Clear skies!


Night photography is not something I’ve mastered yet, so please take my word for it when I say that we are enjoying cloudless skies night and day here.

Sunshine and snow make great partners and put a little zip into your step. For some this in an upside 🙂 others are not so excited. For me, I like it when the temperature drops to minus double digits, morning walks start to sound like excursions on top of polystyrene! The sea close to our home is starting to look safely frozen and good for walking on. I’ll put money on people skiing on the frozen sea tomorrow. While the ice fishermen have been out there for a while, I tend to wait until there have been many days of decent freezing weather before I venture out there. At least the dogs will have some decent free roaming time!

This week the temperature dropped once the cloud cover disappeared. From a balmy -2 (celsius) on Sunday to a brisk -13 (Celsius) tonight (Tuesday, February 7th at 21:15!). While it’s really nice for sledding and skiing, snowman construction at this temperature sucks – the snow is too powdery and no good. At least the natural skating rinks will stay in good shape while it’s so cold!

Instant ice rink - just add water

Instant ice rink – just add water

Night photography attempt # 1 (in a snow storm)

Night photography attempt # 1 (in a snow storm)


Six Word Saturday: 21.1.2016


It will be beautifully cold today ❄

Monday mutterings 02/2017

or ‘stop cutting in! I left that gap for a reason!’

Upon our return from holiday, the dogs needed to be collected from their holiday home. This entailed a 3.5 hour drive one way and then because road conditions deteriorated so much, the return journey home stretched to 4.5 hours.

The main freeway that connects Helsinki and Turku was 80 km / hour for the entire 150 odd kilometres. (Usually it’s 100 in winter and 120 in summer.) I knew we were in for an interesting drive, when at the beginning of the freeway I was passed by buses, tanker trucks as well as the usual speedsters – generally driving German cars – although that could be a generalisation 😉 The road speed signs all clearly indicated 80 km / hour. There was no way that you could mistake the numbers for anything else.

Never mind that all the road speed signs showed 80 kms per hour. Never mind that the road / air temperature signs showed slippery conditions (air and road both hovering around zero). Never mind that it was dark and a little foggy. Never mind that Mr. 17 and I couldn’t agree on the music to listen to.

I try to drive for the conditions – I really don’t want to drive into the back of someone nor do I want someone to drive into me. So, I set the cruise control to 80 and the gap between my car and the one in front to be the longest. I can do this because my (our) car is super smart. It can adapt the speed I drive at (when cruise control is set) to maintain the gap no matter what the speed of the car I am following. When they speed up I speed up (to the limit I’ve set), when they slow down, the car slows and the gap stays the same. Brilliant. Imagine if every car on the road had this. It would be almost impossible to rear end anybody.

Except there are currently very few models that use this radar technology. So in the mean time I just have to keep my distance. Except cars pass me and then slide into the gap that I’ve purposely left – my turvaväli (safe distance) becomes not so safe. I know I’m not alone having this complaint. It seems that some Finns like to drive really close behind you and then when they pass they leave the bare minimum when coming back into the lane. Needless to say, I was quite happy to arrive home that night. You might wonder why I am so worked up about my turvaväli. Read on – icy roads make for lousy stopping conditions 😦

Traffic safety have great infographics on their page for all manner of road safety topics. (Remind me to talk about reflectors one day!). The infographic below shows how stopping distances increase as the road surface goes from:
dry (3 seconds / 50 metres) to
snowy (8 seconds/ 105 metres) to
icy (16 seconds / 187 metres) when travelling at 80 kms and having a one second reaction time.

Stopping distances at 80 km/h

Stopping distances at 80 km/h – note the difference ice makes! Picture credit: Liikenneturva /

It’s almost enough to make you not want to drive – except I quite like driving 🙂

In the meantime, please stay out of my turvaväli!

If you are not used to winter or difficult driving conditions and in the interests of keeping our roads safe please have a read of this article: and then play the animation (in Finnish) for stopping distances
First select your speed and road conditions and then press Aloita (start).
Your car starts moving and then stops (the driver notices that ahead there is an obstacle ahead) press Jatka (continue).
Now one second passes and the car travels x metres at your chosen speed before braking commences Jatka (continue).
Your car will stop and then you’ll see how long it took and how far you travelled to stop Jatka (continue)
The last information is total time and distance including your reaction time. I tried this at 120 km per hour on an icy road. In 23 seconds my car travelled 404 metres before coming to a stop. Scary.

What’s your biggest beef with other road users?

