A Cornwall Holiday (1)

After all the ups and downs of the last few months and lots of “will we, won’t we” in relation to holiday bookings, we finally had our foreign holidays cancelled for this year (I thought I would be disappointed, but actually quite relieved). We were fully refunded for all of them, so a few weeks ago decided to book something in the UK.

We decided to book a week in a cottage in Cornwall. Pretty straight forward you would think, but not as easy as it seems. After lots of searching on the internet, most places being fully booked, we finally managed to find what looked like a lovely cottage in Coombe, near Truro.

An Overnight Stay In Bristol

As it is such a long drive from Yorkshire to Truro we decided that we would have an overnight stay in Bristol to break up the journey (in truth it was also because I had a voucher for a free overnight stay at any Village Hotel and Being a true Yorkshire girl, I didn’t want to waste it!).

One of the lovely things about the journey was that my husband had put some CD’s in the car just in case we got bored with listening to the radio. One of the CD’s was one that had been recorded by our daughter. It just said “The Jennings Family Favourite Music” on the front. It had so many great tracks on there that were linked to lots of events and memories over the years. We had a really good sing along and also reminisced about why each particular track was on the CD. Neither of us could remember when she had made it, but it was definitely a good way to pass some time on a long journey.

We arrived at the Hotel at about 4pm. The hotel itself is very modern and quite Hi Tech, well especially for us over 50’s. The room was clean and had a huge bed. Other than wearing masks in whilst moving about in the hotel and being unable to get in the lift with anyone else, it was very much business as usual. We had a table booked for the evening, so decided to have a quick coffee before getting changed and going for food. However, it was a lovely sunny afternoon and after sitting outside in the sun for a while, decided to order from drinks from the bar. Needless to say we never got changed before our meal, as it was just so lovely to be sat in the sun enjoying a drink and a chat.

The following morning I got up early and went for a swim in the pool before breakfast. I was in the pool on my own for the first 15 minutes or so which was lovely. A couple of other people got in soon after, but I was able to enjoy a nice peaceful swim to start the day.

We then went for breakfast, which was slightly different due to the current restrictions in place, so there was no ” help yourself”, everything was served to you. This didn’t alter the enjoyment and all in all it had been a relaxing start to the holidays (A bit like staying in the hotel at the airport the night before you fly)

An Afternoon In Polperro

As we couldn’t get into our accommodation until 5pm, we made a stop at Polperro along the way. This is somewhere I had not been before on my holidays to Cornwall. It is a picturesque fishing village, very quaint and pretty. We had a walk through the village and then stopped for lunch at the museum café. The museum itself wasn’t open, but the café was serving food outside and as it was another beautiful day, we sat overlooking the harbour eating delicious sandwiches stuffed with fresh crab.

We then had another walk through the rest of the village, then onto the beach and across the rock pools. By the time we had been to the supermarket for supplies, before going to the cottage.

Ruan Dinas

The cottage we had booked is called Ruan Dinas and is situated at Combe near Truro. We followed the directions given by the owners of the cottage, which took us down a small track. There were a few hairy moments or two along the way, but at the bottom of the track was a beautiful bungalow with an amazing view of the river.

Once inside we were impressed with the open plan layout, well equipped kitchen and comfortable seating. The bedrooms are large and lots of storage (always pack too much stuff!). We unpacked and had a coffee before walking down to the waters edge. It was high tide and there were young people swimming in the river, as well as people kayaking and fishing. It was such a beautiful evening and it really felt like I was on holiday at last.

We had a hearty home cooked tea, including a couple of glasses of wine and pudding and custard. The ginger sponge pudding had been made by my friend, who had been to the eye hospital for an examination and had to wear sunglasses whilst making it as her pupils were so dilated. As you can imagine, she got a lot of sympathy and from then on the pudding was renamed “one-eyed ginger sponge”.

It’s The Little Things

Time is really marching on this year and as we are still managing the effects of Covid 19, it has been quite hard to find things to write about. However, I decided to look at the positives and concentrate on the little things that have become more important over the last few months.

Celebrating A Milestone

At the end of July, it was my youngest daughters 21st Birthday. In the weeks leading up to it, the “lockdown” situation was altering on a weekly basis, so we had to adjust our plans accordingly. Luckily on the weekend of her birthday, the weather was fine and warm and we were able to have some family and friends over to celebrate her birthday.

