The Westman Islands Part One: For when the big Iceland isn’t small enough

We were lucky enough to get to spend time on the tiny Westman Islands about a week ago. It is a truly gorgeous place, even if it has the windiest point in Europe on the south side of the main island. We rented bikes that turned out to be very difficult to ride (flat tires and no charge make it hard to use an e-bike) and we got to take a rolling ferry from the ‘main land.’

I almost instantly wanted to move there.

More soon! It’s very busy around here with the scout jamboree!

360 Degree Hike: Langidalur in Thorsmok

Our previous hike attempt had ended in difficulty when the trail became little more than a rock scramble eight feet wide, with huge drops on both sides. We choose correctly and went back down, saving ourselves for more traveling and hiking later.

The next day, we did a short, steep, and gorgeous hike straight up from Langidalur campground.

The trail is relatively easy, if a bit steep. The only exposure to high drops comes at the very end of the trip, and is easily avoided. The reward? 360-degree views of Thorsmok and the surrounding areas and photos that look like they’ve been ‘shopped.

Next up: Westman Islands, Part One

Otherworldly Fog in the Icelandic Landscape

The other night, a fog rolled in after 11 pm. Yes, the light you see in this picture is the Arctic (practically) Midnight sun, illuminating the fog and the valley we will live and work in for the next three months.

The area we live in for the summer is like an alien planet at times. It is very familiar, and yet so different. The ground is soft with moss that must be nearly a foot thick off the roads. The lake is crystal clear and a shade of blue that makes it look like someone poured landscaping dye into it. The kind used in golf courses.

We drank from a stream yesterday. When we commented that it felt very strange to drink from a stream, our house mates (Icelandic) told us that one can drink from any body of water in Iceland. It might not always taste good, but it will not hurt you. That seems alien, indeed, after a year in Shanghai where you can’t drink the tap water.

Bizarre, that something so natural as drinking water should seem so thrilling. Humans must be so generally out of touch with the natural world.

The fog followed us home until it was so thick that the sun was blocked out. The way across the power plant’s bridge became like something from a video game, where we led our bikes across and couldn’t see more than about 20 feet. A huge change from the bright sunlight.

Beautiful, changeable Iceland.

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Into the sunny fog

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Over the Lake, near Midnight

First-Time Fermenter

I’m experimenting with making new foods, now that I won’t mess up my boyfriend’s parents’ kitchen every time. While browsing Pintrest one day, I came across this little diddy.

All credit to Wellness Mama

All credit to Wellness Mama

I couldn’t wait to try it. t love fermented things! Kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, beer…you name it. I set about making my ginger bug as shown on the Wellness Mama website, and tweaked it just slightly by adding a pinch of brewer’s yeast as well. I am impatient, and I hoped that would make it ferment a little faster/cleaner (My first attempt at this used “wild yeasts” from sitting around open all night. It moulded over. Fail).

After a few days, I got this.

Ginger Bug

Ginger Bug

Not superbly appetising, but oh well. I followed the steps to make a wort and put it all in a jar, reserving some of the ginger bug for more fermentations. I left it sit at room temperature in my cupboard for a few days to ferment.

Ginger Ale Jar

Ginger Ale Jar

Today I decided to try it. First, I filtered it through a cloth. It was still pretty cloudy, mind you.

Filtering

Filtering

Ta-da!

Ta-da!

And then came the moment of truth. Tasting my creation. I filmed, for your enjoyment (please excuse the cabinet door in the way). Just so you know, the word “beer” here does not mean alcoholic beverage. In England, “ginger ale” is just called “ginger beer.” Success! It’s drinkable!

My version is not bubbly, but flat. I was too afraid to screw the top of the jar on tight, for fear it would explode and make my new housemates despise me. It’s pretty tasty, though!