Friday, 7 December 2012

Finnish Independence Day Celebrations

My invite to the Ambassador's reception.
I was delighted to be invited to the Finnish Ambassador's residence in London's South Kensington last night to celebrate 95 years of Finnish Independence. (I've written a little about our history here.)

And what an evening it was! I'm still buzzing today. I met so many old friends, including a fantastic woman with all the answers to how to remain young-looking, and who I went to school with, Marjo Putkisto. (Read all about her 'Method Putkisto' here). For some weird reason (life?!), this was the first time we'd met since leaving school at the age of 18, even though we've both lived in the UK for years and years. Marjo looked better than she did at school, so I for one am going to investigate her famous 'method'.

I also bumped into Jali Wahlsten, the charismatic owner of the Nordic Bakery coffee shops, and Helena Puolakka, the famed chef of Skylon on the South Bank. We discussed the merits of Twitter and I think I got them to agree that social media is the way forward. It's fair to say that at this point I had partaken in some of the fabulous food and drink on offer, so we may have come to a different conclusion all together!

Jali Wahlsten and Helena Poulakka
I must just mention the food at this point. Usually at these kinds of occasions, food is the least notable part of the evening, but last night the offerings were incredible. The little Karelian pies were just melt in the mouth heavenly, as were little cups of reindeer meat. I wasn't so keen on the shots of vanilla scented cranberry vodka, but the bubbly went down very well indeed. I forgot to ask if either Helena or Jali were responsible for the offerings.

The napkins had the Finnish national emblem on them.
So stylish. 
I also made several new ex-pat friends. There were wonderful volunteer teachers and organisers of Finnish Saturday Schools all around the UK, a talented photographer who talked to me about his new project in LA, journalists and engineers. There were Finns from all walks of life who came together last night to celebrate our quirky and wonderful country. Even the Ambassador himself was in a jolly mood and joined us in a photograph at the end of the night. (Not on my camera unfortunately).

It was as if, even though I knew a mere fraction of the people crowding the vast rooms of the Georgian mansion, we were all just one big happy family. Everyone was so jolly and friendly. I cannot tell you how magical it was. (And no, it wasn't just the cranberry vodka….OK it may have contributed!)

Lastly, thank you to my new colleagues (and friends) at Guild Travel and Finn Guild for your company last night. I sincerely hope I will be invited next year too!

No comments: