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As some of you may have seen I’ve been in Europe for nearly two months (August through to end of September) and maybe you thought that I had no publishing results while I was away.

I did a few things before I left Australia to make sure things were ticking over and while I wasn’t fully engaged in the promotion or writing side of Indie publishing, things were happening and somethings are easy to do on the run or the fly so to speak.

It is a bit early in the game to talk of trends, but I’m happy to say that August outperformed July. Let me cast my mind back and check my notes for August.

I had my books still up on Instafreebie by the way and I wrote to my newsletter subscribers to tell them I might be quiet. Travelling meant that I couldn’t participate in a lot of cross promotions. I had had Argenterra for free on a Freebooksy promotion and I left it free when I left. There seemed to be a tail there and ‘shrug’ it couldn’t hurt to leave it for free.

My Freebooksy results were around 2500 thousand copies given away and I earned the cost of it I think with people buying the second and third books.

I had signed up for a number of promos on Kobo which didn’t do anything at all. However, I did make $19 in August from Kobo, mostly people buying from the Silverlands series box set and the Dragon Wine Box set.

The great thing about Kobo is that the promotions are really easy to sign up for. I could do them on my phone. If Kobo accepts your submission for a promo it makes the changes to your prices if required. Some of these promos might be 30% off a box set. I thank case you need to do nothing at all as the promo is applied at point of sale. Most of these promos are free and you pay through a cut in royalties. This is a good thing if a promo doesn’t work for example. There are paid promos and I’ve only ever applied for a cheap one for $12 but haven’t been successful in getting one of those.

Streetlib was a no earner for me in August, but some freebies did go through there via Google Play.

Draft to Digital, which for me is Barnes and Noble, gave me around $35 Australian in earnings. Biggest for me. They would have to be the Freebooksy follow through purchases.

Surprisingly iTunes/iBooks was a big earner for me in August with $82.33 in earnings. Again I think some of that is the Argenterra Freebooksy and other sales are just random or coming from my newsletter.

Smashwords also came through for me with someone buying a whole set of the dragon wine books so about $15 Australian there.

And the big earner for me was Amazon with around $135 Australian in sales.

That’s approximately $285 from sales in August.

I also had a lovely person who had bought the ebooks order the full set of Dragon Wine in print so I can safely say my earnings were $300. Still small bickies but a steady increase. I was also glad I didn’t just take a rejection for Argenterra from Bookbub and used Freebooksy instead. That’s $100 US but that was money that was refunded from previous promotions that didn’t work so well.

Instafreebie was still ticking over but giveways were slowing down with no active cross promotion going on.

That’s double July folks.

I also had help from Patty Jansen’s ebookaroo which lifted the tail on the Freebooksy for Argenterra.

And I got news that I had been successful in gaining a Bookbub, International Only, but that’s excellent.

September

I don’t have all the figures in yet but I can work it out. Seeing as some of this money doesn’t get paid for months.
I found out today that Draft2Digital did not have my payment details. However, their tax interview process is so easy it was done in a jiffy.

As I was travelling, the main promotion in September was the International Bookbub for Shatterwing, Part One of the Dragon Wine series. I was so excited by this but didn’t really have anyone to share it with who really understood how amazing it was to finally get one. I think it has to be the wonderful covers from Frauke at Crocodesigns and the cover blurbs from Craig Cormick and Glenda Larke that swung it for me.

The international Bookbub runs in Canada, Australia, UK and India. It was for 99 cents. It cost around $200 to run it. I put all the stores to 99 cents, or so I thought. I didn’t realise that Canada and Australia were listed on Googleplay for $1.99 so the emails from Bookbub said my book was $1.99  and the sales were pretty lame in those countries as a result. Canada wasn’t too bad, Australia maybe I had four sales. I don’t really know. I was devastated and had to work out what happened. I sorted it out but still what a way to blow a good chance. UK sales though were pretty awesome and I must say the sell through in both UK and Canada has been good. So I’m thinking that the Bookbub paid for itself or will do.

I think there is a sweet spot there at 99 cents and $1.99. People are willing to try a book at 99 cents if you are unknown. If you are known and they want your book they will pay $1.99 and up. So in Australia that has to be true, Canada less so because books actually sold there despite the $1.99 price tag.

Here’s the thing, with the international Bookbub you can apply for a US one within 30 days. I did that and was refused. Why? Because my book had been reduced for more that 14 days in the last 90 days. I had to have it explained to me as I was confused. I always thought that you couldn’t offer to Bookbub if you reduced your price in the previous 90 days, but it is actually discounted for more that 14 days, so it’s okay to have a week or a day special price and that doesn’t reset the Bookbub submission clock. I will master these Bookbub rules.

Anyway I was a bit down in the mouth as not only did I stuff my international bookbub, I had stuffed the chance at the USA deal. But lo, a light did shine on me and I put my book in for a free promo Bookbub USA. I figured they could only say no. Yet, I was accepted. This confirms what I’ve been told that there are two different decision processes, paid and free. So I will have a USA Bookbub for Shatterwing in October. This is very cool because that is what I have wanted from the beginning. You can get a massive amount of downloads via Bookbub for a free fantasy book. Shatterwing is currently free because I was advised that Amazon were having difficulties discounting. Yet, as soon as I discounted elsewhere Amazon price matched so I requested the price to zero there too. Fingers crossed this all goes to plan.

Meanwhile I had put out feelers for someone to pitch to iBooks Australia for both my series. First attempt was a no, then out of the blue I get an email saying I’d been accepted for Shatterwing. It was going to be later in the month but then changed to today. So Shattering in iBooks Australia free book of the week. Which is blowing my mind. I did not expect that. Thank you Patrick and iBooks Australia.

So my results for September while I was travelling and couldn’t do much but I had an international bookbub (slightly underdone due to silly me and book settings).

Let me see.

No sales at all through Draft2Digital. This makes sense as my main sales are for Barnes and Noble and I had an International Book Bub which excludes the USA.

Kobo (I had a number of promotions. Some worked. Some were other sales)  $90 (58 books sold). I’m using the raw figure here but that doesn’t account for Kobo’s cut or exchange rates.

iBooks $88 with 59 books sold. Again raw figure, not counting exchange rates etc. Edit. Corrected figure is $118 and a bit more for US sales.

Streetlib was about $3-$4 but I have no idea what currency and have to wait a very long time to be paid given I haven’t reached the payment threshold yet.

Amazon approximately $260. This is an estimate because it’s in different currencies. The bulk of this was books sold for 99 cents, which means I earned 35 cents or pence.

In September I had sales across all my books, the bulk, some 231 copies of Shatterwing at 99 cents or pence. The sell through I think is around 10 per cent for book two and then less for books three and four. I had a couple of sales of the Argenterra series too.

