Following yesterday’s successful barbecue raiding party, today’s weather was complete pants. (Inger & Helge: “pants” is a colloquial expression for “very bad”.) We resorted to our now normal pattern of lazy morning with breakfast in our conservatory where we listened to the rain pattering on the glass roof.
Whilst on the narrow boat, Helge had been writing a blog of their trip – in Norwegian, of course. He’d been posting this through an Internet connection via international calls on his Norwegian mobile phone. (Ye Norse Gods! I’d love to see his mobile phone bill when it arrives.) All of which gets us around to the fact that he had his laptop with him and, having been given the key to our wifi network, spent some time in the dining room surfing. (Incidentally, a Norwegian keyboard is an interesting piece of kit with three special keys for Å, Æ and Ø, which seem to be regarded as additional letters as opposed to accent marks.)
He had clearly been reading my first two “Viking Invasion” blog entries of their visit because he shortly appeared back in the conservatory asking if I could explain “rape and pillage”. Ah! OK, so we got that concept across by resorting to a little ancient history.
It is a testament to his command over English that that was his only question after reading two blog entries. A further testament to both Inger and Helge’s English is that, when in our company, they converse with each other in English. Occasional bits of Norwegian are used but only when checking English vocabulary with each other.
Helge was soon skimming through an old issue of National Geographic. That caused us to search for an explanation of the difference between “cooperate” and “collaborate”. Before long we were thumbing through the dictionary to distinguish between “truck” and “lorry”. The dictionary turned out to be of little help.
In the afternoon we were to drive them over to the hell that is called Stansted for their trip back to Bergen. That meant packing, followed by the grand weighing-in ceremony for the “particularly large suitcase together with its various associated other cases and bags”. We had managed to simplify matters slightly by donating from our loft a large “Explore!” hold-all, enabling several smaller bags to be combined. Having had no fewer than three people grab various bags and leap onto our bathroom scales, the bags were declared to be within weight limits ±0.1 kg.
Prior to departure, Inger and Helge had graciously offered to treat us to lunch so we zoomed into Woburn to visit the Loch Fyne restaurant. After a very pleasant meal, the ladies could not resist a last chance for yet another raid, this time on a gift shop followed by the Woburn china shop. That left Helge and I dangling around outside, of course. While dangling, Helge spotted a small sign displayed outside the local newsagents.
“What does that mean?”, he enquired.
My heart sank; it read:
Motorcycles brought for cash.
“That means that you should be teaching them English”, I replied.
It’s no wonder that the English are dreadful at foreign languages when they can’t even master their own.
Using only a single crowbar, I managed to cram everything into the back of our car and we were soon off to Stansted via our mostly predictable 90 minute cross-country route. The rain stopped as we approached but, with impeccable timing, started again just as we clambered out of the car to drag the luggage to the terminal. The terminal was a complete zoo but we managed to park Inger and Helge on the end of what appeared to be a check-in line destined for Bergen before embarking on our 90 minute drive back home.
We won’t be learning so much English, now.