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Life in the big smoke

A sneak peek at our Scottish adventures

I miss this place.

So here we are, back in the studio. I’m overly caffeinated and still tried, but it’s OK. That’s what happens when you get up at around five in the morning for about a week to travel all over Scotland.

On Saturday we finally journeyed back to London from Malvern where Gerry’s parents live. We got up early to get the train at six in the morning so Gerry could get back in time to trade at Spitalfields. Somewhere outside Chipping Norton the train stopped. We were both fast asleep at that point. After about thirty minutes the announcements on the train started seeping through into my sleep. It quickly became clear we were going to be stuck for a while because someone had stolen a piece of an electrical cable from the track. I was too tired to be too upset or even shocked. And amazingly it only took the rail-company about an hour to fix the problem. But Gerry was late for the market, we were too exhausted to think and took it as a sign to take the day off.

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In Scotland we spent a night in the gorgeous Tulloch Castle in the Highlands. It’s haunted and a girl who’s worked at the hotel for ten years took me on a pretty scary tour of the place. She seemed genuinely frightened herself and managed to set my imagination on overdrive. But more about this place at a later stage. First I need to freelance about it before I can write more here.

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Our last day was spent in Largs, a cute seaside town on the West coast. Gerry’s mum and Granny took us to an Italian place with excellent ice cream.

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As we walked back to the shore to get our car Gerry spotted something in the sea and it turned out to be a porpoise. It surfaced around three times and then it was gone. Apparently they are quite a rare sight in that part of Scotland and I was jumping-up-and-down-chuffed to have seen one.

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One of the best things about Scotland is that nature’s close by in most places. Even though I grew up in a small town in rural Finland I’ve never seen as much wildlife as I have in Scotland. When Gerry and I first travelled up to visit his family it amazed me that they could point out the Buzzards circling far above the house.

I’ve seen deer in Perthshire, whales, seals and gannets on Orkney. I had no idea wildlife would interest me this much, but I find it more enjoyable and interesting than most things a city has to offer. Perhaps this is another sign of edging ever closer to 30.

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Hello Scotland, goodbye Scotland

We’re in Scotland, in Gerry’s granny’s house. Gerry’s sleeping next to me. We’re both exhausted. These last few days have passed in a manic flurry. I can’t believe it’s only a couple of days since we arrived here. We drove up from the south, stayed a night at Gerry’s granny’s place, travelled up to Inverness at five in the morning the next day, did interviews the whole day, travelled even further north and stayed in a haunted castle. The day after we headed back south, stayed with friends in Glasgow. And today we’re back here, tomorrow we go back south again.

It’s been a whirlwind tour with too little sleep and a lot of travelling. But then again that’s what a good freelance trip is all about. I like cramming as much as possible into a few days, living and breathing a story. I feel like I have a lot of good interviews and good background material. But I don’t want to jinx it by thinking I’ve done well, because I know everything comes together when I sit down to edit and write.

I like it up here. I’ve remembered why I like Scotland so much. The Highlands fill me with a sense of awe. It hits me in the gut every time I go up there. The colours are more vivid somehow. The sky is a clear blue that I’ve not seen anywhere else. There are bleak, snow-capped hills, dark forests and the light and cloudscape seems to change on an hourly basis. It’s like no where else and it’s gorgeous.

Next time I hope we can stay longer. Next time I want to allow things to sink in before we leave.

Well hello there 2014! We’re back in London

Gerry and I are back in London. I’m tired after the flight. It’s my own fault for having too much fun in a cocktail bar perched over a mall in Helsinki with my brother and Gerry the night before we had to take the super early morning flight to London. Today I’ve managed to look at my emails. Tomorrow I’ll start planning.

The best thing about a new year is all the planning you can do at the start of it. January is a month filled with possibilities. Although most of this year is already planned out. Gerry and I decided what we’re going to do all the way back in November before the Christmas madness started. Now it’s all about filling in the dates and plans into a calendar. Which is pretty fun too.

I don’t have much else to say today because really I just want to curl up on the sofa in the studio and play fruit ninja. Although I’ll add that Finland was lovely and relaxing. We spent our days eating well, going for walks and sitting in the sauna. I got addicted to Candy Crush, realised this addiction might ruin my life and started playing Fruit Ninja instead. We also watched the whole first season of Under the Dome and cursed the fact that the next one is only out in the summer.

