Six Word Saturday: 4.5.2013

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Aaargh, decision time. Nokia or Apple?

Mämmi: The Final Rite of Passage

Mämmi. Pronounced in the same manner as cat. It’s the traditional dish for Easter in Finland. It’s also one of those dishes that people either love or hate. I fall into the former camp. I tasted mämmi on my first visit to Finland and definitely took seconds. It doesn’t look extraordinary or even like it would inspire such extreme emotions. At a recent book-club gathering I heard the best description yet: dehydrated Guinness.  Black or dark brown sludge if we are being really honest. The texture to eat is slightly grainy and the flavour is rye, sweetened a little.

So last Monday I was sitting in my Finnish class and we were discussing Easter and how it is celebrated in Finland. Mämmi and Pasha (dairy dessert from Russia) were discussed at great length. Naturally our teacher was interested to know who had tried mämmi and who hadn’t, who liked and who didn’t. Not so many had tried it, although there were a few hands that stayed up to admit actually liking mämmi! The teacher didn’t ask if anyone had tried to make it, so I went hunting for a recipe. The first one I found in English was here, the time didn’t seem too long and the ingredients would be easy to find. I called anoppi-M and offered to bring mämmi as our Easter contribution.

When I arrived home that night I dug out my faithful Ruokatorstai recipe book. Of course there was a whole section just for Easter and mämmi recipe to boot. So Thursday I gathered my ingredients and started prepping the mämmi:

Mämmi ingredients: Salt, molasses, malted rye flour, rye flour and powdered orange peel.

First mix all the dry ingredients together and boil one litre of water. Place the kettle into a basin filled with warm water. Whisk in five decilitres of dry ingredients, one at a time. By the time the fifth scoop of powder had gone in the mixture was very heavy. The whisk wasn’t going to last, so I switched to an electric hand whisk.

Three litres later...Mämmi mixing

Three litres later…Mämmi mixing

Sprinkle with two more decilitres to form a ‘crust’, cover with the lid and then bath towels on top to keep the warmth in. Leave for an hour. Repeat.

Keeping the heat in - mämmi under cover

Keeping the heat in – mämmi under cover

In fact repeat until all the water has been boiled and all the dry ingredients whisked into the ‘porridge’. THIS is where I got into a little bit of trouble. My biggest saucepan is only 5 litres… So I decided to use my bread mixing bowl. Then the mixture came to the very top… and no room for further boiling as per the recipe.

Mämmi mixed... and nowhere to go

Mämmi mixed… and nowhere to go

The hour was also getting late and there was still some boiling to be done BEFORE heading into the oven.

Mämmi boiling... just enough space

Mämmi boiling… just enough space

So, a quick dish-wash later and the mämmi was returned to the stove and returned to the boil for 15 minutes. Stirring all the while to discourage sticking. Unfortunately there was sticking although, luckily no burning 🙂 There was some colour change, although not so much yet. The smell as quite thick, although not unpleasant. Then the mixture was moved to the baking tray(s) for cooling and resting. I thought one tray would be enough, sadly this was not the case and so I had to improvise.

Mämmi resting in an oven tray

Mämmi resting in an oven tray

The next stage involved waiting for the mixture to cool enough to pour the thinned molasses over.

Mämmi covered with molasses

Mämmi covered with molasses

It was really late by this stage. Far too late! So into the oven the mämmi went and on went my timer. Three hours at 150 degrees C. Unfortunately I slept through the timer and woke in a panic an hour later. It wasn’t looking very good:

Mämmi out of the oven and looking very dark...

Mämmi out of the oven and looking very dark…

I touched the top and texture just felt wrong. The shop bought versions are always sticky and fingers sink. It did appear to be a crust, so I hoped that underneath the texture was as it should be.

The car was loaded up, mämmi and all and we headed to Rauma. Good Friday dinner was crowned with the mämmi for dessert:

Mämmi with raspberries

Mämmi with raspberries and whipped cream. YUM!

Due to the large amount prepared, mämmi featured for the rest of the weekend and there is some in the freezer for guests later in the year.

