Originally posted on Travel Between The Pages:

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Mobstr is a cheeky London street artist who has cleverly manipulated municipal anti-graffiti crews into unwitting participation in his wall art/lit projects. In his series called “The Story”, Mobstr added a sentence to a wall and waited until it was painted over to return and continue the story.

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This episode of “The Story” is composed of seven related wall posts.

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A trap door that needs sewing shut.

My mouth is a trap door that needs sewing shut.
It speaks fast before faltering.
Talk is not cheap, loose tongues are costly in love and war.

My brain is a fucking haystack, and I can’t find the needle to stitch it up.
It sparks off recklessly, bolstering,
Searching fecklessly, trying to fit around the words like a slippery glove without purchase.

The more I scrabbled, the more I tore to search it, the more loosely words were cut, the more I grasped the thread, the more it tangled, the more circular became the rut, not reaping but fat handed in the morning, surely altering everything.

I foraged, for my life, and fell in face first to find all my failings. I couldn’t speak what I was saying, couldn’t call out what I was portraying, dumbly plundering for the point.
The eye of the storm was huge as a barn, I could see it clean before me, whilst I threaded nothing but pounding knots in my stomach.

A mess that wound around and around, starting where it finished like the fish that eats itself, tying me down, holding me hostage to the wrong message, I was bound by such a thin but solid line, an invisible noose, a fibre wire.

I can’t hack it up because it is stuck in my throat.
I can’t shed it because it’s tattooed all over my head.
I can’t purge it from this useless vessel because I keep breathing it the fuck back in.
I can’t hide it because it’s written all over my face.

I can express myself freely but it costs me, I can chase but keep going in circles, I can remove myself and stay hidden but who comes looking?
I can disappear and stay silent but my surrender is as loud as drums.

I needed stitching up. It was needless, it was needless. I just wanted to open up.
I needed stitching up. It was needless, it was needless. I just wanted to open up, like the ground, to be swallowed whole.

I Sent You An Armarda. (Song lyrics.)

You didn’t notice, but I sent you an armarda,
I sent a battalion of flutes and notes from my chest
To fight with the fading, whilst we were farther,
To arrest you further, pull your heart, make you invest.

You didn’t notice, but I called in an army.
I sent a booting of precision and uniform, flung,
To fight with the temptation whilst you were out of town.
I sang so loud you were bound to hear what I’d done.

But this orchestral silence;
It’s an interval that never ends.
And I wrote in invisible ink,
But I dare not send.

If you were a general I think I’d question your tack,
Because I let you invade, you explode, and I want my country back.
You crossed over the borders, and you fired at will.
You reap the benefits, but the fall out lingers still

And what more is left of me, now you’ve spread across my land?
I’ve been fighting for ceasefires, though I know you got what you planned.

And this ridiculous stand off;
I’ve been misfiring all my guns.
And I know I started the war,
But you don’t show, so I hold my tongue.

Falling in and barely climbing out.

This excellent languor has me halted in your bed
My fingers converse with your skin; there’s a dialogue of dermic wanderlust in my head.

Motivation to move has been extinguished by your hand
The conversations of our embrace, the exploration in your room, and the horizontal of your land.

The carapace to your bones is being mapped by my lips, postponing wakefulness hip by hip, and denying the days malaise kiss by kiss.

We are kinetic in mind, and electric going in. I want to tread these waters, scale this fortress, and map the borders from without and from within.

I fall into the fjords, but I am not intrepid, I am cautious.

The labyrinth of my lust is always too short-lived as we are frenetic, and busy, so I’ve to keep from sailing adrift, and I can already sense a rift that’s parting.

I’ve a second breath, and thunder the storms again. Not brave enough to speak, but I’ve spoken it where I have lain, post, I am small and have nothing to say, and I hope that I’ve said it, not given it away.

I am just tiptoeing the verge, entirely filled with impulse, and I am struggling for words.

