Letouttoplay

Life, photos but not the universe

We’re Back!

You won’t be surprised to hear that the first thing that hits you when you arrive in Kiruna, 200k north of the arctic Circle, is the cold.  It hits you quite slowly but quite comprehensively all over, from the ground  up (How do planes land on what appears to be solid ice?) from the head down and from the middle inwards in all directions.

The second thing, since they don’t keep you hanging about out there, is the warmth inside.  The airports and the rooms are havens of warmth!  No draughty bits, no chilly corners.  Those Swedes have heating and insulation down to a fine art.

The third thing is the prices.  Ok, so you’re warm and cosy and you’d like a drink.  The question is, how many arms and legs are you prepared to give for one!   Food?  There’s plenty of it, just in order to buy any you needed to have brought a second mortgage with you.  After our first evening in Stockholm we all took one out.

Actually, the first thing we all noticed was the SNOW!!!! Vast quantities of  it, all over the place just lying about waiting to be played in.  And all of it was white and crisp and soft and clean.

Our warm cabins were lovely and warm and cosy and wooden.  The ice places were astonishing and I’m just downloading the photos now!  The frozen River Torne behind the hotel was amazingly large and white and snowy.  Snow angels were created in great numbers and we discovered a heap of abandoned bits of ice bricks and sculptures and made a little cairn of our own.  There was a good deal of frisking and frolicking.  Followed by retreats into warm cabins and the shedding of large heaps of snow suits and boots.  We spent our time either plodding about like astronauts in huge, enveloping snow suits and big warm boots or stripped as far as decency would allow inside really warm cosy buildings.

Oh and the night in the ice room was amazing!  Really warm!  They do the most fantastic sleeping bags!

Sorry?  What was that?  You wanted to hear about the wedding?

Oh yes 🙂  The wedding!  Just WOW!  Just totally fantastic 🙂  Youngest looked radiant, Partner looked adorably smitten, the children loooked like little fairies and us four supporting family looked pretty good too (even if one of them – me – forgot to take off the funny hat that you get when you arrive at the ice place).

It was all about excesses of joy and overflowing of love and laughter.  The cost (Arrgh) the strife of getting nine people all together through two airports, via assorted taxis and hotels to the glories of the snowy wilderness – all melted away behind us and the utterly beautiful ice chapel welcomed us serenely with it’s cool clear bluish light and flickering candles reflecting the warmth we brought with us.

So here they are 🙂

bride and groom

bride and groom

Oh Ooops!  This was the happy couple as rendered by Auntie and the three children 🙂

Here are the real ones.

May the road rise to meet you

May the road rise to meet you

may the wind be always at your back

may the wind be always at your back

 : )

: )

Forever

Forever

Only love to keep her warm

Needing only love to keep her warm

confetti

confetti

: )

: )

And we all got home safely : )

(Sorry this took so long, Word press wouldn’t work for two days after we came back!!!)

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February 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 8 Comments

We’re away (almost)

Well actually we’re not for another day or so but I know I won’t have time to do this after today.

Meanwhile, word press tells me – We will be making some code changes in about 26 minutes which will log you out of your WordPress.com account. They should only take a few seconds and you should be able to log in afterwards without any problems.

Hmm.   It’s the ‘about’ that worries me.  My ‘about’ means until I’m ready to stop.  Theirs may well mean at least two minute before then!

Anyway, from now on I shall simply become more and more boringly fixated on packing and warm layers and weights (How much do all these warm layers weigh and will I have space for my Tripod!!!!!!  which, being heavy, cold metal, I probably won’t use anyway)  And OMG, how big is a hand baggage*?

So last night, I sat down to make plans and noticed an irritating arrangement of books on my computer shelf.  Two hours later I was well into viewing, labelling and storing a half dozen photo CDs which have been hanging around for ages (I checked – 2 years) and my shelf looked much more rational (to me, that is 🙂  So now I seem to be downloading a lot of photos one of which I remember being particularly exciting at the time.  It’s got cherries in it and that’s got to be good hasn’t it?

Cherries - Life?

Cherries - Life?

See you all when I get back.  Whenever my brain isn’t frozen, I’ll think of you all.  xxx

*My researches into this subject led me to a very pleasant sounding Swedish airline employee who was as helpful as a person can be without actually being able to tell me if the Swedish airline would let me take the camera in a separate bag.

If I take my DSLR with all its bits and bobs, and also a very small, woman’s purse, they will let me fly.

If I take a computer sized bag and also a tiny camera they will let me fly.

If I take a baggage sized bag and a DSLR sized bag full of camera and bits and bobs, they will not let me fly.

However, if I took a baggage sized bag and a computer bag they would let me fly.

???

!

