Operation next week

I still can’t get out and about much at the moment, but the good news is that I will have my hernia operation next Tuesday (20/05/2014).

I have been taken some photographs, so I thought I would show some of them below.

I managed to get within 4 metres of the this Beaver, feeding along the edge of a stream

beaver-2014 (Medium)

beaver3-2014 (Small) beaver2-2014 (Small)

Here are some more Brambling pictures ( we have over 200 in the garden each day now).

male brambling-1 (Small) male brambling-3 (Small) male brambling-2 (Small) brambling-1 (Small)

We also have at least 6 Short-eared Owls displaying around the village at the moment (a sign that the small mammal population has increased significantly again).  I haven’t yet got any really good pictures of them yet, but I’m working on it.

short-eared owl

Capercaillie display

I have never been fortunate enough to find a location where Capercaillie display, but while out searching last Sunday, I found a single male displaying.

capercaillie display lapland

If you have never seen Capercaillie display, search on YouTube as there are several clips to watch.

It was already getting dark when I located this bird so unfortunately I could not get any good quality images.

capercaillie display sweden

I did manage to get a nice photo of two females standing by the side of the though.

female capercaillie lapland

It is a little early in the season for Capercaillie to be displaying but hopefully over the next couple of weeks I will find more.

A new front wall in the veranda

A took a the day off on Friday and so we travelled to the cabin on Thursday evening for a long weekend.  My thinking was that I would have more time to do the work I needed to do……..unfortunately it rained all day on Saturday!!

My task over the weekend was to remove the front wall from the veranda and build a new one; which included building a 2 metre x 1 metre double glazed window.

I started by raising up the roof using a piece of 4×2  screwed across all the roof joists and two posts pushed under to lift up the roof clear of the wall

roof supported (Large)

I then removed the inside and outside walls and the windows

removing front wall

Once the hole wall had been removed, I could start building the new one.  The new wall has one large window in the front.  Here is the hole where the window would be.

building new wall inside (Medium)

I had to build a series of supports onto the wall, so that the wall and window can support snow on the roof during the winter.

building new wall outside (Large)

The section on the left in the picture above , which overhangs the food cellar will eventually be removed.  In this picture you can see that I have already began building the frame of the new side wall inside of the old one.  The black paper you can see is impregnated with bitumen and helps stop drafts and protect the insulation.

building wall inside (Medium)

On the outside I screwed batons to the wall and then screwed boards onto the batons.  An air space is left between the boards and then a board is screwed over the airspace.  This way the wall has air circulating and prevents damp and mould.

building new wall-1 (Large)

I did manage to get the double glazed window build and fitted in place, but because it rained all day on Saturday I unfortunately did not have enough time to get the outside of the wall finished.


building new wall-2

Raising the roof

I have had a stressful weekend at the cabin, because I had to remove, raise and replace the veranda roof  before we travelled home on Sunday evening.

My first task was to remove the corrugated tin, which I had to do carefully because it needed to go back on the roof once all work was completed.

raising the roof-1 (Large)

And then remove the roof joists

raising the roof-2 (Medium)

raising the roof-3 (Medium)

I had to cut the new roof joists to the right length and fix them in the right positions with 60cms between each one.  Once all the joists were in position I had to cover the roof with a water tight membrane and then fix laths on top.

replacing roof (Large)

Here are the new roof joists which are much ticker than the previous ones and so much stronger.

replacing roof-2

My final task was to put the corrugated tin back on the roof and screw them in place.

replacing roof-3

Sebastian helped with some of the work and was a great help.  He also cooked bannock breads as a snack for us!

sebastian cooking (Large)

Emma helped me fix up a double level nest box for Lapland Swifts (which next in holes in trees) which we are trying to encourage to nest at the cabin.

lapland swift nestbox

Wallpapering and leveling the cabin

Last weekend we were at the cabin.  Teres spent Friday evening applying filler to the walls to ensure they were level, so that she could later apply wallpaper.

levelling cabin wall (Large)

On Saturday morning Teres glued a special thick wallpaper to the walls which also helps to create a flat surface to apply the actual wallpaper to.

