Skip to content

Worth a visit – Haikaranpesä

October 19, 2016

A couple weeks ago we all headed out to do some shopping. Now, I am a lover of all things spontaneous and fun, so I suggested that we should go for lunch at Haikaranpesä (rough translation: stork nest), and old water tower-turned restaurant and events venue in the south part of Espoo.

The tower was built in 1968 and underwent renovations just a few years ago. The restaurant is really nice and the views – well fabulous! It’s not a cheap place to eat, but the food is great. I have been there a few times over the years and it’s always a pleasure to visit.

When we were there a couple weeks ago, the weather was sunny – so you can imagine how nice it was to look out over the sea. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Random thoughts

October 19, 2016

Hello, I apologize for my absence lately – I really got hammered by a bad cold virus almost three weeks ago. I was feeling so bad… I should be good now for the next five years or so!🙂

Quite often I ask myself a lot of rhetorical questions… I decided I should start writing them down. Below is a selection of random thoughts I’ve had recently on daily happenings in life in Finland. I suspect this will be the first installment of many with this title.

* Over the last few months I have noticed a lot of news reports on fraud, tax dodging, abuse of power, and so on by various Finnish people in positions of power.  How do these things not affect the transparency index for this country? Finland is becoming more corrupt by the day! Just last week, a politician in Finland voiced alarm about so-called “buddy capitalism” in this country. Worth a read.

Stories of people in powerful positions abusing their power (and getting charged and convicted for it) appear to be more common. What on earth is wrong with people? Driven by greed…??

Transparency International still gives Finland a high score, however, with Finland’s government getting high marks for integrity – third in its 2016 assessment.

* Why on earth are we reading so much about moldy schools in Finland? Is the construction of facilities that house and teach our children not worthy of sound investment – so that shit like this doesn’t happen again, again and again? (Excuse my language, I find the whole issue infuriating.) How much money is spent on repairing these structures? Why not do it right in the first place? Take your choice of media and search for it, it seems like a weekly thing in the local papers here. Moldy structures are unacceptable. Period.

* If you jaywalk, you might get hollered at by an elder. Observed last week in Tapiola (Espoo)…

* Now and then I observe elderly people rooting through public garbage cans looking for bottles and cans (which have a refundable deposit). It seems sad that for many of them every cent counts.

* I still marvel at this time of the year when I head to work early: the number of people who do not use lights (front and back) when they are cycling and the number of pedestrians and bus riders who do NOT use reflectors. Someone on a public discussion board called the use of reflectors in Finland “over the top,” which I think is complete bollocks. Using a reflector when you’re moving around as a pedestrian is wise. Be seen!

* I know the new club house at Tapiola Golf is really nice, but why does it have to be lit up like a Christmas tree at night when there is no one there? Seriously, what a waste of electricity!

* Do you still withdraw cash from cash machines? Some banks are mulling whether consumers should be charged for withdrawals, while others have already started charging customers for cash withdrawals. Danske bank already started back in 2015.  Starting in November Nordea bank customers will be able to make four free withdrawals per month from cash machines (ATMs) and then be charged 40 cents from every ATM withdrawal after that. Nordea customers are not happy by the sounds of it.

While there are predictions that Finland will be a cashless society by 2029, it seems that we still need physical cash in our hands in the interim.


Ticks, I really hate them

September 20, 2016

Last week I got bitten by a tick. I have no idea where it came from, probably my dog. I was bit freaked out because it had been there for some time and my friend was unsuccessful at getting all of it off of me.

I had to visit the doctor the next day and he finished the job, and promptly prescribed some pretty strong antibiotics. “It’s easier to treat this now as a preventative measure than trying treat a confirmed case of Lyme disease later on,” he said. He also mentioned that tick research in Finland indicated that every fifth tick is infected with Lyme disease… A 20 percent chance too big for me…

I found another tick attached to my foot just a couple of days later, and again, who knows where that came from!

My message is this: there are craploads of ticks all over the place in southern Finland. They’ve become a regular occurrence where I live in Espoo.

If you find one attached to you, take it off, wrap it up in some tape and chuck it. Clean the site and follow-up. It has been said that people may or may not get a bulls-eye looking rash around a bite site, but not necessarily. If you experience flu symptoms and joint pain for no apparent reason and you have spent time in the bush recently, you may have been unknowingly bitten by an infected tick. Follow up with your doctor and be assertive if your concerns are dismissed.

A news piece from YLE in July this year reported that researchers in Finland have found an increase in the number of ticks in the country and the kinds of pathogens they are carrying.


This photo is from last year, shortly after I removed a tick from my dog.

On a road I didn’t plan on following

September 9, 2016

A few years back the Little Miss (who is not so little anymore) started playing ringette. We’re now coming up on her sixth year in the sport (yikes!) and it’s still her thing. It’s now become my thing too. I played ringette when I was a kid in Canada and gave it up when I was 18.

I lamented in the past that it took me a long time to be brave enough join group activities here in Finland because of my piss poor language skills, but here I am a few years in from the Little Miss starting ringette and I find myself named as the (Co-) head coach of her team.


