Helsinki forest

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Well, my summer holiday is truly and really over and last week I spent some time in Helsinki; landed about four hours ago and after a great dinner with John and all sons decided to write a ‘principled’ post. Mainly because this time my experience of Helsinki was completely different from the other times I have visited this city.

First, it is early Autumn but for Finland it is unusually warm; my colleague and friend still warned me to take a ‘summer coat’ – a peculiarly Finish notion and most people there have different kinds of coats. A summer coat is what for me is an light coat we in the UK wear till about end of November. More to the point, Helsinki was bright and warm – the light was bright but gentle and the warmth comfortable. I ran and we had walks in a forest near my colleague’s apartment.

Second, I did some work but this was by no stretch of imagination hard or long (in this case I am on the steering group of a research project; so overseeing and creative ideas really). This left quite a bit of time and energy for more general debates on life, science dynamics and all the rest; in fact, there was even time for straight forward and life affirming gossip. Nice!

And third, I had what can be described as an indulgent weekend which we all need from time to time. I believe that this works as follows:

One is a treat;

Two is indulgence; and

Anything more than that is decadence.


I concluded this about chocolate but it seems to me that it works with most things in  life. When in Helsinki I had two wonderful experiences – beyond walking and running in the woods – that make the visit an indulgent one. Neither of these I would have thought will give me so much pleasure.

On Friday evening, my colleague and friend took me to a restaurant called Luomo; what a place. Stylish interior, friendly and knowledgeable staff and great food. No wonder it is a Michelin star place. What really struck me was that the food was a pallet of flavours framed by different wines. This here is the starter:


Now, I am no foodie but this was a treat.

Then, on Saturday evening I was invited to go to the opera. Now, you may remember all my efforts to avoid the opera in Oman where I mistakenly thought that I am invited to see a performance; in fact, I was invited to admire the building which was certainly worth seeing. The opera house in Helsinki is nothing exceptional; quite the reverse, on the outside it looks fairly unremarkable. Seeing Carmen, though, I did enjoy: there is after all a cultured person somewhere deep inside me.

So, as you can see I did have couple of very indulgent days; but I reckon indulgence is OK once in a while. Remember that life is for living.

Now, let me move without further delay to some of the posts that made me think during the last couple of weeks.

  • John at Frugal Rules raised the issue of vacations (holidays) and the latest tendency of not having them. This struck a chord with me because this year for the first time in probably a decade I really did no work (no academic work) during my holiday. OK, I did some blogging but this is my ‘fun on the side’. I am with John on this one: working all the time is not a virtue but an affliction and we have to deal with it as soon as possible. We live in an age of creativity and this tends to thrive on regular breaks and changes of activity.
  • Suburban Finance published an article discussing the effects that advertising has on our children. A thought provoking piece. However, I do believe that the way out of it – ironically – is to teach our children not how to save but how to spend money. If they master the art of mindful spending there is likely to be left over to save.
  • I have been thinking about minimalism a lot lately. In fact, during our holiday I did dip in: for our beach holiday packed enough for our son and myself so that we’ll have enough clean clothes with two washes. We still ended up with a large suitcase: John is just not born to be a minimalist. I still appreciate the three simple principles that Miranda offered in her article on Prairie Eco-Thrifter: simplicity, cut the clutter and learn contentment. Convincing John to go beyond intellectual appreciation may be a bit harder.
  • Paul at The Frugal Toad offers five signs that you may be headed for financial trouble; and these make sense so pay attention.
  • I’ve always admired Mochimac’s ethical stance. This time she made me consider my consumption habits with an article busting two myths (excuses) for buying goods made in sweatshops. And I agree with her!
  • Finally, The Investor published on the Monevator a great tribute to his Dad. Read it: it is wise and brimming with emotion.

How has The Money Principle been doing?

In the last two weeks we have been included in the following personal finance carnivals:

Carnival of MoneyPros at Master the Art of Saving
Yakezie Carnival at This That and the MBA
Finance Carn. for Young Adults at Finance For Young Adults
Carnival of Retirement at Cash Cow Couple

Fin. Carn. for Young Adults at Mom and Dad Money

Apart from that we were mentioned in round ups and cited in articles; for that we are grateful.

Finally, did you know that poverty is horrid not only because one can’t afford stuff and experiences; it also makes people on average 13 IQ points less intelligent. More reason to fight poverty at all possible levels.

This is all for tonight, my friends; speak soon.