It is really, really good to be back

We were only away for two weeks and now we are back home. We were surprised to feel a growing sense of joy as we entered Hallingdal and got closer Gol.

Gol cossets us with its beauty and serenity whilst we are here and calls us back when we are away. Gol is a place that both of us want to stay in and both of us want come back to.

I guess we have finally found a place that we can call home.

It is really, really good to be back.

Peals of laughter

I remembered the last time we parted,

Peals of laughter, that cheeky glint in your eye,

that impish grin,

as you made one more joke at his expense.

Peals of laughter that you used

to paper over

the cracks in our lives,

and make things better for a moment.

Peals of laughter.


A year ago last week…..

…we visited Gol for the first time.
We saw a green valley in the summer sun.
We woke often at night as the sky stayed so light.
We sorted out so many things and yet so few.

A year ago last week.

How to make quick cook polenta in a thermos flask

Subject: Polenta in thermos
From: Ninki Williams

On 23 February 2011 23:30, Ninki Williams wrote:

Hello Stan,Can I please have instructions and quantities of how to make it this way…?

Ninki xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Instructions, see below.

Disclaimer: No warranty is given or implied, nor should it be inferred and no responsibility is accepted by the author for any damage/loss of any sort arising from attempts to follow this recipe. There is no way to make fool-proof instructions as fools continually improve their skills with supernatural ease. When fools are involved there is no such thing as an unambiguous sentence. Technical writers please take note.

1) Take one 500ml stainless steel wide mouth thermos flask (or another size or type if that takes your fancy but it might not work if you use a different type of flask. It might be worth checking step 12 before you go any further)

2) Fill about a quarter to one third full with quick cook polenta (must be quick cook).

3) Add boiling water to (max) within a centimetre of the bottom of the lid of the thermos (that is the bottom of the lid when the lid is screwed in place. You will probably have to guess exactly where that is)

4) Stir the polenta-water mix so that no solid clumps of polenta remain in the flask. Unless of course you like clumps of solid un-rehydrated polenta-meal in your cooked polenta, in which case you can skip this step.

5) Screw the lid closed. If it doesn’t want to screw closed then you have probably added too much polenta and/or water. If this is the case remove some of the contents from the flask and try screwing the lid on again. If you have a burning sensation in one or more of your fingers, then remove your finger(s) from inside the flask and you will find that you should be able to screw the lid on. Unless of course you still have too much water/polenta mix in the flask (see above).

6) Shake gently twice (or as many times as you feel like)

7) Lay the thermos flask on its side, on the worktop/kitchen table/garage floor/grass next to the tent making sure it cannot roll in any direction. Note, if you glue the thermos flask down to stop it rolling then you might have problems carrying out some of the subsequent steps. Mostly ones from Step 10) onwards.

8) Wait at least ten minutes (you can wait longer if you wish. However if you wait 24 hours of more, the polenta will probably start decaying and will in any case be cold)

9) Get out a plate and put it next to the thermos flask. The plate can be any colour or size and can be made of any material. It helps if the plate is bigger than the quantity of polenta you have just made and is made of a material that is both moisture and heat resistant. It might be a good idea to use a clean plate rather than a dirty one. It is best not to use the plate you put under the car to catch drips of oil from the sump.

10) Pick up the thermos flask and carefully unscrew the lid so that you can see the polenta inside the flask. Along one side, all the way to the bottom of the flask you will see a void (unless of course you have overfilled the thermos flask in which case you are on your own from here on).

11) If you have a void in your flask, turn the thermos flask on its side so that the void is below the polenta and the mouth of the flask is over the plate.

12) Shake/hit the flask gently so that the polenta comes free from the flask and floops onto the plate (if you don’t know what ‘floops’ means then you shouldn’t be trying to cook anything). If you used a glass thermos flask then this might not work in quite the same way. In this case you should treat these instructions as ‘alpha’ quality. The cooked polenta should come out in one piece and be shaped a little like a sausage.

