Winter Storm

We got up with Alex at his normal school rising time of 6:30AM yesterday so that we could head out the door early for our drive to Niagara and beat the snowstorm. We succeeded. From Guilford to Albany, the sky was uniformly blue. Then it was uniformly grey. We did not encounter any snowfall until we were half an hour from Niagara. Our eight hour drive was uneventful, not too much traffic. More cars and trucks were headed east than west. We saw dozens of large utility trucks in formation headed east. We imagined that they were preparing to be in place to repair fallen hydro lines when the storm hit the northeastern states.

We listened to most of Fredrik Backman’s book, A Man Called Ove. We laughed out loud listening to this book even though it is also sad and touching about love and loss. Ove is a wonderful character. I heartily recommend reading this 2012 Swedish novel. I see he has three more novels. He appears to be publishing a new one each year. I look forward to reading these.

Now, more than twenty-four hours later, it is still snowing and is to continue doing so until noon on Wednesday. Niagara is finally getting winter. Not so, north of here at Cobble Beach where it is sunny and green. Home to golfing tomorrow, albeit still indoors.

I put my sourdough starter in the fridge today to give me and it a rest. I made blueberry bran muffins and oatmeal raisin cookies without the sourdough. I have resupplied my father-in-law with baked goods.

Time for a game of Hand and Foot. We have one more card addict in our midst.

Bye Bye Montserrat

January 26, 2017

Last night we dined at Olveston House, the home of Sir George Martin who recorded many musicians at Air Studios in Montserrat. Sir George died last year but his wife and daughter still own it and it is being run as a B and B and restaurant a few days per week. There is room for thirty-six diners on the verandah that surrounds three sides of the house. We had seafood chowder or pumpkin soup, grilled wahu or tuna with fries, veggies and salad and we could not resist cheesecake or ice cream for dessert. Every meal was delicious and the price was about forty percent less than the night before at Watermelon. A highlight was touring the house to see a platinum record framed in each bedroom and photos by Linda McCartney in the hallway.

We had a very early wake up call this morning. I set my iPad to awaken us at 5:30 AM. I awoke suddenly from a complicated dream and tried to find the lamp switch to reach my iPad. Brian clicked the light on his watch and said it was only 3:30 AM. I asked what alarm was going off. He said it was the next shift of tree frogs. They certainly sounded different from the ones I fell asleep to. I went back to sleep until the iPad alarm awakened me.

One of the wonderful things about the Taj and this climate is that once dressed in skort and tank top, I walked out of our bedroom door and was immediately outside admiring a full sky of stars and a cruise ship coasting by on a calm sea. I like winter but it’s such a big deal to put on sufficient gear to weather the elements.

A swig of orange juice, a cup of tea and a few corn flakes with yogurt and I was hugging our friends good-bye. Everyone arose for our departure but only Bryan had the task of driving us to St. John to the airport. We were pleased to know later that he found breakfast and gas to get him back to the Taj.

We did not stop at Runaway Ghaut for a drink of water, insurance that we will return to Montserrat. We had drunk from Runaway Ghaut at the end of our Cot Walk; so, we are covered for a return to Montserrat. At six in the morning there are far fewer vehicles or pedestrians in motion on our Grand Prix style hairpin turns.

At the John Osborne airport we were accosted by our first mosquitoes on the island. We did not have long to wait for Reginald to check our bags and passports and take our departure tax. All seven passengers were ready for our 7:30AM flight. From takeoff to landing open Antigua was exactly eighteen minute. It was beautiful looking into the turquoise Caribbean, seeing the coral reefs, a five masted schooner and the toy sailboats moored in Antigua. We spotted the fort ruins near where we stayed two years ago. There was no sign of the old resort but no sign of a new one being built either.

There was no lineup at the airport in Antigua, no wait for our baggage. We had to walk over to the old airport to buy breakfast at the Big Banana. It is a good thing we were in no hurry for our next flight. I think the chef had not yet got out of bed. We enjoyed a good full breakfast of omelette or eggs and bacon/sausage with toast and tea/coffee…all on island time…slowly.

We had to don our long sleeves and legs to walk around in the new airport, cool air conditioning. Not too much to see or buy, but Brian bought a bottle of Antiguan rum in a skull -shaped bottle.
Our Air Canada flight was on time for departure; so, 3600 kilometres, two movies and five hours later we were landing in Toronto. I enjoyed Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children and Bridget Jones’ Baby.

Fifteen minutes after leaving our 320 Airbus we had cleared Customs and Immigration and were hugging Brilynn who delivered our car to us. Brilynn only had to wait a few minutes to catch the train to downtown. We are looking forward to a phone visit with Brilynn tomorrow.

Leaving the airport during rush hour is always slow, but not to bad. It’s a balmy 4C with no snow, but we are still pleased to have heated seats in our RAV4. It is a change from 28C. 7 PM in Niagara and now in search of supper. What a fun holiday we have had. We are so fortunate!

Montserrat Memorabilia

January 21, 2017

The past two evenings we have reclined on the deck marvelling at the stars. Every now and then someone gets out an iPad to identify a constellation. The brightest star in the sky is the planet, Venus, in the northwest. It is so bright there is a reflection as it descends into the sea. When it disappears into the water, that signals bedtime, usually around 9:40 PM. I am not positive as I am often among the first to head for bed. We do not often, if ever, observe the heavens as long in Ontario, as we need more clothing and/or insect repellent. No mosquitoes send us for cover here.

Each evening one cruise ship sails past from north to south. While at Hank’s we watched the sun set with a sailboat in the foreground, a barge of sand crossing through the sun and platoons of brown pelicans putting on a comic air show crashing into the sea. What a pleasurable way to eat our seafood platters and drink Carib beer or rum punches.

Last night, for the first time we pulled our blanket, a duvet cover, over our single sheet. The temperature must have dropped to 25C.

The last two night’s the roosters crowing in the wee hours have been seriously in need of voice lessons or someone has been murdering them. For sure they have failed Crowing 101.

This morning after yoga and a swim in the pool we went to the Hilltop Coffee House in Brades to have their Saturday special of waffles with delicious coffee. After David Lea gave us a tour of his photo and memorabilia collection, we decorated our waffles with whatever pleased us from the dishes assembled on the bar: blueberries, raspberries, pineapple, shredded coconut, chocolate, raisins, peanuts, chocolate sauce or male syrup and whipped cream. No sugar highs here!

David and his wife Sun have been here since their hippie days. Their son, Sun, gives tours of Plymouth. He was not available for us. David has been involved in several video productions about the volcano eruption and Plymouth. He also authored a book, Through My Lens, about Montserrat which include his photo collection about the volcano, Plymouth and George Martin’s Air Studios. His photos cover the walls and the tabletops under glass. He also has posters from those early days as well as signs and memorabilia recovered from Plymouth and the buried Belham Valley Golf Course. David is the local historian, a very engaging host.

We found Plymouth Nuts in the narrow aisles of Ashoks’ grocery store. Benjamin’s factory is just down the hill in Brades, but not open on Saturday.

The waves are big again. Yahoo! And the sky is cloudless blue. The volcano is very clear. All we were missing was a water ready camera with a photographer in the water to get our ten bobbing heads with the volcano in the background.

We ordered roti for tonight from Joe’s wife. Joe just delivered them. We are having an awesome chocolate birthday cake a day late for Al, but just right for my sister.

Happy birthday, Rosemary!

Visiting Plymouth

January 20, 2017

The highlight of today was visiting the ruins of Plymouth, formerly the capital of Montserrat. The Soufriere Hills Volcano blew in 1997 decimating the capital, the airport and a good portion of the homes on the south end of the island. Although there have not been further big disturbances since 2010, the volcano continues to puff out steam and there has been no thought that Plymouth will ever be excavated or rebuilt; thus, what we visited today was a modern Pompeii.

Until two years ago no tours of Plymouth were allowed but now there are a few local guides who can lead groups into the edges of Plymouth. This requires a police permit, which costs $150 EC$ regardless of the size of the group. Charles Daly took us on a haunting sobering three hour tour. Charles had to have a two way radio to be in communication with the Montserrat Volcano Observatory to let them know when we were entering the evacuation zone and when our eleven souls were exiting from there.

