Itsumo Nando Demo (Away with Me) harp and voice cover


I've wanted to do a cover of this beautiful song from one of my favourite movies, Spirited Away, for a long time, so here it is. I hope you like my simple arrangement! 
I love singing in Japanese, but you must pardon me if I've made any pronunciation mistakes ^_^
Written by Youmi Kimura.

 

Also sorry I haven't been active here lately, there's been a lot going on in my life and I just haven't had any time nor energy for blogging. I'm not sure whether or not to start blogging properly again at all, there's just so many other things I'd rather be doing. I am, however, very active on Tumblr, where I have three blogs:
branna-laurelin.tumblr.com
song-of-gold.tumblr.com
frills-and-fairytales.tumblr.com

And on my Instagram, so you may follow me there if you'd like updates on my life!

I hope you've all been great!

 

~*Branna*~

Timescape

My cover of the beautiful, haunting melody Timescape composed by Swedish singer and songwriter Yohio. Please check out his music! 

 

 

This cover is available for download here.

 

~*Branna*~

Harp cover: Ballad of the Goddess from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

One of my favourite tracks from my favourite Legend of Zelda game, Skyward Sword. The lyrics are in ancient Hylian, and this song is a mix of the orchestral version, the version Zelda sings, and the version you learn, which Fi sings. 

 

Arrangement, harp and vocals are all by me. 

 

Lyrics:
/en daʃeʋu nobe̞ ʃo̞ndʊ/
/tʏe ʃʊtʊ keuænu sale̞/
/en daʃeʋu nobe̞ dʊʃʊ/
/tʏe ʃʊtʊ nobe̞ dezu dotʃe̞/



 I enjoy singing! I think I shall do more of it.

~*Branna*~ 

September

It is well underway by now, September. For as long as I can remember it has been my favourite month, which may have something to do with my approaching birthday (less than a week left, yay!) and a lot more to do with the cooler weather and the start of autumn. I have never been a summer person, being as I detest heat and am perfectly happy on cloudy days. This past summer has been absolutely horrible for me - way too hot and dry, it made me feel sluggish and out of sorts. But now every morning dawns misty and blessedly chilly, and though the sun breaks out eventually, its warm rays can't quite chase away the briskness of the air. Leaves are now turning from green to gold and fluttering peacefully down to scatter across forest paths like golden coins, and everything smells fresh and clean. No other season can set such a joy in my heart as I wander through the woods, not even spring.

I have been neglecting my poor camera for a long time now, so I decided to take it with my on my forest walk this morning to try to capture some of the beauty I see all around me. Here are some of the photos I snapped.




I am overjoyed that it is finally cold enough to wear my lovely Celtic shawl, which is big enough to pass as a cloak! Since it is a year since I was in Ireland, it is especially comforting to wear it now, as I bought it on Inis Mór on my last visit there.


Tiny mushrooms growing out of a cone!


More mushies.










I love mossy old trees like this one.



 

Do you rejoice that summer is over, too?

 

~*Branna*~

Outfit of the Day: Birthday meetup for the Norwegian Lolita Community

Yesterday I went to a meetup to celebrate the birthday of the Norwegian Lolita Community! My community is really such a nice and including one, and we had a lovely time going to cafés and shopping a bit in Oslo. I wish I had remembered to take pictures, but at least I have some outfit photos!


My dress is from Akane & Alois, and was given to me as an early birthday present by my dear friend Amy. I absolutely adore it! The blouse is from Magic Tea Party.


Pretty floral print and chiffon ruffles!


My hair was so unruly, I had a hard time figuring out what to do with it, so I ended up changing it a bit later. 


Here's what I ended up with from the back. Frizzy curls! There's no knowing how rag curls will turn out, apparently. Last time they behaved much better.

If you're wondering what Lolita fashion is, check out this excellent explanation! (No, it has nothing whatsoever to do with the book with the same name.) 


~*Branna*~

Brian Boru's March

Finally a new harp video! This is just a little arrangement I made of this well known Irish tune. It is very simple, since I wanted to be able to play it on my lap harp. I hope to be able to upload videos more often soon, but in between a busy schedule and technical difficulties it had proven difficult for me lately. I am working on several projects I hope will see the light of day soon, though!

Pardon the pale colours in the video, but I had forgotten to charge my camera and had to use my webcam instead. You can download the song here.

 

~*Branna*~

Viking market in Sarpsborg

My husband and I decided to go to the Viking Market in Sarpsborg yesterday, since it may be the last chance we have this market season because of work etc. and I really wanted a chance to wear the new turtle brooches I bought at the market in Borre a couple of weeks ago, as well as my recently improved Norse dress. I would regret that decision a bit, as it was swelteringly hot in two layers of thick linen, but at least I looked the part.

It wasn't a big market, but it was quite a nice one nonetheless, with an unusually good selection of clothes for once (the markets never do seem to have enough booths selling clothes). I found a dress I absolutely loved, but I had decided not to spend much money this time since I spent so much at Borre, so I let it pass (undoubtedly I will regret that later, but oh well). 

Here are some pictures Peter took.




I wish I could say this was a live raven, but unfortunately it was long dead.






Beautiful embroideries.


I so wanted this dark green and burgundy dress!







We also made some new animal friends!


