These statues are located on Rådhus plass (City Hall Square) at the back of the Rådhus looking over the Oslo fjord. These statues are part of a fountain, or sitting next to the fountain (and this is only a selection of them). I’ve not managed to find out who sculpted them but I do know that the statues (perhaps not the fountain) are made of granite.
The Rådhus plass and Aker Brygge (where the docks used to be) was a bit busy this weekend because Matstreif (a food festival) was on. If you wished you could partake of elk and reindeer burgers, as well as organic veggies, Norwegian cheese and icecream and fish. There were demonstrations and video screens for those who couldn’t get a seat inside the demo tent. As well as the farmer’s market section various Norwegian brands such as Tine (who sell milk products) and supermarkets such as Coop (in Norwegian this is pronounced as one syllable as the Americans do). What did I sample? Some apple juice and a carrot!
Scandinavian design is world famous, sleek, modern and easily available in Ikea. But there is more. At the weekend I purchased some non-Ikea Scandinavian designed things. Two are useful – a simple silicone cylinder to wrap your headphone cord around
, and a funky lizard suction hook (I don’t know if this is really a Scandiavian design but I bought it here, so I’m saying that it is!). I’d quite like the lizard to be green, but it only comes in clear :-(.
The other thing also has a useful function being a magnet, but really I bought it because it made me laugh out loud (I probably got some strange looks). It appealled to my probably warped prosthetic sense of humour*
I miss cheese 😦 Not cheese in general because Norway does have cheese, but crumbly, salty, very tasty Cheshire/Lancashire/Wensleydale cheese. I’m not fussy about which one of those 3 I have, but just to have some would be wonderful… In Norway you can get Cheddar, cream cheese and plastic dairylea/primula cheese. You can also get French cheese, Greek feta and even Cypriot halloumi (though it breaks the bank to buy it at approx £5 for a block). Of course Norway’s very own cheeses are also available to buy. Jarlsberg will be a Norwegian cheese you’ve seen in the supermarket. You can also get generic white cheese (hvitost) both ready sliced (skivet ost) and in blocks (Did you know that Norway invented the cheese slice?). And there is a very special Norwegian cheese – brown cheese (brunost). Yes, that’s right brown cheese! It’s slightly caramelly in flavour and sticks to the roof of your mouth. So sticky in fact that sliced brown cheese has to have sheets of plastic separating the slices. I like brown cheese, but it’s no substitute for crumbly, salty, very tasty British cheese.
This weeks statue is of Sigrid Undset (1882 – 1949) and is in Stensparken which I walk past on my way to and from work. Sigrid Undset won the Nobel prize for literature for her most famous work Kristin Lavransdatter. This is a trio of novels set in Scandanavia in the Middle Ages. It is available in English in Penguin. Why is there a statue of her in Stensparken? She lived for many years in various streets around the park.
In front of the main train station (Oslo S) in Jernbanetorget is a huge statue of a tiger, sculpted by Elena Engelsen in 2000. Apparently Oslo is known as “Tiger City” (it’s also had another name which I’ll blog about in the future. There doesn’t seem to be any consensus on why it’s called Tiger City. Suggestions include because “Oslo makes its mark on you” and that it comes from a poem by Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson (he also has a statue alongside Henrik Ibsen (statue of the week no.2). Perhaps Ida Marie or another Norwegian reader can let us know what they think. Anyway, people meet at the tiger, have their photo taken by the tiger (though not me!), and children (and probably some adults) climb the tiger.
Apologies to those in Bolton, who have a dearth of yarn shops, (though I hear there is a new shop opening in Manchester), but there are lots of yarn shops selling lovely yarn all over Oslo. This week I visited Husfliden. Husfliden is in the basement of Glas Magasinet and I almost found it when I came for my interview. I’ve been before to squish and gaze lovingly at the rainbow of colours. This week I bought some wool and a Norwegian pattern (photo of the wool below but you’ll have to wait to discover what it’s for – 2 different projects). Husfliden don’t just sell yarn but also embroidery and other handcraft supplies. They also sell bunads. Bunads are the Norwegian national dress and you will see people wearing them (I have!) as they are often worn for weddings and also on the 17th of May (Constitution/National day). The style of bunad varies according to the district you come from, with the womens’ bunads varying more than the mens. The womens’ have embroidery and it seems fairly common to embroider your own. Husfliden sell the various parts of the costume including ribbon, material, shoes, buttons …
Some of you will remember the tv series “The Prisoner” – the rest of us have just heard of it! Anyway in The Prisoner people didn’t have names, instead they were known by numbers – the main character in The Prisoner was known as Number 6.
In Norway everyone is also known by an identification number – your fødselnummer. I guess it’s a bit like a National Insurance number in the UK. It consists of your date of birth (6 numbers) plus another 5. It’s needed for so many things!!!
By getting this number you are registered on the “people register”. You have to give this number to your employer so that you pay tax at the appropriate rate. Until you get this number you pay 50% tax – ouch! (You do get to claim back the amount you’ve overpaid). There are also other things you can’t do until you have this number – open a bank account being one. I don’t remember ever being asked by a bank in the UK for my National Insurance number, though it is over 20 years since I opened my bank account. You also can’t have a proper library card, get a pay monthly mobile, get customs clearance for your furniture… the list appears to be pretty much endless.
This statue is of Henrik Ibsen. You might have heard of him – he wrote the play “A Doll’s House” (and many others). He went to live in Germany for over 20 years because he was disatisfied with Norwegian society. When he returned to Norway he was treated like a hero.
When I took this photo I was trying to follow a theme created by Fi and Puse (who I stayed with in Brisbane – see one of the posts below) of statues of people with birds on their heads. As you can see I wasn’t successful! Actually there aren’t very many pigeons around Oslo – perhaps the gulls keep them away?
OK so maybe there’s not a trillion of statues in Oslo, but there are a huge number. They are everywhere! There is even a park full of statues by just one man. This man is Gustav Vigeland and the park is called both Frognerpark and Vigelandpark. Gustav started life as a wood carver, but went to Paris and came under the influence of Rodin. He then switched materials to stone, bronze and iron. He started work on the sculptures in the park in 1924 and was still going 20 years later when he died. Here are just a couple of the statues and the start of “statue of the week”.
(Information from the Rough Guide to Norway, 2009).
Several people gave me presents before I left. Thankfully, given the lack of space in my suitcase, they were small. I received a glass with flutes on (this wasn’t squeezed in but packed with my furniture and stuff so it is yet to be used) and some money from work, which has contributed to a new mattress (which Pudding seems to like). From Charlotte and Nick came a itunes card. Jaye gave me a lovely wire and bead brooch. Fiona gave me a scarf. Eadaoin made me some earrings and stitch markers. Maria made me a washcloth (from Yarn Forward No17 for the knitters reading this) and her first time knitting with two colours – congratulations Maria! And the Knitting Nora’s collectively made me a scarf which will keep me lovely and cosy in the Norwegian snow. So thank you to all of you!