Thursday, 11 February 2010


We have been blessed.
Three years on a Norwegian rock by the North Sea, world class views from the bedroom window, award-winning sunsets over the island beyond, the moon providing a free and lovely night-light. Today, thick snow envelopes the rocks down to the sea, a sparkling blanket beneath the bright sun. Yup, it’s pretty neat. Whatever the weather, whatever the season, I have never shut the curtains on that view.
But soon, we’re heading home. In a few months time, it’s back to Scotland, so now seems a good time to start this blogging malarkey. The recession has been biting while we’ve been gone, unemployment has soared, banks are loathed and expenses scandals have raged. Brits seem cross, put-upon, fed-up, as though they can hardly recognise the country in which they are living. New, younger, more venomous versions of Victor Meldrew are springing up daily. As a General Election looms, apathetic confusion and deep frustration seem to haunt like menacing spectres. Looks like the UK voter has had it right up to here.
Comparisons being odious, I cannot begin to express my irritation at the current UK fashion for seeing all things Scandinavian as ideal. Norway is stunning, no doubt. But, to compare Scotland to Norway, a habit politicians simply cannot resist, seems like a cheap shot. Certainly, Norway does some things better than Scotland, but I’m still naive enough to believe we are not the hopeless bunch of losers we sometimes portray ourselves as being.
Many a British expat, on hearing our news, has asked if we’re pleased to be going home. Meanwhile, the media is awash with Brits, many of them Scots, trying to get away, and stay away, from the UK. They wax lyrical about the marvels of Thailand, Australia, Canada or countless other places where housing, cars, food, booze and other goodies are cheaper, better, more efficient, sunnier, warmer, easier...the list is irritatingly endless. Meanwhile, there’s a queue of Brits trying to return from Spain as the value of their dream-home-on-a-costa plummets.
Expats expect no sympathy from folk back home...they’re not idiots. Fair enough. Whether exile from the UK is chosen or work-driven, it is assumed that life abroad must be easier than it is in 21st century Britain. An expat is therefore a lush, a scrounger, a gin-soaked lardy-ass with a leathery skin from too much sun. Oh and rich, with staff, a yacht, and maybe even a mistress. And of course, I’m the lowest of the expat wife, a non-working hanger-on, a trailing spouse. I get to experience the good times through no merit of my own. And even worse, I’m an oil-wife, which is about as politically incorrect as a woman could be. Shame on me.
I am also far too much of a wimp to argue. All I know is, the next few months will be a logistical madness of where to live, how to live, what to drive, what to wear, what to chuck, what to keep. Apply for this, join up for that, close this, finish that. And then, there’s managing everyone’s psychological well-being, the unforeseen dilemmas and emotional traumas that inevitably crop up along with moving a family from A to B.
Besides all this, my job is also to savour, to remember, to cherish this place. So most days, I’ll be doing an UNSPEAKABLY NORSK THING, with which to blog-you-rigid.
Norway has been very good to us. But yes, I am exceedingly excited to think that home is hovering just beyond that enticing horizon.


  1. Your country - Scotland - needs people like you! The sooner you get back over here and stand for public office the better ... well written and well said ... you've got my vote, anytime!

  2. My dear returning Scot,
    I love your thoughts, well done as it is hard to find humor when leaving your current home and returning to your more distant yet comfortable home. However, if you are rebuffed in anyway upon your homecoming please remember that abroad we prefer to call it a well cured ass, as that is what gin really does…it cures.

  3. Thanks Rob! And Ronda, a phrase to remember.