Aagh, I’ve been so busy with everything that I haven’t had the time to write anything down here! So get ready: this is going to be a long post.
Last time I wrote here I was going to see Modern Life Is War in London, so let’s start with that one. To put it short, their show was amazing. It’s weird to see how emotionally attached you can get to a certain band, or a certain album of a band, and Witness is one of those albums for me. You see, when I was sixteen and still living in Joutsa all I could think about was getting old enough to get out of there. To go somewhere where I can meet people who share my interests and world views which were highly tied in punk rock and skateboarding. Then I turned 18, graduated from high school, moved to Jyväskylä and things started to happen. This band’s music was my soundtrack during those teenage years when all I could do was wait. That night I got to see them for the first time and man, that sixteen-year-old kid inside me was so happy. Back then, I could only dream of getting on top of a sweaty pile-on and scream some lines of First & Ellen on the mic with Jeffrey, the band’s singer. That night I actually did.
The bill also included GWLT (which I didn’t get to see since I arrived to the venue after they had already finished their set), Miles Away from Australia, Touche Amore and Gorilla Biscuits, which was the actual headlining act. Miles Away was a new thing to me, but they seemed to have some sort of a following in the UK – or then the guys who were moshing and singing along came all the way from Australia with them. Touche Amore was better than I expected and it was kinda cool to see Gorilla Biscuits since they’re a legendary band and so on, but still, it was all about MLIW for me. I also had to leave the venue a bit early during GB’s set because I had a bus to catch, but I didn’t mind. I had to sit 5 hours in a bus and got back to my bed in Preston around 6AM in the morning, but didn’t mind that either. I knew that energy I got from the show would help me get through the next few weeks just fine.
The day after my trip to London I woke up and saw that the sun was up for the first time in ages. I had been collecting used skateboard parts from the local skaters for a couple of weeks and decided to just buy the last remaining parts from the local skateshop and GO SKATE, because the weather was just too nice to spend it indoors. I went to a parking lot to get acquainted with my “new” board and after a few minutes I started to get the feel of it and did some kickflips, ollies and stalls to the curbs. I just couldn’t stop smiling. After that day I have been skateboarding nearly every day.
The Moor skatepark is located next to Preston’s football stadium and it takes me about 10-15 minutes to get there from my house. The locals were very welcoming from the beginning: the minute they saw me, a new face, they came to say hi and introduced themselves. I started going to the park pretty much on a daily basis: whenever it was dry outside, I was there. During those trips to the skatepark I started to get to know more people and eventually became friends with most of them. We started to exchange numbers and after that messages and phone calls. They invited me over to their homes, to join them for some pints if they were going to a pub, and so on. I even went out on a skate trip to Wales with the guys who were skating for the shop! I felt very welcomed from the get-go and after some weeks I was no longer “that guy who’s visiting from Finland” – I was one of their boys. Skateboarding is a wonderful thing and the way it brings people together is just amazing!
A week or two after London I took a trip to Cardiff, which is located in Southern Wales. Ever since that first day of sun the weather had been quite nice in Preston and it was even nicer in Cardiff. The city and the bay area around it looked beautiful with the sunny weather and since I was traveling alone, I could do everything at the pace that I wanted and take my time where I wanted. The reason for my trip there was to get tattooed by George Bolton, who I had been following on Instagram for some time before I even knew I was going to do this exchange here. When the exchange got confirmed, I knew I had to go and get something done by him, so I contacted him via email and we sorted it out. He works in a parlour called Two Rivers Tattoo, which is located in Penarth, a town on the other side of Cardiff Bay. Took me 15 minutes to get there by bus from the city. A nice little studio with nice people. I think I spent around 3 hours there, getting tattooed by George and chatting with him and the shop’s apprentice Louis about hardcore punk, England and Finland. Fun times! Thanks to them I now have a nice memento from my time here in the UK. If I ever have a chance to get tattooed by him again, I probably will.
After we were finished with the tattoos I went for a walk around Penarth. The town has been built on top of a hill and the view to Cardiff from there is pretty nice. Penarth also has a huge pier where people go to have ice cream, or coffee. I bet it’s very nice during summer time, when the sea gets closer. Because spring was just starting, it was still quite far away from the shore. Penarth also has a beautiful park area with some oriental trees and parakeet birds. Walking there convinced me that spring had finally arrived to the UK.
Back in Cardiff I went to see what the city looks like and ate some ramen for a late lunch / early dinner. The place where I ate was quite nice: kind of like Subway, but instead of sandwiches they did different dishes of ramen. Very quick, very cheap. Then I went back to my hostel to rest a bit since I had been walking the whole day and my leg was starting to get sore because of the fresh tattoo. Spent some hours there watching Netflix and then I went to have some drinks with Louis from Two Rivers. He took me to this one local club where a friend of his was DJ’ing for the night. The name of the game was hip hop and that was more than okay with me. It was a fun night!
The next day I woke up early and went to see Cardiff Castle. I took a house tour where we got to go inside the castle and got some information about the people who used to live there during different time periods. It was very interesting! And, like I said before, I was there by myself so I didn’t have to worry about anyone else’s timetables or anything like that. Usually, when you go to museums or art galleries with friends you don’t really have the time to read the infos or let the art sink in because the others are already rushing to the next room – but now I did. I must have spent nearly six hours in the Castle grounds and I’m sure I could’ve spent at least an hour or two more if I didn’t have a train to catch later that day.
Because Cardiff’s been built next to the sea and around a bay, it offers water buses as a way of public transportation. I had to try it out, so I took one from the castle to Cardiff Bay, where I enjoyed the sun and ate some food before I had to head back to Preston.
So, spring had arrived! I spent the latter part of March mostly at the skate park and around Preston with my new friends I had met at the park. Along came April with deadlines for my essays and, yes, a few more trips. I went to London thrice that month: first to meet a friend who was visiting there from Finland, then to see Converge Blood Moon (which was mindblowingly good), then back to pick up another friend who came to visit me for a week. Before I knew it, my time in the UK had nearly come to its end. This spring was indeed long, but it was also one of the fastest ones I’ve had in a long time. I haven’t had this much time for skateboarding in years. Time flies when you’re having fun!
Here’s a clip of my friend Samuel that I shot of him when we were skating in London with him and one song from that Blood Moon set Converge did. That version of “Last Light” still gives me the chills.
I know that next year when I’m still surrounded by snow and darkness in March, I’m gonna miss this: the long spring of England.