SINCE my teens I have dreamed of Iceland. And to my regret always let other considerations come in my way. It would cost too much in the |hungry thirties'. Friends questioned my sanity in yearning to holiday in the Arctic! My husband preferred to relax in warmer climates. I let myself be persuaded. But not that summer of 1983. No. I was determined to visit Iceland at last -- aged 74.
With a like-minded friend I sailed by a Danish boat from Scrabster in the north of Scotland through the Faroes to the east coast of Iceland disembarking at Seydisfjordur.
Customs procedures were minimal and soon we found the road-coach waiting on the quayside, narrow like the dirt road ahead of it, and sturdy to defy its rough surface. Some of the private cars that had travelled on the same boat as us charged ahead to shake us off -- in vain. Others crawled apprehensively behind us into the forbidding grey-and-white landscape on a road banked high above raging snow-melt torrents. Most of Iceland's main roads are unmetalled -- as a policy. That way the country more easily qualified for development loans from the UN. Reindeer stared.
We stared back. Rain pelted, but three hours later we made it into Egilstaddir in brilliant sunshine. Weather unpredictability is a feature of Iceland. Sunshine persisted too until well after I had gone to bed at 10.30 at night with the final whistle of the football match played outside my window still ringing in my ears.
Egilstaddir looked a prosperous little settlement. It began as late as 1944 with 100 people. Now it boasts a knitting factory, a printing works, and two flourishing building firms. The bus set us down at our hotel. It didn't look like one. A large square barn-like edifice. Plain wooden door. No name displayed. No bright fights. My companion, a …