#7 Englishman In Estonia – The Midnight Sky

Perhaps it’s normal to view clear, star-filled skies in the countryside, but having grown up in London, this was not a common site for me. Considering the abundance of pollution in major cities, it is not surprising that this is the case. That being said, there were a few occasions when I would see a few stars in the night sky. Even during the view instances whereby I visited locations in the countryside outside of London such as Devon, it was rare to see many stars.

Given that context, it might make sense as to why I was so enamored the first time I saw a clear midnight sky in Estonia. It was during one of my first visits to the island of ”Saaremaa” – an island of the coast of the Estonian mainland. It was the middle of summer about two years ago, I looked up at the night’s sky and saw a beautiful, mass of stars everywhere that my eyes could see.

Fast forward two years and even tonight I was greeted with the same view. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen shooting stars whilst being here. I grew up with the belief that this was a rare occurrence in life, and that you’re lucky to even see one during your lifetime, I’ve seen at least four in Estonia!

– Christian Reeve

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#6 Englishman In Estonia – Time Distortion

There’s this expression I’ve heard all my life that goes something like ”Time flies when you’re having fun”. I think that there is definitely an element of truth to this. For some unbeknownst reason to me, time seems to fly by whenever I’m in Estonia.

Whether I’m working on a farm or visiting cities such as Tallinn and Tartu, wherever I go and whatever I do, time seems to disappear. I looked up this phenomenon and it turns out that it’s referred to as ‘Time Compression’, i.e. the slowing down of time.

I think it might also have something to do with the limited daylight there seems to be here. Ever since the clocks went back there seems to be around 5 hours of daylight before it suddenly becomes pitch black.

All in all, I am still very confused about the phenomenon. I’ve worked plenty of jobs in England where I would work a 15 hour work day and it would literally seem like forever. Even on good days, where everything goes smoothly and it would be enjoyable, time would actually expand (i.e. Time Expansion) and go much slower.

However, I have found that on days when I literally do nothing here, the time seems to disappear. Do Estonians feel this phenomenon?, or is this just from my own personal experience?

– Christian Reeve

#5 Englishman In Estonia – Sauna!

Until I had visited Estonia for the first time 2 years ago, I had never been to a sauna. In England, sauna is something very different. It is fundamentally the same thing, and it serves the same purpose, but it lacks the ‘experience’ that the Estonian one does.

I understand that neighbouring countries such as Russia and Finland also practice sauna as a tradition/ritualistic activity of sorts, but in the UK my experience of it is that it is a means to an end (i.e. it is only featured in gyms or spa treatment centers as a brief, perhaps 30 minute activity after your main activity).

To explain what it felt like the first time going to sauna is hard, but it was pretty incredible to say the least. I was in a village situated in southeastern Estonia, bordering with Russia. It was a traditional sauna and it looked like this:

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Here’s some other cool photos I took while there…..

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*Incredibly, this is a common site around the Estonian/Russian border in this area!*

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*Estonian/Russian border*

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As I mentioned before, sauna in Estonia is an ‘experience’ and it is truly something I look forward to. I don’t know if it is exclusive to all Estonians, but I have understood that Laupäev (Saturday) is typically regarded as sauna day (although I have seen and experienced exceptions to this). Sauna in my experience tends to follow an order, whereby women will go in first and then then the men (again, just from my experience).

We tend to drink Õlu (Beer) before going in for the first time (usually A Le Coq which is a very good beer), then we sit in the sauna for around 30 minutes, exit and take a very brief shower, drink more beer, go outside (it’s an amazing feeling, especially in winter because you are extremely hot, and yet it is freezing outside!), and then we return for a second and perhaps third session, before finally taking a full shower.

Sauna

*An example of a Sauna*

There is also a ritual that sometimes occurs whereby you use a selection of wet birch, this is called ‘Viht’ and estonians practice ‘Vilhelmine’ (beating) of it against the skin, which I am told helps with blood circulation and is used to massage.

I am still getting used to it after all this time, as it tends to hurt a lot when you get to around 80/90 degrees fahrenheit, it especially hurts my eyes. It’s a great feeling afterwards though. You feel refreshed, clean and relaxed. Sauna is very good for you and I would recommend it to anyone who visits Estonia.

#4 Englishman In Estonia – Kohvi!

Coffee in Estonia appears to be very important. You’ll find many coffee shops and restaurants that offer high quality coffee. Whilst there exist an abundance of chain restaurants and coffee shops such as Reval Cafe, you’ll also find a high quantity of independent providers – something that is not easy to come by in England in my experience. Having grown up in London, I have found that international brands such as Starbucks, Costa, Cafe Nero and Pret A Manger have largely dominated the coffee market. I am not a big fan of these brands myself, as I find that their coffee is not of the high quality I have come to expect in Europe and Estonia. That’s not to say that you cannot find good quality coffee or premium coffee providers in England, but I have found that they tend to be more prevalent outside of London.

