fragments of poetry that survived

Images: Petros Koublis & Words: Melanie Kettner and Petros Koublis-

Words: Melanie Kettner:

Derek Jarman changed my world. I bought his book „Derek Jarman´s Garden“ in the 90s. Since then I carried it with me, can’t tell how often I read it, reading it was like meditation, so calming. Derek Jarman, mythic film director and artist died in 1994, only 52 years old after a long battle against disease. In this year my little son was born. Soon after my son’s birth I discovered Dereks book with the wonderful pictures of Howard Sooley. In the 80s, Derek Jarman already sick, bought Prospect Cottage, a tiny fishing hut from 1900 in Dungeness, Southengland, located in the midst of no man’s land, a stony and desolated area, near the sea and in sighting distance of a nuclear power station.

He found this cottage, a little treasure in a forbidding desert, while traveling through. Always having been a passionate gardener, his first book came to his mind: „Beautiful flowers and how to grow them“ and his childhood garden in the Villa Zuassa in Italy: A gorgeous garden full of peonies, lupines, camellia. He decided to buy Prospect Cottage. The landscape of Dungeness, forgotten, lost in revery, touched him awkardly, yet deeply. In the middle of this inhospitable desert of nowhere, on a dry, unfertile soil he cultivated a blooming garden while loosing his eyesight and facing near death. A flowering desert garden full auf meaningful sculptures of metal or wood, objects found on long walks on the beach or built by himself or friends. A garden full of magic signs, meaningful circles of stones and flowers, spearheads, dreamy objects of steel, a garden seemingly created by a Druid. Gorse, sea kale, salvia, sea pea, fennel, lichen, lavender and thyme magically began to grow. While working in his garden, Derek wore a Morrocan caftan and gloves to protect his skin, as he became light-sensitive. He indeed looks like a Druid. Maybe he was one?

Derek’s seemingly senseless struggle for a blooming garden near a nuclear power station, he soon would loose anyway, was so inspiring to me. He knew he would die soon, but Derek managed to grow on this unfertile soil magnificent flowers and plants. He gave life to a lifeless desert and created a garden with meaning. „Paradise haunts garden“, Jarman wrote in his diary. I think this garden was an attendant to him on his way. And it still is to so many people, still making a pilgrimage to Dungeness to see this wondrous place. Derek Jarman cultivated a garden pointing to death, yet holding life in it, indeed a cottage with the prospect of hope.

Words: Petros Koublis:

There are some stories that stay with you. They leave a strong impression and become a reference that influences the way we think. A story like this one: In the late nineteenth century, near the city of Oxyrhynchus, in Upper Egypt, an ancient rubbish dump was discovered. It was an incredible discovery as it brought into surface thousands of manuscripts, containing countless of Greek and Latin literary works. Seventy-five large volumes of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri have been published since then and the restoration of the findings continues to this day. Something extremely interesting happened along the way.

About a year ago, Dirk Obbink, a papyrologist at the University of Oxford, announced that two new poems by the Greek lyric poet Sappho, born in the late seventh century BC, have been recovered. A poem about her brothers and another one about unrequited love. Every new discovery of a work from ancient literature is always welcome as a miracle. Sappho’s poetry was collected into nine books in the library of Alexandria. Unlike the First Folio, the selection of her poems was lost and today only fragments of her poetry survive. Her legend is mostly based on the reputation she had in antiquity, been known as the Tenth Muse. The most famous fragment that managed to reach our times is also the most indicative of her pioneer vision and unique contribution to our civilization. It is the Fragment 130:

“Ἔρος δηὖτέ μ᾽ ὀ λυσιμέλης δόνει, γλυκύπικρον ἀμάχανον ὄρπετον”


In English it is translated like “Once again Love, the loosener of limbs, shakes me, that bittersweet irresistible serpent”. There is something unique in this verse, indicative of Sappho’s immeasurable importance. In these very words there is a manifestation of a whole new aspect of the human experience, a revelation of a magnificent dimension of our spirit, the most touching realization of our consciousness. It is not the sensuality of the poem, but a certain aspect of it. This is the first time in known history that someone uses the word “bittersweet“ to describe an emotion. Art always preserves within its core an abstract dimension, something that surpasses the effects of form and the significance of the content. It unfolds its power slowly, with a cosmic persistence. A work of art is also a trace. It encompasses aspects of the human experience and creates a vehicle for them.

We cannot tell who exactly was the one who decided to write down her words and there is no way to track the journey of this fragment through the eons. But her words survived. And they have changed the way we fall in love for eternity.

