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WEEKLY BLOG EPISODE 83 | THE RETURN

Splodz Blogz | Weekly Blog Episode 83

And she’s back! Welcome to another episode of my weekly blog, after a couple of weeks off due to being out of the country and deciding to prioritise the Icelandic views over writing.

We had such an amazing time over in the “land of fire and ice”, if you missed my updates, I’ve saved two highlights on my Instagram stories which with lots of snaps of waterfalls and glaciers and other things, would be cool if you wanted to check those out. Start at my profile page and click on Iceland Part 1 and Part 2.

But here I am, it’s Wednesday evening as I write, I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to catch up at work (358 emails in my inbox…), doing my best not to get stressed out because there is so much to do. It was inevitable, really, that’s what happens when you go on leave! Thankfully for both you and me, you’re not here to read about the day job, so allow me to use this weekly blog catch you up on the last few days and weeks…

The Land of Fire and Ice… and Rainbows

Iceland really was everything I hoped it would be. The landscape is quite simply stunning. I can legitimately use the word “epic”, which I know gets overused when talking about scenery, but honestly, it utterly and completely fits.

I don’t know what it is about big, empty, gnarly landscapes that make me fall in love. There is something powerful about standing somewhere, be it in a valley looking up at mountains or atop a hill looking back down, that is so big it makes you feel small. Iceland had lots of those moments for me.

The weather was, well, interesting. Believe it or not, we had a couple of days of a heatwave while we were there – 27 degrees and sunny, not far off their temperature record (which is very worrying when you’re stood watching icebergs melt away in front of you). We also felt the force of angry Icelandic weather; gale force winds, rain, and fog. I can confirm that motorbikes get blown over in 80mph-ish gusts in exposed landscapes… a story for another day.

We went with motorcycle overland tour company Globebusters, who run road trips and expeditions all over the world. While going with them meant we took the easy route in some ways (you know, routes provided, support van, hotels booked by someone else), it opened up a whole different dimension to this road trip in new friends, miles of unpaved road, and little spots we’d never have found on our own. And we loved it. The Iceland tour (we did the Arctic Desert tour) is one of their smaller trips – take a look at the website if you fancy something a bit special. We’ve already got our eyes on their Morocco tour… maybe next year?!

I intend to write a couple of blogs about the trip specifically, so I can share some of the stories from our adventure (and to share a few more photos from the hundreds!). I’ll do my best to not wait too long to get those on here.

Travelling and Covid

In all honesty, if this had not been a pre-booked tour (we booked back in 2018 intending to travel in 2019 but that trip was postponed twice…), with a reputable tour company who had our back regarding all things covid, we probably wouldn’t have gone abroad this year. Thankfully, we were able to make the most of Iceland being welcoming of tourists and green on the UK travel list, and we were able to

Getting out to Iceland was totally fine. Yes, there was extra admin to normal; we had to take a private covid test before we left and complete a form to show at border control in Iceland, but that was easy enough. Those documents, along with our vaccine certificate, were checked at the check-in desk in the UK and before we left Keflavik airport, which was a friendly and painless process.

Returning to the England, on the other hand, just seemed to be much more complicated and slow. The requirement for returning from a Green listed country is a test before leaving, completing the passenger locator form, and a test when back in England. And while that sounded reasonably simple, we just don’t seem to organise these things well here.

Getting our test in Iceland was no bother; we booked it online and went through the massive testing centre in Reykjavik (a good excuse to try out the electric scooter scheme in the city, much cheaper and more fun than a taxi). The queue was massive, but we didn’t stop moving, and our results arrived within an hour. No problem.

Dettifoss

The passenger locator form is completed online on the Government website. It’s quite convoluted, complete with badly worded questions which we could only say with 90% certainty that we’d answered correctly. With that, and our day two test (a PCR test you take when you get home) booked, we were ready to re-enter our home country.

The most frustrating thing about returning home was the queue at Heathrow to get through border control. It was like they were surprised people were there… which I always find a bit odd, considering the flight schedule is published weeks in advance and they would have exact numbers in advance of the number of passengers on each plane. We snaked up and down in the arrivals hall for over an hour before reaching the passport e-gates (the queue for families to see a border official to be checked was longer), by which time our cases had been removed from the baggage reclaim belt and lined up by the wall. They didn’t even check our covid documentation (it was seen at the check-in desk in Iceland).

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I was very grateful to have had this opportunity to travel when so many others cannot, but we don’t like to make things straight forward, do we?!

Photo credit: Globebusters

The Routine of Normal Life

We have been home a week now, and in all honestly, I’ve been so exhausted I’ve hardly achieved anything. I had imagined spending the couple of extra days I’d booked off work to do lots of meaty tasks at home, such as getting super organised for my Coast-to-Coast hike next month, writing a bunch of blog posts including this one and a couple on our Iceland trip, and maybe even painting the spare room.

Godafoss

Alas, I spent two full days doing no more than unpacking my bag, catching up on laundry, and putting the groceries away that Tesco delivered to my front door. I even counted going for a walk on the hill on Saturday afternoon as a full-day’s activity. Embarrassing.

A week on and I’ve still not really got back into the routine of normal life. Weird really, I was only away for two weeks, it’s surprising how quickly habits and practices can be broken. It’s not all been bad, I’m not complaining about all this, simply musing on the fact that my body and mind haven’t been quite ready to return to normal just yet. Maybe I am just destined to live on the road?! Who knows!

A Mystery Gift Giver

Hooray for surprise post! I received this lovely little book while I was away. Walking Contemplations is full of relevant-to-me quotes and is ideal for a muse while the kettle boils first thing in the morning. It’s the kind of thing you leave lying around to pick up when the mood takes you, I’ve got it on the side in the kitchen and have been randomly choosing pages to read here and there.

But I’ve no idea who to thank for the gift… If this was your doing, thank you, you are very kind indeed, and you really made me smile when I opened it this week.

In-Flight Entertainment

What have you been watching, reading or listening to over the last couple of weeks? I didn’t consume much entertainment while away, but I did have two three-hour flights to get to, and decided that it was the perfect opportunity to binge watch a Disney+ series I so far haven’t got around to watching.

Loki

I would say Loki was a great aeroplane watch. And given that some of the Marvel characters are very much based on the Icelandic Sagas (which I now want to read), it seemed more than a little appropriate viewing.

I mean, it’s not a patch on the Marvel movies in my opinion, but for something to keep me entertained on the flight, it was ideal. Each episode lasts 30 minutes (even though it says 45 mins on the timeline, the first five covers a recap and the last ten are lengthy credits) – perfect for binge watching.

The show picks up where Loki disappears at the end of Avengers: Endgame, and follows the God of Mischief as he steps out of Thor’s shadow and into the world of the Time Variance Authority. We get time jumps, variants, fight scenes, comedy, and plenty of nods to other Marvel episodes. The series did end on a rather confusing cliff hanger, which means I’m already invested in the second series – I suppose they know how to keep you!

Wandavision is still my top Marvel Cinematic Universe series of the three released so far, by a long way, but this comes a reasonable second. Something to watch if you’ve got an opening this weekend.

I’ll leave my weekly blog there for this episode, and pick up from Sunday onwards next time. Come back for wanderings in Lichfield, and some words on this year’s Comms Unplugged event in Dorset. In the meantime, any tips on encouraging my brain to re-enter the real world (including allowing me to sleep) would be much appreciated. Bye for now!

As always, I would really love to hear from you in the comments below. What have been the highlights of your week? Let me know what your favourite thing about the last seven days has been. And don’t forget to get your One Hour Outside today… whatever day you happen to be reading this on!

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