The planning was very different to a normal party, with the shopping list including masks, antibacterial spray and wipes, as well as hand gel. We managed to stagger the guests so that there weren’t too many people at the house at one and as the weather was good we were able to keep people socially distanced in the garden.

I was so glad that we were able to do this and at times it was a little emotional, seeing people that we had not seen in person since March.

Walking In Burnsall And Trollers Gill

One of the things that I had missed whilst we were restricted with mixing with others, was going out for a walk with friends. Again at the end of July, whilst we still had a little more freedom, we went for a walk with friends.

We started at Burnsall which is a lovely area of the Yorkshire Dales. The walk takes you down by the river and it was lovely to see families out in the fresh air, playing on the fields and in the river. It was a dull day, but the weather forecast promised that the showers would stop by around 11am. Unfortunately, true to form, this was not quite right and for the first hour or so we had heavy showers and got absolutely drenched.

Our spirits weren’t dampened and we carried on walking. I think we were just relieved to be out in the fresh air and having a good laugh whilst we walked. eventually, the sun came out and we dried out and remained dry for the rest of the day.

After walking along the pretty river, you then come to more open land and then eventually walk up Trollers Gill, which is a limestone gorge. It is quite rocky and due to the rain, it was also quite slippery. Once at the top, you then follow the paths and farm tracks back into Burnsall.

We walked nine miles in all and then treated ourselves to coffee and cake at the café. This si one of my favourite walks, as the changes in scenery make it really interesting and there si so much to look at. It is also a good length and challenging enough, but not exhausting.

All in all it was a great day out, a beautiful walk and a chance to relax and enjoy being out in the open air, having a laugh with good friends.

Welcome Back Theatre..

Last week I travelled to London to go to the Regents Park Open Air Theatre with my eldest daughter. I can’t explain how excited we were to finally be able to go and see a live theatre performance after such a long time. I have never been to this theatre before and it was a really great experience. The seating was set up so that you were not sat near other people, vastly reducing the capacity. We also wore a mask throughout the performance, but once the show started, it was easy to forget.

The show was Jesus Christ Superstar, which was performed socially distanced. It was amazing to see how the production had been adapted to accommodate the measures, without affecting the emotions and the feel of the story. Before the show started it had been raining and the staff did a stellar job of sweeping the water off the stage to make it safe. The announcement “Welcome back to theatre”, elicited a big cheer from the audience.

There was also a break after the first three songs, as it was raining again and the stage needed to be cleared of water. Luckily, once it was up and running again, it stayed dry and warm and the performance was able to continue without another break.

The voices of the whole cast were outstanding. The movement and dance on the stage was amazing . As soon as the first notes were played I felt really emotional and it was clear that most of the people in the audience were really moved by being back at a live performance. It was one of the best productions I have seen.

I, like many other people have really missed live theatre and can’t wait for some measures to be put into place so that performances can begin again. The industry at the moment is devastated and the loss of jobs and income for so many people is really worrying.

If you’re not a fan of theatre, it might be hard to understand how important it is, but for me it is the one place that takes me away from everything else in life. Whether I come out wanting to sing and dance, or crying my eyes out, I always feel so much better. Over the years it has been so good for my mental wellbeing and has been something to look forward to after a hard week.

Sarah, My Friend

Yesterday I sadly said goodbye to my lovely friend Sarah, who lost her fight with breast cancer. Throughout her illness Sarah remained positive, determined to live her life to the full, provide for her family and to have no regrets. She was a shining example to all those who knew her and will be missed by so many people. So this is my tribute to Sarah, an amazingly beautiful and brave friend.

When colleagues become friends

Sarah and I had been colleagues for some time, working within the same department, never working on the same team, but passing the time of day, chatting whilst we worked and occasionally working on an enquiry together.

Then, a supervisor made a decision that would change both our lives forever. The teams were shuffled around and Sarah and I began working together on a day to day basis. We were both a bit put out at first, not because we didn’t like each other, or couldn’t work together, but because we were both quite happy on our own teams, we had our own friends, but we decided to make the best of it and crack on with our work.

