Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Best Laid Plans …

OK, let me just say that I was not intending to do a picture-heavy blog this week, even though my trip to Iceland was BRILLIANT (and Iceland Noir wasn’t bad, either …)

But then between getting back from Reykjavík and sitting down to scribble, this happened:

And no, the dark mark you can see towards the right-hand side of the sliced bit of finger is not muck, it’s where I got fed up of the damn thing splitting open again and stitched it back together myself over the kitchen table.

So, that decided it. Pretty pictures and captions it is.

For a start, Iceland is a quirky kind of place. Either this is a sculpture making a profound comment on the strictures of the modern middle-class working male, or it’s the Icelandic take on fitting someone with concrete boots and sending them to sleep with the fishes.

Quite a few of my fellow blog-mates were in attendance, including (l to r) Jeff Siger, Stan Trollip’s Better Half, Mette, Stan himself, me, Noir attendee author Susan Moody, and Stan’s other Better Half, Michael Sears.

The Iceland Noir events were very well-attended, including this one (l to r) with Quentin Bates moderating the New Blood panel for first-time authors Sarah Ward, David Swatling and Sverrir Berg Steinarsson.

They may look like native British ponies, but they’re really Viking horses and they wear their hair long so you can’t see the horns.

My wonderful four-legged friend for the day went by the name of ‘Lucka’ (with apologies for probable incorrect spelling). She was full of beans and I did indeed get to experience the Icelandic horse’s unique gait, the todt.

Everybody takes pretty pictures of the Blue Lagoon, Iceland’s geothermally heated spa, but the builder in me was fascinated by the materials used — slices of lava turned into the most amazing bricks. Imagine a feature wall made out of those at home.

The Seljalandsfoss waterfall is one you can walk behind. And yes, the spray was very wet and very cold …

… Better to admire it from a distance!

In order to go snowmobiling, we first had to get to the snow, and that involved travelling along a rocky track up onto the glacier that would have defeated a lesser vehicle than this Nissan Super Jeep.

Initially, the view of the Sólheimajökull glacier (and no, I have no idea how to pronounce it even after several attempts) was stunning. Then as we went higher a bit of a blizzard hit. Still, only three people managed to flip their Lynx snowmobiles over. When they told you to lean, guys, they weren’t kidding!

Yes, that is me under the fetching balaclava. And no, I wasn’t going to take any more than that off for a picture. It was flippin’ freezin’ up there. (Just in case you thought I was simply lollygagging, I’ll have you know I was engaged in serious research at this point …)

The most amazing ice bridge on the Sólheimajökull glacier.

Yet another photogenic waterfall — Skógafoss this time. By the time we reached this it was about ten past three in the afternoon, and the shadows were already lengthening but the light was beautiful.

What a stylish trio! (L to r) Barbara, Better Half of Jeff Siger, Annamaria Alfieri, and Jeff himself.

Our hotel, the Marina (it was located on more of a dockside than a marina, but who’s arguing?) was a converted paint factory. I loved the signs like this one in my no-cat-swinging-permitted ensuite shower room.

This life-size (ish) statue was indeed outside the loos in the hotel bar. No jokes about wood, if you please!

Even the airport security people at Keflavik had a sense of humour. Now that must be a first …

Sorry to be leaving. Determined to go back.

And yes, I did finally get to see the Northern Lights, hurrah! Sadly, I was relying on my smartphone camera which did not prove up to the task of capturing the eerie green glow for posterity. Just have to go back again with the full kit.

This week’s Word of the Week is aurora borealis, from the Latin aurora meaning sunrise, or Aurora who was the Roman goddess of dawn, and boreas being Greek for the north wind. The name was first used by Galileo in the early sixteen-hundreds. The meteorological phenomena are caused by charged particles coming down into the atmosphere and causing optical emissions. They are, of course, otherwise known as the Northern Lights or, in Icelandic, norðurlósin*.

*Thanks to our own Yrsa for the translation.


  1. Hmm. Stitching up your own finger? This is Charlie Fox stuff!
    I agree about Iceland. I'd go back like a shot!

  2. Well, my tetanus shots are up to date, and I had a bottle of surgical spirit, some forceps and a bent needle, so DIY seemed infinitely preferable to going and sitting for three hours in the nearest Casualty department waiting to be seen. Good job it was a finger on my left hand, though!

    And yes, Iceland has a lure all its own. I think a motorcycling tour in the summer might just be on the cards ...

  3. Great pics and report, Zoë! Sorry to see/hear about the finger. I, too, suffered a horrible injury yesterday. I'm building this chicken coop, you see, and it was coldish (not Iceland cold, mind you) yesterday morning, and there was this nail I was driving. Unfortunately, my hammer mistook the one on my left thumb for the one I was looking at, and a number of words-of-the-week (that you've not yet seen fit to cover) ensued. The thumb is still throbbing this morning, blood oozing slowly from under the side of the nail, and I'm sure I'll lose it (the nail, but probably not the thumb) eventually. It's amazing how many things you use a thumb for. Fortunately, I never use my left thumb while typing, so you're spared any withdrawal symptoms from my witty repartee.

    1. Hi EvKa

      Oh no, clouting your finger- (or thumb-) nails is always incredibly painful because the blood has nowhere to go and so the pressure builds up under the nail and it throbs like there's no tomorrow. In desperation, when I've made similar errors of judgement in the past, I've even resorted to trepanning. You have my sympathies, sir. I hope the thumb is holding up as well as your witty repartee!

  4. Zoe, What Michael said. Like a shot. An urgent message to the men of MIE: whoever has the T-shirts needs to get one to Zoe. And soon. If we are lucky, she will show up wherever we meet, and it will behoove us to claim her as one of us!!!!

    1. Hi Annamaria

      I'm still in awe of your own skills with needles -- of the knitting variety, that is. That jacket you're wearing in the pic is just wonderful!

      And yes please on the T-shirt front. As long as it *doesn't* have sleeves that knot at the back ...

  5. I think that we ought to do a special blood red version of the tee shirt. It certainly will show sharp, but more importantly won't show Sharp blood, a real consideration where our Zoe is concerned.

    1. Red is definitely my colour. Although this week black and blue are also my colours. Went to do an off-road biking do that was 'interesting' in the Arab curse sense of the word ...

      Did I mention to you that, during the slight altercation between our countries over some tea in Boston, the British troops wore red jackets, so the blood wouldn't show.

      The US troops wore brown trousers ... :)

  6. You are hte only person I know that would sew up their own finger - kudos! If there is ever a zombie outbreak I am going to find you Zoe and follow you wherever you are heading. Knowing you it would probably be to some place even more dangerous than the zombie ridden area. Anyway - great piece :-) The horse would have been Lukka (meaning Luck) and the gait is "tölt" - you will soon know Icelandic.

    1. Thanks, Yrsa

      Do you have that saying in Iceland about 'where there's no sense, there's no feeling' ...? Perhaps it explains a lot about me :)

      As long as they're the traditional shuffling zombie type, rather than the new World War Z cheetah hybrid, we should be fine.

      Thank you for the Icelandic tips. The only other words I know (apart from norðurlósin, of course) are 'thanks' (takk) and 'bye bye' (bless bless). And I think you taught me those, too!