Nice, helpful and posessed , as he was, of a delightful Swedish accent and a sense of humour, he was unable to tell me if they would let me fly with a baggage sized bag and a not very tiny camera bag containing only my camera!  Anyway, I haven’t got a camera bag.  My camera lives in my rucksack in an insulated lunch bag : )

February 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

There was a big orange moon outside a while ago and lots of stars.

Later the moon was big and white and the stars looked pretty much the same. I know this because I have been wandering in and out in various layers of wintery garb in the hope of finding out which, if any, combination will keep me warm in Lapland.  Only, exasperatingly it’s been ridiculously mild and not even very windy, all night, so far.

Where is the British winter when you need it?

I’ve found a combination that keeps me warm while sitting at the computer though : )  and since I’m sitting there now, why not see what the temperatures are now, up there in Lapland.

OMG!   Quite cold then.

Well I’ve a few jobs to do and it’s quite late so I shall wander off and consider frozen water.  Nononono – I mean I shall consider drying clothes and washing and tomorrows tasks and Oh! I forgot.  I did get some boots today.  These are a belated present from Barney (We couldn’t think of anything at Christmas) and they are to wear for the actual wedding.  I said to the girl in the shop, I need something warm and fluffy to stand around for an hour in a freezing ice chapel which will stop my feet from freezing to the floor but will look quite nice.  You know I think she did very well considering that they had a run on warm clothing last week.  And Youngest says she doesn’t mind me wearing a pale purple woollie under my rather fabulous new coat (Long, black and Cashmere).  (And there will be the thermal vest under that and Long Johns and tights under the skirt and two pairs of socks and a fleece hat and ear muffs* and a purple scarf.  And the lovely sister in Law is making me a muff.  Furry inside and out : )

I’m getting quite obsessive about clothes!  So heres something completely different

the moon in a fork

the moon in a fork

A bit of a winter rainbow.

rainbow

rainbow

Old apple and young hazel trees

Apple and hazel

For ILTV

Sky blue pink dragons

Sky blue pink dragons

I had some ducks for Mel but I’ve mislaid them!  I’ll look again tomorrow

‘Night all 🙂

*I lied about the ear muffs – really I think I’ll just have to live with cold ears for a while.

February 14, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

If only I’d been a boy scout (I’d be more prepared?)

Well after the party, the snow melts away.

It’s amazing, yesterday’s death traps have turned back into paths and driveways, pavements, flights of steps and car parks.  Journeys have gone back to their normal distances and it seems not unbearable to consider swimming.  Today the sun shone on the limp, brownish fields and large puddles of snow melt hung around in every dip in the roads.

It didn’t last long by most standards but it was the longest lying snow I remember in England for a few years.  (the timing was crap but isn’t that always the way).

And we suddenly realise that more snow is on our personal horizon – I hope that’s not melting because the one thing that might be colder and more uncomfortable than sleeping in an ice room in Lapland might be sleeping in a melting ice room – anywhere!

Anyway.  I have to get myself organised rather quickly as we have only a week before flying off to the genuinely and excessively frozen North.  Today, I bought 3 pairs of (slightly) woolly tights and a long sleeved thermal vest (I already bought some of those things but I feel as though I need more.)  I have only the vaguest idea of how the trip is organised so I don’t know how much time we will have to spend indoors (requiring lots of layers of our own) outdoors (wearing extra layers supplied by the hotel) or in between (requiring easily removable and replaceable layers compatible with the outdoor layers above mentioned).  A request for information from the important people who ought to know (ie Youngest and her partner) about how much money we might need, produced vague results!  But I feel we should take LOTS.  In case of emergencies.  Or in case the layers we get here turn out to be inadequate.  Or in case we go for a little walk in Lapland and get lost and need to hire a reindeer to get back to the hotel.  Or a helicopter rescue.  Or in case I see a really beautiful, warm, furry, cosy pair of boots somewhere between here and there and need to buy them.  Oh and I suppose we might want to eat?

Here is something quite entertaining.

(Long pause to argue with the computer over the link which didn’t work at first I wonder if it does now!)

Birthday Calculator

I have learnt that I was born in the year of the tiger

Tiger

under the sign of Saggitarius, (actually I knew that )

saggitarius

saggitarius

that my native american zodiac sign is the owl

owl

owl

and that my plant is the mistletoe.

mistletoe

mistletoe

My fortune cookie reads:  Much more grows in the garden than that which is planted there. (Quite an accurate fortune cookie then, especially when you consider our garden)

My birthstone is either the blue zircon, blue topaz, ruby or Lapis Lazuli.  (I think that depends on which traditional medecine or folk lore you consult – anyway, I’ll settle for something blueish and shiny) and my birth tree is the Ash.