Both canine...


... and feline.

 

We only stayed for a couple of hours since the heat was making me feel ill eventually, so we went home so I could change into something more comfortable. But at least we were able to buy a new pair of baggy Viking trousers for Peter, since his old ones shrank in the wash and turned into capris, hehe. Now he'll be able to dress up again for markets, too!

Here is my attire:


I made some improvements to my Norse clothes, by adding a tablet woven trim, silver and bronze turtle brooches and a bead chain.

Have you been to any good Viking/Medieval/Renaissance festivals this summer?

 

~*Branna*~

Outfit of the day: Mori Lolita

Here's just a quick post about the coordinate I wore yesterday for going to Oslo with my husband. We had a great day shopping, touring the Royal Palace, drinking bubble tea and having a romantic dinner for two.





Have I mentioned how in love I am with Lolita fashion? If you read my previous blog post about Desucon 9, you probably figured it out, but I am absolutely obsessed with it, especially Classic Lolita. So I may have gone a little bit crazy this past six months enlarging my wardrobe to include several Lolita items, as well as sewing my own pieces. I just adore the ultra feminine aesthetics of this fashion and the full skirts; it makes me feel elegant and pretty. Don't worry, though, I'm not abandoning my usual foresty, Elven/Medieval-inspired style. It's just that some variation was sorely needed in my life right now. 

If you want to know more about Lolita fashion, have a read through this website.

 

~*Branna*~

Desucon 9

This past weekend was the most wonderful I've had in a loooong time, full of good friends, amazing cosplays and fun experiences! I went to Desucon for the first time (that is, I've been to Desucon Fantasy twice before, but never Desucon proper) and now I can't believe I haven't gone before! I only wish I'd had time to make a really good cosplay, but with my back being hurt I simply haven't had the time. I did dress up as a Dryad, a tree-spirit, on Saturday, though, and on Sunday I went in Steampunk Lolita. I ended up feeling really pretty and pleased with my outfits on both days, so that was good. 

I wish I had some great photos to show you, but unfortunately I only have bad quality phone camera pictures. The first day I didn't have room in my small bag for a camera, and yesterday I brought the camera, but forgot the memory card :'( So I only had my phone. But still, I hope the pictures I have will be worth looking at anyway.

Day 1


Beautiful and graceful Elves! 
Arwen, Tauriel, Thranduil, his Elven Queen and Galadriel


Costumes on display.


Daenerys Targaryen.


The only pic I have of my Dryad costume, though I hope I'll get some better pictures later. It's hard to see because of the graininess, but I drew vines and leaves creeping up my right leg and left arm, as well as tiny leaves and twigs on my right cheek.


Edit: I just got this pic that Kama took of me, where you can see the leaves a bit better, as well as make out the tree I drew on my chest.
 


A slightly better closeup of my Dryad makeup.


Kíli and Fíli

Day 2


Selfie featuring my wonderful hat, glorious curls and the most perfect backdrop ever that I found outside a coffee shop at Byporten in Oslo while waiting for my ride.


Isn't she the cutest Sansa ever? That hair! It's all her own hair, as far as I could tell. Such a perfect colour!


Grethe, a beautiful woodland queen. I am so in love with that dress, not to mention the crown!


Ingrid took this picture of my steam-loli outfit! I love the way it all came together.


Lise was awesome as San, Princess Mononoke.


Bubbles!!!!


Anita is also a pretty tough-looking Kíli.


Elsa is ready to let it go after a long weekend at Desucon 9. I was had been excited to see Ida's Elsa costume, and I was not disappointed.


And Ariel, combing her red locks with a fork. Trine's dress was so amazing!




A better closeup of my Steampunk Lolita coord, taken by photographer Nils Katla.

 

I have decided to try my cosplay skills for the next con, Desucon Cosplay in the autumn. Now I only need to figure out what to cosplay. I think it will be something from either Final Fantasy or Zelda (my two biggest video game loves!), but I'm not sure who. Garnet/Dagger or Rinoa would be fun, but I've also always wanted to cosplay Malon from Ocarina of Time.

 

Were you at Desucon 9? Did you have fun? 

 

~*Branna*~

Gulskogen Gård and its beautiful garden

Close to my home there is a beautiful late 18th century mansion called Gulskogen Gård, with its beautiful surrounding parklands and garden with a great variety of plants and birds, especially ducks and peacocks! The house is open for viewing every weekend from May to October, and on weekdays in July. 


The front of the house. It was built in 1793 and was in the Arbo family until 1963, at which point it was made into a museum and public park.


The park. To the rightmost you can see the corner of the extensive herb garden they keep there.


Sage


Meum athamanticum, called Baldmoney, Spignel or Meu in English I believe.


Lovage, one of my favourites. I planted one in my own garden last summer, but I had no idea it could grow this tall :O


Mmmmm rhubarb!


A wonderfully fragrant jasmine tree! I stood here several minutes just drinking in the lovely scent.


Nice to find shade from the sun under a huge tree! Also, new dress, yay! 


Duck pond. If you look closely in the water (in the middle of the picture) you can see some cute little ducklings!




There was a large section of the grounds devoted solely to the growing of huge rhododendron bushes!


A little thrush.




The back of the house seen from the edge of the rhododendron garden.


