Elizabeth Chats With… Tarja Moles

[My guest this month is an author, a publisher and the nicest Finn I know. I first met her in person at Swanwick Summer School a couple of years back, but felt I already knew her through reading her column in Writing Magazine. This month I am delighted to be chatting with Tarja Moles.] 
Hello Tarja, thanks for dropping by. Can you start by telling me about your earliest memory — and how old were you at the time?
Being in our steaming hot sauna (that’s what the Finns do every Saturday evening), being up to my neck in a huge blue bucket full of ice cold water (I hadn’t learned to tolerate the heat yet), playing with my favourite gorilla figurine. I must have been under three. Ah yes, the sauna in the forest; that brings back memories for me too, although mine are in Russia, not Finland.
What was your favourite subject at school — and which was the lesson you always wanted to avoid?
I loved the crafts/textiles classes and hated PE – except ice skating and gymnastics. I was bad at competitive sports and was always the second to last in cross-country skiing competitions.
If you had to escape from a fire, what three things would you take with you?
We actually had a fire on Christmas night when I was 17. Mum woke up at about 4am and wondered what the flashing orange lights in the living room were. Our neighbours had been careless with an outdoor candle and because of the wind direction it was our home that got most burnt. There was no time to grab three things. We just took our cat and fled.
Talking about yourself, how would you finish the sentence “not a lot of people know…”?
…that I have driven a 54-seater bus from Europe to India. Now that’s something we must talk about next time we get together. I used to drive a fork-lift truck – but a bus sounds much more fun.
Where is your favourite place on earth — and why?
A summer cottage by a lake in Eastern Finland. What’s not to like: tranquillity, natural beauty, alternating between going to the sauna and swimming in the lake, frying sausages in an open fire, listening to cuckoos on a midsummer’s night when the sun hardly sets. (Admittedly, mosquitoes can be a bit of a nuisance…). I’ve seen the Gulf of Finland from the other shore; the scenery certainly is stunning.

Describe your ideal menu
A buffet of different kinds of ice creams followed by a variety of salt liquorice. The only problem is: I can’t eat sugar (or gluten)… I have a sweet tooth and because of this I started developing sweet treats without the naughty ingredients.  If anyone fancies having a go at this wonderful instant mango ice-cream or similar sweet treats, check out the No Naughties website.

If you could take part in one television programme, which one would it be?

Dancing on Ice. I love ice skating and I used to spend hours on the outdoor ice rink after school when I was a kid. I still have my skates but haven’t been skating for years.

Can you show us a picture or a photo that best represents you, and tell us why
I love animals and I love riding. I always have a big grin on my face whenever we go the stables. This photo’s been taken at Cholwell Riding Stables in Mary Tavy (Dartmoor) and the adorable dog is called Cherry (I’m always tempted to put her my pocket and take her home with me…)
What would you have printed on the front of your T-shirt?
Eat. Sleep. Write. Ride.
Thank you Tarja for sharing your thoughts and memories with us.

Tarja Moles is the creator of No Naughties® recipe books, the author of The Xenophobe’s® Guide to the Finns and she writes the ‘Research tips for writers’ column for Writing Magazine. Find out more on Tarja’s website.
By Elizabeth Ducie

Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.

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