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Sunday, 22 January 2017

Greetings on a 'warm' sunday evening in skagaströnd.

 Hello again from the desk at the far end of the studio, at the far end of the village.

It's become much warmer in Iceland over the past few days and all the snow has melted. Considering we were sitting in a hot bath with outside temperatures at -17 eight days ago, it's very odd. Today has been around 6° and there is vegetation appearing from under it's icy blanket which is green and yellow . I didn't see anything like it last time I was here as the ground was constantly covered in snow as I remember.

I have been sleeping an enormous amount. I usually have between 6 and 8 hours at home but here, it's never less than 9. I'm not sure if that will change as the mornings become lighter, but it's a strange phenomenon to wake up at 9 am, nip to the loo and go back to fast asleep for a couple of hours. The sleeping patterns on an artists residency are weird anyway, with many night creatures doing their arty thing until 4am....

So to the last couple of days. I have slept, walked, fallen down, had a G&T, got half price sweets from the garage and been on a short trip to the elusive lighthouse. But, first. These were taken 2 days ago in the snow.

The walk back to Manabraut

Very calm sea and twinkling harbour

Sea Cliffs about 10 minutes walk from the house

masses of seaweed, which Eleanor tried and found disgusting to eat

The water is so clear and tempting, but freezing..... One of the artists, Sophie really wants to swim, but I'm not sure I have the bottle. Apparently there's a monthly sea swimming club...Hmmm.

The sunrises and sunsets are usually stunning. It's almost expected and I have become somewhat blasé about it. Well actually, no. I still get really excited and say 'eeeeee it's brilliant' in a higher voice than my usual one. But hey, I make no apology for gorgeous natural beauty.

Yesterday I set out early (11am) for a walk to the valley between Spákonufell (our mountain) and some other less wonderful mountains. I had already wandered around this area a little bit before but hadn't discovered the valley, the river, the waterfall and the trail up Spákonufell .. I had stupidly decided to carry my camera bag with a massive extra lens, my tripod and a load of other stuff 'just in case'. Interestingly I forgot to bring any water and was so dehydrated by the time I came off the mountain that I was prepared to climb down the side of a gorge to get some from the stream - that was after actually trying the door on a house to use their tap..... (which I discovered later is a hireable venue for partying in isolation of anyone or anything). Anyway, back to the story....

This is the river running through a wonderful valley about 45 minutes from the village 

High up, looking into the gorge
 It was down this gorge that the first 'happening' happened. I was setting up the camera ready for a artsy moving water shot when my bloody lens cap popped off and rolled down the rocks towards the water. My first thought was that I can do without a lens cap and that I shouldn't do anything stupid. I could always get another one. My second thought was: Take a photo of where it landed, then walk around and down to the gorge to retrieve it using the photo for reference (I knew I'd have to go around 200m to get down safely). This was the decided plan of action. I carefully left my camera bag and tripod on a rock and started down the ice covered and somewhat precarious side of the gorge - knowing that the features in the photograph would become my beacons for finding the precious Nikon cap. I managed to get to within around 30m of the spot and realised I'd taken the 'siting photograph' with my Nikon and not my phone. The Nikon was at the top of the gorge...... The next thing I did was to record a little 'sorry' video on my phone just in case I fell into the icy water and got carried away into the sea, never to be seen again. I was just about to go back up lenscapless, when I spotted it sitting there mocking me. Hooray!!! I felt a rush of happiness and satisfaction. Pathetic, I know. This is 'said' gorge:

 Very gorgeous it is too (See what I did there?) (tired now..!)

Looking up to Spákonufell  summit
 After the euphoria of finding my lens cap, I decided to climb the mountain. There was some snow still on top and it was relatively wind free when I set out. I didn't have a map, compass, water, walking boots, a head torch, whistle or any food of any kind. I'd had a coffee before setting out but realised that this probably wouldn't suffice for what was to become a 5 hour jaunt with no water.

Ah well, I was always within site of the village and I'm sure my green parka would have shown up on the mountainside if I'd got into any trouble, particularly against the - greenish vegetation.......

Steve and the kids are now at this point thinking I was reckless and taking stupid risks, but I wasn't, promise gov. It's artistic licence, that's all.

This is me about half way up and having decided that I wasn't fully equipped to go to the top. Plus having just gotten over bronchitis, I felt a bit ill.
After this lovely sit down on the side of the mountain, I got up full of life and decided to try a few more steps up. Well I got to the scree and had in my sights the first 'false summit' (Helen Reed will totally get this), but alas, in the words of the Mighty Bruce Springsteen himself, I took 'One step up and two steps back'. I was slipping down and couldn't get any grip - plus there was a distinct possibility that anyone below me (absolutely not a soul in sight all day...) would get bopped on the head by a big stone. So I decided that I had to come down.

Easier said than done. I found this fabulous strip of ice/snow, about 50m long and decided that the safest and most efficient way to get down would be to slide. I had even brought a carrier bag for this specific purpose - who needs a sledge who you have a carrier bag? Anyway, I got myself settled on the bag - my camera bag on my back, my feet out in front and my precious iPhone 7+ in my hand, ready to ride the exciting, dynamic ice path down the mountain. My phone was so excited, it decided to go without me - in video mode. I did capture it's journey, and it survived but for a few scratches. It's on my Facebook page if you want to see it.

 I also fell down a few times on the 'ride' back down, but it was worth it for the look on the Icelandic ponies faces....

I found an iced up river and some pylons on my walk back to civilisation, where I rewarded myself with a large G&T.

very icy river

very interesting pylons
More exciting stuff today, including falling over in the bathroom this morning.... but you can wait for that. I have been messing with making 'Toytown' images of the village, These are from the sea cliffs. I will speak to you tomorrow, (possibly!)  but until then, sleep well.

Night night,


Aly x

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It would be great to hear your views or any questions you have about Iceland, Skagaströnd or the residency. Fire away!!