There’s a lot more stuff which I haven’t learnt.  It’s either too silly or too difficult.  A lot of minutes and seconds were involved though.

All in all, I’m quite happy to be an owl in the year of the tiger and I like blue shiny things.  Gardens?  I like weeds and unplanted stuff.  Oh that reminds me, one of my bamboo plants fell down in the snow.  I hope it gets up again soon.

Do tell me what you learn about your birth – things : )

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A bit more moonlit snow.  With shadows : )

The last few days, what with late (even later) nights and drunken evenings and general veering from hysteria to relief and back again have reduced me to  a slightly glassy-eyed and less than coherant state.  Probably I need to sleep some more?  Yes.  Probably I do.  I’ll try it anyway.

I hope you are all sleeping lots too and keeping nice and warm.  We need more sleep (and warmth) in Winter don’t you think?

warmth

warmth

February 11, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 11 Comments

The party’s over

And all I can say is I am damn lucky to be married to the man I am and I’m damn proud of our kids.

Oh and it was a bust.

And what a lot of nice people we know (90 odd and counting…….)

And everyone’s gone to bed and after doing their Dad proud with small, perfectly formed speeches (Eldest and Youngest), singing like a bruised angel (Youngest) and conducting the occasion like a pro (Mrs Middle One) they even found time to flatter their Mum : )

Now I shall go to bed a  happy bunny – not least because it’s all over (bar the actual birthday and the tidying up) and the birthday boy was  happy too.

Sleep well.

(It has been pointed out that I meant to say it was a blast not a bust 🙂

February 8, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Various excitements

I’ve just noticed that Word Press has something called turbo!  I wonder what that is?

Anyway,  today, we cooked chilli and baked potatoes for 90, a huge heap of chicken legs, an enormous bowl of couscous and um something else.

Later, I went to collect glasses from Waitrose and was tempted – perhaps foolishly, to nip into a parking place in the woods and take some snowy photos.  (Thinking, it’s a bit irresponsible but after all what with party preparations and stuff, I’ve hardly seen this snow, let alone taken pics of it).  Well the back wheels flopped neatly into a rut and spun a lot!

Oops.  (Actually what I thought was quite unprintable but highly coloured).   So I got out, considered the car, crunched into the woods a little way, swearing a lot, took three or four photos very quickly and went back to consider strategies.  In the end it seemed most sensible to scrape some snow out from behind the wheels and back out of the rut.  Amazingly this worked!  I was impressed with my coolness and saved from the  ignominy of having to call Barney to come to my rescue and the embarrassment of having to explain why I had chosen to leave the road instead of getting to the shops and home again as quickly and carefully as possible.  Instead of being sensible even.  (Not that any explanation would have been needed.  He does know me quite well : )

Later still, I decided that, having been thwarted in one attempt to get some snow pics, I would go out and get snow pics in the moonlight!  This seemed like a brilliant idea until I found out how completely frozen the afternoon’s slush had become.  No problem.  just a question of picking my way along the crunchy bits of mud and crispy slush at the side of the road, occasionally using the tripod as a sort of three-legged walking stick.  Sadly, most of the photos came out rather blurry.  I haven’t found out how to make the camera autofocus at night, nor can I understand how to do it manually in the dark.

Never mind.  there were stars : )

stars and stripes

stars and stripes

February 7, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

SNOW!!! :)

I know it’s a pain and I know it causes trouble.

But isn’t it fun!

These kids obviously thought sodsc_6350-1

And it seems they thought I should be included in the fun – spot the ball?

dsc_6378-1

So we had a running snowball/camera fight : )  I snapped away and they hurled snow

dsc_6390-1

And eventually, I got a shot of the ball arriving and gave them a thumbs up and wobbled and slithered back to the safety of the car.

dsc_6396-1

A more peaceful scene on the way home

dsc_6461-1

: )

dsc_6217-1

Oops!  The phone’s going again.  Sometimes I really hate organising things!

Bye : )

February 5, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick

Was the title of a Monty Python Review in the seventies.  However it should go on record that there was a folk group of that name (shortened to Poke in the Eye) some time before the Review.  On Saturday next, Poke in the Eye will be reunited (oddly enough this often happens when Barney or I have a birthday).  Better still, the reunion will include all four founder members of the group – unbeknownst to Birthday Boy, Alan, who left the group quite early and who we haven’t seen since he left, will be coming too!

So tonight, John and us two, had a practice.  We attempted to introduce to the practice a number of songs that Alan says he can remember and could manage but Barney was exasperatingly fixed on several other songs.  We were hard put to it to get a set together that Alan sang any of.  And of course we couldn’t thwart Barney too openly since it’s his do!  It’s really hard to practice with one invisible, unheard member who just happens to be a hundred miles or so away.  Especially when you can’t mention him.  And of course, it seemed pretty silly to insist on doing songs that we stopped doing when he left!

Nonetheless, by the end of the evening, we were beginning to sound as though we knew each other a bit and even as though we were all singing (and playing) the same music.  I must say, it’s ever so restful just singing.*  That is, once my voice had recovered from the shock and my smoke abused lungs had remembered how to fit extra air in where needed 🙂

There was a good deal of creaking and coughing and random noise and I will need to practice A Lot!  But it shouldn’t be too embarrassing 🙂

So that’s one thing going well.

It’s occurred to me that I should consider decorations.  Ah, I wish you were all here to help.  I’m completely without inspiration.  All I can think of is to tie a few bundles of reed to the walls and add ribbons and maybe some balloons!  But no visions are coming to me about how the hall should look!  OMG – Tables – we need things to put on the tables – cloths or paper or something!  I guess I could go round ripping lengths of ivy off the trees and I could get Barney to provide some bundles of reed?   Or we could just blow up a lot of balloons and settle for that!  I need to go shopping.  (Again ?!  My feet hurt just thinking about it)

Ooh!  and I’ve just looked at the weather forecast – we’ve got snow promised for half of next week!**  Well decorations or no decorations, snow will be allowed to intervene!

*As opposed to hauling out a fiddle, struggling to get it in tune and then trying to remember which way up it ought to be)

**  Yay!  Snow came.  It’s gone again now and I havn’t had time to do anything much with the photos but some time soon there will be some : )

February 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

good enough is going to have to do

When you have to answer that question “do you work well under pressure”  my true answer would be something like “well at least I do work under pressure.”

In fact until the pressure arrives, all I usually do is think a bit and imagine stuff and make a lot of lists.  then I look at what I’ve thought and think a bit more and discard some of the ideas and add different, even more ambitious ones.  Then I think a bit more and discard most of them and eventually, pressure arrives and I think “well good enough will have to do!”  Then I do it.  Usually it is good enough.

Annoyingly, I’ve never learnt to skip the add and discard stages or at least to get them over with quickly.  So when I get to the good enough stage, there’s usually quite a lot of pressure and not much time.  Since this is the only way I seem to work, it means as soon as I start planning anything (from tomorrow’s shopping to a major party) my first thought is well I don’t suppose I’ll get to do everything I want to do so it’s really just a question of putting up with whatever does get done.  Boring boring  😦  why bother  😦   is it all worth it  😦   grumble grumble, lot of work for not enough result  😦

Then I get into the planning, adding, discarding, panicking stage and finally, since I know from experience that stuff usually does happen in the end, a sort of  fatalistic slow gathering of will and intention (as I remember that it won’t happen unless I actually do some of it) which gets more and more intense and focussed until I resemble something small, fast and waspish, zipping about, cursing, snapping and being short to other slow people (who are still working in normal time).  My phone manner becomes abrupt and busy, my conversation becomes single track and my hair is a mess.  From time to time a little voice in the back of my head says things like

don’t forget to get your hair cut /why oh why didn’t I start doing this earlier /OMG I forgot to feed the cats this morning / CUPS/CURTAINS/DOG BISCUITS*

Calendars and notes and dates float past my eyes when I’m falling asleep.

It’s not very efficient!  But it looks quite good : )

On this (momentous) occasion of Barney’s enormous birthday, there’s an added complication or two, in that two weeks after the party there’s another major event which, thank heavens I’m not planning but I do need to make sure I’m ready for it and a few weeks after that, we are going on one of our big holidays (any excuse will do but this time it’s the Barney birthday holiday**) and there’s a few very important things we need well in advance – like visas and immunisations.  Which I suddenly remembered last night!

Right.    The first thing is to make a list.  Definitely.  I wonder when exactly pressure mode will kick in?  It’s about time it did!***

And  Oh look!  I’m not even making a list – I’m just quickly doing a blog post.  Well that won’t get anything done.  (Ah, but I am trying out my new thermal underwear.   Which ought to be keeping me warm don’t you think.  I suppose I’d be even colder if I wasn’t wearing it?  Better go outside and see how it performs in the howling gale and freezing wind chill which is supposed to be bringing us SNOW!!!!!)

not this kind of snow

(not this kind of snow, the sort that's still there an hour later)

I’m off!  got things to panic about.  You can keep calm though ok?

*The only way to alter the size of print in a wordpress blog is to make it a paragraph style.    So all small things, like little voices in the back of my head have to have their own paragraph.  Ridiculous!

**Other times it’s been anniversaries and milleniums and ‘the children have all left home’ kinds of excuses : )

***It’s no wonder I spend half my life peering up at a mountain of things I haven’t done yet but which must be done before something else runs out!

February 1, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments