Monday, 26 September 2016

Final reflections of Iceland

Two years ago I said my goodbyes to doing any more William Morris Tours with Helen of Whitecroft tours as I felt I was too tired to make the long journey again. But with a little persuasion and two years on we've done done it again - but this is the very last! And it is also because of Helen that I was persuaded to write the Beatrix Potter book using her expertise and knowledge in her previous role as Beatrix Potter Society President. It is hard to believe it is 12 days since our Beatrix Potter tour so I thought I would share a very special gift from Helen that I received on our last night together. This is a limited edition print of a watercolour by Beatrix from the Tale of Tom Kitten and is surrounded by little sketches that she used as endpapers in her little books……….
 I will get this framed at home where it can hang pride of place as a reminder of a very special friend who has made so many wonderful memories for not only Larry and myself but also for many others…..thankyou Helen xx So why are we in Iceland? When Helen planned the tours we found that we had 12 days to fill in between. We've been blessed to see much of the UK so decided instead to follow in William Morris's footsteps to find out why he was entranced with Iceland. At the time it is thought Morris was escaping from the difficulties of his marriage and the complex relationship between his wife Jane and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Whatever the reason it left a lasting impression on Morris as it has with us too. These would be some of my favourite images from our seven night tour……..the land of waterfalls, volcanos and thermal springs…….of poetry, sagas, turf houses and trolls…..

 This would be one of my favourites……..if you look carefully to the right you can just see a car…..puts it all into perspective………...

 William Morris spent six weeks in Iceland in 1871 and returned for two weeks in 1873. He translated and published many of the Icelandic sagas and it is thought that his translations were the catalyst for Tolkein writing Lord of the Rings. There is an interesting perspective supporting that HERE. So the last four days we've only ventured out once because of the cold and wet and also wanting to rest and finally kick this lingering cold and cough to oblivion! So a few images of our first day in Reykjavik………..

 We thought we would visit the tallest building in Reyjkavic (73 meters) which happens to be the Hallgrimskirkja Church that took over 40 years to build. I wanted especially to see the 15 metre German organ which has 5,275 pipes but sadly the church was closed……….

 So many wonderful stores but everything is so, so expensive……$40 for a simple pair of socks and about $350 for a jumper…….balls of wool well over $12 each and lunch has been about $60 each day and dinner……can't even think about that!……...
And the cheapest decoration I could find in the Christmas shop was $15 so they all stayed there for others!…...

 From time to time we've had a little exercise in the hotel, albeit slowly!……..
Today we ventured out again as the sun was peeking through, but it was still bitterly cold. We were thrilled that the church was open and we spent a wonderful hour listening to the spectacular organ and voices like angels….the acoustics were so crystal clear and brought me to tears………..some of those tears were for my late Dad as I know he would have loved the sound of the organ…….

 we've seen some amazing graffiti and even an artist in action……...

We have a ghastly 3am start in the morning for our flight to London but it is with great excitement as our final William Morris tour starts. It is extra special to have some dear friends from home joining us so I know it is going to be amazing. Emily sent me some photos of the little ones at our house making themselves at home…and we were pleased Jemima and Benjamin Bunny arrived safely (but four postcards are still in transit somewhere)……

 It is nice to see that spring has bloomed in our garden and these are my late mother's irises still flowering after many years……….

 we also missed a special 60th birthday celebration for our dear friend Roz who I made a quilt for… was lovely to get the photos of her opening it……..

So it seems fitting to close with the great genius and his words. And we both understand why William Morris loved Iceland and I am so glad to have experienced it too…….I agree with his words……..he wrote "the glorious simplicity of the terrible and tragic, but beautiful land with its well-remembered stories of brave men, killed all querulous feeling in me, and have made all the dear faces of wife and children, and love, and friends dearer than ever to me"


  1. I want to thank you again, Michele, for this wonderful armchair travelogue of Iceland. It has always fascinated me because of the volcanoes and now because of its people and what they have accomplished/created in this scenic place. A prime examples is Hallgrimskirkja Church. Wow.

  2. Iceland seems to be an amazing country and I'm so glad you shared your many photos as it is probably as close as I will ever get to it. I have just so loved looking at the photos. Too bad everything is so expensive though as I know I would have wanted to be picking up some pieces of something to bring home with me - but you must eat first and that uses up the money!! Have fun on your final part of the journey

  3. Wonderful post. I too left the decorations and gifts behind, though the shops were gorgeous. Have a great time on your next tour.

  4. Thanks for sharing your photos! I, too, will never get to Iceland so enjoyed seeing it through your eyes! (P.S. Your grandchildren are adorable!)

  5. its been fascinating following your tour through Iceland, rather you than me in the cold. I was surprised at the sophistication of the modern architecture , the church is magnificent. What a pity the souvenir's were so expensive, but we don't have a great need of Icelandic wool garments in SA. Although my daughter bought some Icelandic woollen fabric on Etsy and it made a gorgeous jacket. Have fun in your next / last Morris tour, so pleased you have special friends to enjoy it with

  6. What an interesting/unique country! I loved your references to Morris and also the Tolkien connection was an interesting read. I didn't know that. So much to absorb!


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