Off The Beaten Track – Iceland Adventure (and a Half..) 2018

Alriiiighty then.. this blog post could actually be useful for any perspective Iceland tourists, so turn down the no doubt banging tunes, pop down the telegraph (or whatever newspaper floats your boat) and listen up!

About two months ago I was sat in a cafe eating a rather splendid cheese, sausage and salad toastie in Plymouth (in Cafe Americano… but any way, back to the story) when my dear friend and fellow student Shynn came to join me for a coffee (she decided to order a toastie too, but I won’t go there..). As a natural break in conversation arose (as we both took a bite from our rather delicious toas… oh never mind) Shynn turned to me and rather out of the blue and completely casually said “wanna go Iceland in a month with Alfred and I?” I paused. “Yeah alright” I replied and that was that. Alfred is Shynn’s partner who also studies at the same university as Shynn and me and is half Icelandic so pops back to see his mum once a year. After Shynn’s casual invite I didn’t think much of it as exams and deadlines started to bunch; but before I knew it we were stood in some weird airline checking in queue and having those cheeky issues that you realise are the price to pay when you fly with a cheap airline that you’ve literally never heard of in your life…

Shynn, Alfred and myself arrived in Iceland on the 6th June and Alfred’s Mum was extraordinarily welcoming and lovely. First thoughts of Iceland? It wasn’t that cold! Not surprising as it’s currently summer there, but a rather depressing yet fascinating talk with Alfred’s Mum lead to me learning that the summer temperatures have been steadily increasing over recent years parallel to global warming. In fact, in just 150 years it is expected that all of Iceland’s beautiful and majestic glaciers will be completely gone, having melted. This will cause severe impacts to the wildlife and ecosystems, not to mention the tourism and enjoyment the glaciers bring to visitors and locals alike.

On our first day we did a lot of hard core sleeping, all of us completely shattered from having just finished university (literally two days previous to boarding the plane!) When we eventually did come around, Shynn and I caught the local bus into Reykjavik and once we had helped some poor, very lost, old American tourist find her destination, we cracked on with exploring this interesting and cosy capital. Reykjavík is absolutely beautiful. Mountains frame your every view and the shops are all quite modern and ‘quirky’. The highlight though I must say was finding this cracking bakery which sold cinnamon buns fit for a god (honestly, just one singular bite sent me somewhere I’ve never been..) You can find this bakery off one of the side roads from the cathedral (insert name) which sits proud on the very top of the hill (you can’t miss it). There’s also a penis museum. Enough said.

Above: me looking like a knob outside the Harper Building (built for concerts and exhibitions).

Alfred very kindly drove us around during our trip and as a local himself, he was able to show us some of the amazing areas that are off the beaten ‘tourist associated’ track. We were based in the South of Iceland and I have to say the scenery is quite something (a bit like a supped up Dartmoor, with the similar rocky and mossy ground). If you’re into a cheeky smidge of twitching (bird watching) then a trip to Iceland should definitely go on your bucket list (we saw puffins!!). I’ll pause here while you go and add it. Go on!

Now a few touristy areas we did check out included Thingvellir which is where the two continental plates are present (Europe and America). From here there is an obvious path you can follow to see some of the fabulous views of the biggest lake in Iceland (the walk can be as long or as short as you like and it’s well sign posted). You can also check out the old little church in the valley. We had a great walk through the canyons which supposedly separate the plates. One thing that did make me sad during this hike was seeing the enormous visitor center they are currently building due to the massive recent influx of annual tourists. But hey ho… Oh and also… unless you want to spend £3 on going for a piss, I hope you like a wild bush wee. Might be worth keeping a few bob on you anyway though… just in case your bowels promote a different and more complicated substance… Het hem..

Above: a rather interesting rock formation……. Come on now..

After visiting Thingvellir; we carried on driving to the geysers (a hot spring in the ground where the water is at boiling temperature and occasionally spits out when the pressure builds up beneath). These were cool. I advise seeing them if possible.

On a another day we visited Gullfoss Falls. A ginormous waterfall also on the golden circle (a popular tourist route). Stunning views of this vast water mass are possible from a easily accessible path that goes right up close to it (you get wet so wear a rain coat, unless you need a shower). On the drive back from Gullfoss we stopped off at Kerid Crater (an extinct volcano after erupting 6500 years ago) and walked around the perimeter. Fab views and a fairly easy hike, this is definitely one for photos! A slightly dodgy path leads you down to the pond which now sits in the middle of the crater. You do have to pay to do this walk but it really wasn’t much at all (about £5 I think).

Now onto my favourite day (this really was the most fun!) We visited Heimaey (by ferry) in the Westman Islands (a beautiful small archipelago off the South Iceland coast). Here, there is just so much to see and do. The hiking is out of this world (plenty for the adrenaline junky). Lots of incredible volcanos to see, lava fields and wildlife. The Aquarium is well worth a stop off too because you can get face to face with a rescue puffin and also learn about the tradition of local children collecting lost baby puffins and releasing them at sea (daaaw!) Whilst on Heimaey you can also try out the local tradition of cliff swinging (grab a rope, jump and hope for the best) called ‘Spranga’.

Just to finish off this essay of a post (if you haven’t already fallen asleep); Whilst in Reykjavik I highly recommend the Perlan Museum where they have a man made ice cave you can explore. The temperatures in the cave drop to -15 degrees and it’s a lot of fun (no… really!)

In summary; visit Iceland. It’s fun. Not sure how to finish this post really, but I’m gagging for a cup of tea, so I’m going to (needs must). Bye!

TT Xx

© Eve Sanders

Itchy Feet

I don’t think the following makes sense either…..

I haven’t been away on an adventurous holiday for two years now (since Kilimanjaro in 2016), which may not sound like long (because it isn’t) but for someone who has an adventurous spirit and is also having a complete ‘nervy b’ because I finish university in six-weeks, two years is a very long time.

It’s only 11am in the morning and so far I have made the decision to become a game ranger in Africa, mountaineer and climb K2, farmer, soldier in the Army and lord knows what else… In other words, I’m confused. With the end of uni nigh, it’s all beginning to be just too much and frankly I’m currently in the mood to bugger off to Nepal and become a Buddhist monk and escape the modernisation of Western civilisation and the pressures that subsequently follow.

So yes, here I am, a bit of a mess, not knowing what the hell I am going to do with myself. But one thing is for sure. I am not the sort of person who can sit on the sidelines and passively accept what happens. I will end up doing something big in the next few years. Watch this space…. Sorry for the blabbering. I’ll stop now…. Stop…. Just stop.

 

Beat Box?.. Or Bat Box?

How the bloody hell is it April…. Beats me! But all the same I thought it was about time for another seasonal jobs post, so here it is.

Tis’ the season for whacking out the old builders-bum tea and making yourself a bat box (ensuring you use untreated and unplanned wood). These boxes are a fantastic way to encourage these majestic critters into your gardens and outbuildings. Don’t be disheartened if they don’t move in instantly. They like to take their time and it will take them a while to find and use your handy work for nesting. Compost heaps and ponds generate the types of insects that bats like to eat. You can also plant white or pale coloured flowers that are more visible to nocturnal, night-flying insects such as moths, which are another valuable source of food for bats. Avoid using pesticides in your garden too! Poorly bats will not thank you!

Migrant birds from Africa such as willow warblers, housetrains, swifts and swallows will have now arrived. It is a perfect time therefore to set up nest boxes for these marvellous fellows and to ensure all your bird feeders are regularly topped up!

Now make another cup of tea.. maybe grab a cheeky biscuit or two (oop, naughty!) and watch the spectacular spectacle of wildlife flooding in to your garden.

Enjoy!

TT x

Granny Grylls. Babe.

Nobody ever believes me when I tell them that Bear Grylls’s granny likely got me into university. A little odd to drop into casual conversation, but most likely the bloody truth, as I shall now explain. As a youth (awful word…) I never believed I would go to university. Sure, I was maybe even eccentrically passionate about nature, but I didn’t have a great amount of academic confidence (most likely because I was a home educated hippy child – god bless you Mum!) It was 2014, I was 17 and it was my final year of studying at Paignton Zoo for a diploma (don’t judge me, I got to help train a gorilla.. a story for another day…). Our tutor Kathy (absolute babe and all round lovely lady) was giving us a talk on university applications. I had received a full set of distinction stars, yet still didn’t really have the confidence other kids appeared to possess. I wanted to be a veterinary surgeon, and by the time I finished at college, technically I could have been. But something was telling me to stick to my roots, to study wildlife. Marine biology was a subject I had on multiple occasions questioned my poor parents about. Particularly during a family trip to Tobago (on which I nearly got eaten by a python and dragged into the sea by a 9 pound tuna… again… for another day I think..) where I practically grew my own snorkel and spoke to the fish thinking I was one of their kind (home educated!!) So when the time came to write a personal statement for university, I smothered it in the only thing I believed I had going for me. Travel experience. My travelling experiences if you haven’t cottoned on by now have fortunately been packed with many curious events. By the time I was just 14 I had swam with sting rays, seen flying fish, taken a piss on a crocodile, fallen into a hippo swamp, had a baboon steal my toilet roll, vomited on a rare lizard, slept through a 6.7 richter scale earthquake, seen human bodies being burnt at the side of a road, been offered nine camels in exchange for my hand in marriage, summited a hymalyan peak with undiscovered asthma and finally, been left in a car park in Rabat while my father was being taken away by a McDonald’s cleaner who was armed with a mop and bucket and over excited about the fact an English man and his daughter were so hideously lost in the middle of Rabat’s rush hour….on a motorbike. So perhaps not your average childhood. I was so desperate to make my personal statement as brilliant as it could be. So I set myself the task of adding in a quote at the top of my statement. I was thinking of all the people that I truly admire and trying to avoid the people that so many other applicants might be tempted to use. So I settled for old Bear. Me and my mum were going through his book together and picking out lines we liked. Eventually we settled on a quote that Bear Grylls granny had wrote; “In life you can either sit on the sidelines and passively accept what happens, or you can get up and work hard for what you want”. What a lady. I feel sure that if it wasn’t for that quote at the top of my personal statement, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Cheers thanks a lot granny Grylls! Legend.

One sided genes…

My big sister Bebe is a London living, extremely talented actress and (now!!) playwright. Her latest venture was writing and performing the incredibly wonderful ‘Pebbles’. This starred Bebe herself and her good friend Charlie. The performance was put on for four days at the Katzpace theatre, London and proved to be a huge success with the most amazing reviews being written shortly after. Very proud indeed 🙂 ….. Why does she get the looks/brains/genes??!!!! Darn it..Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 11.02.05

Plymouth 10k completed!

Today I completed the Plymouth 10k (in 1hour!!) raising money for Dementia and Alzheimer’s UK, running for nanny Sanders 😊 I had so much fun training and running with my good friend Lily. Onto our next venture – the Plymouth Half marathon!! And yes you guessed correct…. the photos are black and white due to the lovely shade of ‘heart-attack red’ I went after the run… One to add to the Dulux colour chart.. (you’re welcome 😏) …