Nerd in Norway; A Spotters Guide – It is actually a report on my performances at Gudvangen Viking Valley, Norway.
I am looking at the stories I didn’t tell and wishing I had fitted them in. But there are other times of course and I am thankful of the times, the many times, I was able to tick a tale off the list.
Ticks, lists, statistics, I am getting into these. Nerdy I am. Becoming a spotter. A lister. A ‘tick-er-off-er-a’.
Long journeys listening to the sixties and memories.
Looking out and listing waterfall world; shadow waterfalls, gentle waterfalls, rainbow waterfalls, multiple waterfalls, tiny waterfalls… I list and tick.
The times of tears might be listed soon. This is a place of many strong emotions – emotions amplified. Moving yes, but everything inside, everything discovered, everything listened to, everything experienced: amplified.
It might be the water. It is everywhere.
As I overheard, “They have water here,” says the tourist on the bus, “all kinds, rain and waterfalls and all kinds. It is like a great big island with sea all around it.”
Now – 61, 78, 30, 2000 (est.), 30, but more on these later, stay tuned. I bet you just can’t wait.
But at last you will get down to where you will read what this blog is actually about – make a second coffee.
I creature spotted – I cheat – I award points for imagination, molehills count (as definitive proof of the existence of a mole), as do beehives and woodworm holes. I play alone and only cheer internally. So that is alright then.
Interlude: A tourist at the hotel sat next to me has a sandwich, a baguette actually, she is eating it with a knife and fork – it is not going well. Wait, (this is my live-feed happening as I am writing), her husband is opposite, (they are old so I guess they are married), he has a suggestion, he is thinking she might do better by picking it up off the plate to eat, she is asking if he means with the hands, and he does, so she is trying it.
I hit sixty! Sixty different creatures. Yes. It included reindeer, firefly, alpaca, llama (duplication cheat), and I saw a thing climbing.
I didn’t count the enormous statue of Georg, (hours away from Gudvangen and surveying a valley where thousands of deer can gather some mornings). That goes on a list with a Roman Villa, hundreds of pre-history pictograms, standing stones, Half-Dan the Blacks funeral mound, concrete bunkers, winged horned gods, actual horned helmets too (oh yes), rock falls, trees on rooves (I gave up at 178 of them), ‘Danger Falling Rocks’ signs – extremely rare here for some unknown reason which I will probably blog about at some point, large fish rings, organic vegetable gardens (sadly a rare occurrence apparently), drummer boys, huskies pulling a white van and sounding like geese, iced coffee to die for, Godt og Blandett Frukt Salad (a must have), salty liquorice fish, trees in rivers, quadrillion-bends, ‘Deer Crossing 0.2 kilometre to 1.3 kilometre’ signs (go figure), naked wrestlers (no she needs to be on a later list which is chiefly flesh-related, as do arm-slings), bear-hunting dogs, armed seven year olds (I will document this more fully I promise), M. Thatcher pictures thanking her for Soft Ic, Pagans, Asutra, twins (no there’s loads), sausage boutiques, and
(Sorry I fell off that list.)
Btw the lady did manage to get most of the baguette in.
Btw 02 if you are someone who puts ‘of’ when you mean ‘off’ I actually hate you, quite actively, vigorously. Just thought you might like to know.
Tourists who are between coach and ferry and stand without looking up at the host of waterfalls.
No stop, don’t even start that list. ‘Tourists’ can wait.
I could write a list of the times people have told me of fearie things – a long list
(Please note; fearie is the topic, the place, or an actual list, not a being or thing.)
of the number of times people have approached me and insisted upon the existence of such and their observation of same. Usually just after I have done a silly story and have danced and pranced.
I know I am neither dancing or prancing in this picture, but I like it
They are very insistent.
I shall list this visit’s oddities.
There are several. Read on because you might be on this list.
The winged-thing will be listed last (damn I have just listed it). There was a drone. I have seen them before over Viking camps, once I saw one shot down by an archer, there were cheers. This one looked like one, but acted funny; shall we say impossibly.
I saw a brown blob. I am almost sorry it wasn’t black – then it would have been an ABB – Alien Black Blob. As mentioned often in Fortean Times magazine. They are officially what you get if you try and take a picture of an oddity. Always. Flying saucers, puma, yeti, troll, big foot, naked huldra; try it, you click, you look later – it’s a blob.
