Mum’s visit

Sunday 26th July

We’re up early to finish packing and to do breakfast duties at the B&B.  We’re only there 20 minutes and Ása arrives.  We bring her up to date on what’s been happening and then we pack her car – she’s lending us her skoda estate for the week. And she’s had it in the garage too, to fix the tyres and brakes.  This is so generous of her.  We’re on the road by 10am.   It’s a nice day and we make it to Reykjavik by 3pm after a stop off for lunch and to see Grábrókargígar, the site of 2 small volcanic craters, we enjoy a nice walk in the sunshine up and around the nearest one.

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 In Reykjavik we look for the first geocache laid in Iceland,

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with 133 favourites; take a walk around the peninsula and then do a shop.


Then we find the city centre and have a look round.  I wasn’t expecting much but actually it’s rather quaint, although not enough to keep you occupied for long.

P1000936 P1000937After a bite to eat, we head out to the airport via Hafnarfjörđur to pick up the cottage keys.   Mum’s flight is due at 2250hrs but is a little delayed, not landing until 2305hrs.   She’s fine, although a little weary, and we head out to the cottage.   We think it’ll take about 2 hours but it’s a little quicker with hardly any traffic. It seems a little darker, nearer twilight than daylight now that we are in the south of Iceland, and as we drive along the quiet roads we spot our first geothermal plumes coming up in the cool night air.  We are realy looking forward to seeing what the south of Iceland has to offer.  When we arrive at the cottage we’re all so tired that we get the car unloaded, have a quick cuppa and we’re all off to bed at 2am!!


Monday 27th July

Everyone starts stirring at around 0830am.  I’d have liked more sleep but it’s not to be.   We have a relaxed breakfast and enjoy the views.

P1000939 P1010061 P1010060 P1010062 P1010064The cottage is only 5km from Gullfoss and Geysir, which we can see in the valley laid out below us as we stand on the decking and we can also see Langjökull glacier to the north, an amazingly large amount of snow.  After breakfast we drive to Gulfoss.  Mum is just commenting that it can’t be anything special because there’s no high ground and then we turn the corner to see the land fall away in the river valley, and a fantastic waterfall.   Awesome.

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Gullfoss is Iceland’s most famous waterfall.   Gullfoss means translated “Golden Falls” and is one of Iceland’s most beautiful and without a doubt Iceland’s most popular waterfall.  Gullfoss is in the river Hvítá (engl. white river), which has its origin in the glacier lake Hvítávatn (engl. white river lake, simples huh??) at Lángjökull glacier about 40km north of Gullfoss.

Gullfoss consists of 2 waterfalls.  The height of the upper waterfall is 11m and the lower one is 20m.  The Gulfoss gorge was formed by flash flood waters that forced their way through cracks in the basalt lava layers.  The average water flow is 109m3 per second, but sometimes reaches 2000m3sec (makes me want to go tinkle!!).   The gorge is approximately 2.5km in length and up to 70metres in depth
Glacial water is brownish, since it carries lots of sediments that the glacial ice has carved off the earth. Gullfoss is called the “Golden Falls”, since on a sunny, day the water plunging down the three step staircase and then tumbling in two steps down into the 32 m deep crevice truly looks golden.

Sigríður Tómasdóttir, the daughter of Tómas Tómasson who owned the waterfall in the first half of the 20th century must have felt the same. She lived at a farm nearby and loved Gullfoss as no one else.  At this period of time much speculation about using Gullfoss to harness electricity was going on. Foreign investors who rented Gullfoss indirectly from the owners wanted to build a hydroelectric powerplant, which would have changed and destroyed Gullfoss forever.   As the story goes it’s thanks to Sigríður Tómasdóttir that we still can uplift ourself with the beauty of Gullfoss, because she was the one that protested so intensly against these plans by going as far to threat that she would throw herself into Gullfoss and therby kill herself.  To make her threat believeable she went barefoot on a protest march from Gullfoss to Reykjavik. In those days the roads weren’t paved and when she arrived after 120 kilometers her feet were bleeding and she was in very bad shape.
The people believed her and listened and the powerplant at Gullfoss was never built.
Today you can see the memorial site of Sigríður that depicts her profile at the top of the falls.


