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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 memories of this year with this blog.

Right now we're crossing a narrow strip of land between the lakes near Simpele. It's still, and the water and the sky are almost the same colour, alternating between slate grey and a brighter blue. Sun is attempting to break through the clouds and even succeeding now and again. It's the lushest time of the year, and the woods create an impenetrable dark green wall next to the tracks.

Glum thoughts

At Kesälahti station we pass a long line of open carriages packed with narrow lengths of timber. Soon after there is a large clearing on the right, already dotted with the pink flower heads of fireweed, or willowherb. The way I was brought up, these signs of forestry and managed woodland are a sign of prosperity and an industry that feeds people whom I care about. And not just industry as in the pulp factories ('money smells,' they say around here) but industry meaning people who are ready to invest their money and have the energy and knowledge to manage stuff, whether factories, farms, woods or tourism. Because the closer you get to the eastern border in the Pielinen Karelia, the less certain it becomes that there will be enough people in the first place, let alone those who have the resolve to keep the economy going.
Willowherb, bilberry, lingonberry, pine and birch.

Sorry about this burst of glumness. I've read about two reports, one about the pulp factories being a silly way of using Finnish timber because much of the raw material is burned during the production process, cue carbon footprint - and we still cut down too many trees, and woods could be managed in a way that improves biodiversity. The other is Joseph Rowntree Foundation's report on the 'left-behind' areas in the UK which just happen to be our neighbouring communities. People there want things that should be simple, like jobs that are not zero-hour contracts or a bit of extra training, but no, can't do. In the sparsely populated areas in Finland, loss of industry has caused many people, like me, to move away and the population has aged, but I truly hope that there is enough will and determination not to let it get as bad as in some areas in the UK. And that the same will and determination will get things going in the North of England.

Less glum thoughts

Anyway. It's July, and I have a week of holidays coming up and there is much to look forward to. The first summer months have passed in a flurry of action which explains the long break in blogging. Here are a few photos. I'll post more later, they are all downloading from the cloud.

 Kids made guitars at Puistoblues in June.
We hired a car and visited Western Uusimaa. Residents' sauna and the river for swimming in Ansku in early July.
In Hanko, a historic spa and resort town on the south coast. Somebody called this the English Villa in French.
  Ship in the church in Hanko.
Hanko Water Tower. Talk about a landmark.


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