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Archive for the ‘Hanson’ Category

I am currently in Reykjavik, Iceland. It’s cold and wet. Warning this post contains lots of photos and a bit of Vikings.

Here is a post about Oslo and a bit about Bergen. (This pic was taken of Bergen Fjord at 5.30am local time)

 

Norway. Lovely Norway! It is so nice here. I apparently have some Norwegian heritage. With a name like Hanson you would guess so. I think the family name Ericksen is also on that side and appears to be Norwegian too. But without a birth place I will find it hard to discover more. The information I have is from England. Apparently, because of the church in Norway there are continuous records of births, deaths and marriages way, way back. I’ll have to do more family history to find a link.

Anyway, we have an addition to our little party. My son joins us from Shanghai for a week. It felt weird really but I guess I’ll have to get used to the idea of international meet ups, given that my son works overseas and may continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

He and my daughter have plans to hike near Bergen. So we all met up at Oslo airport on Saturday lunch time and caught the train in.

Apparently, there is an express train but the guy at the train ticket counter said the train was cheaper and took the same amount of time so we bought 24 hour tickets.

We only had a short stay planned in Olso and we had an AirBnB in an unlikely place. It was in the posh area where all the big houses are and on the peninsula that contains a lot of the best museums and the ferry. The ones we wanted to see were the Viking Ships and the Folk Museum.

Our little studio was so cute and within walking distance, like 650 metres from the Viking Ship Museum. First of all we settled in, arranged our wine bottles and my kids went to the supermarket to get supplies. I rested my feet. Funny, that the kids came back with some great food but no tea or milk. So I had to go out and buy some tea and milk and nice cheese. Taamo came with me. It was quite a walk to the little supermarket. I put my iphone on the counter and the cashier made jokes in English about selling it back to me. It was fun really.

If you don’t know, then I’ll tell you. Norway is very expensive. It is one of the most expensive places in the world. We are going to Iceland on Friday and maybe that is more expensive than Norway. Self-catering is a god send and that’s what I love about AirBnB. In our little place we had a cook top, fridge, microwave and a washing machine. My job was to get the laundry done while the kids did the shopping. I didn’t just sit on my ass!

Just a pic from when we arrived in Oslo city and were waiting for our bus. Of the Airbnb’s this host gave the best directions.

So our first night was spent in, eating, drinking wine and catching up. Taamo was jetlagged as he’d come from Shanghai with a 5 hour layover in Moscow so we slept. It was one room but with ear plugs the snoring sounds were muted. My poor daughter was caught between me and Taamo!

Next morning I had arranged to meet Heidi, local SF fan and con organiser. She had offered to take me around the Viking Ship museum. My kids went off to buy a Oslo pass which we determined was good value in the 24 hour option because it gave us access to museums and included unlimited travel within Oslo on trains, trams and busses and included the ferry. We were told we could use an online version but couldn’t find confirmation of this on the website so the kids went to the Maritime Museum which sold the cards and they were going to meet me at the Folk Museum at 1 pm.

I managed to have a brain blowout and mixed up which museum I was meeting Heidi. I had no internet and when I realised it, I went into a panic. I ran back to our accommodation so I could access the wifi and sent a message. There I found one from Heidi saying she was running late. So I said I was coming and went to the Viking Ship museum. But because I was panicked and stressed I couldn’t find my way and worried about getting lost. It was around the corner but when you have a melt down you can’t think logically. Anyway, I got over that and found my way to the museum. Heidi wasn’t there yet so I waited and I saw the robot lawnmower. You’ve seen robot vacuum cleaners right? Well these robots do the lawn. I want one.

I waited a bit longer, rechecked the messages and Heidi said to go in without her so I started to line up. I was in the line when she came in so we bought tickets and Heidi showed me around. Heidi knows a lot about the ships and the museum. She said she’d been there a lot, listened to the guides and was a history buff. She gave me excellent commentary and pointed out things. This is not a big museum in the sense that there is a lot to cover. It is physically big to house the ships and the collection.

Here is a series of shots from the Viking Ship Museum.

