Hardangervidda National Park in Norway!

On 22nd March 2023 we jetted off to Oslo to begin the last training expedition before we actually fly to Antarctica. From Oslo airport we caught the train to Drammen to meet our good friend and Norway fixer Aina Prestholt. We had A LOT of luggage as you can imagine and getting all of it to the apartments was an adventure in itself. Luckily, they were just around the corner from the train station so it wasn’t long before we were in. And so began the huge task of organising our pulks and food ready for the early train the next day. Organising the pulks and dividing up our food took most of the evening which was a huge insight in to how things will go in Punta Arenas, with only half the amount of food to chop up, we realised that Antarctica will be an organisational challenge for sure. Come 10pm and pretty much done packing up, bedtime was calling ready for the busy morning.

Getting the 70kg pulks to the station was one thing, getting them on to the platform was another. We couldn’t drag them so had to carry them carefully to the platform, and the skis and ourselves, in huge ski boots not designed for city walking. Still sweating in our polar gear, the train arrived and we bundled everything on quickly and settled in for the 3 and a half hour journey. We managed to blag our way into a private cabin which was a bonus as there was some things to discuss and plan but it wasn’t long until we were seeing beautiful snowy landscapes through the window.

Arriving at Finse, they weren’t wrong when they said you ski straight from the platform, and that we did, soon disappearing into the mountains and not to return for 3 weeks.

Week one…

The first week we were very lucky to have mostly beautiful weather, around minus 10 but little or no wind. I think we only had one day with strong winds but luckily they were coming from behind and so pushing us along nicely. Warm ish during the day but as soon as the sun dropped you could feel the temperature drop straight away and getting pitched up before this happened was important. Get the cookers on before it gets too cold and dark so that we set ourselves up to succeed. It took a few days for everyone to get in to the swing of things but our highly practiced routines ensured we were nailing putting the tents up and cookers on in speedy times. The stunning weather allowed us to settle in, we were very lucky with this however being respectful of our new surroundings was a top priority. Things can change very quickly on Hardangervidda.

We wound our way south through the mountainous areas surrounded by beautiful scenery. There were some huge mountains to negotiate. One day saw us climbing higher than Ben Nevis over 23km which we never expected. So, when we checked the GPS that evening, we were extremely buoyed by the fact that we’d achieved this distance and height gain. Antarctica, although certainly not flat, has a gradual incline to the pole, and so 25km a day felt well within our capabilities.

Week two…

Heading further and further away from any other human contact, there was a sudden realisation that we really were at least 2 or 3 days from skiing out of the area should something happen but, this is the exact reason we were there, to experience this type of insecurity. On the 2nd March Aina told us of a storm heading our way, 30meters per second winds and a day that we would definitely need to hunker down for the day so on the 3rd March we skied for 2 hours before we decided to take shelter for the day and night.Storm day was also my birthday and although we were hunkered down in the tent all day, it was one of the best birthdays so far! Lots of food, a bit of port and Baileys and a pre downloaded film for the evening was just the ticket!

The following day we were up and at it again and heading further west. Day after day of skiing over mountains and on frozen lakes, which always seem to be uphill in Norway, every day seemed to bring something new to look at from ice being pushed up from the frozen lake which looked like something out of War of the Worlds to avalanche prone areas that we had to avoid at all costs. This week we experienced plummeting temperatures most nights it was minus 27 to minus 30 INSIDE the tent. You know you’re in a hostile environment when you breath freezes inside the sleeping back and you have freezing fog inside the tent. This week was tough and we all certainly questioned our life choices at 6am when we had to get up and put the cooker on which, at these temperatures doesn’t make that much difference! The first hot drink was the best mood booster and having hot porridge sets us up for the long day ahead.