Again... Mämmi with apricots this time

Again… Mämmi with apricots this time

What I did learn is that not many people actually make their own mämmi any more. After seeing the effort involved, I can understand why. Both The Engineer’s mother and grandmother had never made it, it’s far too easy to buy any of the many brands that fill the freezer section these days. Will I make it again? Probably, although only if there are lots of people to cater for and if my timing is better organised!

Independence Day Foolishness

It goes without saying that the music choice for today is Maamme-laulu (Our Land). After all, it is Finland’s 95th anniversary of independence. There are numerous YouTube offerings, and the one I have chosen features the amazing voice of Tarja Turunen (formerly of Nightwish). I’m not sure where the broadcast actually comes from, except that it was broadcast on YLE (Finland’s national broadcaster) for Independence Day 2007. I have an added dilemma of trying to weave in birthday celebration wishes to one of my loyal followers. In the end I decided that two theme tunes are better than none, so here is the other daily tune 🙂

Hippo, birdie, two ewe;
Hippo, birdie, two ewe;
Hippo, birdie, dear El Guaaaapooo;
Hippo, birdie, two ewe!

I’m not the only one who wished El Guapo a very happy birthday! There was a whole bunch of us, all with very different tributes. Here are a few links to get you started: Alex, Frank, Ginger, H.E. EllisLe Clown, M3, OMGJDWIS, and The Cheeky Diva. Check out the pingbacks in the comments here also. Then head over, answer the Friday Foolishness poll and wish him a belated happy birthday!

Independence Day is celebrated in true Finnish style. It’s the day we told the Russian Empire, thanks for everything, we’ve had enough and it’s time to do our own thing. Yes, that is a very simplified version of events and history buffs can start by looking here to get a better idea of the background.

It is public holiday today, and so there are always huge queues in the supermarkets the day before. Never mind that the very same shops will be open tomorrow. I never understand this, although I contribute to the last-minute crowds every time too! This year we’ll be eating Vorschmack and then we’re going to sit back and watch the party at the castle (Google the phrase ‘linnan juhlat’ and swap to pictures – it’s something else!).

The first time I saw this spectacle was 2001 and my reaction was along the lines of ‘you have to be kidding me, what foolishness is this’. The president and their spouse stand in the official ‘castle’ entrance hall and a long line of who’s who in Finland pass by, say hello and continue on to the reception. It’s televised and so there is continuous commentary of who the people are, who their avec is, in the case of the women who designed the dress and on and on…

I was lucky that my MIL gave the people’s version of who’s who. This one used to be a Miss Finland, this one married three times already, this man is from Rauma (where I was living at the time). Very different to the official commentary! We got to ooh and aah over the dresses, roll our eyes as some of the more ridiculous outfits paraded past the cameras and generally had a fun night. I’m fairly sure it is a scene repeated across the country.

I’ve left out one small step. At 6 pm we light two candles and place them in the window. It’s a tradition that harks back to the times when families could advertise safe accommodation to travelers fleeing the Russians.

That first year set the pattern for my every Independence Day since. The food varies, everything else remains the same. As each year goes by, more and more faces become familiar and now I understand the broadcast and the little subtle comments that pop in here and there. MIL and I will swap text messages during the evening until one of us breaks and rings with the ‘breathless’ comment ‘did you see that dress!!!!’

As well as captains of industry, the diplomatic community, veterans and sporting heroes, regular hard-working citizens get invited also. This year I actually know one of the invitees and she deserves her invite 110%. (Her work is with youth that have fallen out of the system and helps them develop their skills and find the path that works best for them – it’s the Vamos Project and unfortunately I can’t find anything in English.)

Google Finland's Independence Day Tribute

Google Finland’s Independence Day Tribute

This was on my home page this morning and Mr. 13 asked if all Google sites have the same. I went to Australian Google and it was just regular, Sweden the same and when I tried Google.com it brought me back to Google.fi. So I am none the wiser. Perhaps one of my followers can enlighten me!

That got me thinking though: should Google celebrate every event on all sites or keep it local. Because I live in a democracy here is a little poll to get the process started. If you’d like to leave a comment, please add some means of identification. If we’re still around next Independence Day I’ll publish the results!

