When you get bitten by the travel viper, it’s only a matter of time before the usual heavily-touristed destinations no longer satisfy. And so, with the narcotic venom of adventure coursing through your veins, you look for more and more remote destinations to visit, in the belief that the grass is always greener on the other side of the world.
For Australians there’s no place more remote than Iceland, and no place more different than our well-worn landscape. Yet here in Britain you’re tantalisingly close to its volcanoes, glaciers and powder-blue thermal pools.
When Jane and I moved to the UK we both fancied visiting Iceland, perhaps en route to the eastern US sometime; we even bought the LP. But things haven’t turned out that way. We haven’t been over to Boston, nicked off to New York, or rocked into Reykjavik. It looked like we would last year, with a friend of Jane’s; then, when we realised the prices quoted were out by a factor of two, it looked like only Jane would; then, thanks to various other complications, we went to Australia instead. Which was all well and beaut, but Melbourne and Tassie have no lava.
We had to settle for seeing another friend’s photos from her trip at around the same time, and figuring that we’d do it properly one day—three weeks of driving on dodgy roads around the whole island. Or maybe never do it, and just chalk it up to unexperience, like the flight to Zurich that never happened.
So it was with mixed feelings that I picked up Tim Moore’s travelogue about Iceland and other northern climes, Frost on My Moustache: The Arctic Exploits of a Lord and a Loafer. Would it be enjoyable, or would it just make me regret that we hadn’t got there?
A Cure for Filter
It looks like I’ve discovered the one site on the web that’s more addictive than the one that’s more addictive than crack. Hopefully it’ll slow down now that I’ve scored a century. I haven’t even been reading blogs... that’s some metadone.
Way out on the tundra of eastern Siberia
Once lived a beast that was stranger than theory: a
Thirteen-foot elephant covered in brown
Shaggy fur from his feet to the top of his crown.
The MAMMOTH—a mammal without any betters!
The MAMMOTH—his name demands capital letters!
Stuck in Limbo
Looks like I’ve got another batch of OEDILF limericks sufficient to fill a page, so here they are.
Feel the Power
Last night we went along to a showcase of Dunfermline bands, including Indafusion, Calcium, Martin Myles, and our friend Gareth’s own Holy Ghost Power (which isn’t some kind of born-again thing, but a wall-of-sound indie band with two drummers, two guitars, and one bass; download their mp3 for a taster). It was a stoatin’ night, as the Daily Record would say; different styles of music across the bands, but all good. I took a few pics of the guys in action, just in case they go and get famous on us, so here you go, Mr soon-to-be-Dr Reid. (And Shauna, the headline’s for you.)
The origin of my long-neglected plan to review the complete works of various authors I’ve been reading this year was my discovery of a specific writer, and subsequent compulsion to read everything he’d written: four books you’ll have trouble finding together in a library or bookstore, but which deserve to be considered collectively.
The armadillo, scaly fellow
Hard above, but tender below
Has a most amazing bellow
Wears a coat of finest yellow
Likes to dine on almond filo
Cleans his teeth with pads of brillo
And sleeps upon an armure pillow
In the arms of an old willow.
The dreaded lurgi has struck, so what better time to fill up the front page with more OEDILF limericks. I should just start a new ghetto for them, er, new section of this vibrant, ever-changing website.
I’ve spent so long learning this language, working on it and playing with it and living by it, that there’s never been time for another. Wandering around the world I’ve wished for others, wishing that I could suck their syntax into my synapses and sing in them, but they stubbornly resist; the words won’t yield, the genders won’t gel, the grammar won’t give. About all I find easy are accents.
It’s hard work, learning another language in adulthood, as I found out last year, taking twelve months to assimilate enough Spanish to survive two weeks of travel. It might have been easier if I’d spent more time on it each week, but there’s never enough time. It might have been easier if I’d learnt more than a few words of it in school, too, but there wasn’t enough time then, either; Spanish isn’t a high priority in Australia.
Neither is French these days, but in that case I was luckier; two years of high school French and some evening classes a few years back have seen me through more than a few French-speaking countries. I always think I’ve forgotten it all, and enough of it always comes back to get by.
A la Recherche du Temps Paris
It’s always hard to make an old place new when writing about it, but how much harder when it’s one of the most visited cities on earth. Every second writer seems to have their own version of Paris, not to mention the painters, photographers, and countless tourists who’ve walked along the Seine. Travel writers nowadays gloss over it, passing through on their way to somewhere else in France; two books by one of my new favourite authors do just that. Because it’s only a short hop from London and New York, everyone assumes that we know all about it.
I suppose I did the same, partly because I’d actually been there before; Paris came towards the end of my own Grand Tour with the family at the age of eighteen. When Jane popped over there for a few days last year, I wasn’t too fussed that I’d run low on leave and couldn’t go with her. I wasn’t about to pass it up a second time, though, so when she went again for a conference last month I went too.
While we’re all waiting for my action-packed post about Paris (okay, while I’m waiting for it), here are some more limericks for the OEDILF. I could just link directly to my author page, but where’s the fun in that? Besides, this way I get to subvert their punctuation rules.