Postcards from Iceland : Its lavaley

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Sometimes Andy and Dallas dare to go off on holiday WITHOUT us. Its not nice and we hope they feel bad and guilty about doing it.

In such circumstances I call upon my trusty friend, Travel Blog. He’s small and squishy and can sneak into their luggage without being detected.

He sends me regular updates, complete with selfies. My spy in the suitcase.

Turns out they flew off to Reykjavik. The most northerly capital city in the world.

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Hi Blog, here at the Blue Lagoon and its is quite surreal. Its about an acre of cloudy, yet glowing, turquoise bath water, situated in the middle of a black lava field. All man-made. Its keeping the people remarkably calm and quiet. I just see their heads in the mist gliding about slowly in the mineral rich spa water.

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The surrounding lava field is rugged and barren. And the knobbly basalt is covered in soft green bouncy moss. There’s no habitation for miles around, just a big geothermal power plant.

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Blog, this is a picture of me on the shores of lake Laugarvatn, right next to a puddle of boiling water. The locals come down here and bury rye bread dough in the sand. They leave it to bake for for about 9 hours! Its sweet, and is delish with smoked trout (apparently).

TB_geysir_1Blog – we have moved on to an area famous for geysirs. Sadly the biggest one (the Great Geysir) was all quiet, but a smaller one (Strokkur) was bubbling up and spurting every 3 or 4 minutes.

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Here I am above a big waterfall called Gullfoss (Golden falls). The falls start off wide, then turns through 90 degrees, and suddenly the water all cascades into deep dark crevice – maybe into the centre of the earth?

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And here I am at Thingvellir. Its a big national park, and the seat of the very first parliament in the world, which started in 930AD. Interestingly it is on two tectonic plates, the Eurasian and the North American. Andy and Dallas snorkelled in a fissure between these plates. They had to wear dry suits (what a palaver) as the water is very cold, coming directly off a glacier.

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Finally Blog, you asked about the wildlife. I have met one Icelandic Sheepdog,  who was white, friendly and wee’d on our car. Have seen lots of Icelandic horses, and learnt not to call them ponies. Missed the puffins, who actually spend the winter somewhere out in the open ocean. And got close up and personal with this chap who may well have drifted to Iceland from Greenland on an iceberg – how cool is that?

Signing off for now, love to you and Genepi.

Travel Blog x

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Crayfish Tale

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‘Our’ Lake is being drained. At this time of year it is normally pretty empty anyway, because the farmers use the water for crop irrigation. Mostly for the maize and soya beans. Here it is, or rather isn’t,  in 2012…

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This year though, because its been so blinking wet and rainy, the lake has remained full. And very, very verdant around the edges. In some places, its like a tropical rainforest. The bamboo especially is thriving.lake_bamboo_1

The farmers are letting out the water, so that they can tackle the overgrown bits. I have no idea what they intend to do exactly, but will no doubt soon find out.

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The upside of this is that the fish are all getting concentrated in a smaller and smaller area. You would think that that would improve my chances of catching one. But it doesn’t. The fish hold all the aces in their watery world.

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the dot in the middle of the lake is me – click on image to enlarge it.

I’m not entirely sure what I would do with a fish if I caught one anyway.

Another aspect of the lake draining are the crayfish. As the water recedes, they are being revealed in great numbers. We all noticed them, except for Genepi. Completely oblivious.

gen_crayfish_1Genepi, look down, you numpty. And, quickly, put that tongue away!

 

Sunflower Safari

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Sunflowers to the north of us, sunflowers to the south of us. They have got us surrounded. The farmer planted them later than everyone else’s, as usual. And they are now at their peak.

Dallas declared it time for a Nature Walk, to principally check out the bee activity on the sunflowers. And also to see what other bugs and butterflies are out and about.

True enough, the sunflowers were abuzz.

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Coming up to midday, and its getting hot.

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The thistles and teasels were also teeming with life. Butterflies, beetles and bumblebees…

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Spiders and wasps…

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But the key thing is that those honey bees are out working their little socks off, and very soon we will be able to see if they have managed to perform their alchemy. And transform sunflower dust into scrummy honey.