Back to December the 6th and El Guapo’s birthday for just a second here. His Friday Foolishness posts and polls are the best thing published on Friday. Tying equally for first place is the great community that follow him and take part in said polls. I’m honoured to be one of them. I think I look forward to the other answers and his comments as much as the actual polls themselves.

I discovered him around the time of this anniversary post. I was very new to the blogging world and not quite sure about the etiquette of commenting to complete strangers. More fool me. He’s a guy with a really big heart who knows the word for green in more than one language and Finnish to boot, although for the life of me I can’t find that particular post.

El Guapo is one of the special bloggers that make blogging fun. Well my friend, the earth has traveled once more around the sun. Wishing you a great and foolish birthday! If you like, you can impress your friends by sharing the fact that today every flag in Finland is flying, ’cause it’s a birthday 😉

Independence day flag_121206

Our Independence Day flag

Six Word Saturday 29.9.2012

Status

Ajatellen suomi. Luen suomi. Puhun suomi.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Translated it means (I) Think Finnish, (I) Read Finnish, (I) Speak Finnish.

This week I let myself down by not speaking Finnish. It was a small group presentation to the rest of the class. We’d been planning everything in Finnish, so it wasn’t that I didn’t know what we were talking about. I had merely presumed that the two ‘leaders’ or dominant personalities would be doing the speaking. So when the paper was thrust in my direction for the third and final part, I panicked. Promptly shoved it back to the first person. Everybody laughed and the presentation went on.

Immediately I passed the paper back I thought to myself ‘what are you doing?’ My only issue was that I hadn’t had time to practice in my head what or how I would say it. It was also the first time speaking FINNISH to an audience.

Thursday afternoon we had a ‘chat session’, (online messaging other class members and our main lecturer) and I mentioned my ‘moka‘*. The teacher immediately said that it doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect, as long as the meaning of my message gets through. She went on to say many Finns aren’t exactly perfect when they get up to speak 😉

Promise made to self: next time I just run with it. As with public speaking in English, it can only get easier with practice.

* Mistake

Back to school

Huh! A big panic for ABSOLUTELY no reason.

Please consider this an official thank you to your like and comments to my six word Saturday of August 4. I’ll try to get back to them individually in the future.

Yesterday I rolled up for official registration and managed to slightly confound the staff by producing Finnish id. Then I got a very pleasant surprise in the form of my id tag: country of origin was listed as Finland/Australia.

I was doubly chuffed to be able to stand up twice in the roll call of nations!

Even better, so far every one I have spoken to are studying just for the heck of it – no credits needed, no degree in sight, or at least no degree that relates to the summer school course they are taking.

In two short hours I made contact with Australia, China, Finland, Germany, Italy and Korea. Only another 54 countries to bump into! The official welcome party is later tonight and I’ll be there for a quick hello and to see if I can find any more of my class mates, and possibly one or two beverages.

The university heads (Dean? Chancellor?) all had great speeches welcoming us to Helsinki Summer School 2012 and also imploring us to HAVE FUN!

In the words of Mr. 13, that’s easy 🙂

PS: The pre-course reading and assignment was terribly dull, and in a few spots even felt like common sense. Is this what it means to be a mature age student? 😉

A modern rite of passage

Today’s tune is Guns N’ Roses Paradise City. This was the theme of the day for Mr. 12’s recent birthday celebrations. First, a note of explanation. It was not his actual birthday: that day is still in our future! This was the party for friends. School holidays are already well underway when the actual day rolls around and past experience has shown that if we wait until the day, lots of friends have already left town. 2nd explanatory note: this post will be heavy on words and light on pictures. Actually, there will be no pictures! * I’ll try to throw in some links to make it interesting though!

The day of the party actually started with a trip to the airport. The Engineer had been on a ship inspection and his flight was estimated to arrive at 0850. Actual arrival time 0855. We always arrive at the airport with a few minutes to spare and this time decided to visit Finland’s first Starbucks. Now for some reason, I was under the impression that they had opened on the passenger only side of security. Depending on how you look at it, I was mistaken. Ground level, terminal two, right near the taxi stand and bus stops. I am a little ambivalent about Starbucks. We did all get drinks to go and Mr. 12 got a huge chocolate chip cookie (obscenely huge in fact). So we’ve done our bit to support them. I certainly would not drive all the way to the airport just for one of their coffees.

