Sunday, October 31, 2010

Norway - a whole world away

Here it is, the long awaited, yet conscise update on my little jaunt to Norway. I must publicly thank Ingebjorg and her housemate Kristin for their hospitality, it was so nice to stay in a nice little apartment that was so conveniently located across the street from a brilliant coffee shop!!

I spent the first couple of days in Oslo being shown the sights. Our first stop was the Vigelandsparken - the Vigeland Sculpture Park. The nordic folk certainly aren't afraid of a mass of naked sculptures:

and by far my favourite was one very angry baby.

The autumn leaves were beautiful (more on that later), and while it was pretty cold (I think it was around 6 degrees that day), the clear blue skies made the crispness much more manageable.

We wandered down to the harbour, found a seat in the sun and enjoyed the people, boat and bird watching.

A dreary day presented the perfect opportunity to visit one of my favourite places the world over...

A free bus to IKEA!! It only goes to IKEA - it's a bus to heaven!!
We headed down to Stavern, Ingebjorg's hometown, to spend a night at her parent's house. The two hour train ride gave me a chance to see some of the beautiful green countryside and even part of a fjord (but not a cool part, it just looked like a lake). On the menu for the even was the traditional dish of this time of year - fårikål - which literally translates to lamb and cabbage. Ingebjorg had warned me that it smelled disgusting and looked disgusting and she was absolutely right about that

but she was also right about just how delicious it was. She honestly thought I was being polite in my praising of the fårikål, but really I thought it was delectable! From the house the next day we set off for a beautiful rocky beach, home to a traditional viking burial ground.

After hiking across the stones (worried the whole way I was going to twist an ankle) we arrived at a little dug out shelter, absolutely perfect for sitting in to drink our hot chocolate and marvel at the waves crashing on the rocks.

I spent a couple of days at Ingebjorg's house while she was at work doing absolutely nothing, walking as far as the coffee shop and the post office around the corner. But I needed the rest to prepare myself for a night out with an old friend.

Henriette was in my undergraduate class, so we hadn't seen each other since 2001. We met up for incredible tapas, a few drinks at her place with some friends and then onto a bar that only played 50's music, and how could I say no to an older gentleman who asked me to dance - he had all the moves! Randomly at the bar I met two other guys who'd studied at Bond Uni at the same time...small world.

Ingebjorg and I met up with our friend Vidar who we knew from Tripoli for yet another amazing meal (I must have eaten my own body weight about three times over during the week) and then headed out to the park to take some more photos with the leaves. I love the look of joy on our faces in this one, and the whole series is up on my photo site (now with captions!) - about 2 seconds after this photo was snapped, our heads crashed into each other...

Vidar and I had more success

All in all, it was a wonderful week away, made all the better by good friends, good food and good shopping! It was very hard to get on the train back to the airport, and as soon as I landed and got in the queue for my visa, Norway felt like a whole world away.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Still in need

I didn't know Ewan McGregor was a UNICEF ambassador - I'm going to talk to some people right now about bringing him out for a visit! Anyway, here's a video that was produced a couple of months ago. The needs of the people affected by the flooding are still huge. With many people returning to their home districts (but not quite to their homes) and winter fast approaching there are many challenges to face in delivering services. I urge you again to donate to an organisation of your choice if you can afford to. If you don't believe me, believe Ewan.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A letter to Audrey

Dear Audrey Jane,
You just came into the world a couple of hours ago, and I can't wait to meet you in person. Your Mum and Dad are one of the greatest couples I know and they're going to be wonderful parents. With their powers combined, you're going to learn how to play cricket and soccer and dance and paint and have the most wonderful sense of humour. I'll let you know now that I'll be your often absent but totally cool Aunty Carly, and I'll bring you presents and stories from all over the world, so you'll learn about the people and places that I'm lucky enough to visit. I'm so excited that you're part our extended family that is not related by blood, but by friends who love each other like sisters, and that you'll grow up surrounded by the greatest women I know.
Love,
Aunty Carly.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Buckets of fun

Perhaps tonight if I have the energy and motivation (and the internet is working at the guesthouse) I'll tell you a few stories from Norway. But in the meantime, check out this video of an exercising walrus!

The sit-ups are so cute!! What you didn't see in the video was the bucket sitting just off camera...we all know walruses would do anything for a bucket! :-)

Monday, October 25, 2010

R&R

I've never had a job where I was entitled to R&R before. I certainly made the most of my week off and had an absolute ball in Norway. I'll write more tomorrow, but in the meantime, I've put up some photos but can't be bothered to caption them tonight!

Check them out here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

One day more

It's been a crazy week. I've been averaging 11 hours at work every day and the pile of work barely seems to get smaller. It's always nice when something actually gets ticked off and it's a big thing. I organised a donor briefing for our Representative, which sounds like all it would involve is inviting some people and making sure there's a room to do it in, but in fact involves putting together briefing notes, handouts and chasing up attendees. Of course, I didn't do this single handedly, the communications team were a massive help. But at the end of the morning, the briefing was well attended and well received. It's the thousands (ok, slight exaggeration) of other little tasks and emails that pop up constantly that make achieving any real head way seem impossible, that don't really count as things I can cross off my to do list.