This excellent languor has me halted in your bed
My fingers converse with your skin; there’s a dialogue of incredible wanderlust in my head.

Clackety-clack-clack Clackety-clack-clack

I don’t think it’s too obvious, unless you’re close enough to hear it, but I’m obsessive.

I’ll find it, I’ll stumble upon it from a variety of networked and tenuously slim threads – a snippet of text, a whispered idea, a brief and offhand mention – and I will grasp it to death. I will put it on repeat. I will open it up, finger through the innards, investigate the mechanisms, and dive from the inside, bursting out. You’ve to dissect the beast to understand the interior workings, to comprehend the thing. I will research the words. I will infatuate over the sentiments. I will force my heartbeats to clack with the drums. My eyes roll to the licks, my arms wave to the organs, my feet pound the street so fucking hard that I will make the thudding sound out in real life, in one almighty, glorious fit.

I will make you love it, if you’re willing to hear it.

I listen so hard, so oft, so fervently that I’ve forgotten all other songs. That I want to just be it. That I just want to burst a lung singing it. That I don’t want breath, I don’t want to keep battling on, I just want to be a beat. A riff that you couldn’t possibly forget. A note that you can barely deduce. A harmony that couldn’t possibly do anything but own you.

I let it consume me. I haunt my ears and thoughts with it. I beset it on myself. I am nothing but a dramatisation of what’s making waves in my ears. And I wish this could be a feeling shared, that you could be in me, through my thoughts, for the consumption. If you even had a piece, a shred, a fingertip of this feeling, we’d be dancing in the street, climbing walls, scaling trees, standing on hilltops in the wind, fucking like wildlings in the fields, and smiling so wide our faces would be nothing but lips and teeth.

I’m coloured with this obsession. I’m handicapped to listen thirty times a day. I’m thinking in beats, moving in rhythms, and talking in tune. I’m not really hearing anything beyond it. And once I’m finished with it, drained it of all possible dreams, I’ll find another one to place in its stead.

I don’t think it’s too obvious, unless you’re close enough to hear it, but I’m obsessive.

The Dark And Stormy Night.

Chapter 1

One night a little boy was woken up. It was a dark night. His Mummy and Daddy were dead, so he crept out and escaped.

Chapter 2

It was darker than ever. The little boy was scared!

The end.

Copyright Rowena H.

This was the second story I penned. See how I’ve advanced into chapters, and have already mastered the art of the cliff hanger! It’s a pretty terrifying story, for a 4-5 year old…

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Apparently it wasn’t all that clear when I posted this, so to clarify – I wrote this *when*  I was aged 4/5!

A Word From The Past.

Since the Iceland blogging takes such a long time, and I’ve just gotten back into work, I thought rather than neglect the new lease of life I’d add up some brief posts in the interim before Day Three. The first of these brief posts is a word from the past. In fact, it’s the first short story that I wrote.

When I was rather young, young enough to even mis-spell my name, I was evidently given a book to scrawl in and decided to label it, ‘Roenas Diary’. On the cover I have drawn a picture of what I believe was my sister Naomi, standing in the kitchen door with both arms out, holding on to the door jamb either side. I believe it was a life drawing, though I doubt she was posing for long, given the quality of the image.

Anyhow. The very first short story I ever wrote was penned here – a first draft if I recall – and it reads thus:

The Cat and the Horse.

One day the cat said to the horse, “Let’s have a race.” Cat ran. Horse ran too. They both ran. Then, with a crash and a boom, horse won. He gave a big bow. Cat said, “You did win.”

By Rowena H.

I’ve taken the liberty of punctuating the story, since I wasn’t quite so advanced, but I think it’s an excellent first piece of creative writing. I’m pretty sure it was about humility and acceptance, about being the better person and not being a sore loser. Rising above loss in the spirit of competition to congratulate the deserved winner. (Turns out I can be quite the sore loser, at times.) It was a life lesson I was already striving to learn!

