Matka – An expedition to Finland. Part #3.

imageThe last bit of our expedition was very different to what we had imagined. Looking online, Rovaniemi looked lovely and interesting. In reality, it was just like any other city in England!
Due to the time that we went, the tourist trips were mostly shut. Too late for winter, too early for summer! After walking around on the first morning, we headed into tourist information and managed to book ourselves onto a snow shoeing tour. It was fun but not as difficult or ‘extreme’ as expected. The guide that we had was brilliant, and told us so much information about the area, about Finland and his experiences. Rovaniemi was very warm, and had no snow. We drove out of the city about half an hour away and had knee deep snow in places!

Rovaniemi itself had some really pretty parts, but also some not so nice parts. Just like any city, right? This river was huge, and parts were still frozen from the winter, and there were also chunks of ice just floating around! We saw one traditional Finnish restaurant in Rovaniemi, but it was just so expensive that we didn’t have the money for it.

On our second day, we visited the Santa Village, as advised by the guide! It’s what most people come to Rovaniemi for… Due to the season, it was a little disappointing. The gift shops and buildings were lovely, but I guess the place just looks so much better in the winter and in the evening. I am glad that we went though, because otherwise I’d just be regretting it!

One thing that I loved, and this was the same in Helsinki (airport!), was the packaging designs in the supermarkets! Everything for kids just looked so cute! I actually saved a couple of cartons/wrappers to put in my travel journal.

Last but not least, Rovaniemi was covered in all kinds of cool graffiti. The images really helped to brighten up the area, and I loved seeing them. I’ll just let the photos do the talking…

So, that was the end of our expedition. To get back to Kajaani for our flight, we had to get two trains and it was around a 5 hour journey. Not too fun, but with a good book and nice scenery it’s all fine! Here’s a wagtail seen at Kajaani station! It came so close – clearly used to people!

Overall, the expedition was an amazing experience and I’m so happy to have had the chance! I would definitely visit Martinselkosen and the Boreal Wildlife Centre again. Lovely people, place and predators! Next time I’d maybe look at another place in the Arctic Circle – probably wouldn’t bother with Rovaniemi again! Although, Santa’s Village would be great in the winter. Hope you enjoyed looking at these photos!

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Matka – An expedition to Finland. Part #2.

imageAfter visiting Martinselkosen Eräkeskus Wildlife Centre, we headed towards the Boreal Wildlife Centre. There was a two hour drive between the two, with this place being further South. This meant that there was less snow in the area and more green forest! This place was really pretty.

On the first day/night, we just explored a little and relaxed. We were actually so tired that we slept quite early, and set an alarm for 11pm to get some night shots! I really wanted to do a timelapse but it just didn’t work out. I’ve just never managed to get a good quality timelapse… How do you do it?! Anyway, this night was brilliant. We ended up seeing a tiny glimpse of the Northern Lights! It was only a bit of green in the sky (which was hardly visible to the eye but could be seen in camera) but it was so awesome. Green, purples and pinks… The sky was pretty!

Our small glimpse of Northern Lights!

The next morning we did some more exploring. Walking in the woods and just taking in the beautiful scenery. I took so many tree photos here.

Also managed to see and photograph a red squirrel and brambling. The red squirrel had funny colouring! Body mostly grey, white chest, red tail, red paws and red face/ears! It was cute though.

After lunch (3pm in both of these centers) we headed out for our first night in the hide. This hide gave us a very wide an open view – a lot different from the trees and the swamp in the first place. We were waiting for 4-5 hours for the first bear to appear but, once one had arrived, two more quickly followed. There was one bear that had a white patch on it’s back and I think it looked awesome! Whilst we were waiting for the bears, we just had lots of ravens in sight.

The area had lots of left over animal bones…

And lots of ravens.

Now for the best bit… The morning of our second stay in the hide, we saw two wolves! Yes, wolves! We felt so lucky because the guide had told us that the wolves would constantly patrol their territory and as a result they would only pass through the hide area once every 7/8 days. They didn’t stay for very long, but I’m happy that I managed to get some photographs! It was an incredible sight.

Phew, that was a long one, wasn’t it? Next Friday post up is Rovaniemi!

Matka – An expedition to Finland. Part #1.

Well I guess it’s time I started talking about my expedition to Finland, right? If you’re new or just passing by, you may be a little confused here. I’m in my second year of university (and it’s almost over!) and for one module I had to plan an expedition. Now this could be anywhere in the world, but due to finances, we chose Finland. I say that as if it isn’t an amazing place but it was, and is a brilliant country to visit. I’m really happy to have experienced the things that we did, and I would definitely go back! Just next time it would be cool to see the summer or the winter… The spring is a relatively quiet season, with not much happening for visitors! As you may have realised from the title, I’m going to do this in three posts.

