The sunniest place in Finland.

Blogroll, Finland, Pampas, Picture a day, Traveling

Is in Österbotten, more specifically, it is the town of Vaasa. It quickly became one of my top towns in Finland, and yes, it should be the place which receives the most sunshine in Finland. I only spend there a day and did not take any pictures, just used the sun thing as a click-bait.

Nah I did take some pics, like these from the Edvinin puisto – Edvin’s park, a smallish recreational park filled with amateur scrape metal sculptures just like these:

The following batch of photos, in fact, is taken in Närpes, where our tomatoes and cucumbers and flowers grow, and to where large quantities of immigrants move to work. So this would be the most representative photograph of the area:

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Another interesting sight would be these church stalls – yep, over 120 wooden stalls for the church visitors’ horses. They were in surprising good conditions, although I cannot really think of a good way to use these. One stood open so I took a peek – and it was empty, then I tried to spy in the wood cracks and none of the stalls seems to be in any kind of use at the moment…

A couple of Swedish miles (one Swedish mile = 10 km) away from Vaasa I drove and walked around the coast line. It was great as usual, I mean this blog is over-flooding with blue-green landscape sceneries and boats and alike.

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While in Närpes I also visited Kristinestad a bit – a tiny picturesque town with a historic centre and the curious Carlsro museum. The wooden villa (which is not electrified by the way) belonged to a certain Carlström, local tradesman and ship-maker of the late 19th and early 20th century. The business did not go that well in the end and he shot himself in 1910. To cut the long story shot, the villa stood abandoned for some time and deteriorated accordingly and was sold in an auction in the early 1960s for close to nothing to a local weirdo. The idea was that in the worst case he could use the building material as fire wood, but fortunately, he did not do that, instead, he filled the villa with all kinds of old/antique/strange/novelty/curious objects. It really is crammed with random stuff! Well, come and see for yourself, the piles of pots, books, dolls, mirrors, shoemaker accessories look particularly interesting in the omnipresent gloomy dusk…

 

… while the house itself is really fresh and inviting on the outside …

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… for the most part at least.

And as you can see from the pictures, the sunshine was abundant, so there is something to the sunniest-place-gossip!

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 😦

Have a pleasant start into the brand new week!

Update 25.5. – here are the comments 😉 The first couple of pictures are from a walk around the Rajasaari island. It is located in Töölö, 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 – my 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 – should we have a boat – but 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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To the sea.

Blogroll, Finland, Helsinki, Picture a day, Traveling

And beyond. In my efforts to escape the temporary (!) inability to interact, work and create I somehow managed to get myself beyond the boundaries of everyday life, flat, worries – it does work. After an active and no-pressure-on-performing weekend life feels much better.

First I got lost on the way to Paavolan Tammi, the Oak of Paavola. This mysterious-looking oak is located close to Lohja, about 1 hour away from Helsinki, and I managed to reach another Paavola – well at least I got to pick some tussilago flowers in the afternoon sun (!).

The tree is pretty cool – apparently 250-300 years old, trunk circumference 4,7m, and it looks very decorative. It is the only broadleaved tree on the spot, it sits on a kind of a hill and for the effect and kicks the surrounding trees have been cut down. Well why the heck not, we all need a mysterious place like this now and again!

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Yep, I know, I did not take the right lens. Also, the place was busy – swarming with people clutching phones in their hands and taking all kinds of instapictures – #paavolantammi anyone?

And… and on Saturday my dream might have almost come true! A private tour around Helsinki archipelago (read: we launched a boat and took it from one port to another, that is). I was not of much practical use – besides, like, holding onto some ropes and attaching them to slings and commenting on the visual aspects of the kitchen and cabin, but then I celebrated my 20 seconds of glory and steered the boat, ha! Also, it was windy and there were no ducklings or swanlings around yet.

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Setting off from Jollas…

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… not fitting under the Hevossaaren bridge, fortunately we only got to wait about 3 minutes for the show…

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… and back in Helsinki centre again!

And then we ate kebab, drank coffee, were happy – and picked up a new friend of mine. A Macbook Air. I promise I will treat it better then her previous owner, and I promise I will still love my big old Macbok Pro as much as I do now, but because the latter has to go to the service I needed a replacement (and a travel buddy). Material delights.

