have van will travel

January 6, 2007

our new van 

 We’re back – sorry for not posting for so long.  This is our new campervan. It’s not new – it was made in 1989 – but it’s new to us. We bought it from Pen’s sister and her partner in September and so far have managed to get away in it for one night 3 times – to Buxton, Preston and Skegness.

Then a few weeks ago Pen unfortunately ripped the roof vent off by accident! We hope to get it repaired this week and then we’ll be able to plan our next trip.

We are very keen to get back to North West Scotland soon, and having just got back from 2 nights in a hotel in the Lake District we’d love to camp up there too.

We have decided to focus this blog on our camper experiences. Our next few posts will have pictures from our first few trips….we’d love to get recommendations from you for places to camp. We’ve joined the Camping and Caravanning Club but we are hoping to find some great small private campsites too. Look forward to hearing from you! 

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photos….

August 11, 2006

we have published three galleries of photos of our July trip to Iceland on atypical. They are of 2 of the 4 days of our trip. There are 2 galleries of the day we drove along the south shore from Selfoss to Dyrholaey. There’s another of the last day’s journey from Hveragerdi to the airport via the Reykjanes peninsula – particularly route 429. black and white  This is one of our favourite photos of the lot. It’s the beach at Dyrholaey – the most exciting beach we have ever been on.  This is a colour photograph. The weather was so atmospheric – the cloud base was so low that the tops of the cliffs were obscured. We kept our cameras inside our coats for as long as possible between shots – the combination of drizzle and salty sea-spray was very challenging. We still got a lot of blobs on our lenses and had to wipe them dry.

finding veggie food… and fish in Reykjavik

June 26, 2006

When we were in Iceland in February – we stayed in Reykjavik the whole time. We had great choice of places to eat – there was a decent amount of good vege food – the restuarant Joi and Sonja recommended – Hornith, was fabulous – so we ate there twice.

We hunted round for fresh fish – and all we could find was lobster or saltfish. We expected loads of good fish – haddock, plaice, sea salmon etc. as Reykjavik is on the coast and has a huge harbour.

This time we are staying near the South Coast near Thorlakshofn, and apparently the best seafood restaurant is nearby. It specialises in lobster which we don’t like and anyway is fearsomely expensive! As for vegetarian food – that may be more of a challenge.

To save money and to make sure we will get food Pen can eat (Pen eats no mammal meat or derivatives) we plan to shop in Hveragerthi as it is a town not far from where we are staying – we will buy plenty of lunch food and snacks. We’ll let you know what food is available in the evenings eating out. We could eat in the hotel we believe. 

sorted!

June 26, 2006

Tone got us both new passports today – phew!!!

I have paid for us to have GPS in our hire car.

Tone found out that Thorsmork is only accessible by crossing a few very fast-flowing deep rivers – only for experienced drivers of high chassis large tyre 4x4s. So that is not us then.

We will probably book a trip when we get there – last resort will be the bus from Hella that’s £35 each that goes at 10am and returns at 3.30pm. Ideally we hope to find a trip that lasts a full day for not much more money. The Discover the World trip is about £70 each from Reykjavik, and lasts 10 hours. We’d like a compromise between the 2 options.

Joi has posted some amazing pictures recently – we just want to see it all for ourselves now – this time next week we will be in the air preparing for landing – all being well…….

we’re going back again….

June 25, 2006

to Iceland – next week!

We're booked, but have discovered that our passports expire in August and that means they are not valid for Iceland – they need to have at least 2 months on them…. so Tone is off to Liverpool tomorrow to the passport office to get them renewed – fingers crossed.

We are staying near Thorlakshofn in the South West in a small hotel this time – just for 4 nights – we got a special deal on the new flight from Manchester, bed and breakfast and a hire car, plus entry to the Blue Lagoon.

We would really like to get to Thorsmork, but can't unless we go in a 4×4 vehicle. We could get a local bus but that is £35 each and goes at 10am returning at 3.30pm – a very short day especially considering it will be 24 hour daylight! We might therefore upgrade our hire car to a 4×4 – it will probably be cheaper – but that seems such a bad idea environmentally – and we thought Iceland was really hot on "green" issues – the high cost of public transport for tourist trips like this seems to contradict their other policies.

