Introduction:

"This blog is not necessarily for lovers of art, it includes a variety of topics and whatever. I'm a painter who likes to know what's really going on in the world today. So you might find anything from Shamrocks to Salmiakki mentioned here on my blog. There will of course be some boring, factual and informational posts, but I'll keep them to a minimum, I promise!

And I might get a bit nostalgic now and then.

So you have been warned!"


- Alan Hogan



Showing posts with label Finland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Finland. Show all posts

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Kick-off! - football in Finland

It was time to give my BK-46 football jersey a good wash
in preparation for this year's football season in Finland.



This year's football season has just started here in Finland and I took myself along to the local derby-match between my local team here in Karis/Karjaa called BK-46 and nearby neighbours EIF in Ekenäs/Tammisaari





Ekenäs / Tammisaari


This Finnish League second-division match took place yesterday in the beautiful seaside town of Ekenäs with the home supporters wearing their EIF green shirts and the visitors wearing their BK-46 red and white shirts. The second division or Kakkonen in Finnish is the third-tier of Finnish football.




BK-46 fans arrive at Ekenäs train station





Having watched my favorite English team Liverpool lose out to Manchester City in the English Premier League title race I needed a bit of a lift.

Some matches are already over in this years Finnish football season, in both the league and the Finnish Cup. But for me it really feels like the beginning when the weather improves and I can leave my coat at home. And this was just the case yesterday afternoon. Blue skies and warm sunshine made for a great afternoon as myself and other fans boarded the train and made our way to the game. 



EIF Ekenäs and BK-46 players line out before kick-off.

The match began in a very competitive manner as expected and my team BK-46 were playing good. The home team EIF have beaten BK-46 in their last three meetings. Supporters from both sides were in full voice cheering on their respective teams with plenty of colour added from waving flags, jerseys and scarves. There was even a Norwegian flag being waved from the BK-46 fans in honour to their neighbouring country's national day which is celebrated on May 17th. 

As the match progressed the home team were gaining more possession and control of the game, and eventually scored the first goal in the 34th minute of the game (EIF 1-0 BK-46). It stayed that way until half-time. 

BK-46 looked alive for a brief period in the second half. But they lacked leadership and it was evident that individual performances were substandard. This allowed EIF to improve their already good performance and add a second goal in the 52nd minute. It didn't look like any response was coming from the BK-46 players with most of the play taking place in their own half of the pitch. And when one of their players was red-carded it became an impossible task. Heads were down among the many fans including myself who had made the trip from Karis. It came as no surprise when a third goal by the team in green arrived in the 79th minute, and eventually EIF 3-0 BK-46 was the final score of the match. I must mention that three key players on the winning team have moved from the opposition team over the last two years, which along with the appointment of a new trainer at BK-46, must be considered as factors in this poor result.




... a bad day at the office!


Luckily it's only the beginning of the season, so a lot of work can be done to improve the side from Karis. One thing's for sure though, BK-46 still have the best fans (aka the Pälkka Sviinen) around these parts of Finland to help out and support their team.


  




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- Alan 



                     




Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Vappu! - May Day in Finland










In Finland, Walpurgis day (Vappu) is one of the four biggest holidays along with Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve, and Midsummer (Juhannus). During Vappu one can find big festivals held on the streets of Finland's towns and cities. This celebration which begins on the evening of 30 April and continues to 1 May, involves an all day party with consumption of sima (mead), sparkling wine and other alcoholic beverages.



Student traditions, particularly those of the engineering students, are one of the main characteristics of Vappu. Since the end of the 19th century, this traditional upper-class feast has been appropriated by university students. Many lukio (university-preparatory high school) alumni (who are thus traditionally assumed to be university bound), wear a cap. One tradition is to drink sima, a home-made low-alcohol mead, along with freshly cooked cakes called Tippaleipä. The first time I saw these cakes I thought they looked like fish-bait. But like anything new it must be tried at least once, so I tasted this worm-like delicacy. My verdict was negative. The taste was likened to that of a dull donut, and the cake was a little awkward to eat as it crumbled apart into small pieces on my first bite. In conclusion, it's now near the bottom of my cake list along with carrot-cake!



