The Plane to Storytelling Land

Map from

Map from

I must write fleetingly today. The night is drawing on, and at the crack of dawn my first-born assembles with her compatriots to fly to one of the great storytelling centres of the universe.

It is the birthplace of those great rambling, intricate yarns the Sagas: tales of when men were men and blood feuds were de rigeur. It is the land of volcanoes and vast landscapes.


The home of the stories of Eric The Red and the conquering of Greenland, the ancient accounts of the Nordic exploration of North America; ย of the epic hero-explorer, Thorfinn Karlsefni. Iceland, the only place where a lawyer – Njals Porgierrsson. – could spearhead an epic. Or where a farmer could double up as a poet.

It is the land of voracious readers, importing and translating more international literature than any other nation. It has the highest number of bookshops per capita in the world. And it is mooted that 10 per cent of the population of Iceland will publish a book in their lifetime, though my mind is boggling at the sheer audacity of such a claim.

And its people are still great storytellers. The ancient Nordic traditions never quite dwindled here like they did elsewhere. The place is so isolated that they have remained, concentrated, bottled stories which take us in a vivid time machine back to the middle ages. And of all the modern languages, Icelandic is the closest to the Nordic of old.

My daughter is my roving reporter. She’s a fledgling storyteller herself, filled with promise, and I fancy those grizzled old tales will find their way into her writing as she sees another world entirely. She will be flown to five degrees centigrade – 41 degrees farenheit, a rare raw cold which must, surely, be good for the storytelling cells? And shown all the wonders of the Icelandic world, hot springs and great looming volcanoes.

And so, my heart will be with her in Iceland for the next six days or so, and I expect I shall take a saga or two by the horns and wrestle bits of it into a few hundred words, so as to enter the spirit of the thing.

But first: to rise in the dead of early morning, and bundle into a red petrol-driven steed, and fly through the darkness to the Icelandic assignation.

It is a pilgrimage indeed.

Photo via Wikipedia

Photo via Wikipedia


33 thoughts on “The Plane to Storytelling Land

  1. Fantastic! I am just sure you did everything in your power to think of a way to sneak into her coat pocket and go on this grand adventure. What a wonderful experience for Maddie. I can only imagine what amazing stories she’ll encounter. Prayers for safe travel and a joyous time for her and her fellow travelers, Kate! ox

    1. You know me well Debra! I thought telling the sagas might be nice for her if she gets to the internet out there. She often tunes into my blog, and wanted to do Icelandic research but never had the time because she was so busy packing!

  2. What a wonderful experience for young Maddie, while I have never been there, a friend leads travel expeditions there and has shared their photos of their adventures. A beautiful place indeed.

  3. Iceland will be a great adventure. I just came back from Aberdeenshire where I came across a lot of Pinkfoot geese coming in the opposite direction. I never knew Icelandic people were such voracious readers and writers.

  4. Go Maddie! I cannot wait to hear what Iceland inspires for her and applaud you for letting her go. Excellent, Mom. Simply excellent.

    I highly recommend the book The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman.

  5. It’s funny to hear 41 F described as rare and raw – here in North Dakota we are already seeing some daily highs in the mid-30’s, and I’m looking forward to single digits. ๐Ÿ™‚

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