A gorgeous peacock who was very disappointed when he learned I hadn't brought any snacks for him. I really regretted not bringing any bread crumbs.


Outhouse buildings and stables, and a well. Also, a peacock resting under the shade of the tree.

 

I love seeing places like this! 

 

Are there any historical buildings close to where you live? Do you like visiting parks and gardens?

 

~*Branna*~

Rose of May

I've finally been able to make a new harp video for you all! This time it is a cover of Rose of May from Final Fantasy IX, also known as Loss of Me. Ever since playing the game for the first time as a young teenager I've loved that beautiful melody, so I decided to make a version for the harp.

 

I hope you like it!

~*Branna*~ 

The Forest is Lush and Green Again

Summer is here! And the weather is amazing, with rainy nights and sunny days. What more can one wish for? I have recovered enough from the surgery to start taking short walks in the forest again now, so I will share with you some photos that I took yesterday of the woods in all its green glory!


Birch trees - one of my favourite kinds.


A glimpse of the little wilderness right behind my house.


Maple


This is one of my favourite places in the forest, and it is so close to my home. I think it looks kind of magical how the trees arch over and how the sunlight shines through the leaves to create a dappled light on the ground. And there are so many birds here!


I could ramble in the forest for hours and hours - but I had better not while my back is in this state, so I try to keep my walks short.

 

Do you have any favourite woodland spots?

 

~*Branna*~

Recovery at last?

As many of you probably know by now, on Thursday I had back surgery. It went well, and I will hopefully recover fully, though it is a bit early still to be sure. Unfortunately I had an allergic reaction to the anaesthetics and/or pain meds, so I spent most of the day wretchedly sick and unable to keep anything down, but happily I recovered by next morning and was able to have quite a nice weekend. I have been in surprisingly little pain, though I am still quite sore, especially in my hip/leg area, but this may just be that the nerve is still inflamed after being irritated for so long. At least I hope so, time will tell. It's almost like I don't dare to believe that it will all soon be over after eight months of pain.

I have to say that I have received so much love and support from my friends and followers all over the world throughout this ordeal, and for that I am truly deeply thankful and very moved. These uplifting words and healing thoughts have carried me through the pain and anxiety and left me feeling loved and blessed, and I will forever feel grateful about it.

I was well enough by Saturday to walk around a bit and get dressed up to celebrate the 17th of May, Norway's Constitution Day! It was also the 200-year anniversary of our constitution, when Norway took its first step towards being an independent country after 400 years under Danish rule. I had originally planned to wear a bunad, the national costume, for the first time, as my grandmother has put hers at my disposal (it looks like this), and really wanted to go to Oslo to properly celebrate in the capital, but because of the surgery this was not to be. I didn't even get the chance to put the bunad on, as it was still at my grandparents' house. So I was pretty disappointed, but all I could do was make the best of it. And I did get ice cream, which was the most important thing. You can't not have ice cream on the 17th of May.


My hair was weird that day - half wavy and half straight. Don't know why that happened.

The past few days have been about gradually building up my strength without putting too much strain on my back, so I just take things very easy and don't walk too far, mainly just stroll around in the garden periodically and lie down in between. I wish I could just spend all my time outside these days, though; the weather is so lovely and warm!

Have you ever had to undergo surgery? What was your experience like?

 

~*Branna*~

Song of Healing

Last year I made this simple little cover of the beautiful Song of Healing from the video game The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, and I made a new and better recording of it yesterday to share with you all. 

Feel free to download it!

 

Composed by Koji Kondo.

 

~*Branna*~

The Game of Thrones Exhibition in Oslo

On Saturday I decided to brave my way into Oslo to see the big Game of Thrones exhibition everyone's been so excited about (including me). Despite my back still being in a sorry state, I just needed to get out and see people, especially my dear friends Frøydis, Sól, Eirik, Jan Tore and Lise, whom I was supposed to meet. I got there, and was shocked to see how long the line was! It stretched all the way around the block along three full sides. Since I was the first of my group to arrive, I went to the very back of the line to wait patiently. I would need a lot of patience that day, as it turned out.

Fortunately, I didn't have to wait alone for long, as one by one my friends showed up, and if it hadn't been for them I think I would have given up after an hour or so. But we had great company in each other, and it was as fun as waiting in line can possibly be without any form of external entertainment. Still, we all felt that it would have been much easier to bear if they could have played some music from the series, maybe handed out water to people, because it was very hot that day. I know it was a free event, but we would all have paid money to have a bit of water and entertainment as we waited, maybe jugglers or jesters or something. They did have people in costume who went around handing out HBO Nordic vouchers for two weeks of free GoT episodes, though, and that was nice.

After almost five hours, just when we were beginning to despair a bit and feel like maybe we wouldn't be able to do this after all, we were finally admitted to the exhibition. Luckily it was allowed to take photos, so here are some I took from the relatively short amount of time we spent inside since we were so tired by this point we just wanted to see everything and go home. Frøydis and I were too exhausted to even get in line to sit on the Iron Throne. Anyway, here goes:


A model of one of Daenerys' dragons.


Two of Daenerys' costumes. I think it was a poor decision to put blue dresses in blue light, because none of the details stood out properly. White light would have been much better.


Melisandre, King Stannis and Davos.


