Sunday, September 28, 2008

Some photos from London!



A lion at Trafalgar Square.


Joe and Ross!

Ross and Joe!


Also, I have an alarming number of photos of pigeons, but they're not here. I'll put them on flickr or something, just in case you guys love pigeons as much as I apparently do.


So anyway, we're in Cambridge at the moment, staying with Andy again until we can move into our house. We took a walk today to look around, it was very pretty. Great weather, too, it's been quite sunny and warm for the last few days!



This is King's College. And Ross and Andy.



And a canal. We decided to go punting and got a boat to ourselves. There were also uni-student captains available, which is a pretty good option, but we had some fun on our own...



Andy enjoying some time off. He's on Ramadan at the moment, so he's a bit sleep-deprived and hungry these days. Still has time to befriend ducks, though.



And here's Ross, being the captain. We all had a go at driving, but Ross was definitely the best. I had to let go of the pole when it got stuck in some rocks, but we got it back! That's the good news.
The bad news is Ross dropped his engagement ring, and we didn't get it back. Boo. Oh well, maybe someone will find it and it will make them as happy as Ross makes me.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

No Photos...

Aw, I just realised that I don't have my camera connecting cable with me in London, so no photos for now. I'll hit you with them later, and you will all curse me as you wait for the page to load...

Anyway, London seems pretty awesome, I think we'll be really happy here. We spent Tuesday walking around Soho, and went to Trafalgar and Leicester Squares on Wednesday, and met up with both Joe and Andy yesterday. It was nice for us all to be together again, we went to the Tate Modern Gallery which was totally great! We got into a Rothko exhibition for free thanks to our soon-to-be housemate (Thanks Donna!), and then spent an hour or so looking at the rest of the gallery. There were many things to see, so I think we'll be back there soon.

And yeah, it looks like we might have a house lined up, from some ex-Perth people who are moving back to Australia. It's really convenient for all concerned, we get onto a lease pretty easily and they don't have to worry about getting rid of all their stuff! Everybody wins! I still haven't seen the house, but I'm assured it's fairly nice and big, and a lot cheaper than anything else we've seen...

I think that's all for now. Once I have my address, I'll give it to you all, so you can send me shiny coloured pieces of paper through the post!

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Last of Iceland...

Well, we're in Cambridge now, staying with Snowman's very own career man Andy. It's so good to see him again, and we're all really looking forward to freaking England out with our live shows...

But first, here's our last couple of days in Iceland, in photo form!



On Saturday Kristín took us to the big three tourist attractions near Reykjavik - Geysir, Gullfoss and Þingvellir. This picture is the pool at Þingvellir where they used to drown witches and women who had babies out of wedlock. Tourists throw coins in it now, and it looks like a lovely place to swim.




Really pretty photo of Þingvellir, and an example of the weirdness of perspective in Iceland. Doesn't that look like a toy car?



Ross is all noble at Þingvellir.



And me, too.
Oh yeah, so just in case you were wondering, Þingvellir is a huge historical site in Iceland. They made parliament there in 930AD, which was before anyone else did. It's where they decided to accept Christianity in the year 1000, and it's where they formally became independent in 1944. And it's now a protected national park, and also really pretty.



One of the upshots of rapidly changing weather brought about by the remnants of Cyclone Ike - a real pretty rainbow.



Gullfoss, which translates as Golden Falls (tee hee). It's quite big and pretty and um... waterfall-y.
And unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of Geysir. It rained sideways while we were there, but that doesn't really translate into good photos!



On Sunday morning we went to the Blue Lagoon on the way to the airport. It was quite lovely, except for the part where it hailed... Actually, that was kind of nice, too.



And here's Ross at the airport. We got there pretty early, so we played some mini-chess. As you do.

Going into London tomorrow to find a place to live! Everything's finally happening! Yay!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Museums and birds...

Ross and I did some educational sightseeing on thursday, we saw some art and some history. They were all pretty interesting, but you're not really allowed to take photos, so I don't have any. Instead, I have photos of birds!



