1 In holiday/ travel

Why you should not have a dental emergency in Estonia in August and why you should not expect to get any sleep in southern Germany

The summer of 2018 has lasted a million years and it’s been amazing. Hot London is awesome (ignoring the Northern Line Sweat Situation) and spending the first 3 weeks of August in Estonia, Germany and Austria has been the cherry on my (eternal summer) cake.

I won’t bore you with everything we did on the holidays, how warm it was and how good the food was and how gorgeous the Alps were. I’ll just document a few moments that either made us smile or cry or laugh or all of the above.


Haapsalu – small town Estonia

My teenager is having trouble with his new braces, one of the brackets has come off the tooth and is rubbing his gums making him quite miserable. He spends his days with his finger in his mouth pushing it off his gum and being grumpy as. In other location a little piece of wire is sticking out and stabbing his upper lip from the inside every time he moves his mouth. It’s another 3 weeks until we’re back in London so this needs to be fixed before that.

I call the one dental practice in town that advertises as having orthodontic services.

“Hi, we are on holidays in Estonia at the moment and one of the brackets on my child’s braces has come loose and it’s causing him a lot of discomfort. Could I pop in at some point to have it glued back on?”

“Oh we don’t actually have our own orthodontist here. We have one that comes from Tallinn on Mondays but this month she’s on holidays.”

“Oh. Ok. We are only here for another 3 weeks so I’ll call some other places in Tallinn…”

Orthodonist nr 1 in Tallinn:

“Hi, we are on holidays……………………”
“Let me see… The next appointment I have available is on the 12th of October, would that work?”
“Ummmm… it’s sort of urgent and would only take 5 minutes…”
“Sorry, our orthodontist is on holidays this month and the first appointment is on 12th of October.”

Orthodonist nr 2 in Tallinn:

“Hi, we are on holidays……………………”
“Our orthodontist is on maternity leave right now. She’ll be back in March 2019.”

Orthodonist nr 3 in Tallinn:

“Hi, we are on holidays……………………”
“The next new client appointment we have is 9th of September.”

Orthodonist nr 4 in Tallinn:

“Hi, we are on holidays……………………”
“Our orthodonists are on holidays in August.”

Orthodonist nr 5 in Tallinn:

“Hi, we are on holidays……………………”
“Our orthodonists don’t fix braces put on by other doctors.”

Orthodonist nr 6 in Tallinn:

“Hi, we are on holidays……………………”
“We are not taking any appointments in August, everyone is on holidays.”

Orthodonist nr 7 in Tallinn:

“Hi, we are on holidays……………………”
“Can you come on 10th of November?”

Orthodonist nr 8 in Tallinn:

“Hi, we are on holidays……………………”
“The waiting list currently is 6 weeks.”

Orthodonist nr 9 in Tallinn:

“Hi, we are on holidays……………………”
“Our orthodontist only works on Mondays and she’s back in September.”

Teenager hears it all and says eventually “Just forget about it. I’ll be fine. I’ll wait until we get back to London.”

“I’m sorry, baby. ESTONIA IS CLOSED IN AUGUST.”


Haapsalu – small town Estonia

A friend of mine who I’ve known since we were 7 asked me what I was reading at the moment. I said a book about somebody who runs marathons but used to be… ummm… a bit fat and lazy. She replied with an enthusiastic and totally positive: “You can really relate then!”


Oberammergau – small town catholic Germany

Oberammergau, Germany

We stay in a gorgeous little house accommodation opposite the town church. The church bell rings often but we don’t pay too much attention, surely it stops at night.

At night we are in bed and it keeps ringing. Every 15 minutes. One gong for 15 past an hour, two for 30 min past and three for 45 min past.

Surely it stops at 10pm…. 10pm comes…

Surely it stops at midnight… Midnight comes…

Surely it stops at 2am… 2am comes…

We get out of bed at 7 and it’s like emerging from a sleep torture experiment… The host asks me jovially at breakfast how did we sleep and I mention the bells.

He looks at me confused and says simply and curtly “Well. This is Germany”.

I smile and ask for 5 cups of coffee while screaming internally WHO THE FUCK NEEDS TO KNOW THE TIME WITH 15 MIN PRECISION AT 3 FREAKING AM!

The next night I download a white noise app and sleep with my headphones listening to Fan.

In the morning when we check out, we are charged extra for the coffees.


Munich – big town Germany

Munich, Germany

We go into the big park in the middle of the city on a hot day to wade in the streams of Isar like hundreds of other people. I have studied in Munich so I warn my children that it’s very likely that we come across some naked old men wondering around. The part of the park/stream that is the most suitable for children to play in is also the designated nude area of the park.

Surely enough as soon as we enter the park, we spot several nude men wondering around. The kids are ok when far but then one wonders within a metre of them when they are swimming. There is much squealing and shortly afterwards they tell me they are scarred.

I simply tell them “WELL. THIS IS GERMANY.”


Tallinn – big town Estonia

First day of my holidays and on my way to Crossfit I get stung in my left index finger by a bee. My finger swells up. Then my hand half way. I’m still able to grab the barbell so I’m not too fussed.

By the end of the day my whole hand is swollen but so very smooth.

When I show my kids, they BOTH exclaim: “Wow, your left hand looks so young and your right one looks so old! Maybe you can get a bee to sting you in the face!”

I know they are just messing with me but I decide that this whole ageing gracefully thing is not working and I email my dentist and ask to find out when I can come in for botox.


Haapsalu – small town Estonia

Every year the first week of being back in my home town is hard. I have come a long way since I lived here. I left when I was a very insecure, shy and anxious 17 year old. It’s been a long and windy and good and hard and amazing and challenging road to get to where I am at 42. But I have arrived. I think I have arrived. In myself. In knowing who I am and in being satisfied in who I am.

Yet this little town that raised me tries to ‘remind’ me every year who I ‘really’ am. I therefore feel so vulnerable and anxious again at the start of every holiday here. I feel the town, the people, the buildings, the trees – they all know who I ‘really’ am.

Of course it’s not true and most people don’t even remember me anymore but when you grow up in a society and environment where everyone keeps an eye on everyone else (combination of a small town thing AND the Soviet Union thing of spying on your neighbors), it turns out it leaves a mark.

This feeling fades after a week and I know I am forgiven. Yes, I was one thing and no, I am not that anymore. If you think you own me and know me because you were the town that raised me – you don’t.

But I forgive you too and I keep coming back because you are beautiful.


Somewhere in the mountains – Austria

Rock climbing in Austria

We are rock climbing in Austria. It’s so beautiful but the rock climbing bit is scary as usual.

Rule 1 is Don’t Look Down.

Rule 2 is Don’t Worry about the End, Only the Next Step.

On rock you cannot plan your whole route, you have to take small steps, evaluate your surroundings after each one and even if for the longest time you don’t see a way forward, move just a tiny bit and the next bigger (and I mean bigger than tiny but smaller than big) move is very likely to reveal itself to you.

And one little tiny step at a time, trusting yourself, not letting fear take over and not looking back, that is how you move onwards and upwards.

If that’s not a good way to approach life in general, I don’t know what is.


You can catch up with more of our holiday reflections on Instagram and tell me – how’s your summer been??

Instagram from 2018 summer holiday

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Deborah
    August 25, 2018 at 9:27 pm

    “The summer of 2018 has lasted a million years and it’s been amazing.” Hahaha. I feel you!!

    And for the ‘this is Germany’ reply from your host – this is bullshit! Also, used to go to the nudie part in Englischer Garten when I lived there. Mainly because the naked gay guys wouldn’t hit on me. I hasten to add, I have been wearing swimming costumes!

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