Closeup of Davos' pouch in which he keeps his fingertips.


King's Landing. From right to left: Cersei, Joffrey, Margaery, Oberyn, Sansa and Tyrion.


A closer look at Tyrion, Sansa and Oberyn.




Detail of the beaded embroidery on Sansa's wedding dress.


More details of Sansa's dress.


Margaery's wedding dress - thorns everywhere.


Roses.


The fabric used for Cersei's gown was just so lovely.


A collection of props.


Brienne and Jaime, complete with stump.


Arya and The Hound.


North of the Wall: Ygritte, Jon Snow and Thormund Giantsbane.


Me, Bran and Hodor.


I don't think Ygritte gives Jon enough credit, at least he does know how to keep himself warm.


A scale model of the top of the Wall.


Weaponsss.


Moar weaponses.


Glittery ice crystal sword.


Selfie time! In incredibly bad lighting conditions. I look slightly insane.


Frøydis and I.

I wish I had remembered to take pictures of the others in our little group, but alas! I did not. If you pop over to Jan Tore's blog, though, you can see photos of them all on the Iron Throne!

I was so tired when I came home I had to spend the rest of the evening and most of yesterday on the sofa, but luckily my back feels none the worse for wear. It doesn't exactly feel better either, but I'm not complaining.

 

Were you at the GoT exhibition? Would you have waited in line for 5 hours to see it?

 

~*Branna*~

Laurelindórenan ~ new dress inspired by Lothlórien

I sewed this dress inspired by the Mallorn trees of Lothlórien, with their golden spring flowers and golden autumn leaves which remain on the branch until next spring comes, at which time they fall and cover the ground with a blanket of gold.




How it looks in warmer light.


Here is a closeup of the accessories and trim of the dress:



The golden floral headband is from Sweet Mildred, and the necklace is a miniature cameo of Waterhouse's The Lady of Shalott, my favourite painting. I got it from The Scottish Girl Shop.

I wore this outfit at Desucon Fantasy on Saturday, and I had such a great time with friends and saw many wonderful cosplays and talented people selling their arts and crafts. 


Ingrid, Gaiadottir, Andrea and I at Desucon Fantasy. Here you can also see the handbag I sewed to match the dress :) It's a shame I forgot to take a better picture of it.

I am so obsessed with sewing!

~*Branna*~

Springtime makes Branna a very happy fairy!

Oops, long time no blogging... Just haven't had the time/energy to blog lately, and suddenly it's been almost a month since my last post. So I thought it was time for a little update to sum up this past month.

Spring has arrived! Winter is definitely over, the sun is warm, flowers are popping up everywhere and the leaves are just starting to bud. I love it! I am not a winter person, so I always get very happy when spring arrives and the snow melts. And feeling the sun on my face again - is there anything more blissful after a long and cloudy winter? Not for me.


Part of my springtime decoration in my living room. I absolutely adore these flowers.


*Takes shameless selfie with the flowers*

I have been sewing like crazy this month, and have (almost) finished two dresses which are not quite ready to be shown off yet, but when I have all the accessories and everything is perfect I'll have a proper photoshoot to show you, because I am so very pleased with them and proud. In the meantime, here is a simple bell-shaped skirt I made in February:


Brown cotton with a green leaf trim, closes with zipper in the back.

I also want to show you this cute dress that my mum gave me, is is so soft and comfortable, and I actually like the floral print a lot.



Last weekend I celebrated St. Patrick's Day in Oslo by marching in the annual parade with Peter and our friends Ingrid and Rik and Kama and her boyfriend Stian.  I quite forgot to take pictures, even though I took my camera with me and everything. Oh well... But here is a photo of my outfit that Peter snapped before we left - not the best quality because of bad light conditions and strong wind.


The skirt and matching belt (which has corset lacing in the back) are made by me.

It is also very clear that spring has arrived in the forest near my home. I went for a lovely walk today, and saw so many wonderful signs of spring everywhere!


Budding leaves


Catkins.


This made me happiest of all - blue anemonies! My favourite flower! And so early, it's only March. Last year I didn't see them until May.


This blue anemone was actually growing out from a vertical surface, namely the soil that an uprooted tree dragged along with it when it fell. 


Blue sky and green woods, perfect!


I found this little branch of catkins on the ground and decided to take it home and use it for decoration.


Coltsfoot - another favourite spring flower, simply because it is always the firat I see.

Has spring come to your part of the world yet? What is your favourite first sign of spring?

 

~*Branna*~

New harp video: Fragments of Memories

Here's a little cover of one of the most peaceful songs from my favourite game Final Fantasy VIII that I did on my new Ravenna 34 harp! Isn't the sound amazing?

Since this harp has an internal pickup with four little microphones inside, I recorded the sound and video separately using my new recording equipment for the audio and my camera for the video. I am very pleased with the way it turned out - no hissing background noise! I just put a little bit of echo on the sound to give it some more fullness, and then I synced the audio to the video in Movie Maker. Quite easy, and the sound is much better than on my previous videos. What do you think?