We are going to try to meet up with Joi and Sonya again if we can. We'll let you know how we get on with these plans in a day or 2.

self-similarity…

March 25, 2006

there were plenty of great examples of self-similarity in nature in Iceland.

The landscape in Thingvellir was excellent for it – where the North American and European tectonic plates are moving apart at a rate of about 2cm a year. This movement has created a rift valley a couple of miles wide which has filled with water but it’s not one big lake so much as millions of little ones. The solid lava rock is moving all the time and so even small rocks have split creating small rifts. It’s impossible to tell how big a pool or a rock is – the shapes are repeated on different scales. We have put a few photos on flickr as a demonstration.

Is Iceland expensive?

March 11, 2006

or is it just that the British are cheap?

It is true that most of what you see to buy, and need to buy in Iceland is expensive if you compare it to what a pound buys in the UK. At a rough estimate things “cost” twice to three times as much in Iceland as they do here. Alcohol is an “impressive” example – a half of lager costs a fiver in an Icelandic bar.

For Icelanders prices don’t seem as high – their incomes are proportionately higher, so Icelanders only work the about same number of hours to have roughly the same standard of living as Brits do.

There are lots of reasons why costs appear so high to us – Iceland’s tax system falls heavy on purchases and less heavily on income, energy is very cheap (hydro and thermal energy in abundance), but most food, cars, domestic goods etc have to be imported as Iceland has little manufacturing, Iceland also is highly reliant upon exports of fish for foreign exchange – all these factors (and more) mean that the Icelandic economy is very different from other European economies.

The questions you have to ask yourself are  – is it worth it? and is it worth moaning about?

From my point of view the answers are a resounding yes, and a heartfelt no. Iceland is unique – it has stuff that is so different and exciting that paying a bit extra is worth it – and moaning about it doesn’t help – you’re not being ripped off, and whinging is only going to ruin your holiday. Eating out costs around twice as much as in the UK – but the quality of restaurant food is consistently better than in the UK.

The British (amongst others) have it cheap when travelling to so many places in the world – eg India, North Africa, SE Asia (where people are often paid a pittance and live in appalling conditions) – we need to be more realistic when travelling to countries where the vast majority of residents have the same standard of living as the tourists.

where do you start?

March 10, 2006

… when you’ve got about 700 pictures* and you need to select some good ones to go on the web?

Of course the task of selection is made easier (every cloud has a silver lining), because around half the images are crap.  Artless, pointless, technically incompetent, often all three – these are the pictures a five-year-old with their first disposable camera would be disappointed in. No doubt they’ll moulder on the hard disk, just because we have a vague feeling “they might come in” with a tweak in Photoshop, or if you squint and look at them a bit sideways. But the truth is they are crap and should be consigned to digital dust.

thingvellkjerka.jpg  Then there are the brilliant shots – obvious prizewinners (if only you could get around to entering them in a competition), but usually too quirky to appeal to anybody else. I often have a specific commitment to images – because of the thought that has gone into taking them, or they trigger something very specific in me – but that doesn’t mean they will appeal to other people, or conform to the current view of what is a good photograph.

Fortunately, somewhere in the middle are shots that have wider appeal, and perhaps a little artistry – technically acceptable, interesting and composed pleasingly. And there are quite a lot of these, I know there are, it’s just working out which are which….

Decide for yourself whether we made the right choices, here….

* We know this sounds like a lot, but on average it’s about fifty each a day, which isn’t too obsessive.

…and coming up soon on ‘Channel atypical’…

March 10, 2006

musings on the ubiquity of the English language, a gentle rant about tour guides, embarrassing revelations about having a bath with strangers, a thoroughly sensible discourse on the immediacy of Icelandic history, and in a piece of fearless investigative reporting we find out if a half of lager really can cost £5 in today’s Iceland…

we’re back…

March 8, 2006

we will be writing some stuff here very soon – but pictures are now appearing on our main photo-site – www.atypical.me.uk