Apparently I posted nothing the whole seemingly-dead month. Sorry, my dear readers. It was a great winter month this year, cold and snowy, at times sunny and socially awkward. Here, enjoy some seemingly dead flowers and a not-so-seemingly-dad toddlers that I came across.
Travelling, inevitably (in my case) involves the willingness to make compromises. There are too many inner and outer factors which may not make the journey as you planned. Weather, availability of resources (money and time). The trick is to enjoy what you have and make the most of it, and not to mourn what you could not do. Actually if everything went as you planned and with no surprises when travelling, you probably did something wrong.
And these pictures document the result of our Italian holiday. A bit of Toscana, and a bit of Rome.
Let’s begin with some general landscape pictures. Happy scrolling!:)
And my personal favourite:
Now some a few Toscan details:
… and more pictures from our Toscan adventures.
Montefioralle – a lovely village in the heart of Chianti.
Montalcino. Of course.
Bagni di Petriolo.
Pisa maybe. Whoever came up with those idiotic leaning/supporting pictures…
San Gimignano. Because cats, ice-cream and Unesco.
A day trip to La Spezia and Riomaggiore.
… via Carrara, of course.
We also travelled to and around Pienza.
Oh and not to forget Pistoia (amazing Renaissance architecture)and Montecatini (an old and ultracool funicular to the top of the hill – the views, ah the views)!
And then we visited Rome. For the first time in our lives (the shame). There were the tourist bits…
… and not that touristy bits…
… and then there was EUR, aka the Mussolini bits.
It was good. I did not see all I wanted but I saw things I thought I would not see, and I tasted the best pasta in the history of humanity and bought a Carrara marble mortel. I vote yes.
That kind that you meet after *add any period of time* and just carry on as if nothing happened in the meanwhile. That kind you unfortunately cannot spend time with as often as you want – because they may be thousands of miles away. Those friends who made you discover and accept that the connection you once made is way too precious to throw away.
We know that they are somewhere and that they care about you. We watch each other grow and develop (thanks, internet), and we debrief and catch-up now and again in person.
And then, one day, you meet them (yes, two of them) only in order to see them marry each other.
I was no there to take pictures of the wedding, there were more qualified people to do so, and I’m sure the outcome will be awesome. I feel so honoured to have been there, to share and witness, to see happiness and love and to be happy on someone else’s behalf. It was even so more special as the wedding took place in their hometown(s). I cannot share the atmosphere of the wedding with you, it is way too personal, but I can share the atmosphere of the nearby towns (Tarragona) …
and village (Cabra del Camp).
Please accept apologies from my side for being emotional beyond description in this post. We had a great, great time and the weather was just, well, pure summer, the food delicious and the time spent with friends priceless.
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:
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.
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 …
… 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!
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.
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.
A well-painted Finnish lion in one of the villas.
This is a hydroplane hangar actually.
Tiled stove detail.
The summer church/chapel.
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!
The last picture is from Porkkala, see the tower on the right? That’s a lighthouse I’m so much visiting soon!
Where should I begin? In Vaasa probably, as it is such a vibrant and fresh little town – and I mean town, not a mere collection of houses and supermarkets (Seinäjoki, I’m looking at you). I did not have much time to walk around the town, instead, one free afternoon I made a short trip to Söderfjärden crater, at first glance quite a boring circular plain scattered with small fields. But if you are lucky enough and catch this beautiful winter golden hour light, it is pure magic.
(the last shot is a bit Instagrammed, I admit.)
And some evening impressions from Vaasa harbour:
From Vaasa I continued northwards, made a quasi-legal stop at the fox/mink farm and shed a tear. I won’t post the picture where you actually can see the distressed fox’s face 😦
And after a really interesting interview I got some fresh air (literally, sorry foxes but every time I drive between towns in Österbotten the smell hits me) in Nykarleby. Imagine these in summer.
Actually I don’t recall when I was passing Pedersöre – and why did I take that road. I found an abandoned meat (?) factory, or meat product factory to be more precise. It was superslippery outside, the dawn had began to set and I did not dare to climb inside. I needed (my) company.
And here we go, Jeppis aka Jakobstad aka Pietersaari (Iknowright). Well. There were some pretty houses, but this was my first impression:
Haha, this is truly a rubbish post, just a collection of photographs, no impressions, feelings, stories. I don’t have that many stories in fact, but the people are extremely friendly in the north. Does this actually apply to all countries, that the northerners are very laid-back and friendly? Northern parts of towns are pleasant to live in? Who knows. After all Österbotten is not that far up north if you look at the map of Finland, but if you look at the population density, it actually could be.
I cannot wait to visit next time, hopefully when the days are longer and the air smells of spring and hope!
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.
Turned myself around and saw the silent faces under the snow blanket…
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!
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.
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 glöggi toast to that as I “speak”*
Is here, it’s in our bodies, minds, it is slowing us down and make us appreciate light in all forms – fire, candles, stars, precious rays of sunshine, smiles, sparks in eyes, hugs. And occasional walks on the freezing cold sea promenade.
I guess we indeed are..?
And otherwise I’ve been learning more about what it is like to be a refugee, a newcomer to a society, and what kind of treatment one would wish to experience in this situation. Was invited to one’s home, I feel very honoured. I will inform you once it has materialised. Oh and I gave my first lecture, 90 minutes of stress + IBS + sleepless nights beforehand, but I think it went quite well and made my mum proud. Apparently that was just the start, but maybe there will be others who see some sense in what I’m doing.
Sorry, these pics has been inserted kind of randomly, but don’t you love the sun reflection in the windows? And the evil looks?
I’ve been also thinking about the concept of home, about family and other essential questions, but posting these thoughts would have been unnecessarily messy and uninteresting for this blog. Or would you really be interested in my recent favourites when it comes to housing or taking care of children? 😉
So instead I follow the fashion of like 95% of female bloggers and recommend making yourself a nice cuppa, light up a scented candle and snuggle in the bed watching Netflix or reading books from Helsinki Book Fair (well THAT would be my October haul! 3x Tove Jansson – for adults mostly – and a free mug, oh and numerous magazines and magazine samples, some literature reviews, catalogues aka wishlists, some inspirational talks heard a random old book on something Finnish army related… not bad!).
Speaking of Netflix, I subscribed. I feel so mainstream again, I guess it’s what I needed right now. That and some clothes shopping and I feel much more self-confident to be, look, think and behave in alternative ways. How bizarre.
Besides I’ve been trying to take on drawing more seriously, some attempts can be found on my instagram (feel free to follow). And drinking tea.
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.
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;)
Oh and a little piece of news:
Ha! Cannot wait to get this beauty serviced and going ❤
A few moments of joy after a day spent fighting migraines and other troubles. The beautiful light was followed by hot juice and bun – I bet that helped too!
I’m kind of thinking already about what to post about tomorrow. It has to be about my new hobby: dumpster diving. As some of you know, our beautiful and beloved house is soon undergoing repair work, and we will have to leave our den (sob) at least for some time. The janitor was so kind and organised a skip in the inner yard where (rich) flat owners have been disposing of their excess junk. To cut the story short, so far I’ve rescued a glass jar which is now trending massively in Finland as an interior accessory and two shelves for framed pictures. I’ve heard rumours about a certain neighbour whom I truly respect and who might be throwing out a substantial number of books soon… Ah, bring the rubbish on!
I wash my hands and my newly acquired possessions properly by the way.