Life in the Round.

Sorry for the delay in writing this one, but we are now settled into our new home in Wales! I have to back up a few weeks though, and instead of filling you in on all of the beautiful things I’m currently seeing outside my window, to update you about where in the world we have been.

  
The answer is simple. A beautiful yurt, just outside of the tiny village of Trefeglwys, in the middle of county Powys, Wales. We spent ten days living on a very cozy family farm, battling the wind and rain/mist, and enjoying what blindingly beautiful, sunny days that we actually had. 

  
The work on this farm was enjoyable, but not quite what we were used to. I spent the vast majority of my work day taking care of Tess, the 18 month old daughter of our hosts, Bea and Chris. Tess was a darling little girl, and as much as I dont tend to like children, I really liked Tess right away. She was a happy and bright baby, she didnt cry much, only when you tried to put pants on her (and really, can you blame her?). Chris and Bea were welcoming and happy hosts, always asking great questions, and telling us great stories. Tyler spent more time working outside, digging a trench, helping on projects with the chickens, and working with the vegetables. 

The work was not as rewarding for me as it has been elsewhere, and I was very discouraged by this in the beginning. But the more time I spent with Tess, and doing laundry and cleaning, the more I came to appreciate the little tasks that need to get done when you have a baby. Im now more intimidated than ever to have children. Tess was a delightful girl, and even though she doesnt speak much now, she has a few words that she relaly likes to throw in whenever she can. My personal favorite was when she gave me her hat, and I asked, “Do I need to wear this because my hair looks mad?” and she yelled, “YEAH!”

  
  
The other challenge with this farm was that there was no toilet (Outside wee-ing and a compost loo), no shower, and naturally no internet. I thought I would miss the shower the most, but I actually missed talking to my loved ones more than anything. It felt so strange to not be able to communicate with anyone, and it was surprisingly isolating. We had been very well warned about these conditions, and it was only for ten days, so it wasn’t a huge issuse for us. We had a great time playing cards and scrabble in the evenings, going for walks in the beautiful countryside, and reading…a LOT. 

  
All in all this was a great experience, with beautiful people. Its nice to be back in civilization, and of course to be in the mountains again, but it was a lovely and peaceful ten days alone in the country.

  

Cornwall.

Our month in Cornwall has come to a close, and we are, once again, heartbroken. As I’ve mentioned, this part of the world was never on my bucket list, but having been here, I think everyone should add it to theirs. 

  
Our time on the Cornish coast has been a peaceful, relaxing time, filled with our first country walks, interesting and educational work, and way more delicious food than I would have ever imagined. The sucess of our time here has been thanks, largely, to our fellow workers, and of course our hosts. 

Jill, the worker who has been here the longest, is a wonderful baker and is the most artistic person I’ve ever met. She taught me so much, including how to make a Victoria Sponge Sandwich, and my very own homemade recipe book that I can fill in as I travel on. 

Julie, is one of the funniest and most free people Ive ever met. She has a great sense of humor, and loves to laugh. She’s smart and sassy, and such a great example of what it means to live life with enjoyment. She reminds me a lot of us at the moment, especially as she embraces crazy travel plans like spending 5 weeks working with a guy on a boat! 

Jeremy, one of our hosts, who has a quiet demeanor, which means that when he says something, you listen. He is incredibly smart and talented at almost everything. He’s a great cook, he builds furniture, and he can carve absolutely anything. And he loves Huskies. And he has 4 of them. 

Sarah is the most welcoming person on earth. She is absolutely in the right place, because she is so warm and inviting, and pays such acute attention to detail. She immediately made us feel at home, wanted, and important. She is a remarkably generous person, and she views each person as being special and worth attention. It was wonderful to watch her make cakes for afternoon tea, and she her putting gold-leaf on each individual raspberry! Sarah has become like  family to us, and we will miss her dearly. 

