Our home for the first leg

The routine for getting the 150 meters up from the road to the hytte through the deep snow is that Paul ferries the shopping and bags up as far as the trodden path goes whilst Ingrid wades through the hip-deep snow to the cabin to get two pairs of snowshoes to bring back to Paul, to let the ferrying of food and cabin luggage up through the snow commence. We are pleased to find once again that the hut is still on our arrival. It's been a year since last time.

It's minus ten degrees outside and not much warmer inside. First things first, light the stove. We have enough wood above ground to get it going, then we will have to dig down to excavate the door of the woodshed under the house where the fruits of the last two year's labour should see us through for the next couple of months.

Next: Water? Plug in the hot water tank and establish whether any of the pipes have split. No emergency plumbing needed this year either! Things are looking distinctly beaming.

Meanwhile, while the cat's away.... we find we have a house full of mouse droppings and two of three mouse traps have harvested victims. A bit sad and a bit exciting and a bit satisfying somehow. The war on mice has begun. Don't really want them pooing on our saucepan lids and in boots - not while we are here anyway.

Then there's the roof.... is it still there under the snow? We wonder about the chimney - not been swept for 12 years. We call the council sweep, he tells us they only come out in summer, suggests buying our own gear and doing it ourselves. It turns out you can get a chimney sweeping set from our favourite have-everything-shop in Bo, the centre of civilisation 15 minutes drive down off our mountain. Paul works from below, Ingrid from above, clearing snow off roof. The sweeping gear is rather weedy and not really up to the job but it's a satisfying thing, checking out your own chimney. It seems remarkably ok.

The best way to lose the excess stomach we read is to do interval training and weight bearing exercise. A lesser aim of GT18 is to emerge svelte from the experience. We develop an early interest in interval cross country ski training. The initial enthusiasm wanes after three days but those three days may, after all, have made all the difference. Who knows? We manage to impress Alex anyway, Ingrid's brother who comes to visit for the weekend with her mum. Or maybe we didn't impress him that much. He seemed to find it a bit easier than we did. Marianne made it up in the deep snow at 84, though for the first year she has decided she probably shouldn't be going skiing.

Cinema - Darkest hour. 10 people in the cinema.

We are going to be here for a couple of months and trying to sort it so that Paul can work. Not one to sit about, Ingrid is taking the opportunity to carry out a few home improvements, with the helps of two enterprising local Slovak lads whose note we found in our letterbox. Turns out they are a dab hand at destruction - and construction hopefully.

'The winter of our childhoods' - the snow keeps on falling and the snowscapes get more beautiful.

We learn that mice climb trees. Another four dead mice found in the birdboxes. 12 years on we still haven't found the keys we left in one of those birdboxes when we first got the hytte

here we are