It has been a really busy start to the winter for us both – while it has been a bit exhausting, it was also nice to be kept active during what can be a dark and dull season. From the start of December businesses, the public and the city started putting up Christmas trees and lights, gradually giving Helsinki a gentle festive glow – as usual the Stockmann Christmas window display is a popular attraction (although I’d vote that last year’s display was better). We also tried some roast chestnuts from the “Chestnut King” outside of Stockmann – we didn’t find them quite as we expected, but it was nice to support a business that contributes to the Christmas atmosphere in the city (more info about the stall in this article from Helsingin Sanomat).
Brigitte’s been very busy working on her new webstore: Hai-end (also available in English). If you are in Finland and are looking for high quality kitchen appliances from a diversity of brands (including Miele, Siemens, Bosch and AEG) please pop across at check out the website (we’ve also got an advert for the site on the righthand column on this page). My work has also been keeping me busy – I had a short workshop in Roskilde (close to Copenhagen) last week, and recently have had two papers accepted for publication (more details to follow…).
But that’s enough about work… We’ve been to a couple of Christmas markets this month, including a rather interesting market at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture. It was cool to see some different handicrafts and foods on sale, although the best part for me was listening to a guy singing in Russian – it was fascinating to hear how different the language and the music was from what I’ve heard before (also the performer’s baby daughter was sitting behind us and would giggle madly when her dad did something funny… so I think he put in some extra effort for her!).
Apart from one fairly large snowfall in mid-November, our first real snow arrived in the first week of December, disrupting traffic and making life a bit more complicated for two days. Since then we’ve had a lot more snow (without any major traffic disruptions), so there are already big piles of snow on most streets. The snow is very welcome this time of the year, as it makes the dark days seem much brighter and it means that we can start skiing a lot earlier than last season (when the snow arrive a month later). I’ve been off to a few tracks in the last two weeks – Meri-Rastila’s 2.5 km circuit was a particularly nice surprise, with lots of short downhills through a beautiful patch of forest (you can find details about the tracks at mski.fi).
It was also great to wake-up on the 21st of December, because we knew that thereafter everyday for the next six months would be longer than the previous day!