Archive | February, 2013

In And Around Ainola Park

27 Feb

It’s been a long time since I went to the park, but since the weather was nice and the art gallery was open until 7pm, I decided to take a stroll.

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As usual I got a little lost an ended up taking a detour under this bridge, but I stumbled across this lovely bird box, at which birds were gathered, and it was a very pleasant place to have ended up. Sadly, it came to a dead end and I ended up doubling-back onto the main road, but I felt a little jealousy towards the people who lived right next to it in the apartment blocks.

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IMG_0323In the right-hand corner of the above picture is the cathedral, visible from most places in and around the city centre. It’s a good marker when you get lost!

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IMG_0327I finally made it off the road and into the park!

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Here stands the ominous building of the Northern Ostrbothnian museum – worth a visit for the local history.

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Some quirky, Sherlock related graffiti.

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There’s an exhibition of textiles at the art museum currently – these guys take up most of the floor, and made me chuckle when I entered. It was, however, a bit weird being all alone in the room with them.

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Every year the art gallery holds an exhibition dedicated to the work of just one artist. This year it’s Petri, and the top floor is filled with his paintings, a large, emotional collection. They were quite fascinating; morbid, beautiful and mind-bending. You really should check them out for the full effect.

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My last view on the way home – a great way to spend a quiet Friday evening!

 

 

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The Monkey at Linnanmaa

25 Feb

On another bright, blue, beautiful day I took a walk around Linnanmaa and through Kaijonharju, and just look what I stumbled across.

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A big old ape reading in the sun. Why is he there? How long has he been there? What is he reading? I wish I had the answers. I think he’s meant to be a marker for the local library, but many have come to know the apartment opposite him a ‘The Monkey House’. He made me smile, anyhow.

Some other pictures from my walk:

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I just love the blue colour of the sky when it’s clear!

 

Watch Out, Icicles!

24 Feb

Did you know that a falling icicle can kill a person? Me neither, until I moved to Finland. This is the country where there’s a whole new world of things to be considered, every day tasks that had never before crossed your mind. Evading icicles has become one of them.

Take a look at these badboys hanging from the roof of the kauppahalli:

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Now imagine getting hit in the head by one of those things – not so pretty any more are they?

Okay, they’re still a bit pretty in the sunshine, but also a lot more menacing. Like the jaws of an animal waiting to bite. All around Oulu paths are blocked off and warning signs placed alongside buildings to warn people of the danger. Just last year an old lady died in Oulu after being struck by one.

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As with most random things, if you Google it there’ll be a website. If you’re a bit morbid/bored here’s a list of ’10 Chilling Tales of People Killed by Icicles Around the World‘. I’m not even kidding, go see for yourself.

There is one positive side to icicles: they signal that spring is on its way. Finally. Okay, so it’s still going to be a long wait until the snow melts, but the temperature is climbing, the days are getting longer and there are birds in the trees. I’d never really realised the absence of birdsong until it came back, and it lifts my spirits to hear them singing in the morning.

At the moment, when there’s a some sunshine, I just can’t help myself and I have to go for a walk. I’m like a labrador scratching at the door with my lead in my mouth. Even if it’s cold I’ll find a long way to walk home, just to soak up the weak sun. Today I took the bus to town and walked from Linnansaari to Pikisaari and through the market square. Lots of other people had the same idea and I was surrounded by joggers, cyclists and nordic walkers, all out to make the most of the weather. 


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Oulu is so beautiful when the sun is out! My top tip for this season is: buy sunglasses. The snow gets awfully bright in the sunshine and can cause snowblindness if you stare at it too long. Don’t be worried about looking silly, everyone wears shades, even if they’re bundled up in a hundred layers!

I hope everyone else has some lovely weather this weekend! Are there any signs of spring yet where you are?

 

Natural Oulu vs Industrial Oulu

17 Feb

I took a walk this weekend (attempting to find the beach but, as usual, ending up in a wrong turn and a long walk back to the right place) and found a side of Oulu which I hadn’t yet seen.

I started by the library in the city centre, crossed to Pikisaari, ended up in Nallikari and finally made it back to Tuira. It took about an hour and the first half of the walk I spent almost utterly alone in a snow-filled wilderness, while the second half took me through industrial building sites and rows of apartment blocks.

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Nature and development seem to go hand in hand here. Even in the woods I could smell the acrid-scent from the paper factory; even in town I could see the water and the snow-filled trees.

This Week in Oulu: Laskiainen, Ystävänpäivä and Reindeer Racing

16 Feb

This week saw both Laskiainen and Ystävänpäivä, twists on other well-known holidays, as well as a reindeer carnival! This week has proved that while the winters are cold there are plenty of ways to keep entertained during February and help wait out the worst part of the winter. Keep on reading to find out more…

Laskiainen

Otherwise known as Shrove Tuesday/Pancake Day/Mardi Gras  it’s a day for feasting before the traditional Lent fast. Here in Finland it’s celebrated by eating traditional pea and ham soup, laskiaispulla and sliding down a hill on a toboggan. Traditionally, it was said that sledding while yelling at the top of your lungs would bring good luck and a plentiful harvest; the further you slid the higher your crops would grow.

Here in Oulu the students got together and slid down a massive snow-bank next to the hockey arena. It was common for villages to gather and sled together and the tradition continues, students rolling out their graduation hats to play music, sled and have fun! It’s an excellent way to break the monotony of winter and make the most of the outdoors while the temperatures are beginning to rise and the sun is out a little longer. I played it safe and opted for the traditional pea and ham soup lunch menu (with free hot chocolate!) with a Finnish friend, indoors.

Yummy laskiaispulla

Ystävänpäivä

Thursday of this week was ystävänpäivä: literally ‘friend’s day’. Unlike the American counterpart it’s not really celebrated here and is really more of a day to tell your friends how great they are. Couples can still buy heart-shaped chocolates and cards but it’s not as overdone and, as with many other holidays, is dismissed as too cheesy and Americanised to be worth bothering with.

In Oulu the students of the Erasmus network set up a ‘cupid delivery day’ – you could pay for flowers, chocolate or balloons to be delivered to your crush on campus, even if they had a lecture!

‘Good friends are like stars; even when you can’t see them you know they’re always there’

I bought my boyfriend a similar card to this =)

Reindeer Racing

To finish off the week there was a reindeer carnival in the market square, featuring kids’ entertainment, market stalls and reindeer racing! I would have caught a picture but it was so quick, I barely saw a flash of reindeer and they were gone! Next time I’ll have to get a better viewing spot! The city centre was packed with people, more than I’ve seen in a long time, and the market square was humming with business. There are more details on the Rotuaari website – if you’re in Oulu in time for next year’s carnival make sure you go along!

A Lake at Sunrise

10 Feb

It’s been a slow weekend of Radio 4, reading and occasional bike rides. Saturday morning’s trip out yielded this beauty – the sun rise over the lake. Sadly it was the most sun to hit the sky and the rest of the day was cloud-covered and cold. Temperatures have hit another low and it’s chilly, not quite minus twenty though, thankfully. I shall try to be more productive next weekend, but I felt like relaxing and lounging round the house. Any suggestions for next weekend’s itinerary?

finnish lake at sunrise

finnish lake at sunrise

 

What did everyone else do this weekend?

Star Wars Meets Pepsi Max

9 Feb

Appauling use of Star Wars but still made me chuckle, and stop for a photo opportunity. Seen on the side of Finnkino whilst on my way to see ‘Hitchcock’ – great movie by the way!
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‘Miss Farkku Suomi’ is also worth a watch, it’s about  boy growing up in Oulu in the 70s and his transformation from slightly geeky school boy to punk-rock artist, eyeliner and all. Interested? What the trailer here.

 

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