“Turn left in 198km,” the SatNav spoke to us, on a road that was straight, so straight except for when it curved a little. And it rained, and rained, and rained, and rained. And then it didn’t rain. Then it rained again.
But despite the bar-briefly relentless rain there was so much that emerged from the clouds that filled us with awe.
The variety, the sheer variety of landscape in Iceland, the variety and vigour with which it changes, often-times in an instant between one blink of the eye and the next; the sheer variety overwhelms, marvellously. It commandeers your perceptions; your perception of place and perception of self within that place. One moment a flock of incongruously rounded green hillocks that you would as much expect to see Dipsy or Po emerge from as you would an elf. Then suddenly a sea of staccato fractal ridges that look like pain ensconced in green velvet gloves. A little further on, equally as suddenly, what appears very much to have the same type of structure as the last but somehow softened, more rounded, reduced, an echo of the visual passage that had passed shortly beforehand, pain worn down to lingering acceptance. Then, an unrelenting flatness of black, stretching on for miles. In the distance clouds that on closer approach emerge as mountains and mountains that on closer approach emerge as clouds.
As we summited the brow of another headland and the next view was unfurled in front of us, a magnificent banner draped from sky down to sea, a voice softly underscored with awe issued forth from the passenger seat to my right. “I feel so small,” said Amelia.
I’d had it in mind for quite some time to take her on a memorable journey of some form or another before she reached an age where she’d no longer be interested in hanging out with her dad. “I’ll never get bored of hanging out with you, Daddy!” she declared when I’d first raised this notion with her. We’ll see, I thought to myself :~) A specific plan manifested itself when Nichola and Marcus got engaged. Over a number of years I’d seen images made by a variety of wedding photographers that had travelled to Iceland, sometimes images relating to weddings, sometimes images from personal travels. I’d always found myself thinking what a beautiful place it looked but there are many beautiful places in the world, many on our own doorsteps even. Then in February of 2016, Nichola and Marcus travelled to Iceland with a small group of wedding photographers and videographers. During the trip, one day, the two took a turn adopting the role of models for a staged couple’s shoot, the backdrop a flotilla of icebergs, the stage an expanse of snow and blue water. Un-staged, Marcus dropped down onto one knee in the middle of the shoot and proposed to Nichola. The video and photographs were a joy to see. I sent Nichola a message to congratulate her and related to her this notion that I’d been formulating of a journey with Amelia, telling her that her images from Iceland had tipped me towards choosing that country as the destination. She asked when I planned to go. I told her that most likely it would be during the half-term school break in the February of the following year, shortly after Amelia’s eleventh birthday and to mark that occasion. It transpired that she and Marcus would be returning to the country during the same week, to get married. Nichola asked if I would photograph the wedding.
And here Amelia and I found ourselves, a year later, in Iceland. Over the space of the twelve months between choosing the destination and first setting foot in the country, she’d evolved from child to nascent teenager. I did wonder more and more how she’d take to hanging out with Daddy 24/7 for, well, the 7 part of the equation as well as the 24. Turns out it would be brilliantly; an excellent travelling partner for a grand adventure, which we agreed to refer to it all in place of ‘holiday’ as there wasn’t enough in the way of lay-ins and general rest for the latter term to legitimately apply. So brilliantly in fact, we’re now planning our return visit to the country to celebrate a landmark birthday of my own later this year.
I wished that there was a lay-by hemming the road for the entire length of our journey because there were so many sights that I wished I could be static for the contemplation of. Such incalculable variety, all dependent, I imagine, on which volcano had erupted when, from what depth, to what magnitude and in which direction; how broadly the lava had flowed, how deep and what it had met on its way towards the sea. It’s almost as though Iceland were the palette upon which Slartibartfast had mixed his paints for his rendition of the broader world. View full post »