So ebook sales are around $440  $470 so an increase on August. This is also more than the biggest royalty cheque I received from my traditional publishers.

I also had a book launch and print book sales at Conflux at the end of September so I haven’t done the accounting on that yet. I think I made enough to cover the cost of the table and maybe the cost of the books, which is good I think.

That’s me. I may pop back after the Bookbub and the Book of the Week Promo and tell you the results of that.

I consider myself very lucky to have some upward movement so soon after uploading the two series. I’m very lucky to have got a Bookbub relatively quickly. I have been the person who checks the sales figures and sees no sales. Now I see sales. Modest sales but believe me that’s better than none.

Many thanks to Patty Jansen for her advice and guidance and to Facebook group for promotion that I belong too. Thanks to the buyers of books and for liking the stories enough to read the series.

Here is a pic of me from my book launch taken by Cat Sparks. I know I posted it in the previous post but hey! Different audience.

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This is the last in my series of GUFF blog posts. The trip is done. I am home and I’ve recovered mostly from jet lag. I still randomly fall asleep and I was out cold by 8.30am last night.

After Bath and London fan meet ups, I went to Brighton, well close by, to stay with my partner’s cousin, Nick. It was a lovely place to base ourselves in. And Nick spoiled us so much with meals and outings and his lovely home that we didn’t want to leave. He also had a love slut for a cat, a ginger British Long Hair called Gus. What can be more welcoming than a cat who comes when called and has his purring bellows going before you even scratch under his chin. The grooming brush sent this fellow into raptures-an amazing thing to see.

So in Brighton I went on the sewer tour which I covered previous post. Later we went to Eastbourne to see the Ravilious exhibition and then for scampi and chips on the pier and then high tea with scones and jam on the Eastbourne Pier too.

IMG_0779IMG_0781Other excursions include the Bluebell steam railway, and Firle. My daughter was due to go to Morocco so I had time to myself. I also met my long, lost cousin, Christine, who came to Brighton and took us out for lunch.

Here is a photo of Firle, Nick at Firle and my long lost cousin, Christine and her husband Robert.IMG_0799.JPG

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London SF fan Patrick McMurray organised a day for me to go in to London and take me walking about and to some museums: The Wellcome and the Soane and we met up with a dozen or so SF fans at the Olde Cheshire Cheese Pub.

After a bit of wrangling, I managed to go from London to Baldock to meet former Australian fan friend but now British fan friend and buddy, Barbara on the Thursday night, but also managed to meet up with my cousin Christine again in Greenwich during the day. This required a massive amount of train mojo btw. Only thwarted twice when I got on the wrong train and then in the evening when the train I was on decided it couldn’t stop in Baldock and Barbara had to come rescue me. It’s a bit of a theme, me being rescued by SF fans. I wish some would come right now and save me from the coconut biscuits I am stuffing into my gob as I type.

Patrick met me at the St Pancras Station and then showed me St Pancras International and the amazing building that had been restored to Victorian splendour.

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We then walked through London as you do to see the sights and to meet Julie, his wife for lunch, and to go to the Wellcome Museum. Apparently the guy who set up this big Pharma company was originally American and then moved to Britain. He collected stuff. Heaps of stuff and you can see it at the museum as well as the temporary exhibitions. The exhibition was about graphic design and how it has been used, in particularly with packaging medics and implied instructions to medical staff. It also covered AIDS advertising among other things. The old collection was really interesting. I took a few photos, but it included sunken heads, sex aids, a dead body from South America, birthing models, bizarre paintings of surgical procedures and births. There was also another exhibition about the human body. I took a photo of this sculpture. I was feeling rather displeased with my body at the time. Also, a library which had other weird stuff in it.

In the gift shop I bought a few items that I figured would go down well in a fan auction. I was due to conduct a fan auction at Conflux in Canberra a few days after I arrived home. I purchased a glow in the dark tentacle and a periodic table tea towel. I would have bought more things but I had decision paralisis.

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We then went for lunch at the Fleet River Bakery and met Julie. It was quite nice there with the salads and excellent coffee. Then there was an unpleasant altercation between some clients of the establishment that put a damper on things. After farewelling Julie we trotted off to the Soane Museum which wasn’t far away at all at Lincoln Inn Fields. Here is the Wikipedia Link to the Museum.

Lucky for me, Nick had given me a book to read about the museum and it’s collection. It is a very eclectic collection. John Soane was an architect and the buildings themselves are a piece of art, add that to the amazing amount of stuff he collected, he has Seti 1’s sarcophagus in the basement, the art and the arrangements which have tried to represent how it was, and you have a unique establishment. To visit the museum is free. No photos unfortunately. We missed the tour of the private apartments but we did buy a guide. It is proving to be popular and it’s very tiny inside because it was basically three houses combined with stuff in it.

At the Olde Cheshire Cheese just off Fleet Street, is a very old pub. It is also deceptive. The bar you walk into is tiny, but it has many more floors below. It was apparently destroyed or damaged during the Great Fire of London but some parts of the pub are meant to be older. We discovered this when we went down the stairs. Patrick and I arrived early so we could grab a table and cider and beer! Patrick had worked up a considerable thirst and as much as I love walking the streets of London my feet needed a break. We table hopped until we had just about enough room for us all. Claire arrived and then the others came along. About a dozen all up. Some people I met before and some I didn’t. I took a few shots. Newly weds. A couple planning to migrate to NZ. An ex Aussie and her British beau, who drew me a dragon! Julie was unwell unfortunately so she didn’t end up joining us. I was staying over with Patrick and Julie so I was hopefully going to see her again. She picked us up from the train station so yay!

Caroline, her husband whose name escapes me! and so on. And there we were emerging at night to catch the train.

It was lovely to have them all come for a meet up with me, the GUFF delegate. I can’t thank Patrick enough and all the gang who came along. It meant a lot to me. Food was good too.

I took the train with Patrick to his local station and Julie collected us. I was introduced to the cats and then went up to the top floor to the guest bedroom. This was such a comfortable bed. It was so comfortable that I didn’t get up to say goodbye to Julie. Such bad form. I did get up to go get breakfast with Patrick in town and then to catch a train to my cousin, Christine. I left a little present. When I saw Patrick and Julie’s place I knew my present to them would fit right in. A stuffed wombat. My last! Patrick took a photo and sent it to Julie and she loved it too. I was so pleased.