We enjoy a walk to all the viewpoints and are stunned by the majesty of this natural phenomenon.   After the visit we drive back to the cottage for some lunch and have a little rest.

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In the afternoon we drive to Geysir.  The Icelandic geysers are in an active geothermal field.  The Geysir field is situated at the northern edge of the southern lowlands, at an altitude of 105-120 m above sea level. Until recently, the area was called Hverasandar. The hot springs are located to the east of a little mountain called Laugafell.

Strokkur (the churn) is currently the most energetic spouting spring in Iceland. It spouts every few minutes, sometimes to a height of 40 m, yet generally less than 10-20 m.

P1000998 P1000997 P1000999 P1010001 P1010011 P1010014We know little of Strokkur’s age and past history. It was set off during an earthquake in 1789, having then been quiescent for some time. In all probability though, it had been active before.  The Great Geysir (from which all others gained their name) has been adversely affected by earthquakes and now only erupts extremely infrequently.  There are around thirty much smaller geysers and hot pools in the area, including one called Litli Geysir (‘Little Geysir’). The whole area is pretty amazing, but a strong smell of eggs makes me wonder if it’s Daz or the sulphur!!

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We head back to the cottage and have a short walk to a wool market

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before retiring back to the cottage for some well earned dinner and sleep.


Tuesday 28th July.

Today we are going to drive to the coast to Eyrabakki, the oldest but now defunct fishing village in Iceland, after we will go up to Thingvellir Nature Park and check out the Tectonic Plate area, where the American and Eurasian plates are splitting apart at an average rate of 2cm a year.

After a relaxed breakfast we head out into some glorious sunshine, on route to the coast.  On the way we stop at the crater Kerið which was formed about 6,500 years ago and lies at the northern end of a row of craters known as Tjarnarhólar.

P1010067 P1010069 P1010068 P1010070 P1010072 P1010071 P1010075 P1010077 P1010080 P1010083 P1010086 P1010089 P1010087It is oval, about 270 m long, 170 m wide and 55 m deep: the depth of the water at the bottom varies between 7 and 14 m. According to an old tradition, a rise in the water level here is accompanied by a corresponding fall in the pond on Búrfell in Grímsnes and vice versa. Kerið lies in the Iceland´s Western Volcanic Zone, which runs through the Reykjanes peninsula and the glacier Langjökull. Traces of volcanism are not very obvious, since most of the eruption sites are low-lying and many of the craters are hidden by vegetation, but three craters in the Grímsnes area are clearly discernable and well-known features: Kerið, Seyðishólar and Kerhóll.  We enjoy a lovely walk around the caldera and then down to the lake in the bottom.

From here we head for Selfoss.  The town of Selfoss has a dramatic bridge that crosses Iceland’s most voluminous river. Today, the town is important for its creamery and is where a lot of Skyr (delicious Icelandic-style yoghurt) is made. The word Selfoss means ‘seal falls’ and we go off to find a geocache that will give us great views of the river.

P1010092 P1010091 P1010094 P1010099 P1010101 The river is impressive and there are several guys fishing for salmon.  Selfoss is a small town, having grown from only 40 inhabitants in 1900, to approximately 6000 people by 2006.  From the river we go to the market place seeking another cache and coffee.

From Selfoss we drive to Eyrabakki.  The landscape to this, the oldest fishing village in Iceland, is completely flat.  In the village we drive to the now, disused harbour.  They stopped fishing here in 1992 because of silt build up in the rivers.  We have our picnic lunch looking out to sea, admiring the lovely view.

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From Eyrabakki we head back inland to Thingvellir is a national park.  Situated on the northern shore of lake Þingvallavatn, Þingvellir is the national shrine of Iceland. It is, for one, a key location in Icelandic history as the oldest existing parliament in the world first assembled there in 930 AD. Þingvellir has for this reason been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.   Besides being a location of historical significance, Þingvellir is also protected as a national park due to its unique geology and natural features. Almannagjá is a canyon formed between two tectonic plates, a visual representation of continental drift.

