England 40 Years Ago — August 3 and 4, 1981

August 3 Olag and I went shopping in downtown Oslo taking the six children with us. We had a picnic between the palace of the king and the parliament building. Olag had prepared open face sandwiches of cold cuts, cheese, and brown cheese on waffles. We were royally entertained by a band and soldiers drilling. To cool us off we had ice cream cones. What a treat! The ice cream was so much better than anything we’ve had in England.

Riding the T-Banen was much like riding a clean New York subway of years ago. It was very convenient to walk to from the Osnes home, let us out at the shops we wanted to explore, but cost a total of $10 round trip for the 8 of us.

In the supermarket near their home were the cutest miniature shopping carts just the right size for 2 – 6 year olds to push beside their mothers. On further thought, it might be that since food is so expensive there, you can only afford to fill one of those tiny carts.

For dinner that night we had fried fish pudding, boiled potatoes, mixed vegetables and cherry cake. They put slices of tomato and springs of dill on the fish pudding and made it look festive.

August 4 We made a leisurely start for the Osnes summer house south of Oslo. Eivind’s parents seemed glad to see us swoop upon them without warning. In one trip down the only access to the house from land, a steep footpath, we managed to carry bathing suits, towels, food for two meals, a grill and charcoal. The children paddled about in the freezing water, went in the rowboat with Mr. O, and had fun running and yelling.

The house was right on the fjord with a lovely level yard in front. The cottage had four bunk beds, a living/dining room, kitchen and no running water. At the moment all the water is walked down in bottles.

Kate was impressed with the toilet facilities. She said, “I’ve never seen a loo and a garden shed all in one!”

For middag we had grilled hot dogs, rolls, potato salad, Olag’s homemade cloudberry cake, and the sweetest strawberries I’ve ever eaten. Putting sugar on those berries would be like pouring syrup over a candy bar. They were perfect just as they were.

We relaxed and talked with the senior Osnes couple before leaving for World’s End. The boulders are all rounded at the tip!

Our families at World’s End

We picked a few raspberries beside the road, had a picnic of cheeses, cold cuts, home made rolls and cake.

Vertical picking of raspberries

The drive back to Oslo was pleasant in the evening twilight and mist. As an extra special treat the girls were allowed to stay up till after midnight looking at home movies. We saw clips of John’s sister’s family in Oslo and all the movies from the O’s year in the US.


Daughter Kate enjoyed wandering around our supermarket on shopping day, comparing our store to the one she works in. We ate lunch at home before going to Cataloochee, hoping to see elk. It was out of season and early afternoon, so our hopes were not high. On the way, we stopped at a hidden overlook to get a broad view of the valley.

We hadn’t been in the elk area very long when Kate spotted the first one, calmly eating near the road. John took this photo out the window for me.

We stopped to go through one of the old houses left in the park. I’ve been through the house many times, so I stayed on the bridge over the stream. When David and Kate came back, they walked down the stream looking at birds perched over the water.

On the way out of the park, Kate exclaimed that she spotted an elk. John backed up and parked. There were five of them in the woods! I took a shot of the action I saw, which was of David and Kate taking photos. It had begun to rain, making my picture a bit spotty. If you look between Kate’s nose and hand, you can see an elk standing up in the background.


Going to the creek does not count as hiking, but it was a good start to the day. We try to take a photo of our walking partners, at least the first time during a visit.

Sadie, Kate and John at the creek

Kate is really good with Sadie, which is a total surprise. As a toddler, Kate was terrified of anything that moved quickly, especially dogs. She has worked hard to conquer this fear. Here is proof – Kate is testing a harness on Sadie after adjusting it for a better fit.

At breakfast, David casually tossed croissants on his plate. He got up late on his first day of vacation, eating after the rest of us had finished.

I said, “You can do better than that.”

I tried to balance the croissants against each other, but I’m not good at it. I turned around once, and David had them in position.

David’s goal for the day was for him to swim with his mother at Catawba falls. David, John, and I had been there in January 2020 when he took this photo. John and I did not get that far, because there was a rushing stream over the path to the falls. We stayed behind as David picked his way over a few stones above the water. Obviously, he didn’t swim that day because it was much too cold.

Catawba Falls

We made a good start on the hike when Kate and David went down to touch the stream on the way up.

John opted to stay in the car. I felt triumphant when I crossed the stream that had stopped me before. Not only was the temperature warmer, but the stream was low.

The path became steeper and rockier. When we came to this scene where David is on the rocks looking back, I paused.

I felt daring to get as far as I had. It would have been foolhardy to continue. I saw the angle of David’s feet and knew I could easily twist my metal knees. I’ve seen a mountain rescue before, and I did not want to be carried out. They were very understanding and felt comfortable leaving me to sit on a large rock on the left. I enjoyed the people and dogs passing by and played games on my phone. As it turned out, they did not make it to the swimming place, either. The climb was too steep for Kate. They played in a smaller pool, chilled themselves thoroughly, and came back down.

It was several hours beyond our mealtime, so we ate at the first restaurant we came to, a Chinese buffet. The food was good, and we all looked forward to the soft ice cream. We ate ours, and David brought his with him. We say he has a professional advantage to loading a cone, because he does it often at Burger King. We had enjoyed our whole day and came home tired, but happy.

England 40 Years Ago — July 31 – August 2, 1981

July 31 The directions for getting to the hutte showed only a few stores, two houses and a barn. We were shocked to see hundreds of houses scattered over the barren hills. We’d all imagined lots of trees and no other houses nearby. However, very few had anyone staying in them while we were there. The air was cold, and most Norwegians had returned to work after their holidays. They usually fly a pennant when in residence – almost every hutte has a flag pole.

We walked to the middle of the settlement and happened (?) to be at the train station when some switching was done. After lunch we explored a mountain stream. I found I could walk twice as far to the accompaniment of water music. Exquisitely lovely! The wind was fierce when we climbed a tiny mountain, leaving a roaring in the ears. We noticed clouds were lower that second day and hung their feet on the edge of the highest mountains in sight.

August 1 On driving to Oslo, we noticed that the valleys became broader and the streams wider. Several towns were ski resorts – easily spotted by big hotels, small paths up the mountains for ski lifts and wide swaths for downhill skiing. Lots of hay was being hung on long racks to dry.

[We visited friends we met at our home church on Long Island when Eivind was working at the university there. The family lived in the US several times. They were very close to John’s mother, who could speak Norwegian with them.] Olag, Eivind, and their family gave us a royal welcome with signs made by the children and American knick-knacks displayed. For dinner we had fiskeballer, boiled potatoes, grated carrots on lettuce topped by almonds and blueberry torte. Eivind and his children had picked the berries; John and Eivind sorted and cleaned them.

Olag and Eivind with their four children. Another boy came later.

August 2 We walked to the local church where the young pastor preached an excellent sermon, and his wife played beautifully on the piano. Olag whispered some translation during the sermon.

We recognized some of the hymn tunes and did our best to follow the language. The parts of the liturgy were easy to follow, and the text familiar because Eivind had looked it up to have with our devotions the night before. That was a special part of the evening – to sing a hymn, read the Bible and pray together.

At that church you don’t have to speak with the pastor ahead of time, so we went for communion. Their way of serving was very different. You picked up a tiny silver chalice on the way to the altar. The bread was handed to us, and then the wine poured into our cups. Used cups were put on a tray when leaving. At the end the pastor stood to say the words of distribution, knelt and took communion himself. He was first the priest, then the layman.

For lunch Olag served porridge (a white sauce with butter, sugar and cinnamon), cold cuts, boiled potatoes, cooked cabbage, sour cream, fresh dill and ice cream.

Eivind had prepared breakfast of boiled eggs, toast, bread, rolls and cheeses. Mostly gjetost and Norge cheeses are served in the morning. Home-made preserves also went round. [I wonder about my spelling of these things. Surely, having just eaten the stuff, I tried to spell things correctly.]

Eivind invited John’s first cousin Hal and Bjorg over, and we went for a bird watch at the nearby lake to fill in time before they arrived.

When we went to the lake, Olag stayed home to bake a cake. We returned to help bake waffles, set tables and prepare sandwiches. When Hal and Bjorg arrived, Olag served banana slices on rolls, cheese and apple on rolls, plain rolls, cheeses, jam, waffles and cherry cake – a big cake split and filled with cherries and whipped cream.

John’s cousin Hal

Chersti (I can’t remember how to spell that one, but that is what it sounded like) was very shy. Espen was not shy but very tired at the end of the day.