The journey from London to Helsinki was pretty uneventful. Once in Helsinki, we had a long 5 hours waiting time ahead of us as our next flight to Kajaani was in the evening. A lot of this time was spent wandering around the airport, trying to figure out the floor system and finding the supermarket and cheap food. We managed to find a pizza place (first meal in Finland was a cheese pizza – I know…) and then settled back down in front of our gate. The flight to Kajaani was also uneventful. It was a small plane, and when we arrived at Kajaani airport it was a little strange! The area where we picked up our bags was tiny. The airport only actually had one gate I think!

Our first port of call was Martinselkosen Eräkeskus Wildlife Centre, located in Suomussalmi. We were picked up by the guide and another visitor, and then driven two hours up north. It was nearing midnight at this point, but we were looking out of the car windows, trying to stay awake, and managing to see a few Arctic hare on the journey as well as getting a tiny glimpse of green in the sky! It just felt so surreal.

The place itself was really pretty, and I took a lot of snowy tree photos! On the first day we managed to explore a little before heading out to the big hide. The area in which we were staying was very deserted – no houses around and lots of forest. On site, we saw plenty of bullfinch, chaffinch and tits, as well as a few woodpeckers and a red squirrel. We also spotted some big paw prints on our walks, but obviously no sights of the bears during the day 😉

I have never seen so many Bullfinch in one place!

How cute is this little cabin?!

To get to the hide we went in a 4×4, and then on a snow mobile ‘sleigh’ for the final bit. I’m not going to lie, that bit scared me! First impressions of the hide were that it was huge! I knew it had bunk beds in, but it really was huge. We had been inside the hide for less than 5 minutes, and the guides were still putting food outside, when the first bear turned up. It was ridiculously easy this night… Overall we saw four different bears and even managed to see them all at once. It was incredible, and as I said, super easy. It kind of felt too easy…

The bear on the right was definitely the most photogenic…

Pretty river!

I really loved all the forest around us.

The second day was also spent exploring. We managed to find a really pretty river, which looked very strange against all the white snow. In the evening, we went into another hide for a night! This hide was a lot smaller, and was meant for two people. We had three of us squeezed into it! Fine for the evening, but sleeping was something else! We were very squished and had extremely sore hips the next morning… Anyway, this time we were waiting for at least 4 hours before we got our first bear sighting! Very different to the first day’s experience, right? We also saw four bears on this night, and I’m guessing that they were the same ones from the first night – we were actually only a few hundred metres away.

Mr Photogenic again 😉

That was our time at Martinselkosen Eräkeskus! The next part will show our time at the Boreal Wildlife Centre and I will post it next Friday!

Starting a travel journal.

Smash journals have been around for a while, and I’ve been aware of them but not really understanding much. Now ‘smashing’ (is it called that?!) is pretty much scrapbooking… Having not done it before, I can’t really say that I have any sort of huge love for it, but I do think it looks pretty cool!

Anyway, I was looking for ideas for a travel journal as I’m off on an expedition to Finland in April and I wanted to keep track of what we did. I stumbled across this post and it reminded me of Smash journalling, but at a cheaper price! I bought a few bits last week to start it, and made this video on Friday! It’s a timelapse, and I apologise for the lack of sound! (And my big head, which occasionally gets in the way!)

Now it’s pretty ’empty’ at the moment – I’ve barely started. This week I’m going to write up some information and journal the things that we’ve done for planning. It’ll obviously look better once I’ve been on the expedition and added all the things that I do there! I’m excited to get it going properly! Since discovering this, I’ve watched so many videos about smash journals!

Visiting London

imageThe past weekend was spent wondering around a small area of London, seeing a ton of brilliant photographers/film makers and just generally looking around. I travelled down on the Friday night/Saturday morning (It was 00:30am!) and arrived at London Victoria at 07:10am. Despite having a rough sleep on a packed coach, I was wide awake and excited to be heading off to Wild Photos! I got on the underground to Gloucester Road, and then made my way up to The Royal Geographic Society. I did drop off a big bag at my hostel on the way, which I was super happy at. I didn’t want to be carrying the bag all day so I’m glad they let me leave the bag before I’d checked in!

Anyway, Wild Photos was fantastic. So many great photographers, and you were just walking around with them all day in the building. The talks were really interesting, and helpful! I did two workshops: Macro and Technical Mastery. Both gave valuable information, and it was great to see the photographers’ own work and have them tell us how they did it. (Alex Hyde and Charlie Hamilton James – amazing!)

On the Saturday night I nipped into the Natural History Museum for the last hour before it closed. I love it in there. I only really looked at the animal sections, as I didn’t have much time! On Sunday I just took a few photos around the area before retiring to the hostel and packing/relaxing!

So, here’s some photos from the weekend! (Sadly none from Wild Photos though…)

Hyde Park

The Royal Albert Hall

Meininger Hostel

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

Pretty Ivy!

