Last November we had a fit of madness and booked flights to Tromso, well within Norway's Arctic Circle. Not exactly winter sun. There were only four hours of sunlight each day and the temperature fluctuated between -5C and -15C. Not the usual winter destination for an already cold Scottish family. I was told at the tourist information office that this was the best time of year to look for herring. I like the occasional kipper but I asked why I might be interested in looking for herring? They explained that of more interest to visitors are the large number of whales that follow them. Now he had me! I've had some incredible whale encounters but as a family we'd always failed miserably.
Within 15 minutes we found ourselves in a stretch of water that could only be described as whale soup. Humpbacks and more killer whales than you could shake a stick at. Not glimpses but prolonged views and close encounters. We could have reached out and touched their dorsal fins. To share such an incredible experience with those you love is as good as life gets.
Last year I expected to have one of the best trips ever. Two weeks on a yacht in the Azores. As it transpired it was one of the most uncomfortable ever. The yacht would have been a palace for a family of four but not quite so with a crew of eight and 40 equipment boxes. I thought we'd be sailing around the islands but instead we headed 70km into the open Atlantic. There wasn't much room to move around freely and the conditions were so bad that for four whole days all we could do was lie on our beds. The worst thing was that not only did we have to share a cabin but we had to share a bed. Four days in a small bed with a seasick soundman in a rolling ocean breaks all boundaries of personal space. We are, however, still friends.
Wildlife film-maker Gordon Buchanan presents Reindeer Family and Me, screening on Saturday, August 25, 8.30pm, on BBC Knowledge