Saturday, 4 February 2012

Finland Update - Cold like ive never felt!

Here is my update from a very cold Finland!

Yes we hit -40!! Crazy.

Blog Update – Lapland Finland

Been a while since I have had internet access up here in the north of Finland.

I left England on Wednesday, taking a flight from Manchester to Helsinki and then connecting on a plane that can only be described as RETRO (we got in from the back, not even the front of the plane!) on a flight to Kemi / Tornio.

As I walked off the plane, (sorry climbed off) the cold really hit me. I had noticed it in Helsinki, where it was -8, but it was a very chilly -23 when I walked to the terminal building in Kemi.

There I met Maija who was looking after me during my first part of me “tour of north” and we went to get some food before heading North towards Pello. This drive was over 100k and took 2 hours. During the drive we crossed over into the Arctic Circle (about 30k south of Pello) I arrived at the Motel (where I am currently staying) in Pello and it was now -29. This has been the average temperature here during my first few days.

On Thursday I met Maija who took me about 40 minutes into the forest. (There are lots of tree’s here in Finland. So many that everywhere looks very similar!) we went to a reindeer farm and I was lucky enough to feed the reindeers. They look clumsy animals but in fact are very agile and can move a lot. They can run fast also. After feeding (which is surprisingly hard work!) we headed inside for some coffee and a warm up. The temperature never rose about -27 degrees. It is so cold that your eye lids freeze and ice forms around your face. Its quiet a strange feeling actually!

We had lunch and then at 4pm I went to the indoor school here in Pello and started my training classes. The first class was mostly beginners and we spent a lot of time focusing on the actual skills training of the dog, rather than handling directly. It is so important to get the foundation taught properly before advanced handling moves are used. The group worked very hard and the dogs really pushed on which was good.

At 7pm we stopped for a pizza break. The hall here in Pello is heated, about +15 degrees inside. So I was not cold at all during the training. In fact I took off my ski suit that I have been wearing all the rest of the day and was quite comfortable in my tracksuit bottoms and jumper.

From 7.15pm I then trained the next group up until 10pm. This group had mainly class 1 & 2 competing dogs. We focused on pull through’s and queuing the dogs for their turns. This was a very productive session and the handlers really tried hard to apply the techniques that we were practicing.

Friday morning we were due to go snowmobiling but temperatures of -35 meant that we could not do that! So instead we took the dogs for a walk in the forest. I wrapped up with many lays, but still your eyes and nose get very cold in such extreme temperatures. The ice forms on your face and on your eyes... it feels very strange!

We then went for a drive over to Sweden. The border is very close, infact Sweden and Finland are separated by one river, about the width of two or three football pitches. However as you cross over and head into Sweden, you go back in time 1 hour, as Sweden is GMT +1, unlike Finland’s GMT +2.

The afternoon was the start of the second day of Pello seminars. The same timings as the Thursday and I used the sessions to build upon what had been done the previous day. One of the exercises for the second group really encouraged a send to the weaves, and I encouraged the handlers to really send their dogs to the weaves first, and not try and take them there. This proved challenging but very beneficial for that handlers as the dogs improved and sent to the weaves themselves.

When the training session had finished I went out side to a crazy -35degree’s, a new record low temperature during my trip! After we had showered we headed to a local pub for a beer!

On Saturday I made the 2 hour journey by car to Rovanimmi where I am based for 5 days. The first seminar was on the afternoon (6 hours) and I hope to cover a range of topics throughout the seminars.

It is now -30 outside and we have just returned back from a meal out in the city. This is the first time I have had internet access so far on this trip. I see that the UK also has snow and ice!

For now, take care. Stay safe.