Some little highlights of the holiday in Iceland

I recently went to Iceland for a holiday. It was quite an eye-opening experience. The landscape was very different to what I’ve ever experienced recently and the cost of food and drink was shocking. The people were mainly friendly and the Reykjavik although small was full of interesting corners and little boutique stores.

Rather than writing a bunch of stuff, I thought I’d pick out some interesting points in my many photos (over 800 believe it or not) I took.

Iceland

The food in Reykjavik was bloody expensive only topped by the price of alcohol. I never quite got to the bottom of why everything consumed was so expensive but a normal meal which would cost you about 20 pounds here, would come to closer to 35 pounds there.

Theres some odd things I found too, including the pork scratching puffs on the meal above.

cIceland

The Harpa is an amazing concert and conference centre and is stunning to look at and be inside of. I was there for a whole just snapping away and gained access to a private party, as I just wonder around. Decided not to take the free champagne as that would be too much I felt. Especially once the black tie party started coming in and someone took to the piano.

Iceland

At Harpa I was able to soak up some jazz from a visiting group from America. They were good but felt slightly stiff in their white shirts and ties. Afterwards the local Reykjavik jazz band took to the stage in a much more colourful attire and to be fair they were a lot better.

Iceland

Because of the barren landscape (learned all the things we think of as trees in Iceland are imported, as their trees are usually about waist high and more like bushes), the transport very different. They ranged from crazy moon buggy truck like things to Nissan leaf electric cars. I gather the price of electric is quite cheap due to lots hydro-electric and energy from the natural landscape.

Iceland

Iceland is a beautiful country but so weirdly different. Everywhere you looked was mountain rages which were huge. Always covered in snow and surrounded by clouds. Unlike elsewhere I have been, there this black material which I think was like tar. It was amazing and very robust unlike soil/dirt I have seen elsewhere.

Snow was everywhere and there was lots of frozen water but interestingly it was easy to get around because the roads and pavements in Reykjavik were heated from the naturally hot water. Snorri was talking to me about how much closer to the environment you are growing up in Iceland, and it shows

Iceland

Seeing the Northern lights I have already spoke about, after going hunting with Snorri was simply amazing. It was a great experience and so great being out with a total pro was enlightening to say the least. An experience which I will never forget…

Iceland

Dawn in Reykjavik was also beautiful, and I was lucky enough to be in a Airbnb room with a skylight which opened wide enough to maybe even climb out of. So one morning, I woke up to use the toilet and snapped a few shots before going back to sleep.

Iceland

Reykjavik and most of most of the icelandics seemed to have quite an interesting sense of humour. Its kind of deadpan funny and refreshing

Iceland

I also find the icelandic humour playful too, as seen in the single gloves dating site and coloured houses.

Iceland

The street art of Reykjavik was great to see and plentiful. Brian said a lot of the bigger stuff comes from the Iceland Airwaves festival, which is a big thing every year. I imagine in a small city like Reykjavik it really would take over.

Iceland

I still find the new Icelandic traditional of Hotdogs after a night out, very weird. I guess others would find the same of the british idea of kebab’s strange. Heck I find the idea of gravy and chips weird enough myself.

Of course things like the Swimming in the outdoor pool while it was 3-c, the Golden Circle was great and generally I was lucky not to be caught in a snow storm or even much rain. It was cold yes but not as bad as I thought it would be. I took too much winter clothes but really enjoyed myself, even with the weirdness of my airbnb experience once again.

Hope to go back, maybe with some food and drink of my own…

Finally, the northern lights…

The Northen Lights above Reykjavik

I have always wanted to see the Aurora Borealis/Northern Lights but never really seeked them out till this trip to Iceland.

Brian sent me a DVD and was more determined than ever to go and see them. Last afternoon, Brian the great man that he is, introduced me to the man/legend Snorri Por Tryggvason. Snorri is an incredible man, who talked about his joy of capturing the northern lights and how he’s always raising the bar in his pictures & movies. Some of the pictures on his phone were incredible especially the ones with a formation of distant stars nicely positioned in the background. He’s a humble man with tons of experience under his belt.

