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Showing posts from 2019

Notes from Finland - Height of summer

There went the April showers and darling buds of May. I can't get over the fact how similar the plant life, and the seasons, are in Helsinki and in Sheffield. It just shows how 'Finland' for me has meant ' North Karelia ' or possibly 'Lapland' at a stretch. I roll my eyes when immigrants and visitors make assumptions about Britain; how they take one area or group of people to represent such a diverse country. And now I find myself doing just that about the place where I was born. Ilosaarirock 2019 Saturday about 24,000 people. We're on the train, on our way to spend a weekend in mummola,  aka my parents. And I get to go to Ilosaarirock . I don't want to make jokes about early onset dementia but for the life of me I can't remember whether I've been before. Only recently I insisted that I'd seen ZZ Top in Puistoblues but when I checked the dates I realised there was no way I could have been there. At least I'll keep some memorie

Notes from Finland - Contrasts

Change of seasons is one of those times when you get a crick in your neck trying to look back and ahead at the same time. Was it really three months ago we moved here and found ourselves shivering in the fenced-off area outside the residents' sauna, wrapped in our towels and looking up at the night sky lit in orange glow. Now it's daylight until 9pm and I've just bought two chairs for the balcony, and I even sat there this morning with a cup of coffee to keep me warm. About spring Compared with the suddenly vanishing snows and the green leaves that seem to appear overnight in eastern Finland, in England spring is a proper, long season. First I was really frustrated with it. There is no snow but nothing big seems to happen for ages, before the first crocuses come up. It took time to learn to enjoy the slow change, rather than the aggressive glare of spring sun reflecting off snow and the transformation that takes place in front of your eyes. Now I'm finding spring

Notes from Finland - Moving in

It's amazing how much stuff people have and how much they are ready to lend you, even without asking. I didn't really expect it as Helsinki people have made a virtue out of necessity and live in small spaces, like so many who want to live in city centres. As a result, and with many thanks, we've furnished a one-bedroom flat with minimum stuff, cost and hassle. Also very much thanks to mum, sister, brother-in-law and friends for lugging said stuff around. Early February I'm writing this on a passenger ferry to Suomenlinna, an 18th century army base, fortress and now UNESCO world heritage site. Tonight one of its halls will host a party of Scots and their Finnish friends and family . A Burn's supper with poetry and haggis. Really looking forward to it, and not just because I'm starving. We're rumbling along in the ice that covers Helsinki shorelines. My sister has just mused over a cup of coffee that this would be a good time to go walking on sea ice.

Notes from Finland - First impressions

And here I am, in a commuter train, looking at the snow falling on rooftops and birch branches. Learning to use my new phone with freezing fingers. In Helsinki, on my way to a new job. First impressions I usually stay in Finland for around six weeks every year with friends and family. But now we have a flat in the suburbs of Helsinki and are straddling two countries. For me, it's back to Finland for real after twenty years. Living here makes you look at things in a different light. Like noticing how twenty below zero doesn't stop people from wearing fake leather trousers, long sparkly nails or cowboy boots. And after a long search I remember snowboots are sold on a different aisle in the supermarket, not where they have normal shoes. But most importantly, air in our flat is so dry our clothes are ready to wear in a few hours after washing. Even after taking a shower there's no condensation running down the windows. And the radiators are not even warm! I don't know