My family moved from Sweden to Australia when I was very little, and although we had been back to visit my relatives many times, we were always there over the summer months. For a very long time I had wanted to spend Christmas with my relatives in the north and I finally made it happen.
My Uncle, Aunty and three cousins live in a small village in the northern part of Sweden called Gideåbruk, and my Grandfather nearby in Husum. With a patchy record of snow there over Christmas for the last couple of years I was ecstatic to arrive to over half a metre of snow on the ground just a few days before Christmas! Surely this wasn’t going to disappear before the big day came around. It certainly didn’t and every day we got a little more snow. I was one happy chappy and was still super excited to see big flakes of snow falling from the sky by the tenth time.
I was coming up towards the five month mark on my trip. It had been absolutely amazing, but also very busy and I hadn’t realised how much I needed a little bit of chill-out time (so I urge everyone to plan to take a bit of a ‘holiday during your holiday’ when traveling for a long time). And where better to take a break than with my lovely family in this beautiful winter wonderland.
I went for walks in the snow with their gorgeous black labrador Matilda, baked Christmas goodies with my cousin, drank coffee with my Grandfather, drove snow mobiles on through the forest, skidded around a icy ploughed out car track on one of the fields (a perk of having rev-head cousins – there are a lot of toys to play with) and built an igloo (because why not?!).
I got to find and cut down my very first real christmas tree (having grown up with the plastic version this was super exciting). I really felt the pressure to pick a good one and my youngest cousin and I drove around on the snow mobile for ages looking for a good tree. My Uncle gave me praise for my tree selection, my grandfather, however, was less impressed! Either way I think it turned out great!
We drank mulled wine and ate gingerbread biscuits at Christmas, shot fireworks over the river at midnight on New Years and I got surprised with cake in bed on my Birthday. We all had both Christmas and New Years baths in the giant fire-heated outdoor hot-tub that my Uncle built (he is so clever!). Soaking in the tub under the stars, followed by a roll in the snow (and quickly jumping back in the hot water) is so amazing. My skin sensors were so confused about what the temperature was and everything tingles!
I camped out on my last night in the igloo I built. It was super cozy and quiet and I woke up to a couple of inches of fresh powdery snow covering everything. It was so beautiful! It turns out an igloo is quite difficult to build (especially when I refused to google how to do it – because that’s cheating!), and there were a few engineering fails along the way. As you can see the igloo has a more …umm… ‘modern’ roof version. The reason being that one of my cousins was rushed to hospital towards the end of my stay and I didn’t get to finish the roof. But I think it was a beautiful igloo, and on last reports from the relos it is still standing and is now almost completely buried in snow!
I also started my training for Nepal (where I am climbing some tall mountains in March) by wandering around in thigh-deep snow and climbing the stairs in my uncles warehouse over and over both with and without water-filled jugs as weights. It was so cold in there that the water froze, but it was a good place to start some training, even though my cousins thought I was a little crazy!
I had a wonderful time and as always hard to leave, but I had to head back to Stockholm and then further south towards new adventures (and also more sunlight – having only 4 hours of sunlight a day felt so weird!!).