The gist of…Tassilaq, Dimmuborgir & Trollstigen Mountains


This post is by Nancy Jardine.

Full length novel completed. Own edits thoroughly done. Manuscript is ready for next stage. What might that be for you? Me? I’d be focusing on finalising: 1) Title  2) Tag Line  3) Blurb  4) Synopsis… before submitting to a publisher.  I find it incredibly difficult to do those last stages even though, by then, I know my story inside out. So how do I decide on what is the gist of it? – gist:   main points; general ideas; general picture; substance of the thing…

I want the person who reads my submission to immediately know the essence of my story. I want the main highlights to be pointed out but not the full happenings. I want to get across the impact of certain developments in my story and strategic moments within it where my characters are faced with situations that they love being in/ hate being in/ or perhaps need to change to reach the finale of the events.

Like my story writing I’ve been realising that my recent cruise holiday to Greenland, Iceland and Norway was quite similar. Sailing to those places meant a lot of water to cross before setting foot on the land. The days spent at sea were part of the preparation for the on-shore events and were the background to strategic and particular moments.

Reykjavik, Iceland

My last post on this Wranglers blog mentions what led to my husband choosing our cruise. Those details can be found HERE  However, part of our advance planning was also booking our on-shore trips. From a wide range of options, we chose on-shore activities that would allow us to experience the essence of Iceland and the parts of Norway that we visited by using different travel methods. In Reykjavik, Iceland, we booked a Tuk-Tuk ride to experience the old city. Actually the old city is neither large, nor very old, but a 3 wheeled Tuk-Tuk  is a novel way to ride the cobbled streets.



At Akureyri, Iceland, we booked a 4×4 ride across terrain that a normal coach wouldn’t be able to travel on, the idea being to see hidden waterfalls and ancient ‘ghostly’ places.  At Eskifjordur, Iceland, we booked a coach tour that would take us to tiny seaside towns where we could visit a small fishing museum, and a rocks and minerals museum.


At Alesund, Norway, we booked a long coach tour to the interior where we would take a short train ride on the famous Rauma Railway which goes past the incredible Trollstigen Mountains.  At Olden, Norway, we booked a short coach ride to the brand new Cable Car which goes to the top of Mount Hoven Loen (opened spring 2017).

Can you see the Gryla the Troll frowning up there at Dimmuborgir, northern Iceland? There’s a folk tale on my blog about this psychopathic troll!

There was only one port of call on Greenland to the tiny coastal town of Tasiilaq, the largest settlement in eastern Greenland with a population of 2,000 people.

Tasillaq, Greenland

For this shore trip we opted to just take the tender ashore and wander around for a while to explore on our own. This was a good choice since it was around 4 deg C/ 40 deg F, a little windy and showery, so a short visit was just fine. From my vantage point up the hill as I took this photo I was still 105 km from the Arctic Circle!

Like writing a novel those were our original on-shore plans but plans have a tendency to be derailed. Thankfully, not literally – the Rauma train was a lovely little ride! But… due to horrendously bad weather as we sailed from Greenland eastwards to Iceland the captain had to seriously change our plans. We experienced 36 hours of continuous Force 9 Gales with intermittent gusts at 10 and 11. That means Force 9 winds around 55 mph; Force 10 storm gusts of up to 63 mph; and Force 11 violent storm gusts of 72/73 mph. Those Beaufort scale numbers of wind speed sound insignificant when compared to the hurricane winds recently experienced in the Caribbean area but at sea even violent storms are pretty scary.

Observation Lounge on Deck 9

I’m so glad my husband and I are very good sailors so the huge swells didn’t affect us at all, though that wasn’t the case for some cruisers. It also became clear that although those gales are a nuisance to all on board, most of those who return again and again to cruising don’t suffer seasickness. At mealtimes, the restaurants were still pretty full and the wait staff carried on regardless and as though the shifting floor wasn’t happening. They still carried trays at their shoulder stacked with 9 heavy and full dinner plates and the beautifully presented haute cuisine never slipped a fraction on those plates. During the whole cruise, I was highly impressed by the quality and presentation of the food and professionalism of all staff, including the ‘turn down’ room service. (BTW- My husband was glad it was his Jardine Tartan Trews Outfit that was packed and not his kilt! )


But back to those Force 9s…As I battled with my camera on our tiny balcony on Deck 8 the Bridge Deck, I thought about the driving force our little ship needed to plough through those huge breakers. Later that night, after dinner, as I watched some of the breakers splash up to the windows of the Observation Lounge on Deck 9 of 10 decks on board it also made me think of the exhilaration needed to drive forward the plot of an adventure novel. I knew that my current WIP was lacking some of that exhilaration and I resolved to change that when I got home. I’m now working on that every chance I get.

