The crackle of logs burning in the stove
It has taken me an absolute age to write this blog because I can’t quite find the right words to describe the feeling of returning to a warm winter cabin after an active day spent engaged in winter’s Nordic activities. The deep snow serves to deaden noise so very often the only sound you’ll hear from outside is the wind and, on calm nights, it is almost eerily quiet beyond the doors of your wooden enclave. Inside, you get a sort of “Homestead on the Range” sensation which is enhanced by the crackle of logs burning in the stove and the creaking of the broad timbers from which the cabin is constructed.
Continued from TIME TO MAN-UP (PART 1)
Option 1: Go directly from the sauna into an icy plunge pool
It feels like being overcome by a panic attack
Believe it or not, this is the easy option!
From the comfort of a warm sauna........
(Image: Visit Finland)
Rush from the warmth of the sauna and submerse your body in the icy waters of a purpose built plunge pool – essentially, a big hole in the ice! The secret is to just go for it, hesitation can often result in failure and a dash back to the sauna's toasty sanctuary.
Time for my Fellow Northumbrian to "Man-Up"
I thoroughly enjoyed watching the recent program on ITV called The Land of the Midnight Sun featuring Alexander Armstrong but felt little empathy for his winter swim in the Norwegian Sea near Tromsø.
Tromsø’s position on Norway’s west coast means that thanks to the Gulf Stream it is generally warmer than other towns and cities located at similar latitudes. As Armstrong stripped down to just his swimming trunks, the temperature was -4°C and as he strode purposefully into the icy, grey waters the sea temperature was an admittedly chilly -1°C (the salt content means that sea water has a lower freezing point than fresh). That’s pretty cold by anybody’s standards but compared to what goes on elsewhere in Northern Scandinavia, this was a walk in the park on a balmy late summer evening.
Céret which was once referred to as home by Picasso and Matisse is famous for its art and artists.
Located in South-West France close to the Spanish border and at the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains, Céret is a quaint little town. Here you will find characterful buildings, quirky art shops and charming cafés.
Céret which is often referred to as a haven for artists was given an added artistic boost when the Museum of Modern Art opened. Artists have flocked to the area to view the many famous paintings by Picasso and Matisse. It is not only these two artists who have frequented the area, others include Chagall, Dufy and Dalí who have all visited.
A self-drive trip with pre-booked hotels is probably one of the best ways for me to explore a country. I can set my own pace and decide which route I want to take and where I want to stop. The key point for me, however, is that I don't have to worry about the accommodation as everything is already booked for me. I could simply enjoy the drive along this beautiful island. I can tell you - driving on the right side of the road is easier than you think and you get used to it very quickly!
After a short flight from London I arrived in Corsica on a beautiful sunny day. As I landed, the island welcomed me with nice, warm sunshine - a brilliant start.
After I picked up my rental car at the airport, it was only a short drive to my first stop. I checked into my hotel and immediately went for a wander around. The hotel is perfectly situated, as it is just walking minutes away from the beach, the beautiful port and lovely restaurants.
"We come from the land of the ice and snow, from the midnight sun where the hot springs blow."
I've always wanted to incorporate Led Zeppelin into one of my blogs and the opening lines from their classic "Immigrant Song" presented the perfect opportunity.
Singer Robert Plant was inspired to write the lyrics when the band played in Iceland 1970 and this remarkable island has continued to inspire ever since.