28.2.2020 | Jeanette Aurdal

My Grandfather has a lot to answer for...

Many describe their life defining moments as meeting their partner, getting ‘that job’, a road trip or having children. My first life defining moment happened when I was only 10 years old and my Grandfather taught me ‘the ropes’, sitting on a bench in his garden.

My Grandfather was a man of many talents, but his day job was to make and mend fishing nets on the west coast of Norway. It was entirely normal for him to have a piece of rope in his pocket. It was equally normal for him to simply start splicing this piece into a loop. There was no such thing as a smart phone those days, so while we were waiting for something (I can’t remember what), we were simply passing time. I paid attention and he was a good teacher. This newfound skill immediately made me star girl-scout material, but as you may gather, this moment made ripples much further into my future.

It is in fact frightening to think about how much I can attribute to this moment…

Our journeys are defined by a myriad of achievements and experiences, but no other single event has had more impact on what my life looks like today!

25 years later this skill got me out of a tight spot when I needed a special birthday present for a friend and in the process created the first Oak & Rope swing! Subsequently this got me close-up to George Clooney’s bottom when we made 160 swings for the wrap party of the film ‘Gravity’. I have ‘been’ under HRH The Queen’s Christmas tree, at several royal weddings and been sworn to secrecy about holiday destinations and the names of unborn children of celebrities’.

I became the world’s most famous swing maker when Prince George posed on our swing on his 3rdbirthday. As a result our designs have been flown from London to Aspen in a private jet and we have made everything from bespoke tiara boxes to lavatory seats with family crests engraved.

For the last 10 months I have been travelling around the US, seeing places and meeting people a very long way from where I grew up in Norway. Our swings are all over the world from remote farms to 5-star hotels, and their locations have become Instagram phenomena and tourist attractions, in their own right.

Most recently I was approached by somebody to come and give a talk about all the wonderful swings we have made, and the impact they have had. The swings are not only influencing my life. They evoke nostalgic memories from people’s childhood, they become a place of joyful play in gardens, creating memories of the future. They can be the focal point of a wedding, but also a place of contemplation in your every day. The gentle swinging motions are even claimed to have medical benefits.

You never know the moment that will set your course and define your journey.

Our swings keep influencing the path I am following… and I love travelling the world seeing the how they become part of the journey for so many other people too!
- Jeanette