Last Tuesday at 11.00 a.m. the Socks were taxiing along the runway at Heathrow - 12 hours later the Socks are suspended in the dark off a cliff face, 100ft above the snow in temperatures of -40C! All the Sock can think is WTF are we doing here!
The Sock has had a deep rooted fear of open chair lifts ever since one childhood summer when enjoying a ride on a chairlift in Switzerland. As the double chair swept higher and higher, swaying over alpine meadows, trees and lakes, my brother seated next to me waited until the chair was at its highest point and then threatened to open the safety bar and push me out! Believing him quite capable of this malfeasance the Sock screamed in panic to her parents suspended in the chair in front - to no avail. Finally alighting at the summit the Sock ran crying to them "Why didn't you do something?" but Old Ma Sock merely laughed and said "Ha ha! We thought you were waving!"
And now the Sock is drowning again in a sea of ice-cold darkness until a sudden jolt means that the next lot of passengers to reach the bottom have been unloaded and we are re-starting our slow, swaying descent. At least the Sock can see where she is going as earlier a thin layer of ice had formed on her steamed up glasses obscuring any sort of view. The bad news is that the thawed lenses have shown the Sock exactly how vertiginously high up in the air she is suspended.
A visit to Swedish Lapland had been a long held dream for the Socks and when we finally decided to make it so we threw in a first night at the Abisko Sky Station, the most likely place for a Northern Lights viewing. Sadly the sky is slightly cloudy and although the previous night the display had been one of the best in years we are denied more than a very faint hint of the green and pink of these elusive lights. We have however had a very nice meal at the Sky station the Sock's favourite course being smoked salmon in an artichoke soup. The salmon has the kind of strong gutsy smoke to it that we remember from Iceland where they smoke the salmon over sulphurous steaming pits filled with smouldering sheep dung. It tastes as one would expect from such treatment but somehow within that strange and alien landscape that is just right.
We finally make it down safely to the bottom of the chair lift where the Sock manages to slip over twice and lose her woolly hat on the short walk back to the very basic hotel. The next day will take us on through the snowy wilderness to the Ice Hotel itself and our first and quite probably last experience of sleeping on ice!
To be continued....