Jorvik Viking Festival and Robin Hood's trail

February started quite nice and easy, with Tollef going off for a weekend on Fosdem, a conference taking place in Bruxelles. Nothing else really exciting happened before the half term, when we were going to York and the Jorvik Viking Festival. This was something I'd been looking forward to for some time, and we did a lot of planning on everything we wanted to attend there.

Arriving at the hotel, we realised that they had no parking, and we ended up paying loads of money for parking the two days, also due to a misunderstanding with the hotel personnel. Note to self: Check that hotels and B&B's have parking facilities before booking!

Unfortunately, the festival was in itself a bit of a disappointment. We started off the first morning to the textile demonstrations at the quilt museum. That appeared to be a volunteer, instructed for the day, showing some embroidery examples, spinning and a few other things of historical textile work. It all took us 10 minutes to go through, and there were nothing that I didn't really know from before.

Next, we went off to Murton Park and the Farming museum. Though it was primarily intented for children, they had a quite good introduction to vikings, and some practical acitivities with toy weapons, and making oil lamps out of clay. Absolutely one of the hights of the festival! After having lunch on our way back, we walked through the town center in the afternoon, finding that the queues outside the Jorvik Viking Centre was as short as it would ever get, and decided to go in there. Being a permanent attraction, they had done absolutely nothing (obvious at least) extra for the festival. It didn't even qualify to a "centre" in my opinion, more like a introduction-to-vikings-tour.

In the evening we had tickets to a theatre performance, also with music entertainment in the evening-show. It was another great disappointment when it appeared to be modern music being performed. Wasn't this supposed to be a Viking-festival? The play was very good though, telling the story of Egil Skallagrimson and Eirik Bloodaxe, in a real, authentic bardic way.

Thursday morning, we headed off to "Design your own dragon"-workshop at one of the historical centres in York. It was related to the "How to train your dragon"-movie, and I was hoping that it would be some kind of digital workshop. It appeared to be a kindergarden-type of making with paper, glue and feathers. We left quite quickly, and headed for the Viking craft fair in the Guildhall. That appeared to be one of the positive surprises on the festival, and it did not surprise me, when another Norwegian participant could tell me that it was not organised by the same people that organised the festival itself. We got to see a lot of very good historical crafts both in jewellery, textiles, weapons and other things. We bought a sheep hide and I bought a drinking bottle in leather, and some glass beads for a viking necklace.

After lunch, we met Dagfinn and Karen and had a tour of York Brewery. It was short but nice, and we had a few beers before leaving.

Heading from York, we went to Nottingham to follow the tracks of Robin Hood. We arrived late in the evening, accompanied by very heavy rain. Due to our bad planning this hotel didn't have parking either, so we ended up paying for another night in an expensive city-center parking house. Friday morning we headed off to follow the Robin hood-trail. After discovering how to get the gps not to just take us to any pub called "Robin Hood"-something, instead of the sites of the trail, we had a nice walk in the Sherwood forest, or "Thieves forest", as it was called back then. We also visited Sherwood forest visitor centre, and the ruins of one of King John's hunting castles. Along the trail we learned a bit more about Robin Hood and the time he lived in. It was a very nice outdoor day, and even though it was cold, it was at least sunny, for once. Odin came with us all the way, and was quite exhausted when we finally arrived at home at the end of the day.