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Tag: Sweden

Swing dance summer camp is a thing

And I am trying to decide if I should go.

Seriously. DON’T YOU WANT TO, TOO?

So, I’ve mentioned it in passing here before, but I’ve been learning Lindy Hop for the past year and I really, really love it. And in the past few months, lessons and social dancing have become easily my favourite part of the week. It’s an awesome group of people, a super fun time, and a pretty hardcore workout to boot. I’ve had to miss the past two weeks, which I was kind of bummed out about, but this weekend I’ve got a workshop on addition to the usual Thursday night business, so I’m psyched for the weekend.

Anyway, when I was sitting in bed wiling away my sick days a few weeks ago, I fell down an interweb swing dance wormhole. One side effect of which was I learned all about Herräng. 5 weeks of summer camp. For adults. In Sweden. All for dancin’.

It looks and sounds amazing. Yes?

I mean, in addition to the idea of doing one solid week of lessons and social dancing and practice being really appealing, getting to be at summer camp as a grown-up is basically the coolest thing ever. It looks bonkers and creative and full-on and exhausting. And like the perfect summer holiday. Plus it’s in Sweden in the summer so the sun pretty much never goes down. And I love Sweden.

I’ve priced it out, and to do a week all in, including a day or two in Stockholm beforehand, would be about £800. That’s it!

The only reason I’m struggling with it is, that’s £800 less for the Trans-Siberian. I have to wait to find out about the money situation at work before I know if that £800 would be a deal-breaker. This is also one of the things that has been making me re-think my long-term travel plans as a whole. It would definitely mean I’d probably only be able to do one month at the end of this year, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

One of the other great points about this whole summer camp thing is that it’s a really good excuse to get away from technology COMPLETELY for a week. There’s a place to get wifi in the camp, and I’d have my phone with me, but honestly, I’d be quite happy to not use it at all. I’d be too busy learning new stuff, running around, hanging out at the beach, eating ice cream, meeting people from all over the world, and staying up all night dancing. Who needs the flippin’ internet when you’ve got all THAT?

I mean, this is the stuff that summer camp dreams are made of:

So, I’ll let you all know in a few weeks what the verdict is. But I’m really hoping I can work it out.

Travel Throwback Thursday

I’ve hijacked #tbt and turned it into #ttbt so I can tell stories about old photos of my past adventures. This time: the northern lights that were not the Northern Lights.


You can hardly blame us for thinking it! Photo © Duncan Blair

They really weren’t.

Last year in December, my friend Duncan and I went to Gothenburg to see a Movits! gig. It was a totally crazy plan that spawned an awesome short trip. One of the ways we managed to do this super cheaply was taking flights using some of my air miles, and that meant flying into Heathrow at night and out to Gothenburg early the next morning. So we spent a fairly restless night on the soft seats of Costa Coffee in T5 arrivals.

When we got to Gothenburg, we walked around on nearly zero sleep until it was show time. We’d arrived slightly before the hostel check-in time so we couldn’t just go take a nap. This was probably a good thing, as we saw most of the city, and it was fantastic.

Being so far north, it got dark at about 3, and the northern lights were on my mind as I’d kept hearing they’d been particularly active lately. Neither of us had ever seen them, and when we were walking back to the hostel to get ourselves organised before the show, I turned around to look back the way we’d come and the sky was glowing green. Really, really crazily, I started asking which way was north, because SURELY that’s the northern lights. WHAT ELSE could it be? (Oh, I don’t know, Kate, light pollution? An excess of festive, decorative lights being reflected in the very low cloud-cover? SLEEP DEPRIVATION?)

We’re reasonably certain it was NOT the northern lights. We never really figured out what it was, aside from wishful thinking on our part. It was cloudy and we were in a very light-y city. But in our sleep-craving, pre-Movits!-gig state of wonder and excitement, it was a nice thought. And Dunc got a pretty bangin’ picture of it.

Then we got to see THIS, so the non-validity of the aurora borealis really did not have an negative effect on the night.

PS: It makes me so happy that the one thing on YouTube from this show is one of my favourite songs. I was a few rows behind whoever was filming this, dancing like a fool. I love these guys so hard.

A hat for the next ten years

New hat!

New hat!

I have so much to say about Finland already, but this will be a short one because posting from a phone after midnight just isn’t going to deliver quality.

Earlier this year on a tumblr project started by my friend Sara, I briefly described the loss of my beloved sheep hat.

Since then, I’ve been looking for my next signature winter hat. I thought when I went to Gothenburg in December, that surely I would find a suitable Swedish-made wooly hat, preferably involving some kind of antlered creature design. But I found nothing! In winter! In Sweden!

So imagine my delight when today, in the market square of Helsinki, in a 30 degree heat wave, I found a PERFECT wooly, Finnish reindeer hat. Which I bought without even thinking. I love it and I hope it lasts me at least another ten years.

Not being early is not the same as being late

Today was supposed to be my first trip on an Edinburgh Tram. I was TOTALLY looking forward to this. But then I failed to do my normal obsessive planning and checking ahead, and I ended up overheated and slightly harried. And on the Airlink bus.

I will back up.

I have friends of friends staying in my flat while I’m in Finland, and we all went to eat lunch and do some leisurely Sunday afternoon day drinking at Serrano Manchego before I headed off to the airport. I had two glasses of wine and a lot of fancy ham. I was feeling jolly holiday-ish indeed. Then I realised I needed to leave if I did not in fact want to miss my actual jolly holiday altogether.

I had bought my tram tickets the day before on the ever-so-useful mTickets app, but I didn’t check transport updates before I went trekking up the hill to the end of the tram line. Had I done so, I would have taken a bus and ended up on the tram eventually. But herein lies my ‘ALWAYS check’ lesson.

The trams were only running from the west end because of some march on Princes St.

Hell if I was gonna walk all the way to the west end. And I’m too stubborn to get on a bus to the tram FROM THE ACTUAL TRAM STOP. So. Airlink bus.

I should say that I actually love the Airlink. And I’m pretty sure it beat the tram we passed on the west end anyway. Plus free wifi. But I should have checked before I left. LESSON LEARNED.

Because I like being early. It calms me. It gives me time to eat things and have a ‘it’s holiday time’ overpriced airport beverage. It’s what I do. But not today. Today was a get-to-the-airport-as-late-as-comfortably-possible sort of day. Not late, mind you, but to me, that’s usually anxiety time.

I think I handled it well though. And then I handled it well again when, on landing in Stockholm with a fairly tight connection, the plane waited ages just before getting to the gate because the automatic guidance system wasn’t working. They had to wait for a human to guide the plane in. Quite literally 10 extra feet straight on. SAFETY. But what was I gonna do?

I got off the flight with just enough time to go back through passport control and security, trot to the other end of the nearly deserted terminal, make use if my very tiny Swedish vocabulary to buy some chocolate for dinner, and get right back on a plane. Again: not late, but not early.

But you don’t have to be early to get the job done. Sometimes you just gotta make it. And I did. And I’m in Finland!

(And I’ve also just written my first entry on an iPhone. WE LIVE IN THE FUTURE.)

Eating and drinking
Serrano Manchego

On the kindle
The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

In the headphones