The last Iceland post and the last of the the year.
I spent my birthday on the Golden Circle tour, in a comfy minibus driven by a charming, funny, knowledgeable man named Thor, in the congenial company of a dozen or so others. Mid-morning, still in pitch darkness, we visited a town sitting on so much volcanic and seismic activity that they baked bread in the ground, grew peppers and tomatoes all year in geothermic greenhouses, and where one of the sights pointed out was a big hole where a house had fallen into the ground one morning. After that is was golden waterfalls, churning geysirs, the old site of the Allthing, and a lake so deep and clear that there are three separate species of Arctic char each evolved for a different depth of water, and scuba divers get vertigo. And much more besides.
The following morning another minibus picked us up early and took us to the airport, where security waved through our souvenir heavy metal horseshoe complete with spiky nails when we said we wanted to keep it because of the wonderful time we'd had with the horses. We spent our last krona on miniatures of Schnapps, and as I was going through passport control the dour young man frowned at me as he looked at my passport.
'Did you have a good party last night then?'
Was I looking that rough? I wondered, then twigged; I'd been having such a good time for the whole time I kept forgetting about it.
'I had seawolf with lobster sauce, a candle in my ice cream and some very nice schnapps,' I replied.
We landed late but comfortably at Luton in the fog, and went through an hour or two's insignificant but anti-climactic hassle trying to get on a pre-booked bus to Stansted. Once on board, the comparative dreariness and the excruciating easy listening station (I never knew there were so many profoundly mind-numbing cover versions of already mind-numbing smoochy ballads...) was alleviated by exchanging text messages with my lovely niece and her chap waiting to pick us up at Stansted, so neither of us worried about the others too much, and with Glenn here at home, who reminded me that the day, December 13th, was St Lucy's day, and Radio 3 was playing some lovely music from Nordic countries.
I promised myself to look this up on the i-player when I next could, and found it was part of a whole Northern Lights season (most of the programmes are still available to listen), which I'm still relishing discovering, including the 20th century Icelandic composer Jón Leifs.
I took so many, often rather haphazard and blurry photos of the Golden Circle and its sights and a few videos too. There is so much to photograph and so much to be said about it but so little perhaps that hasn't been photographed or said before or better, so I thought it best to stick them all together into one montage video, and was able to track down the Jón Leifs Requiem piece to put with it. I'm quite pleased with the video, but especially want everyone to hear the music; it's about five minutes long, so if you have the time, please adjust the volume, put on headphones etc as necessary, and maybe even view it full screen?
So it only remains to wish everyone the very best for the coming year. The difference between my own blessed state and that of so much of the world can never be reconciled, I know, I've no new platitudes to shed on the matter.
But I'd share my happiness and good fortune if I could. Happy New Year.