I could have chosen to stay at home, munched a few Easter eggs, dug the garden or just chilled out – but I thought it would be fun to be a bit more adventurous and take a Naturetrek trip to Finland. The thrill of visiting a place I had never seen before, bright blue skies, pristine snow, a spot of bird watching (especially owls) and putting my pin in the map at the Arctic Circle – it was a trip so full of promise. I should have stayed at home. This trip was so bad, it was actually funny – it was truly the holiday from hell. Apologies in advance to any birding enthusiasts. I respect your passion and I’m glad that you get enjoyment from it. I just don’t share it, or understand it. HELP – I am on the wrong holiday …!

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Helsinki – doesn’t look too enticing!

The severe weather warning we received from Naturetrek a couple of days before the trip began was the first indication that it may not live up to all our expectations 

Forecast temperatures were High +4, Low -5 in Oulu and falling to High 0 Low -8 further north in Kussamo. The e-mail contained a couple of photos showing the weather we could expect – not particularly enticing – where were the blue skies and sunshine through the fir trees we were so looking forward to? It finished with some friendly advice “Our local agents, Finnature, would recommend bringing with you Sorel or Kamik boots if you can. If this is not possible, then please ensure that you have good quality thermal socks with you and thermal clothing. Hand warmers are also a good idea.”

I was working right up to the start of the trip – no time to go shopping for new boots and thermals. I packed everything I’d got with “thermal” on the label, a pair of wellies and lots of socks, figuring I could always wear a couple of pairs if it got really cold. Only then, I had no idea just what was in store for us on this trip. Even if I had known, I’m not sure that packing anything different would have made the trip much more enjoyable – this was the start of an experience never to be repeated. I’d like to call it an adventure, but that would be too kind.

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