Saturday, 28 August 2010

Bristol Gorge is Gorge(ous)

I have decided that anything vaguely Iceland-related goes on this blog. And today I met up with one of the girls from the SEEDS work camp. Her name is Kazuko, she’s from Tokyo, she has funny hand gestures and she’s a really kind, easy-going person. And I LOVE her smile.


Here she is, smiling (because she is in Iceland. In my opinion, being in Iceland is reason enough to smile. Especially when you’re standing next to a hot river like I think she is here. But that’s another story for another day :D)

Anyway, she’s in England for a few weeks in a school in Cornwall improving her English (which is actually really good, especially when you think about how different Japanese and English are!), and since today was a free day we decided to meet in Bristol. I’d never been to Bristol before, but everyone had always told me it was beautiful. And it so is. It reminded me of Oxford and Camden and Edinburgh all mixed together, with a dash of West Country added in just for kicks. The Gorge, the Harbourside and College Green impressed me especially much. I’ll shove some pictures at the end.

I didn’t realise how happy I was to see her again until I actually saw her in the flesh. We actually ran towards each other, arms outstretched! Like some cheesy movie, but it was SO GREAT. Bear in mind it’s only been about two, maybe three weeks since I last saw her. Anyway, then we went on a two-hour walking tour of central Bristol which was nice and low-key and when we got bored or couldn’t hear the tour guide we just chatted, mainly about Iceland, England and school.

And of course the weather. People joke about the English always talking about the weather, but that’s because it’s a constant topic. I’m not joking when I say the weather changes every minute or so. Today for example, it was so warm that I was wearing just a vest on top (and jeans etc etc) and I was sweating. Ten minutes later, our glasses in the restaurant we ate at were being blown over by gusts of wind, and I was wearing two cardigans and a scarf. Later, it rained for a few minutes before the sun burst out.

Look I just wrote a paragraph about the weather. You see?

This is why it amused me when Icelanders told us the weather is ‘changeable’. In Iceland you could see the dark clouds approaching and had at least an hour to go get a raincoat if you needed one. Pshaw. You ain’t seen nothin’, bitch.

ONWARDS AND UPWARDS. After lunch in Las Iguanas (burrito for me, fishcakes for her), we walked to the Corn Exchange, bought nothing, and caught a bus to Clifton Village. There, we wandered toward the Clifton Suspension Bridge and were sucked into a little Oxfam book shop which spat us out a few minutes later with new books. Kazuko got ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ to practise reading English, and I got a volume of Fitzgerald’s short stories and, of course, a Woolf. ‘The Years’.

[Virginia Woolf, if you don’t know, is probably my favourite writer. Ever. Even beats Tolkien - as a writer. Nothing more, mind.]

Clifton Suspension Bridge over the gorge… it’s one of the most beautiful sights I have seen in a long time. It was actually breathtaking, especially with the late afternoon golden sunshine over the distant fields and colourful terraces of Clifton. I couldn’t stop saying “It’s so beautiful!”

At the end of the day we decided that we would see each other next weekend as well – Oxford on Saturday, then staying the night with me in Reading and seeing Reading on Sunday. She’s scoping out Universities for a possible year abroad. God, compared to Bristol, Reading will look even more rubbish than normal…… [Edit: Turns out we can't meet then and there because travel is too pricey, so we'll hopefully see each other for a day the weekend after. I want to see her again before she jets off home to Toh-Kee-Oh!]

Anyway, it was a great day. I’m just sad I didn’t take more pictures!DSCF3468

Kazuko looking at handmade books in the market outside the Corn Exchange.


Kazuko and me in front of the Clifton Suspension Bridge


The ‘Gorge’ous Gorge with West Country countryside beyond


Kazuko likes the Gorge!


I loved the ‘Clif-’ part of Clifton…


…and the ‘-ton’ part, too.

When Ellie lives in Bristol she will find herself plagued by me :)

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Is this real life?




I am partially worried though that I won’t be able to leave. And that would mean throwing away a University place. At a relatively decent Uni.


If you haven’t been you won’t understand but that place is like QUICKSAND. It just draws you in.


