I was feeling a bit miserable this morning when the alarm went at 5.30 am. I was getting up early for my flight to Helsinki. This, my first trip to Finland in my role as head of Finn-Guild, would include a regional meeting on Saturday in Hämeenlinna, and some hectic visits to the many organisations we co-operate with in Finland. Including a visit to meet Her Majesty’s Ambassador (I know, I keep pinching myself). There’ll be just a flying visit to my father in Tampere, and a short stay with my good friend in Helsinki who is giving me a bed to lay my weary bones on after my meetings, and has promised to pour me a glass (or two) of something chilled in the evenings.
But as soon as I boarded the Finnair plane this morning and the air hostess spoke Finnish to me, I realised how lucky I was to be able to go back home on business. Even the ear trouble I usually get on landing didn’t happen (although I’d taken the usual precautions of EarPlanes, ibuprofen and nasal spray).
During the flight Finnair served rye bread sandwiches and their award winning, excellent coffee, in a Marimekko paper cup and with a Marimekko serviette. Goodness knows in what lovely china dishes the people in business class got their food served in! By the by, one of them I recognised as the famous British chef Nigel Slater. I was burning up to ask him what he was doing in Finland, was there a food programme about Finnish cuisine in the making at last? But he was having none of it and I’m just not spunky enough to go up to celebrities and ask random questions. (Soho House has trained me well..)
But back to the flight. As we landed, the captain said, (in Finnish), ‘Welcome to Helsinki. It’s 19 degrees and sunny here in your fatherland.’ That sounds so jingoistic in translation, but to an Expat Finn like me it was tearjerking. I’m home, I thought, and knew that I was going to enjoy every minute of this trip!