Thursday, January 27, 2011


Guidelines - not straight or obvious. Let the surroundings speak for the subject. The rule of thirds. Allow space for a moving object to move. Never cut shadows or reflections. Best light -early morning or late afternoon, Finland has good light.

Attended my first Photoreportage class - I'm learning how to take photos and to tell a story with the photos. Two hours on my own - luxury. Felt very odd to be a student again after being the teacher for so long. And I was amazed about how much of what I learnt about photography is exactly what I teach about creative writing. Go out and see/read the best, and learn from them. Find a rhythm and repetition and use it. Practice as often as you can.

Though I'm not quite sure how I'm going to find the spare hour and a half I need for my homework every week. Homework, me, go figure. I need to take 36 pictures (no more or less) and let them tell a story. This week's assignment is cafe or coffee. Maybe coffee in Lapland next week.

Played with the camera a bit on the way home - inspired, I guess. Pictures of some of the lights the Finns have out at night, not as many candles as there usually is, but I'll keep trying. I love how alot of Finns leave their curtains and blinds open in the dark nights. Partially because I'm a nosey cow and love to look into their houses, but it also makes walking around a night much friendlier and warmer.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Moon in Opposition

This is for our fans back home, I know you're out there.

After my last happy rant, this one will be a bit more sombre. We're a bunch of grumps at the moment. Nugget aka Mousie is swinging constantly from giddy to whiney on some kind of mad blood sugar induced pendulum. Must be a growth spurt, but it can spurt right out of here for all I care. Foo, in the midst of potty training and dropping his nap, is also not always a happy soul and if the need to wee collides with the lack of a nap, stand well clear. Little Niblet is teething and dealing with the frustration of learning to crawl and eat solids, so has had her less than charming moments as well. Keep telling her that gut dredging shriek she does really doesn't become a lady, but she takes after her Äiti and 'winna be tellt'.

But nothing tops the week of the Chief and I. We have been hit with several bouts of bad news from home. Not hit, but dumped upon from a great height in large quantities. There are several people we would gratefully fling to the Four Winds rather than ever have to deal with again, but better to not dwell. Our day will come.

And the poor Chief has picked up a virus similar to what I had in the autumn, that saps all your energy for weeks, so you can't eat, walk, think, do anything. And yet life goes on expecting us to do these things.

So we're ploughing on, in the merry Finnish winter. At least it's getting brighter out, a bit. Do the nights fair draw out as well? Here's hoping.

Here's a happier picture of my Little Elves - Pikku Tontuut. Don't think Bumptious is impressed with her outift though.

Me in my Finnish hat and a photo of the Chief taken by one of the Weans

Will try and find something nice and happy and Finnish to write about next time.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Good Moon?

I'm in a good mood. After a tough week or two at the Clan House, things have calmed down. It may be because all the Clan have colds except me, but the tantrums have subsided mostly, the weather is a sloshy, freezy kind of thing, but not impassable. Mormor is coming every morning to help watch the Weans so I can get some things done, but also keeps me company which is lovely. Even though I have friends and go to different baby groups, it is work for them and me to have conversations, so it's lovely just to be able to talk without thinking. And yes, she'll read this, but she deserves a big mushy kiss anyway. Thanks so much for everything.

And we've started to book our trips for when Auntie comes to visit. Lapland here we come. I'm so excited. I've wanted to go back to Lapland since I briefly visited when I was in Norway. I love the whole Sami culture and get silly excited about reindeer. Hope to see the Northern Lights, but won't hold my breath or be disappointed if we don't. Going by train, which will be an adventure in itself with the Chief, me and the Weans and two single beds.

Then we're going to Estonia for a day, Talinn, the capital. Don't know what to expect but don't care. I love getting out and exploring. Going by boat, staying on board overnight,so another bit of excitement for the boys. Who needs sleep when you have trains and boats?

Other bit of fun is Baby Bumptious. After having learned the sign for 'milk' and using it to the point my nips are going to fall off, she is desperately trying to crawl. It's hilarious the positions she gets herself into. It looks like she's either doing yoga or facing Mecca. And when Mousie joins in and they're both bum in the air on their tiptoes it's hard not to laugh and take photos. Here's two of the more sedate ones.

Yeah, I've loaded photos, I'm on my way to becoming a Big Girl Blogger.

Writing some poems as well which is improving my mood as well. Here's one I'm working on.

The Snow

the squeak, crunch and sparkle
of the dawdle to school

the unfettered piles
sliding onto street and pavements
like his enthusiasm

the pristine drifts
too difficult for him to resist
dipping a hand
or diving hip-deep

the promise of white-lead laden skies
falling hours behind glass

the frustration of slush
compounded to ice rutted paths
by plummeting temperatures

the bite on exposed flesh
through thin cheap layers

the dry hush of my skin

the shovel’s slide
over the hard-caked path
biting out steps to our door
starting again as it won’t let up

the promise of light
in the unexpected crystal flakes
suspended in the air
as the sun whispers by

the neighbours’ fire pits
and ice candles
illuminating our way home

This good humour may not last if Bumptious keeps up her ridiculous night waking schedule, but she's been out the past 3 hours, so hopefully this bodes well. Keep your fingers crossed. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011


The Clan marched on Porvoo today, to the East of Helsinki, in our haphazard sort of way. Tired boys always make an hour long bus trip more fun, but we managed pretty well. A lot of empty snowy land in Finland, so it wasn't an exciting trip out, but pretty, especially after the sun had gone down and the Finns turned on the lights on their houses in the woods.

