Cabin Porn

In late November, I was on the Bus 205 after finishing a nine-hour shift at Starbucks and was heading to the Mac repair store to see, once again, if my laptop had been fixed. I was in the midst of essay deadlines, late night shifts at work and the typical rush which makes up each Londoner’s everyday life. While turning the pages of a health magazine somebody had left behind on the bus, I came across the review of a book called “Cabin Porn”, which collects pictures of peaceful cottages from around the world, from the US, to northern Europe and New Zealand. “It is every Londoner’s wish to escape the hectic, everyday routine and isolate oneself in one of these cabins” read the article. Back then, I remember not paying much attention to it, and kept skim reading the magazine; but a few weeks later, I found myself booking tickets to Norway with the aim to find one of these idyllic, isolated cabins, where to spend a few nights and dedicate time to myself and to what I love doing the most.

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Landing in Oslo on Wednesday

Exactly one year ago, I was on my way to Kiruna in the Swedish Lapland on a trip to see the spectacular northern lights. Before heading there, I stayed a few nights in a friend’s cottage in the suburbs of Stockholm. Waking up at 9am when the sun had barely risen, candles lit up on the dining table and Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” playing on the radio, I realised how a Scandinavian cottage in the freezing, dark winter was my ideal weekend escape from the city life.

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Spectacular Norwegian nature at 10am

On my way to central Norway a few days ago, though, I kept asking myself what I was doing. Travelling all alone to the middle of nowhere, in the darkness and in bitterly cold temperatures. I constantly reminded myself that if I survived forty degrees below zero waiting for the northern lights to appear, I could make it through any winter day, anywhere. After landing in Trondheim’s airport on Wednesday afternoon (which felt more like midnight), I put on my thermal wear and the heaviest clothes I had with me. In the streets of the city I kept walking by 21st century Vikings who were wearing Converse and unzipped jackets. I looked more like a human version of the Michelin man.

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The Cabin

I stocked up food and water in one of Norway’s ridiculously expensive supermarkets, and took the bus which would drive me as close as possible to the hytte (Norwegian for “cabin”). I walked for about 30 minutes in the darkness, to eventually get lost. I rang the owner of the cottage, a friend of a friend, who told me to ask their neighbour Eigil for help. I was welcomed in his pleasantly warm red cottage and served hot tomato soup, “you don’t find these good soups in Rome!” he told me, and admitted a few seconds later that it came powdered in a Heinz sachet. He works as a mechanic and hates snow, which I found surprising for someone living in a place where temperatures could go below freezing also on midsummer’s day. He excitingly showed me the weather forecast which did not predict snow within the upcoming week and told me that his ideal day is 15 degrees warm and cloudy – quite different expectations also from a winter-loving person like me. 

Eventually, he walked me to the cottage and on the way up the hill noticed moose footprints in the snow, something a city person is not quite accustomed to. We got to the cottage, which was unheated and took about four hours to get to a decently warm temperature, with the electricity going on and off and the fire constantly dying out because of the cold. I felt like living a two-day long version of Into the Wild, trying to find techniques to keep me warm, water to clean the dishes (I boiled snow as the stream nearby was frozen and the cabin has no running water), and using the outdoor bathroom in 20 degrees below zero.

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The cozy living room at sunset (2:50pm)

Eventually, I proudly reached my goal of short isolation in Scandinavian woods and proved to myself that living and travelling alone for the past four years would come in handy one day. For the first time, I was completely by myself for the whole time and expected to meet no couchsurfer or friend once I reached my destination. Despite my love for company and social relations, this short adventure was definitely one of a kind. 

Ha det bra fra Norge!
Goodbye from Norway!

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One thought on “Cabin Porn

  1. hi gabs…i’m very impressed with your fortitude in staying in your little cabin and finding out how tough it can be..i’ve lived through such things as collecting snow off of the pool deck to flush the toilets when pipes froze a few years back and took some time to thaw out before being repaired..that was an adventure too, but i still had electricity and a handyman who was prepared to come and check on me every day along with bringing bottled water for cooking and drinking..and i knew it would only last so long and i would too

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