Cycling Full Circle
Cycling Full Circle 

My background

I was born in county Durham; in the middle of 2 brothers; a half-breed of Norwegian and English stock.  My brothers and I were bilingual 'til we started school, but, when none of our friends spoke the lingo, our mum eventually gave up speaking Norwegian to us.  Over the years, though, I have tried to keep something of the language going and have also continued some of our Norwegian traditions (such as making kransekake for Christmas; wearing my mum's richly-embroidered national costume on Christmas Eve; toothpaste kaviar (hurray for a local IKEA); buying gjetost (dark, fudgy goats milk cheese) whenever I can).

 

When I was 4 and a half, we moved to the Midlands, staying there until I had finished school, when I moved to Bristol to train as a physiotherapist.  Once qualified, my first job was in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales;  thence to Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (setting up a physiotherapy department in the first private hospital in the Middle East), where I met my husband-to-be; on to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for a couple of years;  back to Bristol.

 

Children came along and I stayed at home as a full-time mum for 12 years or so.  During this time, I decided I'd really like to learn British Sign Language (BSL), a direct result of seeing a friend signing with her deaf parents-in-law.  As a consequence of attending BSL classes at Bristol University, I found myself eventually working at the Centre for Deaf Studies at the University, which is where I remained until 2011.  I worked mainly on the admin side of practical research projects dealing with video telecommunications: really exciting technology, primarily because it enabled remote communication for the first time for, and  with, those whose preferred language was sign language (potentially as innovative and life-changing as when the telephone was invented for hearing people).

 

As a child, I remember glorious summers in Norway, spent mainly at  the family summerhouse:  a traditional red wooden building, which had been transplanted from elsewhere in Norway and re-assembled on the rugged, rocky promontory of this particular peninsula, reached only by the little phut-phut ferry steered by Østerman, the ferryman.  From here my brothers and I would row across the sound to different islands and bays, crabbing with fish heads, obtained from the local fishing boats, dangling from string and held over the side of the boat to entice the beady-eyed crabs to clamber onto them and then be lifted startlingly into the boat, to scamper about trying to nip anything/one in touch.  When my children were about the same age as my brothers and I had been when we used to go to Norway, they were able to experience a flavour of these idyllic memories . Nothing had changed at the summer house from 30 years previously;  even the earth toilet was still in use, a lone hut sitting proudly amongst the fertile fir trees, regularly having its (well-broken down!) contents distributed to nourish the surrounding soil with a rich, natural compost. (Too much information?!)

 

I suppose I have travelled a fair bit in my life: in addition to bits of Scandinavia, other parts of Europe and the Middle East, I have trekked in the Himalayas, visited Hong Kong and briefly popped over to Brazil.  There are still loads more places to which I'd like to go in the future.

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