I know it's been pretty quiet here recently, here's the explanation - mostly in pictures (note: a fair share of these are taken with my mobile phone camera, so not the best of quality, but click on them for larger versions).
Last week I was racing to get everything out of the way before I set out for a week long trip of work and holiday, and Thursday saw me getting up at 4am to catch my flight to Newcastle via Stavanger after only a few hours sleep. You can imagine my delight then, when I at last, for late lunch, was able to get this tray of delights delivered via room service to my ever so comfortable room in the west wing of the estimable Jesmond Dene House (which, I should mention, was a complimentary stay, courtesy of NewcastleGateshead Initiative):
That night we had dinner at The Newcastle United Football Club and were treated a show-round of St James' Park. Many of the older women lined up to have their pictures taken next to the shirts of Owen and Shearer (yes, the tour included a peek in the wardrobes), but I was rather taken by the strange ambience of the empty stadion:
While in NewcastleGateshead, we encountered a number of school classes making their way around town and were told that it was quite common for school classes to use the city as their classroom. Here's one of them, all the kids in deep concentration with the task of trying to draw the bridge:
After Newcastle, I was off to Ireland, on yet another uncomfortably early flight. My visit coincided with that of the Norwegian Environment Minister, so I stopped by Dublin Castle on Monday for the press conference following the meeting of the Norwegian, Irish, Icelandic and Austrian Environment ministers (on nuclear energy and the feared reopening of Thorpe, Sellafield). This is not my best picture from the event, but by far the funniest as everyone seems preoccupied with his or her own affairs:
Press conference, Dublin Castle
My real purpose with visiting Ireland, however, was to see two good friends who work as volunteers at an animal refuge there. Most notably, this place caters for monkeys who've previously been used for labratory research. The place is in the middle of the Irish countryside, so I could only dream of getting online and was cut off from the world for quite a few days, but as you see from the pictures, it was a very peaceful, tranquil corner of the world, where, frankly, the world seemed to fade into the background:
Rory looking after his monkeys
All in all a lovely trip, full of magnificent views and good experiences, but it was cold in the Irish countryside, smoking ban and all, or maybe it just was the effect of running around like a headless chicken for a while and then facing complete peace and quite, in any case I got ill, very ill, towards end of the stay, so that's another reason why it's been a bit quiet here and I still have all those emails left unanswered...