ISSUE 13, April 2005

The Campbells are coming: At speed!
Travel: Warming to Iceland
Royal Masonic Family: The Six Masonic Sons of George III, Part II
Quarterly Communication: Address of the Pro Grand Master and: Report of the Board of General Purposes
The flying eye hospital
Beamish Museum: The million pound project
  Wigan Grand Lodge: The Liverpool rebels
Chelsea Lodge: That's entertainment
Re-enactment: The way we were and: The Russian connection
Community Service: Weathering the storm
Faith and Freemasonry: God and the Craft
Education: Researching Freemasonry on the Internet and: Masonic events
Freemasons Hall: Masons at War
Grand Charity: Report and grant list and: Support for Asian tsunami
Masonic Charities: Reports from the Masonic charities
Obituaries, Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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Warming to Iceland

© All photographs by Bernhard Kristinn Ingimundarson, except where otherwise noted

Northern lights – an unforgettable experience

    I frankly didn’t know what to expect. Everyone said “Oh! Are you going to the ice hotel?” But in fact it’s in Sweden. Our ultimate destination was Lake Myvatn in the north of Iceland. The brochure billed it as a nature break, with pictures of beautiful countryside.
    As I was going to a country where I had never been before, my curiosity couldn’t let me visit without stopping off to see Reykjavik, the world’s most northerly capital, with the Atlantic Ocean as its coast.
    The first thing that strikes you is that everywhere is very clean, and the air is fresh. There is very little pollution as the country is on the mid-Atlantic ridge, a volcanic area which produces geothermal heat, which is used to heat 90% of the country’s buildings.
    The city is very small with only 110,000 inhabitants, and only has one main shopping street. It does, however, have a backdrop of mountains, which were tipped with snow during our visit.
    The most striking thing about the place is that none of the buildings are very old, with most of the houses having the air of being prefabricated. Dotted around you will also see the odd sculpture as the city prides itself on the variety of cultural interests that it has to offer.
    After a visit, you will never again complain about the British weather. Apart from it being very windy one minute, it could be snowing and then raining the next. The people there have a saying ‘if you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute’ as it changes so fast.
    One of the main attractions about the place is its restaurants. We didn’t have a bad meal anywhere, although you will certainly pay London prices, with wine being perhaps even more expensive.
    The highlight of this area was a visit to the Blue Lagoon, 50 kilometres or a 40-minute drive out of town. There is a public bus service which will collect you from your hotel with the cost including your visit. The fare was around £15.50, with entrance to the lagoon another £9.50 depending on the rate of exchange.
    Even with temperatures at just a little above zero, we were able to swim outside in the geothermal seawater, which is kept at 36–39°C looking up the sky through clouds of steam. Its distinctive blue colour comes from the blue green algae and white silica.
    The latter are proven natural skin conditioners, and buckets of the silica are placed around the pool for you to smear on your face as a conditioning mask. I also had a massage, which is given to you in the open air, in a reserved part of the lagoon. With a restaurant and snack bar, our only regret was not having put aside enough time to spend there.
    Our trip to Myvatn was taken in a small plane. The airport is incredibly efficient, and although you are asked to be there half an hour before departure, people were arriving virtually up until the time we took off.
    The wind made the short flight rather bumpy, although in the summer there is also the option to hire a 4x4 car to make the journey, which will take you through their Highlands, driving in between glaciers.
    Lake Myvatn is about an hour’s drive from Akureyri, and is the most idyllic spot. The star rating in Iceland is unfortunately not the same as in the UK, and although the family-run hotel, the Reynihlid, where we stayed, was portrayed as four-star, it was actually a very nice, but basic family-run hotel. However, we did get to eat delicious, authentic Icelandic cooking, including black bread, which had been freshly baked in the ground over night, as the temperatures near the surface are warm enough in some areas.

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