I cannot do other at this point than to instruct you to buy Fortean Times. If you are in the dark on this one search for Charles Fort; “Nonexistence of evidence is not evidence of nonexistence.” etc
My blob was brown, it was moving, it was far away, it was high up, it was climbing. I estimate bear-size.
Mine was above the Georg statue, Alan’s was above Goerg’s house. It was witnessed by many. I will not bother you with the photos of it, they have a distinct element of ABBness.
They watched it though. Crikey it was large. Gosh it was something other than is known. Wow are the hairs going up on our necks as we hear about it. It was tall as a hang-glider, slim as a snowboard, as quick as a skier, it disappeared as quick as a base-jumper. It is documented here, so it is true. There are photographs. It is true about Alien Black blobs too.
Calm down the hairs on your neck a little and read on.
There are wasps.
And this is the interlude where you get to listen to a story. A story. The thing I actually do. Yes, a story.
It involved Anders. He is cool. He is Viking. He talks steady and slow. We listen.
When I talk of the wasp I dance, I do voices, I comb my hair in a beautiful way, I get cross. I am wasp.
Anders simple says
“They are spirit.”
That is why he jumps. This is the only time his smile leaves. The only time the cool goes.
The deep dark growling drawl which is only just within the range of the human ear stays – so listen with your bones.
“They are spirit.”
This is why we should be frightened of them. This is why to be fearful of their sting. For they will sting. It is their intention. To sting.
The spirit which once was and now is wasp, is angry.
Imagine. If you will. To be of another realm. Where all is magical and – kind of – wispy. Then, you human being people stopped believing. Stopped sending all that belief in the magical to the realms around you. They dwindled. They faltered. They ceased. They died.
It is your fault.
The fairies died.
Spirit of fearie is part of this life and is subject to the same lore of living as us – reincarnation.
Can you imagine how cross they are.
Every single morning they wake up, the eyes are glazed as yours are, the brain is slow the same; thinking isn’t easy: “Oh a new day. Which frock shall I wear? I think I will choose a long flowing frock, and then I will comb my long flowing hair, add a few flowers. I will sing to myself blissfully as I skip toward the flowered meadows – and then I will – dance!
I am a wasp!
I am a bl**dy wasp!
No wonder they are angry.
Get ready to be stung.
That may be the end of the story, but not of the list.
There is one more. I can see it. I can still see it. So can the man who told me. I didn’t see it. Neither did he. It is in our mind’s eye. It is about to enter yours. Alan went on the Viking ship. Down to where the fjord walls are tall and close. It is quiet down there. The skipper is quiet; a quiet man. As they flowed, so did his words. To a quiet crew. “Out there it was. By the side of the wall, and only just above the water. The dark thing with wings. I have sailed this way, and other ways, many times. I have never seen such a thing as this ever. It was slowly flying with large angled long slim wings; a suggestion of shape, a definite shape of wing. A timeless slow sense of flying. I don’t know what it was.”I don’t know what it was.
61, 78, 30, 2000 (est.), 30.
Yes here it is. The time. The point of the blog.
I held a story circle each evening and sixty one people came and listened. Some of them popped in briefly, some came every time. Some of them said ‘awesome’ in a quiet voice. Some made tricky suggestions.
I felt young.
My main audience were 15 to 21. I am honoured to be listened to by such. For up to three hours at a time. I still see the faces.
From 61 to 78. I performed alongside others. Vikings flocked to take part in my stories and talks or to join our parade. 78 of them, yes, I worked with 78 co-performers. Some of them, I admit, are duplicates. When someone drummed and marched one day and then acted another day I count them twice. It is still a whole host of willing Vikings.
Each day my chieftain (Olafr Reydarsson, we call him Georg) and I led a group of musicians around the camp inviting everyone to join us. Lars Magnar of course was beside me. We stood upon the holy hill. Our rune-lore master, our Glima lord, our mythology study, our wise scholar of all of the once was, he stood among us, we called upon him, and he unleashed the ancient, the returned, the spiritual, powerful, Galda. That screaming call. It changes your understanding of what it is to be alive.
We welcomed, we warned. We stood upon the stage and we informed, we made fun, we celebrated, we shared, and a host of people from Anabel to T’or Eric filled the floor with their re-enacting. Mainly. We laughed.
We celebrated and laughed with the mayor, with the team who are building our Viking Town, with crafts people, with entertainers, with spiritual leaders, with the dead, with the children who crawled and climbed to be part of this.
