired now but is used by the students for yard work and work not involving mounting him.
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Barbie.
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Jessie.
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The Animal Unit has several small mammals for handling, this is one of their degus.
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A female Bosc Monitor lizard, aptly called Khaleesi.
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The Animal Unit also has different goat breeds. These are Boer goats.
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Field with cattle.

 

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Brackenhurst Campus features a lovely garden.
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The lovely lunch we were served.

A walk around the lake at Wollaton Hall in Nottingham.

Half term this week so Husband and I have both had a week off work. The weather has been nice all week so Tuesday morning was spent taking a leisurely stroll around the lake in the grounds of Wollaton Hall.

I am so grateful that we can access these beautiful spaces.

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Thank goodness for Easter.

Well thank goodness for Easter – have had two whole weeks off work. Heavenly and weird in equal measure as it was lovely yet strange to not be at work.

This Easter I have:

  • Read a lot. I have read Penny Dreadfuls (gothic horror stories), Everything, Everything, and Pandemic 1918. I keep finding books while shelving in the libraries I work at, and now have three books on the go, plus one our neighbour lent me.
  • Supported Husband with TWO job interviews. Will wonders never cease?
  • Used vouchers gained from surveys to do two badly needed replacements, so got a new vacuum cleaner and toastie maker and only had to pay the £10 the vouchers didn’t cover.
  • Spent quality time with family and friends and neighbours.
  • Attended Sharing Sherwood for the first time in months and really enjoyed it. Got some nice food from it as well.
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    The menu from Sharing Sherwood; the fritatta was delicious!

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    Saving food from the bin, one dinner at a time.
  • Had lovely and relaxing romantic candlelit dinner at home with Husband.
  • Found coat hangers and a cake tin for cheaps in the charity shop, and a cardigan for myself. Also found reduced deodorants in Boots so added it to our stash. Some of them will go to the foodbank.

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    A lovely 11 inch tin I got for 50p, and some more coat hangers for the laundry routine, 30p per bunch. And all the deodorants!
  • Been to Norway and seen my family. Going there the flight was so empty I had a whole row to myself. Score!
  • My sister and her family gave me two nice skirts and a dress, and sent me home with a load of food for Husband and myself. I came home with two packs of lamb mince, two huge packs of bratwursts, two lamb steaks, a pack of pork, four packs of reindeer dogs and a pack of nice steak. It will really help on the old grocery budget.
  • Pegged washing out!
  • Got some nice bargains at Tesco after work on Sunday (Got time and a half for it as out of term as well).

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    My lovely bargains from Tesco. I do like going by, you never know what you might find! Husband was delighted with the 45p pie and 32p coleslaws. This cost me £3.87.

I wonder what this spring term will bring?

 

 

 

Last week in review: Norway, Pneumonia and Not resting. Or something.

I would rather not this sort of week become a regular feature in my life. Last time I went home in February I found it incredibly stressful and it really threw me.

Monday morning at 2am I took the coach to Heathrow to fly to Norway for a week to see my family. I was aware my mother hadn’t been in great shape as she’d had the flu for the last week  and a half or so, so I went to see her as soon as I arrived and stayed until Tuesday, getting the fire going in the living room and doing bits and pieces around the house.

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This delightful little stove at my mother’s house heats up the sitting room, dining room and kitchen.
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Close-up of one of the details. One of the things I miss about living in Norway – having a fire going.
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The view from my mother’s kitchen window.

My sister had told me she wasn’t very well – but I hadn’t expected her to be as unwell as she was when I got there.

This is the most ill I have ever seen my mother.

Even when she had chemotherapy and radiation therapy she was not this sick.

She was so weak that she couldn’t even raise her head and she stayed in bed for my whole visit, not having the strength to get out of bed and feeling completely wiped so didn’t want the carers to help her out either.

What I found very unsettling and distressing was how confused she was.

She asked me repeatedly if I’d been to check on the house. When I let her know we were home, she stated she didn’t recognize where she was. She asked me repeatedly where Husband was, if I’d fed the cat (her cat had to be put to sleep a year ago due to poor health), and where her grandchildren where. She would ask me about people who (I assume) were from her past and what they were doing.

My visit was spent tucking her in, giving her a drink as she didn’t have the strength to hold the glass, and trying to coax her to eat something as she hasn’t eaten much at all since becoming ill. I could see how sunken in she has become and how much weight she has lost since I saw her at Christmas.

I felt so helpless as I couldn’t really help her or make her comfortable or get her anything she wanted. She asked me to buy blue grapes when I went food shopping, but then said no thank you when I’d washed them and brought her a bowl. I’d offer her some cake or dessert and she would say yes, only to say no thank you when I brought it to her bed.

As I had to get up in the middle of the night to get to the airport, I was completely wiped by Monday night, but sat with her to ensure the carers did come to do their night routine. I could feel myself falling asleep sitting on the stool next to her.