Then on Sunday morning she started applying the wallpaper to the walls.

teres wallpapering

By late afternoon Teres have completed the wallpapering.

wall papered (Large)

room papered (Large)

Spent the weekend digging under both the cabin and sauna, and then using a bottle jack to raise up the cabin and sauna, to make them level.  In the picture below, you can see that the cabin has dropped slightly, though the veranda is level.

cabin movement (Medium)

Once raised up, I placed pieces of wood on the pillars to keep the cabin level.

raising cabin and sauna (Large)

I have also has my Little Acorn camera fixed to a tree at the cabin for three weeks, but the only picture it has taken is of this Pine Marten (Martes martes).

pine marten

Laleh in Nattavaara

Laleh Pourkarim is an Iranian-born Swedish singer-songwriter and former actress. She uses her given name Laleh as her stage name.  Her song “Some Die Young” was the most played song on Swedish radio in 2012.

Yesterday Laleh visited Nattavaara with a film crew who are making a film about her and her life.  They wanted to film her playing the piano in Hembygdsgarden (an old school).

Nattavaara Hembygdsgarden

I spent the  morning cleaning all the rooms and clearing snow outside the building.

At 1pm we started preparing food for their evening meal

preparing lunch nattavaara (Medium)

They were delayed filming at another location and did not arrive until 5pm.  After setting up film equipment

preparing filming (Medium)

and tuning the piano

tuning piano (Large)

they ate the meal we had prepared

laleh in nattavaara

They spent two hours filming  and recording her playing the piano and singing.

laleh playing the piano

We all had a great time and look forward to seeing the program on Swedish TV later this year.


The Nattavaara Boat Race

I do not need crutches to get around now, but I am still in  a lot of pain and when I cannot get out and about I have little to blog about unfortunately.  It’s typical that after almost two and a half years without a full-time job, I then get a full-time job but am unable to work!!

Anyway, last week was Sweden’s National Day celebrations and here in Nattavaara i had promised to run an activity for children.  The The celebrations take place beside a large stream so I decided to run a boat race.  At the start of the competition each boat would be dropped from a bridge on to the water.

Each child was given a plastic bag containing the same items; two sheets of card, 5 elastic bands, 8 corks, 4 serviettes, 1 long thick kebab stick (pointed at both ends), 6 thin kebab sticks and 4 30cm long pieces of dental floss

I built a boat using only the materials provided to give them an idea of what could be done (I added a parachute to help control the decent of the boat when dropped from the bridge)

Each child had to work together with a parent to build a boat

The parents were just as enthusiastic as the children!!

At 2pm everyone gathered on the bridge and then released their boats

Unfortunately all the boats tipped over due to the water current which made it difficult to see whose boat was whose (each child had written their name on the sail of their boat).  The finish line was 100 metres down stream and I stood there with a pair of binoculars to establish which boat won.  Fortunately there was enough of the boat showing above water to see who won.

Claire Brimson – guest blogger

I am a student nurse from Wales, UK studying on an exchange program in Oulu University Hospital Finland and also teach outdoor education including wilderness survival and bushcraft skills.  Whilst over in Finland, I wanted to travel, particularly into the outback areas and hopefully meet some like-minded people over here, so into the internet search engine I plugged ‘bushcraft finland/sweden’ and eventually turned up a guy based in Northern Sweden!  Checking him out, I realised he was also on the Bush craft forum, so I emailed him asking if he fancied meeting a ‘like-minded person’; never expecting a reply, I left it.  However, a few days later, there it was, an email from Kevin, and so internet action began and I fixed dates up to go across to meet the family in Nattavarraby, unsure of what exactly I was going to find and/or do when I got there!

My journey went from Oulu by train to Kemi, then bus to Tornio (Finnish boarder), hop across the bridge into Haparander (Swedish boarder), then bus to Hakkas

where Kevin’s partner picked me up where we drove through beautiful scenery not so dissimilar to that of the Boreal forests of Northern Canada and Alaskan tundra.  The whole journey took almost 12 hours of travelling.  My accommodation was in a cabin surrounded by spruce, birch and pine trees with reindeer moss and lingonberry tufts growing, birds singing and full daylight at night; a moose hide was airing drying on the old barn, whilst cut moose antler was sat on the cabin steps having obviously been used for making tools etc by the man himself.  It was beautiful and tranquil and I could understand why someone wanted to live out here.

The following day, I was taken up to the local meeting place (Byastagan) where local women were making a speciality flat bread – delicious, so we purchased some although I would have quite happily sat and eaten it all with blueberry and lingonberry jam alongside (where was the jam!!!).  We then headed up to the old school where visitors stay in log cabins – warm, bathroom facilities, tv and internet, all for 50 euros per night equates to a bargain! You certainly would not get that in the UK in surroundings of peaceful tranquility and enclosed by old forests over-looking the local village of Nattavarraby!

