Monday, 26 May 2014

Hovden Bicycle Race 2014

Adam from Visit Sørlandet travelled to Hovden for the Color Line Hovden bicycle race (Color Line Setesdal Tour).

My wife has been training almost every day for the annual bicycle race. She is in a group from Tveit called the Ryen og Omegn Cykleklubb (ROC) that have been training in both the winter and spring. (I am also happy to say I a while ago I designed their COOL logo).

Of course it is not possible to bicycle outdoors in the winter (well you can if you have spikes on your tyres for the ice and snow) so the team have spinning classes. As soon as the snow has gone, they start out on the street again.

It is not just a matter of buying a bike and doing some training. There is a lot of preparations to be made and you need the right equipment. Gloves, helmet, lycra pants and top, water bottles, emergency replacement parts for the bike and of course the bike itself.

I bought my wife a used GIANT bicycle two years ago when she starting to ride and after changing the handle bars, she was satisfied with the bike. However it was not specifically designed for women. She used that bike to ride to Hovden last year in seven hours and thirty minutes. This year however, her team were determined to do the race in six hours and thirty minutes. One whole hour off the time!

So, with the help of one of the team leaders, she bought a new FUJI womens racing bike made from carbon. I cannot mention how much the bike cost, because I am trying to forget about that!

Anyway she could not believe how much the new bike improved her riding and time. 'This bike is amazing. It is a completely different experience and so much easier to ride.'

I drove up the night before and stayed at her cousins cabin in Fjellparken. The next morning we met up with the other supporters for the club who far outnumbered any other club. A true support network.

They all had the same teeshirts and banners chanting for the club.

I met a couple of young boys that were responsible for the barriers and ensuring that the riders went in the right direction after they finished. They were quite proud of their job.

 I also interviewed a couple of locals that had friends competing.

One of the most touching interviews was with a father and son that come over the finish line after seven hours and 56 minutes. At first I was not sure why they had a tandem bike but when they stopped shortly after the finish line I quickly understood. His father lifted his son off the bike where he collapsed on the ground from exhaustion. There they hugged and I guess cried a little. The crowd clapped and cheered for them. It was very special. I wandered over after they had sat down and chatted to them. Words cannot really explain the emotion I felt as we spoke. His son has Cerebral palsy and has completed the Hovden tour three times.

Of all the stupid little things in life we complain about. It is really not worth the stress or fuss and in the great grand scheme of things, mean nothing. This father and son relationship and bond is inspirational. I am 100% sure that they do not stress over the little problems in life. (They have enough to think about)

It was great to see that my wife's team was the first to cross the line (because they were in the first heat to leave). The supporters went wild!

Anyway before I got as chance to speak to her, the local paper interviewed my wife and her cousin in a touching short video.

I am very proud of her. She has trained incredibly hard for a long time and deserves all the credit for a fantastic ride. She completed the race in six hours and forty one minutes. She says that she will not do it next year, but she later admitted that she loves the team, the experience and the satisfaction of completing the race. So, she will be back.

The club put up a tent the night before and so there was a party after everyone had a chance to relax a little. There were many speeches with prizes and thanks given to those that made it possible and helped along the way. With great food and company, it was the perfect party.

On the way home to Kristiansand, the sun was shining and the scenery breath taking.

I think a good quote for Norway would be, Norway: Nature on steroids. It probably will not be used in any marketing brochures, but it is a funny quote anyway...

Congratulation to all that rode 210 kilometres from Kristiansand to Hovden. Good work!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Kristiansand not so early in the morning.

Adam from Visit Sørlandet arrived at work early to experience a sunny morning...

Well the last blog entry was a little grey, so thought I should brighten it up a little.

I am happy to say that I did not wake up at 0300 in the morning. I had a decent nights sleep and got to work at about 0730. Still there was not many people around in the city, but at least there was sunshine.

The Danish ferry was being loaded and people were slowly arriving to work.

The Danish flags were taken down after the bicycle race was finished on the weekend and replaced with a Christian marching banner.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Kristiansand early morning

Adam from Visit Sørlandet arrived at work a little early one morning.

Have you ever had one of those days when you woke up in the middle of the night and could not get back to sleep? I had one of those such nights. I woke up at 0300 in the morning and it did not matter what I did, I could not get back to sleep.

So, I got up and went to work and left the house at about 0500am.

