Lapland autumn 2009 – 20th and 21st September

The first task of the morning was to row the boys around the lake to collect up the boats.

collecting boats (Small)

As well as numerous Willow Tits feeding around the cabin this morning

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there were also two Siberian Tits.

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After lunch we drove back to Gallivare.

I had bought some sheath leather and sewing thread while shopping and wanted to make a knife sheath for a knife I had given to Teres.  I used Birch bur, Birch bark, Reindeer and Roe deer antler to make the handle.

Knife 2008 (816 x 612) (Medium)

I soaked the leather in water for 24 hours to soften it.  I cut a plastic insert to the length of the blade (to prevent the blade cutting through the stitching whenever the knife is withdrawn from the sheath) and then moulded the leather around the knife.  Using clips to hold the ends of the leather together

clamping sheath (Large)

I stitched the leather together using a “saddle stitch” and added some patterning to the front with a blunted nail

front view sheath (Large)

I left a lip of leather at the back and cut out the middle.  It is through this that a belt loop will be attached

side view sheath (Large)

Here is the completed sheath along with the kåsa I also carved for her

kasa and sheath (Medium)

Lapland autumn 2009 – 19th September

Heard a strange, regular noise in the forest behind the cabin first thing this morning.  It was clear that whatever was making the noise was moving from left to right.  I telephoned Anki and Ingvar at their cabin and they immediately identified it as a Reindeer with a bell around its neck.

After breakfast I went to the area where I had left the tipi poles tied to a tree to dry, when I was at my cabin in the spring.

tipi poles (Small)

I had tied the poles around the tree so that they did not bend as they dried and it had worked very well

tipi poles erected (Small)

I spent a lot of the day carving a kåsa as a gift for Anki for her birthday.  The boys had enjoyed making and watching the boats floating on the lake and so I came up with the idea of adding tea-light candles to the boats to enable us to watch them on the lake at night.

Boats at night

And when one caught fire that added to the enjoyment for the boys.  Here is a piece of video of the boats when we first put them on the lake

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The new birds for my list today were Siberian Tit and Bullfinch

Lapland autumn 2009 – Surströmming

During my last three visits to Lapland my friends have spoken of “Surströmming”, a delicacy and favoured food of the people of the north.  It is in fact fermented herring which has been caught in the Baltic Sea.  The herring is fermented in barrels for two months with just enough salt added to prevent the fish rotting (a process that began many centuries ago when supplies of salt for preservation were low are expensive to buy) and then tinned where the fermentation process continues.  When the tins are purchased they are often bulged by the fermentation gases into a rounder shape and due to the over power smell released when the tin is opened, they are generally opened outside, the brown liquid poured off and then brought into the home.

surstromming tin (Medium)

This is exactly what Ingvar did when the family gathered for my first taste of Surströmming and he insisted I join him outside to really “savour the aroma” as the seal was burst!   I do not think I can find words to describe the overpowering stench that penetrated my nostrils and almost immediately made me begin to retch.  The tins were left for a couple of minutes and then brought into the cabin.

surstromming tin open (Medium)

Inside the tins are whole herrings complete with guts inside.  I could only stand to be in the cabin for short periods before having to retreat outside.  This next picture says it all really!

The smell (Large)

A fish is removed from the tin, the guts and bones removed and then the meat scraped from the skin.  This is placed on Tunnbröd (thin bread) with potato, salad, mayonnaise  and onion.  With everyone watching and trying not to breath in the smell I took my first bite…….immediately I started reaching and had to rush outside but in the fresh air it was not so bad and I managed to eat my salty fermented fish sandwich.

Why on earth people find this stuff  so good I really do not know and its not something I would be in a hurry to eat again but I am reliably informed that after a couple of years of eating it the smell really doesn’t bother you…..yeh right!