Fortunately Charles expertly drove his twelve passenger van as he had to dodge large trucks loaded with sand headed for the barge on the beach or meet the empty ones going inland for their fresh load of volcanic sand. This sand is the one lucrative export of the island. It is shipped to neighbouring coral islands for cement production for construction.

Charles paused in a few places to explain what we were seeing and allow us to take photos. We could not get out of the van as too many trucks were careening by. As well as the danger of being run over, they were leaving in their wake great clouds of dust that surely would have left us gasping and coated in dust. What we were seeing was the third or fourth floor of buildings as the lower part was completely buried. Many roof tops were gone or only the skeleton joists remained. Some rooftops were still intact. Remarkably there were quite a few glass windows that were still whole.

When we reached what would have been the port, now gone and replaced farther out with a short single pier, we got out of the van and were able to walk about seventy feet toward the remains of Plymouth. Our police escort was waiting for us to ensure that we did not go too far, that being beyond a long mound which appeared to be the original shoreline.

I found this to be an emotional experience: sad to see a whole town annihilated, to imagine how five or six thousand lives were changed, how a friendly happy community was destroyed and dispersed, never to return. Many of the inhabitants were relocated in England. Six of our group had experienced this town prior to volcanic eruption. This was their first time to return to Plymouth. I can imagine that they had stronger clashing emotions: fond memories of where they had shopped and dined and wandered the streets and sadness at its demise.The good news is that not many lives were lost as people had sufficient warning to evacuate.

Charles drove us to another spot where accompanied by our policeman, we were able to walk between what was Rams grocery store and Rams Hotel. Again only the top floor was visible. We stepped carefully on what was a street, now well buried. A clock tower which was twenty-eight feet tall is no longer to be found. Looking in door and window openings we could see a desk, chairs and a safe covered in lots of dust.

The backdrop for most photos was a different side of the volcano from the view we have from the Taj. It was also quite a clear view of the summit.

Charles drove us up to the former Montserrat Springs Hotel, stopping for us to view the inside of a three storey house that was divided into three condo units. From here we had a view over Plymouth in the valley. A ceramic Christmas tree was on one of the shelves. A table and chairs still stood. On the dust of the walls visitors had signed their names.

Charles drove us around the top of Richmond Hill. Wherever fuschia or bougainvillea draped itself over trees at the road’s edge we were sure to see a house if we looked more closely beyond the colourful display.

Charles drove us down a very rough rocky road to Foxes Bay. He said he had not been on that road lately and would not be back anytime soon. The acacias reaching across the road must have been seriously scratching his van to say nothing of what was happening to the suspension.

A walk on the beautiful beach was a refreshing relief from the hot van. The air conditioning was struggling to cool us. Charles drove us up the winding steep narrow incline to the MVO to return the two way radio then we wound down through Salem to the Taj.

It was truly an amazing tour, a good way to celebrate Al’s sixty-fourth birthday. We will continue celebrating by singing the Beatles tune at Hank’s Bar where we are going for dinner after a swim in the sea. This will be a fitting close to an adventurous day. Brian and I walked down to the same beach this morning at 7 AM, Brian to fish and I to swim. No luck for Brian, but a success for me.

From -5C to 26C

January 15, 2017
Arriving ahead of schedule. How exciting is that! We just might make our twenty minute flight from Antigua to Montserrat. Brian was worried that we may be delayed leaving Toronto, but it was a full moon night with starry skies. I was glad to have a cosy winter jacket from my brother, Jim, to wear to the airport.


Home Again

Home Again, Home Again
Niagara Falls to Cobble Beach
Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Always a pleasure to come home. We picked up our essential grocery items at Zehrs and still arrived home around 1 PM. A number of our flowers bloomed and finished without us: tulips, poppies and half the irises. Some are still blooming. A yellow dahlia is in full bloom. That was a surprise, a quick growth from bulb. The peonies are still looking good. The rhubarb went to seed! The weeds were not supposed to push through the mulch but they did and will provide me with some hours of work.

I got out the window screens we had put away for the winter, washed them and put them up so that we could open them wide. We unpacked, are airing our sleeping bags and out away our backpacks.