Our visit to Porvoo turned out to be more of a extended banquet: a fancy lunch for the grown ups at El Alba, coffee and cake for us and lunch for the Foo at Cafe Fanny and then back to Herttoniemi for a Chinese meal. Mousie Moo lived up to his name and barely ate. While Baby Bumptious is showing signs of being a good eater like her big brother, sucking and munching on pork neck and green beans, stir fried chicken and vegs like a pro.

But amidst all the stops for nourishment, we got a chance to recky the town for my Auntie coming to visit next month. Porvoo is a lovely town, feels more Swedish than Finnish and is older looking than Helsinki. The Gamle Borgo or Vanha Porvoo - Old Porvoo has lovely wooden houses stacked on the side of a hill overlooking the frozen river, topped by the Cathedral. Saw snowmobiles going along the river, braver souls that us. Pushing the buggy along some slushy paths was enough for the Chief. Yes, the weather has warmed up enough to make slush! Don't know whether to cheer or cry. The town has some lovely shops and a museum that we'll have to try and actually get into next time. Went to one small chocolate factory shop, but I know there's a better one somewhere. Need to check with my sources.

Tomorrow may be a walk in the countryside if Bumptious behaves herself tonight and lets Äiti and Isä get some shut eye. Not holding our breaths.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Holiday Blues

I cannot wait for Mousie to go back to daycare. Don't get me wrong, I love him to death and he can be fun to be with, but he is a child which needs routine. Or he becomes a whingey beast.

We've been ridiculously lazy over the holidays, barely going out, so we've given into a lot of the boys' seemingly harmless demands to play their computer games or watch their DVDs. And as a result they are spoiled brats and yesterday's trip to the National Museum proved it. Mousie blatently ignored everything I and Mormor asked or told him, and if The Foo's blood sugar dipped even a little or he was a bit tired, he would become a tantruming demon. Baby Bumptious was the best behaved and even she got in on the whining and crying while I was trying to make dinner, hence the less than palatable fish cakes. Which almost no one would have eaten anyway.Too mushy and foregn for Moo and too fishy for the Chief. Though Baby B, The Foo and I ate them, enjoyed is another thing.

So the whip has been well and truely snapped and a semblence of order has returned to the Clan House. The Chief has an Oblie-Goblie holiday tomorrow, so he's getting the boys for an hour or so (doesn't know it yet) and Mormor and I will do some crafty-foody retail therapy.

After two days of chasing the Weans through the hallowed halls of Finland's finest, I can say I'm well sick of museums and looking forward to buying reindeer products and more yarn that I will probably never get around to knitting with.

Now if I could just find an easy cure for the case of Adult Insomnia that seems to be stalking the Household.

On the up side, the Baby Most Bumptious has cut her first tooth. Truely scrumptious.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Welcome to the Blog

All's quiet in the House of the Clan, so this is a good place to start. 

I decided to start a blog, to keep me warm at night, to get me writing again, to do something for myself and to keep you, loyal reader, oh, dearly beloved, entertained and informed. 

Edited to add: as this blog has evolved I have started to document more about things to do in Finland with a young family. I'm always struggling for new adventures and activities, so hopefully this blog will help other expat families in the country. At the bottom of the blog are links to particular posts that review an activity, tourist destination or event that might be of interest. I hope they're helpful and fun for you all. 

However, as this blog is open to anyone, I want to keep it semi-private, so let me introduce you to our cast of characters.

There's the Clan Chief, Isä, who led us on our great Exodus.
There's myself, the Matriarch, Äiti.
There's my mother Mormor who has come to stay for 3 months. 
There's the Weans - Mouse - our eldest,
the Foo - second boy.
and Bumptious.
Edited to add: And Pudding makes 4 in 2013. 

We left our home in Scotland 8 months ago (May 2010) for Helsinki and I wish I had started this then as it has been one hell of a journey. But you're with us now, and the adventure is just beginning, so hold on, the ride may be a bit bumpy.

We're coming to the end of the holiday season. The Chief goes back to work tomorrow, with maybe just a hint of a skip in his step. I will try and ignore it. He's waiting for confirmation in writing that we will be staying in Finland for another year.

Foo doesn't go back to daycare (päivakerho) until the following Monday, so the next week will be an exercise to keep the Weans occupied without losing my marbles.

This is where Mormor will be a gods' send. If we can keep her well, the Finnish viruses seem to be kicking her hard. She was having enough trouble getting used to the Finnish weather.

We're up to our hips in snow and the weather hasn't gotten over 0C in the past month and a half. The temps are normal for Finland but the snow is more than they're used to at this point in the winter. But we're learning to adapt. We've got a sledge for when the snow fall is too much for the buggy. We've all got about 4 layers of clothes on at any point when we go out, which is a pain when we go in somewhere as you're constantly pulling things off if you get on the Metro or go in a shop. Nothing stops for the weather here, so I'm determined to get used to it.

It's a new year and I'm trying to be positive about Finland, the weather and the fact that we're here and will be here for a while yet.

New Year's Resolution - make the most of our time in Finland. So, I'm beginning with a blog, a visit tomorrow to a Finnish friend's home and hopefully the Chief will get me some info on a photography class I want to take. First steps in our new year in Finland. Glad you could join us.

Please note: all the photos in this blog are my property, unless specified, please do not reproduce them without permission. Thank you. 
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