The loneliest house in Iceland and all the wild stories attached to it

A man surfing the Internet sees a peculiar picture of a tiny house stationed alone on an equally tiny island. With nothing but the house amid a broad green field encircled by the steep shoreline of the island, the picture is captioned “Isolation.”

After a bit of research, he finds out that the island’s name is Elliðaey and is actually the third largest island of Vestmannaeyjar, an amazing volcanic archipelago scattered off the southern coast of Iceland. Along with this info, he happens to find one not so credible story attached to this island, claiming that the house, tucked away from the rest of the world, is actually a secret hideaway for a mysterious billionaire.

Intrigued, the man delves deeper in order to find out more about this Ian Fleming-type character who might be living here… alone, gazing into the vast endless ocean. And it turns out, the story is about the iconic singer Björk, and not the Bond villain Francisco Scaramanga.


The story tells that at the very beginning of the new millennium, Davíð Oddsson, the Prime Minister of Iceland, announced that he was willing to grant Björk permission to build a house on Elliðaey after she declared an interest in living on the island in complete isolation and absolute harmony. Not only that, but according to an article from February 7 the same year, as a recognition for her tremendous contribution to Iceland and its culture, she could do it for free.

Bjork. Author: deep_schismic CC BY-SA 2.0

A few blog posts and a short while after, and a whole lot of pictures depicting a small island with a petite house at its heart flooded the Internet, claiming the house is Björk’s residence, while the whole island supposedly was presented to her as a gift by the Icelandic government. No matter how charming this story might sound, it is simply untrue.

Elliðaey seen from Heimaey . CC BY-SA 3.0

It’s all primarily due to a forgivable misconception, for there are two islands in Iceland that go by the same name. The second, a rather larger one shaped like a horse shoe and located in the Breiðafjörður low bay area near the western town of Stykkishólmur, is where the singer aspired to build herself a home.

Elliðaey   Author: Diego Delso CC BY-SA 4.0

But this didn’t happen, for she was never actually given the island. Björk was, however, allowed to enter a public auction, after which she changed her mind due to a lot of controversy and political dispute, and abandoned the idea of making Elliðaey her retreat.

Various photos of the secluded house situated on an island with nothing but 110 acres of vivid green field around have been circulating on the Internet for years now, generating a cobweb of wildly imaginative but untrue stories, ranging from mysterious and romantic to some silly conspiracy theories and even post-apocalyptic scenarios.

For instance, it was suggested that the picture itself is a hoax and the house is actually photoshopped. An obscure cabin isolated from the rest of the world on an island with no trees or visible safe passageway to it fits this trend almost perfectly. But, no, that’s not true either.

Elliðaey (left) and Bjarnarey islands from the top of Eldfell . In the background is Eyjafjallajökull

It’s also not the silly assumption that the house is built by a secret someone as a shelter for an upcoming zombie apocalypse, which sadly also goes in the “untrue stories” bucket. And the list of various imaginative scenarios about who just might be living here and why all alone, goes on forever, while the truth is much simpler, yet no less unusual.

Elliðaey is part of the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago off of Iceland’s southern coast. It is the island located furthest to the north-east among the group.  Author: Diego Delso CC BY-SA 4.0

Three centuries ago, the island was a home to five families who decided to raise huts and live here as a community in relative peace, surviving by fishing, raising cattle, and hunting puffins. Over the next two centuries all was well, but eventually the place became increasingly impractical to maintain a sustainable community. By the 1930s, the last residents left the island. It was due to the simple fact that there were more opportunities for fishing and raising cattle on the mainland. But there was not a single place as good as Elliðaey for hunting puffins, so in the early 1950s the Elliðaey Hunting Association built a cabin called Ból (“Lair”) on the island for its members to use during the puffin hunting season in the summer, and gathering eggs in spring.

Elliðaey (left) and Bjarnarey (right) Author: Diego Delso CC BY-SA 4.0

The island itself is easily reachable by a boat from the mainland, but it’s not so simple to get up, for the cabin is only accessible from the island’s lower east side by a zip line and strictly for members of the Ellidaey hunting group.

Elliðaeys location. Author: P. S. Burton after Pinpin CC BY-SA 3.0

Today the place is still a preferable hunting location during the summer. The house, accompanied by few lonesome cattle that just can’t get enough of the rich green field, is utilized as a shelter and a resting lodge for the hunters. There is no running water or electricity, but at least they’re are able to enjoy the splendid sauna within the cabin.

So, the secluded “photoshopped” house that the government gave to Bjork and she sold to a mysterious billionaire who used it as a shelter for a zombie apocalypse? It’s not even a house but a lodge with a rainwater-fed sauna and an outside fence raised for some reason. Maybe to keep the cows from escaping–because who knows, they might swim away.

