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On the wild side

I pushed my thumb forward and the engine came alive with a deep growl. My weight shifted back into the seat as the snowmobile lurched, then glided forwards to join the 30 others making a quick procession across the metre-thick ice on Lake Are.

I'd had no idea what to expect when the plane bounced down the runway at Ostersund airport. The one conveyer belt grumbled and then begrudgingly started its cyclic journey. A group of taxi drivers holding placards stood clustered to one side wearing fur hats and thick jackets. Luckily one card had, 'Barcroft J' slanting across it. 'Tommy, welcome to Sweden', he replied in a thick accent when I introduced myself, slightly dwarfed next to my oversized ski bag.

Tommy slammed his door shut and we were cocooned from the howling winds and icy temperatures. He picked up a breathalyser and exhaled. Luckily, he had refrained from alcohol and we were able to spin off towards the mountains hidden in the darkness. Unfortunately, the only Swedish words I could remember (strangely enough taught to me en-route to Heathrow that morning by a bilingual taxi driver) were 'tack' (thank you) and 'hej hej' (hello and goodbye). Fortunately, Tommy's English was much better, and he launched into a detailed and bizarre story about mice. After explaining the best ways to hunt them, he took his hands off the steering wheel (using his knees to drive) and put them, now splayed, to the side of his head and bellowed. At this point I realised he was actually talking about moose.

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