Finland

TEN THINGS ABOUT FINLAND

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  1. Helsinki is the same, the environs are not. Huge amounts of development to the point that I did not know my way.
  2. It almost appears all waiters have been made redundant. Now you have to order your food at the till, pay, wait, and then go to pick it up when ready.
  3. Groceries are cheap.
  4. Some things, like transit and haircuts, are definitely not cheap.
  5. There are two new public saunas in Helsinki. That is very cool.
  6. Banks have become absurd. Many don't handle cash anymore, and you have to make an appointment to even get into the branch - the doors are locked.
  7. There are several things you need to take care of by telephone through paying calls. Eur 2.99 / min 'press nine if you have a question about this'  tic tic tic...
  8. Finnish horses are as lovely as any others.
  9. I tried a stand up paddle board. It was awesome fun.
  10. Finnish summer is soooo beautiful.

 

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BIRTHDAY GAMES

This post documents some of the fun games we played at Pappa Anssi's cottage on Lili's birthday. We had made some of the games ourselves! It was a little rainy so we played some of them on the porch.

 

Lili throwing balls into a basket on the chair. Lauri brought his friend Miko to visit and he joined in as well.

Lili throwing balls into a basket on the chair. Lauri brought his friend Miko to visit and he joined in as well.

Pappa Anssi tossing beads into a cat's eye. This was the game that decided the finals, first with an amazing score from Kirsti and then followed by Pappa Anssi in the bonus round.

Pappa Anssi tossing beads into a cat's eye. This was the game that decided the finals, first with an amazing score from Kirsti and then followed by Pappa Anssi in the bonus round.

This: almost!

This: almost!

Lauri in action with ring toss.  This was not at all as easy as it looks...

Lauri in action with ring toss.  This was not at all as easy as it looks...

The stake was a poker stuck through the floorboards. It was quite low, so bouncing forfeited some hits...

The stake was a poker stuck through the floorboards. It was quite low, so bouncing forfeited some hits...

After the rain shower passed, we were also able to play darts and Mölkky! Dante has promised to make us a Mölkky set in Canada.

After the rain shower passed, we were also able to play darts and Mölkky! Dante has promised to make us a Mölkky set in Canada.

The grand prize was a hug with Hali, and everyone got a turn... 

The grand prize was a hug with Hali, and everyone got a turn... 

Happy Birthday!!! 

Happy Birthday!!! 

Thank you for a wonderful day Pappa Anssi and Kirsti! 

Thank you for a wonderful day Pappa Anssi and Kirsti! 

HVITTRÄSK WITH NONNA MIA

We had a really nice outing to Hvitträsk with Nonna Mia. For those who are not familiar with it, Hvitträsk is the home of architects Gesellius, Lindgren and Saarinen from 1903, now longe since preserved as a museum. 

 

 

Lili burst into laughter when her plate came: she said 'I got a plate of chips with a tiny bit of salmon'. 

Lili burst into laughter when her plate came: she said 'I got a plate of chips with a tiny bit of salmon'. 

The dessert was impeccable. 

The dessert was impeccable. 

Lili demonstrating the use of the famous 'Whiskey Rings'. 

Lili demonstrating the use of the famous 'Whiskey Rings'. 

Great views from the top floor. 

Great views from the top floor. 

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In the studio! The daylighting was awesome - this was an overcast day.

In the studio! The daylighting was awesome - this was an overcast day.

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In the fireplace room.  

In the fireplace room.  

A pillow from the 'Rose' design by Saarinen in the upstairs garden room. 

A pillow from the 'Rose' design by Saarinen in the upstairs garden room. 

Thank you for treating us to wonderful day Nonna Mia! xxx

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THANK YOU ALASPÄÄN RATSASTUSKESKUS

Today was Lili's last riding lesson in Finland. We have had a great time at Alaspään Ratsastuskeskus in Hämeenlinna, whose owner Terhi has been very gracious in fitting Lili into their classes. Here are some images.

Lili on Eetu, a beautiful 23 yo gelding from Estonia. 

Lili on Eetu, a beautiful 23 yo gelding from Estonia. 

Lili at first jumping class (in white pants in the front). 

Lili at first jumping class (in white pants in the front). 

Lili and Miku. Miku was the first horse Lili jumped with in Finland. Miku is a strong character and also taught Lili something completely new: how it feels to fall off a horse! Emmi was coaching Lili at the indoor class.

Lili and Miku. Miku was the first horse Lili jumped with in Finland. Miku is a strong character and also taught Lili something completely new: how it feels to fall off a horse! Emmi was coaching Lili at the indoor class.

Lili on Guni on what ended up being a private jumping class. Jump! Jump!

Lili on Guni on what ended up being a private jumping class. Jump! Jump!

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Coach Siiri in the front, and Lili leading Guni out after the class. 

