My first trip to Lapland

I thought I would take a step back in time and write about my first visit to Swedish Lapland in September 2006.

My friend Eckhardt had invited me to visit him and his family and spend some time at his cabin in the forest

This was the first view I had of his cabin and I never imagined that nine months later I would be buying it

I spent time walking in the forest and exploring

helping with work around the cabin


fishing and rowing on the lake (didn’t catch anything of course!)

and tracking animals

Ekhardt also taught me how to drink warm, salt water through my nose to help treat congestion and cold symptoms.

I had such a great time and was determined to return again soon.

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a plastic insert to the length of the blade (to prevent the blade cutting through the stitching whenever the knife is withdrawn from the sheath) and then moulded the leather around the knife.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 – 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.

Lapland autumn 2009 – 10th September

I arrived at Gallivare airport at 21:20 on 8th September and my girlfriend Teres was there to meet me.  I spent the following day with her and her family and we went shopping for food.  We visited the butchers in Gallivare

butchers (Medium)

to purchase  meat products including this sausage (korv in Swedish)

sausage (Small)

On 10th we drove to my cabin and I was able to drive in Sweden for the first time.  At this time of year the forest track is dry enough to get the car to the cabin.

driving in Sweden

As we passed an area of marsh near the cabin there were a pair of Whooper Swans swimming around.

After cleaning the cabin we made a fire in the stove, cooked coffee and our first meal.

first meal together (Large)

Our first meal was spaghetti, cheese, fried sausage and olives.

first meal (Medium)

I spent the afternoon splitting some of the Birch logs I had collected in May

splitting birch (Small)

I set up my hammock in the trees and Teres was keen to try it

Teres in hammock (Small)

It was obviously a good year for berries  and we spent some time collecting them

lingon berries (Small)

I spent the evening carving a couple of pieces of Birch I had split earlier.

carving birch (Small)

Birds seen were; Great Tit, 3 Siberian Jay, Mistle Thrush, Crossbills, White Wagtail, Robin and Great-spotted Woodpecker.

Lapland Spring 2009 – 5th June

This morning I cleaned and closed up my cabin for the summer.  Hopefully I will be returning for a couple of weeks in the autumn.  My friend Teres came to collect me late morning and we drove to Gallivare where I sampled some fast food Lapland style.  Shredded Reindeer meat with salad, Lingon berries and sauce in a bun…..delicious!

Lapland fast food (Large)

I spent the afternoon with Anki and Ingvar and having heard about a slaughter house and butchers in Gallivare I was keen to visit and buy some items to try.  In the picture below there is Reindeer and Moose salami, Reindeer sausage and  at the bottom “dunka” which is made from smoked Reindeer meat and is fantastic.

meat products from slaughter house (Small)

I also enjoyed this dried, salted Reindeer heart.  You cut very thin slices to chew.

Dry saltyed Reideer heart (Medium)

In the evening Anki and Ingvar’s whole family came to visit and Anki made a traditional Swedish food “Potatis palt”, which is grated potato mixed with flour made into dumplings and stuffed with pork fat

poatato palt (Large)

I enjoyed it so much and here is a recipe I have found for you.

Potato palt (816 x 612) (Medium)

At 07:30 the next morning I would be on a plane on my way back to England.  Here are the bird species I recorded during this trip with new species in bold.

Black-throated Diver, Whooper Swan, Wigeon, Mallard, Teal, Goldeneye, Smew, Goosander, Hen Harrier, Goshawk, Golden Eagle, Kestrel, Capercaillie, Black Grouse, Hazel Grouse, Common Crane, Lapwing, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Ruff, Curlew, Whimbrel, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Snipe, Cuckoo, Swift, Black Woodpecker, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Swallow, House Martin, Tree Pipit, White Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Waxwing, Redstart, Fieldfare, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, Willow Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Raven, Hooded Crow, Chaffinch, Brambling, Siskin, Bullfinch, Redpoll, Crossbill, Parrot Crossbill, Yellowhammer, Rustic Bunting, Reed Bunting and a possible Pine Grosbeak but not confirmed.

