And home again…

36 degrees Celsius and that super bright, clear Queensland sun have welcomed me home from Finland. What an awesome trip it was, beautiful, inspiring, peaceful and so, so Christmassy. So many gnomes! So much yarn and fleece! So much fantastic art, craft and design! By the time I got back, I was very keen to get back into the train and start creating. One reason I am a little delayed with my blog is that I want to MAKE ALL THE THINGS but can’t keep my eyes open. Stupid jetlag. πŸ™‚  
I went to several of the various Christmas markets in my wanderings during my last week in Helsinki. The Women’s Christmas Fair, Christmas World and the St Thomas Christmas Market in Senate Square, among others. When I try to describe them I am a bit wordless, a rare thing for me. All I can say is if you love Christmas, go. Just go. πŸ™‚ It is an intense experience. I know I will carry the Finnish Christmas spirit with me forever. 

   
    
    
 I realised when I got back that I didn’t take that many photos of my adventures, and I wondered why. I think there is a fine line sometimes between capturing the moment with photos and missing being in the moment altogether because you’re taking too many photos. πŸ™‚ I guess I didn’t want to experience too much of my trip through the screen of an iPhone. It’s a bit different on your own too, as there’s no one else there to notice the things you might be missing while photographing. So I snapped when I thought of it, which wasn’t very often I’m sorry, but otherwise this was a self indulgent trip. I went for me, and I absorbed and loved every second. Even when I tried hard, I couldn’t stop smiling. My head is so full of images they’re still overlaying my vision.

   
    
 (If you really want to see all over the real Finland, visit Sartenada’s blog. Best ever.)

I did manage a wool shop selfie. πŸ™‚ A knitter’s paradise.

   
 For anyone else planning a similar trip, Finland was an easy and safe place to get around as a woman alone. Tickets for bus, tram and boat are easy to get and use. I would recommend knowing a little of the language, and reading the Culture Shock book on Finland by Deborah Swallow. It was very accurate, down to small details like needing to weigh your fruit and veggies before you take them to the register. Handy things that remove the little dramas from life. I also had the excellent Insight Pocket Guide to Helsinki, with several walks mapped out. I had had warnings to the contrary, but I actually found it was not nearly as expensive as some other parts of Europe. Groceries in particular were very reasonable.
I did manage to fit my yarns and gnomes and Moomin purchases in my bags in the end. I had also spontaneously purchased enough cotton and linen yarn to make a jacket, and managed to get it finished in time to wear home. It is an African Expressions free pattern, and I rather like it. I will make it again, perhaps a short version next time. (It’s a little crumpled from the trip.)

   
 My Lilli Pilli got about half finished. The yarn is Debbie Bliss Rialto Lace. This one really is a lot of work, but I think it will block up nicely if I ever finish the damn thing.

  
My linen crochet shawl, also laceweight, was almost finished on the way home, both in-flight and sitting in various airport lounges in Helsinki, Amsterdam and Hong Kong getting strange looks. πŸ™‚ I finished off the two-row border yesterday, and happily it’s now done. I love love love love it. I don’t think I’ve ever made something quite so ‘me’ before, if that makes any sense.

   
 Naturally one of the first things I did when I got back was put up the tree. Oh wait, no the first thing was to put the air conditioner on. Then the tree went up, and a few new decs.

   
    
 I got this string of gnomes from the Women’s Christmas Fair. It was meant to be a gift, then I couldn’t part with it…and now I want a heap more of them. πŸ™‚ So after studying the details, I think I can replicate these fairly easily.
And now I am trying to ease back into my life, knitting, working, writing, crafting, avoiding goannas and snakes, spotting koalas, echidnas and possums, and evicting antechinuses from my train. (This latter is a bit half hearted, to tell the truth. They’re cute, they don’t chew things up like rodents do, and they eat the spiders. As long as they stay out of my yarn and fabric, I don’t really mind their presence.) 
It’s always a pleasure to come back here. I feel very, very lucky, and ready to just sit still for a while with M in the peace. 

  
PS WordPress tells me I have just passed my one year blogiversary. Holy crap. I remember my first post, written while we were in Vanuatu. Was that seriously a whole year ago? 