The place its self has been like a dream, and the work has been equally great. The main focus of our time here was to finish the wedding venue side of the farmhouse, and get it to the point where it looked the way Sarah and Jeremy wanted it was a huge achievement for us. We had to sand and stain boards to cover the ceiling and walls of the milking parlour, which is now the reception area. Once that project was finished we then had to carve a path into the yard that would lead to the cow shed, the ceremony site. That project was intimidating because we had to cut up their beautiful lawn, but we did it, and it actually looks great, youd never know that we had no clue what were doing. 

Before…

  

During,  

Also, Steps are harder to build than you would ever believe.

 
But we managed it, and here is the finished path, complete with steps!  
 
On top of those projects we also had the continual making of origami flowers, each flower was made up of 6 individually folded petals. In the end we made over 2,040 of them. 

The end result of all of our work was amazing, and we were so proud to be a part of it. We feel very honored to have been here for the big finale, which is actually only the beginning of this beautiful wedding venue. We hoosted a wedding photo shoot, with family members playing bride and goom, and a whole collection of wedding guests. Tyler and I got to play best man and maid of honor, which was not only an honor, but a lot of fun and laughter. I can’t post the photos right now due to marketing needs, but as soon as I can, I will! for now, here is a picture of the six of us, from left to right- Sarah, Jeremy, Julie, Jill, Myself, and Tyler. (Photo credit to Julie).

  
In between our work days, we took lots of beautiful little, and sometimes not so little, country walks. We expored the villages of Millbrook, Kingsand and Cawsand, and Portwrinkle. We hiked dozens of miles of the Southwest coastal path, and almost as many miles of wide flat beach. We took a train to Penzance and walked to St. Michaels Mount. And we even managed to finish a few books, and I learned how to back quite a lot of really wonderful food. We also were able to watch the Super Bowl, which was a very unexpected treat, and everyone joined in, eating pizza and drinking beer, and cheering on the Broncos!

  
This place has been like a home in the middle of a strange land, not least because of the people and the huskies. We are very excited for our next stop, which will be in Wales, but for today we are very sad to say goodbye to this beautiful place, and these equally beautiful people.

So, to our dear hosts, Sarah & Jeremy, Thank you so very much for an amazing month, for opening your lovely home to us, for feeding us and teaching us, and most of all for caring for us. Thank you, we will miss you more than you will know.

How to Speak English.

I have been preparing for this post for the last month, ever since we arrived in England, and I’ve been very dilligent in collecting my research. There are a crazy amount of words and phrases that the British say that we need to adopt right now. Here’s a little list, complete with translations. Examples of usage are in parenthesis.

“Jollivating”- To mess around/waste time (as in, “You’ve been jollivating all day!”)  To be fair, there is really only one Brit who has ever actually used this phraze.

“Squiffy”- We would define it as “tipsy”, not drunk, but certainly not sober. (“This half-full glass of Prosecco has made me a wee bit squiffy!” -one of our new friends, who would probably rather remain unnamed.)

“Sozzelled”- The step between squiffy and drunk. (“The other half of that glass has me sozzelled!”)

“Tittivate”- to decorate or beautify. (“Come on, only the house, milking parlour, cow-shed, and 685 twigs left to tittivate!”)

“Cheers”- Thank you. (“Cheers!”)

“Ta”- Thank you (“Ta!”)

“Its chucking it down”- Its raining, especially when its raining very hard. (“Don’t go for a walk tomorrow, its meant to be chucking it down.”)

“Sod”- not quite so strong, but bearing the same essential meaning as “the f-word”. (“Sod-off”,”sod this”, “Sod this sodding path.”)

“Wellies”- rubber boots, usually up to the knee. (“Its ok if its chucking it down, I’ve got me wellies on!”)

“Posh loo”- fancy bathroom (“Don’t use that loo, use the posh loo!”)
Here are a few names that we have been called during our time here. These are all endearing, and none are or have been taken as offensive. 

“Me Lovely” or “Me love”

“Yank” as in Yankee

“Chicken” or “Chick”

“Pudding”

Our time in Cornwall is drawing to a close, so check back on Sunday to see our re-cap of our month in Southwest England!

The Subtle Difference Between Cookies and Biscuits.

England is a wonderful place. I’m still waiting for something to change my mind about that fact, because I don’t want to believe that I have overlooked this amazing place for so long, but so far, nothing has. My one complaint so far is that its windy.  

