Celebrating New Year with Seafood and Fireworks

Happy New Year 2013It’s time to open a new book with blank pages. The book – or blog in my case – I will call it “Opportunity”, and the first chapter is devoted to a Happy New Year Greeting. I could write about New Year’s Resolutions, New Year Greeting Cards, New Year’s Day Messages etc., but have decided to concentrate on a look at our New Year’s Eve traditions.
Still at the darkest and often coldest time of the year this sets the scene for enthusiasm and cheer so the celebrations are traditionally a blast of a feast. These traditions are all based on folklore and myths since the return of the sun has an important influence on our daily life and calls for special celebrations. In this post I’ll concentrate on our seafood delight dinner and the fact that we send up our own fireworks:

New Year’s Eve Dinner:
New Years Seafood delight dinner #AWe have followed the same procedure as for many years this Holiday – the best season of the year – Christmas Eve dinner with our children and visiting family the 1st day of Christmas (for the Yule Smorgasbord, click to read my post about the feast of traditional food: Norwegian Christmas Day Smorgasbord). Next stop is our vacation home in Sweden to celebrate New Year’s Eve. There are three important ingredients in this celebration; a week off, seafood dinner with champagne and of course setting off our own fireworks. Let’s start with the dinner:
My regular readers know we love seafood and no wonder since we have such a long coastline and Norwegians are known as fishermen. Only the best is on the table this evening: lobster, crab, crawfish and shrimp – all naturel – and the whole topped with a bottle of champagne. To make it short: click the photo to bigify, sit in and enjoy!

Setting off our own fireworks:
Happy New Year 2013Ever since my childhood, I remember we were allowed to stay up until pass midnight to see the fireworks. I also remember passing this tradition on to my children and the day before we would build a big ramp to shoot them off with snow and ice holding bottles for the rockets. These days for convenience and safety, I’ve changed from rockets to a box of fireworks with only one fuse.
Part of the anticipation is to buy it the day before. They demonstrate all the kinds they have on a video and we bought one which lasted for a bit more than a minute. Everyone goes out to see and the children have fun with sparklers : -). How we buy it and do it is to be read in my post: .

Happy New Year:
A new year has just begun and from all of me to all of you dear readers I wish you all the best and:
Happy New Year – Godt Nytt År – Gelukkig nieuwjaar – Bonne année – Gutes Neues Jahr – Buon Capo d’Anno – Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu – Szczesliwego Nowego roku – Feliz ano novo – Feliz Año Nuevo !

RennyBA celebrating 60 years with a look back

RennyBA celebrating 60 years with a look backTurning 60 years of age gives cause for summary and reflection. A lot has happened in the world since I was born in 1952 – in the last century, even the last millennium! Growing up in a small town near the countryside without electronic toys, digital media or Internet, gave me a childhood very different from todays. It’s easy to idealize the good old days – I’ll try not to go into that trap – but it has given me a foundation which has influenced me in a way I still appreciate today:
I can never remember being bored even if we didn’t have any video games, amusement parks or youth clubs. I guess it has to do with the fact that we were our own entertainers and the woods, the forest or the mountains were our inspirational playgrounds. It’s easy to make a miniature farm with sticks and pinecones you know :-) Turning your younger sisters baby carriage into a box car was great fun too – not to mention all sport activities like football as well as skating, skiing and alpine sports. Hiking and fishing were great fun, especially when we grilled the catch of the day on the fire afterwards – these were the best weekend activities I can remember.
I would have loved to document all this in photos, but it was not that usual to have around in my childhood. However, thanks to my mother, I have an album where she has collected photos taken in my younger years. I do hope you’ll get an idea of what I am trying to share:
RennyBA celebrating 60 years with a look back RennyBA celebrating 60 years with a look back

RennyBA as a social media enthusiast:
We’ve had big changes in all areas since I was born – especially in science and technology. I mean, I do remember when we had our first telephone installed in our house – and the manual operator. Today in nearly every corner of the world, one cannot enter a café or walk down the street without seeing someone talking, texting, or surfing the Internet on their cell phones, laptops or tablet PC. IT has become ubiquitous and is changing every aspect of how people live their lives.
Recent advances in our ability to communicate and process information in digital form – a series of developments sometimes described as an “IT revolution” – are reshaping the economies, the societies and daily lives of many people – including me. Just take a look at where to find me on the net in the box above :-)