Patrick and I walked into town and had an excellent breakfast. It was really good. Then I caught the train across London, beyond the castle…etc until I reached Lewisham quite by accident as I’d taken the wrong train. Thank god for mobile phones. Christine introduced me to Greenwich, where I’d never been before. We walked under the Thames along this tunnel and came up on the other side, I believe in the Isle of Dogs and then walked back. We shopped at Greenwich Markets and ate lunch at the Trafalgar Tavern. We had a Ploughman’s lunch. It wasn’t bad but the Ploughman’s lunch I had at the Rams Inn in Firle was heaps better. I guess it annoys me when a pub says hand cut ham and you get sliced ham from a packet and commercial pickles and not home made ones etc. But the cheese on the platter was amazing. And the views. Right on the Thames.

From Greenwich I took a ferry to Westminster Pier and walked to Kings Cross Station. I had my phone app to guide me. I got off track a couple of times. It was a long walk. I kept telling myself I could stop and have a coffee and rest but the other part of my brain said don’t because it’s going to rain. I didn’t stop and it started raining just as I was across the road from Kings Cross Station. I count that as a win.

Here are a few shots from the the view of Greenwich from the Isle of Dogs, Trafalgar pub to the Thames, and the Tower Bridge from the Thames, the Tower of London and the Shard.

I made it to Baldock because Barbara picked my up. We ate Indian takeaways and talked about Britain, Australia, SF fans and our mutual friends. Next morning I did a walk around Baldock, had morning tea at the Costa at Tescos there and bought a new carry on bag in the mega Tescos. Then we sat around all day watching telly, talking books and and writing etc and then around 7pm it was time for me to take off again.

A few photos from Baldock. And none of Barbara! Oh dear!

Yes, another long train ride to Gatwick Airport from Baldock to collect Beanie who was coming in from Morocco. That all went to plan except Bean’s plane was delayed and it was already a late arriving plane. After a conversation on messenger with Nick, he said he’d drive to Gatwick to pick us up. Bean’s plane was even later than expected and it would have been very hard to catch a train to Brighton. So Nick, wonderful, lovely Nick drove to Gatwick and we waited together for Beans to emerge then we drove to Brighton. We arrived home around 2 am I think. It’s a bit of a blur. Saturday was to be our last full day this UK trip.

Saturday night was the last night. We had a arranged a lovely meal at Terre A Terre in Brighton that is a vegetarian restaurant with vegan options. We had to do lunch because it was booked out in the evening. So Saturday morning was a late start due to coming home at 2 and then going to this fabulous meal. Then we did a spot of shopping in the Laines and then went home. That evening we watched telly and ate a sort of tapas meal. It was very yummy.

Some shots around Brighton. Little laneways between buildings etc.

My stepson lives in Brighton so Beans and I caught up with him on the Sunday for breakfast. We had a lovely vegan meal and then did some more shopping. We really wanted to get presents for family etc. There was a protest that went right by us as we ate breakfast. It was the Labour Party conference in Brighton that weekend.

Here are some final shots of Brighton, the lovely vegetarian tapas plate from Terre a Terre. The boutique decorated with the sewing machines etc.

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After much discussion where Nick didn’t really listen to us, he drove us to Heathrow Airport. It was a slow wind down from the trip and the traffic was slow too. Nick had planned it well and good and we made it to the airport and said our goodbyes.

Then apparently, I am reliably informed, I had a personality change. I became a shrew with no thought in my mind but to check my bags in. Until then I would brook no diversion, no toilet stops, nothing. Even though I had two hours before the train left. Poor Beans.

The long trek home involved a few little spats with Beans, usually to do with spilled water or boarding the plane after a stop over. I managed to pour hot tea down my front in Singapore. When Beans pointed it out, I managed to pour some more into the crotch of my pants. Ow! It was hot.

We arrived home safely to Sydney, but there was the bus. Yes, the bloody bus takes 3.5 hours and it took more like four. After a day on a plane you really don’t want a bus. I think I passed out on the bus and by the time I arrived I could hardly stay awake.

Matthew was there to collect us. Lovely, adorable and cuddly Matthew. The mighty darling Dweeb!

We were actually home.

Then I had a day or two before I had to prepare for Conflux SF convention. I had a table. A book launch and a fan auction to prepare for.

Fan auction was amazing folks. We made good money! Thank to the generous fans who attended and paid through the nostrils for Finnish sweets. The tentacle and the periodic table tea towel went down like a treat so did the Finnish sweets and Moomin coffee and biscuit tin. Aussie fans are crazy for the Finnish sweets! We also auctioned off a world con souvenir book as it was marvellous and some Finish weird anthologies.

Here are some snaps of the auction goodies. PS I bought the Darth Vader, breathing lolly dispenser.

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Reflections

I think I learned a lot about myself on this trip. I think I’m extroverted but at times it was hard to reach out to people I didn’t know, particularly ones from different cultures. When you travel you are often stressed but you may not be aware of it. I think that is true for me. I was excited to be there, but there was a stress there too from being out of my comfort zone, away from home. I am so happy to have met some wonderful people who reached out to me or me to them, who shared their homes or their cities with me. I love the feeling of community I get. I thank those who went to extra mile to meet me and say hello. I’m very grateful to my daughter, Beans, who came with me and offered support. She did my hair! I think it was hard for her given she doesn’t identify as a fan (though she really is!) and she had to put up with me, my demands, the demands of fandom on my time and the times I just needed to zone out when she really wanted me to be present and attentive. I don’t think I could have done it alone, Beans. Thank you.

Thank you fandom for a wonderful time, a wonderful trip and a fuller, more detailed report is the next thing on my agenda.

Here is a pic taken by Fionna O’Sullivan, one of our GUFF hosts in Dublin, Ireland. She thought it was the author shot. I think it shows me reflecting.

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Here is a photo by Cat Sparks of my book launch, featuring the wonderful Craig Cormick, launcher extraordinaire.

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The 2017 Australian GUFF delegate is signing off now. So long and thanks for the scampi. (I’m allergic to fish).

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Warning: this post contains Vikings! Actually, things about Vikings!

Last post I got us to Stockholm. We arrived on Tuesday and we were in time for the local SF fan meet up at the British Arms Hotel. This pub was quite near where the Viking Line berthed so we thought we could find our way back there by reversing our trip. Our AirBnB host told us about the local transport app. During Winter in Stockholm it is very important to plan your trips and know when buses and trains are arriving so their app was very efficient. We used it to plan our journey back the way we came.

Photo of Stockholm’s central railway station that reminds me of Sydney’s Town Hall.

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We had been invited to come along to this meet up by local fan Johan so it was good to meet local fans. There were Australians there too. Gillian Polack was there visiting with Johan. Then Janice and Stephen turned up, then some USAins. It was quite a national group. They very kindly spoke in English and we had some great conversation. So great was the conversation that we forgot to take photos.