What have I learned about blogging in the last year…hmmm. Frankly, that I know bugger all about it and certainly not enough to tell anyone else how to do it. I have seen plenty of rules and advice out there for new bloggers, but personally… *shrugs*. πŸ™‚ My only advice is do it however the hell you want to. But my caveat is: whatever your motivation, be your authentic self. I love some blogs that are all words, some that are a million photos. Some that are very personal, others strictly business. Some that post 7 days a week, some once a month. I personally couldn’t care less about how well people set up their blog, themes, whatever, if the content is authentic. I always think if you spend too much time worrying about appearances then naturally your message is going to change too: if you’re trying to look at your own stuff through other people’s eyes, you’ll go a bit nutso. So that’s my only little glop of wisdom after a year and 50+ posts. Just be true to yourself. πŸ™‚

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48 thoughts on “And home again…

  1. How glad we are, that You are happily back at home! We were very worried when there were no news about You before this post. Thank You for Your wonderful post and photos and mentioning my blog. My wife sends greetings to You as I too! Matti.

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    • Thank you so much Matti (and thanks also to your lovely wife) for your kind words and for thinking of me, I am really touched! :)) yes I ended up coming home over a longer route so was out of touch for an extra couple of days. I will certainly be returning to your magical country (I loved it so much!) and I hope one day to meet up with you for coffee if we are in the same place at the same time πŸ˜€ and of course if you come to Australia you would both be most welcome! Best wishes and thanks again for your kind thoughts, Bianca

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      • We shall meet up you with great pleasure. At this moment, our playground is Mikkeli, three hours by car or train from Helsinki and Oulu, 600 kilometers from Helsinki and 455 kilometers from Mikkeli. From Oulu to Rovaniemi / Arctic Circle, the trip takes only 2Β½ hours by car or by train. Next autumn, maybe September, we will move to Helsinki from Mikkeli.

        This means that we have since this autumn two homes, one in Oulu and one in Mikkeli. In winter, we will stay mainly in Oulu. Distances in Finland does not mean much to us, we have a good car. Then in future, when You have any idea about Your next visit, let us know.

        One question: Did You notice our traditional Christmas decoration called Himmeli in Helsinki?

        Anja and Matti.

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      • Thank you so much, wow that sounds the perfect combination of homes and locations Matti, how beautiful!! Next time I will certainly catch up with you and your wife πŸ™‚ and will travel further north and experience Lapland. I also hope to be more fluent in the language so I will keep studying…:) something very funny as you ask about himmeli, I love them and had bookmarked a few sites quite a while ago that gave instructions on making one….one of them was Anja’s!! What a small world hey πŸ™‚ I just looked at it again. What a talented woman she is, I don’t think I had realised she made it from glass beads, a brilliant idea and I imagine much more difficult than straws!! πŸ™‚ I would love to make one, probably not enough time for this Christmas although they are so beautiful I think it would look great just hanging all year, especially one made of sparkling glass. I will start looking through my bead stash today… πŸ™‚ B

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  2. That was a quick trip – or at least seems so from my end – How wonderful it all sounds and how impressed I am that you did this whole journey alone. I am so glad you had a wonderful time, that it all went well and I hope you found all and more that you went to find. The lace shawl is beautiful, but my heart strings sang at the sight of your beautiful jacket and I shall be hurrying off to download me a copy of that just as soon as I finish being polite here………… Happy Anniversary for you and your blog – I agree there are no rules, just keep it real and attract lots of really cool people into your online world and watch them spill over into your actual life πŸ™‚ Welcome home xoxo

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    • Thank you so much Pauline, I was thinking happy thoughts of you only this morning as I wrapped Christmas presents πŸ˜€ yes it went so quickly for me too, though was actually more than three weeks. πŸ™‚ I think magical is the only way to describe it! I definitely found whatever it was I was looking for, and have an extra feeling of contentment and understanding about why I am the way I am. I love the feeling of connection travel brings, in a way it is similar to blogging, making connections to the most amazing people and feeling that oneness with other human beings and landscapes. I would LOVE to see you make that jacket (and show pics too please :)) it is awesome and comfy and flattering. πŸ™‚ your crochet would no doubt FAR better than mine too πŸ™‚ xoxo

