Friday, July 9, 2010

On Portveien 2

I was out walking my regular route to the university the other day when I decided to take a detour through the kolonihage. A kolonihage (directly translated: colony garden) is an area of garden patches designed to give those of us who are living in condos or apartment buildings the pleasure and agonies of having a garden. Typically each garden has a tiny cabin or hut in it, so the kolonihage looks a little like a village for small people. (By using my googling skills I have learned that the proper English word for kolonihage would be either 'community garden' or 'allotment'.)

Oslo has quite a few of those 'villages' since gardening always has been considered healthy for mind and body, something every Norwegian should partake in directly after climbing a mountain or hike in the forest – activities we all do every Sunday, of course.

I’ve never really been the gardening (or mountain climbing) type, but I like walking through the kolonihage. The houses are adorable, and it is rather amazing to see what they manage to do even in such limited garden space. Flowers, vegetables, trees – and the obligatory hammock.

Image by Hans-Petter Fjeld
Since I moved not long ago, I haven’t been able to explore the kolonihage in my new neighbourhood yet. As I walked down the gravel lane with white picket fences on each side, I suddenly noticed a familiar pennant. It said “Portveien 2”.


I realize this will not make sense to anyone that isn’t Norwegian, but let me try to translate it. Imagine you were walking around in your neighbourhood, and suddenly you found yourself strolling down Sesame Street. (Don’t tell me you didn’t go SQUEEEEE! now… )

"Portveien 2" was a television show for kids when I was little. They showed cartoons, and they played games, and there were songs (some of which I still know). This show might even be where my strange fondness for giraffes originated, since there was a giraffe living in the house without the humans knowing about it. The giraffe kept “borrowing” their stuff and make funny faces behind their backs, though also leave presents every now and then if my memory serves me right (something we shouldn’t entirely trust, since I can’t have been older than maybe five when this was running).

I always knew they shot this show somewhere in Oslo, and I may have even known that it was in one of the kolonihage, but this sounded unlikely to me since I didn’t remember the house in the show as particularly small. In retrospect, I can think of two possible explanations to that: First of all, I was a lot smaller myself, so naturally the house looked bigger. Secondly, all houses looked small inside the TV… (Naturally, this was before the age of giant plasma screens)

Seeing the (slightly smaller than I remembered) house took me right back to my childhood. Suddenly I craved popsicles and my mother’s homemade pizza. I imagined waving my bare toes from the highest point of the swing set’s pendulum. Had I seen any, I would have picked wild strawberries and put them on a straw.

Walking through that kolonihage made me 20 years younger in a second. When I left, I was back at my own age, but with a smile on my face.


In other giraffe related news, I was thrilled to discover earlier this week that one of my giraffes (one that has made an appearance on this blog before) was chosen as "Giraffe of the day # 391" on This project, which started as a silly bet, has earned originator and Giraffe in Command, Ola, 884,834 handmade giraffes since he started collecting a little over a year ago. The goal is to reach 1,000,000 before the end of this year, and it looks like Ola is going to win his bet. But there are still 115,166 giraffes missing - you go make one right now, and upload it to (I'll provide the link just one more time, shall I?) - just kidding - to, of course :)

Have a very happy weekend, lovely followers! Don't forget to check in at the Burrow Blog. We have a special something planned for this weekend :)


Marjorie said...

I don't think I would squee if I ended up walking down Sesame St., But if I somehow ended up walking down Mr. Roger's Neighborhood you might hear some squeeing.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

A wonderful blog to read Norway looks a lovely place to live, Never been there but who knows one day......
Have a lovley wekk-end.
Take care and thanks for the visit,


Cruella Collett said...

Marjorie - perhaps you would squee from terror if Big Bird suddenly came walking towards you...
I guess Sesame Street was the most well-known show I could think to compare it with (did you know we had a Norwegian version of that too? It was called "Sesam Stasjon". It was basically the same concept, but ours took place in a railway station. We still had Bert and Ernie and the Cookie Monster, though :)

Yvonne - you should come visit, then! In the meantime I'm glad you're getting a little piece of Norway right here :)

RosieC said...

Well, being the consumer-child that I was, I would probably squee over something like the set of the Mickey Mouse Club (not the really old ones with Franky and Annette before their beach movies, but the "new generation", so to speak). Or (and I almost hate to admit this but, hey, it's no my blog, and I fully give you permission to make fun of me for it) the show that was Alanis Morrissette's first: You Can't Do That on Television. (I actually remember most of these clips).