Another fantastic point, and there’s a recurring theme within the diary, is that I felt the need to copyright everything I wrote therein. Of course, that copyright still stands – don’t think you can go stealing this masterpiece…

More exciting installments to come!

Day Two: Thingvellir, Barnafoss, Lava Caves

After a good night of sleep in our lovely hotel Mum and I rose nice and early to begin our first day tour of exploration. There’s nothing like a good bout of snow and a humungous Land Rover to make you feel like an adventurer, and Iceland Rovers‘s Vidar was certainly the man to get us into the spirit of things. We were the first of four more to be picked up, our company being two lovely American girls who were utterly chatty and bubbly, Jennifer and Ashindi, and a newly married German couple called Schmidtt. (We never learned their individual names.)

I came to learn with each excursion that the tour guides didn’t merely explain the sights we were to see, they were deeply involved in the history and culture of Iceland, offering us conversation about the land we’d visited as the journies took place. It was wonderful, not only as each destination is between 40-100 minutes away (sometimes more), but because they weren’t simply reeling off a script. The guides are passionate about the country and keen to talk politics and culture. Vidar himself is an Icelander, but all our guides – no matter what their nationality was – were as fervent as each other.

Vidar told us about many things as we powered through the snow, which was thick and fast at that time, explaining that in Iceland surnames are not passed on as in most Western culture – the men become their father’s son – and so his son would be Vidarsson, and so on. The women do not change names when they are married either, which feels so wonderfully progressive. (I didn’t get to find out how their surnames are given/taken.) Vidar also told us about religion in Iceland; back in time Iceland was having trouble trading with the other countries nearby as they weren’t Christian and so built a number of churches all over the land, adopting the faith in around 999, in order to trade. Even now, despite the vast number of churches dotted about the country, although they are officially a Christian country hardly any folk are committed Christians, visiting the churches mostly at Christmas – where they often get reprimanded by the pastors for not coming more often!

Vidar also told us about their Yule Lads, and we discussed the recent banking crisis and also Iceland’s situation regarding joining the EU. From what I could glean, at present Iceland has restricted trade exports to the EU as they are not a part of it, however joining would mean they would have to import goods from other EU countries – given that Iceland’s farmers produce more than the country needs it would be senseless for them to import meat and dairy, as they can already more than sustain themselves. Of course, it’s more complex than that. Their exports are largely related to the fishing industry, and most anti-EU MPs are concerned about their control over the natural resources being lost should they join – the fishing industry (inland, at least) is hugely controlled to stop over-fishing, and apparently only celebrities can afford the humungous fee required for a fishing trip. It’s likely though, that Iceland will be energy -independent by 2050, since over 80% of their energy comes from natural sources (geothermal, etc.) with the remainder being fuel for transport and fishing.

Our first stop was Thingvellir National Park, the very site in which, arguably, the first democratic parliament was held. The Althing general assembly was established around 930 and the meetings, to discuss political matters, continued here until 1798. Although on this day we could barely see a thing through the heavy fog and snow, we were told the site was chosen due to the fantastic natural acoustics – the politicians could discuss matters and be heard across the valley, so regular folk could keep abreast of what was going on. Here is where we discovered that the country is not only the youngest, in terms of their people, but the youngest geologically. Thingvellir is a spectacle, not simply because of the human history surrounding it, but it lies on a geological rift which is slowly tearing apart 2cm every year. The country is effectively part North-American tectonic plate and part Eurasian tectonic plate, and they are separating.

We picked up some lunch after Thingvellir and stopped for a coffee in a small garage, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Vidar picked up a thick block of Icelandic cheese, which Mum partook of, and I grabbed a coffee and a cigarette outside. It was literally an oasis of life in a long stretch of snowy road, surrounded by fields – some lava fields, many with grazing Icelandic Horses. We learned that these horses are something of a sui generis, and not merely for their miniature stature. (Don’t ever refer to them as ponies in front of an Icelander, they won’t be best pleased.) They have a unique gait, and being isolated over the years of breeding, means that there are no other horses like them across the globe. They were specially bred for their stamina, for they can travel miles across such changeable terrain, at speed and run in a very individual way; their fifth gait – the tölt – means that they can run at speed using the left legs then the right, effectively. (It’s the same as the walk, left hind, left front, right hind, right front, only much faster.) They also stay outdoors all winter, warmed by thick coats. My only regret is that we didn’t get to ride one!