Wow! Just wow! These ships were dug up in the 1800s and they were graves so there were grave goods and skeletons. The most substantial ship and grave goods were for a woman, the grave contained two female skeletons – an older woman and a younger woman. They think the grave is for the older woman, a queen perhaps, and  they aren’t too sure about the younger one or what she died of. The ship was decorated and  shallow. Heidi said it was a pleasure boat, not for sea going, but rather quiet waters. In the pictures the lighter coloured wood is where sections have been restored.

The grave goods were amazing, buckets, sewing equipment, animals, food etc. In a similar way to the Egyptians, Viking age graves prepared the way for the afterlife. Goods and personal items were buried with the dead so that they could use them in the afterlife. This included favourite pets, dogs, horses etc. Even favourite slaves.

I took some shots of horse harnesses that were included in the graves. These are for Maxine M. I think the grave goods demonstrated a complex society.

There was a warrior’s burial and his bones were amazing. Thick, sturdy bones. It reminded me of one of the skulls in the Swedish museum. The warrior dude had a really big head and the commentary said his skeleton revealed he was really tall.

These warrior bones showed the sword cuts and they figure he died pretty quickly from his injuries. Pretty blood thirsty those Vikings. His grave had tools, including carpentry items and shovels etc. There was also a short film with one of the ships that was pretty awe inspiring too, showing what the ship looked like at sea. The third boat was pretty destroyed but it did allow you to see some of the destruction. Most of the grave goods were gone and they figure it was looted in the Viking age.

After that trip around that museum, Heidi and I had a cuppa and I tried a hotdog. It was yummy! Then we walked down to the Folksmuseet to meet my kids. They had gone to the Maritime Museum since they bought the Olso cards there. I was able to get my Oslo card off them to use to get into this museum.

The hot dog was on a flattened bread roll and the dog itself was very good with crispy fried onions.

OMG! This place is amazing. It’s like ten museums thrown in together. There is an outdoor part and an indoor part. The outdoor part contains buildings. Yes, buildings that have been transported there from other place, buildings from many eras. I have never seen anything like it. Heidi tells me there are others in a few countries. I was started in the 1800s by King Olaf II (I think-I will need to check this ).

Anyway, the buildings for me were uniquely Norwegian. Some were really old like from 1600s and later. The storehouses were the most interesting for me because they bring home the reality of living in this northern climate and also what it was like in the past. The spring and summer involved growing and storing enough food for the winter. The food had to be protected from  rats, fire, and thieves, otherwise the whole family would starve. Heidi was so knowledgeable about the place and she explained about how they were built. They were on staves, wooden supports, but shaped  in such a way that rats couldn’t climb inside. The stairs leading up to the storage houses had a big gap so the rats couldn’t cross over. They were separate from the house so that if there was a fire the food would be safe. They had sturdy doors with locks to protect them from thieves. Some had little balconies where the sour cream was kept cool. Inside some of them were wooden casks that had been used for storing grain and other food stuffs, rough hewn stairs made from a log, big thick wooden logs for the sides. This was an age of big forests and plentiful wood. Heidi explained at the wood and long winters meant that people carved.

The other places were different types of farm houses, a stave built church from circa 1645. This was originally catholic and then with the Lutheran reformation they were denuded of their idols etc. Heidi said that anything the pope said was not to be followed. Catholic priests became Lutheran priests (or died I expect) and the crosses and the Virgin Mary’s were taken down. Heidi said that there had been some renovations of old churches and underneath the floors the stashes of Virgin Marys and other things had been found. So they hadn’t been destroyed just hidden from view. This might be because the original Lutheran clergy were catholic. Who knows but so fascinating.

This will be a photo fest from this museum.

There was so much to do and see in this museum that you need to start early and spend the whole day. There are gardens and animals for kids to interact with. Horse and cart rides. Folk dancing. Music. Baking. I tried the Lefse which we saw made and then baked on a griddle over hot coals by girls in traditional dress. Then as we had to meet my kids by a certain time (they had to duck down to the Viking Ship Museum because they hadn’t seen it) we did a rush job on some other displays. I did go to the weavers’s workshop and bought some yarn! Then we went to an apartment building that had been torn down and some rebuilt on the museum site. This showed the apartments through time, a mid 19 century, a late 19th century, a 1960s and a late 1970s. They were so cute and lovely. I noticed that the rooms had Perspex barriers so you could see in but not touch anything. In a country with high labour costs, it makes sense to police exhibitions that way. We also popped in to see the folk costumes and there was a special exhibition called Queering the Sami. That was interesting with personal stories of being queer and Sami.

