Things have been a bit busy here – so our apologies for the paucity of blog posts. But we’ll be catching up on things over the next while (and there’s lots of exciting things coming up too!). Anyhow, some snippets from the last two weeks:

  • We recently visited one of the local second-hand sports shops to get some winter sports gear – ironically, it was probably the warmest day we’ve had since arriving here! Now I have skis (many thanks to Michal) and ski-boots, and hope to be using them as soon as there’s enough snow next winter! Brigitte bought a pair of ice skates (photo below). After buying the skates, we were very pleased to see that the park down the road from us is maintained as an outdoor skating rink for two months each winter (we knew about various other rinks close to us – but the Vaino Tanner rink is really close). You can find a map of all the ice rinks in Helsinki here (search for “luistelu” = skating).

Brigitte's new second-hand skates.

 

  • I’ve been slow to post some photos from Helsinki University’s Kumpula campus, mostly because it looked very bleak in winter. However, a few days ago I remembered to pack in the camera, and have snapped a few shots of where I work – more to follow… (when I remember to take the camera along again!). Kumpula is a beautiful suburb, with lots of green areas (including Helsinki University’s second botanical garden) and some summer gardens. The Kumpula public swimming pool is also within walking distance of campus – the facility was built for the 1952 Olympic games and is being enjoyed by very many people each warm day (I walked past there a few days ago and it was packed with locals soaking up the sun).

 

  • One of the interesting things we’ve found in the grocery stores around here is berry soup. I’m still not 100% sure of all the different ways of eating it, but it can be eaten with cereal at breakfast or with cream as a desert. Any other ideas? Of course as a cold soup too. The berry soups that we’ve tried have been a bit too thick to drink, but I think they would make a good base for a fruit smoothie. If you happen to have some berries going to waste, you can find recipes here and here

Blueberry soup (mustikka = blueberry, keitto = soup)

 

And just to end with a bit of trivia… Finland has a bit of a reputation for having some unusual festivals and sports. Courtesy of one of the major breakfast cereals (ProNutro) printing sport-related facts on its packaging, many South Africans now know about its annual mobile phone throwing contest:

  • “Only in Finland: One of the strangest sports must be the mobile phone throwing contest held in Finland every year since 2000. The current world record was set in 2005 when contestant Mikko Lampi threw his phone a distance of 94.97m”.  (With thanks to my mom for pointing this out!)

Wikipedia provides a short history of the sport (here) – and it is very interesting to see that South Africans have are amongst the best phone chuckers in the world! In fact, the reigning men’s world champion (Jeremy Gallop) is a South African. The Finnish national competition is held every year in Savonlinna in August – the same place that hosts a month-long opera festival annually.