We have leaves. Updated.

Blogroll, Finland, Helsinki, Lifestyle, Traveling

On the trees, also a slight sunburn on the shoulder, the 4th place in the ice hockey world cup and I’m terribly sleepy.

I will just leave this summerly pictures hang in here and add some commentary later. I’m sorry, I have an early start tomorrow again ūüė¶

Have a pleasant start into the brand new week!

Update 25.5. – here are the comments ūüėČ The first couple of pictures are from a walk around the¬†Rajasaari¬†island. It is located in T√∂√∂l√∂, so reasonably central and quite fancy, but it is in a shameful state (not reflected in the pictures). Covered in trash, boating stuff rusty snowmobiles and generally neglected. The dog park is awesome though, and so was the warm spring evening.

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The following takes are from Open House Helsinki Рmy top visits took place in Thursday and Friday and I was unable to attend. But on Saturday we made it to the Villas of the Valtiosaari island. These largeish, in some cases opulent (think luxurious sauna and a tennis court) wooden villas are mostly owned by the city of Helsinki and occasionally rented out to companies or registered organisations. You can imagine what this means: most of the villas stand empty and slowly deteriorate. Well managed! The whole island would make a lovely place to live Рshould we have a boat Рbut we were all surprised how messy and neglected the island was.

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A well-painted Finnish lion in one of the villas.

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This is a hydroplane hangar actually.

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Tiled stove detail.

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The summer church/chapel.

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We got a free boat ride to the city centre! That was the best part of the trip, minus the sunburn (I KNOW.), but look what we saw on the way: a sailboat nursery!

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The last picture is from¬†Porkkala, see the tower on the right? That’s a lighthouse I’m so much visiting soon!

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Looking back: Vappu.

Blogroll, Finland, Helsinki, Lifestyle, Likes, Picture a day

As I said, I did not quite feel myself on May 1st, for obvious reasons I was fearing the day when everyone puts a hat on, meets friends, drinks a plenty, eats picnic and has to be jolly.

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Watching these freaks jump into ice-cold water did cheer me up a bit. But the drunk wife who blocked my views did not.

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The day before the official frolics we went to a contemporary music concert. Yes. That kind of squeaky music when you are waiting for one of the clarinetist to whack their instrument on the head of the pianist who is busy playing the piano using a microwave. I will post a report on this sooner – in Czech, ha, as a part of my blog new section ūüėČ very shortly: the concert was not all that bad! I actually liked it – am I really THAT old? – despite that literally all the pieces sounded like student film/psycho horror/experimental film soundtrack…

… the concert took place in¬†Suomenlinna again – and I really liked these seagulls.

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Oh and we have had some sun recently. I’ve been exploring Taka-T√∂√∂l√∂ (Rear-T√∂√∂l√∂) and focused on happy colours this time…

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… an on eating ice-cream on the cliff with some new friends. Being depressed does not mean that I don’t experience¬†anything¬†pleasant – but let’s not get into it now, let’s hope for the better and for the best and for… for… for better quality linopaint. I’ve had some big fails recently (today),

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Outdoors.

Blogroll, Helsinki, Lifestyle, Likes, Picture a day, Traveling, Winter frolics

Living near greenery calms one down – the peace and calming colours bring down the blood pressure, monotonous sounds soothes the busy and stressed mind and the overall abundance of non-man-made stimuli inspire the mind.

Also, I love skiing and running, picking berries, avoiding idiots, grilling marshmallows and taking pictures, so the general proximity of nature works pretty well for me!

As I advertised last time, we spent a week in Lapland. And it was quite nice, although for some reasons hard to comprehend not as nice as I would wish. Now, I actually did not take that many pictures, because I find carrying a DSLR on ski trips awkward. Also… how many pictures of snowy landscapes does one actually fancy looking at in April?

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Not that much of azure-blue skies, more silvery beige tones. Nah, I absolutely adore Lapland, but after a long and particularly gray winter I’m not that¬†thrilled any more.

On a more spring-like note, a few shots from the short walks around parks and nature reserves in Helsinki area. As you can see, I got a bit carried away by moss...

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Do expect more photos tonight or tomorrow. So long, m’friends!

How to find the perfect flat?