Six Word Saturday: 22.2.2014


Remember to keep a safe distance!

We’re driving back from Lapland, the weather is foul, the news has been full of warnings and now came a report of the third pile-up…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Changing Seasons

This week the challenge is to publish one picture that best represents the changing season. Winter has arrived very nicely in Helsinki; 24 hours plus of snow fall, combined with freezing temperatures and driving winds and there is plenty of snow cover. I’ve missed the opportunity to capture the transition from Autumn to Winter in that respect.

Water and boats are two major parts of our lives… until winter. We’ve already put the Platypus into winter storage. These guys don’t have that problem!

09:44 – carving a path through the ice
(Olympus tough)

Later in the week I was walking the dog and visiting the harbour where our boat is moored for summer:

15:30 – an empty harbour
(Olympus tough)

Not even a boat left in the ice for winter…. instead they are all here. I would loved to have been able to capture the sounds: flapping canvas, the weight you can see in the forefront bumping and creaking, the wind whistling through the yard. Instead here are some hulking hulls shrouded in their clumsy winter coats!

15:15 – winter storage
(Olympus tough)

Taking snow pictures is so difficult. These were the ‘best’ of a very average bunch. Even using the ‘snow mode’ of the camera was not very much help. In the end I turned the flash off and used the natural light being reflected off the snow. These latter two were taken quite late in the afternoon, and it was already starting to be dark.

What will our next challenge be?

Weekend Weather

… and the forecast is!

I just grabbed this snapshot of the forecasted weather for this weekend and beyond. It’s always funny to see the sunrise and sunset times listed. It’s been more than a few days since I saw either 😉 Forecast courtesy of the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

At least it’s not cold!

Carpet washing by hand (aka cheap workout)

Today I went down to the sea to wash Mr. 12’s carpet. The link between action and music today is very tentative. Nick Cave & Kylie Minogue dueting Where the wild roses grow.

Mr. 12 is at camp school this week. The Engineer is on another continent more that a few time zones away. This means I can do a little redecorating. Mr. 12 soon becomes Mr. 13 and I thought this would a great opportunity to transform his room from ‘small boy grotto’ into ‘teen chill space’. Sunday we picked out the new furniture and some artwork for his walls. Two Roy Lichtenstein pop-art style prints were selected for his room, along with a new bed and corner desk unit.

The carpet was in desperate need of washing. Even after running the vacuum over it and pounding the dust away, it was still looking bedraggled. I’ve washed carpets by the sea before, usually later in the year when it is ACTUALLY summer. Still the forecast for the rest of the week is not bad, and after this morning’s thunderstorm there is no rain in the forecast at all!

So I rolled the carpet up, grabbed my supplies: bucket, scrubbing-brush and mänty (pine) liquid soap.

Carpet transport

Bike + bucket + carpet. All set

I cycled to the carpet washing platform or mattolaituri. These can be found all over Finland, by rivers, lakes or the sea. A new seaside cafe / bar by the same name has opened up in Helsinki. It’s right in front of a real carpet washing platform, and perfect for people watching. Now, back to the topic at hand….

Ready to wash

Plenty of benches to choose from…

I was pleasantly surprised to find I was not the only one there. There was one gentleman washing two carpets to the right of this shot. He was very busy, although he did give me his left over soap. Said he didn’t want to take it home again. It will get used later this summer, I have at least three carpets that require some TLC!

Lather up!

Pine soap has a very fine white lather.

Wet the carpet, pour some soap, lather up, scrub with brush. Rinse, repeat. Rinse. Repeat. Rinse, rinse and then just when you think you must be finished, rinse again! If the carpet is not too big you can dip it into the sea. I’m always afraid that my carpet will be too heavy to pull back again, so I stick to dipping the bucket and rinsing that way.

Mangling required now

Heavy lifting stage…

Once the rinsing is complete, the almost last step is rolling through the mangle or mankeli. This stage can sometimes cause distress, especially if the carpet doesn’t release the water easily. Fortunately, this carpet was easy to move off the table and onto the mangle.

Look Mum, I'm mangling!

Watch your fingers!

Then I mangled back and forth a few times. Eventually the amount of water being  squeezed out was pretty much non-existent.

Overnight resting spot

Hanging over the drying frame.

Fortunately transfer from mangle to drying frame was quite easy. This is where it will now stay for at least the next 24 hours. In peak carpet washing season these racks are full.

Picnic anyone?

Handy bench for those waiting their turn…

Carpet looks quite okay from here….

Now I have some furniture to put together 🙂

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.