The day dawned with the first clear skies we’ve had since we arrived. Well, when I say ‘dawned’ that is literally all it did, it never got beyond dawn. There was a period, near midday, when some clouds near the horizon turned a nice red glow of sunset, but the Sun itself never made an appearance.
We went cross-country skiing again this morning. We did much better with the hills today, largely because our skis were properly waxed, but also because we’re getting a feel for the whole thing. Once you get past focussing on the mechanics of moving it’s a fabulous way to see the snow-covered countryside.
After lunch we went curling. Now this was not our first time curling, although it was less incongruous this time than when we went curling in the middle of a New Zealand summer. There was another family also doing curling so the event turned into an Australia v South Africa match. South Africa had one additional child so we got a Finnish ring-in to even things up. Neither our previous experience, nor our Finnish ring-in helped in the slightest as the South Africans comprehensively beat us several times in a row. Luckily we found they were having dinner in the same place as us tonight and craftily wagered the first round of drinks on the outcome of a final match – which we won by a whisker.
For our New Year’s celebration we joined a bunch of locals and tourists in a buffet dinner of local delicacies – think lots of fish and reindeer bits – with a live band that was an amusing cross between country and western and sheer Finnishly weird. The South Africans came through on their round of drinks, and more. Declan and their youngest disappeared into the dark for an epic snowball fight and then got creative trying to knock down icicles to eat. We were joined by a couple of other families including one with a very cute 11-year-old girl who we persuaded Declan to ask to dance not just once but twice.
The kids all had their fortunes told in traditional Finnish fashion. You take a tin horseshoe, place it in a large spoon and melt it in an open fire. Then you drop the molten tin into a bucket of water where it solidifies with a nice steaming sound. A wise, or at least inventive, Finnish woman interprets the twisted shapes that result.
Finally, fireworks amongst the snowdrifts to see in the New Year. Still no Aurora, but an enormously fun final day for 2014.