Norway and the wish bucket

I have long had a yen to sail along the Norwegian fjords, taking in the spectacular gorges and the vibrant colours.  I have never in fact visited Norway at all.  This fjordic longing featured some time back when I was thinking of things I dreamed of doing back in the chemo days when it felt as if things would never be the same again.

Now that I am in a different space, I have gathered a few strange desires and keep them in what I now call my “wish bucket” which is neither a wish list or a bucket list.  Or perhaps it is both!  I love the thought of a seaside-type pail rather like the one which I would collect treasures such as shells, pebbles and the occasional critter when I was little.  A bucket in which I can collect my wishes really appeals to me.  And the purpose of having a selection of things in my wish bucket is to realise them.

I aim for my wish bucket to have a selection of things which are not difficult to realise, and some which are even very easy to make happen. For example, getting funky nail art on my toenails!  This was very easy to achieve and in a “seize the day” moment I decided to enter the world of toenail art!  Despite a small challenge in that my toenails were apparently too small for many of the fantastic designs, I was finally able to settle on a Japanese-esque pastiche somewhat reminiscent of cherry blossom.  And I was delighted with the result!

And the great thing about the wish bucket is that there is nothing stopping you repeating the wishes! No law stopping you, that is, of course there may be other barriers such as cost and time!

So you can imagine my enthusiasm when I was asked if I would participate in a training which was planned to be held in Norway in June.  Norway!  A chance to do a training that I really wanted to, and in a place which I had always wanted to visit.  And the chance to pluck out one of my wish bucket dreams.  Perfect.

However, I have to say that this enthusiasm was tempered with a strange sensation.  There is a bit of a history to this particular training.  The very first one was held in Geneva in October 2009.  I had been extremely proud and excited to have been selected for that training, on a topic I am passionate about (Education in Emergency settings), with colleagues I had worked with in various settings previously, and a chance to be a member of a global team in a critical humanitarian area.

I had been looking forward to that training, when a few days beforehand the story changed.  I found the lump 12 days before the course was due to start.  It was soon clear that I would not be joining my colleagues in Geneva.  In fact as the course started in the Swiss morning of Monday 5 October, I was being wheeled into the operating theatre half a world away in Bangkok, clutching a tiny glimmer of hope that the strange shapes on the scans were not in fact sinister, despite knowing that they were “highly suspicious”.  As my colleagues in Geneva were resuming their afternoon sessions on that day, I was being revived and told that the masses had indeed been cancerous, and the whole breast had been removed along with sinister lymph nodes.

So there was indeed some trepidation at the prospect of finally participating in this course, along with the enthusiasm.  Is there such a feeling as poignant enthusiasm?  I think that is what I felt.

Trepidation in hand, I booked my travel to Oslo once I was in the UK, and had an idea of how my days were working out with the cross country dashes between Inverness, West Lothian, Glasgow and London.  As a way of taking some brief respite as well as attempting to lift my Norwegian fjord wish from the wish bucket, I booked my travel to arrive in Oslo a day before the training started.  With the very explicit wish of some fjordic exploring.

With the security of the travel and hotel booked, I then researched fjord options for a day of escapade

It soon became apparent, that the fjords in my mind were actually on the Western part of the country, and the Oslofjord, while a major system of waterways, was somewhat flatter than the fjords I had been expecting.  Still, there was a great deal to explore and that did not reduce my enthusiasm for my Norwegian trip.

My UK days flew past and before I knew it I was checking in for the Oslo flight. I landed in the afternoon which enabled a good chunk of time for exploring, particularly given the very long light days, and hardly dark nights during those midsummer days.  I was soon out and about, wandering through the city towards the harbour, and booking myself onto the last Oslofjord cruise of the day.

Oslo was wonderful and in fact, just what the doctor ordered!  In addition to my short pre-training escapade, the training itself was wonderful – on a topic which I am passionate about and have some experience in, with colleagues from around the world who brought a wealth of experience and expertise, and with trainers who had mostly been trained at that very first Geneva training.  Poignant enthusiasm indeed.  Even the setting, in the restful green Norwegian countryside, and the fresh, healthy foods were perfect. Just perfect.

This gallery below has the highlights, but even more images will be on my photo blog.

I still have a hankering to cruise the Norwegian fjords, over more days and more remotely.  That wish is in the increasingly crowded wish bucket, along with the “Aurora Borealis” dream which could be a nice wish twin.  But for now I am very happy and thankful to have been able to have this beautiful Norwegian interlude.