The coffee I just paid for is €3, which is around £2.60 (this is approximate as the exchange rate between Pound Stirling and the Euro fluctuates quite often).

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*I bought this particular coffee from ‘Mademoiselle’ which is on the third floor of the ‘Solaris’ shopping centre in Tallinn (just go through the bookshop and you’ll find it at the back). Their coffee is excellent.*

This would be considered a large coffee size in England, and would cost you somewhere in the region of £4-£5 in many places within London. Cost is something I will comment on frequently within this blog, as I’ve come to find that Estonian pricing is considerably more reasonable in comparison with the UK.

One thing I love about Estonian coffee shops is the atmosphere and interiors. Estonians put a lot of effort into making them feel homely and comfortable (A good example of this is Kehrwieder in Tallinn!). I feel relaxed and at ease every time I frequent them. I do not enjoy the experience in England as much because I often feel rushed, as though I should finish my coffee as soon as possible and leave. I have never experienced this feeling in Estonia.

Another cool feature that coffee shops here have is the extensive additions you can have with your coffee. Expect to see varied selections of liqueurs, spirits and syrups – additions that tend to be reserved for specialist coffee shops in the UK.

At home in Estonia we tend to drink coffee such as ‘Gurmans’ or ‘Paulig’ in terms of personal preference. I particularly like the taste of Gurmans, however, there are literally hundreds of different types to try!

 

In England I tend to drink Lavazza and Illy (which you can also find in Estonia!). All in all, I could discuss coffee in Estonia all day, but I believe the best thing to state here is that wherever you go in Estonia, you’ll certainly find good coffee!

– Christian Reeve

#3 Englishman In Estonia – Miljardid Ja Marten Kuningas

I felt compelled to write this brief blog post having just come back from a free concert courtesy of Miljardid at Vikerraadio in Tallinn. I was introduced to the music of Marten Kuningas back in 2015 when I first visited Estonia via my partner. I fell in love with his music quite rapidly.

I was lucky enough to hear the debut album of Miljardid (his new band) in its entirety, along with one of my favourite songs from his older material ”Tagurpidi Vaal”.

On the way home I was discussing with my partner why we both love his music. The main things that came up were the general chilled out, innovative style his band has, the impressive, technical abilities of the band, the awesome chemistry the band members appear to have between eachother, and finally, the beauty of the Estonian language being sung in this band.

We agreed that it’s better when Estonian musicians sing in Estonian as opposed to English, as it always fits the music better, and there are many things you can do with the Estonian language that you cannot do with the English language from a musical perspective.

Tänan väga Miljardid, järgmise korrani!

– Christian Reeve

#2 Englishman in Estonia – Sünnipäevasalat

One of the most amazing things about Estonia has to be its food. Every time I come here it’s like being at a party, in so much as, there are so many tasty, disparate foods to consume. I figured that I would start with my absolute favorite food ”Sünnipäevasalat” which translates as ”Birthday Salad” in English. My girlfriend always mocks me for my apparent fascination with this food, on the basis of it being very easy to make and essentially being a simple food. For me, there is something special about this salad. We don’t have this salad in England. The closest thing would probably be ”Potato salad” which is very basic and does not taste anything like Sünnipäevasalat. Sünnipäevasalat is simply delicious and very addictive for me.

Personally I feel that homemade Sünnipäevasalat is better than store-bought. Every time I’ve purchased it from a store I’ve noticed a significant difference in terms of the quality and taste. This does not surprise me at all, as this is also the case in England with the majority of foods that are store-made.

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*An example of homemade Sünnipäevasalat*

For those wanting to make it here is the recipe:

  • Potato
  • Sour cream
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Estonian sausage (e.g. Lastevorst)
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*An example of store bought Sünnipäevasalat from Estonian supermarket ‘Selver‘*

The type of sausages that we make and consume in England are not available in Estonia, and likewise, Estonian sausages such as ‘Lastevorst’ are not available in England, so there will be a difference in taste on this basis, as well as, the fact that ingredients in England differ greatly from Estonian in terms of taste.

 

Sünnipäevasalat comes in all forms. For instance it is available in sandwiches or just the salad on its own. I tend to eat the salad on its own, although I always end up consuming far too much. I also tend to eat it with either Mustleib (black bread) or Sepik (I will expand on Estonian types of bread in a future blog post).

I sincerely implore you to try it if you are in Estonia, or make it at home – you won’t regret it!.