It was an English style pub and one of the bartenders was English and chatted with us. My daughter eats vegan and the vegetarian burger had cheese in the vegetable pattie. I ordered chips for her and the bar tender told me there was a vegan dish available but it wasn’t on the menu. So he very kindly made sure my daughter got a vegan bean stew. I had some potent local cider called Old Rosie.

My daughter had a really good chat with Magnus and Marten and got recommendations for what was she should do in Stockholm and surrounds. Gamla Stan, the Historica museum, a trip to Birka were our order of priority.

Next day we did the tourist thing and took the metro to Gamla Stan, old town. It had cobble stones, the foot killers! I will spare you photos of me with swollen feet (no matter how spectacular) and even stories of using the walking stick! Some days are better than others. But cobble stones are killers.

We made it to Gamla Stan and we had been told the best restaurants are in streets parallel to the main street. First up we found a cafe that did raw food, organic food and vegan stuff. Once again my daughter was in vegan heaven being able to have a good coffee with soy milk and a vegan muffin. I had a pastry and a coffee too. Then we noted there was a vegan restaurant across the road so we pegged that for lunch. Next to that was Geronimo’s Bar and I have a nice picture of their sign.

 

The most important thing in Gamla Stan is the SF bookshop, but I was also on a mission to some needles so I could knit up the Finland wool mittens. I don’t expect to finish them up as I have to watch the old RSI but a few rows now and then might keep me occupied. Google told me there was a yarn shop in Gamla Stan so we went there first, taking a few snaps on the way. They guy on the horse is St George I think, killing the dragon. Or it’s a king who killed a dragon.

 

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The yarn shop was smallish, with some yarn:the local yarn I thought was a bit rough/scratchy and the Icelandic yarn I want to by in Iceland so in the end I only purchased the needles. Then we headed for the SF bookshop. Wow! What a glorious SF bookshop. It has English versions, Swedish translations, DVD, related stuff like TinTin models and then upstairs it had games, Games workshop and Black Library books. My daughter wanted to buy a book and she chose The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. She wanted to by Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman too but we had to worry about weight restrictions. These photos include two external, one internal and one spot the author- Sarah Cawkwell!

 

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We headed back to the vegan restaurant for the buffet lunch, which was really nice. I had black bean soup, vegetable casserole and salad. We booked the Birka tour so we wanted to make sure we knew where the ferry left from so we did the checking out the venue thing with a map, Google etc. We caught the bus to City Hall, which was only two stops away and did a bit of exploring there. The building looks like a cathedral to me with it’s funny steeple. I took a photo of this mausoleum. Later we were told that it has no body in it, but is a bit of a tourist scam. This lot of photos are from the City Hall and surrounds.

 

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Talking of scams…we needed to pay for the loos. A 5 SEK coin to be exact. The public loos weren’t luxurious or even that clean but you needed to pay to spend a penny. At the railway station it’s 10 SEK.

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We took some nice pictures and then decided to walk back to Gamla Stan as it looked close enough. It was across the bridge on another island. A bit turned around but eventually we made it and went back to the first cafe for an afternoon coffee and snack. Then we headed back to our accommodation.

Where we were staying was quite close to a nature reserve. So after resting my feet for a bit we went for an evening walk. Queue pictures of walk and the lake. People were swimming and having fun. There was a golf course in there. I tried taking a photo for Russell but the sun was setting. We saw deer, Bambi look alikes and a pet cemetery. This is a collection of photos from the nature reserve.

 

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Thursday we had the trip to Birka so major stress to ready and where we needed to be in time. Except we woke up early, well before our alarm. It’s because it’s so light here at night and early in the morning. Even though we were early we just went. It was a beautiful day. Bright blue skies, calm weather etc. After a bit of a wait (happens when you are early) we boarded the ferry. Our tour guide Emil, was wearing historical costume. Not a viking helmet etc, just every day wear. He gave us a bit of a talk about features on our way to Birka. The Raven Rock, the rock where a king jumped off with his horse and lived and so many more.

Here is a collection from Birka. The ferry, the spot for a king with a hat, the guide, the view from the hillfort, the cross (Celtic instead of German), the local cows, me and replica boats, replica boats without me, replica village

 

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Birka is an island where the remains of an early Viking village was found. I was hoping to see archeological digs but alas, it was covered up. We saw burial mounds and where the village is currently under fields, the remains of the hill fort,a  museum and a replica village. The guide was funny and informative. He was an archeologist and so provided some useful information and tips for where to find things in the museums that had been taken from Birka. He was saying there was so much more to explore but funds being limited they will be excavated in the future some time. Only about 5 per cent of the village/city had been excavated so far. The government bought most of the island from the people who live there. Apparently seven people live there, farming etc. We saw sheep and cows.

In the museum shop I bought a Viking inspired T-shirt. Beans bought vegan soap and Thor hammer fridge magnet. We had prebooked our lunch so we were served that on the way back to Stockholm with window side seats.

After a long day we headed home. The ferry ride was lovely and I was a bit sun burnt despite sun block. We did another walk in the nature reserve. The next day, Thursday we had planned to visit the museum historica. Not only was it recommended because of the Viking related exhibits, it was also free. Thursday was rainy so it was a good day to do museum related stuff. We found our way there with the aid of maps and preplanning for the metro. We had purchased a 3 day pass which made travel easy and economical. We had to buy them from the grocery store.

We scored tickets to the English guided tour of the Viking section of the museum and then went to explore the gold room, where the treasure hordes were on display. There were gold torques, and black smithing tools, and coils of gold and silver used in hair or as currency, there were buckles and rings and amazing things. Totally worth the time. We did two trips through this section. The tour guide was a resident Viking woman but due to the rain couldn’t show us what they do outside in the interactive part. We saw skeletons and grave goods and tall panels explaining the layout of the grave goods and their purpose. There were rune stones and swords and it was all fantastic really. We did a second look around after lunch, which was yummy and quite reasonably priced. We went up stairs to look at the Swedish cultural history collection with relics of the church and so on. Overall a really nice museum and the shop was good too but we were heading to Norway and thought we might find a Thor Hammer necklace there.

Some Viking related pics. Turn away if you’re bored!

 

Once we were home we didn’t bother with a walk in the nature park as it continued to be gray and rainy. We had to pack and weigh and work out our departure time and how to get to the airport and also eat the remains of our food. Self catering is really quite fun, except the changing countries part. We had to leave behind some plant based margarine which I had cunningly identified even though I don’t speak Swedish. Now, of course, the margarine is much missed!

And the feared rain was falling quite heavily on the morning of our departure from Stockholm. About 15 minutes to the metro from our lodgings. Man I look so impressed.

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The trip to Norway was uneventful except for the struggle to get on the plane and to our seat. Really! I don’t mean to complain but god! Argh!

I’m going to split this post into a separate one in Norway. I’m still in Norway though! But more Vikings!