Godafoss Waterfall, Iceland

The impact of the storm force winds meant huge delays to our arrival on Iceland, so in essence we experienced a much longer sail time. We missed our scheduled ‘slots’ for berthing at the ports of  Akureyri and Eskifjordur. The best our captain could do was to get us a late berth at Akureyri, half a day late. That meant changes to all the various on–shore tours that had been booked but we were so lucky that Icelanders are very resilient and adapt well to whatever weather is thrown at them. Instead of tours beginning at 9 a.m. with lunch included, they shifted tour times to start at 2.30 p. m. just after we docked. The longer tours included dinner instead with a very late arrival back to the ship which was now booked at port overnight (This ‘overnight stop’ was not on the original itinerary but meant less battling of the continuing high seas for the captain and bridge crew).


My husband and I didn’t get our 4×4 trip because the poor weather on Iceland meant off road driving was too skittery and dangerous. We went on an alternative long coach tour that proved very good considering it rained all day and the mist lay low across the landscape so visibility was vastly reduced. Dimmuborgir, the home of the Trolls, was fabulous as were the out of this world geo thermal ‘mud pots’ at Namaskard.

Geo-thermals ‘mud pots’ at Namaskard, Iceland

I was gutted; I admit it, when our captain informed us that we had to totally miss out our stop at Eskifjordur. The knock on effect of waiting for a new berthing slot at Eskifjordur would have made us too late to stop at 2 places in Norway. The weather was expected to be better in Norway so it was a ‘no brainer’ for the captain to make his decision. He had to ‘cut out’ what wasn’t going to be viable. And…that’s exactly what I’m going to have to do fairly soon in my writing—there will be a lot of slash and burn and removal of unnecessary scenes.

The gist of my cruise experience? Be adaptable. Be prepared to make changes. Be flexible about the outcomes that are achievable. Those things apply just as much to my writing.

How about changes to your writing or to your ‘life/leisure/vacation’ plans?

You can read my Cruise Diary blog posts on my BLOG and see a lot more of my photos of my experiences on Greenland, Iceland and Norway. Whether I can use my experience in any future writing remains to be seen…

Nancy Jardine writes historical fiction, contemporary mysteries and time travel historical for early teens. She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, the Scottish Association of Writers and the Federation of Writers Scotland. She’s published by Crooked Cat Books and has delved into self publishing.

multiple new TEYou can find her at these places:

Blog:  Website:   Facebook: &

email:  Twitter

Amazon Author page




New airts and pairts!


This post is by Nancy Jardine. 

“You’re going to where?” Silence ensues…. Some people like holidaying in familiar places with no intentions of trying out anything new. Others prefer to seek out new destinations and try out new foods and experience unfamiliar customs.

Vienna 2 own photo Dscf0034

My family tend to fall into the latter category. For four decades my husband travelled the world for business reasons and my daughters and I joined him at some of the locations during our school vacations (them being pupils; me a teacher). Other family holidays were to locations just because none of us had ever been there.

As my daughters became adults a friendly family rivalry evolved by the time they were choosing their own holiday destinations. The high point was when both daughters decided to experience more of what the world had to offer during a ‘gap’ year after they finished their university degrees.

D 1: “Dad, have you ever been to Ushuaia?” Knowing quite well he hadn’t D 1 awaited some cheeky quip.

Dad: “Ha! Nope, but I’ll see if I can wangle a trip to Tierra Del Fuego before you get there. At least I know where it is!”

South America DSC00191
South America- 

So off went D1 on her world trip. Her first landing point out of the UK was Rio De Janeiro after which she spent a few months investigating pretty well the whole of South America. Then it was off to New Zealand and navigating the globe in a westerly direction for the rest of that ‘year out’ before the world of work beckoned. During it she went to a good number of places Dad had never been to. Many drool moments from Dad.

That same year D2 decided to spend time on the northern North American continent. Dad had been to many US states, and some places in Canada but…

Yukon territory

D2: “Dad, I’ve got it all planned! Have you ever been to Alaska?”  Again, knowing full well he had not been to that part of the US. There were some lovely grunts in the background and some evil leers behind her back.