 Martin Chalakoski


Jaw-Dropping Video Shows Blue Whale Chowing Down on Krill

t’s not an unusual sight out in the ocean: blue whales ​slurping up clouds of krill. But researchers most often have a boat’s eye view for this event. Now new drone footage from Oregon State University is giving them a whole new perspective on how these massive creatures, the largest animals on the planet, catch their dinner.

It takes a lot of energy for the 100-foot animal, which can weigh up to 200 tons, to get up to cruising speed, Leigh Torres, a marine spatial ecologist at Oregon State, explains in the video. Opening its mouth can slow it down significantly, so the creature has to decide on the fly whether a krill cloud is substantial enough to be worth the effort.

Whales filters the krill through its baleen plates while plowing through a large krill cloud. And the video shows one whale doing just that. “Here we see the animal recognize that there’s a big krill patch,” Torres says in the video. “He … turns on his side, pumps his flukes, opens his mouth and lunges right for it. It’s just an amazing sequence of events.” But later, when it encounters a smaller cloud, the creature turns its head as if he was beginning the process again before deciding it wasn’t worth it.

As Nick Visser reports for the Huffington Post, blue whales have been on the endangered species list since 1964, after generations of whaling depleted their numbers by 70 to 90 percent. The whale populations have been on the rise since then, reaching 97 percent of their historic levels in California. But they still face many threats—especially oil and gas development, ship strikes and pollution.

 “Amongst all of that activity, these animals need to be able to find their food and feed efficiently,” Torres says. “So the more we know about how they’re finding food and what makes good food for them, it will help us be able to manage their population and make sure that human activities aren’t impacting them too much.”

This isn’t the first time researchers have used drones to study blue whales. Scientists with the Ocean Alliance began have previously used drones dubbed SnotBots to capture mucus from the spray that spurts from the whale’s blowhole, giving them a nice photo of the whale along with DNA, microbe samples as well as stress and pregnancy hormones.

By Jason Daley

Seventeenth-Century Shopping List Discovered Under Floorboards of Historic English Home

400 year old shopping listAmong other necessary items, the list includes “greenfish,” a “fireshovel” and two dozen pewter spoons.(Image courtesy of the National Trust)


Pewter spoons, a frying pan and “greenfish”—these must-have items were scribbled on a shopping list 400 years ago. The scrap of paper was recently discovered under the floorboards of Knole, a historic country home in Kent, England.

As Oliver Porritt reports for Kent Live, Jim Parker, a volunteer working with the archaeology team at Knole, discovered the 1633 note during a multi-million dollar project to restore the house. The team also found two other 17th century letters nearby. One, like the shopping list, was located under the attic floorboards; another was stuffed into a ceiling void.

The shopping list was penned by Robert Draper and addressed to one Mr. Bilby. According to the UK’s National Trust, the note was “beautifully written,” suggesting that Draper was a high-ranking servant. In addition to the aforementioned kitchenware and greenfish (unsalted cod), Draper asks Mr. Bilby to send a “fireshovel” and “lights” to Copt Hall (also known as Copped Hall), an estate in Essex. The full text reads:

Mr Bilby, I pray p[ro]vide to be sent too morrow in ye Cart some Greenfish, The Lights from my Lady Cranfeild[es] Cham[ber] 2 dozen of Pewter spoon[es]: one greate fireshovell for ye nursery; and ye o[t]hers which were sent to be exchanged for some of a better fashion, a new frying pan together with a note of ye prises of such Commoditie for ye rest.

Your loving friend

Robert Draper

Octobre 1633


Discovering the letterJim Parker, a volunteer working with the archaeology team at Knole, discovered the 1633 note during a multi-million dollar project to restore the house. (Image courtesy of the National Trust)

How did this rather mundane domestic letter come to be stashed in an attic at Knole, which is some 36 miles away from Copt Hall?  As the National Trust explains, Copt Hall and Knole merged when Frances Cranfield married Richard Sackville in 1637. Cranfield was the daughter of the Earl of Middlesex, who owned Copt Hall; Sackville, the 5th Earl of Dorset, had inherited Knole, his family’s home.

Household records indicate that large trunks filled with domestic items—including various papers—were moved from Copt Hall to Knole at the time of the marriage, and subsequently stored in the attic. Draper’s note may have slipped under the floorboards.

The marriage of Cranfield and Sackville was important for Knole, according to the National Trust Collections, because Cranfield inherited a trove of expensive paintings and furniture from her father. Draper’s letter certainly was not among the more prized items that Cranfield brought to the marriage, but for modern-day historians, it is exceptionally valuable.