We met up with my kids, grabbed my Helsinki pass again, and Heidi said she’d deliver me back to them at the venue for the concert. We had booked tickets to Wardruna. Taamo’s favourite band. It is awhat I would call, Neo Norse. They sing in old Norse and use old instruments that the Vikings or the old Norse would use. They have a personal desire to preserve the past. They are sort of folk sounding but not really. Anyway, we split up for the remainder of the day.

I forgot the stave church.

 

Heidi took me to the ferry, but we stopped at the Indonesian embassy where there was a celebration that was open to the public. Just a random thing. We saw it and thought let’s check it out. We drank/ate some kind of drink with jelly and water melon in it and listened to some singing (Karaoke?) before catching the ferry. Heidi took me to the City Hall, an unusual building and evocative too, when a Norwegian is telling you about it’s history. It was built in the late 1950s I think, post war. The Nazis invaded Norway and did a lot of harm. They shipped Norwegian Jews out to the central European camps and  used a scorched earth policy when they retreated. BTW there is a Jewish Museum there on the peninsula too which we didn’t get to. Just opened this year. Norway was in pretty bad shape after the war and rationing was still in place in the 1950s. There are murals on the walls of City Hall that depict these things but also share a vision of a future Norway, where the old are well fed and dressed and happy, the children are happy, healthy and learning, young people are fit etc. It is really interesting that Norway has achieved a lot of that vision. Heidi also told me about the patron saint of Oslo, St Hallvard. Here is the story of him

https://thornews.com/2012/04/26/oslo-citys-patron-saint-hallvard-defending-a-pregnant-women/

Here is a picture of the city seal.

Next we went to check out the Opera House, the harbour and surrounds. The Opera House is very impressive, a modern construction with grand dimensions. We then went looking for dinner. Heidi took me to the old train station, which was now a Holiday Inn and a building with lots of restaurants. In the end we ate Italian food. The prices were comparable to Australia. We shared a plate of potatoes and aioli and a salad for our starters, and we both had small servings of Tagliatelle Bosciola. It was very delicious and plentiful so we had to abandon our plans for dessert.

Then we took the short walk to where the Wardruna concert was being held. A place called SALT. It is a temporary fixture, a bar, a large sauna, an artistic place. Interesting. We found my kids and I said good bye to Heidi. Heidi thought I might be the oldest person at this concert. So did I at first. Later I discovered I was not the oldest by far.

My kids told me I would have to stand up for the concert as it was outside. I was in a bit of pain by then because I’d been walking and walking all day. So I wasn’t too impressed. My daughter bought me a red wine and we waited for the venue to start letting us in. By 7.30 were in the concert space but things were a bit slow kicking off. People seemed to be eating and drinking and I found a place inside with a seat. So I staked my claim and put my foot up. The kids sat with me for a bit. There was a support act that started about 8 pm, an hour after the official start. My kids said that was normal for a concert. I was like, gee, if this doesn’t kick off soon I’ll fall asleep. Wardruna didn’t kick off until 9.30. What the hell! Two and a half hours after the time we were told. My kids had no problem with that. Me I was starting to fall asleep! But the music was amazing and excellent. The bad played for just over an hour and a half..

Weird haunting music with powerful vocals and extraordinary instruments. My daughter said that it was geeky music that I liked and I agreed that this was so. There were people dressed up in Viking age costumes and people with lots of piercings and leather and tats, and I liked the music just as much as they did.

Some pics from Wardruna concert.

I showed my kids a clip of Nightwish and Taamo called it 1980’s disco. Argh!

 

Here are some photos from the concert.

