November Reign

I read recently that Finland has five seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter and November.  While it’s true this month is dark and wet, here are a few reasons it’s not all bad…

Warm weekend breakfasts at our favourite cafe

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Galleria Keidas

Practising the art of Christmas ginger biscuits

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Taking the shot before Miko steals the dough…

Discovering ‘new’ bars that are old favourites of friends

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Just a spritz of alcohol behind the ears….@Strindberg

Buying Norwegian salmon cooked over hot coals outside work

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Enjoying wine tasting and dinner on a wet Thursday night

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Photo: Angela Lee

Still getting around without full winter gear

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Anticipating the best parts of a good Finnish winter

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Natural History Museum

Remembering that Santa will soon be on his way (on a bicycle powered by oars)

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Talivisirkus (Winter Circus)

The chance to wear my favourite boots to work

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Having to use Miko’s umbrella when I can’t find mine

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Seasonal office attire

New winter socks

New winter socks

Finding out my bank thinks I’m a dame

Bathroom door at my bank

My bank’s bathroom door

….and waking up to a ground cover like sugar on cornflakes.

First snow of the season

First snow of the season

 

The Finnish icon in every home

Recently we visited Fiskars Village. You may not recognise the name but I’m pretty confident there’s something of theirs in your home right now.

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Just an hour west of Helsinki, Fiskars was established in 1649  around an ironworks factory. Other industrial buildings, such as a granary and cutlery factory were built and are now home to accommodation, stores and galleries.

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The town was built around a river that acted as a means of transport as well as a source of power. The village is now home to a community of artists and artisans who live and work locally.

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Walking around we felt as though we had landed inside a scene from a Finnish calendar. Part of its beauty also lies in the fact that unlike some Finnish towns, Fiskars is open all year round (days & hours change in winter).

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The old fire station is still standing and is now a theatre, with a tower that was once used to hang hoses out to dry.

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There’s an excellent modern playground as well as relics from the town’s past.

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We visited a candle shop housed in a former dairy, where we bought candles scented for Christmas.

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We also stopped by a brewery, housed in a former knife factory. We were interested to learn that some of their beers are made with New Zealand hops, as well as Finnish tar and spruce tips.

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Fiskars Village is very walkable – you don’t need a car – and there are places such as Petri’s Chocolate Room where you can stop to refuel.

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There are also lots of stores, selling jewellery, homewares, clothing and glass – most of which is handmade locally.

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After a wonderful afternoon we headed back to our accommodation for dinner in Finland’s longest continuously running hotel.

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And what is this Finnish icon you have in your home? Well Fiskars is also the name of the resultant company that still manufactures items for gardening, cooking and craft today.

In 1967 they designed the world’s first pair of plastic handled scissors, selling over a billion pairs since – was one of them to you?

Photo: Fiskars

Photo: Fiskars

Next week: The Exhibitionists (what we saw in Fiskars)

Fiskars Village

Fiskars (the company)

 

Helsinki’s best cafes to meet with kids in autumn

I met a lovely Finnish family today who were looking for some tips for their upcoming visit to NZ. While they admitted I am the first New Zealander they have ever met (I hope I did us proud) there is a small community of us here and there is a meet up planned for tomorrow afternoon.

With a high forecast of just five degrees, it got me thinking of the best cafes in Helsinki to meet at when you have kids & the weather is cool. These are my top three & I’d love to hear any other ideas (because we all know it ain’t getting warmer any time soon….)

Moko Market

This homewares store has a great cafe as well as one of the best roasters in the city housed out the back (Kaffa Roastery). There is a room you can reserve, as well as a playhouse, making it popular for baby showers.

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Book Cafe at Annantalo

This grand old building is a children’s arts centre and the cafe is spacious and comfortable. As well as tables there is a curved couch and loads of children’s books in Finnish and Swedish. There are also exhibitions for children and art workshops.

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Children can leave their pacifier with this toucan when it’s time to give them up

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Cafe Koket

This spacious cafe has a play area and you can reserve tables for groups. There’s Babies Brunch every Monday for parents with young kids and they serve a cake made out of cinnamon buns! See the website for details of their Father’s Day brunch.

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Baby Brunch on Mondays

Baby Brunch on Mondays

A new island home

Not content to be winter’s plainer cousin, autumn was showing her beauty in Helsinki today with blue skies and earthy colours.

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We enjoyed her show on the island of Seurasaari.  Connected to the mainland by a footbridge, this open-air museum is home to buildings from around Finland from across the ages.

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We’ve been at Christmas and at Midsummer but hadn’t yet visited at this time of year.

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Even though most the buildings are now closed for winter it is still worth a visit for a walk and a picnic and the trails are popular with joggers.

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We enjoyed walking around and choosing which house we would live in (as long as it has good insulation).

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Despite having been before, we found new things to enjoy, including signs of Finnish ingenuity from time gone by.

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Autumn was all around us and as always, nature was left untamed and free to grow.

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We were soon joined by the island’s residents, who I assume are starting to squirrel away stores for the Nordic winter.

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Autumn showed us that she is no shrinking violet – and her display will only get stronger between now and November.

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And we finally found the house we might like to live in – or at least have as our summer home.

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Now & Then – Töölönlahti

It’s easy to miss home at this time of year. Christmas for us signals the start of summer holidays – long hours of sunshine, songbirds, swimming and sand.

One thing about living in Finland however is the intensity of each season. It’s good for me to remember that winter here can be beautiful …. and it’s not forever.

One place this is evident is Töölönlahti – it’s a great bay to walk around and witness the incredible changes as they take place.

9th October 2014

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2 December 2014 – starting to freeze

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Ducks on ice

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4th January 2015 – frozen

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7th January 2015

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23rd January 2015

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And something to look forward to! Same place, different day (taken 3rd August 2014)

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Colours All Around Us

 

 

Finland has four very definite seasons and syksy (autumn) has surprised and stunned me with its vibrant colour displays.

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We are very lucky in New Zealand to have a native bush reserve behind our house, but I realise now that it is made up of evergreens, that while beautiful, hardly change colour.

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My walk home from Finnish class today was punctuated by trees sporting shades that match all the new words we have recently learnt – punainen (red), vihreä (green), keltainen (yellow), oranssi (orange) and ruskea (brown).

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The walk around Töölönlahti is different each day as the trees start to drop the leaves we watched them grow only six months ago.

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I find the beauty of the city right now is definitely helping me adapt to the cooler weather.

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Today was a warm 12 degrees and so Miko and I stayed on after daycare to play with some friends in the leaves.

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IMG_3098We used to always try to imagine how things will look once they are covered in snow. For now I’m just enjoying how they look painted for autumn.

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