Then we golfed the front nine. What a perfectly glorious golf day. It even appears we still know how to golf after being away for a month.

We had a lovely chicken dinner at Kate’s. Kate beat us at Hand and Foot. A pleasure to be together again and share our respective stories.

A full moon is shining beautifully across Georgian Bay welcoming us home.


A Lazy Day

Happy Summer!
Niagara Falls
Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Sleeping in until 8 AM was a good feeling. A large familiar bed facilitates a good sleep. We often had eggs for breakfast in England but had not eaten eggs in a week. Brian made delicious fluffy scrambled eggs and there were still some of my chocolate banana bran muffins in the freezer. I made another dozen bran muffins this morning to keep my father-in-law supplied.

I drove, for the first time in a month, to Virgil to visit Margaret. Her gardens are looking splendid. Our nephew, Frederick, had not quite finished his great landscaping job when last we visited, but all is done now and Margaret has added many flowering plants from friends. She has also planted vegetables with her flowers and everything is thriving.

It is always a pleasure to visit with my sister. We exchange hiking tales. Margaret had an amazing Adirondack hiking experience. It sounds as if she and her friends are more than ready for their tour of Mont Blanc next week. I look forward to hearing of that adventure. We are hoping Brian’s knee will improve rather than worsen and we too will do the tour one day.

We visited my mother-in-law in her nursing home. She was happy to be wheeled downstairs to the garden. We showed her photos of our trip on the iPad. As we look back at these photos some of them from a month ago seem so much more removed than that. We covered a lot of ground in a month.

I am thankful that I wore hiking boots rather than shoes. In the Lake District and especially in Iceland the rubble and rocks underfoot were good for twisting ankles. Although the ground was not as rough in North Yorkshire, shoes would have required gaiters or we would have had water in our shoes even though the bogs were not as wet as they could have been. For those of you who red my Camino blogs, you may remember me complaining that the soles of my feet were burning. I wore orthotics this time and am happy to report that there were only two occasions when I had burning feet. Changing socks helped alleviate the burning.

We did some grocery shopping. Brian prepared beef ribs for supper. They were awesome with new potatoes and fresh corn on the cob. I have not had a feed of fresh strawberries yet, but I did have a few berries on vanilla ice cream. I hope to buy some strawberries at a roadside stand on our way home tomorrow. Failing that maybe this will be a good year for “Pick Your Own” en route to Sauble Beach.

I trimmed some shrubbery and pulled weeds, getting warmed up for our return to our own garden.

I walked 4.68 kilometres around the neighbourhood this evening, a leisurely stroll with Brilynn for company even though she was walking in Toronto. Aren’t cell phones wonderful?

Google is great for calculating distances. From Toronto to Reykjavik is 4168 kilometres. From Reykjavik to Manchester is 1654 kilometres. Flying distance return is then 11644 kilometres. Cobble Beach to Niagara to Toronto is 410 kilometres and Manchester to Gosforth is 115.5 kilometres. Both of these road trips are doubled for the reverse trip thus 1051 kilometres for a grand total of 12695 kilometres. That is enough to make me want to go back to bed. Good night!


Reykjavik to Niagara

Reykjavik to Toronto to Niagara Falls
By Taxi, Bus, 757 and RAV4
Monday, June 20, 2016

It rained all night. The rain made music on the sidewalk outside our window. The coffee tasted good this morning, not at all medicinal. Orange juice, Skyr, an apple and a cinnamon pastry was our breakfast. Skyr is an Icelandic version of yogourt, much thicker, more protein, more like fromage blanc, sold plain or including fruit.

We saw many horses in the pastures along the two lane highway to Thorsmork. The Norse originally brought horses to Iceland in the ninth century’s from these the Icelandic horse has been bred. There are about one hundred thousand horses here compared to sixty thousand sheep. Icelandic horses are exported for breeding. Once a horse leaves Iceland it is not allowed to return. No other breed may be imported to Iceland.

It rained all morning. Brian’s knee is puffy and sore; so, we did not go any where. We prepared our bags and relaxed on our bed, trying once again to upload the past few days of blogs. No luck. Although the download speed in Reykjavik was good; the upload was not. We tried at our accommodation and in restaurants to no avail.

