Going native part 8: EU kontroll

In Norway the MOT or APK is called the ‘EU kontroll’ and strikes fear into the heart of motorists all over the country. Or so I thought. When we bought Damae’s van it came with a fresh EU kontroll that was valid for two years.

Well, would you believe it, two years have passed (what a busy time we have had) and this morning I took Damae’s Syncro in to the NAF (Norwegian AA /RAC/ANWB) garage in Nedre Gol for its test.

Just a little to my surprise it passed first time. “Bra bil” said the gentleman who had checked it over. I thanked him, took a big sigh of relief and drove back to work.

Another first for us in our Life in Norway.



Going Native part 7a: DIY firewood sorted

We finished the final phase of our DIY firewood project last Wednesday. The weather forecast threatened torrential rain so we split the last of the wood and put it under cover. Done and dusted!

Damae and Stan in front of their piles of firewood

The result of three and a half days work with a splitting axe.

All in all it has been a very satisfying experience. We have the satisfaction of a job well done and we are reminded of the fruits of our labour every day. Come winter, we will be reminded of all our hard work as our DIY firewood burns brightly in our wood burning stove.

I’ve put up a gallery with pictures and videos, for those of you who want to see the process from beginning to end. Click here to view the gallery.

Going Native part 7: DIY firewood

Spring brings many things here in Gol. Last year we noted that there were lots of special offers for wood chopping and splitting tools in March and April. We asked around and discovered that Spring was the season to start preparing firewood for the following winter. It became apparent in the course of our enquiries that most of the people we knew seemed to have a secret supply of free wood. It might be a farmer they knew who needed someone to clear some land or the power company that wanted trees removing from under the power lines or that they happened to own a bit of forest.

Damae, in particular was enthused by the idea of preparing our own firewood. So we spent some time pouring over all the special offers for wood sacks, axes, chainsaws and similarly essential tools. In the end we just ran out of time, having plenty of other things that needed our attention in the early part of 2011.

About a week ago we noticed that some pink crosses had appeared on trees at the bottom of our garden. Two days ago I saw some workmen chopping down the same trees. Today I popped into the Gol Byggdrift office and asked my mate Alf if we could take some of the trees that had been chopped down. “Be my guest” he said then going on to say that they had a shortage of manpower at the moment so any help clearing up the wood was welcome.

This evening I enticed a reluctant Damae into attacking some of the trees by dint of my charm and the fact that I had just come back from Biltema with a fantastically cheap bow saw and large pair of lopper shears. Which member of the fairer sex could resist such an offer.

Well, after two hours of chopping and sawing, lifting and carrying, our back garden is now littered with bits of tree of various diameters and lengths. The next steps are to turn these bits of dead tree into wood burning stove sized bits of firewood, stack the wood burning stove sized bits of firewood into piles and then, perhaps the easiest bit, wait for the warmth of spring and summer to dry out the wood.

"Free" wood

Not a bad evening’s work!

One down, one to go

It has only taken six months, but now Damae has her nice shiny new Norwegian driving licence. This means that she can now drive outside of Norway again for the first time since the 26th of August 2011.

We are both glad that we decided not to try and swap our driving licences at the same time. Although six months is not an unusually long time for the RDW to get its act together, it is somewhat longer than normal. I phoned the RDW at the beginning of January to try and find out what was the problem. The lady at the RDW maintained that they had processed the request from the Vegvesen in Gol a month after they received it.

I discovered on the Placement forums that sometimes the RDW sends the documents back to the wrong Vegvesen office. We have no idea as to what happened this time and to be honest, no interest in finding out. We’re just glad that Damae has a full driving licence again.

In light of the long delay, we have decided to wait until after the summer holidays to start the process of swapping my license. As we mentioned before the Norwegian temporary driving licence only permits you to drive in Norway and not abroad. We never know when we might need to nip to Britain, Holland or Croatia at short notice.

Still, it is good news is that is one more thing can be crossed off our “leaving Holland list”.


Trees create all sorts of emotions in people. People love them, hug them and defend them. Other people get scared when they can’t see the wood for them and get lost. Then there are all those folk tales that parents tell to their children about bad things that happen in ‘The Forest’.

I remember the public sadness when most of the Elm trees in the UK had to be felled in the 1970s due to Dutch Elm disease. I’ve read many a tale of people trying to stop local councils in the UK from chopping down trees in residential streets, even when the trees themselves are rotten inside and pose a threat to life and property. Then there was the outpouring of sorrow when a hurricane reduced the town of Sevenoaks to a mere Oneoak.

There seems to be a very precious view of the rights of a tree in the UK. Sometimes it seems that they are more important the people. Perhaps they are.

Here in this part of Norway things seem a little simpler and more practical. A tree is a tree. One day it will die or be chopped down. Trees are farmed here, rather than worshipped. They are chopped down and cut into little bits for keep us warm in winter. Trees are turned into houses, huts and boats, cups, cutlery and sandwich boxes.

In recent months there has been a lot of clearing of trees along the Rv7. This has been all in the name of providing better views for passing motorists and in some cases improving road safety. The authorities have also cleared forests of trees to make way for a new by-pass near Noresund.

In the last couple of days three men with chainsaws have been cutting down all the trees behind our house. This doesn’t benefit us directly, we won’t get more sunshine or more light. All we get is a clearer view of the architecturally rather uninteresting council flats just up the hill from us.

However, on the plus side, it should reduce the quantity of dead silver birch leaves that collect outside our house in Autumn: leaves that try to force their way into our home each time we open the doors. The tree felling itself is quite a fascinating process to watch. These guys know what they are doing, (although I have to confess that I haven’t yet heard them shout “Timberrrrrrr!”).

We’re hoping that once they have finished on the trees behind us, that they will start on the trees that block our view.

Before you start to protest, just take a look at our webcam picture. Count how many trees you can see in the picture and let that number sink in for a while.