I am eternally grateful for that decision. Working with Sarah brought us closer and we soon realised that we had quite a lot of things in common, crafting, reading, musicals travelling, amongst other things, but we also had the same ethics. We both valued family life, knew how important our friends were and were both determined in our work to provide the best service that we possibly could to some of the most vulnerable people in society.

When the teams were re-shuffled, Sarah and I continued to be firm friends both in and out of work. We were able to talk about anything, had some amazing experiences and supported each other through some really difficult times.

A shock diagnosis

Sarah was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was called for an early mammogram due to a trial in the local health authority. She had no symptoms at all, but it was discovered that her cancer was already well developed and she was swiftly taken into hospital for a mastectomy, followed by gruelling rounds of chemotherapy. Although Sarah knew that her cancer was incurable, she certainly didn’t take that lying down. She did this without complaining, always smiling and having a firm belief that when one treatment wasn’t working, there would be another one that would.

She was determined to live her life to the full and no matter how ill she was she always had time for her family and friends. She cared for both her girls and her mum, despite being exhausted some days. She told me often that she was not afraid of dying, but was always concerned about the effect that her death would have on other people. She was reluctant to let people know when she was suffering and always had a goal to work towards.

Sometimes there were tears, when she was clearly worried, particularly in relation to her two daughters, but generally when you asked her how she was she would say that she was doing alright.

The hardest time was a few weeks ago, when her treatment was stopped and she knew that there was nothing else that could be done. She was initially rocked by the news, but again set about making plans for her family, dealing with unfinished business and trying to make things as easy as she could for those around her.

Sarah never stopped fighting and was determined to keep active for as long as possible and it was only in the last few days of her life that she was unable to do this. She was able to be cared for at home and spend the time that she had left with her family and close friends. I feel blessed to have been able to spend time with her, not only in the last few weeks, but over the last few years. I am also really grateful to her family for allowing me to be there and to the other friends who have given unending support.

A lesson in living a good life

I have learned a lot from being friends with Sarah. Mostly that you should live a good life, not waste time complaining about the things that life throws at you, but to accept those things and do all the things you want to do anyway.

It is true that none of us know how long we have left with our family and friends. Sarah taught me that it’s important to make each moment count. Take pleasure in the little things. Make goals for your life, no matter how small they are. Don’t let small things grow into big problems and don’t put off things that you really want to do. Try not to bear a grudge and remember that a small  kindness can be a huge thing to someone else.

I am definitely a better person for knowing Sarah and I hope that some of her kindness and selflessness has rubbed off on me.

Long lasting memories

I didn’t want to end this blog on a sad note as Sarah would definitely not approve of that. Everyone that knew her will have their own memories, from nights out, lunches at the Ivy, theatre trips, Christmas do’s and many other celebrations. There are so many memories, some of which I talked about in my previous blogs,  but here are just a couple of my favourites

Sarah wanted to raise money for Breast Cancer Care and talked myself and Sharon into taking part in the moonwalk. This was a 26 mile walk, through London, in the middle of the night, wearing a decorated bra. This was a tough but amazing experience. Sarah encouraged us around the whole 26 miles, never losing her enthusiasm. When we reached the finishing line the following morning, Sarah was the only one out of all three of us that was still able to walk around. It was through this experience on the night and the training before hand that I got to know Sharon and we have been able to support each other and I hope we will continue to do so in the future.

In February this year Sarah and I went on an overnight stay to a spa. We had a lovely relaxing couple of days in some very luxurious surroundings. We were able to spend some quality time together, talked, laughed and cried. As Sarah was feeling quite tired at this stage, we weren’t exactly party animals and ended up tucked up in bed at 9pm, with a bottle of prosecco, watching Love Island.

 

I know that it will be hard over the coming weeks,  months  and years as we will all miss Sarah so much, but I will do my best to remember the good times, to focus on the laughter rather than the tears and to live the best life that I can.

Sleep well Sarah you’ve earned your rest.

I will look for you in the colours of the rainbow, the brightest star and the prettiest snowflakes.

Best Laid Plans

Well it’s definitely been a strange few weeks. There have been lots of emotional ups and downs. Like a lot of people in many countries around the world, life has taken a completely different direction to the one that I had planned when I retired in January. At the moment all travel plans are postponed and all social gatherings are off. The gym that I have been attending regularly has now shut under the government guidelines and the freelance work that I had planned has been cancelled for now. So it’s time to take stock, rethink and make some new plans.

