Travelling to Rome

I left home at 11 yesterday, and headed to to airport. The travel from home to the airport of Rome wasn’t very eventfull. I had access to the SAS lounge at Oslo airport, so I had lunch there. I was fortunate enough to get plenty of sparkling water, vegan carrot and coriander soup (very tasty), and was able to relax before my last flight.

The flight from Oslo to Rome went well. A bit of turbulence at times, but not horrible. And after a bit I was able to have the whole three seats in my row by myself, as the row in front was empty, and the other two passengers moved there. Win-win!

I spent my flight mainly reading and looking out the window. Flying over the the Alps was quite spectacular, but it was also nice to see all the fields and cities. However, as said, most of the time was spent with my nose in my book.

Getting from the airport to the hotel was somthing I had expected to take maybe an hour. Boy, was I wrong! First I had to find the train station, which I first didn’t know where was. When I finally found it (after a lot of walking around), I needed a ticket. The lady behind the counter could have used a smiling course, she was really sour and seemed annoyed I didn’t knew Italian. Dear Italians, Italians isn’t a world language. English is. But I finally got a ticket, hurried to the platform, and the train just left as I tried to press the button on the door! Accurding to the website, another train were to leave shortly after. Not so. I had to wait for almost an hour, and when the train finally left, it was delayed.

I had to change to a tram after a while, which was actually surprisingly easy. However, the tram seemed very old, and there were absolutely no announcements. I ended up taking the tram too far, having to turn around and go back to the correct stop. At least I finally got off the right stop, then headed in the direction of the hotel. Yet again, I went too far, and got lost, but a very helful young man working at a restaurant managed to point me in the right direction, and after a while I finally managed to find my hotel.

Checking in went smoothly, and the guy at the desk was very helpful. My small single room wasn’t as nice as I had expected from a four star hotel (I should have known, it was very cheap). But the bathroom was nice, which was a huge plus, and clean. And the room is airconditioned.

I didn’t go out for dinner, as I was just too tired. I picked up a bottle of fizzy water, as I was thirsty after all the ordeal of getting to the hotel (it took me over three hours after we landed!) But I crept into bed, and it didn’t take too long before I fell asleep…

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2016
The Alps.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2016

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Book review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Part One and Two, written by J. K. Rowling

Many years have passed since we said goodbye to Harry Potter as a kid in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I was pretty excited when the new story was published on Sunday, and picked it up at the airpost on my way home from Oslo, where I had spent the week end.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eight story, and based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany. This isn’t a novel, though, but the script to a play that had its world premiere in London’s West End on 30 July 2016. The story is set almost 20 years after we last left Harry Potter & co., and we get to meet the children of Harry, Ginny, Hermione, Ron, and Draco. The grown ups have their jobs, and the kids go off to Hogwarts. They form friendships, some more surprising than others, and we also get an insight in their family relations and tentions.

The story is in some ways familiar to the previous Harry Potter, and even though this was a play, it was a fairly easy read. I enjoyed the story very much, and found it to be hard to put down (like the Harry Potter stories we know).

In my opinion, this is a “must read” for every Harry Potter fan, and if I am to be honest, I would be thrilled to read more books from this world! I am yet again sad to say goodbye to characters I have grown to love…

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2016
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2016

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Book review: The Fault of Our Stars, written by John Green

Not long ago I read The Fault of Our Stars by John Green. This is a book I’ve been meaning to read for a long time, but it took me ages to get around to actually read it.

In many ways I enjoyed reading the book. It’s heart warming and sad at the same time, and you know from the very beginning that this is a story that can’t have a happy ending. I mean, with a character that has terminal cancer, it can’t be more obvious, right?

The only thing I didn’t like so much, was how religious it was. When i heard that john Green actually is a chaplain by training, it made perfect sense. Not being a Christian myself, I think the editor of his book could have asked hime to tone down on the religious aspect, as that would have made this a better book, in my very personal opinion. There were also a couple of insidents in the book I found a bit too “far out” to be realistic, without saying to much in case of spoiling the book for anyone who hasn’t read it yet.

That being said, I have no problem understanding why this was a big hit with the young adult audience. The book has been translated into several languages, and is adapted into a film (I must admit I actually liked the film better than the book – that doesn’t happen very often!) The book carries a certain grines of reality but also some hope. And you have a sweet little romantic love story as well.

All-in-all the book ended up being an “average read” for me, but would have no problem recommending it for a younger audience. I guess I’m not in the targeted audience anyway…

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2016
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2016

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Happy Midwinter!

It’s Midwinter. Yule. Christmas Eve. Whatever you want to call it. (I prefer Midwinter myself). Here in Norway the night of the 24 December is when we gather to celebrate with food and gifts. It’s our “big night” this time of year. And this year, for the first time I’m spending tonight alone. It has been my choise, and to be honest, I am happy about it. I will eat nice food, relax and just enjoy quality “me time”.

And since it’s this time of year, I will share this nice version of “Fairytale Of New York”, a beautiful song in itself. Here it’s done by Katzenjammer, Ben Caplan, and The Trondheim Soloists, which in my opinion makes it extra special.

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Comfort Books

The Guardian recently had an article called “Guardian readers’ comfort library”, and after following some links, I came across the article “What’s your favourite comfort read?” As far as I understand, these are books you go back to and re-read over and over again. This made me think – what are my comfort books?

One book I re-read and never get tired of reading, is my favourite book Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. I love the story about the London under London, I love the characters, and I love the atmosphere in the book. Gaiman with this book has made London into a new place for me. After reading this book, visiting London has never been the same.

