Ninette Bahne

creating and inspiring in my little corner of the world

Our trip to Ireland & Worldcon

It was an eager pair of travelers who set out for Dublin in the middle of August – myself and my 16-year old son, both first timers to Ireland.
We stayed at an airport hotel, and the next day we met with the rest of the gang.

Our first stop: the waterfalls near Powerscourt – much more impressive in person than it looks like in my pictures! The water falls from the cliff sides in a valley that looks like straight out of a fairy tale – green and luscious and so, so beautiful. Definitely a must see in this region!

We had lunch at Powerscourt, indoors as it started pouring. There were so many rain showers when we were at Ireland – no wonder they have stories about rainbows and Leprechauns!

Onwards to our castle,  Wilton Castle

This was such a lovely place, quiet and peaceful and perfect as a writing retreat.

I want a shed like this in my garden! (there’s a wheelbarrow inside the shed/tower)

A castle of our own would also be nice!

Boardgames, impromptu disco, walking at Glendalough, lots of conversations and happy times

People brought with them specialties from their home countries. We brought Fazers Blå, Finnish milk chocolate. One of the Americans treated us to chicken & waffles – a real meal, despite how outlandish it sounds! Fried chicken with syrupy waffles…!

The castle was just perfect for a large group of people.

Some people even got some writing done! (not me!)

We went and saw Hook Lighthouse – saw this odd shed there ”Detonator store”. Kind of want one of those in my garden too! Would be nice to blast away at roots or something 🙂 (need a bigger garden for that though! And not live in the city! But a girl can always dream…)

…and we saw so many rainbows!

Then off to Bunratty Castle – which was so small some of us first didn’t even believe we were actually seeing the real castle! Noel and I decided to skip that so we just sat and had some tea and cake at a nearby pub.

Then onto the Cliffs of Moher – Ireland’s number one tourist spot. And boy, were there many tourists there!

Too many people for my taste – you can’t perhaps see it in this picture, but all those tiny dots along the ridges are people!

Many cows too – I love that there was cattle almost everywhere we went!

The cliffs look really beautiful in the pictures, but in reality we had to stand there with thousands of other people.

Then we were off to Inis Mor – one of the best parts of the trip.

The landscape there was just amazing!

Rugged terrain, the wind, the sound of the ocean – it was a place that soared through your soul and made its mark.

We stayed at a lovely B&B with lots of cows nearby!

One of the sitting rooms.

Dun Aonghasa was just a short walk from the B&B – an amazing fort.

Then a bus ride and a train ride later we were in Dublin.

I love the design of this bridge, the Samuel Beckett bridge – it looks like a harp!

The CCD, the convention center where WorldCon was held.

We attended as many panels as we could – and the rest of the time we stood in line, hurried between places or went looking for a place to have lunch.

The AirBnB that we stayed in was really lovely – a small apartment right in the Temple Bar district. I thought the noise of the nighttime revelers would disturb my sleep, but nope – it turned into background noise after a while, and became really comfortable.

The pub next door.

The Temple Bar district was really lovely. We didn’t have that much time to enjoy it though – most of our time was spent hurrying to or from the CCD.

The most Irish of scenes – the unloading of a Guinness truck!

Then it was time to go back home after a great trip to Ireland.

Bye, bye Ireland! Hope to see you again!

Hook Lighthouse – the oldest still working lighthouse

On our visit to Ireland, I went on a small excursion to Hook Lighthouse, the oldest still manned lighthouse in the world.

The lighthouse looks modern on the outside, but on the inside it looks kind of like the old churches where I live – it’s from the 13th century, just like those buildings, and was built using the same techniques.

The nature around the lighthouse is simply astounding! Ragged cliffs hollowed out by the salt water and the winds, with just a few dots of wild flowers here and there. 

It was breathtakingly beautiful and such a balm for the soul to stand there, listening to the wind and the waves!

The view from up the lighthouse was amazing as well – notice the rainbow! We saw so many rainbows while in Ireland, which is not surprising – the weather could mainly be described as ”four seasons in one day”.

The view from above was spectacular

You would never believe the lighthouse has been around for so many centuries!

The landscape had a stark beauty that really appealed to me.

And the cliffs!

The lighthouse was definitely worth a visit, both for the environs and from the view from above.

The weather was really lovely all the time, rain or sunshine or inbetween!

Glendalough – so beautiful and calm!

We went for a lovely walk when visiting Glendalough – a glacial valley in County Wicklow, Ireland.

First stop, a monastery with an old cemetery.

The cemetery is still in use, new headstones mixing with old.

We walked around the lakes, a really lovely walk along broad pathways.

