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Monthly Archives: December 2006

LaugardalurI´m sad to say that we´ll be leaving Iceland tomorrow morning. Over the last few days we´ve been to the opera, eaten more lamb, visited Alþingi (the site of the planet´s first parliament), slept more than one should, ate a breadful of goulash, watched tv. A few words that spring to mind when describing Iceland are pong, steam, smoked, bad driving, hot dogs, carpetless…

We´re not heading directly home. We are spending New Year with Marc and Linda, don´t know where yet.

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Christmas is celebrated on 24th December here in Iceland. Merry Christmas to folk back in the UK, not that you´ll be reading this because you´ll be stuffing your face with turkey sandwiches and mince pies.

We arrived in Iceland at 2.30am on the 24th. I´m sure the captain of the plane was flying blind. It was the longest descent I have experienced. The engine power was cut in half, it was pitch black outside and the wind shook the plane from side to side as if it were in a rough ocean. After 10 minutes we could see lights some street lights 500 metres below, which meant the runway was not far. The captain must have misjudged or was tricked by the weather, a normal thing in Iceland, for he stepped on the gas again, engaging full thrust, and up we went for a second approach. To cut this short, we landed with a thud, swaying, passengers almost in applause, but grounded and safe at last. Phew! We were in Iceland.

Christmas Eve

We awoke around 1pm, ate some breakfast and I met the Steinunn´s sister´s family before heading out to drop off presents to Steinunn´s family and friends in and around Reykjavik. In Iceland all life outside your own designated family stops at 6pm. Wherever you are at 6pm, you must reside for the rest of the evening. It is the law. Do not move. Do not pass go. Stop.

We made it back to Sigrún´s house in good time. Phew! Proceedings didn´t start until 8pm. It´s relaxed in this household, just the way I like it. Lamb, cooked in red wine, was served up with caramelised potatoes and carrots. Yum! This is how lamb should be cooked unlike the years old Icelandic tradition of ruining perfectly good tasting lamb. People here pay good money for tarnished lamb. The lamb flavour is smoked out and replaced with a, um, smoked flavour. Why? There´s no need anymore. Freezers exist if one wishes to preserve meat. Sorry, enough of my ungrateful, righteous whining.

Senior, a.k.a. Bj, won a wine raffle at his place of work. Handy for us as very good wine was drunk during and after the meal. Takk re martin.

After the meal, presents were opened. This went on for hours but was fun nonetheless. Every one of the family was happy with the presents we gave, especially Kolbjörn, who got very excited about Eragon.

I´ll write more a little later.

Our flight to Reykjavik has been delayed by an hour and a half. We’re perusing the duty free shops considering purchasing things that, in our day to day normal life, we’d never buy, e.g. cigars, luxury chocolates, bottles of spirits we’ve never tasted before.

We just drunk a Bombay Sapphire cosmopolitan, which they were giving away for free as part of a promotion. In going back for some promo vodka, we made the mistake of telling them we’d just had some gin, and were subsequently denied our 2nd drink. As i write, Steinunn has spotted another alcoholic promotion so we’re off… Merry christmas!

Last week we found a decent flat in Stockbridge, Edinburgh. After wrangling with the agent over a small issue, it grew out of all proportion so we decided to pull out.  A quick search on Gumtree last night revealed a property that fit much of our criteria. We phoned, was told the advert was posted just 10 minutes before we phoned (lucky or what?), arranged a viewing for the same evening, saw it, liked what we saw, phoned the landlord back and said we wanted to move in.

This evening we met our new landlord, provided references and the deal was done. We start to move our stuff in on Friday and actually move in next Tuesday.

The place is closer to work so I now have absolutely no excuse not to walk in to work every day. We’ll only be in there 3 days before we fly to Iceland for Christmas.

I can’t believe how smoothly the process has been at finding this flat compared to the hoops the previous property agent made us jump through.

Just got back from playing footie with some workmates. I haven’t played football for years now, and it showed. My left foot seized up after 40 minutes so I spent the remaining time being a slow moving target in the goal. Earlier on in the game I did score a blinder from the halfway line.

After about a one year application process, I have been accepted as an RNIB Computer Volunteer. This involves learning lots about the technology partially sighted or blind people use. Some new terms to me are:

  • Talking Books
  • Electronic Braille Display
  • Electronic Reading Aids
  • Low Tech / No Tech Aids and Equipment
  • Notetaking equipment
  • Producing Braille and Tactile Images
  • Speech Output Systems
  • Video Magnifiers

I’m looking forward to helping out where and when I can and hope I can make a difference to blind users. As a web developer, one of the things that propelled me into volunteering for the RNIB was understanding how blind users used the web. There is much talk about web accessibility and many reasons supporting the case for accessible web sites other than for blind users. An additional benefit of creating accessible web sites is that search engines love an accessible web site, which makes for a good business case for taking the time markup content in an accessible way. If a search engine can read your page easily, assistive technology should be able to too.

Before I sign off, have you tried Google Accessible Search? Web sites that are more accessible appear higher in the results, plus it doesn’t feature Sponsored Links.

I recommend this wine. In fact, I may buy a case of 12 and share it with you.

It’s of the grape variety Sangiovese:

Melini Chianti 2005“Meaning Blood of Jove, or Jupiter, Sangiovese is the Chianti grape par excellence, and responsible in Tuscany too, for Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobilo de Montepulciano. A fussy grape to grow, it can produce lively, almost fizzing young reds with juicy, cherry flavours, as well as more concentrated, long-lived, oak-matured reds with superb, savoury, herb and spice flavours and great finesse. Ongoing colonel selection in Chianti Classic designed to reverse the rush to plant productive clones is helping the process of improving Sangiovese-based wines in Italy. Sangiovese is widespread in Argentina thanks to the influx of Italian immigrants and has become fashionable in California and, to a more limited extent, in Australia.”

We’re moving to a new flat soon and this wine will be perfect for the first addition to the cellar.