31 May

It’s scone crazy!

Cream teaWhen it comes to traditional British food, I’ve promised myself to try everything at least once. Marmite. Yeah, once was enough. Cream tea on the other hand is something a lady must have regularly. Good thing I’m not a lady then, ’cause it‘s really rich and leaves you feeling like a stuffed puffin. Tastes good though, can‘t deny that.

 The reason it‘s called cream tea is not that they pour cream into the tea. Cream tea is a combination of a scone with clotted cream and jam and a cup of tea. However, Cream tea should be served with milk. It got its name from Devonshire cream, or clotted cream as it‘s usually called, produced in the county of Devon. The texture of clotted cream is somewhere between whipped cream and butter and it is not as light as whipped cream. It‘s a bit like what you get when you whip the cream too much.

Fun fact. It matters to some people whether you spread the clotted cream or the jam beforehand. This has been the subject of a long standing rivalry between Devon and Cornwall. In Devon, you traditionally spread cream on the scone first, then you top it with jam. In Cornwall, it‘s the opposite. Jam first, then cream. I’ve tried both methods and haven‘t been able to decide which is better myself, so I’m not taking sides.

The debate doesn’t end here though. They can’t even agree on whether the pronunciation of the delicacy should be “skoan”, or “skon”. So what do you think? Clotted cream or jam first? Skoan or skon?

29 May

Bad weather… really?

Mývatnssveit.This morning my neighbour moaned about the weather. The spring has been so different from last year and even the year before, he complained. He went on about how cold and windy it was and said he couldn’t wait for the summer, although he was beginning to think it would never turn up.

I’ve heard so many talk like this during the last weeks and usually I just bite my tongue so I don’t compare the spring over here to snowy Iceland. But this morning I couldn’t resist showing him a photo from Iceland on my mobile. June is almost here, but it’s still snowing from time to time and really cold everywhere.  It’s the coldest May in Iceland since 1979 and the third coldest since 1949 as you can read about in this article.  My neighbour smiled and told me he was slightly happier now with going for a walk in the rain.

I’m constantly happy with the weather here in the UK. But everything is relative. I can imagine how a person from Greenland feels when she hears an Icelander moan about the weather in Iceland.


24 May

‘Rams’ win Cannes

RAMSenYesterday was a grand day for Icelandic film history. I’m still smiling.  An Icelandic feature won the ‘Certain Regard’ prize at the Cannes Film Festival. It’s the first time an Icelandic feature gets this prestigious award. The movie is called Rams and it’s director Grimur Hákonarson’s portrayal of the relationship between farmers and their animals in a remote Icelandic valley. I mentioned it in my first entry. The result was not that surprising, after all Rams had gotten great reviews in the media;


Screen Daily

The Hollywood Reporter

The top prizes for the main selection will be awarded tonight during the closing ceremony at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes. Jury presidents, the Coen brothers, will announce the winners. The big question of the day is who will go home with the Palm d’Or!


22 May

Icelandic swimming pools

vesturbaejarlaugApart from friends and family, there are not many things I miss from Iceland. However, swimming in Icelandic swimming pools gives you a unique feeling of pleasure, different from anything else. I miss that sensational feeling.

Bathing in the geothermally heated water is a luxury not to be missed if you travel to Iceland. Chatting to the locals in the hot tubs is recommended as well.

Three useful links if you want to go swimming in Iceland:

Geothermal pools – An Icelandic tradition

Swimming in Iceland

What to expect in an Icelandic Swimming Pool

20 May

Queer education in Iceland

Gay Parade 2013On Friday, Ireland will vote whether to legalize same-sex marriage in what the government’s equality minister called “a referendum like no other.” Let’s hope Saturday will be a happy day and we can celebrate!

One of the things that make me proud of being Icelandic is that the matters regarding LGBTQ rights are quite progressive in Iceland. Gay people can marry in church and same sex couples have had equal access to adoption and IVF since 2006. The first openly gay prime minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, was elected in Iceland 2009 and the former mayor of Reykjavík, Jón Gnarr, dressed up in drag for The Gay Pride Parade in 2011. The Gay Pride Parade is a huge event in Reykjavik every year, with around 35 thousand Icelanders participating.