This picture is Ross' 'wildlife shot'. These guys are in the Tjörn (pond) outside city hall. There were signs saying that you were allowed to feed them for most of the year, but not during summer. That's when the babies need to develop foraging skills, which you can't do while someone's throwing bread at your head.



This one is my 'scaring-the-bejeezus-out-of-wildlife shot'. Look closely, my feet aren't even touching the ground!



I lied, there are museum photos. This is in the National Museum, or Þjóðminjasafnið, where there's a hands-on bit to keep your children amused while you do grown up things...



Ross and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

We went shopping the day before the museums, and Ross bought some Föðurland, or Fatherlands. Want to take a guess as to what those are?











Yep, it's my new favourite Icelandic word - your fatherlands are your long johns. Awesome. According to this picture, they also give you crazy eye and an accidental halo.



And just so we don't have to end on that note, we went to visit my great-aunt Dísa yesterday. She took us to another museum (The Saga Museum at Perlan, which I thoroughly recommend and might post photos of later), and then we drove around town for a bit. She took us to this hill, where my great-grandmother had a house after she left my great-grandfather. She planted that pine tree and it's now about 50 years old.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Found some old photos...

These didn't really fit in anywhere, but they're too good to leave out!



Fuzzy bumblebee...



Dry fish is stackable...





While Sigga was trying to outfit us for göngur, she found so many lopa peysas!





For these to be relevant, you may have to visit www.myspace.com.au/boysboysboyz and listen to prawn dream... It's worth it, I promise



And this is one we took in Reykjavik yesterday. It's an official Icelandic souvenir - stuffed puffin head mounted on red plastic base. As if it wasn't terrifying enough on its own, it also kind of reminds me of the second Wizard of Oz movie, where the queen has all those switchable heads. Ew.

That's all for now, Ross and I are going to visit my aunt Matthildur tonight... Should be great fun!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Puffins are also tasty.

So. We're in Reykjavík at the moment, I've just started using my uncle Helgi's computer to write my blog. Two reasons for this: 1) Ross' computer just ran out of batteries and we don't have an adaptor and 2) the Mac wanted me to use html to write my blog. Sorry Mr. Mac, I am not that computer literate.

On with the slide show!


Remember I mentioned the big pony ride and how I would post a million photos of it? Well, this is the only photo that I took on göngur, because we were just so busy göng-ing. The weather was pretty great, not too hot but not freezing, and only a tiny bit of rain during the day.

Because this was the seinni göngur, there weren't that many sheep to collect. Most of them went home last week, so the ones that were left were the trouble makers and those that were too tired to make it all the way to the rétt. The sheep in the picture were all pretty pathetic. There were two pretty healthy lambs whose mother got too tired to keep up, then a tiny little lamb that Gunni had to carry for a while, and finally the stupidest ewe that I've ever seen. There are these 'sheep roads' through the mountains where millions of sheep have gone before, and because they've worn a path, it's the easiest way and most sheep will follow it. This ewe just kept wandering off the path and into the fields for no apparent reason. She eventually tried to make a break for it, but I tackled her and stopped her! It was a high point of my day.

The other amusing sheep on this göngur was a grey ewe who had three farmers chasing her around the mountains for over an hour! She'd done the same thing last week and had been left behind because of it. I think they kept going this time because they didn't want to have to chase her again next week. Anyway, she spent the whole trip to the rétt trying to escape again. Sigga told me this is because she was a 'leader sheep.' They're a different line of sheep with slightly bigger brains and more initiative. Apparently they're really smart and can predict the weather, too. Go Iceland.

And as a side note, all of these trouble-making sheep were from the same farm. If you're ever buying lambs, don't buy them from Ríp.



