Well then, my last post on here is from Östersund. That seems a very long time ago.
I’ve travelled a long way but I don’t feel inspired to really be expansive on that journey. My route took me from Östersund to Umeå, this was the swedish lanscape that I was familiar with, lakes and seemingly endless forest. There were hills but no mountains to climb. I reached Umeå just before midsummer. Apparently midsummer is like xmas in Sweden but celebrated with an almost pagan ritual involving some form of flower covered pole/crucifix. I don’t know any of this first hand as I didn’t see any midsummer celebrations in Umeå. I have a feeling that most people go to the countryside during this period. The result was three days in an almost empty city where everything was shut. Not the most exciting of times.
After Umeå I crossed the Gulf of Bothnia to Vaasa in Finland. I quite like Vaasa from a brief first glance around the town but my impromptu extra day there was spent sheltering from terrible weather. Around this point I decided to take a small detour from my original plan. So now I’m in Oulu 200 miles further north east. Considering I was heading towards Tampere and then Helsinki I’ve essentially cycled for six days in the wrong direction. The reason is a hardcore punk festival next weekend which I discovered when trawling facebook for gigs in Finland. A part of me needs some ‘normality’ or familiarity on this trip so as I had lots of time Oulu became a new destination.
In my usual fashion I arrived here two days earlier than I had planned to. However that has meant I’ve stopped cycling just as the weather has turned. Last week was warm with the occasional thunderstorms or heavy showers. You could see these coming as the clouds built in the sky and seek appropriate shelter. However now the sky is leaden grey again and most of the time there is a light drizzle. Heavy downpours are unannounced and so catch you out, this happened to me on the way into town today so I type this whilst slightly damp. Also seeking shelter from the rain anywhere that isn’t wall to wall tarmac and concrete results in the unwelcome attention of mosquitoes. I’ve actually used campsites pretty much all the way here from Vaasa as forays into the woods presented swarms of mosquitoes and insects beyond levels I could handle. I’m hoping as I head south from here though the ‘season’ for them will be ending and their numbers will diminish.
So there you have it the last two weeks or so in a nutshell. Lumpy riding in Sweden followed by flat riding in Finland. Forests, lakes and in Finland coastal islands. Mosquito bites which itch and go very red. Rain, sunshine and mainly tail winds. I can’t really complain. My body has definitely got back into the routine of cycling and so leaves my mind free to wander. I’ve made some notes, I’ve had some thoughts, but I don’t feel ready to share those yet especially where they relate to current events like the EU referendum.