The next morning the carer came and woke me, to let me know they had persuaded Mom to have an emergency appointment that afternoon with her doctor. I thanked her and silently wondered how they would get her into a wheelchair let alone out into a disabled access taxi, but two carers came and ensured we got in alright. I packed a bag for her in case she was admitted, and I packed my things so I could travel on afterwards. My sister called me and when I explained how Mom was not making any sense at all, she explained that Mom had developed delirium and that she would need to be admitted whether she wanted to or not that day.

At the doctor’s office, they did a CRP check (measures infection in the body) and we were seen by her usual doctor. He had a listen to her chest, got her CRP score and declared that she had pneumonia. He then said that it would normally be treated at home but due to her state he wanted her to be admitted to have treatment administered intravenously.

A CRP reading was taken from her the Friday before I came which showed a reading of 37 – so something wasn’t quite right, but Mom did not want to be admitted. When the second reading was taken on Tuesday it showed 185. Most healthy adults should have a CRP reading of between 0 and 5, and most people will die if their CRP reaches 300 or higher.

I steeled myself, as I was expecting to have to challenge Mom as she has been very reluctant in the past to be admitted. But surprisingly, she accepted it and the doctor’s office ordered a taxi for us to take us there. So I travelled with her and once she’d been settled in I travelled down to stay with my sister the the rest of my stay.

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The view from my room – the countryside of Norway.
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My sister’s garden and apple trees.

We visited Mom on Thursday on the ward and she seemed a bit better and less confused. Saying that, I called her this week and she still seems very confused so I will have to ask my sister if the treatment is working. Pneumonia is no longer as fatal as it was in the past as we now have antibiotics. However in someone already weakened, or if it is a viral version, it can be quite hard to treat. Mom is home now.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom.

I got to see my sister and her family and my brother and his family. I could have a fire going every day. My sister and her family were very generous and sent with me two sides of salmon, some lamb and some beef, a bunch of sausages and wiener dogs and some sliced ham, so that will all help on the grocery budget for us.

Husband’s mother suggested I ring the credit card and explain that our lives are in upheaval as a reason for forgetting the January bill and asking them if they would as a gesture of goodwill waive the charges. I rang them while waiting to board on Monday and they could see we had been paying diligently and in full every month so waived everything.

Last year I applied to the student loan company to get some of the interest on my student loan written off. They responded last week and they could see that in 2014 we met the requirement to be classed as a low income household, so £1440 has been written off the student loan as that was the interest we had paid that year. They asked me to apply for 2017/2018 once we have our Annual Tax Statements to see if we could be eligible for even more to be written off.

All the same.

 

My flight home was on Friday afternoon, and the coach from the airport got in at midnight. I had to get up at 6.45am the next day for work at the uni. Didn’t manage to finish unpacking my suitcase until Tuesday as I worked Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Got some nice reduced stuff on Sunday night from the Tesco Express while waiting for the bus.

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My lovely bargains. You never quite know what you’ll get when you go by at reduction time. ❤

Those three days were spent on autopilot, as I didn’t feel like I was all that present due to being so worn out.

I just found it incredibly stressful and upsetting to watch my mom in such a state, and feel quite raw about it. I certainly don’t feel like I have had a break at all.

It was as though I was sitting by someone who was passing away.

 

 

Summer at my sister’s farm in Norway.

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The driveway, with the heifers grazing.
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They have wheat growing this year; previously they have had PYO sweetcorn but last summer the crop was so poor due to bad weather they decided to do something else this year.
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A very inquisitive heifer. My sister’s family have Norwegian Red dairy cows and breed their own animals. They have never bought livestock.
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The heifers out grazing and enjoying the sun.
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Enjoying the silence out here. Norway is the secondly least densely populated country in Europe; sometimes it is nice to come home and sit outside and hear nothing.
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The entrance to the farm, and our bags. Off to see my mother.

Our visit to Green’s Windmill and Science Centre in Nottingham.

Despite having lived in Nottingham since 2009, I hadn’t visited the Windmill here until last Sunday when husband and I went.

It’s free to visit (donations encouraged) and there is also a community garden next door you can go and look around. There is free car parking, or you can take the red 43 bus there.

Green’s Windmill is a working windmill; it grinds grain and you can buy flour made at the mill on the souvenir shop. The Science Centre has some cool activities which deal with magnets, power and illusions.

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The Windmill
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One of the sails. We were lucky enough to see the windmill in action; they can slow down the speed the sails are turning at, by opening the shutters on them.
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The view from the top of the windmill.
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This is the chute where the grain sacks come up. The sacks have to be hauled to the top floor so the power of the wind is used to pull the sacks up to the top floor. How clever is that?
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Millstone, grinding grain.
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The finished product.
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The community garden next door. Hard to believe this is in the centre of Nottingham.
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The community garden next door.