Here is a link to youtube of Wardruna. You might recall them from the soundtrack of Vikings

https://www.youtube.com/?v=3fnPwj1AMpo

Next morning it was an early train to Bergen. OMG! This train ride was so amazing. Such wonderful mountains, lakes, waterfalls and I was on the boring side of the train. It goes through Finse (where, if memory serves, parts of the The Empire Strikes Back was filmed), Voss, we saw a glacier from the distance. I have photos but too many to post here so I’ll put up a sample.

In Bergen we stayed at a AirBnB right alongside the fjord. I took a few photos. Our host was lovely. She greeted me with a hug. A bit disconcerting because I was all sweaty from climbing the hill. We were lost. I lost it and had a fight with Taamo. I’m so ashamed. Our host took me in the car to pick up Taamo and Beans and we settled in. Taamo and Beans were going for a hike and I wrote for a day. They made it to Trolltunga (Trollstongue). I wish I had the stamina and the knees for that. They came back early thoroughly knackered from the hike. I enjoyed my time out writing and took a trip to Bergen to check out the old town, Bryggen. Here are some snaps.

Just a few  pics from Bergen.

 

Then we parted ways. We took off to Iceland.

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Organising this blog tour took a lot of work but it  has been fun and interesting to boot. Many thanks to my generous hosts and for the ideas, questions and interesting topics to discuss.

The blog tour starts tomorrow 16 December, 2015.

Why am I doing a blog tour?

My dark fantasy novel, Dragon Wine Book 1: Shatterwing, is free on promotion during December and into January. Doing a blog tour is supposed to help me get the word out and I thought I’d also have a give away of the print version for people who leave comments. Leaving a comment on this post lets you enter the giveaway too.

Also, Dragon Wine Book 2: Skywatcher is available for purchase.

Dragonwine

Dragon Wine Series

Here is a link to the Momentum Books website where you can get your free copy. It has links to all the retailers there too.

Here.

This is a schedule of the blog tour and the topics/interviews etc. I’ll be popping back to leave the links as they come up.

Amanda Bridgeman 16 December
Alan Baxter 17 December
Matthew Summers 18 December
Alis Franklin 19 December
Matthew Farrer 20 December
CSFG interview with Ian McHugh 21 December
Liz Munro 22 December
Glenda Larke 23 December
David McDonald 24 December
Christmas post by me 25 December
Keith Stevenson 26 December
Chris Andrews 27 December
Joanne Anderton 28 December
Patty Jansen 29 December
Leife Shallcross. 30 December
Dawn Meredith 31 December
New year post by me 1 January
Magie Mundy 2 January
Kim Cleary 3 January
Allan Walsh 4 January

Also, Scott Robinson has included an article by me on writing in his newsletter.

Because I wasn’t able to undo the cut and paste on that list, I don’t have room to put the topics so I’m going to give you a few hints and you’ll have to look for the ones that interest you. Some maybe obvious! Like The Dweeb and the Dweebette interview. I also have articles on writing romance in speculative fiction, research habits, an in depth interview about Dragon Wine (totally cool), I have interviews about what I gave up to write, my darkest hour, world building, about my choices in writing versus a well-paying career and my dark past. I also did an article on what makes dark fantasy dark, five things I’d tell the younger writer me, work life balance and how reading helps your writing. Phew! Now wonder I haven’t been near my manuscript since 30 November!

I hope you will check out some of the posts. If you don’t have a copy of Shatterwing and you like dark, nasty fantasy then please help yourself to a free copy. If you liked Shatterwing then please spread the word!  Leave a comment if you want to be in the draw for a print version of the book.

And there is more the story.

And now my not so official photo!

IMG_0932

Me in my not author shot

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In the lead up to Christmas and the end of year, it’s crazy season. There are farewell lunches, end of year parties, and things that need to be done.

I’ve not got serious about my Christmas present shopping yet and gee not even a morsel of food for Christmas dinner. I was going to bake a pudding and cake. Oh dear. Life seems out of control.

I’m sure it will all come together. It’s Matthew’s birthday on Saturday. We are going to the theatre tomorrow night and then to Star Wars on Saturday night. It seems a perfectly dweebish thing to do. Then the countdown begins.