We passed some sheep. I have no idea how many sheep we saw while on Ireland! So many sheep everywhere, and cattle and horses and donkeys…!

Finally we ended up at the Miner’s village. They mainly used to process ore here, not mine as much.

It was a really wonderful day, with just the right amount of sun and clouds!

This landscape reminded me a lot of home, where we have a lot of rocks left behind by the glaciers.

Far too soon it was time to go back to the bus – a really lovely walk chatting with friends from the group, and a wonderful day to remember!

 

 

Inis Mor & Dun Aonghasa

On our trip to Ireland, we got to visit Inis Mor – one of the Aran Island. It was amazing!

We arrived in the harbor and rented some bikes. Noel and I both got mountain bikes, and we were so grateful for that! The paved roads were fine for any bike, but the smaller roads were really rocky and hard to traverse.

We set off biking and took a wrong turn, and accidentally happened to get almost to the Black Castle! The views there were spectacular.

The landscape on Inis Mor is definitely something else, almost out of this world. Long, flat cliffs, eroded by winds and the water from the Atlantic.

I thought these cliffs were just as amazing as the Cliffs of Moher, if not more, because here we were almost alone in nature!

You can hear yourself think a lot clearer when not surrounded by hundreds and thousands of people (like it felt when at the Cliffs of Moher). Or rather, you can almost not hear yourself think, because the noise of the waves and the wind was so loud!

It was amazing to hear the sound of the waves coming from far away, to see the spray extend all across the edges of the cliffs tens of meters up into the air!

We left our bikes further away from the cliffs – it was nearly impossible to bike all the way out to the ledge, and I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to! It felt a bit scary to stand there so near the edge and a huge drop into the cold Atlantic, with harsh winds throwing us this way and that.

The landscape on Inis Mor is really pretty with old rock walls everywhere, I’m guessing both aiding to know which property is whose, and also shelters the cattle a little bit from the wind.

Lots and lots of these lovely rock walls!

We met quite a few donkeys and horses along the way!

The main roads are paved and easy to bike on – except when the winds in your face, trying to push you back to where you started from!

Nice horsey, looked content to stand there and stare at everyone who biked past and took pics. There were quite a few of us! Inis Mor has about a thousand inhabitants, and hundreds of thousands of visitors every year!

We finally arrived at the small village where our B&B was located. The shops open and close when the owners feel like it!

Kilmurvey house – definitely worth a recommendation! The lady who owned the place was so nice, and our room was great and breakfast excellent.

From Kilmurvey house, it was just a small trek up the cliffs to visit Dun Aonghasa – a very impressive looking Stone Age fortress.

We walked up to the fort in very windy conditions – if I ever come here again, I’ll wish for a tad bit less wind! It was so windy, we almost thought we would fly off into the Atlantic Ocean!

According to Wikipedia, the holder of all knowledge, the fort was originally built 1000 meters away from the ocean.  The sea levels lowering means us nowaday-people get a whole other experience of the fort!

The cliffs are about 100 meters high here – and with the very windy weather we actually had sea spray hit us from down below!  The waves hitting the cliffs were huge, and the sound was just amazing. It was such a rush!

The stuff of nightmares, and also of so much inspiration -it’s no wonder Kilmurvey House sometimes houses Writer’s retreat! The location is just brimming with inspiration for all kinds of art!

The fort itself mainly consists of rebuilt rock walls, fitting on this particular island!

The next day we biked back to the harbor and the ferry leaving for Galway.

This time we took the low road, and saw a lot of cattle, horses, donkeys and birds – there’s a really lovely little lake along the road that has a lot of wild birds.

All the signs are in Irish on Inis Mor, which is part of the Gaeltacht,  the places where Irish is still spoken as a mother tongue (rather like ”Svenskfinland”, I imagine, the parts of Finland where Swedish is predominantly spoken).

Then it was back to the harbor and the ferry back to Galway.

Inis Mor and Dun Aonghasa was amazing, and I so hope to visit the island again some time in the future!

 

Wilton Castle – I want to live there!

The first few nights of our trip to Ireland were spent at Wilton Castle, Wexford, an amazing location in the Irish countryside.

The castle usually caters to weddings, I think. We were really fortunate that we got to rent the whole castle for our stay! It was the perfect place for a writing retreat, not that I got much writing done! (I managed to write zero words – a record for me! I usually compulsively write something every day, but this time I decided I would take a vacation)

My firstborn and I shared this lovely room! The castle had several renovated suites of rooms – all of them so lovely and luxurious!

It was amazing walking along the long corridors, peeking into room after room elegantly furnished and renovated.

