Gudvangen Dream Life as a Viking – Dream-time IV

Gudvangen Dream Life as a Viking – Dream-time IV

I have already been there, in other writings, in other lives, and these are the times. I am stood between Siw-Alfadis and Blathnaid-Brigid whilst Bjorn-Ole surveys the sea from the promontory, we are in Njardarheimr in Freyr-An’ersh’s Gudvangen Village of the Vikings. I am here with my heart. I am at once really here and yet also actually here in this dream.

My Gudvangen Dream Life IV portrays me already in a Viking-style life in Gudvangen where I am actually living as Skald to the Viking Chieftain in Njardarheimr Viking Town in Norway; in this blog version everything of myth and legend has become real.

Stay in place as followers to know what happens next; beware, nothing is made up, yet most of this is dream.

NB The names used are taken from those I have known but the characters added to them are based on other people I know.

PS Credits will be given for any writings.

PPS You can become part of this by sending me thoughts and ideas adrianspendlow @ gmail.com or by commenting below (as if you were there). A huge thank you to all those who have made suggestions and offered writings (there are loads half written up for the next one).

Gudvangen Dream Life as a Viking – Dream-time IV

We use the name Viking yet we are different, we are from different worlds, different worlds of thinking. We are together; I do not think like you. I do not think like you. I am Vanadís. disI am Díser of the earth. Creature of the old ways. I craft. I drag the iron from the very earth. I tell stories. I tell stories from my mother tongue. Far away. We are all far away. We are all here. See how the spring shoots grow. See how the hammer is protective. I sew the Troll cross. There is little time to practice to survive. I swing the iron. We practice with long shafts. I see the Ramslurk grow. ramslorkI see the mists and their foreboding. The children play. The wolf sleeps. Dream people; for we are a commune. Ships come.

Our chieftain, Freyr-An’ersh, respected as he is, he welcomes, while we judge and consider. They bring more skills. We flourish. We are what you call Viking and this is where we lie. Tread lightly as you go for you walk upon our heart.

Fires suddenly burn along the tall ways. watch fireAlong the high edges of the fjord walls. The lands we hardly know of. Top side. Up there in the Sami lands; the seasonal lands of nomadism, they pay respect to us. They are watchers. They trade with us. They will come down soon as warmer weathers once faded lead to cold times before the hard freeze. They go somewhere else when it is all frozen solid. Some say they go to other worlds, some that they are always of those worlds and visit us through a veil, some that they cave-live for the winter, in the steep sides of uninhabited fjords where no one can observe their smoke.

They will come down for the final trade quite soon. Coming to us is the nearest they ever get to warm climes, and that is in the far end of autumn.

So the beacons burn. watch-fire.jpgThe ancient debt we receive for; the old old owing, yet how can we ever repay the repayors! They far surpass whatever it was in ages past that caused them to be owing to us. Yet the fire beacons burn when we are in need of warning. They watch from on high whenever they are in the heights of their seasonal hunting grounds. Their camps look down upon the fjord and they see ships come. So they light the beacon fires; one upon one upon run and light along the high ground; and we know, we know: of battles, or enemies, of returnings, of strugglings. A ship is coming, (or a leviathan). We shall not venture out to sea to see.

We shall watch. We shall prepare ourselves.

Bjorn-Ole stands the stock of blades and bows in the strategic places we have established. Our defences are in place.weapon pot

Poppa-Varg, Poppa-Volva and the other children climb Yew and Maythorn trees back on the higher ground.kids tree

Warriors; Tor-Gunlodd, Brunhildr, Ailbhe Connell and Frode-T’or climb cliff sides.

There is an expected returning. There is a ship we know and love returning just as we hoped that it would quite soon. Nothing comes. The beacon fires up high should have brought a ship or result by now. Our Viking ones are overdue. The beacons must mean other than ‘Here comes your brethren returning’.

Our thoughts are that, there is a complication. Perhaps enemies assail them. Perhaps they are all dead. Perhaps they are sinking on their way home.

We do not know and Thorfinn Asmundsson will no doubt regail us of the tale in a slash by blow way after the settling of them; the hopeful settling of them. We wish and hope for a safe fare landing together if all return and blood is staunched; the fettles calmed.

A light, we see a light. Surely we do. Just a hint of a glimpse of a dot of a shine that amplifies within the mind into a massive talisman of hope. There is a ship coming, it has a light above. We peer in hope and anxiety. Down the long fjord we glimpse for real.boat torch

It cannot be an enemy shining one light. Many fires waved would be to intimidate us, but just one would serve as a warning and defeat the objective of the incomer; so this shall be our returning vessel.