There are, of course, also books from my childhood that I love re-reading. The main one might be A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh. I grew up with reading it in Norwegian translation, but when I did a module in English literatur called 20th Century Children’t Literature at Cardiff University back in 1999, I read it in its original language (Englsih), and enjoyed it even more.

What are YOUR comfort books?

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015
My comfort books.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015

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Recipe for Chickpea Curry

This recipe was originally posted on my Norwegian food blog, but after serving it to some Irish folks, I have been begged (read: asked nicely) to make a translation into English. I was inspired to make the recipe after eating a delicious chickpea curry at the hotel I was staying at during the EasterCon in Bradford in 2013. This recipe is totally dairy and gluten free, so it is suitable for most people, even vegans!

1 teaspoon crushed ginger
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cummin
1 onion
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil (e.g. rapeseed oil)
1 can (about 400-450 g) chickpeas
2 ripe tomatoes
1 can (about 400 ml) coconut milk

How to
Make a paste of the ginger, garlic, lime juice, chili powder, garam masala, cardamom and cummin in a bowl so that it is ready to be used. This is easily done by mixing it together in a mortar or small bowl.

Finely chop the onion in a food processor.
Heat the oil in a thick-bottomed saucepan.
Add the onion and sauté for a few minutes, until soft (not brown).
Finely chop the tomatoes in the food processor. It should look like a sauce.
Add the curry paste to the onions, stir well and sauté.
Add the tomato sauce, bring to a boil and let it simmer for a few minutes.
Add the coconut milk, bring to a boil.
Drain the chickpead well, them add them to the rest, and cook until the coconut has reduced.
Season with salt and pepper.
Remember to stir the curry every now and then so it doesn’t burn.

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015
The curry goes well with brown rice…
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015

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Visiting Phoenix Park and Dublin Zoo

Tuesday 13 october 2015, corrigancj and I visited Phoenix Park and Dublin Zoo. Phoenix Park is the largest park in Europe, of 707 hectares. Dublin Zoo is located in the Phoenix Park, and is a 28 hectare park and home to some 400 animals.

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015
Flowers at the entrance of Phoenix Park.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015

To get to the zoo, we had to walk through the park, which is a really nice walk. Even at autumn there are flowers around, as well as some evergreens. Many of the trees had started to change into their autumn colours, which made a beautiful frame. Phoenix Park is known for its fallow deer that roams about free, but unfortunately didn’t get to see any.

The Dublin Zoo has so many animals and is so large you can spend a lot of time there. We walked around for three hours, and even then we didn’t see all the animals. The zoo prides itself for being part of international breeding programmes for endangered species, and there are some rare animals to meet in the zoo.

One of the rare animals in the zoo is the okapi. At first glance it can look as if it’s related to the zebras, however, they’re related to the giraffe! The okapis are said to be shy, something that was easy to see in the zoo. They liked to almost hide among the trees.

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015
One of the okapis at Dublin Zoo.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015

One of the cutest animals in the zoo, is the red panda. The red panda has become endangeres through human activity: Not only have they been hunted for their beautiful fur, but by cutting down their forest homes and the bamboo that forms the main part of their diet too. Dublin Zoo has managed to breed them, which is good.

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015
A red panda at Dublin Zoo.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015

I really enjoyed Dublin Zoo, and there were many excellent things to see: the sleeping silverback gorilla, tigers, wolves, and many more. However, one of the highlights for me were the penguins. People who know me know that I love penguins, and in Dublin Zoo we got to see them up close. The penguins that are kept at Dublin Zoo, is the Humboldt’s penguins, a vulnerable spices. They are, like the red pandas, threatend by human activity.

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015
Humboldt’s penguin at Dublin Zoo.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015

After hours of walking, we headed back to the centre of Dublin for dinner and to relax. We agreed it had ben a nice zoo visit.

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Octocon 2015

9 – 11 October I attended Octocon, the National Irish Science Fiction Convention. It was helt in the Camden Court Hotel in Dublin, and stated Friday afternoon, and ended Sunday afternoon. Guests of Honour were Emma Newman and Maura McHugh, but there were several other guests as well.

The convention was kicked off with the opening ceremony, where chairperson Gareth Kavanagh wished us welcome and introduced the Guests of Honour. I had an opening after the opening ceremony, where corrigancj and I headed for dinner. My first panel wasn’t until 20, the Bodily Autonomy in YA panel, which I found very interesting.

There were actually several LGBTQIP+ themes panels for Octocon 2015, which I was very happy about, and I attended several of them. Though I attended several really good panels through the week end, my convention highlights were the Guest of Honour interview with Emma Newman, and the Tea and Jeopardy live show.

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015
Emma Newman at the Guest of Honour interview.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015

The Guest of Honour interview with Emma Newman (who’s one of my favourite authors), was a warm and personal interview. I think Janet O’Sullivan did a great job, and there was tea and much laughter.

The Tea and Jeopardy live show was based on the Hugo Nominated Podcast of Emma Newman and Peter Newman. Being a fan of the podcast (I must admit I’m still a bit bummed it didn’t win the Hugo’s), I was thrilled to attend the show. I was offered cake by Latimer when entering the tea lair, but I politely declined. Author C.E. Murphy was Emma Newman’s guest for this episode, and it was muc fun. I laughed so much! I missed the chickens, though, but I totally understand they couldn’t be brought to Ireland…

Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015
Emma Newman and Latimer at the tea lair of Octocon 2015.
Photo: Hidden in a Book © 2015

The only problem I had with the convention, was the inside jokes at some panels (not all), that went right above my head. I am not familiar with everything Irish, and there were moments there were things I didn’t understand.

All-in-all I enjoyed my week end, and it was nice to meet up with some convention friends that I know from EasterCon and/or Twitter again. Will I come back to Octocon next year? Only time will show…

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