The end of week two unfortunately saw Nikki suffer with frost nip in her hands and after much deliberation, back and forth with Aina and the medical team, it was decided that it was best for Nikki to be evacuated to warmth where her fingers could recover in the apartment back in Drammen. Being at least two days skiing from the closest train station Nikki had to be helicoptered out. When the morning arrived, we secured everything before the arrival of the helicopter, Nikki was permitted to take one bag and thankfully her skis with her and left us to start the third week as a team of three.

Me, Bex and Becky then packed up camp as best we could, sharing out the remainder of Nikki’s equipment and skied for the rest of the day.

Week 3…

Down to a team of three and with the added weight we decided to change our route slightly so that we could be heading back to Finse and closer to safety. This was because we had a sudden increase in pulk weight and after dropping from 70kg to around 35kg then back up to 50kg (approx.) it was a sensible decision. I won’t say what we ended up calling the extra pulk we had to tow round with us but needless to say, it had a nickname!

We drummed out a new routine for us when it came to setting up camp, Bex and Becky pitch the first tent while I dig the toilet by which time they would get it to a point where it was safe and then Bex and I would pitch the other tent. Finishing off round camp was quick and we were soon in the tents getting comfortable and settled for the night.

We arrived back at Finse a lot quicker than anticipated, covering more ground than we thought was great but, it meant we had to dig deep to stay out for the 3 weeks. So, we skied past the luxury hotel and back towards the mountains. This I have to say took all my willpower not to pop in for a pint!! But, we had planned on 3 weeks, and 3 weeks we were going to do! We spent the next couple of days skiing round, never leaving the area too much and on the penultimate night, we decided that we had nothing else to prove, we deserved a night at the hotel, a hot shower, a pint of beer, real food and a soft bed! Luckily the hotel had a room and so we booked it!!!!!

Cut to arriving back in Drammen, Nikki had decided to stay and wait for our return and she greeted us with her go go gadget arms and helped us back to the apartment with all our equipment. We stayed in Drammen and enjoyed its hospitality, meeting up with Aina at a party after the cross country skiing championships. It’s safe to say she welcomed us home with open arms and took us straight to the bar!

On the last night, Aina had arranged for us to have a traditional Norwegian sauna party – I’ll let your imagination run wild with that!

Written by Georgina Gilbert



Expedition Training in Sweden!

The next instalment of our expedition training saw us embarking on a training session like no other. One that would test us to the maximum. Testing our mental stamina and ability to withstand repetitive actions to the physical endurance that culminated in the penultimate day being one of the biggest tests of all so far.

Firstly – we arrived at the airport and were greeted by the fantastic wife of Toby Cowern – Anushree, or Dr. Anushri Tripathi PHD (if we’re being formal!) who immediately got us organised and sorted our transport to Robertsfors – she was however, amazed by the amount of luggage! After squeezing onto a bus and a few taxis, we arrived at our destination where the wonderful Toby Cowern picked us up in his newly acquired transport – a van – and oh girl, did we make the most of it! Maximum curb weight? What’s that?! We headed off to Toby’s abode and straight away, we got stuck in to sorting, organising and planning the entire mini expedition.

We had brought a fair amount of food with us for our expedition ration packs but these all needed to be weighed out – WOW, so much food to organise but the extremely organised Nikki Upton had this down to a fine art. This woman knows how to rock a spreadsheet and getting our daily rations right has been her raison d’etre (as well as all the other organising she does for the team too!). Discovering everyone’s likes and dislikes was tough but with the mighty Bex Rowe (The Ox) helping out, we were sure to have some delicious snacks along with our freeze-dried expedition dinners from Expedition Foods.

Ok so lets fast forward to THE ICE HOLE!!!!

Once we were all sorted and settled into Toby’s, the real fun could commence – starting with the ice hole. A huge thank you to Dan from Root in Tavelsjo for such an inspirational story and allowing us to take over!!

