Sunday, September 07, 2014

Summer Holidays

So the holidays have finished and the girls are back to school: it's blog time!
This Summer, we did a 3 weeks tour with the van and drove to France and Périgord from Madrid. It was really nice to not have to fly anywhere. We did a few stops on the way at the beach north of Barcelona, in the East Pyrenees and at the beach again in the French Pays Basque on the way back. We are still very much enjoying camping with the van. Even Mrs D did not complain about the lack of spa treatment, complimentary champagne or buffet breakfast.

Overall it was a very successful trip. We did waste a few days waiting for the car to be fixed after Dit had a close encounter with a rock sticking out of the road edge. You can see the little bugger on the picture below. Doesn't look like much, does it? Well, it costed us two wheels and two tyres and a fair amount of stress. But the most important is that nobody got hurt.

Waiting for the wheels delivery without the girls in Ax-les-thermes, we even had some time to dip our feet in the super hot sulphur-rich water, enjoy the local spa baths, cuddle a bit and treat ourselves to profiteroles. It's not all bad!

In Périgord, we once again enjoyed the wonderful hospitality of grandma Miza and aunt Marie-Thé and had a very good time despite the unseasonably cool weather.

Looks like the girls were happy to be there too, doesn't it?

Iluka, and Ella for the first time this year, took a swimming course at the local pool. Iluka improved a lot her breast stroke and Ella did very good, fearlessly jumping in the water without even holding the pole!

We did spend less time bathing in the Dordogne river than usual but the girls were treated to plenty of other fun activities: acrobranche, canoe or pony-riding. Check out Ella's tiny cute pony!

Friday, June 27, 2014

The end of the school year

Yes, today is the end of school and the beginning of very long holidays for both girls. It has been a good year. Iluka's first year at school went very well. She had a lovely, dedicated and creative teacher at the French school. She learnt a lot and seemed to really enjoy it: she was always enthusiastic about going to school in the morning, except maybe 3 or 4 times and that was only because she had to go to dance and dance is just "too much gym" [sic] ! Seems that she is not the ballet kind of girl. Fair enough. We'll try something else next year and hopefully we'll be luckier...

Here she is last week-end, doing "acrobranche" with Dit at the birthday party of her best friend from school. That she likes: playing monkey in the trees!

As for Ella, she also did really well at her Spanish daycare where they take things very seriously: it is not called "El jardin de los genios" for nothing... Today she came back again with an all-green evaluation card for the 3rd trimester and a very complimentary letter. I am so proud! :-)

Last week, she had her "Graduation ceremony": a one hour (!) extravaganza of singing and dancing performances by the wee ones. Here are some pictures.

 The ceremony was concluded by the bestowing of a gold-paper medal upon the graduates standing on a podium in full graduation gown. How cool is that? On the picture Ella seems to think it is a bit OTT though...

Very unfortunately, we might have to leave our flat soon as the owner is going to sell it. Since both girls will go to the French school in September, we might abandon the city centre to get closer to school, and maybe get a bit of terrace.

Anyway, over and out.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

May June stuff

Hello there.

I have been a bit lazy again. It's not so easy to be regular on the blog. Respect to Dit who did it so well for many years!

Since last time, Iluka turned 6 and we had a small party at home with some friends from school. it was good fun. kids that age are so sweet!

Here they are opening presents on the sofa.

Iluka preparing to blow her candles.

We also did our second trip with the van over the Easter week-end. We stayed a few nights in a camping near Valencia. The van has now been upgraded with foldable table, stools, awning and mattress topper for the bottom bed: 5 stars!

The girls still love it! Here is Ella the monkey.

We even got to do some swimming in the sea. Not bad for mid-May.

On another subject, I have just moved office. My company has taken over one of the 4 big towers north of Madrid. My desk on the 31st floor (out of 33) and I get a pretty awesome view over Madrid from there!

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

First trip with the camper van

Last weekend was a long weekend and we took the opportunity to go for a camping trip in our new camper van. We went to a natural park 2.5 hours from home and stayed at a little campground.

The weather was really pleasant, albeit much cooler than in Madrid. It was a fantastic location, set in a deep valley cut through the limestone plateau on the edge of a beautiful river with super clear water. Unfortunately it was still too cold to take a dip in. The place was really isolated: 36km on a windy bumpy road to the nearest service station and supermarket!

We stayed only too nights as we were a bit cold with our summer sleeping bags. The outside temperature went down to -1 and I could not get the static heating system to work very well.

So far, we have been very happy with the van. Sure, when you are 4 including 2 kids with car seats, it takes a fair bit of organization to switch from driving setup to eating setup to sleeping setup but after two days we had pretty much mastered the routine.