Bjorg and Chersti
Bjorg holding Espen

We had devotions with the children later – Eivind read a Lutheran devotional and we sang two songs in English and Norwegian with Eivind playing the piano and Olag the guitar.

I recognized several birds at the lake – chaffinch, magpie, pied wag tail, house martin, mallard duck, coot, Canadian geese, tree sparrow, house sparrow and a two-toned brown duck.

Kate’s First Day

Daughter Kate drove 14.5 hours from New Jersey to our home in one day. She stopped in Virginia at our favorite barbecue place and brought all the fixings for proper barbecue sandwiches. What a great start for a wonderful visit!

John $, John, David, Nathaniel, and Kate. Sadie, with her begging brown eyes, doesn’t show.

Before leaving for church the next morning, Kate was there for the mirror ritual.

Nate lowers the mirror before leaving.

There was a special lunch after church for the retiring music director. We were sitting at a long table near the dessert station. Grandson Nathaniel was on the end, because he needs lots of space to stow his long legs. In one smooth move, he was on his feet and moving toward the serving table. I took a quick photo that shows nothing more than Nate’s back, but he went to the rescue of a short woman struggling with a heavy bucket. He easily lifted the bucket and poured iced tea into the dispenser. Without fanfare, the crisis was over.

After church and the luncheon, we walked through Forest City. It was a great break on the trip to take Nathaniel back to Charlotte. I was looking for photo ops, knowing Kate wanted a picture of her with her sons. Because there were eyes painted on the building, I made them pose on the sidewalk.

Nathaniel had to walk around some balloons, so there was another reason to take a picture. I’d never seen a balloon with something like confetti inside it. Can you see that in the white ones near Nate’s head?

I was tickled at the interest the boys showed in a baking company. Both were peering in the windows, and then Nathaniel was on the ledge, leaning in.

My favorite shot was in the center of the main street.

The final photo was taken outside Nathaniel’s dorm before we said goodbye.

Nathaniel’s Long Weekend

Grandson Nathaniel came to visit us and to spend 24 hours with his mother Kate. We performed the mirror ritual, where Nathaniel puts the mirror high on the wall so he and David can see their faces. Later that evening he was reading my grandmother’s hand-written recipe book.

Son John $pencer took Nate for a hike and a long ride in the mountains. This was a refreshing change from working in an office at his university. He chose this as his favorite photo of the day.

While Kate was driving here from New Jersey, John and I took Nathaniel to a favorite thrift shop in Hendersonville. Although it was his idea to go there, we were the ones who bought things. I chose two plates to go under pots on the back porch and a storage jar for coffee. Nate pointed out a pretty gravy boat. Knowing how I love gravy boats, John bought it. Nate couldn’t resist trying on this flashy red hat and had the staff in stitches.

We took a long way home through the mountains so that Nate and I could listen to a stream for a little while. The grandsons know how to get the most from a stream by standing in it.

We are waiting for Kate to arrive.

England 40 Years Ago — July 30, 1981

We drove till mid-afternoon to get from Bergen to the mountain hutte (pronounced hoot-a) where we spent two nights. The scenery was spectacular. We started off driving along the edges of several fjords, thoroughly enjoying the breathtaking vistas of water and mountains and opening the windows to hear water hurling itself down rocky gullies.

We climbed higher and higher until there were no trees. High plateaus with out-croppings of rocks were bleak. All along the way were lakes, some huge and some small. It was almost unbelievable that we stopped by the side of the road to play in snow. We actually saw people sunbathing, sitting in snow.

Lisa and Kate play in snow

The road was something else again. It was so narrow at times – the widest places were in the tunnels! Riding in our English car, John was sitting on the outer edge of the road, and I was exposed to cars hurtling down the road and much too close for comfort. My left knee was actually tired from the reflexive action of trying to draw in my side of the car.

The mountain hutte loaned to us by a brokerage firm had five bedrooms with enough beds to sleep 12!!! They mainly use it for skiing holidays. Ski racks were in the wide, rough entrance hall. The shower was a bit primitive, but there was a real sauna complete with benches to sit on and a wood burning stove.

Area with mountain huttes where we stayed
John outside the hutte where we stayed

We were needing more clean clothes, so I washed by hand and John hung them outside on a line. That line was situated half way up the mountain and is more efficient than an electric English drier! The first set was soon knocked dry by the wind, so we did more. After they dried, we did two pair of jeans.

