Saturday, September 13, 2008


Iceland is like no other place we visited. Its landscapes are breathtaking.

The fact that geothermal energy provides most space heating and a significant amount of electricity generation is a hint that this is an unusual place.

We took an eight hour bus excursion around the "golden circle" from Reykjavík.

Apart from the stark volcanic landscape we saw the Golden Waterfall, Gullfoss, and erupting hot spings at the Geysir geothermal area, before visiting the rift valley at Thingvellir.

Posted by Picasa

At Thingvellir the valley floor is subsiding because the North American tetonic plate is pulling away from the European plate. Our bus took just a minute or two to travel from Europe to North America.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ring of Kerry

We cruised gently around the Ring of Kerry in west Ireland, and saw not one tourist bus. More astonishing was that it didn't rain.

Sylvia found a pleasant shop in Kenmare. We also had a pleasant meal.

Posted by Picasa

Tower of London and the Cabinet War Room

For reasons that have yet to be explained, some people feel compelled to throw coins into ponds and fountains. At least here at the Traitor's Gate in the Tower of London, the money is collectedfor charity.

The WWII Cabinet War Rooms were facinating, particularly the Cabinet Room which, like many other significant rooms in the underground complex are just as they were at the war's end.

Room 63 was a secret room used by Churchill to talk by secure telephone line to Roosevelt.

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

London again

Lyndal and Nick joined us on our outing to Hampton Court Palace.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sensory overload in New York

Frommers publish a helpful pocked guide to New York. They realise that negotiating what has been described as an urban theme park can be a bit distressing, so the guide includes a "tear-resistant" map.

Fortunately there were no tears for us. We just ran out of time in this fabulous place.

We stayed in the Midtown Comfort Inn on West 46th Street between 6th Avenue and Broadway. Times Square, the most visited place on the planet, is a 3 minute walk.

We saw Mamma Mia on Broadway. What a hoot!

Manhattan from any vantage point is spectacular.

If the city iself doesn't overload the senses then the museums surely will.

This is a Picasso. It is among dozens in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, along what seems equal numbers of works by Monet, Cezanne, Renoir, van Gough, Matisse and many others. No point in visiting the Tate in London to see the Turners: most are in the Metropolitan.

This is another Picasso, this one is at the Metropolitan.

Birds, Whales and Al Gore

This is a kittiwake. It lives on the open ocean, mostly far from land.

It was one of the birds we saw almost every day. Whilst it was impressive in flight, it was the fulmar that really caught my attention. I watched one keep station with the ship moving through a choppy sea and into a stiff breeze at about 17 knots. For twenty minutes or more this remarkable bird did not flap its wings, using instead the local air currents created by the wind and sea just above the surface, to perfection.

This is Danny Catt. Ecologist, photographer and teacher, he knows more than a little about the birds and marine mammals of the North Atlantic. His wonderful presentations were a highlight of the cruise. One of his challenges was to tactfully raise the matter of climate change and its dramatic consequences on the ecology of the north, not least on the polar bear which struggles to survive at the edge of its range because of diminishing sea ice. Republicans, for instance, apparently do not accept climate change nor their part in it. It is not rare for some of Danny's audience to walk out at the mention of Al Gore and his film, An Inconvenient Truth.

Danny encouraged us to look out for whales. We saw a pilot and a humpback, but sadly no blue whale was to be seen.

The bird below is a glaucus gull. These birds often escorted the ship into open waters, apparently curious about the passengers and the small fish that are stirred up by the ship's passage.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Sailing from Iceland we were ready for three days at sea before making landfall at Saint Johns, Newfoundland. What a pleasant surprise, then, to realise that the ms Eurodam was heading first to the southern tip of Greenland for “scenic cruising”. The Captain prepared us for disappointment should ice and weather conditions (fog) prevent us from entering the sound early the next morning. Ever hopeful your correspondent stumbled out onto the rear deck to be greeted by an iceburg at the entrance to the sound. Undeterred by this icy lump, and by patchy fog the Captain steered the ship into the sound and for the next 4 hours we were treated to extraordinary vistas.