September 26, 2015
Dancing in and out, weaving through our partners, like yarn weaving into a beautiful-crocheted snowflake. It was wonderful, an art form in itself.
A ceilidh dance is a traditional Gaelic dance consisting of billions of different dances. Rather like square dancing and its relation to USA, ceilidh dances are jumpy, up-beat and sometimes extremely complicated dances related to Gaelic countries, traditionally danced to Gaelic-folk music. The ceilidh dance I went to was danced in the old Blackfriars church in Edinburgh, lit up by fairy lights and the heat and sweat from the large amount of people (200 >). This all combined to create an ideal night-out.
To begin with, and I believe keeping up with our family tradition, I was late. The friend that I was with, Danielle, is also known for being late, so in that sense we didn't make such a great pair. After missing the bus stop, meaning we had to walk a few k's in the cold, we were so ready to dance. While we came in to the church wearing jackets and scarves, everyone else was wearing short sleeves and shorts. I did not realise at that time how important it would have been to wear shorts instead of jeans...
After taking our coats off, we got straight into the first dance, Danielle and I, and to be honest I don't even remember what dance that was, I just know that we both were not cold anymore. I do remember how stiff that first dance was, which turned out to be a real friend-bonding moment, and how seamlessely it later turned into all laughs and smiles. After that first dance we sat down to rest from both the mental (bonding moment), and the physical hardship :D :)
That was when I got out my phone and recorded my one and only video of a dance, kind of a shame really. I managed to use the video to create pictures, luckily, so here they are. It is abit dark, but you will get an idea of what I am describing here :)
The next dance started up, and already we were confused, left-right-left, or right-left-right. However, we soon got the hang of it, and we were off on a roll. We did not stop dancing, besides water breaks, until the end of the night. I cannot for the life of me think of the last time that I laughed so hard. I actually felt like I was going to fall, and the dancing didn't help there either. Friendships and laughter <3
We rounded to the last song, and it was seriously like something out of a movie. We were all positioned in a large circle, and partners randomly disengaged from the circle and started waltzing a fast as possible around the room, in which we immedietely followed suit. It was so thrilling, that even though I bumped hard into another person's back, that dance, rather like a flash mob, was my favourite part of the whole ceilidh dance. The part where I could literally not feel the floor. I felt like I was floating. I have to say, Danielle and I made such a grand couple :) We knew how to waltz!!
Well, I will leave you with one last thing. By the time I got home, my feet were throbbing, my ears were singing, and my heart was full of gladness. I would do it all again in a heart beat :)
Now you are uptodate,
July 18, 2015
July 12, 2015
July 7, 2015
6th July, 2015
Today was my parent's anniversary, so I thought I would allow my dad to write the blog post. He did also kindly request to do so, which was lovely (relieving me of my duties for a day), so here is his post:
Yesterday’s adventurous and somewhat treacherous driving experience – the Latvians are crazy drivers! – was mostly forgotten as we ventured out in the car again to Latvia’s most famous beach region – Jurmala. Once again, Harri navigated us there with iPhone screenshots he had prepared back in the apartment using wifi.
In another episode of surprise while driving, nothing could have prepared us for the tollbooths we think we passed by mistake. We saw a sign ahead of us in Latvian indicating upcoming tollbooths at a cost of 2 euros per car. We were in the far left lane, which was taking us to Jurmala, and the middle and far right lanes had to turn right. We assumed we would all have to stop and pay the toll. But too late! We saw drivers stopping at these booths as we sped by in the fast lane heading to the beaches.
Jurmala reminded me a bit of Noosa in Australia. Expensive homes, well-dressed tourists wandering in and out of shops, and lots of old trees.
But the beach was different. To begin with, the water was shallow and cold. And cafes and bars were scattered up and down the long beaches. Best of all, we spotted a car, driven by an older man who looked like a tourist, driving along the beach scattering sunbathers, walkers and joggers!
Towards the afternoon it rained. So we ducked into one of the beach cafes for a late lunch of pizza, chicken nuggets and ribs (we were starving).
On the drive back to the apartment, we ended up taking a wrong turn in the heart of the city into a lane where a policeman waved us to the side. I told him we were lost. “I know,” he replied. (He must have noticed our Finnish registration plates.) He said the Parliament was in session and that we weren’t meant to be there. We had ended up outside Parliament House! It looked as though he was about to order us out of the car, so I interrupted and said we would be on our way by taking the next left and the next right. He seemed reluctant to let us go, but I insisted it would be better for everyone. I didn’t wait for him to finish his sentence. He stepped back as I pulled away from the curb.