And most of the tourists survived.
There were presentations on the new Viking town we are building.
T’or Eric carried a dead body across (Daan) and Anabelle wowed the crowds with her product demonstrations. We even had a guest spot from Lady Shaga and a couple of guys carrying a plank. Vibeke and her team fought to the death and Kjell robbed them.
We even had a slave team run screaming through.
Every day we lined up and were multi-national. The pic below here shows most of the people involved, but one or two weren’t there that day. We had many languages and many accents, including, Scooohtish, posh, New York and Minnesota.
I spent thirty hours in performance. I estimate that two thousand people watched us and I probably spent about thirty hours planning it all.
No, hang on.
I am wrong. I am wrong about the 78. I forgot about the one I wasn’t at. As Holger had been in the news we thought it right to redress the balance and have him kidnapped as a slave. I put the word out through Karyn who whispered while she was braiding, and over thirty women turned up to clap him in chains and wrap him in a net. He didn’t fetch much though.
One more number to finish. As I walked back from the bar I counted 31 waterfalls within sight of the camp.
And an enormous thank you to Angela and Georg for putting up with my trying ways and for making me feel so at home.
I might give a little bit of thanks too
(here is a little bit of text to fill the space when it is posted to Facebook so you cannot read my blog without clicking the link)
Given my own space to be
Even when I was ill and let everybody down
Even when I wandered lost around the long country roads in a fever
I now know where I am, but it took a while.
Now recovered I relax
Meanwhile if you want a detailed drawing of the underside of the upper bunk let me know
I can recall every detail
or perhaps the back of the loo door
moving swiftly on
how many of you readers can say you have been collected as soon as you were ready and taken to a woodland full of tents and fires and wonderful people
To spend time where everything is ok
Where you discover Viking Ris (Barley grains cooked to perfection) served with wild garlic and root vegetables like you have never experienced
Even the water from the earthenware jug was amazing
To be taken from there to the chieftains house
To be made welcome and allowed to be yourself in your own space and to be drawn in to be fed and shared with in this rambling timbered wonder of a place
On the way here I saw roaming marshlands, huge wading birds, faces in the rocks, llamas, Elk (I think, but something big moving on the mountainside – perhaps a bear), a roman villa, the grave mound of Half-Dan the Black and so much more.
I recovered in time, once here, to partake of a Viking banquet created by globaly renowned chefs and was honoured to be asked to perform for the press and the Vikings (although the picture of me in the papers was rather grossly dramatic).
I have eaten my favourite food; dark brown cheese with pear and honey.
Today I was taken through the mountain to the next world, where trains and ferries traverse, I wandered through an organic garden where seeds I sent are flourishing, I bought beans to sprout because you cannot get beansprouts anywhere here, I learned to tell the time, and to call others to dinner, and I climbed an ancient burial ground: I have walked sunwise around a stone-which-is-stood as others have done before for countless times.
I am in a world which is countless.
Living the Viking way
These are the Viking Experiences which led to the creation of Viking Comics Inc.
The recent Viking-related experiences of Adrian Spendlow and team member Chloë Anderson…
As Personal Skald to the Chieftain for Viking Valley, Gudvangen in Norway I am known for multi-national stories with participants speaking in as many as twenty languages. Storytelling courses, including at Lygra and Gudvangen markets are always an uplifting experience and I have performed at several Scandinavian events for Vikings, tourists and children. Story circles for children and young adults usually also draw out the child within the adult too.
I was recently very honoured to be tour guide for a week in York for students of the famous Seljord Folkehøgskule and am often asked to coordinate visits.
My opening speech for Gudvangen Market was filmed for Norwegian TV, and at Njardar Vikinglag’s Jolablot I did a story presentation for Belgian TV. As part of our campaign to win the right to build a Viking town I was portrayed across all Norwegian media, I also hosted Viking Rock Festival.
My double CD Andvari’s Gold is for sale on jelldragon.com the foremost online shopping site for Vikings, I also narrated Jorvik: York and the Vikings CD as part of the Spendlow’s York history series, which is also for sale on jelldragon.com
I am very proud to be a member of Njardar Vikinglag, Bjørgvin Vikinglag and an honorary member of the University of York Medieval Society’s Vanaheim Vikings group.
As a full-time storyteller, actor and poet I frequently working to commission (See general CV in links), as a result I have worked as poet in residence for many places including the Jorvik Viking centre.
The York Museum Trust, the York Archaeological Trust and the Jorvik Group for such as the Jorvik Viking Centre, Barley Hall and the Jorvik Viking Festival are among the many establishments that often use my skills.
Recent invitations include Borre Market and the thousandth anniversary of the gathering at Sarpsborg, and to create dramatised stories involving the audience which then lead into staged battles by a trained crew. I was surprised while compiling this to see just how widely travelled and how lucky to be part of the Viking world.
As a blogger I frequently write on the topics of Vikings, History, Storytelling, Poetry and even Viking cooking. As part of my blog I set up Viking Comics Inc. with Chloë Anderson and our first presentation features the work of some 18 artists; The Hammer Flies was very well received. This came about following a Jorvik Group commission which involved presenting Viking stories in the form of Comic book heroes: an especially written Viking Comic book display and the children’s resultant story formed a comic book display throughout the Jorvik Viking Festival venue.
As project manager for community work I have worked many times with Chloë Anderson mixing music, drama, storytelling, dance, reminiscence, on-screen presentations and publications. We recently created a ‘Spendlow’s TV’ series for sale as a download presentation. Chloë Anderson and I are currently working on a panoramic story and image download which will be available online this year based on the themes of a boat burial, Rolo in France, the different views of Viking afterlife, stories for the Viking world and the Ragnar clan in Valhalla. We are currently in discussion to create walks around fjords where you add to the story and accompanying arts as you go.
Our next Viking Comics Inc. will be a Graphic Novel presentation on the theme of The Horned God and the Wild Hunt. The theme for this and the draft script form the basis of our presentation to Follow The Vikings.
Adrian’s Poem Pics – Part 1
Warning – Viewing this blog edition may cause you to feel emotional.
A huge thank you to all the contributors; photographers, artists and wordsmiths.
Also a thank you in advance for all the future contributors.
Some of the pieces in the first edition below have been published or displayed previously, as the collection has built over time when there has been a drive or a need.
Some were created as gifts; to encourage or console, others when I have been moved by an image or experience. Some were commissions.
(I will have missed some links, so if you are in here send me a link and I will update.)
Romans in Steam by Flavius – Commissioned by the Roman Bath Museum in York, indeed I believe the video version is still on display in this wonderful museum.
(That’s me as a Roman that is – and that’s my Roman given name Flavius Agricola) – Photo by Dave Restless
Note; read straight across – first line being, ‘Let us ever remember as we gather’.
Cat’s Cradle – A commission for an exhibition of Fairy-tale. Fifty groups in New Earswick ‘the Garden Village’ responded. We achieved our aim of promoting the local young people’s drama group play and of creating an on-going exhibition. It still can be seen in the local library.
(If you want to become part of such an amazing theatre group as We Are Theatre let me know…)
(The full exhibition may well be a future blog upon enough requests)
And anyway, what is fairy tale?!?!
King John – Written for the York Angel Festival to celebrate the eight hundredth anniversary of York being declared a city by King John. I read this poem from an ice throne; and so did The Right Honourable Sonia Crisp Lord Mayor of York.
The Be A Gardener poem was written while working on my allotment and I created the art work to accompany it as a birthday present for my Father. Interestingly, I have just found a link to a site which has published it, no idea where they got it.
(the text is easier to read if you click ‘link’ and then ‘read more’)
Bridge of Life – this poem was created from the gathered words of Angela Jones, Tove Gulbrandsen, Georg Hansen and myself.
The Only Way – part of a series of poem cards: Adrian’s Epigrams where I sought to keep the wording as short as possible and yet still retain a poetic element. This one of course comes from personal experience.
The Seiðberendr Speaks – Part of a forthcoming story recording created in partnership with Chloe Anderson this is the planned introduction where we hear a transgender Völva gives a message to Ragnar. (Photograph taken in Gudvangen in 2011 by Leif-Arne Furevik)
Place of Safety – I made this model for my Mother and upon giving it to her discovered that it is the cottage she holds in her mind; her dream-world cottage. My Grandmother used to tell her that when things were difficult or upsetting there was a place in your mind you could go where you were safe and rested. As a result of this my Mother created a cottage just over the hill where she could go in her thoughts.
