"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 nordic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nordic. Show all posts

Monday, December 11, 2017

My Finland 100 : 41- 50

Finland became an independent state on 6 December 1917. Already there have been numerous events staged throughout the country to celebrate this centenary year. The theme of the centenary year is ‘Together’. 

As I have been a resident of Finland for the past ten years I wanted to do a little something. For this I decided to post 100 images to my Instagram account on social media with the hashtag #finland100_igchallenge .

Anyone familiar with the Instagram application will be aware of the vast amount of wonderful photography posted every day online. There are so many amazing images to be found featuring Finland's stunning nature and landscapes. I imagine my photography may be lack lustre in comparison and as a result may not be noticed. So I decided to simply look closer in and around my new home for another approach. I have posted a variety of images found around my own house and neighbourhood. I didn't know much about Finland before I moved here, so I view this as an opportunity to show others a few things I discovered about or associated with Finland and it's culture. I have included everyday items, nostalgic items, locations, food and also some Finnish-themed artworks which I painted myself while living here. In other words, a bit of everything!!

The images are in no particular order of importance or preference, so I'll continue with 41-50...


The sandwich cake! .. the smörgåstårta can be found at many celebration parties throughout Finland. This savoury dish has been perfected in Finland, as shown here by a great chef from Bromarf! These two sandwich cakes were made specially for my birthday and were delicious! ..Thanks Tanja!! 😊🍰

A post shared by Alan Hogan (@alanhogano) on

'Autumn Birches' (acrylic-on-canvas) #finland100_igchallenge 42/100
..posting a series of random images (including some of my own art) from or associated with Finland to celebrate the country's 100th birthday! ...'probably should've posted this earlier, all the leaves have fallen at the stage! ☺🍁

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..late night snack! A national dish of Finland 'The Karelian Pie'! ..yum!!
A post shared by Alan Hogan (@alanhogano) on

44/100 Finland you're never too far from nature. I took this photo only 2 minutes from my house today. 🌲🌲🍁🌲
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..I was never too fond of mustard back in Ireland except for a tiny bit of Colmans on a toasted ham & cheese sandwich. But the mustard in Finland is more to my liking, especially 'Turun Sinappia' on makkara (finnish sausage).

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...these ABC service stations are everywhere in Finland, at least everywhere I've travelled. They're a one-stop shop for petrol, grocery shopping and dining! 🚘⛽🚘🚚🚕 ... 'took this photo at my local ABC today!
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...a painting of a house in my neighbouring town of Ekenäs in Finland. 'The Green House' (acrylic-on-canvas), ...well it was green when I painted it! 😀🎨
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.. a crafty old Finn I once knew handcarved these butterknives from old juniper wood. Some say Santa Claus started this tradition but these ones are definately the upgrade! .🎅..
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49/100 world leaders in coffee consumption Finland needs to have the best coffeemachines! That's why you will find one of these in most Finnish households, the 'Moccamaster'. I have this Ferrari red model and it makes an amazing brew! Although the machine is made in Holland I regard it as a part of my Finnish experience! 🍵
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... throwback Thursday ..the beautiful Havis Amanda photographed last summer in Helsinki.

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Click below for more:

1- 10

11- 20

21- 30

31- 40

41- 50

51- 60

61- 70

71- 80

81- 90

91- 100

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

- Alan


Monday, June 12, 2017

Eyes Wide Open

Visiting Finland during the summer months offers the chance to experience long evenings and for a certain period the midnight sun. In most parts of Finland it doesn't get very dark at all. Where I live along the south-west coast the darkness is set at twilight, so it can be bright enough to play a game of football.

Having spent almost ten years now living in Finland I am still amazed every June as the Midsummer period arrives with it's seemingly endless hours of light. It's an eerie sensation which can create wonder and plenty of sleepless nights. Black-out blinds are an essential purchase if you want to sleep!

While I still haven't been to the northern part of Finland yet, I can almost imagine what it must be like to have the sun up all day. It's something I would still like to experience sometime. One reason I haven't been so far north in the summer may be the presence of Finland's not-so loveable mosquitos. While we do get quite a lot of these bloodsuckers here in the south of Finland, I have heard stories of mild discomfort caused by the amount they have up north. This may be over-exaggerated, but during my first few years of living in southern Finland my legs were constantly under attack. After several days of itching and scratching they resembled a pair of crusty old pizzas! I think I offered the mosquitos a new dining experience of Irish blood which they took to like a vintage wine!

Nowadays my blood may have altered a bit or become less tasteful as they don't bother me too much anymore. Perhaps my tolerence for them has levelled out,  I honestly don't know!