The things I like a lot in the van:
- All the cupboards and drawers to put your stuff in.
- The built-in fridge to keep cheese and beer (plus the odd vegetables and fruits for the girls) cool on the go.
- The pop-up roof. The girls just love playing, watching videos and sleeping up there.
- The automatic gearbox: it is soooo relaxing!
- The tainted windows to keep the girls cool and protected from the sun at the back
- The big trunk
- The ability to stop anywhere and have a comfortable indoor picnic or a coffee and play a game when it's too windy or too wet, or even a siesta.

What's really fun with the van is that you can adapt it to your travel needs much more than a car. Actually, there's a whole community of camper-addicts out there with a passion for customizing and improving their ride. Count me in!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Already 8 months in Madrid

Well, it has been a long time. Last July, Ditte was reminiscing the good times in Norway and hoping for the best in Spain.

And here we are, pretty much settled down in the Spanish capital. I guess the more you move from country to country, the more you get the hang of making yourself at home in a new city.

So far we have been very happy of the move. Madrid is a great city: safe, animated, spacious but small enough to walk through the city center and with a very good public transport network and lots of parks and playgrounds. Spanish people are usually very friendly and helpful.

Picnic with visiting Miza in Casa de Campo.

The girls have adapted beautifully: Ella's Spanish is developing nicely through her daily interactions at the local daycare and Iluka has been doing great at the Liceo Frances, the French school, where she is taught mainly in French but also in Spanish and has a lot of Spanish classmates.

Playing dinosaurs at the local playground.

Dit and I are taking Spanish courses and can now handle most daily life situations in Spanish, even though there is still a long way to fluency. I do love Spanish though. I had always wanted to learn it and I am really happy I do now.

This week-end, we went on a first short trip with the campervan I just bought. Very cool to have a little house on wheels! The real test will be next week-end when we go camping for 3 nights. The girls are very VERY excited to sleep in the roof tent!

The DuclertMobile

Friday, July 26, 2013

An Old Chapter and a New One

Uprooting, moving country and changing home bring on many contemplative thoughts. Hence a blog post after such a long break.

We have lived in Oslo pretty much exactly three years by now. It took me a while to fall in love with Oslo, about two years, but when I fell, I really fell. Something clicked inside and I suddenly felt love for a place that had previously felt too cold and too foreign.

It's a unique city in its access to nature, to beautiful places and wilderness - all of which I couldn't really enjoy that first winter as my pregnancy with Ella limited me a lot. When those limitations lifted I started to be able to enjoy this place to a much fuller extent.

By now Ella has just turned two and Iluka five years old. They adore one another and are such a great little pair! Certainly a handful.

At yet another juncture of my life I am encouraged to sit back and think about where I am compared to three years ago. And I am in such a happy spot. Really.

I worry a little bit about what Spain will bring, how life will change. Iluka will start the French school and Ella will go into Spanish daycare. I will focus on becoming fluent in Spanish - the sooner the better! And I would like to get myself a job, this freelance translating thing won't suit me in the long run. I am getting tired of sitting at home in my wee home office. I need to get out, see people, do something. So it'll be exciting to see what will happen.

Cross country skiing with a sleeping Ella (Same lake as the picture above actually).

I have high hopes for Madrid, and I am pretty certain we will have a good time there. Iluka is looking so much forward to the heat and the sun. Ella is just constantly reassuring herself that we will remember to take her along :)

So... new adventures ahead, new climate, new language, new food, new people, new job. I think Seb is happy to get new challenges as well!

And I will and I already have cried a little bit, happy tears, for my time in Oslo. As well as some sad tears for leaving it behind and the people I would have liked to get to know better, see more and shared more with. Come and visit us in Spain! That also goes for our other friends. I certainly hope that it will be easier to encourage friends and family to visit us in Madrid than it has been in Oslo... :)

Over and out. Much love. Lots of kisses.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A new year in Oslo

Dear all,

Thanks for your messages of sympathy on the last post. They were much appreciated...

There was a time when we had a cat, Josie, and, in a way, she was our first child. She was Dit's love at first sight in the cat haven in Perth. I always joked that every other blog post talked about the cat.

Now, I do try to resist the urge to show off the girls all the time but, more often than not, they are just too damn cuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuute!

Here Ella wearing the latest fashion from Paris and ready to go clubbing on Saturday night.

At Miza's in Paris, half- Greenlander and quarter-Greenlander hard at work on the guinea fowl bones. Not quite seal or whale but it will do...

The joys of winter in Norway: shoveling 20cm of heavy wet snow in the rain to be able to get the car in the driveway on the way back from France.

Looking proud and content after dropping a box containing several hundreds of hama beads on the floor.

Accelerated potty training. With big sister, it's so much more fun! Ella actually had a her first pee in the potty on that occasion. Soon (ish) the end of the nappies! Yepee!

Anyway, it looks like we are more and more thinking about leaving Norway in the near future. So, if you want to visit Oslo and benefit from our luxurious full board free accommodation in one of the most expensive capital city in Europe, now is the time!