 

 

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Friday was a big day at World con. For me it was all about the Hugos as I was so honoured and delighted to be invited to co-present an award. And my daughter came in with me and also did my hair for World Con. We went with an Austenesque style but we had to do it in the morning with the hope that it would hold until the evening.

We were going to take the tram, but another tram had broken down and we couldn’t see how our tram was going to get through as there was only one track. After thinking about it for like 30 seconds we decided to catch the train in instead. The train and tram are so convenient from our location.

We had packed all our gear in case we needed to change on site. My first item was to go to the Hugo rehearsal session. I had arrived in good time but was so directionally challenged I couldn’t find the hall. In an act of desperation I ran up to a security guard. She said you can’t go there as it is shut. After I explained I was going to the rehearsals she directed me to an inconspicuous door. I would not have found it without help.

I made it in good time and watched a few of the run throughs, met people and then John Purcell turned up and we were able to go through some minor edits I made to the text and then it was our turn. Things were a little rushed and we had marks to move to. John and I did a vocal run through off stage just so we knew we could say it all. We needed one name, and Irish one, to be tutored. Lucky the Hugo Award administrator is Irish and could help out.

After that, there wasn’t much to do. We had lunch and hung out with Robert Hood and then Cat Sparks briefly. Cat has donated a signed copy on her Blue Lotus book for the fan fun auction.

The pre-Hugo reception was to start at 5.30 so my daughter suggested we take the tram back to our hotel and come back again. We were having vigorous discussions about shoes and in the end she decided to go to buy some.

I was going to rest but by the time we got back there wasn’t much time. My daughter went out to buy shoes and a big hand bag. We needed extra shoes because we couldn’t stand in high heels all night!

We made it to the reception with the aid of directions. This is the closest I’m ever going to get to a Hugo so it was a pleasure to be there. It was really quite crowded. I guess you can’t experience the impact of all those names until you see them gathered. There was rumours of food. I did see people eating but by 6.15 there was no more food, but some chocolates out for sweets. Lucky I wasn’t too hungry.

I was handed a cocktail/drink when I arrived. I think it was a long gin with Lingon berries (sp) and I had to make sure that was all I had. On an empty stomach too much alcohol is not a good thing.

I caught up with Carrie Vaughn, Paul Weimer, Nalo Hopkinson, Mihela and others. I met CE Murphy, from Ireland via Alaska she tells me. Then it was photos. I was going to get a photo with Jukka Halme, but I lost Paul Weimer so I had to scrap that idea. Then I lined up with Beans for a photo but just as it was nearly our turn, they announced they were taking official photos of the different categories of nominees so there went our chance.

Later though, Jukka grabbed me and said, come and have a photo with my official photographer and so I got my photo after all.

Then it was time to go in and take our places. We made sure to sit with John and Valerie Purcell (TAFF delegate and his wife) as we were presenting together.

This is the shot from inside the auditorium.

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There was type written script on the screen. It was for the hearing impaired I think but it had problems at times and some of the mispelt words were hilarious.

“I am slighted to be here” etc. I forgot most of them but really, 6000 delegates from 6000 countries. Hahahaha.

Then it was our turn to go on stage. The ceremony is on You Tube I believe and was webcast. We were in the beginning section. There was an International group of people presenting, South Africa, Poland, China, US and Australia. We had to sit on a sofa on stage and then after we presented we had a short interview. Amazing, John and I got to plug the fan auction to like 5000 people! They had John’s name wrong in the script so Karen Lord called him Jeff. We gave John a hard time. So Jeff what did you do with John etc.

After the awards ceremony we were invited to the Hugo Losers’ Party. There was a shuttle bus (a small one) so a lot of people took cabs. We waited with C E Murphy and ? (I’m sorry I forgot your name again) and Nalo Hopkinson, George RR Martin, Pat Catigan and others. A Finish fan guy leaped on the bus and Nalo can I come with you and did.

The venue was Helsinki’s steam punk nightclub. It was crowded by the time we got there. Winners turn up and are boohed and made to wear ridiculous head gear. There was an amazing steampunk cake. Lots of booze. Lots of food and desserts in mini containers. The music was good at first but then we tried to dance and the music went to shit. Go figure. I had a blast but wanted to go home. Beans, my daughter, wanted to party and dance and I didn’t get out of there until around 2 am. But I met people, talked to people. John and Valerie turned up late dressed in their steam punk gear. So cute.

Here is a collection of shots, including the steampunk cake. The steampunk couple are John and Valerie Purcell.

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And well today is Saturday and I must get out of here.

 

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I thought this post would be delayed. My head is not feeling too good. It may have something to do with the two long gins I had last night while I was at a party. I think it was the Dublin party but it was hard to tell. Or it could be the dreaded con lurgy.

Thursday I went to Messukeskus on my own. My daughter could not be brought to attend. However, she did do my hair for me. I love it. She took a photo while I was blogging yesterday and I said ‘Don’t I have resting old bitch face.’  Here are some shots of my hair. Totally frivolous of me. Usually I just have boring hair and I’m not an elegant person, but I felt it after this.

 

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I had two panels that I was appearing on so I made sure I arrived in time for those. I decided to try the tram. From our hotel it is route 9. I waited on the wrong side because that’s what my daughter and I thought was the right direction. However, I saw people with worldcon name tags on the other side so I skipped over the tracks to the otherside.

I managed to tag on with the free transport card that the city has given to all the worldcon attendees. This is a wonderful thing. Kiitos Palion to Helsinki!

I was sitting there staring into space (as you do) when I hear an Australia voice at the next stop. “How do you use your ticket?” Or something like that. I recognise the voice. It’s Cat Sparks and Rob Hood. We greet each other and then I face forward and see Janeen Webb tottering down the aisle as the tram had pulled away. So we had more greetings and I met Janeen’s friend Dena. It was a happy little group setting out to Worldcon. The tram drops us right out the front of Messukeskus. It’s a wee bit more convenient than the train, but the train is great too.

I had arranged to meet Paul Weimer before our Fan Fund panel, but first up I sat down and put my feet up in a lovely collection of easy chairs. There was an American woman doing the same so I joined her. My feet are still swelling but are thankfully not too painful.

I met some Danish fans while I was waiting for Paul by the bear. We chatted about fanfunds, I gave away chocolate koalas and I also told them about my other panel, Romance and the female gaze in science fiction. They were very keen to see that panel. I did see them there and they waved. My Finish geekgirl ribbon continues to be of interest. I think they have run out.

