July 31st 2012

Last night, Chris and I went to the TIFF Lightbox to see Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry.  I've been familiar with his work and activism for some time, (especially after his disappearance last year), but this documentary was an eye opener.

I really admire someone who is able to communicate clearly about, and through, their art; something that I struggle with a lot.  Ai Weiwei has endured a lot in China, something I find hard to comprehend working in a comfortable studio here in Canada.  His struggles have only made his work more powerful and beautiful.

The film will still be screening at the TIFF until August 2nd.

July 26th 2012

These turf houses were located at Grettislaug, a hot spring pool near Sauðárkrókur.  We drove along a very long gravel road, through farmland and barking sheepdogs, to get to the ferry that was going to take us to Drangey, (the island is pictured above in the distance).  We'd been told that the ferry left from 'the pool', and we were a little confused until we got there and saw a pair of hot springs.  The ferry left from the small rocky port located just behind the building above.

As I'd mentioned in a previous post; we'd been told that Drangey was a great place to go to see a giant bird population.  We decided that since we couldn't make it out to Grímsey, we'd take the boat to Drangey instead.

It turned out to be one of the most harrowing experiences of my life, (but only because I have a fear of heights).  We took the boat over with a small group of people and a guide.  We'd read that once at the island, there was only one spot where you could ascend because the rest of the island is comprised of very steep cliffs.  Well, it turned out that the one route to climb was also quite steep and required a rope to haul one's self up.  The first climb was about 100m up a crumbling stoney path.  (A side note: the bridge at the boat moor had been knocked down a couple of years prior by the boulders that had fallen from the top of the path we were climbing.  That wasn't reassuring).

I made it to the top of this section, only to realize that we still had more path to climb.  With that, I had a minor panic and sat down where I was.  It was there that I stayed while the others, (Chris included), continued on.  I sat with two other women for the next two hours.  It felt like ten, because I was sitting on top of sheer cliffs with the most unbelievable cacophony of bird sounds around us.  Near the end of two hours I was able to calm myself enough to take a few shaky photos with my camera phone.  The view really was beautiful.

I didn't regret not continuing on; (though, Chris got some amazing photos during the rest of the climb), because I don't think I could have handled the heights any more.  And the climb ended on the edge of 190m cliff.  (That's 623' for American readers).  Chris says that this was one of his favourite parts of the trip; and if you can handle heights and a good bit of exercise, I know he'd recommend it to anyone visiting Iceland.

If you've noticed; there are no photos from my camera of our visit to the island.  I'd forgotten to pack a fresh roll of film from the fridge!  Luckily, too, because I don't think I could have lugged a big heavy camera up that climb!  Oh yeah, and I made it down okay.

After the previous day's stress, I was very happy to stop at the Blue Lagoon on the way to the airport the next day!

July 24th 2012

On our sixth day in Iceland, we visited the northern city of Akureyri; the second largest in Iceland.  What a beautiful city!  And such a creative community.  Both Chris and I thought it was even more beautiful than Reykjavík.

Below is pictured the shingles that we saw on a number of houses in this port city.  They looked to be made out of slate, and were the prettiest shape and colour!  They looked like fish scales when seen from further back.

The next day was spent driving a little west to the small town of Hvammstangi, which I mentioned in a previous post.  This was the area known for being an ideal place to spot seals, (and trolls), so we took the drive around the Vatnsnes peninsula to see if we could spot some.

We did!  There were plenty of them basking on the rocks, and I was so excited to develop the film and see some of the captures I'd gotten while quite close to a few of them.  Unfortunately, the telephoto lens wasn't working properly, and none of them turned out, (sob)!  Chris has some great digital photos of them, though.  Thankfully!

Pictured above is Hvítserkur, a 15m high rock formation with a bit of lore behind it.  It is said that this formation was once a troll that got caught out in the sunrise and froze just shy of the cliffs where it was headed.  During low tide you can walk out to see it up close.