 

~*Branna*~

Branwen

Everyone, meet my new baby! This is Branwen, my new Dusty Strings Ravenna 34 harp. She arrived yesterday evening, and I am just thrilled! Being lightweight and easy to transport, as well as having a built in pickup, she will be my travelling companion and main recording harp (though I will still use my other, big harp). Another practical feature is the built in drop-down leg, which allows me to play standing up. This is very useful with my back the way it currently is, making it painful for me to sit down for any period of time. So this is probably the best investment I've made in a while. 



 

What do you think? Isn't she a beauty? By the way, Branwen means "white raven" in Welsh.

I haven't had the chance to play her much yet, but I can say that the sound is absolutely divine! The upper octaves are reminiscent of silver bells, and the lower strings are deep and resonant. So wonderful I can't even.... aaah! I'm in love! I can't wait to show you, once she's settled down a bit.

I'm really happy right now!

 

~*Branna*~

February Forest

The other day the snow lay like powdered sugar on every tree, so I took my camera with me on a lengthy walk in the woods to snap some photos. And I'm glad I did, because now it looks like it is all going to rain away. I can't help hoping for an early spring this year. Anyway, here are the pictures - I'm going to let them speak for themselves:

























***

On a different note - I have no idea why, but about a week ago, I suddenly noticed that my back wasn't hurting so much anymore. Since then, it has gradually gotten better, and now I can walk and stand for a long time without nerve pain (though there is still some muscular pain). I am overjoyed about this! This weekend I have even been able to sit for a while without (considerable) pain. I hardly dare believe it, but it seems that I am at last slowly getting my normal life back! Next week I am going to test it by visiting my job for a few hours and see if that doesn't hurt too much or set me back, and if that goes well, I am going to start working again as of the week after, just a little at first, and then gradually working my way up to my old work schedule. I am so looking forward to seeing my colleagues, and the customers, and actually  feeling like a normal person again! Yay!



~*Branna*~

What happened to January?

January has been a weird month... especially where the weather is concerned. The first half of this month was wet, windy and mild. Then about halfway in everything suddenly changed and the temperatures dropped, and it's been snowing ever since. Now the snow reaches well above my knees in some places. I'm not sure how I feel about this. Back in November I was so set on enjoying winter this year, embracing the snow and the cold and all of that side of Norwegian nature, rather than pine for spring all winter long as I usually do. But then winter never came... not properly anyway, and I couldn't help feeling glad the snow melted so soon, and rejoicing in the green moss and bare ground we had for so long. Naturally I was rather taken aback when it then started snowing a couple of weeks ago and never stopped. It's too late, now I don't want winter anymore, I want spring! *sigh*  Oh well, looks like it's going to get milder again as of next month, so maybe it will all melt soon anyway. I hope next winter is more normal.

On a different note, January has also been weird in that it has just sped by all too fast! Usually January seems too long for me, it drags along dull and dark, seemingly neverending, but not this year. I suspect it is because I never do anything much these days, I am always at home (except when I take my short forest walks). It seems as though I am standing still, and all the rest of the world is speeding by without me. I feel so isolated. My back has gotten worse, so I can't go anywhere because sitting in a car hurts a lot. So I try to spend my days alternately standing up and lying down. When I am standing I try to play the harp or sew. I found that I could place my sewing machine on my kitchen counter with the pedal on the floor, which works really well. However, I could only stand for about half an hour before it hurt so badly I had to lie back down. Lately it hurts even to stand for a little bit. I am getting pretty frustrated that none of the treatments I've tried have worked, and am getting, well, pretty depressed to be completely honest. This is the most personal I've been on this blog, since I usually don't write about my negative feelings much, but I guess I need an outlet.

Anyway, I have decided to really take charge and try everything to get better, because I am sick of being patient and just relying on all the advice I've had from my physiotherapist, chiropractor and manual therapist, and I have booked an appointment with an expensive private clinic (Volvat) in Oslo to see if the experts there have some better advice for me. I have also changed my doctor to one who actually has time for her patients and is reportedly very understanding and good at taking people seriously. So maybe I'll get somewhere now. I just so badly want my old life back, I want to be able to sit down and play the harp, to do anything really, I want to go to work and see people. 

Sorry about the negativity. Here are some photos I've taken in January.


Showcasing some of my new jewellery that I got from my dear Cris who runs the fantastic Etsy shop Neirahda.


A foggy and cold January morning.










I sewed this skirt with a matching belt. Rather pleased with it.


Suddenly, snow!


Lots of snow.


But it's all right as long as you have warm clothes.

 

Well, that's it from me for now. I'll try to blog more often, if I can only find the energy to make the effort.

 

How has your January been?

 

~*Branna*~

Inis Mór - Ireland part 5

I seem to have completely forgotten to finish my blog posts about my trip to Ireland with Marita in September! There's just been so much else to blog about since then, that I completely forgot. Anyway, here are the last pictures I have from Ireland for this trip, taken on the day we went to Inis Mór, the biggest of the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland. 

To get to Inis Mór from Galway, first we had to take a bus to the port at Ros a' Mhíl, then take a ferry over to the island. Unlike the day before, which had been so blustery I thought I would blow away, this was a sunny, calm and warm day, absolutely perfect! 