The first thing The Engineer said when seat-belts had been fastened was that we should go to see the MiG.** It turns out that the long anticipated release of the latest Nokia had been on Friday and The Engineer was determined to upgrade immediately. (Side note: great phone, I’ve invested so much in my apple that changing would be difficult – have to say I am very tempted.)

All this time, the clock is ticking and I can feel my pre-party tensions rising and rising. I have learnt that you can not hurry The Engineer when there are technical issues to be explored. So, I devised a programme that would allow him to get his new sim-card and give me plenty of getting ready for party time!

Next stop was the supermarket. Usually this particular market is full of stuff and people. Today however, we walked into the middle of a renovation. The food shelves were squashed into narrow rows and all the fridges and freezers were borderline empty. It meant the menu changed a little, although the guest of honour was quite happy with the alternatives.

Just as we exited the supermarket we noticed a sales / service booth for our phone operator. So we decided that we’ll get the new card immediately. I think that constituted change of plan # 3 for the day, and it wasn’t even midday. (In the end, it made no difference, there were some issues and the new card didn’t start working until Monday morning.)

All this while Mr. 12 had been fielding questions from his guests. I don’t what had happened to the paper invites, because all of their questions would have been answered if they’d read the paper!

We arrived home with just enough time to do a quick tidy and start setting up the refreshments. Guest # 1 was actually sitting in our stairwell awaiting our return. An hour early! We promptly sent both boys to the ramps. They took off, and the mini tidy got started.

The guests arrived over the space of half an hour and I was reminded that these are not little boys anymore! They were all talking about merits of iOS5 versus windows for phones, and teasing one boy about his hacking accomplishments (I kid you not, he ‘cracked’ something on his phone and now it’s personalised). One guest was from Mr. 12’s swimming group and all the boys went out of their way to make him feel included.

The party was very relaxed: some warm up on the PS3®. One guest wanted to play some battle game (rated 16) that he had brought especially for the event. We declined the opportunity. It’s rated 16 for a reason and ‘our house, our rules’. They were very happy to continue with the car racing game and soon went into the ‘party’ mode. Eight rounds of mayhem! Crashing, driving fast, barrel rolling, and driving into incoming traffic to name a few! The game has quite good graphics and no pedestrians (which is good, no-one gets hurt!), plus the music isn’t too bad either.

There was a lot of zombie talk as well. I just don’t get the fascination with zombies or vampires for that matter. That’s my mum thing I think.

Then we headed outside. We did this last summer and just had to do it again for the party. Now, when I was a young girl, way back when in the time of dinosaurs and wall mounted telephones, playing with food was frowned upon. Fast forward 40 years and we’re doing it for entertainment. Although, I don’t recall either of these two things in my young girl diet. You’ll have to follow the link to understand my cryptic remarks here.

There was a mini Mölkky tournament while the food was heating. On the menu was hotdogs, onion rings and some interested cheese stick things, followed by ice-cream. No cake, as Mr. 12 decided a good many years ago that he doesn’t want a birthday cake at all. No candles and no singing.

The guests left in much the same way they arrived, groups here and there. The clean up was thankfully relatively easy and the rest of the afternoon was spent eating the left overs (not much was left!

Thank you for reading all the way to the end! Although I don’t think it’s my longest post, pictures probably would have helped …

* I don’t intend to post pictures of other people’s children, let alone my own son. That’s me. For the same reason, names are changed or abbreviated 🙂

** This store now has a great viewing platform on the top floor and a MiG jet parked there also.

Restaurant Day / Ravintola Päivä

All of my worlds have crashed together today. So I present one of my favourite Finnish bands The Crash singing Pony Ride. Sadly they are no longer together, fortunately for you, there is a wonderful collection on YouTube. Check them out. The front man (Teemu Brunila) is one of Finland’s prominent writer-composers, his name pops up everywhere.

