Monday, September 27, 2010

Autumn Colours

The trees were so pretty as I rode to work this morning, I tried to video them. I think autumn is my favourite time of year.

That's it. Hope you enjoyed. Nothing else to see here I'm afraid. You can move along now...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

If Christine O'Donnell didn't exist we would have to invent her

The more I read about Christine O'Donnell the more I think she is great. American politics is just so much more fun than British or Finnish politics. She's kind of cute and she is famous for masturbation (I don't even know how to make a smutty joke out of that, but don't worry the Bugle had already won that race to the bottom last weekend) and she was into witchcraft, she had date on a occult alter or something, but she is also a conservative Christian, but she perhaps has or hasn't paid all her bills. What character! What flair!

We have lots of Finnish politicians who may or may not have been up to financial shenanigans, but that's always the lead. It's not, like, the fourth point of interest, only after a spooky resemblance to Sarah Palin, masturbation and witchcraft.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Tea Party Primaries - Beyond the Palin
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

So Christine O'Donnell, we salute you. You might be completely nuts and a bit scary, but you brighten up the day.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Early autumn; it's not even very cold yet, but it certainly is damp. Two weekends not being able to climb outside due to rain and more rain. Those autumnal alternatives have to kick in instead.

Biking - this is the easy bit home, but not having a helmet cam I can't get footage of the interesting bit because I'm holding on too hard and trying not too crash into the numerous trees as I slither down my favourite bit of single track. If anyone can suggest good tyres for gripping slimy tree routes I would be grateful, although I suspect they don't actually exist.

Hiking - out with the family for a stroll in a soggy forest. The autumn colours and abundant fungi make it more interesting. Two days ago I found a big pile of still steaming moose poo on my biking route, but unfortunately didn't get to see its creator. It's that moose time of year so watch out.

And even indoor climbing - me at the Cave Boulderkeskus, Konala. Desperate weather calls for desperate measures. Actually it's good fun, and the Cave is a welcoming, chilled place with friendly staff. I know I've been climbing in Finland a good time when I recognise half the people there on a quiet Saturday afternoon.

And sausages and hot chocolate cooked on an campfire - ace. This fire I lit with a flint and steel by the way, of which I'm quite proud. All very Ray Mears. If anyone knows what is the traditional tinder collected in Finland for catching a spark from a flint, I'd love to know. I have to bring cotton wool from home, which obviously somewhat negates the point - I could just as easily bring a lighter. Nevertheless, the kids were mildly impressed. To do the full Ray Mears thing, I guess I should be collecting thistle fluff, some hard to find lichen, reindeer bum hair or some other ridiculously hard to find material that will actually catch a spark from the flint. Fingers crossed for at least one dry day this coming weekend.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Winter waits around the corner

It's getting darker in the evenings, and a little cool. The trees are changing colour and the leaves beginning to fall. Winter awaits.

But, hey! Don't get depressed. Winter's bloody great. Get dressed up and get out there. I've just discovered this wonderful video about winter climbing in Scotland. If you haven't seen it, you'll love it and it will relight that winter fire inside. I should add the dashing and heroic Englishman ably supporting the lovely Ms Papert on Blood, Sweat and Frozen Tears, is my editor since I've got the gig of an irregular column for Climb magazine. I'm sure you will all agree with me just how talented and handsome he looks in the film.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Long hot summers of their discontent

Finland: still a place for those of a nervous disposition?

Finland has a reputation for being a civilized, safe and, frankly, a slightly boring place to live. And to a certain extent it is, but this summer some people have been trying to make that less the case for immigrants here. Last night some fine, upstanding, storm trooper of the Übermensch decided to show their racial and intellectual superiority to those foreign hoards by trying to burn down a still under construction Buddhist temple. You’ve got to watch those Buddhists; if you don’t before you know it they will be imposing their totalitarian laws of peace, love and and karma on everyone. Trying not to hurt anyone is just not our way; if they want to live here they should respect our culture: binge drinking, internet porn and pointless late night punch ups. If they want to live in harmony so much they can bugger off back to Karmastan or where ever they come from.

"Kill [immigration minister] Thors" downtown Helsinki graffiti summer 2010

Obviously the best way to deal with globalization and the increasing need for migrant labour is to solicit the assassination of a democratically elected politician, burn down the houses of worship of the least offensive religious group anyone can think off, throw bombs at refugees (because after all, those Afghans, Somalis and Iraqis probably only feel at home with shit exploding around them). And whilst we’re at it, let’s set fire to a few late-night eateries as well. That will show ‘em! Those… those… foreigners.

And so there we are; Finland 2010 – where the most openly anti-immigrant political party is rocketing to new levels of success. Where the Gay Pride parade gets attacked by people using CS gas. Where one of the country’s leading neurosurgeons publicly states that he now worries about encouraging students from other countries to come and study under him because of the new levels of violence he has seen aimed at foreigners in racist attacks. And where hate crimes are aimed at Buddhists.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Things I didn't know before today #3: Antifa Hairdressers

Did you know that Vidal Sasson, the hairdresser, was as a youth in a militant, British, Jewish anti-fascist group call the 43 Group that used go and smash up far-right meetings in London and fight Moseley's re-established fascist group? The group operated in the immediate post-war years and was comprised of Jewish ex-servicemen, by the sounds of it - armed with knives, knuckledusters and the like, they were pretty serious:
"We're not here to kill," a former The 43 Group veteran recalls, being told on that occasion: "We're here to maim."
Male hairdressers tend to have a reputation for being effeminate or camp, but any macho types tempted to mock should be careful just in case their hairdresser is also a no-nonsense street-scrapper in the local Antifa cadre.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

The Tour de Helsinki 2010

Yesterday I rode the Tour de Helsinki, a 140 km (actually 145 according to my computer) sportive that circumnavigates the Greater Helsinki area. I rode once again with Aussie Simon, my trusty compadre from our earlier cycling adventure doing the Kallaveden Kierros early this summer. The TdH was on something of a different scale with over 1700 taking part. We lined up for the start in 32 kmph group which was about midfield and it was pretty cool to see cyclists stretching as far as I could see up the street in front of me, and the same behind me.

The first 11 or so kms was easy as we were lead out by the police in a massive convoy through Espoo, a TV helicopter hovering above. Once the ride got going we found sticking in the peleton of our speed group pretty easy and we were cruising along at a good rate. Our group stormed straight past the first drink and food point about 40 kms in. I was pretty well stocked up in my pockets with snacks and had 2 ltrs of drink on my bike so was happy to keep riding, but Simon wanted to stop at the next service point to grab some food and use the loo.

The crowds waiting for the start

We must have only been stopped for 3 minutes but of course our 32 kmph peleton were well gone by then, and the 30 kmph field flew past as well. We set off between groups, and caught up with or got caught by various other riders who were no longer in one of the bigger packs, so started to form another little peleton. I thought we might be able to put a bit of effort in and catch one of the big packs up so kept going to the front and trying to up the speed a little, this led on my first unintentional staging of a one-man breakaway when I turned around to see the others hadn’t matched my speed and I was now 50 mtrs clear of them!

Out on the road - Simon is no. 85

It seems everyone goes through a “hard moment” on rides like this – Simon had his at about 80 kms and we needed a quick break for him to eat some more and get rid of the dizziness. Unfortunately a couple of the other speed groups came past us at that point. Once back on the road I was still feeling strong so he could slipstream me when necessary, but my hard moment was still to come. About the last 30 kms out from the finish, any uphill became really agonizing and trying to ‘push through it’ just led to cramping in my thighs. But Simon was feeling strong again by then and kept with me encouraging me on up the hills. I guess that’s just how a team should work, but thanks Simon!

We crossed the finish line just a few minutes after the 5 hour mark, although our bike computers – that stop when your bike stops, i.e. at the drinks stations – registered 4.57. And it was fun in a painful sort of way. Next year, I’ll get in one of the speed groups and stick with it – riding in the pack is just so much easier than being out on your own.

Self-portrait whilst I was still going strong and could be bothered to get the camera out!

Congrats to the winners who did amazing times: 3.39 (men) and 3.42 (women). When you do the same course yourself you really start to understand just how fit and hard the top guys and girls are. We will be better organised for next year!

145.78 kms at the finish in the Velodrome

I also want to thanks all the volunteer marshals out on the route keeping us all safe and on route and the people, particularly the super enthusiastic little kids, all along the route who clapped and yelled and waved flags or rattles - it really makes you feel good when you're not actually feeling so good!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Camfight at the O.K. Crack-o-rral

Ladies and Gentlemen! The contenders have arrived…

In the red corner we have some genuine all-American heavy metal. With a world famous rep for punch-in pleasure, spring loaded power and the multi-year top-level reliable performance. All the way from the dry winds and dry throats of the United States’ Salt Lake City; ladies and gentlemen, please give it up for the BLACK DIAMOND CAMALOTS!!!!!

In the blue corner; the new kid on the block but the home crowd favourite. Weighing in at less the American champ and even looking considerably skinnier, can the young pretender really float like a butterfly yet still sting like a bee to defeat the Camalots? From the misty, mystic vales and hundred chav-punch ups outside the late night Spar shop in the fabled badlands of Llanberis – ladies and gentlemen, I give you... THE DMM DRAGONS!!!!!!!!!!

Fists up Gentlemen. No biting, gouging, trigger-wire snapping or punching below the tie-off. And may the best cam win…