Summer survival kit!

June 4, 2015

Summer creeps up on you in Finland. One day the trees have no leaves, and the next day a riot of green greets you as you step outside. The weather is very similar to my home state of Tasmania. Some days you get warm sunshine and balmy breezes, other days the temperature plummets, the sky clouds over and rain sets in. Never mind, I have another competition to prepare you no matter the weather! All of these goodies just for you: HSL Day ticket: valid for 24 hours from first validation (Helsinki area only). I <3 Ullanlinna KeepCup: I am a hug fan of KeepCup and want everybody to have their own (courtesy of our very good friends at Kaartin Kotikauppa!) Disposable rain coat. Because it may rain during Finnish summer. Matches: Always useful, and now you have them with you! SPF 20 sunscreen (for the face) and a matching lip balm. Mosquito repellent. A must if you are in Finland. Design District Map. It’s easy to spend hours wandering the neighbourhood. If time is of the essence, grab the map and plan your day! Food Helsinki? HEL YEAH! Map. With Helsinki broken down into 5 easily navigated districts, a neat vocabulary with all the important words and a few tidbits, you have to have this map! Helsinki For Kids: Family friendly map. New in 2015, this map is full of hints and tips, along with some nice discounts at various spots around town. Postcards & stamps: so you can share the love with friends and family back home. Postcards from: Iittala (a gorgeous salmon pink Aalto Vase), Future City (a winning design from WDC2012) and my favourite: a blank white card that you can add your own message or illustration. Helsinki tote bag: stylish black bag, illustrated with Helsinki Cathedral. Perfect for shopping, picnicking or just keeping all your stuff together! To see everything up close just click on the photo!

All this stuff for the winner of our caption competition

All this for the winner of our caption competition

The idea is very simple: check out the Instagram feed and complete the caption:

You know it’s summer in Helsinki when…

You’ll have one week and we’ll be selecting our random winner from the comments. Good luck!!!


Coffee and chocolate: just for you!

May 13, 2015

We’re having a competition!

There are two prizes up for grabs: One for Finland and one for the rest of the world!

The coffee part is a collection of six postcards that I picked up recently at the inaugural Helsinki Coffee Festival, while the winners can choose from Fazer’s new Salty Popcorn in Milk Chocolate or Blueberry Yoghurt Crisps in Milk Chocolate. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

So what do you have to do? It’s simple really: hop over to my Instagram page, find the photo that looks like this:

Our completion looks and tastes great

Our completion looks and tastes great

Repost and tag @heathershelsinki, use the hashtag #lovecoffeenchocolate and leave a comment!

ALL IMPORTANT SMALL PRINT: (which isn’t so small!)

  • Competition starts today May 13th, 2015 1700 (EEST) and will run for one week. Entries posted after May 20th 2015 1700 (EEST) will not be included in the prize draw.
  • Prizes will be awarded randomly, using Random.org.
  • Prize winners will be notified prior to results being published.
  • Prizes will be sent priority mail.

Happy posting and good luck!


A Natural Adventure (or a walk in the park!)

November 6, 2014

As a long term resident of Helsinki, I sometimes lose sight of that fact that we can find nature in close proximity, no matter which direction we travel. We take it for granted that Central Park with it’s abundance of paths is there for anyone to walk through. We take it for granted that the archipelago and gently lapping waterways keep our climate and weather patterns ‘interesting‘ all year round. We take it for granted that we have a World Heritage site at our front door (Suomenlinna) and we take it for granted that the trip to Nuuksio National Park is less than what many people travel as part of their daily commute (here and elsewhere!).

Today I joined fellow guide and biologist Mikhail Daneliya for a short trip to Nuuksio. Mikhail is the man behind BioGeo-Traveller and a zoologist by profession. He got in touch a few weeks ago and after a flurry of emails we met today for the first time.

Our Meeting Place - Aleksis Kivi's statue

Our Meeting Place – Aleksis Kivi’s monument

He picked the very central Aleksis Kivi monument to meet, and as I was early I spent those first few minutes watching the passing crowd seeing if I could pick him out. Of course, the minute I turned in the other direction he appeared! We headed into Helsinki’s main railway station to shelter from an extremely bitter wind whilst we waited for our train to Espoo. From the train we caught the #85 bus to Nuuksionpää and jumped off at Haukkalampi stop. A brisk walk to the bottom of the hill and the scenery changed radically.

Birch forest always reminds me of Marimekko's Kaiku print

Birch forest always reminds me of Marimekko‘s Kaiku print *

From spruce forest to birch trees in the space of minutes and where I learned my first new fact. Sorry, I’m not going to share it – you might already know this fun fact and thus not be at all impressed! Our pace was easy going as we followed the well constructed paths, complete with stairs that seemed to go on and on! Right now I have to congratulate the Park Administration for installing path markers that work all year round! I’ve lost count of the number of paths that I’ve walked that are easy to follow in summer, as white paint on rocks really does stand out. These same paths just disappear with the first snowfall, and remain undiscovered until the following spring.

