A lot of fun points came up in the last comment thread; however, before I address those let me assure Cat that AAH had a great day at work on Saturday [despite the text message that came mid-afternoon declaring that she was dead on her feet and had better get paid real good for this] and has now been taken on as permanent weekend staff. YT got on the blower yesterday and called up the bakery manageress just to flex some metaphorical muscle on AAH’s behalf [or, more to the point, make it clear to her that she has parents keeping a close watch on the proceedings so she better not try any funny stuff, or else]. As yet the rate-of-pay has yet to be confirmed; however, manageress said they would pay the retail union’s minimum wage, which isn’t too bad, considering.

A bit of a myth, really. There are trees, just not all over. Outside of urban areas the landscape is pretty bare. They say that at the time of the Settlement in 874 AD Iceland was covered in forest, but alas, since then our topsoil has more or less all blown out to sea. Efforts have been made to reverse the trend by planting lupine all over the place, which binds the topsoil but unfortunately is the plant version of rabbits – it spreads so quickly that the whole country has practically turned purple in just a few years. What ‘forests’ there are are usually birch forests [some evergreen forests, too] that don’t grow very high, hence this joke:

Q: What do you do when you’re lost in an Icelandic forest?
A: You stand up.

Maja corrected me on this one. There are, of course, the sheep round-ups. Here in Iceland, sheep roam wild for the duration of the summer. In September, there are these big round-ups, where people either go walking or on horseback over large areas and herd all the sheep back to a corral where they are sorted according to ear markings. The sorting is called ‘réttir’ and typically happens on a single day on a weekend, or sometimes the entire weekend. It inevitably turns into a big party, with lots of carousing in the evenings. In certain parts of the country there are horse round-ups, too, where horses have been allowed to roam wild for the summer. Those are incredibly spectacular, particularly seeing the wild horses all charging in a herd towards the corral.

I have actually been asked, ‘Iceland – is that near Alaska?’ and ‘Iceland – that’s in America, right?’ Then there’s the classic, ‘Are there Eskimos in Iceland?’ and ‘Do people live in Igloos’ and of course every variation of: ‘Brrr… isn’t it cold up there?’

It’s a beautiful day and not very cold. Sunny with the odd cloud, slight wind, crisp. Still loads of tourists in town despite it being September and nothing happening, natch. Huge cruise liner moored offshore in Reykjavík today with 3,500 people on board – that’s probably why they were so visible earlier. Temps at the moment are 9°C and daybreak was at 05.40, nightfall set for 20.18.