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No single place epitomizes the history of Iceland and the Icelandic nation better than Þingvellir by the river Öxará.
At Þingvellir – literally “Parliament Plains” – the Alþing general assembly was established around 930 and continued to convene there until 1798. Major events in the history of Iceland have taken place at Þingvellir and therefore the place is held in high esteem by all Icelanders. Today Þingvellir is a protected national shrine. According to the law, passed in 1928, the protected area shall always be the property of the Icelandic nation, under the preservation of the Alþing.


Once in the park we head to the visitors’ centre – there’s a guided walk that we want to join.  Unfortunately there’s a rather tough walk to the start point and so mum feels she can’t participate.  We leave her to enjoy the lake and views and follow the guide to the ‘lawrock’, the drowning pool, and the edge of the North American tectonic plates.
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Once the walk is done we return to the visitors’ centre and look out from the viewing platform which looks out across the Lake, the largest lake in Iceland (83km2) and beyond.  It is so beautiful!  We drive round to pick up mum so she doesn’t need to walk back up the hill.  From the park we drive out hugging the lake edge, and head for Laugarvatn.

Laugarvatn lies within the Golden Circle, a popular tourist route, and acts as a staging post. The town has a population of about 200 and lies predominantly along the west side of the lake. There is a small hostel situated in the town. The lake contains geothermal springs under its surface, making it a popular swimming spot with some warm patches along the shoreline year-round.  In Laugarvatn we head to the geothermal spa and have coffee and cake (mum’s treat and she nearly has a heartattack when it costs £18!) whilst watching the bathing area.  Then we walk by the lake where the water is bubbling vigorously and see the geothermal plant that is providing the hot water for the spa and village.

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From here it’s home for dinner.  Tonight it’s a homemade baked camembert dish.


Wednesday 29th July

Today we want to see Seljalandsfoss and Skogarfoss and the Dyrhólæy bird cliffs.   We’re not far into our journey when we cross the river Hvítá, the river that feeds Gullfoss.  We stop to look at the river gorge, which is lined by massive boulder cliffs. Daz tells off an Italian woman he sees dropping her fagbutt, makes her pick it up and scuttle of back to her coach!!

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On to Seljalandsfoss waterfall of the river Seljalandsá which drops 60 metres (200 ft) over the cliffs of the former coastline. It is possible to walk behind the waterfall, so we do.  Parts are a bit of a struggle for mum, with very large rock steps, but we manage and although we get wet it is a fabulous experience as the waters cascade and thunder in front of us.

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After a cup of coffee we drive on to Skogafoss which probably rivals Gullfoss as Iceland’s most famous waterfall. This is a classically-shaped rectangular waterfall that drops 60m with a width of 25m.  It has a high volume of water making it thunder and produce rainbow-yielding mist.
There’s a path besides the waterfall that leads up to a precarious viewpoint of both the waterfall but out over the Atlantic.  Having had our picnic lunch Daz and I head up the path, whilst mum takes in the view from below.

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Dyrhólaey is a 120m high promontory and it name means “the door hole island”. And this is also how it looks. The promontory got its name from the massive stone arch that the sea has eroded from the headland. And this arch is visible from as far away as Skógar. The arch and scenery remind us of Durdledor and we see some puffins but unfortunately we’ve been spoilt by Latrabjerg.
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It’s already after 3pm and it’s decision time.  We want to see Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon but it’s still 2 hours away and we’re worried we’ll miss the last boat trips out onto the lagoon.  But we decide to go for it and we’re not disappointed.  The large glacier lagoon is a unique place with icebergs constantly breaking off from the glacier and eventually drifting through the short river to the sea. The waves turn some of the icebergs back to the black sand beach where they lie scattered like gems.  Jökulsárlón is extremely popular amongst photographers due to its spectacular scenery. Jökulsárlón was the setting for the Hollywood films A View to a Kill, Die another Day, Tomb Raider and Batman Begins – in addition to the reality-TV series Amazing Race.  The glacier is Vatnajökull (meaning Glacier of Lakes), also known as the Vatna Glacier, is the largest and most voluminous ice cap in Iceland, and one of the largest in area in Europe. it covers more than 8 percent of the country.[1]  It is over 8000km2.

