EVERYONE STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING, THERE'S NO SNOW IN LAPLAND

When my dad initially suggested a trip to Lapland over the Christmas break, I was slightly surprised. Imagining Santa’s grotto, I didn’t think it was his sort of gig. Standing in line begging for presents, justifying his good behaviour whilst perched on Santa’s knee…

But needless to say, after living with Robin for 22 years, I know better. Ever since, to my utter dismay, he took part in a naked art exhibition when I was 14, not much surprises me. To add insult to injury, just by some unforgivable stroke of misfortune, he was featured front row and centre in one of the artist’s final pieces.

Not only did he feature heavily in the exhibition, but he also appeared – naked - on page 3 of The Sun, to his absolute delight. Any normal person would humbly move on, find the episode amusing and life affirming (I guess?). Not Robin. My Dad bought and framed multiple versions of said artist’s exhibition pictures (the ones featuring himself, of course) and ‘gifted’ them to various friends and family members around the country. There’s nothing quite like travelling 220 miles south and bumping into art work of your naked father whilst escaping for a quiet moment in the loo.  

As a result of my pained upbringing, not much surprises me, and I would like to think I consider life with an open mind… However, ‘living for the anecdote’ comes at a price, and that price is to do weird and wacky things. So, Lapland it is.

Unbeknown to me, Lapland is an area in the North of Finland, bordering Sweden, Russia, Norway, and the Baltic Sea. Home to the Sami people, where Reindeer herding is an actual tradition. And with the promise of Husky sleighs and the Northern Lights, I was more than enthused.

Fast forward a few months, slightly groggy from a 5am wake up call, we were in the taxi on the way to Gatwick. After making small talk, my Mum casually mentioned, upon reading reviews the night before, that Lapland was suffering a lack of snow this year. However, she wasn’t as tentative as I, or any other sensible person about to break some pretty devastating news, would be. Instead, as nonchalant as could be, she continued, “yes, well I was reading reviews last night and the children visiting Lapland were very upset this year”. “Oh, why is that Mum?”, I inquired, raising one eyebrow. “Because there’s no snow in Lapland”.

No snow in Lapland. 6am, pulling into Gatwick airport and she drops “there’s no snow in Lapland”.  Well why the F$*k are we going then. As long as my incredibly simple calculations are correct. Every. Single. Activity. Booked. And. Already. Paid. For. Requires. Snow. What does cross-country skiing involve without snow? How do you ride Husky sleighs over melted lakes?

Slumped into my chair at Gatwick’s Jamie’s Diner, I felt convinced that this must be a perfectly executed stitch up by my mother. I glanced around, hoping to find a covertly disguised TV crew of ‘You’ve Been Framed’, ready to document the whole debacle - but after 5 minutes I gave up. Turning my attention to google, I typed “no snow in Lapland” into the search bar.

Dozens upon dozens of articles appeared. I was confused, had I been living under a rock for the past few weeks? Spoilt for choice, I picked the first link, an article by Sky News that reported, “Holidays have been cancelled, families are crestfallen”. Great. Crestfallen seems slightly dramatic, no one has died from a snowless visit to Santa’s grotto.

The Independent reported that, due to an unseasonably warm autumn in Lapland, only a “sprinkling” of snow had graced the season, with travel companies having to cancel some of their trips due to the inability to provide the activities that were dependent on snow and ice.

Although this was not my desired outcome, if you’re ever in need of a laugh, please google “no snow in Lapland” - it is nothing short of comedic.

The Irish Examiner’s headline really hit home with me: “No snow in Lapland: Irish nana ‘sold short’ after spending €6.1K on trip to see Santa.” “Sold short”? By who, I wonder. I mean, she’s very quick to pass the blame here. It seems rather self-righteous to hold a travel company accountable for seasonally unpredictable events. You can’t sue global warming dear.

She goes on to add that although she understands that one can’t control the weather, “they’re knowingly sending us out to no snow. And that’s not fair on the kids”.  Again I take issue with this, what do you mean “it’s not fair on the kids”? This isn’t a question of morality, no one has mis-sold you PPI.

Another article that tickled me featured an interview with Ms Baker on Sky news, who was heartbroken that the “magic” had been taken out of Lapland. Rather rude, but I’m sure the Sami people understood nevertheless. Ms Baker continued to tell Sky, faced with crushing the dreams of her five year old daughter, “I don’t know what I’m going to say to her”. Well, you could start with Global Warming?

It seemed hysterical and baffling that people were so seriously self-righteous about the fact that there was no snow in Lapland, without any consideration for the fact that they have helped cause this fiasco. Funnily enough, it’s not your God-given right to be blessed with 3 meters of snow, just because you’ve paid to be there.

I felt sad and disappointed for a number of reasons. The initial disappointment being that, by ignorantly preparing myself for a winter-wonderland type of holiday, it was disheartening to hear that this probably wasn’t going to be possible. I jest, but I do understand the disappointment that these people would feel by the lack of snow, especially if they have children. However, the travel companies did state the option to rearrange, so my sympathy is still limited. But more importantly, if an area notorious for its harsh climate, dubbed ‘Santa Land’ due to temperatures that can drop to -40°C, can experience temperatures in the + at their coldest time of year, the dire situation of global warming is glaringly exposed.

I’ll cut to the chase and tell you that, luckily for us, the village we were staying in had plenty of snow, so fortunately none of the activities we had planned were compromised. Crisis averted, my long johns and crampons were put to good use! No need to panic! It was still the magical, snow globe scene we were hoping for, and at -25°C it was hard to imagine how people go about their daily life in -40°C!

                                                                                                                 Recreating a scene from Tom & Jerry

                                                                                                           

But the message was still brought home, global warming is scarily serious. It’s not a hoax or a conspiracy, and for the people who disparage it’s ‘popularity’ as fashionable, good. It should be fashionable to care about the state of the planet. I’m not claiming to be perfect and I’m also aware the whole narrative of my article is one of privilege. Arguably, the knowledge and awareness of these problems is something of a privilege in itself, one that should be used and exploited advantageously, without hesitation. In the last few years I’ve started to commit to making choices that reduce the damage we are doing to our planet; rarely eating meat is a major one and significantly cutting down my fish and dairy intake is another. There are so many things you can do (and it’s so easy!!) and frankly, with Lapland being a case in point, playing ignorant is not a viable option anymore. Lest we all end up with a lot worse than snow-less holiday’s.