A Last Weekend Away

A few weeks ago, I managed to spend a lovely weekend away in Northumberland, with my husband, brother-in-law and sister-in-law. During the week before, we were unsure whether we would be going or not.

My really good friend Sarah, had been having treatment for cancer, which had recently been stopped. She has been such a strong lady over the last few years since being diagnosed, but this really knocked her confidence. She was really struggling with some of her symptoms and also with her emotions. I was really undecided about going away, but once things were properly in place for her being looked after I decided to go.

Sadly my brother-in-law also lost his lovely dog Ruby during the week before we were going. Ruby, a Staffie,  was 12 years old and had been an important and loved member of the family. My youngest daughter was terrified of dogs when she was younger and initially would not have anything at all to do with Ruby. However, over time Ruby won her over and was such a gentle dog that they became good friends and the fear of dogs was solved. So much so that she has been asking to get a dog of her own for ages.

We had a few tears whilst we were away for the weekend, particularly walking along the beach without Ruby which was really hard. But we also had a lot of laughs. We talked a lot, reminisced and planned for the future. One of the things that often comes up when we are away is how important family and friends are, why you should do the things that you want to do, not to put them off, as you never know what is going to happen in the future. Little did we know then how our lives were going to change over the next few weeks.

Stepping Into The Unknown

In the current situation, none of us have any idea what the future holds, but in some ways that is no different to our normal lives. Yes the world has changed dramatically and we really have to adjust our lives to deal with the unknown. But do any of us ever know what life will bring. In our ordinary world we don’t know whether we will get ill, how long we will live, whether our jobs are secure, whether our holidays will be cancelled etc

I am normally a worrier and I know that I deal with some things better than others. If  can do something about it, then I tend to go headlong into organising and “doing”, which usually helps me to cope. There is also usually an end game, which helps to focus. But it is the things that I have no control over that I struggle with, where I can’t do anything to change it and I don’t know where the end is.

A couple of days ago I had a real flash of anxiety over a number of things that I have absolutely no control over, mostly other people’s attitudes and actions.  So I had to give myself a good talking to and am now concentrating on trying to be positive and make the most of the situation that we find ourselves in, accepting that I can’t change it and I don’t know when the end will be. But it will end and I am hopeful that I will emerge a stronger and better person.

Settling Into Retirement

It’s now six weeks since I retired from full time work. People did tell me that I would be bored, that I would miss work and that I would struggle without belonging to the Police after being “institutionalised” for thirty years. Well so far I have to say I haven’t felt any of these things. I have managed to fill my time well, have taken on some ad hoc work, am spending time working on our craft business as well as starting some of the things on my bucket list.

 

 

https://www.mezzycreations.co.uk/

Starting those things that I always wanted to do

One of the things that I have wanted to do for quite some time, is to learn to play the piano. I am pleased to say that I have now had four piano lessons and am surprised at how well I am picking it up. It takes a lot of concentration, but it’s really wort it as I am enjoying it so much. At the moment I am practicing on a keyboard loaned to me by a friend and on my mum’s piano, but if I continue to enjoy it over the next few months I am going to treat myself to a digital piano.

Something else that I also wanted to do was to write more. I have now been writing my blog for three years, but I have also bought myself a book of writing activities and tasks, which has encouraged me to write a bit more.

There are still a few more things on my list and I will let you know how I get on these.

Rudding Park Spa Hotel in Harrogate

A couple of weeks ago I had a relaxing overnight stay at Rudding Park in Harrogate with my lovely friend Sarah. We found a deal on Travelzoo, which was excellent value, which we just couldn’t miss. We had a little retail therapy first in Harrogate and then drove up to Rudding Park in the afternoon. On arrival our room wasn’t ready, (it had been set up as a double rather than a twin), but we were treated to a complimentary glass of prosecco whist we waited.

