Life continues as normal

Well, looks like I didn't write anything here for the whole of August. The fact is, living in Iceland no longer seems like something novel and worth writing about - it has just become my daily life. Therefore I find myself considering most of it quite unremarkable and of interest only to myself and those who are sharing it with me, plus close family back in England. Just like I never felt any urge to write about my pre-Iceland life on the internet, although it was eventful in its own quite ordinary way, I don't really feel like anything I'm doing now is internet-worthy. Although god knows you can find some bollocks on the internet.

I just remembered this site today because I am supposed to be doing work for university (oh hello internet procrastination, how I've missed you!), and also because I've been reading my cousin's blog about her recent relocation to the Netherlands. Which I highly recommend if you've enjoyed this blog because we have a similar sense of humour I'd say, and she writes very well. It made me think of a lot of funny things that I have experienced as an expat. Is that what I am now? I suppose so. So I decided that some sort of update was in order, although I have no expectations of writing that regularly on here any more, and neither should you. 

So I started my third degree and second MA in the beginning of September - Þýðingafræði (Translation Studies) at the University of Iceland. Things seem to be going pretty well so far, although I've yet to have a grade back so who knows. I'm currently working on a 6000 word translation of a chapter from Tvímæli by Ástráður Eysteinsson, which is an academic publication about translation theory. So that's kind of meta. Last week I was set the task of translating part of a motorbike instruction manual from English to Icelandic, for which I am hopelessly underqualified. I had a stab at it, but basically Grétar did it for me. This was somewhat disheartening, but I shouldn't really have been asked to translate out of my native language in the first place. I am hoping that for more extended pieces of writing, essays and such like, I will be able to get away with writing in English, since although I understand Icelandic I remain fairly poor at producing good, academic standard written Icelandic. 

Autumn is most definitely here - in fact it arrived in the closing week of August. It was as if someone had flipped a switch, suddenly the gales and the cold rain began, the temperature dropped and the leaves began to change. We've had some nice sunny autumnal days in recent weeks, but there's no possibility of going out without a coat these days. The falling leaves have been a source of amusement for Ljóni, who likes catching them and then bringing them inside to "kill" them on the floor. So our flat is full of little bits of torn-up leaf. He is a pest; he is just lucky that he is quite cute.

A few weekends ago I went to stay in a summer house with Grétar and some of his friends. I saw my first northern lights of the season, did some fun recreational drinking, relaxed in the hot pot, visited Surtshellir, Hraunfossar and Barnafoss and ate a lot of meat (both during and after the trip, because in Bónus before we went Grétar insisted on buying a few animals' worth). I would have pictures of some of these things but I seem to have misplaced my camera. I think maybe I left it in the summer house, which means I should be able to get it back because someone must have found it. Investigations on this front are ongoing.

In more distant news, the August trip to France with stopovers in London was a success, although a hot success beset by biting insects who seemed to be particularly partial to my boyfriend's blood. It was good to see the family again, nice that they got to meet Grétar and vice versa, which seemed to go pretty well. I always like going to the French house, it's a particularly beautiful area, although I think next time I'd like it not to be high summer. My poor Iceland-acclimatised body starts malfunctioning if the temperature goes much above twenty degrees. It was quite a relief to get back home after a hot, crowded, busy day in Olympics-ridden London with some old uni friends. Not that it wasn't a good day! Just London always takes it out of me, and the contrast between that and the cool temperatures and low population of Reykjavík makes me so glad I live here and not there. Anyway, here are some pictures from a hotter, sunnier, more wooded, less Icelandic time. If my camera is located, which I have every hope of, I will show you some pictures more in keeping with the general theme of this blog.

Grétar and me on a hay-bale near Château Bonaguil. Outfit coordination was unplanned.
Me up the top of the château.
Mes parents.
My brother and his girlfriend, Alison.
Grétar and the beer fridge!
Otto the dog collapsed in the heat.
Grétar, Otto and me swimming in the Lot river.

How to Behave in Cafés

If you, as it seems is the case with many members of the general public, enjoy the recreational baiting of those poor souls compelled to work in the service industry, here are a few tips for achieving maximum effect:

  • Place your order fifteen minutes before closing time. The more items you can get the staff to use that they already tidied/washed up, the better. Bonus points for insisting on eating your food there.
  • Take ten thousand paper napkins. Make all of them ever so slightly dirty.
  • Walk past the café and leave your rubbish on the tables.
  • Sit down at one of the tables to eat/drink something you bought elsewhere. Leave the rubbish behind when you have finished.
  • Address the staff in Norwegian or German. They are bound to understand, you're in Iceland after all.
  • Ask about the ingredients and price of every single thing on the menu. After much consideration, either buy the soup of the day or change your mind and leave. Bonus points for doing this while a long queue forms behind you.
  • Use plastic cutlery and put your hummus in the little plastic pots, even though you are eating there. Fuck the environment.
  • Come in, pour yourself a full glass of water, take two sips and then leave.
  • Demand your money back because you do not like your cake/meal, even though you have eaten two thirds of it just to make sure.
  • Allow your child to scatter cheerios all over the table and surrounding floor. Make no attempt to clean up after him. That's their job.
  • Interrogate the staff on the possible presence of flour in your food, even though you are not gluten intolerant and have no special dietary requirements at all. Flour is poison and if you eat it you will die.
  • Ask what the soup of the day is. When told, grimace and say "ugh!" Walk out in disgust.
  • Watch as your friend orders something which has to be heated up in the oven or requires preparation. Wait until the member of staff has tidied up after this, then order the same.
  • Wait until you see the member of staff start putting your food on a plate / in a bowl before you mention that you wanted to take away. 
  • Ask whether the food is nice.
  • Ask whether there is meat in the meat soup.
  • Ask whether you can have a half portion of everything on the menu.
  • Ask whether you can pay in Norwegian krone.
  • When the time comes to pay, make sure you are on the phone.