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“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” Joshua 1:9

January 3, 2017

December Tallinn Trip

26-28 December

I think this was actually a trip that would be like a break away from a break ;) If you know what I mean. It was so much work getting gifts wrapped, food baked and gift tags made for Christmas Eve that I was more than ready to just relax for a while ;)

So my parents, my brother and I headed from our home in Helsinki to the terminal where we would catch the boat to Tallinn via bus and tram. When we got off the tram, a student from Singapore asked us for directions, and so we took him with us onto the boat. You know, just to make sure he made it ;)

There is a long way to walk from where the terminal is to the boat, and so it was very surprising for the Singaporean guy to comprehend when he actually got on the boat. I don't really know what he was expecting as a boat, just not what he saw ;)

After we said goodbye we headed to our usual spot onboard to get a seat. The boat wasn't that busy, so it was very easy to snatch up one of the four-seater tables. We then promptly started on one of Harri's games :D

After 2 and a half hours spent on playing games, and the swaying of the boat from such huge waves, we were excited to finally get off the boat and go for a walk on solid ground.

Here we all are in front of the entrance to our apartment
Our favourite cafe in Tallinn: The Peppersack :) And not just because it is super cheap ...
But look at that architecture!!
The gates of the old town
A busker outside a shopping centre
Gates of the old town
All of us in the Christmas markets
The Christmas markets were full of huts selling woollen things to wear, like beanies and mittens, and huts selling glogi (mulled wine). I tried a blueberry glogi, which was lovely, sweet and fruity.

Harri got lots of games this Christmas, and so we just had to try them out. The first game we played in our apartment was called "Ticket to Ride". The instructions were quite long, so on one of our car journeys Harri and I read it out to each other to make sure we understood it ;)

Ticket to Ride game. I won the first time we ever played it (I was yellow) :D
Our apartment. It was so cute and comfy :x Definitely recommend  it!!
Peak-a-boo. Walking on the Tallinn gates that go all around the old town
Lunch at the Peppersack. Interesting Fact: Apparently spice traders were teasingly called "Peppersacks" in the old days. One wealthy spice trader quite liked the name "Peppersack", so when he bought this place he named it in commemoration of the name. 
This was now the last day that we had in Tallinn, so we decided after eating lunch to go for a walk to the nearest shopping centre for mum to, hopefully, find a bag. But no such luck. So then I suggested we go to a shopping mall area. But instead of mum's bag, I found a jumper. haha.

Lovely winter decorations
We then had to stop to get a chai latte, since they are cheaper in Tallinn than Helsinki, and we all love chai latte :D Interesting Fact: Alcohol is also much cheaper in Tallinn, so that is why so many Finns take back hordes of beer ect. on the boat to Helsinki.

My chai latte <3 
This was a very successful trip to Tallinn in my eyes, although mum was quite annoyed that she didn't find a bag (might I add that it has been a year since she started looking).

Now you are uptodate,

Laura 

xoxo

December 29, 2016

Day 5 - Ballycotton Cliffs

5th August

The mist had settled all around us, distancing us from the amazing views that would take our breath away. Well, it didn't work. I still was amazed at the breathtaking views infront of me: at the strength  of the waves lashing out against the rocks, at the narrow green path I was standing on, and at the cows lying down in the paddock next to me enjoying the luxury of living in Co. Cork. It was amazing!!

I had told Danielle that I would like to go see some cliffs, as the Irish cliffs are meant to be awesome drop-off cliffs, and so she suggested today to go to the Ballycotton cliffs.

In the morning we played some more SkipBo, in which Danielle's mum just kept winning (and I won some ;)). Danielle's brother was very insistent that the shuffled cards must some how be rigged in either one of our favours each time. It was funny then when he continuously got the cards he needed ;)

After eating a lovely lunch, we set off for the cliffs. Danielle was driving, and she was very good at it!! She knew exactly when to wind in and out of the roads to avoid bends, and when to speed up or slow down. It was like being on a really fun rollercoaster!! :D hehe.

The fog by this point was mixed with rain, and so it was super difficult to see the sea down below the cliffs. You might be able to see if if you look really carefully. 
Danielle, guiding the way 
Saying hello to some Irish cows (who had the most amazing view on the cliff!!)

We then went back to Danielle's place and she went to work. 

Now you are uptodate,

Laura 

xoxo

August 16, 2016

Day 4 - Castle Mary

 4th August 

It was as if we had taken a step back in time. As if we had arrived at a grand hotel in the midst of all this greenery, where time stands still and Louis Armstrong and his gang play live music to the beat of a bouncy dance routine. I could just about imagine handing my bag to a concierge, and being led to my double room with an open fireplace and ensuite bathroom. Only time will tell if this will be a reality, and not a dream of times past ...

