I am not really the kind of girl who owns a wardrobe full of practical, sturdy outdoor wear. In all fairness, even if I did, this probably wouldn’t have helped me much when heading to Tromso at the end of this week. I am getting the distinct sense that no-one expects you to cross the Arctic Circle at 23 weeks pregnant.
No normal clothing fits me any more – not my warmest snow coat, nor my waterproof, nor my thermals – and there’s a distinct lack of maternity ski wear available. Perhaps this, finally, is my gap in the market, from which I will make the millions I’ve always dreamed of. But I doubt it somehow. Most pregnant women are simply too sensible to brave the snow.
I have solved the problem, I think, with a pair of 42-inch-waist men’s thermal walking trousers, which I bought in the Hawkshead online sale, and which I’d like to pretend were a loose fit. I also bought a truly horrible XXL men’s jacket, which closely ressembles the sort of thing you see football managers sporting on a Saturday afternoon. All I can say about these garments is: thank god they were heavily reduced. If I’d have paid full price for them, I think I might have sat down and wept.
So, I will not be looking glamorous in Tromso. I will instead be looking like a rotund girl guide leader who’s wandered too far from camp. I will also, I suspect, be looking more than a little matchy-matchy with Herbert, who has bought exactly the same set of garments. We will even be modelling identical Asda men’s thermal Long Johns underneath it all. Just call us Harold and Hilda.
Still, at least nobody knows me in Tromso, and so won’t be able to witness my sartorial fall from grace. And, of course, it’s very much not the point. We’re making this journey in order to cross the first item off our bucket list, and probably the biggest one too. We’re hoping to see the Northern Lights.
I’m not entirely sure that I should have waited until now to go and see them. Quite aside from the fact that we should be saving our pennies at the moment, instead of spending them, most of the things I’d really love to do in Norway are out of the question. Skidoos and saunas must be avoided, and I’m quite incapable of staying up after ten o’clock, let alone sitting up all night in the hope of an elusive sighting. And even the more relaxing trips – like a ride in a husky sled – seem to last about 6 hours, which would stretch my pregnant endurance levels to their limit.
But, still. I just have to accept that I can’t tackle this holiday in the way I could have done six months ago. I will have to take lots of rest, and target all my energies towards the things that matter. Being in Tromso (rather than taking a cheaper package trip to Iceland) means that we’ll have the best chance of a sighting of the elusive lights, which are currently at the height of their brilliance. But it also means a slightly more pregnant-friendly environment, too. It’s reassuring to be in a city, with cafes, shops and, dare I say it, hospitals, nearby.
All in all, I wish I’d been a bit more adventurous with my holidays before it became difficult. I’ve spent years saying, ‘I’d love to see the Northern Lights one day,’ without ever seriously thinking of doing anything about it. For all its inconveniences, maybe I should be grateful for the deadline that pregnancy has given me.
Gorgeous footage of The Northern Lights: