Travels Part 3: Helsinki and Home

Colourful benches in Helsinki FInland

On our penultimate day in Edinburgh, I was woken at 6am by a soft, rustling sound in the hallway. It wasn’t, as I first thought, a wee mouse. It was DorkySon tip-toeing around the flat, gathering his belongings, and starting to pack.

It seemed that he was ready to keep moving.

In the cab to our hotel in Helsinki, we realised that it was DorkySon’s first time in a country where English is not the first language. We were throwing him in at the deep end: Finnish is very pretty and melodic, but the linguistic rhythms are so different to the romance languages we’re familiar with that we found it a real challenge.

Judging by the cab driver’s bemused look, I completely mangled the name of our hotel and the neighbourhood in which it stood. Over the coming days our embarrassment grew further. Even a simple thank you – Kiitos – took many attempts before we mastered it.

We persevered though – all three of us – because there was a lot to say Kiitos for. Continue reading

Travels Part 2: Edinburgh

Sunset in Edinburgh Marchmont

It was time to leave Harris for the second part of our trip: a week in Edinburgh, followed by a few days in Helsinki, and then the long, long journey home.

We’d said our goodbyes, stuffed things back into our bags, and negotiated the notoriously tricky security line at Stornoway Airport. We were sitting on a tiny plane waiting to taxi to the runway.

Ten minutes later… we were still sitting there.

Twenty minutes later… we were still sitting there.

The pilot came on the radio and said he was going to turn the plane off and turn it back on again, in an attempt to fix whatever mechanical issue was causing the delay. Unfortunately, the old on-off-on again trick doesn’t work as well on Embraers as it does on iPhones, and a few minutes later we found ourselves traipsing down the aircraft steps and back into the airport. Continue reading

Travels Part 1: Hobart to Harris

View from Tarbert Isle of Harris

No matter how many times you’ve done it, there’s still something miraculous and disconcerting about strapping yourself into a metal tube and flying across the world.

Airlines go to great lengths to persuade you that it’s a normal and comfortable thing to do. They try their best to make that tube feel like home. Qantas welcome you with a hearty ‘G’day mate!’ and hand out complementary socks with cartoon kangaroos on them. Finnair design their cabin lighting to resemble the aurora borealis, and Loganair provide Harris Tweed headrests and Tunnocks caramel wafers. But when you undertake ten flights in three weeks, from Tasmania to the Outer Hebrides and back again, the resulting sensory overload means there’s no escaping the strangeness of air travel. Continue reading

A Bruny Island Break

dusk on Bruny Island

“We are living on an island, under an island, under an island, at the edge of the world.”

Sometimes you find a holiday spot that’s just so beautiful that you feel torn between telling everyone about it and keeping it a secret so it doesn’t get overrun.

That’s how I feel about our time away on Bruny Island last week. Given that my blog audience is a small one though, and that most of you live many thousands of miles away, I feel safe in spilling the beans. Continue reading

No More Planes

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One of the nicest things about our holiday up the East Coast last year was that it didn’t involve getting on a plane. We just threw our stuff in the back of the car and off we went.

We’ve just made plans for a few days break over Easter and we’ve done the same thing – booked a cottage that is less than a couple of hours drive away.

I am not keen to get on a plane again for a good long while.

I’ve been trying to work out when it stopped being fun because as a child even the prospect of flying was brilliant. Growing up on Harris, I used to lie on my back in the garden looking at the sky. Tiny Loganair planes flew over the house, on their way to adventures in Inverness or even Glasgow. I would imagine the strangers in suits, quietly reading newspapers and sipping drinks that sparkled with ice cubes and slices of lemon. When I visited my Grandpa, down in Staffordshire, I’d lie and watch bigger planes that had taken off from Manchester. I always thought the rows of white jet trails looked like someone had dragged a fork across the sky. Continue reading