‘w ould you like to go to La­p­land?’ is not a ques­tion that is oft pitched in one’s di­rec­tion. ‘Isn’t it where Fa­ther Christ­mas lives?’ is prob­a­bly the usual re­sponse to this un­usual ques­tion, fol­lowed by a re­sound­ing, ‘Yes, ab­so­lutely.’

For a girl raised in the balmy climes of Jo­han­nes­burg – bar­ring one or two ridicu­lous cold snaps – my vis­ual ref­er­ence chart was work­ing over­time in Kit­tila, La­p­land, which is an hour’s flight from Helsinki in the north­ern part of Fin­land. I now have snow in all its white it­er­a­tions firmly em­bed­ded in my op­tic ca­ble. And on my Nokia Lu­mia, where I have filed away for fu­ture de­light the sights and sounds of this place, in nu­mer­i­cal or­der…

1 UKSI (Lapp for 1):The Lap­pish drum as played by the grand­son of the last shaman to herd thou­sands of rein­deer in the Lapp forests. He sang a ‘hoik’ – a plain­tive dirge, in this in­stance com­posed by his grand­fa­ther, who in­ci­den­tally re­fused to con­vert to Chris­tian­ity, as his pa­gan ways seemed to be serv­ing him very well, given the size of the herd.

3 KALOME (3):A nuz­zle with a rather grumpy teenage rein­deer whose horns had re­cently fallen off (ap­par­ently this hap­pens once a year and causes some de­spair in the young rein­deer soul). I also con­fess to eat­ing some bits of rein­deer cousins; there is a deep love for Ru­dolph in all his forms in La­p­land.

2 KAKSI (2):An oth­er­worldly sleigh ride helmed by 30 huskies who in­stantly trans­ported me to snowqueen sta­tus.

KUSI (Lapp for 6 and dou­bles as the word for Christ­mas

tree): Many fine en­er­getic and icy ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing some dare­devil

ice-kart rac­ing, snow­shoe walk­ing,

a snow sa­fari… 6

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