Tippaleipä and Sima (Mead)


Since I've had all my education back in Ireland I don't have a Finnish cap to wear on this day. I usually celebrate Vappu with a few Finnish friends at home in my garden, depending if the weather is nice. My friends always wear their student caps as is the custom in Finland. During the first few years living in Finland I used to feel a little out of place or somewhat unbelonging for being the only person not wearing a cap at these parties, but this feeling has since disappeared thanks to good food, good company and the joyful consumption of alcohol!



A typical Finnish student cap


I was at one large Vappu party a few years ago where I had an interesting and fun night. Lots of dancing, Finnish food, balloons and even some salmiakki!! It was back in Dublin long before I moved to Finland at a special Vappu event organised by the Irish-Finnish Society. I remember it well as it was held in a place called 'The Garda Club', a recreational venue owned and run by the Irish Police. That was the first time I saw the now familiar sight of the white Finnish student cap.






The main event as far as Vappu is concerned in Finland is the placing of a student cap on Havis Amanda, one of Helsinki's famous statues.



Havis Amanda statue and fountain
in Helsinki, Finland.


Here's a clip of Finnish students placing the cap on Havis Amanda in 2013. The weather was just as it is today here, blue skies and sunshine. A nice start to the new Spring!






I'm not sure what my plans are for tomorrow 1st of May, but for tonight I shall be having a quiet night in to celebrate Vappu with my own brand of Sima from Bunratty! And who knows, I might end up wearing my own student cap by the end of the night (ie. the cap of the bottle!)




Hauskaa Vappua!!!
Glada Wappen!!!
Happy May Day!!!

Lá breá Bealtaine agaibh!!!




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You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.


- Alan 



                     



Saturday, February 15, 2014

WINTER IS COMING....or maybe not!

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I got up from bed this morning to find the temperature here in southern Finland had gone over to the plus degrees side again, +3° celsius to be exact.  This has been the norm now for the past few weeks.  Usually this time of year it would be somewhere between -7°C and -35°C.  We've had very little snow this winter so far.  Normally I would have enough snow-shovelling exercise finished by now to prepare myself well for the intoxication hit that comes with a certain green celebration in March.  Instead I find myself looking at reports of bad weather from abroad.  For example, torrential rain in the Caribbean, heavy snow and continued freezing temperatures in the US and Canada, and of course crazy floods and storms in the UK and Ireland.  At the moment I saw it's snowing in Ireland, maybe because it has probably been blown halfway up towards Greenland!!





Foggy February in Finland!














Instead of shovelling walls of snow I have to look at constant grey skies and think fog. There's even the occasional shower. I can't complain really, in fact I'm very happy! The less snow-shovelling the better, I'm not much of a morning person, especially anytime before 08.00 or when temperatures are -10C or less. 

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Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends.


You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.


- Alan 




                    





Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day in Finland .... not just for couples!

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Hyvää Ystävaänpäivää!

It's Valentine's Day once again, probably the biggest Hallmark holiday of the year. For those unaware, the term Hallmark Holiday originates in the US and refers to the greeting card manufacturers Hallmark. I'm not aware if the term is used here in Finland yet, but we commonly used it while I was living in Ireland. 

Anyway, the title of this blogpost is directed at Valentine's Day in Finland or as it's called here Ystävänpäivä. This long Finnish word literally means Day of Friendship, and that's exactly how it is perceived. So it's probably more common to receive a small token of friendship from a close friend rather than a partner. It's only a young tradition here in Finland which began in the 1980s, and still remains with the idea of friendship as it's core value. Here however, especially among young people I have noticed a slow increase in the influence of the US version of Valentine's Day. The same is even more evident in neighbouring Sweden. More and more restaurants seem to be taking 'romantic' Valentine's Day bookings and I have noticed an increase in newspaper adverts. Although don't be surprised if you still get an invite off one of your friendly Finnish inlaws!

Before I go, here's a nice photo of a Valentine's Day cake. It's made with raspberries and blueberries, yummy!  
The Finns have a cake for everything!
The recipe can be found by clicking the photo, but it's only in Finnish... sorry!!







This is my second Valentine's Day blog, my first back in 2011 was called The Unexpected Rose

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It would help me if you could give me your vote in a current blog poll. Voting ends on 17/02/2014.

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To Vote, just click on the image above to open the voting page. Then scroll down the list to find Hogan's Blog and click the small icon beside it. Finally, continue down to the bottom of the list and click the Vote button. And that's all!
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You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.


- Alan
 



               
                                                             






Thursday, February 6, 2014

Society6 - product review





This is a short review for a Tote bag recently purchased for a friend from online store Society6. The bag features one of my own designs called 'Red Floral Decay'

Having removed the bag from it's packaging, I first asked a female friend for her opinion. The verdict was immediately positive as far as design and product were concerned. But I couldn't help but to have a closer look myself. 




Indeed, I was very happy with how well the design transferred to the bag's material. The colours were just as they appeared on my computer screen. The material itself seemed quite strong and the dark lining inside was good. It was good to see some double-stitching also and all-in-all I have to admit I thought the bag was satisfactory.

Here's a quick video of some hairy guy checking out the bag.






To quote Society6, these Tote bags are "hand sewn in America using durable, yet lightweight, poly poplin fabric. All seams and stress points are double stitched for durability. Available in 13" x 13", 16" x 16" and 18" x 18" variations, the tote bags are washable, feature original artwork on both sides and a sturdy 1" wide cotton webbing strap for comfortably carrying over your shoulder". 
I'm not sure what exactly poly poplin fabric is, but the bag felt like strong canvas-like material to me!

Conclusion: 

I was happy to see my design transfer well on to this material product. Colourwise it was perfect and fashionwise it got a thumbs-up from a female colleague.

Here are a few more of my Tote bag designs, and they are all for sale at my Society6 online store here



Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge



Click to enlarge



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You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.


- Alan
 



               
                                                             






Friday, December 13, 2013

No Snow in Finland!

Karjaa, Finland - 12.12.2013


Okay, so this blogpost was meant to go out a few days ago. It was meant to be a short post with lots of pretty snow photos from Finland. I even took a quick video from where I'm actually sitting right now which was going to be followed by more winter images. There was a drop in temperature to -13 degrees celsius, so everything was looking all nice and glitzy. I could almost hear the Jingle bells ringing!

But then all of a sudden the temperature rose to +8C degrees! And did I get a chance to take my Christmas photos? ...No!
Instead, after seeing awful weather on tv from the recent memorial for the late Nelson Mandela in South Africa, and hearing about the first snow in Jerusalem for over 60 years, I stood at my window taking photos of grass outside my Finnish home. This is truly terrible! It's now less than two weeks to Christmas and there's no snow in Finland! What's up with that?






Here lies possibly the last piece of snow of 2013. 
It is now in my freezer in case of emergency.



I realise the title of my blogpost isn't entirely true, of course there is snow in Finland. It's such a big country, you only need to drive 200 kilometers north and you will be guaranteed snow. But if anyone is travelling to the capital area of Helsinki, beware for you may be disappointed, especially as one of Finland's finest events occurs today.




Today marks the crowning of Lucia, an annual event on December 13th happening in various towns across Finland with the largest and most media-covered crowning being held in Helsinki against the backdrop of the fabulous Helsinki Cathedral.  


 Click to see original painting


I have seen this event without snow before. I remember a group of students from Sweden brought their own Lucia celebration to St.Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland about 10 years ago. It was something special indeed, especially when I first saw the group all dressed in white gowns with red sashes walking up the freezing stone floor in their bare feet. It was a very cold evening and walking barefoot didn't look easy. While I still remember that occasion in Dublin very well, it is still not as spectacular as the proceedings in Helsinki. 
If you missed the Lucia celebrations at the big white church in Helsinki today don't worry, you can watch it all on the Finnish National broadcaster's channel. Just click this Link













Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends. Let's hope the snow arrives here and wherever you are for Christmas!





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You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.


- Alan 



                     
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The Art Garage, Finland

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