We then dropped our things off in the room and went into the spa for the rest of the afternoon. The spa itself is beautiful, very airy, clean and so relaxing. The hydrotherapy pool is so lovely and warm, but is outside so you get some lovely fresh air whilst enjoying the warm relaxing water. Inside there is a panoramic sauna, foot spas, an oxygen room, a sunlight room and a steam room. We tried everything, before going to the wellness area, which has amazing relaxing rooms, including visual, audio, as well as a sleep room and a comfortable are just to relax and have a cup of tea.

Later in the evening we had our dinner in the clocktower restaurant, which was included in the deal from Travelzoo, so we only had to pay for our bottle of prosecco. The food was excellent and the atmosphere was very chilled.

The following morning I went into the indoor pool for a swim. There was no one else in there, so I managed to get a good few lengths in before breakfast. We had breakfast in the Horto café, which is part of the spa. The breakfast was really nice and was also included in the package.

We then made use of the spa again before checking out and going home. We both felt completely relaxed and had lots of chance to chat and just chill out.

Lunch on a train

Today me and my husband took his parents for lunch on Embsay Railway in North Yorkshire. We had booked it a couple of weeks ago, but unfortunately it was cancelled due to the flooding. The trip was a birthday present for my father in law (It was his birthday in January)

The train carriage was lovely and warm, which was great as it was a windy day and it was quite chilly waiting on the platform. We were shown to our table which was set with cutlery and cups and we were offered tea and coffee. Once the train set off, we were then brought our lunch which was a Yorkshire pudding filled with meat, vegetables and new potatoes. As I’m a vegetarian, I had mine without the meat. The train journey was about half an hour and we stopped at Bolton Abbey for about twenty minutes, so we could get off and stretch our legs, look around the station and the shop.

The train then set off back to Embsay and tea and coffee was served on the return journey. Towards the end, the manager came out and spoke to all the diners, explaining why he set up the business and how it had grown over the last few years. He also told us about the other events which are available on the railway.

The trip was well worth the money and was just long enough for my in laws to be out and about before heading back home.

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A Weekend In Hawes

This weekend we were lucky enough to spend a long weekend with friends and family in a lovely little house in Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales. This was to officially celebrate my youngest brother’s 50th birthday. It was actually his birthday the week before Christmas, but chose to book a weekend in January, which is a really good idea, as it’s always nice to have something to look forward to in January as it can be quite a depressing month.

Ingleton Waterfalls Walk

On Friday morning, it was quite a grey day, but we drove up to Ingleton and walked around the Waterfalls Tral. This is a 7km walk, on a footpath, which takes you around the waterfalls and river in Ingleton. The trails are privately owned, so there is a charge for walking the paths. A ticket office and turnstile has now been built, which takes a little away from the scenery and makes it more commercialised, however once you get past this, you are on the paths and it is beautiful scenery. The paths are quite steep and slippery in places and there are quite a lot of steps.

We all kept up a steady pace and managed to get around the train before the weather closed in and it became quite cold and damp. There was of course the obligatory stop off for hot drinks and cakes in the village, before we made our way to Yarn House in Gayle, which was the cottage that we had rented for the weekend. The house is a lovely three storey cottage, which overlooks the river. The rooms were cosy and there was loads of equipment in the kitchen.

There were eight of us and on arrival it is customary for us to draw lots to decide who is having which bedrooms. Once this was done and we had got unpacked, the men went off to the pub. Allegedly they were only going to the shop to buy some lottery tickets but they were out a few hours and had a pint in each of the pubs. The ladies stayed in the house, apparently we were supposed to be making tea, but we ended up drinking prosecco instead. Once the men came back from the pub we managed to sort out food and enjoy our meal with a few more glasses of wine.

A windy walk

On Saturday morning we set off from Hawes to do a circular walk which normally includes Hardraw Force. It was quite windy and cold, but was ideal weather for walking. We had booked lunch for 2pm, so we knew that we needed to be back for then.

The walk was just over 6km and wasn’t too hilly.  Hardraw Force itself is again  privately owned and there is a charge to go and look at them. As we had limited time and the fact that the Falls themselves were not part of the route, we chose not to walk down to the Force to walk back up and complete our route instead.

It was a really nice walk with some lovely scenery. Unfortunately the mist started to come in, so the views were not quite as clear as they normally would be.