One of our brave travellers must have climbed the mast with a flaming torch and is lighting the way. No, the light would guide them very little, it must be for us to see. They are letting us know that they approach. They must be a-feared that they may not make it, they are struggling. “Sail out, they are sinking,” cries Björk-Mari, “Board our vessel here at the harbour and sail out. Just enough to crew the ship, to row to their rescue.

“Yes,” calls Siw-Alfadis, “we may need room for them to board for safe return”.

The one light in the far far distance is standing now, it comes no nearer. “We must hurry, worries Jan-Robert.

Leif-Lasse leaps, “Row, row like the wind”.

“One of you must climb the mast with a burning brand so they know you are coming, to give them hope: for us to see also so we can hope,” Signy Volsungsdottir.man torch

Long is the watching. Long is their journey. Small hands clench maternal hands. Our home ship is slowly nearing the returning vessel. Just in time perhaps we hope. But no. The far light is tipping. Slowly, steadily, heading lower. The mast is swinging. The ship is tipping. They are lost to us in some moments.

The home ship is nearing. Our hands are all gripping. We gasp. We cry out. We clench each other’s shoulders. They are, distantly from us, heading for the ice-cold sea. The nearer ship approaches them, it is traveling fast. They are rowing as hard and as sleek as they possible can. We fear that they will ram.

The one light steers beside the other light. We see the lower light lift. One ship has hit into the side of the other with its fast-incoming flank.

The power of the one ship arriving straightens the other. We see the flaming torch lift till both are the same height.

We can only guess the crew are pulled aboard. It seems that the lightened load of the suffering ship may well be enough to let her ride this stormed night.

There is no blood left in our fingertips, nor in our shoulders, or in our hearts. We can scarcely breathe for the holding of each other so very very tight.

“One ship is bringing both the crews and is pulling the other ship in too,” sighs Björk-Mari.

It is an age and an eon until those two ships near us.

The torch is gone from the mast of the rescued ship and eventually from the saviour vessel.

Our cliff-top warriors cheer.men cheer

Eventually they are home. Their ship is home.

There is much blood.

It was a battle at sea. A swooping pirate of the waters has attacked and followed and attacked again. Our ship, the returner, was valiant and saw their ship adrift and empty. The binding which held them while the crews leapt from ship to ship in battle were unloosed. And the empty ship went far adrift before it eventually would go down.

It may have been better to keep it. For our far-travelled ship was much damaged. It made it as far as it did.

The ship is home. Both our ships are home. The long-journeyed crew are mainly returned. Safe and back and families are reunited.

All is good.

Not so.

This ship which returned did not remove its battle dragon. How could it do so. It is not a trade ship which returns. It is a ship of dragonhead.d head A serpent thing upon our land. Whether intentional or not. It has been accepted here with sign of war. With sign of mystical beasts. Of other worlds. The Díser are enraged. They abandon us. The land is cursed. Cursed. We all are cursed.

The land is cursed. The Díser leave us. All last growth dies. The new growth in the spring of tomorrows will not happen.

Our chieftain must journey to the land of the Vanadís. We burn the herbs. The juniper for the visions.juniper We shall all sleep. We shall dance, we shall tremor, we shall sleep and some of us shall journey to the realms of the Vanadís and we shall tranquil them. Standing with our chieftain as he bravely speaks. He steps forward and declares. He acts for us all and his true heart is read, “We ask of the earth to return to us growth and plenty”.

There is a cost. In old old tales we hear from other lands terrible costs are paid; the life of the first born, the servitude of the next borne or other such heart-wrenching promises. Terrible things. We promise a terrible thing. We promise that one shall go from our midst to ever-serve in the all-time forever as a Vanadís, returning only at will in the when-ever and at times of need and of love and of celebration. Always over there though in the forever of the timelessness.

We shall not choose who will go though. We shall wait till one is willing. We will tell this tale for generation upon generation, the Sami at the topper-most shall also tell. From our midst and perhaps from theirs too shall emerge a chosen one; chosen by their self.

And they shall go. They will be the payment for the return of life to this valley. The Díser shall be welcomed back. The earthy ones who inhabit our realm in a distant way shall be here and the Vanadís shall be in their realm. With our daughter or son. They shall be ever watching through to ours.

That serpent beast-head upon the returning ship has taken a terrible cost and payment shall be forever. (The one who eventually went is still there even in your time as you read this and they are looking down upon us all.)

Lo the freeze times come and there is chanting, throat music, names of old old gods and beings, remembered ones; chanting, casting, renewing.

Hear the visitation from above. Down the goat path they come; the Sami.pipe

Olga-Stina leads the dancing chant for all to add to. “We sing to lead.” “We sing to enchant.” “We sing to mislead.” “We have pipes of metal to suck back our kindred’s brains in revenge.” “Follow us if you dare, if you are of evil intent.” “Look you follower, a sharp drop off a cliff.” “Come with us enemies, we will keep ourselves safe by leading you, come, come, come.” They softly spookily chant, chant.

