Sit quietly, and I’ll begin.

I sit quietly in the late evening light amidst bracken and undergrowth, awaiting tomorrow’s dinner to come out to feast on some lush green grass; I stare up and watch a majestic barn owl sweeping stealthily over the hedgerows with the same idea as me.

A shrew is sat next to me, oblivious of my presence. I heard it scurry through the dried grass behind me, then up beside me. I didn’t move. I hardly breath. It carries on its way without a blink.

11822635_10155970825070374_9133926041935036108_nA pair of roe deer cautiously move through the longer grass one hundred metres ahead of me. They are the second pair to join my line of sight.

Rustling from my right. I bring my eyes around slowly, hoping that tomorrow’s dinner is finally coming out to eat. It’s noisy, clumsy even, not at all like I’m expecting from my reluctant dinner guest to be. A badger struts out into the field a couple of metres to my right, then carries on across the field.

Other than the inquisitive grey squirrel, and the mink that curved and slew from one hedgerow to another, I’m starting to wonder if tomorrow’s dinner is even going to show.

It’s getting darker. The Buzzards and Kites aren’t around at this hour, so it can’t be them that are causing a lack of bravery in my future stew.

Sat to my right, and slightly behind me is Ali. He’s 9 now and bright as a button when it comes to what we are here to do… or not do, as things are seemingly playing out.

11822436_10155995436775374_4542131996419759813_nThe night swallows the dusk and we call the stalk off. There’s no sense of disappointment as we are happy enough to have witnessed a peaceful, yet nocturnally busy section of our beautiful countryside and some of its inhabitants.

I eat meat and eggs and I have animal produce based products throughout my wardrobe, my house, my car, my workplace… much like most of the people I know – even the vegetarians. I know a majority of animal produce comes from factory farmed animals – and this doesn’t make me particularly thrilled. Factory farming is cruel, sickening and… well, you don’t care because you don’t see it. Like most people I still buy the stuff because there’s not much of an alternative.

Meat generally comes in tins, in frozen bags, or on polystyrene trays covered in clear film, so you don’t get the guilt of the process it took to get to that stage. In fact all animal produce, be it food, clothing, perfume, drink, paint, glue, string, car interiors, key fobs, wallets etc is pretty far detached from the source. You don’t get the guilt; you are far, far removed.

I’m not about to go and live in a yurt and survive on air, and I’m not about to go vegan, and I’m not about to say how all you supermarket shoppers are bloody murderers (because I’m still one of those murderers… albeit begrudgingly) but in my own small way I want to distance myself from the factory farming that goes on. One simple way to do this is to go and hunt meat from a renewable source: I can then ensure a quick and clean despatch whilst at the same time getting a 100% free range, healthy, clean living animal on my plate. It does go against my love of animals, although it’s an immense leap away from the harrowing supermarket meat hell.

In Northern Arctic Sweden we plan to be as self-sufficient as we can be. Grow our own fruit and veg, raise rabbits and chickens and go hunting for food and trade with the locals. Firstly though I need to get some hunting skills under my belt, as the last thing I’d want to do is to turn up with all the gear and no idea.

563631_10152372152000374_412049778_nI am a target rifle shooter (much like the Olympic prone shooters), and I am in the higher percentage when it comes to accuracy and precision. In simple terms, at 100 metres I could pierce a male teenage rabbit’s ear so when it gets home its father will give it a huge lecture on ‘So this is how you want to live your life eh? Earrings now is it? Hmm? You’ve not been the same since you started hanging around with the rabbits from the warren down the street! They’re a bad influence on you my lad!’… I digress…

5 shots at 50 metres

I am a good shot. I decided to put this to good use and go out to feed my family. I knew I could shoot a rabbit without it knowing a thing about it. The last thought would be full of blue skies, green fields, fresh air and then nothing at all. My third greatest concern was how I’d feel actually doing it.

As it turns out I did feel remorse, but not regret. It was a clean shot as expected (a rabbit is easy compared to the competition target size I am used to) and I felt good knowing that it didn’t know a thing. It didn’t even flinch at the muted crack of my suppressed rifle. Heck, if I had the choice it’s they way I’d want to go; a free spirit blissfully unaware of everything apart from the sun on my back and my lungs full of fresh air and freedom, and then nothing. Sure beats crapping yourself in an old persons rest home whilst eating jello and watching ‘Songs of Praise‘ on a Sunday afternoon.