Gerry and I also took a trip out to Fäboda outside of my hometown. We tried to take some photos of the stars, failed, and decided to lark around and do some light painting instead. It was fun, but cold.

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The magical yew trees of Kingly Vale

On Sunday Anne and I drove down to the South Downs, a national park about an hour’s drive south of London. Anne had heard about a place called Kingly Vale where some of the world’s oldest yew trees can be found. We packed some photography gear and set off early in the morning to find these ancient trees.

When we got there it was even more amazing than I could have imagined. Some of the trees are supposedly over 2000 years old. All of them seemed to have their own personality and I kept seeing faces everywhere we went.

Somewhere along the path there was a sign with a poem comparing the experience of walking underneath the yew trees to walking in a cathedral. That’s almost exactly what it felt like. Being in this place really took my breath away.

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You can find out more about Kingly Vale and how to get there on the Natural England website.

Life in a suitcase

I woke up this morning wishing I could fit my life back into a suitcase. This happens to me every now and then because a life that fits into a suitcase is easier. There aren’t so many things to worry about, not so many physical things to remind you about the past, not enough to make you worry about the future. With a suitcase you only worry about today, possibly tomorrow.

I told Gerry about this when we walked to the studio this morning and he said, that’s what happens when you get older, the stuff stops fitting into a suitcase. And even though I grumbled slightly, he has a point. Life becomes heavier as you get older. There are more memories, more responsibilities, more life experience telling you that it’s worth planning for the future, that things won’t stay the way they are now. There are more people to love and care for. For most of us, at some point, life becomes a little bit too complicated to just fit in a suitcase.

But for most of my life the suitcase has been the goal. When I was twenty I wanted to become a war correspondent. It was what I dreamed about, what I was preparing for. The times when I felt really happy, content and alive was when I was travelling and working hard. When there was a story that made me forget about myself and my worries. When I could feel I was working for something good, telling a story that needed to be told.

When there was chaos around me the chaos in my own head disappeared.

During most of my life I’ve put freedom before everything else. I told myself never to rely on anyone else. I looked at help and support as a way of becoming weaker. I got very good at escaping. I thought it was pretty glamorous.

Image via Pinterest.

I would probably have kept going like that if I hadn’t escaped to London, whirled around the city and into Gerry. Falling in love with someone, living with someone, also means accepting help. It means relying on another person. This has probably been the most difficult thing for me to cope with in a relationship.

The last two years haven’t always been easy. Contracts have finished, clients have been fickle. And I’ve had to re-think. I’ve had months when I’ve had to allow myself to rely on someone else. And I’ve had months when I’ve been the one helping. And because I’ve allowed myself to help and be helped, because I’ve allowed myself to be vulnerable around others (because that is really what it’s all about), the suitcase isn’t an option anymore. And I’m finally realising that it could be a good thing.

I’m slowly beginning to understand that going through life on your own might seem like the easy option, but it’s also a cowardly one. That way we never grow and change the way we do if we’re made to rub against other people. On our own we’re not learning or loving as much.

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My generation is a selfish one. We’ve been brought up to think we’re the protagonists in our own Hollywood movie. But life isn’t like that. Especially not today. For many of us life is a lot harder than the one we prepared for and dreamed of. My generation will be the first one that is worse off than their parents. Many of us are struggling to find work, to succeed, to reach our goals, to win, to do all the things we’ve been brought up thinking it’s our right to do.

There is a whole self-help industry telling us that happiness will only be achievable if we figure out our life purpose and give into selfish whims. This might have worked ten years ago when things were just going to get better for all eternity, but it’s not helpful anymore. This kind of thinking will only make things worse. It doesn’t leave room for compromise or for anyone else than the self. It makes it seem like failure is a problem we’ve created for ourselves even though the world isn’t a very forgiving place at the moment and sometimes hard work isn’t enough.

I won’t pretend I have any answers, but maybe life shouldn’t be about constant self-improvement, a constant striving for something else, something better. Maybe it should be about self-acceptance. Maybe life is just what it is. It’s the here and now. After all that’s what wise people have been saying for centuries.

The problem with the suitcase is that for a while it focuses everything on the here and now, but only for a short moment. And after that you’re drawn to the next thing.