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  3. Hello! Big Welcome, even if that does mean you’re now further away. Great to see/hear you’ve had such an amazing trip. I’m definitely with you on the photos – still so glad I forgot my ‘proper’ camera for the whale watching trip this year. Love so many of your pics, but most of all those abseiling gnomes – no wonder you couldn’t part with them. And congratulations on your year blogging. I agree, I think you have to be yourself – says she who’s been telling naff Christmas jokes all week – eek!
    So glad you’re back, so glad you had such a wonderful time πŸ™‚ xx

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    • Thanks so much Bekki πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ How lovely to experience a whale watching trip fully! You wouldn’t want to miss anything! Funny because my parents also did one up the road at Hervey Bay and did not take one photo either, they said they were just in awe… πŸ˜€ lol I love your naff jokes, it’s like opening a Christmas cracker every day!! πŸ˜€ And I totally agree, a string of abseiling gnomes, what’s not to like..I’ve had a couple of false starts trying to replicate them (more like deformed Michelin men than gnomes) but I’ll get there…. Xox

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  4. I’m glad you had such a nice time πŸ™‚ I agree with you with your blogging advice… Like Oscar Wilde said: “be yourself, everyone else is already taken” πŸ˜€ I know of a cute way to make gnomes using little pine cones, fleece for the beard and a little bit of felt for the hat… It looks very cute, I have made one which is hanging on my Xmas tree πŸ™‚

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  5. Welcome home! I am happy you love to be home again. Your photos tell a good story and I admire your knitting! But oh boy…Am I ever envious of your gnomes and moomins…And congrats on a year blogging, I am glad I found you;0) keep on blogging girl! xo Johanna

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    • Thanks so much lovely Johanna! Isn’t there just something about gnomes and Moomin that can make you smile…:D i am drinking coffee from my Moominpappa mug right now! :))) I am really looking forward to making gingerbread muumi for Christmas, I ended up with two sizes of cutter in the end…I also got a head scarf which I am going to make into a knitting project bag…so much fun πŸ˜€ but yes, always love coming home and I did miss M. Thank you and always look forward to your gorgeous posts πŸ™‚ xo

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    • Thank you, I know I can’t believe how fast the weeks fly at this time of year either! Hahaha that selfie is one of my fave pics too, you can see I’m trying to keep the excitement under wraps for the photo but it’s about to burst out….:D it was a rare treat to visit physical yarn stores, we don’t have any around here so my purchases are online, but then of course you don’t get to play with the yarns or talk to other obsessive knitters or be surrounded by so much colour and wool!! πŸ™‚

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  6. Welcome back to summer, Bianca. I totally approve of knitting in public. I do it all the time since I don’t have a car and am always on public transport. As for taking photos: I regret those days when I used to travel without taking any photos– I’m at that age– photographs do reinforce your memory. Soon I’ll have to photograph every person I meet πŸ™‚ Anyway the photos you posted gave me a good sense of where you’ve been. Love your projects and the cute things you brought home.

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    • Hahaha thanks Mary, I had a mental image of you putting your knitting down and snapping pics of everyone…:D I get too motion sick to do it on anything but planes, I would love to be able to knit in the car!! πŸ™‚ yes I agree photos are definitely important to jog the memory, i love looking through old albums although I rarely do it on the computer. I have found now that I enjoy videos the best, I took about four short ones while I was away where I just stood in the crowd and turned around, I love that then you can hear the language and music and laughter and it captures movement etc. (also then I can forget about taking photos!) πŸ™‚

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  7. What a treat this post was! You sound so full of joy from the experiences you had. I love the handiworks you made while there and enroute.

    I had to go and look to see what antechinuses are! They’re good little insect eaters.

    Cheers.

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    • Thanks so much Yvonne, yes I really really enjoyed myself :)) whoops I meant to put a photo of an antechinus in the post but completely forgot sorry! They are cute, and they don’t seem to worry too much about me, they casually wander out and look at me and find something fluffy to steal for their nest then go back to the wall where they live…I’ve evicted a few on principle but I think they just come right back…:) one recently killed a giant green huntsman the size of my hand…so I now consider them my friends lol…

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  8. Completely agree on your blogging advice–the way to make it fun for you and interesting for others is to speak with your own unique voice. Love your shawl and love that it is very “you”; I know that feeling and it is wonderful. Glad you had such a great time and got back home safely.

