We have been to Lapland today!
We were up at 3.40am having stayed overnight near the airport. Bleary eyed we put many layers on to keep the cold out in the pending minus temperatures!
Both boys struggled to get to sleep the previous night, but awoke with the excitement of visiting Santa in his homeland!
The adventure begins at the airport. We are greeted by a bagpipe player, carols create that festive atmosphere; an array of characters including a massive penguin, Freddo the frog and a lion hand out sweets to the excited children, whilst we queue to get checked in!
Having successfully negotiated our immense amount of hand luggage, that included all our snow gear and medicines for Harry, the boys were given a rucksack each with chocolates, drawing packs, felt tips, playing cards and torches: entertainment for the flight!
We aboard our plane for 7am and without any delay, we are soon high up in the sky, able to see the sunrise!
We fly via Monarch airlines, the first ever company I flew with at the age of 18!
We are given drinks and breakfast before entertainment starts and the intercom system is taken over by the singing of Christmas songs! Both boys get involved and sing over the intercom! Then there is a joke telling time and Harry makes everyone groan with his joke
'Why do Giraffes have such long necks?
Because they have very smelly feet!' Boom, boom!
Upon landing we venture into the enchanted forest.
The boys adored the snow. They were quickly having a ball running around in the crisp fresh snow, helped by new friends Zoe and Lauren, whom the boys flirted with throughout the day! snowball fights were started by Callum and soon a small group were involved! We headed to the reindeers and go on a short trip in a sleigh. It is dusk by lunchtime, but the white surroundings make it feel lighter for longer and the candles dotted in the snow illuminate pathways and create that magical feel that an enchanted forest should have!
We quickly moved onto the skid doo snowmobiles, trying to fit all the activities into a short space of time! Daddy gets to drive a skid doo on his own, Harry gets to sit at the very front of the leading skid doo, with the forest worker and Callum and I stick to being pulled in the sleigh!
Callum wasn't happy wearing the helmets and had a mini melt down, but soon recovered when he got to drive his own mini skid doo! Callum would have stayed driving his round in circles all day! The expression on his face was priceless, hard to capture in the dusk, unfortunately, but the calendar TV cameraman took a shot of him, so watch out next week! Having experienced the snow slides and got a little cold, it was time to sample the refreshments. Barbecued sausages, toasted marshmallows, hot chocolate and berry juice, hit the spot very nicely!
Harry suddenly became over cold, so we headed to the nearby log cabin where there was an open fire and seating to enable us to warm up and feel toasty warm again. The enchanted forest experience was rounded off by a firework display!
Back on our coaches we were very quickly in the hotel where we had a scrumptious buffet lunch, serenaded by an elf band!
The hotel is truly festive with its Christmas decorations, massive long tables adorned with red table cloths!
Desert was fruit and cream and the boys got stuck into the table full of chocolates! They both filled a bowl each, but instead of eating the lot themselves they decided it was a good idea to go round whoever they could and offered Them out! I felt a very warm mummy glow as people thought they were very cute!
It was soon time for singing as we awaited the arrival of Santa. The boys got onto the middle of the stage and with the other children gave loud renditions of Rudolph the Red Nose reindeer and Jingle Bells!
Word got out that Santa was outside and the boys were so very excited seeing him walk outside with his reindeer! When Santa arrived in the building, Harry couldn't contain himself and was shouting 'Santa's here, Santa's here!' To anybody and everybody!
Each child got to sit on the sofa with Santa, have a short chat and recieve a present- a fluffy, cuddly, reindeer!
The atmosphere in the hotel was awesome! I think because everybody had such common ground - a child with life limiting problems, it felt like one very big family.
It felt quite liberating to be with people who just know how difficult life can be at times. Nobody looked at each other in sympathy, as is usual when we go out and our story is shared, but there was the ability to swap stories and feel included!
Our day was rounded off by a visit to Santa's village. The festive feel that oozed from this place made my eyes sting with tears! We crossed over into the Arctic Circle, which is marked by a dividing blue line of light! We visited a few souvenir shops, but the boys were desperate to play in the snow and Callum having had a very large melt down in a shop, surprisingly recovered when he got to go out again on the snow slides!
The boys just loved the snow. It had snowed all day and because of the clouds, we had no chance of seeing the northern lights.
The amazing Christmas lights made up for it though! Giant snowmen and real Christmas trees, that grow there all year round!
Tired and ready to go home, we get back on the coach at 5.15pm. The airport is thankfully only a short drive away.
Our day in Lapland draws to a close.
We had an enjoyable Christmas dinner on the way home, followed by a small bottle of sparkling rose wine! Callum slept the whole way home, not even wanting to wake up for his meal! An exhausted little boy! He was very happy though to be greeted by another addition to his ever growing cuddly toy collection upon waking up - Paddington Bear! Each child received a Paddington Bear as another souvenir of their magical day!
Towards the end of the flight Chris Kamara (former footballer) led singing over the intercom, with a great rendition of Angels, by Robbie Williams, then moving onto Elvis before being rudely interrupted by the need to land!
Harry had fallen asleep in the latter part of the flight and was very tired and grumpy when woken up to disembark the plane. However, his mood was lifted when greeted on the way out of the airport by a big hug from Lauren Drummond (chantelle in holby city) and Zoe (former production from holby city); and if that wasn't enough, each child left with another goody bag and balloon and a local choir were singing Christmas carols. We were completely choked by the end and both of us were fighting back the tears of having experienced such an awesome day!
It was a day that money can't buy. Medical support was on standby throughout the day. Medical insurance was not an issue, we just made a contribution towards this and the charity, just sorted it! To go out of the country for so many of us, is not something we would do on our own. To have such an immense team surrounding us, made it all possible!
The organisation must have been immense too, all the goody bags packed, all the contents bought or sort as a donation from companies. The planning and time that went into making this adventure is not underestimated by us.
Yet again, we are bowled over by human kindness.
We are at a time of uncertainty with Harry. I have been panicking about the pain he has had in his leg and wondering if radiotherapy would be necessary pre Christmas, but Harry has had amazing stamina this week and is just loving running about again! I am certain that the carrot of going to Lapland has spurred him on, increased his determination and I am now feeling warm and fluffy inside and feel I can allow myself to look forward to Christmas, knowing that as a family we shall all wake up on Christmas day and enjoy giving presents to each other!
Live, laugh Love!