As soon as we arrived on Inis Mór, we were approached by an old, pleasant-looking man who offered to take us all over the island in his horse-drawn open carriage. We accepted, of course, and were so glad that we did! Rather than sit inside a stuffy tourist coach or renting a bike, we were able to leisurely enjoy the lovely day and beautiful view with no effort at all. The old man,  whose name was Patrick, offered light conversation and was genuinely interested to learn about Norway (even though he forgot that he asked the same questions over and over). The horse, named Charlie, was a docile, good-natured and patient creature.


I was so glad I didn't have to go anywhere by bike this time around. When I was there last time with my class at Uni, all the rest of them wanted to rent bikes. I detest riding bicycles. Naturally I got the one with the narrowest seat, and by the time we got back at the end of the day I was so bruised I could barely walk. So I much prefer this way of travelling, slow though it may be.


We went along the coast road, and the scenery was so beautiful!


As we went, we passed many cute little cottages such as this one.




I wished it was summer so I could have walked barefoot on this lovely white beach.


Typical Inis Mór landscape.

We chose to go to Dún Aonghasa, the ancient ring fort placed right at the edge of the cliffs. Both of us had been there before, but it is so magnificent it has to be seen several times!  It dates back to at least 1100 BC, and is well fortified with four thick stone walls and  a ring of spiky stone slabs outside that, making it very difficult to attack. in the middle of the fort is a huge stone slab of unknown function, but it may have been religious.


The cliff edge outside Dún Aonghasa.


Dún Aonghasa entrance.


The cliffs as seen from inside the walls of Dún Aonghasa.


The defensive system of stone slabs, which would make an attack very cumbersome.

We even got a private tour from one of the fellows who worked at the heritage site, named Bartley, and he had so much interesting and enlightening information about the place! I really appreciated that, history geek that I am.

After we had explored our fill, we went back to Patrick and Charlie, who had waited patiently for us all along. Patrick told us there was a ruined church nearby that we should go take a look at (understanding that we love such ancient places), so off we went.


The ruined church. Sadly I don't remember how far it dates back.


Votive gifts inside the church.


It was very beautiful and green outside the church ruins.



We then went back to Patrick and Charlie, and they drove us back to the port.


Patrick and Charlie.

We were really sad to say goodbye to Patrick at the end of the day, because he had given us the best day we could hope for, so we gave him a big hug and paid him a lot more than what he asked for (which he more than deserved for waiting around for us all day).

We then spent the rest of our time on the island in the Aran Sweater Market, where I bought my fantastic shawl featured in this blog post, before getting on the ferry back to Ros a' Mhíl and the bus back to Galway.

That concludes my posts about this trip to Ireland, as the interesting bits are now over, The remainder of our journey was spent packing, travelling to Dublin, then the day after that a very stressful journey home with very rude flight personnel. I was sad to say good bye to my favourite country, but also very happy to get home to my husband, a new computer, a redecorated working space, and my own bed, which was slightly less uncomfortable than the hotel bed (I say was because we now have a new, soft, wonderful bed).

I hope to go back to Ireland again soon, this time with my husband, because my dream is to rent a car and just driving all over wherever we want to go and not be restricted to buses.

 

~*Branna*~

2013 - looking back

Last year I did a photo series of 2012 at the end of the year showing how I had changed throughout the year. I thought I'd do something similar this year, showing the highlights of 2013, as it were. It's been a nice, quiet year with some good experiences and some not so good, like my back getting injured. Well, here it goes!

 

January


I sewed my first garment, a long brown skirt that I have worn so much throughout the year! I am so happy I decided to start sewing my own clothes.


I regained my musical creativity after a long hiatus.

 

February


I celebrated Imbolc (February 1st) with my two very good friends Ingrid and Frøydis.


I made a new harp arrangement, The Misty Mountains Cold. This was my first harp video in almost a year, so it felt really good to be doing something musical again. Throughout the course of 2013 I would focus more and more on my music.

 

March


I sewed a new skirt.


Even though the snow refused to melt, at least the sun came back and started shining through my kitchen window again. I hadn't seen it since October, as we live on a shadowed hillside, so that was nice.

 

April


I went to Desucon Fantasy and got to meet James Cosmo!


The snow finally started to melt properly.

 

May


Finally spring!


I took my smallest harp out for a photo shoot in the forest.


Hurray for the 17th of May, Norway's constitution day.

 

June


Medieval faire in Tønsberg with dear Sól.


Medieval festival in Oslo.

 

July


We had such a lovely warm summer!


We went to a Viking marked in Sarpsborg. I sewed my attire entirely myself, partly by hand.

 

August


I went swimming in the ocean.


And I went out into the forest a lot to play my whistle - there's nothing like playing music in nature!

 

September


I played my first proper wedding gig.


I went to Ireland with my friend Marita. This is taken at the Cliffs of Moher.

By the time I came home, my back had started hurting really bad, especially when I sat down or stood for longer periods of time. I now suspect the cause of it was a combination of walking a lot on hard footing as well as all the extra hours of sitting by my harp practising for that wedding.

 

October


Plum harvest


Green Woman


Halloween 2013

My back got progressively worse throughout October. My doctor didn't believe me when I said I had a spinal disc prolapse (which I have had before as a teenager, so I should know), and was reluctant to send me on to an MRI. Being at work became so painful I had to get a partial sick leave.

 

November


I sought comfort and healing among the trees in the forest, taking up to several short walks every day.




We had some very cold days in the end of November, with beautiful frost everywhere.