Paul showed up so went to grab something to eat and a coffee. We tried this little cafe, Street Food I think it is called. It had a few options and all seemed to be regional/Finish. I had a baked potato stuffed with shrimps in a dill mayonnaise. Paul had the crum chicken drumsticks with a coleslaw and the other option I saw was potato salad with bratwurst sausage. These were about 8 Euro each. Coffee was 3 Euro. The coffee (Kahvi) was filter I think. Sometimes that stuff is like sludge. My daughter tells me that Fins drink the most coffee per capita in the world. She reads the guide books. Well I think that means that Fins have caffeine in their blood. You would think that would make them quite tense but they appear quite laid back.

Paul chatted about his DUFF trip report. (He visited Australia from the USA and visited us in Canberra). He pulled out this massive document with great pictures, including the kangaroos near my place and the yummy pavlova. The fanfunds require a written report and these are sold to raise money for the fanfunds. Paul is selling his for $7US. I thought that was too cheap because it is a massive document, really. I mean really big. So I paid $15US for it as I had some money in my Paypal and it’s for a great cause and I’m really, really looking forward to seeing all those pictures of waterfalls etc. If you see Paul you should ask him how to get a copy.

We went to the Green Room to meet our other panelists. It’s a smallish room and I found it a bit overwhelming because it has people in it, people I don’t know and you are there to meet people you don’t know and that can be hard when you don’t know what they look like. However, Paul knows people and we met some people and Jonathan Strahan and then we met Ben, our chair and then the other people. We had a bit of a run through of the order of business and went to our panel. Luckily, this panel had a small audience and that made it cosy instead of daunting.

You know I’m an extrovert but maybe I lost my extrovertness somewhere. No that’s a lie! I had no trouble talking on the panel. In fact I had to stop myself from grabbing the microphone. I met Claire, who I am meeting up with in London and also Marchin from Poland who wants to run for GUFF. He said he was disappointed I did not choose to visit Poland on my GUFF trip. I said I’d like to visit Poland in my next visit to Europe.

Here is a selfie shot of the fanfunds panel, Paul, Mira, John, John and Ben.

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We were chased from the room after the panel as there was a huge crowd waiting to get in. With such a large number of people it is a huge job moving people in and out of rooms and you need to queue early if you want to get into a panel. I had another panel around three and now that I’m writing this blog post I fear I have lost time. I had more books and chocolates to drop off for the FanFund and I was lucky enough to bump into Kylie Ding who took them off my hand.

Oh now I remember, I went to the dealers room and the fan lounge because I saw there was NZ ribbons. I caught  up with Maree, who I haven’t seen for years who is representing the NZ 2020 worldcon bid. As an aside, I’ve met people who are looking forward to coming to NZ 2020 worldcon and who would like to visit Australia too, so we need to have a convention just before or after NZ 2020. I also picked up a mini Whittakers Hokey Pokey slab. Eat your heart out Russell!

I gave away more chocolates and clip on Koalas during the day. However, it was a bit of a whirl so I don’t recall. I saw some kids in costume and gave them one each. One had a Kylo Ren costume and at the Welcome to Finland Party last night we met Nina who said she had been commissioned to make two costumes. I asked if the costume had been made by Nina and the girl said yes. I think she thought I was rather strange…but that is okay.

The Romance and the Female Gaze panel was full. There were probably 10 seats vacant. That was an interesting panel. I met Carrie Vaughan beforehand in the Green Room, but we didn’t spot the other panelists or more importantly the moderator. We had not chatted via email about what we were talking about so there were a few anxious moments until Fiona turned up. She was a great moderator and had some hard and interesting questions. The panel sessions are only 45 minutes long so there wasn’t time for questions after. I had some lovely feedback afterwards and one lady came up to me and said thank you. The gist of my argument is. Why can’t we imagine a world where women can initiate sex as equals? Where there isn’t slut shaming. Maybe I was a wee bit passionate!

And the deed was done!

I went for a walk and took a shot of Gillian Polack doing her book signing. I didn’t get a chance to say hi as she was talking to a reader. I met Houston, a fellow Australian, in the queue.

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I met up with Robert Hood in the small collection of comfy chairs and he was going to see Cat Sparks in an Australian literature panel. I thought I’d join him and support my fellow Aussies. We were amazed that there was already a line forming and we were about number 70 for a room with 100 people and it was half an hour before. As the queue kept growing, I realised that I was taking the space of someone who really wanted to hear about the Australian scene and I already knew about it. So I left to go back to my accommodation and to see my daughter. On the tram, Robert said hello. He’d also had the same idea. We had fun on the tram. We didn’t have a clue where to get out. We struck up a conversation with a Belgian who was married to a Fin and they gave us advice. It all turned out well, Robert spotted his hotel and I found my stop.

I managed to convince my daughter to come back into the convention centre to the parties. An essential part of Worldcon for me is the parties. They are fun. You meet people. You perhaps drink a little or eat strange foods. At first my daughter was no, I’m not coming. I’m tired, she said. So I resigned myself to going alone and said. I really wish you were coming with me. And she changed her mind.

On the way to Messukeskus we saw a police bust. We were quite surprised. A man was stopped and pulled out of a car and placed on the ground and more police arrived. It was strange. People in the street were drinking coffee and gawping at the goings on. Helsinki, according to my daughter, is the safest city in Europe and one of the safest in the world. We had not seen a police bust before.

I thought I should take steps to meet Einar, the Icelandic fan I had made contact with. As it happened we got there early. The parties hadn’t started. We bumped into John Morris and watched him eat dinner while we drank tea. Then we hit the parties. Like the panel sessions you need to get in early. There were lots of people, the free vouchers for drinks and the food was gone. The bar started running out. Apparently there was only one type of beer left and the queue was so long.

After a bit of phone tag, I met Einar and he joined Thomas and my daughter. Einar and I went to get a drink and it was surprising the but the queue moved quickly. The bar staff were very efficient. Then John Morris and Sara Lindberg joined us so we were very multicultural. So with all the crowd around us we talked stuff. I talked convention running and Iceland with Einar. Then when it came time to leave, I called Thomas, James. OMG! Then he told me I called him something else earlier in the day. I’m so embarrassed.

Here is a shot of us.

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I must remember to call him by the correct name. Einar had left and it was then we realised it was 11.30 and there was a mad panic about whether the trams were still running. All was good though, as there were people waiting and the board said the number 9 was due.

We made it home in good time and went to sleep. I’d had two long gins and maybe…that was too much. I am slightly hungover or at least have a headache today.

My daughter asked if I mentioned the green smoothies she makes every morning. You see she had this goal of making me slimmer, healthier and possibly converted to veganism on this trip. As I normally gain weight when I travel I did not fancy her chances on any of her goals. But I do drink the green smoothies she makes. Actually, she stands over me until I drink the last drop.

Here are some photos of the smoothies my daughter lovingly prepares. They contain baby spinach, cucumber, broccoli, apple and banana and water.

