It took a while coming but a proper Finnish winter is finally here. The temperatures have dropped well below zero and we have snow, tons of it and more every couple of days. We also see the sun sometimes and it's spending a little more time with us every day. It makes such a difference.
The kids are loving the snow and cold, riding to nursery in the sledge, climbing the snow piles, skating, skiing and eating it.
Not the best snow for skiing off-path in, but it was good practice.
Me, not so much. This is what I look like after pulling 2 of them in the sledge and then shovelling the paths during a snow storm. Not my idea of fun.
How they look at the same time.
I decided not to take Bump to see the National Opera and Ballet Company's (Oopera Baletti) Nutcracker and Mouse King performance around Christmas-time this year. We've gone two years in a row and while she enjoyed it, it's long and the second half doesn't really have a story to it, so she loses connection with it. And the two years' performances were pretty much the same so even though the show is amazing, I thought we'd try something different.
So without telling her I booked tickets for Apassionata at the Hartwall Arena. A few days before it ran, she saw an advert for it and was so excited when I told her I bought us tickets. It's a show with horses, her current love, that also uses dancers, music and props to tell a simple story. I didn't know what to expect, a circus act or something like the Lippizaner horse shows I've heard of? It was basically a bunch of horse acts loosely connected around the theme. It included trick riding, horses doing basic tricks like rearing, pawing the ground, lying down and bowing mixed in with dancers, music, clowns. Lots of amazing costumes and props, but the horses were the main attraction. All amazing well-trained, they were beautiful. The acts didn't knock me off my seat but Bump really enjoyed the show.
Sorry, my photos are awful.
This was my favourite bit, about ten horses came out, running free. A woman eventually joined them and had them do some simple follow-the-leader type tricks, with only a long whip to direct them. They were all obedient and knew their stuff, but it was nice to see them interact with each other, nibbling and nuzzling each other.
I'm always a bit worried about animal welfare in these type of performances, especially with horses, but as the trainers were often pulling out treats for encouragement and using only the whips as direction guides rather than goads, I didn't feel too bad here. This is a international show, so I'm sure it's well-monitored.
From what I've seen they come back to Helsinki every year so check out the Hartwall Arena website for information later in the year if you're interested. I'm not sure if we'll go again as I'm guessing the show will be pretty much the same, just a different 'theme' each year, but if Bump is keen we might go. This year it was called 'The Dream/ Unelma', but as it was all in Finnish I'm not sure really what the story was about, something to do with grandparents and a letter, though to be honest neither of us were terribly interested in the story, only the horses.
On that note, it would have been nice if we could have learned the horses' names. They mentioned the trainers at the end, but not the horses. It would have been nice to have a programme for that info, though I didn't see any about.
And finally around the end of January was the Finnish Scottish Society's annual Burns Night Supper. A good laugh as always, this year I ended up helping serving and a bit of stirring custard as well. The kitchen was a right laugh. The Society is always looking for new members and for helpers for various events.
There was less dancing than last year due to too many other things going on, but it was enthusiastic as always.
Jim, our master of ceremonies, dance caller and chief haggis stabber.
The haggis, purty-lookin, ain't she?
The Finnish Scottish Society also have a series of Scottish films showing at KAVI in February and March. Scroll down the page to 'Scotland the What?' to find more details of what's playing, but classics 'My Name is Joe' and 'Local Hero' are definitely on the bill. There will also be some music and other things going on for the event so check out the FSS Facebook link above or the KAVI site. Worth catching up on. The link to book the tickets is in Finnish and can be found here.
Also note there are a whole lot of other English language films showing at KAVI, I especially like the group called 'Sequel Hell'.
So get out there and enjoy the snow, it'll only last another 3 months or so. ;)