They come to trade. First. They come to work. They drag and dodge and massively bundled tree trunks dodge and slide and drag; behind, in front, by sides. They, harnessed, bring the wood they need.sami logs

They pile and build and burn and create charcoal, here in the flatter lands of warmer ways.

They bring the wood they need. They pile and build and burn and collect; resinous flowings. Twenty two trees for every trunk needed for wood work.

There had been a huge shadow behind each one of these shamanic nomadic visitations as they traversed down the steep sides in their ancient ways here in Gudvangen; with poles under arms they steered huge mountains to down here, to bring us furs.

There is, before they disappear for winter’s hard of hardest times, a trade, a final trade.

logsWhat can we give them worth their trading, worth their skills, worth their service?

They have charcoal for their forging, resin for their building, praise and thanks for their service to us. They have worked well high above and have aplenty.

Survival.

The crunch and the green and the fruiting of the lower lands. We have lived a summer; they have lived a harshness.

We have a year’s worth of preserves for them. Some still fresh too. Some in sealed leather.

Food up there freezes, here it ferments, when buried (gravved) we dig for them and they guzzle like it is fresh; they chant and then eat more.

Have we a feast for them. “Come join us.” “Come feast”

“Talk of fermented, here is brew you yearn.”

High nethers never yielded such dairy. Milk; they glug. Yogurt with honey they laugh and laugh with joy.yog This is a feast of many things, the largest of which is joy. Joy.

We have pledges to renew and enjoin.

Then.

Then there are bounteous gifts. You from the high lands have done us so much. You are promising so much. We will be united in the blessing of the land which the Vanadís have renewed. We shall be united in the pledged of promise to these Dís. One of you, one of us, will agree to go.

We have a yield to share amongst our two types of humans and a yield to share from our world to another world; the world of Dís. We commemorate this as promise. This is an eternal gift and true true all-world promise.

Boots we have. Bounteous harvest too. Much-folded swords.swords Treasures; Coptic and Islamic. Gold in bent shapes, and coins. Coins with many pictures amongst them. Jasper. Jade even. Dying materials gathered for this trade. They ‘yeep’ at the colours they can make. They almost wee at the thought.

We give them arched strong bows.

We cry now for they return the wool we shared. We have a holy gift for them we have held back, held back. Here first is the return. Wool. Uncarded it went and spun it returns. The Sami they spin.spin

They sit and they spin. They walk and they spin. They talk and they spin. They ride and they spin. They spin.

spin.jpgThem Sami can spin,

We have bounteous return for them. We have worked hard over the years, over the seasons two results. One for us. One for them. We own, we have a result from our shared spinning. We have to give… A blanket.

A blanket.

Thus is the strength of our gift.

It will be spring-time and gone by you know this yet here is the winter gathering. The fire. The mjord. The time of tellings. Of sharings. “We gather now and hear,” declares Poppa la Princesse Une fois.

“Let me tell you of a clear blue sky,”clear sky our Sami friend now relates, “and then of a terrible sudden downpour; from an empty sky it came, till in a blink, well everything was soaked and covered. Then the strange thing happened. In that instant out of the warm blue it froze. Everything frozen. A bush, the rocky mountain side, for I was not quite at the top. The stream, the moss upon the stone. Everything was silver. Completely silver. Even myself; I had to shake, twist, to break free from it and drop thin sheets down upon the ground. In the time it takes for chick to hatch it was gone and everything was wet and damp. The sky was just as blue and clear as ever”.

“I have been down below there, nearer the dim waters – in the almost always dark,” relates Finley Mac with his woman by his side, “As we sailed out I saw things, well, a thing; it was big and it climbed. It climbed so far then it leapt. As slopes turned to crags it needed to leap to gain purchase, but all of this was fast, very fast indeed. I don’t want to know what I think it was, I don’t want to hear myself say it aloud, but it was grey, it had long arms, long legs, a big knobbly head. I almost wish I hadn’t told you”.climber

“Indeed, it was huge…bigger than a tree and then it climbed in no time,” Linnea-Ingeborg whispers, “Hundreds of feet it jumped and he told me late one night in the sleepless dark how he saw the space between land and sky where the dark bulk left the ground…”

“There was something on the way back,” says Olafr-Andreas whilst staring outward.

“Who looked out, we were sinking!” wonders Frederick Steinsson.

“No there was something.”

A few listening shudder and quietly groan; they were obviously looking too.

“It had wings,” continues Olafr-Andreas, “No it was wings; wings of shadow, yet with strength. There was nothing else though. Just the wings.wings They were slow and strong and ponderous, and they were close to the steep stone sides; low over the water. Travelling forever.” “Wings.”