There were no cars on the roads and driving into the city of Kristiansand was kind of weird. It reminded me of that movie with Will Smith Legend where he was the last remaining man in New York. The streets were always empty.

Anyway, there were no zombies chasing me (as per the movie) but a comfortable silence. Passing the Kilden theatre, I saw a fishing boat that had already delivered his load of fish. That man must have woken up even earlier than me!

I walked through the city streets with barely a sole in sight. Peaceful is probably the right word to use. There are flags and signs up for the Colorline Hovden bicycle race coming up this Saturday. Those guys will also be getting up early!

Anyway, I normally get to work early, but today was a new record at the Visit Sørlandet office. The great thing is, I will get a lot of work done.

Have a nice day.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Skipperhuset Hidra Island Flekkefjord

Grethe and Leif Larsen Skipperhuset Seng og Mat

Adam from Visit Sørlandet took a trip to the island of Hidra in Flekkefjord in Southern Norway and stopped in at Skipperhuset Seng and Mat (Skippers House Bed and Breakfast). There he had a little interview with the friendly owners Grethe and Leif Larsen. The guesthouse has breathtaking views over the sea with a very quiet and relaxing atmosphere.


We have lived in a few different countries over the years because we were both in the shipping industry. We actually met at a shipping company in Oslo.

We lived in America for many years and had both of our children there but we have also lived in Saudia Arabia.

Grethe: I was not allowed to work in Saudia Arabia so I was a house wife. The only women that were allowed to work were local people that were nurses, doctors and teachers.

Leif: We had family status so we lived in a compound. Our oldest son was seventeen at the time, so he was not allowed to live in Saudi Arabia with us. We are not really sure why, maybe because they think that teenagers can cause problems. As a result, he went to a boarding school in the United States.

Grethe: When we met at that shipping company in Oslo, I was working in the operation department and he was out at sea captaining a ship. I then became a radio officer and had to do a long course to get the qualification. When he came back from the sea, he was offered a job in Newark New York as a port captain so I did not even get a chance to use my radio skills. But, I was also offered a job in New York, so it worked out well.

Adam: Your guesthouse location is amazing. Can you tell me a little about it.

Leif: I am a fourth generation captain, so it is in my blood line. In 1850, my grandfather had two small houses in Hidra. The other house was on a small island further out and they moved one of them here. Both he and my father were born here at the house. I never lived here as a child, I only stayed here on vacation. However I did live here for a while in the early 50s and went to school which has since been converted into a museum.

When we came home from Saudi Arabia, we intended to go back to the United States but then we decided that we would convert this place into a bed and breakfast instead. We added a road and extensions to the house and thought that it would be very nice to have company here. Of course family and friends visited, but we thought that it would be a great way to meet new people and make some money.

Adam: I guess it was nice to have friends and family visit, but they don't pay!

Woman: (laughing) It is such a beautiful location here, that we wanted to share it with others as well. We love to have company.

Leif's grandfather is sitting in the middle of the photograph. His father is the child to the left.

Here is Leif's father as the captain of a ship.

When we started, there was really no place where people could stay overnight in Hidra. So we came up with the bed and breakfast idea. When guests arrive, they have everything provided, so it is very easy for them.

We cater to people that want some peace and quiet and not partying all the time.

Adam: The guesthouse is full of shipping history with amazing pictures depicting generations of shipping captains, furniture from France (when his father was stationed there) and cosy bedrooms. There are seven bedrooms with sixteen beds.

Grethe has her own kitchen for baking and Leif has his for making fish and other foods. (They are very lucky. I would LOVE to have my own kitchen at home where I can make my barbeque dishes and my wife could do her baking. Maybe the next lottery ticket I buy will give me that chance!)

You can find out more information on their website

Hidra is a short drive from Flekkefjord. You will need to get a ferry over to the island from the mainland, but these leave at regular times. You only pay for the ferry on your return journey home which is about 140kr (please check with Grethe and Leif for up to date information).


Flekkefjord is a 1,5 hour drive from Kristiansand.





Saturday, 10 May 2014

Princess Mary and Princess Mette Marit come to Kristiansand

Adam from Visit Sørlandet ventured out to the city church to get some pictures of Mary and Mette Marit.

Let me start off by saying that I have not really been a fan of royalty. I did not see the point in it. It is expensive and out dated. After today, my opinion has been swayed.

