Elegia by Eino Leino -Eino Leinon Elegia

It is unvbelievably nice to be surrounded by my own culture. I know it may sound lame but there is so much ”Finnishness” as I call it that cannot be explained to people who are not born and raised in Finland. Some of these things are music, poems and literature. Despite this I will try today, explain a bit of it and share something with you.

Last night I watched ”Vain Elämää” (trans. ”Life Only”)  series on TV with my sister. It is an amazing concept. The series has seven Finnish musicians appearing in it. They spend the whole day and evening  together and each episode concentrates on the music of one of the artists. They talk about their feelings, the musicians explain how they ended up writing the songs, what they experienced in their lives at that time. It is touching, the songs open up so differently when you hear the stories. Some songs that you throught would happy songs were written in the middle of anxiety, fear and desperation. It is also so impressive to see different versions of the classic songs that are familiar to every Finn. Sometimes the songs are like different songs as they are intepreted so differently from the orginal. I have had tears in my eyes when watching the episodes. Particularly shaking was the episode where the poem from my most formative years of high school was intepreted. The song is based on the poem of Eino Leino, famous Finnish poet. Here is the new version of the song intepreted by Paula Vesala from PMMP. Here is the original song intepreted by Vesa-Matti Loiri.

 I loved Finnish language lessons, literature and writing. I guess I went through the period in my life when I was reading books every minute of my life and I was dwelling in the emotions, writing was to express them. I still remember sitting in the class room back in 2002. My mother language teacher was a musician herself, she was in the music group called ”Kitkerät Neitsyet” (trans. ”Bitter Virgins”). It was cold and dark winter day. She was wearing her cool looking leather trousers, she had black hair, strong black eye make-up and purple cardigan as usual. She stood there in front of the class room and started to pronounce this poem called Elegia. It describes youth and how it appears to you when you are older and you look back in time. I was young then but I was still able to imagine how this text would touch and feel when you are older and reading it. Like Finnish poems typically it is full of sadness, simplicity and melancholy but it is so lyric that later on it was written as a song too. I wanted to share this text with you. Finnish poetry is pretty rough.

Youth fading like a rolling stream,

strings of gray push from the golden beam.

In vain, O in vain try I and seize the hour;

no joy in friends, my wine’s going sour.


Gone are my proud days of will.

My spirit burned; now it lies still.

From all vales I rose; O why see I not another mile?

My heart’s wish: less pain but a humble while.


O true I know, peace there is deep in the mold.

The path of a seeker did no mellow rest hold;

stormy clouds cloaking the sun going down,

a fainting red burns like the deepest wound.


Gone in the sea is the blossom of my dreams.

I’m a penniless man; dear the price of the song, it seems.

My all I gave, but a while did I brave,

a grave heart did the gold of my dreams pay.


Tired I am, O my heart to the depths!

More it is than a man and he takes?

Or I’m of them with the will and no more?

All winnings void, yield an undying throe.


So for none did I bear all trouble and ail,

broken chains, burnt dearest ships of sail?

Now I did fall when the demand was my all?

Freezing to ice, scarred to answer the call?


Hopeless the struggle to the divine gate,

heavenly song to its child coming too late.

Queen the winter tears me down with these quills.

In the quiet of the gorge this dying beast stills

(Finnish original by Eino Leino)


Rakastan ”Vain Elämää” sarjaa. Konsepti on oivallinen. On uskomatonta kuinka musiikki voi aueta uudella tavalla, kun kuulee tarinan laulun synnystä. Itselleni yksi koskettavimpia kappaleita sarjassa on ollut Vesa-Matti Loirin alkuperäinen tulkinta Eino leinon runosta Elegia. Se oli yksi nuoruusvuosieni koskettavimmista kirjallisista teksteistä. Kun kuulin Paula Vesala version kyseisestä kappaleesta kylmät väreet kulkivat ihoani pitkin. Muistan yhä kuunnelleeni alkuperäistä versiota toistolla ollessani 18-vuotias ja tunnelmoidessani nuoruutta ja sen katoavaisuutta. Rakastin  äidinkieltä ja kirjallisuutta koulussa. Opettajani kuului ”Kitkerät Neitsyet” yhtyeeseen ja oli melkoinen taiteilija sielu. Muistan yhä, kun eräällä tunnilla pimeänä talvipäivänä hän lausui luokan edessä Eino Leinon Elegia, jota seurasi hiljaisuus. Eihän nuoruutta voisi koskettavammin juuri kuvata.

Haihtuvi nuoruus niinkuin vierivä virta.

Langat jo harmaat lyö elon kultainen pirta.

Turhaan, oi turhaa tartun ma hetkehen kiini,

riemua ei suo rattoisa seura, ei viini.