As part of our training, we need to experience what cold actually means and how differently everyone is able to cope with it. When things go wrong in extreme environments, the consequences can be tenfold compared to ‘normal’ climates hence why we needed to experience what it really feels like when we have lost the ability to help ourselves. Our first plunge was an extended duration – around 4 to 5 minutes in the icy water with minimal clothing. As just about bearable as this was, the real challenge came when we got out of the water and our extremities were completely numb and needed help from teammates to get dressed again, to get warm and survive. Once dressed we had to warm up, and each of us warmed up very differently and at different speeds. Invaluable information for us.

After a short break which consisted of several hot chocolates and delicious sourdough pizzas at Root (The pizzeria Dan runs with his partner) we headed back out for our second dunk. This time we were to jump into the icy water wearing a layer of clothing, and fully submerge only to haul ourselves back out again using ski poles, and then to undress and quickly dress again. This second plunge seemed much easier than the first, but this was probably down to the fact that we’d spent a lot less time submerged and therefore weren’t so cold coming out! We had brilliant support from Toby’s Hello Nature colleague Robert and his daughter Signe, who was sporting an Angel’s jumper for the occasion. I think it’s safe to say they think we’re absolutely bonkers though!

Getting that glide back…!

Next on the agenda was getting our glide back on a nice easy slope close to Toby’s. We’ve learnt how to cross-country ski just this year so this skill still needs to be reinforced each time we hit snow for the first time after a break. This was invaluable practice for us and lots of fun too! The following day, Toby had set up an obstacle course for us, simulating difficult terrain, with each lap getting progressively heavier using bags of wood pellets. It was a warm day however and the snow conditions weren’t great – the snow was sticking to the underside of the skis and building up huge piles of snow creating the possibility of a turned ankle as well as damaging expensive skis and boot bindings.

The first long day of skiing..

Toby had created a specifically designed itinerary for us, and every session had a purpose to our development. We soon realised he wasn’t messing around after we’d done our first long day of skiing! We were off early doors for our first 10 hour skiing day with 70kg loaded pulks. The weather was STUNNING however it was proving to be too warm for efficient skiing. We struggled to maintain our body temperatures and not sweat – the effort of pulling heavy pulks when the temperature is only a few degrees below zero, mean sweating was unavoidable. We even stripped down to our new Brynje netted tops, which are a master of engineering! The terrain was, lets say, testing! Tree roots, blocked paths from snow ploughs, hills; you name it, we had it! 5 hours out and five hours back we miss timed it slightly so the moment we got back to the start, tired, we had to turn around and head back out to do the last hour. Turns out you can travel a long way in 30 mins!! This was a real test for the mind here but Bex led us out on the last push. We got back to the house 10 hours on the dot, all pretty exhausted!

The second long day of skiing!!

The next day it was straight back out there, this time to focus on covering distance. Different terrain, stunning scenery and colder. Early on we did some tent practice. Put it up, take it down – over and over. These were new tents for us, the Nigor Spix Orange and it turns out they are pretty dam awesome! Intelligently roomy, storage netting, (that also doubles up as a convenient area to put a tablet in to watch a film whilst tucked up in bed!) oversized but extremely lightweight poles to add strength (and room to double pole) and enough ventilation to really help get rid of that unwanted exhaled moisture through the night! The skiing was stunning, it was flatter than the day before but this meant we could cover more ground. We had to start playing with layers in an attempt to avoid sweating; minimal while travelling and being brave with choices but then throwing on the down jacket when stopping. We don’t want to sweat but neither do we want to lose any valuable heat! We covered good mileage and I think we surprised ourselves as to how far we could get – we could have travelled forever but it was time to turn around and head back to our agreed camp spot for the night. And what a spot it was, getting there just before dark we could really appreciate what a beautiful place Sweden is. The sunset was stunning.

The main event!!