© All images with kind permission Petros Koublis

Text source Petros Koublis here. And read more essays of Petros here.

So grateful to have found Petro’s whispering images and his essay that tell so much about finding a treasure in a seemingly nowhere’s land. His words have the nucleus of the magic sense of the written word as the book of Derek Jarman has. Both little stories symbolize for me the urge of a hope in a vastness, that our condition as human beings actually is, a vastness in which we need some hold, facing the question of life and death.

Petros is a New York and Athens based photographer. He discovered photography in 2000, after having been a painter before, which the beholder can sense when looking at his magic pieces. His work has been presented in exhibitions, and frequently published on international Art & Design platforms and magazines. More about his work here.

Derek Jarman’s book is published by thamesandhudson. It can be ordered here.

Take care dear readers! Yours, Melanie Kettner









finding myself in front of the silence

Images & Words: Olga Segura-

I have always been very shy. I liked to be alone in my room drawing and imagining my stories. I loved listening to piano music while I wrote down all that passed through my mind in that moment. But my unconscious art interest told me that I hadn’t found yet that type of artistic expression that would make me feel alive. It was then, that I discovered dancing. I danced about six years, years that let me release my fear of expressing myself freely without thinking about what people might say, a period in which I met people that had the same curiosity like me, I learned to see the world differently and to express my feelings when I felt alone. I wished to make a living of art because that was what I needed to be myself. In that moment appeared in me a strong connection between me and art in a general term.

One summer, on a trip in Tunisia, I met a woman who considered photography as an essential source in her life. She told me: “photography is my magic, it captures these little and special moments in our lives and save them as a little treasures of our existence”. Hearing these words, I suddenly realized that I wanted to learn photography. My father gave me his analog camera, a yashica Fx3 and two 35mm expired film full of dust that we found inside a box in the attic. Then, I bought my nikon d90 that it’s still works perfectly, so this way I discovered my photography passion.

All my learning process was self-taught. Magazines, books, exhibitions and a lot of practice. I had the luck to meet three special people who are currently still present in my life. With them I discovered the outdoors beauty. I began to go outside more and more every time I could, until it turned into a need. How many things I urged to learn, discover and explore! A whole world full of magic and mystery, that despite the fact that the years went through, would be at the same place, so I could go back every time I wanted. This need to escape from the world of my routine was getting more urgent in my life, not just with the aim to photograph my environmet but for myself as well. I needed to feel good with myself, to believe that I was on the right way.

The fact of finding myself alone in front of the silence that emerged from each landscape made me realize that time was more valuable than I thought. The time flies away very quickly and I need to keep all memories that I can without letting them go. I’ve learned to observe, to be patient, as if each photograph could become a picture on the wall. It has always been difficult for me to express myself, so instead of speaking I communicate through my art. Meanwhile I prefer to write some words about what I feel in these moments. It has been about one year that I’ve developed interest in writing about my photos. Every time I upload a picture on Instagram, I write some lines, always in Catalan, my native language, about what this pic makes me feel. It’s like creating memories. And maybe, you will ask where my inspiration comes from? I don’t know actually or maybe I’ve never asked myself. But as I said before, my strong connection with music let me disappear in some way, my mind completely goes blank when I’m taking photos. I put my headphones on and the music starts, like if someone had switched off the light of the whole world and only me and my soul exist.

Talking now about this selection of pictures, I’m trying to make people sense what I was feeling in that moment looking at the beauty of those landscapes. I was trying to create a mystery mood playing with the fog, the light and shadows, and the mountain shapes that emerged before my eyes. I wanted to get this pure air in my pictures. It’s like climbing up to the highest mountain and at the top breathing in for the first time with the sensation of being the king of the world. This pictures are taken in two differents places, both in Catalonia, Spain, but both with the same aim: to escape from reality or even lose every notion of reality.

And I would like to end with the most valuable advice that a very special person gave me one day when I went through a bad time in my life, and I repeat it to me every day of my life. “to have artistic restlessnesses is not being lost, to have artistic restlessnesses is the best that can happen to you.”

© all pictures Olga Segura with kind permission

More about Olga’s wonderful work here and follow her on Instagram here.