The kitchen was a bit primitive. There was room to install a sink, but there wasn’t one. The stove was a wood burning thing. The kitchen does have one electric hot plate and three burners that run on bottled gas. The fridge didn’t work. Cold water only ran into a tiny receptacle. We had very simple meals.

Lisa and Kate in living room
Girls in dining room

Why I had to Wash my Hair

Did any of you have a Toni doll from the 1950’s? I copied this photo of an ad on the internet that shows the doll with setting lotion, a curler, and a comb. I had a doll like this, only mine had dark hair. I am amused now, because I disliked dolls. Not only that, my miserliness can be documented to the day I received this doll as a gift. I wouldn’t use the setting lotion because I wouldn’t spend money to get more. My mom read the label and said we could make our own lotion, because the listed ingredients were sugar and water!! Today I am appalled at that memory. From time to time we have infestations of ants in our kitchen. Can you imagine having a doll that might draw ants like a magnet??? I wouldn’t have taken a doll to bed, but some girls might have. Ugh! How totally disgusting!

Now for today’s story. I was gathering branches John had trimmed from the bushes near our back porch. It was tedious, since the branches were small and had been rained on. My head was so full of grumbles that I paid no attention to the hummingbird feeder. That is, I paid no attention until I began to straighten up right under the feeder. My head hit it, not once, but twice. Sugar water splashed onto my hair. You know what happened then, don’t you? I BECAME A LIVING TONI DOLL!


England 40 Years Ago — July 29, 1981

Royal Wedding Day in England! We didn’t see a bit of it, but found when we got back home that Thom had done a superb job of taping the whole thing for us. He had carefully planned the timing so that the major portion of the wedding itself is on one tape with other related bits collected on other tapes and meticulously labeled.

In Bergen we saw King Haakon’s Hall and went to an organ recital and service at the church where Grandpa Ellertsen had gone as a boy.

It was raining nearly all day long, but we kept going. We ate lunch at an outdoor museum of old Bergen and took the tour of the place with a German family. I liked the barber shop and dentist’s home. The waiting room for the dentist was his dining room, and the dental chair was in the living room. A great instrument of torture must have been the foot-powered drill.

The stave church felt as if it were at the top of a mountain – what a climb! It was a lovely little church.

John works with a woman in London whose niece was vacationing in Bergen. The girl, Trude, stayed with Lisa and Kate at our hotel while John and I ate at the Norsk Hotel. We had smoked salmon and a seafood casserole served in a shell with rice beside it.

The food was served so attractively all over Scandinavia; even simple sandwiches were beautiful. Cheese was swirled on bread, twists of lemon and cucumber topped things, and lettuce peeped out for a frill of green.

England 40 Years Ago — July 28, 1981

John’s distant cousin Bjarne met us at the door of the Institute in Bergen, handed the girls booklets about the aquarium, and we were off behind the scenes where the public cannot go. John, meanwhile, walked back to town to go to two shipping offices.

The girls thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the exhibits. They’ve not been to an aquarium before, and their enthusiasm showed. We saw all the fish from above the tanks, but the public looked at them at eye level and couldn’t see us. Bjorner brought us right by the seals and penguins outside just at feeding time. He answered my question about whether it matters to a penguin which way the fish goes into his mouth, and it seems the fish must always be swallowed head first! If the tail is nearer, they turn the fish around before gobbling it.

In the lobby was a very low tank with a rim that invited sitting. Bjarne explained that it was made big and low so that children could touch the fish! He picked up a cactus-type creature for us to touch.

Bjarne went back to work, and we girls went shopping. We bought trolls and a cheese knife. We looked at countless things and found them terribly expensive.

Edward Grieg’s house was simple, but pretty. Outside it was painted white with green trim.

John posed for a quick photo with Grieg’s piano as we took the tour.

John was dressed for going to shipping offices downtown.

We also saw the studio nearer the water where Grieg did most of his composing. He and his wife are buried in a tomb hewn out of rock about 15 feet above ground.

Lovely music was written here.

We met the three Ellertsens to eat at a restaurant in the oldest section of town.

Buildings of the Hanseatic League.

Kate chose biscuits and cheese; Lise ordered beef, John and I, whale. The whale was terrific – tender and tasty as beef with a very slight taste of seafood.

This is the photo that belongs here. We were with Hildur and Bernt, to have dinner in the old section of the city.