Saturday was the 5th occasion of Restaurant Day. Anyone can set up a restaurant, anywhere. It’s a Finnish ‘invention’, the first one was held just 12 months ago and already it’s gone international. Over seven hundred restaurants around the world last Saturday. Early on Saturday morning I downloaded the app and had a quick look at the offerings before heading off to the harbour to do some market research. I passed the information on to my survey participants: I hope they managed to find something yummy 🙂

The city was very quiet on my way to the harbour, although by the time I was heading across town there were all sorts of restaurants setting up. We did a quick check of offerings and decided to head back into town and see what was available.  The app was ‘tipping’ a little bit due to far too many users at the same time. Their web site suffered the same indignity.

We found Riita’s ribs very quickly, and quickly grabbed ourselves ribs and salad to go. They were juicy and spicy with crispy bits. Yummy. The warm weather had brought the crowds out and some restaurants seemed to be running out of food.

I didn’t get any pictures (too busy eating), so instead I’ll direct you to Lumo Lifestyle’s blog all about Restaurant Day. This is one the first Finnish blogs I started to follow when I started writing my own. For the life of me I cannot remember how I found it, all I know is that her mail arrives first thing in the morning and the photos are always a joy to look at. (THIS blog has far too many words and not enough pictures!)

Anyway, there were far too many restaurants open to check them all. There were at least 2 that we should have gone to as they  were opened by friends. Next time… We visited an old friend serving afternoon tea in her garden. P is very proud of her garden and a huge fan of things British and Scottish. So we sat in the garden sipping tea and eating our scones with jam and cream. Oh so decadent. P’s husband J was hiding out in the basement watching Finland not earn a podium spot in the hockey championships.

We had a movie date with The Avengers. Iron Man rules and that’s all I’ll say about the movie. Oh, apart from ‘Hulk got the action and Robert Downey Jr got the best lines’. We decided to finish the day with burgers on the beach. On of the late opening restaurants. Their listing said enough for 100, and they’d only been open a couple of hours. So, we figured that there would be burgers left.

SOLD OUT. One chicken burger and a few tofu burgers was all that was left. So this meat-eater took the vegetarian option. I’m very glad I did, that was one seriously good burger. So we sat on sun-warmed rocks, ate our burgers and sipped on cold beers. Nice way to end a day out on the town.

PS: I’m thinking of participating in the next Restaurant Day as a restauranteur. I think I know just what to sell, just need to find a suitable spot! Stay tuned.

My new best friend

Feeling chatty? Here is Stevie Nicks doing Talk to me. Love the hair, love the dress. Hmm, those were the days 🙂

Today was Talkoot* day. The day when all the civic-minded residents of our apartment block work in the yard and do a little spring cleaning. In autumn we get to do it all over again in preparation for winter.

Those that arrive early get the ‘best jobs’. I got to rake the yard and collect weeds, sticks and other assorted rubbish. Right at the beginning one of the ladies from the next stairwell came running up, saying excitedly welcome, welcome! This is most unusual, as most of the house usually speak Finnish with me. Anyway, I tried to set her straight and said no, no we can speak Finnish, it’s much better. To which she replied, oh but I want to practice my English. I’ve been studying at adult education.

So we agreed she would speak English and I would speak Finnish. It worked an absolute charm and we both understood what the other was talking about. So, off we went on our respective jobs. Towards the end of the work our paths crossed again and so I took a very big brave step.

I asked my neighbour if she would be willing to meet once a week for talking and language practice? She didn’t even have to think about it and agreed immediately!

We swapped numbers and have agreed to meet for coffee this Friday. I figure if we do different things each time our respective vocabularies will build. She is very keen and this will be a win win for both of us!

What I’ve learnt so far is that she is retired and will be away from the city for most of summer! Last autumn she and her husband were in Croatia and she has never been to Lapland. She knows that I have one son who is currently in bi-lingual class at school and will be going to local high school in the autumn, I’ve been to Lapland twice and I’m starting my own business. Not bad for 15 minutes, whilst enjoying the traditional post talkoot refreshments of grilled sausage and beer.

* Talkoot – working bee.