Everything is just great.

Well, not quite everything.

I need a hot Icelandic boyfriend. And I didn’t see any hot Icelandic men when I was there. But they must be somewhere, right? RIGHT?

Got a lot to do before I go though. Meet Tone (my wonderful Norwegian penpal who’s going to live, ironically now that I’m leaving, in Reading – the town that I’m leaving), meet up with Kazuko (a Japanese girl I met on the camp who is near Torbay for a few weeks), meet up with Mo when he comes back to the UK (Mo’s the most English German bloke I have ever met) and maybe scuttle off to see my family in Inverness for a few days.

And then, Thule.


I’m so happy.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010


Edit: Interlude! I realise now there's something missing here between the last post and this one. So... I am becoming an au pair for a woman called Anna who I met during my two-week work camp. And resume...

It’s all coming together. I spoke to Anna (host lady) yesterday on the phone and started to work out some details… like a vague outline of what my job will be, and she said she would try to register me at the school in Selfoss and find out how much the learning Icelandic course costs. I still have to ask her about how much I’ll be paid, more detailed duties and what my free time will be like.

The only thing is that I fear I won’t be able to go on this work camp in Reykjavik (which I may refer to as RVK from time to time) for the two weeks leading up to Christmas Eve, because she may need extra help at her cafe then. The work camp camp involves selling hot chocolate to raise money for the Icelandic Red Cross, and it would mean wrapping up warm, busking, juggling and all that fun stuff on the busy streets of RVK! And it’d all be with James as a leader.

But workign at the cafe would also be great... I love working in cafes, getting that interactions and somehow the serving aspect itself really appeals to me. Little things like providing someone with what they desire make me feel like I am in some way an important part of a greater machine. Almost like work is replacing what would be God. Uh-oh. Straying into philosophy there and I'm too distracted for that.

Also, I have to check if I can have people to visit because there are now… let me see… about a dozen people who want to visit! That won’t work. Oh well. I’m pretty sure I'll get to see James because he’s in Iceland anyway. Do you know James? No? He’s the guy from Liverpool I mentioned last time. He’s in Iceland until January and he’s a long term volunteer for SEEDS. And we became really good friends during the work camp in Eyrarbakki.

Stupid computer, of course Eyrarbakki is a word. How do you feel about Selfoss? Oh, you don’t like that either? LEARN IT. ADD IT TO YOUR DICTIONARY.

I get sidetracked easily. I should probably stop now.

One more thing: a guy I have been chatting to on a forum about Scandinavian Studies since about three years is also moving to RVK and I think we might meet up there. And that guy is funny. As is Mo. He’s got a thing for banter. Melanie didn't understand banter at first. That was amusing! Sorry, you don't know who these people are. I should do one post just about people I met in Iceland.

I like funny people :) Especially sarcastic-funny. That’s my kind of funny!

Er yeah. Ok bye. I’m not good at this blogging thing.

Sunday, 22 August 2010


I’ve been doing a lot of laughing lately. Laughing and crying. It’s one or the other, and laughing is the better choice usually.

Why am I a cackling hysterical loon? Oh, good question. Iceland. It was amazing – the best time of my short short life.

I can’t really sum it up, but let me give you a few images.

1 – Taxi, a Japanese guy who can’t hold his liquor but drinks anyway. Had one shot of Becherovka and was hammered in seconds!

2 – Chelsea (Taiwanese friend) and I hitchhiking with an Icelandic man who spoke no English (you have no idea how rare this is) and conversing with him somehow in broken Norwegian even though he only spoke Icelandic.

3 – Watching the sun rise and set at the same time, watching shooting stars, watching pale Northern Lights, sitting on the rocks by the sea at 4AM playing guitar with three or four amazing people.

4 – Waking up because Liverpool (a bloke from Liverpool, surprisingly) had set off the fire alarm, and BURSTING into laughter so much that I had to go outside, along with Ginta (an amazing Latvian who has made me into a person who laughs a lot for which I am eternally grateful).

5 – Swimming in a hot waterfall, about 28C!

I’m going back. Seriously. I am. At Christmas and maybe even a bit earlier!