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Life in the big smoke

Back in rainy London

London. It’s eight days since we landed at Heathrow. The day after we left Finland the temperature in my hometown dropped to minus 27. Cold enough to make your hair turn white with frost and your nostrils stick together when you inhale. London hovers around 7 plus. Drizzle-gray. Sunshine and showers. Mostly showers.

Today I walked past the big house and the deer at Clissold Park. The sun was out. Orange light in the puddles. Bright and early joggers rushing past. I stopped to say hello to the deer. Then I met up with Madicken and we spent the morning writing together in a café. All the other customers had brought their laptops too. Madicken spotted an actor sitting behind us. It’s very north London. I wrote some words and I was pretty happy with them. Then I came home and read about the publishing industry and suddenly everything felt impossible. I did my taxes. I downloaded Spotify again and created a radio station based on Sia. I’m clicking thumbs down on anything that isn’t Sia.

This month is one of small tasks. It’s too early for a big picture. There is one thing and then the next and maybe soon the year will start taking shape. I took me a week to shake the post-Christmas fog. I went home to Finland and didn’t turn on my phone for the first five days. A sweet, disconnected rebellion. Gerry and I went for long walks when it was light. The inlet near the house thawed and then froze over again. The ice was washed up by a storm and looked like panes of broken glass, crushed and squeezed together. I’ve never seen it like that before. I ate well and often. I spent some time in the sauna. My muscles unwound themselves. I relaxed and stopped thinking about work, the future, everything. It takes a while to resurface from that. So here I am, tensing up again, telling myself I should do more yoga, writing lists and trying to get a sense of where this year will take me.

Image by David Marcu.

Some winter kindness

This is the time of the year when life speeds up. There are markets to do and mail-outs to send out, articles to write, t-shirts to fold and Christmas presents to buy. Sometimes just staying warm seems like enough of a challenge. When it rains it’s worse. The damp here is the real problem in the winter. It’s not like home where, in my mind, it’s dry cold, the sort of cold that makes your nostrils stick together, where the snow itself is cold, hard and sticky. Home where it’s dark at three in the afternoon and there are mountains of snow piled up on pavements, in gardens and alongside the houses. But this all in my mind. It’s not like that anymore, the winters are warmer.

Here in London it’s grey, sometimes sunny, but mostly grey. I’m spending some of my time helping Gerry with the pre-Christmas rush. I’m writing long lists and rushing around, but I should remember this is the time of the year when you need to slow down. It’s the time of the year for blankets, books and hot tea.

I’m trying to read, but the books I choose are exciting and speedy as well. I finished Cecilia Ekbäck’s Wolf Winter yesterday. It’s a book written in English by a Swedish author about Lapland in the 1700s. It’s a murder mystery, there is magic and snow. I liked it, but the more I write the more distant I feel from the novels I read. It’s a good book though, seek it out if it sounds like your cup of tea.

Today I might to do some more writing of my own. I’ve set myself a target of 500 words per day. Just 500 slow words. In this busy period I’ve not been writing every day, but that’s OK too. I figure during this cold time of the year when the news reports are full of fearful things kindness needs to come first. So I’m going easy on myself. I hope you are too.

Image by Sirma Krusteva.

Christmas hiatus and some of the things I’ve learned in December

Soon I’m getting on a plane and flying off to Finland to spend some quality time with my family. I’m looking forward to seeing them, not doing much at all, reading books and playing video games. That’s what Christmas is all about.

December has gone by in a blur. It’s been full of markets, new people, new things and new places. Just the type of month I like really. These are some of the things I’ve learned over the last few weeks.

Selling is fun

I used to be really scared of selling. When I used to meet up with Gerry at a market and he asked me to watch the stall I used to find it almost impossible to walk up to people. Everytime I tried to talk to someone I scared them away. Like dogs they could smell my fear before I even got close to them.

I thought selling was somehow bad. Now I’ve realised it’s just the flip side of what I’ve been doing as a journalist. I get to talk to lots of people, but instead of asking them questions, I’m telling them about a product. And 99 percent of the time they’re happy to talk to me, which in turn makes me happy.

Everything is easier with coffee

Don’t think I need to add much to that one.

Sometimes it’s OK not knowing where you’re going

This is following on from a conversation I had with a friend this morning. The last few years have been the first in my adult life when I’ve not had much of a plan or a goal. I like planning. And when I say planning I mean having a roadmap for the coming ten years with all the exciting things I might be able to do and achieve. It’s not even a roadmap, it’s more of a tree-like structure with lots of branches and twigs and little birds chirping in the canopy. I make really complicated plans for my life.

This is how I’ve lived. And I’ve been pretty good at setting goals and reaching them. Now I’m not so sure of the target or the end goal anymore. Now I’m allowing myself to float a little bit, to be creative, to do different things I would never have imagined myself doing in the past (like selling stuff). And it’s been fun. There is a freedom to it. I’m allowing new and totally random things into my life. Everyone should be doing this (and when I say everyone, I of course mean control freaks like me).

Some Brits are really scared of foreigners

There has been so much talk about Bulgarians and Romanians streaming into the country in their millions next year, coming here to claim the “amazing” British benefits. This is all a lot of scaremongering silliness from certain right-wing media outlets and parties. And I find this to be a particularly annoying outlook. A lot of the people moving here, come to the UK to work and work hard, work in jobs that many Brits think they’re too good for. Some Brits need to take a good look at themselves and their own work ethic before they criticise people moving to a country where there are still jobs left.

And… on a happier note

Creating things and seeing people appreciate them is amazing

This also applies to seeing other people’s creations being appreciated.

The blog probably wont be updated that often over the coming two weeks. So stay well people and see you in January! Have a lovely, lovely holiday season and a happy Christmas!

A post in which I pretty much just list what I’ve done recently

Gerry and I spotted these cuties on the way to work today

Yesterday I travelled to the sea, but didn’t see much of it. Instead I was soaked by drizzly rain, the battery on my phone ran out (as it seems to do if I as much as look at the instagram icon on the screen). For some strange reason I’d dressed for Finnish November and wasn’t prepared for a mild, grey afternoon at the seaside. I also got lost. But it was a pretty nice day.

I went to Folkestone to do a story about cultural regeneration and met some really nice people. Then I came home. Then I went to a music event in the evening.

This morning I slept in. Felt a bit bad about it. Then told myself I’d been working all of the weekend and needed a short brake. On Saturday I did all my taxes (the floor in the guest room is still a mess of paper). On Sunday I helped Gerry out at a market, did a radio story and then I did something else I’m sure, but I can’t remember anymore.

I think time is speeding up, rushing toward Christmas. It’s exciting and terrifying, kind of like before the big slope at the end of a roller-coaster (not that I’ve been on one since I was 10).

And also today the Kickstarter was funded! It’s been an emotional process. Not exactly stress-free. But we finally made it. If you ever need advice about a Kickstarter campaign, I will have plenty of stuff to tell you. It’s not as easy as it looks.