TRISH TAKES FIVE: By Trish Burgess
Last November I sat in the South Holland Centre watching The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, performed by my SADOS friends. Narnia had been plunged into a perpetual winter by the White Witch: rivers and lakes were frozen, trees heavy with snow.
Skip a few weeks. Dougie and I, like Peter and Susan, stepped through the back of the wardrobe and entered a similar world of freezing temperatures and a landscape draped with a blanket of snow.
We didn’t grab a couple of full-length fur coats to keep out the cold, but a few woolly layers and thick padded ski jackets were the next best thing.
Our Narnia was Finnish Lapland. We were in Ylläs, 150km north of the Arctic Circle, having booked a week there to try out cross-country skiing.
After the success of our previous walking holiday in Austria with Inntravel, we sought them out again to provide us with our winter wonderland experience.
We visited the Polar Nights when the sun doesn’t quite rise above the horizon, though its rays do peep over. The pale pink sky reflects off the snow as sunrise and sunset seem to merge into one another.
This was a week of late breakfasts, a few short hours of intense activity followed by cosy, candle-lit evenings and blissfully long sleeps.
Our accommodation was a little cabin in the grounds of the Hotel YlläsHumina. Underfloor heating and beds that Goldilocks would claim to be ‘just right’ made this a treat to return to each day.
Even more of a treat were the evening buffets at the hotel. Don’t tell the children but in Lapland they eat a lot of reindeer. Rudolph plus Prancer and Dancer were on the menu most nights.
Hearty casseroles, slabs of steak and huge dollops of creamy mashed potatoes. And oh, the puddings! Fruit crumbles, chocolate mousses and wobbly panna cotta. This was five-star comfort food.
It’s a wonder we were able to move each day after such huge dinners, but we had to burn off those calories somehow.
We found cross-country skiing fairly easy to master and it’s certainly less scary than downhill skiing. It does, however, involve a good cardio-vascular workout if you want to travel any distance with the kick-and-glide technique.
At this latitude, there’s always the possibility of seeing the Northern Lights. I was half-hearted in my Aurora hunting, managing only a cursory glance around the door on a clear night.
On Day Six I felt we needed to be more proactive so, after 10pm, when the village lights were turned off, we joined a few others on the nearby frozen lake.
Minutes later we saw a green glow in the sky and then the colour sharpened and its shape curved into a striking arc.
Another patch of green lights appeared, as if puffs of smoke were coming out of a chimney.
It was a magical experience. I put my camera away as it couldn’t capture the beauty of such a sight. Far better to just stand and watch and be in awe.
• You can read Trish’s blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk