This blue marble

– and yet it spins

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Somewhere between poetry and insanity


“Occupation is essential. And now with some pleasure I find that it’s seven; and I must cook dinner. Haddock and sausage meat. I think it is true that one gains a certain hold on sausage and haddock by writing them down”

(Virginia Woolf’s last diary entry before her suicide)

Somewhere between poetry and insanity tonight. Alice Coote sang Virginia Woolf’s diary entries, and letters from 19th century patients locked up at a mental illness asylum. “Strange Productions” was the aptly named title of the insanely poetic letters, commissioned by Wigmore Hall from Nico Muhly.

Wigmore Hall is a constant favorite. Not because of the (also insanely) beautiful venue, but because of the director and his creative team who commission modern classical pieces with a flair. Never bored here, although sometimes mindlessly enthralled.

(London, United Kingdom; January 2017)


Old English pubs

eaglechildBusiness lunch at Eagle and Child with a quantum physicist, discussing medical sciences. Dinner at the Bear Inn, a pub from 1242, among 4,500 club ties (including one tiny panel in the ceiling for women’s ties). Instead of rowdy drunk people, there were ladies dining and students playing chess with glass pieces.

Only in Oxford. oldpub(Oxford, United Kingdom; January 2017)

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Detour in the Other Place


“I wonder anybody does anything at Oxford but dream and remember, the place is so beautiful. One almost expects the people to sing instead of speaking. It is all—the colleges I mean—like an opera.”

(William Butler Yeats)

One freezing January week I made a detour to The Other Place, as those who went to Cambridge call Oxford (and vice versa). Fortunately I was able to break the news over Facebook, otherwise some of my Cantabrigian classmates would have probably made multiple attempts at lynching me.oxford-3But during that week there was no time to dream and remember. There were studies, 8 hours a day, with smart people from all around the world. There were too many age-old pubs. There was afternoon tea with champagne. There were colleges to discover.oxford-2And there was even a futile attempt at fencing. Apparently, women wear a madonna bustier – hence the busty look. Another mystery solved. It also turns out well-mannered fencing men have serious trouble fighting a woman – not because of chivalry but because they must shamelessly attack the bustier.

(No photographic evidence but trust me, I did wear the sour-smelling sweaty old gear including mask).oxford-1(Oxford, United Kingdom; January 2017)

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Two faces of London

London-7Sporadic smog and frequent blue skies. This is London today. 50 years ago it was the other way around. As we circled above London in the busy morning air traffic, I thought of the generations of Londoners between the ramp-up of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century and 1960s when the Clean Air Act began to take visible effect. These people did not see much of a sun unless they found their way out of the city. In 1952 during the Great Smog, thousands of people died and thousands more were made ill by the toxic filthy pea soup that hung over London for 4 days.

Today there is the chance to see a blue sky over London, even without rising a kilometer into the air. Of course the view from up here is much more stunning.

London-6(London, United Kingdom; October 2015)

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Hello again lovely Cambridge

Cambridge-2Happy to be back in Cambridge, where punting, flower skirts, panama hats, and Pimms with lemonade never go out of style. Where dozens of church bells play their own melodies every Sunday morning, and where cows grazing mingle with people walking dogs in the park.

Cambridge-1Happy to be back at my old school, and to have a reunion with fizz and formal hall style dinner, and to hang out by the pub by the Mill Pond in the sunshine, just like in old times. Sometimes it is a lucky and wonderful thing that schools and classmates do not change.

Cambridge-3 (Cambridge, United Kingdom; July 2015)

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Stands the Church clock at ten to three? And is there honey still for tea?

Grantchester-2would I were
In Grantchester, in Grantchester! –
Some, it may be, can get in touch
With Nature there, Or Earth, or such.
And clever modern men have seen
A Faun a-peeping through the green,
And felt the Classics were not dead

But these are things I do not know.
I only know that you may lie
Day-long and watch the Cambridge sky,

Until the centuries blend and blur
In Grantchester, in Grantchester ….

(Rupert Brooke)


Happy to be back in Cambridge. Rupert Brooke felt it, too, as he longed for Cambridge and Grantchester meadows from his apartment in Berlin in the spring of 1912.

103 years later we ditched our luggage with all their Polish dust at the hotel, grabbed Prosecco and strawberries and the picnic blanket and headed for Grantchester meadows, river Cam, and the summer sun.

Grantchester-3Hours later, heavy from soaking up the sun, we climbed over the cow fence into the Orchard at Grantchester, where Brooke and his friends Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster, John Maynard Keynes, Bertrand Russell, and Ludwig Wittgenstein once used to sit and repair the world with the power of thought, word, and verse.

The church clock may no longer stand at ten to three, but there is always honey for tea – and fresh scones with jam and clotted cream.

Grantchester-1(The Orchard tea garden, Grantchester, United Kingdom; July 2015)

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All the world’s a stage

GlobeFacing up against tube strike, sitting in the cab for 1 h 15 minutes from South Kensington to Southwark, wolfing down a wonderful pre-theater dinner at the Swan in 45 minutes, and we made it to the play at the Shakespeare’s Globe. As You Like It was classy and wonderfully fresh, with Celia and Rosalind cracking the audience up, as two loons living to love and loving to live. Even the airplanes landing at Heathrow were given a part in a 17th century play.

Drinks and barbeque food were served outside and allowed in, to recreate the feel of Elizabethan times. Alluding to the same feel we asked if throwing food at the actors was allowed. It was, with the disclaimer that the actors might well throw some back. Seeing how they tormented some poor selected ones in the crowd we did not doubt the warning. Next time we will certainly bring both roses and rotten tomatoes. 

This time the choice towards roses would have been easy.

(London, United Kingdom; July 2015)


The English


They drive on the wrong side. They drink their beer warm – and a small glass of wine is as much as a large glass in Finland. The tube never works in the weekends. The trains never work during rush hours. They charge ludicrous prices for tiny hotel rooms in London. They say “alight here” on the tube when they mean “leave the train”. They do not accept cards in the cab. They speak between the lines, persist in claiming class divides are eradicated, and serve awful food.

But they heat the milk served with tea – and the tea requires no fruit aroma to have a flavor. They make clotted cream rice pudding. They gave birth to Coldplay and Muse. And they created London. Bloomsbury, Mayfair, and Notting Hill. And the Twinings tea shop.

What am I still doing in Finland? Why oh why have I not moved back to England yet?


(London, United Kingdom; June 2014)