Blogroll, Finland, Helsinki, Lifestyle

Location, location and location. The only three valid criteria for looking for the place to live – everything else can be fixed. This is valid probably to all countries except for Finland where land ownership and pretty hefty costs of repairs – not to mention the dreaded and expensive putkiremontti, aka go and eff yourselves for 3 months while we replace the water pipes in your building for no obvious reason – mean that you might, actually, give in after a while. But if you are looking for the gorgeous city apartment, try applying the following for narrowing down your search criteria:

check locations along the tram line – the trams typically serve the once residential quarters which in today’s speak mean liveable places close to the centre and with decent traffic connections.

– check locations on the train line(s) – and by that I don’t mean the underground, look for the real, hardcore suburban train. You might find really interesting spots minutes from the city centre. The bus is for plebs and the underground smells of fat and pee.

check locations close to the water – river, sea, fake lake. Just do, even when you don’t think you care that much. The current urban development trend is to build on anything solid, but you can still count on the fact that building on water surface remains technically… difficult.

don’t look at the number of rooms, that is totally misleading. You can always divide or unite the space – and actually, even the number of square metres is for orientation purposes only. Look at the dispositions, the number and location of doors, etc.

Рwhen you considering buying a place, enjoy a short meal or a coffee there. Ignore the looks of the estate agent or the owner, just, well, see how it feels to be there when you are relaxed and occupy your mind with something else than thoughts about the technical and financial questions. This might sound superstrange, and it kind of is unusual, I admit. Women take hours shopping for their wedding dress, so why should your rush buying a flat? Word of warning: when you chuckle at the tasteless colour scheme the previous tenant left the flat in, try not to be that loud.

don’t lose hope. You can always rent – and wait. There are housing bubbles in many of European capitals. They will burst one day.

 

Turku√Öbo February impressions.

Blogroll, Lifestyle, Picture a day, Turku, Winter frolics

February is almost over and I haven’t been updating the website as much as I promised. Partly due to the lack of events, dull weather and general photopportunities, partly due to those events I have no name nor an excuse for.

So we went to Turku/√Öbo, took care of some research-related business, visited some museums and took pictures. Of grey, nearly empty Turku. I’m particularly fond of how this mosaic turned out, the orange hopeful corner… so, how was¬†your¬†February?

New Year, new year.

Blogroll, Finland, Lifestyle, Likes, Picture a day, SoMe, Traveling

I’ve been postponing writing this post for so long it has become proper awkward – but awkward to whom? To my few loyal readers, or am I just using this as a self-loath tool, to prove what I have not done? Either way, the post is being written now and another item on my to-do list is being checked. Ha!

Last week we got our new supercomfortable futon mattras and a reasonably good-looking bed, got rid of a few bagfulls of stuff that does not bring us happiness no more and while giving the flat a fresh start into 2017 I thought I would be original and come up with some resolutions for the coming 12 months, with a little audit around my birthday (which is conveniently in mid June).

So what kind of year do I wish for myself?

  • an active and efficient one, FFS. I’ll use my potential. I know what I mean, but telling the world makes it a bit more binding. Applies to both work and fun.
  • I’ll take a picture a day and publish it either here or on on¬†Instagram.
  • every day I’ll sketch or be otherwise artistically productive.
  • I will take better care of myself. The body is asking for some particular care so it will get it. Includes some weight or proportion alterations.
  • I won’t buy a single item of clothing from a mainstream brand. Why? Because ethics, ecology and refusing to support fast-fashion. Because I’m sick of poor quality of clothes hidden behind (designer) labels.
  • I’m allowed to cheat a little bit on the previous and buy things such as undies, socks, ball gown should I be invited to the Independence Day Ball and – if I made it to London this year – a piece or two from COS or Jigsaw I know I will wear a lot.
  • I will save toward travelling and house.
  • do something I have not done before every week.
  • be a better person for myself and others.
  • Get that photo project going, dang it.
  • Survive the pipe replacement in the house.
  • And learn basics of a new language – and a foreign alphabet.

So, as a part of my¬†something-new-every-week, today I gave a good beating to the flokati wool¬†rug I’m in a love-hate relationship with. I can still taste the dust and gunk but the relationship has shifted toward the love axe.

And for the visuals amongst you, I have some¬†memories¬†of Prague. Was it indeed a great day ‚̧ so great that I don’t mind that about a million tourists and locals will have exactly the same pictures. Kitch is good in smaller doses. Who knows where the compressions went wrong and made the pictures into bitmaps…

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I’m particularly fond of the following photo, taken after the sun had disappeared behind the Petrin Hill:

miu_4713-2Nice. Noise. I know. Not completely my fault.