“There was something else terrible travelling back with us!” outbursts Kjell-Toffe, “A man in a skirt!”

“It is a kilt”, proclaims Collum McCull.kilt

“Well, you are from the far north, even norther than the north lands; just below the ice,” spells out Johnson.

“You are Pictish,” points out Patrick.

“It is better than Elvish!” chips in Myrull-Ylva.

“Or silky!” remembers Olve-Daan.

“Or from the realms of rain, begorra,” winks Ragnhild.

“We renamed your Pictish land after us doon forget; Land of the Scots, doon forget that means Irish,” laughs Blathnaid-Brigid.

“Irish? Eh, O, OH, Aye?” laughs Collum McCull.

“Ah yes the land of little men and rainbows,” adds Lars-Eirik.

“The place where the women came from!” Blathnaid-Brigid interjects, “The scribes”.

“That is another story,” adds Add ri An.

“Hex yer, hush noo, ahn look yee tiv the skirt of the monn will yeee,” winked Inga-Idun.

“Take the blame you sailors of all Viks,” declares Hin-Mann, “All the north and all the northern lands are of the Viking in ouradays, look not to stilltocomeadays or longgoneadays I ask you to awaken promptly. All is Norse, deal with it”.

“Kjilt inne Norske Yeh,” laughs Meretha-Silje, “Pleat the material. Look yeh at hoo affluent you look. You are a Viking if you are terribly proud.” “Aifter you.” “Aifter you.” “What yer doing pushin in yer grunta?!”

I heard the dying words of Atle, “it started here”.

Eermm ok… once upon a time”, starts Björk-Mari, “there was a very commanding Viking chieftain named Hrollr. His village was very powerful and other chieftain would travel from afar to pay his respects in the hope that Hrollr and his army wouldn’t wage war upon them. They would bring Hrollr their most prized treasures from raids from all over the world! One day, a Scottish chieftain by the name Glnockie came to visit and he brought with him the most exquisite wool from the Highlands. Hrollr was mighty impressed with the quality and beauty of the tartan and ordered his most prestigious seamstress, Njaela to stitch together a tunic that he was going to wear during a blot and in honour of Glnockie.

Njaela was ecstatic at such honour bestowed upon her and immediately began cutting the fabric, despite it being darkplad – so she sat down by the fire and began her work. As she was almost finished, a tiny spark from the fire caught the fabric and in front of her eyes, half of the tartan vanished before her. She knew that the chieftain would certainly have her blood-eagled for this, so she called upon Loki to help her.

Loki had travelled far and wide in his eagle-guise and had seen many strange things however, he quite fancied seeing the two chieftains at war so he began telling Njaela a tale of how the most powerful warriors in all of Midgard wore “half skirts”. Thinking that this would surely impress the chieftains, Njaela began sewing a “half skirt” and added, bedazzled it, with jewellery and a bag with the most beautiful hide she could find.

The next day, her chieftain, Hrollr, called upon her and asked her to show him the tunic. When he saw the “half shirt” he almost exploded from rage until Njaela was able to explain to him that all the greatest warriors that Loki had seen in Midgard, wore those but that this one was the most exquisite of them all. Upon hearing this, the chieftain put it on and entered the feast, presenting his “half skirt” to Glnockie.

Glnockie was so impressed by the “half skirt” that he immediately asked Njaela to make him one too – which she of course did! Upon arriving back to the Highlands, Chieftain Glnockie became a fashion icon and all the clans in the land followed suit.

The Vikings however, quickly discovered that the cold didn’t agree with the half skirts, so the trend never really caught on here.”

“Or so it is told.”

“I came here from even farther away,” tells Bjorn-Ole, “My family were traders and travellers so I was born and bred upon the road and have never seen my homeland. I learnt of the letters though, and so I have written. chinese 01I sent my ancients letters in a message to be sent to my grandparents in our faraway land”.

“Ah yes I have seen those pictures that you write which are like complicated runes,” adds Nils-Harold.

“They are our letters. I dimly remember how it is done from being a child and Add ri An commanded that I should send word. I will never be able to visit as it is so far away and I am a Viking now. If I could visit I would take sore eyes to my grandparents, but as it is I have sent the letters at the command of the Skald.chinese 02 He said I should say that they could congratulate me on being a good soul who knows their own path and is strong. I told him (didn’t I Add ri An) that I would be too blushed to say so even in writings. Yet he commanded it and Blathnaid-Brigid she also insisted that it be so. Mind you she also suggested I ask them to send us some silk!”

“Let the truth be known at your homes Add ri An told me and I admitted that his command was my command (‘Wise old man that you are,’ I added with a wink)”
“Hahaha he agreed reluctantly what a great honest skilled respected wise man he is who is strong and we are proud of. and he eventually agreed to say. Ah no come to think the wise bit was about me,” laughs Add ri An, “Say that a wise man said, that’s me. He promised.”

