This year’s ski tour goes to Lappland, zig-zagging across the Kungsleden trail. The past two (and thus far the only two) ski tours I’ve done were with Warthog Mountaineering, but this year I’m travelling with STF instead (the Swedish Tourist Association).

Today was mostly a transportation day. The overnight sleeper train got me to Kiruna by morning. From there by bus to Nikkaluokta, and in the afternoon snowmobiles took our group and all our stuff to the wonderfully scenic Vistas hut.

Vistas is my favourite of all the STF mountain huts I’ve stayed at. It’s in a particularly beautiful location, even compared to all the other huts. It’s small and cosy, and generally not crowded because it’s a bit off the beaten track. So this is an excellent start for the week.

The snowmobiles were supposed to drop us off some kilometres before the hut so we could ski the last bit, but the drivers forgot and took us all the way there. But after a night and a day of waiting + sitting, we weren’t having any more of that, so we went for a short local tour near the hut.

Idre.

We got here quite late yesterday, but still just in time to pick up our skis and boots etc. So this morning we were out skiing/snowboarding straight away: getting used to the feeling of standing on skis again, exploring the area etc. It was tiring for both body and mind, but some hot chocolate got the energy levels back up again.

Ingrid and I were in Idre two years ago, and we liked it so much back then that Idre was our top pick for a skiing vacation. We had aimed for Idre last year as well, but the place is so popular that they were fully booked for the winter break week already three months in advance. This year I booked ridiculously early (August, half a year in advance) to make sure we didn’t end up in the same situation again.

None of us are expert skiers and we prefer easy cruising to challenging skiing, so we like ski resorts with a nice wide selection of green and blue runs. Idre has that, plus a bunch of fun stuff for the kids: a kids’ run through the forest with tunnels and bridges, a ski cross run, etc etc.


Hiking around Lizard Point today, Britain’s most southerly point.

Today was the first truly sunny day we’ve had all week, and after a week of clouds and rain we were quite unprepared for this. We didn’t even think to pack swimming clothes for the kids, and only realized our mistake when we got to Kynance Cove and saw all the bathers there. (Plus, last time we were here 15 years ago it was April, so in my mind I never connected the beaches here with bathing.) Adrian splashed around in his underwear, but Ingrid was rather disappointed.

We haven’t had much luck with lunch spots during our walks here, but today’s was beautiful. (The first one was in a thistly corner of a weedy meadow; the second one was similar but with added rain.) Today we found a sunny little nook among the rocks overlooking another beach. Quite close to the path in reality, but with the exposure it felt like we were on top of the world.

I’ve really been enjoying English sandwiches we’ve had for lunch (cheese ploughman’s! egg and tomato!) and the luscious yogurts with flavours one can only dream of in Sweden (gooseberry! rhubarb!).


The Lost Gardens of Heligan.

We were last here fifteen years ago, in 2002. The gardens and especially the jungle are even lusher and wilder now. There’s a new rope bridge that wasn’t there before. The Mud Maid still lies sleeping in the forest.

I only got crappy photos of the gardens themselves, but here’s one from the children’s activities in the Lost Summer meadow: building tents. There were piles of material all ready for building: poles of various lengths, tarps, crocodile clips, rope, etc. Even colourful pieces of fabric for decorating, and small blackboards for making “welcome” signs. That’s what Ingrid and Adrian are doing.


After yesterday’s sightseeing, we went for a walk today, at Bodmin moor. The Cheesewring draws the biggest crowds, but I found the other, similar pile of rocks next to the Cheesewring more pleasing to the eye. But I guess it’s less exciting since it looks somewhat less ready to topple.

Even more interesting than any of the rock formations were the dozens of old, abandoned mining buildings dotted around the landscape. All still standing and looking strong (albeit roofless), over a hundred years after they were abandoned. I wish I could have seen each and every one of them up close.

Today also turned out rainy. Not so much that it really bothered us, except during lunch and snack breaks. Sandwiches get soggy when it rains on them. And once we got down from the moor, “wet” also meant “muddy”. Very muddy. Ideally we’d all have had rubber boots for this walk, but there’s a limit to how much you can pack for a one-week trip… So we came home with thoroughly sodden feet.


The weather forecast promised cool temperatures and rain all day today so we went to the Eden project and their giant bubble greenhouses. Even in there it was almost cold. Luckily there were some dry spells in the afternoon so we could see some of the plantings outdoors as well.



Rocky beaches and coves is what Cornwall is all about, for me. Carnewas beach and the Bedruthan Steps are probably the most spectacular example. A steep and narrow, winding staircase takes you all the way down from the clifftop to the beach. At low tide, it’s a lovely sandy beach where you can poke at mussel colonies and stranded jellyfish. At high tide, the beach is under several metres of water, and so is the bottom of the stairs.

Two views of the same beach, taken 4 hours apart:


We’re in Cornwall!

Back when Eric and I lived in London, we used to go on walking/driving holidays in various parts of Great Britain. We did Cornwall, Wales, Scotland, the Lake District, etc. Cornwall was one of my absolute favourites, and I’ve been longing to go back for a while. So here we are, in Cornwall for a week of walking and sightseeing.

Today we were sort of tired so we opted for sightseeing instead of walking, and visited Tintagel castle.


We flew to Newquay for a week of walking and touristing. It’s been a tiring day. An early morning flight, delays, transfer at Gatwick, lugging all the baggage around, a hurried lunch… This awkward combination of deadline after deadline and dead waiting time in between, and crowds and queues and cramped seats and one loud announcement after another (and you’re not even allowed to wear headphones during takeoff which is of course the noisiest part). Exhausting.


It’s time to take the ferry back home to Stockholm.

The drive from Tartu to Tallinn is over two hours, but with all the extras, we need to leave Tartu around 6 hours before the ferry leaves.

Car check-in closes an hour before departure, and we want to be checked in at least half an hour before that deadline. Half an hour to navigate through Tallinn. Leave about an hour for lunch somewhere. And a five-hour project with a very strict deadline (we really, really don’t want to miss the ferry, after all!) needs at least an hour of extra slack for unexpected eventualities, such as a cycle race we once ran into just outside Tallinn.

Normally, though, we arrive in Tallinn with that extra slack hour unspent, and spend it in Kadriorg park in Tallinn. The park is so close to the ferry terminal that we can be reasonably sure there won’t be any major surprises there. Today it was pouring down so an hour at the park was not an appealing option. We ended up spending the hour in the parking lot of the ferry terminal.