Later that afternoon we headed off on foot into the rain towards the city. After an hour or two our shoes were soggy. We bought some groceries for dinner and arrived back in our apartment wet and exhausted, but we were glad we did it. We had made the most of the day, in spite of the rain.
I'll now hand this blog post back to Laura.
Thanks, Dad. Well, after our lovely trip to Jurmala we all felt ready to fall asleep, and so for the first time in a few days I fell asleep straight away when I rested my head on the pillow :)
Now you are uptodate,
July 6, 2015
You know those times when you wish you could just get out of the car and transport yourself to your destination just by thinking of it? Well, if not, that is exactly what I feel like doing right now. Not that the scenery isn't lovely, or that I wouldn't want to be on this holiday, but that I would love to be at our destination instead of stuck in traffic here on the road from Parnu, Estonia to Riga, Latvia. There is only so many times you can play UNO before it starts getting boring...
So, to catch you up I will begin from 5:30 this morning: wake up call :D Mum and Dad woke up earlier to get ready themselves, the disadvantage of only having one bathroom, and woke Harri and I up when they were ready. I woke up very easily, and got ready easily, but then it was only until after that I started getting tired. It is called 'delayed wake-up reaction'. Not that efficient really, my body is weird like that.
The drive to the port was quiet at 6am. Not many people are awake early in Finland, on a Sunday especially. So we got to the harbour in only 10 minutes, which in peak hour could get to 30 minutes.
So our plan for the day was to catch the ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn with the car at 7:30, and then drive from there to Riga with a few stop-offs along the way for food. That was the plan, and we hoped to be able to get to Riga for an early night ready for tomorrow. Now we now that there are things we didn't see coming... Things like Sunday traffic, difficulty reading signs, and most importantly the fact that Nav Nav (name for our GPS) couldn't direct us through Estonia and Latvia!!
Before I get ahead of myself, it was lovely getting on the boat to Tallinn before all the regular passengers who came on foot :) We have been on the trip many times before, but just not in the car. So we all enjoyed driving on the boat in the car :D Even though I have been driven four times onto a ferry in a car before, it is always such an awesome experience driving into the mouth of the ferry!! It feels like driving into the mouth of large fish. Interesting sensation!!
We got a lovely seat next to the window and sank down into the cushiony fabric of our seats for the two hour trip to Tallinn, Estonia. To pass time we played games, and I especially loved getting 26 points from the word JOY in Scrabble. However, Harri did beat that high score by adding MER to WORLD to get a whopping 42 points!! It was a really good game, even though I came 3rd (second last). In this way, it is the experience that counts, and not who won.
This trip was starting out swell on the boat, but that was going change next; and so it was not untill we began driving off the boat that we realised our faithful 'Nav Nav' was not cooperating with us!! We had planned on allowing 'Nav Nav' to guide us to all of our destinations, and now we had to do it the old-fashioned way... AH!!
Along the way Harri and I did the traditional thing that children usually do in car trips, and kept asking 'Are we there yet?', to which Dad would promptly reply 'not quite, or almost there'. The usual childish saying gave us something to do when we were getting weary. We also played many games of UNO and I read. I had planned on more, but the trips always seem to go much quicker than I have planned for.
Next we then arrived at Parnu, the famous beach location in Estonia. Parnu is known for it's white sand beach, much like beaches in Australia and other warmer countries. It was lovely town, and walking to the beach was quite soothing really after all the time spent in the car. However, we all did felt that something was missing at the beach, and this missing piece of the puzzle, we suddenly realised, was the lack of the sound of crashing waves hitting rocks. Well, we wouldn't want to find Australian beaches too close to Finland :D In this way, now we have something to look forward to when going back to Australia!!
After leaving Parnu, and stocking our car with all the necessary equipment for snacking, we set off towards Riga.
When we crossed the border to Latvia everything suddenly changed. While the roads in Estonia were no where near roads in Finland (in that you had to watch out for potholes), at least the cars were actually moving!! In this way, straight away when we crossed the border we had to stop because of the traffic, and it continued. We were moving at the pace of a snail by the half way point!! In addition to the traffic, the way that a one lane road suddenly became two lanes without a line was very different!! That was something new, and I must say a tad dangerous :D I had read about the atrocious driving of the Latvians, but it was still a huge shock when cars came whizzing past us illegally. It was then that I remembered reading about how in Latvia you are supposed to drive as close as you possibly can to the side of the road to allow these drivers the space to over-take, to make this illegal manouveur as safe as possible. Hence, that was the reason the cars in front of us where vearing right to side of the road!! hehe.