Really windy. This picture was taken during Storm Imogen that brought 64 ft waves to the southwest coast.

 
Other than the wind, which in my mind is an excellent excuse to almost never brush my hair, its unbelievable here. We took a train from St. Germans to Penzance (further to the south) last week, where we met up with one of our very fun and sweet co-workers, Julie. We spent a great day with her, a 2.5 mile walk from Penzance to Marazion (pronounced “Marazine”), and Cornish Pastys and a pint at the pub. We took the ferry over to St. Michaels Mount, which was an amazing experience.

The castle is built on an island which is accessible by a beautiful stone causeway when the tide goes out. The castle is currently inhabited by the family that has lived there since the 1620’s. This place looks exactly like Mont Saint-Michel (which also happens to mean St. Michaels mount) but is located in France. 

   
 
It was a beautiful day. From the castle, we could see Mousehole (pronounced “MOUSULL”, which frustrates me to no end). The way that things are prounounced here drives me crazy, but that will require its own post. This is about biscuits.

Ok, there is not one damn thing different between cookies and biscuits. BUT, I love that because I can eat digestives (a very yummy “biscuit” covered in chocolate) and call them biscuits, and even though I know thats not any better, it makes me feel just a little healthier. Shortbread cookies are now shortbread biscuits, sugar cookies are sugar biscuits, and I’m getting fat. 

Literary London.

I have never had much of a desire to spend time in England. I can hardly contain my excitement when I think of visiting foreign countries, but the thought of England has never had much of an appeal to me. Maybe I believed steriotypes that the people are mean and the food isn’t good, the weather is terrible, and its too crowded. Mostly though I just never thought about going to England.
Well, whatever I thought, I was wrong. England is amazing. The people are friendly and warm, you honestly cant walk around looking lost without some dear, old, umbrella weilding man asking you if you need help. People wave from their cars as they pass you, they smile when they hear your accent. The best part, in my mind, is that they actually talk the way they do in movies and books! Ill get back to that though. 

I’m excluding London almost entirely from this description, because London was frighteningly huge and intimidating, although we spent an incredibly wonderful two days there. The people in London are no less nice, but a bit more hurried and busy. And they can’t drive at all. Please enjoy our pictures from our self-made tour titled “Literary London: but Only the Things We Really Cared About Because We had No Time or Money”.

Its strange that I never wanted to go to England, if only because I love Harry Potter more than I love most people.

 Platform 9 3/4 (Harry Potter) 
   
 
(I also came up with a marketing campaign in case anyone wants to open a coffee shop in Kings Cross Station, but you have to hire me.)

St Bart’s (Where Sherlock Holmes “committed suicide”)

   
 
Temple Bar (Tale of Two Cities

  
Doom Bar beer, Cormoran Strike’s (From the Cormoran Strike mystery novels) favorite beer

  
Baker Street (Sherlock Holmes)

  
The Sherlock Holmes Museum

 
 
  
The Shakespeare Tavern

 

 

Things I never thought I would hear/say part II

1. “Tonight is a great night to shoot up.” -Lexi

NOT AT ALL WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE. Photographing is often called shooting, and Ive been trying to take a time lapse video of the northern lights overhead for a long time. On this night, the lights overhead were amazing, and dancing like crazy, hence the good night to “Shoot up”.

  

2. “Do you think pale in an emotion? Because I feel pale.” -Tyler

Yes, Pale is an emotion. We are SO WHITE.
3. “Wait, you aren’t wearing your wedding ring, and you got blisters from a Hoe?!” -Lexi

Tyler wasn’t wearing his wedding ring…and he got blisters from using a hoe. 

  
4. “Those sheep are TINY. I could throw one of those over a fence NO PROBLEM.” –Tyler

Our first day at the horse farm in Norway, Tyler and our other worker had to toss one of the Norwegian sheep over the fence back into her paddock. She was HUGE, and it took a really long time and a lot of energy. The Sheep here in England are actually really tiny and cute and tossable!