In the beginning of November, I had to stop working entirely. I finally got my doctor to order and MRI for me so that I could start treatment, but there was a long time to wait. In the meantime I listened to my physiotherapist and tried to avoid everything that hurt and to do easy excercises to strengthen my back, as well as taking short walks in the woods (previously I had walked for too long at a time, but it's hard not to when the wanderlust strikes).

 

December


We had a brief time of winter wonderland about a week into December when the snow arrived.


It all melted well before Yule, though..


I don't have many Yule photos this year, because I forgot to take some. It was a weird holiday, anyway, since my husband had to work late shifts. I spent a lot of time with my family.

I finally got an MRI, and am diagnosed with spinal disc prolapse, as I knew I had. I started chiropractic treatment, which made me worse, so I am going to stop doing that. I am finally starting to feel better again now, despite the holidays and family parties taking its toll. I have been very good at doing my excercises, so I hope I will continue to improve and be able to start working again (and playing the harp sitting down) soon.

 

Next year will be a good year. I firmly believe that. I will get better, and I will have my normal life back soon. I have big plans for my music! I have started composing my own original music and writing my own songs. Lately I have been singing a lot and doing vocal excercises to improve my voice. Hopefully I will be able to afford better recording equipment very soon. I am also having fun working on harp covers of some video game music, especially from the Final Fantasy series, my favourite video game series next to The Legend of Zelda.

There are also a lot of things to look forward to next year, such as playing the harp at two dear friends' weddings. I will also be taking up my jewellery making again very soon, when I feel a little bit better, since I've been missing that particular outlet of creativity. And I will sew at least one magnificent dress during next year! And I will continue writing on my new novel project, which I'm really excited about.

So 2013 ends with positive thoughts and plans for the future!

 

What are your plans for next year?

 

~*Branna*~

Carol of the Bells

This is a carol I've always felt was very suitable for the harp, so I decided to make a very simple little arrangement for my littlest harp. I'm sorry about the blurriness in the video, it appears I did something wrong with the focus settings. But the sound turned out good and I just can't bear to do it all over again, so it will have to do.

 

 

Have a very happy Yuletide!

 



~*Branna*~

Winter has come

Yesterday I woke up to a white winter wonderland, and it snowed even more today! I am really happy about it, because I just can't get into that holiday cheer without snow. Let's hope I can keep up the enthusiasm about snow all winter long. Somehow I doubt it, but I'm going to try at least. I went for a walk today and took some snowy photos. Behold!

























***

White are the far-off fields,

and white the fading forests grow.

The wind dies out along the heights,

and denser still the snow.

A gathering weight on roof and tree

falls down scarce audibly.

- Words by Archibald Lampman

 

Do you like snow and winter?

 

~*Branna*~

Davy Jones' Theme

Today I was finally able to make another harp video for you! Because of my back injury I took a long break from harp playing before figuring out a way to play my medium-sized harp standing up. As a result I experienced a setback both in my general repertoire and in the new pieces I was learning before. Now I finally feel like some of the new pieces begin to be ready, and today I made a video of a piece I have arranged myself, the Davy Jones' Theme from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

I always use my biggest harp, Laurelin, for making videos and playing in for others, because Elysia, my smaller harp, suffers from poor sound and weird buzzing noises when I play. Because my back hasn't healed yet it hurts to sit down for any amount of time, so I had to be really careful when recording this so I didn't sit by the harp for too long and make myself worse (I've made that mistake before). Luckily I was able to do this in one take, so I'm none the worse for wear!

Here it is:

I hope you like it! I have two more songs I hope to record soon, both of which fit this season we're entering.

~*Branna*~

The Onset of Winter

This past few days have been very cold and frosty - so cold that I can no longer call it autumn and am forced to acknowledge the onset of winter.

Don't get me wrong: I like winter, just not as much as autumn, or any of the other seasons for that matter. It just has a tendency to drag on and on, until I wonder whether spring will ever arrive. Every year around the middle of January I find myself hating the snow and missing the green grass, moss and leaves so terribly. However, it's not that bad yet, and I am even looking forward to a bit of snow now that the Yule season is fast approaching. I have decided that rather than wishing fervently for spring, I will try to enjoy the winter a bit more and fight to keep the winter depression away with all the dullness and loss of creativity it usually brings. 

So, in celebration of the winter season, here are some photos I took on my woodland walk today.








I felt as though I was peering into a crystal cave.






A tiny shard of ice.


Ice has began forming in the stream, creating beautiful crystalline structures.







Has winter arrived where you live?

 

~*Branna*~

November Forest

The only good thing about having these back problems and thus not working at the moment, is that I get to go for lovely short walks in the forest every day! Since I have to make sure the walk is not too long, I have found the perfect little route in the woods that I take several times a day to excercise my back musculature. This gives me a great opportunity to witness how nature is slowly changing, day by day, from autumn into winter. The other day I took my camera with me to capture some November forest photos.




















Closeup of a mossy tree trunk. I am so fascinated by moss and its ability to grow everywhere! And I think it is so beautiful.


Just look at this! It is so magnificent.

***

Lastly, I just want to share with you the fantastic sunrise we had this very foggy morning.


The photo is not edited in any way except by the addition of the copyright. It is at moments like these I stop and think, what a beautiful, glorious world we live in!