After that experience Harri saved the day by directing us, by using apple maps, straight to our accommdation without default. It was at this point that I started to feal like I could conc out at any given moment. Subsequently, I can't remember that much from our walk to the grocers and showering. Except to say that the tea here in Latvia is VERY cheap :) I think we will have to stock up on tea before we go.
Anyway, tomorrow is mum and dad's anniversary, so I am looking forward to doing something relaxing with them.
Now you are uptodate,
July 4, 2015
The day before a holiday always holds mixed feelings. Should you be nervous? Hopefully you will remember to pack everything you will need. Or should you be excited? It is a holiday tomorrow, show some excitement!! The holiday dilemma... The conclusion for me, an inbetween-type feeling of awareness, yet unawareness.
Feelings aside, today we spent the day cleaning our apartment. When I say cleaning, we were not just doing the usual dusting and vaccuuming, but the whole kit and cabudal: Dusting, vaccuuming, mopping, cleaning out cupboards, and taking stuff to the charity shoot. I did not realise how much stuff can accumulate over a couple of years staying here in Finland. Mostly I found that I needed to find more space to put all my crafts. The answer ... a wool drawer :D Woohoo!! I can now easily find the stuff to use when my hands feel restless, and unmotivated to open a book or write.
Subsequently, I learnt today the importance of cleaning. It is because of all this cleaning that I now feel a sense of relaxation that I will be coming back after our holiday to a nice, cleaned room :D
Okay, so The holiday: I am going to be leaving tomorrow at 6am with my parents and Harri for a 5-day car trip through Estonia, Latvia and possibly Lithuania. The dates: Sunday, 5th July to Friday, 10th July. The reason: Who needs a reason to go on a holiday? Big year + four week holiday for my mum = reason enough :D We were undecided as of yesterday whether we would be making the trip, and I was glad when we all decided to go ahead with it. The itinerary: You will just have to wait and see, now won't you ;) We will too :D
Now you are uptodate and have an awesome weekend,
May 18, 2015
I haven't written here in so long, or perhaps it is that time has slowed down. I have been super busy, always doing something or other. Which is great, because I don't have time to feel home sick or anything. To be honest, it is not just work and looking after kids that takes my time away, but also home-group and meeting with new-found friends. I love it, my life I have made for myself here in Scotland.
So, as an update academically, I have confirmed an offer from Queen Margaret University here in Marketing, Public Relations and Events. I went for a student tour last Monday, so I got a feel for the land. It seems very close-knit, friendly and exciting. I am looking forward to my time at the uni!! I applied and accepted accommodation on campus, and that looks great as well, with your own ensuite bathroom (tiny) and a huge workspace. Looks like my dad's office at Aalto University in Finland, except with a bed and bathroom :D
Two days ago Alisha and I went for a lovely bike ride around Macmerry. I had been a week before, and found a secret garden near a farm. As I had told Alisha, she wanted to discover this secret garden as well. Hence, we set out. It was actually quite a blustery day, not the best for riding. In Scotland, though, I have discovered that as long as it is not raining tooo heavily, it is a great day to go outside ;)
The first step to going outside is to put on a water and wind-proof jacket, then warm shoes. Oh, and a scarf. The scarf is quite important, unless you are preparing for a cold that is. The next step, brave the wind and set out!!
We met some horses along the way, and stopped to say hi :)
After that we continued down the farm lane to our destination. Destination: Secret Garden. There was a swing, patches of white flowers, lots of vines, trees and dead stumps. We called ourselves The Terrific Two, play on Fantastic Five, and began to get a lay of the land, which we called our little adventure. We did find a dead bird carcass, which was quite a wierd thing to find, but we couldn't find any clues as to how it came to be right there. Plus, it was quite scary, so we both decided that mystery was not for us to decipher :D
Carcass we found on our adventure
The flowers smell like chive flowers, so perhaps they are
Nature's picture frame of vines
After we had spent a considerable amount of time in the secret garden, mostly taken up by taking pictures, avoiding the spiky branches of holly, and swinging on the swing, we set off again. We couldn't help but stop again on the way back for a quick chat with the horses.
The ride back was quite tiring, as we had spent so long both getting to the garden, and walking around. So, I had to stop a couple of times along the way to walk for a while. In some parts the wind wa sso strong, and I could see that it was starting to blow Alisha's bike a wee bit. The one good thing about wind is that you always recieve a free wind-swept look, however much my eyes sometimes sting. Nevertheless, it was such a lovely trip!! We had picked some of the chive flowers, and brought them back home.
A nice little reminder of our secret garden. Shhh...
I thought I would just give you an update on the adventure I had most recently.
Have an awesome week,
April 7, 2015
So much has happened in my life since I posted the last blog post. It seems like it has been a thousand years, but really only a few months. Life is like that, a day turns into a week, a week turns into a month, and a month into a year. Metaphorically, of course. Because really life doesn't work that way.
