It all started when I met my husband in 2008. At the time I was a city girl who lived in London in an apartment in Kensington. I travelled a lot, often on long hauls to LA, Sydney, Fiji, both for work or to visit friends and family. Life was busy, moving through the city, the traffic, in and out of airports, crowds, queues, always surrounded by people. I was often recognised and I loved that. Who wouldn't? Life was pretty sweet.
At the time, the idea of roaming around in nature alone had quite simply never crossed my mind. The only times I was outdoors was either when out walking my dogs in the park, or going for a run in the park, walking somewhere or out shopping. There were always buildings, cars and pollution nearby. I ran outdoors in the park but for the rest did all my exercising indoors at the gym. Plus I was a pretty well known face so I kept to safe places, like my home, my park, my gym or my friends' places. It takes a taste of fame to understand the blessing of anonymity.
As a child however, we spent many holidays in Luxembourg, Switzerland and Spain, mountain walking. Weekends were often spent walking and playing in local forests or the dunes in Holland were i grew up until the age of eleven. However, this very much stayed in my childhood. At 19 after finishing my A-levels at a British school in Madrid I moved to London to study at university and had been a city girl ever since.
My husband on the other hand is the complete opposite. He is a mountain man. His heart, his passion, his life is all about mountains, mountain guiding, mountain rescue, mountain medicine and on and on it goes. It was in the Norwegian mountains that we met, on a reality show called 71 Degrees North. For me, being out of my element was a challenge, but I relish challenges. It's what makes me feel alive. For him, as the teams medic, it was a job doing what he loved. For both of us it was an opportunity. We met and then something magical happen there, immersed in wild, raw nature, surrounded by so much life. Almost as if some of that magical life essence entered me and has been growing ever since, binding me to my man, to these mountains.
During our first years in Norway we lived in an apartment in Oslo and we also rented a weekend place in the mountains, in a ski resort called Hemsedal (Norway´s most popular ski resort). We drove up there whenever we had time off work. This is where my husband introduced me to the way of life of the mountains. The freedom of open spaces, the fresh air, the good that outdoor exercise does to your body, the thrill of the challenges of climbing, reaching mountain tops, skiing down through pine forests. This is a type of activity unlike anything in busy city life, but one that always leaves me content, happy, feeling more healthy and alive than ever. Then, when our second child was on the way, we really needed to think as to where we were going to settle as a family and where we wanted to bring up our sons.
It's not an easy decision to make, all things considered. But did we really want to live in a flat and bring up the boys playing in parks and playgrounds and being mostly indoors in an apartment Monday to Friday? Then be stuck in traffic Friday evening driving up to the mountains together with all the other thousands of weekend commuters? I mean, yes, there were lots of pros with living in the city, such as international schools, museums, cinemas, theatres etc, international restaurants, being close to family and being only 30 minutes from the airport and most importantly career opportunities.
Moving to the mountains the pros were a bigger house, living surrounded by beautiful nature, all our favourite sports and activities on our doorstep. The cons were colder winters, cooler summers, a 3 hour drive to the airport and family, a very limited access to shops and culture and a few big changes career wise.
After weighing everything up we just decided to follow our hearts and move to the mountains. I handed in my notice at the company where I was working as a production manager, we sold our apartment, packed up and moved to Hemsedal, were we purchased an old farm house complete with a barn and the most spectacular views.
It has been 3 years since we moved here and I have not regretted it once. Something happened when we came up here, enduring harsher longer winters and cooler summers; I just fell head over heels in love with nature. The more I was outdoors the happier I became. Seeing my boys come in the house with rosy cheeks and cold fingers after a day out in the snow just warms my heart. They are always happy when they are outdoors. After dinner last night I asked what they wanted to do, watch tv? “No mummy we want to play outside”. I paused to watch them from the kitchen window playing with their bows and arrows which they made themselves, pretending they were in Africa hunting crocodiles. Behind them lay the most beautiful backdrop of a golden sun setting behind snow capped mountains casting fiery colours over the green valley.
I am grounded, I am home, healthy and happy, this is our life and this is where we are going to bring up our two wonderful boys. It may get cold here sometimes, but it fills my heart with the heat of love to think that more than me choosing this mountain life, maybe, just maybe, it was the mountains that chose me.
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