 

~*Branna*~

Kinvara and Dunguaire Castle - Ireland part 4

This was one of the clearest, sunniest days I've had in Ireland, and certainly the windiest as we got on yet another bus, this time to the village of Kinvara south of Galway and its local castle, Dunguaire. I was most excited to see this castle, of which splendour Marita had attested. 


There were always so many beautiful and interesting things to see while traveling by bus! Ruins, ruins everywhere! I love ruins, because they are like an echo of another time. Once, people lived in this tiny cottage on which grass and ivy now grow. Imagine that. It has a certain beauty in its desolation.


Kinvara, another delightfully colourful Irish village. We didn't spend much time here, as we wanted to make haste to the castle, but we did visit one cosy little shop whose name I have sadly forgotten, in which I bought a cute little brown top and some small gifts for my husband (if you want to know, it was tiny doll-like key ring figurines of Asterix and Obelix, whom he loves).


We then set out for Dunguaire Castle along a very scenic coastal road.


Can we just take a moment to appreciate West-Irish trees? All covered in ivy, windswept and rugged as they are. I wish we had trees like these in my part of Norway.


This mysterious archway stood all alone on a little island. I wish we had had the means of getting there, but we didn't possess a boat...


Our first glimpse of Dunguaire Castle.


Another photo of the island of the archway.


Dunguaire Castle

Delighted, we finally arrived and began exploring the castle interior, which we had almost to ourselves.






The banquet hall. There is a medieval banquet held here every night, but we couldn't attend it because we had to be on the last bus back to Galway. Next time, I shall travel by rental car. And bring someone with me to drive it, so we can go wherever we please, whenever we want.


You should know by now that I really like tapestries.


Especially colourful ones.


The place of honour.


Interior decorating inspiration part 1.


Interior decorating inspiration part 2.






Interior decorating inspiration part 3.


The view from the top of the tower.


The tower as seen from the courtyard.


To demonstrate how windy it was that day, behold the wild fluttering of my garments.

We then walked back to the village for a quiet and excellent dinner at one of the local restaurants, before going back to Galway.

 

Have you ever explored a beautiful medieval castle?

 

~*Branna*~

Samhain~Halloween 2013

The day before yesterday was, as you probably all know, Halloween or as it is usually called in pagan terms, Samhain, which is the Irish name. In many cultures around the world, this is the night when the veil between the world of mortals and the Otherworld is at its thinnest, allowing the spirits to pass through to our world. They can be spirits of the departed, or other kinds of spirits, good or evil. It is also a time when all the harvest has been collected and everything is ready for winter, the death, or long sleep, of nature until spring comes again. Things associated with death are often used as decorations, such as skeletons, ghosts, monsters and zombies. It is also costumary to carve out pumpkins (earlier it used to be turnips) with scary faces, which originated in a desire to scare away evil spirits on this night. Pumpkins also represents the fertility of the harvest. It is also a night to honour your ancestors and your dear departed, lighting candles for their spirits and welcoming them back into your home and the world of the living for one night.

For me, it was a quiet celebration this year, as usual. I would have liked to dress up and go to Halloween parties, but my back injury prevents that. However, at least I had great company! My dear friend Ingrid came over, and we had our own little party!


Ingrid and her amazing outfit


Me clad in green, as per usual...


We lit lots of candles everywhere. Here is a pumpkin that would later be carved. We had another pumpkin, too, but I chopped it up to make pie out of it.






Boiling pieces of pumpkin to make my first pumpkin pie.


We lit torches outsite our apartment to guide the kids to our front door, which is rather hidden away on the side of the house. Usually we get no trick-or-treaters at all, but this year at least we had one little girl dressed as a skeleton and her dad (also dressed as a skeleton) ringing our doorbell, so of course we gave her lots of candy. I wish more had come, because we really had a bucket full of candy, but oh well... at least now we don't have to buy candy for the rest of the year :p


We watched The Nightmare Before Christmas - an annual tradition of mine - while we enjoyed Ingrid's excellent cooking


The finished pumpkin which Ingrid carved - I bet it scared those spirits away!


My pumpkin pie, before I put it in the oven. Unfortunately, it turned out a little soggy - I think I used too much pumpkin and too little of all the other ingredients. Oh well, next time I'll try sticking to one recipe instead of trying to combine two different recipes because I was lacking an ingredient... Ingrid and my husband still thought it tasted nice, but I didn't like the consistency... ah well, I always knew I wasn't much of a cook.

Then we watched the whole season 1 of Being Human and drank lots of wine, becoming quite giggly, until it was almost morning. 'Twas a good night!

 

How was your celebration, if you had one?

 

~*Branna*~

Les mer i arkivet » February 2015 » October 2014 » September 2014
Branna Laurelin

Branna Laurelin

I have a great love for all things fantastical, fairytale-ish. Irish, Celtic and Norse. My biggest passion is playing the harp, but I also love playing my tin whistles/flute and making fantasy jewellery. I have a Bachelor's degree in the Irish language (also covering Celtic civilization, literature and mythology) from the University of Oslo, which I am very proud of even if I can't use it for anything career-wise. This blog is all about the things I like and involve myself in, and hopefully I may be of some inspiration to others.

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