Old Aker Church

30 Jul 2008 – Gamle Aker kirke http://www.gamle-aker.no

Jeff & John W arrived safely yesterday to join the rest of their family here. They will be heading to their Møsvann family mountain cabins for a few days before heading back to the USA. What a hectic trip!

This church is Oslo’s oldest remaining building and the only remaining church from the Middle Ages. It is assumed that it was built during the reign of Olav Kyrre (1066-93). It is a stone church, built as a three-naved Roman-style basilica. The church has been pillaged and ravaged by fire several times. The oldest part of the surrounding churchyard dates back to the 12th century.

The church was built over an old silver mine, Akersberg that was in use since the early Viking ages. The mines are mentioned in the 1170 Historia Norvegiae and have been the inspiration for a number of stories about the church having hidden silver treasures and even dungeons with dragons. Painting is by Edvard Munch. The baroque pulpit, baptismal font, Last Supper painting and 2 bridal chairs are from around 1700s.

 We are all serving a life sentence in the dungeon of self – Cyril Connolly

Sleeping Beauties

26 Jul 2008 – Safely in Oslo

Poor Ellie, she threw up at Schiphol Airport (Amsterdam airport) and on the plane here but was in good spirits upon arrival. Baggage did not make the flights. Met them at Gardemoen (Oslo Airport), took the Express Airport train into town. SAS loan Linn a stroller which Katy could stand behind. It was such a lovely day that we decided to walk from the station across the Royal Castle’s grounds and park.

Their baggage was finally delivered before midnight. The girls slept until 1000hrs this morning. Woke them as their grand-aunt Cathrine, (Katy is named after her) Linn & May‘s aunt from their father’s youngest and only sister was on her way to pick them. Katy & Ellie are dressed alike (thanks to Jeff‘s sister, Kristy’s tasteful design & work). I used to also dressed Linn & May alike for special festivals. Today there will all be about 30 of the Hald family gathering to celebrate John Hald’s 85th belated birthday. Pity that May is still in China and Jeff & John W will not arrive until next week.

All men whilst they are awake are in one common world; but each of them, when he is asleep, is in a world of his own – Plutarch


23 Jul 2008 – Designs & Displays

Established in 1739, Glasmagasinet is one of Norway’s oldest department store with over 40 different shops. Linn & May’s paternal great-grandmother Emma Hald had shares with Glasmagasinet http://www.glasmagasinet.no  She used to take me here to shop during my stay from 1974-1985.

Having been a fan of the simple clean-cut Scandinavian designs since my early teens, this is one of my favourite department stores. Hadeland, Steninge, Georg Jensen are three of the better known Scandinavian designs (Norway, Sweden & Denmark). Iitala, Marimekko are from Finland and it is not part of Scandinavia as some people assume but their designs are just as beautiful and famous too. But of course art, beauty and designs are very subjective!

People who live in glass houses don’t have much sex – Tom Best

Absurdity & Reality

19 Jul 2008 – Karma

Living and working in Norway again after 23 years of absence opens another level of awareness. In the 1970s/80s, Oslo was a safe city to be walking around anytime; there were few foreign workers and beggars did not exist. Today it is not unusual to see the graffiti, muggings with violence, prostitution and beggars. The Norwegian newspapers Aftenposten stated in Mar 2008: Four times more crime in Oslo than New York. So much for the world’s most expensive city!

Been quite a TV junkie the past month. May has a flat-wide screen TV with BBC, CNN, Euro and Norwegian news channels 24-7. The global news with churches, finance, terrorists, the exchange of 2 dead Israeli soldiers with 5 live Hezbollah prisoners, etc all seem absurd when the reality of global warming is the real nemeses. No wonder people say that TV rots the brains!

The corruption, politics, turmoil etc in this volatile world are just so illogical, irrational and meaningless. What will the future bring when nations latch on to an identity, labels, segregation, race, religion, etc? These rigid ways of seeing, thinking, feeling and reacting will only result to more bondage, disharmony and wars. Cause and effect- karma.

How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours – Wayne Dyer

Akershus Castle and Fortress

16 Jul 2008 – Akershus Slott og Festning

King Håkon V built this fortified castle around the 13th century. In the 17th century it was converted into a renaissance castle. Several Norwegian royals have been buried in the Royal Mausoleum in the castle. Today it is used for state representations, public activities and housing the headquarters of the Armed Forces and the Norwegian Resistance museum can be visited there.