Anyway I thought I'd reactivate my blog here today having read about a short-film been shown at a Finnish film festival this week. It's certainly an apt film to show as it's relevent to the festival's location and this time of year. It's called 'How a Mosquito Operates', a silent animated film made way back in 1912 by American cartoonist and animator Winsor McCay. It's just one of many films been shown, full list here

This Wednesday June 14th 2017, the Midnight Sun Film Festival begins it's five-day event in Sodankylä, Finland. It's an unusual film festival as it shows films around the clock without any breaks, just as the sun shines around the clock! 
The festival began in 1986 in the village of Sodenkylä, located in Finnish Lapland, some 120 kilometres above the Arctic Circle where the sun doesn't set at all in the summertime. So if you suffer from insomnia, this is the place for you!!

..and don't worry about the mossies!

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

- 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. 

Thank you for visiting my blog!!!

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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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 


Monday, April 18, 2011

Spring in Stockholm......with vice-cream!

Last Friday I got an early taste of spring as I spent a lovely sunny day in Stockholm. While large amounts of snow were still evident last week here in Finland and temperatures were still low enough to catch a cold, I hopped onboard a Viking Line ferry in Helsinki and headed southwest to the picturesque city of Stockholm in Sweden. I had been on short visits to the city before but always during cold and unpleasant weather. This time it was perfect, a bright sunny day with temperatures around 15C degrees. Not too hot, not too cold, perfect conditions for any irishman!

I really like the ferry trip between Finland and Sweden. There's always an interesting mix of people from both countries, aswell as a few russians and the occasional 'foreigner' like me! Everybody onboard always seems to be enjoying themselves.

The weather in Stockholm was indeed good to me on this occasion and I took full advantage of it by walking around the city streets and sitting outside several cafes. Lot's of interesting sights to see. I also noticed a lot of flowers sprouting up around the town centre. A refreshing sight to see after several months of snow and freezing cold.

National Museum of Fine Art, Stockholm.
In the afternoon I dropped by the National Museum of Fine Art where there was a special art exhibition taking place. It was titled 'Lust and Vice', a collection and an account of how sexuality, virtue and sin have been illustrated and shown in art from the 16th century to present day. The exhibition is varied and quite graphical, not the sort of thing you might like to take your grandmother to. Then again, granny does enjoy a good laugh! And yes, once again, lots of interesting things to see!

Here's a video I found on the exhibition. It's only in Swedish, but there's great detail to the images so it's worth a look.

Bildspel, Lust & Last from Nationalmuseum on Vimeo.

Unfortunately this irish catholic boy had to give this exciting exhibition a miss. Alas I had good reason not to corrupt myself with this unique insight. For one thing, the sunshine outside was just too nice to be stuck indoors. And secondly I didn't have much time to see a complete exhibition as I had a tight schedule and a boat to catch at the end of the day.

Instead, I opted for a big fat ice-cream and a short boat trip along Stockholm's canal and waterways instead.
Let's call it my vice-cream!

Here's a short video I put together with some photos of my little day out. A little less costly and not a bad substitute for a day at the gallery!
Excuse the dodgy camerawork and enjoy!

Before I finish this post I want to say a big thank you to the nice person in Exton, Pennsylvania who purchased a print of my painting titled 'Birch Path' yesterday. You have excellent taste and I fully appreciate the sale!

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Highway to Helsinki!

Before leaving Ireland to live in Finland I gathered my compact discs and mediocre collection of vinyl records all together for a long session of bubble-wrapping. These were all little mementos and memories with no real monetary value. Maybe they will have one day, but I will find it very hard to part with any of them if such a day arises. That's what a lot of music is to me, a reminder of a past memory in my life, whether it be good or bad. I will occasionally spend that little bit extra for any newly released music that I think is exceptional, for example 'The Bends' by Radiohead, and 'Grace' by Jeff Buckley amongst others. I do also have a lot of music which I like, simply because the price was right. Well, a bargain is a bargain!
Nowadays in a world of what I call 'invisible' music or downloads, the whole appreciation of having a hard copy of something you have paid cash for is obsolete and in a way extinct.
Over the past couple of years I discovered an event which happens annually in various locations throughout Finland. It's called Levy Messut or roughly translated Record Fair. Living back in Ireland I was used to searching through superstores like HMV, Tower Records and Virgin for all the latest releases on compact disc. But I never stopped buying old vinyl. For this I went to various small second-hand record shops like Sound Cellar and my old favorite Freebird Records. Their collections were however very limited and sometimes a little expensive for second-hand material.
So when I discovered the 'Levy' record market event here in Finland, I simply had to investigate. This event is organised between a group of record dealers from Finland, Sweden and Germany.