We woke up to the sun shining in to Danielle and my double rooms. As we both sat at the morning table, and ate our breakfasts (Danielle had cereal and I had my usual: poached egg on toast with tea), we discussed what we would do today.

Would we do anything? We could just sit and talk ...

We went outside into Danielle's large garden to do some more thinking.

Awesome rope swing in their garden, nearby the "bus stop" which is the covered area to my right where you can sit and read peacefully :)
It was spectacular!!
I then had the opportunity to play my favourite card game called "SkipBo" with Danielle, her mum and brother. They were all very competitive ;)

Who won again? I think it was Caroline, Danielle's mum ;)

After some further thinking and brainstorming, we decided to bake some scones to take with us as a picnic afternoon tea at a nearby ruined Castle Mary. I thought that sounded so enchanting, and Danielle had made huge plans to renovate this ruined castle in her future, so I was all for going!!

We then made the scones, one batch with orange peel (as I had been inspired from my bike ride with Caroline talking with Ursula), and the other half plain. The original is always so good!

We put them in the oven, and cleaned up after ourselves. We are VERY good girls ;)

After 15 minutes we opened the oven, took them out, and laid them to rest. We couldn't resist taking one to try, and I shared an orange peel scone with Caroline, which was heavenly all warm from the oven!!

Danielle's mum had to leave to the shops to get some ingredients for lunch, so Danielle and I amused ourselves for a while. We were getting quite hungry by this stage, so we decided to taste test a plain scone this time. We had half each, with butter, cream and jam.

It was like biting into a crunchy cloud!!

After lunch, and packing our back packs with scones, jam, cream, butter, tea, milk and a thermos (I contributed by packing the milk in my small backpack ;), we began our walk.

Beginnings of our journey!!
Passing a field of cows
Descending into the castle 
It was full of ferns, so it was difficult to wind our way through the mazed walls 
The amazing doorway!! You can still see the lovely features
It was a huge castle!! It would have had around 4 floors!! 
Lush ferns
Amazing features of the doorway and windows

We then thought it was time to have our picnic, so I suggested getting up onto one of the high windowsills to eat our scones. 

Here I am after getting up on the windowsill ;) We were looking into a room, possibly a lounge room, where you could see the remains of a fireplace.
Danielle came up with the amazing idea to use a pen that I had in my bag as a knife, as we completely forgot one!! We wrapped it in cling film, as she does at work when creating a frozen vase, and wahlaa!!
My scone all dressed up, and tea in the background ;) We had also forgotten mugs as well. haha
This is the view we were looking out on from the windowsill where we ate afternoon tea
I had to take a photo of Danielle here, because it is her dream to renovate this castle in her future. Never know how much this photo might be worth the it is all renovated ;) 
Here I am below the windowsill we had eaten on. As you can see, it was quite high up!!
After finishing our meal, and packing up, Danielle took the car, which Caroline drove to us, to work. Caroline and I then walked back to their house through some lovely paddocks.

The road we took 
Amazing views over County Cork

I increasingly felt inspired to paint these rolling hills, but alas, I cannot paint :( Perhaps you can? ;) 
 We then arrived back home, and we had a lovely afternoon of not doing much ;) When Danielle's dad got home from work, Caroline, Michael and I all had tea in the bus stop in the garden, which I showed to you previously.

We then decided that, because it was high tide for a couple of hours, we should go sailing.

The amazing sailing boat we went on. Danielle's parents knew the people who owned this boat, and can use it when they are not using it :) 
It was very fun!! I did get wet, from the water splashing up onto the seats, but that is all part of the experience :) 
Michael steering the sails. He told us what to do with the front sail, and when to change sides of the boat. 
We went to the other side of the water body, and then sailed back again. It was quite gusty in the area which was shielded by trees, so it was difficult to predict the wind's direction.

When we got back to where we parked our car, Caroline and I had to get out of the boat to wait for Michael to dock the boat, and when I was walking in the water to get back to shore I fell into the water ;) There was a small drop off in the seabed, and so my jeans got soaked!! Thinking back, that could have been where I got my cold that I now have ... ;)

When I got back I googled Castle Mary, and this is what it looks like from above. 
This is Castle Mary in 1785, when it was built. It was burnt down in 1920. 
If you want to know more about the Castle, click the caption of the sketch above.

Now you are uptodate,

Laura xoxo

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August 12, 2016

Day 3 - Cobh

3rd August 2016

Today we decided to go to look around a town called Cobh. Cobh (pronounced Cove), is a small harbour town where the Titanic ship last docked before sinking in 1912, and is therefore a main tourist destination.