Take good care dear readers! Melanie Kettner

another planet by Morgane Erpicum

Pictures: Morgane Erpicum & Words: Melanie Kettner-

Iceland is a country full of ancient stories, fables, fay, and nordic spirits. It looks like an island of another and mysterious planet, the moon maybe or a region where some other beings hide. Some of us obviously can’t stop looking at this landscape, either as traveler or as beholder of magic pictures as the following ones of Morgane. She captures this mystical atmosphere of the legendary region in her significant images. She shares with us her Icelandic winter atmosphere with soft and icy powder colours. Morgane was born in Brussels and is shooting film since 2015. She is still seduced by analog photography’s grain, textures and majestic latitude. For her pictures she is in pursuit of a sensation of belonging and serenity, that you can feel, when looking at her magic pieces:

Iceland was formed for about 24 million years and is thus relatively young at age, the plateau is located in the North Atlantic Ocean between Greenland and Norway. The island is centered on the boundary between the Eurasian and the North American plate, above a hotspot, the Iceland plume, which might be the cause of the formation of Iceland itself. On Iceland you see volcanism, rift valleys, basalt formations, seemingly unreal craters and geothermal phenomena such as geysers, the island is one of the most active volcanic regions on Earth. Iceland’s wide mass of rivers and lakes are the result of glaciers melting.

It seems as if Iceland changes the visitor in some way. It activates our inner stories, voices and dreams. It helps finding our inspiration and it grounded us at the same time, as the wild nature there is so strong in its appearances that the island fixes you focused on the human essentials, stories and provenience. The Icelandic culture is grounded on the storytelling and the many legends and myths are fascinating us. Interestingly the nordic countries are on the first places in the global happiness rankings for 2017. Norway has jumped from 4th place in 2016 to 1st place this year, followed by Denmark and Iceland. Surely intriguing to seize the reasons for this happiness, personal and social. Maybe to overcome the struggling with a strong nature full of different adversities let you cherish life more, a life that by implication is embedded in the rhythm and presetting of nature.

©all pictures Morgane Erpicum with kind permission

I really love the magnitude of the North, its pride, its dominance that let you humbly accept that a single human being is always connected to nature. This insight draws you to more inner calmness and to celebrate daily life with all its seemingly negligible details.

More about gifted Morgane and her fascinated work here and in the Northletters archive. More about the happiness report here.

Take good care of yourself dear followers! Yours, Melanie Kettner

delicate fables of our soul

Images: Silvia Perez Zarza & Words: Melanie Kettner-

When dreaming we get in contact with the unconscious, trying to tell us what we cannot see or feel or understand when we are awake. When we are busy with our daily tasks we don’t have the capability of attending to our inner voice, there are so many stimuli keeping us occupied with responding, with organizing our day. Besides there are feelings we don’t want to accept deliberately, sometimes we try to avoid to handle some issue in our life. Then our dreams resume the challenge to inform us, trying to “talk” to us with a language wich we might hopefully understand. But as it seems, this is a kind of algorithmic and figurative language not always so accessible to us, that needs to be deciphered.

As a psychological coach I worked with my clients on their dreams. It was a rewarding assignment, a privilege to be the person hearing these very personal narrations of seemingly unreal night stories, but not so unreal in the end, rather delicate fables of our soul. I worked with my own dreams too, to learn to adopt dream interpretation. It was a magic time, because the more you work on your dreaming, the more your dreams are talking to you. Behind the dream the unconscious is trying to communicate with our mind.

When starting with dreamwork it is important to have a pencil and sheet of paper near your bed, so that you can make some notes regarding your memories directly, otherwise you often will forget immediately what you have dreamed. The following day you can work with your notes. If you forget the content, your unconscious might send some kind of messages to you nonetheless, nearly  or totally unnoticed by your conscious level. These may be some “signs” as the Freudian slip or forgetfulness, some detail you see, but you can’t get what it means to you.

When we dedicate mindfulness to our dreaming, we will probably be rewarded at times with some significant message. I had a few dreams that were announcing important occurrences in my life. Not so unusual, because we often feel what might happen in before. It is just our brain that is not capable to combine. When we work attentively on our dreams, we learn to grasp the meaning every once in a while and the dreams deliver us oftener with meaning.

Sometimes we dream a dream again and again. Every now and then we just see landscapes in our dreams, or we sense certain smells, hear special sounds or voices, see colours. They might be a hint to something beyond, that we need to understand. If we do, we stop dreaming this dream over and over again.  If we don’t catch the sense, the dreaming will go on. The unconscious doesn’t stop talking to us. Maybe the most important access to your dream are the little details and the feeling you have while dreaming.

In the end, dreams can be disturbing and frightening, no doubt about that, especially if we can’t catch their message. On the other hand they can forecast developments in our life and give us the best advice we can get, as this guidelines consider our unconscious urgent needs, our fears, deepest requests and soul nourishing outlooks and possibilities in our life.The night before I met my husband the first time, I dreamed of a man diving with a dolphin and me attending them in peaceful calmness. My husband is photographer and filmmaker and he loves diving, especially with dolphins. Unbelievable this occurrence, especially as I am not the type of person who loves deep water. When he send me a picture of him diving with a dolphin, I knew that he would be my husband.

© all pictures Silvia Perez Zarza with kind permission

So grateful for Silvia’s wondrous images that are so perfect for this issue, learn more about her here.

Take good care of your dreams and yourself dear readers! Yours, Melanie Ketter

once upon a time, there was an artist

Words & Images Laura Lereveur-

‘The moment you doubt that you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it- clap if you believe!’

– Peter Pan

It’s quite the confession. Summer has always been my favourite, the time I was desperate to find, the collection of days that always passed painfully quickly and set the light for my life’s film. Perhaps it’s partly because I grew up in a village on the coast. Summer meant rock pools and picnics of food so nice it’d have us running from wasps. Sand encrusted toes and the pleasant misery of trying to put them back into shoes. Wild salt-shedding hair. White cotton on my small gold shoulders. And then as a teenager, by the same rock pools, this time camping and collecting firewood and cliffs by torchlight. Finding good dents in the grass of fields to hold whiskey bottles upright, and achingly walking home in the morning followed by cows. I was born on the day the books call the height of summer. It was in my very bones.

But now… Summer’s different. It’s too humid. It barely arrives and when it does it isn’t the same. The light is different, perhaps because it’s trying to shine across years. It’s waiting for storms to break the pressure of headaches and clay drying too fast to be useful. It makes bed less comfortable than a field of Roman piles and whiskey bottles. So I think I’ll choose to be the Autumn child I was meant to be. I came into the world early, you see – I was meant for October. The same day as my Mother and Great-Grandmother. Maybe the reckless impatience that saw me born in August and live for Summer has grown up. Now I want knits and teapots and spiced apples and lamplight and dark nights. I want kitchens and hearths and mist and drying seed heads. A huge scarf to wrap around my face and layers of linen and wet boots and warm toes.

There is a kitchen in my memory. It’s part of some I’ve known and some I’ve heard of. My Grandma’s with all the love, safety and respect that came from it, the door still open to the washing line and smell of rain. My Mama’s, and all the days of growing up (which includes today and tomorrow), my books at the table, my feet by the fire, my first taste of tea. The stories I’ve been told of her Grandma’s kitchen, the hearth of the family, and Auntie Jen’s imitation of it for the following generations. Stories of many-sectioned agas and stoves where dozens would be fed in the morning ending a party, an apron tied over jet beaded finery and the endless table stained with bacon grease and errant champagne. Then there are the ones I’ve only visited. Grand old kitchens in grand old houses, with copper pans, vast surfaces, and fireplaces the height of rooms. Benches and hanging herbs and the sounds of efficient mania still in their flagstones, just whispers now. They tell of the same tasks as the small, dark kitchens of the simple livers. Like Alf. He lived across the road from us with his field of a garden, ever worked; an orchard, a vegetable garden, a plain front path and low lintel over his weathered door. He was small. Always dressed in flannels, tweeds, thick boots and a cap. His kitchen was little more than a table, two wooden chairs that sat unevenly on the flags, and a dresser even older than him. On its top sat a pedantic scales. We’d call in after school for vegetables and Mum seemed at home there, I suppose because it had the ancient functionality of the farm’s kitchen. That peace and purpose is in the very word kitchen, for me. It unites them all. And it’s what I will gather to my own kitchen.

I think back on my twenty eight years and see my creatures in so many places. Now my mind notices them, they wave and flutter at me from windowsills and bookshelves. I’d make beds for Night Visitors from jewellery boxes, matchboxes, from carefully folded and tucked toilet paper. Some in dormitory lines for families not wanting to be separated and others suspended from curtain poles and tieback hooks, in case they were more solitary souls. I’d make caterpillars from tight daisy chains, take them on adventures, and inevitably hold funerals for them when their petals shrivelled. Lollipop sticks and shells marked their graves. I’d leave my sewing pins and threads undone at night so the fairies could steal them without trouble as fairies are wont to do. And I’d knit patches to leave in warm corner shadows for moths to nestle amongst and eat. I had a moth, too. I named him Cyril and he lived in my bedside lampshade. So did Cyril II, Cyril III, and more noble descendants. I’d write stories for the creatures my cats caught, if I couldn’t rehabilitate them from tall leafed jars or straw filled shoeboxes; in them, I’d write into being all the things they might have dreamed and not accomplished in their brief, dappled lives. Then I’d throw the papers to the wind in the field so their families could know everything heroic they’d done. I dressed my rabbit in navy velvet and took him for walks. I made books small enough for Small Things to read when I realised how heavy and cumbersome a single page of mine must be, and how terrible it must be to be denied the wonder of reading. I built an insect hotel. It was a grand place, something Poirot would be seen in were he a polished yet rotund beetle. I named the local rooks and devoured the Flower Fairy books my Grandma bought me – their costumes, their tales, their expressions! They were a set of conceptually beautiful things. A collection of curiosities. I collected buckets of snail shells and lined them up in rations for whatever purpose the Things might need – a bird satchel, perhaps, or lanterns for mice. I studied dead finds and cried for their pain and emptiness later. I let an owl guard me at night and found wolves in the shadows of the trees, there above my bed to chase nightmares and goblins away. In antique fairs I’d spend my pocket money on abandoned figurines. Set them on dusted flour or icing sugar in gatherings and imagine them coming alive when I was gone. Sure enough: they left trails.

‘Adventure’: Through my head ran a clicking show of adventures. Of following starlings and turning ankles, ignoring maps and jumping waves. It’s all changed. My legs don’t do the same things and maybe they never will, but I’ve been on another kind of adventure. It doesn’t need boots or first aid kits. It doesn’t leave woodsmoke in my hair or belong on rattling trains in other languages. It asks me to live and to do it alongside my ever present awareness of endings. It’s eased my fear of time when it should be exacerbated, when Auden’s clocks should ridicule me. It’s my worthiest challenge and happiest risk and scariest comfort. It’s made of everything an adventure really is, this business of being in love.

© all images with kind permission LAURA LEREVEUR

Dear readers, Laura builds the most poetic, dreamy and pure creatures. Have a look here.Or follow her on Instagram here.

Take care! Melanie Kettner

so small as we really are

Images: Matthew Tucker & Words: Melanie Kettner-

I will never forget the moment I first saw whales on the South African coast. It takes your breath away und you have no words to describe the pure and wild joy about the actual existence of these magic creatures. I don’t forget my heartbeat, my surprise and the facial expression of the few other people standing around us on that  rock whispering and looking proudly out to the sea in expectation. My husband said it’s a matter of luck if some of them are showing up. We were all silent in awe, never daring to expect too much. Then all of sudden a female whale and her calf leaped out of the sea, playing obviously. In this moment your mind goes blank. Everything stands still and is focused on that moment. We all felt a deep respect in this face-to-face- encounter with wild nature. This image Matthew Tucker took from two whales sliding through the Australian ocean is a wonderful symbol for this moment.

Matthew’s drone photography let you sense the beauty of our planet and changes your perspective literally. We appear so minute as we actually are in the universe and it soothes the soul, as it makes clear what we should already know, that nature is majestic and by far more mighty than the human being is. We are only a tiny part of it and it’s good this way. It’s like lying beneath the night sky full of mysterious stars, whispering stories of something beyond our human existence. Another unforgettable experience for me was visiting the Namib desert in Africa und to get to know its vastness. Our expedition group behaved like hilarious children climbing up the very high and soft dunes, eventually falling apart here and there. Some had surfboards for sand and were sliding down screaming and laughing. Before sunset we were all sitting on a dune, quiet, exhausted and drinking beer. Around us just sand dunes, as far as we can look. At some point our guard told us that now we had to hurry up, when there is no sunlight anymore you get lost in the desert. These images of Matthew of the Australian coast are symbolizing our playful encounter with the desert perfectly:

© all images Matthew Tucker with kind permission

More about Matthew’s stunning Photoraphy  here.

Matthew grew up in Sydney.  He had never picked up a camera in his life until a couple of months ago.  As it happened he bought a drone and started taking photos wherever he went. What you see here on these images is his view on Australia. So important to be in nature once in a while, to breathe its magnitude in and to realize the dimension of our own life as a part of something by far more extensive and powerful.

Take good care dear readers, Melanie Kettner

the elderflower season

Words & Images: Camilla Jørvad-

The warm quiet mornings have returned, and I can once again enjoy my morning tasks: morning training and walk with the puppy, feeding and letting out the chickens and weeding the veggie garden without having to dodge the rain or wrap myself up in warm layers. When you have a property the size of ours, there is a never-ending list of ongoing projects weaving in and out of eachother. One of these projects have been on my dream list since I first set foot on the farm 15 years ago when my parents in law were living here: to close off the tiny front courtyard/parking space by the road and make a new longer, more private driveway on the backside of the house. I want to “hide” the property from the road. I want to feel like you are entering a magical place, a private haven. I not only want this to be our guests’ first impression of Sigridsminde when they arrive, I also want this feeling for myself every time I come home.

While the delicate beauty of flowers and the meditative work in the cottage garden soothes my soul, my favourite part of “gardening” is planting trees. I am also a lover of hard physical labour, of getting my hands dirty and getting a few bruises and cuts here and there and the incredibly fulfilling calm that runs through my tired muscles as my head hits the pillow at night. In many ways hard physical labour feels more slow to me than sitting in front of the computer. In many ways the huge part of my life I spend in front of a computer working is so opposite of what my personality and body needs. I am so looking forward to one of the planting tasks awaiting me this autumn. I have been waiting for that moment/project for 15 years since I first set foot at Sigridsminde.

My nursery is still full of shoots and seedlings that need to be planted out into their “permanent” spot. I’m using the word permanently lightly, as a garden is never really finished, and all these plants will probably be moved at least 10 times over the next few years and be divided at least as many times. My husband really hates all this moving about. He likes to do things and do them once and be done with it. He doesn’t get it and seems to think I ‘change my mind’ only to annoy him. But like one of my great garden-crushes @themontydon writes in Gardening at Longmeadow: “I never think of it as finished – just where it happens to be now”. And I couldn’t agree more.

© all pics with kind permission Camilla Jørvad

I have no interest in trying to convince everyone that living in the country is the only right way to live. But I do believe in my heart that many – if not most – aspects of country life are simply healthier for humans at the very core of our being, both physically and psychologically. Closeness to nature and a more clear impact by the changing seasons, less noise and air polution, daily contact with the soil you grow your food in and the animals you eat. All of this is just a few things on a neverending list of benefits I have found to be true, at least in my own life. I passionately believe that we all deserve to live a life that is slower and more intentional than what society, politics and economy shape us to do today. Our farmhouse Sigridsminde is on Aeroe island in Denmark, there we do our best to live slow, simple and seasonal. My goal is to give you moments of beauty, connection and tranquility in a busy everyday life.

Dear readers, take care & have a relaxed week! Read more about Camilla and her beautiful country and slow living journal here and on Instagram here.

Yours, Melanie Kettner

connecting with whales

Words & Images: Bernodus Oli Einarsson-

I was only 15 years old when I had the first chance to work with whales at a company called Whales Hauganes, that was the point where I started feeling a deep connection to nature and wildlife and wanted to spend every minute out there exploring and seeing different aspects of my own surrounding. Working as a tour guide on a whale watching ship was a great chance to get to spend more time outside and watch the majestic whales when they spend their feeding season in Eyjafjörður. I’ve seen most of their behavior on feeding grounds, everything from sleeping to breaching for a whole hour nonstop, the quiet moment when they lift their back and smoothly proceed to a deep dive by lifting their tail and disappearing to the deep blue ocean never ceases to amaze me.

Of all the whales I’ve seen the humpbacks remain my favourite because of their unpredictable behaviour and their mysterious presence. Sometimes they will be curious about the boats and will do some spyhopping (eyes out of the ocean with the whale laying straight up in the water with a 90 degree angle on the surface) as well as coming very close to the boat, but sometimes they will just mind their own business and keep on going their way with occasional and unexpected breaching sessions that ranged from 1-100 jumps. Getting so close to the majestic humpback whales was an enlightening experience and I now have a better understanding of how giant they really are. The humpbacks are moving a lot searching for food and I hope they find some clean and nice krill to eat. Recently beached whales have been found with their stomachs full of plastic, so please make an effort to reduce your usage of single use plastics.

The whales affected my view of nature in such a deep way, before I didn’t really understand all the changes that are occurring right now. I didn’t understand the effect the rising temperatures were having on living creatures. Monitoring the travels of humpback whales and minke whales I realised that they were moving further up north every year to colder temperatures because the temperature of the sea is rising. For example, 25 years ago there were almost only minke whales in the fjord where I worked. Now the numbers of minke whales hasn’t decreased, but they have moved towards Greenland and colder oceans while the humpback whales are moving into the fjords in the north. Just to be clear, there could be other explanations of these movements, but this is the one that I saw the strongest connection to.