– Christian Reeve

#1 Englishman in Estonia – Introduction

The following blog will be dedicated to my experiences and opinions on the country of Estonia. I have been visiting Estonia on various occasions for over two years, and now I am currently living and working here. My perspective is continually changing as a result, and I wanted to document the things that I love, that intrigue me and to compare the significant differences between Estonia & England.

My Poetry Ebooks & update

Hi guys, I just wanted to update you on my current situation and news regarding my current projects. First thing first, I graduated from university with a management with marketing degree, and here’s the proof…..

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Here I am shaking the principal’s hand. I was very nervous, and his large hands didn’t help with that. It was a fun day and I felt very grateful, lucky and generally happy.

In other news, I have opted to make my poetry free for viewing and downloads in order to make my work accessible to everyone. I figured it would be better to make my work free and let people decide if they want to support it, rather than having to pay to read what may or may not be worth reading. I have posted the link further down in this blog.

If you like what I write and want to support me you can do so by donating via this link: https://www.paypal.me/ChristianReeve

Click here to download my Ebooks for free!: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B0sL5b95czNIOGtiSUxlbC1jWkk 

– Christian Reeve

Scamming the Scammers #7: Not scammers?

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I didn’t reply to the email below, this was the final correspondence I had with the ‘scammers’. I didn’t figure out for sure if they were scammers or employees working for Amazon KDP, however, the email below seems to be fairly conclusive. I’ll leave it up to all of you to decide. In any case, if it is actually Amazon, perhaps this will serve as a lesson to them to not spam customers with mass emails if they not entirely sure as to whether or not they will be relevant. In this instance, they were not. I have never published anything with Amazon Kindle, and while I do have an account, I have never used it.

This was fun and I hope you all gained some enjoyment from it, as well as, the previous emails I have received from actual scam artists. We may return to this series in the future if I do receive any spam email that manages to infiltrate my email. However, just like ‘Grappler’s Choice’, this series will be on indefinite hiatus.

I am not sure what is next for this blog, or if anyone actually reads it all (do people even read blogs anymore?) but I will continue to post entries here and there if anything interesting in my life is worth writing about.

Thanks for reading

– Christian Reeve


Hello Tyrian,

I appreciate you getting back to us.

You are speaking with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). A division of Amazon. We provide a platform for authors and publishers alike, to make their work accessible to the world.

In most cases, our members contact us from their account or from an email address associated with their account. If they do either of the two, we can then see exactly what is going on and whether or not they have books published. Now, because you have contacted us from an unknown source, our systems cannot verify who you and therefore, renders no results hence the reason for us asking you to provide us with your account information.

Furthermore, the email you received about Singapore tax withholding information was a mass email which we sent to all who possess an account with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). This email was to let you know that “IF” you are considering publishing a book and making it available within our Amazon Indian Marketplace, that you will incur a 10% withholding rate on any royalties you make for books sold there.

I assure you that we are who we say we are Tyrian.

If you have any further questions, let us know.

I wish you a good day further.

………………………………………………………
Did I solve your problem?

If yes, please click here:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/survey?p=A3MWV7357RALQG&k=hy

If no, please click here:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/survey?p=A3MWV7357RALQG&k=hn


 

Scamming the Scammers #6: The Big Reveal!

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Ok, so I’m quite confused as to what these people actually want. I decided to just keep making this as ridiculous as possible. This time, we’ve exposed the truth to the scammers, hoping that they might do the same….


Scammers:

Hello Tyrian,

Greetings from Kindle Direct Publishing. This is Azara – a Senior Support Specialist here at KDP.

In your email you state that this (christianreeve93@gmail.com) is the account where your title has been published and where royalties are being accrued. However, when searching our systems, I was not able to locate any account under this email address.

I then also searched our systems by your name Tyrian Williamson, which rendered no results as well. For this reason, we have been requesting that you resend your inquiry from the email address associated with your KDP account.

For us to better assist you, are you able to provide an ASIN for your title? Or any other information that could help us locate your account?

I’m so sorry for the trouble this has caused and sincerely appreciate your time and assistance in this matter.

Regards,

Azara A.
Kindle Direct Publishing
http://kdp.amazon.com


My Response:

To Azara, Shiv, Ganesh M, Azar A, Athens R, Chunky and Waseem.

It would seem at this point that I could send you anything and you would
only read and respond to 5% of it.
Alas,tis true. Tyrian is my writing name. The account you seek 
does exist, though I have not published anything under it.
Yes, I am exposing myself. But since we’re getting everything out in the open,
why don’t you tell me who you really are? Because I know for a fact that I am not corresponding with Amazon, for they would know that I have not published anything, and would have my records and be able to successfully locate my email.
Additionally, they would know that I did not express any interest in ‘making my content available’ in Singapore.
So, who are you guys then?
Regards,
Big T