“What a noble errand indeed,” is the final word of Blathnaid-Brigid.

“Eh, it’s a good yarn,” smiles Teresa-Linn.

“I recall that when I came here I asked what the white stuff was on the tops of the mountains and now I am sending word of how well I am thought of here.”

“Your grandparents will have sore eyes,” adds Lis-Ravn..

“Wood-smoke fills us, fills this place, it will clear it will clear.”

“Tears are smoke,” acknowledges Tyra av Rafnsblõt.

“Tears are smoke and a sea trip will cheer us,” states Linnea-Ingeborg..

We sleep and as we wake we see the distant Sami climbing. These creatures are fond of welcome; fearful of a goodbye.

So, after feast leftovers are filling us to break our short sleep fast we recall the pledge of line and net to cast.fish

To net and line and catch and gut and clean and work together.

“A fishing trip, a boat outing, a pleasure to cruise among the fjord walls which in places never feel the step of man,” announces Linnea-Ingeborg.

“Lars-Eirik claims to be the only human to have stepped ashore at every one, (he does fish from his dugout often),” laughs Loke-Daan.boat

“Pale skins may have stepped there, but often it is as if my feet are the first ever human feet to stand a being tall upon these hidden inner lands, yes,” says Lars-Eirik.

Skirts are held. Arms are held. Ship bows are held.

And tensions, as we gaily step, are released.

This is a ship trip.

The waves skip.

More coming in than river ripples outwards. They bring a mix of clemency.

And we are ripping out.

A turnabout, we feel the drift, the tide within the turn within the burn; is going out. We row anyway. Sails in fjord waters are for gentle sessions or sheer emergency. We seek wider pass where half-rig will tender bob us on. While we sojourn.

Light twinkling on the facets of the stone sides gives a promise of spring,

“And while we idle,” muses the Johnson, “let me intrigue with a riddle…”

“Ooo yes we like a puzzle,” enthuses Svanvhit Smedsdottir-gjenfødt.

“I riddle…”

 

I am your ally on the hunt

But do not walk with me

Lest I be warning to your quarry

 

Eye glaze and there is quiet for a while.

Some know.

Others will think longer.

“I shall tell my tale,” says Bjarki, “For this journey reminds me of many,” he says as he sits and spins.

“I went to Hildrgard, beautiful Hildrgard,” he glances fleeting to the side, “and I told her – I had made a lock and attached it to my dwelling at the other side of the by, then I untied the key from my belt and offered it to her.”

“He clearly was asking me to move in with him,” chips in Hildrgard from her rowing perch.

“But you wouldn’t would you.”

“I moved in,” she added, “I said I wouldn’t be with you because you had nothing.”

“I cannot help being an orphan; a victim of chance, war and plague.”

In a stirring of mail across towards the prow T’or-Gunlodd asides, “Balder wasn’t there for you was he.”

“No T’or-Gunlodd there was no sense of family for me,” agrees Bjarki

“Never-the-less,” states Hildrgard, “your uncle left you the house, the small house. The blacksmith Svanvhit Smedsdottir-gjenfødt taught you how to make the lock and you still owed her for the iron, not to mention for the lesson.”

“I pledged to pay the blacksmith in the same way I pledged to pay you; a future promise.”

“I wondered how you could ever repay of an equal value to such pledges. Then I learned you had arranged to go Viking.”

“So Hildrgard, you arranged to move in.”

“I agreed to move in on my own, then, when you returned, if you didn’t return dead, I would let you in if you brought treasure.”

Bjarki turns to the crew, “I came back with nothing. Nothing but an agreement to go again.”

“That wasn’t good enough, but I did admire your determination. I couldn’t agree to anything until after your return as you had no skills.”

“I used to watch my mother spin.”

“And on this ship, I asked him, there are times when you just sit?”

“Yes, yes.” Bjarki eagerly nods as if still in that moment.

“Then, I said, take this wool and this spinner and then we will see.”spin

“Few of us returned alive, all of us with nothing.”

“Except you, you returned with sacks of yarn. It was nearly enough for me to let you in, but not quite.”

“Then you had another idea, and I had planned another adventure.”

“I asked, when you are in foreign lands, do you sometimes sit by a fire? You said you did so, so I said, if you return and you have dyed this yarn I will accept.”

Bjarki looked proud, “I returned with blood-red yarn…”yarn sacks

“And treasure as well my love.”

“Armour and two swords!” beamed Bjarki.

“And arrows.”

“I made those.”

“And now you are my beloved Bjarki Famed Fletcher.”arrow

“And father of three!” grins Bjarki.

Everybody spins.

“I am looking forward to the goat hunt in the spring,” smiles Tove-Marie.

“I less so.”

“Why would that be Add ri An?”

“I clambered the old path by the Galda Cave and through the forest came a whole pack of wolves. They were running, running wild for the sake of it. They brushed right past me. One stopped, she was a large silver-grey she-wolf. She hissed breath in and out of her teeth and it sounded like, “Rieka Sølvulven runs with wolfs,” and then they were gone.wolf

Among the very mixed reactions is a sharp intake of breath everyone looks round, they are relieved to look away from Add ri An.

Olafr-Andreas speaks, “As I was about to die upon that tied battle ground at sea I saw a shadow of that famed she-wolf and the tide turned – the tide of the battle that is – I heard the shadow as it fell upon him say, May you feel the burning of a thousand suns as they rise at one upon you. And then I stabbed”.wolf shadow

The eerie silence is broken, “Perhaps once the returned ship is repaired it will be time to build another,” suggests Leif-Lasse.

Myrull-Ylva speaks, “This can be a good opportunity to be a fighter Viking for a big and rich chieftain. Maybe he will allow me to go to Gardariket also. Then I will fight for the big sultans and be rich me too. And then, I can go wherever I want after that. And get my own army of ships and Vikings. I can see me standing there with the big kings and chieftains, with sword of the best blacksmith in our known world.”

“I am a big rich chieftain,” proclaims Freyr-An’ersh.cheif

Happy laughter bursts from all.

“Back to enjoying the boat trip,” Linnea-Ingeborg.

“We are not doing much fishing,” adds Poppa-Varg.

They all laugh and look around.

As the boat gently bobs, their chieftain Freyr-An’ersh adds, “It is enough to know we have worked so hard. That we have enough of everything. To be thankful to those who gave. We move onward in our town in happiness they earned for us. Parties are not the only way to happy. Nor are stories. We are a story. We are taking a boat trip and it is fulfilling. While there is light enough.

Take time to feel the bobbing of the rhythms.”

Poppa-Volva chips in, “Oh look it is time to turn back!”wave

“Hahahaha”

 

“And so we return to sleep till spring,” adds Thorfinn Asmundsson.

“Ha you wish,” musters Tyra av Rafnsblõt, “This is when the work starts”

“Oh I long for spring,” sighs Blathnaid-Brigid, “Where I am pleased to know we will witness little miracles growing all around. I am sure we will, I am sure we will, and am so very excited.”spring

Footnotes and Credits

The element of the story where one ship props up another in a fjord rescue is based upon the real-life memories of my sister-Norn Sigrun watching out for family members returning upon a fishing vessel; hers is an extremely moving tale to hear.

Thank you to my chieftain Georg for the story of the dragon head and the Vanadís.

The traumatic effects of burning the fruiting juniper branch come from the book Legal Highs.

The riddle is the first of a few I shall feature and come from a small book of Vikingesque riddles by highly skilled bone-worker Peter Merrett (and I am sure many of you will wish to add comments below).

Thanks to my good friend Grethe-Irene for her tale of the warrior Viking.

The natural phenomenon of the ice rain in the Rockford area was brought to me by my niece.

Thanks go to Judson, Atle and Holly for discussions on kilts.

 

My Viking ‘Dream-life I

My Viking Dream-life II

My Viking Dream-life III

Storytelling is…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quay Street, Scarborough

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Quay Street, Scarborough

It is quaint is Quay Street, let us hope I do it justice. I write this for a neighbour. For a short while back there she thought she had lost her family in that terrible night at Manchester Arena.

So for all those who did lose loved ones and for all of us who suffered through that disgusting tragedy this is a tribute, a sense of belonging, in the way of praise of; the street where you live. – For us, here, that is the historic easy-going Quay Street in Scarborough.

The narrow lane of fishing boats and fisher people has widened along most of its length yet it starts and finishes as a cosy cobbled alley. Quay Street (Pronounced ‘key’).press old pic.jpg

Cobbled its full length still, set just a little back from the ‘Cobles’ in the bay.

harbour whale
That time a whale visited

We are the bottom-enders. There is a large grass bank behind us built up of the rows of fisher people’s houses; stacked rows of tightly placed dwellings all rubble now. Rubble.bank

Above the grass banks of long gone kitchens and bake houses is the most prominent feature of the town: The Castle.castle

Down below Scar’s Burg our row survives. The Bottom-enders.

I have stayed here on and off for many years with my parents; now, I live here, with Mum while I recuperate – stitch-knitting time.sunhouse.jpg

Fishermen from the street told us when Mum and Dad first got the place of living here man and boy, as did their father before them and his father before that.