But there's just one more day. One more day to finish off a massive report that's an important fundraising tool for next year. One more day to write down what will need to be done while I'm away. One more day to check a couple of small proposals that of course have been requested with the shortest possible notice. One more day which will include a night out with friends. One more day until I'm able to get on a plane and fly to a week of freedom!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Birthday Shout-out!!

Big birthday wishes to Vardy, who if you've been reading from the start was an instrumental part of this blog getting started!

Here's hoping there was some super delicious Monty's involved in the celebrations!! xo

Good times in the 'bad!

Went out yesterday for a spot of shopping before heading to the office, and on the way spotted this poor chap. There are no rickshaws or tuk-tuks in Islamabad, but there are a lot of bikes, and even bike lanes.

The shopping was extremely successful, and I now have enough outfits for the working week. One of my new favourite things is this one:

At first glance it looks like a pretty normal kind of top, albeit very yellow. But when you look a bit closer at the silky edging on the collar, sleeves and hem there's something a little bit peculiar

Skulls and crossbones hidden amongst the diamontes and flowers! I couldn't leave it behind!!
We then hit up The North Face and I'm much more prepared for the 5 degree weather I'm apparently headed for in Oslo with a new jacket, some thermals and a new carry on backpack. I estimate it cost about 1/5th of what you'd pay anywhere else. I love a bargain!

And then there was the highlight of the weekend, Emma!!
So this is for Jez...hi Jez!!! ;-)
We had a girly night in and watched "The Gods Must be Crazy" which was absolutely hilarious. There is no way anyone could make that movie now, it just wouldn't happen and yet it's so cute. Today we went for pedicures and massages at the divine Nirvana spa, and now it's just a spot of work before turning in for an early night tonight. Another big crazy week awaits before I can leave for Norway!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Continuing the theme

The theme of smelly things...this has made my day!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Surprised Skunky

I'm sorry, ok. I'm sorry that there isn't anything to write about at the moment. Believe me, you're lucky I didn't have the time to blog yesterday because you would have been subjected to a massive rant on all sorts of things, but mainly related to me being tired and stressed and NY HQ being too many hours behind us! Today has been a slightly better day, though I've felt like a bit of a glorified secretary (not that there's anything wrong with being a secretary!) drafting letters, booking cars, printing stuff etc. But it all comes under the banner of donor relations which is (part of) what I'm here for, so it must be done!! It just feels like my 'real' job is being pushed aside, even though all of this is my 'real job' too. Some days you feel on top of everything, some days are overwhelming. I can only count my lucky stars that every day of the past 5 weeks I've been here HASN'T been like the past two!

Perhaps related to the metaphorical stench of all the work piling up around me that's starting to go off while it's ignored as other urgent things require immediate attention, here's a video of a baby skunk.

:-)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mooses/Meeces

Not a whole lot going on at the moment. I'm moving into my boss's house for a week and a bit so it will be nice to have my own space and kitchen to potter around in. Then it will be time for R&R in Oslo!! I never expected that I would get to catch up with Ingebjorg so soon after leaving Lebanon, but the timing has worked out really well. And hopefully I'll get to catch up with some friends from both undergraduate and postgraduate studies which will be a lot of fun.

In the meantime, here's a cute video - you may as well just fast forward to the last minute. Cute!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Enough

Today I decided that enough was enough. Enough of being sick. Enough of being cooped up. Enough of shoulder tension brought on by hunching over a computer. Heather and I booked in for massages at a lovely day spa and my little massuese Lilly was an angel. An angel who jumped up on the table and dug her knees into my back. Bliss!!

Dave met us afterwards for lunch and like a person who hasn't eaten much for a few days, I gorged myself on lettuce, pasta and a marvellous melty brownie. On the way home we stopped in at a little market place where Dave has been checking out some antique Aghan knives, and the place was a treasure trove:

I felt like Wonder Woman with one of these babies on each wrist

Notice anyone you know?

I was immensly disappointed by the following shot, not just because it's bad quality and blurry, but because I'd been wanting to take a photo of this fence that was being torn down. It used to be a UN building and the construction workers were struggling to remove the concrete fence because there was so much reo rod inside. Last time I drove past there was a big piece of machinery and men with jackhammers working on it, but today, only the pile of reo rods remained (and I didn't manage to catch the whole pile either!). Thought Dad would be impressed!

And here's a shot of what I think is typical Islamabad - nice wide roads, not much traffic, green trees and the Margalla hills in the background.

I'm still not back to 100% strengh, so this was enough for me today. Tomorrow is going to be another get out of the office and the guesthouse day, hopefully I'll actually have some decent shots to share with you!!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Adorable

I've had a rotten day (being sick sux) but this cheered me up!

(a) don't you just love his name? (Hamilton Wesley)
(b) it's a shame that these little guys grow up to be so ugly!