After 2 days of skiing near Robertsfors, we loaded up our pulks once more and headed west to the mountainous border with Norway, as it was time for the mini expedition Toby had scheduled for us. We wanted arduous training and it’s safe to say it delivered! Uphill from the start and night time closing in, we headed for 2 hours into the night to find our first camp. Skiing in the dark brings a sense of insecurity but also a sense of freedom. Not being preoccupied with the small changes in terrain definitely releases the mind from hang ups! You can dissolve yourself in to the glide of skiing instead of worrying about the small things!

An early start and with yet again beautiful weather, we headed out and up, and up, and up! They say hill repeats are designed to test the most resilient character and oh girl did it test our mettle! Just when we thought we had reached the top, there was another top, and so the whole week consisted of ups and downs, stunning scenery and some emotional responses that none of us could have predicted! This was the exact thing this training was designed to trigger – we have to experience all of this (and more) so we know exactly how to deal with them if and when it happens in Antarctica. This training put our raw emotions front and centre and we had no choice but to deal with them, and we ALL deal with them in very different ways, (we are human after all!). This experience gave us an insight into how the team can deal with each other’s emotional response to arduous efforts. Some internalise while others externalise, neither is wrong or right but unique to that person. The next step is learning how to self-validate – nothing too serious then!!!

The mini expedition delivered exactly what we needed but most importantly it brought us closer together as a team. A team that shares a common goal, a team that values each other.

The penultimate day…

We knew there was a storm coming, and after a sheltered night in the tent we headed into the tempest! With constant winds of 27m/s and gusts of “Your guess is as good as mine” but enough to punch you in the chest and knock you off your feet we had no choice but to keep going – and this was the exact thing we needed to experience – the perfect storm! Using micro-navigation, we pushed through for hours until we hit a relatively sheltered spot where we could momentarily rest and drink (and pee!). All day we headed into either a head wind, side wind, white outs and zero visibility to get to our last camp site and we were rewarded with calm weather at last!! The next day was a very short one, just a couple of hours back to the rendezvous point and pick up back to Toby’s, via a very lovely café and a couple of beers to celebrate a very hard week in the (very big) mountains! Oh and by the way, we also dipped our toe in the Arctic Circle, which we were all really chuffed about!


Once back at Toby’s, we had a thorough debrief to tell him how we found the mini expedition, as well as things we feel we have done well (individually and as a team) and things that we need to work on. We were all really pleased with how the expedition went, and as with Norway, it has given us more fire for the next stage! We couldn’t be more grateful for Toby’s continuing faith and support – he knows us really well now and is such a huge part of us developing ourselves to be worthy of the incredible expedition we’re embarking on. We also owe a huge thank you to Toby’s mum Patricia for some stellar meals prepared for us when we weren’t camping – they were much needed and excellent fuel for the mega Swedish mountains!

Homeward bound! And onto the summer phase of our training – we won’t be able to train on snow until November time, so back to dragging tyres around the countryside for now!

Written by Georgina Gilbert



Lets get training! First up – Norway!

Well other than the whole team on edge, Covid dodging at the beginning of the year, and a couple of members getting over a bout of Christmas Rona, the year started with an absolute blast!

Sadly, due to the fact we were avoiding catching the lurgy to ensure we all made it to Norway, we had to cancel a couple of the team training sessions. One was going to be in Wales at George’s place, and another at Emily’s parents farm in Surrey. This just meant that Norway was going to be full throttle, and actually the first time we fully practiced everything as a team.

Excitement was at an all time high as we all rocked up to Heathrow at stupid o’clock in the morning, with our fancy matching Pax bags and Helly Hansen gear with our sponsors Survitec boldly stitched in. We had a long day of travel ahead of us, but nothing was going to take away the joy that we were FINALLY on our way to Norway!


Once in Oslo we had lots to do, we trekked around the city with luggage in tow, popping to the XXL store for a few supplies, before the serious shopping started at the Piteraq shop, where we had our Ski and Boot fitting. Three hours later and heavily laden with our bursting bags, luggage and ski’s, and only an hour after the store closing time (sorry guys), we started the next stage of our journey to meet Helen, our guide from Newland Expeditions.

Here came our first Norwegian challenge… transporting all our belongings, (might as well have had the kitchen sink, I mean we had everything else!) and survive the uphill ice rink to Helen’s beautiful and very welcoming cabin. We spent one night here before the next slightly crazy minibus journey to Kvitavatn, where we spent the first week with our fabulous guides Helen and Ilsa learning to cross country ski, campcraft, and packing our pulks and sleep systems.


The second week we went out onto the Hardangervidda plateau with our wonderful guide Aina from Expa Travel. The journey started with a long winding uphill slog, which we all agreed there was no way on earth we would be skiing back down, at least not with our current stopping abilities! The Hardangervidda was a huge learning curve for all of us, but it was so good to see everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and put our combined skills together!

We experienced a real range of conditions, which gave us a good insight into the adverse weather we could face in Antarctica, including a storm on the last evening where the weather turned on us in just minutes. We decided to get a tent up in the middle of the storm and cram all of us in whilst we checked the incoming weather via satellite, it certainly made for an exciting and surreal last night, but that’s a whole different story entirely!

Amazingly, through more luck than judgement… we ALL managed to ski back down the winding hill, I use the term ski very lightly as the majority of the time we were climbing out of the ditches, or recovering our pulks from the banks, but we made it! Yes, granted we left the Plateau with a few bruises, a whole bunch of stinky wet gear, and a craving for fresh food, but ultimately everyone was still in one piece. A special thank you to our guides Helen, Ilsa and finally Aina who had the most intense week living with a bunch of crazies in tents on the Hardangervidda Plateau.

Once home and on firmer less icy terrain, we had more excitement to come, with some brilliant school talks and zooms booked in, a live Q&A with a company for International Women’s Day, a visit to the Outdoor expo for Becky, and finally George and Bex’s big day out to join the fabulous Lorraine Kelly on her Breakfast show, and what a fabulous lady she is! They could have talked for hours, though anyone that knows George and Bex, will know that’s not a hard task!

Training has been stepped up a gear since Norway, with lots of tyre dragging, functional training sessions, roller skiing (which is proving lethal), and several of the team subjecting themselves to cold showers and baths ready for upcoming training in Sweden, stay tuned for that, it’s going to be…ummm, interesting!

It’s not long before our next training trip, and this time we will be travelling back to Sweden to meet with Toby again. With longer daylight hours, and hopefully more snow and colder temperatures, it’s set to be another great but very intense training session.

Thank you for reading all about our adventures and for supporting us on this crazy journey, we honestly would be nowhere without you all!

Written By Emily Butler


Highlights of 2021!

As we all know it’s been a super challenging year, but we believe in the power of positivity, so we hope that sharing the highlights of our year with you might encourage you to think about your own!


Nikki’s Highlights:

For me, Sweden was our first real chance to get stuck in and physically prepare ourselves for certain elements of the expedition. Despite there being no snow (there will be next time!) we managed to learn so much through Toby, and it came us a real awakening not only to how much we have to do and learn, but how every step further we’re taking on this journey makes me more and more passionate and excited about it. It put a real rocket up our bums, and we’ve been propelling forward ever since we got back!

Also an absolute incredible highlight was getting the chance to see the northern lights. I studied Earth & Planetary Sciences at University so it’s been a dream of mine to see them for years – but never did I dream that I would see the amazing display whilst in the most beautiful part of Sweden, training for an expedition to cross the Antarctic, with the Angels by my side. Truly thankful.


Bex’s Highlights:

One of my best moments this year was The Stoop stair climb, where we climbed up and down the steps to The Stoop stadium for 10 hours in fire kit & carrying equipment. It was a tough challenge but a great team effort that pushed us outside our comfort zones.

We all pulled together as a team and had a great celebration at the end with a toast to our achievement. We raised a great deal of money for the expedition and the Harlequins Foundation, which we were all very proud of. After the covid lockdowns and a difficult start to the year it was so nice to achieve something big together as a team.


