A former colleague, an American guy who lives in Norway, once told me "There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing." Wise words that have become my mantra, among others, and which The Ragazzi will probably have inscribed on my grave stone, along with, "Turn the light off!" and "Can someone please feed the cat?"
The second day in Iceland was wet. Now I am accustomed to wet, I live part of the year in Brittany where it rains from above, sideways and sometimes, it seems, upwards, but the rain in Iceland is very, well, wet and rainy. North Atlantic storms are pretty powerful.
The farm provided orange waterproof trousers and jackets. They were great for those riders who are adult-sized but me, I am built more like an elf and so would have been completely swamped by them. But I had come prepared, I had a waterproof riding jacket and over-trousers, all was well.
In fact my own gear was better than that lent by the farm, as a fellow rider confirmed when. after ten minutes, she was already cold and wet and not happy.
So, the two of us with a guide, rode towards the local small town. In the dark and the pouring rain. And we rode into a small forest that was planted a few decades back as part of the plan to re-forest Iceland, so there were clumps of pines, and beeches and oaks and it was all managed and the trees were thriving with their roots in the warm soil and plenty of rain.
And there was a former Viking house, the walls had remained standing because they were built several feet thick, but the roof had recently been replaced and covered with moss. I couldn't take a picture, it was too cold and wet for me to rummage inside my jacket for my camera. And I was too busy drinking the rain that was pouring down my face.
In Iceland you'll see old buildings that have been empty for years and that are still standing. The reason for this is not that they can't be bothered to pull them down, or that no-one wants to occupy/use them, but rather that Icelanders believe that elves may have taken up residence and you do not want to mess with an elf.
Do I believe in elves? Well, that's a whole other story.
By lunchtime we'd ridden for a total of ten hours. The farm thought it was time for a break. I disagreed, I would have stayed in the saddle all day but perhaps they were wise. We were driven to a swimming pool. An open-air, water supplied from hot springs, steam room stinking of sulphur, swimming pool and introduced to Icelandic relaxation.
The Icelanders are very good about hygiene, of necessity since no noxious chemicals are used in the water, so we were ordered to remove our shoes at the door and to shower naked, and lest we not know which parts to pay particular attention to, there was a picture highlighting feet, under arms and privater areas.
I swim frequently at home, four, sometimes five days each week. And I do like to sit in a sauna, close my eyes and imagine I'm in a Finnish forest, so this was a familiar experience for me. Familiar save for the fact that as I swam lengths in the pool a cold rain was falling on me.
But the best experience, for me, was the freezing plunge pool into which I dropped before leaping out and running to the 38 degree hot pot. I'm a little addicted to this masochistic past-time of alternately heating my body and then fast-freezing it, I'm told that it's good for the immune system, I just love the all-over tingly feeling.
So the people from the farm were right. The pool was a perfect place for the second afternoon.
And I almost, almost but not quite, managed to sleep that night. I think I need more hot/cold dips before I permanently cure my insomnia.