I knew little about Norway, having never been there. Like everyone I knew it from the list of stereotypes people used to describe the place - the Land of the Midnight Sun; Roald Amundsen and the South Pole; Thor Heyerdahl and Kon-Tiki; Edvard Munch and The Scream; Henrik Ibsen and Hedda Gabler Edvard Grieg and Peer Gynt; Quisling; The Heroes of Telemark; Morten Harket and A-ha; Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Jo Nesbo ..... er .... and that's about it, apart from the fact that it had a reputation for being expensive.
But Norway was a popular holiday destination from the North East. There had always been close ties between the two places. Newcastle was twinned with Bergen, Norway donated a Christmas tree every year and King Harald V was the recipient of the Honorary Freedom of Newcastle. Several holidaymakers were all set for a two week trip to see the fjords. One of them was Mrs Whojimaflip. Her trip started on a misty and drizzly August day . . . . . . . .
'Arrived at the airport. Got there far too early, one hour before the flight. As we sat having a coffee, the speaker announced that the plane hadn't even left Bergen and there was a two hour delay. But B.K.S gave us a £2 voucher to spend on the aeroplane. It was when I was at the toilet that they called the flight. We stood in a long queue for the customs, but as there was nobody there, we walked straight through, out of the building and onto the plane.
'What are you doing here?' the Steward asked us. 'We are not ready yet.'
My friend was most embarrassed.
When we got to Bergen we took the bus to our hotel - the Rosenkrantz. It was a modern hotel but not understanding pipes and showers etc, I turned a switch by mistake which heated the whole bathroom, all night. By morning it was like an oven and the Manager had to come and clear the smoke and sparks which were coming out the bathroom.
Went for walk to the shops but we couldn't understand the concierge's map and it took us three hours to find them. Came back. Watched an American Western called Branded. Had some lager. Felt light, so took it to bed. Start drifting off ... but hear a noise at the door. It is only young boys trying to get into my bedroom ... for drinks I might add. I am in my mid 60's.'
Though it was at the end of the 1960's when the world was going through a time of massive change, there was still a certain innocence to life. Mrs Whojimaflip led the way.