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Saturday, 4 February 2017

It's Þorrablót


Thorrablot was a sacrificial midwinter festival offered to the gods in pagan Iceland of the past. It was abolished during the Christianization of Iceland, but resurrected in the 19th century as a midwinter celebration that continues to be celebrated to this day. The timing for the festival coincides with the month of Thorri, according to the old Icelandic calendar, which begins on the first Friday after January 19th (the 13th week of winter). 
Origins of the name "Thorri" are unclear but it is most likely derived from Norwegian king Thorri Snærsson, or Thor the God of Thunder in the old Nordic religion.
On this occasion, locals come together to eat, drink and be merry. Customary, the menu consists of unusual culinary delicacies, known as traditional Icelandic food. These will include rotten shark’s meat (hákarl), boiled sheep’s head, (svið) and congealed sheep’s blood wrapped in a ram’s stomach (blóðmör)! This is traditionally washed down with some Brennivin - also known as Black Death – a potent schnapps made from potato and caraway.
After the Thorrablot dinner traditional songs, games and story telling are accompanied by dancing and in true Icelandic style continue until the early hours of the morning! If you fail to receive a personal invitation to a family feast, local restaurants will often add Thorrablot colour and taste to their menus.

So there you have it. A Massive festival all over Iceland and not least in Skagaströnd, which is currently a ghost town. Any burglars, not at Thorrablot festivals would have a field day.
So what have I been up to this past 4 days...?
Walking, photographing, sleeping, eating chocolate, musing, sitting and eating chocolate would cover it.... Oh and sitting in hot pots at 41° while the sea crashes just over the wall - in the dark - in my birthday suit, watching amazing Aurora, wandering around basalt cliffs finding the detritus left by mink and arctic foxes, considering 'The Sublime' and whether I can move forward some work, which looks at this sometimes ambiguous idea in conjunction with digitally made images, straight out of the camera and not edited post production. I'm working on it.....
I heard that sometimes there are Polar bears in Iceland and thought it was a joke.

Polar bear shot dead in Iceland

  • 18 July 2016
File image of a polar bearImage copyrightAFP
Image captionPolar bears are a rare sight in Iceland, and a danger to locals and livestock
"A female polar bear has been shot dead in northern Iceland, the first such incident of its kind since 2010.
The adolescent bear came within 500 metres of an inhabited farm before it was shot by a marksman, Iceland Monitor newspaper reported, with people in farms near the north-west town of Saudarkrokur told to stay indoors while the operation to kill the animal was underway. Egill Bjarnason, who was first to spot the bear, said he was in no doubt that it need to be killed immediately, as it was close to a farm where children had been playing. It's the first polar bear to be spotted in Iceland since 2010, while another two were shot and killed in the north-west in 2008."
I was in Saudarkrokur a couple of days ago.... Apparently the last one found was in Blonduos, which is 20 minutes away. Oh how exciting!!!! Also, Amanda, one of the other artists and myself had a lift to the Lighthouse with Arnar, one of the locals and he told us that there had been a polar bear sighted up there (quite a wilderness area) a couple of years ago...... When I went there today again, I was a bit concerned, so carried my tripod in front of me like a dalek, in case I ran into a bear.
I haven't made any more of my abstract images as it's really hard to get it right. Sometimes I delete 20 after thinking I'd got something good. So I've just been wandering and capturing what I see and what's inspiring about this place. Here's a selection of the last few days:
This is the light that comes out of nowhere, often when it's been dull and then from inside, you see a glow outside and this is the view.

 And then the sea, always the sea....

The colour is astounding. Even when the sky is grey, the sea is aquamarine or very blue. It looks so clean, but in parts of the village, especially around the harbour, it's less than pristine, with a few fish guts thrown in.
Then there's the sky.

The last two were last night when I had the car and drove out to a dark place to see if the lights were up anywhere. I got lucky.
Last night, I was sitting here, listening to the ocean crashing over the wall on the left:
I think I am in this one at the end of the hot pot

Sarah and Rhona, basking in 41°
I have lots of others from my adventures with a car for 24 hours but they can wait, as I am actually tired and must go to bed. The weather is really oddly warm. It's about 6° and all the snow has gone. I think it's time for a snowstorm.... and a polar bear.
Sleep well,
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!!