Thursday 25 October


The Blue Lagoon

Wow, this is something else!

…. no more to be said, apart from a luxurious day lounging in the hot lagoon…. the occasional beer, snack, face mud pack, sauna, waterfall massage, etc, etc… pure indulgence!

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Wednesday 24 October

Girls’ day out in Reykjavik

After a leisurely breakfast, Debbie, Emily, Martha and I set out for the bus stop into town.  It was very cold with a biting wind so we wrapped up nice and warm.  Martha really cosy in her woolly bobble hat.

By the time the bus came along, we realised they wouldn’t take our Kronors and hadn’t set up the ticket app in time, so headed into town on foot.  Good exercise after all but it wasn’t long before we decided to warm up in a cafe, giving Martha an opportunity for a feed.

Our first tourist attraction of the day was to be the big church which stood high up above the old part of town.  Big enough to be a cathedral, it could have been mistaken for a giant rocket! Built in 1945, a stunning piece of architecture.  Oops I forgot one other little tourist gem on the way up the street to the church, ‘The Penis Museum’.  We didn’t venture inside as there was plenty on view in the window, not for Martha’s young eyes, but possible Christmas presents for others maybe!

We took the lift up to the clock tower in the church where we feasted on stunning panoramic views through all four clock faces.

Time for lunch and we found an Icelandic restaurant nearby called Xafe Loki.  Delicious fish of the day (COD) and salad which Emily and I shared because the portions were so large.  Debbie chose fish stew with cheese on top which was more like a fish pie.  I sampled the local Loki beer and Martha enjoyed a carrot pouch in her high chair.

To finish I just had to sample the acclaimed fomented shark washed down with a shot of Icelandic Schnapps.  Yuk!

After Martha had a settling feed we set off for the Gallery of modern Art,  making our way round a huge ‘pond’.  The Art was mainly Icelandic or by local college students.  Martha liked the huge colourful ones!

By this time we were feeling cold and tired so decided to check out the buses home.  Straightforward this time as we had downloaded the app!



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Tuesday 23 October 2018

The Golden Triangle

Emily and Matt had visited Iceland before and had done this bus tour so Debbie, Michael and I went off for the day on our own to see some amazing sights.  Eric from Barcelona was to be our guide.  My first thought was ‘why would you leave sunny Barcelona to come to a place like this!?’  He told us that this summer, while the whole of Europe enjoyed the best summer for years, Iceland had only 17 hours sunshine!

Our first stop was a huge greenhouse where a farmer experimented in growing tomato’s using natural geothermal heat and pollinated by his own bees.  The plantation took off and became a huge tourist attraction.  Here we had delicious tomato soup followed by the obligatory shot of Icelandic shnappes.  Here we also saw some Icelandic ‘horses’ which are the only horses allowed on the island to avoid inter breeding.  A very hardy and friendly creature the size of a small pony.

We then visited the site of some amazing geysers.  One in particular activated every few minutes bubbling up and shooting high into the air.  Others just bubbled away quietly.

We then got back on the coach and drove through farming communities.  They really only grow hay for the stock.  Because of the climate and volcanic landscape, most of the foodstuff is imported.

We eventually arrived at the site of an incredible waterfall.  Just awesome to watch.  I walked alongside it on a high level while Debbie and Michael walked at a lower level.

Getting back in the coach we then headed toward deep plates where Iceland meets North America.  Beautiful scenery to be seen for miles.

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Monday 22 October 2018

To Reykjavík

Emily, Matt, Martha and I set off for Heathrow for our flight to Reykjavík.

We used meet and greet which saved a lot of effort.  Who should we see in the terminal but Michael and Debbie!  Yes this was all planned by Matt.  Martha would have Nanny and Grampie and Granny Mo for her first flight to a foreign land at just six months old.

After an hour’s bus ride from the airport over quite barren but strangely beautiful terrain, we finally arrived at our modern well-equipped apartment in Reykjavík.  No sooner had we arrived than we were all wrapped up warm and out in the streets again exploring.

We walked along the coast to the Concert Hall, then up through the old part of town where we found a quiet Italian restaurant for an early supper.


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Homeward bound

Our train home was just after 9am on the tenth of September and we were able to take the tram from just across the road from our hotel – so convenient.

Unfortunately Dot lost her cards in the kafuffle of trying to make the ticket machine work.  A kindly person contacted her later, however, to say they’d found them and would post them to her home.

Our train was on time from Waverly Station and Dot got off in Carlisle leaving me to get out my paints as I had a few hours ahead of me.
I had to make a couple of changes to my planned journey as the train was late getting into Wolverhampton because of cows on the track and missed the connection.  However I was only an hour late getting to Coventry from where Kerrie kindly collected me.

Home at last….

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The Castle and the Scottish National Gallery

We earmarked today first for the Castle and then for Galleries.

We probably queued for a good 45 minutes to get into the Castle which was teeming with tourists, so we had a quick look around and left in about the same time.

Dot said that I was injecting a bit of culture in our Edinburgh trip by showing her first a ‘realist’ exhibition at the National Gallery followed by an ‘Impressionist’ one at the Gallery of Modern Art, a short free bus ride away.   There was an interesting comparison between the work of John Constable and that of the Scottish artist William McTaggart.

There was work by John Singer Sargent
and a Monet amongst them, needless to say!

There was a piece entitled Fisherman at Derwater, from the realist exhibition.

And an impressionist ocean scene by William McTaggart.

