Blogging Connecting People to meet up in France

OsloBG The Mayor’s reception at the City Hall #1Social Media like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+ and of course “Blogging Connecting People”, is one of my sayings. I mean it opens up new ways to learn about other cultures, traditions and habits and then breaks down barriers the same way. Even more; it creates opportunities to make friends around the world and as a network evangelist, of course I love that. After almost 7 years of blogging, I have plenty of examples: Hosting the Oslo Blog Gathering in 2010 with about 30 participants from all over the world was of course an experience of a life time (photo on top is from the grand opening at the town hall) and after that traveling to Lisbon to visit Helena at Lelé Batita and Luis , the Portugal’s representatives.
For me Connecting People and Meet Up adventures actually started even before that; in France when Claudie and Pierre invited not only my wife and I, but another blog couple from Norway and a couple from Sweden as well. We had a jolly good time and photos tell more than a thousand words; so here is a collage from that week:
Blog Meet Up in France 2009
The hosts gave us a taste of France cuisine every day – we was at a jazz concert in their local town and we visited the beach at Bandol, in Marseilles and Toulouse.
Her are my posts from this wonderful week in France 2009:

1: Building friendships at Blog Gathering in South France
2: Blog Gathering at Ollioules in Provence France
3: Blog Gathering in Provence France visits Le Castelle
4: Norwegians visiting Montreux by Lake Geneva in Switzerland

You might have guessed why I put up this post right now? Yea; Blogging is still Connecting and gives the opportunities to meet up: We are meeting up with Claudie and Pierre again this week and are so much looking forward to seeing them again. So stay tuned, I will of course post about it when I get home and in the mean time you can follow us daily on Facebook!

Akerselva the vein of Oslo and industrial history of Norway

Akerselva is a beautiful river with 23 waterfalls running through Oslo’s most populated areas, ending in the Oslo Fjord after 8 km with a rich history of Norway’s cultural heritage and industrialization which started around 1850. The river is the “vein of the city” offering fishing, swimming, biking or walking to explore a rich animal and plant life in the most recreational part of the capital of Norway. It’s running from the lake Maridalsvannet, which is Oslo’s main supply of drinking water, to the city center and without a break: a couple of hours walk.
Walking along Aker River in Oslo #4 Walking along Aker River in Oslo #11
Almost every meter of the 8km from the mountains to the fjords offers exciting adventures. Along the river you can take small detours into side streets you’ve never seen before and experience the history of the utmost importance to the capital and country: it was on the banks of Akerselva that Norway became a modern country and where the industrial revolution took place- It was here that Norway got its first factories and industrial workers!
I had a nice walk there last week, arranged by the Norwegian Parkinson Association and you’re welcome to join us and see a small collection of the highlights where I also shot some photos with my mobile phone:

Emigration and the Industrial Revolution:
From 1850 to 1900 the population of Christiania increased from 30,000 to 130,000 – the same period as when about half of the populations out of totality 1,500,000 emigrated to the US. For the most part farmhands came from the countryside and moved into settlements along the Akerselva banks to live near the factories they were working in. These houses were often some distance from the river and of very poor quality. Living conditions were crowded and up to 13-14 people could live in a single cramped room with an even smaller kitchen.
Walking along Aker River in Oslo #1 Walking along Aker River in Oslo #2
Today there is a new wave of migrants to the river, but it’s a totally different standard in the new houses. The picture to the left shows an example of a new residential complex on the left and an old factory on the right.

Myren’s machine maintenance and renovation factory:
Myhre’s factory became one of the leading and largest industrial companies in Norway with more than 1,000 employees in 1909 and also important for the rest of the industry along the river. Production started in this area in 1854 and their main production focused on industrial machinery – turbines and steam engines – and tools for rolling mills and sawmills, utilizing the river as source for power in the production.
The company was acquired by Kværner Brug (now a part of Aker Solution) in 1928 and the production naturally developed into supplying the pulp and paper industry. At one point, 85% of their production was exported.
Walking along Aker River in Oslo #10 Walking along Aker River in Oslo #12
The premise of the old factory is preserved after the industrial production was terminated in 1988 and the area and its building were sold to what is now Myren’s Resorts and renovated into a small cluster for knowledge-based businesses in broadcasting, television production and advertising. The area also contains several apartment buildings

The Factory Girls at Beyer bridge:
Beyer bridge build in the 1700s and named after the owner, Anders Beyer, was a favorite gathering place after 10 to 12 work hours. In 1837, the old narrow wooden bridge was converted to ramps and restored as a pedestrian bridge in 1985, This bridge and the statue called “Factory Girls”, made by Ellen Jacobsen, show a merrier side of the flux at this industrial revolution period in Norway. It’s located in the old factory area and was described by the Norwegian writer Oskar Braaten as “factory girls’ bridge”. A group of sculpture in memory of the factory girls, conducted by Ellen Jacobsen, “shoulder to shoulder”, was set up on the bridge 1986:
Walking along Aker River in Oslo #02 Walking along Aker River in Oslo #17

100 types of birds and 4 bats:
This continuous green corridor with water, grass, plants and trees that connect Oslomarka and the Oslo Fjord is also a paradise for animals. It is observed 100 different bird species at the river. Among them is our national bird: the Dipper, which people actually see quite often sitting on the pebbles in the middle of the falls. Even the Goldcrest, which is Norway’s smallest bird, is observed here.
Walking along Aker River in Oslo #6
Akerselva can even offer four types of bats to be seen flying between trees when dark. As you can see in the photo however, the most common wildlife is seagulls and ducks.

