Today is a wall to wall sunshine, bike hire (again) and ferries sort of day. I leave the SmartHotel as they’ve quadrupled their prices as the town is flooded with reporters and men with big armpits. The NATO ministers are in town for a bit of a beano and there are areas where you can’t go. The police here are very relaxed about it all and very friendly to us all and I like their style. They’ll answer the usual inane questions like the directions to somewhere or the name of that park or even “what’s the time” if you’re daft enough to ask.
They’re also politeness itself when they ask you to do something. It’s delivered in a conversational voice. They are armed of course, most of the continental forces are, and I might add that they look fit and authoritative should the need arise but their politeness shines through – until some prat sets their lip up at them then the politeness ends and the police person is triggered. The gentle but firm request changes to an order and the tone of voice is the one that your mother used when you’d strewn your clothes around the bedroom and she’d had enough. It was at this point that you knew you’d taken things as far as they were going to go and grabbed whatever was in reach to show that you were responding and doing it NOW.
I saw this when a man of indeterminate nationality (I think Norwegian) was throwing a small ball past the barriers that had been set up the night before and the little boy was going to get it and kick it back to the barrier. No big deal you might think. However, the barriers are protecting a square where the VIP’s are delivered to a building that is a peach of a target for terrorism and there is a group of about 40 armed officers in the corner undergoing a briefing together with a police person strategically posted every ten metres around the big square. All are fully armed and strategically placed with their backs to the VIPs and eyes firmly on the people behind the barriers.
As the little boy had run after the second or third ball thrown by his dad the police lady stepped out of the ranks tousled the little boy’s hair and smiled at him then approached the father at the barrier and gave him such a bollocking without shouting but with immense authority. She then went back to the little boy still playing with the ball and smiled again at him then gently lifted him to the other side of the barrier to be back with his dad then, with a final tousling of hair and another reassuring smile she turned and delivered a ‘final warning’ look at dad then went back to her post. No drama and no shouting or disturbance, and the nicest thing of all was the boy was left with the view that the nice police lady had smiled at him and lifted back to his dad.
I like these people.
I decide on a ride through the parks and along the wonderful avenues lined with mature trees and softened with bushes in the gardens of the suburban houses many of them in full blossom.
The sight of lilac makes me think of my work in Czechoslovakia when there was such a place. We had the privilege of taking a network of what was then modern computers to conduct lectures for the professors in Ostrava University.
The first job was at Prague Uni and that’s where the foundations were laid. However, in Ostrava we were housed in comfortable accommodation in the countryside and the walk to work at the University was through tracks in the woods where lilac was abundant and the smell was lodged indelibly in my brain ready to be triggered as it has today.
There are benches at many of the street corners and most of them are facing each other so if you sit and someone else sits, they’re facing you and it encourages talk. Maybe this is why they seem to be so content and sociable.
In the world happiness report (no I didn’t either) they came seventh behind the other Scandinavian countries with the inclusion of Iceland, Switzerland and The Netherlands. The UK was way down the list at seventeen and appears to be slipping!
I rack the bike and find my way to the ferries without too much fuss, I’ve chosen the Hovedøya ferry for the views, walks and a bit of solitude away from the NATO business in the city.
The views from the water give another angle on the city and with a cruise liner the size of a large town busy docking we watch the manoeuvring with interest.
The ferry is double ended so it doesn’t need to turn which means that we at the back are disappointed to realise we don’t get to watch our own docking procedure although I do find later that it’s as simple as nudging against some old car tyres and looping a rope around a capstan; job done!
On the island there’s a small boat repair yard and a lot of beautiful woods that hide the ruins of a Cistercian Monastery established by an English monk from Lincolnshire in the 12th C It was burnt to the ground 400 years later when the abbot supported Protestant King Christian II and he lost. Fickle buggers them abbots.
I spend nearly four hours on the island then return for an evening meal at Salt where you buy your food through your phone and it magically appears a few minutes later. My seat is by the waterside overlooking the Oslo Opera House. It has magnificent curling ramps that the designers didn’t recognise as the fastest skateboard tracks in Norway
…but the Skateboarders did 😀
Early night tonight but not before a beautiful if uphill longish ride to my hotel. These bikes are a great idea.
Enjoy the snaps. G x
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