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

My Icelandic holiday with Kevin and Perry

I’m currently on holiday in Iceland. I say ‘holiday’, but I’m with my three teenage sons so it’s more like being a supply teacher on a school trip. The scenery looks like a series of illustrations in a geography textbook – volcano, tectonic plate, glacier – but so far the boys aren’t impressed. ‘Every day is the same,’ said 17-year-old Ludo. ‘We wake up, drive somewhere, go on a walk, take pictures of a waterfall or a lava field, then walk back again.’ This produced murmurs of agreement. I told them they’d enjoy the sightseeing more if they looked up from their phones occasionally, but I don’t think this cut

I failed my country at COP

I’m on my way to Glasgow for COP26. It’s the first time I have been abroad since before Covid. Conveniently enough I had already decided to visit the UK for other reasons and that gives me a chance to travel to Edinburgh by train (there’s no accommodation available in Glasgow). I will be able to tell everyone that I arrived by train. Hopefully no-one will ask how I got from my island country in the first place (it wasn’t by sailboat). This will be my second COP conference. Previously I attended Paris 2015 as prime minister. Since then, I have publicly apologised for not having been more critical at the

Ghosts in a landscape: farming life through the eyes of Thomas Hennell

Thomas Hennell is one of that generation of painters born in 1903 whose collective achievements are such an adornment of modern British art. Among his contemporaries are Edward Bawden, Richard Eurich, John Piper, Eric Ravilious and Graham Sutherland. Some of these have been over-praised (Sutherland’s reputation was unhelpfully inflated for many years, then suffered a crash), others underrated, such as Eurich. In the current mood of reassessment, careers and deeds are being looked at again, and Hennell has benefited accordingly. Jessica Kilburn’s hefty book is very tangible evidence of this. The English countryside was Hennell’s first love, and he came to prominence as an illustrator — and, indeed, writer —

I have never cared more about the price of milk in Iceland: The County reviewed

You may be asking yourself: have I reached that point in lockdown where I’m watching Icelandic dramas about the price of milk? Yes, you have, is the short answer. But let me qualify that with: if you are going to watch Icelandic dramas about the price of milk, The County is a good choice. And surprisingly involving. Or, to put it another way: I have never cared more about the price of milk in Iceland and it may be I’ll never care as much about the price of milk in Iceland again. Although you never know. I have never cared more about the price of milk in Iceland and will