Monday, 31 August 2015

The other kind of culture

Culture is not just about the Arts, but about the way we live. When I was out for a walk with Monkey a few days ago I saw these signs and was reminded of a difference between the British & Finnish everyday cultures.. 

Almost every street in Urban Finland allows for cyclists. They are well tolerated on the roads and well catered for with cycle paths, too. The majority are either alongside a footpath or shared (as these signs indicate) with pedestrians and everyone respects each other's space.

Pedestrians and cyclists keep to the right hand side of the path and cyclist can (normally) safely overtake pedestrians without fear of them suddenly leaping to the left! On a narrow footpath a simple ring of the bell elicits a jump or step to the right to allow safe passage. 

No-one feels a sense of ownership, there is no feeling of "I was here first" or "you have no right to be on the pavement". Footpath users, whether on foot on on wheels, simply get along with each other, allowing safe passage for all. 

I am often reminded of an experience in Leicester where this was NOT the case and even now, years later, my blood pressure still rises when I think of it. Petty, maybe, but I had the right of way and I was the one on the receiving end of the abuse! 

There are three crossings within a 100m stretch of a main road into the city centre. The middle one of these crossing is for cyclists ONLY, the other two being pedestrian crossings. The cycle crossing was clearly divided into two lanes with only a picture of a bicycle in each lane... oriented to be the right way up in the correct lane. So, as I entered the crossing on my bicycle, at some speed (as I was in a dedicated cycle lane and therefore safe to do so) I came face to face with a pedestrian in the middle of the road, in my lane. He stood firm, causing me to break and swerve and as I passed him he pointed to the bicycle painted in the other lane and "suggested" that that's where I should be... 

I was not about to stop in the middle of the road to point out the bicycle was upside down or that it was, in fact, a bicycle and NOT a pedestrian. Neither did I want to further taint his obvious mistrust of anyone on two wheels by shouting the abuse that was on the tip of my tongue but I fumed the whole of the rest of my journey and the adrenalin meant an earlier than normal arrival! 

In general in UK, cyclists are still regarded as pests, an inconvenience to other road and footpath users. In Finland they are generally respected and even envied as they enjoy swift and healthy transport in good weather. There are even folk who choose to cycle year round, fitting spiked tyres in winter! I have on friend here who cycles 9 km (5.6 miles) each way to & from work everyday, regardless of blazing sun or freezing snow.

The Finnish attitude to cyclists is just one example of their general attitude to others.  

That was originally written last Autumn, but as is my way, I never published it!
Now I am cycling on a regular basis and really enjoying it.
I think I will be a fair weather cyclist, so not much more than a month til it gets too cold but in the meantime, it's getting me from A to B and saving me time & money! 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Summer 2014 - The Return of Random Culture

Yet again, it has been far too long since I updated this blog... blame Facebook! I have been posting some Random Culture over there, so I should really put it on here, too.... 

There have been several "knitted" items along the river.
These benches are the only ones I managed to catch on camera. You can see the ducks have returned, too! 

Outside Forum Marinum, the maritime museum, a new creature has appeared.
It is named "Symbiosis". 

On a girlie day with Monkey, we encountered this KISSING BOOTH. Inside, the walls & bench are plush and romantic music is playing! 

Away from the river, for a change, these totems are in the woods near the shopping centre in Varissuo (to the East of the City).

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Summer Ketchup

Catching up on the Summer. Variable weather, a trip to the UK and getting together with friends and family... just as a Summer should be! 
Rochester Cathedral, next door to Rochester Castle in Medway, Kent, UK
What would a Summer Concert be without rain? All the folk under these umbrellas were waiting for Jools Holland & Co and later, we danced in the mud! 
Just before sunset the rain cleared and we had a glimpse of the dusk
a little bit of the Kent countryside on the Hoo peninsular
Cousins going for a walk
Hello Rabbit!
a little cream tea... with proper fresh cream! 
There are some things I really miss in Finland, like a good bacon butty....
...affordable self raising flour (and this wasn't the cheapest.... I brought home a bag I bought for only 52p!)... 
I recognise that cup! this was a break during a major shopping trip around TESCO! 
a dream fulfilled... Monkey & Mouse travel on the top deck of a LONDON BUS! 
Proper English seaside... Hastings... the view from the hill top down to the sea
REAL Fish & Chips (sorry about the focus!) 
There was a row of old phone boxes in Kingston and Grandad & Monkey pushed them over like dominoes but ...
... they managed to stop the last one from toppling! 
a gymnastic mosaic in Kingston
Stonehenge. No time for the proper tour, so we just peeped through the fence.  

We did so much this Summer, I'm spreading it out over a couple of posts... 
more to follow soon. 

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

a walk by the river, at the Cathedral end, this time

Tuomiokirkko/The Cathedral
decorated bins

a snooze on the riverbank
remember these guys from last year?.... THEY'RE BACK!

Monday, 2 July 2012

A final (medieval) flurry with fish!

Sunday crowds, as seen from across the river
...and in the Old Town Square
Queuing for lunch
Fish head, anyone?
yummy... smoked salmon, roasted root vegetables and raw carrot in a cabbage leaf served with dark bread and a cup of water all on a wooden platter


What can you see? Knights on horses.
Really? All I can see is a big crowd.
I have a better view and there are knights on horses.
Oh, yes, I can see them now!
What are they doing?
Riding up and down and hitting each other with big long sticks
like that one? yes, mummy.
 and a little later...
look mummy! those are the horses we saw before!
Don't they look big and grand?
they are horses, mummy!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

A Medieval assault on the senses

It's time again for the Medieval Market in Turku. I love this market... It encompasses the historic atmosphere of the city all in one long weekend. From Thursday to Sunday, at the beginning of July each Summer, the are around the Old Town Square, the Cathedral School and Aboa Vetus/Ars Nova is transformed into a Medieval Market. All the stalls are carefully selected to reflect the era and all the stallholders, and many others, are in traditional costume. There is also a wonderful area in the park devoted to the Artisans of years gone by and as well as selling their wares, they demonstrate their traditional crafts. There are a potter's wheel; people boiling huges pots to make soap and dyes; blacksmiths; weavers; horn carvers; felters.... and lots more, too. I even met a Druid from Yorkshire, who lives in Rovaniemi (where Father Christmas lives) and sells incense and infusions!

Glass Jewellery designed and made by my friend, Sirkku.

Brass work - Mouse was fascinated by the bells. It was the cross/anchor/heart door knocker that originally caught my eye

One side of the Old Town Square - so glad we weren't pushing a buggy over the cobbles this year...
an ex-piggy!

Would you believe the lady in the middle is tanning fish leather?

Estonian Felt
...and today the sun was shining; it was lovely and warm; not too hot! 

We sat for a while and listening to some musicians - one lady who sang & played a "jouhikko" or stringed bowed lyre and a Swedish trio of ladies called KRABAT who played and sang. One of their instruments was a keyed fiddle! Wonderful sounds to accompany the tempting scents... not the soap I must admit... but the food cooking all around the market; salmon, pork, sausages, pancakes, candy apples, sugared/spiced almonds.. all yummy! And the smoke from various fires... the blacksmith, the dyers, soap-makers. The horses from the jousting arena added their own aromas, too!