This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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Flying in 2021

Flying in 2021 requires both a passport and a negative coronavirus test. Obtaining a certificate with a negative result with sampling no more than 24 hours before boarding turned out to be a challenge. Finland does not test asymptomatic people through its public healthcare system, and has not scaled up the antigen test alternative. And because the results are not entirely reliable, most private clinics who do offer antigen tests for a fee refuse to write a travel certificate.

Thus, my only bet was an expensive, express overnight PCR test in Helsinki, requiring me to leave Loviisa the day before departure and staying with my sister. With resistance, I forked out for yet another test, in addition to the 72 h post-entry test I paid for in another private clinic before christmas, after being turned away from the public clinics because I lacked symptoms,

Oh well, my holiday visit could have been worse: a family of four would have paid 2,000 EUR just for the tests (and then some for the flights). In the end, I was fortunate enough to find the choice between the money and investing in quality time with dear ones an easy one.

(Helsinki, Finland; January 2021)


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Cold snap in Helsinki

In the middle of all the snow and cold I left quarantine for just 24 hours in Helsinki. Some potentially useful tips for getting through -20C or lower temperatures:

  1. Don’t buy fresh herbs or lettuce if you have to walk home. They freeze (and then wilt) within minutes.
  2. Don’t take your face mask off between shops, as the humidity condensed on your mask and face will freeze.
  3. Do put your smartphone and any other electronic device close to your skin. A handbag is out of the question, and even a jacket pocket most likely won’t do – the device will freeze and die very quickly.
  4. Four more words: technical wear, and long underwear (including long-johns and glove liners). Function before fashion, otherwise freezing is inevitable.

(Helsinki, Finland; January 2021)


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Snowed in

Apologies for the crappy image quality, but this was taken late at night, with a smartphone, in heavy wet snowfall. After about an hour’s worth of shoveling. That thing there is not a spade but a sizable sleigh shovel, and the heaps I pushed through reached my waist.

Unfortunately, after all my hard labor, the wind filled everything up during the night. Even more unfortunate was that they forgot to clear the road passing the cottage and my parents’ house, in both directions, thus we were snowed in for two days. Makes me long for climate change to come sooner.

(Loviisa, Finland; January 2021)


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First snow

In Finnish, the opposite to a white christmas is a “black christmas”. This year, we barely had a snow cover thus perhaps it was a “gray christmas”? And after the holidays, it began to snow.

And it did not stop.

It snowed for days, which meant we had to shovel snow every morning. Leaving the house before the snow plow was difficult, both on foot and on wheels. We did not get a white christmas, but we sure did get a white winter.

(Loviisa, Finland; January 2021)