Coach Siiri in the front, and Lili leading Guni out after the class. 

Thank you for everything Terhi! Until we meet again! 

Thank you for everything Terhi! Until we meet again! 

OOOOH NANNY STATE!

Many people in Canada like to complain about government interference in private life and individual choices. The term for this is 'Nanny State'.

It sure can be annoying, and I have had my moments of frustration too. But often I smile, because I think that Canada is nothing compared to Finland where people actually drive the speed limit on an empty road in the middle of the night and do what the law says 'because the law says so'. 

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So we have had haircuts in Finland - just regular maintenance kind of stuff and a courtesy to friends otherwise exposed to our overly dishevelled traveller personas. I even had some highlights in my hair in a fit of middle age elegance-seeking. 

Next was that I promised Lili that she can have a blue streak in her hair - just for fun, or to celebrate Finland's 100 year of independence or because she is turning nine which of course is a major milestone. Or just because. Yes. 

I went online and booked an appointment for Lili's blue streak and Dante's trim and we happily piled into the salon the next morning.

The stylist stood behind the counter looking constipated. The boss was standing next to her looking like their dog was sick. Really sick.  Something uncomfortable was going on. 

Errrr... what is it?  

Tarja our stylist very embarrassedly started to apologize and say she is really sorry she did not mention this when I was in for my highlights but there actually is A LAW in Finland that states that 'no one shall colour the hair of a person under sixteen years of age'.

After about ten seconds of awkward double take, I think I burst out in incredulous laughter which of course was very insensitive to Lili's expectation of her blue streak. However, Lili is proving to be very mature in handling disappointment so we just sat down and watched Tarja give Dante a cool short summer style.

To close, I am attaching a lovely picture of our good friend Margo from Vancouver, which can serve  to demonstrate how other ways of thinking can not only be more respectful of people's ability to make choices for themselves, but also bring joy and beauty.

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BOATS TO SWEDEN

We had a really interesting discussion with my Dad about the 'Sweden boats'. These are ferries that sail between Helsinki and Stockholm, every day, overnight. 

Ever since I was a child these boats represented something new and exciting. My Dad told me that the cruises started after the war, and the first ships were all Swedish (e.g. Svea-line). Currently the two big companies are Silja-Line and Viking Line. 

The epic dinner buffets on the 'Sweden boats' have served luxury and abundance to ordinary people from their inception. Many Finns tasted their first shrimp or fresh pineapple on the boats!

My abundant birthday dinner was enjoyed at the bow table on Viking Gabriella...   

My abundant birthday dinner was enjoyed at the bow table on Viking Gabriella...

 

Lili at the dessert buffet on the way back to Helsinki. Mamma Mia they even had a chocolate fountain! 

Lili at the dessert buffet on the way back to Helsinki. Mamma Mia they even had a chocolate fountain! 

 

The first ever ball pits were on the Sweden boats.    

The first ever ball pits were on the Sweden boats. 

 

Lili at the conclusion of the kids program Magic Show. She was a keen volunteer - no shoes required! 

Lili at the conclusion of the kids program Magic Show. She was a keen volunteer - no shoes required! 

This has to be the biggest draw of the boats - tax free shopping. Historically, people would go to a cruise just to be able to bring back 'a full load' of tax free alcohol and cigarettes. These days with EU the importing is completely different - you can bring a van full of wine if you want - but cosmetics, alcohol, sweets and cigarettes are still flying off the shelves. 

This has to be the biggest draw of the boats - tax free shopping. Historically, people would go to a cruise just to be able to bring back 'a full load' of tax free alcohol and cigarettes. These days with EU the importing is completely different - you can bring a van full of wine if you want - but cosmetics, alcohol, sweets and cigarettes are still flying off the shelves. 

One of the many gorgeous views during the cruise. This was at around 10 pm, approaching Åland Islands. 

One of the many gorgeous views during the cruise. This was at around 10 pm, approaching Åland Islands. 

Back in Helsinki in the summer sun. Our ferry is the red and white one at the top right of the picture.  

Back in Helsinki in the summer sun. Our ferry is the red and white one at the top right of the picture.  

ARCHITECTURE CLASS GET-TOGETHER

For anyone who doesn't know it already let me tell you: the A-85 class of the Helsinki University of Technology is the best. We had a little get-together in Helsinki and generally expecting a turn out of any decent size is close to hopeless after Midsummer, but my colleagues showed once again what our crowd is made of: sixteen people attended!

L to R: Arja, Ilkka, Pirjo, Anu, Minerva, Kimmo, Ifa, Laura, Severi, Minna, Jari, Anne and Tero.  Jussi, Mikko and Anna were still to come. 

L to R: Arja, Ilkka, Pirjo, Anu, Minerva, Kimmo, Ifa, Laura, Severi, Minna, Jari, Anne and Tero.  Jussi, Mikko and Anna were still to come. 

