Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Advent 2010 XI: Reminiscing

It is now my fourth day of the camp as I write this. On Saturday we stood on Laugavegur – the main street in RVK – giving out hot chocolate to passers by and asking them to give a donation to the Icelandic Red Cross. I was paired with a South Korean girl called Sing-Sing. Despite the fact that we had not decorations and, most of the time, no hot chocolate, we did pretty good work. Sing-Sing was very enthusiastic, and I spoke more Icelandic than I think I have in my whole time here. On Sunday I worked with James AKA Jimbo well as two other girls (Debby, a very shy New Yorker and Sony, a German living in Barcelona) in a Christmas market which was raising money for an organic village for people with mental disabilities called Solheima. I got a t-shirt which reads in Icelandic “I am a friend of Solheima”. And yesterday after much indecision on my behalf I went with others to the Blue Lagoon. It was not worth the price. 5500 kr – about £35 - just to swim in a blue pool? No, I don’t recommend it.

I am starting to realise how much Iceland means to me and how much I will miss it, and I already am planning my next trip here. Also I am planning vaguely in my mind a trip around Europe to visit all the amazing people I came to know here in Eyrarbakki in the summer.

But I’m not stupid – I won’t write it off just yet. Instead I will quietly love Iceland and when I’m lonely, reminisce. And also I will do things with these people and wait for relationships to develop.

One saving grace is that I have my guitar. When I play I feel safe and comfortable, and as there’s a bloke here who is a musical wonder, full of energy and ideas and life, playing together is really great.

Don’t think I’m having a bad time! Sometimes I feel a little lonely, but most of the time I am happy to experience it in my way, knowing Iceland a little more, observing people and of course talking to them too. I’m not shy, just coming at the camp from a different direction to the others which may be why it’s taking me a bit longer to fall in.

Here are some photos for the Advent calendar Smile with tongue out
Giving hot chocolate to reluctant Icelanders.DSCF4542
View from Hallgrimskirkja in the direction of our house.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Advent 2010 X: Hver er i Reykjavikur?

…ég er í Reykjavíur!
Everything went supremely smoothly of course and now I’m in Reykjavik again. SEEDS house (this is a different one to the October one) is good and five minutes after arrival I was painting signs with a bunch of other volunteers, after which we played cards and now I’m in an internet cafe updating this here blogsicle.
Mine are the blue one on the top row, the third one in the third row (mainly hidden by a bench), and the first and third in the fourth row. I’m a very productive painter :P
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Fröhliche Weihnachten & Gleðileg Jol!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Advent 2010 IX: Ready to Say Goodbye

I’m off tomorrow, and I think that saying good-bye has never been easier… But I know that when I’m in Reykjavik, my access to the internet will be briefer and more infrequent than it is at present. So partly as a celebration of my last day, and partly to make up for all the days I expect I’ll miss, I took a photo an hour today to show you how I spent it. I hope you enjoy the photos, and the song above which is currently my earworm.
DSCF4505My alarm was set for 8:00, as it has been for over a month. And for over a month I have not been out of bed before 9:20.
DSCF4506Last Adventbreakfast of this style, and I ate a roll with Nutella. The world outside has been eaten by fog.
DSCF4509Writing letters and birthday cards to friends and family. ‘Shanastasia Olavale’ is of course not a real name; it’s a mixture of two of my friends who are so close they’re practically one person!
DSCF4514Setting my earphones in their rightful place, ready to listen to outpourings from the world of British comedy as I go one a walking mission to Selfoss.
DSCF4515Stopping off at Lóa’s shop to have a cup of coffee.
DSCF4516After trying to buy Euros at the bank (and being rudely repulsed as I have no flight ticket to a Eurozone country!) I posted the letters I had written earlier.
DSCF4517The fog has really eaten planet Iceland! You should be able to see a mountain! Walking through the fog in utter silence and solitude, I pretended first that I was a deity and I had just created the world and I was the only person and the birds flying through the air were only there because I had just invented  them with a thought a moment before and that this small foggy patch of land was all there was in the whole of existence. When that got boring I pretended I was playing Myst or Riven, because it felt like one of those hyper-realistic RPG games. I love Myst and Riven.
DSCF4524Then my brain went WAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH PACKING. I was shaking the whole time… but that might be because I’d had three cups of coffee an hour or so before.
DSCF4526All packed! it only took one and a half hours. The reason is I didn’t have to spend ages deciding what to take or what to leave. It just all went in. And I made it fit.
DSCF4527Fini! Fertig! Búin! Done.
So, wish me luck and see you soon.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Fröhliche Weihnachten & Gleðileg Jol!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Advent 2010 VIII: Imagination

Today’s photograph is not something particularly Icelandic: my iPod.


The reason for that is that I spent today cleaning windows. My last day here, and I literally cleaned windows for 6 hours. Inside and out. Yet even though my hands are dehydrated, raw and so numb I had to massage them for quite a while before they regained the ability to type, it was quite a pleasant day thanks to my iPod. If I could actually post a photograph of what I saw today it would involve extracting an image from my imagination and that’s not really possible.

