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Christmas Tree Hunting

The one thing Finland has is trees. Everywhere. You can't see most of the country for them. So I thought it would be no problem to find a cheap christmas tree here. No chance. For some reason, which I'm unable to understand, they're importing Christmas trees and charging €30 for them, and naturally I wasn't going to spend that on a tree in a country which has them everywhere.

I've always been against cutting down a tree just to use it as a Christmas decoration and watch it die, and Carita advised me that picking your own Christmas tree in Finland seems to be one of the worst crimes you can commit in the country with a €300 fine, so I was now against chopping one more than ever. As so often happens though, we didn't have to hunt very far. We were on a bus passing a wood when we spotted some trees cut down quite close to the road. It was cold, dark and icy, but we got off the bus and went to investigate. Several huge pine trees had been felled, the tops cut off them, and left lying, any of which would make a good Christmas tree in it's own right. We hunted around, falling over branches in the darkness, chose the smallest one we could find, and dragged it out to the road.

We were far from home, however, and our only hope of getting it back was to smuggle it onto a bus - easier said than done with a four metre (12 foot) Christmas tree covered in snow! People in passing cars were staring at us as we struggled, looking suspicious, towards the bus stop with it, and stood waiting for the bus to arrive. When it did, Carita stepped on whilst I blended into the foliage (easy as I was wearing a pine tree), and she asked the driver to open the back door of the bus as if she had a pram or something to take on. At this I ran on with the tree, squeezing it to fit inside, before the driver could voice her obvious objections and the passengers looked on shocked.

The tree took up half the bus, depositing snow from it's branches on the other passengers as I tried to hold it from falling on anyone. An old woman complained that young people should be more careful what they take onto buses (yeah, we normally carry a four metre pine tree around with us). No-one but us seemed particularly amused by what was obviously a bizarre spectacle as they looked on glumly - in fact Christmas spirit in Finland seems to come exclusively in bottles.

After the mission of getting it home, we arrived back at the flat to find that we'd wildly overestimated the height of our ceiling and my Swiss Army knife saw was called into service to hack over a metre off the trunk. This it did surprisingly well, giving me renewed confidence in my Robinson Crusoe hut building abilities, while the dog looked on confused. Shortly afterwards we had a lovely, decorated tree stretching up to the ceiling.

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