We were met at the airport by the Finnish Ambassador. She came armed with a letter of support form Margaret Beckett, who congratulated us on undertaking the trip and drawing attention to the dangers of climate change.
There was also a letter from the Finnish Prime Minister wishing us well. He thanked us for starting the trek in Finland and bringing together the worlds of charity, politics and the environment.
Flying over a very snowy Finland - the captain comes on to the tannoy to welcome us on board and tell us about the route. He then, very slowly, told us that the temperature in Northern Finland is -20C.
"Yesterday", he said, long pause, "at my house it was -30C. Long pause, "this is perfectly normal".
Long pause. "At the moment it is cloudy".
Long pause. "If it becomes clear", pause, "it will get colder".
"The dogs will be used to it", pause, "don't worry".
Pause. "Good luck".
Arctic wisdom - day 1
Our team of Arctic adventurers fly from London to Kittila via Helsinki, arriving in the late afternoon, and then a minibus transports us to lodgings at Katkasuvanto on the Finland/ Sweden border, and into the heart of Sápmi Land.
This land is home to one of the largest indigenous groups in Europe; the Sámi people. They have a population estimated to be between 75,000 to 100,000 people. They have inhabited the northern regions of Scandinavia for thousands of years, with some evidence suggesting they have been there from as early as 8100BC.
At its peak this land spanned across an area the size of Sweden alone, however, settlers drove the Sámi progressively north, and nowadays their land encompasses parts of northern Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Kola Peninsular of Russia. Whilst we may not be used to the freezing climate, it is part of the Sámi’s every day life that they have learnt to build their activities around.
More of the Sámi people’s lifestyles will be explored over the coming days of the expedition.
Back to the 70's
A rather lovely looking hut is where we are staying tonight. We have been given our extreme suits. They have a distinct 70s look with platform boots and flared trousers - actually with balaclavas and hats it is more 70s Ningas.
You can't recognise people as everyone has the same uniform - the only difference is the hats. However, we really need the suits! I was stuck outside the cabin tonight (bum key) with just three layers on. It definitely wasn't enough. Even with the suit on it is cold unless you keep moving. The story is that it was -37C last week and has warmed up. It is now -10 to -14 during the day.
I'm told they don't bother saying minus here. Yes, I am obsessed with the temperature. Maybe I'll feel better if I survive tomorrow.