Alexander Read and his family create magical moments together in the outdoors
Alexander Read has brought Brynje garments along on his outdoor adventures since 2001 when army uniforms and weaponry were also part of his look. These days he has exchanged weapons for princess kits, children's drawing tools, and nail polish. In fact, his daughter Mina has made sure that he has yet to return from an expedition without a pink manicure.
In pursuit of trolls and enchanted nature experiences
Mina and her dad Alexander share a strong bond, partly born out of countless hours spent together on long-distance expeditions in pursuit of enchanted nature moments - and the Norwegian mythical creature, troll. That’s to say, they keep a keen lookout for trolls, but wouldn’t dream of hunting them. Mina especially takes her troll spotting duties very seriously, when for weeks at a time, the two of them move their daily lives up into the mountains, along with their third companion, Laura, the doll that rarely leaves Mina’s side. In 2018, they tallied 168 nights outdoors, traversing a total of 800 kilometres of Norwegian mountains, resulting in a documentary film and several episodes of a children’s television programme.
‘Mina og meg - toddling across the Norwegian mountains’, captures the adventures that ensue when little Mina takes the role of mountain guide, and Alexander, the grown-up, surrenders to her magical universe, exploring their surroundings through her lens. The tangible moments of magic that occur between Mina, Alexander, the high mountains, and the doll Laura, bolsters Alexander’s inspiration and drive to keep going.
However, trips like this require more of Alexander than his ability to endure long, strenuous winter expeditions. He must also maintain sufficient energy to stay mentally and physically present to Mina’s play and curiosity, to share fully in her experience. “There are times when I feel my backpack of 50 kilos dig painfully into my shoulders, and my legs are trembling from having just ascended 1200 metres in sleety, windy conditions. At such times, I look over to Mina and find in me that extra bit of energy to belt out the Pippi Longstocking theme song from the top of my lungs. Perhaps while Mina laughs and washes her hair in an icy cold mountain stream.”
Family adventures closer to home
Although Mina and Alexander share a particular fondness for long-distance expeditions, the ‘Mina og meg’ project encompasses much more than their trips away. To Alexander and his wife Kristin, it represents a broader value-based approach to parenting and family life in which they seek to maximise time together in everyday life. As part of this overall approach, outbound activity and a close relationship to nature (summed up in the Norwegian concept of ‘friluftsliv’) are important ingredients. Kristin, also a lover of the great outdoors but without the same inclination towards long-distance expeditions, is happy to stay behind to focus on her work and the couple’s two other children. When the family of five is back under one roof, they frequently enjoy more local adventures together, such as hikes and skiing trips, utilising nearby nature areas which are plentiful in the vicinity of their Oslo home. To Alexander and Kristin, the long-distance expeditions and local nature excursions are both part of a lifestyle that they enthusiastically embrace.
The natural environment and sustainable outdoor gear
Alexander’s professional background includes a stint in the Norwegian armed forces, where he rose to the rank of Squad Leader in the Coastal Ranger Commando. Nowadays, most of his encounters with the natural environment have a different purpose and are filled with a renewed sense of awe. 2019 saw Alexander and Mina as recipients of the prestigious Norwegian 'Wilderness People of the Year' award (‘Årets villmarkinger’), for inspiring children and adults to explore the outdoors. They also won an award for their awareness-raising work around climate and environmental issues, emphasising the importance of preserving the ‘natural playground’ for future generations.
Social responsibility and innovation are familiar arenas to Alexander, from his career as a ‘Chaos Pilot’ and project manager, and through having earned his Master’s degree in Organisational Change and Development from the University of Manchester. He is passionate about creating solutions that benefit companies’ balance sheets while also contributing positively to society and the environment.
- “An important factor in choosing to collaborate with Brynje was its strong emphasis on long-lasting quality and the effort to reduce its ecological footprint”, he says.
Sharing the magic
Alexander is eager to convey the sheer joy that comes from spending time out in nature. As such, ’Mina og meg’ tells genuine stories from the Norwegian high mountains, about trolls, and the beauty and magic that unfolds when a young child leads the way. “I film all of our expeditions, hoping to inject a solid dose of magic into the lives of the viewers of our future television and film projects”, he says. “‘My wish for all parents is that they can carve out some time to relate to the fantasy worlds of their children and let themselves be enriched by their magical ways of seeing. Beyond the creation of magical moments in my own family’s life, I aim to persuade as many people as possible to believe in trolls and outdoor magic. You do believe in trolls, don’t you?”
Brynje is proud to collaborate with the ‘Mina og meg’ project and looks forward to following their onward journey.