This rabbit was not shot for nothing. As I stroked his fur smooth and placed him in my game bag, I actually thanked him for the meal that I’d gratefully have. Seriously. If you don’t respect it, don’t do it.

wpid-wp-1438332881496.jpegNext up was my second greatest concern: Alex.

How would he feel about this? We’d already talked about factory farms and he really dislikes them. He is a big-hearted lad and loves all animals, so hunting them didn’t sit well with him – or rather it caused confusion. He knew on one hand it was far better to hunt and kill a wild rabbit, knowing it was a clean quick kill of a free and happy living animal, but on the other hand it was still killing a fluffy bunny. He was okay, with reservations, so I didn’t push for him to come out hunting with me. He’d have to get used to it due to our future plans, but I wasn’t about to rush him.

After my first hunt I arrived home with the rabbit in a bag so Ali wouldn’t have to see it. I walked into the front room of our house to go through to the kitchen and he asks quietly; ‘Is that a rabbit?’ I told him that it was and offered him a look into the bag. He gingerly looked in from the top of the bag, but really couldn’t get the whole picture. I asked if he’d like to see it on the table outside, to which he nodded quietly.

Once the rabbit was on the table Alex became curious and asked to stroke it. It had lovely smooth fur from its healthy diet, and as the shot had been clean there was very little blood or tissue damage.

It looks so cute...’ he started.

I figured this was it. He still gets upset about one of our cats that had to be put down many years back.Any second now the tears…

…and it feels so soft… and… is that where the bullet went in? Where did it come out?… It must have been quick! He doesn’t even look surprised!‘…

With that, Alex was satisfied that I had done my job correctly. Precise, accurate and painless. He didn’t feel so bad as it was all for a good reason.

I asked if he’d like to see me skin and gut it. This was my biggest fear; not for Alex but for me. I had to gut and skin Mr.Rabbit for the pot. I didn’t even do biology at school because, well… ew. I mean really… ew, ew and ew. Bloik…

Maybe with Ali beside me I’d be forced to man up and….

EEP!!! No thank you!!!‘ squeaked Ali as he scampered off…


Turns out it wasn’t so bad. I appear to have grown up and grown a pair.I had purchased an insanely surgically sharp Morakniv bush knife and the whole incident went smoothly. I say smoothly, but what I really mean is it was a mess of a job, but I didn’t hurl. I didn’t even feel like hurling. Had the blade been dull and had I had to hack and tear at the rabbit, then I may have felt worse for it.

Turns out Ali was more curious than nauseous. As I was butchering the rabbit Ali had come back and was looking through the bucket of internal bits and pieces; asking questions about which bit went where and noting that kidney beans must be called kidney beans because they look like kidneys. He’s very much like my dad in that way; he could look at a scene of human devastation (he was an air accident investigator) and become completely detached from the carnage, locking straight in to scientist mode. To him it wasn’t evidence of a life, but rather clues to the cause of the crash – ‘Look at this poor pilot’s neck!‘ – ‘Yes, you can see the impact must have happened with some lateral force, suggesting the aircraft fell sideways into the ground…

Whilst he was still showing interest I offered him the chance for a hunt that same evening. He’d never really shown much spark at joining me for target shooting, although I  had hoped he would one day (like I did, taking after my dad). He jumped excitedly at the chance though, and has been on nearly all of my trips out since. He makes a wonderful spotter, and he ensures I keep my end of the bargain up by auditing my shots, checking to make sure my shots are swift and with no suffering – He’s adamant that trophy hunting is bad, but hunting for an honest purpose (as long as it is painless) is okay.

Here’s the thing… Like me, he gives the rabbit a loving stroke before I put it in the game bag. He’s not in it for the kill – which is fine by me, because neither am I.

