Iceland 8: Still at Strútslaug

The hut at Strutslaug, 1977

Strutslaug-14, as someone has renamed it, was built by Dick Phillips for his own tours. It is cold, cramped, and the floor is volcanic gravel. Most of us sleep on the gravel but there is room for three ‘athletes’ on a seven-foot high sleeping platform. Getting on to it involves a stomach-wrenching reverse-somersault technique. Of course, only the Bridge School G.T. boys have strong enough stomach muscles to do it.

Yet, they are the ones most likely to have to go outside in the night. There must be some correlation between the strength of one’s stomach muscles and the need to pee…. (read full post on Blogger)

George Orwell: The Road to Wigan Pier

This is very much a book of two halves.

It begins with Orwell’s account of the terrible living conditions in the industrial north of England during the nineteen-thirties. I enjoyed this half of the book enormously, mainly because I can relate to it. Parts remind me how things still were in the fifties. Even in the seventies, echoes of the thirties were still around, despite much having improved by then.

Here are some of the things that struck me:

Orwell writes of ‘back to back’ terraces “… which are all of a condemned type but will remain standing for decades.” (p48). They did. I lived in them in Leeds in the nineteen seventies. Most had by then been modernised with damp courses and bathrooms, but not all. Across the road we used to see inhabitants walking out in their pyjamas to the communal lavatories … (read full post on Blogger)

Walking In Iceland 7: to Strútslaug

We set off from Álftavötn to Strútslaug (Alftavatn to Strutslaug): from Swan Lake to Ostrich Pool as they implausibly translate. I am at the back from the start, abject and pathetic because of rubbed raw heels. The others have to wait for me several times. I am told later that some of the bridge school “G.T. boys” are complaining about the frequent stops and implying that some of us are not fit to be there. (read full post on Blogger)

New Month Old Post: Strange Brew

Watching Giles Coren savour a pint of home brew in Episode Three of Back In Time For The Weekend brought it all back. I think it was down to the slightly cloudy, pale, urine-like appearance (the home brew, that is, not Giles), which looked so authentic I could actually taste the stuff. Boots Home Brew Bitter: it had a kind of thin, floral, and, well, bitter flavour.

We used to brew plastic dusbins full in our shared house in Leeds… (read full post on Blogger)

Walking In Iceland 6: Eldgjá and Álftavötn

Eldgjá from Gjátindur

Another journal extract. Neville and I are now well into our guided walk, trekking in the south of Iceland with ten others. Today we move hut again, but by a roundabout route. Our walk goes from Skaelingar to the top of Gjátindur mountain (3,068 feet, 935m), then down through the Eldgjá canyon to Álftavötn (or Alftavatn). The canyon contains the 130 foot (40m) Ófærufoss waterfall.

The first thing we have to do is cross a river. Now this and one crossed yesterday are easy, but soon we come to a larger river… (read full post on Blogger)

Barack Obama: Dreams From My Father

It took me ages to get through this and I have to confess I did not particularly enjoy it.

I got it after reading a newspaper article by Obama, which I thought impressively written. You see it in the book.

But the effect is exhausting. There is something too precise, too calculated, lacking in feeling. Whether he is describing community meetings, thinking about what family means, or discussing how white people treat blacks, it is overwhelmingly analytical, without warmth or humour. There are too many long passages of apparently verbatim dialogue which seem to be concocted just to give us large amounts of information.

Obama’s background is fascinating… (see full post in Blogger)

Another Health Gadget

I read Piers Morgan’s account of catching covid at the Wembley football final. I’m aware he’s an arrogant know-it-all but he has my sympathy in this. His respiratory consultant (lucky him!) said to monitor his arterial saturations and to seek help if they fell below 93%. Obviously, you can’t monitor your blood oxygen levels if you don’t have a gadget, so I got one (read full post on Blogger)

Walking in Iceland 4: Stormy Weather

Yesterday, the first proper day of our guided walk in Iceland, we arrived at the Sveinstindur hut near the western edge of Vatnajökull, Iceland’s largest ice cap. We are to stay here for two nights.Today’s itinerary directs that we ascend Sveinstindur mountain, one of the most magnificent viewpoints in Iceland. Unfortunately, yesterday’s bitter wind has brought terrible weather. (read full post on Blogger)

A Walk to the Post Office

Walking in the countryside, when it has purpose and destination, feels like walking in the past.

About a month ago, Sue My Quiet Life in Suffolk took her camera on A Walk to the Post Office. The walk to what is currently our nearest Post Office, provided it’s not too muddy, is two-miles of true joy. Last week, we had a parcel to send, so taking a lead from Sue, I took my camera… (read full post on Blogger)