In terms of size, they say it is a modest farm. A handful of sheep, 2 dozen cows and a few chickens. Fairly manageable for a small family run place. That evening, we were given the job of feeding the baby lambs, only a couple of months old and drinking from the bottle. They see us coming and start running towards us, knowing what is happening. Belle the little black sheep of the family chooses me, she’s very shy to begin with, keeping her distance at an arm’s length as she drinks the milk from the bottle in my hand. While Otto the little white one runs to Emilly and drinks like nothing before. Once he finishes he sneezes and farts at the same time and it’s one of the greatest things we’ve ever witnessed. Afterwards, we went back to the house and Elizabeth made a small sandwich for both Emilly and I before we went to bed for night.
The next morning we were up at 7.30, as we promised Elizabeth we would feed the lambs again, as we’re washing the bottles, in walks Thomas, all dressed in his overalls, this is the first time we are meeting and at first he’s very intimidating, as he gives a firm handshakes to introduce himself. We talk over breakfast as he tells us our jobs for the day. Emilly is helping Elizabeth with cleaning the guest cabins, while I help Thomas with mending a broken fence. This job takes a lot of hard work and energy, but we’re done by 3. During this time, he was telling me all about how he came to own the farm, it was his mother’s before his and in her family for a long time before that. He shows me all around his farm, including where I can find certain tools as he trusts me to do some jobs on my own, then introduces me to his parents who live down the road and lets me drive his ATV back up the hill. I’ve never driven a car or a bike or anything. In fact the closest to it would be a bumper car at Download Festival, but he shows me how to use it and it’s fairly easy to pick up, of course I make a few mistakes and the bloody thing has a mind of its own but soon I was riding in a straight line, taking corners and finding that I’m speeding up, feeling the wind flowing through my hair and catching Thomas in the car in front, I’ve never felt so free.
After we finish working for the day Thomas and Elizabeth invite us to get ready and visit a group of their friends for a BBQ. I could see instantly that these are a tight knit group of friends, not too dissimilar to my own, and it was a pleasure and a joy to meet them and share their food. Inge and Astrid were our hosts for the evening and as soon as we arrive Astrid offered us a traditional Norwegian snack, BBQ bread. Astrid takes a seat and picks up a twig that has been fletched to have a point at the end and wraps some dough around a stick and hands it to me, then tells me to place it underneath the grill and hover it above the coals until it is cooked. It only takes 5 minutes, then it was done. A perfect little appetiser. I suggested next time that they might use caramelised onion or chocolate to sweeten it up. I can see now, the importance that friends make in a person’s life, in keeping us feeling young, keeping you sane and that life here in Norway is about putting in the hard graft but reaping the rewards of a sunny Friday evening, with good food, good wine and good friends. Life isnt all about work and as Thomas and Elizabeth prove, you need to make time for friends.
As we sit there drinking wine and eating sausages, a ginger cat sat in my lap and enjoy the scratch behind her ear, Thomas begins to tell us how he sees the HelpX volunteers like Emilly and I, that he will treat us like family, and this is why they will invite us to meet their friends and family and ask us to do things with them. I find this reassuring, being a first time volunteer, he always says we have the option to say no, but he appreciates that we say yes and want to be a part of his family. He’s a good man, friendly and kindhearted.
I was speaking to Emilly last night about the transition from city life to rural life, from England to Norway, Liverpool to Paulsrud and I had to say, I’m so glad Thomas and Elizabeth are our first hosts, they’re so friendly and kind and we share a sense of humour, they have made the move feel a lot easier. Without knowing it they’ve helped me feel more at home in a place I don’t know. I think that is special.
Sunday, it’s our day off and Elizabeth has asked us to come swimming with her and their daughter Olene. She’s a great kid, only 5 years old, and although we don’t speak her language she is very understanding of that and tries to teach us words. So far I’ve found out that I am a “stingkē ape” She’s so full of energy and not like most kids, this energy is different, she’s not hopped up on sugar and sweets, I believe it’s more to do with the outdoors, the animals, the fact her dad only lets her watch television for short periods when he’s in the barn, and even then she wants to play all of the time. It’s refreshing to see.
So far, everything is great, we love life in Norway, it’s so relaxed and the work is hard, but we play harder. Thomas and Elizabeth have gone out of their way to ensure our transition here has gone smoothly.
Don’t forget to follow us on;
And as always, much love and a travelling hug