Thursday, 25 February 2010
Having returned from the latest hytte, it is with great pleasure that I start the sorting of the hytte box. This is a box that is solemnly carted off to every hytte and back, its contents continually under scrutiny, often being used and always replenished. If any Norwegian family does not possess and run one of these with exemplary Norsk efficiency, then I’m a cloudberry.
In every hytte box, wherever it may be, there lurks all manner of essentials. There is the obvious stuff...the matches, torches, pen-knives, sponges, clothes, wipes, batteries, light-bulbs and candles. There is an assortment of tools, the sort necessary for the repair or bicycles, cars, skates, skis and boating equipment. There is some stuff with which to do things to wood. There is a first-aid kit.There must always be a loo roll. There are various types of soap for the washing dishes, floors, animals, human bodies and hair.
On the entertainment front, there are several packs of cards, and that old board game that no-one has ever managed to understand. There is the Norwegian version of Monopoly in which the ambitious can purchase whole mountain ranges and entire ski resorts, not to mention the capital of Norway . There is a sewing-kit and several knitting needles...nobody knows that these could be for. There is a selection of balls from golf to rugby (this latter is omitted from any Norwegian box, the game being seen as an unnecessary affliction cast upon nations with less snow where they need something to do in the winter).
Then there is a collection of ropes, string and pieces of elastic, none of which have any particular purpose, but all of which might just come in handy. There are some extending spades, thermoses, hot-water bottles, and snow chains for the car. There is a dustpan-like piece of plastic with a giant comb on the front, which according to the label, is for the collection of small berries from spiky bushes. Blow-up life jackets and an abundance of beach/swimming equipment will add to the recreational choices on offer. And then there is always a vast selection of fishing equipment, an armoury of lethal-looking hooks, reels for all occasions, fishing line and some jelly-like long, wobbly things that are meant to tempt fish.
Hytte food is rather specific in that it is required to fit into the box. Assuming we will be catching all the protein we need, the rest of the food has to be flat, light, convenient, dry and able to morph into something edible upon the addition of water. Norway freeze-dries and dehydrates with dedicated style and enviable imagination. Thus we have sampled an impressive and exotic number of small, light packets of powder, the flatter the better. A wide range of sophisticated soups and sauces have had all the moisture sooked out before being scooped back into a packet for our delectation.
But the absolute crème-de-la-crème, the best discovery for anyone who has ever prepared a traditional Christmas dinner, is the utterly splendid invention of Boil-in-the-Bag Red Cabbage. Just how many hours of a woman’s life does this stuff save? I am about to start exporting it.
Armed with our hytte box, we are more or less prepared for anything the elements can chuck at us. I simply cannot imagine how I have arrived at this great age without one of these boxes, nor can I conceive of a minute more on this planet without one. They say The Theory of the 7 Ps is an oil industry thing....I suspect it came from a knowledge of hytte-life first. Whatever its origin, it is appropriate for both and is never far from my mind: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
Posted by Returning Scot at 09:46