Tag Archives: iceland

Review: On A Small Island

On A Small Island
On A Small Island by Grant Nicol

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can’t remember when I last gave a book 5/5? However I felt that this feat of Nordic Noir deserved it simply for leaving me feeling utterly hopeless! I found myself staring at the page, thinking ‘he (Grant Nicol) wouldn’t really do that… would he? well if you want to know, you’ll have to read it and find out for yourself! If you’re partial to crimes and emotions being resolved, loose ends nicely tied in bows, then maybe this isn’t the book for you. Without giving too much away, this is a dark tale set in Reykjavik and the surrounding areas and centres on a young woman Ylfa, her two sisters and their elderly father. The story is told in the first person from Ylfa’s perspective which works really well, and for all intents and purposes you would assume that she is the main character of the book. However as I was browsing the follow up books in the series, I noted that they are subtitled ‘The Grímur Karlsson Mysteries’ Grimur being the detective in this series. I have to admit it struck me as a little strange that someone who in all honestly played such a minor part in this initial book would be the defining character of the series, but we’ll see – hopefully the character gets developed more in the follow up The Mistake I’m about to start…

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Review: Oblivion

Oblivion
Oblivion by Arnaldur Indriðason

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I only noticed that it’d not read this book when tidying up my wish list, hastily ordered because I couldn’t believe I’d missed another instalment of the ever pensive Erlendur. It didn’t take long to realise that this was a prequel, the book cover features an eerie looking blue lagoon, not the fun n frolic-y one we’re used to seeing in tourist photos, and as the first crime unfolds it becomes apparent it was set before the blue lagoon existed as a private entity.
The story (or stories as there is never just one thread in these books) are centred around activity related to the air force base at Keflavik, a murder and a missing persons cold case. This gives you some insight into Elendur’s fascination with missing persons whichs is a constant thread woven throughout the later series even if you’ve never read any of the other books that reveal the whole back story. So you can read this as a standalone book and not feel like you’re missing out. The other story is investigated mostly by Erlendur’s mentor, Marion Briem – which again fills out some back story missing from the later set books. I’m hoping that this continues – as I feel that this would be a really interesting addition to the series. I dont want to say much about the story as I feel that this would spoil the plot too much, but as usual the plot is a slow boiling stew with the tension mounting more than I expected towards the final few chapters and I really didn’t want to stop reading but had to go to work!

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Bout of Books round up

So I actually started this post back on day 3 (today is day 7!) on my lunch break, I got caught up in the fact that I couldn’t find the original wordpress post editor and ergo could not fathom a few features I wanted to use, so it fell by the way side.  Then if I’m honest I’ve prioritised the actual reading side of things with all my spare time, so I’m doing one update to cover the whole week.

I started reading Blackout by Ragnar Jonasson, it was on a Kindle deal over Christmas, and whilst I own his other two UK released books in paperback, I felt like this was too good to miss. The story is once again set in the Northern town of Siglufjörður, and has more twists and turns than an old fashioned rollercoaster. I rated the book 4/5 but the actual Kindle version 1/5, I realised once I was about a third of the way through that Jonasson usually includes a little map of the locations used in his books and sometimes more info: it turns out that this information is included in the e-book version, but upon starting it, it jumps from the title page to the first chapter, I also noted at least 4 grammatical / typesetting mistakes in the text – I’d have been really peeved had I paid full price. My other gripe with this book is that it’s listed as ‘book 3 of the Dark Iceland’ series, which for the UK order release it is, but not for the original and chronological order. This makes no sense to me, so I’ve read in the UK order book 1, 5, 2, leaping back and forwards in time is very confusing for the read how can a character have a child with his partner last book, but this book they’ve not had it yet and have split up… also kinda ruins the on going plot just a bit. (Page count 220)

Second book on my list was the Little Book of Icelandic – by Alda Sigmundsdottir a wonderful compendium of nuances of the Icelandic language, reminding me of all the things I loved about Lingo  and more. For example the reasoning behind some root words that haven’t evolved like English has, contained three examples that I could also recognise in my Swedish learning (the words for dog and meat). There’s also the explanations of pronunciation of those funny characters and my favourite – the compound words! I find it a lot easier to remember words when I know the history of how they could about, this is especially true when they are amusing or quaint (eg. laptop comes from the words meaning migrating computer). I think this is a must for anyone with an interest in the fun side of linguistics or anyone wanting to learn Icelandic. (Finished today, page count 162)

Third book, I’m currently reading and predict will be finished tomorrow, is The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking, which is a beautifully designed, hardback, almost pocket sized book on the hygge lifestyle. So far I’m learning that candles, snugly scarves and coffee are all good elements of hygge, loving it. (page count on day 7, 75)

So total page count: 457

I hope next time for bout of books to get more involved with the twitter chats etc, but I’m fairly sure they’re all at 4pm UK time (the ones I’m actually awake for) which is commuting time and not great tbh..  til next time

Airwaves 16 – Days 1-2

Because I really haven’t had the time or energy to blog daily  🙂

Day 1 – Wednesday

A first for us this year was arriving the first day of the festival rather than a day or two before. So it was fairly late Wednesday when we got our wristbands and as a result we didn’t see very many bands, in fact we sort of saw one off venue band – VAR and despite how much I love them, the venue (bar 11) was awful, unless you were 6 foot plus you weren’t going to see anything, and for me there’s nothing more annoying that someone (or 3) shoving past you to get closer, who then puts ear plugs in – seriously go home.