“The Hen-Lovisa’s house”:
The rivers highest waterfall is next to an idyllic little house which is a great place to stop on your walk along the river Akerselva. The name “Hønse-Lovisas hus” comes from a literary character. It was built in 1800 as a saw miller’s house.
Walking along Aker River in Oslo #16
Today it is a café and cultural meeting place, where the arts and crafts of today meet tradition and history of the past. They have handmade arts and crafts for sale and you can also get a cup of coffee and a delicious piece of cake or a little something for lunch.

A walk along the Akerselva, especially with such an excellent guide, is a good example of how you can combine an outdoor nature experience with learning about the local history. The area is easy to reach by public transportation, either Underground or Bus, and lies right in the heart of the compact city of Oslo. So don’t miss this trip the next time you visit the capital of Norway.

Easter Bunny Egg Hunt live on NRK TV

Easter Bunny Egg Hunt live on NRK TV #3Our family tradition, the outdoors Easter Egg Hunt in Norway, is becoming popular and this week I was invited by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) to present the story live on TV. They have a project called “Post Card 2012 – the Song about Norway”, and invite all to send a photo and the story behind it. These are to inspire famous Norwegian song writers to make a song based on the photo theme.
It was quite a surprise when NRK’s project manager Elisabeth Strand Mølster, called and asked if I could participate live on TV to present my contribution. They wanted a good example of what they were looking for when doing a promo of the project on their Wednesday evening talk show. Flattered and pretty excited, I said yes, since it was a great opportunity to have this tradition of our family captured in a song! My contributed photo was of course this one:
Easter Bunny Egg Hunt live on NRK TV #1

The Easter Bunny Egg Hunt:
My story following the photo I uploaded on their web site, translated from Norwegian, goes like this:
We have done this since I was a little boy: Easter Sunday, in the woods, whatever the weather! It has never been out of duty but out of pure, childlike joy and expectations because we knew that the Easter hare had been there – and laid its eggs. It is a well-kept family secret how it happens and as true and sure as Santa comes on Christmas Eve.
When we had gone some distance into the woods, my father went a bit ahead of us to find a nice place to picnic and lit a bonfire – we were going to cook sausages on a stick. So we ran for the smell of fire and my dad told that he had heard the hare fumbling in the woods and we saw traces of it too! This was a magical moment, like a fairy tale, when we all could run around in the woods and find our egg. I always recognize mine since I’ve had it for at least 50 years!

RennyBA’s Terella live on TV:
RennyBA live on TV2This is actually not the first time I’ve been live on TV, due to being active in Social Media. Four years ago my blog was ranked 3 at The Weblog Award as European Best Blog. It started with a paragraph in the largest online newspaper and continued with an interview on the radio, before I was invited to TV2’s live program “Good Morning Norway”. The photo above is from a sequence in that program and you may read all about the Award and the press activity at that time in my blog post: Third place on Weblog Awards.
It was fun then, and it was fun last week too, to do what I like best: sharing about Norway, our history, culture and traditions – illustrated by what happens in my daily life. Last time I did not record the TV show, but have learned and did it this time: Combined with some photos and detail information, I’ve made a video of my participation live at NRK TV – turn up your speakers, sit back, click and enjoy:

Hope you enjoyed my 15 minutes of fame. Maybe someday you will hear a song about our Easter Bunny Egg Hunt? I’ll keep you posted of course!

Hunting Easter Bunny Eggs outdoors in Norway

Hunting Easter Bunny Eggs outdoors in Norway #3The history of Easter Egg Hunting is linked to Pagan traditions, has nothing to do with Christianity, but is a beloved event for kids everywhere. In my family it’s for kids of all ages as we’ve done it since I a little boy and still do it – outdoors of course – so it’s also a way to greeting the spring, when winter is retiring and nature is coming out of hibernation. Spring means new life, and in Norway of course literary to be seen when the snow and ice are melting. There you also have the connection to rabbits or hare which have long been a symbol of spring and fertility. Since there will be no Easter Egg Hunt without the Bunny, we must first look at why rabbits are associated with Easter: Known for their prolific procreating, they were the sacred animal of the Saxon goddess of spring and fertility.
Before I reveal how a rabbit laid an egg, let me show and tell you how we do the outdoors hunting in my family. Since we do this every year and I have posted about it before of course, I have plenty of photos from this adventure, and here I’ve put them together to give you an overview:
Hunting Easter Bunny Eggs outdoors in Norway #2
Outdoor recreation goes with my family – especially in weekends and holidays. At Easter every year, the feeling of anticipation and excitement takes me down the memory lane. You may say I’m a bit childish, but I’m just fine with that and it’s important to get in the right spirit – and of course: you have to love being outdoors – sometimes the snow hasn’t even melted yet and then it’s even more cozy to lite the bonfire and grill hotdogs on a stick:
Hunting Easter Bunny Eggs outdoors in Norway #1
Beside the thrill of the Easter egg hunt, this is also about enjoying spring – outdoors – after a dark and cold season. Since settlement of mankind in Norway, thousands of years back, we take advantage of, are celebrating and enjoying the feeling of spring – a significant change in seasons – and therefore an important part of our rituals and habits.
I also once made a movee or a vid about this adventure – be inspired:

The Easter Bunny legend, I’ve heard, started long ago in Germany with an egg-laying hare named “Osterhase”. German children made nests and left them outside for the hare to lay her eggs in. So in America, it was German immigrants who brought their Osterhase tradition to Pennsylvania in the 1700s. The festivity soon spread across the nation, and baskets replaced nests. Eventually, the game evolved into a treasure hunt, and the prizes expanded from just hard-boiled eggs to include chocolate, candy, toys and coins. In many families, the Easter Bunny leaves a basket filled with gifts, while in Norway we have large hallow eggs filled with treats instead.

We are soon on our way to my home town to meet my parents and sisters family for this adventurous tradition. When I post this in advance again this year, it is to give you all the chance to have fun the same way. Have you tried? Or would you like too? If so, here are some of my posts from earlier years:

* Traditional Easter Bunny Egg hunt in Norwegian woods
* Spring Equinox and an Easter Egg hunt
* Hunting Easter Bunny Eggs in snow
* Easter Bunny Eggs Hunt in Norwegian Woods

Skiing for all ages in Norway Winter Wonderland

Skiing for all ages in Norway Winter Wonderland #1 by RennyBASkiing in Norway is our national sport and the most striking feature of winter outdoor activities. We start learning at an early age. I remember as a child, winter never stopped us from playing outside; hat hair, wet behinds from slipping in the snow, rosy red noses, shivering cold hands and snow in my jacket were all just a part of the season. I am really thankful to my parents who encouraged us to take part in outdoor winter activities and become interested in natural conservation and understand its importance. At that time I just thought of it as fun, but now I understand it also helps to improve our physical and mental health – even a moderate level of activity has a positive effect.
In that way, I had a quality time with my oldest son last week and I gladly take you along. Talking about starting at an early age: Let me first show you what caught my eye – and really took me down memory lane – when we started our ski trip from the local clubhouse:
Skiing for all ages in Norway Winter Wonderland #3 by RennyBA
If not born with skies on, Norwegians learn to ski at an early age :- )
Skiing for all ages in Norway Winter Wonderland #4 Skiing for all ages in Norway Winter Wonderland #2 by RennyBA
This scene brought back childhood memories and since I now struggle a bit with my Parkinson’s disease, I was so happy to experience that I had learn the basics from when I was a child too!

Fighting Parkinson’s on skies:
I would like to start the story of our ski trip with the most important result: The recreational part – to improve my physical and mental health. On a beautiful sunny day with fresh, crisp air, it was great to take a break at a lake after some kilometers up hill. With a snack I had in my pocket (an orange and two chocolate bars), we sat down for a rest and a nice chat. The view was breathtaking and I am glad I can share it with you as my Nokia Mobile phone is capable of capturing it all in panoramic mode:
Skiing for all ages in Norway Winter Wonderland #8 by RennyBA
Around 11AM and the sun is low on the horizon since it’s winter time – the darkest time of the year (6 hours duration in Oslo, Norway). If this isn’t wonderful scenery and an atmosphere to charge your batteries – then I don’t know what is!

Like I said: I was glad I still had the basic ski skills from childhood. It’s two years since I was last on skis when I got the diagnoses Parkinson’s – in addition to that I had a knee replacement about four months ago – so I have to admit my form has been better : -) But you can compensate quite a bit for being in shape if you have good technique, both on flat areas, up hills and especially down hills in (almost *LoL*) full speed:
Skiing for all ages in Norway Winter Wonderland #7 by RennyBA
Skiing: The most wonderful outdoors recreation I can think of : -)
Skiing for all ages in Norway Winter Wonderland #5 by RennyBA Skiing for all ages in Norway Winter Wonderland #6 by RennyBA

The impact of Parkinson’s however feels like driving with the parking brakes on: Picture yourself driving like that and the wire from the parking brake is your body muscles – and they are stiff and tight as guitar strings. The effect of your engine, even on full speed, is relatively small and you have to use quite a lot of fuel to get going.
Let me add; it was my physiotherapist, who trains me 3 times a week, who came up with the idea. He is very supportive and focuses on my mental training as well. We often talk about getting me out of the role of patient and believe me: it worked on this ski trip!

Anyhow; it was a wonderful trip, and an outdoor adventure and I wouldn’t be without for anything in the world. Despite the struggle, I proved to myself that even if I have an uninvited “guest” (Mr. Parkinson) in my body; I am in charge and capable of doing the things that I like. I can still enjoy outdoor life, nature and improve my physical and mental health – and even better: to share these adventures and magic moments with my son!