Sunday, July 31, 2005

Outlander on the Runtur...

Irish journalist and writer Clement Wilson, of "Outlander on the Runtur", currently staying in Iceland, was with the natives of the Westman Islands (along with other guests from the mainland and abroad a total of about 10.000 people), celebrating "Þjóðhátíð", a breathtaking experience, I should think:

[Quoting mr. Wilson:]
"...there is a special song composed each year to celebrate the festival. This year's song is a particularly excellent ditty.
The chorus is as follows:

[Original text in Icelandic, by Hreimur Heimisson:]
"Ég finn frið inn í mér,
Á þjóðhátíð ég upplifi lífið með þér."

Which literally translates as:
I find peace within myself,
At the festival I experience life with you."[End of quote]

- If you read mr. Wilson´s post from the festival (more posts from him on the Westman Islands in July 2005) , you will find a more frivoulous version of the song, adorned with a very complementive picture. Also his commentaries on the "goings-on" and some more funny photos from the festival.

Texts (in Icelandic)and some tunes to all "þjóðhátíðarlög" 1933-2002!

This year´s festival song was composed by musicians Hreimur Heimisson og Vignir Snær Vigfússon, text by Hreimur.

* Með þér *

"Out of the Summer Seas,
in the softness of the breeze,
with mountains on green fleece,
there rises Heimaey...."

- Poem by Ási í Bæ, an Icelandic poet from the Westman Islands.

hot lips_butterfly

Saturday, July 30, 2005

"The Seven Seas Navigator" leaves Reykjavík tonight...

In the six-star tradition of Radisson Seven Seas Cruises, the Seven Seas Navigator is destined for distinction. Occupying the uppermost niche in cruising, she offers her 490 guests an unusual level of luxury. From her all-suite, all-ocean-view accommodations to her signature cuisine to her superbly attentive staff and peerless service, she has few equals.

From Anita´ review of The Navigator:
(July 18, 2003)
"She was to start life as the Cold War research vessel Akademik Nikolay Pilyugin; however, she was never completed. Left an unfinished hull she was resurrected in 1999 as Radisson's m/s Seven Seas Navigator, she now boasts all the qualities expected of a six-star luxury liner. During a recent 7-day New York City to Bermuda voyage, I discovered while Navigator is designed for the demanding upscale traveler, the atmosphere on board is far more relaxed than other deluxe cruise ships."
Sundahöfn (Sunda-harbour)

Thursday, July 28, 2005


Guðrún Helgadóttir is one of the most prominent writers of children's books in Iceland.

She received The Nordic Children's Book Award in 1992 and among her other awards are the Thorbjörn Egner Fund Prize and IBBY Iceland Award; she was also nominated twice for the H.C. Andersen Award. She has written nineteen children´s books, many of whom have been translated into foreign languages, three plays and a novel, "Oddaflug", published year 2000.

Guðrún represented the People's Alliance on Reykjavík City Council 1978-1982 and was a member of Alþingi, the Icelandic legislative assembly 1979-1995. She was Speaker of the Althing 1988-1991, the first woman to hold that position.

Here is a complete list (sorry, not available in English as yet!) of Guðrún´s works, translations of her books, awards and recognitions.

Two of Guðrún´s most popular books:

A Giant Love Story

(Ástarsaga úr fjöllunum, 1981)

One of Iceland's most popular children's books. It was first published in 1981 and has since been translated into several other languages. It is a story about Icelandic trolls, filled with love, compassion and humour which appeals to children all over the world. Beautifully illustrated by Brian Pilkington.

Sold to: Norway (Cappelen), Denmark (Sesam), USA (Charolrhoda), Japan (Kaisei-Sha), Sweden (Opal), Faroe Islands (Nàlendi)

The Angels' Christmas Tree

(Englajól, 1997)

While awaiting Christmas the angel-children decorate the most wonderful Christmas tree in the world - in their imagination. A wonderful fairytale with illustrations by Brian Pilkington, which has already aroused great interest in several countries. Available in English translation.

* * *

Thorbjörn Egner (1912-1990) is the author of the children´s book "Karius and Baktus" (teaching children the importance of brushing their teeth!) and the children´s musicals "Hakkebakke Forest" and "When the Robbers Came to Cardamom Town" (The Singing Town) that have been very popular for many years in Iceland and have been staged (and restaged regularly) several times both in The National Theatre of Iceland and in theatres all over the country.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

M/S Saga Ruby

The cruise ship "M/S Saga Ruby" was formerly known as Cunard’s elegant M/S Caronia and before that as "Vistafjord". She was built for Norwegian America Line, completed in 1973. She was recently purchased and renamed "Saga Ruby" by Saga Shipping. After a multi-million pound refit she left for her inaugural cruise from Southampton on 1 March, 2005.

