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Part 1 - Christmas 2008

I thought it might be a good idea to write some of my thoughts in the run-up to the big move. So here goes...

We visited Oulu on our way up to the cabin and spent a couple of days looking around. I have to confess that when we first got off the train, I didn't immediately feel at home, which disappointed me rather. We visited the boys' new school and I really liked that but I wasn't that impressed with the town centre. In the afternoon, after having lunch at the Pentecostal Church (more on that later) we went for a walk to the park.

The park was very pretty! The white covering of snow made it all the more fairytale-like. It is set between two or three rivers and the different little islands are linked by a series of wooden bridges. Right in the centre is a fantastic play area. That was when I started to feel more at home. Neil and I sat on a seat (icy to the bottom) whilst the boys played.

The next day, we were on a mission to find the library and sporting facilities. The library is enormous, on several floors. It is right on the coast, next to the theatre. I was pleased to note that they have a reasonable stock of books in English. A short walk over another (longer) bridge was, according to the map, supposed to take us to the swimming pool. On arrival though, we discovered that the pool was completely closed for substantial renovations. I was quite disappointed. We made our way back to the hotel, before finding a second swimming pool. That was more exciting...

There is a whole area to the edge of the city, devoted to sport. There's a swimming pool, baseball stadium, ice arena and sports hall. Upon closer inspection, we found the swimming pool has a full set of diving boards and an active diving club - very excited boys! It's an Olympic sized pool with several smaller, fun pools too. The sports hall was like a full scale athletics track, catering for every imaginable sport. The boys decided that we should look for a house in that area.

So after two days exploring the city, I was quite disappointed to have to leave. I had begun to feel quite at home there and now I really can't wait to move!

Somebody spotted the deliberate omission. I had promised more on the lunch and then I forgot. So, here goes...

The Pentecostal Church in Oulu has a restaurant which serves a daily lunch, mainly to serve the workers of the city. They offer a reasonably good, traditional Finnish buffet lunch for a very reasonable price. We happened to be there on their final day before closing for Christmas. It's traditional to have Christmas porridge and that's all there was. I was fine - it was like rice pudding with cinnamon and was very tasty. The boys had to make do with bread and cheese.

The pastor's wife there speaks good English and she gave us the guided tour. Josh and I were looking for evidence of lively worship as opposed to 'sombre hymn singing' (as Josh puts it). We were pleased to note the electric drum kit and asked about the style of music. Sadly, the main service is 'sombre hymn singing' but there is a Friday meeting called 'LIFT'(Living In Fellowship and Truth) which is an International group. Their services are in English and are more like our experience of worship.

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