After the walk we drove to Tan Hill Inn, which is the highest pub in England. We had reserved a table and the landlord was pretty friendly when we arrived. The pub was quite busy, as it is a well known attraction. The pub itself is quite rustic, but a also a lttle run down. The furniture was well worn and the whole place looked in need of a little work. The food on the whole was good, but one of our dishes came after the others had finished eating and when it did come it was a bit of a let down.

We drove back to the cottage afterwards and had a restful evening watching films and having a few drinks.

A relaxing Sunday

On Sunday, we had a bit of a lazy morning then went down to the Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes. There is a lovely gift shop and visitors centre hers, although the creamery was not producing any cheese that day. We looked around the visitors centre and tasted lots of samples of cheese, as well as buying some to eat later.

After this we went for a short walk around the village. It was short mainly because there were hardly any shops open and also because it was very cold, windy and drizzly. We had a table booked at the Crown Pub in Hawes. This was a lovely pub, with the coal fires blazing. The food was great and the staff were really friendly.

After another couple of drinks in the pub, we made our way back to the house and spent the evening relaxing, playing cards and eating cheese and biscuits.

It has been as great weekend, with lots of laughter, great food, great company, fresh air, beautiful scenery and a chance to recharge our batteries.

 

 

 

 

Happy Retirement

This week, after 30 years of being a Police Officer, I retied!

I joined West Yorkshire Police on 15th January 1990, as a fresh faced 22 year old. I was fairly naïve, not particularly streetwise and had led a sheltered life, being the only girl, with three brothers. However I wanted to help other people, do something worthwhile and I honestly thought that I would be able to change the world.

I may not have changed the world over the last 30 years, but I know that I have changed some people’s lives for the better. There will be those that were not happy with the decisions I made, the action that I took, or the outcomes of their reports to me, but on the whole i know that I have always done the best job that I could, have been honest and always done what I thought was right.

I am not sad at retiring and I have been looking forward to it for a while. I will miss my friends and colleagues, the interesting work, the feeling of making a difference but I also am ready for a change and am looking forward to doing lots of new things. I am not going to be completely retired, as I still have various avenues for work, but I will no longer be working full time and I will no longer be a Police Officer.

Lucky or Entitled

Over the last few months I have had some very interesting comments about retiring at such a young age. Lots of people have said how “lucky” I am, how nice it must be to get a “free pension” and how unfair it is that they have to work much longer than me. I do not believe that I deserve to retire more than anyone else, but I know that I am getting what I signed up to 30 years ago and that it certainly isn’t for free. I am entitled to retire at this age because I signed up for 30 years. I have paid a large amount of money in contributions for the last 30 years. I have stuck with a career that has been difficult at times, frustrating and had ground me down to the point of losing my self confidence and belief that I was doing a good job. For all the missed birthdays, Christmas days, school sports days, concerts, late nights, early mornings, long hours and lack of sleep. For being spat at, sworn at, called names, complained about and wondering how I was going to get through, for this I now feel entitled to retire.

A Job Worth Doing

I have loved my job for the most part. Although the above paragraph points out the negatives, there have been lots of positives too. I have spent a good majority of my service as an investigator within safeguarding units, investigating crimes and protecting the most vulnerable people in society. For the last four years I have trained others to conduct those investigations.

I have met some amazing people along the way, both those that I have worked alongside and the people who I have worked to protect. There have been some amazing Court results and some real disappointments. Most of all I know that I have worked my hardest to protect the public and detect some of the most heinous crimes.

So now I intend to take a well earned break, before I move on to pastures new.

Thank you to the people that I have worked with for their support over the years. Thank you to everyone who came to celebrate with me and for the lovely gifts and cards. Remembering fondly those who were with me 30 years ago when I joined the police, or who I have met along the way, but are no longer with us.

Most of all a huge thank you to my family and friends outside the Police who have supported me physically and mentally. I could not have done it without you!

 

A Winter Adventure in Lapland (7)

Unfortunately today is our last full day in Lapland. Luckily we still have an activity booked and there’s also something that we still haven’t tried in Muotka. There’s also still another evening so a possibility that we may see the aurora again.

Husky sledding

Today we were up and out early, in the dark as we were booked in for a visit to Husky and Co. We travelled by mini bus and it was only a short journey.

