Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Portrait of an Unknown Woman

Second book in the 100+ book reading challenge:

Portrait of an Unknown Woman
by Vanora Bennett

Outer back cover: The Year is 1527. Hans Holbein makes his first visit to England to paint Thomas More, courtier, scholar, patron, and his family. More's splendid house on the river in Chelsea is at the centre of Tudor society, frequented by distinguished astronomers, artists, politicians, men of religion and many others.
Two visitors o the great house find themselves irresistibly drawn to Mel Giggs, one of More's foster daughters. John Clement - dark, tall, elegant - is a man of compelling presence and mysterious background. The other man is Holbein himself - warm, ebullient, radical and a painter of great renown. Meg finds herself powerfully drawn to these two wildly contrasting men. She will love one and marry the other.

I had never heard of this book before, or the author. I just picked it up at the library and thought it sounded exciting by the back cover. But I was really disappointed. Normally I won't read what it says on the back cover before I read the book, because I don't want to be "prejudiced" when I read the book, but this time I would have been disappointed even if I hadn't read it.

It took me ages to get into the book, I had to read passages over and over again because it wasn't holding my attention well enough for me to actually notice what it said. Then it was exciting for a while in the middle, before it got boring again. The most exciting part of the book was probably the last 50 pages or so, when suddenly I got "overwhelmed" by secrets being revealed. If you enjoy Philippa Gregory's writing style then you will probably enjoy this book, since I don't like Gregory's writing style either their writing styles are very similar.

The book is written mostly in first person, told from Meg Giggs' point of view, but also sometimes in second person, when looking more closely at other characters, like Holbein and Clement. I enjoyed reading about Meg's personal life, but a lot of the book was about Thomas More and the whole battle that was going on at that time between Catholics and Lutherans. I still can't put my finger on what the true plot of this book is and what the purpose of the author was. It seemed like a cheap soap opera plot riddled with dramatic character interactions that were melodramatic and annoying.

I didn't actually know that these people were real historical people, until I noticed that the writing style was kind of a non-fiction-fiction one (if you know what I mean..?). Just to defend myself I want to say that I don't need to know British history because I'm not British! Although one more "good" thing about the book is that it made me want to learn a little bit more about British history, and also learn more about Holbein and see some of his paintings.

I doubt I will ever read this book again, as it was just too boring to read. The writing style just didn't suit me.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Switched at birth

I was browsing through random pages on the internet today, when I suddenly stumbled upon this little nugget of information:

12 newborns will be given to the wrong parents daily.

Not annually, not monthly, but DAILY! How is this possible?! I did some more research and found this on several sites:

It is has been reported by different studies that 100,000 to 500,000 newborns are accidentally switched at birth every year -- and given to wrong parents! According to the 1998 Edition of the Tanderberg Report, (an annual medical study by sociologist Dr. Morton Tanderberg, and as reported by Ann Victoria in Weekly World News, p. 22, on 9-8-98), 500,000 or 1 out of every 8 babies born in American hospitals is sent home with the wrong parents. In many cases, these oversights are caught and corrected within a few days and the babies are returned to their mothers. But on the other end of the scale, Dr. Tanderberg says that in some overcrowded facilities, particularly in large metropolitan areas like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, the number of switched babies could be considerably higher -- possibly as high as 3 out of 8.

This information is almost enough to make me want to have a home birth, which I DON'T want, but of course I might change my mind if I actually get pregnant... Anyway. Or maybe if I ever get pregnant I'll move to a small place, with a small hospital, so that the chance of a mix-up is smaller?

"In many cases, these oversights are caught and corrected within a few days and the babies are returned to their mothers.

I wonder how that must feel, of course I hope never to find out. What does the hospitals tell the parents? How do you give up a child that you have thought was yours, no matter how long you've had him/her? It must be awful for the hospital employee to give the news, and 1000 times worse for the parent.

I wonder if there's ever been a hospital employee that has found out that there's been a mix up, but has been too ashamed to tell anyone? Maybe that's one of the reasons some children doesn't get "sorted out" after just a couple of days?

This is probably why the tv soap operas and talk shows never run out of "switched at birth" stories.

Approximately 490.000 babies are born worldwide every day...

I guess when you look at it like that, 12 isn't really a big number... But there shouldn't really be any at all, should there?!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Why did no one tell me about this when I lived in the UK?

