Visiting family in Norway - September 2012

September 11, 12, 2012. New York to Oslo, Norway
We didn't sleep at all between as we travelled between New York and Norway so were pretty tired when we arrived. We were picked up by Magnar Haraldsen, Kathy's cousin, and were able to rest at his place while he and Rosa were at work. In the evening we shared a traditional lamb stew with Magnar and Rosa, Jane, and Wenche and Olav, followed by a lovely pavlova.

Jane, Kathy, Ross, Rosa, Wenche, Olav

September 14 Nannestad
It was lovely spending time with Magnar and Rosa. In the morning we went for a long walk around Nannestad and saw the Community Center and Church where we met the family when we were here two years ago. When we got back met Magnar and Rosa's son, Martin. In the evening we went to Arne and Reidun Haraldsen's home and had a lovely time getting to know their family better. Arne is Kathy's first cousin. He is 85 and he and Reidun have been married 60 years.  It was great meeting with the Haraldsen's including Arnhild and her husband Harald, Magnar and Rosa, Roar and his wife Wenche, and their daughters Marthe and Vera. We watched some of our DVDs to help us understand more if the life of Harald, Kathy's grandfather, and of the way his families in NZ and Norway have come together.

 Rosa, Magnar, Kathy, Arnhild, Harald, Wenche, Roar, Reidun, Arne

Vera, Kathy, Marthe

Friday 14 September.
After breakfast we went for a drive to do some shopping and to see the largest lake in Norway - Lake Mjosa which is 117km in length. We also saw the place where the constitution of Norway was written in 1814 leading to Norway separating from Denmark and joining an association with Sweden. Later, in 1905, Norway separated from Sweden and became an independent nation. We also saw a memorial created to remember the 77 lives lost in the massacre by Anders Breivik on 22 July 2011.

Saturday 15 September.
We helped the Haraldsen family bring in their sheep from the forest so they can be over-wintered in the barn. In the summer sheep are set loose to feed in mountain forests. In autumn they are brought back to the farm for sending to the works or for breeding or fattening and so they can spend the winter in the barn.  In the forest the sheep have a GPS unit around their necks which sends regular text messages in so their movement can be tracked.  We traced and caught 3 ewes and 7 lambs. It was a great to be able to do this reasonably easily using the GPS system, as the sheep are free to roam over vast areas of dense forest. The whole family was involved and everybody celebrated the successful catch of the sheep with a family BBQ around a fire deep in the forest. Arne was there and Mariane was in charge of the operation. She is  Magnar and Rosa's daughter and the owner of the farm along with her husband Rogit. Their cute daughters Marin and Ingrid were the stars of the show! Also helping were Martin and Vanessa; Roar, Marthe (who loves animals and is a natural farmer), and Vera, and, of course Magnar (who ran the technology) and Rosa. You can watch a video of this day by clicking on
Bringing in sheep from the forest in Norway.    


Mariane, Ingrid, Kathy, Rosa and Marin                                                                   Got you!                          


Kathy and Marthe                                                                                Kathy and Arne

Sunday 16 September
We spent the day with Wenche and Olav Myrvang. First we visited a farm overlooking Nannestad then went to their house outside of the town.  Jane Olsen and her son Bjorn-Erik; Hege Myrvang and her husband Jan Vidar and children Rikke, John-Erik, Ingrid, Emil; and Monica and Asbjorn Fridericksen then came and we tried to teach the Maori stick game and poi. We finished the day with a lovely traditional Norwegian meal: salmon, meatballs, potatoes and vegetables, followed by as apple cream dish called 'veiled peasant girls'. Later, Martin, Wenche and Olav's son came, which was nice as we hadn't met him before.


Back: Ross, Hege, Olav, Wenche, Jan Vidar, Kathy

Front: Rikki, John-Erik, Emil, Ingrid


Asbjorn and Monica                                   Olav, Martin, Kathy, and Wenche


Jane, Olav, Wenche and Bjorn-Erik

Monday 17 September. Oslo.
We spent the day in Oslo with Stein and Marit Jarum. Oslo is the capital of Norway and its largest city with about 700,000 people. First we visited the Holmenkollbakken ski area to see the enormous ski jump, cross-country course and ski museum. The ski jump is really high and we went right up to the top and got some spectacular views out over the city. 


                            Stein and Marit

After lunch at a great old cafe by the ski jump we went downtown and saw the Oslo Opera house. Yet another amazing building. The opera house is shaped like an iceberg flowing down into the harbour. We climbed right to the top and had yet more spectacular views of the city. We then went back to Stein and Marit's place for dinner. So today we saw two of Oslo's "must see" attractions (and we saw the other one - Vigeland sculpture park - last time we were in Oslo).