While we were in Basar at our mountain hut, everything had an extra price. There was no WIFI. Cellular cost extra for ten minutes of use. If we wanted a hot shower, it was $6 for a five minute shower. We decided we could go three days without. An icy shower was not appealing. Our feet did get well cleansed in the icy river. We had a stove that burned coal and was kept hot with a large pot of water on it. This was refilled as water was scooped from it for tea, coffee and washing dishes.

This morning we downloaded a Neil Gaiman audio book to have something to listen to while hanging around the airport today, but we did not end up listening to it.

Eir, the owner of our dwelling showed up at 11 AM. We asked her to phone us a taxi for noon, the time at which we needed to vacate our room.

We only had to wait ten minutes at the bus station to board the bus for Kevlavik airport. Since we were the first ones on, we took the front seats, more legroom and a better view. The road to Kevlavik is not very interesting, mostly flat lava fields with no animals. I think the lava is greening with some rain from the past few days. By the time we arrived at the airport, it had stopped raining.

Kevlavik is a very busy airport. It is easy to see why they are building a big addition. Upon arrival or departure you have to walk through the duty free shop. You do not pay any tax in any of the shops at the airport.

We checked our supply bag and went for lunch. The fish and chips with salad was very good. We saw Serge in the restaurant. He had done a glacier walk yesterday and was headed back to Barcelona today.

We browsed through the shops and spent the last of our isks on chocolate, lava salt and small bottles of Icelandic vodka. None of the prices for the larger bottles of alcohol were very low, not low enough to buy any.

We had to walk to the far end of the airport to Gate 27 where there were no chairs. We lowered ourselves to the floor with our backs to the wall. After twenty minutes the flight monitor showed a gate change to 31 at the opposite end of the hall. The crowd began to move but our flight attendants at gate 27 had not been told of the change. One of them phoned to see what was happening. Sure enough we were herded to the opposite end. There we had to board a bus to go to our plane.

We had checked in online yesterday and were pleased to see that we could change to the exit row seats. We had not counted on our plane being changed. The end result was that we were one row behind the exit row and even though that row was empty we were not allowed to change seats. At least not for a while. Brian asked a third time and we were allowed to move forward. His knee was grateful. It also meant we were the first ones off the plane in Toronto!

Our flight was half an hour late leaving. The sun shone brilliantly above the clouds. Very interesting seeing the mountains and glaciers of Greenland. The next great frontier, Greenland will probably take cues from Iceland.

No food is served on our flight unless you purchase it. We were wiser now and bought a smoked salmon and hard boiled egg bun at the airport deli.

The lavatory light did not work. A tricky business in the dark.

I watched two movies, both comedies with tear jerker aspects: perfect – Blended and Life of a House.

A four hour time difference makes for a long day, but not as long as if we had come directly from Manchester. We came down through lots of beautiful white cumulus clouds. We landed half an hour late at 19:25. Brilynn was cruising the pick up lane for us. Got to her at 8 PM. We had too short a hug and she was off to take the train downtown while we drive to Niagara. Quite a temperature difference from 14 C this morning to 32 C upon arrival. 21C and raining in St Catharines. Upon arrival in Niagara the rain had stopped and the setting sun cast a rosy lining on the clouds. Bed seems like a good idea. It gets dark here!


Hiking and Travelling

Hiking Stakkaholtsgyja and returning to Reykjavik
15 kilometres hiking in 4.75 hours
3 buses and a taxi van in 4.5 hours
Saturday, June 18, 2016

I was up at 7:30 AM even though Paulina said we would not be having breakfast until nine. I guess those who did the longer hike wanted to sleep in. I did my morning yoga for the first time in more than a week. It felt great in the morning sunshine on the wooden deck. Brian came out to do yoga as I finished. Everyone was up earlier than anticipated. We had our breakfast, packed our bags, made lamb sandwiches for lunch and cleaned the bunkhouse ready for departure.

