Swings and Roundabouts

I am tired.

I’ve been staring at this computer screen for several days, in an attempt to find work of some description online. I’ve also been climbing towers, exploring old buildings, walking the streets, going out for weird and wonderful meals, visiting torture chambers and attending the opening ceremony of the Vanalinna Päevad. It’s all very well, this travelling thing, but I seem to be crashing and burning. Energy levels are at an all-time low, and it’s really warm, to top it all off.

Anyway. Thankfully, Tallinn is a friendly, helpful sort of place, filled with lots of useful little things that are designed to make life easier and a generally more pleasant experience. Like in the supermarket, for example. Don’t you just hate it when the cashier fires everything through at lightning speed, and is ready to move on to the next customer while you’re still frantically trying to pack everything? It makes me nervous, and I end up throwing everything into bags in no particular order, flustered, as both cashier and next customer watch me silently and impatiently. Not so in the local Rimi supermarket! Here, they have a diagonal divider sort of thing, which is simply pushed across to split the conveyor belt in half, allowing you to pack at your own speed as the cashier moves on to the next customer. Their groceries come out at the right, yours remain separate on the left. When you’ve finished, the cashier will simply slide the divider across and repeat the process to keep the line moving. So simple! And yet so impressive.

What was I saying before I became irrationally enthusiastic about Estonian supermarket conveyor belts? Yes, I’m tired. In fact, after clambering up and down the spiral stone staircases in the towers of the Old Town the other day, aided only by a rope, I was near the point of collapse. How lovely is it, then, that Tallinn sees fit to have little relaxing park areas with not only benches and summer seats, but actual built-in sun loungers?! Perfect. I recuperated in the sunshine for a while, and then wandered over to take a look at an odd playground game I’d seen some small children playing. It was nothing more than some large wheels mounted at just below knee-height. The idea seems to be that you balance on them and run across them as they move under your feet. Ha. I climbed on to one in the name of experimentation. I am not exactly renowned for my balancing skills; obviously my decision was accompanied by a lot of shrieking, wobbling and flailing of arms.

I was a little embarrassed to realise that not only was I being observed by a group of local studenty-types, but that one of them was taking photographs of my undignified performance with a very professional-looking camera. I paused, distracted, to point this out to Riho. “Maybe he’s collecting material for his blog,” suggested Riho wryly. I realised that I couldn’t really complain, and was about to return to my determined balancing efforts when one of the guys took a flying leap on to my wheel and babbled something unintelligible at me. I looked blankly at him before falling off quite suddenly. He made a gesture, and I understood that I was to get back on to the Wheel Of Death. “Plizz,” he added, nodding seriously. I looked nervously at Riho. “He’s playing the game with you,” explained Riho, who seemed to be finding the whole thing quite amusing. “You both run around on the wheel and try to make the other one lose their balance.”

Bravely, I got back on to the wheel. The guy looked confidently at me. I fell off.

It’s not really my type of game, anyway.


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