Staying on the hiking theme of my last post...

A few weeks ago I noticed something interesting in the newapaper: Free accommodation in the UK!

It was very basic accommodation. No facilities, no tap, no sink, no bed, no lights. It was described as camping without the tent.

What I'm on about are Bothies.

From Wikipedia: A bothy is a basic shelter, usually left unlocked and available for anyone to use free of charge. Bothies are to be found in remote, mountainous areas of Scotland, northern England, Ireland and Wales. They are particularly common in the Scottish Highlands.

Key words: Free of charge!

Why did no one tell me about this when I lived in the UK? I think this is great! It would have been a lot cheaper than travel around and living at hotels or BandB's, and it's a great way to see the British countryside and also get some fresh air and exercise!

Although, I don't think I would want to go all alone, and I don't think that any of the people I knew in Britain would have been interested in going with me... Actually, yes, maybe one of them, if she got her hubby to look after the kids. But it's too late now... Maybe if I go back at some point... Anyone want to go with me?

If you want to find out more about mountain bothies, please go here.

I've got blisters under my toes!

My mother and I went hiking again today. Up a real mountain this time. Actually 3 mountains, but they're connected so it's not as bad as it sounds.

 This first picture was taken in April, so some of the snow has gone, there wasn't any snow where we walked though. The starting point might have been a little more to the right. But the trail goes straight up, so it's really steep.
 View from the first mountaintop, Vikaksla.
View from the second mountaintop, Liahornet.
 The cairn at the second mountaintop.
Finally at the last mountaintop, Båten. Do you see the snow?
Planking at Båten, first time I've "planked". My mother thought I should do it on top of the cairn, but 1) I couldn't get up, 2) I was terrified of falling off it.

Here's a little video for you from the top of Båten. It was really windy as you can hear, and about midway through, you can see the wrist-strap on my camera flying into the picture.

On the way down it started raining, and we got to see this beautiful rainbow. It's actually a double one, do you see both of them?

Saturday, 28 May 2011


Why is it that picking wildflowers seems to be only a thing for children to do? Does adults have to spend money on flowers?

In some ways I think wildflowers are better than store bought flowers. They are free and anyone can pick them.

I don't pick wildflowers very often, but when I do , I only do it if there's loads of them. If I can only see a few of a certain flower, then I will leave it alone, so that maybe the birds and the bees can make more of them. And also, if I just leave them, then everyone that walks past them gets to enjoy seeing them as well, not just me, my family and whoever comes to visit while they're alive. Also, if I leave them, then they will live longer.

I picked a bouquet today though, the weather's been horrible lately, so I wanted to bring a little bit of summer inside.

The Talented Mr Ripley

My first book in the 100+ book reading challenge:

The Talented Mr Ripley
by Patricia Highsmith

Outer back cover: What was he doing at twenty five? Living from week to week. No bank account. Dodging cops now for the first time in his life. 
Ripley wanted out. Wanted money, success - the good life. Was willing to kill for it.

I found this in the small English section at the local library, and wanted to read it because I've heard about it. I really enjoyed reading it as well. Although I kind of wish I hadn't read certain chapters right before going to bed at night.

Tom Ripley is a young man who get's hired by a Mr. Greenleaf to get his son, Dickie, back to America from where he has been staying in Italy. Tom is all to happy leaving his life of running IRS scams in New York city behind. Tom travels to Italy and gets captivated by the country. He is also taken with the life and looks of Dickie Greenleaf, and wants to become like him.

Even though we know Tom is the bad guy of the story, Tom's character is very believable, and the book conveys his fears, longings, upsets and desires so well, that suddenly we realize that we almost empathize with him, and hope that everything will work out for him. But I also enjoyed all the other characters in the book.

My favorite part of the book is actually the parts right after murders... It was just so exciting to find out what Tom would do, and if anyone would notice anything. Another highlight of the book is the settings.I really wanted to travel to Italy while reading the book: Venice, Rome, southern Italy, and many more,  and also some places in France and Greece as well.

Many of the books I've read, I've read just to see how they get to the end, because I can usually guess how it will end. But this book was exciting all the way through, I had no idea what would happen next. Even though I think I might have watched part of the movie several years ago, I can't remember it, and I would like to see it again, just to see how they've done it (I probably won't like it now that I've read the book).