A house just a little further down from us still has its bake house out the back, (a few of them do). The lady there, three doors up from me, passed away recently and the moving eulogy to the packed church just up Dog and Duck Steps for here, a step beyond Paradise, spoke of her skills; smoking, baking and sousing the herring, roping the mussel, and dressing the crab; she could dress a crab in less than fifteen seconds.

I chat across the wall to our neighbour, but she has another friend. neighbours garden.jpgHer back garden is in two levels; two walled terraces. Her new friend lives on the roof and spends his time on the top terrace – He is in love with her. He has built a nest and comes down to the upper patio to tap on the glass of the French windows with his beak to attract his love. He knocks very loudly. As loud as a large fisherman knocking.seagul

She says it is not her he is knocking for. She says he is knocking for the love of his own reflection.

But you know what they say about albatrosses, perhaps it is true about seagulls too.

Her late husband was a Skipper, I am sure he has worked widely in the sea trade throughout a life of Scarborough, it is as a Skipper that I remember him. Skipper of the ocean-going pleasure cruiser the Caronia, or at other times the Regal Lady. Many a cruise with glass in hand and majestic creatures just off the bow I remember. Many remember and the fiddle plays in our souls as we think back.

There they await you among the 300 plus boats betwixt the three piers of no peer; Scarborough harbour. They have been called on from here before at times of great need as you will hear in the accompanying blog linked to below.

I awake early, it may be the sea birds, it may be the operation scars re-knitting, it maybe is the boot segs, ready to grip the sea boards, clattering the cobbles still.

I hear them I swear. For the street is narrow and the bottom-enders are an endless march along here all through time.

“My father before me, man and boy as I was, as his father before him: Fishermen.”

Yes they were, but something doesn’t quite ring true. After living here a couple of years my dad suddenly realised what was wrong with this claim. The hosues weren’t old enough; they were about 70 years old and the chap living in the one to our right was in his eighties man and boy.

Turns out, the fisher families have always lived here just not in the same building. When the old timey Quay Street was demolished, along with all the lines of houses along the bank above, this road was widened.quay photo 01.jpg All this side now housed luxurious semis and lots of the fishermen moved back in, back into a new house, back in to the very same spot man and boy man and boy.

The old street is still there, winding through the centre of the wider road; there are the cobbles.cobbles.jpg

One can well imagine this narrow street filling as rowing boats are lifted off the bake-house roof and carried through the narrow passage and out onto the street towards the sea.carry boats 01.jpg

When I first came here I was surprised to discover that my neighbour at the other side of Dog and Duck Steps was the great uncle of a good friend in York; well-known singer/songwriter Dan Webster.dan He sings of his relatives: of his grandfather, “I have always loved the sea, but fishing not fighting was for me.”dan in boat.jpg And of his great grandfather who bravely lost his life; Frank Dalton.

There are rumours among locals around the tea stall that when the seas are real rough and the life boat call comes some rotaed crew are hard to find; rumours. The older seasoned seamen are there and ready.

So it was with two who were in their late fifties and early sixties; Jenkinson Mainprize and Frank Dalton.

Thomas Jenkinson Mainprize was best known as Denk and was a relative of the Mainprizes who run a wet fish shop in Scarborough today.

He and Frank were the brave ones who went aboard.lifeboat It was the Dutch coaster Westkust. The skipper had delayed accepting assistance and had survived eight hours in heavy swell before requesting assistance.

All of the crew were aided by our two heroes who lowered them all one by one down to the life boat deck.

Then Denk and Frank. They swung over the side. The Westkust rose up. Denk made the leap and was down safe. Before Frank could join him a huge wave parted the craft and he was left high up hanging from the Westkust.frank hangs.jpg The coaster dropped, the life boat was pushed up and in, they met in a sickening crunch. The Westkust again lifted and Frank fell, to lay dying on the deck of the life boat.

At his funeral, well, just after his funeral, the Second Mate of the Westkust stepped alone from the crowd to stand at the grave.

He took off his cap and he knelt, “Frank Dalton, as soon as I saw your smiling face climbing over the side of the Westkust I knew we would be saved. Frank Dalton thank you.”grave.jpg

All the more reason for fellow fishermen the next day to have a Cobler’s  Monday.coble cropped.jpg That is when there has been a hard time of it and just a weekend is not enough time to ‘recover’. So the crew of the coble agree between them they will all claim a sickie and spend the day ‘recovering’ together; most likely in the Golden Ball or the Newcastle Packet.mutiny back

Scarborough is known: for these few old buildings here on Quay Street, for its two bays with its harbour between and of course being looked over by both Olivers Mount and the Castle.

It is the natural spring near the end of the south bay which brought people here; 3000 years ago this way a sacred spring was visited and adorned. It was much later that these waters caused an expansion of grand buildings. We came here to take the air, (we still do, just watch the walkers up and down), and we came to take the waters too. Spa town.

