Part 8 - 4.3.09

I can't believe we have been living in our new house for a week! If you haven't already done so, please check out the photo gallery. There are some lovely photos of the house. I remember when the estate agent drove us out here to check it out. As we were driving into the area, it was great to be away from the kerrostalo (apartment blocks) of the city and into an area where it was just normal pretty little houses. On the main road, every house is a different colour and it follows a pattern, thus proving that when primary school teachers give out those seemingly silly maths problems about how a house builder painted houses in a pattern: blue, green, yellow, etc, then what colour will the 12th house be? You remember those? Be honest - did you ever think there's no way any normal builder would do that? Well that maths problem must have originated here.

Our house was only finished last September so it's very new. Well, the whole area is really. You have to imagine a main road. Okay 'main' might be an exaggeration! Take a road, covered in snow, with banks of snow up each side. On the left hand side is natural land. There are lots of silver birch trees and some pine trees. There are pretty little paths carved out of the snow for walkers, cyclists and cross-country skiers. On the right hand side are little cul-de-sacs, each with twelve houses. Each of those cul-de-sacs is numbered. That's where the first number in the address comes from. Our paritalo (semi-detached house) is right at the end of the cul-de-sac. As you turn into the cul-de-sac, on the wall on the left is a row of shiny red post boxes. Each one is numbered and people put their names on it too. Then walk to the end and turn down a little path to the left. Just before the path is a covered parking bay with an outhouse. On the wall are lightswitches and a couple of electric sockets. Breaking with my favoured tradition of reverse parking, you have to drive in forwards so that the electric socket in your bonnet is close to the one in the wall. You then have to guess what the overnight temperature will be (or you could look at the weather forecast) and if it's going to be colder than -10C, you plug a green cable from the socket in the bonnet to the one in the wall. That keeps the engine and the inside of the car heated. If you forget and it's a really cold night, you could find that your car has caught the flu overnight - and for cars, that's terminal!

As you walk down the path, you pass the outhouse door on the left. Inside there, it is empty at the moment, but it has a light and some electric sockets. You pass the other half of the semi on the right before coming to ours. There are wooden steps and a small decking area outside the front door, but if you keep walking past the front door, you reach something very special! Yesterday, between us, we shovelled all (yes I do mean ALL) the snow from our path and next door's and made it all into a little snow mountain. The main purpose of this is so that the removal men can get to the house tomorrow but a fab byproduct is that the lads can use it for sledging down.

Okay, come inside! The front door opens into a large porch. It has to be large because all outdoor clothing and shoes have to be removed here and there has to be space for everyone to do this together. There are cupboards and an open hanging area with coathangers to hang salopettes and coats on. There's plenty of space to put shoes to dry out too and the porch is heated so that everything does dry quite quickly. The porch then opens into an open-plan living room, dining room and kitchen. There's laminate flooring throughout and the windows are large. The big windows let of light in. They are triple glazed and between the double and single layers of glass are Venetian Blinds. This shuts out most of the light in the summer when the sun barely sets before it rises again. If you open a door next to the porch door, there's a utility room where the washing machine and tumble dryer live. Then there's another door to a shower room and sauna. We had our first sauna last night and it was wonderful. Go back into the living room and look up. There's a wooden balcony sort of thing through which you can see the upstairs landing. The stairs are wooden and have a built in safety gate at the top and bottom. Upstairs are three bedrooms and another shower room with a toilet. Andy has the smallest bedroom but in the summer, he will have something very nice that the rest of us don't have. His room opens onto a balcony, which has enough room for a table and chairs set. It faces north, which makes it a perfect place for observing the Northern Lights!

So there you have it - our new house. The downside, so far is that we have practically no furniture yet. The removal lorry should dock in Helsinki this morning so assuming there are no delays, it should be with us tomorrow morning. As you read this, and are probably sitting on a chair or something, just offer up a quick prayer of thanks for chairs. I hadn't realised how we take furniture for granted but a week of sitting on a hard, wooden floor and sleeping on a mattress on the floor, reminds you that some people in this world have nothing. It's a humbling thought. I can't think of that for too long though, as there are cupboards that need cleaning and ironing to do. Some things are the same wherever you live! Also our winter tyres are being delivered today so that when our car arrives, we can change them straight over. I'll write more once everything's here.

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