Monday, 29 January 2007


Here's a great one! The Þorri midwinter feast occurs from late January till late February, and for all intents and purposes is a way to trick foreigners into eating a variety of crazy foods. In the same vein as the Skate on 23rd December foods such as (and i'm not joking!!) these are served:

Rotten Shark
Sheep Testicles
Whale Blubber (no, not the meat!)
Sheeps head Jam (My personal favourite)

In fairness, in times past when food was more scarce it made sense to eat everything going. Still in today's affluent climate I think it's only right to push the boundaries with Þorrablót pizza and maybe Þorrablót icecream :)

More details can be found here (worth a read)

Friday, 19 January 2007

Northern lights

It's taken a while to actually catch them on camera, but here you go.

Before you say anything, no they don't appear every night, and you can't see them at all in the summer due to the light pollution of the sun. However when they do appear they are fantastic to watch. On a good night they stretch from one horizon to the other in a long streak. They're actually less blurry than the photos make out, but that's just a result of the long exposures required to capture them (this photo was 30sec).

If you want to catch them, head up to the arctic circle on a clear night, with a northerly wind, brace yourself for the cold, and be prepared for them to not come at all!

Thursday, 11 January 2007

White vehicles

Go on then.... whose idea was it to import so many white cars into Iceland? No, you're right i can't see a flaw with this either. Although the word "Snow" springs to mind :)

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

National news / Local news?!

Icelandic news is fantastic! With only 300,000 people to play with, national news has a very local feel about it, either that or the news is stolen from other countries (especially the UK and USA). So if for instance there is a small incident such as someone (hypothetically obviously ;) ) driving into a reindeer, you can be sure that'll be on the news. I'm sure the classic "Cat stuck up a tree" would make headlines here.... Although thinking about it "Cat stuck on a small shrub" hasn't got the same ring to it ;)

Until recently there was also a 24hr news station in Iceland which must have been very good at creating news stories. Actually they probably weren't as it doesn't exist any more!

Update: Just found out that the reindeer story made the main TV news. I rest my case your honour!

Monday, 8 January 2007

Sad day for Iceland

He started so he's finished. Iceland's second most famous person has passed away. RIP Magnús Magnússon. BBC obituary here.

Saturday, 6 January 2007

Winter Darkness

Having just been blinded by the sun rising above the horizon at 11.50am, I thought it's probably a good time to write about the winter darkness up here.

Unsurprisingly, back in the UK many people ask about the "24 hours of darkness", but surprisingly most people there have no idea which time of year this darkness occurs. I blame the education system personally :) Unfortunately with Iceland being just the wrong side of the Arctic circle, the sun does rise on every day of the year, although the shortest day on December 21st only has an hour or so of true daylight. This is surrounded by a very long period of twilight so dont expect to be struggling to see things mid morning.

For the record the photo above was taken when the sun was at its highest in the sky on the 22nd Dec!!

Christmas Skate

December 23rd in Iceland sees many people indulging in a traditional fish meal to see in the start of the Christmas celebrations. The meal consists of boiled skate, boiled potatoes and lambs fat. I have to say it's a bit of an acquired taste as you can smell a hint of ammonia when its served (Ok maybe a bit more than a hint!). I have been reliably informed that the fish is too toxic to eat when fresh and so has to be "buried for 3 months" before cooking! Probably one for the more adventurous amongst you, but it's definitely worth a try, although having a ready supply of alcohol nearby is recommended!

It'll probably come as no surprise to hear that many people here now substitute this meal for pizza :)

Thanks to Binna for inviting me to try the skate.

Update: Hmm just seen this. Maybe it's not such a good idea to get more people eating skate: Fish to avoid.