On our way to the next destination we paused briefly on our journey, partly for a small break, but also because Vidar is a keen ice climber and so wanted to quickly check out some of the climbing opportunities. We’d driven around what seemed to be a huge and long lake, although this was the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, and stopped just by a huge cairn – most of these being landmarks so you don’t get lost. Traditionally, each time you pass one you’re to add another rock to the cairn so that they grow and grow, a habit I picked up where I could. Vidar told us that nearby, which we were to pass, was a recently vacated area where the American army had a small base with ships and submarines. This is where they set up during the second world war, I believe. After a few photo opportunities, and a few laughs with the American girls, it was time to set off once again.

We came to discover that Iceland has no army, although their police force includes a specially trained unit, who can carry guns. They also have a huge unit of people who are special mountain rescuers, many of whom include the tour guides who lead the glacier walks and other hikes, and even those retired from the list leave their contact details for instances of national emergency. This must go toward explaining how good the welfare seemed to be in Iceland, given that the income tax rate is roughly 22% across the board, as there’s nothing going toward an expensive army. I asked Vidar about the homeless, as I’d not seen anyone begging in the streets, and he simply said that the welfare system looks after them very well, with hostels set up for those without shelter. (As I understand it.) Another striking thing was the lack of pollution and violence – I didn’t see a single fight break out, in spite of the Icelanders’ love of a good session, and only once did I spot some discarded rubbish in the streets. And that was a few beer cans, which could have easily been from British tourists. Although, that’s a total guess. Also, only once did I see a police car, and they appeared to be nonchalantly making their way through Reykjavik.

After this we headed out to Barnafoss, one of Iceland’s magnificent waterfalls. Apparently, the waterfall is named thus because, years ago, there was a naturally formed stone bridge that crossed it. A lady came home one day to find her children had not returned home and so, asked around, only to find that they’d been spotted near the waterfall.

On approaching the stone bridge she found that part of it had collapsed and her children were nowhere to be found. She destroyed the remainder of the bridge so that no one else should suffer this plight. (Barna = children [or pregnancy, I think.], Foss = waterfall.) It was a fantastic sight, even through the heavy snow, and so strikingly blue in places. There was a cove, where the water had carved its path, so awash with movement, fury and foam that it was almost terrifying to focus on – my recurring thought was how futile it would be to try and survive should one fall in at that point.

Although the tour we were on should have included visits to geysirs and a glacier, the weather was simply not permitting. At this point it hadn’t stopped snowing all day, and in some parts it was at least three feet deep, so Vidar decided to see if we couldn’t manoeuvre the jeep across some of the roads to the lava caves. Although we’d missed out on some aspects of the tour, the rough ride and thick snow more than made up for it as we traversed the treacherous roads to the caves. At points the wheels simply span in the snow, and we had to keep a keen eye on the road markers, lest we got into some real trouble off the path. Vidar, who by now appeared to us as some kind of Icelandic He-Man. He was constantly nipping outside in a single layer, sans gloves and hat, and – in spite of being what we guessed to be about 45-50 – he was the fittest man I’ve ever known.

A true adventurer, and a wonderful conversationalist, even admitting to us that he must be crazy to do ice climbing – I believe his words were something along the lines of, “I don’t even know why I do it, it’s horrible! Even when I’m up there and it’s dangerous, I think to myself why am I doing this, this is awful!” Anyway, on a particularly tricky incline we almost got beat. Vidar lowered the tyre pressure to .1 (or something, the lowest possible in any case) and made several reverses to clear a path. Forwards, bounce up! Swing back down. Back again. Forwards, bounce up! Swing back down. Back again. And after four goes, we suddenly broke the barrier and made it up and over the hill, which was about a metre incline. The snow was that thick. We were delighted, it was amazing.