While that was my life on sea, I spent endless time exploring the country as well. I’ve been living in Iceland my whole life or the last 19 years and that definitely shaped me to who I am today. It’s not the culture or the people, but much rather the nature and the wilderness. The culture has for sure had some impact but living amongst glaciers, volcanoes and wild animals built me and my goals and dreams to what they are now. I think it’s hard to find a country with such extremes to both ends when it comes to landscapes. A part of the highlands is just a big desert with nothing else than sand everywhere, but when the conditions are good you might be able to spot a glacier. There are other parts of the highlands with massive mountains, valleys, glaciers and waterfalls. And that’s just the highlands.

The coast is a whole another issue, there are huge waterfalls, massive cliffs, long fjords and glacial views from far away. All of this has attracted a lot of travelers from around the world that want to experience Iceland and I understand them so well. Luckily I have gathered information and knowledge for some years now and I’m still able to find spots where I’m alone and still have all the things I counted above. Having the quietness and only the sounds of nature around me is a very important factor to me when I’m out exploring new areas, so being able to find these spots is amazing. My way of traveling Iceland is partly in my 4×4 camper van and then hiking to the spots that I can’t reach with a car and I really like mixing it up this way because doing only one or the other wouldn’t get me as far and I would only reach half of the spots I reach by doing it this way. Me and Donal Boyd named my car Gandalf with help from some of his Instagram followers, the explanation is that it’s old, white and helps me going anywhere and it’s pretty accurate. I’ve been on all kinds of roads with this car and so far it’s doing pretty good, well I don’t want to lie…I’ve had to do a lot more maintenance than I would need to if I just stuck to paved roads but it’s all worth it.


© all pictures with kind permission Bernodus Oli Einarsson

Dear readers, hope you are all well! Just to keep in mind: Benni is just 19 years old! Follow him here and more about the Hálendið Iceland National Park here,  a campaign advocating for the protection of the Central highland of Iceland. Hálendið covers 40.000 km2 of the island (103.000 km2), and forms one of the largest territories in Europe which has never been inhabited. Hálendið is one of the last great wilderness areas in Europe.

Take good care, Melanie Kettner!





a place where I feel complete

Images & Words: Fran Mart-

Miles and miles have passed since I decided to move to the UK, and so many wonderful things have happened. I found the right path, the right guy to walk it with, and we’re making a home out of our dreams and kindness. Today I want to encourage you to take that first step you’ve been thinking about for a long time. Maybe it’s moving to a new country, or starting a new project, asking someone to walk beside you or just allowing yourself to find more quiet. So many beautiful horizons are waiting for you if you’re just willing to take the wheel. Life is a matter of choice. I’m thinking about how different my life was before. Visiting Ibiza and Formentera has made me remember how much I love the sea and how much it has always been present in my life. But I always knew that my soul belonged to another place and this is the highlands of Scotland. I left my whole life behind and chose to go out and find my place, my inner home, the place where I feel complete.

All I have achieved so far has been with the help of people around me, my persistence, my love of adventure, nature and the desire to inspire people to travel and explore in themselves. Follow the path ahead, be patience, believe in this and go your own way. Originally from Andalucía, Spain, the colors, landscapes and textures offered by the British countryside continue to inspire me today. Having discovered photography through my good friend (and tattoo artist), it very quickly became my passion and adventure. Obsessed by light and simple, natural beauty, I always seek to capture something beyond what we see – the emotion, feelings, memories that exist in the moment. For me, photography is akin to sitting by the fire, sipping a cup of freshly brewed coffee or dram of whisky, and sharing stories with good friends. My photography has taken me on an incredible journey. A journey that takes you to the unexplored space of your own being. One of the meanings of photography for me. What started with exploring my own feelings through self-portraiture has turned into capturing the lives of others in a variety of styles. Photography gave me a reason to fall in love with life again.

For two years now I’ve been living with the frustration of not being able to express myself with the right words. This is because it is not my mother tongue.
I want to connect with you in a deeper way, sharing thoughts and experiences which is why I’m making the decision to write more.  Photography helped me to express myself when the words where scarce but it’s just one of many ways. Writing, painting, dancing, whatever is inside you, let it come out. Free yourself. Art is a way to release feelings and thoughts, a way to be honest with ourselves.Think big about our world and your mind will expand, we know very little of it. We live in our bubble of desires stopping us from growing. Be authentic, rare, strange, you are unique when you are really you. Stay true to your own nature. Mine is the slow living, the quietness, the explorer, the enthusiastic, the dreamer.

