Finished Objects 2013

It’s been a year since I last posted about my knitting, not because I haven’t done any, but because my travel posts have taken precedence. I actually haven’t stopped knitting, but I have mainly been sticking to only a few patterns. This one in particular was the pattern I took on my travels. It’s a good one to take since it’s done on circular needles from start to finish , and is very straight forward (little chance of lost needles, stitch markers or dropped stitches). Luckily, I had a lot of friends and families with toddlers, and so had plenty of little people to knit for – I’ve made 5 vests so far, of which these two are a selection.

Benjamin's Vest

Julia's Milo

We returned from Europe to a Sydney winter. While travelling, I’d taken a liking to wearing fingerless gloves, and I thought I would have a go at knitting one when I got home using this pattern.

My 80s fingerless mitts

It was so successful that I knitted a few more for my friends too.

Fran's fingerless mitts

Nina's 80s Mitts

Singapore

We had a two night stopover in Singapore on the way home. The heat and humidity was a shock to the system after three months of cold, and also being in a very urban, very crowded environment. Singapore is ultra modern, with skyscrapers dominating the skyline.

Around Singapore

The newer additions to the city was certainly interesting. This is supposed to be a large entertainment and hotel complex.

Around Singapore

There were still traces of colonial Singapore still about, even if they were dwarfed by the new.

Around Singapore

This old bridge in the city centre was built in the 19th Century by Scottish engineers, and had some interesting crossing conditions.

Around Singapore

Around Singapore

But with outside being so hot and humid, the only place to be in the middle of the day was indoors. Not being an avid shopper we tried to find other places to stay cool. We visited the odd museum. This one focused on Asian artifacts.

Around Singapore

Around Singapore

But what I enjoyed most was eating. I really missed while in Europe was the great South East Asian food that’s so available in Sydney. A good laksa can cure any ills.

Around Singapore

Northbound – Part 3

Finally, we have come to the northern-most point of our trip, the Lapland town of Rovaniemi. On the way, we saw a herd of reindeer…

Around Lapland

But we saw no snow at all, just spring green.

Spring is finally here

And strangely enough, it was quite warm that day, too.

Around Rovaniemi

But we weren’t there to see the town centre, no, we had another place in mind. Can you guess where?

Around Rovaniemi

Once we crossed the Arctic Circle…

Around Rovaniemi

We knew we were in the realm of the man in the red suit.

Around Rovaniemi

As you can see, Santa’s village was shockingly touristy, but wonderful nevertheless if you were visiting as a child in winter. As an adult in summer-like temperatures, the Santa village was quite underwhelming. Despite that, we had a try at spreading some Christmas cheer to some of the little people in our lives.

Around Rovaniemi

Inside the post office, there were some busy elves about, although they had time to pose for a photo.

Around Rovaniemi

We were able to send some Christmas cards, stamped from the North Pole, that arrived just in time for Christmas. And if you do send a letter to Santa to the North Pole, the letter apparently does physically arrive here! We didn’t go any further north, but we didn’t mind, since we had already visited the ‘North Pole’.

So from London to the Santa’s place, it certainly has been a monumental journey around Europe from south to north. We really enjoyed it, and it’s been nice to share and relive it bit by bit. Now, for the journey home…

Around Rovaniemi

Northbound – Part 2

That evening, W took us to his mother’s farmstead in the village of Loue. The farm has been in the family since her parents’ marriage in the 1935s. The house was built by hand by her father (W’s grandfather), who used to run a small herd of cows and did a bit of woodcutting in between. W remembered spending some summers there with his cousins, playing in the woods and in the nearby river, but since he died, and his children moved away, the farm has been empty.

A Finnish Farmhouse

At a Finnish Farmhouse

Looking inside, it was as if time had stood still.

At a Finnish Farmhouse

At a Finnish Farmhouse

At a Finnish Farmhouse

You can see how simply they lived, with only a two-up, two-down house, a barn, a long-drop toilet, and a sauna (which every Finn house has, by the way). Their story probably is similar to all the small farmsteads all over Finland – too small to do anything constructive with, too far away from the waterways to be attractive to holidaymakers.

W’s elderly mother comes back every year to do a bit of maintainence, but since she was getting on, W decided to help out by clearing the scrub behind the house a little bit, with Hubby’s assistance. No fire bans here – the ground was still much too damp from the long winter.

At a Finnish Farmhouse

At a Finnish Farmhouse

While they did the heavy work, I took a little walk in the birch copse behind the house. Like foreigners are fascinated with gum trees, I was fascinated by the elegance of the birch trees.

A Finnish Farmhouse

A Finnish Farmhouse

A Finnish Farmhouse

They were particularly beautiful close-up, their white trunks reflecting the golden light of sunset. Afterwards, we used the coals of the dying bonfire to cook our sausages and drink a bit of beer. It was a satisfying end to the day.

At a Finnish Farmhouse

Northbound – Part 1

We’re on the final leg of our journey northbound through Europe. We’ve left coastal Oulu with Hubby’s friend W, and made our way north through more woodland, to Lapland.

Cycling in Oulu

On the way, we crossed many rivers. Not many signs of human habitation here, just the odd farmstead or country home like this one.

Around Lapland

We visited a historical cabin deep in the woods. It was the hideout for the Finnish resistance fighters during World War I. There were eight men living rough in all weathers, trapping their food, while fighting against the Russians. The men must have been super tough to get through it all.

Around Lapland

Around Lapland

We visited a little country Lutheran church, where W’s parents got married in the 50’s.

Around Lapland

This WWII memorial was very touching. Goes to show that people everywhere were touched by that conflict.

Around Lapland

Oulu – Part 5

Let us catch the sights of Oulu once more, by bicycle. We hired a bike on a few days, and took advantage of the wonderful cycling network.

Cycling in Oulu

By the end of May, the sun truly came out, and the temperature rose over 20C. That meant that the locals were out in force. On a wedding shoot on the beach.

Spring has sprung!

Fishing on the estuary (yes, that is that guy’s real skin colour).

Spring has sprung!

Having a beer in the sun.

Spring has sprung!

Wearing short shorts.

Summer has come early

All in the name of catching as much sun as possible. It made me realise that we do take sunlight and heat for granted in Australia. Next, we travel even further north, to Lapland.

Eat for Scandi! – Part 5

A merry Christmas and a happy new year to everyone! I hope that you all enjoyed your merry season with your loved ones and weren’t too silly in the process.

To continue on my series of Scandi foods, we’ll have a look at what the Finns eat. Their snack foods were rather standard (and perhaps not as highly spiced as ours), but they certainly had interesting names.

Strange Finnish Snack

But more seriously, the Finns like their baked goods, especially their sweet buns. And they also seem to like their pancakes too. We went to a traditional pancake house in the middle of Oulu, and sampled some of their savoury pancakes – Hubby had the salami and cheese.

Spring has sprung!

While I tried the salmon and dill. They were a bit too salty for me, but Hubby enjoyed his.

Spring has sprung!

We also ate some distinctly Finnish cuisine. A summer crayfish salad – refreshing as the spring weather peaked over 20C.

Spring has sprung!

Grilled reindeer steaks with lingonberry sauce – gamey and hearty.

Spring has sprung!

And shortcake tart with cloudberry sauce. I hadn’t seen cloudberries before but it’s the summer berry from Sweden and Finland. They grow on the edges of swamps and also makes a good local liqueur.

Spring has sprung!

So the Finns eat pretty well when the weather is warm, but like a lot of cold climate cultures, preserved foods (jams, pickled vegetables, meat and fish) played, and still plays, a big part of their diet. So different to Australia where the climate is so mild to have fresh food available all year round.