Thank you… 13 years later

Today’s music is proudly sung by Stockholm’s Gay Choir and What shall we do with a drunken sailor? I had occasion to sing this last Saturday night, along with 150 ship building professional and partners. The occasion was the 65th anniversary of LRK (Laivanrakentajain kerho) or Shipbuilders club. These men and women have all studied the noble art of shipbuilding and the many disciplines within. In other words, they are all engineers. That’s only half of today’s topic. First I have to get to the Thank You part!

Shortly after Mr. 12 was born it was very obvious that my pre-pregnancy wardrobe was not going to cut it. My body shape went pear-shaped. Literally. All of sudden things were sticking where earlier there had been no issue. Enter my mum who was at that time working at the TAFE Library. The campus housed students studying trades and skill based professions: hairdressing, fashion, carpentry, plumbing, metal work to name but a few.

One day mum mentions that the fashion classes were selling off their work and would I be interest in anything? She mentioned long skirt with matching top. They were nothing fancy or elaborate, jersey fabric and an elastic waist. I bought two: one red and one black. They could be mix’n’matched with other items, folded to nothing in the suitcase, washing and drying were a breeze.

In the years since the red set has been my Christmas day outfit here in Finland. It fits Finnish Christmas so much better than anything else I own. The black I have worn a few times, and last Saturday it saved the day. You see, LRK’s 65th party was Formal (yes with a capital F). Now we get invited to maybe one formal event each year, and so far I’ve managed to get by with some creative wardrobe pieces and bending the rules a little. Not this time.

Of course, I hadn’t taken too much notice of the invite. Midday Saturday I start looking in the wardrobe. Two outfits take my fancy. As the event started with a harbour cruise I wanted something I could move about the boat comfortably in (and still look good!). Outfit selected, I thought I’d check the invite and programme one more time. Then I realised that it said juhlapuku!* Now I started to feel a little numb. In the words of The Engineer, “you have to be ready if you ever get invited to the Presidents Ball”, to which I replied, “when that happens I’ll get a new dress thank you very much”.

My chosen outfit was perfect cocktail. It was far to late to buy anything, anyway my wallet was empty. Thinking thinking. Then I remembered my long black skirt. It was long, it was black and seriously who is going to notice that the fabric isn’t silk or satin. I figured I could dress up the top, and play down the bottom. That’s exactly what I did.

THANK YOU to the student who made this fantastic skirt. You saved my night and I hope that the intervening years have been good to you and you have gone onto bigger and better things since.

Formal outfit... just and just

Black on black. Can’t go wrong

The next issue to tackle was make-up. Those that know me in the real world (in the time of living in Finland) have probably realised by now that I don’t do make-up. The reasons for this are worthy of their own post. Suffice to say the men in my life crack lovely jokes about me looking ghoulish and vampirish when I do get around to putting a face. Their biggest complaint is that I put too much on. Naturally I become a scary beast when you never see me with a little mascara and lipstick. For a formal evening it was probably too little as opposed to too much. There is no photographic evidence anywhere to disprove this theory. So we’ll just leave it there.

In the meantime The Engineer was having his own wardrobe dilemma. Finally I’m ready, and FIRST for a change. Sitting quietly and looking at the clock knowing that the boat was leaving at 15:15 and we didn’t really want to miss it… Finally we are ensconced in the taxi and heading to the harbour. What is the first thing I see on arrival? Another guest with “fresh from the salon” hair piled high and a glorious dress. I turned to The Engineer and said something along the lines of being under-dressed. Silly I know, especially as I felt quite good in the outfit. We women can sometimes be our own worst enemies.

Onto the party itself. A welcoming drink on-board. Some small speech as the boat pulled away from the pier. Shortly after the majority of the crowd moved to the upper deck where there was a band playing. We sat downstairs for a while talking with to one of the professors and a colleague. Eventually we too headed to the upper deck where I met (finally) a gentleman that I have been mailing occasionally, and billing often. He asked me to dance and was not at all perturbed when I said I can’t dance (true, I cannot waltz to save myself). We danced anyway!

Our cruise took us around the harbour, close to Suomenlinna, the island fortress that is definitely one of Helsinki’s crown jewels. As The Engineer commented the next day, it’s quite unlikely that the majority of the group noticed where we were!