Saturday night Maggi invited us for dinner at Ólafshús next door to Amma's. I think it's the only restaurant in town at the moment, lucky it's quite nice as well. Ross and Sigga had puffin and I think they both rather liked it. (Ooh, I've designed a crest of cute edible Icelandic animals, and I may put it on here later... Then after that I might try to draw pictures of things that aren't food related!) Anyway, after that we went back to Sigga's and drank some red wine and chatted and had a really nice night. It was much more fun than a night on the town! I thoroughly recommend Sigga's house as Sauðárkrókur's top skemmtistaður - although she may have to paint it blue...



My cousin Maggi offered to drive us to Mývatn on Sunday. It's a volcanic area in the next fjörd over from us, about two hours' drive east. We went through Akureyri on the the way, and stopped briefly to look at some whales that are living in the bay at the moment. They're apparently bottle nosed whales and they look pretty dolphiny, which is maybe why the Icelanders are fawning over them instead of trying to eat them.

Also on the way we stopped at Goðafoss, Sigga's favourite waterfall. When Iceland decided to accept Chrisitianity around the year 1000, a local chieftain threw all his pagan statues into this waterfall, so it's called the 'Waterfall of the Gods.'

In Mývatn we went to Grjótagjá, which is a little cave in a big field of volcanic rock. It's just a hole in the ground, but inside there's a heated pool. People used to swim in it, but it heated up last time there was an eruption nearby, so now you're not allowed. Maggi said the water felt like 'good bath temperature', but we didn't go in.





We also went to 'Hverir', which is this weird barren moonscape with bubbly grey pools of mud and steam coming out of the ground. And there's also a stench of sulphur everywhere, which was so much worse than I thought it would be. The hot water from the tap in Iceland has a little bit of a smell, but you don't notice it too much once you get used to it. This smell was worse, and stronger, and EVERYWHERE. We decided that sheep from this area probably don't taste as nice as the ones from Skagafjörður.

And here's Ross in some stinky steam. It was really warm, but really really stinky.



Okay, that'll do for now! Hopefully this week we'll get to do all the Reykjavík touristy things: Gullfoss, Geysir, The Blue Lagoon... We did major shopping today, and found some awesome presents that I'm really happy with! I'll put more photos up once I have the power.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Horse riding and crayons...

Before I start, I need to apologise in advance for my lack of coherence - I finally saw the film clip for 'Boys (Summertime love)' by Sabrina... It's the origin of Boys Boys Boys' band name, but I'd never seen it before. I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't what I saw. I'm a little shaken, but I'll try to make it through the post.

ANYWAY! Ross and I went horse riding with my great-uncle Andrés today, partly to find some sheep, partly so that Andrés could reassure himself that we were ready to go on seinni göngur tomorrow. I think we did pretty well, given that it's been about four years since I was on horseback, and Ross has never been on a horse before. Neither of us fell off, and both of us are still able to walk, so we're all ready for a day-long ride through the mountains!




Ross is a natural at horse riding just like everything else, I think he might be a born farmer... Maybe. We rode along Skarðsá, which is the river that runs next to Tunga and through the valley. The view was beautiful for the whole trip, lots of mountains and autumn colours.

I wish I had taken more photos, but to be honest I was terrified for a lot of the trip - the hills along the river are fairly steep and the path that we were riding on was a sheep road, meaning that it's about 30cm wide. The hill itself was made up of lots of really unstable pointy little rocks (is that what shale is?), so if you fell of the horse, you'd keep falling... But we didn't, so it's all good.





While we were riding, Andrés spotted some of his sheep across the valley, and decided to go chase them, so we got all arty and took photos of the ponies. Ross loves ponies and black and white photos.



Also, I bought some crayons. Everyone should get some.


And we had whale for dinner last night. It was actually really nice, although not as nice as the foal we ate the night before. I felt kind of bad, but really, ponies aren't any cuter than lambs or cows, and I eat them all the time.
The whale, I can't really justify. But when in Rome...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Réttir!