Congrats on your giraffe!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's a cool find in your neighborhood.
And sorry, I don't believe I would squeee...

Yvonne Osborne said...

I'm always happy to meet someone from across the ocean. Thanks for a peek into your world. I've always liked the idea of Norway. I'm sure it's beautiful. Thanks for following my blog.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Oh, and yes, I wanted to say gardening IS healthy for mind and body. I'm off to do mine now before the heat sets in.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Cruella, please stop by my blog when you have a moment. I have something for you in my Friday post.

Cruella Collett said...

Rosie - oh, I'm no better myself. I probably couldn't get any squeer (somehow my verbification of the word "squee" didn't look quite right...) than had I stumbled into Disney's Beauty and the Beast (or moer specifically, the library *sigh*)

Alex - perhaps my estimation of the squeeability (see, that worked much better than the verb did) of a real-life Sesame Street was completely off? Huh!

Yvonne - likewise! As far as I'm concerned, the fact that the blogosphere is so international is part of what makes it so awesome!
(And yes, gardening is good for us - I'm just no good for the garden...)

Patricia - oh, wow, thank you so much! I am coming over to your place to celebrate properly later, but right now I unfortunately have to run for work!

Jemi Fraser said...

I'd feel the same way if I happened to stumble upon Mr. Dressup's house! He's a Canadian icon! :)

Boonsong said...

We had a version of Sesame Street here too. It was called Noodle Boulevard.

I was fascinated by the kolonihage information. What a splendid concept.

Have a nice day, Boonsong

Hart Johnson said...

I love that you found the cottage where your childhood show was, right in your neighborhood! That's fabulous! I also find it fabulous that they have community gardens all over Oslo. We have them here, but typically just a few per city, so I would imagine the majority of people are too far to walk (in Ann Arbor, especially the people who live in apartments or condos and if you own a HOUSE, you could just do your own)

Congrats on your giraffe being chosen! (though my favorite is still the pic of the giraffe drawing the giraffe)

RosieC said...

The Beauty and the Beast library? *swoon* :)

Cruella Collett said...

Jemi - that actually sounds familiar. Either I have seen it somehow, or I have spent too much time around Canadians ;)

Boonsong - *snort* Noodle Boulevard? Hehe, that is priceless!

The kolonihage is indeed a splendid concept - if only I could afford one I might try (but I think the waiting lists are kind of long).

Tami - I know where five of these garden villages are, but there is supposed to be four more. Maybe I'll have to go treasure hunting!

Rosie - I know, right? I think I have even dreamed about that library. You know, during the night and not just wishful thinking ;)

roxy said...

I love any experience that makes me feel younger . . . Cheers for children's television. Have a great weekend. :)

Cruella Collett said...

Roxy - the funny thing is that children's television shows aired nowadays make me feel really old. When watching it with my nephews I've been known to say "Kids these days! When I was young..."

Have a great weekend yourself :)

Deb and Barbara said...

I remember visiting Germany in my teens and being very impressed with the community gardens they had there. Happy news is they're starting to offer them up here in Ontario too. I think it's brilliant!

Chary Johnson said...

Thanks so much for giving us a glimpse into your world in Oslo. I have never been to Norway but let me tell you, I would love to walk through your community gardens. I bet the flowers are vibrant in the spring.

Excellent post!

Jan Morrison said...

my squeeing would be for The Friendly Giant's castle which by the way had a giraffe named Jerome. So there. And a chicken.

LTM said...

yay, award-winning giraffe! And I love the image of the tiny cottages and gardens... my college roommate is a Swede & is back in Lund. I would love to visit; it always sounds amazing~
good stuff! :o)

Lynda Young said...

Squeeeeeee! Yep, it's a sound I'd make. I might frighten a few people, but that's part of the fun ;)

Cruella Collett said...

Barbara - it really is a cool system, don't you think? In the distant future I probably see myself living somewhere with a garden connected to the house, but if that is impossible I might consider the community garden option.

Chary - I'll take you if you ever get the chance to visit :) Since the owners of these little garden patches have gone out of their way to get gardens, they take very well care of them.

Jan - Jerome the Giraffe? I love it! :D

LTM - I have never been to Lund, but I've been many other places in Sweden, and it is true - the kolonihage cottages do look a lot like Swedish old-fashioned farmhouses.
(If you do get to go to Lund - make sure to stop by Norway as well!)

Lynda - that's what squees are for ;)

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