First of all, I finished listening to Villette by Charlotte Bronte, which my friend Lola recommended to me months ago… and it has taken me months to finish it. The ending was bittersweet and suited the tone of the whole book. This morning I walked through pretty French town houses and gazed at elaborate religious ceremonies celebrated in the traditional French Catholic style.

Then I moved on to – I won’t lie – my preferred aural digest. The BBC produces many wonderful programmes, the least of which is not The Infinite Monkey Cage, where celebrity physicists and mathematicians-turned-stand-up-comedians battle wittily and thought-provokingly about the purpose of philosophy, the meaning of ‘modernity’ and the development of probability.

I finished the day with a good old slice of Stephen Fry’s boundless glory, which is how I plan to continue the evening. I’m going to babysit Magnus at 7, but I will convince him to sleep and then watch part two of his (Stephen Fry’s, not Magnus’s) very personal The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive. I spent half of part one marvelling at how much mania sounds like traditional madness, and how foreign and frightening it sounds… and the other half nodding in rapturous delight at hearing an iconic figure describe some of my most personal anxieties.

Eugh, can you tell that his style of speech is rubbing off on me? Well, I’ve just spent over half an hour being told that language is an art form intrinsic to all of us and yet one often laid aside in favour of a harp or a paintbrush. So I took up my linguistic easel, and tried to paint you an image of my day.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Fröhliche Weihnachten & Gleðileg Jol!


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Advent 2010 VII: Lights out!

Yesterday when I got home from work, there was no electricity in my room or in the room next to it, so I carried a load of candles into my room, which is what today’s advent photo shows. I hope you’ll accept it even though it’s from yesterday :P


Until Anna got home and fixed it by flicking some switch, I sat at the dining table watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It was better than I had expected, but I had expected syrup poured over dolls so that’s not saying much. I was mildly entertained, and impressed by Audrey Hepburn’s acting. The fact that it was adapted from a novel saved it, I think, and gave the conversations a subtler humour than most Hollywood writers achieve.

I have pretty low energy-levels again today, but on Friday I’m going to Reykjavik and I’m very excited for that!

In the last few days I’ve also been thinking about how excited I am to see my family again three weeks (and a few hours) from now! I really miss them, all three. <3

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Fröhliche Weihnachten & Gleðileg Jol!


P.S. In the mornings I have been listening to the Beebadeeb radio, in particular the Northern Irish ‘Colin Murphy Show’, the wonderfully geeky ‘Inftinite Monkey Cage’ and of course the Nicholas Parson’s led ‘Just a Minute’. I love the BBC!

Monday, 6 December 2010

Advent 2010 VI: Vitamins

Today’s post will be short because I have a headache and for some reason I’m really tired.

This bowl of fruit appeared today in Loa’s house, and it made me far happier than I ever thought a bowl of fruit could.


The sun began to set about half an hour ago (it’s 4.10 now) and so I can see a beautiful pink-peach-lavender watercolour over the mountain.

What does/did/will your sunset look like?

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Fröhliche Weihnachten & Gleðileg Jol!


Sunday, 5 December 2010

Advent 2010 V: December Lights

Haha. I went to the ‘Winter Garden Christmas Market’ in Selfoss today… fail. It was closed, for a start. I was told it was open all days on weekends, and after six on weekdays, so I thought that 5.00pm would do it. But no. Maybe it’s because it’s a Sunday. Great thinking there, Fiona! Also, as a German, I thought it was kind of pathetic. Three stalls, one of which sells jam, one of which sells hot chocolate and candy floss, and one of which is a mystery to me. Maybe I’ll go have another look but to be honest I’m not that driven.

Sorry that the post today is so blah, but my thighs are so cold they’re burning and I’m a little bit miffed. No, not miffed. More… unimpressed.

Anyway, the sunset was quite nice and I tried to take a photo of Icelandic Christmas decorations, but they were quite blurry. Hope you enjoy them anyway!



Didn’t get much else done today since I set no alarm and woke up at 12:30… nice to have a lie in once again, but it was a bit of a shame since my day feels like it never really got started! I looked over a friend’s submission for a German assignment and watched a lot of New Zealand’s Next Top Model because I am seriously in love with New Zealand at the moment. New Zealand accent, art, fashion, countryside and so on and so forth. I had a nice Advent-y ‘morning’ listening to carols on Youtube and eating biscuits.

So… see you tomorrow!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Fröhliche Weihnachten & Gleðileg Jol!


Saturday, 4 December 2010

Advent 2010 IV: Krummi

Magnus is asleep. I love it when Magnus is asleep!

Today’s photograph is one of a common sight: a crow. But in Iceland, you're almost just as likely to see a raven as a crow. They're everywhere. Their squawk sounds a bit like a screaming dog, and they’re big enough that they can carry a small lamb, and to me they still remain majestic symbols of visceral force and instinctive fear.



To quote from a website which sells interesting clothes hangers in the shape of ravens, “Ravens, for instance, discovered Iceland for the Viking Hrafna-Flóki, who set two of them free to find land. The Norse god and sage Ódinn had two of the birds, called Huginn and Muninn, on his shoulders, whispering words of wisdom into his ears.”

