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Finally, I can confidently announce that summer has landed*. I was going to write something about summer last week but even as an ultra-orthodox heathen non-believer of superstitions I felt I did not want to risk the power of the “jinx” where our precious summer is involved.
Anyway I guess there hasn’t been much to talk about of summer until now. It was only last week that I was so bored and housebound by the terrible weather I started choreographing a dance interpretation of summer 2015 – it mostly consisted of me sitting by a window wreathed in benign lachrymose rage, rhythmically shaking my fist at the sky to Whitesnake’s Crying In The Rain, when really I should have been skipping along the sunny beach singing Summer Holiday by Cliff Richard.
I love summer, I really, really love summer. Summer gives license to an impetuous disposition; when else can you go cycling or walking with no actual destination in mind, wear swimming shorts everyday just in case you fancy a whimsical dip in the sea, lazily read in the local play park whilst the kids rub sand in their hair or lazily read on the beach whilst the kids rub sand in their hair.
For me summer is a time to indulge in a sun drenched, languid apathy. A barbecue here, a white wine spritzer there, nothing too fancy and nothing too potentially stress inducing.
The problem with my ‘foot-loose and fancy-free’ attitude is that for my family it is a little bit boring. My girlfriend is always wanting to arrange trips and occupy weekends with little sojourns whilst Im sat on the balcony in my pants complaining that I never get any time to sit on the balcony in my pants. Yes, when it comes to making plans in our family, my girlfriend is like Rommel whereas I am more like Cheech and/or Chong.
I guess another reason I never want to go anywhere new and exotic is that I’ve had to put up with months of cold unforgiving tundra, knowing that at some point the frozen mass of ice that covers the land and sea will recede and expose a beautiful lush green country with a sea beautiful glistening and swimmable.
When it comes to the weather Finland really is two countries.
Each year it seems like we have to go through some sort of generic fantasy story line where an evil witch has cast a spell plunging the land into darkness and we all have to wait for a gallant prince to finish his quest around July when the sun returns, flowers grow, people smile and we can all go about our business without the fear of an evil witch destroying our crops and stealing children until September comes round again.
[alert type=yellow ]Summer gives license to an impetuous disposition; when else can you go cycling or walking with no actual destination in mind, wear swimming shorts everyday just in case you fancy a whimsical dip in the sea, lazily read in the local play park whilst the kids rub sand in their hair or lazily read on the beach whilst the kids rub sand in their hair.[/alert]
With so many beautiful beaches and pastoral enclaves dotted around the Helsinki area you start to wonder why anyone actually goes anywhere at all during summer. To me nothing compares to the alluring juxtaposition of a Mediterraneanesque white sandy beach with a periphery of Nordic forest.
The family summer cottage doesn’t need too much planning and is not too far either and is another idyllic setting for lazing. As soon as we arrive at the kesämökki I become a mixture of Mowgli and Bear Grylls, walking around half naked singing with the animals and eating ants.
There is something unexplainable about the bliss that overcomes me whilst immersed in the bucolic wonderland of the summer house, the constant activity of chopping wood for the sauna, fishing, swimming and rowing.
Being there makes me hark back to a time when people lived simpler healthier lives, well, healthier if my diet didn’t consist of grilled sausage and beer for the duration of my visits.
For me marshalling a family of four across land, sea and air is not a component to the recipe of joy, in fact whenever I’m about to embark on cross border travel with kids my mind fills with the sense of despair probably shared by other bad planning parents like Papa Mousekewitz and Kate MacCallister.
But being from another land means that it is an inevitability to travel with the family every so often.
This means that England is my second destination when we go on holiday, which isn’t bad at all and as we always visit and stay with my parents not too much stress or planning either.
Visiting Huntingdonshire means that we get to enjoy a vast flat countryside and huge skies with Super Mario Land clouds as we boat down the river Ouse or Camb visiting twee little pubs in twee little villages.
[alert type=yellow ]To me nothing compares to the alluring juxtaposition of a Mediterraneanesque white sandy beach with a periphery of Nordic forest.[/alert]
Of course it isn’t the most exotic or exciting destination for the family, I like it because it is nice, I know how to get there and we get to use the time to see family.
This lack of desire for adventure is certainly not something that I picked up from my Father.
Being the son of a Francophile each year we would schlep across France for our holidays. It would be a true cultural adventure, we would always drive so we could stop by our (surrogate) uncle Michel’s restaurant/bar/hotel/farmhouse, where he would delight in concocting pizzas tailor made to mine and my brothers fussy palate. I even enjoyed the hot, congested, fumy horrors of the Route National and Autoroute motorways. I remember the excitement at seeing my favourite landmark in France; the Cruas Nuclear Power Station with its slightly crass, slightly ironic mural, always signifying that we were nearing our southern destination.
Once settled in our campsite in beautiful spots such as the Camargue my father would practice his French by taking us to remote rural villages where the last time English people visited they probably arrived by parachute. Then in his element he would speak this amazing language which then materialised into plates of strange food that contained animals unbeknown to my father’s then limited French vocabulary (I think we ate a lot of horse without knowing).
Herein lies the problem: now that I am committed to two countries I feel that not only can I not afford the time or money to visit others but the options that are laid out in front of me are so wonderful I feel that it would be a waste of time going anywhere else.
I seem to have lost that sea-faring adventurer spirit of my ancestors.
Maybe it’s not as deep a problem as I make out and just that I’m spoilt and lazy.
Neither of my parents were born in England yet managed to take me and my brothers on journeys that I will never forget. Maybe being from another country is not a reason to no-longer want to go on adventures in other countries. So I guess really it is my duty to shake off this bad planning habit and become an adventurer for my family’s sake and start planning adventures for the future so we have unforgettable memories of the past.
*At the time of writing it felt as though summer had actually landed, if you are reading this and the weather is terrible, I am sorry, never underestimate the power of the jinx.