5. “My toes are so cold, they’re singing ‘Let it go'”-Lexi

We were outside shooting the northern lights, and it was excessively cold. like -28C. This will make more sense if youve seen the disney movie Frozen. And speaking of frozen…

6. “I think my eyelashes might be frozen.” –Tyler

I assumed he was exaggerating… He was not.  

7. “You need to sign this model release.” -Katherina Haussman

So, weird thing. While in Norway, I found an advertisement for someone to model wedding clothes under the northern lights. We applied and we got picked, and we got to do this amazing phtotshoot with this very sweet and talented couple, and it was the experience of a lifetime. Ive absolutely never been so cold in all of my life, but it was great. here are a few pictures!

   
    
    
   

    
 

New Happenings. Again. 

Sometimes life throws curveballs at you. Sometimes you make dumb mistakes. Sometimes both of those things happen at the same time.
We always knew we were supposed to leave Norway after three months. What we didn’t know was what could happen if we didn’t. Everyone told us it would be fine, no big deal. But I can’t pin it on anyone else. We should have researched it more. 

There’s a European treaty called Schengen, which allows citizens of participating countries to have free travel between other Schengen states. Most people have never heard of this, even people who live there. We had heard rumors, but it wasn’t until two weeks ago that we discovered how serious a violation of a Schengen visa could be. Nothing like imprisonment, but it could be a heavy fine and expulsion from the departing country, and from the Schengen zone. Meaning that if we were caught violating our visa, we could be expelled from almost every country in Europe. 

We booked a ticket to the UK right away, but it was too late. They took us aside at the airport in Tromsø and gave us the news. They would let us leave, but they are going to be filing a report that will lead to our expulsion from Norway and from Schengen. This is a really sad thing for us, as we were so dearly hoping to come back to Norway in May. We don’t know for how long we will be expelled, only that it could be as long as 5 years. We did not receive a fine, which is good news, although we would so much rather be able to  return to Norway.

We are aware that we did something wrong, whether or not it was intentional, it was wrong. Ireland and the UK are not a part of the Schengen treaty, so we are allowed to be here for up to 6 months. As of right now, the report for our expulsion hasnt been filed yet, and we do have some time to appeal it, but we aren’t particularly hopeful. We have been in England, seeing London, getting to do some pretty great things…

   
 
And then we came over to Liverpool to visit two of our dearest friends from Montana, Bert and Erin. They have been such wonderful friends to us, showing us around and letting us sleep in their adorable flat. They even took us to the “Missoula” bar in Chester, where we quietly sang the state song and reminisced about home. 

So for now, we will be going south to work at a little bed and breakfast on the Rame Penninsula in Cornwall, and we are actually very excited about it. 

We would appreaciate prayers about our next move and what we should do, and maybe even that we will have a little bit of grace on our visa. Thanks for keeping up with us so far; it’s not over yet!

Sent from my iPhone

Things we will miss about Norway.

So. We left Norway on Friday, and we will begin working in the UK next week. While we are very excited about new things, we are so unbelievably sad to have left place that has become home. Here are a few of the things we will miss most. 

1. The cold.  This sounds silly, maybe, but the cold tends to make life in general much more cozy. I always sleep better when air is cold, and even though its harder to make myself get up, I feel more rested. 

  
2. Vacuums. Norwegain Vacuums are really cool! They lay down flat and they have a really light extendable hose and they roll around behind you. I will actually miss them a lot. 

3. The dark.  I didnt expect this one. I’m not saying Id like to endure polar night every single year, but its amazing how much the color of the sky changes when the sun doesnt actually rise. 

  
4. SAUNA.

  

5. Fire. Norwegians love fire. Its awesome. I have a beautiful photo of a certain Norwegian next to a beautiful fire by the sea, but Im not allowed to post it for legal reasons. These fires below were made when the children came to stay with us two weeks ago. We hiked up the road a bit and Bard took us all on the snowmobile up the mountain, and we lit these huge fires. It was warm and magestic and wonderful.

  
6. Pride. There is a lot of pride in having survived the Arctic winter, and while a certain amount of that pride will live with us forever, its really something when you’re here.