She was in Reykjavík Sunda-harbour today, but has now left continuing her voyage to Canada and the USA.


Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Some nice blogs about Iceland in the midst of winter:

Stuart Hughes´ New Year in Iceland 2003-2004
Saturday, Janury 03, 2004
Sunday, January 04, 2004

As the link that Stuart gives to The Blue Lagoon is broken I put the new one here.

Icelandic Artists


Bubbi Morthens: Born in Reykjavik in 1956, Ásbjörn "Bubbi" Morthens moved with his mother to Denmark at the age of 13. After failing to school he returned to Iceland and took up work in the fish factories. However, after becoming interested in the music of Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly, Bubbi went on to become one of Iceland's best-loved musicians, both as a member of the group "Utangardsmenn" (The Outsiders) and as a solo artist.

More about interesting Icelanders on:BEYOND NORTHERN IRAQ:

Here is a link to some of Bubbi´s music. All his songs are in Icelandic.

"Raging Grannies of Tucson"

On a lighter note...;)

A noble "National Sport"!
The children of Heimaey have been saving young pufflings for generations. In fact, at the end of the summer, releasing them by the hundreds to the safety of the sea has become a local tradition...

The puffin(a beautiful link, check it out!) is the "national" bird of the Westman Islands. The islanders love this creature and put pictures of it on almost everything!

The puffin is the most poplular theme of their souvenir-makers.

They even have a fan club for it:
The Westman Islands Puffin Club

The Official Website of The Westman Islands

Monday, July 25, 2005


..I must say that this post by 'amba' really gave ME the creeps:

"London Tube Bombings: Paranoia Strikes Deep!

This will give you a very bad case of the creeps...."

"The greater the lie, the greater the chance that it will be believed."
Adolf Hitler

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Egyptian Bloggers against Terrorism...

Karim Eslahy has posted a link to photos of Sunday’s demonstration against terrorism organized by Egyptian bloggers...

The protest was the maiden activity of a new organization, Pray 4 Peace, which Karim started because he says he is sick of the cycle of violence in which everybody takes sides and obsesses over who started what. He writes:

"I no longer care who started what. I only care how it ends.

If enough of us can get together, shed our differences, and unite in the face of violence we can make a difference."


The price of injustice...

Jean Charles de Menezes
- a victim of circumstance?

...the lives of innocents...

Please read what Raed in the Middle has to say, with biting irony and deep anger (like we are so many that feel about this horrid incident) to this murder by a "police" squad clad in civilian clothes!
. . .
The message that this "incident" sends us is:
In Today´s London, if you´re not "white", don´t run or you might be shot!
. . .
London Mayor Ken Livingstone blamed the bombers:

"The police acted to do what they believed necessary to protect the lives of the public," he said. "This tragedy has added another victim to the toll of deaths for which the terrorists bear responsibility."
. . .
Any way you twist it around, this was caused by a disasterous error of judgement - or was it caused by feelings of frustration, rage and revenge? (I can envisage - especially after looking at photos and reading about the victims of the bombings) - by someone in that police-squad. Of course the responsibility lies with the adminstrators of the police that sent that squad armed on it´s way into a highly explosive situation in the city, with orders to shoot to kill, no questions asked! Not the British way of doing things, from what I believed myself to know, up to now.

Then again we can question how such judgements are made, on what background, what prejudices and so on...what is the cultural background of the British policeforce and their ablility to make unbiased instant decisions? I don´t think that anyone envies those men of performing their tasks, in the job they chose as a living, these last few weeks!

Of course this act of terrible misjudgment was set off as a direct result of the sheer horror and strain of living under the threat of further bombings. The anger of the deaths and injuries and the despair of how things are becoming. And also, like Raed points out in his post, it proved the danger of sending out an armed squad, unidentified as such, amongst civilians innocently going about their buisnesses. (He points out too that a suicide-bomber would have blown off his bomb long before the police had pinned him down!)

One cannot foresee what is going to become of our western civilization, (nor the arabic, for that matter!) as one views ideals and morals crumble in the face of threats to our society. A devastating fear and the threat to the life of an otherwise peace-loving nation was what set off this tragedy, which cannot be, after learning how the whole thing happened, described or called by any other name than a public execution.

Regardless of mr. Blairs war-mongering, I believe that the common British citizens are peace loving folk. Regardless of the past histocal glory of the British Empire and all that. But maybe that´s what twisted mr. Blair´s way of thinking.

P.s. An addition: A comment I made and mean from the bottom of my heart, in answer to comments, in a blog called An escape form blogland, that upset me quite a bit:

I was going to write an answer here, because I cannot see how the English public is supposed to know that it is the police stopping them, when they are not in uniform, but dressed in civilian clothes. I think I would be dead scared and try to run away too, if I had the chance, if sombody in an ordinary suit got out a gun and told me to stop! Whereas I would stop if it was somebody in a police uniform.

