Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Kris-Kindle 2019

It's that time of year again. Here's the yearly Kris Kindle post.

By one whole day we are still 14 and it has been decided that we will work in couples again. With 50, 25, 20 and 15 year wedding anniversaries between us this year it would be a shame not to do enjoy KK with our partners...!!!!

Inflation has hit KK and it's €150 per couple this year.

It has also been requested that kids presents wishes be posted here and not on Whatsapp....

So, no time like the present, give us your clues and let's open the fun!!!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Christmas Message 2018

Well, I've no idea where that year went. It feels like my feet have hardly touched the ground!

Just a very short summary of life this year and a larger version of the pictures that ended up slightly microscopic on the Christmas card!

We are all well and there have not been many big changes this year. The boys continue with many activities, various musical instruments, lots of dancing and some football. I still run when I can, but, without a baby to run with in a buggy, have not been anywhere near last years level. Mari took the opportunity to join the adult ballet class which coincides with one of the boys classes. She enjoys it a lot, except when they have practice pirouetting again and again! 

We wish one and all a very merry Christmas and all the best for 2019. We've almost finished 2 new guest rooms, so if any one fancies a visit then drop us a line!

The winter was long and hard, lasting until May when we went straight into summer!

Kai loves to help in the kitchen!

A day in the city with Mormor.

Summer holiday in Ireland, Fish spotting with Grandad in their pond.

We ran our first OCR (obstacle course race) this year. A military/navy inspired race spending as much time in the sea as out including swimming out to a war ship, climbing up it and jumping off the bow! One of the most fun races I have ever done!!!

Picking stones from the "field"! 

Three young runners at the end of Re-mila, a local race.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Kris-Kindle 2018

For the 12th time, it's Kris-Kindle on the blog, and 13 becomes 14 with the coming of age of the next oldest grandchild.

This means we're back to couples, 5 of which are married, 1 engaged and 1 which is, errrr, siblings...

€100 for each couple, which each and every can decide to share or split (something the couple which isn't a couple will most likely do).

We've already decided to split our present, Mrs VL would love a new tooth brush and I'll be happy to get something for whatever is left.

So everyone, get hinting, let's be enthusiastic, energetic, humorous and don't leave it to long to get started.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Christmas Message 2017

2017 seems to have vanished in a flash. Life is hectic but good. With number three and various activities for the older boys, progress on projects is slow and time for oneself has to be squeezed in, but we wouldn't have it any other way!

The year started with us sharing 50% parental leave at home with Kai. Having invested in a decent sports buggy, I spent many happy "sleep times" out running and as a result I am on course to pass 1000km for the year and have posted my best half marathon time and improved my 10km time for the 4th year in a row.

Kai did not start Barnehage (kindergarten) until after the summer holidays. Even with 54 weeks paid leave we then still had to scrape together holidays, time in lieu and take a few weeks unpaid leave to manage.

Mari enjoyed her time at home with Kai and also got plenty of fresh air and kept herself fit (although not to the same extremes as I did!). Saying that, I think she was quite ready to get back to 100% work after the summer.

Yet again, it seems climate change is real, we had a very unstable winter and there was hardly any decent skiing possibilities locally. We did get skiing at Easter though. We stayed with Mari's Mum's in her timeshare chalet in Beitostølen. Even up in the mountains there was relatively little snow and we had to drive to ski, but not so far. We treated the oldest boys to a day on the slalom slopes and now it's not just that 9 year old who has the measure of me. Liam, only 5 at the time, had full control and I didn't always dare to follow his lines!

For the summer holiday we enjoyed a very nice rented house together with my parents in West Wittering.  The 3000km round trip through Europe via the channel tunnel went over all expectations. We made the journey home part of the holiday with 2 night stops in both Aachen, Germany and in a camping chalet in Horsens on the east coast of Denmark.


Both Une and Liam are very keen dancers. For the first half of the year they both danced Hip Hop and Break once a week. The term culminated in 4 performances of Alice in Wonderland with Liam and Une dancing as Flames (Hip Hop) and Furniture (Break). This autumn they both continued dancing Break and Hip Hop and Une also started dancing house. Next term they will have to drop Hip Hop, but we are really looking forward to them dancing Break and Une dancing House in Willy Wonkas Chocolate Factory.....