My Mum was vaguely concerned with the attempts, reminding me that Vidar had mentioned whilst re-telling a story earlier, that if he was ever nervous about something we’d not know it as his fears wouldn’t show, but I was just overjoyed to see more of Iceland. The story he told, in any case, was about a two day hike he’d been on with two Spanish tourists and they’d been trapped in a snow storm. He was genuinely worried, as should any of them panicked and tried to flee that would have been the end of them, but fortunately they were most sanguine and trusting of him and his guide friend, and so they made it through the night by remaining in their tents whilst the storm passed. Incidentally, whilst I remember, Vidar is also a friend of Simon Yates and made a film with him called Ama Dablam. I intend on seeing it sometime, but you should too.

Anyway, we’d finally made it to the lava caves. With signs up declaring certain paths ‘impassable’ the danger of the natural world felt clear at this moment – with so much snow, there was a chance we’d not be able to drive out. As we approached the mouth of the cave a tiny wave of fear hit me. It was almost a sheer drop, the opening being barely three people wide. I asked Vidar if he was certain that we’d all be able to climb back out, and he said, “I don’t know, maybe. Maybe not. Maybe we spend the night in the caves!” There was a delightful glint in his eye, but he knew how to shake things up and make them a little more exciting. The very fact that he’d said so made me go into Frodo-mode, and I felt we were all entering some ancient Helm’s Deep. Only on a much smaller scale.

After Schmidtt and Vidar had descended, I came next and chose to slide on the snow rather than crawl downward. It set a trend, it being easier for the rest of the party to shoot down, and we all made it into the caves in one piece. The ceiling from there on in became very low, and although none of us were too claustraphobic, once it receded upward again I breathed a sigh of relief. Crawling through we’d occasionally knock ice stalactites onto the floor, which echoed like broken slithers of glass throughout the cave. They were truly beautiful, and I did my best to photograph what I could. The entire caves had formed from lava and volcanic rock, I believe they’re more lava tubes – formed when low viscosity lava channels through under the ground and forms a crust, which thickens to create a ceiling. (Although, for these particular caves, I couldn’t tell you precisely how they formed – I’d not really much of an idea exactly where we were in Iceland at the time!)

We reached a large open space and took a minute to sit and turn off our torches, to take in the true darkness. There being absolutely no natural light, it couldn’t get much darker, and we tested our eyes to see if we could see our hands in front of our faces. It was remarkable; despite the fact that there was no light, and so you simply couldn’t see your hand, I almost felt as though I could see it as my brain knew it was there. It was as if my eyes were creating the form of my hand in blackness, like a shadow hand, as they knew it was there even though there was no light to reflect its presence. Vidar then told us a little about the elves, of which there are many stories in Iceland, and then an old ghost tale about the caves. Once there was a woman who had gotten pregnant, and for reasons along the lines of – the baby was illegitimate, or she couldn’t care for it – she wrapped it up in special cloth and took it to the lava caves to leave it there. Apparently even now if you listen carefully you can hear the sounds of children crying, coming from the caves. Of course, the crying is usually the wind, although historically women did leave children in the caves were they not able to look after them.

After a little more exploration we started heading back and Vidar decided to take us via a new exit. He did a test to see if we had our bearings, which I utterly failed, and we came to a slightly less (although still rather steep, and much narrower) hole to the surface. I made fast work of the climb, hoping to make up for my shameful lack of directional navigation, and swiftly made it to the top in a surge of victory. Soon enough we were all ready to head back to the vehicle and journey home. It was a magnificent day, and one I shall remember for a long time to come.

We grabbed a bite and a beer, but swiftly retired after such an excursion, keen for the next trip out.

If you wish to see the full story, in pictures, here’s the set:

Thingvellir, Barnafoss and Lava Caves.

Day One; Reykjavik

Wednesday was a day of discovery and a time to gather our bearings. We traversed the whole city, practically, and took in every drop of culture we could unearth, but not before making a very timely visit to one of the tourist offices to book some tours before our quest across town. If you’re visiting, the Icelandic Travel Market are absolutely fantastic and helped us a huge amount during our stay – certainly book with them. I wish I had taken the names of the ladies who helped us as we are indebted to them for our incredible experiences.

We ambled in the direction of the water, with mountains clear in the distance, and came across this curious and beautiful piece of architecture. Navigating across the roads initially seemed a challenge, but soon we realised (for the most part) that in this country cars actually stop for pedestrians. It almost became embarrassing as we were never quite sure footed, occasionally needing to reverse our direction, but nevertheless the drivers all patiently seem to slow and wait for you to cross before continuing on – especially in the inner more pedestrianised areas. It was another lovely aspect that we soon grew fond of, and worlds away from the righteous grumpy vehicle owners back home. Stop, mid flow, in the UK, for some pedestrians? Pah! They’d sooner burst your ear drums with their obnoxious horns. (Well, a lot of them would.)

So, the curious beautiful building. It’s pretty much brand new, as we discovered on entering. We stood in awe of it for a small amount of time, wandered to the waterfront for more photo opportunities, and then re-approached the majesty of the prismatic structure to investigate – could we get a coffee inside this spectacle? Yes, we could. Because, it’s the Harpa Concert Hall – a huge concert hall with conferencing facilities, exhibitions, a full and varied programme of the arts, a café and  restaurant. As far as I can glean, Harpa means “harp”, which of course makes sense. By day it reflects the sunlight with its beautiful glass design, and by night it flashes many colours, like a light show, a beacon of artistry across the horizon. (If you’re in the right place to see it.) The ceiling inside is visually stunning, an Escher-esque vision, where wall and roof and shadow make infinite patterns.

We stopped for a latte and had a bit of fun trying to find the toilets, managing to both get a little lost before moving on. There were intermittent clusters of people who came to the cafe, some seemingly important and appeared to be meeting to discuss the arts, and others tourists like ourselves. We did have a lovely group of German folk approach us to ask us questions for a survey they were doing about Reykjavik and the arts, although I couldn’t say how useful we were – we’d been there barely a day so couldn’t answer much of what they were asking. Even so it was lovely to be treated as if we were locals, I assume we had dressed the part.

After a coffee, and many photographs later, we wandered back down into town having planned to visit a few of the museums and galleries. The first stop after our waterfront jaunt was the Reykjavik Art Museum. We took a long time soaking in all the artwork, which was wonderfully varied, with two gorgeous installations and a host of collections as well.  One of the installations, which I’ve sadly forgotten the name of, contained what appeared to be the bow of a ship lit in orange, with projections of the seafront on some of the doors, and the sounds of someone running (timed as if beat driven) in the background. It was pretty fantastic, and although I doubt I drew from it what the artist intended, I loved the soundscape. And feeling like I was under a great ship.

We wandered up to the other gallery spaces and took in a hugely varied amount of artwork, from the Erró exhibition, Kjarval – Key Works, From Sketch to Sculpture – Drawings by Ásmunder Sveinsson, Björk Viggósdóttir – Kite and more. As far as art galleries go, it was a fantastic space and certainly kept our minds ticking. Reykjavik is the world’s most northern capital, and it’s certainly a magical place. With a population of only 120 000 it’s remarkable how much there is to see, how much culture and beauty can be found there.