The event was fortunately not filmed but here is a link to a slightly exaggerated version of my experience from YouTube where there are many more hilarious videos of peoples first experience of surstromming

Lapland autumn 2009 – 18th September

There are some beautiful scenes across the lake on cold, misty autumn mornings.

mist over lake

To provide more of a feel for the this scene I took a small piece of video

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After breakfast I took Teres and Emma for a row around the lake

Teres and Emma (Large)

and later we walked through the forest to a large about 1 hours walk away.

walking in the forest (Small)

The previous evening I had demonstrated the flammable properties  of Club Moss spores

Club Moss spore fire (450 x 600)

photograph by Jonny Pickett

and Seb (AKA “Mini Me”) was keen to collect spore tops to obtain the spores.

collecting club moss tops (Small)

When we reached the lake the boys got a fire going and we cooked sausage and bread and then marsh mallows

cooking lunch (Small)

by the fire (Small)

As we walked back to the cabin I noticed bear tracks crossing our previous tracks but we saw no bear.  Emma collected berries as we walked back but as you can see…..she seemed to eat more than she collected

Emma collecting blueberies (Small)

I was in no rush to get back to the cabin because I knew what we would be eating at Anki’s cabin that evening…..but more about that next time!

Bird sightings included; 2 Raven, 1 Jay, 3 Siberian Jay, 3 Goldeneye flew past,  1 Great spotted Woodpecker, Willow Tit  and several Waxwings

Lapland autumn 2009 – 17th September

Teres’s children had been given time off school to join us at the cabin, to learn more about nature and improve their English.  Before driving back to the cabin I visited the Dollar Store to buy a variety of items with which the boys had to build boats to sail across the lake.

boat materials (Small)

In addition to the items I purchased they could also use any natural resources.

Seb and Emma where keen to try out my hammock

in the hammock (Small)

Emma spent more time trying to fall out of the hammock with much success I might add!!!

Emma in hammock (Small)

Ingvar had purchased a new axe shaft to replace one I had split

Ash shaft (Small)

so we went to Anki and Ingvar’s cabin to fit it and to have some lunch

P1020967 (816 x 612) (Small)

While splitting logs my chopping block had split in half and so Ingvar cut me a new one…..the easy way!!

Ingvar cutting new chopping block (Small)

Having spent some time teaching Seb how to use a firesteel he spent a lot of time trying to make fire and I was impressed at his determination to achieve fire…..and he did.

Seb with his first fire (Small)

In the evening the boys put their boats on the lake

Seb putting boat on lake (Medium)

and once the wind caught the sails we watched them race across the lake.

boats on lake

We had the perfect end to the evening with a nice display of the Northern Lights at about 10pm (unfortunately my picture isn’t as good as those of Tricia)

Northern lights

Lapland autumn 2009 – 15th September

While staying in Gallivare I travelled to Porjus which is about 50kms away or 5 Swedish miles (it is worth noting here that 1 Swedish mile = 10kms) .  I went there to meet with Tricia Cowern and her son Toby who both moved to Lapland from England.  I was interested to know why Tricia had decided to make the move to Porjus and how she finds living in Lapland.  Tricia writes for you below in her own words and provides the images;

I first came to Porjus in the summer of 1995, for a holiday with my youngest son. He was a participant is a survival course and I was here to enjoy some nature photography. After spending three weeks in the forest surrounded by a landscape which had no end, birds, animals and wonderful light, I had completely fallen in love with this wide and wild expanse.


I returned to my life in England, driving to and from Birmingham on the M6 three times a week as a book keeper. But my mind and energy were always in the forests of Lapland! 6 months later in January 1996 I returned to the forest but this time alone. I rented a small cabin in the forest with no electricity or water – just birds and animals for company. In January there are only 3 hours of daylight above the Arctic Circle. So these hours were spent collecting wood for the fire and drilling through the ice for water and trying to stay upright on skis. It is very difficult to read by candle light so 21 hours of the day were left for my own thoughts and sleep, along with the resident mice in the cabin!!! Breakfast was eaten outside sitting on a fallen tree with Siberian Jays


and Siberian Tits for company.