My dear wife’s party surprise:
RennyBA celebrating 60 years with a look backWe met on the net almost 15 years ago – she lived in the US and came over 13 years ago. We might be early adapters in using IT to find each other, but think of it: not even a psychic or a magical fairytale could think up a love story like that 60 years ago!
Today she’s throwing a birthday party for me: We have invited a few of my best friends to a “Boys only” party and she even prepared the food (my favorite): Rakfisk (fermented fish) for a starter, Smalahove (Head of Lamb) as the main dish and caramel pudding for dessert. We are in the middle of the party when this is posted – having the greatest time, enjoying our company and going down memory lane with good old memories from the past, almost 60 years. I’m sure I feel the same as I do when writing this: I must be the luckiest man in the world – so Happy Birthday to me and many, many years to come :-)

Outdoor recreation in crisp Norwegian fall colours

Colorfull Fall in NorwayMy blog is about Norway, our culture, traditions and habits including the significant four seasons and fall or autumn is an excellent example. In Norwegian the season is called Høst which comes from the harvest of fruits, vegetables and grains that traditionally would be stored for the winter. It also means a significant change in the nature – the most colourful one – a perfect time for outdoors recreation; for charging your batteries before the dark wintertime season. We’ve had the loveliest sunny weather this weekend and my wife and I have had some quality time while enjoying the colourful fall scenery on our photo hunts. You’re welcome to join and enjoy some of the shots – let’s start with some collages I’ve made with the PS Touch app on my iPad:
Colorfull Fall in Norway Colorfull Fall in Norway

Outdoor Recreation:
I love it and have posted about it plenty of times: Norwegians love outdoor life associated with physical activity or use of leisure time in nature. With outdoor life, I mean enjoying nature’s air outdoors, and should not be confused with English free or clean air, or even free of contamination. However, that’s what you get and it’s of course an important part of the recreational effect of a family trip out and about – especially in the fall!
Colorfull Fall in Norway Colorfull Fall in Norway

If you think about it: We humans lived outdoors long before we lived indoors, and we had two million years as hunters and gatherers. So we’ve developed a body and a mind that is predisposed to a life in and of nature. The last thousand years however, we have developed a culture and a civilization that somehow appears to put ourselves above the rest of nature. To find peace and a new balance we need to interact with the old natural elements. My respectful contention is that these environments are vital to our health, well being and peace of mind:
Colorfull Fall in Norway Colorfull Fall in Norway

The Crisp Fall colours:
Talking about quality time and the colourful season change in fall, I’ll let these photos speak for themselves:
Colorfull Fall in Norway Colorfull Fall in Norway
Colorful scenery; nature, people and animals in perfect harmony!
Colorfull Fall in Norway Colorfull Fall in Norway

Norwegian Fall Cuisine:
Talking about traditions and habits within the frame of significant seasons: Even from my childhood, I remember well the smell of fall in the house – yes, you could smell it all over: Får i kål = “sheep in cabbage” or “mutton and cabbage stew” if you like: made from Norwegian mutton and fresh harvested cabbage, served with falls fresh potatoes. You can read all about this dish and even get the recipe in an earlier blog post of mine!
Even if my dear wife is an American, she has learned the tricks in making the very best dish – and if you add the nice treat she always packs for our quality time in the outdoor recreation – well then you know I am the luckiest guy in the whole world:
Colorfull Fall in Norway Colorfull Fall in Norway

Now you have seen us exploring our natural environment. How do you interact with your natural environment? Maybe you don’t have these colourful changes in your seasons, but every place has its own unique beauty. Let’s hear from your part of the world – share with us in the comments!

Family Outdoor Recreation Day in Norway

Family Outdoor Recreation Day in Norway #2This weekend is the big “Get Outdoors Day” in Norway; the Norwegian Tourist Association’s national Outdoors Recreation Sunday – time to get up off the couch! In Oslo, the main event takes place at Sognsvann – a lake up in the mountain/forest 15 minutes from downtown by the tube. The whole idea and main goal is of course to motivate everyone to be more physically active and explore nature in your own neighborhood. The camp at Sognsvann has been held 20 years in a row – I was there with my wife and a friend and gladly invite you along to motivate you too:
Family Outdoor Recreation Day in Norway
This grand event gives everyone in Oslo a good opportunity to use nature in a healthy way. Outdoor activity is good for both physical and mental health. This annual outdoor camp is also of course an important carrier of the tradition of Norwegian leisure culture.
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Sunday was the chance – for children all age – to try climbing, rowing, canoeing, fishing, orienteering, jumping – even skiing – and much, much more – free of charge!
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Skiing and Fishing
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Kiting and Swimming
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Canoeing and Climbing

Quality time with my wife:
I was there, all thanks to my wife. Struggling with my Parkinson – the uninvited guest in my body makes me stiff and hard to get going – it’s always easy to sit back in the couch and feel sorry for myself. However, to head out in the nature and get out of the patient role is the best way to charge my batteries – actually the best medicine too! So my dear Diane; Thanks for inviting me out and to share this nature in a quality time with me!
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The clean, fresh air – the scenery: is there any more recreational?

The summer in Norway is coming to an end but that isn’t the end of outdoor family fun. There are plenty of outdoor activities to do here all year round, and the Norwegian Outdoor Recreation Union does a great job of giving families plenty of inspiration for the seasons to come!

Family from Norway exploring Cinque Terre in Italy

Family from Norway exploring Cinque Terre in Italy #1Cinque Terre (means five lands) consists of 5 tiny villages connected by footpaths and linked by boat, rail, and trail. At the Northwest coast of Italy, they date as far back as the 13th century and sit on the hillsides of that plunge into the Mediterranean Sea. Colorful houses seem to hang on the cliffs. Local churches sound their daily chimes. And the land is terrace farmed for food. Surrounding these five villages is an infinite mosaic of vineyards, olive and lemon groves, and fruited trees. These agricultural plots seem to hang onto the sheer cliffs above the sea. And from these marvelous fields, we receive tangy local wines such as Sciacchetra, purely extracted olive oils, and delightful herbed pesto.
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These five communities discourage auto traffic to preserve the tradition and ecological impact of the area – so they are best reached by train. It has now become a World Heritage Site and a UNESCO National Park. In fact, certain parts of the nearby sea are part of the National Park system as well. And it is the preservation of this area that makes for some clear water scuba diving and snorkeling.
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The agriculture is of main concern here in Cinque Terre. All of the 5 towns and other rural villages are tied to each other in their quest to keep local farming alive. The towns people, like their forefathers, preserve the terraced farms as a means of income and property stability. While some of the farmland has been abandoned and is scrub, most have been passed on from generation-to-generation. They farm mostly wine grapes, olives, pears, and herbs. Each family plot is divided by old, dry-rock, stonewalls, built hundreds of years ago.
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Monterosso al Mare is the most western of the 5 towns and the closest to being a classic beach town of the Italian Riviera. Vernazza, and Corniglia are just a few kilometers down the coastline.

The latter is different from the others because it is situated on a plateau, over 300 feet above sea level, while the others lie next to the Sea. Manarola and Riomaggiore lie on the eastern end. All of the villages are linked by charming cobblestone pathways that make home to local musicians.
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Over centuries, people have carefully built terraces on the rugged, steep landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the sea. Part of its charm is the lack of visible corporate development. The villages are not influenced by modern development, and that simple, original look, combined with pretty colorful houses, arranged one upon another like stairs gives this piece of Ligurian coast a unique charm:
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This is the fifth post from our big family trip; my wife (DianeCA) and I, our children + SO and even my grandchild met up with Diane’s brothers and spouse from the USA. 14 people in all gathering in Pisa at the Park Hotel California, and having the time of our lives enjoying each other’s company, getting better acquainted and exploring this wonderful part of Italy. From my first post: Family from Norway touring Tuscany in Italy, you’ll get an introduction and then you’ll find information and links to my other posts from Pisa, Florence and Sierra.