Lapland Spring 2009 – May 21st

Left Gallivare early and Anki drove me to my cabin.  We had to stop briefly to allow some Reindeer to cross the road.

reindeer crossing road (Large)

My first task was to check for damage, unlock all doors and remove the protective boards from the cabin windows.

cabin windows (Medium)

With temperatures in the mid to late 20’s before I arrived, it was a very different scene

P1020339 (816 x 612) (Small)

to what I had encountered at the same time last year

Clearing snow again (816 x 612) (Large)

I had with me a huge Reindeer skin which I had bought at Jokkmokks marknard in winter and Anki and Ingvar had stored for me.

Reindeer skin (Small)

Once I had got the boat out onto the lake I rowed to the far end to collect fresh drinking water from the spring

going to fetch water (Medium)

The spring water is beautifully clear and refreshing

drinking spring water (Small)

I made fire in the stove but found that the chimney was blocked and so had to climb on to the roof to sweep the chimney.

P1020345 (816 x 612)

The problem was a mouse which had made a nest inside the chimney.  With the chimney cleared I was able to make fire and and boil water for coffee.

In the evening I decided to walk to the marsh

marsh (Small)

There were lots of birds on the marsh including; 20 Ruff displaying, Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Wood Sandpipers, 5 displaying Lapwing (there were none last year), many Scandinavian race Yellow Wagtails with dark heads and as I was watching a Common Crane flew in and landed.  On the ground around me there were many Cranberries remaining from last autumn which I collected to eat

Cranberries (Small)

The marsh is a very dangerous place.  You are supported on a thick mat of Sphagnum moss and other vegetation but if you break through the surface there is nothing below

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While in Gallivare I had bought a pair of wellington boots to enable me to get around on the marsh.  Unfortunately the left foot had a fault and was not water resistant and so I got a wet foot

boots (Medium)

I spent the rest of the evening relaxing and birdwatching around the cabin and saw many species; Redpoll, Pied Flycatcher, Brambling, Great tit, White Wagtail. Common Sandpiper, Siskin, Tree Pipit, Goosander, House Martin, Crossbills, Waxwing, Spotted Flycatcher, Swallow, Raven, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Tufted Duck, Green Sandpiper, Curlew, Cuckoo, Chaffinch, Great spotted Woodpecker, Goldeneye and Smew.

Lapland Spring 2009 – 18th & 19th May

I arrived at Gallivare airport at 21:20 having left my home at 07:20 the same morning.  My friends Teres and Jenny were there to greet me and took my to the home of their parents and my friends Anki and Ingvar.  They had a meal ready for me and after a brief chat with Ingvar he headed off to bed as his next shift working in the mine commenced at 4am.  I went to bed just after midnight and here is the view from their window at 00:15

P1020322 (816 x 612)

Next morning I was expecting to travel to my cabin but Anki had a surprise for me.  Ingvar had arranged for me to visit and go down into the mine to see how they extract the most important component for steel axe and knife blades…..Iron.  The visit was arranged for the following afternoon (Wednesday) and so I had an extra day to spend in Gallivare.

I decided to go for a walk in the nearby woods and soon found a fine example of True tinder fungus Inonotus obliquus, used for firelighting and to make a tea and treat some forms of cancer.

True tinder fungus (Small)

Fieldfares and Pied Flycatchers were also nesting in the trees.  Ingvar finished his shift at 14:00 and we headed into town to buy some alcohol as they were planning a party for my birthday later the same week.

In Sweden the sale of alcohol is state controlled and to purchase wine and spirits you must visit a “System Bolaget”

P1020323 (816 x 612) (Large)

This is from their website;

“Systembolaget, the Swedish Alcohol Retail Monopoly, exists for one reason: To minimize alcohol-related problems by selling alcohol in a responsible way, without profit motive.

The first alcohol monopoly ever started in the mid 1800s in Sweden. It worked so well that the model was spread all over the country. In 1955, the local companies were merged to form a single, national Systembolaget company, a concept which still works.

Systembolaget’s product range is actually one of the most comprehensive in the world. It is being developed continuously to match changes in trends and in the consumers’ tastes.”

The rest of the day was spent chatting and eating and I went to bed that evening with the visit to the mine on my mind.  Not only because it was happening the next day, but also between 00:00 and 04:00 explosives are set off in the mine and you can feel the ground shuddering as this takes place!!