At some point Snorri, looked at the cloud cover for the area. He suggested chasing/hunting the Aurora and asked if I wanted to come? I hadn’t really thought about hunting for them in the way storm chasers do, but I jumped at the chance. So it was set, 9:30pm pick up and we drive out of the city to chase down the northern lights in between the clouds.

I got quickly cooked, eat and put on 5 layers on my top half and 4 below. Wore two thick socks and my gore-tex adidas trainers. I was ready for the elements at -1. Snorri took me to some great spots tourists miss out on, while keeping an eye on the skies.

It was the 3rd place (Elliðavatn) when we started to see the green rays in the sky, so awestruck I fumbled with my Nikon D3200 manual settings while kneeling into some thick snow. Snorri snapped a great photo of me trying to get things ready (its a fantastic picture, and shows how much experience he has to grab such a photo with my own gorilla pod). Snorri then helped me setup my camera just in case of a second showing. We didn’t have to wait long as they danced around the sky again 5mins later. Shame I didn’t level the camera correctly, but it’s easily fixed when shooting in 24 megapixel raws.

The Northern lights was stunning and with the city in the distance, it was quite an amazing experience. I was surprised that although it was cold, lying in the snow wasn’t as bad as I’d first imagined it would be (those waterproof clothes had done their job well).

As I drove back with Snorri along some frankly amazingly snowy roads which only a 4×4 should take. We talked about what had led me here, my brush with death, life and my next Holiday with Kate, it was a wonderful experience and I can’t praise the man highly enough for his knowledge, experience, friendly conversation and patience. It’s a true geek who always wants to better themselves but also wants to share the knowledge along the way; as he has in icelandaurorafilms. Of course Snorri’s not stopped there, his latest project is FlowVR – meditation technology.

I feel extremely excited (so much that I can’t sleep at 2am), lucky and amazed by last night. Something I will never forget!

Updated… Here is that shot from Snorri with me taking the shot above.

me taking a shot of the northern lights
Yes that’s certainly me with that distinctive sockhat and large coat, nealing in the snow…

Where to go in Iceland?

Iceland

Its partly might own fault, I knew I was going to Iceland at some point but never really looked into where to go? I mainly think about finally seeing the northern lights but what else should I be doing? I’ve been looking into a bit on and off but not really spent the time working out what I should be doing when not looking into the night sky.

I’m staying in Reykjavik in a lovely Airbnb loft and I’ll be seeing Brian Suda a for a few days at least. But which other places should I be seeing?

You have to remember I won’t be driving, so reliant on local buses and I’m not super great at the outdoors as the week afterwards will make clear. Theres a ton of tours to different places but over the week, I’m wondering which ones are must sees and when in Reykjavik, where should I eat and drink? Don’t forget I have those allergies.

Take this as a bit of a lazyweb or crowd sourcing, love to get peoples thoughts; but its got to be soon as I’m off soon.

 

Seems even at 36000ft you can’t escape?

At 36,000 feet you can't escape me?

I always knew Horizon was syndicated widely but seeing it on a plane is kind of insane. a Thanks to Claire for the very freaky tweet.

I did say in reply, its a good thing it wasn’t undressed!

I’ll have to give something to the person who happens to watch season 1 episode 9 of undressed on a plane, using the in flight system and then grabs a snap… What exactly is uncertain but I’ll think of something.

Scary stuff eh!

…bring 100 euros in cash and your passport?!

p03pqkfy

Myself and Kate have had this long running dare to take each other out of comfort zone, it all comes from our recording on the listening project. A part of it made it to BBC Radio Manchester and  BBC Radio 4.

Its been a while and Kates decided to take me somewhere in March. I say somewhere because I literally know nothing about where we are going ..except a few things.

I’ve been told to bring..

Comfortable & warm clothes, a waterproof coat, a pair of sturdy trainers or walking shoes.

I don’t have much when it comes to rugged wear like waterproof coats, I’m more an umbrella man. But I did buy a pair of Gortex trainers just incase.

On top of those… Kates told me to bring

My Passport, 100 Euros in cash, addresses to post postcards, snacks, tunes and some sunglasses?

I am in the total dark!

