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Friluftsliv - Free Air Life

The Vikings have got a lot to answer for in this neck of the woods; sure they named a few places Cold Island (Caldey), Gateholm, Skokholm and Grassholm and gave the UK a name for the hole in the wall that let in light and air - the 'Vinden øje' (wind eye) that became window, but they also murdered a few of the bishops in St Davids, as was fashion at the time.

More recently, we have of course, come to associate many fine things with the Danes, Swedes and Norwegians, one of my personal favourites being the concept of Friluftsliv - the pleasures of a life in fresh air that costs nothing - beautifully encapsulated here by eco friend Laura Greenman in her new Magnetic North travel business:

he term was first coined by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen who described the regular activity of being in nature as ‘free air life’, as it’s literally translated into English. This freedom to explore nature at the pace which nature sets is powerful in considering how we might benefit from doing so both on holiday and in our everyday lives.

On an individual level, it’s key to helping people to value the outside as an antidote to some of life’s modern demands. In this sense, the holidays we’ve developed include hands-on activities like wild food foraging and fishing, crafts, walking, kayaking and snow-shoeing.

Friluftsliv is something that has changed over time – people’s perceptions of the idea have taken new guises as they focus on different aspects of being in nature. What’s fascinating is the tensions that arise, and which provide us with some interesting ways to balance various aspects of friluftsliv within our holidays. Often it’s not either/or, but depending on the location and people in the destination, you can explore different mixes. Below I’ve identified the five major tensions which feed into our interpretation of friluftsliv for the benefit of our guests.

1. Luxury versus simplicity
Friluftsliv considers luxury to be free access to nature.
We believe that simplicity and luxury should live side by side. Our aim is to offer an antidote to modern life without rejecting it. Technology will be minimal and when available will enhance the experience rather than distract from it. Our lodgings provide a standard of accommodation that will delight and surprise our guests for its simplicity, yet embracing levels of comfort.

2. Playfulness versus survival
Friluftsliv is about creating ‘playful kinds of short excursions in nature’.
Whilst some of the activities and techniques we offer as part of our holidays may relate to survival and traditional ways of living, the focus will be on personal enjoyment rather than ritualistic or masochistic adventure. Nature isn’t a playground for us, but is rather an essential part of the experience.

3. Enjoyment versus competitiveness
Friluftsliv offers interaction between people without a focus on competition
Whilst some activities involve learning basic skills or techniques, there won’t be a focus on competition or overcoming particular challenges. The aim here is to work together in a social group or family to achieve the reward of enjoyment in nature.

4. Outdoor generalist versus outdoor specialist
Friluftsliv needs little or no specialist equipment or knowledge.
We’ll combine a variety of Friluftsliv activities within our holidays. We want our activities to be enjoyed by all without the need to master new skills or to have a certain level of ability before taking part. Specialist equipment will be kept to a minimum to ensure safety and enjoyment.

5. Commerciality versus free
Pure friluftsliv activities come without a price tag.
We should all try to factor in free time in nature in our everyday lives even if it’s as simple as walking to the nearest green space. In reality we have precious little time and quite often nature barely features in our lives. Therefore, we try to show people how to use their holiday time to ensure that they quality interaction with nature and then hopefully they’ll add some more space for it during the rest of the year too.

Must get out there again this afternoon, to enjoy the light and quiet; maybe splitting logs with my wonderful Gransfors Bruks steel axe, made in Sweden...

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