Arriving at Oslo which we visited at New Year, there was no snow at first, disappointingly for the kids. We visited a ski centre high in the mountains around Oslo where a machine was pumping out fake snow, creating its own snow-globe world for sports enthusiasts. While my husband and younger son went skiing, I queued a long time for an expensive pizza with my pre-teen son who had opted out of skiing. Everything I did seemed to cause him embarrassment. When I asked two Norwegian lads if we could share their table in the crowded lodge, it was as if I had taken off my clothes and danced on the table tops, he was so mortified. Admittedly, I felt out of place amongst sports enthusiasts and I was not sure if I was breaking any unspoken rules of Norwegian social etiquette just by being me. My son's preteen embarrassment aside, I admit an urge to shake things up when I feel the pressure of conformity upon me, and my son's mood added to that. The jazzy chaos of flakes is the answer to stasis in the snow globe.
I felt more at ease in the Vulkan district of Oslo, a former industrial area we visited along the river Akerselva. It is a newer development in Oslo with innovative and sustainable architecture built on the idea of sharing resources, amenities and equipment amongst its residents. These include schools, cultural centres, offices and food-halls. Alongside green initiatives like car-sharing, it also two urban bee-hives designed by the Snøhetta, the firm of architects responsible for the Oslo Opera House. Over the bridge from this area, my eye was caught by a former wheat elevator, now student accommodation and an intriguing playground, with its vertical poles like pick-up-sticks.
I didn't see any snow globes on my visit to Oslo. Perhaps with snow being so commonplace, it is the last thing that needs to be conjured. In my photos I pictured an alternative snow-globe, one with glowing colours to see off the winter gloom, set against the night sky, peaceful but not still, with a layer of crisp snow on the ground. Stirring, but not shaken.