September 2008: we arrived home from our 2008 tour of Norway. Our heads were full of new impressions and hopes for the future.
A few days later, Lehman Brothers fell apart and the global financial system followed soon after. A number of the big banks and insurers in the Netherlands went cap in hand to the Dutch government for bail out money, as Fortis and the housing market collapsed almost overnight. We were not in danger of losing our home although we were a little concerned about our savings. However it did rather look like our immediate plans for selling the house and moving to Norway would have to be put on hold for a while.
We both returned to work in a rather grim atmosphere that was post-credit crunch Holland and carried on as before. Well almost. Damae, in her final year of her Masters had managed to get the Final Year Project supervisor from hell. Unusual for Damae, was that she couldn't find a way to build a working relationship with her supervisor and things started getting more and more strained as the academic year progressed.
At one point it looked like Damae would not be able to graduate in that academic year. This would mean that she would have to re-do the whole year as the course structure for 2009/10 had been radically changed. Our spirits dropped through the floor for a few days. Then she heard that it would be possible to graduate this year, but that her required oral exam would now take place slap bang in the middle of our planned cycle tour. This was better than the first possibility but still not ideal.
In the spring we'd started planning our summer trip despite all the uncertainty. In the running this year was the NSCR in England and Scotland, the NSCR in Germany and two routes in Southern Norway. Due to Damae's problems with her supervisor things became more and more uncertain. It also made it difficult to contemplate the UK NSCR as the only link back home from the Shetlands was via Bergen. This involved taking a small plane that ran infrequently and only for the summer months, and needed booking well in advance.
So we finally settled on cycling the NSCR in Germany, starting in Nieuweschans in Holland which we could get to easily by train. We then planned to cycle on through Denmark to Norway. Here we'd tackle routes 2 (Sørnorske Hjulgleder - Kanal, høyfjell og fjord) and 6 (Sørnorske Hjulgleder - Telemark og Ryfylke) that crossed Southern Norway. We were going to cycle West up the Telemark canal route over to Lysebotn and then return along the RV 13/520 via Rujkan to Larvik. We hoped that Damae would be able to get back to an airport to be able to get back to Holland for her final exam, whenever that might be. We booked the return train trip to Holland from Copenhagen somewhat later than normal but still managed to get a reasonable price on the night train. We decided to book the boat to Copenhagen later on, when it was clear we were going to take the boat from Oslo.
Two days before we were due to leave for our tour, Damae got the date for her final exam. So we were able to book her return flight from Oslo to Schiphol and still get a reasonable connection. Talk about cutting it fine. All we had to do now was to race up through Germany to Norway, do the two routes and hope to hit Larvik a couple of days before Damae's flight.
It had been a frustrating year since the last summer trip, and Damae still had work to do during her holiday. We could do with a break from all the stresses of the last year. But would we get the holiday we needed or just end up filling the few weeks before Damae's final exam?