My Flowers for Mona – (A memorial I sent to be printed and displayed among the flowers for her) –
From those first days of travelling to be a Viking and in between the times between, the wish to be in touch and understand, she was there and shared and introduced, and inspired, trying always to have me feel included and invited; to be a part – Across a wild and vibrant sea. I hear the song she sent me now inside my heart.
Anoraks – More of a performance poem perhaps, so try and imagine my voice (but even more nerdy)
(words me, art work Ana Maus)
I was so affected by these guys. My words might not be quite what they were about; they just flooded out of me when I heard their drones, chants, beats and song. I cried.
Folket Bartophor Nordavinden
That Pink Dress – Part of the Read All About It project for We Are Theatre where we created stories and postcards (and indeed a full free book). This was part of an impromptu sessions and I was so moved and pleased to find myself in possession of a poem by the magical Janey Stockdale.
The Jacobs Well Project – Many thanks to the wonderful Mary Passeri for allowing me to be part of this amazing project where we gathered to share with people who suffered dementia and with their loved ones. There is a whole series and I hope to share them all with you in the near future (With Mary’s final artwork). Here are a few of the poems with Mary’’s on the spot art.
From Arm of Man – I was moved by this photograph which was part of a series by Tove Gulbrandsen, who sees with the eyes we all should have.
Bjorgvin, Bergen, Norway.
Olav – I hesitated to write this, I hesitated to publish it here; Olav just does what is needed. He doesn’t want this fuss and praise. Perhaps we should all get on with it and be just as great!
(It is worth mentioning, there was a great deal of very dark smoke, the van was small, the bus full of passengers were in great danger, the tunnel was long, rescue services hesitated; Olav didn’t)
Norway – It changes you breath by breath.
(Photo by Tove Gulbrandsen)
There is a whole load to come…
Memory of Otternes
Otternes Farm, Flåm Valley, Sognefjord, Aurland, Norway
When I sit here, I have sat here before. I am hobbit-like and living. In my sense of belonging, I know: I know this place.
Families are thin, thin on the ground, of the mountain. Long line of families in the mountains, dug in, right into its rock and earth and grass. There are long deep roots which hold us in place. Some say if you chop too many the whole mountainside will slide with us into the brakk below.
Yes here I belong, and feel I always have and if it is so and I have visited before it would have been in ancestral time a momentous occasion.
I still feel, when I stand there now, the haunting presence of one unallowed to love, ghostly appearance in the corner of story. Even with a broken heart one can still be of use up on the farm, never allowed to leave, no matter how the visitor requested. The corners of this history are cluttered with such figures. Then look upon the well. The well so deep and wide it speaks. Its dangers are voiced within its memory, “Do not throw yourself down here, as I did.” “As I did.” “As I did.” “As I did.”
For there is beauty here and love and light…
…and even in the dark-times-long there is the promise; the promise of moisture, the recollections of growth which knows it will return.
Others will come, for such is the way of a mountain farm. Love can be found in such a meeting. Small farm memories of seasons with only each other to survive and flourish for. Yet there will be gatherings and visitation where young hearts can view across the clans-collecting and see eyes; eyes which sparkle only for you.
This is why we bury the salmon. As a promise and a way of surviving. They will leap again, as will hearts.
We shall go down from our steep sides as will everyone among the wide spread hill families.
The leap. The leap will come. Nets will spread and one of us will leave one steep farm to join another. Here and there love will flourish among the catching.
The bounty is there in the grave. The grave of the fish, saving us throughout the winter.
So came the sheep. The flourishing is here too, with care. They also visit. New faces, growing adults, turning from teens, turn their flock this way.
The drove is long and this is a place where we can rest; to replenish. Fish is brought from grave, berry from jar, and water from the well is hung above the fire.
Some of these creatures have journeyed far, as have I. An instinct inside me sees the path. It twinkles elusively in my mind. I believe it is ancient. As the brown sheep belong here I am of a different wool.
Other drovers journeyed over the more flowing lands where I am from. Just as rugged, these moors were traversed to sea-going vessels which sailed up this very fjord I see flowing below to bring the trade.
As these pathways arrive here. I see them glittering as timeless memory moving in upon this land to spread and trade, spread and grow. My path stops here.
As soon as I sat upon this stoop, as my eyes twinkled, my long past had led me here and settled.
A part of me will always be here and always has. My path stops here.
For more on Otternes and Gudvangen including Adrian the Lamb and Johnny Chicken see here Farmer (Adrian) Giles
My opening speech at Gudvangen
Now try my Haunted House blog