The book is actually part of a series, and although I really enjoyed this book, I'm not in a hurry to read the other books, but I would like to read them at some point.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Flash Mobs?

I was reading Kaby's post about flash mobs: "new things to share with colleagues - and maybe you" about a week ago. Flash mobs are awesome!

When I first read it I was thinking how I wish I had been a part of one, and how cool it would be. Then a couple of days later, I realized that I kind of have been... Kind of. Depends if you want to classify it as a flash mob or not...

Maybe, to make it easier I should just say that the post reminded me of some occasions, write about those occasions and leave it at that...

When I studied music, there was this room where most of the music students would spend their lunch breaks and free periods. Sometimes someone would get their instrument out and start playing a song, just to practice for class or a concert. Sometimes when this happened, other people in the room would get their instruments out an start playing as well, or start singing.

Other times, the person that started playing wouldn't even be playing a song, they would just be improvising, and other people would still join in.

I guess these aren't the best examples. Especially since we were all studying music. But I've got another example.

Last summer, one of my best friends got married. At dinner there were only close family and friends, but after dinner, more friends came, so there were quite a lot of people when the dancing started. My friend had a live band, made up of the friends that could play instruments. Since they were friends and not only there to play, they sat down with the rest of the guests sometimes and had some cake, coffee, drinks etc. While they were sitting there, they would start playing their instruments again, not for people to dance, but just to play.
Sometimes they were just messing about, and other times they were actually playing song. But the coolest part (and the point of me writing about this) was when one of them started playing a well known song (I can't remember which one at the minute) and little by little the rest of the "band" started joining in, and then ALL of the guests were singing! It was awesome! Kind of like that "Friends" episode with the humming. Maybe this is usual for weddings? I've not been to many.

Hmmm... I guess these were more like real life musical moments than flash mobs. But it sure was fun. Especially the wedding!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Z is for...

ZZZZzzzzzzZZZZzzzzzzzz - snoring.

People that have slept in the same room as me, have said that I occasionally snore. So far there has only been one person that has been annoyed by it  told me that they're annoyed by it though. It was mostly because they couldn't get to sleep.

I am also irritated by the fact that I snore. I'm scared that there are more people that are annoyed by it, but just doesn't say anything. When I sleep in the same room as other people I have trouble going to sleep because I worry about it... The first few nights when I get to Australia I'm staying at a hostel, so I'll probably be sharing the room with other people. I'm not looking forward to that.... I'm also going to try and get some sleep on the plane, but for some reason I'm not as worried about that.

While I lived in England, I went to the doctor one time about it. He told me he could refer me to a specialist up at the hospital if I wanted to. I kind of regret not taking him up on that. I'm not really sure why I didn't. I think I was afraid I would have had to pay if I went to see a specialist, or if I had to have surgery. Of course I could have just asked about that while I was talking to the doctor about it, but why would I do something like that? I might make things easier for myself.

I refuse to go to the doctor here in Norway. I have to pay. Before I moved to England it was 120NOK (£12ish) for a 10 minute consultation, if they had to do any test or you were getting vaccinations or anything, that's extra. I don't know if it's still the same price or not (probably more), but I refuse to go. That's one of the things I loved about England; free doctors and free birth-control pills.

Back to the snoring. My mother snores as well, loudly. She went to see if anything could be done about it a few years ago, but there was nothing the doctors could do... They said that the surgery they usually perform to stop snoring wouldn't have had any effect on her snoring. Maybe it's the same with me?

Well, this was the last post in the alphabet game. If I had been doing this in Norwegian, there would actually be three more posts: Æ, Ø and Å.

Thank you all for going through this alphabet meme with me and for all your lovely comments. Please let me know of any other blog memes  you think I should try, as I really enjoyed doing this one.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Y is for...


If you ever visit the UK, or if you already live there, be sure to visit York. It's such a beautiful city. I went there a few times when I lived in England. I just love the old buildings, the narrow streets and the cute little shops. It's also one of the few places in the UK where they sell salt liquorice.

I would love to go back one day, just to see the inside of York Minster, as I never got around to that.

Here are some pictures from the first time I visited York, in 2007. I was looking through my photos yesterday, and it seems this was the only time I actually took any!

 Is it just me or does it look like that house is smiling?

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

X is for...

Xenodocheionology (za-noh-doh-ka-NOL-a-jee)

Noun meaning "the love of hotels and inns". From the Greek words "xenos" meaning stranger or guest and "dechestai" meaning receive.

