I’m back from four weeks driving from the West of England to Eastern Finland and back again via Dover-Calais, Amsterdam, campsites in Germany and Sweden, stops with various Finnish in-laws, a weekend in a Swedish cottage in the Stockholm archipelago, 2 days with my non-Swedish-speaking cousin whose husband has suddenly been relocated from Grimsby to Helsingborg, and Legoland in Denmark. With three children under 8. As one of my Swedish clients put it, “yes, but when are you having a holiday?”
The relaxing bit was a week in a Finnish kesämökki (summer cottage) by lake Vahvajärvi near Hirvensalmi. Saunas, lots of saunas, and swimming in the lake followed by beer and barbecues, Finns have the right idea about how to spend the summer. I’ve never taken four weeks off in a row before but it helps that this is precisely what my Scandinavian clients expect people to do. Also going as early as I could, when our schools broke up on 18 July, and being back at my desk as Swedes and Finns came back to work in mid-August seems to have worked quite well. Work is now pouring in and I am refreshed and recharged and energetic enough to cope with it. I am also being firmer about saying no, having realised, as soon as I stopped, how overworked I had been and how much I really needed a holiday. Long may it last.
Although I didn’t do any work while I was away, spending time in my source language countries will benefit the business. We visit family in Finland at least once a year but what with having babies, it’s been a few years since I’ve set foot in Sweden, and reading online newspapers and blogs isn’t the same as being out there on the streets, or in my case, in campsites, and talking Swedish to ordinary people. I’ve also stocked up on Swedish and Finnish crime fiction to get me through the winter and update the source language input a bit more. Definitely a beneficial break all round.
PS. I have also proved that although they understand me, I really cannot understand spoken Danish. Well also I wasn’t expecting to be asked my name when attempting to exchange Swedish kronor for Danish kroner in a bank.