Sunday, October 23, 2016

Suomenlinna Go!

Our other adventure started this week due to the Autumn Holiday / syysloma that all the school kids get. We took the girls out of nursery as well and the Chief took off work, so we've been looking for something to fill the time. Enter Pokemon Go. Not my idea of fun, but it got the boys to go out of the house without threats from me. They went out on 3 walks that first day, with all of us, on their own and Mouse went by himself. We then walked to a local restaurant and took the long way home so we could Pokehunt. Foo again was exhausted with all the walking, but he kept up.

A day later Mouse was saying we needed to go to Suomenlinna because there were tons of rare water Pokemons there. He had researched the best places to catch Pokemon in Finland and Suomenlinna as one of the best sites in Helsinki. 

Obviously lots of other kids had done this research as well because when we took the ferry over to the island it was totally full of kids on phones and tablets playing Pokemon Go. They must have some sort of lure to attract Pokemon right at the harbour on the island as the boys could barely walk 3 steps without another one popping up. It makes walking a very slow process, but we got out. 

Suomenlinna is beautiful right now, the colours of the trees and the hills, but it is very cold. We bundled the kids up in their winter coats and suits, but the wind cuts right through you. It was overcast, but still a lovely day now that all the kids can walk on their own. We still took the buggy for tired ones, so dragging it across the cobbles and up the ramparts is a pain, but you can kick the occupant out so you're not carrying their weight. 

Our usual stop of Cafe Bar Valimo was closed so we tried out Cafe Chapman. It offered a decent, nothing fancy, Finnish style buffet, good for warming us up before we headed back out. We ran through one battery and downloaded the game on a second phone by the time we got up to the walk along the cliffs. They seem to be doing a lot of work on the paths near the high cannons, but you still can get around most of the island. 

Some things never change. Foo flinging himself down a hill.

We did catch a lot of Pokemons and the kids ran about over rocks and along the paths. Well worth a trip for both. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Our well-travelled friend C just completed his 10th visit to our home here in Helsinki. We love seeing him and he keeps us on our toes to discover new destinations while he's here. We planned to go to Porvoo, but car problems meant we were stuck in town. I remembered that the Chief had noticed a place where you could sunbathe on the roof and I thought I'd look it up. 

Yes, I realise it's October and sun-bathing is the last thing we'd consider in Finland just now, but Löyly Helsinki offers more than that. Löyly translates as 'steam' and this sauna, sea swimming bar and restaurant looks like a lot of fun. We didn't go for a sauna, but I'd love to try it sometime with friends. It has communal saunas and a fireplace room which has glass that overlooks the sea. I saw people eating sausages and ice cream in the fireplace room, others who left the sauna for a quick dip in the sea and a few who braved the sea air to sit outside. The Finns are hard-core about their saunas.

We went to the restaurant which was quite busy on a crisp cold October Saturday, even most of the outside seats were taken by people snuggled up under the provided blankets. I can just imagine how busy it is mid-summer. After a lovely brunch of sandwiches, eggs and savoury and sweet waffles (which ran out just as we tried to order another 2, we managed to grab the last one) we went outside to climb up the building and take in the view. 

Hernesaari is an area just down from Kaivopuisto and Eira that we've never explored before. It was a perfect autumn day and we got to see lots of sailing ships come into the harbour there. After the kids had enough of the building we walked around the harbour. Hernesaari translates as 'pea island' but is not an island as far as I can tell, more a small penisula. I can't give you any interesting historical facts, but it borders along what looks like an industrial estate. They have built up the water's edge nicely, with a sandy beach to play at and areas to ride bikes or walk. Even in October we had to restrain the children from heading into the icy water. 

We walked all the way to the maritime monument and then along Eiranranta to Cafe Carusel. Quite the walk for Foo but he really enjoyed throwing stones into the water and climbing along the rocks. I'd definitely go back for lunch and maybe a sauna experience at Löyly and a walk along the shore at Hernesaari. 


Friday, October 14, 2016

Autumn Birthday Colours

Autumn is my favourite time of year, unfortunately it also is a big birthday time for us, especially October, with lots of birthdays all crammed together which makes it a hectic season. So sometimes I don't get to enjoy it as much as I would like. We missed the pumpkin festival at the willow farm this year because I thought it was held closer to Halloween rather than mid-September. I have a pile of pumpkins from my plot that need to get cooked down into something. 

It's now the autumn holiday /syysloma in Finland so hopefully I'll be able to catch up on some of those autumn activities that get pushed aside. I'm heading off to another spinning session at the weekend so I can spin some of that wool I brought home and haven't touched since. I need to dig up the rest of my walnut-sized potatoes and turn over the plot for winter. I hope we can do a road trip somewhere as we've been stuck in Helsinki as a family since last summer due to low funds and I'm desperate to do some travelling. 

I have managed to get my autumn birthday portraits done for Mouse and Pudding. And since the light was so lovely I also took photos of the kids together as we don't have any recent ones. I can't believe Mouse is 10, double digits of being a parent. Pudding is 3 and feeling it. Going to nursery has brought out her strong will and I'm definitely feeling it. 

So a photo break while we have a well-earned rest. Enjoy. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Fiskars Briefly in Autumn

The weather has been beautiful lately and the trees in Helsinki are at their best, so I thought we'd take advantage of the Slow Food Festival taking place in the village of Fiskars, an hour or so away, and check out the autumn foliage in the countryside. 

Unfortunately, the birches were past their best, but it was still a nice drive. I did get flashed by a speed camera, but the speed limits out Fiskars way are crazy, shifting randomly between 60, 80 and 100kph. Not looking forward to that piece of post. Update: I was only 4 km over the limit so they gave me a break this time.

We came to Fiskars a couple of years ago to attend a gathering for the Highland Games. It's a craft village, home of the Fiskars ironmonger company, the famous knife makers. Supposedly there are lots of little craft and gift shops and places to watch blacksmiths and glass blowers, but both times we have never managed to see any of that. 

This weekend there was the Slow Food Festival which I would have liked to spend some time looking in on, but there was so much for the kids to do, that we never really got to look at the food exhibits, except for a quick recce when we were looking for a sit down place to eat. We parked at one end of the village where they had a nicely laid out carpark in a field and our first stop was the pony riding for the girls. 

Then we popped into the Assembly Hall where they had crafts for children and a tasting test. 

Suolainen, karvas, makea tai hapan - salty, bitter, sweet or sour? 

We then had to hunt about for a suitable place to eat and we ended up at the Laundry Cafe. They were lovely, modifying their menu a bit for the kids and setting aside some delish pullaa for us so they wouldn't sell out before the kids finished their proper lunches. 

Beside the Laundry was an old steam engine which the kids loved. 

We fed the ducks, wandered through a small outdoor market and played in a fab playpark. The village is gorgeous this time of year and I'd be happy to go back anytime, maybe with another adult or two so we could divide and conqure its craft side.
Yes, that little pink trousered figure at the top is Pudding who has no fear climbing, but also no ability to climb down. I'm the figure in gray at the back trying to scramble up after her. I'm not wild about heights. Crazy child. The Chief, of course, just stood there and took pictures. 

Have a colourful autumn.  

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