Big Magnus (remember him?) told me a story in the summer about Krummi. Krummi is a folklore character, the embodiment of Hrafni, the raven. In this story Krummi was annoying an old woman who owned a drove of sheep. He would tease her and make her run from the house, leaving the sheep to wander away freely. One day he was more annoying than usual and she followed him very far, intent on catching him once and for all. When she later returned home, empty-handed, she discovered that her house had been destroyed by an avalanche, but her sheep were safe as they had roamed the length of the valley while she was gone.

There’s not much wildlife in Iceland – I think there aren’t many wild animals. There may be a couple of escaped horses and elk, and possibly foxes. But no wolves, bears, badgers… I’m not even sure they have rabbits. The country is just so barren that there isn’t much food or shelter.

In other news, I’m counting down the days to lots of things. 3.5 more days of work, 6 more days in Selfoss, 20 days until Christmas, and 23 days until I’m home!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Fröhliche Weihnachten & Gleðileg Jol!


Friday, 3 December 2010

Advent 2010 III: Er--- List?

The Icelanders, of course, had to make up their own word for ‘art’. No, I wouldn’t ask them to use ‘art’ – that’s far too Romance. But maybe ‘Kunst’, the word which does a good enoguh job for the Germans, Dutch, Norwegian, Estonian, Danish and even the Faroese – the closest living language to Icelandic – could have been put under consideration.

But no. Just as they did with that often cited exampel of ‘computer’ (their word is ‘tölva’, which roughly translates as ‘number witch’), they had to get their own word. And they had to make it the uncharming ‘list’.

Ah well, life goes on.

Icelanders are very hand-on people, and it seems to me that almost everyone is a part time painter, potter, writer, jewellery maker, tailor, designer, decorator or poet. Which means that they often love to display art around their homes as well.

For today’s advent photos, I present four paintings in Loa’s house. Guess which is my favourite, and tell me yours!


Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Fröhliche Weihnachten & Gleðileg Jol!


Thursday, 2 December 2010

Advent 2010 II: Tractor in the sunshine

It’s the second advent photo for my Mum!

Today’s picture features a certain little Magnus. He loves cars and tractors and trucks and bicycles and all that kind of boyish stuff, so when this tractor parked practically outside the house, we had to go take a look. I’m not actually sure if his mum would mind me posting a picture of him here on this public blog, so even though I took a lot of cute close-ups of him trying to be a tractor and lifting heavy rocks, those will remain for my eyes only.

He does feature here, but non-identifiably, and certainly the tractor is the star!

Let me tell you, tearing him away from the tractor was not easy.


P.S. Note how I took this photo at 12:30, but it looks like it’s 5pm. That’s Iceland!

And yet there is still no snow.

Well, I hope you have snow, at least.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Fröhliche Weihnachten & Gleðileg Jol!


Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Advent 2010 I: Advent!!!

Ok, so I know advent started last Sunday, and in my own no-denominational, melted-candle-experiment way, I celebrated.

But today the fun really begins! It’s advent calendar time!

Every advent for many years, I have been making my mother an advent calendar. I can’t remember them all, and I doubt they all survived, and I may have forgotten to make one for a year or two, when I was a young teenager (aged 13 to 15) and more obnoxious and self-absorbed than at any other time of my life… but I do remember a couple.

The first was a collaborative project between myself and my little brother. I think it was the year 2000, which means the family had just moved from our bleh-period in Florida to a pretty, picture-book unaffordable village in the Home Counties. I have a clear memory of sitting in the playground (not with my brother because he went to a different school, but nevertheless he helped somehow) and labouring over getting the holly just right. That advent calendar consisted of 24 pieces of A5 paper folded in half to make a floppy kind of card, and I think they all contained Christmassy pictures like the three kings, or maybe quotes from carols. I can’t remember – maybe my Mum can.

Anyway, I got the bug. And being in Iceland isn’t going to stop me! Obviously I’m limited as to what I can do, but I plan on posting a picture a day of something I have done or seen. Here goes…

My breakfast. I feel this needs some description. The calendar was sent to me by my grandmother – she sends me one every year because the German ones are the best. Then there is an uninteresting bowl of cereals, and a cup of tea from a box of twenty teas my Mum sent me a few weeks ago. I am counting down with them, so that my last cup is on my last day in Selfoss. This tea is called ‘Schutzengeltee’ which means ‘Guardian Angel Tea’. In addition to the normal lemon balm and mint which a herbal tea almost always contains, there are hints of apple, aniseed and cardamom, which make it very interesting and very enjoyable. Moving on, there’s a small pile of freshly-baked Basler Leckerli and a mandarin, both of which are associated with Christmas for me. Also, mandarin = fruit!!! Yay! Then there is the advent wreath and decorations I slaved over for hours yesterday, with dull scissors and cheap crayons. Last but certainly not least, my proudest achievement: the candles. I ‘manufactured’ these myself by melting tea lights and the red candles together. Oh yeah. I am the QUEEN of DIY.

And for Ellie, because she hasn’t got one yet, here’s a close up of my first advent picture:


xxx F