Saturday, 17 March 2007

Norwegian Winter Interlude. Report No 39.

(By Stein, Cartagena, 17th March 2007)
For corresponding photos see Picture Gallery No 39.
As has been our routine since 2004, we were again back in Norway in early December. We wanted to see family and friends, look after our house a little and we needed to work for a couple of months. I was back at the Dept. of Cardiology, Sørlandets sykehus for my sixth time – again a most enjoyable period, not least because of the chance again of working with young, enthusiastic medical colleagues. Diana did some locum work for an Ophthalmologist colleague in private practice in Søgne south of Kristiansand. She did not get quite as many sessions as she had wished, but seemed very happy to have more time to study Spanish and to visit our two grandchildren in Oslo. Robert joined us for Christmas and New Year. He is doing a diploma-course in Computer Science in Cambridge. Doing the same course is girlfriend Olga from Russia, so she also joined us for the festive season. My mother Eli also came, of course, and so did Martin and his family from Oslo for a couple of days.
Early winter in Norway this year was unusually mild; I was able to ride my bike to work daily. Only after we left middle of February did we hear that the country was hit by massive snow-falls!
So no skiing near home for me this year, but we did have two weekends in the mountains, the last one a family gathering in Trysil early February. Robert was too busy to get away from Cambridge, but Elisabeth & Hugh came over from London. My best winter memory this time is cross-country skiing with Elisabeth. Hugh preferred joining Martin in the steepest down-hill slopes they could find! The apartment we rented up in the mountain-side included a sauna-bath that proved popular with Hedda & Johan, and they insisted that their cuddly toys also enjoy saunas – please see the picture section!
Before leaving Norway I spent a couple of days making myself useful at Eli’s house in Sandefjord and also drove her to Gardermoen Airport for a charter plane to Alicante, south Spain. She loves her winter weeks away from the cold.and at Reuma-Sol she finds therapy for body and soul…

Cambridge, London and Madrid

En route to Colombia we stopped off in Cambridge and London. Robert is affiliated to Fitzwilliam College, one of the relatively younger colleges of this 800 year old university. Olga, however, stays at Trinity College, famous for its history dating back to Henry VIII and its long line of academic and royal scholars. It is also popular for its formal dinners, and Olga invited us to such an event on Friday 16th February. The pre-dinner sherries were sipped in a room decorated with paintings of illustrious forefathers before entering the huge dining-room. Dark, wooden rafters criss-crossed the white walls high above us. Here we sat benched alongside scholars from all corners of the globe, many in their academic robes. (I did not observe any ghosts, otherwise the scene reminded me of the dining-hall in the Harry Potter pictures!) While the Dons (teachers and important guests) are seated along the top table underneath the image of Henry VIII things are fairly formal, but when they leave shortly after the pudding, everybody standing respectfully to attention, the sound level increases noticeably and one is allowed to take photographs. Robert agreed to pose with me in front of Sir Isaac Newton…
In London next day all four of us met up with Elisabeth & Hugh in Earls Court and could witness how “Skin Studios” and “GloLondon” is going from strength to strength. And we were treated to a nice dinner at The Abingdon.
Next morning found us on a plane to Madrid. I have been to this great city on a medical conference years ago, but this was Diana’s first visit to the Spanish capital. We had crisp spring weather, crocci and daffodils were already blooming. Here we visited Teatro Real for an operatic evening (“Cavalleria Rusticana” combined with “I Pagliacci”) and the next night a recital by Italian soprano Barbara Fritolli. Our seats were not the best, but the music was!
To our dismay we discovered that the famous Prada Museum was closed on Mondays, so that day instead we did a lot of walking, admired some of the buildings and the parks and saw the film “Little Miss Sunshine”. But we managed a couple of hours at The Prada before our flight to Colombia Tuesday morning. So Goya, Velazquez, Tizian, El Greco, Rafael and Reubens gave us a wonderful tour of Europe back in the times when they were alive and recorded it all on canvas.

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