“It’s extremely rare to uncover letters dating back to the 17th century, let alone those that give us an insight into the management of the households of the wealthy, and the movement of items from one place to another,” Nathalie Cohen, regional archaeologist for the National Trust, tells Porritt. She added that the good condition of both the list and the two other letters found at Knole “makes this a particularly exciting discovery.”

By Brigit Katz


10 Signs You See In Your Dreams And Shouldn’t Ignore

 We all have those weird dreams where they don’t make sense to us or we see something in there and we spend the day trying to figure out what it could potentially mean. Well, to help your thinking out, here are ten signs that people see in their dreams and they really shouldn’t ignore them. Why? These signs can be trying to tell you something that could help turn your life around for the better. They can help you understand more about yourself and the life you live, helping explain maybe why certain things keep happening to you or how to relieve the stress you may have lately.

1. Dying

A person holding the hand of a loved one who passed away.

Source: Dying Matters

Sometimes, people have an unsettling dream that revolves around death. What does this mean, though? Columnist Lauren Lawrence explains that dreaming of death is not 100% a bad thing. Instead, dreams that involve death can mean that the person wants to terminate something in their life, like a bad relationship or a job that the person hates going to.

So, what should people do if they have a dream involving death? Take it into consideration that something in your life needs to be shed and that it’s been sitting heavy on your mind for a while. Once you know what the thing is that needs to be shed or terminated, let go of it! That should help with the dreams of death and could reduce some of the stress and worry you had about it.

2. Showing Up Naked Somewhere

Showing Up Naked Somewhere
Waking up naked isn’t embarrassing at all, it actually just means you might be worried about something. 

Source: MX Emedemujer

Don’t laugh, we all have had that embarrassing dream where we wake up in school or at your job and you’re completely naked. What does it mean, though? If you show up naked someplace it could represent the signs of vulnerability and anxiety. These dreams typically happen when you feel like all eyes are on you, like a night before a big presentation or a job interview.

If you do have a dream where you show up naked somewhere, don’t be embarrassed. What you should do is not feed into the feeling of vulnerability. Up your confidence by doing something good for yourself or practicing a few times in front of the mirror if you’re worried about a big presentation coming up.

3. Seeing The Dead

Seeing The Dead
Seeing the dead isn’t scary, it really means that a person is having issues letting go. 

Source: Unsworth-Primary

This dream could be just terrifying as dreaming about death, and it could send someone into an emotional rollercoaster. Dreaming about the dead, though, means that there are small hints in a dream that indicate a person’s inability to let things go and can also hint that the person has a fear of illness and death.

If you dream about the dead, seek a counselor so you can talk to them about what you’re feeling deep down inside. If you lost someone that was extremely close to you, that can trigger this type of dream. Develop healthy ways of keeping them close to you by carrying a picture of them in your wallet or framing a picture of them in your room.

4. Being Chased

Being Chased
Don’t worry, being chased doesn’t mean that someone is after you in real life. 

Source: Express.CO

This is probably one of the most heart pounding dreams a person can have because they can feel their actual heart beating against their chest and they wake up in a sweat. These dreams are more common in women and can mean that you are afraid of confronting something, so you keep running away from it.

When it comes to dreams about being chased, people should consider the dream a challenge for them and figure out what they’re scared of confronting. When they figure out their fear, they should swallow it and face the confrontation, no matter what.

5. Missing an Important Event

Missing an Important Event
Dreaming about being late means you’re just worried about missing an upcoming event because you may have a lot going on. 

Source: Feel Good

People often times dream about missing an extremely important event, making them frantically race there in their dream to make sure they make it in a decent amount of time. It inflicts fear and panic because you really think you’re missing the event. Experts have analyzed people with these frequent dreams and have concluded that if people are dreaming about missing important events, then they are taking way too much on.

If you find yourself dreaming frequently about missing important events, try setting some goals that are more realistic to you and make sure you don’t make promises you know you can’t keep. Doing so will help eliminate the feeling of missing the events because you don’t have that much going on and you feel less stressed.

6. Being Trapped

Being Trapped
Being trapped is certainly terrifying in a dream, especially if a person has claustrophobia. 

Source: Curtmercadante

Another frightening dream people frequently have is being trapped in places they cannot escape, especially small spaces. Claustrophobic people frequently have these dreams because of their fear of confined places, but if this typically doesn’t bother you, then this means you feel trapped in a certain part of your life. Whether it is school, a job, or a relationship, you still feel like you’re stuck there and you can’t get out.