On arrival, we were introduced to the guides and given instructions on how to drive the sled. Basically the dogs will pull the sled whenever you take your foot offf the brake. Other than this the driver stands on two footrests, whilst the passenger sits in the sled.

Andrew was the driver. The dogs were keen to set off as soon as you got into the sled, so he had to keep his feet firmly on the brake until the group were ready to set off.

Once unleashed they set off on the track through the forest. They go amazingly fast on the flat, too fast down I’ll, requiring lots of braking, but on the uphills Andrew had to step off with one foot and push sling like you would with a scooter.

I really enjoyed it but it did make me a little bit nervous at times, especially on the downhills when even the strongest of braking didn’t seem to slow the dogs that much.

After the sled through the woods we were invited into the wooden building where there were a couple of roaring fires and we were given salmon soup, potato bread, hot juice, coffee, cinnamon buns and biscuits.

We were then taken to see the puppies, some of which were only 4 weeks old.  They were beautiful. All the dogs seemed well looked after and eager to meet people. They seemed happiest when they running and although I had reservations at first, I was comfortable with the set up.

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Sledging – don’t remember it being this hard as a child!

The only thing that we had not done whilst we had been here was take the sledges down the toboggan run. This afternoon we decided to give it a go.

Unfortunately neither Nick or Andrew we’re feeling very well, so Julie and I braved the slippery slope whilst Andrew took some photos.

its amazing how things that didn’t feel very scary as a child make you feel really nervous as a grown up. I was too wary to go from the top of the run so managed half way down. The hardest part was getting out of the sledge at the bottom and walking back up the hill with the sledge once you reached the bottom.

After a couple of runs, with lots of screaming on the way down and hysterical laughter at the bottom, covered in snow and very hot, we decided to give in. It’s definitely a pastime for children, but was great fun!

Aurora lights the skies again

On the way for our meal this evening, the aurora made another appearance. It was very faint at first but during our meal the sleet kept going off so we were in and out looking up to the skies.

The light display was amazing for several hours this evening and was brighter last night and was even dancing at one point. Apart from Andrew and Nick not feeling well it was a superb way to end the holiday.

So now we are on our way to the airport after an early start. As we head for home I am so glad that I had this experience. The hotel has been wonderful, the staff amazing and it’s been worth every penny.

Goodbye Muotka,  thank you for a wonderful holiday

A Winter Adventure in Lapland (6)

Today we were up bright and early as we had an activity booked at 9am. When I say bright and early, that’s not entirely true, it was 730am and still completely dark. The temperature was still at +1 degrees and the snow had melted off the porch are and from the overhead cables as well as all the trees.

Snowmobiling to the fells

At 9am, still in the darkness we again donned all our layers, balaclavas and helmets, ready for our trip to the fells on snow mobiles.

The group was small, consisting of 3 snow mobiles and the guide on another snow mobile pulling a sledge. The really good thing here is that if you want to get out on the excursions, but aren’t mobile or old enough to drive a snowmobile, a large sledge is attached to the guides snow mobile so you are still able to go along.

We drove for a couple of hours on the ski mobiles to Kaunispaan ski resort which is approximately 50 km from the Russian border.

The landscape today was much bleaker. There was barely any daylight and without the snow on the trees, The area looks quite stark compared to the last few days. In the forest there is little wind, but as you get out onto the fells, you can feel the temperature drop and the wind blowing across the open space.

Although it s a bleak landscape but there is still something very beautiful about it. The air is clear and other than passing the occasional group of snow mobiles or crossing main roads, it is quiet and peaceful.

At Kaunispaan we climbed the observation tower for the maximum view and to take photographs. There are no real mountainous areas in northern Finland, so this is one of the best places to get a good view.

We then went into the restaurant to have lovely hot soup (vegetable, reindeer or salmon) with bread.

It was then back on the snow mobiles to the hotel, which took another couple of hours. In all we had covered 60km on the snow mobiles. By this time, once again it was completely dark and the snow had just started to fall.

A magical night

At 9pm we set off as a group in a sledge tower by a snow mobile driven by one of the guides. We were driven to a clearing in the forest to the aurora camp.

It was. Clear night and the moon was brightly shining. We were ever hopeful that we would see the aurora. Andrew set up his tripod and camera and we waited. I lay down in the snow to look at the stars as it was a stunning sky. We were treated to a display of numerous shooting stars.

