With thanks to David Attenborough…

…for it is he that set me on this path, unknowingly of course, more than ten years ago.

As his landmark “Planet Earth” series was launched by the BBC in 2006, a promotional trailer was heavily rotated on TV, laced with stunning images and a mesmerising tune by a band I’d never heard of before.

It was Sigur Rós and the song was “Hoppipolla”.

The euphoric and ethereal happiness that this track generated – along with it’s own wonderfully childish video celebrating the simple joys of jumping in puddles – had a significant impact on me.

I was now beginning to pay more attention to things that came from Iceland.

After repeated plays of “Takk”, the album that featured Hoppipolla, I had become utterly entranced by the band and their unique style of music, but I was late to the party and it would be some years before I finally had a chance to see them play live for the first time, at Bestival on the Isle of Wight, in 2012.

That performance was transcendent and I was hooked, particularly by the furious conclusion to “Popplagid”, where the frustration of being asked to play earlier than expected to accommodate Stevie Wonder’s time demands saw Orri kick over his drums at the finale.

Music had never sounded like this to me before.

From that point, I seized upon every opportunity to see them again – in Wolverhampton, Brighton, Nottingham, Jodrell Bank, Manchester, Glastonbury, several times in London and finally in Reykjavik itself.

Along the way, I inhaled everything I could find on the band, including “Heima”, a feature length documentary following the band as they played a series of tiny free gigs all around their homeland before a triumphant finale in the capital, Reykjavik.

Suddenly, I began to understand where this music came from – the stunning scenery and open landscapes seemed to me to be an integral member of the band. The grand scale and wistfulness of the Icelandic countryside meshed with those sweeping strings and roaring guitars and created something that was utterly irresistible.

I had to go and see it for myself.

So, less than three months after seeing Sigur Rós for the first time, I arrived in Reykjavik in the middle of the night in deepest December, to be greeted by the Aurora Borealis less than ten minutes after I got off the plane.

That’s not supposed to happen.

The Northern Lights – capricious, but captivating


From then on, the die was cast.

Something in my soul had changed irrevocably, although it took me a long time to fully acknowledge what had happened.

Several subsequent visits have only further fed the obsession, with each return adding another layer to my connection with the Land of Fire and Ice.

When this sort of thing is laid out in front of you, who could resist?

Solfar – the Sun Voyager

Seljalandsfoss – the waterfall you can walk around

Gullfoss – The Golden Waterfall

Skogafoss – plus idiot

Strokkur – the evergreen geyser


If it hadn’t been for David Attenborough, I might never have seen these sights, nor followed this path.

For that, thanks (again), Dave.

One thought on “With thanks to David Attenborough…

  1. Lois

    John dear – you are now on the aircraft to take you on your Great Adventure. We have a green tree candle burning for you that you gave me at Yule/Xmas I hope the flight is smooth for you and won’t shake your farewell curry about

    Well done dear. Very tiring all this emotional stuff . Sleep well tonight and just concentrate on getting your head right after all it’s like any other trip you have done but with a lot more stuff to have sorted first. Plus leaving dear friends and family and parking the job!

    I think you were right- us waving at the airport would be too much but you have us all with you and your own strong character to sustain you

    So glad we did Glastonbury tor too on Easter Sunday before saying farewell in your birth county of Somerset appropriately and coincidentally as we were at a jazz weekend in Street !

    Everything has been planned very well and we beat the flat admin apart from the flipping too fat cooker 😉

    Love you and so proud you doing this xxx mum


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