When I woke up recently I checked the weather forecast. For the oncoming weekend it was London 13c, Helsinki 24c.
A couple of weeks ago I followed the same routine. I got up, flipped open the laptop. London was 9c. My other favourite city, Berlin, 29c – depressing.
Don’t get me wrong – of course I knew what I was getting myself into when I decided to move to an island in western Europe. I had prepared myself to be battered by winds and drenched by the rain coming from off the Atlantic.
I felt like I could not take any more dark, cold and harsh Nordic winters. Despite it sounding rather romantic, it’s not that much fun fighting your way home from work in the middle of a snow blizzard. Or waiting for your morning bus to arrive when it’s dark and windy and -15c. Contrary to popular belief, when I was living in Helsinki I did not go to wooden huts to get warm by a fireplace, or lie on a reindeer skin, watching a Laplander shaman dance. No, I was busy working and commuting between my home and my workplace or trying to fight my way through the snow to meet people in Helsinki city centre – without getting frozen.
One winter I could not open my balcony door for three months because of almost a metre of snow behind the door. Due to the lack of sunlight everyone is always moaning about being tired. I also learned recently that thousands of Finnish dogs are on antidepressants.
The Finns save their money up to move to the Costa del Sol when they retire. They live happily in their own community in Fuengirola, eating rye bread and drinking Finnish coffee. They only come back to Finland when it’s sunny and relatively warm in July.
I’ve now all of a sudden taken on the British social preoccupation with the weather. It’s quite a convenient and interesting discussion topic.
Unfortunately when I try to strike up the same weather conversation in Finland, I tend to get blank looks. The weather is pretty static – if it’s going to rain, you will have known that since yesterday.
Finns want to move to the south, Brits want to move south as well. And when you go to Spain and ask where people like to go for a holiday, they’ll say something like London. I wish for once we could all be happy with what we have.
I stay calm and try to keep the faith that London will get warmer as well. Meanwhile, I savour the good memories. After ridiculously long, snowy and dark winters, one of the most thrilling moments of my life was when I saw someone cutting grass in England – and it was February.