The Spa was built and people came in their droves to go down the steps to draw the magical waters.

Trains helped. Workers starting to get actual holidays also brought more trains and very busy patches.

There was another fame, a fish, a big fish which brought the rich. A tough fish: the tunny. Strongest fish in the sea so they say: the North Atlantic Tuna.

Not that there are many now; the mackerel and the herring runs diminished massively in the 30’s through to the 50’s as more intensive fishing techniques developed unchecked (before my 17 year old niece became the fear of the unwise and the inspector of nets).

Interest in the tunny was intense, but on a much smaller scale – Which is strange for such a very big fish.

They say now they are returning and are up to 500lb but the records say far bigger.

Very rich pickings indeed, for the very rich. They came in their droves, filling the best hotels, finding fame and indeed further fortunes.

One poorer catcher of a tunny got rich by charging for photos with it.tunny weigh

Fame came with the danger, small boats, small crews and fishermen in ones or twos. Some fought for hours, only to lose the line and the monster in a sudden snap. Some might be relieved at such a result as the boats were hardly large enough for the big big strong strong fish.

The record holder wasn’t a rich visitor, well he was a Lincolnshire farmer, so he probably was reasonably wealthy. Lewis wasn’t a fisherman, he was taking a break after being discharged from the RAF and was talked into having a go.

Some say he doesn’t hold the record. He caught a fish a full pound heavier at 852lb than the previous largest but someone complained later that the rope was extremely wet. What a wet fish! What a slime! I say, “Pah!” I won’t have it, I hereby award the record to Lincolnshire farmer Jack Hadley Lewis for his amazing 852lb tunny.

Go see the impressive statue on the Northern pier.

You might try finding the entrance to the Three Mariners Inn while you are on your way from Quay Street.3 ms

The RAF are responsible for one eyesore on Quay street between two of the three beamed buildings in the street;mutiny pic.jpg an ugly flat-rooved intrusion between the Mutiny (formerly the Lancaster) and the Three Mariners Inn. Them bombers they had disposable petrol tanks, like bombs attached to the wings. When they were empty into the sea they went. They weren’t at sea on this occasion, they were above a beautiful old building – gone now.bomb

I think the horrid flat building should be covered by a commemorative mural.

The devil brought his revolution here. His Brigg at Filey pierced a ship or two. Perhaps it stabbed at John Paul Jones. The American revolution came to this coast and his sword was left here.battle So the legend goes. It is said that he ‘safe harboured’ at the Three Mariners Inn across from me. I’ve seen the sword, that missing sword. It was said to be his and I saw it when the oldest complete building in the area (circa 1430) was a museum.

What a cranky museum it was, everything was everywhere, stuff heaped up, jewellery, toys, weapons, clothes – piled on every surface.

Rummage away visitor, ride the toy vehicle children, steal away visitors. Well some did. The sword somehow went one day, that was the last straw for them and the museum is no more.

You might want to buy the house though.

Sit on the bed, look in the mirror. Well, that’s what my young daughter did. Incidentally there is a long running (now suddenly exacerbated) family argument about which daughter it was.

As we left she said, “I didn’t like the man in the woman’s hat.” I asked where this was. “When I was sat on the bed.”

I was in the room, in fact I lifted my little girl up onto that bed. There was no one else there. So I told her I had seen no one. She looked up at me and with a serious face said, “Oh, you could only see him when you looked in the mirror.”mirror man.jpg

You might want to buy the house though.

I wonder if Dr Strange would? My mum has a claim to fame and I utilise it whenever I do publicity for my story-walks over in my home city: son of York’s first ghost-walker. It is true.

So it is a shame for her that after a lifetime of telling ghost stories, now in her retirement, she has to listen to loud ghost stories outside her window. Yes, Dr Strange of Scareborough Ghost Tour stops right outside to tell his screamer tale (which mum tells me is quite tall).

mums garden.jpg

There is another fame to be experienced in this street, and I don’t mean just international blogger Adrian Spendlow (me), There is a great fame in Quay street, wait for it; Quay street is the home of the most famous vehicle on Scarborough.

The Carawagon.cara 01

A truck and a caravan welded and melded into one stupendous vehicle.carawagon.jpg The ornate homely transport is to be home to some of my stories – the side opens to provide a raised patio stage; my stage.cara 02

We will be appearing at various venues with Travelling Tales.

As Anne said, and you may still hear her voice if you visit her grave just above our house, “But he, that dares not grasp the thorn. Should never crave the rose.”

Anne Bronte

 

From Scarborough with love

Ales and Tales stories from York pubs

Mum’s book

Cliffords Tower, York

The Music of Dan Websterdan tin

Quay street’s famous Carawagon

cara 02