13) You can either eat the polenta then and there, or wait for it to cool and put it in the fridge. If you are going to eat in now, then jump to step 18)

14) If putting in the fridge then make sure you cover it so that the polenta does not dry out. Unless you like dried out bits on the outside of your polenta in which case skip this step.

15) If you have chosen to put your polenta in the fridge, keep an eye on it. If you forget about it for a couple of weeks it will probably become inedible and uneatable. If you like inedible or uneatable polenta then skip this step.

16) To use the polenta sausage from the fridge, take it out of the fridge, and using a knife that is reasonably sharp (obviously ‘reasonably’ in this context will vary depending on if you are a butcher who uses knives to cut through gristle and bone or a vegan who only ever uses knives to spread smooth peanut butter on pre-sliced organic sour-dough bread) and slice the polenta into one centimetre thick slices. (If you don’t know what a centimetre is, then where on earth have you been living since 1791?).

17) Take a frying pan, large enough to hold all the slices of polenta when they are lying on their big flat sides, pour in liberal amounts of cold pressed olive oil (or Aldi ‘vegetable oil’ or ‘lard’ if you are a mingy skinflint), and place the polenta slices in the pan on their big flat sides rather than their skinny edges. Fry the polenta until golden brown on both the big flat sides (or a lighter or darker colour depending on how hungry you are and/or your attention span and/or if you are a mingy skinflint who is trying to save on the gas/electric/other fuel bill).

18) If you are capable of anything like logical thought, then you will have already made/bought a tomato sauce or fried some sliced onions and mushrooms or some fried bacon bits to pour/sprinkle over your nicely fried polenta slices/fresh dollop of polenta. If not then you have some rather boring polenta to eat – life is a bummer sometimes. But, look on the bright side. At least it is a gluten free meal.

19) Don’t forget to pour water into the thermos flask as soon as you have removed the polenta. Dried cooked polenta is one of the best adhesives known to man and it is almost impossible to remove from any surface without extensive soaking in water. Dried cooked polenta was used as the main test material when DuPont were developing the Teflon non-stick pan coating (this might not be true as Wikipedia makes no mention of this use of polenta nor any mention of polenta on the Teflon page).


The Oras Tap Troll

There’s something odd about taps in Norway.  Firstly there only seems to be one brand, Oras and Oras taps appear to be used everywhere. Secondly the custom seems to be to use short lever mixer taps. This would be fine with me except for an oddity with all the Oras short lever mixer taps I have ever used. Move the lever up a smidge and you get a trickle of water. Move it the same distance again and a torrent of water, reminiscent of the waterfall at Låtefoss, thunders down into your sink.

This means that if you want to fill up a small jug or glass or a bowl with water you have to be very very careful. If you are not you can easily move the tap lever too far beyond the trickle zone and into the torrent zone. The margin for error is minimal and on a number of occasions in the last few weeks I have managed to spray water all over the counter and onto the kitchen floor.

So now I approach the kitchen sink with care and due respect.

For I know that the Oras Tap Troll is there, lying in wait, ready to pounce on the unsuspecting, the unprepared and the bleary-eyed.

Back home

We’re back in Gol, after a long drive with two heavily laden vehicles.Our time in Utrecht didn’t quite go as planned and we left way too late at around 2-30pm on Saturday.

It went well considering, we had the good fortune that nothing went wrong with our transport, and we had fine weather. We had to drive through Saturday night to get to the ferry, stopping a few times to sleep.

Although it was a bit misty on Denmark on Sunday morning….

…….we made it to the ferry with plenty of time.

We discovered on arrival in Larvik that we should have provided an inventory of all our belongings that we have imported so far and one for the next batch. Another thing for the to-do list.

The drive up to Gol was slow, once we had left the E18. The RV280 and RV7 are lovely in the day but hard work in the dark. Especially when most of the traffic is going in the opposite direction. We had sections of road with new asphalt and no road markings, and later on some mist.

What is the reward from the struggle of the last week or so and the disappointment of not being able to bring the van with us? The view from the breakfast table this morning.