Day Trip in Helsinki

Last Friday seemed like a nice enough day (it wasn’t raining!) so we decided to do a day trip to Suomenlinna, a sea fortress built across six islands just outside Helsinki city centre. The construction started during the Swedish era in 1748 and it’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We got married there six years ago and we try to visit every time we come to Finland. So Friday morning we packed our picnic blanket along with some coffee and snacks and made our way to the ferry on the Market Square (Kauppatori).

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Us in 2016

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Us in 2010

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My Little Messers

After visiting the church and some strolling around, we found a nice place for our picnic.

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Fart gun!!

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That’s me, enjoying myself. Hello!

We did a lot of walking and exploring on the islands and even visited an old submarine! There are plenty of tunnels to get lost in as well, the Little Messers were very excited.

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On our way back, heading towards the Market Square, Kauppatori

After hours and hours of exploring and generally just running around, it was time to head back. We had seen the SkyWheel Helsinki over on the other side of the Market Square and the kids were asking if we can go on it as the ferry was docking. We promised to go and see if we can get on it and how much it costs. Well, once you’re there you can’t really turn back and we thought the €38 for the family ticket might just be worth it. And it was, if not only for the views but again, the kiddies excitement was contagious. The only thing I was wondering was why on earth had they used blue tinted glass?!

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Up over Helsinki – Katajanokka behind Mr Messer

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The Excitement!

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Kauppatori, Rooftops of Helsinki, and Helsinki Cathedral to the right

After all of that we were all starving and didn’t really fancy cooking. It was Friday night after all so we decided to find a place to eat and have a sneaky glass of wine (for me!).

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Did not know they are family friendly in these places!

We found a perfect spot at a courtyard between Aleksanterinkatu and Mikonkatu. The whole courtyard is reserved for the three restaurants located around it and you can order from any of the restaurants, you can even mix your orders between the restaurants, but if you do that the food might arrive at different times. They also had colouring for the kids! The last time I was there, probably around 10 years ago, the experience was vastly different…

I must say this day is one of the best memories from this summer!

 

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Let’s Get Naked More Often!

I came across an Irish Times article on my Facebook feed about this lady who went topless at a festival in Ireland and was thrown out by the Gardaí. Some people protested. Some women were arrested for taking off their tops and some of the topless men were asking why the Gardaí didn’t arrest them for being topless. We seem to have a problem with women showing their breasts in public, while at the same time men can bounce around half-naked as they please. I ended up reading the comments on Facebook and as someone who grew up in a culture where seeing people naked is considered normal, I found the comments interesting. To give you a bit of background for where I come from, let me tell you a story.

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On the beach, wearing a bikini – how much is there left for imagination anyway?

Back in the day when I was in my late teens/early twenties, at least once every summer we would gather a group of friends together and go to someone’s summer house for a couple of days. There we would, as most youngsters do, have a barbeque and drink some wine/beer/cider. At some point, we would also heat up the sauna and once it was hot enough everyone would get naked and go to the sauna together. Men and female, stark naked as nature made us. There was no gawking, groping or giggling. We would sit there, talk rubbish, get washed and go back to the cottage to drink and chat some more. Now, this was a good 10 to 15 years ago so who knows what the youngsters in Finland do these days, but this was normal to us back in the day. It wasn’t something strange or extreme you’d be talking about later. If you walk into a public sauna in Finland completely naked, no one bats an eyelid. Go there with your swimming togs on and you will certainly raise a few eyebrows. My experience in the Irish changing rooms is quite the opposite. I see women trying to get changed under a towel, trying to hide every single body part while getting their clothes on. In a women only changing room. While I do understand that some people might be conscious of their bodies, I do wonder where it all comes from. What if we were more used to seeing normal human bodies with all their imperfections (rather than the photoshopped bodies media throw at us all the time), maybe we wouldn’t feel so strange about getting undressed (or dressed in this case) in front of strangers.

So, back to the article in the Irish Times and the comments I read this morning. Some people argued that they wouldn’t like to see boobs flopping around in the shops or restaurants. I don’t think anyone is intending to go topless everywhere and all the time. But if men are allowed to sit half-naked in a public park, why are women not? Giving women the same right to go topless in these situations doesn’t mean all the women would be doing it all the time and everywhere. Just like all the men aren’t topless all the time and everywhere either. And when did we become so sensitive that everything we don’t like to see should be banned? If you don’t like what you see, look elsewhere. Some people can’t bear to see pregnant ladies perhaps due to their own difficulties in conceiving, but surely we shouldn’t be asking for pregnant ladies to stay indoors so someone else doesn’t get upset? What is it about female breasts anyway that makes us so uncomfortable? Why do you feel embarrassed if Mary next door is sitting topless in her front garden? Or if someone is breastfeeding next to you in a coffee shop?

Many people also argued that the female breasts are sexual and exclusive to women (eh, men have boobs too?!). If we’re talking about biology, as nature intended, the function of the female breasts is to feed babies. But yes, they do also play a part in attracting another person in a sexual manner. Whether that is because of the sexualisation of the female breasts in our culture over the years, as some commenters claimed, or if it’s also what nature intended to ensure we’re attracted to each other, is a different conversation. People are different and have different preferences. Some like blond, some like red. Some like hairy male chests and some like blue eyes. Even if I find the deep, bright blue eyes extremely sexy, it doesn’t mean I get out-of-control horny every time I see a pair. It’s about the context too. People should be able to put boobs into context. A man (or a woman) seeing a pair of bare breasts in a park is hardly going to get so aroused by it that they can’t control themselves, as one commenter implied. If they did, the issue is most certainly somewhere else than the bare breasts! It’s a completely different context seeing a girl sitting topless in a park chatting to her friends than seeing that same girl, topless in her bed giving you the suggestive eyes. Surely we as adults should be able to make the separation?

And with all that said, some people seem to miss the point that at the end of the day it’s not really about being able to show your breasts. It’s about the fact that these kinds of  rules over how, why, and when they should be covered only feed the culture of victim blaming when it comes to sexual crimes. It’s about the fact that we still have different rules for men and women. How do you explain your daughter why she can’t wear only shorts like her brother? All these seemingly small things feed into the bigger picture: gender equality.

 

Day Trip to Tallinn

It’s Friday morning, the Little Messers are playing with water in the bathroom and I’m enjoying a (fairly) peaceful cup of coffee after a much needed long sleep last night. You see, yesterday we took the ferry across to Tallinn and it was a loooong day for all of us with over 24,000 steps taken and bucket-loads of excitement…

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We took an early morning ferry (8am departure, it felt like I had to get up in the middle of the night!) and the kids were obviously beyond excitement. I would have needed a cup of coffee. We took the tram to the harbour and by 7.30 we boarded Silja Europa. We had booked ourselves a cabin, even though it’s not necessarily needed, but I felt with the two kids in tow it might come in handy and it did. It was well worth the extra €20 as we were able to leave our belongings there and also sit down and rest for a little while between food and play areas! I must say the facilities on the ship are fantastic when travelling with kids. There are so many play areas and so much entertainment that the 3.5hrs flew by.

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We arrived in Tallinn at 11.30 and headed to town. It was overcast and we didn’t see the sun all day, but it was warm and didn’t rain so I’m happy with that! It was also quite a nice day for walking around, had it been over 25 degrees, the step count would have been far less… We spent the whole day strolling around the Old Town. Almost as soon as we hit the Old Town of Tallinn, the kids were starting to look like they will need a snack sooner rather than later. We walked down Uus and found a lovely little coffee shop serving delicious Italian ice cream near The Broken Line monument.

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From there we continued to explore the Old Town along Pikk and saw many wonderfully old and magnificent buildings and churches. I do love old towns and I must say Tallinn’s Old Town is right up there competing with Nice and Lisbon or Cascais!

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We finished our visit at a restaurant called Lounge Deja Vu on Vana-Viru with some pasta and wine before we strolled back to the ferry with our bellies full and happy to have made some lovely memories with Vaari.

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For more pictures, please visit my Flick album here.

#TBT: Bump to Baby – Missy Messer

It’s Thursday and time to look at Missy Messer’s journey from Bump to Baby. As it happens, the pictures are plenty with the first one and usually not so much with the second one… It was a bit harder to hunt down these pictures, there wasn’t a folder called “Bump no. 2” anywhere!

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Week 22

The mandatory Facebook announcement picture, nice and compact even though it felt like the bump was massive from the start!

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Week 29

Well the Bump is definitely out now. This time I around I also had a Little Messer to pose with!

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Week 31

Looking back at the pictures, the Bump seems smaller than what I remember thinking back then! And what’s with the hair..??

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Week 34

Coming out nicely, Missy Messer has not turned around yet..

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Week 36

What a difference two weeks make! She was also very active in there, just not turning around. Still breech.

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Week 37

The beach ball effect… And still breech, no sign of turning and the space is getting smaller and smaller.

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Two weeks before she was born…

This is the last picture of the Bump, a family portrait! Oh well.. She never turned around, not even when the nurses tried to manhandle her around. So after a nice and relaxed c-section, here is our bundle of love:

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Missy Messer only 30mins old!

Adventures and Excitement

It’s a weekend filled with adventures and excitement. Today we decided to “climb a mountain” and took off to Killiney Hill between the showers. I know, it’s not exactly a mountain, but it was good enough for us. 

Why take the path when there’s an adventure track right beside it?!

We go to Killiney Hill every so often. It’s a great spot with handy parking, forest paths, amazing views and let’s not forget the playground and tea rooms! It’s perfect for a little adventure. 

And the excitement? One more sleep until we take off to Finland for five weeks!! Me and the kids for the first three weeks and then Daddy Messer will join us for the last two weeks. I can’t wait!!

To the Obelisk!!