A Music Retreat

Earlier this year, several properties in and around Joslin came up for auction and I seriously considered making an offer as I felt that perhaps I should “downsize”. My current property in which I have lived since about 1986, is more than 120 m long and about 15,5m wide. It backs onto the linear park and the creek, it’s often called a river but that is a misnomer. Anyway, eventually I decided whilst I am still physically and mentally agile, that rather than sell my present property I would add a retreat down the back which would look over river from the back fence. I have called it my “music room” as it would certainly be space that I retreat to, to listen to music or to play my recorder. As always the pictures and plans will hopefully demonstrate the concept much more clearly than words.

Music Room1

MUSAIC ROOM2

MUSIC ROOM 3

Lots of glass. Not sure that the finished structure will have a RED roof!

The glass blocks are part of the bathroom/shower recess.

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The view from the back!

All at sea

Yes there has been a deafening silence. Internet is both problematic and slow , despite the enormous cost of $250 US for unlimited access for the duration! It’s marine satellite service!  I shall blog eventually about life on board. Attempts to confirm that I am at sea with a picture are proving impossible as the upload speed is so slow as to be unusable. All things come up those that wait.

I write this as we are berthing at Tallin, Estonia which is around 7am – the city is shrouded in fog. It’s overcast. The town is seething with the combined humanity of 4 huge cruise liners in dock! 

Norway Day 5 the village of Balestrand.

Balestrand shares 2 delightful features of yesterday’s village: the fiord fishing village atmosphere and an equally enchanting 100 year old hotel – the Hotel Kviknes . 
There is an added unique  attraction: an Anglican Church! The wealthy owner of the Kviknes Hotel in the 1880’s married an English woman who said that she would accept his proposal and moreover move to this remote, cold fiord village if he would build for her a church – not just any church mind you , but Church of England. He agreed, but sadly his new wife died ftom TB, before it was finished . In tribute and as a fitting memorial, he pushed on and the church was completed. It is still active and each summer ftom May to October the church sends out a minister ftom England who conducts weekly services, the congregation being entirely composed of tourists. 

Our final walk of some 14km and an altitude of 950m, with me in basic black

At the top.

The Kviknes Hotel by the edge of the fiord

Various photos of the interior. 


Each evening this chap performs in the lounge room with tea, coffee and sweet biscuits. I don’t mean that he, the pianist, performs on tea, coffee and biscuits, no, he performs on the upright whilst we consume tea, coffee and biscuits!

The Church of England- Balestrand

The Village of Solvern 

This idyllic village lies in the western region of Norway on the shores of the Lustrafjiotd and a few kilometres from the Jostedal Glacier. The previous fishing village now produces summer berries and autumn apples as well as the fresh fish. The wooden houses spread up the terraced mountains. 

At the waters edge is the Walaker Hotel, which has been untainted in its more than 3 centuries of existence. The current owners, the Nitter family , have run the hotel for nine generations!

Consequently I reckon This village and its’ iconic hotel deserves a separate blog article all on its own. 

The reading and music room

The Dining Room


The front garden – only part of it!

Norway Day 3

Not another bloody waterfall or fiord. We hiked some 7.5 km to the base of the glacier straight in of you in the picture below. 
As we approached. A deep rumble developed and we witnessed a glacial (ice) avalanche- different from the snow version, it was explained 

Still in black and after several days still smelling like a rose

Last night Backroads Iceland 


The happy hour drinks! We became so happy that many of the group meandered down to the nearby hot effluent stream of “deadly” water from the geothermal power station to take the plunge. Sadly I don’t have photographic evidence but others may? 

Day 5 Iceland 

This was our day of cycling, we had impressive hybrid ( flat bar) titanium bikes which performed flawlessly, the weather was not quite up to the same standard. 

It was not all bad but just rather cold and at times mild precipitation and a few spots of rain. I guess I can be thankful for small mercies as friends have sent me links to other cycle blog sites that describe relentless rain and crippling headwinds, that brings one to a standstill! 

We cycled around a huge lake the source of the nations hydroelectric power. It is part of the Pingvellir National Park

Incidentally Iceland bring the youngest “continent” ( although I don’t think this is quite the correct geological label, but you get my drift?) has NO COAL! It’s power comes entirely from geothermal hot water and hydroelectricity! If only we could harness the super heated steam that sprays relentlessly from every orifice of Tony Abbott, I am sure that we could power the entire national capital. The cost of powering Iceland  is minimal. 


There was only one part of the route which was not enjoyable – 11 km along the main ring road N1 of Iceland which has no shoulder and it was a rather busy road not unexpectedly. But the majority of drivers were courteous and adopted a wide berth on passing. It was also that part with rain and a moderate head wind.  The picture below is along the more relaxed quiet road

Now I am resting at the fabulous Ion Hotel having had a spa and dry sauna with the bloody sun shining in clear blue skies! I will throw cation to the wind and have a beer!

Tomorrow is our last day and I am heading to Norway for another Backroads holiday. 

Day 3 Iceland 

Day 3 Iceland A walk on a glacier! I am lost for words, you may be surprised to learn. Let my photographs try to do justice to the day, if possible.



The black colour of the ice is ground up basalt lava, not what you are thinking- dirt!

The reason I took this kneeling/crouching shot was to “recreate” an almost identical photo and pose when I did the Everest Base Camp trek as a 5th medical student elective! 

After the Glacier walk we drove further along the coast to a delightful village for lunch and this is the local church with earthen roof , more than 150 years old 



Mathematical conundrum 

This picture is of a modern hot and cold water tap, of the type common in European hotels. It is indeed the tapware here in the Foss Hotel Reykjavik. The chrome cylinder has at either end a barrel action which may be rotated clockwise or anticlockwise. Both of these rotating ends have a black rocker which can be pressed down or up. So stay with me here as I indulge in some basic concepts of permutations: there are 4 separate manoeuvres each of which as 2 choices.  I recall this means it’s 2 to the power of 4 or……… 4 to the power of 2, which is the same result for both : 16!

What’s the point I hear you ask ? Well I am standing naked on tip toe in the shower recess fiddling the knobs working my way through these permutations whilst goose bumps the size of a Viking maiden’s breast break out on my body!  My needs are simple  and the correct answer to my mathematical equation is quite simply =2  

1. hot water 

2. Lots of it 

I did not even have the time or inclination to address the issue of what the long smaller cylinder that looks like a curling wand does whilst bathing. 
Finally sorting  out the shower (lasting but a few minutes which recreated a Swedish spa experience: sauna-ice pool plunge-sauna-ice pool plunge,) I faced another cleaning dilemma.

I have always been mildly confused, in fact irritated, by the 2 washing container options in the shower recess:

Body wash

Shampoo

Let’s face it, we all know they come out of the same huge vat, and the only difference is then colouring and perfume! You all agree?

Well in the Foss Hotel Reykjavik the options are 

Body/Shampoo wash – a blow for reason I smile as I lather up but wait what is the second bottle? Conditioning lotion? No it’s Hand Wash. WTF! Was I supposed to wash my hands with this specific preparation before attacking body and scalp? Was the order of application vital? Would my hands drop off or worse other parts of my body if I blindingly used hand wash on it or vice versa? Lest you think I am a grumpy old man, I am taking orders as a gift for anyone upon my return