Kate has confirmed there might be some mains power but no wifi and little to little to no mobile signal. Meaning I’ll be off the grid for a short while in March. This also means you shouldn’t be alarmed if you don’t see me tweet for a while. I already have 3 mobiles on 3 different networks in the hope one will get some data. Tunes and snacks I can do but sunglasses? I do wonder where we are going?

Part of me finds it exciting and the other side finds it terrifying. I have the idea we might end up on a island somewhere off Ireland. But that doesn’t really explain the sunglasses. I’m also assuming you need a passport for Ireland (which isn’t strictly true) but might explain the 100 euros in cash?

Why did I sign up to this again?

Update on being turned away from home sweet home

I did a little update since being turned away from home sweet home nq last year…

Here’s the update…

Since I wrote the blog last year, a lot has happened. Someone in the social media team picked up on this blog post and got in touch with the owner. The owner (Marie) then got in touch with me and we met one morning in the Home Sweet Home at the great northern. We talked through things and she explained the Northern Quarter kitchen is a lot smaller, the chief may not have felt comfortable with cooking for me; but none of that was an excuse for being turned away. Especially since I was happy to take the risk after everything was explained to me by the manager on the day.

She brought along the current allergy menu (as things change every few months) and I went through it with her and a couple chief’s (I wasn’t quite sure if one of them was from each restaurant or not) to see what I could and couldn’t have. After the exchange, I dashed off to work with a copy of the allergy menu. We then kept in touch over email and we double checked different foods for allergies. I was very confident about what would be fine.

I had always planned to revisit home sweet home after our exchange but with the winter holidays, etc, didn’t quite make it. I also got into the habit of making a big salad from bits from the supermarket on the way to werewolf at Madlab. However this month I arrived back from Liverpool early and decided I’ll finally test Home sweet home again.

This time I was shown to a single table and I asked for the allergy menu. I was asked about my allergies and I produced the allergy card. This was passed on to the manager who took my order and warned me about cross contamination. I said it was fine and she went away. She came back pretty soon afterwards and told me the beans are obviously a problem but what would I like instead? I laughed I would love halloumi instead, she said not a problem and went away.

It took a while, which is fine as I had time on my side. The Wifi was a little bit of a pain as I had to register for it. But generally I sat and drank my cocktail. Then the moment came, chicken fajitas with halloumi. It was very nice and came with dips which I wasn’t sure about, so left them as it was great without them

I paid when I finished and gave quite a big tip for a cocktail and main, but I was impressed not to be turned away again and was happy with the service.

The blog post had certainly helped and I’ll be back at Home Sweet Home more often now. Thanks Marie and the team!

I won 2nd prize at #Smutslam Manchester

I already wrote about smutslam manchester  and how I thought it was a fun idea. So I went along (alone, due to friends dropping out for various reasons).

I had no intention of talking, but Cameryn and helpers really put me at ease. I looked at the form with my drink in hand on the top floor of the kings arms in Salford. People were encouraged to fill in a question for Cameryn’s fcukbucket, which she would pull out during event.

2017-01-31 19.42.51

So I thought about it and asked Cameryn if the story had to end in a sexual manner? She said no, real life isn’t like that! Perfect answer, so I put my name in the “Smut slammers” glass.

The evening really started with a bang, Cameryn gave a entertaining talk about a sexual experience on a british train. Then explained the rules to be very clear. The evening move forward with talks by different people but what surprised me was having my name read out right before the break.

I was quite shocked even though I had only put it in the glass about 30mins before. I thought about a couple story’s but I remember Ross saying how good the disabled toilet incident story was (haven’t posted this one). It was fun but a little nerve racking with no slides or notes. I just talked and removed the less important details.

Like the other storys, I’m not going into details I can never do them justice, you needed to be there… Some were tragic, some hysterical, but all true and told from the heart. I described mine as somewhat Adrian Mole, which was picked up by a woman after the break. She told a story of a missed opportunity too.

In the second half, four more storys were told including the winner which was closely tragic and full of thought. The whole room was gripped by the story.

By the time the judges had decided, I was very convinced my story wasn’t going to be in the top 3. It was annouced there was a tie for 3rd place, then the lady who also described her story as like Adrian Mole with another man. Still thinking, I know who would be 1st and a idea who might be 2nd, I was gobsmacked when my name was announced as 2nd.

