I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the plans before we headed up into the far north. Kind of selfish, but I figured that what with the thesis-writing and all (yes, father, I’m doing it), I could let Andy handle the ‘Tandy’ side of things.
Turns out that scientists are fairly good at planning missions, and we were in the very capable hands of Sime and Lucy all along. I’m so, so grateful for their hosting skills.
Here’s how it went.
I flew straight from Amsterdam to Stockholm, and met up with Sar and Andy in the airport. We trundled off to our tiny capsule airport room for the night, and then trundled back to check in the next morning for our Umea flight. Super easy, cheaper than going into the city, and only a mild panic from me about the very obvious lack of air in our tiny windowless
coffin room. Marcus met us in the airport with the hire-car, and we headed out to Simon and Lucy’s lovely apartment… only to find Jules sitting in the kitchen doing paperwork. She worked, we admired the house (much plants, many wow!) and drank tea, and in a jiffy the kids were back, with Dicky and Ellen in tow… and a boot chock full of all the things we would need to survive. We stopped off at the Uni to meet up with a post-doc who we all knew in Perth (Hi Oli, bye Oli!), stopped off at the Systembolaget to buy some booze, and headed North.
I know that was just a list of names for most of you. It’s ok, you’ll have some time to meet the Gang. For now, just trust me, they’re all pretty great.
Anyway, we drove for a couple of hours north of Umea.
I’m calling The Beginning, as that moment when we had to slow down to let the reindeer past.
‘This is it,’ said the reindeer. ‘Your Lappland holiday has begun.’
The reindeer moved on, and so did we.
And then we stopped at a house, to pick up a man named Sonny.
Sonny was managing the house we stayed in, and acted as our umbilical cord to the outside world. Every morning, Simon would get in a boat, and row back to the mainland to pick up fresh water that Sonny left for us.
Did I mention that this was a no-wifi, no-electricity, no-toilets, no-running water kinda deal?
So we also drank (boiled) lake water in our tea, and cooked our food and washed dishes in it, but let’s be honest, we’ve all got a bit of the City Yuppy in our blood.. when it was straight water drinking, we wanted it from the tap.
Anyway, Sonny motored our many bags (yuppies!) down the dirt-and-moss track from the main road to the boats, and Jules went along for the ride, and to protect her violin.
We trundled behind.The shore where the boats were docked was the most horrific hell-pit of mosquitoes I’ve ever encountered. I’m seriously surprised that Dante didn’t get to this one before me. Literally 10s to 100s of mozzies trying to bite you (and generally succeeding) at one time. This is despite the fact that we were already all covered in an unholy mixture of the best Deet-Aussie Aerogard-German power spray-Sweedish death balm imaginable.
In any case, in the short term, it gave us incentive to dance. In the not-that-much-longer term, it gave us incentive to get onto the water.
Jules took charge of our boat, and rowed side by side with Sonny….
… which I think he found to be not the most efficient way to do the whole thing…
Still, we made it fairly quickly to our Island Home. To give you an idea of where we actually were, check out this. And then zoom all the way out to see how far up we were. Because when I said ‘north of Umea’.. well, there’s not really that much of the world that is North of Umea.
By the time we arrived, it was pretty much time to think about firing up the actual real-live fire, and gradually cooking something for the evening meal.
If I’m completely truthful, building fires, sitting by them, cooking food and water on the fire, drinking beers in the vicinity of the fire, and eating fire-roasted food… those were pretty much the major activities of the 5 day holiday.
There was also some swimming, partially because it was fun, and partially because noone really wants to sleep in a house with 8 other bodies who haven’t washed for 5 nights.
… And the proceeded to linger for several more hours.
There’s something extremely peculiar about being in a world where it’s always sunny.
These following shots I’m shooting into the sun, so the shadows look darker than they really were. In reality, Dicky was reading his book, completely comfortably, outside at midnight.