Bri and Candice are a young Irish couple visiting every country in the world. Iceland was the fortieth country they travelled to. This video they made is funny and spot on. I specially like it when they imitate the Blue Lagoon introduction video.
My favourite Icelandic snack is ‘harðfiskur’. It is wind-dried fish, usually cod, haddock or seawolf. It’s been beaten until it has softened somewhat, and it’s absolutely delicious served with butter.
‘Harðfiskur’ is a very healthy snack, very rich in protein. Each bite has to be chewed thoroughly and it may take some time to get used to. Don’t let the smell scare you away from trying it. ‘Harðfiskur’ smells of ammoniac so that’s quite horrible as you can imagine.
In the past, ‘harðfiskur’ was eaten instead of bread in homes that couldn’t afford flour for baking on special occasions. Nowadays however, ‘harðfiskur’ is unfortunately very expensive and regarded as a luxury product in Iceland.
I adore Dame Helen Mirren! She’s one of my favourite actresses and simply a great role model as well. She stands out for her incredible versatility as an actress, she’s feisty, very intelligent, has a great sense of humour and is never afraid to get her opinions across.
Yesterday Helen Mirren turned 70 and in her honour I have chosen a few clips from her career to show you. Enjoy!
When she talked about Caligula she was spot on!
Jane Tennison is still my favourite detective.
And finally a recent interview where she talks about the theatre, her career, her parents and more. It’s very good.
One of the things I like most about living here is the British humour. Brits are specialists at making fun of themselves and that I absolutely love.
Stuff Brits Like: A guide to What’s Great about Great Britain is a new book by author Fraser McAlpine. The introduction of the book says it ‘celebrates why we like puns and pedantry, decorum and drawing willies on things, Trainspotting and Downton Abbey, apologizing needlessly (sorry) and cocking a snook. We cheer both the underdog and the bad guy, we adore melancholy types like Morrissey and grumpy Eeyore… and we love being told off by scolds.’
It didn’t surprise me one bit to read that the Queen was regarded as the most iconic Brit and that tea is the nation’s favourite drink. A bit more unexpected was that the Sunday roast and Curry beat Fish and chips in the competition of the favourite British dish.
Some of the British traditions rub off on you. After three years I find myself apologizing needlessly a lot more than before. So much in fact that when I’m visiting Iceland my friends sometimes look at me as if I’ve turned into a an elf or a troll. I still don’t understand the love Brits have for boybands, soap operas and marmite though.
Recently I’ve watched a lot of those popular short films showing the Icelandic landscape and nature. This one is the first of them to make me a tad homesick. It blew my mind, quite frankly.
The filmmakers are from Germany, studying Audiovisual Media at the Stuttgart Media University. They say their desire was ‘to capture that stunning landscape and wildlife and take viewers on a journey through this magical island.’
If you happen to be in London, there’s this little coffee shop in Kentish Town I highly recommend. Two Doors Down opened only a year ago but has become very popular since and was recently chosen the best new coffee shop by the Coffee Stop UK awards. I’ve been a regular almost from the first day.
I love the combination of the best flat white you can possibly get and chatting to the owners, Rich and Klara, in a truly cosy atmosphere. I’ve talked to other guests quite often as well because, somehow, they make everyone feel like home. They’ll probably even remember what you like! The food’s also really good, f.ex. the toasted sourdough with fresh avocado, tabasco, lemon and cracked pepper or the homemade quail egg sausage rolls.
To be able to create and maintain an ambience like that in a coffee shop is pretty magical.
These days I’m spellbound by a piece of music called Clockworking. I find myself playing it over and over again. Its rhythmical repetitions leave me in a calm, almost hypnotised state, but at the same time the music seems to tickle the brain until my imagination runs riot. It’s captivating. I like to listen to music that affects me like this when I’m writing and it has made me think of how one form of art can help create something completely different.
Clockworking is the title track of a new album from Nordic Affect, an incredibly talented quartet of women, comprised of Halla Steinunn Stefánsdóttir on violin, Guðrún Hrund Harðardóttir on viola, Hanna Loftsdóttir on cello and Guðrún Óskarsdóttir on harpsichord. The track was composed for violin, viola, cello and electronics by María Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir, who is perhaps best known for her work with amiina.
Since its foundation in 2005, Nordic Affect has combined new compositions with the music of the 17th and 18th century. This comes as a natural reaction to the vibrant musical life of Iceland, where music from ancient manuscripts is being rediscovered at the same time as new compositional computer software is being developed.
The new album is released July 31st and it features the music of five Icelandic female composers – Anna Þorvaldsdóttir, Hildur Guðnadóttir, María Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir, Hafdís Bjarnadóttir, and Þuríður Jónsdóttir. The album was recorded by Georg Magnússon at The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, with mastering and post-production by Valgeir Sigurðsson. Clockworking will be released on the Sono Luminus label which is entering an exciting new phase with the appointment of CEO Collin J Rae.
You can find cool stuff you didn’t know existed all over this surreal place called the internet. Recently I found an Instagram site where someone is making illustrations of Icelandic compound words. It’s called everysinglewordinicelandic and it’s so much fun. Check it out!
And talking of surreal, have you ever heard a word stranger than ‘nábrækur’?
In my humble opinion, UK cinema is the best in the world and most of my favourite TV-series are also from here. This morning I watched an interview with actor Robert Carlyle (Trainspotting, The Full Monty) where he talked about the first feature he directs. I simply can’t wait to see it. It’s called The Legend of Barney Thomson and Carlyle plays the lead himself. The other leading role is in the capable hands of Emma Thompson and I cracked up more than once when I watched the trailer. The movie is coming to theatres here in the UK on the 24th. Looking forward to this one!
More guests are visiting Iceland than ever before. When you walk around central Reykjavík during the summertime you hardly hear an Icelandic word. Each time I visit my homeland ten new hotels have been built and there are far too many ‘puffin shops’ downtown already. That’s what the locals call the tourist shops due to the popularity of the puffin as a souvenir.
Lonely Planet has published an article with 14 dos and don’ts when visiting Iceland. It’s pretty good and most of it is useful. You definitely should drink the tap water, wash properly with soap before taking a dip, stick to appropriate roads and take the weather seriously.
Generalisations about the nation always make me smile. Don’t take it seriously although there may be a grain of truth in it.
‘Icelanders are a generally hardy and open-minded group with a dry but vibrant sense of humour. They tend to speak impeccable English, and are game for a chat, or to tell you about their favourite places to go. Respecting local etiquette and laws (along with not whingeing about the weather, or how hard it is to get to the natural wonders) will go a long way in endearing you to them, and open opportunities for local connections.’