I was simply blown away, especially since there was some great well told stories and mine was much closer to rating 15 rather than 18.

The prizes were sex toys and the overall winner picked something which I couldn’t really described easily (I think its something for the very sexually mature I assume). I choose the purple vibrator, thinking it might be a nice gift for one of my female friends.

Vibrator

The whole event was fun, cheerful and I felt extremely welcome. I had thought it might be heavily kinky but it wasn’t, it was both kink and vanilla (I picked that up from what some people were saying on the night). Its going to run every month now and theres going to be monthly events in Manchester, London, Brighton, Bristol and Edinburgh.

Honestly it was a fantastic evening and so glad I went along, highly recommended for a good times, good atmosphere and good stories. Thanks to Cameryn, the judges and the whole team which made it happen.

Worth saying Cameryn is looking for a more accessible venue and a local sex toy supplier.

Seeking the Aurora in Iceland

Northern Lights (Aurora)

I have always wanted to see the Northern Lights / Aurora Borealis and finally there is a very good chance this might finally happen. Flights and Airbnb is booked for this yearly quarter and of course I’ll be happy to catch up with Brian too, especially since he nicely sent me the Iceland Aurora DVD.

I’ll be staying in Reykjavík, so if you think theres something I should be doing besides visiting the golden circlerelaxing in hot spas and of course seeing the northern lights. Do add a comment or tweet me.

Northern Lights

Can’t wait! Even got my winter trainers today, perfect timing…!

Airbnb is weird because people are weird?

Stay wild stylised

Reading the guardian’s recent piece about Airbnb, I was taken by this paragraph.

No matter how glossy and cool the Airbnb advertising is, with all the shiny shots of people staying in Airstreams in Texas backyards or converted air-conditioned food trucks in New Orleans, staying in an Airbnb is weird because people are weird, and their lives are complicated, their routines idiosyncratic and their bookshelves are windows into their souls. Conversations are curious, and awkward silences are things to be negotiated. You cannot be on automatic pilot at an Airbnb because strange things happen in other people’s homes, on their patch, across their kitchen tables.

As I have written about previously, I have had my ups and downs with Airbnb. Mainly ups but also some weird experiences too, including 2 experiences with cheese in my fridge.

Its certainly makes for a interesting life.

Another Honda Silverwing but in Blue

Honda Silverwing 600

Finally part-exchanged my Honda Silverwing 600 which I have had for 13 years for another newer model Honda Silverwing 600 (600cc with ABS). Its a great bike and although I looked for other higher CC maxi-scooters, but decided the Silverwing still has the edge on price, reliability and years on the market. I test rode the Honda NC700D Integra (700cc) and BMW C 650 GT (650cc); but decided the Integra along with a motorbike, lacked everyday storage; the BMW was too expensive with few on the 2nd hand market.

I been to many places on the old Honda Silverwing but it was old and I’ve been told multiple times its going to start costing more to fix than to get another one.

Pretty happy with the bike so far, especially since my old Givi top box, fits the rack and I replaced the horrible Givi black box (one for ebay I think). That and I’m having to work out the fitted alarm which didn’t come with instructions but I found online easily enough.

Just a shame the weather has been so rubbish this weekend, at least tomorrow I get to ride work on it.

Shenanigans in Bucharest

Stay wild stylised

You’re in a bar in Bucharest during the summer, its about midnight and you can’t speak Romanian. The bar is quiet enough but outside in the smoking area its pretty busy.

Shenanigans in Bucharest

At the bar you spot a man with a dummy leg in his back pack. Its hardly discreet, as its sticking out the top like a beacon. I imagine most would note it and carry on drinking, like everyone else.

Of course thats not me, my curiousity is peaking and I strike up a conversation in english with the man.

Shenanigans in Bucharest

We talk about the leg and why? I mean why go to a club with one dummy leg. Why only one? These are the questions in my head. Turns out he’s a local artist and the bar tender also knows him. We have a good natter, his english is good and the bar tender’s english is perfect.

