Day 2: Wednesday 15 August

We were not up late, considering the hour that we went to bed, but we had a leisurely breakfast with our cereal laden with fresh fruit and various mjölks. Washing this morning I find it hard to imagine how I can I have forgotten the smell of the water here – sulphury but somehow nice.

Adi gave us some advice over routes and roads for our round Iceland adventure and suggested some places to stop to eat before arriving at Brautaholt on Saturday evening. He also suggested that we should try and get our jeep from Friday night in order to save time and make an early start on Saturday morning. As he was kindly going to run us into town he offered to also help out with the negotiations.

We’re glad he did, as a) we discovered that Cheep Jeep have moved to new premises which are not immediately obvious to find. Find them we do though and Adi sorts the situation. Apparently when we booked the extra time to allow all day on both Saturdays we actually had a full day so we are able to collect the jeep after 6pm on Friday.

After being dropped in downtown 101 Reykjavik we wandered down by the harbour, said hello to the only stream train in Iceland on a short length of track you will find and made our way to Bæjarins Beztu for one of the best hot dogs you will get in town.

Then, for something new for both of us. Since my last visit they have opened a new concert hall venue on the harbour – Harpa – a building or possibly two buildings contained within one glass box that itself is made to resemble the colours and reflections of obsidian and the shapes of basalt columns. It’s beautiful and affords the opportunity to take make striking and confusingly mind-bending photographs. I am reminded again how both Emma and I can point our cameras at precisely the same thing and both end up with equally good but dramatically different pictures.

From Harpa we walked on round the harbour to the steel sculpture of the Viking longship, if in a fine Scotch mist of rain. For the first time since I wrote it – and maybe ever – I placed my cheek against the cold metal so that it stings in the same way that it does when Ben does this in my novel. It’s precisely the asme. Odd, as I realise now that I have never done it until now.

Next to the Lutheran Cathedral of Hallgrímskirkja which sits above the city and overlooked everything from its simple, elegant concrete wings that flank it – another nod to the volcanic basalt columns of the country.

It’s a 600 IKR ride in the lift up the 8 floors, and then one short flight of stairs to the bell tower from where you get one of the best views across the multi-coloured painted roofs of Reykjavik.

A short walk down the bustling, crafty street to Laugavegur and I bring Emma to my favourite coffee shop/bar in Reykjavik. At first that I worry that its changed hands but no, they just now use the shorter, more easily pronounceable Koffinn instead of Kofi Frænda Tomasar – or Uncle Tom’s Cabin (the translation is a new one on me but it seems strangely fitting). I treat Emma to a hot chocolate floating with Ice Cream – delicious.

And then to home. For dinner we have chicken in a pesto and feta cheese sauce – delicious! Followed up by skyr for desert. I would describe skyr for desert as yoghurt or fromage frais with nobs on but is very, very low in fat – high in protein, utterly delicious and nicely filling. Adi leaves for his fishing trip up on Snaefellsness after dinner and we set about making plan for tomorrow – a family outing with Drifa and Janet and the dogs to Þingvellir, Gulfoss, and Geysir – the golden circle.

Day 3: Cousins and bathing in the Blue Lagoon…