We are finally here. Fifteen hours after we set off from home this morning we are now 1400 miles away and are happily settled into a cozy little fisherman’s cabin in Norway.
Our cabin sits on the edge of a desolate fjord about 15 miles out of Tromso. The kids have been instructed that under no circumstances are they allowed to go out on the ice covered jetty that juts out into the water. My aim for this week is now simply not to have anyone drown out there.
Everyone is very, very tired, and it shows.
We have had many tantrums today, not all of them from the children. They have been about seating positions, who stands behind who in the many lines we stood in today, DD2 going ‘beep’ in the metal scanner, DD1 ‘being mean’ and DD3 doing lots ‘hating’ people. The adult tantrums have involved me objecting to being asked yet again if I’ve put my phone into airplane mode, and DH not liking it when I demonstrate my impressive range of swear words in front of the kids.
Travelling as a larger family can be very trying sometimes, but we like to insist it’s worth it.
My rules of carrying an extra change of clothing for everyone in our carry on luggage proved justified as we had two chocolate muffins ‘explode’ over DS and DD3 before we even boarded our first flight from Heathrow. Then DS wet his pants as we sat in our hire car outside the Spar just outside Tromso.
The first flight was almost a disaster from the beginning as DS objected to his big sister bagsying the window seat at exactly the same time that a random woman charged up and announced we were sitting in her seats. DH had it under control and it turned out she’d read her seat numbers incorrectly, so she looked a complete idiot but DD1 could see how stressed I was and kindly swapped with her brother to keep the peace. We agreed she would have the window seat for the next flight.
We had a 4 hour stop pover in Oslo which was actually really nice. Everything was handled very efficiently, the domestic air side was pretty quiet with plenty of space for kids to race around loudly. They even have a fantastic airplane themed indoor play area. My older two are really too old for such things but no one else was around so they had a sneaky go too.
A word of warning about the cost of food in the airport. 4 hot dogs cost us £20 and 3 baguettes cost us the equivalent of £30! So bring lots of dosh…
No one was looking forward to our second flight but everyone was hugely distracted by the presence of a little chocolate Labrador puppy on the plane! It was an internal flight, so animals are allowed as long as they are kept in a crate or a bag. This puppy’s owner had him zipped up in a normal canvas sports bag, and he was supposed to stay completely contained in it but every now and again his head would pop out.
Oh and DD1 had her question, ‘Do planes have horns?’ answered by the pilot, so it wasn’t a wasted flight by any means. ( And the answer is Yes, they do!)
Once at Tromso, we picked up our hire car. The only car big enough for us and our luggage was a rather battered black Transit van. I am irrationally biased against Fords anyhow due to some bad experiences when I had one as a work car so I hated it at first sight. The key was fiddly to use and neither of the sliding back doors opened easily; we had to get the guy to reluctantly leave his kiosk and come and show us that they did open. They took some persuading. The kids love it though and it certainly has plenty of room for everyone and everything.
The road to our cabin was icy, largely unlit and not wide enough for a Transit van and another vehicle to pass comfortably. In short, I was scared sh*tless driving out here, especially when I got too close to the side and drove into a snowbank. Luckily (?) I was going fast enough that I had the momentum to drive straight back out again but it was an experience I don’t wish to repeat. The winter tyres do help though, if I’d been driving our Previa we’d have been off the road at the first hill.
So an eventful day really, and largely a positive one. The kids are now tucked up in bed ( after a mahoosive fight over who would sleep where) and half an hour ago, I glanced outside at the sky above us and couldn’t believe my eyes.
A ribbon of green light was weaving and swirling around above us. The Northern Lights!
I called DH and he went mad running around trying to get the kids to wake up and see them, while I padded outside into the snow in just my socks and excitedly waved my camera in the general direction of the lights. My top tip for photographing the lights is ; Stay Calm!
The photos I got are only extraordinary for how bad they were, but I will share one with you just to prove that we did indeed get to see the Aurora Borealis in 2013.