Arctic springtime

Crocuses and snowdrops in full bloom indicated the arrival of spring, but this was over a month later than our experience of similar events in southern England. I had taken Christine north so that she could experience life in snow and ice, something far removed from her home in tropical Seychelles!

I had pre-booked Icelandic accommodation in Captain Reykjavic Guest House in Bergstaŏastrӕti. Our en-suite accommodation was basic but very clean and comfortable, and staffed by very friendly and extremely helpful young people who provided delicious continental style breakfasts, ensured that we had all our needs in the guest house, arranged tours for us during our brief 4-day stay and offered helpful advice. The location was ideal, in a quiet residential area within easy walking distance of Reykjavic city centre and its harbour.

One of many Redwings singing in trees in Reykjavic gardens

On our first morning we awoke to an orchestra of bird song from trees in gardens next to the guest house. The song emanated from a flock of an estimated 100 or more Redwings, probably recently arrived migrants from winter haunts further south.

In Reykjavic there was little lying snow but behind the harbour we could see mountains clothed in the white stuff. For most of the 2016-2017 winter, Iceland had received little snow but all that changed in late February, when more than half a metre fell in a few hours. Christine had her close snow encounter, however, when we took a tour into the hinterland the following day, 22 March.

Volcanic snowscape in Iceland’s interior

By pure chance, we were blessed with clear blue

Christine enjoying her first experience of arctic conditions

skies and wall-to-wall sunshine that day and sub-zero temperature added a tingling crispness to all we saw, and to our cheeks! That evening, after Icelandic style food in a fish restaurant, Christine was further excited to walk home in heavily falling snow, which inevitably led to a snowball fight!

By contrast the following day was a complete wash-out, torrential rain for most of the day with visibility often down to about 50 metres, adequately illustrating the vagaries of high latitude North Atlantic weather around this island outpost. I had of course hoped that Christine would also be able to see the aurora borealis but nocturnal clouds removed any possibility during our stay.

Chris and Christine (left) with Laurence (Christine’s cousin) and his wife Jessica after ur first meeting in many years

By coincidence, Christine’s cousin Laurence and his wife Jessica had been touring various parts of Iceland on a tourism-related photographic mission (see www.findingtheuniverse.com) and on their penultimate day we met for prolonged coffee and chat in Café Babalú, a lively, colourful meeting place in the city centre. Despite their longer stay they had similarly failed to see the northern lights. Their descriptions of other parts of Iceland that we did not have time to visit whetted our appetites for a further visit, however; all we need is to find the time and money!

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