It is in this type of situations you realise what you take for granted. Water from a tap, a light switch, a toilet, toothpaste that is not frozen but these three weeks were the turning point of my life.

After making several returns visits, each one lasting longer and longer, in 1997 I made the decision to leave England and buy the old railway station house in Porjus. As well as my home, Porjus became the centre of my photographic work by opening a Photo Gallery in the summer of 1998 in the station house.


During the first year in Porjus I developed a fascination and passion for photographing the very special and unique Arctic Light.


So many visitors to the north only see the midnight sun of summer. This is wonderful but to me the best time is during winter.


The Northern Lights occur the whole year but we can only see them from late August to early April. There is too much daylight in the spring and summer. My photography covers many subjects but my personal passion is capturing The Northern Light on camera.


During the past 10 years I have accumulated many thousands of images of the Aurora Borealis.


This has resulted in photographic exhibitions and photo presentations far and wide – Paris, Tokyo, Cape Town, Poland, Finland and Sweden.

During 2003 I made an acquaintance with a Japanese man and this has resulted in a project to enable people to see the Northern Lights ‘live ‘ via 5 web cameras situated in my house. Yoshi Maejima controls the cameras from Tokyo and he has written a unique computer program which archives all of the photographs taken by the cameras from the start of the project in December 2005 until today. He also converts the still photographs into short movies if the activity of Northern Lights are particularly good.

In recent years Northern Lights have become more and more of a fascination to people. Many companies have started to offer ‘Northern Lights holidays’. To me, the Northern Lights’ are a phenomenon that everyone should have the chance to experience at least once in a lifetime but not in the company of 500 other people. I understand how, why and when Northern Lights occur BUT please bear in mind I cannot control the weather!!!! With this in mind in 2003 I moved a building which is now situated next to the station house. It is possible to sit in the window of your bedroom and see the Northern Lights – weather permitting. Better still, go outside and experience the full effect of the Northern Lights by lying on your back in the snow and letting the Northern Lights light up the sky over head and perform their ‘ magic dance!’. If visitors stay with me they have the advantage there is an’ all night alert´ – if Northern Lights are visible, you can be woken up in the middle of the night! I can provide still photographs; I can provide film of the Northern Lights BUT the best experience you can have is to see this amazing natural phenomena yourself, in your own company ( we have the space) or at most with only a handful of other people ( if you wish) In Porjus we can experience Northern Lights from September to early April.

I also offer photographic courses for new and amateur photographers.

Welcome to my home and my world where ‘I live in the photograph! ’.

Tricia  –

Lapland autumn 2009 – 12th September

I began the day cooking breakfast and making a batch of pinn bröd dough

making pinn brod (Large)

Teres was keen to help me ;>)

Teres helping make bread

I cooked the breads on the top of my woodburning stove

baking pinn brod

My neighbours were at their cabin for the day and there grandson was collecting blue berries and threading them onto a grass stem.  Apparently many children do this and them eat the berries later.

threading blue berries on grass stem (Small)

We were due to eat food at Anki’s cabin in the afternoon and so we walked there through the forest.

forest view (Small)

I love this view at any time of year

forest view-2 (Small)

Teres’ sister Jenny and her husband Hasse were also there

family (Small)

We cooked sausage and later Anki cooked a meal for us.  Anki used to work as a chef and I always look forward to her cooking!

bbq at Anki's cabin (Small)

We went walking after our evening meal and although we saw no birds or other wildlife the autumn colours at sunset made up for it

evening view (Medium)

Birds seen today; 1 Redpoll, 1 Song Thrush singing, Raven, Redwing, Greenfinch, Siberian Jay, Willow Tit, Crossbill, Brambling, and 1 Willow Warbler.

The following day we drove back to Gallivare for a few days.