My first visit was back in 2008 in a town called Hyvinkää. My expectations were more than satisfied. It was held in a big indoor hall with plenty of space to move around, and they even had a public toilet and a coffee station! More importantly the selection of records was vast and all were available at a reasonable price. Well, for my budget anyway!
Needless to say I picked up a couple of favorites of which I didn't have at home already.. Here's what I got on that occasion.

Slade – 'In Flame' vinyl album €10 – playing condition 8/10
Thin Lizzy – 'The Collection' vinyl double album €8 – playing condition 9/10
Creedence Clearwater Revival – 'Travelling Band' (Russian print) vinyl album €8 – playing condition 10/10

The Stranglers – 'The Raven' vinyl album with 3D cover art €12 – playing condition 10/10
The Specials – 'More Specials' vinyl album €6 – playing condition 10/10
Various – 'Street Level' 20 New Wave Hits vinyl album €5 – playing condition 9/10

Of course, it can be a gamble as regards the condition of any record you buy at these markets. But it only takes 10 seconds to take the vinyl out of it's sleeve and check for any nasty scratches if you're concerned. You will soon realise that all of the people involved at such record markets are true professionals and care for their records more so than any of their customers.

So what's all this got to do with the Highway to Helsinki you may ask.
Well, yesterday I got the chance to go to another Levy Messut record fair, this time in Helsinki.
And that's why I took the Highway to Helsinki!
Well I tell a lie, I actually took the train. The train from Karis to Helsinki, on a gloomy Sunday afternoon. Perfect weather to be where I was heading. The hall was a bit smaller this time though, but the bargains were bigger and better! Amongst all the usual collections of UK and US releases I noticed an increase in the amount of Finnish records or Suomi Rock. I was tempted to pick up an old Levi & The Leavings album but I already have a double cd of theirs at home. This time I was looking for some Johnny Cash, something Irish, and some old-school ska/reggae like Desmond Dekker or Prince Buster. So I began my quest. It's important to practice a little bit of self-indulgence once or twice a year. This was my time, this was my bag!
And here is what I came away with this year. I could have stayed longer, only I had to catch the cheap train home! That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it!

Phil Lynott – 'Solo in Soho' vinyl album €3 – playing condition 9/10

The Police – 'Regatta de Blanc' vinyl album €3 – playing condition 10/10

Elvis Presley – 'Elvis Forever' 32 Hits vinyl double album €3 – playing condition 8/10

Johnny Cash – 'The Best of Johnny Cash' vinyl album €10 – playing condition 10/10

Blondie – 'Parallel Lines' vinyl album €6 – playing condition 9/10

Sinéad O'Connor – 'The Lion and The Cobra' vinyl album €3 – playing condition 10/10 (I'm not a big fan of Sinéad, but this album contains some great songs and her voice excells)

Elvis Costello and the Attractions – 'Get Happy!!' vinyl album €4 – playing condition 10/10

Horslips – 'Dancehall Sweethearts' vinyl album €12 – playing condition 10/10

…...and finally my bargain of the day!

The Equals – 'The Equals' vinyl album €1 – playing condition 10/10
featuring a young Eddie Grant!

I admit I was tempted by some classics by the likes of Pink Floyd, The Who, Beatles, Rolling Stones, AC/DC and even Uriah Heep! But I have all that I need by these artists on vinyl or compact disc already. I have the only two albums by Pink Floyd that I ever wanted, 'The Piper at the Gates of Dawn' and 'The Dark Side of the Moon' and a cd box set of The Who. I don't think it's healthy to listen to same music all the time, a bit of diversity is important I reckon. Having said that, I did keep my distance from 'John Denver and The Muppets Christmas Album'. There are limits, you know what I mean folks!!

There is without doubt in my opinion something very satisfying about owning a vinyl record whether it is new or second-hand, as long as it's in reasonable condition. It's something to be cherished, and never be embarrassed to show it off to your friends the next time you invite them around for a drink. It's an old practice that is unfortunately dying slowly. It's something that your 'download' can't offer, plus you get the chance to discover or rediscover some great album artwork. Such artwork has become so iconic today and is well worth the album price in itself. Something else which is well worth knowing is the fact that most newly made record players on sale today have a special USB port that allows their owner to convert their vinyl records to MP3. And they are not as expensive as you may think. You can pick up such a record player with a USB function new for under €100. So now you can also listen to your vinyl collection on your mp3 player without any download costs!

For anyone reading this in Finland you might want to make note that the Levy Messut is in Hyvinkää on October 2. More details at
Anyone reading this in Sweden might like to check out a shop called Nostalgipalatset in Stockholm. A Swedish guy handed me a flyer from this shop. Tell him I sent you! More details at

- Now all I need to do is find is a new needle for my record player!!

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 


The Art Garage, Finland

The Art Garage, Finland
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