Photo by Ira Merivaara

I also got brave enough to start playing again about three years ago and it’s been a learning curve. That is the beauty of this game, you’ll always learn something new (especially by watching the better players play) and keep developing even if you’ve take it up as an adult. My team has a host of “new” players, some who started playing again after many years and others who have transferred skills from other sports to ringette (salibandy, for example).

This is not where I expected to be: a ringette mom, a certified coach (I survived Level 1 coaching in Finnish last fall!) and player. This season I’ve even been brought in on the hockey side to help coach.

Photo by Milla Valtonen

Photo by Milla Valtonen

The Little Miss plays hockey, also completely unexpected. One of my colleagues from work is a hockey player and invited the Little Miss to try it out a couple years ago. Now she and her teammates and her hockey cohorts are building the foundation of the sport in Espoo. It looks good for the future of girl’s and women’s hockey in Finland.

I always knew I liked being on skates, and now I get to be on the ice 4-5, sometimes six times a week. Unexpected, but a very welcome addition to my life. It requires some juggling, organization, time and a good attitude. The greatest part of it all is seeing these girls develop their skills, all of them. I expect great things from all the kids I coach by season’s end. It’s gonna be a good one. I can’t wait!

Picture of the Day

August 31, 2016

Yesterday I was out for a walk with my dog and upon returning to my yard I looked up and saw this. Cloud watching is always a worthy activity to take part in in August. The skies are different every day.



Finland in Rio

August 18, 2016

Well, we’re entering the final stretch of the Rio Olympics already. Team Finland sent 54 athletes to Rio with most of the medal contenders being women. Thus far their performances have produced only one medal and the English language media in the country has been strangely quiet on reporting anything about Finland’s athletes at the games. Actually it has been a bit underwhelming for Finland, and the upsets and surprises have come from other countries. It’s not that Finland is bad (and whoever says so is wrong), it’s just that everyone else has upped their game.

Finland captured its first medal yesterday, a bronze in women’s boxing, courtesy of Mira Potkonen! Finland’s other medal hope lay with last year’s World Championship silver medalist, Petra Olli in women’s wrestling (60kg), but she was unfortunately eliminated from competition in the early rounds. She was incredibly disappointed. The women’s 60kg class is definitely one of the most competitive in women’s wrestling!

While Finland has traditionally been a powerhouse in men’s javelin, only Antti Ruuskanen qualified for the final. Ruuskanen, was incidentally upgraded to a silver medal for London 2012 on August 10 because of a doping infraction by the Ukranian thrower, Oleksander P’yatnytsya). The IOC delivered its verdict here.

Elite athletes face tremendous pressure to perform when it comes to crunch time and I wonder if this time, the pressure was just too much for some of Finland’s best. They were expected to perform and fell a little short in the end. The other question I have is, are we supporting Finland’s athletes enough? These days it seems to be the women who are stepping up and meeting the mark as far as competitiveness goes. We all know that Finland’s female athletes deserve far more attention and coverage than the press currently gives them. (I hope to correct that here, in this blog – and share some names of both Finnish women and men who are too underrated for the sporting performances they put in. Look for it.) The other thing is is that Finland is still largely a winter sporting nation, where its athletes are given far more attention than the summer sporting crew.

I’d like to see more attention paid to coaches as well, because athletes do not get where they are without their coaches. I hope that is something else I have time to rectify, seeing how I am a coach, I feel we all deserve a little more recognition for the hours we put into shaping tomorrow’s stars.😉

I guess I can sum it up by saying I had high expectations for Finland at the Rio games, but I suppose I was poisoned by the media hype. The team will come back and reflect, do better and make space (hopefully) for the up-and-comers. The future is theirs.

Summer festivals draw thousands to small rural communities

August 4, 2016

Summer happenings and events in small communities across the country make the population swell! Today’s Helsingin Sanomat rang up the numbers of several events across the country that bring thousands of people to small communities and temporarily increase the population many times over.

Have you ever been to any of these events? (Some of these are definitely on my bucket list!*)

*The World Swamp Soccer Championships in Hyrynsalmi every July. The population of Hyrynsalmi is 2420 and the town receives 30 000 (!) during the tournament. Wow!

The Kaustinen Folk Music Festival that lasts a week every July. Kaustinen is home to 4288 people, but receives nearly 17 000 visitors.

*The Midnight Sun Film Festival in Sodankylä is held every June. Some 28 000 people take in the film festival and come from all corners of the globe to see it.

The Strawberry Carnival in Suonenjoki attracts about 20 000 visitors every July. The population is normally 7370.

Sonkajärvi‘s place on the map is sealed with the annual Wife Carrying World Championships, held every July. More than 7000 people visit, nearly tripling the population of the town.

Sulkava (pop. 2707) is host to Finland’s largest annual rowing event, the Sulkava Rowing Race, held every July and attacting more than 4000 people every year.

Joutsa doubles its population (4698) during the annual Joutopäivät (a music festival) held the first weekend of July.

Kuhmo (pop. 8745) also nearly doubles its population with the annual Chamber Music Festival. The two-week event is held every July.

Surely there are logistical challenges (hotels are full and the shelves in the stores are empty), but the economic windfalls are definitely a benefit for these places. You gotta love it!