Anyway, since talking about time, it is about time that I discuss with you diary about my timeless past few months. It is difficult to explain the Riley family, whom I have been helping out in Macmerry, Scotland. I suppose if they were a soup, I would add a heap of compassion, a tablespoon of wisdom and knowledge, a touch of ideas, because one idea always leads to more, a swag of sincerity, in the true Australian manner, and not at all least a rainbow of yellows, turquoise', greens and all other colours imaginable. This soup would probably turn a browney kind of colour, but that is okay. Brown is a colour showing all colours mixed together. That would, however, not merely describe the whole of this most awesome family I have come to know since the beginning of the year, besides my own awesomely awesome family of course :D
I have learnt so much from this family, and they have taught me to grow spiritually. This is the most important thing, spiritual growth. I will never forget laughing all the way home with Anita from smallgroup, or the time I beat Brenton at handball at youth. I am looking forward to making more memories like these, and that is what life is about. Creating memories, not material riches. I have found that all I need is all I can fit into my cabin-size, lime green suitcase and a justice bag!!
I hope, dear diary, that throughout my life, and other's lives, we will all understand this need for material wealth is worthless. All we need in life really is a God that loves us, a suitcase of our necessities and a Bible. That way we can travel the world, and no matter where we go, or what we get ourselves into, we are somewhat prepared.
You have an entirely awesome week,
February 2, 2015
Today we had the adventure of a life time. We met Carolyne, a farmer, two dogs, Tommy and Inca, and some horses, sheep and hens. All while I lost the keys for the cottage I was meant to be responsible for. Okay, well it did all work out in the end...
To begin the day I woke up in a lovely, large double bed in a huge room looking out over a luschiously, pale green front garden. To recap, I came to Birmingham with Anita and Brenton Riley, who I have been working with the last couple of days, yesterday with their kids Elias, Alisha and Josiah. The journey from Edinburgh to Birmingham and our cottage was meant to take around 6 and a half hours, and ended up becoming around 8 hours long because of the peak-hour traffic. How annoying...
Driving at night everything kinda looked the same, but in the morning everything looked so beautiful!! This is our cottage below. Alisha and I shared a room on the top left-hand side of the house, Elias and Josiah shared the top right-hand side of the house, and Anita and Brenton had the bottom left-hand side of the house. It is really quite a large cottage.
Our Cottage in Abbot Morton Parish - Cartref Cottage.
Our feet :) Alisha had the idea for this picture, not me...
After we all adjusted ourselves to the temperature, we set out to the owner's farm. As we walked up to the farm the farmer's wife, Carolyne, called out 'Hello' to us. She was very welcoming, while mucking out the horses stables, and said that there is a walk around the farm we could take. It was around that time when a gorgeous German Shepard lept out from around the corner. We all fell instantly in love with him, so Carolyne said that we could take him on the walk with us. Carolyne then looked at all of our shoes, and said that Josiah's trainers wouldn't be appropriate for the walk, and gave him a pair of wellies to borrow. English generosity <3
To begin with we had to cross several fields to get to the track. Inca then came along with his stick, so we had to continually play catch with him. Not that we were complaining :)
Josiah racing Inca through the fields.
As we got to the track it becoming increasingly apparent that we would have to walk through piles of mud and puddles. Lucky for Josiah with his wellingtons, but the rest of us had thin boots or sneakers on.
We had to tread carefully through the muddy paths.
Alisha throwing the stick for Inca the dog.
Carolyne said that we had to hug the hedge to the right. I love the English little sayings!!!
The amount of mud weighing our boots down.
We had to go though all these little fences, and you had to use your brains to work out how the locks worked. Not to mention strength...
Elias giving a hug to our trusty tour guide - Inca :) Alisha found this huge branch on our walk (that Inca is staring at in the picture), and we were all too tired to keep picking it up and throwing it... We tried throwing a smaller stick for Inca, but he kept going back to the large, heavy one. Shouldn't have done that Alisha :)
Finally reaching the end of the meant-to-be half an hour trek around the farm. It ended up being around an hour, or more. Not quite sure.
As I had locked ourselves out of he cottage, we had to wait for Carolyne to finish her horse-riding lesson so she could find the spare key to the cottage. All of our shoes and jackets were filthy, so I turned the washing machine on while we waited. Luckily that was in the utility room, not the cottage itself.. :)
We did finally get the spare key, and got in to make ourselves some lunch. The kids had a shower, and then we watched a couple of episodes of 'H2O'. We have become addicted to that show...
Now you are uptodate,