And today France devastated Finland in ice-hockey (and got a pretty swanky new president). God’s ways are mysterious.

 

Day one.

Blogroll, Comments, Finland, Immigrant integration, Likes, Picture a day, Traveling

As a part of my degree I’m participant-observing an integration course in a small town. The course’s length is about 4 weeks and the purpose is, well, to introduce the newcomers to the Finnish society and Finnish and Swedish languages. It is unbelievably rewarding and eye opening – made me realise how hard it is to draw any kinds of conclusions: political decisions, personal opinions,

Two participants caught my eye, and I cannot stop thinking about them, and about how integration policies and other integration efforts on national and local levels leave out these groups of immigrants: the elderly. Typically the parents and grandparents of the ordinary immigrants in productive age, people who have been living all their lives in traditional ways. Now they find themselves in safe environment, for the first time ever maybe, for the first time abroad. Their only living link to the society are the translators who assist them in contact with the authorities and their children and grandchildren.

These two course participants, an Afghani couple in their sixties (?), were not at all opposing the idea of learning a new language and settling down in a new society, quite the opposite, but realistically, how… how can we (yes, we, all of us) do this?

What are their chances of getting “integrated”? If our integration policies are heavily labour market orientated, what does integration of the elderly entail? What can we offer them? How can they feel integrated in our society? And what can they offer to us if not work force?

I’m sure that they would love to continue living as valuable citizens in their new home, give and enjoy life and their families. They are thankful for having found a safe place and people willing to help them, and surely they would like to give back. But how? Has anybody at all thought about these groups who fall between the categories? 

An individual integration plan has been the most efficient solution so far, but of course it had to be adjusted to the ordinary immigrant: a healthy person in productive age, speaking some English, no higher education completed, with prospects to learning Finnish or Swedish to B1 level at most, work prospects typically in transport and housekeeping… every single person who has relocated to Finland knows who am I talking about. They must have been referred to as one of those on numerous occasions – and guess what, the ordinary man may not even exist! But the reality is that the further one is from the definition of the ordinary immigrant, the harder it gets to receive suitable assistance in the process of integration into the host society.

Trust me, I’ve been there.

I hope that we as people lucky enough to have been born into a secure society can make the ‘tweeners fit in in one way or another. Culture bearers and specialists? Reliable and positive people you would enjoy to live next door to and possibly let babysit your children now and again? Sources of  cultural knowledge and an asset for us to learn how to live differently, better, how to assist those who seek security and reasonable life prospects.

*sob*

In order to contemplate a bit more on this topic – and to get over the fact that I received an unjust parking fine!! –  I took a little ride to Kråkö, a lovely little island about 15 km south of Porvoo. Houses, fields, boats, water. A little paradise for those who enjoy living in small, safe communities (still for my liking too far from the city) of Swedish-speaking people;)

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Oh and a little piece of news:

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Ha! Cannot wait to get this beauty serviced and going ❤

Weekend. Week. End.

Blogroll, Helsinki, Lifestyle, Likes

Happy to see this weekend at the end. Why? Because F 33.0, maybe even F33.1. Either way, today we by total chance found this old factory (Labor) in Jorvas, just off Kirkkonummi. Whatever was made in here, I really enjoy this picture. Those angles, those shadows.

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While trying to get rid of the above-mentioned codes on Friday I think I discovered another liveable area in Helsinki – Kallahti. It had it all, vicinity of metro station, sand beach with full-grown conifers, a cosy café, a peninsula covered with forest… and overlyoverlyoverpriced tall apartment houses…

… it was windy and dramatic and there was sea. Kind of what I needed.

(friendly/hungry duck for a companion)

Uhm, what else. We went to our first common house viewing, just in order to get a grasp on what’s going on with prices and areas to live around Helsinki. I know, I know. The age has gotten to us, we are trying to escape to the nature, pick apples and keep bees. Or something. It doesn’t matter how it went as we can currently not afford the house anyways, but it was a positive experience nevertheless!

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Oh yeah, this is what I wanted to show you: another of my calming walks was meant to lead me (and you, m’dear readers) to a garden colony in Käpylä. How traitorous. The whole area was fenced and guarded by harpies and CCTV. I had to walk around the whole area, and I found this bush. Those silver flip-sides of the leaves, they were flickering so happily in the autumn wind. Kind of reminded me of fish scales. Or silver coins. Or chocolate.

 

Va(a)sa and Ostrobothnia.

Architecture, Blogroll, Finland, Lifestyle, Pampas, Traveling

A large part of my fieldwork takes place in Ostrobothnia – around the towns of Va(a)sa, Jakobstad, Karleby and similar. And the region quickly became one of my favourite places in the world; I’m not going to beat around the bush, to a large extent I would attribute this to the large percentage of Swedish speakers and their culture present…

… or it just could be due to the fact that I actually met with and got to talk to really friendly people;) but hey, the landscape (especially the rural areas and Kvarken archipelago) and urbanscape is worth a visit!

First a few shots from the town of Vasa… the very city centre is dominated by concrete. But there is a lot of wood and history just outside the centre.

As the destiny wanted I found myself at Stundars open air museum one night. It was closed for public and beautifully lit by the setting sun.

 

And of course I was criss-crossing the urban areas, mostly around Malax municipality:

(I totally love the following shot:)

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One lovely day I had some spare time to kill, so I decided to take a short trip to Strömsö – to get the glimpse of perfection. For those outside of Finland, Strömsö is the name of this Finnish-Swedish show for people loving their homes. You will find all kinds of interesting recipes, instructions and home-improvement tips. The show takes place in  the- yes, Strömsö masion – just off Vasa, and the whole point of the show is that… that nothing ever goes wrong on the show. You will get 30 minutes of perfect living in a beautiful old wooden house (and a modern sauna and a modern shed with all kinds of tools and equipment where all the project shootings take place – #CHEATING!). And witness the making a lot of unnecessary decoration items… Home bliss!

And of course I had to share the beauty of pampas (Österbotten) with V. – and we decided to spend a calm evening in a Fisherman’s house (for real) in Molpe, Malax. The largest part of the trip went to visiting the Bergö archipelago and picking lingonberry. Amazing. Peaceful. Smelling and feeling great.

On the way back to Helsinki we passed – accidentally almost – village of Harrström. And it was a pleasant visit, despite the rain! We visited the windmill – the largest functioning wooden windmill in Finland, and it was so AWESOME. I mean I never got to see the windmill from inside. The experience felt so genuine – last visitors before us visited the mill in late July, there was dust and mouse droppings and middlings and other objects typical for… uhm… milling wheat, duh. Sounds gross, but it was awesome. So was the bridge built in 1898 (and still in use) and the whole vibe of a sea-near village. Definitely worth a visit should you be driving along the coast.

It was a lot of fun – and so has this week been as well. I enrolled in a weaving course and I think I found a new hobby. Want to see the result of my week efforts? Check out my instragram! (@milleristine)

And most importantly, take good care of yourselves. Life is way too brittle.

Post-midsummer.

Blogroll, Finland, Traveling

It’s pouring outside and I’m sitting here in my room, sipping hot tea, diving into graphology, ordering accessories and enjoying a calm me-time. Oh and of course I’m again late with my pictures – this a pic per day thing is not going that great. I’m sorry, my faithful readers, I shall improve this sloppery!

So, Midsummer, the best smelling (tar, smoke, wood and diverse flowers) and lightest time of the year is over. Sob. It was great though, I got to enjoy my birthday treat and we visited the Söderskär archipelago a few miles south of Porvoo: a group of several tiny islands, millions of nesting birds and an old light-house. I’m enjoying the sea with every such trip…

… and this is what stuck the most from the trip and from the entire Midsummer: the fog. It was magical though! (yet not capturable)

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Let’s start with a few shots from the night before Midsummer. This was taken at about 10pm, check out the light – and the massively angry seagulls.

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*KRAAAAAGH!*

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Now back to Söderskär and fog and mist and a massive fail re: camera settings. Argh!

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MIU_1846(in the above picture please do note the island keeper – a volunteer bird researcher. A whole lot of charisma he had.)

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The vegetation was limited to a few trees and numerous bunches of chives… nom!

And of course we explored the lighthouse! (not currently in use, sadly)

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