Häipyvät taakse tahtoni ylpeät päivät.

Henkeni hurmat ammoin jo jälkehen jäivät.

Notkosta nousin. Taasko on painua tieni?

Toivoni ainoo: tuskaton tuokio pieni.


Tiedän ma: rauha mulle on mullassa suotu.

Etsijän tielle ei lepo lempeä luotu,

pohjoinen puhuu, myrskyhyn aurinko vaipuu,

jää punajuova: kauneuden voimaton kaipuu.


Upposi mereen unteni kukkivat kunnaat.

Mies olen köyhä: kallit on laulujen lunnaat.

Kaikkeni annoin, hetken ma heilua jaksoin,

haavehen kullat mieleni murheella maksoin.


Uupunut olen, ah, sydänjuurihin saakka!

Liikaako lienee pantukin paatinen taakka?

Tai olen niitä, joilla on tahto, ei voima?

Voittoni tyhä, työn tulos tuntoni soima.


Siis oli suotta kestetyt, vaikeat vaivat,

katkotut kahleet, poltetut, rakkahat laivat?

Nytkö ma kaaduin, kun oli kaikkeni tarpeen?

Jähmetyn jääksi, kun meni haavani arpeen.


Toivoton taisto taivaan valtoja vastaan!

Kaikuvi kannel; lohduta laulu ei lastaan.

Hallatar haastaa, soi sävel sortuvin siivin.

Rotkoni rauhaan kuin peto kuoleva hiivin.

(Eino Leino)

More Finnish Design – Lisää Suomi-designia

I love Nordic design and particularly Finnish design. I have mentioned that hundereds of times in my blog. I pretty much decorate my house with Nordic pieces as it gives me the feeling of being at home plus it makes it a bit unusual too. I love of course Marimekko and Vallila that are  distributed to elsewhere in Europe. Another favourite of mine is Pentik. They produce classic a bit country style interior design pieces with modern Nordic twist. Their glassware is particularly lovely. Soft colours and round shapes.

I have Pentik Saaga set for dining and coffee. This time I bought couple of more pieces for that collection.

saaga lautanen

I bought serviets too to go with my Saaga set.


I also bought a woolen throw. I have struggled to find a soft woolen throw in Enland. The kind of that would be soft not itchy and also good quality. The challenge with woolen throws is that you want to have 100% wool, but the wool fibre needs to be soft not coarse. In addition to this challenge in many countries they tend to mix wool with acrylic or polyester, this has been the case with most of the lovely woolen throws I have found in London. I have dreamed of this grey and white one since I saw it online so I headed to the Pentik store yesterday and bought one for our master bedroom. It is so beautiful. The birds on the throw give that kind of rural but soft vibe. The grey and white will go nicely with my grey, white and black Marimekko ”Satula” curtains.


I am still dreaming of their Saga throw too…

shaali 2

Autumn Finland -Syksyinen Suomi

It is great to be back home. The travel went well. I booked a lunch time flight on Sturday which I know is the easiest in terms of Heathrow traffic and my baby girl’s mood. My daughter knows how to make most of the flying these days. I guess she has gotten quite a lot of practice. She just sleeps through the flights. As soon as the engines go on she is gone. It was so lovely she slept all 3h to Finland and I was able to listen to my favourite music, sip my coffee and enjoy chocolate all that time -luxurious! She was just toes up in the air!


I always forget how stunning Finland is at the Autumn time.  We call it ”ruska”. It is when everything turns to colourful and nature is filled with Autumn magic. Sun is shining and it has been so beautiful. Not even cold at all. We have still as much daylight here as in England so it is just perfect.


What colours!

I have been out and about exercing more than probably at the whole summer! In the morning, day time and afternoon. I am excited to think of being a  lot more fit after these three weeks.


I love Finnish wooden houses -they are gorgeous!

My daughter loves cycling. She is pointing her helmet all the time and wants to go out and ride the bike.  She has been sitting in her baby seat in the back of the bicycle and we have been out admiring trees that have turned to colourful like rainbows.   I have enjoed breathing this fresh, cool and crispy Nordic air. As a small detail  I love  water here too. It is unreal that the tap water is spring water so clean and tasty! It is also unbelievably peacful everywhere, it blows my mind. So quiet, no cars on the roads, I feel like the king of the road when driving here all by myself!


My baby girl felt like a big girl when taking the dogs out.

Stores and playgrounds are empty, no people really, and I have all this space just for me. It truly makes me feel calm and relaxed not to have people like ants around me. It is also nice to have this break straight after my resignation as I felt so emotional on my last day at work. I had to run to the elevator not to have tears running down my face. I will miss my colleagues like I told them and I know I will miss London too. This break here gives me a bit distance to those emotions which is good.


This is the beautiful wooden church where I got married. It is so amazing inside that it has been used in the film scenes too.

It is wonderful to see my family and all the friends. Most of them have babies now so we have lovely time catching up, kids can play and we can talk!


I hope you all are having a good start of the week! My next post is probably about shopping..like always I went a bit crazy here when all the Finnish design is at my doorstep!



What is Finnishness -Mitä on suomalaisuus?

I thought I would write 5 positive and 5 negative adjectives how Finland and Finns appear to me now when I have lived overseas for many years. It is interesting as I do not see or feel myself being a Finn anymore. There are so many things that seem strange, concepts I have forgotten or emotions or behaviour I cannot relate to. Finland is a lovely country and many people always ask me why  I left and why I don’t want to return.

Why I left? Simple. I did feel there was a chance for better life FOR ME out there. I know, many Finns do not believe this. Therefore I want to highlight I felt it was the better life for me, not better life in general.

Why don’t I want to return? I really do love London. London is like a complicated cheese, immediately you may not like it but the longer you stay the more you fall in love with the city. London has amazing job opportunities, quick access to everywhere else in Europe, the night life is fantastic, the restaurant selection is without comparison, the multicultural vibe and cosmopolitan life style both attract me and I have found so many great friends there that will stay forever such.

What is Finland then? For me the positive adjectives that I associate with Finland and Finns are:

1. Loyal

2. Trustworthy

3. Honest

4. Pragmatic

5. Equal.

Loyal because in Finland if you find a good working place you may stay there for life time. Finns are also extremely loyal as friends. It may take time to build the friendship but when it has been built it stays.

Trustworthy because many Finns find trustworthy as one of the most important qualities in a human being and in a worker.

Honest because in Finland you may lose your wallet on the street and someone returns it with the money in it.

Pragmatic because in Finland things are organised in a way that makes the whole society function well and efficiently. Best example being when I discussed with my best friend in Finland and she said how easy and cheap options nurseries are. The quality of the nurseries is stock standard (cheap, only 250e a month!!) and going back to work has been made so easy for women. Women do not have to hunt the nurseries, compare the quality, calculate their salaries versus nursery fees, plan the nursery run. The approach is pragmatic, women should be able to return to work without a hassle, why would it be made complicated and impractical?

Equality because all the Finns have a chance to educate themselves for free. Everyone can put their babies to same good quality nurseries and schools. Everyone can go to the university and complete bachelor and master degree for free.  Every woman can return to work without it being financially impossible. People are at least tried to be put to the equal position as far as the state is concerned.

What are then the negative adjectives that I associate with Finns and Finland?

1. Simple

2. Jealous

3. Stingy

4. Melancholic

5. Antisocial

Simple because Finnish Lutheran church, war time and poor past seem to have rooted deeply into the society and its people that the simple life is admirable. If you live an extravagant life style it is like a deadly sin and you should be ashamed for it or at least keep low profile. I totally disagree, if I have a chance to travel, fine dine, have a cleaner and nanny, not struggle and not live simply I certainly will do so. If you like simple life, live it, if you don’t please do not pretend to do so for the sake of  it being seen somehow ideal or superior.

Jealous because Finland is so hard trying to make people’s life equal then if someone has more it will cause jealousy. I never saw this myself whilst I was living in Finland but after have been away for a long time and talking to other expat Finns they all seem to think the same. In many other countries due to different classes or social groups people at least seem to accept that some have less some have more. They may feel sad but jealousy is not the striking characteristic.

Stingy because…oh well..I cannot even remember how many times my poor big hearted Australian husband went out with Finns and bought rounds of drinks and never ever got even one drink return. No, if  you as a foreigner buy a drink in Finland and offer it to a Finn, do not expect to get anything back. They will drink as much as they get for free but never pay back. You either play the Finnish game of buying your own drinks or you will end up paying all the rounds. Same applies to food. Whereas in England we always split the bill half with the friend couple and we never calculate who had what, this does not apply to Finnish dinners. No, in Finland you pay exactly what you eat, with your own card preferably and there is no way you would pay someone else’s dessert if you did not have one yourself.

Melancholic because…I don’t even know why I do feel this way it just has been my experience. It seems that when Brits get happier when skulling down beers, Finns start opening up about their horrible life and in the end of the night you know everything that is wrong in their lives. I guess heavy metal music and its popularity tells also a lot about the Finnish melancholic mindset. You can blame the climate, darkness or the history, but this is certainly something you notice if you hang out with Finns, they are not naturally cheerful spirits.

Antisocial because you may sit in the room with Finns and they stay quiet and actually enjoy it. It is a cliche but true as well. I remember how difficult it was for my dear Australian husband to get used to the midsummer celebration at the summer cottage. Sometimes people just sat quietly, staring at the fire in the fire place sipping their wine and not talking. He could not understand it, now he does and won’t get bothered. Sometimes Finns just don’t feel social and they are not afraid to act on it.

I know my 10 adjectives of Finland are quite provocative and my Finnish readers probably get annoyed with my stereotyping. Sometimes it is just very refreshing to look at your own home country from stereotype point of view. It does not mean all people are like that.

I guess I think of those 5 positive adjectives when I have my short moments of longing and when I do miss Finland. Being so ,those 5 negative adjectives are why I feel like a stranger every time I come back here. It is interesting isn’t it. My relationship to Finland is kind of a love hate relationship. I love it when I am far away. When I come back I remember why I left. For me the most important thing is that I do feel happier in England. I do miss all my family and friends for sure and sometimes have tears running in my eyes just thinking of them but the life I have in England with my own little family feels so much more like me.

I hope after reading this whether a Finn or a not you can think of 5 positive and negative adjectives about your home country. It is a funny game! If you want to comment, feel free and write your adjectives!

In fact I would like to challenge one of my blogger friends who recently moved away from Finland to write down her adjectives! So Love and Life it is your turn!

Dark Christmas bread starter-Tumma joululeipä


Sorry about the quality of this photo it is just so dark in Finland all the time that it is impossible to get natural light photos that actually look nice!

Since I arrived in Finland I have been eating this dark (Christmas) bread non-stop. It works perfectly any time of the year. It is at its best when eaten with smetana (super thick sour cream, similar to clotted cream but savoury, only known in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and Russia) and salmon roe. Wow! An absolute heaven! My dear Aussie husband has been enjoying this bread as well. he is quite an unusual Australian he loves salt liquorice, rye bread and all Finnish treats! In London I will definitely serve this bread to my friends when having them around. This combination with salmon roe and smetana is perfect as a starter before the dinner.

Three breads:

1l butter milk (or orange juice)

2-3 dl (200-300ml) dark syrup

2 blocks of fresh yeast (2 X 50g)

2 tsp salt

3 dl (300ml) rye flour

3dl (300ml) Tuoppi kaljamallas which is rye based beer malt (I think you need a Scandinavian store to get this or maybe online -amazing stuff!!!)

3dl (300ml) wheat bran

12-13dl (6-6 1/2 cup) wheat flour

1. Mix all the ingredients. You do not need to knead the dough just mix it well.

2. Let the dough rise for 1-1 1/2h.

3. Pour into three oiled bread tins  (1,5L).

4. bake in 175 celsius degrees for 1 1/2h.


salmon roe

smetana (in London you will find this in Polish stores or even in Tesco)

Siitä saakka kun saavuimme Suomeen olen syönyt tätä ihanaista leipää taukoamatta. Herkuttelimme levittämällä smetanaa ja lohenmätiä sen päälle. Rakas aussimieheni on smetanan ja mädin suurin ystävä ja maiskutteli leipää yhtä suurella innolla kuin minä. Jam! Tehkää jos vielä ehditte täksi jouluksi, jos ette tämä leipä sopii juhlaan kuin juhlaan tai arkeen milloin vain. Itselleni tämä leipä lohenmädin ja smetanan kanssa on mitä parhain alkupala arkena tai joulupöydässä. Helppo ohje!

Tumma limppu

Kolme limppua:

1l piimää (tai appelsiinimehua)

2-3dl tummaa siirappia

2 palaa hiivaa

2 tl suolaa

3dl ruisjauhoja

3dl Tuoppi kaljamallasta

3dl vehnäleseitä

12-13 dl vehnäjauhoja.

1. Sekoita aineet. Taikinaa ei tarvitse vaivata vain sekoittaa.

2. Anna kohota 1 1/2h.

3. Kaada kolmeen öljyttyyn vuokaan (1,5L).

4. Paista 175 asteessa 1 1/2h.

My morning music -Aamumusiikkiani

Here is my morning music. It is a very nostalgic Finnish song from a romantic comedy ”Ainoat Oikeat – ”The Only Right Ones” . A small home sickness attacks.

Song can be listened here -Eva& Manu Kun aika on.


Tässä  vähän aamumusiikkiani. Kappale tuloillaan olevasta suomalaisesta elokuvasta ”Ainoat Oikeat”, jossa kaverini muuten näyttelee. Huomasin kyseisen kappaleen, kun se ilmestyi Facebookin News Feediin eilen illalla. Koti-ikävä  iski pienenä piikkinä sitä kuunnellessa. Autch.

Biisin voi kuunnella täällä. Esittäjä Eva&Manu -Kun aika on. Kaunista.