40 // A TRIP TO TAMPERE, FINLAND

Back in June just after I finished my freelance stint at Ogilvy I took a trip to Tampere in Finland with my mum to visit my grandparents for a week. The last time I went was in 2014 when we took Mikee there for his birthday in January so this one was a different trip right in the middle of midsummer when the sun doesn’t set.

My family would always go for most of the summer holiday when I was a kid. I’d spend time hanging out with my cousins, going fishing, eating ice cream and frying sausages, having saunas, riding bikes in the giant garden, playing darts and funny croquet with my grandpa and sewing a lot. It was a very unplugged way of life and as an adult visiting is vastly different. It was a very chilled holiday to say the least and I didn’t really know what to do with myself while we were there. I’d been running at the speed of light for work up until a few days before we went.

My grandparents live in the middle of nowhere on a really long road where their closest neighbour is about 100ft away from their house. My mum and I spent a few evenings walking down that road and if you walk for half an hour in either direction you don’t come to anything other than still being on that road with nothing in sight. I tried to access roaming data on my phone and all it would come up with was E so no internet & no one to talk English to I ended up reading a lot and spending a lot of time in my brain until I picked up my camera and started making the little film you see above.

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The day after we arrived my grandparents took us to the summer cottage. We did a very brief stint of fishing with my grandpa, had a sauna which was great, basically ate the equivalent of an entire cake in baked goods, got bitten by tonnes of mosquitos and went for a walk in the forest to see if we could visit my mums friend. I think it was while we were fishing I decided to start filming bits and pieces. It was a pretty fun learning process and it was fun thinking about the images moving rather than static shots.

My grandma has dementia and she spends a lot of her time colouring in colouring books, when we got back to the house she showed us what she’d done and I remembered she used to make glasswork, and I wondered if she had any of her old patterns around and if they could be turned into designs for a colouring book. We had a look at those and she also showed us a book she’d made when she was 13 and learning how to be a dressmaker. She told us she remembered always having things in her pockets, things to sew and make textiles with and I’d always have pens and paper in mine.

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The second day I read a lot – I was reading Quiet by Susan Cain which I still haven’t finished. It’s super interesting I just haven’t had much time to read since being on holiday. It’s all about her research into being introverted and how it can be beneficial to be the thoughtful quiet type. I’d highly recommend checking out her TED talk. About halfway through the day my mum asked if I wanted to go and visit a graveyard that was situated in a forest so off we went with my grandparents. We laid some flowers at the grave of my mums relatives and had a wander around. It was incredibly beautiful, all the spots had so much space around them and the light coming through the trees made it feel quite magical.

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On the third day we took a trip into Tampere to do a little bit of shopping and we took a little detour when my mum remembered you could get a ferry to a small island called Viikinsaari. She’d visited when she was little and wanted to see what it would be like. After a short wait and a little trip on the ferry we ended up walking around the whole island having a heart to heart. We had some ice cream – standard. Finland consumes the most amount of ice cream and coffee in the world per head, not being a coffee drinker I need to join in somehow so ice cream is my claim. We got the ferry back and had a wander around the shops getting a few bits and pieces before heading back for more reading and eating far too much and one of those half hour walks up the road.

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Probably the most chilled out day and one of the nicest, I spent a lot of time sitting in the swing my grandparents own trying to facebook message my best friend in Canada while reading my book and editing my little film. My mum and I wandered around the garden and picked some wildflowers and tried to make a midsummer flower crown which provided some amusing moments with my grandparents. I might not be able to really talk to them because my Finnish is awful, but laughing is a universal language.

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On the last full day we went back to the summer cottage and had another sauna and a my grandad had a bonfire. The weather was pretty awful so I just sat outside in the porch and listened to the rain while I read and filmed a bit more. Once we’d had the sauna we got ready and mum and I went to visit her friend. I didn’t understand a word that was being said so I mostly played with her friends two pugs as doggy friendship is another universal language. We headed back to the house for one last night just before the weather took another turn.

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It was a super chilled, quiet trip. It made me realise I don’t know how to do being bored. I don’t know how to not be doing something, I don’t know how to exist in just my head with no distractions and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing because I feel being busy all the time means life keeps speeding by despite having loads of fun. I probably need to learn how to switch off and make some time to just exist sometimes but I don’t know how to do that – has anyone got any tips?

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