I returned to 894,781 shades of grey in Finland – and to -20¬įC! I don’t understand why people dislike lower temperatures, I mean -15¬įC is so much more bearable than -2¬įC. Or +1¬įC and a foot of slush and wet snow sliding from the roofs behind your collars.

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And two random thoughts for the end:

  • woolen socks I got from grandma rock. Roses and wool and lanolin cure and the smell of beeswax.¬†
  • do you know what is the best christening present? A Google account in the baby’s name, or close to it at least. Soon Google will run out of domaines, so be creative when naming your baby.¬†

And keep well.

Nature vs. Nurture.

Blogroll, Helsinki, Lifestyle, Winter frolics

… or how was it? I never noticed this tree in Kamppi, a place which I pass many times every week. Looks quite nice in contrast to the sunshine (for real)-illuminated sky. I mean, the tree is located at one of the busiest spots in Helsinki, thousands of people and hundreds of buses pass by every day, and it just stands there peacefully and bears whatever we pass onto it.

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… just like the people closest to us, right?

As you can see, the snow is gone, long live the snowy frosty weather. Together with the snow, my better half departed for an adventure and he took some of my worries with him. There is much to do still, apply for grants, meet VIPs, ingratiate myself with gatekeepers, visit more Swedish speaking areas, take pictures of whatever I have made lately…

… sorry but due to certain circumstances, or certain people using this blog as their stalking platform, I cannot share more at this point. But I shall, I’ve used this platform for 10 years and no lack of respect shall change this ūüėČ

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^ our beloved apartment building. For another several months at least. The picture is taken yesterday, note the winter sky contrasting those miniature apples (I always wondered whether they are edible…).

An hour and about 1000 steps later:

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This is the official Christmas street of Finland, and an unofficial and accidental tram no. 4 – and the legendary Stockmann department store clock. I mean yeah, it is Christmasy, yet nothing I’d blog about… oh oops!

Another part of the Christmas street is the shop window scene at Stockmann. I have no idea what was in the window this year, all I could see was… blue and black silhouettes.

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Oh and may your Advent Sunday¬†be blessed! Cannot wait to be with the loved ones, nothing can beat a family get-together, watch the little and elder ones alike… And for those curious about our humble season decorations, do not despair, they will be documented once there is daylight.

Cheers to good life!

(not with this glass though, found downtown, abandoned yet still shining)

Relief.

Blogroll, Finland, Helsinki, Lifestyle, nature, Winter frolics

If you’ve been wondering what has kept me away from the blog /I’m sure you were worried sick/ it was a mild yet annoying enough case of bronchitis. Or to be more precise, head pounding from sinus headaches. Things seem to be somehow better now, so I took a chance and stepped out of my den yesterday.

And my roads led to… the supermarket. I took the sightseeing tour though and got to enjoy the snow for the first time since it arrived. Oh and it was wonderful. Together with my (almost complete) recovery other things happened in my semi-personal life which enhanced my general well-being, the walk in the sun somewhere in Oittaa¬†put me back on the right track and helped bat all the worries and ugly away. Life is fine again.

First, I found myself at the end of the world.

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Turned myself around and saw the silent faces under the snow blanket…

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And now, check out the snow: how does it even stay on those almost vertical branches? What a marvelous result of the wind force combined with the gravity and the way snowflakes hit the branches!

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At the risk of being Captain Obvious, snow equals winter for me. And melting snow and icicles equals spring. This, however, is not the case any more in central Europe or the UK, so hey yet another reason to be glad about living up North! To be honest with you, they promised rain and above-zero temperatures again next week, so soon we will say goodbye to this shiny sign of Yuletid,  illuminating the otherwise rather dark land- and cityscapes. The snow, too, shall pass. And come again when it really is the time.

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What else – I’m currently working on a several art projects which are kind of secret (Christmas, baby) and pretty messy, but hopefully worth it. They include (in no particular order) metal, lino, a pack of styluses, paint and woolen thread.

And hoping I get my other camera working for a good cause – hope someone will get to use it soon and will share the results with us. *drinking a gl√∂ggi toast to that as I “speak”*

Winter frolics. Part 1.

Blogroll, Comments, Creations, Lifestyle, Likes, Winter frolics

I thought I would start a series on winter symbols, signs reminding me of Christmas approaching,¬†wintery¬†ways of obtaining vitamins, happiness and something to look forward to during the cold and slow-paced season…

Well here is the first one:

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Do you wonder what this is? It is quite simple really. If you ever bought a pack of dried dates, chances are that the pack came with a complimentary fork. “Fork”. Plastic, blunt, sticky and unbelievably flimsy, bending in clear arches once it touches the date skin.¬†No living person has ever used it for eating dates (or for anything really?) yet they have been a part of since 1935 (I made that up). I’m sure that the original kind was made out of wood (or similar) and was actually quite nifty, unlike its modern offspring.

