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Wednesday, 17 November 2021

Iceland 14: Reykjavik and Home

links to: introduction and index - previous day - postscript

Tuesday 6th and Wednesday 7th September 1977 

Dick Phillips, Fljotsdalur, Iceland, 1977
Dick Phillips (in Icelandic jumper) oversees loading the Land Rover at Fljotsdalur

We return the eighty miles from Fljótsdalur to Reykjavik by road. Some travel in the Land Rover but most of us go by service bus. I really should have recorded observations of everyday Icelandic life.

We sit about Reykjavik for the rest of the day, and, to avoid the expensive restaurants, go to the Salvation Army for an evening meal. I must have since paid for it several times because I always put money in their collection tins.

We exchange names and addresses. The little community of walkers and hut dwellers, the cliques, the jokes, the nascent friendships, comes to an end. Other than for Neville, I never see any of them again. I wonder what became of them. 

The next day we are up early to get to Keflavik for the 08.10 flight. Everyone disposes of their króna (devalued since we arrived) in the duty-free shop.  

On the plane I have a window seat and spend all the time looking out at the Icelandic coast, the ice caps, the clouds and later the Scottish mountains. Magnificent! This not being my first flight, I allow myself a few photographs. 

         Iceland from the air     Scotland north of Glasgow (possibly Loch Eil)

Glasgow Airport

At Glasgow, Neville’s car is damp and won’t start. We eventually get it going and then it really is back to reality. After two weeks without any news from the outside world, the radio tells us of threatened strikes and power cuts, industrial disputes, economic problems, etc., etc., etc. They should send the lot of them on compulsory Icelandic walking holidays to get things in perspective. They should send all present day politicians too, minus technology of course.  

On the trek, I hardly saw Neville at all. When I was fast, he was slow, and when I was slow, he was fast. I did, however, spend a lot of time with Gavin, so much so that some of the others thought I had come with him. I was constantly amused by his endless stream of inoffensive humour. On returning to England, I found that one of my colour slides had inadvertently caught him having a pee. I labelled it “Icelandic Relief” and posted it to him without any indication of who it was from. In due course a couple of pictures of me came back through the letterbox. 

I dearly would have liked to have gone to Iceland again, but people, jobs and circumstances never came together right. Neville did return twenty months later, in the May, on the North-West Fjords tour led by both Dick Phillips and Paul. He sent me a postcard saying that the temperature was minus fifteen degrees (Fahrenheit, I assume, which would be -26oC, but does it matter?). 

There ends the Iceland journal, but in putting it here I started wondering about things and googling, which means a postscript...


(link to postscript)
Some names and personal details have been changed. I would be delighted to hear from anyone who was there.

26 comments:

  1. Why haven't you posted the pictures that Gavin sent to you? Do they show more than peeing?

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  2. I have enjoyed this series of posts Tasker. Thanks for sharing them. And to think that it all happened forty four years ago. Now I look forward to the postscript. What an adventure it all was! I wonder whatever happened to Dick and if he is still here with us in the land of the living.

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  3. Early days yet for you to receive contact from some of your fellow walkers. I look forward to the postscript.

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    1. If anyone googles Dick Phillips Iceland I seem to be coming up just outside the top 10 results, so if any of them look they may find me.

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  4. This has been a most enjoyable and educational series! I've enjoyed each post along with your photographs, descriptions and explanations. I'm looking forward to your postscript.

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    1. Thank you. I need to get on with the postscript.

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  5. You took us on a journey through a wild landscape and it was good. I think everyone enjoyed being introduced to a rather bleak but beautiful place. It would be interesting to see today if there would have been more women on the hike.

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    1. Thelma, nowadays there would be definitely more women on the hike and they would very quickly be fed up with the weedy men unable to walk the distance and carry the weight.

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  6. I can only agree to what the others here have said. Your journal from 44 years ago made for a great read, and I thank you for sharing it with us.
    Wouldn't it be nice if Gavin or someone else from your original group happened to find your blog and get in touch with you?

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    1. See response to Andrew, above. I've very much enjoyed putting this series together and at times it has felt almost recent. However, Mrs D. is getting a bit annoyed with me constantly talking about it.

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  7. As others have said, this has been a very enjoyable vicarious journey. Your descriptions of the trek made it come alive to those of us reading from the comfort of an armchair with the central heating gently warming our toes.

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    1. There's a lot to be said for not having cold toes. I'm wearing my Chris Brasher socks at this very moment.

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  8. Thanks for taking us along on this journey. Like others, I look forward to the postscript. Must say, I never tire of taking photos from an airplane window even though I've flown hundreds of times. Good to get a different perspective of the world. In your case, 'Iceland from the air' seems a fitting way to capture a final view of the magical landscape you had so recently walked upon.

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    1. A trip like that certainly puts our everyday concerns into perspective.
      My uncle had am 8mm cine camera in the 1950s when few people had flown. As much as I like photographs from planes, his 15 minute film of clouds was rather trying, even then.

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    2. I could see where that might have been a severe trial. I, on the other hand, try never to inflict my photographs on anyone else. :)

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    3. There's a great Monty Python sketch about that - "this is uncle Ted at the front of the house but you can see the side of the house". It's part of The Spanish Inquisition.

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  9. I have been trying to leave a comment on your post for days using my iPhone but have been unable. Graham Edwards now tells me one must be signed into a Google account in order to leave a comment from an iPhone, and I refuse to comply. Finally I returned to my trusty but neglected desktop and am not having problems.

    Anyhoo -- I too have enjoyed your wonderful 14-part series (15 with anticipated postscript) on your long-ago hiking trek through Iceland. It has been enjoyable, educational, exciting, even exotic. You should turn it into a book for the younger crowd.

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    1. Thank you for the positive support. The idea of writing a book bit by bit was in mind when I started the blog 7 years ago, but I guess now there must be something like 250,000 words or more, which would not be a small book at all. I think the Iceland stuff comes in at around 10,000.

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  10. We have enjoyed our virtual tour via yor memoir. F has wanted to visit Iceland since her teens (bit more than 44 years) and even though she has now been nearly 30 years in Europe still hasn't done it. (was meant to sail there a decade or mire ago....) She seems to have some idea that it needs more than a two week holiday. I guess that I, the Tigger, will not be writing any travel blog posts from Iceland.
    Regards to Phoebe, Mr T

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    1. I'm not sure whether cats are allowed in Iceland. They don't allow dogs in Reykjavik. Phoebe thinks dogs shouldn't be allowed anywhere.

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  11. I've really enjoyed following along on your adventure. Iceland is an amazing landscape. Maybe someday, I will get there!

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    1. Thank you. Hope you make it one day. If you do, make sure to go for a walk or trip to the wilder parts.

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  12. In all the years of reading blogs that is one of the most interesting series I have ever read. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you, Graham. I'm pleased that so many people seem to have enjoyed it.

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