Easy to see which path you are on with these markers!

Easy to see which path you are on with these markers!

Mikhail tailors his walks depending on the ability of his guests, so the walk I did today, up hill and down with a few lakes along the way, might not be the same one you do. If you are like me, reasonably fit then possibly you might see this:

Just one of the 50 or so lakes in the National Park

Just one of the 50 or so lakes in the National Park

or you might see this:

There are plenty of lakes to go around!

There are plenty of lakes to go around!

Along the way there were plenty of signs that autumn was drawing to an end. Rotten mushrooms, leafless branches and the overwhelming sound of silence. This time of year the majority of birds have migrated away, although we did hear a woodpecker quite high above us. Also there was a distinct lack of traffic on the paths: one pram, one dog walking family and a few walking couples meant that we really felt like we had the park to ourselves! This also meant that there was no queue to use the grill. The only ‘downside': we had to get the fire going ourselves… not such a big deal.

Cooking hint: wait for the flames to die down!

Cooking hint: wait for the flames to die down!

Mikhail got a very tidy fire going in no time at all.

One the menu!

On the menu!

Unbeknownst to me … I managed to buy sausage of the year! I’ve just found out while scooting around the world wide interwebs looking for a link back to the sausage factory. Here’s a link back to the announcement (sorry it’s only in Finnish). Great flavour and good texture, definitely a winner in my book!

Lamb sausages and green tea. Excellent lunch!

Lamb sausages and green tea. Excellent lunch!

We grilled some lamb sausages from the Helsingin Makkaratehdas (Helsinki Sausage Factory) and washed them down with green tea. Here’s a little cooking tip if you are grilling sausages on an open fire. Wait for the flames to die down and the wood to turn to glowing coals before you put your sausages on to grill. Otherwise your sausages will end up with burnt outsides and cold insides.

Then it was time to return to the ‘big smoke’! We looped back to the entrance and followed the road to the bus stop. The return journey with bus and train was just over an hour and meant that I arrived back in the centre 5 hours after our initial meeting.

It’s easy if you’d like to get in touch with Mikhail directly for your own natural adventure: BioGeo Traveller on the internet or drop him a line at mikhail.daneliya (@) taxonomicum.com or ring him on +358 44 928 0343. Don’t forget about Facebook and Twitter!

* This is one of my favourite Marimekko prints: follow this link to an image search of Kaiku and the many places people have used it.


Fork In Hand

June 8, 2014

I’ve been twittering about this on and off for the last month and now we are just days away from our first outing!

Fork In Hand came about following a chance meeting with the Social Media Coordinator for Visit Helsinki. We got chatting and as is always the case with me, the conversation leapt in many different directions. One of the topics we covered was food tours. That was enough. My mind went off in all sorts of directions and after a good night’s sleep I knew who I had to contact.

Enter the other half of this little adventure: Veronica! We met when I purchased from her some lovely shoes and a cute bag. We hit it off and I told her that if anything came up, I’d keep her in mind. Many months later, it was time to make good on my word…

In short, Veronica is the Italian face behind WE Factory and the other half of Fork In Hand. She also has a fantastic earring fashioned from a fork. Everybody that sees that fork wants that fork! (To get a closer view of the fork, head over to our Facebook page.)

In short our idea is to tell you about food, food culture and design as we walk through the centre of Helsinki. We’ve lined up some great places to visit and hope that there is something for everybody!

Watch these pages for more updates in the coming days!


A little challenge!

March 7, 2014

I’m a HUGE fan of Instagram. So much so that I have two accounts. One for myself where I take pictures of anything and everything:

Spiderweb on a foggy summer morning.

and then one that ties in with this page:

A splash of yellow! Spotted inside one of the best bookshops you'll ever visit.

This month I’ve decided to participate in an Instagram challenge. A simple Google search gave me far too many options to choose from, so in the end I went with a challenge I’ve participated in previously. Chantelle, the name behind Fat Mum Slim has a great challenge that attracts participants from every time zone. It’s so fantastic to see posts popping up showing life in every corner of the world.

So far this month I am six for six. Today’s prompt is Fly and I’m already thinking about how to incorporate fly into my day! Be sure to check back later to see what I come up with.

I’m contemplating creating my own challenge and tying it in with Helsinki and travel. This idea is a work in progress, and may well metamorphose into something completely different.

This weekend I’m on tour and I’ll be posting pictures from my Helsinki wanderings – feel free to follow me here and here.