Foe example: Someone might study xenodocheionology to help hotel owners appeal to more people.

While I don't consider myself a xenodocheionologist, I do enjoy seeing pictures of luxury hotels and cozy inns. Like this picture from Larisa's post: Moments of Zen.
The picture is taken at a hotel in the Maldives, Conrad Rangali Island Maldives Hotel. The room is usually a restaurant, but has been converted to a bedroom for their 5 year anniversary. I doubt I would have been able to sleep there, I'd spend all night watching the fish and worrying about the glass breaking. I would love to go there and eat in the room when it's a restaurant though.
Money isn't everything, but I sure wouldn't mind winning loads and loads of money, just so that I could travel and see the world, while staying at luxury hotels or cozy inns.

Monday, 23 May 2011

W is for....

Warm milk with honey.

I love having a cup of warm milk and honey when I've got a sore throat. It doesn't really make my throat better for more than a couple of minutes, but it tastes delicious! I had one last night and again this morning.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

V is for...

The topic for today's post was a though choice between Vampires and Volcanoes. Then last night around 21.00, Norwegian time, another volcano erupted in Iceland, and voilà! I have my topic!


The volcano that erupted last night was Grímsvötnum. As it's situated under a large glacier, Vatnajökull, they're expecting some flooding. Luckily Grímsvötnum is in the middle of nowhere, so there aren't many people near it.

Grímsvötnum usually have small, short eruptions every five years, but last time it erupted was in 2004, so 7 years ago. This time the eruption seem a bit bigger as well, they're expecting it to last for a week. Iceland has closed their airspace (all of it!) and has notified other European countries, like Britain and Norway, that there might be some problems with air traffic. Since their airspace is closed, any flights to America that usually flies that way, has to take a route further south. Although they're taking all these precautions they're not expecting it to be as bad as the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull last year.

Some coworkers of mine went to Iceland last weekend. I bet they're glad they're home and safe now.

Eyjafjelajokull erupted not long before I was going back to Norway last year. I got to Oslo airport Gardermoen with no problem. While I was waiting for my next flight, another flight in the same direction I was going got cancelled because of the ashes that was still in the air. I got a little nervous when I heard that, as the flight I was catching was the last one for the day. Luckily I got on it and it landed in Molde on time.

I remember that when Eyjafjellajokull erupted last year, they were talking about how the eruption might make other "delayed" volcanoes nearby on Iceland erupt as well. I guess they were right. The scientist noticed the glacier above Grimsvotnum started to melt late last year, and they knew it would erupt this year.

Volcanoes fascinate a lot of people, including me. I think it would be really cool to watch a volcano erupt with my own eyes, from a safe distance of course. I would also like to climb a volcano. Although I'm not sure I will ever dare to do that, as even extinct volcanoes can suddenly decide to become active again. Scientist say that extinct volcanoes are unlikely to erupt because they no longer have a lava supply. It's the unlikely bit I don't like...

You know on American films and tv-shows (and probably in real life) they make volcanoes as a school project. I would have loved to do that when I was in school!

The worlds most famous volcano is probably Mount Vesuvius in Italy. In 79 A.D. it killed about 2000 people and destroyed and buried the cities of Pompeii and Herculoneum. The cities were forgotten about and not discovered again until the 18th century! And the discovery was accidental! Pompeii is by the way another place I would like to visit before I die.

Vesuvius is the most densely populated volcanic region in the world, with 3,000,000 people living nearby. Because of the nearby population and the fact that it's known for it's many and explosive eruptions, it's today considered one of the worlds most dangerous volcanoes! I don't think I'll climb that in the near future!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

U is for...

Or Ayers Rock as some people know it as.
This is one of the places/things I REALLY want to see while I'm in Australia.
It's known for changing colour as the different light strikes it at different times of day and also different times of the year.
It's possible to get a 3 day pass to the park it's in, maybe I should go camping there? I want to go with someone else though. Someone that can drive me there... Any volunteers? (By the way, I occasionally snore...)

Friday, 20 May 2011

T is for...


I wanted a tattoo for many years. But at the same time I didn't want one. I was worried about regret having one, or not liking it when I get older. I usually regret having my hair cut just after a few hours. At least my hair grows back out again, it's a little worse if I regret having a tattoo...