As we started out for our third hike, this one fourteen kilometres, and mostly flat, to the delight of all (yesterday’s big hikers were feeling their muscles) the sky was changing rapidly. It was eerie. The glacier at the end of our valley was obscured by wind-driven ash and cloud. The forecast was for a big storm by 2 PM with winds of 120 kilometres per hour. Paulina assured us the winds would not descend to our level but she did not recommend any ledges this day.

As we hiked the valley floor the wind changed directions a few times and more than once we wondered how we would stay upright. To cross the Hvanna River we had to take off our boots and socks and don water shoes. Brian and I had brought these; so, it was good to be able to use them. Some had flipflops, Martin went barefoot. I can only recommend water shoes or hiking sandals for that rocky crossing. Although we rolled our pants above our knees, the icy water dampened our trousers. The current was strong. It was a relief to dry our feet and put our boots back on. It only took twenty minutes to feel our toes again. We knew we would have to cross back over the river later.

There is only one “road” through this wide rocky valley. The road changes places each spring depending on how much the rivers change their courses. Snow melt has a lot to do with that. The valley is about a kilometre wide. The Hvanna and Krossa rivers twist back and forth throughout the valley causing ruts and holes as they run. Only four wheel drive vehicles can make the several river crossings. On our way to our bunkhouse on Thursday four people abandoned their four wheel drive rental car at a river crossing and boarded our bus.

We walked this road for nearly five kilometres to get to the Stakkholtsgyja Canyon. This meant we had to climb off the road whenever a car was coming. Brian and I were a little concerned that our fellow walkers were going so slowly on the way out because we wanted to be back before the storm and we wanted to make it back in time for our bus to Reykjavik. Paulina seemed unconcerned. We kept looking back over our shoulder as the sky continued to darken and change.

When we arrived at the canyon we were already an hour behind schedule but we picked up the pace and Paulina was determined to take us to the end of the canyon. We were glad she did because it was magnificent. We climbed boulders where the canyon faces almost touched and where one large boulder was lodged high above us. A beautiful waterfall dropped in a strong torrent from at least eighty feet above us.

We made our return to the bunkhouse much faster although we still had to wade through the icy river. We ate some of our lunch as we walked because we were so hungry. What was to have been a three hour walk took four and three quarters. We walked fifteen kilometres. We had one additional stop en route at the “marriage cave”. Two of our group trudged up the ashy slope then slalomed down it. Paulina said that a number of locals had been married here, but that the number of weddings had begun to fall off as most of these marriages ended in divorce.

Our return to Reykjavik was much the same as our beginning but in reverse with three buses and a taxi van. The rain did not start until we were safely inside the first bus. We did not envy those who were dropped off at campsites. One young woman was picked up at a campsite to return to Reykjavik. She was visibly shaking with cold and I am sure I could hear her teeth chattering. The young ticket taker loaned her his jacket.

The Airbnb we have for two nights is the least appealing of any of our accommodations on this trip. We accessed it through a basement door from the back garden of a house in serious need of a paint job. We were looking forward to our hot shower since we were very dusty from our hike. There was a tiny two piece washroom for the three basement rooms rented. We had to look for a shower. Just when we were about to despair we found one on the other side of the laundry room…a concrete space with exposed pipes and a hand held shower head for which the holder was broken, a bunch of tiny empty shampoo and shower gel bottles littered a basket, a too long pink shower curtain covered the doorway. The good news was that the water was hot and plentiful. There was one good large bottle of shampoo and we had our own shower gel. Our room is the smallest of the three but it is clean and the bed is comfortable.nthere is a large window right at street level so we see legs walking past. We were close to the harbour and found, quite by accident, The Sea Baron, a hole in the wall style of restaurant. Customers were lined up out the door. We joined the queue and were rewarded with excellent lobster soup and a basket of fresh bread with butter at a lower price than expected for Reykjavik. We will return!

We found the cheaper grocery stores, Netto and Bonus. The former is open twenty-four hours, the latter had already closed at nine o’clock. We bought some juice, tea, pastries and Skyr for breakfast. Our tiny kitchen at our lodging had lots of coffee but no tea.

