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I had a great holiday. The scenery was beautiful, the weather was fantastic - sunny, but not over warm, with the occasional snow shower to keep things fresh and not too much wind - the sun was high and daylight hours long, the northern lights managed to be out on my last night at the same time as me*, the skiing facilities were brilliant, I was reasonably competent, my hotel room was very pleasant**, and I had some very nice food. The restorative powers of a large apple doughnut are remarkable. A week off work in which I haven’t even been able to do my unpacking is a small price to pay***.

Some random comments:

• Seldom have I seen such a large concentration of moustache-wearers. Finnish men appear to develop a compulsion aged c. 50 to go out and grow one.

• It is vital as a British skier in Finland to accept from the start that you will be comparatively rubbish. Then when you are overtaken by 7 year olds, 70 year olds, women with multiple babies in a sledge, and blind people (not joking), you will not be downhearted, and instead can enjoy overtaking 5 year olds, 75 year olds, and the rare Scandinavian who doesn’t like downhills.

• I am going to set up the Lapland Airport Coach Safari Company. On the way from the airport to my hotel I saw a fox (red) slinking in the edge of the wood (looking exactly like this print), and an arctic hare, and on the way back to the airport, two reindeer. They are paler in colour than I had anticipated. I also saw a second hare (from my hotel bedroom window) and a capercaillie. Birdlife was otherwise disappointing – magpies and great tits do not count, and the Siberian jays for which the reason is known must have been on holiday in Siberia.

• I was quite pleased with my skiing. I did c. 125km over 6 days, plus a day on the downhill pistes (advantage of an evening flight home). I wasn’t as fast on the flat as I’d have liked, but I definitely improved my XC downhill confidence and technique, which I'd set as a personal goal.

Some photographs!Collapse )