We go out onto the lagoon in a ‘duck’ an amphibious wheeled troop carrier and drive around the icebergs.  They are made of ice over 1000 years old.
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P1010355 P1010354 P1010356Some are white, where the snow has oxidised and others are blue, where the ice is clear as glass.  And yet others are dirty grey with black stripes caused by the silt in the ice and the ash layers after a Volcanic eruption.  They bring aboard ice from a glacier and it is incredibly clear and dense; the huge pressure within the glacier forcing out the muck and creating pure ice.  It is the most amazing experience – we can see the ‘snout’ of the glacier over 7km away.  In the 1930s it was only 1km between the glacier and the sea but the glacier is receding, the process accelerated by the contact with the brackish water in the Lake.

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After the boat trip we head home but it’s gone 11pm before we get there and we’ve driven over 500 miles but it’s been a stunning day!


Weeks 4 & 5

Wednesday 15th July

Today it’s B&B chores, but after 17 in the B&B last night and a change over in house no. 1, there’s a laundry marathon and I fxxk up so there’s not enough linen for the B&B -it’s only ready after Emilea has gone home so we need to finish making up the rooms.   We also go to  Patreksfjordur for some provisions.  I slept really badly last night so after Ted2 I just want to sleep.


Thursday 16th July

Today it’s B&B chores and painting signs

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and a 2nd coat on the stairs – well a start anyway.  And we want to do a geocache trail in Bildudalur in Maggi’s name – so we start preparing that too.   So we walk around the village deciding where to put a cache and which to use.

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We’ve been trying to remember all the ingenious caches we’ve ever found so that we can use them all in one trail. It’s turned into a lovely day – the sun is shining and it’s glorious!


Friday 17th July

More painting and B&B chores.  Tonight at 8pm Maggi’s coffin will be open for close family to say ‘goodbye’.   We watch family members walking past the B&B.


Saturday 18th July

Today is Maggi’s funeral at 2pm and then his wake at 4pm.   We get the B&B done by lunchtime so Emilea can go to the funeral.  We drive to Selárdalur to decide on the positions and types of cache for our geocache trail.

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 By 1pm we’re back in the village, which is absolutely packed with cars.  The flags are at half mast and the Vegamot is shut.  Everyone we see is walking towards the church.  The church is too small to accommodate all those that have come to pay their respects so the overflow are in the Sea Monster museum, where a screen relaying the service has been set up, and the old school house where there’s an audio feed.   The funeral lasts nearly 2 hours and then there’s the procession to the cemetery.  Apparently 300 came to pay their respects – an indication, I think, not just of the strength of the community spirit here but also how highly regarded Maggi was.

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Sunday 19th July

Not much to report today.  We get the beds stripped and made up and the washing on pretty quickly so that Emilea can have her usual weekend half day.  Then it’s back to the house for a nap and Kindle time.  We’re finding this schedule very tiring even though it’s not hard work.  I don’t know how Ása does it – usually she’d be here everyday through June/July and August greeting guests, dealing with problems, telling them all about the highlights of the Westfjords.  In the evening a lovely Dutch couple arrive and we have a lovely chat with them and they tell us to pop in if we’re ever passing.


Monday 20th July

Ása is back – she’s off to Isafjordur to do a big shop.  We’re planning an easy day with no meet and greet this evening because Ása is going to do it.  But then disaster. We run out of hot water.  The clients seem pretty pissed off but this has never happened before and we can’t get hold of Ása for advice.  In the end we simply aplogise to the clients and Ása calls out an electrician and it turns out that the fuse has tripped but it takes 4-6 hours to reheat the water tank from empty.


Tuesday 21st July

Ása is doing breakfast today so we don’t bother getting up. Bliss!  When we do get up we potter around and make a start on making some of our geocaches.

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We’ve shown Ása our plan and she’s happy with it so we can shop for the stuff we need.  Ása asks us to cover the arrivals in the evening.