When we (Danielle, her brother called Oliver and I) set out the weather was quite gloomy, looking like it would rain, so we were hoping that that would not be the case. 

Great Island: where Cobh is located. Below Great Island there is the Cork Habour. In the top left there is Fota Island, where we would be stopping later in the day. 
After driving to Great Island, which is where Cobh is, we stopped at the town and decided to go the playground ;) haha, not really. I was just teasing Danielle about going there.

Danielle taking a picture of Cobh Cathedral from the harbour
A selfie of Danielle and I with the wind dancing through our hair :) 
We then went for a walk to St. Colman's (Cobh) Cathedral, which opened in 1911 after 47 years of building!! The builders must have been soo glad to finally get it finished after 47 years!! 

Cobh Cathedral
View from the Cathedral to Cork Habour and Spike Island (center right), which is a small military island. 
We then went inside, and explored the many nooks and crannies in the cathedral.

Amazing Gothic Revival architecture!!
I love the pattern on the floor!! Danielle and I challenged ourselves to see whether it was all one continuous pattern, and we found that it wasn't. Each section of a pattern loops in one continuos stroke. Amazing!!
Oliver and Danielle, mucking around ;)
Danielle was confused why it was called a cathedral, when there is a church like this in Cork that is only called a church and not a cathedral. So, I did a bit of research:

A cathedral is not necessarily larger than a church, contrary to beliefs. A cathedral is actually a church which houses a bishop, and where the church is run under the authority of a bishop. In terms of denominations, the older Roman Catholics (which the Cobh Cathedral is) and Orthodox have cathedrals, and the newer denominations such as Baptists and Methodists don't have cathedrals. 

An interesting fact is that in the older days in Britain under King Henry VII a town could only be called a town if it had a cathedral in it :) 

By this stage we were getting hungry, so Danielle suggested we go the Titanic museum to eat. 


Old titanic sign. Very idyllic :)

It was a while to walk there, but it was lovely scenery along the way :) 
Walking down from the cathedral on the hill. 
Cobh main street
After refuelling our bodies with energy, we left Cobh for Fota Island. Fota Island is where Ireland's only wildlife park is located, as well as famous gardens and a golf course.

We decided to go to Fota Island to see the famous botanic gardens.

After parking we started off walking ...

Entrance to the Fota gardens
Oliver had to take a small pit stop, so Danielle and I kept walking. 

Awesome fauna we noticed along the way
We soon realised that Oliver wouldn't know how to find us, as there were many turns that you could take where we left him.

So we walked back to where we left him, calling out along the way, but we couldn’t find him. He must have taken the wrong turn ... 

So we went to the main house and gardens (largest area) hoping he would come there, but we couldn't find him there either … 

So, eventually we went back to the car, wrote a note saying we would be at the cafe in the main house drinking tea, and placed the note on the front seat of the car in hopes that he would eventually see it.

This part of the garden was fenced off, and we didn't know why. So, we decided to go through the barrier that was there to keep us out! Luckily, we are both super skinny, so we easily slid through the side of the barrier :) We were thinking there might have been a murder which happened there, or a dangerous animal that they are trying to contain, or ... 

Drinking our lovely tea, hot chocolate and digging in to the cakes :)
After we had bought some tea and cakes from the cafe ... 

and were drinking our drinks and beginning to eat our cakes ...

Oliver walked in! 

So he did eventually go to the car to see our note ;) haha :D 

Oliver took a photo of my apple sponge to show us how to take a good photo of food. This definitely makes it look yummy :)
After Oliver finished off Danielle's hot chocolate, and my large cake, we started our walk again :D

This time, we were all together!

Gate to the "walled garden"
Beautiful rose Danielle held up for me

We were all snapping away with our various cameras at all the awesome flowers and landscape in the gardens. It would have been some sight to see ;) haha
More lovely roses 
Awesome dahlia 
Here is a shot of brother and sister taking the SAME shot!! Who took it first?? ;)  
The pavilion surrounded by amazing coloured fauna
We then arrived home, had some dinner, and decided to head back out again to a pub to listen to some 'trad' (traditional) music. 
Danielle and I drinking our "7UP" with the trad band behind us. A lady just came up to us and asked us what we wanted to drink :D Very welcoming!!
The trad band :)
We met a French student called "Louis" in the pub. It was very hard to hear anything anyone said over the loud music, so I basically just nodded and said "Ohh" and "Ahh" all night ;) 
So after the trad band an Australian singer/songwriter came up and started to play. He was good, but Danielle and I were a bit tired and were really only at the pub to hear trad music, so we decided to leave. 

We had an awesome day today!! 

Now you are up to date,

Laura 

xoxo
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