But, as I am a foreigner living in a (still, at least) very peaceful country and cannot fully comprehend what life must be like in London right now, I will refrain from making further judgement about this matter and leave it at this.

Anyway, I think this whole thing of the bombings and the aftermath thereof is terrible. I must say that I am happy to live in a peaceful country where the only fanatics are Jehovas Witnesses and one only hears about Jihad in the foreign news. A country where most people still respect human value and think that every human life is sacred.

But still, of course, an island where rules of entrance into the country have been made far stricter and security measures upon entering and leaving it have been much tightened.
(I have never been asked for my passport as often as I was upon leaving the country for going to England last summer!)

The West in the eyes of Faiza...

A children's peace march in Baghdad, Iraq on January 1, 2003. Two consecutive wars and twelve years of devastating economic sanctions leading into the gulf war of 2003 have created dire living conditions for most Iraqis. Photo by Ray Buchanan for Stop Hunger Now. /

Thursday, June 30th, 2005

"...I think the first true step towards peace on earth, is to shut down the weapons factories, to replace it with food, medicine, or children's toys factories, perhaps then the nations would live in peace and happiness, forever...
The American people, not the government, is in need of a pause, and a clearing of conscience, to find out what is happening around them, and where are they being taken..."

Good News!

"Saturday, July 23rd, 2005

Iraqi blogger Khalid Jarrar, whose detention by the Iraqi secret police we reported last week, has now been released according to his brother Raed and his mother Faiza.

The Jarrar family were never big fans of the U.S. presence in Iraq. This experience appears to have made them even less so."

Rebecca MacKinnon

My congratulations to the whole family on the very good news!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

A Poem by my Dad


Ég veit ekki hvort þú hefur,
huga þinn við það fest.
Að fegursta gjöf sem þú gefur,
er gjöfin sem varla sést.

Ástúð í andartaki,
augað sem glaðlegt hlær,
hlýja í handartaki
hjarta sem örar slær.

Allt sem þú hugsar í hljóði
heiminum breytir til.
Gef þú úr sálarsjóði,
sakleysi fegurð og yl.

The Gift

I don´t know if you ever
thought of this simple thing,
that the most precious gift you can give
is the gift you can hardly see.

Love in a moment,
the eyes that laugh with joy,
the warmth of a handshake,
the heart that beats faster.

Your every thought
changes the world.
Give from the treasures of your soul,
innocence, beauty and warmth.

Úlfur Ragnarsson

* My simple translation!


In memory of Pope John Paul II, lest we forget:

Pope touches hearts among Muslims

In the Arab and the Muslim world, the Pope has been remembered above all for his support for the rights of Palestinians.

His opposition to the war in Iraq also won him widespread support.

But Pope John Paul is also praised for his work to promote dialogue between the different faiths.

He was the first Pope to pay an official visit to a mosque.

In the year 2000, the Pope entered a mosque in the Syrian capital, Damascus, which also contains the tomb of John the Baptist, the Christian saint.

A leading cleric in Malaysia said he hoped Pope John Paul's successor would follow in his footsteps to increase understanding between Muslims and Christians

Friday, July 22, 2005

Throw Away The Key

If you believe a girl should be able to walk down the street in broad daylight without being abducted and murdered by a known felon, then it is time for you to get involved.

Johnny, this post is for you and your favorite political cause!

At the same time I want to stress (because of the analyzis in the linked page of the proposed new laws on death penalty in Mass.) that I am on principle anti death-penalty , ergo I am pro life-sentence for such crimes of senseless cruelty.

Raed in the Middle

This is what one family (stationed in Amman, Jordan) is doing about the warfare on their homeland:

"Thursday, April 14, 2005
Third Batch Sent, Phase One Over

Today, I am announcing the end of Phase One of the Campaign: Emergency Aid for Civilian Victims in Iraq. My family and I started this campaign more than five months ago. Majed, my youngest brother, is the fund raising director. All the money was sent either to his paypal account, to his mail address, or to the bank account. My mom and my other brother, Khalid, were handling distribution inside Iraq. Niki and I were responsible of receiving money from Majed, buying medicines, and sending them to Baghdad. Rana and Rafat are my friends from Iraq, Rana has a registered Iraqi NGO and they helped us transfer the first batch. My aunt in Amman is a pharmacist, and she helped us buy medicines and transfer the second batch. Dr. Salam is a member of a registered Iraqi Ngo called “Doctors for Iraq”, he helped us in transferring the third batch and distributing it inside Iraq. The first batch was sent to AlGarma town near Fallujah, the Second and Third batched will be distributed this week. (I'll publish more pictures and papers of receipt from hospitals as soon as I get them)

The total amount of the donations is $18,343 USD, we spent $17,783 USD and still have $560 USD to be transferred to Phase Two. Out of the $17,783 USD, the total spent on secondary Items is around 5% (i.e. Taxes, Fines, Transportation, Money exchange and transaction fees), and the rest was for buying very important medicines to the Iraqi civilians in effected cities and towns under siege and bombing."