If you keep having this dream, analyze any current situations that you are in and are creating anxiety for you. If you think these situations don’t deserve the amount of anxiety you have for them, get rid of them. This will help you feel free and like you’re no longer trapped.

7. Teeth Falling Out

Teeth Falling Out
Teeth falling out doesn’t mean old age in a dream!

Source: YouTube

As gross as it is, people do happen to dream of their teeth falling out. Experts discuss that teeth symbolize power and confidence and if people are dreaming they are falling out, then they feel like they’re losing control somewhere in the life; i.e., at home, work, or in school.

Teeth falling out in a dream is terrifying, but if you have this dream have no fear. Figure out where you have a loss of confidence and work on building the confidence you lost back up. Even if it is something simple, resolving the problem can keep the teeth falling out dreams away and can additionally help increase your confidence.

8. Falling

Falling can mean that you have a huge problem that is occurring in your life at home or at work. 

Source: Psychics

We have all felt that jolt our body does when we think that we are falling from a high place as soon as we fall asleep. Dream analyst and psychologist Lauri Lowenberg says that dreams about falling are a huge red flag in your subconscious and can indicate a huge problem at work or at home.

Experiencing this dream could be scary, so if you find yourself constantly having one, seek the help of a counselor- that is, if you can’t figure out what the problem is you may be having. You may be experiencing bad memories or you may be unaware of how a small event could really be affecting you. Talking to a person can help solve the problem and stop the falling dreams.

9. Out-Of-Control-Vehicle

Out-of-control vehicles are scary in real life and also represent your life could be out of control somewhere. 

Source: Business Insider

Car crashes are one of the most terrible events that could ever happen to a person. They are loud, scary, and can often times lead to death if its that bad. If you have a dream about a vehicle that is completely out of control, it simply means an aspect of your life is out of control.

These frequent dreams can help you realize that your life needs some type of order, so if you continue having these dreams, find the thing or things that are making you swerve off of the road of success and fix them in order to continue down that road without any future problems.

10. Getting Injured

Getting Injured
Getting injured in your dream means that you have a weak aspect somewhere in your life. 

Source: Long Road Media

Dreaming about being injured can reflect that you feel some sort of weakness in your life. Falling can sometimes mean that your bones are weak from breaking them so much or that your legs are weak from sitting on them for so long, so dreaming about it could only mean that a small part or a large part of your life needs some stronger support.

If you keep having these dreams, decipher what the weakness may be in your life and provide it with strong support to keep you from having these dreams. It could help balance out your life and can actually help you figure out what your weaknesses may actually be!


A drive along the world’s most beautiful road

“Google Maps…?” I offered.

We were about to embark on the most scenic drive of our lives

As the conversation turned to traffic and the best route back to our hotel, I zoned out, rescuing the last slice of pizza and watching the afternoon sun turn everything silvery. A cold gust blew off the South Atlantic and I shivered. Winter afternoons in the Western Cape had a metallic quality: cold but bright, like polished steel.

“Chapman’s Peak Drive is a nice way back into Cape Town,” I heard Cole say in passing.

That sounded fine, so we paid up, said our goodbyes and told Google to take us that way – unaware that we were about to embark on the most scenic drive of our lives.

Chapman’s Peak Drive snakes 9km along South Africa’s Atlantic Coast (Credit: Credit: Hougaard Malan/Getty Images)

Chapman’s Peak Drive snakes 9km along South Africa’s Atlantic Coast (Credit: Hougaard Malan/Getty Images)

Over the tree tops I could see a line of buttresses marching away to the south; the Cape Peninsula. The cone-shaped formation of Chapman’s Peak stood to our north, with its namesake road snaking 9km along coastal ramparts and cliffs to the suburb of Hout Bay. We left the restaurant, and our little rental car rumbled along a country road between paddocks ringed by log fences and populated with fat horses.

The road took a few gentle twists as it rose on Chapman’s Peak’s western flank, and Noordhoek Bay spread out behind us. It wasn’t until we took a swooping right-hand bend that we realised we were in for something truly awesome.

Carved out of the west-facing cliffs, Chappies, as it’s known by locals, was constructed between 1915 and 1922 using convict labour. Although named after John Chapman, the skipper of an English ship who visited the area in 1607, the real hero of Chapman’s Peak Drive is Sir Nicolas Frederick de Waal, the first administrator of the Cape Province, who tenaciously pursued the idea of a road even when engineers said it couldn’t be done.

These cliffs are plagued by rockslides, so the engineers eventually chose to situate the road partway up the mountain, where a layer of hard granite would provide a solid foundation and a softer stratum of sandstone above would be easier to excavate. But these sandstone cliffs shed a regular barrage of rock fall onto the road during its first 80 years in service.