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  9. “G’Day”. I think you brought a little bit of Helsinki back with you. It is currently residing in our 6C temperatures this morning. I think I love that you didn’t take a lot of photos because you were living your trip rather than planning posts about it. Welcome back home and glad to see you hit the ground running with your hooks and needles intact. I am with you when it comes to blogging. The blogs that I follow in my RSS Feed Reader range from extremely polished (predominately food blogs) to ramshackle (my own blog fits nicely into that category πŸ˜‰ ) but all of them are authentic as hell and if they sell out, or go to the dark (advertising products) side, I am “Outta there!” I am really glad you absorbed Helsinki and it has given you an incredible set of memories and experiences. I bet M was blissed out to see you. You enjoy the heck out of that sunshine and heat. I am off to boil the kettle to make myself a hot water bottle…

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    • Many thanks narf, holy moly that is cool!! I am so jealous!! πŸ˜€ I have convinced M to come down there for a visit with me next year, very brave of him to leave his beloved QLD temporarily πŸ˜‰ (yes we missed each other a LOT and decided the next holiday will be together :)) one of my brothers has moved permanently to Hobart now…:) in the meantime I try to look for the positives in the heat…1) it makes M happy 2)… I can’t think of a 2. πŸ™‚ ramshackle blogs are awesome, and I’m with you on the advertising (or even aggressive self promotion), there’s enough advertising in the day to day world without reading it as well…hope you and stevie-boy are still enjoying your well earned holidays! πŸ™‚

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      • Enjoying the heck out of them and having a blast in Sanctuary (veggie garden). Installing more ola’s today to cope with how dry it is here and Hobart is a lovely city. I wish my dad had have lived down there but it’s not half bad up here either πŸ˜‰

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  10. I’m glad you’re home safe and had such a wonderful trip. You’re right about the pictures and it was good you brought them back in your head instead. But you really did shoot some beautiful streetscapes. I really like your Moomintroll decoration. They have such sweet shapes. And now I’m going to have to look up that creature that’s in your train and is tolerable because I have no clue!

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    • Hahaha thanks Lisa! πŸ™‚ I’m glad you liked the streetscapes, just as well for me that it is hard to take a bad pic of them in Helsinki πŸ™‚ Antechinus kind of look like big eyed mice, but aren’t rodents, I think they’re marsupials. They are carnivorous and don’t have the chewy front teeth, just sharp little pointed teeth. They don’t do any harm really, it feels like I ‘should’ get rid of them, but when I think about it properly i don’t need to…and they are very friendly and keep away the real rodents :))

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      • I looked them up, and if they weren’t coming in droves, think they might be okay. Alarmingly, the poor little things seem to kill themselves breeding each year. Yes, they are marsupials. The things I learn!

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  11. I think you struck a nice balance between snapping photos and absorbing the experience. You’ve certainly convinced me that Helsinki is an interesting place to visit and again, inspired me to knit more. Well done!

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    • It was actually really easy! πŸ™‚ plenty of fresh meat, fish and veg, even coconut oil and sweet potato were easy to get! I was really surprised. Only things missing were of course the summer tropical fruit and vegetables (€6 for an avocado lol!), but it was a novelty to go without them for a while anyway. It was quite difficult though to eat out at a restaurant, I pretty much just cooked for myself, but that is the same everywhere…it is possible, but I hate being ‘that person’ who questions every ingredient on the menu lol so I generally avoid it… We have just recently got a paleo cafe in our closest town and it is soooo exciting to be able to have a meal out!! :))

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  12. Oh, I’m so glad you enjoyed your trip! It sounds awesome, and you’ve picked up some beautiful mementos along the way. The Beasties and I will definitely have to visit Finland ourselves! And your latest knit creations are stunning… I can see why you love that shawl so much πŸ˜€ Hope you enjoyed Christmas back at home, and congrats on your one-year Bloggingversary!

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    • Thanks so much, and hope you and the beasties had an awesome Christmas too!! πŸ˜€ I reeeeeeally want to see the Beasties in Finland (haha that autocorrected to the Beatles, that would be good too, but less likely) πŸ™‚ I can totally see your little guys sitting on the steps in front of the white church at senate square…. πŸ˜€

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      • We did, thanks! Nice and quiet after a somewhat manic December, which is EXACTLY what I wanted! I think the Beasties would enjoy a trip to Finland too… I’m determined to get away somewhere this year, so it’s definitely on the maybe pile… Entirely thanks to your excellent guide to Helsinki! πŸ˜€

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