Left: Ashraf, our neighbour, after helping me move the boxes to my parents' place on the third floor...
Right: My mom was totally shocked when she woke up and found the house FULL of medicine boxes!!

Since this post was published Raed´s brother Khalim has been arrested in Baghdad, Iraq and the family doesn´t even know on what charges he is being held!

Read more about Raed and his family´s project, news (if any) of his brother and about his and his family´s thoughts on the war, in Raed´s blog:, linking to the blogs of more family members.

Raed in the Middle

"Caught Between The East and The West

Thursday, July 21, 2005
London bomb victim quizzes Australian PM on Iraq

An Australian survivor of the London bombings has confronted Prime Minister John Howard from her hospital bed asking whether the attack which left her with a broken neck was linked to the U.S.-led Iraq war.

Sitting on the edge of her bed in a London hospital, Louise Barry surprised Howard with the question, prompting him to defend the military operation in Iraq, which includes Australian troops.

"What do you think? Everyone says its all...because of the Iraq war," asked Barry, her head held tight in a metal brace, after shaking hands with her prime minister

Both Howard and Blair told the world today why the second London attacks happened. They sounded like a broken record.

Other people in Britain seem to be having more interesting Ideas, like London's mayor yesterday:

London mayor Ken Livingstone criticizes Western foreign policy in the Middle East, saying that the Western interference fuelled the Islamist radicalism behind the London bombings.

Livingstone made the remarks Wednesday in a BBC interview when asked what he thought had motivated the four suspected suicide bombers.

He said that the West had for 80 years meddled with Arab lands because of the need for oil, and implemented "double standards" in their Middle East policy.

He believed that extremism would not have prevailed if the West had returned the right of self-determination to the Arab countries after World War I.

Last week, the British Royal Institute of International Affairs said Iraq war made Britain vulnerable to attacks like those of July 7.

Anyway, I hope there were no casualties in today's attacks, and I hope the British, Australian, and other governments taking a part in the US-led coalition in Iraq will pull out their armies from our countries and help us all stop the cycle of violence.

Let the ship of the US foreign policy sink alone.


We're expecting news from Iraq about my detained brother, our goal is asking the authorities to take him to court...

When my brother is released, we won't forget that thousands of other innocent people are detained in the jails and prisons in Iraq."

"Let the ship of the US foreign policy sink alone."

South-Africa´s Grand Old Man marks his 87th Birthday

Former South Africa President Nelson Mandela waves to well-wishers as he celebrates his birthday in Johannesburg July 19, 2005. Mandela, who turned 87 on July 18, was attending the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture addressed by Kenyan environmentalist and Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai. [Reuters]

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


This one, the cruiser AIDAblu from Germany, was here too, sitting in the part of Reykjavík harbour just below my house.


This ship, the Statsraad Lehmkuhl from Norway, was in Reykjavík harbour last weekend.

Icelandic Artists: ...and *BJÖRK* of coure!

Homage to Björk
by Johnny Newt

Icelandic Artists

Icelandic witer Sjón and his son Flóki

Did you ever see a boy so a spitting image of his father?

( Björk and Sjón at the Oscars) .

A funny site about the history of Iceland

I found this funny site on the web. It´s a school project work in Icelandic history, with the pupils drawing their own impressions of historical characters. Have a look at an easy-to-read version of our history and enjoy!

Icelandic Artists

A list of Icelandic visual artists from A-Ö.
I have had a glance and I do not think they have missed many of our contemporary or recent visual artists.

I did not find this "different" artist on the list though:Helga Sigurðardóttir

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Icelandic Artists

Jón Gunnar Árnason 1931-1989
Born in Reykjavík. Studied at the Icelandic College of Art and Crafts in Reykjavík in 1945-46. Graduated as a mechanician from the Reykjavík Technical College 1952. Studied at the Hornsey College of fine Art in London 1965-67.

He is the artist of one of Reykjavík´s most famous sculptures,
"The Sun Voyager", that I think every traveler that comes to Reykjavík sees. It´s hard to miss, as it stands on its own on the seashore.

The photos of the SunVoyager, with the exception of one other, are the only photos of his work that i was able to find on the internet. Then again, they were in plenty, only problem was which one to choose!

This is the other photo I managed to find

One of his works can indeed be viewed in my work-place Hótel Frón, a big cast iron work on the theme of The Battle of Persepolis (not vikings, even though everybody thinks so at first glance) upon one wall of the lobby!