Monday, December 29, 2008

We attended divine service in the Lutheran church

On Sunday we attended divine service in the Lutheran church, for this is the prevalent religion here as in Sweden : the officiating minister, previous to his concluding prayer, read out to us with an audible voice a list of the births, deaths, and marriages of the preceding week, as we had observed elsewhere to be the usual custom. His succeeding catalogue somewhat surprised us : he recounted the sales of houses made, or about to be made, and then added the directions of the unclaimed letters now lying at the post-office, with some other notices of a similar description : it is a singular practice, but nevertheless one that is infinitely useful in such a country as Finland ; and I must add in compliment to the piety of the Fins, that certainly no other mode of publication would have given these matters an equal chance of notoriety.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

How the Children Played in Winter

When the children saw their fathers and mothers go out of doors, they, too, wanted to go. But they had no warm clothing, so their mothers tried to keep them in doors.

Sometimes Fleetfoot and Flaker teased to go out and play in the snow. And when the days were warm enough, Antler let them go out and play. But on very cold days they had to stay in the cave.

The children had good times in the cave. They played many animal games. They played they were grown men and women, and they made believe do all sorts of work. They peeked out of the cave many times each day. They heard their fathers and mothers talk. And they listened to Greybeard’s stories.

And so the children always knew what the men and women were doing. After a heavy fall of snow, they knew they would trap the animals in the drifts. When a hard crust formed, they knew they would dig pitfalls.

Antler often wished that the children might play out doors every day. Greybeard wanted the boys to learn to make pitfalls and traps. But neither Antler nor Greybeard had thought of making clothing for little children.

Friday, December 12, 2008


"TOMMY, old thing!"

"Tuppence, old bean!"

The two young people greeted each other affectionately, and momentarily blocked the Dover Street Tube exit in doing so. The adjective "old" was misleading. Their united ages would certainly not have totalled forty-five.

"Not seen you for simply centuries," continued the young man.

"Where are you off to? Come and chew a bun with me. We're getting a bit unpopular here--blocking the gangway as it were. Let's get out of it."

The girl assenting, they started walking down Dover Street towards Piccadilly.

"Now then," said Tommy, "where shall we go?"

The very faint anxiety which underlay his tone did not escape the astute ears of Miss Prudence Cowley, known to her intimate friends for some mysterious reason as "Tuppence." She pounced at once.

"Tommy, you're stony!"

"Not a bit of it," declared Tommy unconvincingly. "Rolling in cash."

"You always were a shocking liar," said Tuppence severely, "though you did once persuade Sister Greenbank that the doctor had ordered you beer as a tonic, but forgotten to write it on the
chart. Do you remember?"

Tommy chuckled.

Monday, December 1, 2008

They drink the votki raw, and in large quantities

That this part of Finland was but little cultivated was too evident, from the scanty and bad quality of the subsistence to be met with in all the villages through which we passed, and in which we were rarely able to procure any other species of provisions than the coarsest brown bread, baked as hard as a sailor's biscuit, or burnt rather to a cinder, which in appearance it pretty much resembled. Add to this a little fish, dried or salted, sour cream, and sometimes, though not always, salted butter — and you have the sum total of what may be expected in a Finnish village. Fortunately we had been informed of this scarcity before starting, and had laid in a tolerably good stock of tongues, chickens, and other good things, together with a small supply of eau de vie, which we thought would have been sufficient, with the addition of any other beverage we might chance to meet with ; but in this we were disappointed; we found nothing whatever but the ardent spirit called Votki : so that when our little stock of brandy was exhausted, we had no alternative but to resort to this native liquor, which we had heard much abused and execrated as a most villanous beverage, but which we did not find to deserve such a character. The flavour is more that of whiskey than any other spirit, is exceedingly fiery, but, when mixed with hot water and sugar, is by no means unpleasant.

John Barrow: Excursions in the North of Europe: Through Parts of Russia, Finland, Sweden and Norway (1835)