A new “Icelandic Saga” – The Nomad Saga

The Icelandic Sagas are a collection of stories written about Iceland in the Medieval Age. They are about events that may have happened but also contain a hefty dose of magic, trolls, and weirdness. We decided that we would come up with our own “Icelandic Saga” while we live here for the summer. Welcome to the Nomad Saga. 


There was a man named Russell Steveson, and his wife Coleen Marksdotter. They were adventurers who came from distant lands, and travelled all through the eastern parts of the world until they met each other on a bus in Korea. They fell in love, and instantly decided to travel the world as nomads together. They moved to Russell’s birthland, where Coleen did battle with a mighty Master and received as her boon for victory a very, very expensive piece of paper. Their time in England up, they decided to move to east once more.

A year in the distant reaches of Shanghai has gone past. Coleen and Russell stand in the small kitchen of the hive, looking out at the atmospheric rain below.

It must be time to go.

Adventure eluded them in China, with only a few small dragons sighted (not worth writing home about, really). No trolls or magical lambs or springs that one can drink coming out of the centre of the Earth. Our heroes needed a new adventure.

“Let us connect to the oracle of Google,” declared Russell. “It will know where we should go.”

They narrowed the choices. Southeast Asia. South America. Europe. Australia? So many places to go and so much indecision. The great Googlic Oracle did not help much, merely filling their minds with pictures of more places to go. Indecision was very strong; how could the nomads choose?

At that moment, an Arctic Tern slipped deftly through the kitchen window. The obviously totally out of place bird made a distinctive ‘Scawwwwwww’ noise, and as it did a piece of ancient-looking paper fell out of its beak.

A single word was written on the paper.


The Arctic Tern took a little water from the glass Coleen offered it, and scaawwwwed again. Used to long-distance migrations, it took off less than five minutes later and left. Leaving a a small white, lumpy present behind on the counter.  By then, our heroes knew where both they and the bird were headed.

Next time: Russell and Coleen arrive in Iceland and meet with a magical lake, derpy puffins, and a ghost who really hates posters on the wall. 

Shanghai Propaganda Museum

Amazing time! The Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center offers original posters, knowledgeable staff, and beautiful art. As much history as we’ve found so far in China. Plus you can hold one of the Little Red Books in your own hands, for purchase if you’re keen. Textbooks from the 1960s and 1970s as well, with eerie similarities to the English we teach now all over the world.

To get there: Go to Changshu Road Station and walk north on Changshu Road. Exit 8 is the closest one to Anfu Road, where you should make a left. Walk to the end of the road, and bear right. You’ll get to Huashan Road, where you need to go into the apartment complex. It’s in the basement of building no. 4.

Address: Rm BOC, Basement, Block B, No.868 Huashan Road, Shanghai, China

My London: 1

I’m supposed to be writing my MA dissertation, but I can’t. I’m wondering what the hell happened to my WordPress interface…



A bit of fanangling and it’s better. But still eh.

I’ve not been writing much since I moved to London. I feel in many ways as if I’ve lost the spark to do so, drowned it in the Thames or the rain or the overwhelming desire to drink a beer that thinking about how much money I owe for a rather useless degree brings on.

I want to capture what my life is for posterity. It sounds stupid. Vain. Recently, I spent ages on the internet trying to find out who lived in our Victorian terraced house when the Great War broke out 100 years ago this month. I found them, a whole family of emigrated Scots by the name of Kenzie. A son who was 22 when the war began. A daughter who was 24. Surely, surely, the war touched them closely. In Dagenham last year, we found the gravestone of two grandparents who required a living and grateful remembrance of six grandsons who fell in the Great War.

London 2013

London 2013

Six grandsons who fell. A generation lost.

I’m of a somewhat lost generation, too…though not through war and machine guns and chlorine. I graduated in 2010, in the midst of the worst economic climate since the Great Depression. I’ve travelled the world. My life is so much better than my ancestors could’ve imagined…but we are still in a transitional economy. I’m still working for less than £7 per hour while I finish a £30,000 degree. I’m still living in a house with eight people and a single toilet. I’m still spending what money I have on practically two things only: rent and food.

I’ve been watching the Great War Diaries, a series on the BBC that puts the words of those who lived through that Great War in action. It’s haunting. I still feel a thrill of terror whenever I hear bells ringing wildly like in the opening scenes.

I want people to hear my voice in 100 years, for my descendants to hear my stories and my world. But I’m not on the Western Front. I’m not in Armenia. I’m sitting around in my room all day, every day. The details of life are strange.

A pack of Mayfair cigarettes in the gutter of East London. The DLR’s aching grind while a couple from Texas break the code of silence on the city’s transport. A pack of venison delivered from the butcher, cheaper than beef of the same weight but with the warning “MAY CONTAIN LEAD SHOT” on it, almost an apology. The droning of the night bus along the periphery of Hackney Marshes at 4AM.

I am 26 in 2014. I’m a student and a bar maid. I live in the converted front room of a Victorian house in East London with my fiancé and our small collection of material possessions. I read about the world every day, in the form of stories about Gaza and Ukraine and Ferguson…and the many Spanish, French, and Italian-language news I read since I studied and lived abroad.

We eat well. I get one craft beer each shift at the Brewdog bar I work in, and have one or three more in the shift includes idiots wanting Auchentoshan as a shot. I wear old clothes with holes in them, because I don’t want to buy into the global system that weaves blood into the very threads we carry on us. I can’t escape it, of course. Try as I might. So I am trying to stop buying any clothes at all.

And this is my London. I want to photograph it in a different way. Show a different side. What I live in. Not necessarily the big gleaming tourist capital. This is the first in a series of posts about my London, and my life here. I hope to continue once I finish my dissertation.