Long time no see. Long time no sea.

Blogroll, Finland, Picture a day, Traveling

No, there was not much sea lately, partly due to me being abroad and around, partly ’cause the spring has not really broken out in here.

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No, this is not Finland. Gotcha.

THIS, however, is. The picture is take about 3 weeks ago, the ambience prevails. The fence was full of wind-torn adverts, above all election posters.

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But the sun shines even in the north, about 23 minutes per day. Such moments remind me of the extra long golden hours we get here in the summer…

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… long time no sea? Time to travel to the archipelago then!

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I admit the following pictures was taken by mistake. Makes a perfect background material for further projects though!

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Dear burglars, we are in Lapland at the moment. Our flat is flat-sat though, so don’t get excited. Dear faithful readers, you can look forward to a lot of snow-covered pictures. It has been rather cloudy lately, so no winter wonderland I’m afraid.

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.

– when 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.

 

Alvar Aalto’s House.

Blogroll, Helsinki, Picture a day

… for those who are interested in Aalto´s architecture, do take a look at my recent blog post on Helsinki100 – I visited his house in Munkkiniemi. It was surprisingly cosy. The best moment was taking a peek on the balcony. The guide opened the doors, I took a step outside, had a look and took one more step… and suddenly got blown by icecold wind and pseudosnow. Bless my 38°C mascara.

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°C 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 Lönnqvist, 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 😉

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!

Sun-mary.

Blogroll, Finland, Helsinki, Lifestyle, Picture a day

I understand that a picture per day is pretty hard when it’s cloudy outside – or when you are stuck inside day in day out, or when you’re depressed and cannot really see the point.

But here we go. Things happen nevertheless. I went for a cheer-up ride to Espoo (the horror), more precisely to the gateway to Suvisaaristo, and even more precisely to Matasaari. There is nothing particularly exciting about the space, maybe the chapel (the red house pictured below), the sheer number of couples getting married in here and the fact that there was no-one to be seen. With an exception of an elderly couple fishing.

 

And a bit of summer reminiscence. A dried-out waterfall (algae really) and the last purple of the year:

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Oh and today we visited a place many Finland/Helsinki-located folks must have passed: it’s just off the main railroad between Helsinki and, well, anywhere really, just off Pasila stop. The place is not unlike Villa Mehu we visited a few weeks ago, except for that it is less artsy, less over the top and reachable by public transport, and it is known to the locals as Kivilinna. A complex of one-woman-made simple building and walls made out of stones found around Pasila, an attempt to live on one’s own and build an alternative world, disturbed maybe by the passing-by trains. A popular place to visit by old and young alike. It has made it to the news a few times recently, mostly because it has been fenced and people have been showing they disagreement. Now. Why. Unless you are blind, drunk or totally irresponsible, the place is no more dangerous than any other foresty OR urban jungly spot in Pasila… thankfully the locals took matters in their own hands and the fence has been quasi-professionally opened for anyone curious enough… a big thank you to you!

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Oh and I need a dog. Or a baby. And I need either of those even more after visiting the Rescue dog event in Suvilahti on Saturday. Those soft paws, kind eyes, thankful hearts and therapeutic souls, how can you… how can you enter and not fall in love with one, regardless of their “family” or placement status.

 

(… and a little urban landscape shot from Suvilahti🙂

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How is Finland otherwise? Ah well, getting cold, dark and more and more Christmasy. The first Christmas decorations were spotted in mid September, there are more of those to be seen. The one major wintery thing missing is sweets: I can’t wait for Lidl and their German Christmas/Winter goodies! Nomnomnom, marzipan and ginger-bread (and random liquor in combination with chocolate)!

I’m afraid I have quite a week ahead of me and it makes me feel partly excited and partly paralysed with fear. Avail or not. Disappointed or what. Hopeful either way, as this too shall pass and the things will start looking better soon? Right?