We then collect stuff to make birch bark container’s and headed back down to Kevin’s cabin and his house where I set to work making my pot.  I have made these before out of Cherry bark and Ash, however, I found the birch easy to work with and it was nice to use sinew.

Later that day, we went to Gallivare, the local town where there is a Sami craft shop selling some of Kevin’s work he has done.  The town is part of the Iron Ore Mine which is the major employer, along with the local Hospital for these town’s people, some of which are Sami folk.  On the way back, we passed reindeer and moose

with a lot of deforestation occurring; whilst the evening saw me re-inacting my youth by herding reindeer into a compound ready for tagging – an activity that is not really open for outsiders let alone women to be involved in!

Saturday saw us all heading out to the cabin in the middle of nowhere – and it really is miles from anything, but sat by a lake

surrounded by swamp marshes, pine, birch, spruce, juniper, lingon bushes.  Moose, bear and other animals live here and their prints show it along with their poo; here I finished my birch pot, adding lichens for traditional decoration.

Nattavarraby is beautiful, an island surrounded by a single river which breaks and re-joins downstream.  It is inhabited by both Swedish people traditional Sami.

There is much wildlife including beaver,

hare (white in the winter), reindeer, moose, many different birds and flora and fauna; a walk out into the back yard or through the forest with Kevin and he tells you every bird call or plant and its uses traditional uses.  If you want to learn to make fire, cook over an open fire, make your own plates, kusa, spatula, spoon, bowels, weave baskets, learn wildlife, see beaver, moose, bear or reindeer, or learn about plants etc, this is the place to come as he has an amazing amount of knowledge and his love of allowing and wanting you to learn and experience this is immense.  Kevin is patient, with a heart of gold and will always try to bring the best out in everything and everyone he meets; the person or people he is with he wants them to experience the best he and they can achieve and this will be done together.  He also is fluent in Swedish.  However, behind all of this in Kevin, is a good partner, and that is what he has.

I truly encourage anyone to visit Nattavarraby and to stay with the family – you will receive a very warm welcome and nothing is ever too hard for them for to do for you.  If I can travel 12 hours on a student budget then I challenge those of you who have never been to Nattavarraby to go there, and those of you who have said you will, to go there as well.  A place you will want to revisit again and again and a man who has a tremendous amount of knowledge and insight.

Swedish Fire Torch

This weekend we shall have Emma’s 6th birthday party and we have decided to have the party outside so that the children can ski and cook food over a fire.  Inspired by Ben’s post on his blog “2 The North”.  I decided to do some “Swedish Fire Torches” to cook food on.  I have used the fire torch before and was sure I had written about it on here, but having searched I cannot find anything.

Traditionally it is made by making two cross-cuts into a spruce or pine log

Then fire is made on the top and the fire will then burn down the inside of the log, drawing in air via the cuts. A kettle can then be placed on top to cook coffee.

There are a couple of rules that I recommend to follow;

  1. Ensure the log is at least the same diameter as your cooking pot (otherwise the log can burn down before the water has cooked)
  2. Ensure the four quarters are the same size (otherwise the smallest quarter will burn too fast).

I also did and experiment with four individual pieces of Birch pushed into the snow with a gap between each piece.

I was rather sceptical that this would work so well, but it did!

It burned much better than the pine log I had used the previous day.

This time, as well as cooking coffee I also made fried bannock bread.

The ingredients in my bannock were; flour, salt, water, honey, cheese and marmite.

I am thinking to also cook popcorn on Saturday.


A few photographs

To coincide with starting my new photographic blog; http://naturallorephotos.wordpress.com/

I thought I would put up a few pictures taken recently.

First a couple of sunrises as I have driven to work

In this next picture I am heaping snow up around a cabin to act as additional insulation.

Here is one of the seven reindeer we have at Solberget Vildmarksbyn

This next picture (for me) provides lots of  interesting information once you understand how to interpret it….

This picture shows spore from a Black Grouse landing in the snow.  From the right lower corner of the picture you see first where the Grouses tail mark in the snow, then above it you see the tip of the right wing and then marks from the whole of the right wing and at the same time, the body coming into the snow.  Then you can see footprints as the bird lands and the impact point as it lands into the snow (with left and right wing marks).  Finally the bird turns around and runs away out of the top right hand corner of the picture.

The next picture is of the tipi at Solberget, with a glowing fire inside

and finally here is a picture of a cabin at Solberget at dusk, with a the full moon behind it.