I had the most amazing introduction to the beautiful city of Oslo last week, as a guest of my Norwegian publishers, Bazar, at their Feelgood Festival. I was invited there to talk about A Hundred Pieces of Me, which has just been published in hardback in Norwegian as 100 Umistelige Ting (don’t ask me to pronounce that, please) – and looks very pretty. Here it is in a bookshop near my hotel: I have those actual wellies Gina is wearing on the front…IMG_6049

I was interviewed alongside some fascinating writers, including Sarah Jio, Jan Phillip Sendker, and Sofia Lundberg; it was so interesting listening to them discuss their novels and inspiration – I left with a long Amazon wishlist! It felt rather strange talking about a book that I finished writing nearly four years ago, but the good thing about setting everything in Longhampton is that, of course, Gina’s been in my mind more recently – helping Libby out with the hotel renovations in One Small Act of Kindness. So although it was rather bittersweet following Gina’s life backwards through that long process of healing, at least I knew she was in a happier place. And who knows where she’ll be next time…

Apart from talking to writers, chatting with readers, and eating the delicious ‘health balls’ provided by Capellendamm, I had a little time to wander around Oslo, in search of my usual holiday haunts: bakeries, short boat trips, and Viking ships. I found several gorgeous-looking bakeries which I DIDN’T EAT AT (I’m currently trying to live my best low-sugar life, inspired by the glowing Deidre at Transworld – I give it till June), but I did leap on board the little ferry to Bygdøy where the Viking Ship Museum is located. There, you can see three ships used as burial vessels, including one dated to 834 which contained the remains of an elderly queen and a younger woman, assumed to have been sacrificed to accompany her mistress into the afterlife. They were buried with clothes, tools, sleds, fifteen horses, two cows… and six dogs.


I’m not sure what I’d have buried with me in my Viking longship, to equip me for the trip to the afterlife. My entire collection of Olivia Morris shoes, probably, plus my ukelele and guitar, a packed lunch, and Bonham and Violet’s caskets, just to confuse the archaeologists. And my phone, just in case.

Other highlights of beautiful Oslo included: morning coffee in the sumptuous Grand Hotel where I was staying (most famous resident being Ibsen who had lunch there every day, and every Nobel Peace Prize winner); an hour’s stroll around the compact city centre, its main street lined with massive bowls of blue pansies leading down to the Palace; the sweetly simple heart-shaped memorial at the Cathedral to those killed in the 2011 terror attacks; and the dramatic carved wooden friezes around the modernist City Hall, depicting various colourful and frequently very violent scenes from Norse mythology.


If you’re looking for a different citybreak destination, Oslo’s only a short flight away and well worth a visit. And the Norwegians are so friendly and charming that my Eurovision vote is looking worryingly split this weekend…