In the evening we had booked ourselves in for a neck and shoulder massage… a little pampering….  before our final dinner at our favourite Italian Restaurant close to the hotel.

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Royal Yacht Brittania

Although this and the following say posted in October, we were actually still in September… the joys of blogging!

Lovely to be staying at the Express Holiday Inn almost in the centre of the city.  It was quiet but within easy reach of restaurants, shops, the theatre and buses and trams, so perfect.

After a hearty breakfast (included), we decided to visit The Royal Yacht Britannia which was over by the harbour, a couple of bus rides away.  There was quite an impressive exhibition about the history of the yacht before we actually went on board.  The décor was modest and of course dated around the 50s, quite homely in fact.  The most stately room was probably the dining room which was set as it would have been to welcome any dignitaries at different ports.

One got a feel of all the generations of the royal family enjoying regular family holidays together over the years.  It must have been a terrible wrench when she was decommissioned.

Prince Charles would paint having been inspired by one of his trips around the Scottish Isles.

On the way back we visited the Botanical Gardens.  These were spread over quite a compact area and we were able to walk around most of it in a couple of hours.  However, sadly the botanical gallery was closed as it was Monday.

Tonight we would have a pizza near our hotel before walking across to the theatre to see Grease the Musical, which we managed to get tickets for.

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Back to Edinburgh

Not the best night’s sleep. I’m not sure why as the room and beds were comfortable enough. But the glorious view of the day before was now shrouded in mist and rain. ‘Twas to be a monochromatic sort of day.  Here is a charcoal sketch done from our bedroom window, weather a far cry from the day before.

We headed back across the bridge to the mainland towards Fort William in drizzle – Ben Nevis was lost in mist. We crossed Rannock Moor, the largest expanse of nothingness in the UK. Much of the time thereon was spent in the bus as the weather was so awful with short breaks at various viewpoints to stretch our legs. Steve continued to try and entertain us with his barbaric Scottish yarns, many of which included Jacobites or McCleods or McDonalds, never a Campbell!

Lunch was taken at the Tyndrum Inn where we chose a healthy salad but then promptly treated ourselves to a bag of liquorice all sorts each for the bus!

We passed through such places as Crainlarich, Glen Ogle, Lochearnhead, The Trossacks, Loch naig was the last Loch – banana shaped, Callender…. but saw little of them in the pouring rain. At one point the sun tried to come out causing a series of dramatic rainbows. Steve told us about the Castle used for films including Game of Thrones (now in Ireland)

We continued on through Stirling, saw Sculptures of white horses, on through West Lothian and finally back on the M9 motorway to Edinburgh. After saying our goodbyes we took a taxi to our pre-booked Holiday Inn.  What luxury after the hostels!

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Over the bridge to Skye

Next morning we set off for Skye!  Stopped for coffee at the most beautiful setting of Eilean Donon Castle at Dornie.
Next…. Over bridge to Skye… many appropriate traveling songs were played to us on the bus but not this one, strangely enough.

Portree for lunch on Skye – lovely little harbour town, beautiful weather.

The weather then changed as we drove up to Staffin. We stretched our legs at cliff edge and looked out across the North Sea – would have been beautiful on a clear day. There was a lone piper in his kilt. You could see Kilt rock – a rock formation that looked like a kilt!

As we headed back down, we caught a glimpse of the Old Man of Storr in the mist and got some quite atmospheric photos. 
The weather was still fine and clear as we returned through Portree the  and this continued through to Kyleakin where we were to spend the night at the Saucy Mary Lodge.

Our room was at the top (up 2 flights of stairs) at the front overlooking the sea and the new bridge. Well worth the stair climb for the view!

We decided to eat at the restaurant opposite but not before a good walk and a climb up to the old castle ruin, where we enjoyed a beautiful view at sunset.

We then returned to the restaurant for a fabulous seafood platter with a bottle of Pinot Grigio.

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Day 1 of The Haggis Tour

We were up bright and early for our three day Tour of Inverness, Skye and Glencoe.  A comfortable night in St Christopher’s although the breakfast left a little to be desired!

We decided to take a taxi to the tour office on the Royal Mile because although it was only a few hundred metres away, it was up a very steep hill. We’d have considered it if it wasn’t for our heavy wheelies.

The tour bus left at 8.30 and our driver and guide, Steve, proceeded to describe the city of Edinburgh as we passed through. He continued with his spiel as we headed towards the new Queen’s Ferry bridge, where we saw the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier docked nearby.  His quite useful local information turned into the gruesome history of Scottish kings and queens. Our morning coffee stop was in the small touristy town of Dunkeld which had a beautiful cathedral by the river.

We stopped for lunch in Aviemore where we we found a nice hotel for a starter of Haggis balls and salad.

The main afternoon event was a visit to Tomatin Distillary.  I found it a bit disappointing because it was more like a museum as it was a day off for the workers.  Also that the casks were second hand supplied by America (bourbon) and Spain (sherry).

We were further disappointed later in the afternoon to be taken the ‘scenic route’ away from Loch Ness.  Our itinerary had described stopping at Inverness and driving down the length of Loch Ness.  However, it was a beautiful day and we enjoyed some stunning views, even taking in some Highland cattle and deer.

Our hostel for the night was Morag’s in St Augustus and the home-made evening meal  Home made chicken breast with haggis and whiskey sauce, green beans, carrots & mash then a relaxing evening with a beer.

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