Une continues to enjoy learning the Piano and is working on the Associated Board Grade 1 pieces with a thought of taking the exam next May in Oslo. He has swapped the Baritone for the Cello, which he started after the summer. He played with the cultural school's orchestra for a Christmas concert, O come all ye faithful with a cello part arranged for open strings! 

Liam Started school in August and seems to have simply glided into it without any issues. He is doing well, and other than a tendency to leave his clothing exactly where he takes it off (not sure where he got that from), we are very happy with his progress and the way he is handling the change.

Kai, who will be 2 in March, having helped delivering and fetching Liam for many months before the summer, seemed to feel at home in Barnehage right from the start. He now loves it and is proving to be a little charmer, doing all the right things, most of the time, and only some of the wrong things some of the time!!!! We're now at a really exciting time of his development with new words coming almost everyday!

In the house we have at last finished the new office upstairs in the extension. We have moved in there, and our old bedroom is now divided into two guest rooms which are well one the way and should be ready not to long into the new year. After those are finished, the plan (for now) is to start work on our new bedroom and en-suite. The need for two upstairs bathrooms is becoming more and more pressing for every passing year!

Sadly, Mari's Dad passed away on the 7th of June shortly after his 91st Birthday. He suffered a bad fall and had a stroke shortly after.
There is, as always, so very much more to tell, but if those of you who have read this far would like to know more then drop us a line or come to visit, then you can get the stories first hand !


Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and all the best for 2018. Love Andy, Mari, Une Liam and Kai!


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Kris-Kindle 2017

All I want for Christmas is.... a Brake control module for a Volvo XC70 that doesn't display a myriad of warnings and cause all sorts of important functions to stop doing exactly that, to be able to ride my Unicycle, to have the house ready for winter, firewood, snow, peace on earth, lights in the middle barn, more space and less cr4p filling it..... So, that's what I want, but what does everyone else want.

Same set up as last year, singles, €50, and as far as I am aware (correct me if I am wrong) the same 13 members as last year.

Get posting.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Christmas Message 2016

Apologies for a very late Christmas message, especially to those who have already received Christmas cards and come looking for a message that was not yet written. Life has been, if possible, even more hectic than ever this December.

We have had a very eventful year and many good times. The year started with Mari heavily pregnant but active and in good form, even toughing out 2 weeks on here own in January whilst I was in Adelaide, Australia undertaking an upgrade on Fiberpipes 2 Glassfibre pipe production lines (Fiberpipe is a licensee of Flowtite, with whom I have now worked for nearly 10 years).

After coming home from Australia and travelling to Germany for another cancelled Cross Country ski race we spent the winter holiday in Maris works chalet in the mountains above Rujkan. Mari is still working as a public health advisor for the county council. This would be our last holiday for a few years without a small baby/toddler so it was a good chance for Daddy to introduce the boys to Slalom. After so many hours on Cross country skis they took to it like ducks to water. Une, who is normally quite sensible and careful, showed no fear and quite a bit of talent. I was dismayed when he announced "that was fun, can we do it again" at the bottom of a 2.5km run, bits of which scared the daylights out of me, and then experienced one of the darkest moments of the year when he vanished into the distance on the second run and I found him at the bottom "looking at his watch".

Mari gave birth 17 days early on a Saturday and we were lucky that her mum was at her Chalet and could come at short notice to look after the boys. They had a great time and talked themselves into an extra large portion of honey on their sandwiches!! Kai Nevin came to the world Healthy and without complications.

I have become obsessed with growing chillies, of which I am very fond. From previous failures, I knew that I needed to do a little extra to ensure germination. I spent (just) a few hours developing and building a growing system with fully automated soil heating, grow lights and moisture measurement. This proved highly successful and Mari has (mostly) been very tolerant of chilli plants here there and everywhere. I have enjoyed many a fresh chilli including Bhut Jolokia which was the Guiness record holder for hottest in the world until 2011. This year I hope to grow Carolina reaper which is the current record holder, I have also plans for an automated heated "cold frame", although, with everything else that's going on, this may be a project for another year.

Mari's dad turned 90 in May this year and we all took a trip to the west coast of Norway to celebrate in Maris sisters newly extended and refurbished farm house on an Island near Bergen. We had a very good time and were lucky to experience good weather, which really doesn't happen often. It is such a beautiful place when the sun shines.

Our summer holiday started with a week in Finland celebrating our god daughter (and nieces) confirmation.

A little later it was on to Ireland for a few days in a country house hotel in Wicklow before travelling on to Cork for my younger sister Clare's wedding. We took advantage of having the whole family in one place and Kai was baptised in my parents and oldest sisters local church in west cork. After this we enjoyed a great week in together with most of the rest of our Family in self catering Cottages on the small west cork island of Inish Beg. We almost had this wonderful estate all to ourselves and really enjoyed ourselves. All in all a very memorable and enjoyable holiday, although I did become a little bit weary of packing everything a family of 5 with a small baby needs in and out of cars and aeroplanes!

Une is now 8 and in the 3rd class of primary school. He is doing well at school and really enjoys mathematics and reading, he is also now starting to get a hang of reading English, so much so that he follows when I am reading for him at bed time and complains if I miss out words or read words in the wrong order. We have been reading the whole of the Hiccup memoirs (How to train your dragon) and are now on the 11th book and finally getting close to finding out if Hiccup can save the day... I can highly recommend these books to parents out there!!

Liam, who is 5 is now in his final year of barnehage (kindergarten) and struggled for some time with being one of the oldest and not having older boys to look up to and hang out with. Right from the start he had his big brother to look after him, and has always been physical and enjoyed being with the older boys. It took him a while to feel comfortable and enjoy being the one the others looked up to and followed.

 Both boys have ended up with quite a handful of activities, and the first days of the week are a bit of a logistical challenge. Une has Baritone and Football on Mondays, Hip Hop dancing on Tuesdays, Piano and Swimming on Wednesdays. He is showing a fair talent on the Piano and at times it is difficult to get him away from it. He would probably be also competent on the Baritone if he had the motivation to practice! Liam also plays football and started hip hop this year. Having 2 boys in 2 different groups added to the already challenging logistics and meant that Kai had to be dragged out on Monday evenings so we were very grateful when Liam was allowed to join Unes group despite being 1 year too young. Their group made it to the final of the "dance off" and danced on stage in a venue in Tonsberg. The dancing school do a great job and it is really impressive to see what they achieve especially with the older groups. Both boys absolutely love it as well!!

Mari went back to work (50%) in the middle of November and I have started 50% leave. We will continue like this until May next year. Although we have applied for a place in barnehage starting in May, Kai will most likely start in August. We are not yet quite sure about how we will handle this gap, but it will most likely involve us using up most of our holidays and taking some unpaid leave.

Despite all the driving here there and everywhere and a new baby in the house, I have managed to take advantages of any "dead time" (while boys are at football and hip hop) and keep up my running. I havn't run any marathons this year, but improved my times on all other distances. We have purchased a sports buggy which I run with every time I am at home with Kai and he is ready for his sleep time. (we are now on 50/50 parental leave).

Work on the inside of the house is progressing, one of the reasons why the run up to Christmas has been extra busy and this post is so late. The first of the new rooms is almost ready and was used as a guest room for Maris sisters family who visited for the Christmas celebrations.

It's too late to wish you all a merry Christmas, but we hope you had you all had a good one and wish you all the best for 2017. Love and regards to all our friends out there around the world, Any, Mari, Une, Liam and Kai

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Kris-Kindle 2016

The demographic of KK is changing. The first of the third generation will soon pass the age of consent and more importantly for all the aunts and uncles, the age when he qualifies for Christmas and birthday presents. It's good to have one less to think about before any more turn up.

KK therefore has a new member, who cannot be defined as a couple. Therefore we are back to individuals. One can only assume that also those who were mad enough to marry into the Family are included (for the first time on their own 2 feet) and that long term partners who live under the same roof are also in for the first time on there own.

So, please correct me if I am wrong, but this years KK is made up of the following.

2 Grandparents.
5 Siblings
2 Husbands
2 Wives
1 Partner
1 Grand Child.

Probably just as well that we've kicked off a few weeks earlier than last year. There should be time for lots of fun and games as people give their cryptic or otherwise clues. The best news is that I already know what I want......

As ever some hints about what the other nieces and nephews would like are also highly appreciated.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Christmas Message 2015

The main theme of this year for us has been the work on the house. Construction work on the extension started early in February and continued for about 10 weeks. Then the builders returned after the summer holidays and made the external modifications to the south end of the house including new double glass doors and a patio/steps out to the garden. We have had an architect prepare a fully updated set of drawings that will transform the house inside and out. It's going to take a good few years to complete this work, and we'll be living in a half finished house for that time, but at least we now know exactly where we're going and so far we are super happy with the results.

We did a lot of the stripping and tidying ourselves and the periods when the builders where here were quite intense. There was a little bit too much "musical rooms" at times as we had to empty most of the rooms we were living in.

It's a lot less finished on the inside than the outside, we're doing most of the inside work ourselves so, as ever, we are not short of things to keep ourselves amused! I can at least say that it is insulated, so the house is no colder than it has been.

Une finished his 1st year of school and started 2nd class after the summer. He is doing well and enjoying school. He is also playing football and attending hip hop dancing. Just this evening he has been to a "dance off" where his group had made the finals in the category of best improvers!

Liam still has one more year after this at kindergarten, but all the same has been in the oldest group since the summer. He manages fine with the older kids and really has a good time and gets involved in all the activities.

We had a long weekend with Mormor (grandmother) in Beitestølen during easter and it was great to be able to get out for a couple of proper skiing trips with the boys. Une and Mari had a trip of well over 10km and we all had a 6 km trip back to the chalet from the top of the ski lift in absolutely fantastic conditions.

This summer we all visited "Uncle Stephen" in London and the boys enjoyed a trip to Legoland in
Windsor (as did their Dad and Uncle). After this we enjoyed a week in a Norwegian mountain chalet together with Grandma and Granddad (and Mormor for a couple of days).

We were very lucky to have a weekend away on our own for my mates wedding on the Wirral, thanks to good friends that were looking after Une and Liam from Sunday to Tuesday. This was the 2nd time in the last 7 years that we have had a night alone together, so three whole days in a different country was something very special. We had a great time!

I still have some travelling with my job and this year trips included South Africa, Argentina, Columbia and Saudi. Whilst there is an awful lot to do at home with the kids and the building work it is still exciting and a privilege to be able to see the world and experience different cultures. All being well there should be a trip to Adelaide early in the new year.

In addition to travelling with work I found time to travel to Sweden for the 90km Vasaloppet (cross country skiing race), which I completed in a little under 11 hours and to England for Bacchus Marathon which I just managed to cross the line under 4 hours (but only by 8 seconds!). In addition I also ran two Ultra Marathons, 52km and 50km. Next year it will be Konig Ludvik Lauf in the German Alps!

Mari is still with the Fylkeskommune (County Council) and a lot of her efforts have focused on a pilot public health survey for the inhabitants of Vestfold and 3 other counties. Mari has also been heavily involved in setting up a "beredskapsvakt" (civil response group) with Red Cross in the municipality.

We both turned 40 this year and enjoyed a great garden party with friends and family in August.

We took the hard decision to have Peggy put to sleep in February. She was a very old lady of around 14 years and we have very fond memories of our time with her.

Our 3 remaining Bengals now have free access to the garden via a cat flap and we now enjoy deliveries of dead mice at frequent intervals. Most likely it's Asia who is terrorising the rodent population, but we have yet to confirm this.

The final "little" bit of news is that Mari is expecting, and all being well, I will get even less done on the house from the end of March on. We've be for a few scans and everything looks good with the baby and the Mum. No, it's not two and we don't know if it is a girl or a boy"

So, here's wishing all our friends and family a Very Merry Christmas and All the best for 2016!!

