The Icelandic Yule Lads

As today’s the day, I wanted to share how Icelandic people count down to Christmas. I found a book about this during my first trip to Iceland. Since then, I’ve loved this story about the 13 little fellas who keep excitable Children in check as Christmas approaches.

They reputedly come from the lava fields of Dimmuborgir, so of course I visited there when I was chilling on the north side of iceland two years ago.

Me and the lads

This is their natural habitat, and playground:

Dimmuborgir: look closely and you may see one of the Yule Lads hiding in the lava field

Keep an eye on your sausages, and look forward to the day when you can gobble Skyr, safe in the knowledge that you are only copying the example of another.

Here’s someone else’s (much better, and more knowledgeable than mine) explanation:
Icelandic Jólasveinar – Santa Clauses in Iceland

From Furugrund

Wangdue Phodrang monastery, Bhutan

I was checking the search engine referrals on my blog last night, when I saw ‘Wangdue Phodrang fire’. A short search later I saw the sad news that back in June a devastating fire raised the dzong (fortress), which contained the regional administrative headquarters and a monastery school, to the ground.

This photo makes me very sad:

Wangdue Phodrang monastery, Bhutan, on fire

Read more about the fire here and here here

As a place I remember fondly from my trip to Bhutan, I decided to post a few photos of how it was.

The two trainee monks who had just had a very un-monklike fight:

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Young Buddhist monks, Wangdue Phodrang monastery, Bhutan

(This photo is also one of my 7 Super Shots post, which includes a lovely memory of my Grandma related to this photo.)

The main courtyard of the monastery:

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Wangdue Phodrang monastery, Bhutan

The main courtyard of the monastery:

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Wangdue Phodrang monastery, Bhutan

High up at the far end of the inner courtyard, the skeletons are there to remind you to live your life well as it will be over sooner than you know it (sage advice):

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Inner courtyard, Wangdue Phodrang monastery, Bhutan

And finally, the sweetest little monk ever:

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The sweetest little monk ever, Wangdue Phodrang monastery, Bhutan

I hear two good things: that many of the treasures were saved, and there are fund raising initiatives in place to rebuild it. Please add comments and links if you know anything about this. Thank you.

Leap Day

As it’s Leap Day, I thought I’d post a few jumping photos (see what I did there?!).

I do like taking pics of random strangers, particularly when they’re acting, posing or generally getting in the way of something I’m trying to photograph. Like the “Bird’s Nest”.

Some random kids jumping outside the Beijing Olympic Stadium

The rest were taken for me by friends, because I’m in them…

In Tibet, in an area where the Chinese government have prohibited mass actions (hoping it at least confused them).

The Potala Palace, Lhasa

With Deb and Sally, using jumping as a way to warm up on a freezing morning.

A frosty morning in the Himalayas

Leaping amongst the prayer flags at Everest Base Camp

Top of the world, baby!

And, in case no-one believes my “National Geographic moment” photo (at the bottom of this page) photo at Yamdrok-tso is real… well, I would have done something that flattered me a damned sight more if I’d Photoshopped this, wouldn’t I?!

Yamdrok-tso lake, Tibet

Happy leaping : -)