Dad: “No, I haven’t but I have been to Newfoundland.”

D2: “Well, I’ll be spending 5 months working in Vancouver, Canada, then I’m moving north to the Yukon for a while and I’ll be sure to pop across into Alaska. You’ve not been there?” Massive teasing going on now. “After that I’m going to head east in a VW Camper Van to Hudson Bay, Nova Scotia, and fly home from Toronto.”  Dad had been to only a few of the  places on her trip. D2’s road trip right across Canada had plenty of diversions to include all provinces/territories. Excessive drool moments from Dad even though he was journeying to new locations like India and Indonesia that year.

Me? I was teaching 11-12 year olds by day and living vicariously via scary emails at night as I plotted everyone else’s locations on a world map and prayed that they survived sky diving, and walks across glaciers, and visits to volcanoes and mudflats and …swamps full of alligators and crocodiles and big grizzly bear encounters. I did, however, get some lovely photos of partially labelled locations to whet my appetite. 

The years went by, the destinations varied and the friendly family ‘one-up-manship’ continued. But change is inevitable…or is it?

A few months ago my husband celebrated his 70th birthday but the strangest thing is that he now doesn’t want to fly anywhere. When the subject of a special birthday vacation came up he totally surprised me by declaring he wanted to experience a cruise ship holiday. This type of event would have been anathema to him decades ago but hey! we’re both a lot older. Warming up to the idea of a cruise I thought of the lovely possibilities. A cruise on the River Nile was something I yearned for years ago, or one on the Rhine, or maybe to Barbados, or the far east… Warm places, exotic food, blue skies and red gold sunsets – Exciting!

Hubby: “I’ve found the perfect cruise.”

Me: “Fabulous! Where does it go?”

Hubby: “I’ve chosen one which leaves from Rosyth.” (near Edinburgh, Scotland)

Well, that took flights right out of the itinerary. To embark the ship all we need to do is take a coach trip of about three hours to Edinburgh to reach the cruise liner.

Me: “Okay! So where are we cruising to?”

Hubby: (huge smile on his face) “Greenland!”

Tasilaq Greenland summer sunset
Tasiilaq Greenland – Wikimedia Commons

Nobody in the family has ever been to Greenland.

The above photo is from Wikimedia because I don’t yet have any photos. It is labelled as “Night shot of Tasiilaq, eastern Greenland in the summer.” Note that it’s still a wee bitty icy. I confess to being somewhat surprised by his declaration but once over the initial ‘cold’ shock I warmed to the idea. A flight we’d taken this time last year from London to Las Vegas flew over Greenland and northern Canada and the sights below my cabin window were breathtaking. (I blogged about that trip last year, one of the super highlights being a short meet-up with fellow Wranglers blogger Mike Staton! I can hardly believe it was almost a year since that happened.)

We’re also visiting three locations in  Iceland – new to hubby and me but not to D1.

And then we’ll be stopping at two places in Norway.  We’ve all been to Stavanger and Bergen,  but Olden and Alesund will be new to me and I know I’ll love them. (D2’s visited them during her time on the Tall Ships sailing competitions and even went further north to Trondheim but Hubby and I have decided to conveniently forget about that! 😉 )

I won’t be taking copious amounts of sun dresses for the trip but I will be packing my thick ski jacket.

If you’ve read any of my contemporary mysteries you’ll already know that I’ve written in lots of destinations that I’ve visited with hubby – locations in the US, European cities like Amsterdam, Paris, Heidelberg, Barcelona and then there’s the Caribbean and the Middle East.

Where do you think I might be writing about later this autumn? That’s if my trip proves to be inspirational! (Look forward to me sharing lots of photos on another blog post, even though I’m a lousy photographer.)

We leave in three days so I’d best start packing the evening wear for the fine dining and my winter woollies for exploring the destinations! I’m not sure about hubby yet, but I’m now very excited about this new type of holiday to virgin ‘airts and pairts’.

3 mysteries new TENancy Jardine writes contemporary mysteries in fabulous worldwide locations. Get a taster of new horizons as you solve the mysteries.


She also writes Romano/ British historical fiction and time travel adventures, set in the 1st and 3rd centuries A.D.

CFS words


She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, the Scottish Association of Writers and the Federation of Writers Scotland. She’s published by Crooked Cat Books and has delved into self publishing.

You can find her at these places:

Blog:  Website:   Facebook: &

email:  Twitter

Amazon Author page