All our love, Andy, Mari, Une and Liam.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Kris-Kindle 2015

So, definitely time to get this malarkey underway for another year. It's €100 per couple again this year and each couple can choose if they will have individual presents or 1 joint one.

Get posting, we've only got a few weeks before things need to be sent. Creativity and hilarity is desired.

The other thing that is desired is wishes for the smalls and clothes sizes if appropriate.

Monday, March 23, 2015

House Improvements #30. Taking shape.

As ever, I've fallen behind in my blogging. Now, however, as I look out of a 19th floor window over the beautiful Colombian city of Medellin high up in the Andes, I have a couple of hours to kill before bed so what better to do!

Things moved on quickly and by the end of the second week the roof construction was in place and the extension was really taking shape.

It was real thrill to come home from work each day and see the house dramatically changed from the day before.


In what will be the new office, we decided to have the room open all the way up to the roof joists. The original house does not have particularly high ceilings so we decided this was worth the extra effort and cost to add a feeling of "roominess". The office is well used, with all the bills to pay, e-mails to send and Mari working from home up to one day a week.

We were both surprised by the depth of the beam required to hold the weight of the roof (even though it is dimensioned for snow). Even after we've put in an air gap and 30cm of insulation this is going to be a great feature.

During the second week, the windows and balcony doors also arrived. We've organised all the materials ourselves and surprisingly enough had to ask to have these delayed and stored in the factory so we didn't have to store them for weeks ourselves.

We'd have to wait another 2 weeks before we saw these installed, but it was good to know they were here and would not delay the job.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

House Improvements #29. Main Construction Week 1

With the delays in the foundations, it was decided to start construction immediately in the new year instead of a week or 2 before the holiday. With the start of construction imminent I put in the order for the first load of materials. Primarily the 1 1/2" x 6" that would be used for the frame and some 2"x4" and 2"x6". 2 days later this was outside.

As agreed, construction on the frame of the extension started last week on Monday the 12th of January. We had a meeting with the builders on Monday morning early and as we set off to work, they set of to fetch all there equipment.

Arriving home on Monday and Tuesday was a slight disappointment with apparently very little visible progress (although they had fetched a lot of equipment on Monday and put down the bottom support on Tuesday and measured all the relative heights, so they had been working hard).

Coming home on Wednesday was a different story. Suddenly most of the wall frames for the ground floor were in place. I travelled to Germany on Thursday morning and when I came home on Saturday this is the site I saw.
Here's a view of the new "library" with it's large windows and high ceiling.

and here's the new entrance/porch.

Only issue this week was the telephone cable which did not survive a meeting with the chainsaw the used for removing the old cladding. This did not take long for me to fix and we had phone/internet again on Saturday evening.

With the frames of the first floor complete, week 2 was due to start with flooring for the 1st floor.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Summer Holiday Rota System (SHRS), a suggestion.

We discussed this briefly during the summer holiday in Cumbria and would like to go further on this idea, please discuss in the comments.
Why have a SHRS?

It will make it easier to reach a common decision each year, and it is good to be able to plan ahead. The Nicholls family is growing and communication about holiday plans can take a lot of time and effort.

What are the obligations?

It is great if as many as possible are able to join in on the common holiday, but it is entirely voluntary for an individual or a family. There should be a good reason for diverting from the rota one year, for example, somebody arranging a wedding with a desire for a common holiday in connection with this.

Specific responsibilities:

Those that live in a host country take the first initiative for arrangements that year. Those that do not live in neither Ireland, Finland or Norway are responsible for the “Other country” year (see below).

Here is the system:

It is based on the pattern since 2011 and we shall call it BISON.

B= Break year (2011)

I= Ireland (2012)

S= Finland (Soumi, since it makes a nice word!) (2013)

O= Other country (2014)

N= Norway


This means that it is Norway in 2015, and ahead the years will be like this:

2016 =B

2017= I

2018= S

2019= O

2020 = N


What now?

Comments and discussion please. Agree, Disagree, Don't know....

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmans Message 2014

So, another year has gone and this one has been no less hectic than all the others.