This looked like a great bookshop – just wish it was open when I was around!

Gloucester Road

Trying to be arty 😉

My Week in Wales – Part 4

On our last full day, we just decided to have a look around the little village that we were staying in. I have to say, there wasn’t much! The nearest coast to us was pretty, but as you can see it is a little bare! This was close to a caravan holiday site, so there may have been more on the coast in that area!

Walking down into the village we came across a ford, and this bridge led us into a little housing estate that also have a school!

The lone shop in the village!

imageOn our way back to the lodge, we managed to get a glimpse of a rabbit darting into the bushes on our side! It was pretty big! Sadly no photo…

Once we had got back, we had a BBQ and just relaxed for the rest of the day! We also made a new friend… this cat was very friendly, and actually came into our lodge. We had the doors open because it was so hot! It kept following my brother around which was pretty funny – despite us having a cat, he’s not really a cat person! Actually, we were relaxing in the hot tub later that night, and the cat appeared, running down the hill with something in it’s mouth. Yep, it had caught a mouse! Poor thing! It was desperately trying to show the mouse off to us!

And here are some photos of the lodge! It really was beautiful!

Morning stretches.

Whilst in Wales, I managed to do yoga every morning. I woke up around 8am, and had done some yoga in the morning sun by 9am! And at that time, everyone was just waking up and making their way downstairs! It was lovely and relaxing being in the sunshine and it being early morning and quiet! I really do need to do it more! Sadly, the rain and storms have appeared!

How do you stick to doing yoga regularly?! I just can’t seem to get it!

My Week in Wales – Part 3

imageAfter visiting Aberystwyth, we headed over to Bwlch Nant yr Arian to see the Red Kites being fed.

Red Kites are medium to large sized birds of prey – their wingspan is around 2 metres! A defining feature to look out for, when they are flying, is the forked tail. Female Kites are quite a bit smaller than the males, however their colouring is similar.

Red Kites had been labelled as Vermin, and the 16th Century brought ‘Vermin Acts’, requiring Red Kites to be exterminated. They were very nearly made extinct! Thankfully, Red Kite numbers are increasing again, and in Wales there are now over 600 breeding pairs.

The Red Kites at this feeding are mostly local to that area, and are fed daily. It is thought that some travel around 10 miles to get to the feeding. As we are currently in BST, the feeding took place at 3pm. We arrived at around 2pm, and saw a couple of Red Kites flying in the area. As 3pm drew closer, more Kites appeared. At 2:55pm, loads of Red Kites just suddenly appeared over the trees in the area. I had mentioned that there would be hundreds of birds, but my dad didn’t quite believe me… Well, he was pretty shocked when they all appeared! It really was a great sight!

My Week in Wales – Part 2

On the Wednesday morning, we visited Aberystwyth. I have to say, it wasn’t what I was expecting! I thought it would be prettier, like New Quay was! We didn’t stay long, just an hour to look around the castle ruins.

My parents being silly! I swear they ran to this like little kids!

After Aberystwyth, we went to see the Red Kites being fed. I’m going to do that in another post later tonight as there’s just so many photos already!

Organising my A5 Original!

I have finally made some A5 dividers for my Original Filofax! I figured I would show my set-up… I am using the A5 as a ‘home’ filofax. My main diary is still in my personal Finsbury, as I just feel like the A5 is too big for me to carry around! This is a very image heavy post! So, onto the sections (and dividers!):

This is the first view inside.

imageI decided to keep the front sheet in for now. I have a sticky note on the fly leaf as a key for the sections. I haven’t written the section name on the tabs, so this is just while I get used to the layout! I have a Frixion pen in the loop, and I also put an inkjoy pen in the other loop but it isn’t shown here! (It will be shown at the end.) In the back pocket, I have these three postcards which I picked up in New Quay in Wales! I really love these! I’ve now decided that I’m going to start collecting postcards from places that I visit… If they sell them of course!

My first section is blog! This is where I can plan things specifically for my blog.

So I’m a nature kind of person… I love birds. I really love this paper! I stuck it onto an A5 piece of card and then added a ‘cork’ paper title background. I picked these papers up in a set, and all my dividers have a similar theme. You can find them here!

Anyway, in this section I first have the notes that I’ve received from companies.

Then I have designed myself a page where I can keep track of product reviews! Behind that, I just have pieces of notepaper where I can jot down blog ideas, and things that need doing!

Next up is my recipes section. I’m wanting to start baking more, so here’s a perfect place to collect good recipes!

I took a photo of this page from one of my Grandma’s old recipe books (mentioned here!) and then printed it onto some paper to stick in!

Click below to read on!
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  • I am 21 years old, currently studying Wildlife and Media at University and blogging about life, stationery, Filofax, fitness and more.

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