Important note here: our welcoming drink had been sponsored by AARC, and that included the glass it came it. We were instructed to hold on to our glass if we wished to enjoy some bubbles on stage II of the event.

Our party was a little Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Our boat returned to harbour and our merry bunch was spilled out of the boat and onto buses. There were bottles of bubbly moving through the bus, and out came the glasses. It’s a little difficult drinking bubbly drink on a bus as it drives over cobblestones. Warm bubbles up the nose make you want to sneeze.

We headed west to the university campus and arrived at the student hall where our dinner was taking place. From the outside it resembled a concrete bunker (with a couple of windows) and a strange protuberance over the front door.

Isn’t it cool and weird at the same time! Inside we followed the curve of the building up a ramp to the coat-check and finally into the main hall itself. As always there was a queue for the lady’s toilet. I discovered that the upstairs toilet had not queue at all. Shame it took me half the night to discover that!

The food was good (and plentiful!), the company was friendly and pleasant and the songs with accompanying toasts kept going and going! Luckily our menu was also the song book so we could sing along.

The table hopping started after main course, so I hopped to the sonni ** table to greet some colleagues and old acquaintances. This was THE men’s table. Solo travelers, whose partners have decided that perhaps it’s better not join on this occasion. Apparently the parties get a bit wild later in the evening. It was nice chatting with them, apparently I scored points because I went to their table before The Engineer! In his defense he arrived shortly after.

After the food and before the dancing started I got the opportunity to talk with this years student president. I was maybe a little harsh in my comments about the seating arrangements. All of the current students were on one table and everybody else spread over the other three tables. I asked why it couldn’t be mixed up a little more? The answer: this is what the guests want, to sit with former classmates. I’ve never attended any type of reunion so perhaps that is what people want , although it would be nice to sit with a student from now, even if to just swap notes on how things are different (or the same) between now and then!

We headed home after some mingling, a short walk to the taxi rank, where we were in luck. It was a queue of one (actually I think a queue needs at least two to be a ‘queue’) and the light was glowing. As we traveled over the bridge heading towards Lauttasaari the ‘super moon’ was hovering some way of the horizon. Nice ending to a fun night out. Now I have to get around to finding myself a decent juhlapuku.

* Type juhlapuku and run a Google picture search.

** Sonni is Finnish for bull, as in the large male bovine.

We are hunting lions!

The 2012 IIHF World Championships start today and continue until May 20th. I must confess I’m not a big ice hockey fan. Let’s take that one step further, I’m not a big sports fan! Anyway, I do feel it is a little wrong when I live in a country where I’m sure children can skate before they walk, as well as enjoying ice-skating as a school sport. Ice rinks pop up all over the country at the first hint of chilly weather and the fences don’t come down again until it is well and truly spring.

2011 was the year that Finland won the world cup after many years of being in so close. 2012 we get to host the world championships in conjunction with Sweden. Now because I know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about ice hockey I’m going to direct you to the IIHF page and you can read all about the upcoming championships there.

One of the stars of last years team was a young man by the name of Mikael Granlund, believe it or not, I know his name without resorting to running Google search! He leapt to fame after ‘shooting’ this amazing goal. To make matters sweeter it was against Russia.

Fast forward to this years Championships.  Every time there is a major sporting even that both Finland and Australia are competing in I have this terrible conflict. Which country to I put my heart and soul behind? Formula 1 is the most difficult: on one hand we have the rugged Mark Webber representing Australia and then there is the taciturn, yet looking like a ‘little boy lost’ Kimi Räikkönen,  back flying the flag for Finland after dabbling in rally. Oh, the conflict!

It doesn’t appear that Australia is fielding a team in the championships this year, they lost to Romania. Due to the large amount of advertising everywhere in the last few weeks Lion-fever is building, even for this confirmed non-hockey fan. Here is this years championship logo and mascot, courtesy of Leijonat.fi.

If the bird seems familiar, it’s because you’ve been playing Angry Birds too much! Yes ‘HockeyBird’ has escaped from the Rovio nest. Here is some background information if you are interested.

On a final note, because I have to put in some music here is an advertisement being run by one of the local cable channels. High on patriotic fervour I would say!

Onnea Leijonat! Good luck Lions!