Two weeks ago I moved to Lapland to be one of Santa’s little helpers in the village of Karesuando/Karesuvanto which is on the Sweden/Finland border within the arctic circle. The picture perfect church by the river in Karesuando is the church you see in the Coca Cola advert. The temperature at the moment is unseasonably high for this time of year, averaging around -6, but this is still enough for the river dividing Finland and Sweden to freeze and it’s cold enough to experience the hairs in your nose freezing as you breathe in!
On our third night in the Arctic my housemates and I walked down to the frozen river to watch the northern lights. Lying down on the frozen river was an amazing way to watch the green and white spirals dancing in the sky.
Last week was my first visit to Marjavaara which is the wilderness site for sleigh rides, snow mobiles and the home of Santa’s cabin. The forest is the perfect home for reindeer and I was lucky enough to see a herd from the sleigh, near Santa’s cabin. The reindeer were slightly smaller than I expected, smaller than a cow and there were some white reindeer in the herd as well as the typical brown reindeer that everyone would recognise. Although seeing reindeer from a sleigh sounds dreamy, the unusually warm weather provided less than ideal conditions for sleigh rides as the tracks were too soft and the snowmobile was over heating which meant that my fellow Elfies and I had to jump our and push the sleigh more than once!
Day to day tasks at work are very Elfy even when we’re not in character. We’re often wrapping presents, decorating cabins and Christmas trees, making reindeer dust and building snowmen. The snow in Lapland is different to snow in England because it’s drier and more powdery which means that, to build a good snowman, we have to make ‘snow cement’ by mixing snow and water together. Without adding water the snow will be too crumbly to make a tall snowman and our target heights have been as tall as 7ft!
During free time we are encouraged to participate in as many activities as we like so on one of our first days off as a group went sledging and, after completely missing the toboggan hill, we settled for a snow covered steep stretch of road leading up from the hotel cabins. We had two sledges and took it in turns to race down the hill. It was narrow and very slippy so there were quite a few crashes into the deep snow and trees by the side of our race track and if you leaned back on the sledge you’d get snow sprayed in your face! We also went snow shoeing one afternoon, which pretty much turned into pushing each other in the snow and flicking snow off branches at each other. It was a big trek up the hill but the view was worth it and then we had all the fun of scrambling through the forest on the way down.