Brian Cheung


Thoughts, photos and anecdotes from my travels through Norway, Scotland and Finland.


It's far too easy to lose track of time out here, as I'm sure I've mentioned repeatedly in previous posts. During the more intense periods of travel, the constant stream of movement and activity helped to signpost each day and offer up plenty of things to write about. On the other hand the combination of the dark and cold, coupled with the majority of my time flitting between various projects/experiments means that I don't really consider the day-to-day stuff really worthy of a write up. 

So there's my disclaimer out of the way. Things have been getting a little busier in the build up to Christmas, despite what I initially assumed would be a quiet and pleasantly dull affair... Over the weekend Renja took me to the Christmas market held at the local town hall. It was very much one of those requisite Christmas activities that forces you into the Christmas mood with stalls of mostly candles, woollen socks and gingerbread. I met a few more locals and there was a performance by some local girls to commemorate the feast day of Santa Lucia - a Scandinavian winter tradition that seems to have transcended its Christian origins.

A few days later I was invited to another traditional part of the Swedish Christmas (the archipelago being a much more Swedish-influenced area) - a Glögg party. It's an excuse for people to visit friends and basically sit around drinking glögg (warm mulled wine) and eating biscuits. Parties involving younger families and children will feature non-alcoholic glögg and I suppose with certain other age brackets the parties would be proportionately rowdier. It definitely sounds a lot more economical to see everyone this way instead of pulling out a full blown multi-course feast and trying to wrangle everyone into a single time and place. 

The next day I caught an early bus up to Turku for a quick visit. I say 'early', but it was around 10am. I can't stress enough how difficult it is to get out of bed in the mornings here. I usually work late into the night, and the general darkness just doesn't give me any real burning desire to leap out of bed. Anyway, my main reason for the quick excursion was admittedly a bit lame - I wanted to see the new Star Wars. It also meant I could stock up on alcohol and few other bits and pieces that aren't available down on the island. Renja emailed her students at the arts academy and luckily Sofie came to my rescue and graciously offered me the bed left vacant by her housemate for the night. 

I won't go into details, because this is not a film review, but I did enjoy The Last Jedi. I'm not a die hard fan in the way that I am towards say Lord of the Rings, but I do still feel a kick of excitement when the opening crawl starts a'crawling. There were a few strange segues and some glaring plotholes/contrivances, but I respect the general ballsiness of the creative team to do away with the Skywalker dynasty and take the franchise into new and unexpected territory, as opposed to just working to placate the rabid fans. 

That was last night, and today I found time to hit a few galleries with Sofie before she went to work. I had some time to kill before my return bus and I'm glad I did because I went into a barber on a whim and finally got a long overdue haircut. As much as I was trying to ignore the matted forest forming on my head, things were getting pretty dire. My last haircut was back in August in Edinburgh before Jake had arrived. I'm now feeling cleaner and a lot lighter from the neck up. Goodbye incidental mullet. 

It's now just a few more days until Santa arrives, and I'll be going along to Renja's family Christmas before I see Mum and Dad next week. They're making a brief appearance in Helsinki after which I'll go along to new years with Outi and her gang. This wasn't really at all what I had imagined coming out to Korpo, but it looks to be an interesting silly season nonetheless.



finlandBrian Cheung