It feels as though Christmas and New Year have flown by faster than a shooting star and, even though I’ve spent this festive period in Santa’s homeland, I’ve been feeling surprisingly un-Christmassy this year! The run up to Christmas was obviously the busiest time for us at work. It’s also been Christmas since November so, when the real thing finally rolled round, I barely noticed! The only reason I knew it was Christmas Eve is because my advent calendar ran out!
On the day before Christmas Eve, we did an epic scale Secret Santa with all thirty of the people living in our house. The rules were to buy one present, spending no more than €5 and to beg borrow or steal something else. My Secret Santa gave me a Finland rubber duck, which I loved, and a bobble hat he’d found while tidying up the suits and boots room! Creative begged borrowed or stolen gifts ranged from a French baguette to stolen socks!
On Christmas Eve we had a fantastic day in the Santa cabin. We had some lovely families, hilarious children and wacky wish lists with items! One little girl asked Santa for a taser for Christmas, a little boy asked if Mrs Claus has a beard and another girl told me all about a story book called ‘Father Christmas Needs a Wee’. After a really good day at work a group of us piled up a load of mattresses in the common room to watch Elf and eat snacks. After work on Christmas Day we ate dinner together and walked across the frozen river to pub. The whole company was out celebrating together, there was really cheesy music playing and everyone was up on the dance floor doing the Macarena. Meanwhile, back in England, you were all probably settling down on the sofa to watch the Doctor Who Christmas special.
Living on the border of Finland and Sweden meant that we could celebrate the New Year in two different time zones. Once again, we all went to the pub to celebrate! For Finnish New Year, which was two hours before England, fireworks were set off at the hotel at midnight so we walked up to watch them and sang the few words we could remember of Old Lang Syne with the guests gathered outside the hotel. Then it was time to head back to the pub to celebrate Swedish New Year one hour later and then English and Irish New Year an hour after that!
Santa season ended on January 1st which meant that for my final week in Lapland I got to do lots of different jobs. I became a group guide for a couple of days accompanying guests on trips to the husky farm. I filled in as an activity guide on snow shoeing and lead a forest trek but the best job of all was being part of the team bringing the snowmobiles back from Marjavaara, our wilderness site. We were opening new tracks that hadn’t been used this year so there was a lot of fresh, deep snow that we got stuck in a few times! The journey in total took over three hours on a mix of forest tracks and rivers. Our brief before we left was basically “if you see water in front of you, drive faster”! Some of the forest tracks were a little bit challenging but driving along the rivers was a dream because the surface was so smooth. I reached full speed, around 100kph, on the river near our house!
During my last few days in the Arctic Circle the temperature dropped to its lowest point this season with a low of -42! At such low temperatures everything freezes… eyelashes, hair, clothes and I even got a tiny patch of frost nip (the earliest stage of frost bite) on my cheek! Working outside in those temperatures can get painfully cold but I’m really glad that I had a chance to experience it before heading back to England! I can’t think of a better way to have spent my last evening in the Arctic Circle than leading a forest trek to watch the northern lights and drink hot Gloggi around a campfire at -40!