Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Crossing the border of time and vegetables

We weren't in much of a rush on Saturday morning but had plans to travel to IKEA in Haparanda, just on the border between Finland and Sweden. We left at 1130 and were soon travelling on the motorway towards our destination. The journey last just over 2 hours and soon we crossed the bridge that marked the border between the two countries. It was at this moment we travelled one hour back in time.......... due to the time zones.

The Border.
We entered IKEA and soon decided that in future we wouldn't go during daytime as it was PACKED! As we were both hungry we thought we would have dinner at the on site restaurant but that idea was soon dashed by the cue that looked like something from a snake game after the 1000 point mark. After about an hour, Tanja and I had finally reached the warehouse bit of the store, with our yellow bag full of wee bits and pieces we got a trolley and went on our search for book shelves and a rocking chair. we found the Chair and Shelves in no time but we had to ask for help to get the matching footstool. We were extremely lucky as there was only one left in stock and after getting it checked to make sure all the bits were in it we proceeded to make our way to checkouts. Well we had many choices of queues, they were all just equally as long. Once we got everything scanned and packed, Tanja tried to pay for the goods; tried being the operative word. For some reason Tanja's bank card has a limit on it and refused to work, so after what seemed like ages we sorted the problem by ringing her mother and getting some funds on another card, another addition to the adventures of Tanja and Larry boy. By this point we were really hungry and decided that to keep the hunger at bay to purchase some 50 krona (50 Euro cents) IKEA hotdogs.

After a trip to the largest Sweetie shop in Europe, in which we bought very little surprisingly, we travel into the present by crossing the border back into Finland. We went into a shopping centre called Rajalla meaning Border in Finnish. After some quick discussions, it was mutually decided we shall go to Rax, a pizza buffet place to eat. Rax is a very nice place to eat, not just pizza stuff. They had marshmallow pizza at this one two, some kind of promotion, I decided to skip this flavour as I wasn't too amazed at it when I had it last week..... it was an interesting taste but that was it. After filling my plate a few times, it was time to head back on the road towards our home.

We arrived home 2 hours later and Tanja decided to nap. I went ahead and made the dinner for Sunday as we were having Tanja's younger brothers coming round after chapel. I decided to make mince and salami cannelloni. Once I did my house wife bit but I proceeded to do the manly husband job and put together the IKEA furniture. I put up the footstool, rocking chair and one bookshelf before heading to bed.

Sunday's are Chapel days. We received a text early morning from the branch president asking us if it would be ok to announce our wedding to the congregation, which Tanja and I had no objections too. Once suited and booted for Chapel, we went to pick up Tanja's two younger brothers as their Father had gone to another Chapel as part of the District council or something. During the first part of the meeting, Markku announced that Tanja Maljanen was no more and it was now Tanja Robinson. After chapel all four of us head to the apartment and whilst I put the prepared meal in the oven, Janne and I moved about some things in the study so I could put the IKEA bookshelves in the room for my numerous books. The food hardly had time settle as it was lapped up with several rounds of fresh garlic bread. It is good to see people enjoying ones food, gives you a morale boost but also a feeling of satisfaction. After the boys left, I finished the last bookshelf and loaded them up with my books. Tanja and I took a wee nap before returning the borrowed BMW back to her older brother Ari. After watching Ice Age 3, we hit the hay.

After a night in which I had an upset stomach and sore throat which kept me up for most of it, I slept in till 11. I potted around the house doing bits and pieces of housework before heading out to meet Tanja from work. Her work colleagues had given us a card and a candle holder, that was very nice of them. After dinner of Chicken Chasseur, Brown Rice and garlic bread followed by a Nap; we printed off a new name piece for the door. We now officially have our name on the door.

Peanut Butter Jelly Time

I made a bet once upon a time stating that if someone bought me a Banana suit and two maracas, I would go into a location of their choice and do the peanut butter jelly time dance. Well my FiancĂ©e (Now Wife) bought me the suit back in July but I never did the dance. So in a dastardly plot which involved members of her family who will remain nameless (Jani and Janne), I was driven to the Church where I was told we were picking up Tanja's brothers and then we were going to the movies. I was presented with the Banana suit and told I was to be blindfolded and taken somewhere. It was soon revealed that several friends had been informed of this Bachelor Party and I was made to dance in two places in Oulu City Centre. I present one of the two videos of this event..... enjoy.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Wedding Bells

Well I am now a happy wedded Husband.

Tanja and I tied the knot at 1930 (UTC +2) in Oulu, Finland. It went very well. We finally got the rings that very morning, after ringing Fedex and finding out where they were. A bit of advice, if you are ordering from a company online, check them out before purchasing. We ordered two rings from COI Jewerly and had nothing but trouble, they lied to us on several occasions and finally they sent it to the wrong address. When they came, they were ok, but they weren't perfect and even if they were, the amount of hassle we had with them wouldn't have made it worth it. We had the manager of the place we were to be wed email us on Thursday night to tell us out idea for fish in bowls for table arrangements were against Hygiene laws she had just been informed, I personally couldn't find anything in the law that states it but it was too late to argue.

On the Friday, Tanja and I had appointments at respective barbers. I got my hair tided and facial hair sorted, it had become quite a mess after not really shaving for several weeks. Tanja got her hair done beautifully. We got ready for the wedding and were picked up in Tanja's Brothers Mercury Comet, what a machine that is. It was here that I realised that wearing skirts is not easy, I was wearing a kilt and I mean how the hell do you sit and control all that loose fabric.

That's right, grovel on your knees!

The place of our wedding was kitted out beautifully and Tanja and I had several photos taken at various locations around the estate before the guests arrived. We had to hide in the 'panic room' so no one could see us, it was called that because if Tanja panicked she could run and hide there (She will probably kill me for saying that).

We had a good turnout, I think 40 guests were there, not too big and not too small I think. It did feel weird though walking up to where we were getting married, everyone standing looking at me and then when Tanja arrived, looking at Tanja and Us. We could see the flashes and hear the clicking of cameras behind us. I managed to stand in the most awkward position ever and my leg was cramping up. The ceremony was conducted in both Finnish and English, it was very well done. I felt the luckiest guy in the world and when we placed the rings on each others fingers my heart exploded with joy. We then waited by the front door to the main building so people could congratulate us. It was very heart warming to see everyone. We were then toasted and much to my suspicions it was Tar Soda, I knew I could smell tar when we were by the front door.

The food served to us by the estate was mouth wateringly tasy, could not fault it. It was buffet style but so beautifully presented. We had Ceaser Salad, Swedish Meatballs, Marinaded Garlic, Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Salad, Salsa, Olives and selection of bread for starters. The main course was Finnish Creamed Potatoes (Gratin Dauphinois), Roasted Vegetables and Roasted Beef with Pepper Sauce. It was then time for the speeches, her father was first up and in all his humour presented her with cotton buds (he use to find them all over the family home when she was young) and myself with a tin of pineapples (after stating I am adapting to Finnish life well, like loving Sauna and Tar Soda and understanding Finns love Pineapple..... I cannot stand the texture of Pineapple). I gave a small speech thanking everyone and embarrassing my lovely wife by telling everyone how we met and  how she told me no one would marry me as I am a chef.

Soon we were taken into the back room to cut the cake, there was three Caramel topped cakes filled with Grapefruit and Pineapple Jam. Now Finnish tradition states that when the cake is cut, whoever stamps their feet first becomes the one in charge of the relationship, I was told this just as we were walking to cut the cake and 'warned' that I was not to stamp first. I stamped but a fraction of a second behind Tanja......... I had to be a good sport.

The night ended with a wedding dance in which we danced to The Rubettes 'Your Love' whilst everyone blew bubbles on us, it was very cool. We then went into the Panic Room to await everyone going outside. There outside, people were given sparklers and Tanja and I walked towards the Ari's Comet. It was very magical and even though it was cold on the way home, we were very warm inside.

