Anthea Turner has decided that every year she will take on something that challenges her, and she can already tick that box for 2015.
"You tend to live a safer life as you get older, but I think every year you should do something that pushes you," she told HELLO! before embarking on a Swedish Lapland adventure with her good friend Kelly Simpkin, the girlfriend of hairdresser Nicky Clarke who she bonded with during last year's The Jump (in which she competed).
The first photographs from the trip are published in this week's HELLO! magazine, and below Anthea exclusively recounts in more detail the trip that tested their stamina to the limit, as well as raising funds for and awareness of Lupus UK, to support people with the autoimmune disease. Kelly who is ambassador for the charity also suffers with Lupus.
'Vlad is our guide as we trek 125 miles over the icy terrain with a team of huskies. He is a sort of Bear Grills of Lapland. He has his priorities list and people definitely come after dogs. Before we can make ourselves comfortable for the night we need to take the dogs harnesses off which is something akin to getting a two year old in and out of a car seat when they are just not playing ball. We then feed and straw them down for the night.
The cabin where we are sleeping is as cold inside as it is outside but there is a rather small looking stove which Vlad is busy lighting. I can see my breath in the air and what is now apparent is this little metal box is for heating and cooking. It's also starting to get dark and the light switch is a box of IKEA candles and tea lights!
Out of our sledges we pick up our bags and sleeping bags. Mine is the heaviest but my logic is I'm the lightest so I can afford a few extra kilograms. There are five of us in total - Kelly and I, her father Malcolm Simpkin and her uncle Ray Mitchell, and Vlad. When I say sardines in a tin believe me I'm not joking. We did what all English people do when faced with adversity, made a cup of tea and got on with making our posh shed home. Kelly to be honest makes me look a slob and while I was faffing around she was rolling sleeping bags out and squirting around a Jo Malone room spray. The room is now starting to warm up and I mean really warm up. I'm now down to my thermal underwear and sweating. Meanwhile Vlad has just produced the most amazing meal of Moose meat and potatoes. Food heaven.
Just cleaned my teeth using snow as opposed to water with toothpaste and made pilgrimage to loo which smells like a kennel and my butt is now cold. Snuggling back down in sleeping bag I can't say it's the best night's sleep I've had but the cabin is now back to freezing and there’s no way I want to get out of this sleeping bag but my bladder is saying get up, get up. Kelly's dad produces a cup of tea and stokes the fire we heat water to make porridge.
Dogs have been awake for ages. The drill is to feed them clean up their now phooey beds and harness them up for the day's trek. Also the cabin needs cleaning for the next travellers. Kelly and I quick as a flash offer to do the testing, difficult and arduous job of cabin cleaning while the boys did the dogs!
We're all getting to grips with driving now. There has been a few bailout crashes and I am dragged while trying to run up a hill to help my dogs. Due to a lot of dancing when I was younger I can still spring to my feet from most positions and now I discover at speed!
Stopping for lunch but to be honest if it wasn't for resting the dogs I'd just like to carry on and get to the next cabin which apparently is bigger and has proper beds. Whoopee! In the meantime I'm enjoying a minestrone cup-a-soup that tastes like nectar and marvelling at the invention of hand warmers which are now stuffed in my bra, in my gloves, in my boots and one in my hat.
It's amazing how when your expectations are low the smallest thing can seem simply amazing. This new cabin in comparison to the last is a place, much larger with bunk beds stove and 2 buckets. We've now got water from the river, cabin is warming up nicely, tea is brewing and we're asking Vlad what's for supper. How relaxed are we now!
By the final day we are totally over the shock factor of living with less. However I can't tell you how unbelievably off the scale delicious it was to finally stand under a warm shower. Bliss bliss bliss.’
Anthea's Tips for the Trip
Between Nature Travels who we booked through and the team on the ground in Sweden which is run by sled dog European champion Peter Karlsson and his wife Angela you are totally catered for and prior to going will give you any extra information required. Kelly and I went to Snow+Rock (snowandrock.com) and bought the following:
Thermal underwear made of Merino wool it's apparently the best - both warm and soft
Goggles or some type of wraparound sports glasses
Neck walker you can pull up over your nose or a half face mask
Waterproof bag for your kit as the sleds get damp
Own sleeping bag inner. I prefer a single duvet cover a Blue Peter tip I picked up from Diane Louise Jordan she's a mega traveller
Extra charged camera batteries
Phone charger juiced up
Tracksuit for cabin in evening PJ's Snacks
For more on lupus, visit lupusuk.org.uk. To donate to Kelly and Anthea's fundraising, visit justgiving.com/kelly-simpkin
For sledding treks visit naturetravels.co.uk.
For more on Kelly's fashion collection www.kellysimpkin.com