Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
John Hughes, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Once upon a time, in June 2012, I was living in Helsinki, in a new flat that still retained the faint smell of opportunities and paint. I was staying on Lauttasaari, accompanied only by my cat and the Internet, yet just a bridge away from the centre: close enough to visit Gran and my friends. It was Finnish summer, with its peas and strawberries, ice-cream kiosks, drinking on terraces, swimming naked at night. The nights were white, as they always are that far to the north. I was attending courses at the University, but it started to feel like I was just biding my time there, waiting till it would be September and I would embark on the Creative Writing degree at Oxford. That was a season suspended in time, a snow globe with poplar down standing in for the snow. It was two thirds domestic magic and one third anticipation.
Normally, summer would pass me by leaving little but hazy memories and burnt skin on my shoulders, and as that one was turning out to be my last in Helsinki for a while, I decided to try a different approach. I began the Not a Day Without an Adventure project. The concept was self-explanatory and ‘adventure’ was loosely defined as ‘something I have never tried before, with an inherent risk of everything going wrong’.
The first adventure was getting to the top of the Olympic Stadium tower. The second was getting my hair cut by a new hairdresser. I recall going barefoot for a day, learning how to blow chewing-gum bubbles, and climbing on top of the unfinished building at the construction site next door. I grilled my first sausages and saw Pulp live. I lost (and found) my phone, I practiced skateboarding, I slept on the balcony, and saw a football match at a bar.
Coming up with new ideas proved to be the biggest challenge, but the result was entirely worth it. I remember the feelings, the tastes and smells of that summer. It is, in a way, still here with me, each and every day of it.
This June I’m on the road again. Mostly metaphorically though, but what I am trying to say is:
It is summer. It is the time for adventures. It is the time to be open and excited, a bit sweaty and wild, with blisters on your feet and stray bits of grass in your hair. We are done with school and we are packing for festivals. Let there be Not a Day Without an Adventure.
The experiences and events are listed under the #adventure time tag, as well as in the chronological order below. Would you like to know how I am spending this June? What adventures have been planned for July? (Hint: swimming in the Thames and Alice’s Day might be included.) Or would you like to find out what unusual and exciting events are to happen in August? (Hint: elephants and horse-riding and an ice-cream festival, too!)
If you, reader, feel curious, then click away!
- June 1st, Day 1: Ben’s Cookies. Getting a large red tin of fresh cookies from the original Ben’s Cookies store at the Covered Market.
- June 2nd, Day 2: Mystery Book. Purchasing works of an unfamiliar author at a charity bookshop.
- June 12th, Day 12: New Running Route. Going straight instead of turning to the left and discovering the joys of another riverside path.
- June 26th, Day 26: Bodleian Treasures. Seeing the Magna Carta, Shakespeare’s First Folio, letters by Kenneth Grahame and Tolkien, as well as the 1578 map of Oxford.
- June 27th, Day 27: Stair Stepper. Trying a new exercise machine at the gym and going for the most ridiculously-looking option.
- June 28th, Day 28: Radcliffe Science Library. Paying my first ever visit to the Radcliffe Science Library, only to discover it devoid of books.
- June 29th, Day 29: Senegalese Cinema. Getting acquainted with Senegalese film by the way of watching Xala by Ousmane Sembène.
- July 11th, Day 41: Italian Opera. La Traviata by the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, as staged by Sofia Coppola with costumes by Valentino Garavani.
- July 17th, Day 47: Homemade Cocktails. Raspberry Fizz and Cosmopolitan à la Becky, consumed on a sun-lit terrace off Hill Top Road.
- August 9th, Day 70: University Church Tower. Climbing to the top of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin and observing Oxford centre from above.