"What’s a girl to wear in -30!??"

Posted By: Jacquie Sim - Friday, 28 February 2014  |  Comments: 0

"What’s a girl to wear in -30!??"

jacq snowThat was the biggest question I had regarding our trip to the Arctic, not in a fashion sense (well maybe just a little) but I’ve only ever flown South and nearly always to hot, sunny bikini type places and definitely never to the snow. Not being one for sensible clothing I went on a borrowing mission, literally from top to toe pinching everything from hats to boots and even a pair of Dior wrap around sunnies!!

The temperature was definitely my biggest fear about heading off into the unknown and I quizzed David constantly on what I would need to take with me to cope with the cold, but as February drew nearer I began to get a mild panic about other things like food; as a none meat eater what would there be for me to eat, what if something happened at home and I had no phone, and the biggie, how and where do you go to the toilet in the middle of the wilderness!!??

When it came to the activities though I had no worries at all, despite my colleagues concerns about how I’d manage a week without heels! Little did they know in my formative years I was somewhat of a tomboy playing footy, climbing trees and generally getting up to mischief with my brothers and sisters. In fact, I was particularly looking forward to the snowmobiles and had made Dale promise we would pair together to ensure the ‘need for speed’!

breakfast beer So on a cold and dark February morning and with my bag was packed to within an inch of its life, I kissed my little boy goodbye and headed off into the unknown...well, to Manchester Airport with the rest of the team. After a hearty breakfast with the customary airport beer (it’s the law don’t you know!?) and some alcoholic essentials in duty free (to keep us warm of course!) it was time to board; bye-bye rainy Britain, Facebook, heels and straighteners, hello snowy Sweden and wilderness survival!

Two flights later we landed on the snowy runway at Kiruna, which is Sweden’s most northerly airport and was about the size of a school gym! We were introduced to Gaynor who was to be our guide for the next few days and thrown straight in at the deep end, with a dog-sleigh ride through the dark to the Mushers Lodge. We arrived at the cabin (also home to 250 specially bred huskies) to a warm fire and hot pans of chilli; moose for the carnivores and soya mince for me....it was delicious, maybe I wouldn’t need all those emergency snacks I’d packed after all!

toraThe following morning after a brief lesson on how to drive the sled I met my dogs; the good ones Eric and Tora, and the naughty ones, Oboy and Dina. With the warning to keep my eye on them still ringing in my ears we were off, yikes! I’m not sure what I imagined it would be like, but after a few shaky bends and the odd wobble I felt pretty confident and could take in the magnificent scenery, it was like Narnia only better, a proper icy wonderland! Winding our way through snowy pine forests and across vast frozen lakes before we finally reached the wilderness cabin, it was charming and cosy with candles and bunk beds and much more comfortable than I was expecting, even the toilets weren’t so bad.

ice fishing After picking our beds we went on to the lake for an attempt at ice fishing, we busily drilled five holes in the snow and waited....and waited....and waited. This was my first time fishing and after over an hour on the lake I had nothing to show, in fact there was only one small fish caught by Julie, I hope they had a back-up plan for dinner! Apparently it was the time of year and not our lack of fishing skills that was the problem!

Back to the cabin it was time for chores. My job was to chop wood with Adam, as it turns out I’m a bit rubbish at chopping so instead I offered encouragement (and sips of Amaretto!) and ensured all the wood stores were fully stocked.

Tasks done it was sauna time, a chance to relax & have a giggle with a beer, brave an Arctic roll in the snow....and maybe the occasional glimpse at Adams six-pack!!


After dinner we played a getting to know you game, apparently our ideal men include Piers Brosnan, Jessie Pavelka, David Beckham and even the Swede Alexander Skarsgard.

 After breakfast the sound of 44 dogs barking meant it was time to go! Now we were more relaxed on the sleds the trail was much longer but still just as stunning.

Unfortunately at one point I was a little too relaxed, stood on the soft brake I was still adjusting my hat when the dogs decided they were ready even if I wasn’t!

As they sped off I slipped off the break only to watch as my sled and dogs thunder behind the convoy, as I attempted to run after them through the snow still holding on to my hat I could hear David howling with laughter behind me....it’s a wonder he didn’t fall off he was laughing that hard at my Benny Hill impression!! Thankfully Jeanette caught the dogs and I managed to get back on board.

dale snowThat evening, relaxing in the sauna after our chores and with a wicked glint in his eye David said we needed an early tea as he had something planned. So layered up again we headed into the darkness taking the opportunity to push each other into snow drifts!

Up igloo blueahead was a fantastic igloo aglow with blue lights and a small fire heating a big pot of glögg, a Swedish mulled wine.

After a quiz to determine which team knew most about our host nation, we were allowed into the igloo for our next game....’Igloo Tucker Trials’. After a lot of drama over a banana and a boiled egg (yes really) I knew what was coming, I’d seen it on TV and I could definitely smell the whiff in the air.

Igloo triaslBlindfolded, Steve and I were challenged to eat strömming, a Swedish ‘delicacy’ of fermented herring. The stench was so bad they had to open the tin outside and as Gaynor tried to feed me the fish I could hear Claire shouting “just think of it as sushi!” Steve managed it and I did try but there was no way I was swallowing that!! Some of the others braved it too, but I’ll just stick to actual sushi in future.

igloo sleep The fun continued with 7 out of the 10 adventurers deciding to sleep at the igloo. Obviously if you’re going to spend the night in an icy box getting drunk and snuggling together was the only way to keep warm!! This seemed like loads of fun in the fuzzy drunkenness of midnight, but not so much come 6am when you’re dying for a wee!!!


 Somewhat jaded the next morning we headed off on our final trail with the dogs....it was snowmobile time!!  As promised, Dale and I clambered on to the first skidoo. The air was heavy and threatening to snow as Dale accelerated, wheeeeeeeeee!!!


We loved it!


As Dales confidence grew so did the speed, touching 70mph at one point and that was alright by me! 


We stopped to swap seats and it was my turn to drive, and Dale braved it on the back as we sped across the frozen lake before stopping for a brew in a traditional Sami tepee.

wineOn the final evening we tiptoed back into reality with a night in a proper hotel with hot running water and flushing toilets, never has a shower felt so good!

Washed, dressed and smelling sweet we were treated to a gourmet Swedish banquet cooked by our own private chef and washed down with a different wine for each course, perfect!

Back at the hotel bar you needed a small mortgage to get the round in and a mastermind to remember the names of all the beers! Much fun was had and some new friends made before wearily heading to sleep in a proper bed!

Before heading home we had chance to visit the world famous Ice Hotel and wave Gaynor and some of our favourite dogs off on her 300km race.

All in all, after a week away from home and all our creature comforts I learnt I can live without straighteners (just about), I quite like the snow and I definitely love my work friends, they make me laugh a lot....oh, and we definitely need a sauna in our new offices!


last night


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