Tag Archives: weather

Spring is (almost) here – and so is Tampere Film Festival

Ups. They say that times goes faster when you get older but I never imagined it would go this fast. And I’m not that old yet, anyway. 😉

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Photo: yle.fi

Anyway, even the Finnish winter is almost over, which is great. Today it has already been 7C degrees over zero.

However, after an extremely mild winter it feels that we haven’t been as superheroic as after surviving a “normal” hard winter. But I don’t care! I’m looking forward to taking my bicycle out of the storage room and taking all the heavy winter clothes back to the cellar. Soon, very soon… maybe next week!

Another sure sign of the approaching spring is Tampere Film Festival, which always brings me back to my dear old hometown Tampere. What changes from one year to another is the weather.

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For many years now, I’ve written articles about the festival to the Finnish magazines I collaborate with as freelance journalist. This is a tradition I love – and need. Routines give you security, they say. I always return here, meet lots of people I know and get to see a great amount of short films – the best thing about them is that they are short! It’s a perfect concept for these times full of concentration problems…

Further, Tampere Festival is among the most important European short film festivals, so one really gets to see interesting things. All in all about 500 films!

Some of this year’s highlights are short films from Africa, a rare treat in Finland, and films based on Edward Hopper’s amazing paintings. Today I saw a selection of films by a German painter-director Jochen Kuhn. Perfect ones to relax with after a long working week. 

And tomorrow more shall follow! Before that, I’ll concentrate on enjoying the time with my parents, sauna and some delicious mom’s food… Good night, everyone!

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How is it living in a cold country like Finland?

A question I’m constantly asked by foreigners when traveling anywhere outside the Nordic countries. Well, maybe Russia and Baltic countries included.

So, how can people live in a country where it’s always cold?

Ok, first of all it’s not cold all the time, all year round. Of course not. Otherwise we’d have all now emigrated to the Southern Europe.

Helsinki can also be like this! My favourite rocks at Eiranranta

A small forest with morning sun in Tampere, Finland

Also, cold is a relative term – the human body can get used to very strange conditions, also to -20C. At least for a couple of days of the year.

I feel many Finns have some genetic mutation, as they almost never complain about the cold. Or the weather in general. They also think it’s not good behaviour to do it – believe me, I’ve heard so many times the comment “please don’t complain, it could be worse“.

Well, here the criteria for bad weather is quite different as in most of the countries.

If you’re interested, here comes the average temperature of Helsinki during different months, as published on Travelhappy Climate Charts for Helsinki.

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You can read more about the Finnish seasons (the change is amazing!) on the page of Ilmatieteen laitos, the Finnish Meteorological Institute. They offer interesting info on the Finnish weather and its different phenomena in general.

Anyway, today I seriously reflected the question about the weather. We’ve been 2 weeks island hopping in Greece with my boyfriend with a temperature of 25-30C and guaranteed sunshine every day.

The thing is that I’m a person that seriously loves sun and warm weather. Especially in the winter, I ask myself why was I born in Finland where most of the time I’m freezing. (I also complained about the chilly wind in the evenings in Greece so you get an idea of my desire for hot weather).

Actually one of my life goals, which I confirmed this summer, is to be able to spend one entire year in a summer dress and flip flops. Let’s see when and where…

Today, when we returned to Helsinki (wearing my summer dress and flip flops) it was raining and +19C. Literally a chilly welcome. Eventually the sun started to shine and the temperature rose a bit.

Still, I wonder how this kind of very unpredictable weather affects the Finns living here? Does it make one suspicious towards the world… and everything? You can never trust that it will be sunny even for 3 days in a row – and the weather forecasts change all the time.

Winter evening in Kuusamo, Eastern Finland. To admire a snowflake you must go outside…

So the final answer to why reminds in the air – and in the minds of the ancestors who came to live in Finland.

Of course there are many excellent reasons for living in Helsinki. And the few hot sunny days we have really are wonderful!

Also there are many people in Finland who don’t share my view. Their attitude to weather is stoic.

Or maybe they mystically forget the bad days and remember only the best of all our seasons: the bright snowy days, spring blossoming and autumn leaves with amazing colors…

Autumn at its best! At Billnäs village on the South coast of Finland

Yes, of course all this is nice. Personally I just can’t forget that many many mornings you wake up and the world is grey and you go to sleep and the only change is that now the world is black. For me this is pretty depressing, for many Finns not.

I guess that’s the trick of living here! You need a bad memory or some genetic modification…?

Rowing my little boat on a rainy day, in Tampere, Finland

Rowing on the same lake on a sunny day. Quite a different feeling.

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The spring is arriving to Helsinki… eventually

The Finnish spring is tricky. One day you smell the first glimpse of spring in the air, the sun is shining and the snow melting… And the next day you wake up with a snow storm.

I guess this tricky weather has its influence on the Finnish mentality – it’s quite understandable to be a bit melancholic and suspicious when you live in a climate like this.

But there are positive aspects too. If you don’t suffer the darkness and coldness of the winter months, you neither learn how to appreciate the rare warmth and the sun. And the Finnish summer with its midnight sun is real magic, even if I say so myself.