Wednesday 22nd July

OMG the guest that hadn’t arrived by 11pm last night, rang us at 3 am.  Daz tried to explain we’d left his key in an envelope in the foyer but it took a while before he understood by which time we’re both wide awake and struggled to get back to sleep.  We do manage to get to breakfast at 9am only to find Ása desperate to leave.  She’s finding it tough; when she chats to all the guests, she has always talked about Maggi and now she is still talking about him but then remembers he has gone.  So very sad.  She goes home and we do the usual chores around the B&B and some more painting.  Ása told us Monday evening that Bjössi and Silya have gone away for a few days.  We ask Ása if she’d like to do the same.  If she were to go now we can keep things running until we leave on Sunday.  (On Sunday my mum flies into Reykjavik and we’ve got a week with her in southern Iceland, it’s been booked awhile so there’s no postponing it!).  Ása says yes and that’s it, she’s gone. We’re not entirely sure where but we know she’ll be with friends and better for it, I think!!!  So we’re back on B&B duty full time!


Thursday / Friday / Saturday

Not much to report really.  We do the B&B chores and cut the grass on the 3 cottages.

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On Saturday afternoon Daz takes himself off to the nearest ‘hotpot’ – the Icelandic term for geothermal pools. The pool is 31degrees and the natural hotpot about 40 degrees.  Beautiful! Then Saturday evening we pack for our week away, with my mum, in southern Iceland.

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Sad news for Bildudular.

Tuesday 7th July

Today is my birthday.   Today is the day Maggi died. He had gone fishing on Sunday in the trawler and for some reason on Monday night it sank.  The crew had time to don immersion suits….. But Maggi didn’t survive.

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We’re finishing the last 2 gardens today.  So that’s 5 gardens in 4 days – approximately 40hours of mowing and strimming!!

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Ása is with Maggi’s son Bjössi who was also on the trawler when it sank.   It’s a sad day and the flags in the village are at half mast.  Ása’s cousin and his mother come back to the village, they were only here at the weekend.  We’re expecting Ása’s mother, brother and her sister.  We’ve offered to run the B&B for the next couple of days so we need to be available in the evening for booking in and at breakfast for ‘local’ knowledge of the area.

Wednesday 8th July

Today we – well Daz – puts together some Ikea furniture that Maggi brought back from Reykjavik on Saturday and I do the laundry and strip beds so Emmalea can get on with other stuff.   Normally Ása would run breakfast from 8ish onwards and Emilea would start cleaning rooms but without Ása here, Emilea is stuck in the kitchen until after 10.   Daz and I bicker for about an hour as to where the shelves should go and even about whether he should leave them for later.

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 Then we go back to painting our staircase, which we stopped when the weather turned nasty.  Ása is off to Isafjordur with her sister to see Maggi before he’s moved to Reykjavik for an autopsy.


Thursday 9th July

Ása has gone to Reykjavik to see Maggi’s children.  She’ll be gone a couple of days we think so we get on with the usual chores:  more painting, more laundry but today we have a shopping trip to Patreksfjordur planned – the B&B is short of supplies.

Friday 10th July

Today there’s more laundry, more painting, and just checking all is ready for our guests.  Some guests last night asked for an early breakfast.  We agreed and text Emmalea to let her know.   Fortunately we managed to drag ourselves over there just as thecguests were going into breakfast – Emilea looking at us – like ‘WTF?????’ – she’d given us an old number so had no idea what was going on.   Later on we’re painting (again) and the famous singer of Bíldudalur starts talking to us in Icelandic.  We told him we didn’t understand but he persists and continues gesticulating.   We didn’t have a clue what he wanted but there was no sign of him leaving.  Finally I called Emilea out to translate – bless him he only wants his ladder back.  But clearly Emilea was not to be trusted because he sent someone else over to tell us to return the ladder.   But we ain’t finished with it yet!!!

Saturday 11th July

Emilea is doing breakfast with Katerina.   We’re there too to do the laundry and for Daz to do his ‘tour guide’ bit – he’s getting pretty good at reeling off ‘best places to visit’ locally.   Ása should be back today and Maggi’s funeral will be next Saturday.  We have a film session to wind up the day whilst Daz pops off occasionally to greet guests. We watch Magic Mike and Jurassic World.

