NORWAY: LAND of fjords, fish, ferry boats and..... Tripp Trapps. Which, to the uninitiated, are highchairs. But not just any highchairs. Somehow Tripp Trapps, made by the Norwegian firm Stokke, stand like a parental badge of honour in middle-class British kitchens: owning one catapults mums and dads into some kind of super league. Or so I used to feel, strapping Louis into his Ikea hand-me-down while quipping that if we really loved him, he'd have had a Tripp Trapp (rrp £159, excluding the baby bar, cushion, harness, tray, etc etc).
Not so in Norway, where to have a child is to have a Tripp Trapp - or Tripp Trapps when numbers two and three come along. This was something I got to witness at first hand in Alesund, the coastal Art Nouveau gem that just happens to be home to Stokke, when a Norwegian family we met over a Lego session on a rainy Sunday in a local museum ended up inviting us back to their house for dinner. Salmon and Stokkes. Two kids, two Tripp Trapps.
Indeed, my fact of the trip may just turn out to be that Tripp Trapps are used as standard in Norwegian nurseries. Well, that and the fact that Norwegian mums get something called breastfeeding leave AFTER they return to work: for ten months they can spend two hours of their working day nursing, meaning they get to arrive an hour later and leave an hour earlier each day. And that's after taking ten months off at full pay (or 12 months at 80 per cent). I shudder to imagine what Tripp Trapps round a table at a London nursery would do to the fees (£1,000 minimum per month compared with £320 maximum in Norway).
Norwegians, it seems, just suck up the cost of stocking up with Stokkes. Perhaps because they don't seem terrible value in a country where a beer and fish snack at an Oslo street market costs £20. Or I guess they may just love their kids more. It goes without saying that my top interview to date is Mr Tripp Trapp himself, aka Peter Opsvik, who designed the chair back in 1972. Be still my beating aspirational mummy heart! No prizes for guessing my souvenir of choice were we actually driving our Volvo estate back to London.