The art isn’t merely contained within the museums, it’s all about the place. We could barely walk five minutes without discovering another sculpture. They had projections on the walls of seemingly random shops throughout December as part of a ‘Santa hunt’, since they’ve a number of Santa characters as opposed to our one jolly Father Christmas, dubbed the ‘Yule Lads‘. It was like Light Night every night. These Yule Lads are somewhat darker characters than our Santa, and work for their Mother Gryla, who has an insatiable appetite for naughty children and comes to seek them out come Christmas time. She lives with her husband Leppaludi and the Yule Cat, who is also a bit of a nasty chap. Some choice characters include Candle Beggar, who follows children to steal their candlesticks, Door Slammer, who slams doors during the night, Sheep-cote Clod, who harrasses people’s sheep but is troubled by his stiff peg-legs and Door-Sniffer, who has an abnormally large nose.

After finishing up at the art museum we took a wander around town, stopping at the odd sculpture, marvelling at the odd building and made our way down to the pond. (Which is a little grander than it sounds.) It was completely frozen over, and usually folks skate on it, but at the time it was covered with snow rendering that impossible. It didn’t stop people from having plenty of fun on the frozen surface though. This is also where you can visit the geese and ducks, who are incredibly tame, and feed them bread if you wish. We came back to feed them shortly before leaving Reykjavik, and it was a rather hilarious experience. They all flock over, making an incredible racket, and once we’d finished feeding them our croissant scraps Mum decided to pick up an entire frozen crust to throw for them. Of course, it was too big for one mouth and so the lucky/unlucky goose who caught it ended up in a furore of feathers and beaks trying to devour it to himself. Much giggling ensued.

We then made our way to The Settlement, Reykjavik 871±2, which is a fantastic place to learn about the history of Iceland. As we learned on our tours, Iceland is one of (if not the) youngest countries both as a civilisation as well as geologically. The earliest settlers are roughly dated at around 872, although folks did stay over during winters before that, and there are stories of a slave having escaped and settled in the south some years before this – but that’s not official. The Settlement is an excavation of one of the first houses in Reykjavik and reveals much about how the early settlers lived and interacted. The main space is a huge hall and you can see the original structure right in front of you, as well as many interactive displays. The hall was inhabited from around 930-1000, and the significance of this excavation comes from the remnants of a wall, dating back to before 872, which can be dated as such given the eruption of Torfajökull, which spread tefra across the region and can be dated via glacial ice in Greenland. It’s the oldest evidence of human habitation in Iceland.

After such a long day we left our explorations there, grabbed some food, and prepared to head out in search of the Northern Lights. We booked this tour with GTI, a smaller newer company, who apparently will let you try another night for free should there be no Aurora on your tour. The chap driving us was called Ronald, I think, and he was lovely. We drove about an hour out of Reykjavik to find a quiet and light starved spot, with the orange hue of the city in the distance, and nothing else but mountain and snow. Sure enough, bang on time, the lights came out and we all piled out of the van to view the spectacle. In spite of the -18 degree weather I was enraptured by the vision of green dancing above the horizon into the sky. After a few attempts at photographing the lights with flashes on mini cameras, folk eventually stopped taking photos as they realised that the approach wasn’t going to work. I was working with a 30 second exposure, a coffee cup, mini tripod (thanks to a lovely Australian chap) and lots of lying down fully on the ground, in the snow to get a shot! The news seemed to spread and so a few people passed on their emails for copies (I will email those later today) and I managed to get an initial set of wonderful green solar activity.

They began to die down after about an hour and, in between many breaks to warm up my digits in the van, our party seemed ready to depart back to the warmth of the city. Then, a mere 10 minutes later, a second light show began so we made another stop. This second set, the encore if you like, was back with a vengeance – at one point glowing and stirring so fast and so bright that you could see them glittering in motion across the sky, almost in fast forward, as opposed to gently changing shape as clouds do. As if alight like a distant flame of mercury, they merged a bright yellow in one small spot lower to the horizon, but never quite became the incredible red shade I’ve heard can occur on a really good night.

We’d been in the country but a day and already I had fallen utterly in love.

For the full story, in pictures, see these collections:

Reykjavik

Art Museum

Aurora Borealis