Shenanigans in Bucharest

During the conversation (about 20mins) and drinks, the artist drew me a doodle on the back of my bar reicipt. Something that will stick in my mind when ever I think about Bucharest again.

Its the little things which make life fancinating and wonderful, you just need to engage.

If you look up shenanigans, its defined as…

Secret or dishonest activity or manoeuvring.
Silly or high-spirited behaviour; mischief.

I don’t see it like that at all… Stay wild!

My New years resolutions for 2017

Thinking Digital Manchester 2016
Can’t remember what prompted me to start blogging my new years resolutions but its become a good habit.

Following my review of last year… here’s my New Years Resolutions for 2017; which follows on from 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010.2009, 2008 ones.

  1. Be taken out of my comfort zone by Kate and take her out of comfort zone
    This still needs to happen and next year seems to be a good time for both of us. So expect to see some distress tweets about being lost in the middle of nowhere with no wifi, no power and only GPRS/Edge support. Well I guess if its warm and dry (not sure this will be the case) I can read some more or practice my circus skills?
  2. Head further a field with the scooter
    I was planning a trip to Northern Ireland (a place I’ve never been to) on the scooter but the weather didn’t quite work out with when I was actually around. Its still on the cards and with my possible new scooter even?
  3. Improve my circus skills
    Its getting there, but the vertex is still not quite there. More practice is needed and more days of sunshine in media city will help with this.
  4. Visit a Japanese styled spa at least once every 4 months in the UK
    Since I left Japan, I’ve decided I need to go to a spa more often. I skipped it again this year, although I did go to Liquidrom in Berlin twice. So now its a challenge to myself to find one and go. Looks like the Midland hotel might be the winner on this front.
  5. Ride a roller coaster in another country
    Return from last year. Its got to happen and it will be a shame if I don’t even go on a rollercoaster in 2017. Maybe a trip to Spain for Port Aventura. Plus theres all the other ones including Europa Park, Efteling and I guess Disney world (if I must).
  6. See the Aurora (Northern lights)
    Still haven’t seen them and 2017 I got to at least try. Be it head to Iceland (brian suda has offered many times – thanks!), Sweden or maybe I can combine this with going to Finland or Norway?
  7. Read more
    I bought a android eink tablet late in the year to replace my kindle, giving me access to epubs and better support for the way I like to read. I also switched from Instapaper to Wallabag to take back control of my deeper internet reading. This is the year when I’m expecting much more in-depth reading generally.
  8. Go to a new part of the world
    Its a weird one, as I have been to Portugal and Romania this year, two places I haven’t been. But why stop there? I already have plans for Hong Kong/South Korea in March/April. Then I’m thinking about the other Scandinavian countries Norway and Finland, perfect for seeing the northern lights
  9. Don’t shy away controversy and get more political
    Digging this one out of the past but added the political aspect. With all which is going on right now, its time to be a little more out spoken about the wrongs and rights in our democratic system. I mean how can you say little to Trumps thoughts to improve the USA’s nukes!
  10. Go to more comedy clubs and contemporary theatre plays
    I love comedy and I don’t go to enough comedy clubs. Plus the last few years I haven’t been to nearly enough contemporary theatre plays. Theres been some great ones including one performed in complete darkness called light and the machine. This year is also the year of the Manchester International Festival which will help a lot, but the contact theatre and frog and bucket should be regular haunts. I almost considered standup comedy for a laugh but thought better of it… hence… improvisation
  11. Take a improvisation class
    I like the idea and I think I might actually be pretty good at it, so I’m going to give it ago. Already tracked down a class in the local area I could join, but it clashes with Volleyball and the Dyslexia group I’m in.
  12. Replace my scooter
    Its time to replace my Honda Silverwing scooter which has lasted me many years (think its 13 years!) Its done a lot of miles and although it runs fine, the body work and general wear and tear is costing too much to fix now. Its will make some one a good cheap project but right now its less useful to me and who knows if it will pass its next MOT without some serious changes.

Everything’s going to be alright

Brexit
Frankly 2016 has been pretty shocking… Brexit, Trump, Internet censorship, Data retention, the increasing divide between the working class and middle class. I’m not saying its the worst year ever or the worst I have ever experienced, just its pretty bad.