Oslo's Opera House ...                                                                         ... and a friendly troll

Tuesday 18 September
In the morning we got everything ready for Kathy and Magnar's presentation on Thursday then went to Grethe and Bjorne Tiller's place. Grethe is Karoline's daughter and Kathy's cousin. This was a great opportunity to learn about Ana Otilie, Harald's partner and his daughter Karoline as all of the others we are staying with are offspring of Johan. Grethe took us into the forest where saw amazing machines that cut down and stripped 100 year old trees in seconds. We then saw the favourite place of Karoline where she used to take Grethe for coffee and picnics beside a lovely river in the forest. After dinner we went to visit Grethe's sister Astrid Sorburg who is 90. Her daughter Marit Berg and her husband Roar were there and we enjoyed catching up with them over supper with cake and cheesecake. Astrid was not brought up by her mother Karoline but by her grandmother Anna Otilie so we were able to learn even more about the other side of the family.


                     Vigdis, Kathy, Bjorne and Grethe                                                          Roar, Marit and Astrid                                          

Wednesday 19 September
In the morning Grethe taught Kathy how to make kringler, a traditional Norwegian bread delicacy. Very nice with coffee. We then went for a lovely walk around Raholt where Grethe and Bjorn live. At the local church we were shown the grave of Anna Otilie, Harald's partner and the father of Johan and Karoline. After Harald left for NZ Anna married Albert Johansen and they had nine other children. We had an amazing trout dinner and then went to see the local dancing club for older people.


After this we went to Inger Haraldsen's place and met her husband Kai. We had yet another lovely family gathering, this time with Kare's family. We caught up with Kare and Evelyn, Juren and her daughter Mathilde, and Annalise and her daughter Mariana. Kathy taught the Maori stick game and poi and, once again we talked a lot to bring about a better understanding of life in NZ and Norway.


Inger and Kai                                                                             Mariana and Annalise  


   Kathy and cousin Kare                                                              Juren, Evelyn and Mathilde

Thursday 20 September
In the morning Kai and Inger took us to see the Nittedal Church where Karen Dorthea Slattum, Harald's mother is buried. We were not able to find her grave, possibly because graves that are not looked after are re-used and have their headstones removed. Later we saw the 'big star' near Gardemoen airport and then had coffee at Arne and Evelyn's house. They have lived there since the 1950s. Arne was a picture framer working close by to their house. We learned a little about Johan, Arne's father and Harald's son. For a long time Johan worked on the farm where Wenche and Olav live and was ultimately given the farm. Later he worked as a store man in Gardemoen, travelling to work on a moped. After he had a stroke he walked to work. Johan and his wife Karen had 5 children: Helge, Edel, Ruth, Arne and Kare. Only Arne and Kare are still alive.


Inger, Kathy, Kare and Evelyn

In the evening Kathy spoke to the Nannestad Historical Society, telling the story of how she found information about Harald, and then about the wonderful way this led to the families in Norway and New Zealand discovering each other. Magnar Haraldsen told the story from the Norway end. Lots of people from the family were there with others from the local community. Once again we were all amazed at the wonderful way our lives have come together through Harald Oscar Andersen. 


Friday 21 September.
In the morning we went for a walk in the forest with Kai and Inger. We walked along ski lanes which will soon be covered by 1 metre of snow. The forest is very pretty with many tall trees, lakes and rivers. In the afternoon we had a BBQ with Kai and Inger and their family. Kare and Evelyn were there too so it was another opportunity to share with them. Later in the afternoon Rolf Haraldsen picked us up and took us to his home to meet Ingrid and their children Emelie and Eirik. It was good to catch up with this family again and we talked till late!

Ingrid, Emilie, Eirik and Rolf

Saturday 22 September
Rolf and Ingrid took us into Oslo to see some of its famous historical museums (along with Emilie and Eirik). First we visited the Norwegian Folk Museum which showed how life was in the past in all parts of Norway. What an excellent museum! We saw houses and farms and buildings and art and it was all very interesting and authentic, as they showed how people lived in the various regions of the country. We then visited the Viking museum next door and saw the big Viking ships that come from the times when the Vikings ruled from Scandinavia (between 800 and 1250AD). We had to go in two cars which meant that Ross had to travel with Rolf in his beautiful red Corvette!
 You can watch the video we made of our visit to the museums by clicking here:
Norway folk and viking museums.



Sunday 23 September
In the morning we went for a walk around Fetsun with Rolf, Ingrid, Emilie and Eirik. We saw a museum showing how logs used to be floated down river then trapped and sorted before being pulled from the water and sent to the mill. This was a wonderful museum and we were able to walk on logs floating in the water and get an appreciation of the dangerous jobs carried out in days gone by. The mill closed down about 25 years ago but it clearly shows how the products of forestry were handled in the past. We then walked to another museum showing the wildlife found in and around the rivers and lakes.


Next we went to Ingrid's parents place for a wonderful lunch. We are learning that key features of Norwegian life are waffles, coffee, candles on the table, beautiful cakes and then lollies for supper! We hope we don't put on weight with all the good things we are eating! We are constantly saying we are "met" meaning "full". Kathy tried on Ingrid's mother's bunard (traditional local costume). She looked so Norwegian! This was a very special moment for all of our time in Norway. Later Rolf and Ingrid took us to Rolf's parents place so we could stay the night before we headed off to their cabin in Valdrez. It was good to meet Halvard and Wenche again and we spent the evening catching up and sharing about family and life in NZ/Norway.