I told my daughter about my blog post. She says. ‘I don’t want you to become a vegan! I want you to go on a plant based diet of six months and lose weight.’

I laughed so hard. A plant based diet is vegan!

Before shot because my daughter says it’s pretty.

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The after shot

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The me drinking the smoothie, in bed, in my nightie with my normal hair. The normal, raw me with hangover.

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Also, I should mention that one of my books, Argenterra, an epic fantasy, is free on all eretailers (Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes and Noble etc)  so if you want to try some of my fiction then help yourself.

And if you see me today at Worldcon 75, stop me and I’ll give you a koala or chocolate. Until I run out. Also, if you see me with glamour hair, that’s because I’m presenting a Hugo Award later on tonight.

 

 

 

 

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Today was the big day. Time to find the way to Messuskeskus (the convention centre) on the train, register and then hang around a meet people while waiting for the opening ceremony.

We had another hotel breakfast, but this time I went for the porridge instead of meatballs, franks and eggs. I also indulged in one of the bread rolls. The Fins really do bread in a big way.  So many kinds of bread. Also, this morning there are more fans here at the hotel. Beans and I made the train okay. It is only one stations and all the trains go to that station (Pasila). We could have taken a tram too.

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As part of our registration we were given a travel pass for free travel for the week. So excellent! First up, I didn’t have a membership. Somehow wires were crossed and it wasn’t processed whatever. It was sorted pretty quickly after I chased down Jukka Halme who was able to vouch for me. All my program stuff was fine so just a glitch. Registration was pretty efficient and I was able to get my badge printed out how I liked.

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There are many Australians at this conventions and also many Canberrans. You could say that there was an infestation of Australians here.

I was pretty overwhelmed at first at the con today. My job as GUFF delegate is to meet people. Preferably people I don’t know. So I can’t just hang with people I know although I can chat and stuff. It was good to have the support network there from the Australians and I really appreciate them and also my daughter to look out for me. Eventually I settled down and was able to meet people. I have a bag with the Australian flag and I have caramel koalas, cherry ripes and clip on Koala bears to give away. They make a nice ice breaker I guess.

So after registering we went in search of tea. Not much was open before 10 am but we found a place and I drank tea. Tea is my life’s blood so I’m finding the lack of tea disturbing. I may have mentioned this in a previous post. Then we walked about checking out the place.

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I pointed out George RR Martin, who was just sitting there by himself to my daughter. I think of myself as an extrovert, but I have fits of shyness. I’ve seen George around at all the worldcon I’ve been to. I’ve not been introduced so I can’t just rock up and say hi. Although I did work up the courage to give him a clip  on Koala and then slink away.

I caught up with Paul Weimer, the DUFF delegate, and handed over some books I promised and a bag of caramel koalas, a few NZ chocolate fish. We also took a bag full of books, Tim Tams and NZ chocolate to Gillian and Kylie’s room so they can be auctioned off on Saturday at the Fan Fund auction. Must earn back the $ spent on bringing me here. Then we had lunch, checked out the dealers room and met people.

I met Rikka, who told me there is a Geekgirl group in Finland. She have me a Fake Geek Girl ribbon and a Feminist ribbon and told me I could get a Finish one. I had to find it and after tweeting and asking about I found their table next to the Dublin World Con Bid table. I was so pleased.

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Meanwhile I was chatting up Finish people and asking how to say things like…how do I say I come from Australia? Olen kotoisin Australiasta.

After checking out the place, I met up with Joshua, who is involved with running the Hugos and with John Purcell, who is the TAFF delegate. We are presenting a Hugo together and Joshua wanted photos for the Hugo Booklet. Also, Joshua wanted to make sure we had the script for the ceremony and our Hugo’s ribbon. We chatted for  a bit and then as John and I were involved in the opening ceremony we had to make our way there. I was making my way to the prep room and I was stopped by a woman who demanded I get to the back of the line. I had to explain that I was participating in the ceremony. I can understand people’s frustrations in queues when people seemed to be pushing in. As it was we were sorta in the wrong place. However, it couldn’t be rectified because the section reserved for us was full anyway so we missed most of the performances as we were backstage.

Here is a shot of Jukka Halme in horns backstage.

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I talked to this Finish lady called Vanessa and she taught me out to say ‘I love Helsinki’ and I gave her chocolate. Then it was our turn to be called out on stage. The Fins have been lovely to us fan fund delegates. They included us in the opening ceremony so we got to stand up there in front of a thousand people with the guests of honour. Amazing. Then we got to say a few words.

I have to admit as soon as I got the email saying we were expected to say a few words it worried me. What few words should I say? My daughter had been teaching me to say “Good day, my name is Donna Maree Hanson, pleased to meet you in Finish. She suggested I say that. During the day and last night we added more Finish to my repertoire and rearranged it. So I was pretty nervous and Finish is a hard language but I gave a little speech in Finish. (I was told I was understandable!). I was supposed to translate it too but forgot as I was nervous.

This is the English version of what I said.

Good day. My name is Donna Maree Hanson. I am from Australia. Pleased to meet you. I am happy to be here. Thank you very much. I love Helsinki!

Pretty standard but I practiced and practiced it. There was cheering. I hope I did not say anything rude!

I was still shaking ten minutes later. The room was packed out and I understand people missed out on the opening ceremony, which is sad. It is also strange I think because often people don’t come to the opening ceremony.

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After the opening ceremony was a tea and chat session with George RR Martin and Peter and Emma Newman. It was called Live Tea and Jeopardy. It was fun and clever. Emma was hilarious.

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After that for me it was catch up with people, then have dinner, then hang around for the parties, which I did. We met more Fins, chatted, drank a long gin and then folded pretty early and was home by ten. Tomorrow I might be later. I’m not sure.

 

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Sunday we moved from the wonderful Hilton at the Airport (with its tea and coffee making facilities) to Hotel Arthur via the train. But first, the buffet breakfast at the Hilton was to die for. My daughter who is vegan was amazed. They had seeds and nuts and she was over the moon about them. I discovered a local specialty-rice pancakes.

So to prepare for out trip to the city we did a reconnoiter sans luggage. Pushing and carrying that much stuff is exhausting to getting the lay of the land first was a good plan. Also we didn’t need to check out to 12 and we were awake and in need of exercise. We walked back to the airport terminal and spotted one of the little supermarkets I had read about in the Progress report. There I bought a SIM for my phone that gives me phone and internet access. Yay! I did not need to sign a register or give out all my life secrets to obtain a SIM card. So different to Australia.