I guess this is yet another thing¬†we keep doing “just because”, with no rationing behind…

Bearers and keepers.

Blogroll, Helsinki, Immigrant integration, Lifestyle, Picture a day, Sunsets

I spotted them today on numerous occasions. They appeared inconspicuously. Overnight. Unremarked by¬†(social) media. Yet we are talking about the unequivocal sign of winter. Bearers of darkness and sub-zero temperatures: I’m looking at you,¬†all those thousands of aurauskepit (“ploughing sticks”) sown all around Finland. These plastic sticks of varying length are placed along curbs and those no-man areas along the roads, those random patches of grass, narrow concrete passes, etc.

Their obvious purpose is to mark road raises and descents, such as curbs, pavements, road shoulders, ditches etc. once these get covered in snow. What else is there to add?

The weather was surprisingly mild today, but the temperatures get very close to 0¬įC at night, and I suspect that they might make it below zero this week. We shall see.

Today we went through yet another flat viewing. Or house viewing. It went surprisingly well for a village quite far away from Helsinki. The surroundings were pretty autumny. Dusky. With few colours left.

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miu_3795(I particularly like the one above. Sums it up all. Graveyard. Autumn. Time.)

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Also, I managed to slip to the nearby cemetery and found the grave of Charlotta L√∂nnqvist, the benefactor of Aleksis Kivi, one of most famous Finnish authors of all times. Charlotta is still cherished and loved by many people, particularly for her kindness, love for Aleksis and art and down-to-earth attitude…

… and then we arrived¬†home and a¬†sunset happened:

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Now, I’ve been somehow busy with all kinds of home improvement and decoration lately. I blame the daily dumpster diving sessions – so far I’ve found 2 brand new (!) ikea Ribba pictures shelves, a collection of white flower pots (the largest of these is now serving as a storage bin for posters, wrapping paper, etc.), a retro kitchen jar trending on Finnish auction sites and¬†this awesome Fazer biscuit tin (probably rather aged). These have been appropriately cleaned and have been stored for future use ūüėČ

The dumpster diving procedure goes as follows: 1.¬†Check out the situation in the inner yard. I’m not too confident going through rubbish in front of others. Yet. 2. Look into the bin and identify any interesting items. Empty boxes and bags which might contain more items. 3. Quickly grab the haul and walk quickly towards the door.¬†4. Walk into the janitor and about 57931 other people in the elevator hall, despite this being otherwise empty. Greet your neighbour and have a small talk with them. Blush. Be sure that one of the people you’ve just met was the one who threw out the item into the bin. 5. At home, think again about what you just brought with you. On the next occasion bring half of the items back into the bin. 6. Clean the sh*t out of the hauled items. 7. Bring most of them upstairs in the attics, cause you don’t want to use them just yet. 8.¬†Tell your better half. Be pleased with yourself.

So why am I doing this?!

I’m a sucker for old, quality things – and of course I can appreciate a bargain. Most items I find in the recycling centre/thrift store/bin are items of timeless design, are quality (!), have been almost always made in Europe (if not in Finland) and have some direct connection to this country. Or to the time and place they were manufactured.

Besides, I would like my children to be able to inherit some¬†items with a (hi)story. Either I get the item from the above-mentioned places, or I buy hand-crafted or designer items, or I make and reuse a plenty¬†– typically I would make or order-to-be-made cushion covers, as I think cushion covers are great for saving random bits of fabric which would otherwise not be used or shown. Chances are that some of these items might not be appreciated by the kids, or my better half – but that’s fine. That is their choice.¬†But if I just followed lifestyle trends, what would I end up with at the end otherwise? A batch of poor quality IKEA glasses and dressers of mass character or Pepco/Lidl/KiK ceramic stars or “Home” signs made in East Asia..? Meh.

What else has been going on – hmm, I have been thinking about “my” immigrant families, I have been trying to – rationally and emotionally – understand their situation, especially that of those who¬†will be most probably¬†excluded from the Finnish labour market for some time (or forever) and ¬†I have some thoughts. I’ve made myself present in the course, kinda tried to establish contact with the students and gain their trust. Once I’ve collected enough of material I will share the conclusions with you, but not quite yet. But, inshallah, soon!