Christmas in Iceland - 15.12.1940, Blaðsíða 8

Christmas in Iceland - 15.12.1940, Blaðsíða 8
fjlews from DECEMBER 1940. My Dear Mother! When this war is over (as, after all, it must be sometime or other) I intend to set up a small business as a travel agent for Iceland, (the business, I may say, will be con- ducted from Alexandria or some warm.clime of that type), for I feel that the manifold advantages of winter sports, to name only one attraction in this island have been badly overlooked. Take ski-ing, for example, a pursuit I have recently embarked upon. In Switzerland, if one is to believe all one reads, the game was organised to death. Intsructors at every hand, nursery slopes in every village, funiculars up every mountain, and hospitals in every hotel. Here all is quite different. There is a tang of the unexpected about it all. My own experiences may be of interest. (Pause for affirmative murmurs). I started out one afternoon, complete with all the clothes I could conceniently wear, and chose a small but convenient slope near our camp. It had one disadvantage; at the foot of the slope one could choose between running into a hut or a barbed wire fence. The initial problem was how to surmount the slope in an upwards direction. I had been told that gravity played a large part in the mechnics of the sport and I wanted to give gravity every chance. The difficulty I encountered was that, if the skis will slide forward down the slope on the ascent. Even more easily. The ultimate solution appeared to be to tackle the slope in a sideways manner, thus defeating gravity for the moment but wearing out the ankle muscles at a very high rate. However I reached the summit and, uttering a short prayer to all benevolent ance- stors, I launched myself forward. The result exceeded my wildest dreams, even those induced by the local cheese. I descended at giddy speed but not so fast as my skis. The end came when I fell backwards on to my spine and lay there unconscious for some minutes. You will be proud to hear that your gallant son had still not had enough. Upwards I toiled again, once more I launched myself out on the world, greeted now by the applause of a small but discriminating audience. This time the reverse happened. I beat the skis handsomely, but £ince my face has not a smooth waxed surface I did not run so far or so well over the snow — rather did I prenetrate and come to rest practically at ground level. The skis, rather mortified at my success, disentangled themselves from my feet and continued on alone. After that I felt it was time to return to wark. Now mark the sequel. My gayer companions and audience had insisted that I ac- company them again the following day, informing me that I ranked very little bleow Harold Lloyd and much above ENSA as an entaertinment. What should happen but a sudden rise of twenty degrees in the thermometer and a downpour of rain. Would the Heavens come to your aid that way in Switzerland? They would not: Then there is skating. Once again our War Office, whose mind rarely rises above casualties, has provided us with skates, andnature has given the town a small lake. Skating is very like ski-ing, except that gravity has a smaller chance to play its full role. On the other hand the surface of the ice is rather harder than that of the snow. It is a nice point, which is more stimulating. But here again Iceland provides the novelty. Continued on Page 31. 6 CHRISTMAS IN ICELAND


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