Then we went looking for the train. We had to get directions being brain dead with jetlag. We discovered we needed to use the lift to get down and found that too. Then we had more tea before doing the deed. The trip into Helsinki was lovely and smooth on very new looking trains. Our accommodation was within walking distance of central station. I admit to getting lost but fortunately my daughter, Beans took control. The Hotel Arthur is a quaint old place. Our room was ready early and we negotiated the lifts, which looked like fridges and were as big as a fridge too and found our way to our room.

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Lift that doubles as a fridge

The room is as cute as a cupboard. Inside is just right for us and the shower is really good once you figure out the handwaving technique to get it started (it has a sensor switch) and stop crying when it turns itself off.

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Our little room at the Hotel Arthur

The only downside is there is no hot water jug or tea making facilities. I find the lack of tea making facilities disturbing…

We went downstairs and begged for some hot water which we transported in paper cups to our room. I feel now that I am getting acquainted with my uncaffeinated self. I’m telling myself while I sip water that I shall be improved in health after I have totally got used to not being able to sip tea in bed in the mornings. Meanwhile, I’m pouncing on coffee as I find it.

Our big plan was an outing to Tallinn, Estonia, which is a couple of hours by ferry from Helsinki. Our first plan was to look around but at the same time work out where the ferry left from and time how long it would take to walk there. So we headed off. It was quite a walk, around 35 mins. Longer going there because we didn’t know where we were going.

Helsinki is so lovely. We walked down to the docks and we bought giant mutant black cherries grown in Holland. Actually, probably not mutant but so big, they were like small plums and so yummy and also blueberries. There were lots of things to buy but we didn’t. Mostly because our flights to Iceland involve 15 kilos checked bags and it’s going be tough with what we have. Looks like no shopping until UK in the last two weeks of this odyssey. I’ll put up some photos of the walk. We found the Viking Line Terminal and then timed the walk back with some adjustments for time out for photos. We figured we needed 30 mins to walk to the ferry, allowing half an hour for check in time.

Cue photos of Helsinki

 

 

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Then we went for dinner at a Nepalese place close by. It was so good and so much food I was fit to burst. Then we went to bed early. Like 9 pm. It was still light outside.

Man, that night was the longest of the longest nights. I woke up at 1.30am thinking it was 5 am. Then I woke up on the hour and couldn’t really sleep. By the time Beans woke up I was exasperated. We had breakfast at 6.30am so we could start our journey on time. We had booked breakfast on the ferry so we planned two breakfasts, mostly because we didn’t know breakfast came with the room.

The hotel breakfast is not as luxurious as the Hilton but it is still pretty good. Rice pancakes, little franks, meatballs, scrambled eggs etc. Loads of bread of all kinds. You could seriously eat yourself to death with the bread. Coffee. Tea! Cheese, salami, fruits, yogurts, porridge etc. I took a food photo so beware.

Then we set off at a quick pace for the ferry. It was faster than we expected, but it was weird. The terminal was pretty quiet. We arrived to find our ferry cancelled. OMG! Cancelled? Something we had not anticipated. Technical fault the Viking Line said. And the next trip was 11.30 am and already fully booked. So we were told to find one of their competitors. So we sat in terminal thinking up what to do next. In the end we went walking on the other side of the docks looking for an alternative. It did not help that there were no people. Everything was closed. Then we realised that you need to book online that people did not come at 9am. We also couldn’t read the signs so we just couldn’t work it out. It was very frustrating and disappointing. Finally we tried booking online as there was a 10.30am ferry. But the Direct Ferries site wouldn’t let us book for a ferry leaving that day. Then we tried direct to the provider site but it wouldn’t let us book that one, only the 1.30pm one and we tried that but didn’t work either. Then I googled Catamaran and found the Linda Line. We’d been at the Linda Line terminal earlier but didn’t understand the signs and didn’t think they did Tallinn (but they all do we realised later). So we tried booking a 10.00 am trip and we got it almost booked then my bank wanted a netcode to authorise the transaction. I was on my Finland sim. Oh no! We were so close.

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Spotted this while searching for a ferry to Tallinn. Thank you Helsinki!

We decided to hurry to the Linda Line terminal to book in person. Only one person there doing check in. No sales booths. I’m nearly in tears, Beans tries to book with her credit card. Meanwhile people are queuing to board the 10.00 am and we are in the check in line. The transaction goes through and we could line up.

Yay! Celebrations. We were on our way to Tallinn and we could meet up with Cat and Jonathan and Aidan after all. It was a bit choppy. The catamaran is small. All was doing fine and I checked the time 11.18am. I thought it will be over soon as the advertised time was just over 1.5 hours. That was highly optimistic. About this time, the catamaran turned into vomit fest. Kids puking and the poor parents. Then a guy behind us starts to go and the smell hits us. Beans and I leap out of our seats. Me being sympathetic and all start to feel unwell. Beans can’t sit down. I go out the back. It’s a bit bumpy and wet but it was better than heaving. I spent the rest of the journey clinging to the rail and watching the horizon. I visited the loo before disembarking and there was vomit on the carpet and the walls. Oh dear.

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The Karolin-Catamaran

Tallinn

What a lovely place! I could have bought such cute souvenirs but as stated previously baggage allowances prevented it. Here we had lunch in middle eastern food.

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Me at the restaurant

It was so good. Beans enjoyed hers and I had beef with peanut sauce. I tried to contact Cat but my internet didn’t work in Estonia and there was no wifi as far as I could tell.

 

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The old town in Tallinn was so pretty and quaint. Cue photos. Then near the Tourist Information Centre I found free wifi and found Cat and the location of the public loos. OMG! The loos from hell. They weren’t quite the worst in the world, but they public loos consisted of two Portaloos with like an open container of sewerage. There was no water to wash your hands. I’m so white privileged. When Beans had to use them it was hilarious. She went in and came back out again, hyperventilating. She couldn’t but then the other one with a broken lock was in better form so it got sorted in the end.

We met up briefly with Cat, Rob, Jonathan, Francis, Aiden and Alex and walked around with them for a bit.

IMG_8291[1] By then my foot was paining me so I had to get out my walking stick. I haven’t quite worked out how to use it yet. We went up to get a good view and then parted ways. Our catamaran was leaving at 5.00 pm. Our previous plan was to catch a 8 pm ferry back and have dinner there. We were grateful for our time in Tallinn. Even though it was an adventure and a half getting there.

The trip back was smooth as anything and no vomit! So the weather must have been bad then in the morning. I heard that it rained in Helsinki but it was very pleasant weather in Tallinn.

Finally, we made it back to Helsinki and then walked back to our rooms. There we both discovered we had swollen feet, mine sore foot was really swollen. It is probably just the flights combined with cobble stones. We bandaged up my foot and crashed out.

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Pear shaped ankle

I can say that we both slept really well and our body clocks have caught up with us.

 

 

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