Anyway, this is what I saw yesterday when I decided to leave from work (too) early and walk around Töölönlahti Bay – with tens of other people and hundreds of ducks.

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Töölönlahti Bay with its villas the first of March. Credit: me.

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View towards the centre of Helsinki - hard to imagine that at this point you're only 5 minutes walk away from the centre of our capital city!

And today it’s Friday! And the strangest thing is that I don’t have ANY “compalsory” plans for the weekend… So I’m open for everything.

Well actually, tonight we’re going to the concert of one my favourite Finnish bands, Pariisin kevät (The Spring of Paris). They just published their 3rd album, Kaikki on satua (Everything is a fairytale). The melodies are nice, lyrics are clever and they are amazing live! What else can you ask for…

Here is a song that’s a tribute to a neighborhood here in Helsinki called Pikku Huopalahti. It tells about peoples’ dreams, melancholy and the mediocre middle class life they live.

 

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Office work – more freedom, please!

Today’s 3 main topics have been volunteering, weather and – not that surprisingly – office work. (Well, I also had a great sauna, but more about that later…)

First, this morning I had a radio interview about volunteering for the national Yle Radio Suomi, as tomorrow we’ll organise an event where people looking for volunteer work and NGOs looking for volunteers meet. The idea is nice, and Finland actually is the promised country of NGOs – there is one for almost every purpose you can imagine!

The interview went fine, they said. Even if being in the studio and thinking of thousands of people listening makes you feel a bit strange…

All in all, Finnish people volunteer a lot, sometimes without even noticing: in NGOs, sports clubs, school associations, helping the old lady next door by bringing her milk from the supermarket. One in every four Finns volunteers and 50% of those who don’t would like to do something. Nice numbers, but there is still a lot to do – for a better world!

Cold and snowy Helsinki - this one is from 2010. Credit: Hannes Heikura, Helsingin Sanomat

Today’s second topic has been the weather. In brief, it’s -15C (or even colder with the chilly wind!) in Helsinki today. Luckily it’s also sunny and pretty with all that bright snow.

Stress Reduction Kit

We also have one of these at the office... just in case.

And then to the MAIN topic – work in the office! This evening I met two friends in a cafe of Ateneum Art Museum and we talked about work. We are all loaded with “interesting” tasks and projects. So we got some ideas to make our lives a bit nicer:

1. Office life. Do you know the UK series The Office? Well, it results that our respective offices (like I guess most of the offices in the world) have their “special character”. So, it would be great to film or at least record in the meetings and situations and maybe also to write a book about the a bit absurd aspects of office life. Unfortunately I guess we would be thrown out of the office before finishing the story…

Why not, if the work is done?

2. Working hours. Luckily my office is quite flexible and we are allowed to work from home – like I did today. But  we also have clock cards and our working hours calculated. It’s my first job with this system. After the initial shock I got used to it – even if I’m quite a free soul. Actually it’s nice to notice the hours slowly accumulating – and then you can have a longer weekend to compensate.

Anyway, why can’t it be so that when the daily work is done, you’d be free to go? People have different rhythms, some are early birds and some… well, are not.

3. Physical presence in the office. I’ve been seriously thinking about the necessity to stay in the office 8 hours a day. Why? I do no costumer service and all the information I need is online. So if there are no meetings, there are no real reasons for staying in the office.

I read a great blog (in Finnish) on how the sometimes archaic office rules should be updated. One of these rules is the physical presence of the employee. We would be a lot happier working from home, cafes, museums, parks, from a paradise island – wherever YOU’d want to! Especially for jobs that require creativity and concentration this is essential.

Well, maybe it takes some time to introduce these ideas but in many places they are already doing it… I really hope we’d get some changes before I get retired!

Ups

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Hello sun! The first time in 1,5 months

It’s time to celebrate! Even if it’s Monday. The sun returned: today was the first day in 1,5 months that the Northern part of Finland, like the town of Utsjoki in Lapland, saw the sun. It was for less than an hour, but the light is officially back. From now on every day will bring us more light till arriving to the amazing Midnight Sun in June.

This dark period is called kaamos.

In the northernmost part of Finnish Lapland, the sun is hidden for 51 days every year. That’s extreme stuff, so no wonder Finns might seem “a little strange” especially in the winter.

Here in Helsinki, today we enjoyed 7 hours of sunlight. That’s bearable, when you compare it with the darkest day of the year. From now on, it will get better each day. Today we actually saw the sun in Helsinki: so beautiful that staying inside the office felt a bit bad… well, maybe it was an ok option cause it was -10C outside.

No surprise that kaamos might have negative efforts on us. You feel tired, even get depressed, and you only want to eat and sleep. Some people handle it better than others. Normally, I survive with sleeping more, being good to myself and trying to do more nice things.

Here’s a video telling about life in Lapland, Norway. “When you go to the shop you know that it’s night because then the shop is closed.” Wow.

PS: I took these pictures in Central Finland in a wonderful holiday resort Metsäkartano last New Year. Even they are not from Lapland, the darkness is very noticeable – for us who live in “the South”. But the winter’s magic is there too, absolutely. As they say:

 To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake, it is necessary to stand out in the cold.

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