A day of anxiety! Could we or couldn’t we? Could we get out to Heimaey and back again on the ferry? Various websites were checked, our great GT Coaching Company assisted us by making many phone calls and I talked directly to the Harbourmaster. And yes, it was a GO situation, much to everyone’s joy (as much for the fact that they would indeed be able to use the “bouncy flume” in the town’s swimming pool at the end of the day as well as making an ascent of the volcano Eldfell).
It was an overcast day and the sea swell was “noticeable” (more to some than to others!), but a great day was had on this very special island. It is 40 years since the new volcano Eldfell grew out of nowhere on the eastern edge of the town.
Sitting in a glorious natural amphitheater on the volcano’s lava flow, the events of the eruption were explained, with questions answered and good pupil questions asked. All participants (yes, teachers too) made it to the top, the hot top, of Eldfell. What a lunch spot – all with under trouser heating! Views were absorbed, lunch consumed and local “hot spots” explored. Much work is being done by the local authority to control footpath erosion on the volcano so we were careful to be very good environmental protectors. But then it was downhill again (with less moans in this direction!), a little cafe time before heading off to the swimming pool for some R&R.
The swimming pool was a 5-star hit; it was recently refurbished and boasts perhaps one of the best flumes in Iceland (and perhaps in Oxfordshire!). With a bouncy rubber sheet ending, everyone was making quite a splash (with many, many repeat tries). Then a weary, but cleaned refreshed and invigorated group made their way back to the ferry port and back to the mainland. The sea was less rolling than the outward journey and many stayed on outside decks to “take in the nature” of this final element of this great day. Many pupils were coming up to me (as every day!), making comments, asking questions and chatting away so freely; all very enjoyable; so good to see young people gaining such a lot from their trip to Iceland; “bringing education to life”…certainly, and much more.
The evening meal of Rasa’s pizza was the stuff of legend – it was simply, utterly, awesomely superb and consumed with great relish (and, strangely, slightly quietening the group for a few minutes!). What a day, what a tour, what a fine bunch of young folks to be introducing to the wonders of Iceland. And, after some “chill time”, so it was to bed; to rooms by 22.00, lights out by 22.15 and then…not a sound; the sleep of the very, very contented.
Ian K Hardie.