Snorri Helgason & Mr Silla

So we chilled out for a bit then headed to see Snorri Helgason at NASA, or as the other half calls him (and his band) the Snorri Helgason Good Time Band. Really upbeat and with Mr Silla on co-vocals for several songs we loved it. So it turns out that half the band are also in Tilbury (I did not know this until now) who were on just afterwards – strange band, half look like they belong in a 70s metal band and the lead singer with his snap back like he should be in a rap group – but neither of these apply – really amazing uplifting vocals and streaming guitars. But we were totally knackered so left part way through.

Day 2 – Thursday

We started the day really lazily, taking a walk around the harbour and grabbing brunch at Fredrikson Ale House – we highly recommend this place, the portions were huge (think 8 pieces of bacon!) and kept us going until evening. We then headed to Harpa as we’d won tickets to an exclusive session with Mugison, courtesy of Nordic Playlist. With only 30 audience members and a backdrop of Reykjavik through Harpa’s amazing windows it was so cool – we heard a few well known tracks and some new ones from the album released this week, we must remember to get a copy before we leave.

We then headed to Bryggan Brugghus to see Mr Silla perform off venue as a solo artist, although she was accompanied by her husband on stage. Again, mind blowing vocals, different arrangements of song I know and love. She also tipped us off to another band she was performing with today – Throws, a UK band with one guy from Sheffield and the other who lives in Reykjavik.

So for our evening entertainment we started at the Reykjavik art museum for JFDR, aka Jofridur from Pascal Pinon, Samaris and Gangly. This was her solo stuff and it was a haunting and melodic as Samaris. We then quickly headed off to Hurra for The IllIs, a Slovakian band. I would like to peg them as metal, but they had moments of dreamy pop melodies that were then interrupted with the crashing guitars – they were so energetic and fun. And on their final song one of the guitarists handed his guitar to the guy next to me in the audience so he could rock out, this was hilarious as the guy like me clearly did not know what to do with it! If you ever get the chance to see these guys then do – they really know how to rock a party!

The Ills @ Hurra

We then arrived at Gamla Bio whilst Hannah Lou Clark from the UK was playing, highly popular it would seem, as afterwards the venue practically empty. So we waited for Throws – worth noting Gamla Bio has the BEST free wifi I’ve ever experienced that doesn’t require signing up for something/tedious registration process.

Throws absolutely killed it. They started with a male voice choir of at least 15 members who were all very impressive, then slimmed down to the two of them plus two drummers, who were so energetic I felt sweaty just looking at them, then Mr Silla popped in for a track or two in the middle before finishing back with the choir who some of which were drinking beer at this point! Fab evening, danced loads, smiled even more, went back to our apartment exhausted.

 

Culturenator’s guide to Airwaves

Well why not? Everyone is doing it these days, I feel like the last 2 weeks have been a constant stream of recommendations for bands to see, bars to visit, ad infinitum. This will be our 4th Airwaves (we’ve already decided next year is go), and by no-means do we feel like experts but still I feel like sharing some of our favourite places, bands and tips for making the most of your 5 days of non-stop aural excellence the city of Reykjavik provides.

On venue / off venue – what is it?

Quite simply put on venue is the official Iceland Airwaves schedule, it what you need your wristband to get into. The off-venue program is the plethora of ‘unofficial’ pop up performances that happen in almost anywhere imaginable from hostels, bars, banks, clothing shops to barber shops. These are free and open to anyone and mostly occur during the day. In places such as Lucky Records the off-venue program starts on the Monday, as Airwaves officially starts on the Wednesday.

The essentials

So you can do this the old fashioned way with the paper version of the planner or you can get with the kids, download the official airwaves app and stay plugged into social media. Key people to follow are the airwaves official accounts and the Reykjavik Grapevine – these two will keep you in the loop with schedule  changes (the app will send you 15 minute reminders for any show you mark as wanting to see, as well as push notifications of any cancellations, should they arise) and the latest news related to the festival. The grapevine also publishes a special Airwaves edition (physical newspaper) that is free – pick up from various locations downtown.

Rythmatik @ Iceland Airwaves 06.11.15

Planning

Basically our advice is don’t get too hung up on schedules and planning, as anything could happen – you could stumble upon a band you’ve never heard before then precede to chase after their 10 off venue shows, or a show could be running late because the drummer forgot his kit (it has happened before). You’d have to be one lucky person to not have a single schedule clash for any artist you want to see, and the best made plans can be blown away. But if there’s someone you really want to see, our advice is to get there at least one band before – turning up 15 minutes before they’re due to go onstage may mean you are right at the back with a limited view, that’s if the venue isn’t too full and you can’t get in at all. Also getting there for a band before, that you’ve not heard of is a good way to seek out new music. The off-venue shows can be a different beast, with people so desperate to be down the front for a free, tiny venue show, that even the band struggle to get on to the stage to perform (yup, saw this at one of the hostels on the main street).

