Yarns from the north

Day 10. Thursday 23 May. 

We’d decided to have an easier, shorter day, ahead of some planned trips that involve longer drives. The day started with a cup of tea, and this is proof that it’s not only D who sits up in bed playing with his device.

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After the usual shopping for fuel and small food items (its almost subsistence living) we headed pretty much north, towards the eastern side of a marine area called Hunafloi (Huna Bay). We passed through some impressive lava flows, covered in a soft lichen or moss and a constant was the burbling of the snow-melt streams (but not a fisherperson in sight).

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The scenery became very similar to driving across the Monaro, which made it hard to take any spectacular photos with our limited cameras, although the vista was awesome. Some land was cultivated, with what seemed to be improved pasture, and there were herds of sheep and cattle, but in both cases in small numbers.  Farm buildings seemed to be in excellent shape, with no signs of derelict or abandoned properties. Given the isolation, T did wonder whether the younger generations are willing to take on family farms.

After a detour to Stadur intending to find a coffee shop but rather finding not much of anything that was open, we headed for a larger town called Hvammstangi (Arctic seal watching) on the small Midfjordur, passing the larger Hrutafjordur. Both were enclosed by relatively sloping land, although we were up quite high on the road. The icy wind was a constant and the sea was choppy: we were not going swimming today.

After driving around in circles, searching….searching….we eventually found a restaurant for coffee and a sweet treat. On to the Woollen Mill factory.  Apart from hand-knitted and machine -knitted garments, there was a selection of yarns and within this T noticed some with a crinkly thread. Enquiring, it turns out that this yarn is due to the efforts of ‘an elderly man in a nursing home who unpicks Icelandic sweaters’ and the yarn is then sold for re-cycling/upcycling. T was taken by this story and the price was SO right… no idea what it will become but the shopkeeper said cheerily, ‘You’ll figure it out’.

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We left without any other purchases: the lovely Icelandic sweaters were a tad too expensive. And as we left, we noticed several signs pointing to coffee shops.

Although not planned, we decided to continue north to Blonduos, on the Hunafjordur. There was a small craft shop, and T engaged the woman knitting at the counter about techniques, but she apparently didn’t speak English (the other woman, that is) and between them, language differences notwithstanding, some explanation became partly clear. D reckons it’s a ‘women’s business’ thing.

Dropped in to check out the camping ground: again, beautifully appointed and only one caravan. It was pricy though: around $40 per night for two people, plus another $10 for a powered site. The facilities were in excellent condition, and included a washing machine and drier. Guess that’s on a par with OZ. Loved the roof of the ablutions block!

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Retracing our steps, as this was mostly an out-and-back journey, we took an alternative route involving about 20 kms of gravel road. It was in great condition, and the only hassle was the last five kms or so, which were undergoing extensive roadworks. Other traffic was considerate.

Temperature, according to Yaris, ranged from 8 to 18 degrees. In the north the wind chill factor was high: these trees suggest it’s a constant!

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The cross wind tried to push poor Yaris from the road, occasionally to T’s consternation as D adjusted.

So the day was longer than originally planned and we’d again spent big time in the car. T decided she needed a walk into town and suggested to D that he come too, and find a pub to have a beer. Too good an offer to refuse! In town T dropped into the Tourist Information Centre to ask some questions (namely about fishing, agricultural cropping, and Icelandic utilities). The young woman behind the desk, who just wanted to shut up shop and go home (or to the pub) claimed that she didn’t know the answers because she was just there to tell people where to go (as in nice places to visit). T got partial answers and was recommended to go to a farm and a fish co-op and ask there, so there will be another interrogation of someone else tomorrow.

Finding a pub was not so easy. Accosted a young woman who knew exactly what we wanted – but she was a tourist too, and had just arrived in town, literally stepping out of her car, so she couldn’t help. We were outside a large hotel, but wanted something with atmosphere rather than an indoor bar: we spotted a cafe up the road and hallelujah, it sold beer and wine.

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We sat on the deck in the sun enjoying our beer and a garlic and cheese flat bread. The walk home took a long time.

D has been determined to sample local beers, so bought three samples earlier in the week They have all been tasted, and a fourth was added at the café tonight. Judgement? They are all ‘general purpose’ beers (like VB, say) very pleasant and refreshing, but not intriguing or challenging like craft beers (Oh dear, sounding like a hipster now!).

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Tonight’s dinner was a cod thing with fennel, tomato and zucchini, with enough leftover to get started tomorrow. It was delicious, according to D, who has written this comment. At 9pm, the sun is super bright and there’s not a cloud in the sky..!

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