I took several pictures of different people in Kristiansand for the Humans of Kristiansand project and one of the people I spoke to told me Princess Mette Marit of Norway was at the church. This was no reason for me to stay and wait, so I decided to go back to the office. I have of course nothing against Mette Marit, but I was simply not interested in royalty as a concept/tradition.

On the way there, I bumped into two colleagues Elisabeth and Inger. They told me that Princess Mary of Denmark was also at the church. Being Australian, I thought it was almost my duty to go back there and take a few pictures.

I had to wait a while before they came out so in the mean time I spoke to people in the crowd: kids, reporters, police and other photographers. I started to get a sense of why royalty is a good thing and to a lot of people, important.

The kids were excited - they could not wait to see the princesses and give them flowers. Their parents were excited for their children. Many old people were there in their best clothes anticipating the royals exit from the church. Local reporters were also excited. (I cannot say the same for the photographers.) Anyway, all in all, the local people were very proud and it seemed, almost a little nervous by royalty.

Hmm. This got me thinking. Maybe I have been seeing royalty through wrong eyes. I have seen it from a monetary view and not one for 'the people'. As a result, I also got a little excited.

I managed to place myself at the entrance of the church a little before they came out. A couple of minutes before they actually did, paparazzi was all over the place. They were pushing and shoving and asking the local people to get out of the way so they could take good pictures. I was disgusted and did not want to, in any shape or form, be associated with them. I knelt down and took a few pictures when they came out and quickly got away from the affray.

It is indeed a small world. Princess Mary comes from Hobart in Tasmania and I come from Melbourne. I actually used to work with her ex boyfriend. He was in an advertising agency and I worked for an Internet Marketing company, so we were constantly in meetings. She ended up in Denmark and I in Norway. 

It would be good to have a 'real life' chat to her to see how she adapted to a new country. Does she miss home, her friends and family? After a day out as a royal, does she go home, put her track suit pants on and play with the kids? I think so. You can take an Australian out of the country, but you can never take the Australian out of a person. We are a down to earth bunch.

The princesses followed the line of children and parents in a L shaped direction and eventually they went into the local Government office. It was just before the entrance that I was compelled to say 'It is good to see another Aussie here'. She looked over, smiled and waved. That was nice.

I never in a million years thought that I could write 'that was nice', because of my tunnel visioned ideas about royalty.

I can safely say that I am now converted. Royalty is a good thing.

Apologies for the quality of the pictures as I did not have the correct lens. I had my portrait lens on the camera for the Humans project.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The swimming pool centre in Lyngdal

On a trip to Lyngdal, Adam from Visit Sørlandet popped in to Sørlandsbadet and had a little interview with the Managing Director Atle Homme to find out a little about him and Sørlandsbadet.

For info, Sørlandsbadet is a large indoor and outdoor swimming pool centre in Lyngdal that also includes a gymnasium, café, physiotherapy centre and is open all year round. It is ideally located next to Rosfjorden with beautiful views of the water and beach.

I started working at Sørlandsbadet in May 2010. Fourteen days later, we had the grand opening of the new and updated Sørlandsbadet. It was a very exciting time to start a new job.

I have worked in the military as a Lieutenant for many years and it got to the stage where the government wanted to reduce the size of the forces by 5000 men. I worked with photographic instruments on aircraft which was eventually phased out. I was given the opportunity by the military to study something new, so I chose a bachelor degree in new media – design, internet etc.

After that, I also worked with festivals in Mandal where I live. That was great work, but it was ad hoc and not continual, so that is why it is great to work here – there is always something to do and I always look forward to going to work.

We are not just an indoor swimming centre but also a turpark (tourpark).

Lyngdals bicycling team train here in spinning classes for different events as well as outdoor bicycling days. For example this year they are racing in the Colorline Color Line Setesdal Tour to Hovden, so we are organize special spinning classes for them when the centre is usually closed. I think it is important for our visitors and members of Sørlandsbadet that they can also engage in other activities outside the centre with others.

We have two seal mascots for our centre. On is blue and one is pink and their names are Salto and Selma. They are on our logo and are involved in the Sørlandsbadet song.

On Saturdays and Sundays, the mascots come to visit and play with the kids.

If you need anymore information from Atle or Sørlandsbadet, you can email them here or web

Lyngdal is little over a one hours drive from Kristiansand. There are many opportunites for hotels and accommodation in the local area. Not far away is Farsund with Scandinavias largest indoor skatepark and surfing opportunities. Dra på ferie til Lyngdal