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January 2, 2005

New Year 2005

2005 started rather differently - in a hot-tub next to a frozen lake, with two naked men. We're staying at Carita's brother's log cabin in the forest here in Lapland and the partying began at lunchtime with whisky and beers. We spent the afternoon taking wood to his lakeside sauna with the snowmobile and trailer, drinking beer as we piled the logs. It was the inauguration of the new wood-burning hot tub, so after filling it with water, we stoked it full of wood, lit the fire, and went off to dinner hoping it wouldn't take too long to heat in the arctic temperature.

By the time we'd eaten we were pleasantly surprised to find that the water was lovely and hot so the girls jumped in and we took the snowmobile out onto the frozen lake where we launched the traditional new year fireworks. The first one I launched stuck in it's tube, fell over and nearly hit the other guys and the snowmobile, which wouldn't have made me very popular.

Next it was our turn to cook, so we sat in the wood-heated sauna for a bit before making a painful dash across the snow to the steaming hot-tub, which by now was near-boiling! We lost track of time sitting there and suddenly realised that midnight had quietly passed so we celebrated by making snow angels - lying down naked in the snow! We returned to the sauna to heat up a bit more and spent the following three hours alternating between the sauna and hot-tub, drinking beers and cognac in there until quite pissed and very dehydrated!

January 3, 2005

Ivalo in Winter

Ivalo, the closest town, has a population of less than 4000 people and until 1913 there was only a path linking this part of Finland with the south of the country. There was a gold rush here in the 1800's and gold panning is still done in some of the surrounding rivers by a dedicated few. Murmansk is the nearest big city, sitting just 300km across the border in Russia, so this area, although very beautiful, has a real frontier character to it.

The days, however, are really short at this time of year as we're somewhere around 69˚ north and the sun doesn't rise above the horizon from the beginning of December until mid-January. Around 10:30 in the morning there's a strange twilight in the sky which gradually increases until midday then fades into a warm, pinkish light until it's totally dark again by 14:30. Snow is guaranteed for the whole winter which helps to make things brighter, but the long nights mean that the partying begins much earlier!

January 4, 2005

Inari

We drove around the lake to the tiny town of Inari today to visit Inari Reindeer Farm. It was in a lovely place close to Lemmenjoki ('River of Love' translated) with reindeer tied to all the trees around the driveway as we arrived. We hand fed a couple of them and their mouths felt really quite cold as they licked the food out of our hands. Expecting just to be able to see them, we were surprised when they offered us the chance to drive a reindeer pulling a one-person sleigh. Carita was hugely excited as it was yet another entry to add to her list of animals ridden so she went first and I waited until she got back.

Moses, the reindeer chosen to pull my sledge, was eight years old, having been gradually trained since he was one. He set off slowly for the first part of the route, looking back at me every so often, and followed a circular track. About half-way through, however, he suddenly broke into a sprint, moving really quite fast, and kicking snow up into my face as he galloped to the end of the route. Afterwards, we were given coffee in a kota (traditional Sami hut), and presented with our reindeer driving licences before we left for a look around Inari's impressive Sami Museum and Northern Lapland Nature Centre.

January 5, 2005

Near Miss

The flight we were on today coming back from Ivalo made the national news when it was involved in a near-miss. It was snowing quite heavily as we were coming into Helsinki Vantaa to land and as we got close to the runway the pilot suddenly pulled back and put the plane into a climb. According to the tv, there was a German plane on the runway unable to get out of the way, and the situation was described as 'quite dangerous'.

January 7, 2005

Return of Sobriety

Have been feeling a bit rough over the last couple of days until I realised tonight it was simply the last traces of alcohol leaving my body from the new year partying. So this is what being sober again feels like.

January 10, 2005

New Easy Commenting

Several people have mentioned that adding comments was too complicated so I've abandoned the sign-in system and adding comments should now be as simple as clicking 'comments'.