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Honey harvest in about two weeks time, all being well.

 

A big white box

blog_mouse_box2Dallas came home with a mysterious big white box. She muttered something about Christmas. Surely its a bit early for presents?

She put it down on the grass, and we went to investigate. Judging from Mouse’s reaction the box isn’t empty!

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It was taken over to the hen enclosure, opened up…

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And out popped this handsome (?) fellow. Not a hen or a cock, but a capon. He is 8 weeks old.

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Poor chap had an operation a couple of weeks ago, when they cut off his bits. There won’t be any baby chicks or cock-a-doodle-doing. The idea is to fatten him up, ready for Christmas Dinner.

What are the chances of that, I wonder?

He came from a local poultry farm, which produces all manner of ducks, hens, guinea fowl, geese etc. It was Dallas’ first visit and the very kind farmer showed her around. This is the capon hut.

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Normally they are outside in the fields, but because today is Pick-Up day they stayed indoors, ready to be united with their new owners.

Our capon should be fine to live in harmony with the Chicky Girls, and be free to graze during the day. I will report back on that.

His name is Baubles.

The Chicky Girls

blog_hens2One of the tasks on my job description is Checking the Chicks. I try to keep them roughly together, with limited success. Let me introduce the Chicky Girls. Four lovely egg-laying hens. Lovely hens, lovely eggs.

The leader of the pack is very definitely Harriet. She is by far the most brazen and bold. She knows she really shouldn’t be in the kitchen. harriet_kitchen_gen Their day starts when they are released from their compound and they head straight over to the house for breakfast. A generous handful of corn each. harriet_kitchen_blog They then pootle about all day, rummaging around in the grass and undergrowth. Occasionally one will head back to the hen house to lay an egg, and then emerge squawking madly trying to relocate her sisters.

Come evening they head back to their compound, tummies full. And are locked in for the night. This is because we have regular, unwelcome visits from our neighbour, the Fox… M2E1L0-51R350B300 M2E1L0-49R350B300 He is not our friend.

A Tale of Two Hives

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We were rejigging the strawberry patch. I have made an Observation about the vegetable patch. During a couple of weekends in late spring, They put plants into the ground, and then spend all the rest of the summer pulling other plants out.

Andy says its called Weeding. It seems to take up an inordinate amount of time.

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There was a strange noise – it started as a low hum, and got louder and louder. And then a black cloud came low over the trees. Aaarghh, a swarm of bees coming straight at us. Run for cover.

We made it indoors and luckily they buzzed off quite quickly. But from whence had they come? Time to check out our hives.

Hive Bee was fine and dandy. Lots of bees and lots of lovely, sticky honey.

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Sadly the same could not be said for Hive A. It was completely infested with Wax Moth, and it must have been our bees who had just emigrated. The hive was in a right old state. Quite repulsive. Upsetting. And needing some urgent action.

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As there were no bees in residence, no viable colony, it was an easy decision to simply destroy the whole lot. All the frames were thrown on the bonfire and burnt.

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And the shell of the hive thoroughly cleaned out. It will be treated with a blow torch too to get rid of any remaining eggs. And will be beepopulated next year.

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To end on a happy note, here is a Carpeneter Bee either pollinating or being pollenated by a Passion Flower.

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Walking with Destiny

One of my very favouritest places in all the world is The Lake.

We go there often, and run and run. And swim and paddle. Chase fish. And birds.

Genepi rescues drowning sticks. Often we have the whole place to ourselves.

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Today we had some Special Visitors.

Let me introduce Destiny, my No. 1 lady. Mother of my children. We had a planned pregnancy. Six kids in all.

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She brought our daughter, Gibsie (Genepi’s sister), together with the Big Aunties, Eden and Delphi.

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And we all went to The Lake, all 6 of us. Plus Dallas and Isabel, our chauffeurs.

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Genepi and Gibsie played racing games. They are both dead fast. And they love being together.

Destiny did sticks. I did my own thing. And the Big Aunties had a play fight.

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Eden is a Pyrenean Mountain Dog (with a hint of polar bear). Delphi is a softie, with gorgeous eyes (don’t tell Destiny I said that).