7. Norweenglish Words. I LOVE THESE. Norwegians have a really remarkable grasp of the English language in general, they have a few words that aren’t quite correct, even though they are amazing and I’m going to use them forever. Some of these words are ‘sheeps’, ‘mices’, and ‘mooses’. They also just have great names for ordinary things, like tortillas are called ‘taco-lefse’. Mexican night at the Richardson’s just got a whole lot more uf-da. Also, the amazing catch-all “jajajajajajajajajajajaja”.

8. The People. I can’t even write enough here. We have had the most amazing opportunities to meet some incredible people here. Not just Norwegians, but Norwegians in particular. They are, as I have mentioned, The most kind and welcoming people. They love to talk to you, even if you cant understand a word they say, they still like to try. Theres a lot of smiling and nodding going on, because my very very basic understanding of Nyorsk is inadequate. There are four people though, that stand out the most, all for different reasons. 

Bard, our current host. He seemed quiet at first, but we soon discovered that he has a great sense of humor, and an incredible life story. He is a very gifted horseman, he loves snowmobiles, 4-wheelers and photography, he is a diver, a fisherman, and a mechanic. just… everything. His motto is, “Learning by doing”, and Ive decided to hold on to that one. 

Jeremy from France, and one of our sweet friends from Nordvoll. He is a remarkably deep person, with a very silly sense of humor and a wonderful laugh- the kind that comes from the heart. We had so many evenings of watching the lights or the sunset, sometimes talking, sometimes just enjoying. He and Tyler worked so well together, especially since Jeremy is such a hard worker. I think thats the thing I learned from him; to work hard until the job is done. 

Roger, our host at Nordvoll. Roger was the most welcoming person in Norway. We were greeted on the front porch like we were his lost children. His laugh and his smile are contagious, and he’s the best cook in the world, which is good because the work at his farm is difficult and leaves you very hungry! He is so intelligent, and so gifted with words that he makes up the most elaborate stories and sells them as fact. I have had to start googleing almost everything he tells me, just in case!

Matteo, our dear “world villager” friend from Italy, whom we both have come to cherish as one of our closest friends. We spent the most time with matteo, two weeks alone with him helped! He is a deep and deeply passionate person, with a wonderful sense of humor. He never hesitates to ask what a word means, or to give you an explanation; all with the deepest kindness. He is sweet, and soft-spoken, and he loves chocolate and espresso; so we were destined for friendship. I have cried while saying goodbye to him 4 times now. I know it wont be forever, but it breaks my heart to think of not seeing him.

So many others that we didnt know as well, but we love just as much. Alex, Monica, Liv, Marie, Esben, Carole, Pierre, John and his wife, Katharina and Daniel, and all of our wonderful self-pickers and tourists. None of you will ever be forgotten.

9. Arcitc Sports. Sparking, Dog-sledding, skiing, fishing in the fjord, Winter horseback riding, and aurora-chasing.

   
 10. Northern Lights. This doesnt really need explanation. 

 

Things we wont miss about Norway.

As you may know, Tyler and I will be leaving Norway on Friday in order to travel a bit more, see some more new places, and most importantly, improve our chances of being able to spend more time in Norway later. This has lead me to a myriad of emotions, as I am feeling paradoxically and simultaniously excited to see somewhere new, and heartbroken at the thought of leaving. I’ve made up a list of things that I wont miss about Norway, in hopes that this will make me feel better about leaving, but usually it only makes me laugh.

1. Its COLD here.  The high for today was -18 C. We knew that when we arrived. We were prepared, but that does not change the fact that it is VERY cold in the Arctic in January, and it is incredibly difficult to get warm. Wood stoves dont heat up a room nearly has quickly as you would like, and there aren’t enough blankets in the world to protect from Arctic wind that blows in off the fjord. Even while sitting in the Sauna, the wind can peirce you out of nowhere. No complaints really, because sometimes a nice wind feels good in there. We work outside a lot, and we spend a lot of time shooting pictures of the Northern lights, so we spend a lot of time shivering. Im getting excited to be even a little bit warmer. 