The castle burned down in the 1920s, but a huge part of it has been beautifully restored since. I loved the way they managed to mix the old ruins with the newer – you always had this feeling of history, despite all the new materials, which I loved!

I especially loved the little reading nooks that were found throughout the castle. Not that I spent that much time sitting in them! I mainly watched the cows through the windows, or admired the nook on my way to the dining room to play board games or have dinner with our fellow travelers.

The castle has a charming narrow staircase, that reminds me of a lot of English period dramas! I wonder what it was like ”back in the day” – did they have another staircase for the downstairs people, or did they too use this one?

I had googled Wilton Castle so many times before our trip, wondering if it looked as great in real life as it did in the pictures – and it did! Or rather – I thought it was even more impressive in person than in the pictures.

You sort of can’t take in the impression the surroundings make on you as you come to the castle – narrow roads bordered by stone walls and hedges, that resemble green tunnels, and cattle everywhere!

The environs were so tranquil and lovely – this is an ideal place for a bigger group for anything, in my opinion! I wouldn’t mind living here myself!

Look at the lamps! I really liked all the lamps in the castle. 

 

Yup, this might well be our dream home! (or one of them – Ireland turned out to be filled with lots of our dream homes!)

 

Greetings from Ireland!

That was an intense 10-days and nights spent in Ireland! My firstborn and I joined a gang of writers (most of whom I met on the WXR two years back) to travel the Irish countryside and attend Worldcon 2019 in Dublin. What a rush! It was such a great trip and I’ve got so many impressions running through my mind all the time now, that I kind of need some time to process everything.

I’m leaving you with a sneak peek at our trip – it was such an amazing time!

DIY White statement necklace

This was a fun necklace to make, but it was finished too soon – sometimes I like that it takes hours and hours to sew a piece.

I used so many bigger beads (two old broken bracelets that I found at a flea market), there just wasn’t that many beads to sew.

I like this nuance of white. And this particular red.

The round white beads were from a necklace, and the flat white ones were from two different thrift shop-necklaces.

A fun necklace to make, and to wear! I was feeling really fancy on the cruise in my retro gown and DIY-necklace!

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Writing Excuses Cruise – my dream vacation

I find myself thinking back on the cruise we went on, and all the special moments that we had. And I realize that my brain being what it is, I will start to misremember things, so now it’s time to write things down for my own future self to look back on.

This was such a momentous journey for Niklas and I, with both of us looking forward to it – Niklas looking forward to being away from home and the kids for a while, and completing his mission of tasting all the desserts on the ship, and I was so filled with emotions about getting to meet my idols – the hosts of the Writing Excuses Podcast. Not only that, we would meet other writers and instructors as well, and people that would become our friends.

I was really nervous when we arrived in Kiel, but there was nothing to be scared about – everything was handled to perfection by the team behind the retreat, and retreat veterans were encouraged to help us newbies, and that they did! We felt so well taken care of, and safe. I don’t think I’ve ever been to an event that was this well planned on all fronts, and with the comfort of the participators as the main focus.

Before we boarded we were divided into groups. Hi, group!

It was so nice getting to know people in this way. I had no need to feel anxious after this Quest (we were the only Finns on the cruise, and didn’t know anyone beforehand, so I was a bit nervous!), because it immediately felt as if we knew some people. Which was one of the points of the exercise.

Each group got an quest that started when we got on board the ship.

We were team Science Fiction and I was the chief engineer – just call me Ms LaForge!  

It took a while for us to solve the first riddle, but then we finally found the right bar and the people sitting in it, giving us the next clue: Jasper Fforde (who had the most amazing inspiring talk!), Kathy Chung (who I wish I had had time to talk to, but there wasn’t time to talk to everyone unfortunately…) and Piper J Drake (thanks for the writing sprint and the individual critique! I think about you every time I sit down to write my novel <3 )

Next stop, the Cyber Library where Dan Wells and his daughter Audrey gave us the next clue together with Aliette de Bodard. We had a funny incident at the SciFi bookstore in Stockholm when Dan and his family walked in and the girl at the counter got really starstruck! That was one of the highlights of the cruise – getting to brag to a fellow geek!

Ken Liu (so much fun! And the best short story writer ever) and Howard Tayler – one of my idols from the podcast.

Some of the clues were trickier than others. But our team came through, and we got to go to lunch eventually! 

Before that we met with John Berlyne (thanks for all the advice!) and Sandra Tayler (thank you too! It was so helpful, I felt so at peace after talking to you, and got great ideas for writing at home.)