Sunday 12th July

B&B duties today.  The dirty linen is stripped and the beds remade by 1030.  Laundry is on the go.  It’s looking good – just the cottage to worry about.  Ása got back late last night and once all is in order we take some time off. We take a packed lunch and plan a walk up some of the local mounts, in particular Lonfell and Klakkur.  Lonfell according to legend is the place where Iceland got its name.  But when we get there the cloud cover and imminent rain puts us off.  Instead we drive around the Flokalundur nature reserve area for some exploring and walk up to look at a Waterfall and later a river gorge.  We then take the coastal road past the ferry to the Snafellnes peninsula and on to Patreksfjörđur.

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Monday 13th August

Today we have a full day off and we have a plan. We’ve had breakfast and made our packed lunch and we’re on the road by 0930.  We drive to Látrabjarg.   It’s the bird cliff.  Last time we were there, there was a strong wind and it was really cold.  Today it’s warm and barely a breeze.  We’re going to walk East along the birdcliff and then down a river valley, turning West when we hit the coast and then back to the car.  A 15km walk we think.  The bird cliff is amazing as ever with puffins, razorbills, fulmars and their chicks and others we can’t identify.

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Down the river valley we’re walking on moss so deep our feet sink several inches.

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When we reach the beach there are more birds to watch; dunlins, sanderlings, turnstones and Arctic terns – if we’re identifying them correctly.  It is not without a reason Iceland is sometimes called the bird watchers paradise. Up to 250 different species have been spotted and over 70 of them nest here regularly.

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Once our walk is done and we say farewell to the puffins, we make our way back to Patreksfjörđur.  On the way we spot an Arctic Tern nesting site and stop and spot their chicks.

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At Patreksfjörđur we visit ‘World’s edge’ – TripAdvisor’s top restaurant here ( but there are only a handfull to choose from).   We try Minke whale for a starter and have foal for our main.  I’m sure many of you are throwing up your hands in disgust but these are Icelandic delicacies.  However, the whale was overpowered by the sauce although the texture was nice, and the foal was rather bland and a little disappointing.

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Tuesday 14th July

Today we’re back to B&B duties.  All seems routine until the guests arrive.  The family in the triple room want another bed/mattress in their room so we have to go to our house and bring another bed. Then the single occupancy, isn’t single so we need another duvet etc – that’s another raid on our house.  And we’d already had to turn a double room into a triple.  So we have 17 guests tonight.

We also finally manage to get rid of the wood / cladding we ripped out of house no 2 a couple of weeks ago.   We thought the skip man came Wednesday and Saturday.  We kept missing Saturday because it’s our day off and when I went to find skip on a Wednesday discovered we’d missed the collection because it’s a Tuesday.  But today we finally get it right.  The driver brings a big skip to the harbour and waits there for 2 hours, whilst people get rid of their wood and glass.  Two truck loads later and the wood pile is gone.


A second week in Iceland and we’re still in heaven!

Tuesday 30th June

We carry on painting today but the wind is really picking up so excessive paint is getting blown everywhere and it’s much colder but the wind is drying the paint so quickly that it becomes as tacky as glue in no time, making it even more difficult than normal.

Wednesday 1st July

The wind was blowing a gale last night and rain is forecast so we have an indoor job today.  We need to strip out all the cheap cladding in cottage number 2 and remove all the rubbish.

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We don’t start this demolition job until we’ve moved all the furniture and bric a brac that Ása wants to keep into the cellar of the B&B then it’s claw hammers, lump hammers and jemmy’s to the fore as we rip out the unwanted stuff in the cottage.  Great fun.  Then it’s off to the hairdressers – I’m having my hair chopped off and dyed orange.  It’s definitely shorter than it was but definitely not orange!

Thursday 2nd July

Today we’re on gardening chores.  Some weeding, grass mowing and strimming.  The ‘lawns’ around the cottages are either on steep banks or rough ground so both mowing and strimming are extremely hard work and we have the ‘lawns’ around 3 cottages to do.   By the end of today we’ve finished one and have started on the second.  So that’s our work for Friday.