We went for dinner. I think the iPad was lighting this photo through a been lens even through people were actually drinking wine. Severi, Kimmo and me.

We went for dinner. I think the iPad was lighting this photo through a been lens even through people were actually drinking wine. Severi, Kimmo and me.

Jari, Minerva, Tero, Anna and Severi ready 'to continue'.... 

Jari, Minerva, Tero, Anna and Severi ready 'to continue'.... 

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Clink clink down goes the Jaegermeister. 

Clink clink down goes the Jaegermeister. 

At least four of us have taught architecture at university level, one of us is a full professor. Three have firms with over fifteen staff. One of us has had a child in four different decades, three of us have children under ten. Four of us are employed in the public sector and four of us work as staff in the private sector. Two are self employed doing contract work. Six of us have been divorced and one has been widowed. There is one MBA, and one PhD, with two more dissertations under way.

SUMMER COTTAGE FUN

Yum yum home made muffins! 

Yum yum home made muffins! 

You never know what you find in Finland. We went looking at horse stuff (what else) at a huge hardware store and we saw an enormous dog. Even Lili did not know the breed from before it is called a Leonberger.

 

The dog weighs 67 kilos! 

The dog weighs 67 kilos! 

I bought a dartboard for the cottage and a fierce competition ensued. 

I bought a dartboard for the cottage and a fierce competition ensued. 

Lili was officiating. 

Lili was officiating. 

Lots of darts went in the forest, but when some hit the board we took a picture! 

Lots of darts went in the forest, but when some hit the board we took a picture! 

Happy summer! 

Happy summer! 

TURENKI SCULPTURE YARD

This place is quite extraordinary. A retired metal shop entrepreneur and his wife have furnished their entire yard with home made sculptures, games and toys for children - and anyone who feels like a 'child-at-heart'. Visiting is always free, and the hosts Erkki and Marja even serve coffee, juice and snacks for anyone who is open to receiving their generosity.

We have driven past this place many times, but today with Severi and Puki with children Nemo and Vivi we actually called them ahead and asked if we could visit.

 

Lili got to ride in Severi's convertible.  Nemo and Vivi are waving in the back.

Lili got to ride in Severi's convertible.  Nemo and Vivi are waving in the back.

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Lili in her show jumping position. Erkki being playful next to her.

Lili in her show jumping position. Erkki being playful next to her.

We got served coffee, croissants, cookies, pop and Finnish ice cream! Erkki and Marja collect piggy banks and have 803 of the on display. They also have about 50 plates on the wall - all souvenirs of the 63 countries they have visited. 

We got served coffee, croissants, cookies, pop and Finnish ice cream! Erkki and Marja collect piggy banks and have 803 of the on display. They also have about 50 plates on the wall - all souvenirs of the 63 countries they have visited. 

King Severi, Queen Puki and Princess Vivi. 

King Severi, Queen Puki and Princess Vivi. 

King Dante I. 

King Dante I. 

ROCK ON! ROCK ON - this has to be one of my most favorite photos of all!   Thank you to Severi for the great shot. 

ROCK ON! ROCK ON - this has to be one of my most favorite photos of all!

Thank you to Severi for the great shot. 

HAPPY MIDSUMMER!

We are at my Dad's summer cottage in the middle of the forest spending Midsummer. It's awesome.  Far from the Madding Crowds...

We helped Pappa Anssi build an outhouse. The kit said it would take 1-3 hours to put together.... well it took us about 3 days! 

We helped Pappa Anssi build an outhouse. The kit said it would take 1-3 hours to put together.... well it took us about 3 days! 

Kirsti with a fresh flower garland. 

Kirsti with a fresh flower garland. 

I actually took this picture of our Midsummer Day lunch about ten minutes too early - later on we had not one but two salmon on the table!  

I actually took this picture of our Midsummer Day lunch about ten minutes too early - later on we had not one but two salmon on the table!  

FIRST TIME IN A RIDING ARENA

Lili had her first ever riding lesson in an arena yesterday. It was a great experience, but challenging for Lili as the instructor spoke zero English. (Uncommon, but still possible in Finland especially in the rural areas.) Tonight we will see another riding school.  Here are a couple of pictures from yesterday of Lili on  Ellu.

The terminology is not totally intuitive to pick up on the go - here is a taste: 

walk - käynti

trot - ravi

canter - juoksulaukka

Phew. Well done Lili! 

 

 

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RIIKKA TEIJA ELLU LAURA

This is a special group. We four girls have been friends since year one and two, in my and Riikka's case since beginning of elementary school. And that is close to fifty years ago! 

We always make a point of meeting when I am in Finland, and this time we met at Riikka's childhood home in Vapaaniemi. I love the building, and it is just so great to be able to go somewhere in Finland that is 'just like it was'.