Then onto the bar where we spent most our time – listening to instructors or writing, because – geeks! Here we met Wesley Chu (who has awesome taste in movies!) and Kenna. Last, but not least Thomas Olde Heuvelt (nice talking to you about translations and also seeing you at WorldCon!) and K Tempest Bradford, who we had an amazing day with at the museums in Copenhagen.

These were just some of the instructors, and I so wish there were more hours to the day when we were on the cruise because everyone was just so interesting and interested and just awesome! We had so many wonderful conversations and I came back with new confidence and lots of happy memories. And luckily new Facebook friends, so that I can get my cruise-fix afterwards as well!

 

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The Writing Excuses Retreat 2017 – my two cents

This was such an life-changing experience for me and my spouse Niklas – I don’t think I can do the retreat justice, but apparently now ”I am a writer!” so I’ll try.

”This is real. This is really happening!”

I’ve been listening to the Writing Excuses-podcast religiously for the last two years. Whenever I get stuck on something in my own writing, I google an episode about where I am in the process and after listening to it I always get inspired to keep writing. The instructors on the show are so encouraging, and just as much if not even more in real life!

So it felt like a once in a lifetime-opportunity when the WXR came to the Baltic Sea. Niklas and I scraped together the money for it and just went for it. All in, in all ways possible. I tried to read everything I could find on blogs about people’s experiences of the retreat, and then I took their advice.

I printed business cards (they did come in handy lots of times!), I read books of almost all the instructors (didn’t have time to read them all). I wrote down questions for the instructors. I prepared my texts. But nothing could prepare me completely for what an amazing experience it would be, in spite of everyone on the blogs gushing about it.

You need some context to really understand what I am trying to tell you.

First of all, I am from Finland, and in spite of being extroverted I still feel anxious when I meet new people and wonder what  kind of impression I leave. I have had many bad experiences over the year with people not liking my personality, which makes me a bit apprehensive when I meet new people. I had no idea what to expect from the cruise.

Secondly, Niklas and I haven’t been on a proper vacation for more than fourteen years! We went to the Mediterranean a few times when our youngest was still a baby, but at the time I was in so much pain from giving birth (I almost died) and the following surgeries, that they didn’t feel as much as vacations as a form of recovery trips, with me going back a bit more rested but still with the same ache and PTSD as before. Then we had the two little ones (who are not so little anymore! They are both 10 at the moment) and we just never had the opportunity for a proper vacation. Our private economy went belly up along with the rest of the world, and the kids were traumatized and needed stability and having parents who stayed with them 24/7.

Thirdly, I’ve actually never spoken English for more than a few minutes at a time. I listen to English every day, I read almost conclusively in English, but speak – just a couple of times for more than the short while it takes you to buy fish and chips.

And fourthly, I felt this was an opportunity to get a confirmation that I am on the right track writing-wise.

 

So  when say it was a life-changing experience, I mean life-changing.

 

We came back from the cruise well-rested and relaxed, and I have, wonder of wonder, been able to keep that sense of relaxation with me ever since (fingers crossed it remains!). I’ve slept well for the first time in more than ten years. I’ve met new friends that are my crowd, a place where I don’t feel as the odd one, but just one of the guys, one who can contribute.

There was no threshold for talking to people. Everyone was so welcoming and encouraging, even the most introverted souls on the retreat who probably were more anxious than even I was.

I’ve learned so much about LDS and Mormons (I used to be a teacher and taught religion, so I had a lot of questions that I finally got answered, like why are there so many Mormon craft blogs). I found out I speak a bit like an American when I try to speak, in spite of the school systems effort to make me sound British. I also didn’t know I had such huge blind spots when it comes to Americanisms, and had no idea a lot of Americans pronounce Copenhagen the German way (we always say ”Copen-HAYgen” when we speak English). I got to feel like a European. Haven’t felt like one since we were in South Africa, but now I suddenly identified as one, and that was a fun thing to ponder.

I love thinking about cultural differences, and on this cruise I found many likeminded individuals.

I also found people to talk pop culture with, who dig my kind of pop culture (Star Wars and Star Trek, all the SciFi on Netflix etc – you know, all the geek stuff). I didn’t feel the need to dress up if I didn’t want to – this was definitely the crowd who would have loved our 14 year old’s Doctor Who T-shirt or his Deathnote notebook! By the way, he was so jealous he didn’t get to go on the cruise! And he would have loved it.

Every night people brought out the board games or sat at tables discussing writing or awesome books or awesome movies and TV-shows. My type of crowd! I even found people who loves etymology as much as I do, which hardly ever happens.