I was catching up with another photographer the other day and he asked me why an adventure account from Scotland hasn’t featured my work on their page yet. I’ve been doing some thinking on these “big accounts” and so wanted to share a little something on what motivates my work. I love taking pictures. I love being out there, exploring, noticing and connecting with what is in front of me. I love getting back home and sitting in front of the computer seeing the beauty that’s captured on my camera. I love to read your messages saying how you find inspiration in those images too. These and a thousand more are the reasons for what I do. 
I’d be lying if I said that I don’t like it when big communities on IG feature my work; this brings me a little bit of happiness and itself feels rewarding (maybe stroking that universal need for recognition) but I’m very clear that it does not make you a better photographer. What helps you grow as a photographer is believing in yourself, having the courage to get out there and explore, to see with your own eyes and feel in your own self the world where we live and all the beauty that lies waiting for you. I feel grateful for the journey that photography is taking me on, traveling to so many places, meeting incredible people, being more present. With photography I discovered parts of myself that have been hidden, releasing my sensibilities, and allowing more beauty into my life.

“For me and for thousands with similar inclinations, the most important passion of life is the overpowering desire to escape periodically from the clutches of a mechanistic civilization. To us the enjoyment of solitude, complete independence, and the beauty of undefined panoramas is absolutely essential to happiness…”- Bob Marshall. I couldn’t agree more with him, there is no better place than nature to listen to your inner soul. Nature is full of wonder. I didn’t realize the very importance of nature in life until a few years ago. Distracted by fantasies of a life I thought I wanted, I didn’t allow space to develop a vision beyond myself. It was in front of the sea where I first came face to face to the feeling that I’d been building a life I did not actually belong to, a life outside myself. Let yourself be part of nature and allow its stillness to speak into who you are.We spend much of our life traveling between thoughts. We forget to appreciate everything around us, the moment of here and now. Nature transports us to the natural state of the present and to calm our loudest mind.

© all pictures Fran Mart with kind permission

Follow Fran and his lovely dog James here and here.

Take care dear followers! So happy to share Fran`s wonderful and honest words and beautiful images with you! Thanks so much for all your kind messages and support! Yours, Melanie Kettner

just north of summer

Words & Images Norbert von Niman-

It is those days when you’re walking on a glacier, everything around you in full black and white except your friends yellow raincoat, wearing three layers and still getting cold. You are still waiting for the heat waves, beach days and tropical showers when you realise it’s already August and this is as good as summer will get in Iceland. This is a fully different climate, fully different experience and an astonishing landscape to back it all up.

Getting used to a landscape like this is something that will never happen. Every time you revisit a place it’s a different light, different colours of the grass, different clouds, weather and season. In summer there are signs of lush, green life while in winter those four hours of sunlight bounces off the snow colouring everything with an orange hue, or pink, purple blue and then black. It’s like a massive colouring book, sometimes filled out but sometimes just left empty.

The desolation is sometimes imminent which makes the small details, that one perceivable object or the only feature, ever so much more important to show that this is actually reality. It’s difficult to comprehend the scale and the distance, and an anchor point for that sense of reality is important.
Same thing applies to life living in such a hostile environment. With cold around every corner and a darkness that takes everything there needs to be something to bring back some hope. Hot springs can provide warmth for body, good friends and all the open hearted locals provide warmth for the soul, and northern lights shine up the darkness. This makes even the coldest winter days survivable.

It’s not supposed to be easy to live on an extreme piece of volcano surrounded by the wild sea. You can hide in Reykjavik and pretend to live a normal life with normal problems but as soon as you get out in the wilderness the weather can be the greatest of challenges. Pictures are best taken when there is a good story to follow behind it, or a struggle to get it. That is most certainly the case when facing gale force winds, freezing temperatures and isolation from civilisation. The weather suits the landscape though.

Many times there can be hours of howling wind tearing through even the most windproof layers of clothing, until you come to the sudden realisation that everything has gone perfectly quiet. All noise is gone, water flat, nothing is moving. The wind has stopped and so does the world with it. It is these moments of clarity when the feeling of truly being alone in the middle of nowhere creeps up. The shutter makes a quick sound that echoes in the vast emptiness. The wind is back.

© all images Norbert von Niman with kind permission

Norbert is a photographer and guide based in Iceland. Follow his journey here. Norbert’s words and images reflect so perfectly well my current state of mind, while being close with nature on a northern sea island, with a stormy wind hauling around the thatched house. It’s nothing more nourishing for me than living with nordic nature and the sea. Have a relaxed time my dear readers! Take care, Melanie Kettner