Saturday, 20 February 2010


When the TA informed me, all those years ago, that we were off to our first hytte for the weekend, he thoughtfully presented me with a helpful list of requirements entitled ‘What to Pack.’ This list stretched from my shoulder to the floor.

I looked at him, startled rigid. ‘Are you NUTS? Have you lost your mind?’

He carried on staring at me, his countenance still as an idol.

I continued, a mysterious shaft of ice creeping into my appalled voice. ‘No mother,’ I said coldly, ‘in the history of motherdom, has ever packed this amount of stuff for one weekend. It is beyond comprehension and entirely unnatural.’

After a considerably long and highly animated discussion, I realised I was entirely mistaken. Not only do Norwegian families pack like this, but they pack like this every other weekend. This is seen as normal behaviour, it is fully expected. Part of being a proper Norwegian is the ability to ‘rough it’.

Three years later, I don’t think twice about the ‘What to Pack’ list. Due to the complexity of the over-all plan, logistics commence several, if not many days, before the launch of manoeuvres. And now, I am an expert. I am not scared of preparing 10 pairs of skis, (two different types of skiing, you know), 10 pairs of ski boots, 20 ski sticks, 5 helmets and 5 ski suits, all of which are different sizes, and several of which change sizes according to the rate of growth of the intended wearer. I then prepare 10 sets of merino underwear of the under-shirt and long-john variety. I consult a weather report for the area in question, and try to guess how many layers of fleece might be needed between merino and ski suit in order to ensure maximum comfort and warmth. Then there is a separate bag devoted to several hundred hats, gloves, scarves, buffs, goggles and big thick socks.

Experience has persuaded me to eliminate pyjamas and any other casual’re either skiing or you’re in your long-johns and there will be nothing in between. An unnecessary pair of jeans or a T-shirt will be viewed as pure vanity, and any such an item will fall outside my maternal responsibility.

Then there’s the bedding. It is apparently The Law that every hytte bed is furnished with a duvet and pillow. This means I must pack pillowcases, sheets and duvet covers, or sleeping bags for each person. Our bulky bedding has been honed down to a small bundle with the acquisition of sheet-bags, a relative of the potato sack, but narrower and marginally less itchy. (Although recently, I did happen to notice the TA slipped in a deluxe version of this item made from pure silk...I can’t help feeling this is a cop out, and not really in the spirit things.) And finally,’re sharing...don’t push it.

I think it was at this point that someone first mentioned a folding canoe. Was that a joke? It was impossible to tell. Clearly this form of recreation was going to someone’s head and they were entering the realms of fantasy. I dictated thus: ‘If anyone wishes to have anything to do with a folding canoe, on their own head be it. It will not be allowed inside the car, and I myself will have nothing whatever to do with it. Is that quite clear?’

Nothing but silence. Conspiratorial silence.

Well, I for one am absolutely fed up with this for now, and I haven’t even started on the food yet. Bet you can’t wait.



  1. I feel your pain and stress! Thank goodness we have that Swedish store to help us out with our 'hytte box' and all the essentials that are required for the trip. Good luck packing or perhaps it would be better put, cramming yourselves into the car! You don't really need that rear view mirror anyway....

  2. Pamela
    Wise words. It is just wrong to look back.

  3. This is why the Kindle was invented :)

  4. Tor
    We need a Kindle for skis. Get to it, Geek.