Oslo: Land of the fjords and the World’s Most Expensive Taxi Ride

Just got back from a weekend in Oslo,which by some accounts is the Most Expensive City in the World. I can pretty much attest to that having spent £12.50 on the World’s Most Expensive Burger Meal, £25.79 on the World’s Most Expensive Round of Two Drinks (Ordinary Bar category) and £7.50 on The World’s Most Expensive Ice Cream (non-Rome section).

The World’s Most Expensive Taxi took us for a 1 mile journey that had us almost having an all-out panic attack as the fare rolled past 250 Norwegian Krone (about £26.00) and carried on ticking at about 50p every half a second while a late night reveller strolled across a zebra crossing in front of us.

On the other hand, we travelled around Oslo using public transport in gay abandon without paying for anything at all. It’s not that we were trying to diddle anyone out of any money; there just didn’t seem to be any way to pay for it.

We got on trains that we couldn’t buy tickets for and boats that welcomed us without asking for any money. We kept expecting to pay on exit, but no-one asked. Maybe they’re subsidised by the taxis.

Oslo itself was nothing like I’d expected. I’d researched Norwegian food so that when we went to restaurants we’d be able to look at the menus and look knowingly at the contents sure in the knowledge that we knew what it all meant.

We looked forward to kjøttkaker and gravalaks and aquavit, but all we got was burgers and curries and Pepsi Max. Which was a bit of a shame.

We saw a cosmopolitan city that had more ethnic diversity than any city I’ve seen apart from London, more beggars than the streets of Hammamet and felt safer that St Ives. A walk through the tree lined boulevards showed us that American tourists had discovered Oslo in their multitudes. And maybe that explains the inevitable glut of pizza and the lack of pickled herring.

We did see some astonishing sites beneath a never-ending rainfall that stayed with us the whole time. The blinding whiteness of the Opera House, Amunsen’s ship, gorgeous leggy Norwegian couples, and gangs of pac-a-mac clad teenagers romping around the streets at midnight in a non-drunk, innocent kind of way that would be inconceivable back home.

We walked the long streets of Oslo til our feet ached and we drank champagne brandy that made our noses tingle. Not a bad way to spend a wet weekend. To quote Bill Pullman, not bad at all.

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Welcome to Valentine hell

As anyone who knows me knows, I am a single woman.  This is my choice.  It is how I choose to be. I have two great kids, fantastic friends and a wonderful and loving family.

Today is Valentine’s Day, the most romantic day of the year.  So they say.  I’m off work this week.  It’s only Monday as I write this and already I’ve had to sit through endless programmes and adverts showing everything from dramatic wedding proposals to romance courtesy of M&S for only 20 quid. Heck, even google are at it.  Check out the cutesie-wootsie little video on their homepage.

Now please don’t get me wrong, I’m not unromantic.  In fact I can be quite a little sweetie-pie when I choose.  I love romantic things. An unexpected little note that says “I love you.”  Sitting together with that someone special on a beach as the sun goes down.  The light touch of the person you desire on the small of your back.  Even a look across a crowded room between just you two that makes the proverbial butterflies take flight and do loops in your stomach.  These things can make me melt like butter.

But the awful, forced romanticism of Valentine’s day makes me want to poke myself repeatedly in the eye with a rusty old fork.

ImageRomantic

I used to work in pubs many moons back and on VD (as I’ll call it from now on) I’d see men who miserably propped the bar up week in, week out or, worse, spend every Friday night leering lasciviously at any young girl who came within twenty yards.  To celebrate VD, these self-same men would turn up with their wife or girlfriend in an attempt to romance her for one night of the year.  They’d have been down the Tasmi Balti for a nice meal and would round the evening off with a pint of Wobbly Bob, a Malibu and pineapple, and a rose that he bought for a fiver from a man with a bucket.  How romantic.

My best friend, after being single for all of 37 seconds, has recently found herself a new man.  This chap makes my friend giddy to such an alarming degree that I’ve taken to calling her Maria Von Trapp, so twirly and sing-song-y is she about him.  I can only sit agog and watch as she gushes like a busted water main about the joys of enjoying their first VD together.

I wish my friend and her chap a lovely day together.  As I do for all the loved-up, blissfully happy couples out there.  I wish them joy every single day of the year.  Just don’t ask me to buy in to a day decreed romantic by Hallmark and Marks & Spencer.

Now excuse me while I down a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 and wail along to an old Del Amitri cassette.  “Be my downfaaaaalllll………be my undooooing, be my slow road to ruin, tonight” Hic!

One Direction to Wembley (and back again)

Life’s not easy when you’re Mrs Harry Styles’s mother

You know when you’re pregnant with your first child?  Once the joy of finding out there’s a new life growing inside you, the horrible realisation dawns that you need to go through childbirth in order to meet him or her?  Well, last weekend I went to Wembley and back in a day and it felt kind of like that. The happiness at getting there followed by the horror of realising you have to get back afterwards.

So what was I doing going on a 440 mile round trip to Wembley?  Well, I went to Wembley and discovered the nightmare of the North Circular Road, the end-of-the-world style traffic heading for Brent Cross shopping centre, and to learn that a trip to IKEA can be akin to a trip to hell when said store has its own 5,000 place multi-storey car park, before giving in and going to sit in the car park of a local retail park for 5 hours. Continue reading

Phew whiff!

The world of men’s fragrance

I lived in Wales for a while and I will forever associate the place with the smell of Lynx Africa.  In my whole life, I have only ever smelled one thing worse than Lynx Africa and that was when I accidentally poured a jug of urine (long story) into an iron and hit the ‘steam’ button with a vengeance.

But back to Lynx Africa.  If I was the President of the Lynx Corporation, or whatever they’re really called, I would make the person who did my advertising a massive crown, cover it in precious jewels and place it on their head and sit them on a golden throne for so cannily selling such huge quantities of canned awfulness. Continue reading

Confessions of a Twilight virgin

Right, I’ve just watched Twilight for the first time. Here’s what I was up to over on twitter with a couple of chums. Click right here or on the link below RPatz to see the full story x

RPatz – a younger, less charismatic, unsexy version of Timothy Olyphant?

[View the story “Watching Twilight” on Storify]

Competitive mothers

The fire tetrahedron, chromatography and other things a 7 year-old should know all about

I have a child who’s currently in Year 5, which means it’s that time of year when I have to start trawling around prospective high schools for my darling offspring.

It’s been a few years since I went though this with child no. 1 and I had almost forgotten one of the most amusing/infuriating things about doing the schools open evening circuit – the competitive mother. Continue reading

Concert couple creatures…with two heads

Have you seen one?  One of those couples who go to concerts together?  I’m not talking about couples who’ve been together since the 80s and go off together to smoke a fat one and watch the British Pink Floyd while the mother-in-law takes care of the kids for the weekend.  Nope.  I’m talking about something which appears to be a relatively recent phenomenon – the concert couple.

This pair are usually in their late 30s, early 40s and give the appearance of having met somewhere around six months ago on eHarmony or match.com.  Possibly having found true love the second time round, they’ve regressed to teenager-dom in the level of their public displays of affection. Continue reading