Local authorities made moves to improve safety, including forcing closures during inclement weather or when rock fall danger was considered high. But in December 1999, a motorist was killed by a falling rock on a low-danger day, and even as the emergency meetings were convened to decide the fate of the route, wildfires above the road let loose a fresh hail of debris that ultimately closed Chappies to all traffic.

Known to locals as ‘Chappies’, the road took seven years to complete (Credit: Credit: Denby Weller)

Known to locals as ‘Chappies’, the road took seven years to complete (Credit: Denby Weller)

From 2000 to 2003, and again in 2009, the road was closed while engineers employed every new technology imaginable to tame the cliffs above. They computer-modelled the area, then with the aid of Swiss road builders, devised a series of solutions to the constant threat of rockslide.

As we swooped around another of Chappies’ purported 114 bends, I was slightly alarmed to come face-to-face with one of these engineering marvels, a 6m-high ‘catch fence’ – a huge steel net that leaned menacingly out over the road; 1.6km of catch fence protect the road from smaller slides at various locations along its 9km length.

The plunging coastline beckoned me to stop at every lookout, to linger and drink in the view

But Chappies had even bigger wonders in store.

We were briefly distracted from the hulking cliffs as the road took another leftward bend and we were again pointed at the South Atlantic and sparkling Hout Bay. Clouds were forming over the Sentinel, the same weird reverse-waterfalls of vapour that locals dubbed ‘the tablecloth’ when they appeared over Table Mountain. The verticality of the landscape never got old; despite the obvious risks of the route, the plunging coastline beckoned me to stop at every lookout, to linger and drink in the view.

A ‘half tunnel’ was designed to protect the road from small rockslides (Credit: Credit: Michelle Dormer/Getty Images)

A ‘half tunnel’ was designed to protect the road from small rockslides (Credit: Michelle Dormer/Getty Images)

The next inward turn brought us in sight of a 155m-long ‘half tunnel’ that surely defied gravity. Instead of trying to hold back the volley of rocks that came pelting down this bluff, the engineers just carved a gash into the side of the rock and put the road out of harm’s way.

As we neared Hout Bay, the rhythm of the drive established itself: a leftward bend would reveal a breathtaking view of the coast, followed by a rightward turn that showed another incredible feat of engineering. Just before we reached the toll gate, we passed a group of lycra-clad road cyclists – Chappies features in the world’s largest timed bike race.

I glanced over at my fiancé, who has been known to compete in the odd cycling race. A broad smile was spreading across his face. “Maybe for the honeymoon?” I suggested, only half joking.

Chapman’s Peak Drive features 114 bends and a number of engineering marvels (Credit: Credit: Martin Harvey/Getty Images)

Chapman’s Peak Drive features 114 bends and a number of engineering marvels (Credit: Martin Harvey/Getty Images)

By Denby Weller


A different view of history through art

The Fighting Temeraire by JMW TurnerThe Fighting Temeraire by JMW Turner

The Fighting Temeraire (1839) by JMW Turner stirs extraordinary passions (Thunderer, November 9; Letters, November 11 and 13), showing the final voyage of the 98-gun sailing warship that played a distinguished role in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. It is being towed upriver in the Thames by a steam-driven tug in a scene often interpreted as a sense of loss, the nostalgic sunset representing the end of the age of sail.

However, this may be wrong. Although the sky in the picture has often been assumed to show a sunset, it is more likely to have been a sunrise, which might symbolise the dawn of the exciting new age of steam.

From a meteorological point of view the spectacular colour of the sky is fascinating. During the day, sunlight is scattered by gas molecules in the atmosphere, resulting in a blue sky. During sunrise or sunset, the sun’s rays have to pass through a much larger chunk of the atmosphere and most of the blue light is scattered, leaving amber and red light.

The colours of sunset or sunrise can be more complex. If the air contains pollutants and small dust particles of the right size, the sun and the sky can turn intensely orange, red and purple.

These pollutants and particles
can come from wildfires and dust storms, which is what we saw with the bizarre sight of a red sun during the day in October, when ex-Hurricane Ophelia swept up Saharan dust and smoke from wildfires in Portugal.

During Turner’s artistic career there was coal smoke polluting the atmosphere and a great deal of volcanic activity in the world, when the atmosphere was filled with the dust of violent eruptions. That pollution and dust helped to create some lurid and surreal-coloured sunrises and sunsets. As one woman commented to Turner: “I never see your skies in nature, Mr Turner.” To which Turner replied: “Then God help you, ma’am.”