He’s not squeamish, hes incredibly safe and follows instructions to the dot (where guns are involved I am very, very strict on safety). It’s turned from me worrying if he’d be able to even look at me for shooting a rabbit for food, to the both of us having some of our greatest bonding moments ever!11825006_10155985366640374_3636391379000896382_n

Since his first hunt he’s gained some camo gear and a monocle telescope. He’s even enquired as to being able to train to shoot targets so he can one day shoot to eat. As for eating… I cooked a Rabbit Biryani with our first two rabbits and Ali enjoyed every last bite.

11694804_10155852241795374_2628158483857138131_nOne thing that people don’t appreciate about hunting is that you are fully immersed in the wildlife, the countryside, and in trying not to be seen you see some amazing and beautiful sights. For me and Ali the kill shot is by far smallest part of the day – albeit not insignificant as it is taking a life after all: We get our enjoyment out of the environment of the hunt, the smells, the noises, and the other wildlife we see during the day.

It makes us appreciate our good friend the rabbit (and what other quary may come our way), and it gives us the ownership and the responsibility to give that quary the respect it deserves.

You can’t get do that with a vacuum packed slab of supermarket flesh.

Some people are very negative about hunting for food. They see all hunters as elephant poaching lion murderers. Yeah, and all car drivers drive drunk, all vegetarians are stinking hippies, all dogs are vicious and so on…

Some say that by me explaining my hunting in blog posts I am in someway trying to justify it to myself.

Cognitive dissonance anyone?

If you do some research on factory farms and can still say that my single, painless bullet is more barbaric than one of those mass meat producing inhumane factories, then what you’re really doing is trying to justify to yourself that you’re somehow in the right, not that I’m in the wrong.

 If you don’t like it, then that’s fine with me; just don’t try to justify your views by trying to make me out to be the one at fault.





Trying to set up a bank account so it is ready for us when we get to Sweden is being a pain.

Handelsbanken (the Swedish bank we want to use) require a signed letter from our current UK bank that simply states that yes, we are who we say we are and we have been customers for however many years. It’s a very simple reassurance to the Swedish bank that we can be trusted, as we are long time established customers of a UK bank.

The trouble is, our particular branch (the signature is at the branch managers discretion) hadn’t seen this type of letter before, so they said they couldn’t sign it due to bank policy. We know it isn’t bank policy as we called head office. It is purely the branch manager’s decision. He didn’t want to check it out, so made a quick ‘Nope‘ there and then. Didn’t even ask his superiors. Lloyd’s have always been good to us, so this was a kick in the teeth and a possible rethink regarding who we bank with.

We went to HSBC and yes, they can do international banking and it will allow you to take your account to any country, along with any history (which is good for credit, mortgages etc)… but you need to have £50,000 in the account in the first place. So that’s no good as we aren’t quite up to that in our savings account. By a long shot.

bankThe other option might be Handelsbanken, the bank we actually want to go with. They are a Swedish bank now running in the UK. I don’t think the UK and Swedish branches are linked as such – in fact I believe they are independent, but as they are all under the same umbrella it might be the way forward. A branch/office has opened up locally so we’ll be trying to get in contact with them.

More as it happens….


Truck Law and Old Dogs

One consideration – and a major on at that – is the road use law for Sweden in regards to old vehicles.

The environmental laws are very tight & restrictive for commercial vehicles & large trucks, so I am looking into that at the moment.

Tax on the other hand is looking good. Vehicles over 30 years old do not require road tax, so our 1977 Series 3 88″ petrol Land Rover is tax exempt.

If we go for the Bedford MJ, that would also be tax exempt – but might be restricted as to where it can travel. I am waiting for some answers from the Swedish transport department on that.

Meanwhile, after a ring gear failure, ‘Frank’ the Landy is undergoing surgery, and at the same time will be serviced & modified to deal with Swedish roads & weather better.


Floating the idea…

When plans become more solid, I’m thinking of raising funds for ‘Help for Heroes’. The drive in an old army truck from the South of England to the Arctic north of Sweden is not a simple one, and I’m doing this way to get to know the country & have a bit of an adventure during the move – but it occurred to me that in using an old army truck I could also help those who used to drive them, for us, in ‘less idyllic’ locations.

It’s just an idea at the moment, but it feels right.