After a short while one of the guides went into the little wooden shelter and built a fire. People started to drift inside, but as it wasn’t really that cold, we persisted and stayed outside.

Suddenly a small area of unusual light appeared in the sky, which began to grow and as we started to get excited everyone else came out of the cabin.

it was an unbelievable sight and quite emotional. We had hoped that we would see the lights, but there was never any guarantee. Andrew began snapping away and then one of the guides kindly took a photo of all 4 of us together which was stunning (not us, the lights!)

The lights brightened and faded a few times before the guides sadly told us that it was time to go back. During the journey back to the hotel a couple of reindeer decided to trot along the path in front of the snow mobile. They seemed to have no fear of being pursued by the vehicle and trotted on regardless until finally veering off back into the woods.

Back at the hotel we stopped for a coffee when suddenly the chef shouted “lights”. Everyone got up and ran outside. After falling down the steps and wiping out Julie in the snow, we were again treated to the display of lights. We watched them from the hotel and then went back up towards the cabins where they continued on and off for another hour or so.

When we went into the cabin to go to bed we opened all the blinds, just in case they appeared again. Whether they did or not, I don’t know as I fell asleep.

I feel very humbled to have seen the northern lights. Looking up to the sky with all the stars and the vast darkness it reminds me that I am only a very small part of the world and that we are a tiny part of the universe.

An absolutely magical experience!

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A Winter Adventure in Lapland (5)

This morning was slightly overcast, but the snow had stopped and the temperature had raised overnight to a much warmer just below freezing. The heavy snow overnight had left another couple of inches of soft powder on the paths and it feels a little bit like the buildings are going to disappear completely if it continues. We are told by the staff that so much snow is unusual for this time of year, but it is amazing to see.

A snow mobile journey

Todays activity was a journey on the snow mobiles, to a reindeer farm. We all donned the layers, along with balaclavas and helmets. We looked a bit like the riot police in the full gear.

Being on the snow mobiles, in the dry slightly warmer weather was an amazing experience. The snowy landscape is so beautiful and a little surreal, more like a painting or a storybook. I chose to sit on the back, rather than driving as Andrew loved the driving and I was comfortable and probably safer on the back. We followed the guide along the snow mobile tracks for about 16k.

Reindeer farm

The reindeer farm we visited was a traditional Sami reindeer farm. On arrival we were introduced to the reindeer and were then taken for a short ride in a sledge pulled by one of the reindeer.

We then had a demonstration of reindeer lassoing (using reindeer horn on a block on the floor and thankfully not a real reindeer!), then people were allowed to have a go.

Afterwards we went to the hut where we were treated to hot tea and cake and one of the Sami ladies talked to us about the reindeer and the Sami way of life. She showed us reindeer antlers, which are naturally shed and passed them round for us to look at. She explained her traditional beautiful bright coloured dress and how different areas will wear different colours. The jewellery that they wear is handed down through generations. The ladies also wear a traditional hat which we were told, depending on how you wear it, indicates whether you are married or single.

The best soup in Lapland

It was then back on the snow mobiles to travel to Savottakahvila restaurant for lunch. We were told they serve the best soup in Lapland. It was definitely amazing soup. I had tomato and vegetable whilst everyone else had elk soup (it was so good we all had second helpings). There was bread, rye bread or crackers. This was then followed by hot coffee and Jaffa cakes. Absolutely lovely food and a warm and friendly atmosphere.

After lunch we were back on the snow Mobiles to make the journey back to the hotel. It was just starting to get dark as we returned and just after we got back inside it began snowing again.

It was an amazing day and an experience I will remember for a long time, made even better by the great company and the lovely guides, who kept everyone safe and laughed along with our banter.

What’s happened to the snow?

After our evening meal we stayed in the hotel for a few hours, having a few drinks and playing cards. At about 1145pm we decided to go to bed as we are getting up earlier tomorrow. When we came out the temperature had risen to +1degree. The huge piles of snow on the trees had completely gone and if you looked at the trees you would have not known it had snowed at all. There is still tonnes of snow on the ground, but it is now much wetter underfoot.0F179D56-9B3D-4E54-893D-B82729B4F056.jpeg