 

Here we are. Two of us have adult children and two of us have kids under ten. We are all professional, happy and healthy. 

Here we are. Two of us have adult children and two of us have kids under ten. We are all professional, happy and healthy. 

Riikka in her Mom's atelier. The sculptures are so lovely. These days the space is also used by Tuomas, Riikka's brother - the canvases are his.

Riikka in her Mom's atelier. The sculptures are so lovely. These days the space is also used by Tuomas, Riikka's brother - the canvases are his.

I was so touched to see a photo of my family in Marjatta's office (in front of the green bottle).

I was so touched to see a photo of my family in Marjatta's office (in front of the green bottle).

Timeless portrait of Marjatta. She has now been in a care home since last December. 

Timeless portrait of Marjatta. She has now been in a care home since last December. 

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Thank you for a beautiful evening! 

Thank you for a beautiful evening! 

GRÄSA - IHANAA!

Kylläpäs oli ihanaa kaydä Gräsassa tapaamassa Heleenaa, joka on heidän verraton keramiikkaohjaaja. Me söimme yhdessä aamupalaa - teetä ja karjalanpiirakoita, ja sitten menimme tietenkin tekemään hieman savitöitä. 

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Siellä oli vielä pari minun tekemää kannuakin. 

Siellä oli vielä pari minun tekemää kannuakin. 

Lili ja Dante molemmat halusivat tehdä jotain... 

Lili ja Dante molemmat halusivat tehdä jotain... 

...ja Lili päätti tehdä ketun. Tämä oli Lilin aivan ensimmäinen kerta tehdä mitään savesta. 

...ja Lili päätti tehdä ketun. Tämä oli Lilin aivan ensimmäinen kerta tehdä mitään savesta. 

Danten työstä tuli venemäinen kermakko. 

Danten työstä tuli venemäinen kermakko. 

Lilin kettu vasemmalla, sitten minun tekemäni karhu, Lilin kanssa yhdessä teimme pyöreän purkin ja Danten kermalaiva.

Lilin kettu vasemmalla, sitten minun tekemäni karhu, Lilin kanssa yhdessä teimme pyöreän purkin ja Danten kermalaiva.

Kävimme myös uudessa tekstiiliverstaassa jossa tapasimme ohjaaja Camillan. Lapset olivat tehneet 'kangastaloja' jotka olivat tosi kivoja. Lili ja Dante innostuivat kovasti - ehkä tämmöinen syntyy vielä Kanadaankin. 

Kävimme myös uudessa tekstiiliverstaassa jossa tapasimme ohjaaja Camillan. Lapset olivat tehneet 'kangastaloja' jotka olivat tosi kivoja. Lili ja Dante innostuivat kovasti - ehkä tämmöinen syntyy vielä Kanadaankin. 

Hei! Heleena tuli meille tuomaan ne valmiit työt - tapasimme Iso Omenassa. Tässä on Lilin kettu! 

Hei! Heleena tuli meille tuomaan ne valmiit työt - tapasimme Iso Omenassa. Tässä on Lilin kettu! 

Pyöreän kupin lasite oli onnistunut hienosti! The glaze on the little bowl was very successful! 

Pyöreän kupin lasite oli onnistunut hienosti! The glaze on the little bowl was very successful! 

Kiitos Heleena ja hyvää lomaa! Thank you Heleena and have a great summer vacation! 

Kiitos Heleena ja hyvää lomaa! Thank you Heleena and have a great summer vacation! 

PLAY IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF RESEARCH

Just wanted to start with that awesome quote from Albert Einstein. It hangs at the entrance to Heureka, the Finnish Science Centre in Vantaa. We spent a super fun day there with my Dad Anssi and his wife Kirsti. 

 

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...and right at the entry there is a big area with simple wooden blocks that anybody can play with. This is lots of fun! 

...and right at the entry there is a big area with simple wooden blocks that anybody can play with. This is lots of fun! 

Dante rode the bike on the tightrope! Then Lili did too - and wanted to do it again and again. 

Dante rode the bike on the tightrope! Then Lili did too - and wanted to do it again and again. 

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The big themed exhibit was 'Animals inside out'. It showed real animals preserved with muscles and bones etc. - completely spellbinding. These images show a horse skeleton (truth be told I thought it was some Saurus-thingy, and Lili said 'Mooooom! That's a HORSE'). The image above it is a foal showing all the musculature.   They even had a real elephant! 

The big themed exhibit was 'Animals inside out'. It showed real animals preserved with muscles and bones etc. - completely spellbinding. These images show a horse skeleton (truth be told I thought it was some Saurus-thingy, and Lili said 'Mooooom! That's a HORSE'). The image above it is a foal showing all the musculature. 

They even had a real elephant! 

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