Two guys from Ohio have one of the other rooms. They had just arrived from ten days of driving a Suzuki four wheel drive rental around the island. They loved the western fjords the most but thought the country could splurge and install a few guard rails. They said driving there was very scary but magnificent.

On to Iceland

From Jim’s Casa in Gosforth to Arcturus Guest House in Reykjavik
By Car-Icelandair: Boeing 757-SkyBus-Taxi
7:45 AM to 5 PM
From 15 C to 11C, Sunny
Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Since we had assembled and repacked our belongings last night, we were not long with our morning preparations and breakfast. We were in Jim’s Ford Focus fifteen minutes ahead of schedule. In spite of a tractor that did not want Jim to pass on the first part of our journey, we still arrived at the Manchester airport in two and a half hours.

The first forty-five minutes were the most interesting on curving narrow roads banked by dry stone walls and eight foot high hedges, often those same hedges disguising a stone wall. The fells rose to the west of us and the Irish Sea was intermittently visible to the east. Sheep and cows ignored our passing. Limestone houses, churches and inns in small villages often had cornerstones and doorways made of red sandstone. Since this two way route is more like one lane in Canada, the driver has to be ever vigilant on curves and wherever someone has parked on “the side” of the road, there are no sides! Jim knows these roads and its drivers.

For the next half hour the road was wider and even gave notice of dual carriageway stretches. This means a passing lane. After that we were on the M6 and Jim was able to zoom ahead, until we got closer to Manchester where we slowed to queue for no apparent reason. Jim said that this is normal where the junction of the Liverpool and Manchester motorways meet. Our queue did not last long. Those heading north would be more than an hour breaking out of their queue. So glad not to be them. Although four lane.motorways get you to your destination faster, the scenery leaves me thinking I could be in England or in Ontario or Indiana. Pretty similar.

We hugged Jim good-bye and thanked him for his hospitality. We look forward to seeing him at Cobble Beach in a few weeks. At Manchester airport we were once again in the noisy world of people on the move except where we were waiting in line to get rid of our bag. Once again at security I was taken aside for an extra scan whether this was again random or a certain eau de cow emanating from my boots, I do not know. The checker ran her scanner all around my boots and hands and let me carry on.

I chatted with a young woman from Minnesota. She was amazed that I did not have to remove my hiking boots. She had to remove hers and have them dipped in a liquid. She also did the Coast to Coast. She looked suspiciously at my boots and asked, “Are you sure you did the Coast to Coast? I do not see any mud on your boots.” Brian did a good job with beeswax on Hadrian’s Wall and those puddles yesterday were good for cleansing as well as splashing. Our Minnesota friend started the Coast to Coast to Coast five days after us, did it in thirteen days and had rain a few days with lots of mud on the last day. We live a charmed life.

We lunched on half a New Yorker baguette, enjoyed our cappuccino, and had an oatmeal crumble cookie I still had in my backpack.

I checked us in online last night and was able to move us from row 25 to 9. We do not have extra leg room seats but we do have aisle seats and row 9 is a definite improvement. We are kept waiting in the noisy food area until half an hour before boarding. Several gates use the same lounge so not enough seating otherwise. The lighting is dimmed in the lounge and it is thankfully much quieter.

Life gets better and better! We just boarded the plane only to find that row nine is the extra leg room row. Yeah for the “utgangur” row! And no one is sitting beside us!! The flight steward welcomed us and told us that we are in for fabulous sunny weather for our five day stay!!!

Our flight arrived ten minutes early at Kevlavik Airport, a two hour and twenty-five minute flight, then a one hour time change; so, still time for today’s adventures. We were the first ones off the plane and first through Customs, a snap, and almost the first to get our bags and first Skybus to leave for Reykjavik. Large patches of mauve lupins line the runways.

We believed we were buying the correct bus ticket to get us within a block of our accommodation. We were wrong. The bus terminal is not as central as we were led to believe. Okay if you only have a backpack each but with our supply bag walking an extra fifteen minutes was awkward; so, we took a taxi and have arrived in our basement room in a house that has been converted to house eight guest rooms. The bed is comfy. The window opens sufficiently to give us air at night. We are within walking distance of central Reykjavik and the harbour.

imageimageBus view going to Reykjavik