But the wedding adventure doesn't end there, oh no. We opened the door to our apartment to find the doorway blocked by a web of string taped to the frame. We found our toilet filled with balloons, which is great for someone who has an unjustified fear of balloons; wrote messages on the toilet paper. We also found several notes left around the apartment. When all seemed sorted, we found one last trick that our mysterious pranksters left......... they had taken all our cutlery and put it in our bed. Whoever these people were (and I have my suspicions), very funny and well played.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Last Night of Freedom

Well it has finally came, Tanja and I's wedding.

So yesterday, Thursday 20th, our last day as an unmarried couple was spent mainly running around like loons trying to get the final bits and pieces done. We came home about 4 times and I felt so tired.

I am officially fully moved in now, my last two parcels arrived yesterday, so that is it no more stuff coming from the Island. The apartment is a wee bit of a state but that is because we have things to buy and move around for us to make it a home but that isn't a massive burden.

We went out to Haralds, a Viking style restaurant, for our 'last supper'. We had been there twice before but find out they had changed to menu last week and so we took a while ordering food. They had so many nice sounding things but we soon chose the starter and main course shields (they are shield shaped platters with a big selection of things to try). The red deer was beautiful, cooked medium and so tender. The whole meal was amazing, once again they didn't disappoint. We were so stuffed after the two courses that we could not manage a dessert. 

Once we got back we had a few bits to do for the big day. I was soon forced to bed by Tanja because I was falling asleep and making little mistakes (like cutting the place cards too big). Tanja stayed up till 4......... crazy lady.

Well time for me to be off, there are some things to do before the Grand Finale. Next time I write i'll be a married man.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

My First week.

I have been in Finland for a week now, arriving last Wednesday 30 minutes before I should have (congratulations to Air Baltic). I have been really busy running around doing bits and pieces which is why I have not updated my blog.

Leaving the Island was easier than I thought, even though I will dearly miss my friends and I will miss the familiarity of the place, it felt like I was just going home. I finished work on the Saturday before leaving the rock and was overwhelmed by the send off I got. They signed a really great card and gave me some gifts, it was really heart warming. I had a meal with some work friends before I left and tried to catch up with other friends, but 3 days goes really fast. My friends within the church held a small party for me, this was very moving, these friends I will sorely miss.

On my way to Ronaldsway Airport, one of the wheels from my bag came off. This is the curse of my friend Andy, whose house I stayed at the night before with his wife Zara, who stated the previous evening that we should set off at 5 just in case a wheel came off or something. This was the start of a long journey which took me to Gatwick, Riga, Turku and finally Oulu.

I was greeted at Oulu airport by my beautiful wife to be Tanja who presented me with Red Roses and Chocolates and our good friend Sonja who held a sign saying Welcome Home. It felt good to be back in Finland, even better to know I was not leaving any time soon and even more amazing, to know I was going to be with Tanja every day.

On the Friday I was conned into a dastardly plan to be made a mockery off........ it was called a Stag Night. Organised by Tanja's brother and my best man, Janne, I was made to dress up in a Banana Suit, driven blind folded into Oulu and forced to dance peanut butter jelly time.......... twice. This was much to the amusement of my friends who had been informed about this night and random Oulu citizens. I was awarded with a pizza, so not all bad. I was then blindfolded and driven to a not so secret location by the river and then marched into the black, freezing water. After coming out completely soaked and shaking so bad I thought I would shatter bones let alone my teeth, we went to a friends house for Sauna, chat and games. Overall it was a great night and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Not much has happened. Some of my parcels have arrived, my books have all arrived by freight. Tanja and I have spent much time together catching up and discussing the future. I have cooked a few meals, even had guests round on Monday to sample my cooking. I will be making more regular blog updates in the future, this will be an amazing time, a great opportunity and one that I wish to share with all who want to read.