I boarded the National Express coach at 1am on Saturday morning (17th May) and after a three hour journey, arrived at Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5. Unfortunately my flight for Stockholm did not depart until 11:15am, but at least there were no delays with our departure.
We touched down at Stockholm Arlanda Airport at 14:50 local time and after collecting my bag, I boarded a train to Stockholm Central Station. I then transferred to the night train to Gallivare for my 16 hour journey. I was sharing my carriage with 5 other people who were travelling further north for a skiing trip.
Here are my friends for the train journey; Richard, Johnny, Camilo, Madeiene, Emilia and Axel. We had good fun and lots of laughs and they were teaching me more Swedish and was teaching them English.
At 9am on 18th May the train arrived in Gallivare station and after saying my goodbyes, I left the train and walked to the town centre. I had decided not to bring a knife with me, but to instead buy one from a shop in town. It was snowing and -1 degrees and no shops opened until 11am, so I sat around and waited. Once open I bought basic provisions, but could find nowhere that was selling knives! Then met with my friend Merete for coffee and then at 3pm my friend Kent (my taxi driver) picked me up and we commenced the one hour drive to the cabin. I told Kent that I had been unable to buy a knife, so he telephoned his daughters boyfriend to ask if I could borrow one. We stopped to pick up the knife on the way to the cabin and rather than loaning me the knife, he gave it to me and would take nothing for it.
When we turned off the main road and onto the forest track to my cabin, we found that it was blocked by a bank of ice and snow left by the snow plough.
Without a shovel it was impossible to move the snow and it was obvious that I would have to walk the 4km to the cabin. Kent was concerned about recent problems with Brown Bears and told me I must sing and make lots of noise to scare them away. Having paid him the taxi fare I set off on my walk to the cabin. I decided to leave my food and some kit in a tree, to return the following day to collect it and with a much lighter load continued on my way. The first birds I encountered were Wood Sandpipers displaying above me and calling from the forest and then Greenshank and Spotted Redshank displaying.
I was surprised to find as i approached the cabin that the lake was still frozen and there was still up to a metre of snow around the cabin.
The last kilometre was very hard going because the snow was deep and each step I took I disappeared at least up to my knee, but finally I arrived at the cabin
I called Kent to let him know I had arrived and was amazed to find that he had driven home to get a shovel, come and cleared the bank of snow, collected my food stash and was on his way to the cabin. I walked back through the snow and met him. Kent said that he did not want me being here without being able to get to me incase there was a problem and when I asked how much I owed him for doing this, he refused to take any money and said “friendship means much more to me than money”……….