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 scandinavia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label scandinavia. Show all posts

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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- Alan
 



               
                                                             






Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summertime Blues?.....No thanks!!!



This blogpost is written especially for anyone living here in Finland.


Living in Finland for a few years now, I have witnessed the harsh winters and learned to deal with cold temperatures. I have shovelled my fair share of snow and lost the feeling in my fingers several times.
It's been a long cold winter and now summer is finally here!


Time to get the Kabanossi and Karhu out, put the sandals and shorts on, set up the trampoline or pool if you're lucky enough to have one. 




Going a little crazy just because of a bit of sun is something I can relate to, being an Irishman. One could easily replace the Finnish cold for Irish rain in this equation. And believe me, a cocktail of Irish rain and atlantic winds can really get you down sometimes. Show an Irishman a window full of summer sunshine and he'll be straight out for a game of golf before getting ready for an evening of barbeque and beer! I've noticed that Finns are very similar in their appreciation of all things sunny and nice too. While the Finnish winter can be beautiful and unique in it's own way, one window of summer sunshine and the Finnish public are straight down to the beach, park or their summer cottage for some quality time!!

So before you go out and disappear under the big glow of the summer sun, let me wish all my blog visitors in the northern half of the world a very happy summer!

And if any readers living here in Finland have doubts about letting your hair down this summer, or if you are having second thoughts about jumping in that lake with nothing but your birthday suit on, why not watch this video. Remember, while the winters here are wonderful and picturesque, they are also very long. The summer is short, and I think this will encourage you to enjoy it even more. It's a long video, but worth watching at least for the guy's commentary. I thought he was funny and....and I must go visit that well-known "Baltic country Viagra", I heard it's economy has been growing rapidly since joining the Eurozone. He seemed to enjoy his visit anyway. I watched this on full screen as he used a top of the line Sony camera.






Thanks for reading my blog and feel free to share with all your friends. My next blog will return to a subject I love to hate!

-Alan

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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!




Thanks for reading my blog and please please please share it with all your friends.

-Alan

You are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button here.





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Monday, March 14, 2011

Green Day in Helsinki!



On this coming Thursday, March 17th, a few people including myself will be wearing green and celebrating this year's St. Patrick's Day in Finland. Since moving to Finland I have noticed how well the Finnish people are able to enjoy this annual Irish holiday. I could almost say it comes natural! 
Having spent a few winters here in Finland, I can understand why so many Finns embrace this event with such joy and enthusiasm. The winters here are long, dark and extremely cold. And when this kind of weather drags on past February, there comes with it a lot of irritation, frustration and a growing urge to see the snow melt quickly. The more the sun appears, the stronger the feel of Spring! And while this may be the first celebration of the Spring season for many people, the Finnish people can get more value from it than most of us. It's time to forget about the cold and say goodbye to the snow (even if it's still hanging around!), - it's time to party!



This year I am planning my Paddy's Day schedule in Helsinki this year, where I hope to knock back a few pints of Guinness and maybe one or two whiskeys. I haven't decided where to go this year, but I reckon I'll find some craic somewhere! 











There's several places where you can drown the shamrock (if you can find a shamrock!!) in Helsinki this year. Top of the list has to be Molly Malone's pub where you will find 'A Hell of a Band' and also Finn McCool playing a tribute to the Dubliners singer Luke Kelly.


Not too far away from Molly Malone's bar in Helsinki you will find Brègain playing at O'Malley's Irish bar. 
I wish I had a little more information on what other bars have planned, but here are a few links to some bars which may be celebrating this Thursday
.
Parnells Irish Bar, Hämeentie 35, 00500 Helsinki
The Dubliner. Helsinki
The Castle, Turku
Parnell's bars in Finland




And finally, if I upset any fans of the band Green Day by my deceptive title please accept my apologies!
Especially for you, here's Green Day on December 15th, 1991 singing an old song in a pub I used to visit frequently back in Dublin. It was an afternoon gig (4-6pm), hence such a quiet 'crowd'. This tiny venue with a capacity of about 40 people was called 'The Attic', and could be found upstairs at a pub called 'The White Horse Inn'. 
Enjoy!

...and just one more thing for those of you good people who read this far down the page.....



Thanks for reading my blog and please share it with all 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













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Monday, January 31, 2011

Moomin and a groovin' on a sunny afternoon!



Most of you reading this blog may recognise the well-known character featured in the video above. His name is Moomintroll from the Moomin books and cartoons. The Moomins were created in the mid-1940's by Tove Jansson, a Finnish novelist and painter. Since then it has become a worldwide phenomenon.
Personally I never understood the attraction of the Moomins when I was young. Growing up as a child in Ireland, like many other Irish children I spent a lot of time reading comics, books and looking at the television. Back then in the 1970's Irish television consisted of two national channels and three British channels. Most of the cartoons shown were from the US or the UK. So we had a huge selection to choose from. I can remember cartoons such as Battle of the Planets, Scooby Doo, Hong Kong Phooey, Wacky Races and Spiderman from the US. And then we had the likes of Mr.Benn, Captain Pugwash and the Mr.Men from the UK. The Moomins cartoon may have been shown occasionally but I never noticed. Any cartoons about a small white hippo-like creature didn't stand a chance against the all-action american cartoons. Not on my television anyway! We also had a few european cartoons which I thought were a bit strange. They mainly came from old countries like Czechoslovakia and East Germany. I later found out that some of them may have contained some East German propaganda! 

While I ignored anything to do with the Moomins when I was young, I have educated myself a little on the characters and their creator since moving to Finland. I reckon that small white hippo-troll might be a good creation for kids after all. There's no shortage of colourful characters and imagination there, that's for sure!   

Last summer I discovered one place connected to Tove Janssons famous little characters. It was Moominworld of course, a small Moomin theme park based on an island at the town of Naantali or Nådendal in Swedish. While it costs to enter the Moomin park enclosure itself, anyone can simply walk over the bridge walkway and on to the island. There's a nice little Moomin cafe there to sit and enjoy a coffee and the sun. And after that it's only a short walk into the nice Naantali marina. Here there more cafes and restaurants, including a great little boardwalk along the marina where you can find some bars with cool outdoor seating areas. A nice place to enjoy a cold beer and hear the radio playing 'Groovin' on a sunny afternoon'.


Naantali Marina, Finland

Unfortunately, I didn't have much time to hang around all these nice places as I had to get back to the Naantali Spa Hotel were I was staying with my better half, courtesy of a nice little gift token given to us by some Finnish friends. Such was the irresistable pull of a hot jacuzzi and a few beers in the residents bar. We just couldn't help ourselves, you know??? :)

Next time I go back to Naantali, I will try to stay somewhere closer to the town centre. Here's a little video clip I made from the photos of my stay in Naantali.  



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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 



                     



Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Barbeque Time!



A typical small portion at a Finnish barbeque.
Finnish pork sausage and potato salad.




I can't believe there's still some snow lying about over here.
I know it's Finland, but it's almost May!

Nevermind, it's not going to stop this years barbeque kick-off! I'm looking forward to my first barbeque of the 2010 season this weekend.
Well, I tell a lie, it's actually my second.
My first BBQ took place last February, but it was a snow barbeque, so it doesn't really count.

Believe me it's a totally different experience.

Here's some photos to prove it.






I remember it being -13 degrees celsius that afternoon, apparently warm enough for some Finns to go outside for a barbeque!
Honestly, they're crazy!!

As it was just too cold for me to take my gloves off, I left all the grilling to my friends.





I found a fun and easy way to warm myself up while checking out the nearby slopes. Extreme sports here I come!!

(If the owner of the sledge in this photo is reading this, I'm very sorry!)




Well, hopefully that troublesome volcano in Iceland will calm down a bit and our weather can get back to some normality. I'm hoping that the sun will burst out this weekend with a massive heatwave here in Finland.

I'm going to get my Kabanossi sausages out and have a few cold cans of beer in the blistering sunshine. I might even put my shorts on!

'Got to be optimistic!!







And I got a nice surprise last week at the shops when I saw that my favorite Finnish beer is now available in a one litre can. (I'd love to see 'em shotgun this baby!)





















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The Art Garage, Finland

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