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Friday 3rd July

Another day of mowing and strimming – think this might qualify as abuse!!!! The grass in most places hasn’t been cut in 2 years so under the new growth is the old straw from last year lying down and blocking the mower and strimmer, it needs a pass by the strimmer then several by the mower before it is cut, and after only 5 feet with the mower the box needs emptying so it’s stop start work for Daz on the mower as I wield the strimmer back and forth like the Jedi knight I am!! The birds love us and the cut grass.  We have white wagtails and redwings everywhere searching for the freshly disturbed insects. We also do some laundry as we occasionally rest from the grass clearing.

Saturday 4th July

After brekkie we’re off with Ása to Rauõasandur to do an environmental litter sweep along the coast. There are other volunteers there and Ása wants to socialise with everyone but instead we are told to work as a team.  The 3 of us are sent down the coast a ways to an area of beach and grasslands, more walking about on ‘babies heads’ grass, sinking and stumbling in the deep ravines as we look for flotsam and jetsam, rubbish that has ended up here.  There are old tyres, old fishing nets that have become entwined with the grass itself making it hard to pull up, old fishing net floats and lots of plastic tubs,pots and vessels which we pile up at regular intervals along the beach so that the farmer and his tractor trailer can pick it all up later.

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We find a pile of whale bones and see some nesting birds and chicks as we go about our work.

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After a couple of hours we get tired and head back to the carpark at the beach.  We eat some sarnies we brought then decide after chatting with the farmer to walk out onto the sands towards where a herd of seals are lying on the beach in the sun.  It takes about30 minutes for the 3 of us to get near them as we cross the gorgeous gold and black volcanic sands, but as we get near we realise there is a waterway between us.

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It looks shallow enough to cross so we can get closer, but as Daz tries to cross he suddenly sinks about a foot into the sand and struggles to get out, quicksand!!! We have to make do with watching the seals for a while with our binoculars and taking some distant photos before we head back along the beach to the carpark.  We walk back via the surf side of the sand spit and paddle in the water which is still cold but not as bad as last time.  In the distance, past the local hills,  we can see the glacial mount of Snæfellsnes in the distance, an amazing sight.


Daz and I have brought our walking boots with us and on the way back to Bildudalur Asa drops us in Tàlknafjordur so that we can walk over the mountain between the two villages, along a cairn marked track.  It’s at least 10km over the top and as we sit on the grass putting on our boots we look up at the sight of the trek facing us, with the sun shining down it’s going to be a hard slog because it’s straight up the river valley as far as we can see!!  We say bye to Asa and set off over a small stream and head up a small worn track that is marked by regular wooden posts and we soon gain a lot of height.  Higher and higher in the heat we slowly ascend, one foot in front of the other, taking time and making sure we look up occasionally to take in the views behind us of Tàlknafjordur.  The path gets rockier as it progresses and soon disappears but we can still see the posts ahead and we continue on.  We are now also having to cross swathes of snow,the remnants from winter which makes it hard going as we sink a couple of inches with each step into the crust.

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We reach a plateau and continue along until we reach a lake of snow melt water.  With the sun still shining, we strip out of our sweaty kit for a skinny dip and stumble into the frigid waters. Wow it’s cold, but we have lots of fun seeing who will go deeper.

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We both make it to about knee depth and wait, in the freezing water wondering who will dare go further… In the end I take the plunge first then Daz takes a dive and comes up squealing with the shock of the cold!! What amazing fun alone on the hillside, nobody else but a few birds, the sun and our mad laughter.

We continue on across the rocky landscape, now following cairns in the distance as our only guide.  It seems like we are on the moon, and it’s quite surreal.  We have been stopping occasionally and watching the birds, including a Grouse that doesn’t want to fly but would rather wander about trying to hide from us. And then we spot a small black and white bird on one of the snow patches ahead of us,eating off the insects that are caught in the snow. It seems to lead us for a while,always sat on the next cairn as we approach and then off to the next snow patch, we later discover it’s a snow bunting or Snjotittlingur in Icelandic – snow cock.  We thoroughly enjoy watching it and hearing it sing.