When I finally decided I wanted to get a tattoo I had been thinking about it for quite some time. All I then needed to do was decide what I wanted and where I wanted it.

The where wasn't too hard. I wanted it somewhere I could hide it away or show it depending on what I wanted or needed. Like in case I get a job where they prefer that a tattoo isn't on show. I decided to have it on the back of my shoulder. I also knew I just wanted a small one, I think a big one is easier to regret, and also takes longer to remove if you need to do that.

Then I needed to decide what I wanted.I wanted something that meant something to me, not just something I thought was pretty (although that too of course).

I was living in England at that moment. In England I had learnt more about who I was, and I think my personality and the way I acted had changed a bit as a result. I also felt freer. It's amazing what can happen when you move away from friends, family and everything you know, everything that influences you, and start a new life in a completely new place.


Because of all that I decided on a butterfly for my tattoo. The butterfly stands for Rebirth, change and freedom.

I spent ages looking for the right one on the internet. After all: I was going to have it for the rest of my life. There were many beautiful tattoos, but many of them was too large for my liking, and if I shrank them they would just look weird because of all the details.

While I was trying to decide, my friend "N" and I went on holiday to Marmaris, Turkey. N had two tattoos at the time, one on her lower back and one on her ankle, and she wanted another one. N wanted to get a tattoo in Turkey, she found some nice shooting stars that she wanted on her wrist, and she got the tattooed at the hotel where we were staying. Don't worry, it was safe. It only took her a few seconds to decide when she saw the picture of the shooting stars (it's really pretty as well). She said that when you see the right tattoo you just know, if you have to spend ages thinking about it, then it's not the right one. I had a look at the tattoos they had at the hotel as well, but I couldn't find one. And anyway, I really wanted to get it in England, so that I had a permanent memory from living there. N wanted a permanent memory from being in Marmaris.

When we got back to England another friend said "If you can't find one you like, why don't you get the tattoo artist to draw one free-hand? Not directly on you of course. That way you'll have one that nobody else has as well!" I thought this was a great idea, but all I knew was that I wanted a butterfly of some sort on my shoulder. That's not really much to go on is it?

One day I decided I should have a look at what tattoos the local tattoo parlor had in their books, maybe they had some I liked.

And there it was!

It wasn't completely right, but I got them to make some changes to it.

On the day I got my tattoo I put some numbing gel on my shoulder. I could hardly feel the needle! That is until the tattoo pattern got outside the gelled area. That HURT! But I was happy with the result.

This is the best picture I've got of the one N got in Turkey, she said it was really painful, and I don't doubt it for a second!
There are so many results when you google "butterfly tattoos"...
I'm not very good at drawing, and my memory's not great, but I think the tattoo I've got looked something like this originally.
And this is my tattoo today. It's a lot bigger than I had in mind at first, I wanted something about the size from the bottom butterfly and down, but it turned out okay. I like it.
I look tanned!!!!! Unfortunately I know  it's just the light that does it...
The first time I took a picture of my tattoo something weird happened to the phone I took the picture with. I think the picture is kind of cool though...

Now I'm thinking about getting a tattoo when I go to Australia, for the same reasons as the England one. But what should I get, and where should I have it? I guess that's something for me to figure out while I'm there. Maybe I decide not to have one at all.

Do you have any tattoos? If so, what and where?

Thursday, 19 May 2011

S is for...


I love playing the Sims. It's pretty much the only computer game I play. I have the Sims 3 and The Sims Medieval. At the moment I'm going through a regular Sims 3 period. I can stop playing it for months, then suddenly I want to play again... Like now. I try to not let it "take over" my life though, so I usually only play for a few hours before going to bed.
I want these clothes!!
Hahaha! Yeah, this is pretty much what I look like when throwing a ball.
I really want the new expansions pack for the Sims 3 "Generations", but I don't think I'll "waste my money" on that right now.
I don't know why, but there's an ice cream box on the floor...

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

R is for...


I love red accessories and clothes. Unfortunately I can't wear too much red as I've got too much red in my skin, so if I wear red as well I'll look like a giant tomato with hair. I can accessories though. Just need some money and clothes to go with it first...
I also think red can be great to decorate with. But it can easily get "tacky" as well, so it's important not to overdo it. I would love a mansion so that I have hundreds of rooms, just so that I could decorate each room in a different colour and style.


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