We discussed grammatical differences and the third pronoun in Swedish, and got so many book recommendations that my reading list is about ten times as large as beforehand.

nobody got my Ann Boleyn reference btw! Not many Brits around and with them I talked other stuff… The necklace is my version of Ann Boleyn’s B-necklace

 

I felt really overwhelmed in the middle of the cruise and talked to some of my new friends who told me to go and talk to Emma Newman, and then I did just that. She was so supportive, and after that I felt relaxed and had new confidence.

I am on the right track, I can do this, I just have to stop pushing myself so hard and allow myself to go to the progress at a pace which my body also can accommodate.

After that talk I felt as if this was the best trip ever, the best vacation, the best …anything. But then amazingly it got even better!

On the last night I met not one, but two women who could totally relate to my personal story, and we had so much to talk about that I feel so sad that the trip ended that quickly, and I so hope we get to meet again in the future some time!

I’ve gone for 14 years without anyone understanding what I went through with almost dying while giving birth.

I’ve gone for 14 years without anyone understanding what it’s like to have chronic pain in your pelvis, and have your husband always having to help you with stuff.

And now suddenly, here they were – women who completely got it! I cry when I type this, because it was just such an amazing experience. I’ve googled my symptoms so many times, have tried to find support groups etc, but then I find support there on the Writing Excuses Cruise! It was just amazing.

And that maybe tells you a bit of what you can find when you are writing. Writing is not just an academic exercise, as I thought beforehand (I tried telling my brain it wasn’t, but I didn’t believe myself). Writing is art. Writing is about emotions. Writing is about finding what is hard in your life and to talk about those things.

Writing changes people, and it changes me.

I feel like I am in the perfect spot now that I am middle-aged and have all these experiences, and maybe, just maybe I can help someone through my writing and use them for something that adds to society.  Even while writing dark fantasy, because dark things happen to people and we need to read about them to process them.

 

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Everyday life (or am I still dreaming?!)

It feels so odd to be back home from the cruise! Yesterday it felt as if we were still on the trip, and as if this house and home were just a dream. Today I am having the opposite experience. Maybe because I still feel the long waves beneath my feet (and I miss the not cleaning up-part and the not having to prepare food-part…)

It felt as if we were away for much longer than ten nights. And it turns out my kids are really fun to be around – who knew?!

So many memories to unpack! We had such a great time – this was the best vacation we’ve ever been on, on so many levels.

It felt huge to have a sign like this that says ”Writer”. ”So what do you write?” was an obvious question to ask anyone with these yellow pouches. My answer: ”Dark fantasy, YA”. I have actually been writing constantly for two years now, a couple of kid’s books, a couple middle grade novels, two fantasy novels that need serious editing and now I’m on my third draft of the novel that I feel most comfortable with. I’ve also written six or seven short stories, and submitted one for Mary Robinette Kowal’s workshop. It was amazing getting feedback from other writers, and especially from Mary who is an expert on short stories.

Niklas is reliving the cruise by drinking coffee from his unicorn mug! He bought it in Kiel and used it on the cruise. We were so happy that we got to do some shopping already in Kiel, because the kids were definitely expecting presents, and we didn’t have either the inclination or the time to do any shopping after that. We managed to pick up a few things, but most of the stuff we bought in Kiel (which seems to be a big shopping city) and at Hamburg Airport (which was one of the worst airports we have visited – more on that later).

The kids welcomed us with homemade bouquets.

They had made their own Welcome Home-cards as well, or the two youngest had – our fourteen old was totally fine with us  being away for so long, and didn’t feel the need for any cards!

I love it when the kids make their own bouquets.

The garden has fared well while we were away, not that I had any thoughts about it while we were away.

My parents even had the kids join and chop wood one day! So it was really nice to come home to a clean house and not that many chores that needed to be done.

Yay, we got to see the agapanthus bloom for the first time!

The house still stands, and now we even have electricity in all of the house. When we came home the sockets in the lower floor didn’t work, but we were so tired so we used extension chords until today when we got an electrician to fix the problem.

The pond looks lush, just like the rest of the garden.

Nice to be home when you are feeling relaxed! I need to do this more often.

Our daughter was happy with the earrings that we brought her.

This is our youngest. He collects band aids, and now he got some German ones!

Clothes hanging to dry everywhere.

Some of our son’s collection

Our fourteen old who has been busy playing board games with his friends ever since we came home. He was so jealous he didn’t get to go on the cruise!

Our lovely black bunny is also happy to be home!

And I? I still feel unreal. This cruise was such a life-changing experience, and we hope we get to see some of our new friends at Worldcon later this week!

 

#wxr2017

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