The weather

As any Icelander will tell you, the weather is incredibly changeable and can turn on click of your fingers. Wear layers, so that when you get inside you can strip off to cool down – as it will inevitably get really warm inside. Thankfully venues in Iceland are not so strict (as the UK at least) and most don’t require a pat down/bag search which means entry is swift and you don’t have to worry about your multiple layers and 20+ pockets!

The music

There are many ways to find the new bands, here’s a playlist of a few of my favourites / who i’m hoping to see this year – enjoy!

 

More on That Iceland…

Shameless plug klaxon!

One of the photographs I’m exhibiting as part of Oxford Artweeks’ in May is this image of Lómagnúpur. It’s definitely one of my personal favourites as it shows the rich colours of the Icelandic landscape, draped in black, green and gold.

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An additional opportunity to exhibit at Oxford Town Hall is through a competition being run by the Poseytude Gallery entitled ‘Change The World’ which asks for works that reflects changes in the world today:

We live in a changing and ever more challenging world. Our environment and resources are being depleted and nature with the elements of air, wind, fire and water is testing us. Our countryside is being reduced due to meet rising population and seaside being eroded due to rising sea levels and changing weather patterns….What would you want to remind people of the beauty of our planet? Tell us through your art medium and briefly in your words how we can use or be inspired by it to make a change.

The top 8 artworks in each category through voting on social media will be exhibited, with judges decided the top three and there are prizes for those but honestly, just the thought of exhibiting in such an amazing venue would be prize enough. So I’m asking my lovely followers to consider voting for my photo (and you can re-vote every 24 hours!), I’m currently in 12th position, overall but no idea how I’m doing in my category, voting ends on the 24th April.

We also had to provide a blurb to go with our artwork (see below). I decided to submit one of my Icelandic landscapes partly because I’ve been following with interest the ongoing  subject of the Icelandic Highlands. If you’re a fan of Iceland or Bjork you can’t fail to have missed the events to promote awareness of the potential destruction of some of Iceland’s unspoilt nature in favour of power plants, there is now a campaign to turn the highlands into a national park.

Lómagnúpur
Iceland is famous for its outstanding natural beauty which attracts hundreds of thousands visitors each year. However this doesn’t stop the threat of destruction to nature, in particular the Icelandic highlands which have limited protection, the government has plans to build power plants and erect power lines, potentially destroying large areas of nature. Here is Lómagnúpur, part of a protected national heritage site in Iceland, an example of the nature that could be destroyed.
So if you feel like giving my photo a vote the link is here* and if you want to find out more about the Icelandic Highlands click here and sign the petition   here !**
*although the competition takes you to facebook, you don’t need facebook to enter, just a valid email address
** Google chrome recommended for translating stuff

Decision time

I’ve been busy this week trying to select between 4-6 images to get printed for Oxford Artweeks in May. I’m exhibiting with a group of 9 other photographers who know each other through the Oxford Flickr Group (anyone remember when Flickr group meets used to attract upwards of thirty photographers of a wide range of knowledge and skill?) and we’re privileged to be exhibiting in the Mathematical Institute aka the Andrew Wiles Building, part of the University of Oxford.

One of the main challenges for everyone involved is that the hanging space is fixed to a size of A0 in a portrait dimension. This means that we either have to: present portrait images in a large scale format, present multiple landscape images within the the same frame, still at a fairly large scale or become creative with our presentation methods and present multiple images of varying sizes within the frame.

 

Lómagnúpur

So far I haven’t moved much past the point of selecting images, and I need to get a move on because my regular, tried and tested printing company currently have an offer on large scale prints which means I can do some test images without breaking the bank too much.

I’ve included a couple here for perusal, in case you hadn’t guessed I’m choosing to display some images from my road trip in Iceland that I blogged about many months ago.



On the road

I’ve been asked many a time why Iceland? I’m not sure I know myself yet. What I do know is that I’ve met physically and in the realm of the internet many people who become self confessed ‘Icelandophiles’ falling instantly in love with the island, it’s culture, landscape, people and particularly the music. For me it was definitely more of a slow burner, I’ve always been much more of a city gal. Prior to visiting Iceland some of my favourite places were New York, Prague, Paris. Cities full of people, places full of bustle, sensory overload where I could find my inner calm and joy at the same time.
But then until this last visit, I’d not experienced the same ‘small fish in huge pond’ sensation that excites me being in a city, in a barren and empty landscape before. Because that’s how it is to me, I’m still the outsider, sitting there quietly observing, even is that something is not ‘doing’ very much.

Now I feel its time for bed, to sleep and think some more about this.

Adios.