So, in the country in Iceland, the sheep and lambs spend the summer holidaying in the mountains, eating grass and berries and getting fat and tasty. In the autumn, all the farmers in the area go out on horseback and round them all up - it's called "göngur". Ross and I had planned to go on the big long pony ride, but they ended up with too many people and not enough trained horses. Lucky for us, there's a "seinni göngur", which is much more chilled out; there's less riding like a madman and more drinking brennivín and strolling through the mountains. So next week I'll have photos of us on ponies...


Once the sheep arrive they're herded into the "rétt"... I just tried to describe it, but it's much easier in diagram form:




Basically, the sheep get herded into the brown bit in the middle and then you have to find the sheep that belong to your farm and drag them into your farm's enclosure. You recognise them by their ear tags and the markings on their ears - or if you're my uncle, you recognise them by their pretty faces.


These ones are sheep from Tunga, they are clearly more wonderful and clever and better-looking than any of the others... And they all have horns - it's always more convenient when they have handles.



This shows the first sheep coming down from the mountains. I have a video, but I don't know how to make it be here... The best part about the video is the chaos of the sound - there's horses clopping and sheep baa-ing and dogs barking and the humans making all kinds of shouty and whistly noises to scare the sheep onwards. I'll figure it out later, I promise.

I mostly like this photo because of my grandma, in blue on the left. She got tired of waiting for sheep, so she went berry picking.





Ross impressed some more of my extended family with his sheep dragging skills. It's always a bit weird at first, but it's great fun once you get into it! Once you recognise a sheep, you grab it by the horns and check the tag, then if it's yours you stand over its back and walk it into the enclosure. I kept getting crazy little rams who try to jump and twist out of your grip, and then once you stand over them, they hit you in the thighs with their horns. I have many ugly bruises.
As I said, Ross was really good at this bit, and my undemonstrative great uncle Andrés shook his hand and thanked him for his help. It's a big deal, honest.
Also of note in this photo - the grey head on the left is my great aunt Guja, who leapt into the sea of sheep and dragged them with the rest of us.
She's eighty-seven. They make them to last out here...
Okay, that's all I've got. I think this will be our last week in Sauðárkrókur, then we'll go down south and spend some time in Reykjavík before we go to London!

Friday, September 5, 2008

I have a blog!

Will this be my only post? Who knows? Here's some photos!







We're in Sauðárkrókur now, no cities allowed! It's the lovely little town in the north of Iceland that my Mum grew up in, andwhere most of her extended family still lives. This is extremely lucky for Ross and I, because we're being spoilt by my Aunt Sigga and Kristín Amma.




Ross thinks that Iceland is fun, but that fish heads are kind of stinky and unappealing.

He's been adjusting really well to the culture shock of Sauðárkrókur, and is quite content to sit and drink cup after cup of coffee while my various great aunts speak Icelandic at him. Ooh, also, has everyone heard that he's my fiancé now? It is a great thing. He is my favourite.





Amma's kitty Snotra is really cute. She was Anna's cat when Anna was in Iceland in 1999, but now she's Amma's baby. I don't think she liked me last time I was here, but now I've learnt the Maja method of winning over kitties: flip them upside down! And funnily enough, now we're great friends.






There are wild blueberries here, and we've arrived just at the end of an amazing season! I've been in Iceland before, but these are the best berries I've ever seen - there are so many of them, and they taste great. It makes it really hard to leave the berry patch (berjamó), because there are always more berries to pick!
This photo is mostly for my mum!




Not only are there wild blueberries, my grandma also has strawberries growing in her back garden. After breakfast (usually Cheerios and strong coffee), I've been going out and hunting for the last couple of berries left in the patch. So good.




We climbed a mountain! This is us on the top of Molduxi, which is 706m high and sits just to the west of Sauðárkrókur. If you can enlarge the photo, you can maybe see the town in the background.

As a side note, Sigga just looked up 'Molduxi' in the dictionary; it means 'a short fat man', or 'a scruffy child'. Gold.



And this is my ring, from the aforementioned engagement. Ross bought it while we were in Australia, and brought it to Iceland to propose. Aw.
And on that note, I'll finish up... Maybe I'll get in the habit of writing, and send y'all more photos soon!