  
A Norwegian snow-blower. Can someone make sure Grandpa George sees this picture?
2. Its DARK here. Ok, its not as dark as we thought it would be, but it’s amazing how much your life changes when you dont see the sun for 3 months and 7 days… which is how long its been for us. Yesterday, for the first time, the sun hit the peaks of the surrounding mountains, and I almost cried with relief. Its surprising that it hasnt made my depression worse. It makes me feel tired a lot, and I cant think about the fact that the sun hasnt risen in so long without feeling claustrophobic, but I dont feel depressed. Still, it will be a wonderful moment when we see that great glowing orb back in the sky!

  
This is noon, people. 

3. Its SLIPPERY here. I can’t wait to walk on flat solid ground thats not covered in 4 inches of super-slick ice.

4. Its CONFUSING here. 

4a. Norwegian people are amazing. They are sweet and helpful and smart, and their English is better than that of half of the adult population of the United States. But they are confusing. They dont like to give you bad news, so usually they just dont give it to you. If you apply to work at a farm and they dont have room for you, they just dont reply. Sometimes you can ask them a direct enough question that they have to answer you, but then the response can be baffling. Ill never forget listening to Tyler ask for directions to the Polaria, he said “So I just go up this street and take a left?” to which the man replied, “ja ja ja ja ja ja ja, NO. Don’t go that way.” Or the time that someone (leaving out names because I know he reads this blog) told me to pick all the berries, and when he came outside an hour later, I was soaked to the skin, and under the berry bush when he said, “Lexi, dont pick ALL the berries!” 
(This is of course, all said with the highest level of respect and love. Seriously, Norwegians are the best people.)

4b. The street signs are equally confusing, as though they also are avoiding giving you bad news. The unpronouncable names are bad enough, but throw in all of these strange symbols and arrows, and Im just so glad we are usually on a bus. Yesterday we saw a sign that just looked like this. 

 
I mean really. What am I, some sort of sorcerer?! I have no idea what we’re exclaiming here. (Yes, I drew that on the ipad with my finger.)

5. SNOWPLOWS. They pass by our house (Or what sounds like through our house) Every morning at 4:45. and Every morning at 4:45, I wake up to picture my own decapitation by snowplow.   

And that is why I won’t miss Norway…

This is obviously bullshit, so Ill be back to tell you why I absolutely WILL miss Norway tomorrow. 

One-Way Tickets.

I am a huge believer in one-way tickets, which might be the most paradoxical thing about me. 

I LOVE order. I love things to be neat and tidy, and scheduled, and planned, or at least outlined. I like to know exactly how things will play out, and where I will be when. One of the most stressful parts of traveling for me is actually how to get from the airport to the hotel. Airport shuttles baffle me, to the point where I can rarely sit on a plane and not constantly obsess about how we will possibly get where we need to go. I have major anxiety about things that have even the most remote chanch of happening. Sometimes, if I have a really stressful day in my week, I will ruin every other day of the week just thinking about that one stressful day coming up. 

So here’s the weird thing; One-way tickets are freedom. When it comes to long-term travel, I prefer to not know when I will be making my return flight. This may be, in part, because it saves me from another thing that causes crippling anxiety: change. I really hate to change flights because its a lot of scary, stressful, beurocracy that I really would rather avoid, and the best counter to changing flights is to just not book them. With all of that being said, we have an announcement (We’re not pregnant so dont even think it).

WE’RE GOING TO LONDON!

Without going into too much boring detail, we have been in Europe for too long, and we need to leave in order to be able to come back again this spring. So we decided to spend a little time working in the UK and Ireland, which as my lovely friend Beth pointed out, its not Plan B, its Plan A2. We are very very sad to be leaving Norway for now, but we will be back very soon. So, Plan A2 starts next friday! 

   
  

Maybe just as a comfort to us, because they know we’re leaving soon, the northern lights have been especially wonderful his week.

  
 
We are so sad to be saying our (for now) farewells to Norway, but we are so excited to be starting yet another new adventure. And yes, I’m overjoyed that I dont have to change our tickets. 

 Dont worry, sappy, emotional post about Norway will be out shortly.