I think this sums up so much

The Brexit campaign was centred on the idea of taking back control. That is what it said in huge letters on the red bus – a slogan that went far beyond the demand for control of our borders.

The point was that people all over Britain were desperate for a democratic system that gave them some semblance of control over their destiny, in a globalised and interconnected world where decisions often seem to be made by anonymous elites a long way away.

To them, the European Union was one obvious villain.

Ok enough… I decided a long time ago that I can’t worry about the things I can’t easily change, I can only change the things which I have direct control over. Actually trying to change everything drives you slightly nuts.

I can't change the world, but I can change the world in me

I happen to read laura’s blog while on the bus back from Bristol and it seemed to fit perfectly here, as I start to deconstruct this years love life.

Its been a busy year but honestly not nearly as much love as you would have thought. I made the effort to date less and have more purpose about my love life. This meant less time on OKcupid, PoF, Bumble and being more selective when speed dating. I tried going more organic with dating aka through friends of friends, its been ok. You do start to wonder sometimes… but I agree with Laura on bad dates…

The consistent comment is that I have such terrible luck, and always end up on these really ‘bad dates’, but I can’t help but disagree. There’s no such thing as bad dates, just the opportunity for a good story, a page in the autobiography, and the more terrible the date, the better the story. In my opinion, the worst possible kind of date are the ones that aren’t memorable, and usually they’re so because nothing of note, either good or bad happened.

Some would say this sounds odd, cold or calculated? But honestly it’s not, the point is each interaction changes you and your outlook. A new story a new experience, a new view. Some dates are memorable and some you forget about. It’s worst to be non-memorable and one worst to be memorable for the wrong reasons.

This is always a tricky time to be single and for some of my newly single friends it’s a lonely time. I can only say this is a good time to take stock, be honest with family/friends and share. Its not the time for judgement. Its time to listen and enjoy each others company.

Think about what makes you unique and focus on that rather all the things which you should be (no matter what people, media, etc say). Theres a lot of pressure to be this, that or another. One of my new years resolutions was to think humanity, being human we are not perfect but we can only be the best we are. We move through life in the best we feel (hopefully not harming ourselves or others). For me thats being as honest, genuine and open as I can be.

For me, I enjoy meeting new people (I’m very much an extrovert) and tend to make things an experience worth remembering. Focus on the present as thats what you can change now; don’t dwell on the past and think about the future.

Enjoy the holidays and each other…

Career Skills = Dating Skills

Interview?

I’ve always said theres parallels between the core skills and outlook in dating and a career.

Here is 5 career skills which work for dating too.

Set a goal. When you are looking to get ahead in your career, you set some goals to get to the desired place you want. When you work towards something, you feel more productive and optimistic about the future, whether it is career, a fitness goal, a hobby, or even dating.

Get organized. Who can proceed without a plan? The sooner you get organized, the better. Research your options for online dating, such as which dating apps to try. Put time aside in your busy work schedule to actually date and have fun. Enlist a friend to help set up your profile, take pictures, or keep you on track by checking in to see how your dates are going.

Put yourself out there. You can’t move forward in your dating life if you’re fearful. Dating requires a certain amount of courage, and a certain amount of playfulness – remember, not everyone is going to be right for you, so don’t take rejection so seriously. It will happen, and you move on. Instead, focus on trying to have fun, not trying to meet or be the perfect date.

Let go of old ideas and attitudes. Are you too old-fashioned to ask a guy out? It’s time to get over those old dating stereotypes. You are confident in the office when you ask for what you want, or when you manage a project – so why not be a boss in your dating life? Make eye contact with the hot guy at the bar (and hold it!), or try making the first move. Message your matches first. Don’t want for him to ask you out – do it yourself.

Be clear about what you want. In our jobs, we are aware of our goals, and we work towards them. Likely your boss knows your next steps, or at least has an idea of what you want to eventually be doing. This applies to your dates. If you start dating with an attitude of “let’s see where this goes,” you’ll end up stuck in a dead-end relationship, much like a dead-end job when you don’t know what you want. Get focused and stick to your goals. Envision a future that you want. It will pay off in the end.