The Worm that Turned……

Well its been a while since my last post and the reason for that is that in the middle of March Angela was called into the director’s office at the Moscow International Preschool by the sorority sisters who are trying to run the place and was informed that as the business was struggling financially and that they could no longer afford to pay for the rent on our apartment that she was being laid off and had 10 days to leave the apartment (and consequently Russia, unless one of us could find a good job in 10 days), so the next 10 days was a mix of packing, finding storage, looking for jobs, attending interviews and finally after not being able find anything suitable heading off to Helsinki, Finland.   Helsinki was chosen as my brother is currently living here and had access to some accommodation for us while we sorted out where we were off to next.   Luckily during this time, Angela also applied for and was accepted for a preschool directors job at a good pre-school in Tokyo, Japan starting in September, so at least we have some good long term prospects to look forward to, and anyway Japan was always the destination at the top of our list when looking for foreign jobs, so maybe things do happen for a reason.   I won’t elaborate too much more on the comical, unprofessional and totally inept treatment of Angela by the Moscow International Preschool, but will put it together in a story format at some stage as you will be amazed at what has gone on at this school and the fact that a pre-school teacher is advised by her lawyer to watch her back and make sure that we lock our doors and if possible leave the country sooner rather than later, just to be safe….  anyway for the full story, keep an eye out for “The Spy in the Sandpit” coming your way soon…

It has now been 2 1/2 months since we left Russia, and I haven’t managed to update my blog in that time as I have been so busy working.  Luckily the day after arriving in Helsinki I had secured a job working with a local architects office which has enabled us to survive so far.   So working full time during the day and trying to do my own work at night has kept me rather busy, but the experience of working in an architect’s office and on the scale of projects we are working on is a dream come true.   As a school boy my plan was always to go to university get my Architect’s degree and then use it to travel the world and work on great buildings, but it didn’t quite work out that way.   It may have taken 20 years longer to get here but at least I am here and being able to further my own architectural experience.

Helsinki is such a contrast to Moscow and one of the other reasons I haven’t written much lately is the fact that it is a normal city with a functional transport system, clean streets, fresh air and the majority of people actually can speak English so after Moscow doesn’t have that much to write about, although I am now finding some good stuff to add to the blog.  It makes a difference to walk into a store and have the shop assistant switch from Finnish to fluent English the second they realise you don’t understand a word they are saying.   We have a nice little apartment on an island neighbouring the city centre, within walking distance of a number of beaches and cycling distance of most things we need to do in the city.      We have managed to find bicycles for us all and do the majority of our commuting on bike now summer is well and truly here, except of course when it is raining….   The kids will often take themselves off down to the nearest beach which is about 2 minutes bike ride away and spend a few hours there doing whatever kids do when they escape their parents, or head off to one of the nearby parks or even sneak off to one of the supermarkets nearby and buy themselves a treat with whatever money they have scrounged up from home while their mother isn’t around to stop them.

While here we have been lucky enough to be able to travel to Tallinn in Estonia and Stockholm in Sweden, so are starting to see a bit more of Europe before we head back to our own side of the world.

When we arrived here Helsinki was still in the grip of winter’s icy claws, but this has now thawed and we are right into summer now, (seemingly having skipped very quickly through spring) the trees are fully clothed in lush green leaves, the boats are in the water, cyclists are more abundant and scantily clad, good looking blondes in pink bikinis abound on the canal banks, esplanades and parks around Helsinki making for a hazardous ride to and from work most days.

That’s all for now from Helsinki, I will try and update you a bit more frequently from now on, and in the meantime will leave you with some images of Helsinki.

Lautasaari Beach, 2 mins from our apartment
Lautasaari beach before final snow melt
Helsinki City from botanical gardens (?)

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Tony Fitzpatrick
Architect, Dad, Traveller & Head Rover at Around Rock 3
After a brief flirtation with Japan in the early '90's, and some occasional trips to Australia since, I have had an unrequited love affair with Japan and general desire to explore the world for the next 20 years while reality prevailed and I found myself pretty much stuck in my home country of New Zealand (not that is an entirely bad thing...).After a chance opportunity arose in mid 2012 to relocate our family to Moscow, Russian Federation I finally set off on my OE with my family in tow. It has been an amazing journey that has seen us experience life in Russia, Japan and now Finland, as well as visiting around a dozen countries so far in our adventure to date.While my family situation has changed along the way, I am continuing to explore the world with my tri-lingual son and enjoy sharing the adventures we have had with my followers.

4 comments

  1. Good to hear you are enjoying Helsinki Tony! I lived there for 10 years before immigrating to Australia and then couple years later to New Zealand.
    By now you should have seen the massive soapstone fireplaces made by Tulikivi and other companies. The most efficient and clean burning fireplace I know. They could use something similar in NZ.
    Helsinki is also ideal place for cycling even in winter! The cyclepaths are awesome and you do not need to cross the highways very often.
    But considering the long winter I prefer New Zealand.
    Moikka
    Haykey Kaariainen

  2. Hi Haykey, yes I have seen those fireplaces, in fact I have known about them for years and had always wanted to find a project to use them in back home, they are actually available there. Helsinki is a great city for cycling around, our 6 year old went from not knowing how to ride to being a cycle commuter in 1 1/2 hours practice with his older sister, we love heading out on our bikes down the Bannah (hope I spelt that right….) and all over the city, something we could learn from in NZ.
    Crazy about Ukraine, thanks, it was a bit devastating as we had just got into the groove of living in Moscow and were looking forward to the summer and another winter or 2, but unfortunately we ran into one of the decreasing number of scumbag businessmen in Russia and lost out (I guess karma will take care of him…). We had a ball there, it is really a great city on the verge of being even greater I believe and would have loved to have been there to see it grow into a major modern metropolis, but them's the breaks. Maybe we will head back there one day to see what it is like. Helsinki is really great, so laid back after Moscow it almost seems too quiet.

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