Unfortunately, bullying of queer students in Icelandic schools has been increasing, which is obviously a big problem. However,  if all goes according to plan, the students at the Faculty of Teacher Education at The University of Iceland will soon be able to take a course in queer studies as part of their education. Hopefully it will be a part of the curriculum of the University in the school year 2016-2017. Here you can read all about it!

19 May

Trip down memory lane

The year is 1975. I’m 14 years old, standing in front of my grandparents radio singing loudly to a tune that’s been played in the weekly show “Óskalög sjómanna” (Favourite songs of the sailors). The song has come second in The Eurovision Song Contest and is popular in Iceland.

And now let’s fast forward to 1999. The song All Out Of Luck, sung by Selma Björnsdóttir, has become really popular in Iceland, even before it’s Iceland’s entry in The Eurovision Song Contest. On the night of the contest I was visiting Sweden and had a bad fall on the way to a Eurovision party.  I twisted my ankle and in the waiting room of the hospital, accompanied by Icelandic doctors working there, I watched Selma perform. Fortunately I made it to the party before the results were in cause Sweden won and All Out Of Luck came second. It’s not unlikely that Sweden will win the contest next Saturday as well.

17 May

Unusual jewellery

Necklace from the 2014 collection Had a lovely day at the annual Primrose Hill Spring Festival. There’s always a variety of tasty street food from different corners of the world, music playing and stalls where artists, designers and antique dealers are selling their products.

Today I spotted quite unusual jewellery and was told it’s made from Vegetable Ivory. It’s a seed produced naturally by the “Phytelephas Macrocarpa” palm tree which only grows in the tropical rainforest of Colombia and a few South American countries.

Vegetable Ivory has become increasingly important as the only natural, ethical and sustainable alternative to elephant ivory, because the texture and colour are almost identical.

I talked to the designer, Martha Lizarazo, who is born and raised in Columbia but has lived in London for a long time. She is passionate about elephant conservation and says the use of this special seed also stimulates the economies in South America and preserves the rain forests. She founded Caliz London some time ago and it is growing fast.

Primrose Hill Festival

Primrose Hill Spring Festival


16 May

Spring or summer

Cherry blossomThe warm rays of the sun cover my face and the roses in the garden are blooming. My neighbours call it spring. I call it summer.

Last month I enjoyed the mesmerising beauty of the cherry blossom and magnolias. On the 21st of April 1960, Sylvia Plath wrote in a letter to her mother; ‘They are mowing the lawns everywhere, and the smell of cut grass, plants, and warm earth is delicious. Nothing is so beautiful as England in April’ (Letters Home. Faber, 1990. p.377) I couldn’t agree more.

Near Husavik, Iceland.

Photo: Hörður Jónasson

It was still snowing in Reykjavik earlier this month and up north the snowfall hasn’t quite stopped. The wait for spring in Iceland can be long but when it finally arrives and nature awakens, nothing is more welcome nor celebrated.

15 May

Jamie Oliver and skyr

Jamie Oliver in May 2013.Today it’s Jamie Oliver’s annual Food Revolution Day. For years he has been educating people about food and encouraging everyone to bring fresh, wholesome foods to the table. Cook from scratch. For this year’s Food Revolution Day, Oliver has launched a global campaign and petition to urge school boards to make practical food education compulsory in their curriculum. He has even launched a song, where stars like Hugh Jackman and Paul McCartney perform. Here you can read all about his campaign and listen to the song. The photo is from Food Revolution Day 2013.

I wonder if Jamie Oliver has ever heard of the Icelandic super food skyr. It’s possible to buy skyr in the UK now, thanks to the Swedish-Danish company Arla. They call it Icelandic style yogurt and promote it like this; “High in protein, low in fat and reduced in sugar, Arla Skyr is made from all natural ingredients, making it a great way to give yourself a boost throughout the day.” Made in Germany. Many Icelanders haven’t been too happy about this. Here you can read about that.

The skyr from Arla is not too bad in my opinion. It’s even better than some of the brands in Iceland, sold as skyr. Arla’s skyr is nothing like the “real” skyr though, the natural delicacy I grew up eating in Northern part of Iceland during the sixties and seventies. Skyr isn’t yogurt. Not originally. It’s actually a fresh acid-curd cheese made from skim milk. Read more about it here.

I think Jamie Oliver would probably like skyr and he would definitely prefer the old, traditional kind.