31 July 2011

A Finnish Sunday

While Orb went to Helsinki to fetch Rustle the cat (don't get me started on the vagaries of airlines and carrying pets or not as cargo), M and I have had a lovely day in the sunshine. We set off this morning on our bikes to explore the lakeside, stopping at every playground along the way.

We saw lots of Finns washing their rugs by the riverside, and found some top class play equipment, including a rather nifty pirate ship. No squirrels in amongst the trees today though (yesterday we saw a very tame red squirrel in EFI's back garden, collecting moss for his nest).

This afternoon we explored the car boot sale in Joensuu's marketplace, seeing how many Moomin items we could find (many!). M scored a Moomin headscarf for 20 cents, which made her day, as all little Finnish girls seem to wear headscarves rather than hats.

29 July 2011

Greetings from Finland!

We have arrived!!
Here we are looking suitably shattered after the third flight of the day. We flew from Newcastle to Heathrow (grotty as ever) to Helsinki (clean and full of Moomin shops) to sunny Joensuu. All our luggage made it (bar the car seat, which is somewhere in transit), as did Rustle the cat, who is currently ensconced in a cattery in Helsinki. We may have also eaten our bodyweight in sandwiches...

We are now living in the staff flat at EFI for a few days, while we sort out the house. We went to take a look today - this involved picking up the hire car, trying to work out the speed limits, and trying to decide who has right of way in Finland. We didn't hit anything, so we think we got it right...

The house is in the suburb of Marjala - here's the centre, with a bridge over the canal. And two rather tired people in the foreground.

There's a little swimming beach, lots of boats, and a nice park. I think we'll enjoy living here.

Our other excitement today was heading to the Finnish supermarket, and discovering that they sell Whiskas. Rustle's going to be very happy. I've also opened a Finnish bank account to pay for all the Whiskas.

Finally, we sat in the market square in Joensuu in the sunshine, eating ice creams. It still feels like we're on holiday - it hasn't really sunk in that we're here for a year yet!

Oh, and I was forced to try on a crayfish hat for general family amusement. I'm not convinced...

20 July 2011

Away you go!

This is what enough possessions for three people for a year in Finland look like in box form:

We have very different priorities: Orb's got his music gear, I've picked cookery books/kitchen stuff and a craft box full of knitting needles, and you can see M's dolls house perched on the front pallet. We're also taking three bicycles (in very large boxes), and a *lot* of jumpers.

All this is being shipped off tomorrow by the transport firm - and will hopefully arrive after we do in Joensuu.

Now all that we have to do is pack up the rest of the house....

06 July 2011

I think we're going to like Finland just fine...

Any place that has Moomin biscuits can't be bad!

The packing madness continues unabated, and things are being divided into three piles: ship to Finland, store in UK or recycle/ebay/give away. It's like an enormously complicated jigsaw puzzle. Only without the picture that you can look at for help.

The other challenge is letting organisations know we are leaving the country for a year. Most places are just set up for people moving house rather than moving country, so it's proving interesting. You practically have to show a death certificate to the TV licence people, to prove you no longer want a tv licence....

03 July 2011

Washed and brushed

After a yesterday's excitement (our flights are booked!), the troops spent this morning washing and polishing our car, so we can sell it (anyone interested in an Audi A2 with a tow bar, do drop me a line!). The plan is to buy another car in Finland when we get there...

The troops also hoovered out the Danish/Northumberland beach which had been sitting in the boot for a while, despite our best efforts. The car is now cleaner and shinier than it's ever been...so this afternoon we took it out for a spin to Belsay, to meet some friends for a picnic. It was gloriously sunny: here's the view in the quarry garden.

I can thoroughly recommend visiting on a Sunday afternoon - it was really peaceful. Everyone seemed to disappear off home at about 4pm, leaving us with the place to ourselves. And best of all, the ice cream shop at the castle does mini milks!

02 July 2011

Heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to work I go!

And not just any old work. On 28 July Orb, M and I are off to sunny Finland for a year, as I'm leaving freelance life and taking up a post at the European Forest Institute in Joensuu.

That's here:

View Larger Map

(yes, it's a long way north of Gateshead...and yes, we'll be packing our sledge)

We leave on 28 July - which leaves 27 days to pack up and rent our house, ship out our belongings, and arrive (via three flights) in sunny Finland. Eek.