Cotton grass.

To the right in this photo is a viking fortress called Borgavirki.  It was formed out of a natural volcanic plug in the earth, and climbing it gave a pretty incredible view of the surrounding area.  Unfortunately; as I found out quite a bit on this trip, I have a real fear of heights, so I kept quite low to the ground while trying to take these!

More troll lore; this small waterfall, Kolugjúfurjust south of the Vatnsnes peninsula, runs through a canyon that was said to have been formed by the scraping fingertips of the giantess Kola.  It was one of the prettiest waterfalls we saw on our trip, and is little known except to locals.

We drove to another town north of Akureyri called Dalvík to try and catch a ferry to Grímsey, the northernmost point in Iceland.  Grímsey touches the arctic circle, and is known for it's bird population, especially puffins.  We hadn't been able to find out when the ferry left, and were just a couple of hours shy of the ferry leaving for the day.  Fortunately, we'd heard that there was another island that we could catch a ferry out to.  This island, Drangey, was closer to our cabin, and is known for it's enormous bird colony, so we planned to go there the next day.

We explored a little bit more of Dalvík, then headed back the way we'd come through a few really beautiful port villages and tunnels through the mountains.


Siglufjörður, (which Chris endearingly named "Cigarette Four-Door" because the name was incredibly hard to pronounce), was another favourite town along the trip.  We had a great lunch right beside the harbour and watched fisherman loading up their boats.

July 20th 2012

I wanted to share some of the photos I just had developed from last weekend's Toronto Kinfolk dinner.

A number of other guests have posted some beautiful photos from the day on their blogs, which you can find below:

John and Juli's post on their blog, KITKA design toronto
Anabela and Geoff's post on Fieldguided
Celine Kim's post on Bonjour Celine
Nikaela Marie's post on Rose and Crown
Emily Kastner's posts, one and two, on Tar-Tryin'
and Sarah Britton's post on My New Roots

as well as:
Nikole Herriott and Michael Graydon
Julie Pointer
Sarra Tang and Todd Westendorp
Erin Hall

July 16th 2012

{ photo by Sarah Britton of My New Roots }

This past weekend, old friends and new met for a day away from the city for the Toronto Kinfolk dinner.  We prepared the day's meals together, sat out in the sun, visited and swam.  It was the perfect day.

A huge thank you to Julie Pointer for helping organize our little group, as well as Nikole Herriott and Michael Graydon.  John and Juli opened their beautiful cottage to us for the event, and everyone pitched in and contributed their own unique additions to the day.

July 12th 2012

I'm posting a few more photos from the next couple of days we spent in Iceland.

The third day we were there, we left Reykjavík and planned to drive to see a few sights before the long drive up to Skagaströnd where we spent the remainder of our trip.

First off was a drive through Þingvellir National Park, (below), and all of the moss-covered lava fields, to get to Gullfoss, the giant set of waterfalls.

On the drive back through was a stop at the Geyser, aptly named Geysir.  We saw it erupt a couple of times as we were arriving and walking over, and just as I was setting up a photo of it, a torrential downpour started!  Shown below is one of the smaller hot springs located nearby.  That's all I was able to capture with my camera.

Above are a couple of photos from stops at the side of the road on the way to the town we'd be staying.  There were Icelandic horses on nearly every farm.  And the sign is from a town near Skagaströnd called Hvammstangi where you could drive along the peninsula and watch for seals at points along the way.  (I've got a couple of rolls of slide film from that day still to be developed).  There were a number of these hand painted signs along the road, and I just had to pull over and take a photo of one!

When we climbed up the small cliffs behind our cottage, this was the view.

Also below, this is what midnight looks like in Iceland in late June.  The sun never went down while we were there.

Some other news; as of yesterday I'll have three oil paintings, Silver-Haired Bat, Great Horned Owl, and Snowshoe Hare, on display at the Gladstone Hotel for the next month.  They'll be