Chance encounters emphasize old friends importance.
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The Engineer and I were enjoying a late lunch today when two friends that I haven’t seen or spoken to in ages arrived in the same restaurant. It reminded me that over the last 12 months I’ve been remiss at taking care of friendships, both new and old. Time to up my game 🙂

FYI it’s more than liking posts on Facebook. That doesn’t count.

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In case you’ve wondered about my relative silence of late: here is one of the reasons!

Presenting Heather’s Helsinki’s first official product: Fork In Hand! In conjunction with Veronica of  WEFactory and with considerable assistance from our good friends at Iittala, we are delivering food tourism (Foodism) in a new way. This is the last time you’ll hear me mention the words tour or guide. Instead we’re offering stories and food – Finnish Food Tales told by Food Narrators 😉 Sounds cool, yes?!

The last weeks have been a jumble of calls and e-mails and texts and this week it all comes together. Well that is the plan. We’ve lined up a great selection of tastes and treats, it’s like a pot-luck in reverse!

I’m super-excited and trying hard to suppress the little bubble of terror that threatens to erupt regularly.

If you want to keep up with what’s happening check out Heather’s Helsinki or Fork In Hand on Facebook.

PS: Isn’t that fork earring the greatest thing ever?!

Every ship voyage begins at check-in:

Beginning
Check in ‘counter’ at Viking Line terminal Helsinki

My interpretation of Beginning for this weeks photographic challenge. Here we sit waiting for our turn to check-in. Destination Stockholm & Perry 😉 I actually took this photo for the tail-lights of the car in front. I like the way they climb up the body of the car.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Colour (my morning!)

The weekly photo challenge drops to my mail box every Friday afternoon any time between 1400 and 2000. A week ago the message opened with a flaky blue door and this opening text :

Color. Splashed on the walls of cities, in batches of flowers in gardens, in the doodles of students, and on the palettes of artists, color is everywhere: it may represent our mood, and it can affect our mood. In photography, you can use a spectrum of colors to bring a place to life, or focus on a single shade to make a bold statement. Conversely, you can shoot in black-and-white or remove color in editing mode for a different effect.

Now, I’m not sure if I’ve done this correctly. I’ve gone ahead and tried something I haven’t done before (create a gallery). I’m not 100% certain than my idea translates either. Check out the gallery first and then see my text at the end. Let me know if I succeeded, failed or something else!

I took these shots with my trusty little iPhone4 between 0619 and 0632 Tuesday morning on Perry’s first walk of the day! My first thought was pink champagne – the sky was a very delicate pink, not that I drink so much champagne 😉 and there was still a little fog floating over the ice.

Enjoy! and please let me know what you think of early morning spring colour in Helsinki 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: My Neighbourhood

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Balcony view at sunset. The ‘smoke’ on the horizon is actually steam from one of the city heating plants that keeps our apartmemt (and the rest of the city) warm in winter.

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Once the snow goes this will be a nice place to sit 🙂

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View from our front door. The frozen sea is very safe for walking on now, a couple more weeks though and I’ll be staying on dry land! Strange clouds and odd light that morning…

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A seasonal hazard.

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The area we live in is a rehabilitated site, comprising mostly apartment buildings. One parking solution is to go underground…

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Sunrise and an impatient Perry…

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The view back to our building from the ice. Sunday walks on days like this are the best! Skiers, fishermen and plenty of dogs enjoying freedom from the leash…

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Perry’s view!

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The sky looked like it was on fire….

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Chilly morning!

All shots taken with my iPhone 4. No tweeking or other programs used (this time!). These were taken whilst walking with Perry (morning, noon and night) for this Phoneography challenge!

I’ll have to take these shots again when summer is here 🙂

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?

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.

Ironically enough…

… today we officially commenced summer time and as many pointed out so gleefully earlier this week: it’s spring! Forgive me if I don’t share your enthusiasm at this point.

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Helsinki Spring 2012

The above was the view at 0930 this morning. The lovely thing about spring snow is that it covers the emerging piles of dog-doo and other debris that has been buried for three months or more. The not-so-lovely part of spring snow here in the south of Finland is that it is often short-lived and melts to dirty slush in a matter of hours.

So, of course here we go with Alanis Morissette and Ironic. I’d totally forgotten how this clip looked. Now, is that ironic or what?!

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