Jokkmokk Visit Summer 2014

In August 2014 Christine took her mum and Alex to Jokkmokk to see the place in the flesh, and to meet up with a chap from Future Jokkmokk, who made the move to Jokkmokk from the UK about 10 years ago, and now helps others do the same.

She was well and truly won over by the place – and not just Jokkmokk. She spent a little time in Luleå and a far amount of time on the road driving from Luleå to Jokkmokk, through some wonderful Swedish countryside.

Her overall impression was one of a modern, clean and friendly country that strives to give everyone an even chance to live a good life. Even out in the middle of nowhere in Jokkmokk there were full amenities and services – so much so that you could go out there and live off of the grid, but still have all the mod cons you are used to in a more highly populated area.


One such example was the camping area she stayed in where she had a Facetime (like Skype) talk with me, as she took her phone around the site and down to the lake to show me on the video call what the place was like. Heck, if we leave the house in the UK we lose network connection, but she was walking through woods and by a lake and was streaming high definition video to me. Yup – out in the peace yet still able to connect to the world if you want to.

Anyway, Chris will be blogging about her trip at some point when she has some time – but meanwhile here is a link to the photo album of the trip.




Why Sweden? Why the North?


We like peace and quiet. With a little over 2,000 people in Jokkmokk and the nearest city 2 hours away, you get peace and quiet.

Being a small community you also get that small community spirit that gets sucked out by overcrowding due to the higher percentage of arseholes per metre squared. That being said, Sweden is regarded as one of the top friendliest nations in its own right – so by that rule, a small community is going to be that much friendlier again. Chris found this out when she visited.

Oh, but the weather?!? A typical query from British friends.

Yes, it has weather.

Unlike the UK though, Sweden seems to have realised that in the winter it gets cold and there is snow, and so they are prepared for it. It’s like they’ve realised that this cold weather happens around the same time each year, and they have the infrastructure to deal with it. Amazing.

It also has rain. That is known to happen. It happens in the UK too.

What about sunshine? Yup. Sweden gets that as well. Jokkmokk, being inside the Arctic circle, gets long summer days and long winter nights. Almost 24 hours of sun a day at the height of the summer, and almost 24 hours dusk (not darkness) at the depths of winter.

Compared to England, and bearing in mind it is well within the Arctic Circle, you’d be surprised at how comparable the climate is. Yes, it is a couple of degrees colder in the summer, and yes, it is a lot, lot colder in the winter, but as Billy Connolly once said:

There is no such thing as bad weather; just the wrong clothes

…or words to that affect.

It has a less humid atmosphere and less rain, with less chance of rain, than England for most of the year around.

This graphic shows the difference between the London and Jokkmokk. As an example, in January it shows Jokkmokk has 24mm less rain that London.


There are many other reasons we are heading out that way, and those will be explored in more blog write ups over the next few months.


It’s a thought still to be fleshed out, but a thought with some grit and adventure to it.

Drive to the Arctic Circle from the south of England.

The idea that is forming is to take an old army Bedford MJ 4 ton truck and drive all of our gear to the land beyond the sunset (it’s in the Arctic… think about it). It’s a old truck and I’m not as young as I was, but as Tennyson put it in the :

‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world…
…for my purpose holds to sail beyond the sunset,

If the truck idea is to be used, then the truck cannot simply be called ‘the truck’.  It would be deserving of a much greater name.

We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
And there you have it. Tennyson’s ‘Ulysses‘ sums it up and gives the truck it’s moniker.


Ulysses is the Roman translation of Odysseus. It was used by Tennyson for the poem of the same name, and in a twist, it was ‘Odyssey’ that was used by Finnish author Thomas Warburton in his Swedish translation of Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’..

Operation Arctic Viking

Operation Arctic Viking is so-called because we are heading (hoping to head…) into the Swedish Arctic circle in Jokkmokk.

Arctic‘ is self-explanatory.

Viking‘ in its truest form comes from the Old Norse feminine noun víking, which refers to an expedition overseas.

So… Arctic Expedition Overseas. I’m pretty sure you figured that bit out…

It’s going to be a long journey…

And that’s where the blog really starts.