Iceland’s scenery takes your breath away – but so do the prices

I’m writing this on the plane back from Iceland, a fact that fills me with relief. Not because I didn’t enjoy my trip to the land of fire and ice – far from it – but because there was a serious risk I might be stuck there indefinitely with Caroline and my three sons. In the 24 hours before our departure, nearly 4,000 earthquakes were detected in the southwestern region known as the Reykjanes peninsula, which is where the international airport is located. Such unusual seismic activity is often a sign that a volcano is about to erupt and that, in turn, can create an ash cloud that necessitates the

Geology’s dry, rocky road

There has been an argument recently on Twitter about how to do nature-writing. Should it involve the self? Should it be poeticised? Has the oh-my-oh-me-ism of recent nature books got out of hand? Can one not see a blackbird now without considering the nature of consciousness and the tragedy of existence? In short, shouldn’t the nature writers calm down a bit and become ‘more honest’, as one contributor to this row put it? Egregious sentences were quoted out of context. Angry and hate-filled expressions were used. The tone seemed wildly out of whack with the slightly technical question at hand — how to describe plants, places and animals — but