I've added a system that should filter out most of the spam comments I was getting and stop them from getting posted, but if you have any problems then email me. You can also still sign in by Typekey if you want, in which case you'll bypass most of those filters.

January 12, 2005

iProduct

One day after MacExpo, Gizmodo, one of my favourite sites, is running these 'for and against' mock apple ads.
Click on them for the full text...

AppleiProduct.jpg

AppleHaters.jpg

January 13, 2005

Lapland Photos

The photos from our trip up to Lapland at new year are finally (after a few days of technical hitches) up on the site.

Lapland photos

January 15, 2005

Zami Tattoo

zami tattoo
Sometimes, some things just cannot be explained. For instance, I've never seen the name of my boat used anywhere before, except in Hindu culture.

So, even in the most bizarre world...

What are the chances of one of Carita's brothers offering to show me his tattoo...

and it's the name of my boat?

January 18, 2005

Ryanair Prices

Here's an odd fact I discovered tonight about Ryanair's online booking system. If the price of a seat on one of their flights for a trip originating in, say Finland, is 59.99 Euros, and you then price that very same seat on the same date on a trip originating from the UK - it'll cost you 59.99 GBP. Almost 50% more.

So, did they just decide it was easier not to bother with the currency conversion (the taxes still convert) or did they choose to charge UK customers more than Euro customers?

January 19, 2005

Welcome to NokiaLand

The other day my satanically possessed SonyEricsson P800 mysteriously disappeared from my jacket pocket. So today, feeling like the freed ancient mariner, I went off to Helsinki to look for a replacement. The problem is that, being here in NokiaLand, everyone you pass seems to be a Nokia employee taking great pride in flashing their unreleased prototype Star Trek phones as they walk through department stores while I'm standing looking at something straight out of Space 1999.

January 24, 2005

New Nokia

nokia 6630
After some research and a little pressure from my Finnish peers, I went out in the snow and bought myself a Nokia 6630. Keen to try it out, I then dropped into a nearby Helsinki cafe to grab some lunch and plug it in to charge. Someone else obviously had the same idea, however, as when I walked over to the spare wall socket, there was a really slick looking Nokia prototype already charging there. There's nothing quite like that to make you feel your new purchase is out of date! I ended up talking to the guy who had it, though when I asked if I could take a photo of it, he quickly hid it in his jacket!

January 27, 2005

Lack of Updates

Haven't managed to blog much recently as last week was really hectic, and now I've been ill for the last few days. Will get around to it soon when I'm feeling better though.

January 29, 2005

iPorn

iPorn.gif

Feeling somewhat better now and managing to keep my stomach inside my body, today I offer another essential iPod link.
Thanks, Happy Bonzo, Cornish Dragon, keep up the, eh, good work...

January 30, 2005

Formentera Chills

Carita and I flew down to Formentera on Tuesday to spend a couple of weeks on the boat and from the moment we arrived the weather was awful. The ferry trip across from Ibiza was rough enough to have me thinking about pebble-dashing the walls with hamburger, and we stepped out into torrential rain. Thankfully, Zami was very close and looking just how we'd left her, so we jumped aboard with our bags, gave things a quick clean, put the heating on, and soon we were lovely and warm.

The following day continued to be very cold and windy, but nonetheless we went off for a walk to the beach. As we were standing there complaining about how cold it was... it started to snow... then suddenly we were in the middle of a blizzard! Really unusual weather for the Balearics! It looked as if my promises to Carita that it would be warm enough to go swimming weren't going to be true. video (228kb .3gp file)

The cold, stormy weather continued, the other night being the coldest night in Ibiza for 20 years, with the interior of the island getting down to -4c and the front page of the paper carrying a (somewhat pathetic) picture of a small patch of snow in the middle of nowhere. That, combined with me catching some kind of bug and being violently ill, has meant that we haven't been able to haul the boat out to start anti-fouling or get a survey done yet, but we're hoping that the weather's changing now.