George’s Highlights:

For me, the start of 2021 brought a mixture of hope and positivity but a grating of insecurity with the threat of the big C word still lingering. Although training has always been front and centre, it wasn’t until later in the year that I really felt like all my hard work was going to pay off.

Sweden was truly amazing, the scenery was spectacular and the training second to none. Toby, our survival expert was incredibly knowledgeable and shared his comprehensive experience with us from start to finish. I couldn’t have wished for a better introduction to polar survival!

Next was Scotland, and a chance for the team to be together with Elissa our Team Operations Manager. Although when we get together there isn’t much peace and quiet, we’re always very productive!! We had lots of catching up to do including the usual admin and also catching up those who missed Sweden on what we had learnt there. The Discovery centre was a real highlight for me with a personal guided tour of the ship, what hardship the Heroic Age of Exploration explorers endured was phenomenal.

This year I’ve spent most of my time training in readiness for Norway in January and totally enjoying my commute and runs with the dog. It’s important to me that I run with Pip, we share a lot of fun together and when she curls up on my lap afterwards for a post walk cwtch, well, I know she’s just using me for my warmth!


Nakita’s Highlights:

The highlight of 2021 for me has been to see the final team together training on the beach in beginning of December. This was something that back in the beginning of 2021, Covid had threatened to sabotage and sadly, we had to say goodbye to Alison as she was promoted to Assistant Chief Fire Officer. We are all so proud of Alison and wish her all the best in this new role.

We have stayed strong, kept pushing forward and these moments we are all together, restrictions permitting, have brought a smile to my face. Always one step closer to our goal.

The team have been incredibly supportive as I worked towards my Fire Investigation Officer qualification over the last 5 months. They have worked so hard behind the scenes and as the Team Leader I could not be prouder. Their drive and determination is a credit to how much they believe in the Antarctic Fire Angels message.


Becky’s Highlights:

The highlight of my year was going to the selection day with the Fire Angels, getting to meet the team, and then being selected for the team!

It’s very humbling to have joined a team of women who are as strong, confident and ambitious as the Antarctic Fire Angels and I’m looking forward to working hard and achieving the goal of crossing Antarctica with them! Obviously I’m new to the team so have only just started training alongside them, but the training weekend we had in Wales where we got to sand ski whilst dragging our tyres on Aberavon beach in full on head winds was pretty epic too!


Emily’s highlights:

It’s been a rollercoaster of a year but a big positive was that myself and my Husband Dan finally moved into the house that we’d waited so long for. Our home is in the most beautiful little village where I grew up and where my parents farm is, so it’s a dream come true to build a home there together with our Jack Russell terrier Lottie.

But the highlight of my year was becoming an Antarctic Fire Angel – I’ve supported the Angels from the start just because I admired what they we’re doing so much, so to get the opportunity to try out and then make the team was nothing short of a dream come true!


Elissa’s Highlights:

For those of you who don’t know; Elissa is our Team Operations Manager and a huge asset to the team. She beavers away behind the scenes to make things happen for us, including our trip to Scotland, which was one of her highlights:

“For me, seeing our trip to Scotland come together after months of planning was the highlight – and us all being together even if it was a baptism of fire for me! We had a day on the RRS Discovery and the ship was absolutely amazing especially when it was all lit up at night!

We hope this got you thinking about your own highlights – it’s always worth reflecting on the positives in such a difficult time! Thank you so much for your support through this amazing journey of ours – we would be nowhere without you all! We wish you the very best health and happiness for 2022!


