Saturday, 20 February 2010

Thawing out!

Himself and I are just back from a short break in Tallinn (Estonia). Don't ask why we decided to go away in February to a place where the February temperature never gets above freezing point - especially as I hate the cold. If I just say 'Air Miles' and 'Free', you might begin to understand, but I still can't quite work out why we opted for February! However, we bravely decided to look on it as an 'experience' and an 'adventure'. When we arrived in Tallinn, our taxi driver told us it was currently Minus 5 degrees ... and trust me, it got colder! And at night ... more like minus 14.

However, Tallinn was very pretty, and we decided that visiting this sort of place in the winter has a lot to recommend it (can you hear my Positive Thinking ticking over?). For one thing, it wasn't crowded! (most tourists have more sense, and go in the summer!). And for another thing, the snow-topped roofs did add a certain charm to the place. OK, I give up, I can't think of any other reasons! We went out wrapped up in so many layers of clothes we could hardly walk. Whenever we went into a nice cosy cafe to have hot chocolate, which I can assure you was often, it took ages to get all the top layers off - but every cafe and restaurant had cupboards or coat-stands, as everyone there is wearing loads of clothing!

Me, dressed very fashionably, Tallinn-style!

On the third day we went on a day-trip to Helsinki ... 50 miles across the FROZEN sea: yes, frozen all the way across! We could hardly believe it, but the ferry just ploughed through it. It was even colder in Helsinki but we just had to say that we popped over to Finland for lunch!

And this is the interesting thing, coming at it from a UK point of view: no matter how bad the weather, they just keep going. There was heavy snow yesterday morning and we wondered if our flight home would be affected - but no, all planes were still taking off as normal. Nothing stops, nobody turns a hair. Of course, they are totally used to it, and it would be ridiculous if they threw up their hands in shock at the snow, when they have it throughout the winter - but it was certainly a contrast with the fuss we all made this winter. It felt positively balmy here when we returned to Heathrow last night!

In future I will definitely be more appreciative of our very temperate climate. I enjoyed the break but I would hate to live in that sort of climate, I'm sure it would make me very miserable.

Just to add to the whole thing, I wasn't feeling in the best of health - have had one rotten virus after another since Christmas and just before setting off for Tallinn I completely lost my voice! Some people might have felt it was a blessing, but my throat was so painful too, and I felt quite rough into the bargain. Fortunately my voice is back - husky but audible - which is a good job as I've got another talk scheduled for this Tuesday. And luckily it's only a small one, to a creative writing class! They might have to strain their ears!

I seem to make a habit of having something wrong with me whenever we go away. It's becoming annoying now: as soon as we get the suitcases or passports out, my body seems to start plotting how best to upset me. I'm not going to let it beat me. But what with my regular asthma and thyroid medication, and all my anti-sickness, anti-headache, anti-everything-else-that-might- strike tablets, I do seem to get some suspicious looks when my hand baggage goes through the security check. At Tanninn Airport they actually had dogs climbing over all the baggage on the carousel, sniffing it for drugs - as well as sniffing around everyone as they walked through! Never seen that before. I did worry that they might find something to bark about, in my 'medicine supplies' - but thankfully we got through unscathed. If I carry on like this, nobody will want to come on holiday with me!