Monday 24 September
We drove up to Valdrez with Wenche, accompanied by Halvard in the van. The weather was perfect so we saw some pretty amazing scenery along the way in the lakes, rivers and picturesque towns. We also saw some 6000 year old stone carvings of elks/moose, dating back to the Stone Age. We stopped to see how they farm the Rakfisk - one of Norway's greatest delicacies. Raw trout is allowed to ferment slowly and takes on an unusual taste (and smell). Wenche drove quickly and we are not used to driving on the right hand side of the road so when we arrived we exclaimed "we are alive!", which led to lots of laughs. We stayed at Wenche and Halvard's cabin along with Elin their daughter (Rolf's sister). Next door was another cabin where we met Froydis and Asbjorn. Halvard and Asbjorn are brothers and are children of Helge, son of Johan, Kathy's uncle. After a traditional lamb meatball dinner we had supper and watched videos with all the family (and had even more laughs).


                                               Wenche and Halvard ...                                               ... and their lovely cabin in Valdres




Tuesday 25 September
It snowed! We all went for a drive in the mountains of Valdres and again saw quite spectacular scenery, made even more beautiful by the snow. We saw an old stone church, a Stave church, an ancient runestone (with a message carved in the stone for pilgrims travelling along the old track - like a very early early letter or email) and an embroidery workshop that specialises in materials for churches. All of the places we visited had beautiful backdrops of mountains, lakes, rivers and valleys. We then climbed even higher up into the mountains for a traditional lunch in a wonderful restaurant. We had pork, sheep and goat meats in brine and the very popular rommegrot which is made from flour, butter and sour cream, together with flat bread and red berry cider. Very Norwegian!


 Froydis and Asjborn                                                        Froydis, Elin, Asjborn, Kathy, Wenche and Halvard 

In the evening we had smoked trout (caught in the river at the back of the cabin and smoked by Asjborn and Halvard. We then told stories, sang songs and Kathy taught the Maori stick game and poi. For supper we had moltecreme (traditionally only eaten at Christmas because the orange berries are so expensive) and cake. What a wonderful day in the Norwegian mountains!

Wednesday 26 September
We had yet another wonderful day in the Valdres area of Norway. We drove up through the snow high into the mountains. Once again we saw wonderfully nature and lake scenes and enjoyed very special times of friendship with our family. After lunch at a local restaurant we drove back up into the mountains to see a cattle farm. The cows were a hardy Scottish breed with broad horns and are adapted to live in the mountains all year round. This is unusual in Norway as most farm animals over winter in barns.

Wenche, Halvard, Froydis, Asjborn, Elin and Kathy


In the evening we had another lovely time with Halvard, Wenche, Elin, Asjborn and Froydis. We ate the delicacy Rakfisk- fermented raw trout, fortunately the mild version! It is eaten with sour cream, potatoes and beetroot. Very different to anything we have tasted before. What a lovely family we have in Norway. They have been so generous to us and have made us so welcome. Coming up to the mountains in Valdres has been just so special!

Thursday 27 September
We drove back from Valdres with Elin, again seeing spectacular scenery on the way. We stopped to see a stone bridge made without any cement holding the stones together then carried on to her "hobby farm" where we met met Elin's partner Terje and their children Lina and Mari. Once again Kathy taught the Maori poi and stick game.


                                Elin, Wenche and Kathy                                                    Kathy with Lina, Elin, Mari and Terje

Wenche then took us to visit Halvard and Asjborn's sister Karin and her husband Torgrim.  This meant we were able to spend time with all three of Helge and Marit's children and all of their grandchildren. A special treat was being able to spend a few minutes with Marit's who is now 93. She lives on her own in a separate house on Karin and Torgrim's farm.  

Marit Haraldsen                                                                      Torgrim and Karin

We then went back to Wenche and Halvard's for the night. The time we spent with the family in Valdres was just amazing. We had so much fun, ate the most wonderful Norwegian delicacies and saw some quite amazing sights. The family was also incredibly generous to us, showering us with many meaningful gifts. It has all been just so special.

Friday 28 September
Wenche took us back to Magnar and Rosa's place and we were able to have some much needed catch-up time. In the evening we went to Holter Church for a concert of classical church music by a Nannestad choir and one from Tallinn, Estonia. Grethe was there so it was nice to see her again.

Saturday 29 September
Our last day in Norway!  Wenche, Olav and Martin came to visit so we could say goodbye over a lovely cake! In the afternoon we went to Mariane's to get in the sheep and say goodbye to her family and also Arne, Marthe and Vera.

Rogit and Marin, Mariane and Ingrid, Magnar and Rosa, and Sprocket

It is sad to be leaving our Norwegian family as they have made us so welcome and have showed us so much love and generosity. We were able to visit the main sights in Norway's capital, Oslo, but our lasting memories will be of the beautiful lakes, rivers, farms, forests and mountains outside of ther city. Thank you to our lovely family for giving us such an amazing time in Norway.  We will never forget the wonderful weeks we spent with you.


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