The year started with both boys still very happy in their last 6 months together in kindergarten. For the first time as a family we treated ourselves to a traditional "winter holiday" and rented a chalet for a week in Vierli up on Hardangervidda. We had a great time. We finally built the Lego Campervan that we had bought Easter 2013 during our visit to Legoland. We dug out a snow cave and made a snow castle and did lots of cross country skiing. Unes' skiing abilities came on with leaps and bounds and during the week he managed a trip of 9km which took him over the 50km total for the season he needed to be awarded "gull barneskimerke" (gold distance).

Not long after, Mari, who had a temporary 80% position at the National public health institute in Oslo landed a full time and permanent job as an advisor in epidemiology for the public Health group in Vestfold fylkeskommunen (Vestfold county council). This job is based in the nearby town of Tønsberg, a welcome end of four hours a day spent commuting. She is enjoying having the possibility to work on long term issues with the knowledge that she will be able to follow them all the way to the end.

During the summer, after a long drive through Europe, we enjoyed a fantastic 2 weeks in Cockermouth. Together with the rest of my now very extend family and Peggy, who enjoy returning home, we rented Woodhall.

This is a lovely country house and gardens which had space for all of us. During our time there we discovered all the fun things to do in Cumbria that we hadn't done during the years we lived there. Both children and parents had a fantastic time and one of the highlights was hanging off the side of Conister on the "via ferrata", while the rest of the Family visited the slate mine!

I continue my running and cycling and our trip to Cumbria coincided with the Lakeland Marathon in Coniston. Mari and I, together with 3 other members of the "family" ran the half distance and enjoyed a tough but spectacular outing in the fells.

Later in the year, I joined my younger brother Stephen and a couple of mates and ran the Bacchus marathon in Dorking in September. My time was an unimpressive 4:39, but in my defence I had my week old broken nose straighten 2 days before the race. Also, Bacchus is off road and not flat with a winning time over 3 hours.

Une, now 6, started school in September, and whilst the change from Kindergarten has been a challenge, he is loving learning and his reading is really starting to develop. Liam, 3, has not missed his big brother in kindergarten too much and really enjoys being one of the bigger boys. Une started swimming this autumn and continues to play football. Liam, has been doing Gymnastics, which he really loves.

As ever, the list of projects started this year is longer than the list of projects completed. one job that did get finshed was building Maris new bike, a foldable full size 26" mountain with a "Changebike" frame purchased from Taiwan. Mari folds it up and puts it in the boot of the car so that she can park outside the toll ring and cycle the last bit into work.

Another project, which has taken up a lot of time during the spring and the Autumn was changing the roof on the lowest part of the barn. It was a job that had to be done, but turned out to be even bigger than anticipated and the extent of the job and the scope was perhaps not fully understood and agreed, still the roof is now on and it's no longer leaking or liable to disappear in a gust of Wind.

Otherwise, as you can see in some other posts, we started work with an architect earlier in the year and are now underway with an extension and substantial internal changes on the house. It's going to be a process that takes a number of years, but we are looking forward to adding our own touch to the house.

We still have 3 of our Bengals, Asia, Anitra and Amazing. They are getting older but still healthy and highly active. Peggy is showing signs of her 13+ years and has had a few scares. Just now she is doing OK, but is quite deaf (although this is partially selectable).

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and all the best for 2015!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

House Improvements #28. Foundations, heating cables, windows and doors.

Around the beginning of October, a few men and a digger turned up and proceeded to remove part of the front of the house. Before they arrived, it looked like this.

And after a day, there was a small bit of the house and a large chunk of the garden missing!

I must say that, even though I prefer to do things myself, it is quite fun to come home each day and see that other people have been there and that the job has progressed. The new foundation walls went up quite quickly, but due to the contractor using his head instead of the drawings and our late decision to have heating cables in the external steps and entrance finishing the job took a bit longer than planned.

But here it is, foundations complete. The delays meant that the next part of the construction will not start until the week after new year. That's no real problem, we're not in that much of a rush and the window supplier has agreed to hold the windows until the are needed early in February. Good news, the barns already full without having to find space for 8 windows and 2 balcony doors!