My son is coming back from China on Christmas eve and that’s when we celebrate. In the meantime there are medical appointments to fit in, a blog tour to organise and the house to get ready. Not much time in there for writing (or much else)

However, I do have the bulk of my blog content sorted so the next post will be the schedule. It’s an exciting array of blogs and content. There are a couple of interviews, one really in depth and deep and then there are some articles by me on topics requested by my hosts. Hopefully there will be something for everybody and also enough temptation for people to want to download a free copy of Shatterwing and also enter the draw for a print copy.

So check back soon.

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I lost my mother in January this year and it’s sent me into a bit of spin on many levels.

Through just thinking about my mother and her family I discovered a half cousin in England. Waves to Christine! But it hasn’t stopped there.

I keep saying to myself I should be writing, but staring into space is quite a bit of fun. Or watching your entire collection of historical DVDs, including multiple copies of Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and North and South, is not bad either. You might wonder why I’m not quite crazy. That does beg the question because I’m not entirely sure I’m not.

Work has been traveling on-some days hard and stress and others not. That might put my off writing but no more than usual. I can’t even pinpoint what my issue is. I tend to stay away from the laptop and just do the bare minimum like answering emails, responding to edits queries. How much time are we talking here since mum died. A month. What? It seems like ages that I’ve been doing nothing much at all. Maybe I should calm down and stop fretting.

So pondering the past the topic of my post. As I mentioned I found Christine, my half-cousin. Inspired by that I ordered a whole swag of certificates from the UK.  (In the past I dabbled with family history and stopped). They arrived this week.

My paternal side of the family hale from the North of England, around Newcastle-on-Tyne and Durham. Quite accidentally because Nana met Pop in Australia, but originated from quite near each other. Apparently my grandfather John Hanson was a Geordie and my Nana, who had a strong accent of her own, said he was hard to understand. So it was this side, which I didn’t know much about, that I concentrated on. Not to bore you too much, but the great, great grandfather who we thought was Norwegian is listed as Prussian on the Census 1881 and 1891. How can this be? Apparently Prussia encompassed parts of Denmark in the 1840s. Still not Norwegian, but maybe… I will never know. What was also interesting that Great, great grandfather John Hanson was a stevedore, master rigger and he died in an accident on the barque Pomona in 1894, of which there is a service history and painting as well as a coroner’s inquest and some newspaper articles. So I became fascinated by this family this past week. I had had the census listing for ten years but wasn’t certain it was the right family but now I know it is.

Now what’s wrong with all this? Researching family history for me is addictive. I’m up till late. I can’t sleep. I want to keep searching and searching. If I’m not crazy, I’m definitely obsessive. This is why I stopped family research before…because I can’t stop and I can’t write and sometimes I don’t sleep. Family history is my drug of choice! Oh dear.

So after doing a bit of digging, I start thinking about their lives in late Victorian Times in South Shields, with lots of babies, children dying in infancy, women dying in childbirth because there was lots of that. My Great, great grandmother Elizabeth was still having babies at 46!

I wonder how the family got on when great, great grandfather died because he still had fairly young children at home. I wonder if I met him would he be proud of where I am in my life and my achievements. I tell myself, yes, because this is all fanciful and typically writerish I believe. I imagine myself in that house on Long Row along the Tyne River, with the tall ships, cargo and seamen from all over the world. The streets would have been full of languages. Great, great Grandfather had Swedish sailors boarding with him and I’ve read there were many cultures mixing in that part of England at the time.

My partner, Matthew, said to me after mum died that it is duty to do better with our lives, to have a better life than our parents. I believe that is true. I come from a long line of peasants who had to survive a lot to get me here. I am one of the lucky ones.

I will be toning down the family history searches but I haven’t quite got it out of my system or my mind. I feel inspired to look into that time and place now, maybe with a story in mind I don’t know. I can definitely understand why looking into your family tree is so fascinating. And it looks to me that I’m going to head back to the UK one day, not too far away, and do some serious family research in South Shields. By the way, Nana’s family were in Washington (Harraton), sort of between Durham and Newcastle-on-Tyne, although her grandparents on the Dockerty side were apparently from Ireland.

Until next brainwave.

PS I did write over 20,000 words at the retreat over the Australia Day weekend so all is not lost.

 

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