The fortress has successfully survived many sieges. In the early 17th century, the fortress was modernized and remodeled under the reign of the active King Christian IV, and got the appearance of a renaissance castle. The fortress was first used in battle in 1308 and has never been successfully captured by a foreign enemy. It surrendered without combat to Nazi Germany in 1940 when the Norwegian government evacuated the capital. During WWII, several people were executed here by the German occupiers. After the war, traitors who had been tried for war crimes and sentenced to death were also executed at the fortress. Among those executed was Vidkun Quisling.

No worse fate can befall a man than to be surrounded by traitor souls – 
William S Borroughs


12 Jul 2008 – Oslo/(C)Kristiania/Oslo

Oslo is derived from Old Norse. During the Middle Ages the name was initially spelled ‘Ásló’, later ‘Ósló’. The earlier spelling suggests that the first component ásrefers either to the Ekeberg ridge southeast of the town (ås in modern Norwegian), or to the Norse homonym meaning ‘god’ or ‘divinity’. The most likely interpretations would therefore be ‘the meadow beneath the ridge’ or ‘the meadow of the gods’.

A fire in 1624 destroyed much of the medieval city; the section now known as Gamlebyen/the old city: 1st-3rd pictures from top left) and the city was relocated. 4th picture: King Christian IV of Denmark and Norway renamed the city to Christiania. From the end of the 1800s, the name was also spelled Kristiania. An official decision was never made, so both forms were in use. The original name of Oslo was restored by 1925. Today it is the most expensive city in the world to be living in!

Pictures top last & 1st from left on 2nd row: Stortorvets Gjæstgiveri/formally a guesthouse or B&B now a cafe and bar, last 3 pictures: establishments with the name of Christiania. 

Writing intellectual history is like trying to nail jelly to the wall – William Hesseltine


9 Jul 2008 – Viking & Kings

Between 862-933 Harald Håfagre/Harald Fairhair (1st picture from left) ruled and joined Norway into one kingdom. 1000-1035 union with Denmark (independent between 1015-1028 under Olaf Haraldsson). 1035-1319: independent again. 1319-1905 union with Denmark & Sweden (with another short period of independent of 5-6 months under Christian Frederik).

1905 Norway has been a constitutional monarchy ruled by the House of Glucksburg. Haakon VII 1905-1956 (2nd picture), Olav V 1957-1991(3rd picture) and Harald V 1991-present (4th picture). The present Crown Prince, Haakon Magnus like his father married a commoner. His sister Martha Louise wrote a charming children’s book with delightful illustrations also translated to English titled Hvorfor de Kongelige ikke har krone på hodet/Why Kings and Queens Don’t Wear Crown.

Last picture: Den Norske Kongehus/Royal Palace (1824) is Oslo’s most important building with a commanding view of the main street Karl Joahns gata towards Stortinget/The Parliament.

The play’s the thing Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King – Shakespeare

Skrubbelund Nursery School

5 Jul 2008 – Skrubbelund barnehagen

Belated Happy Fourth and the weather here is perfect for an outdoor BBQ! A brand new nursery school located in Veitvet about 20mins by subway from the centre of Oslo was where I was working for 2 days. When Linn & May were in nursery schools, the minority race was maybe 1 or 2 in a group. The 2 days at this nursery school with about 15 kids ranging from 3-5 years and only 2 Caucasians was quite an eye-opener. The usual group is about 24 but being in the summer holidays, the group is smaller. Names like Kari or Ole are not the norm but neither are Atputhan and Sebesan!

Another perfect weather day for an outing yesterday and together with 4 other teachers, we took the kids to their little patch of land where they have planted sweet peas and reddish earlier in the spring. It was not a short walk and the sun was hot. Rather impressed that they walked all the way there and back without much complains.

It’s Innocence when it charms us, Ignorance when it doesn’t – Mignon McLaughin

Viking Age

1 Jul 2008 – Viking Ships

The earliest signs of human settlements here were dated 9000-8000 BC. The Viking Age was from 800-1050 AD, and marks the end of the prehistoric period in Norway. This period is mainly based on archaeological finds. The Sagas are based on tales passed down verbally from one generation to another but no doubt the finds reveal that the Viking Age was the richest of the prehistoric period in the North. The website below provides an interesting and informative write-up by Tor Dagre.


Vikingshiphuset/The Viking Ship Museum located at Bygdøy, Oslo displays the large Viking ships Oseberg, Gokstad and Tune, as well as founds from the chief grave at Borre in the Vestfold district. The three ships are the best preserved Viking ships known, found in royal burial mounds in the Oslo fjord. As burial ships, carrying the dead over to the “Other World”, the ships were equipped with unique treasures such as wagons, horses, textiles etc. Like many other cultures, the beliefs and hopes of the “Other or Next World” here again reminds me of my own mortality!

God alone knows the future, but only an historian can alter the past – anonymous