By the Antarctic Fire Angels team


Angels Trip to Umea in Sweden

We’ve always maintained that risk plus adversity, over time, equals resilience right?! Well, we’re super happy to say that we can now add accomplishment to the end of that statement!!!! Planning for this learning trip was nothing short of interesting!!! From the COVID restrictions changing what felt like daily to the shear logistics of actually getting to the beautiful area of Umea. After arranging and rearranging several times with the marvelous Toby Cowern we finally locked in our training in October! Even though there were still a lot of hoops to jump through, we finally set the trip in stone….. And booked our flights!!!

We couldn’t travel directly to Sweden so we chose to transit through Norway (which is where we are in January 2022 so it was good to get to grips with that airport!) From there we hired a car to cross into Sweden (permitted). This was a journey not to be sniffed at….. 13 hours of driving through the night on the other side of the road and on roads that were sometimes questionable as roads, well that was an adventure in itself!!! But, such adversity makes it all worth it right? Well, we weren’t disappointed, we arrived at one of the most beautiful areas. Robertsfors, just north of Umea. This was the start of our REAL training, everything we’ve been discussing and planning with Toby, changing and adapting to the seasons, and all made possible by adapting to change.

As you may be able to see from the photos, our team was sadly missing 2 members. Alison had work commitments she couldn’t get out of, and Nakita got ill on the eve of our departure, and the travel would have been impossible for her. So we proceeded as a 3; ready to soak up as much knowledge as possible to take back to the other girls.

Toby was kindly putting us up in his Air BnB, so we got there at 2.30 in the morning and were rather excitable and loud (sorry to Toby’s upstairs neighbour!). After some sleep we met Toby in the morning, and hit it off instantly, like we knew we would! He gave us a brief tour of Robertsfors, which is absolutely stunning and we we’re all blown away by the peace, calm and beauty. Toby apologised for the ‘traffic’ of which we saw precisely 4 people – a welcome level of traffic after the craziness of London!

Then he started to outline what we would be covering during our stay in Umea. On the agenda was sleeping systems, tent erection, cooking, camping duties & organisation, travelling as a team, cold injuries and casualty drills. Toby is a survival expert, and knowledgeable in so many polar scenarios and wilderness thriving, that we instantly knew we were in safe hands. He had put so much thought into our expedition, and how we would need to organise ourselves in order to be as efficient as possible – we soon found ourselves addressing tiny details that might seem trivial, but they can make or break an expedition. There is no ‘winging it’ in Antarctica; so we covered everything, and I mean everything!

Some of this comprised theory work and discussions around the most efficient practices, and there was also lots of practical work involving tent routines and camping that made us very happy to be out in the field doing things after so many months of planning! We did some exploring of Sweden and camped out one night to put our newly learned skills into practice, with Toby close by to start with to see how we got on – he recorded 11 minutes for the tent to go up and the stove on to get water boiling. Not too shabby but we can definitely cut that down!

Our final day was spent learning some camp craft skills, collective firewood and learning which trees to select for the wood & bark. We all made a campfire and collectively cooked breakfast for ourselves after our night camping out. It was a real back-to-nature experience and something we all immensely enjoyed!



As the day came to an end we discussed any questions and changes to our routines before our last supper with Toby and his daughter, where we ate Kroppkator (Swedish potato balls) which were the densest things we have ever eaten! During dinner Toby surprised us with exciting news that there was a very high chance of seeing the Northern lights! Something none of us had thought about and what an amazing surprise it was! Toby called us when it was starting, and we all rushed into our clothes and out of the door like it was a work shout! We spent over an hour watching the magical Aurora which was just mesmerising, and a lifelong dream come true for Nikki who studied planetary science at university.


The trip was a great success, Sweden a wonderful country and Toby a huge asset to us. It was a real family effort to make our trip so special as Toby’s Mum Patricia as a qualified photographer took some incredible photos for us, and with the help of Toby’s Daughter Angel (the significance of her name is not lost on us!) made the most delicious Swedish meals that we couldn’t wait to tuck into! We will be visiting again next year for more training with the whole team and hopefully Northern lights!

By Georgina Gilbert, Nikki Upton & Rebecca Rowe