Finally we reach the end of the plateau and can see Bildudalur below in the distance, but we still have a lot of ground to cover.  Fortunately it’s much easier going down especially when we follow one long line of snow which we can jog down.It leads us to another snowy lake, no dip this time, and we are soon below the snow line again, now crossing grass and low shrubbery as we leap across the many little streams tumbling their way down the hillside.

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Finally after 4 hours we reach the road and now only have a 3 km walk back into the village, but amazingly we don’t have to walk for long as along come Maggi and Ása who give us a lift to the village!!

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An amazing walk in Iceland’s beauty and we celebrate with a glass of wine and fish ‘n chips in the Vegamot the village store/restaurant.

Sunday 5th July.

We are off on another day out.  This time to Isafjoröur which is only 48km as the crow flies but an amazingly long 144 km away by mainly gravel road following round several fjords and under a mountain tunnel pass to get there.  But it’s to celebrate Heulwen’s birthday which will be on Tuesday, so it’s all going to be worth it!! As usual the scenery is stunning, the gravel road climbs along the switchback mountain passes, hair raising at times,

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but after a couple of detours to see some little fishing villages Ása recommended we should visit (typical Daz and Hels drive through!!) we reach the mountain tunnel that will take us into Isafjoröur.

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It’s a one lane tunnel with passing places so as you are driving through the 7km tunnel if you see car headlights coming towards you depending which way you are going and the priority you have to pull into one of the little caves alongside the road before you have a head on smash to allow the other traffic past!!! Scary to say the least as the tunnel is barely lit and we can only imagine what it would be like on a bike, that is if they are allowed!! No idea how you would get there if not!!

We pass out of the tunnel and Isafjoröur is laid out below us, it has a small ski lift,  a golf course and a harbour with more shops and cafes than we have seen in a while!!  Our destination however is the number 1 restaurant on tripadvisor,  an all you can eat fish buffet restaurant in a wooden hut near the harbour.  All the food is cooked fresh from the day’s catch with a soup to start and several different fish courses and cooking techniques to try from.

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It’s expensive but all the reviews say it’s worth it. Unfortunately…  we obviously catch them on a very bad day as the service is appallingly bad, the food choice is meagre and we seem to be treated completely differently to other larger group bookings, who get more choice and better service even though we booked as well.  We complain to the waitress but are getting nowhere so we ask to see the manager.  15 minutes later we are debating walking out,  but ask her again and finally we are seen by the chef/manager. We make our complaint and apart from “we had a very busy night last night” can’t seem to excuse himself, but we stick our ground and finally he says we can have our meal for free, Billy bonus!! We pop off and go to the local bakery and have coffee and cake to make up for it!! We then head off to the Arctic Fox Centre which is about 17km further out of town and for once pay for entry and immerse ourselves in the world of the only native mammal in Iceland.

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They even have a little orphan cub in an enclosure out back which we spend time watching as it played amongst the vegetation.

Finally we head off back towards Bildudalur,  a 2 hour drive ahead of us, but also a couple of stops on the way, one to a waffle coffee shop in the middle of nowhere that was in an old turf roofed hut,

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and was fab and then onto Dyjandi, the largest waterfall in the Westfjords.   It’s an amazing scene as the waterfall cascades off the mountain top to fall 186 meters to sea level and you can walk all the way up to its base past smaller raging waterfalls, which we do, getting wet and windswept in the process!!

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The most incredible thing is that we can see this most amazing natural phenomenon for no charge.  This would never happen in the UK and also we are able to walk right to the edge – there aren’t safety barriers everywhere!

Finally we’re nearly home and we see flocks of Arctic Terns in the fields and we can see their nests just on the roadside.  And there are eggs!! We sit and watch (from the safety of the truck) and get some great photos.

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Monday 6th July

Late start today.  The alarm didn’t go off because it ran out of charge.  After such a busy weekend we’re both tired anyway.  We struggle to the B&B for breakfast and then it’s off to finish the grass cutting.  It takes us the rest of our work day to finish cottage 4 and take the grass to the grass dump.  However, Ása says we still need to do her house and house number 1 so there’s still more to do.

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