A Viking Birthday

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beautiful designs

Oh my, where to begin…

It was my son’s 10th birthday a couple of weeks ago. This was something that, if I am honest, I was a little sad about. The time has gone so very quickly and reaching double digits made me realise he isn’t my “little” boy anymore. When I look at him I am filled with nothing but pride at the person he is becoming, the same adoration when he lay on my chest as a newborn, sleepily nestling his head and curling his little fingers around mine. He has grown so quickly.
Anyway, where was I? 10th birthday! Well, we decided it had to be a birthday he wouldn’t forget, and, combining this with his current home schooling topic, Vikings and Norse Mythology, we settled on a trip to York and the Jorvik Viking Festival.
What an amazing city – I can’t believe I’ve not been or taken the children before!
Toby has been totally enthralled by the topic all along, but taking him to this event brought it all to life. Seeing the costumes, tools, skills and being able to talk to the experts made us all like little sponges; wanting to know everything we could.
Both Toby and Emily (3) loved being able to try things on, hold pots and tools, grinding grain… even our dog enjoyed herself having lots of fuss and scraps!

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Not as easy as it looks this horn blowing business!

Not as easy as it looks this horn blowing business!

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This is one element of home education I am realising is utterly fantastic- being able to take him to events like this and not be confined to a classroom. We had been talking about jewellery and how, for instance, Thor’s hammer was depicted often in this form. As we walked around and spoke to people Toby was able to recognise this and other familiar pieces and ask questions, and just generally feel proud of him-self for recognising it. He loved comparing knowledge and facts; he spent so much time leaning over displays calling “Mum, Mum, come and see this! Guess what these were!”

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ornate bone and carved wood – a visual feast!

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The horned helmets were in fact never used for anything other than ceremony. These would have been a lot more typical.

The horned helmets were in fact never used for anything other than ceremony. These would have been a lot more typical.

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After watching a battle re-enactment, when all of the dead had been resurrected by a call for Odin, Toby wanted to spend a little time talking to the Vikings and getting photographs. He asked one armour clad warrior if he would mind posing with him while I snapped away.
This particular Viking I had noticed was playful with children, so I dropped a comment that Toby had a very wobbly tooth that would not fall out.
With a serious face, the Viking asked Toby to open his mouth so he could see. Toby did so without hesitation, just as the Viking swung up his battle axe and told him to hold still. The look of horror on Toby’s face was utterly priceless, torn between sheer terror and not being sure if he was joking or not. So he screamed and ran off across the battle field. The Viking was hot on his heels, chasing him crying “come back you Woman!” leaving the rest of us in stitches.
Toby eventually came back and hid behind me laughing so hard he could hardly breathe. When the Viking asked if any braver children had wobbly teeth, every little face disappeared behind the nearest parent.

moments before being chased by an axe bearing Viking Dentist!

moments before being chased by an axe bearing Viking Dentist!

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Hares. Not Rabbits!

Hares. Not Rabbits!

Vikings aside, the city itself holds so much history and is truly beautiful. There are so many little side streets to explore, little markets and cafes to while away time.
I must confess my internal yarn sensor drew us through the streets and around the corners bringing us to The Shambles where a yarn shop happens to be nestled.
Stunningly pretty, this Medieval Street kept us entranced for a good couple of hours. It felt almost as though we had stepped out of the real world and back in time (or into Diagon Alley!!!).

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Gruesome facts made Toby’s eyes pop with visions of blood spilling from doorways and down the path. A 15th century butchers street, Shambles gets its name from the Medieval word Shamel which was the name for the butcher’s block.
With over 20 butchers’ shops and a couple of times a week the channel in the street being be used to wash away their waste, it must have been a horror to witness.

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I could go on for hours about the buildings and the Cathedral alone, and I will save the yarny side for another post.
We were only there for 3 days and we can’t wait to go back and explore the museums and walls and see the parts we simply ran out of time to see. But I could not have been more in awe if I’d have tried.
Have you ever been? What was your must see?

the Golden Fleece... one of the most haunted buildings in York

the Golden Fleece… one of the most haunted buildings in York

A birthday treat, chosen as a street performer's assistant Toby finally managed to spin the giant ball on the stick!

A birthday treat, chosen as a street performer’s assistant Toby finally managed to spin the giant ball on the stick!

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About woodlandknitter

Who am I? A Mummy first a foremost to my two children, Toby and Emily. We took the decision to home educate the children after Toby had many problems within state education. Unable to send them to a Steiner school at present we base their education around the Waldorf ethos. This is working out wonderfully so far and we wish we had done it sooner. Secondly I am a fibre obsessive. Knitting, spinning, felting, dyeing or just generally stroking, anything goes. You can usually find us in the woods or up a hill, by the ocean's edge or climbing trees. Follow the little trail of yarn clippings and there we will be, me with some form of fibre in my bag at all times. #118 We try to live a simple, natural and holistic lifestyle, making sure that we connect to nature daily. Fairy tales and seeking out the enchanted in everyday life is a big part of our lives, as is plenty of craft and art. I am a new member of a medieval re-enactment group, the House of the Black Star and have met some amazing people through it. I have much to learn from them. In this blog I hope to inspire and share with you the things which inspire me. Feedback is always enjoyed and appreciated. Comments on my blog are always loved! I hope a little woodland magic makes you happy today! #037 Find me on facebook Ravelry Craftsy Etsy Pinterest
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8 Responses to A Viking Birthday

  1. Fantastic blog Sarah, makes me wish I’d gone! When Scarlett does Vikings in school I’m definitely going 🙂

  2. myartemismoon says:

    I love York! This looks utterly Awesome! Walking around the walls was a favourite with my boys – never really having envisioned what a walled city might be like before (not any in Australia). The Jorvik museum was also great, but the icing on the cake for my boys was the transport museum, and actual railway station. They saw the real life flying scotsman and a great many other fabulous engines of their dreams. Of course my highlight was the cathedral and alleyways – I think I found the same yarn shop as you!

  3. knitsofacto says:

    I love York (my aunt lived there for years). Toby does look to have had a marvellous time 😀 I know somewhere else he’d clearly love, should you ever find yourself in Suffolk, Sutton Hoo. It’s a four hour drive away but well worth a visit if you’re seeking Viking treasure.

    Great post Sarah 🙂

    • Oooo Sutton Hoo! We were thinking about it when the summer (ha!) arrives. Hoard envy! There are so many places I want to take them! Toby want to go to Nottingham now also. He thinks he may be able to find Robin Hoods ghost!

  4. Donna says:

    Can’t wait to go next week now!!

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