Swimming in the Arctic in January is not a good idea. You just know it's going to be cold and painful.
Sure enough, it was.
We spent last week in Oldervik, a small fishing village about 30 miles north-east of Tromso, way inside the arctic circle. No shop, no cafe, no provisions of any kind except cod, which you can buy at the harbour, fresh off the fishing boats.
But there's plenty of snow and plenty of solitude and plenty of scenery. And plenty of cold, cold fjord.
Karen's sister Morag organised a group of us, specifically to see the Northern Lights, which are particularly active this year and next. We took Cordelia, terrified she would succumb to frostbite or wolves. But she loved it, and somehow we avoided both frostbite and wolves.
We stayed at The Riverhouse, run by the lovely Sarah and her absent partner Jim. It's about two hundred metres from the beach, where the river carves a deep channel out into the fjord. The fjord is very long and fairly narrow, so there's no chance of waves reaching that far. So usually I would have been content to admire the view and not contemplate anything so stupid as getting wet.
This year is different, though. This year, I've been seduced by the pleasures of cold-water swimming, and have found myself drawn to the Brockwell Lido - outdoors, unheated - two or three times a week. I thought that was pretty cold. But one of my Lido buddies Robin encouraged me to try swimming in Norway. So I did! Every day! And twice one day, for some reason!
Stills are on the way, but in the meantime, here's a video that Alison took, and Morag added to and edited.
A few years ago, I spent several months living in a van, surfing my way round Britain. I started in the Hebrides and headed clockwise, ending in North Wales fourteen months later. For a map, click around here.