by Jez Bond

Well I'm back folks! (I say 'I' as Melli is still away - we both came home together but the very next morning she returned to Heathrow to catch a flight to a friend's wedding.) We had the most wonderful time. First we spent a week dog sledding in the north of Sweden with one of the few dog sled mushing kennels who actually give you a fully hands-on experience. They are called Axehandle Mountain and you can check out their website here. We did the "Winter Experience", each driving our personal team of six huskies through the snowy landscape for five days. We fed them, harnessed them, pitched our tent at the foot of mountains, fished through the ice catching arctic trout and chard (which tasted delicious), we melted the snow for water, we climbed a mountain where the 360degree view was breathtaking and the wind was so ferocious and constant that you could lean your whole body into it and not fall over, and - to cap it all - we saw the northern lights!

A few people had been shocked at our adventure - assuming we were going to be lying on a beach somewhere warm. As it turned out it was an inspired decision as due to the active nature of the week and the fact that one had to focus (making fire, feeding the dogs, prepping the sleds...etc) there was absolutely no time to think about anything else - steel columns, lead times for windows and fundraising applications simply didn't feature. I highly recommend it!

The fact is that as soon as we physically relaxed - which we did for four nights in Stockholm afterwards - we found ourselves talking shop. We switched on the iPad and read, with glee and with pride in our wonderful team, all the blogs that had been posted in our absence, we read the various emails about the board meeting that had probably occurred about the time we were night-sledding with headlamps through a pine forest, and we discussed the all-important next few months.

So now it's time to get back in the driving seat and put my foot on the accelerator (rather than the steel brake or the matt - dog sledding reference, lol); making some changes that our absence has taught us, developing new policies and quickly getting to the stage where I can focus on Artistic Director duties like programming!

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