Rajamäki and the Molotov Cocktail

During World War II Finland was fighting Russia all down its Eastern border and protecting its country from invasion. The Finns were hopelessly outnumbered and the Russians were a superior force. This period would later be known as The Winter War.

Under the leadership of General Mannerheim the Finns had to resort to clever tactics and guerilla warfare. They relied heavily on regiments of ski troops, sent out world renown sniper Simo Häyhä, but lesser known is the large scale production and use of the Molotov Cocktail.

Hidden amongst the trees in the town of Rajamäki are two identical abandoned towers made of poured concrete used during that period, but for what?

Rajamäki and the Molotov Cocktail

Rajamäki and the Molotov Cocktail

Rajamäki is small industrial town 45km from Finland’s Capital, Helsinki. The town has been home to an alcohol bottling plant since before World War II. During The Winter War this plant was used for another purpose, to produce Molotov Cocktails on an industrial scale.

Though the Molotov Cocktail had been used throughout history it was the Finns that realised its effectiveness in guerilla warfare and against the armoured Russian tanks.

With the Molotov Cocktail factory working flat out and vital to Finland’s success it became a key target on the Russians attack. Two concrete towers were built just outside Rajamäki. These would provide a platform just above the tree line where anti-aircraft guns would be positioned, from here the Finn’s would be able to protect the town and the factory from an aerial assault.

Rajamäki and the Molotov Cocktail

Rajamäki and the Molotov Cocktail Rajamäki and the Molotov Cocktail

Shortly after their completion The Winter War was concluded when Finland ceded a large portion of its Eastern border to Russia. Now, these towers are locked up and abandoned, forgotten and hidden in the Finnish forest. Their history just as mysterious as the structures themselves.

Rajamäki and the Molotov Cocktail

Further reading:

The aftermath of The Winter War and the Germans Scorched Earth.

My visit to Porkkala and discovering its hidden Russian history.

How a Small Force of Finnish Ski Troops Fought Off a Massive Soviet Army

As usual you can see more from my travels on Instagram.

A Day in the New Forest

The New Forest is an area in Southern England, widely known for its nature and wildlife. The Forest was first proclaimed a royal forest by William the Conquerer in the 11th century, and today a large proportion is still owed by the crown. Since 2005 the New Forest has been a national park.

A Day in the New Forest

Wildlife

One of the features that the New Forest is known for the most is its wildlife. Animals are able to roam freely within the national park and there is quite an abundance, especially of horses. At Hatchett Pond we encountered our first, a group of very friendly donkeys.

A Day in the New Forest

A Day in the New Forest

Rhinefield Ornamental Drive

Rhinefield Ornamental Drive is a short, narrow stretch of road just outside the town of Brockenhurst. Here you can find some of the tallest trees in the New Forest. In and around 1859 many trees were planted in this area as part of the Rhinefield Estate.

A Day in the New Forest

At both ends of the Drive there is a car park. From here you can pick up the Tall Trees Trail, a short walk that runs parallel to the road.

A Day in the New Forest

A Day in the New Forest

Rhinefield Ornamental Drive hosts many non-native species of trees, including Redwoods. At only 150 years old these trees are very young in comparison to their American cousins but, nevertheless, they are among the tallest in the forest.

A Day in the New Forest

The Knightwood Oak

Turning off from the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive you will be able to find the Knightwood Oak, a five hundred year old Oak tree. The Knightwood Oak is an example of ‘pollarding’, which is where a tree is harvested for wood without killing the tree. The oak is one of the largest and oldest in the New Forest and also goes by the name ‘Queen of the forest’

A Day in the New Forest

This is such a small selection of what the New Forest has to offer. There are many towns, including Lyndhurst and Burley, that are worth your time, as well as the Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary. All of these situated in the beautiful surroundings of one of England’s oldest forests.

 

Jussi TwoSeven in Brighton

Recently I found myself in Brighton hunting for a number of street art pieces that had been placed around the city.

The reason I was here was the Finnish street artist Jussi TwoSeven whose work I had been following since my time living in Helsinki, where I had first been introduced to his work. The most recent was a large roaring bear in one of Helsinki’s metro stations in co-operation with a city museum. He had now been in Brighton painting a number of pieces in co-operation with Brighton Fringe Festival, this time wolves.

Jussi TwoSeven in Brighton

Jussi TwoSeven in Brighton

All together there were five wolves dotted around the city and they weren’t too hard to find.

Bond St

In the heart of Brightons popular Lanes is Bond St, a thoroughfare for exploring tourists and local shoppers. Bond St has it all, from small boutiques, cafes, vintage clothing and much more. A day could fly by weaving in and out of the narrow walking lanes with each turn revealing something new.

Jussi TwoSeven in BrightonWhat I enjoy about Jussi TwoSeven’s work is his interpretation of nature, and especially wildlife native to Finland, using only black and white paint. Also the scale to which he often works is very impressive.

Jussi TwoSeven in Brighton

Middle St

Just around the corner from The Victory Inn, down a small side road,  was the largest piece in the city. A blank white wall on the outside of a hairdressers made the perfect canvas for Jussi TwoSeven’s monochrome work. The Location and size made this one on Middle St my favourite of the day.

Jussi TwoSeven in Brighton

 

From here I walked. down to the seafront, passing the pier before heading back into the city just before the Aquarium. I knew roughly where I was heading as I had been wandering through this part of town the last time I was in Brighton only a few months earlier.

Edward St

Two smaller pieces were painted on the walls of the Brighton Youth Centre on Edward St. One along the main road, the other slightly hidden by a small car parking bay by the entrance. Can you spot the black and white wolf?

Jussi TwoSeven in Brighton

What finally brought all these individual pieces together was when I saw a video on Jussi TowSeven’s own channel of each wolf in sequence giving the appearance of movement. Though separated across the city the pieces worked together collectively.

Jussi TwoSeven in Brighton

I am interested to know if there are any other great works of street art that grace the walls of Brighton? What are your favourites and are there any you can recommend?

Further Reading:

Take a look at more of Jussi TwoSeven’s work in my pervious posts Jussi TwoSeven and Art in the Metro.

Also on his own Facebook page.

5 Years in Finland

5 Years in Finland

Finland 2012

After 5 years in Finland it is time for me to move back home to the UK, one of the reasons I have been a little quiet over the last few weeks. To commemorate the time I have spent in the country I wanted to share two photos.

Over the five years I have taken hundreds, maybe even thousands, of photos all over the country, a small selection has been shared on these pages. These two images represent that journey. When I arrived I went to a cabin by the lake to spend Midsummer with a group of friends. The photo above was taken of the midnight sun, a typical view over summer, and one of the first pictures I took in the country.

Now, Finland celebrates its 100th year of independence and across the country different celebrations and events take place. Below is a farm where they have created a Finnish flag out of hay bales. This photo was taken late at night, around 11pm, and one of the last I will take.

5 Years in Finland

Finland 2017

Of course I will be back to Finland in the future and still have plenty more photographs to share with you from my time in Finland.

Further Reading

If you are interested to see what I have done over the last five years in Finland you could read some of my favourite and most popular posts.

A Year in Lapland

Visiting Vallisaari

Repovesi National Park in Winter

5 things to do in Finnish Lapland in Summer

Olhava, Repovesi National Park

Olhava, Repovesi National Park

Autumn

I have now hiked in Repovesi National Park in autumn and winter with both trips being equally interesting in their different ways. One of the places I visited during both trips was Olhava, a huge rock cliff that is a popular spot for climbing, but also a great place for photographs.

During the autumn I was restricted to the lakeside but in the winter with the lake frozen I was able to move freely and take photos from any angle, I was also able to walk right up to and along the cliff.

What’s your favourite view?

Olhava, Repovesi National Park

Winter

In response to the photo challenge A Good Match

Further reading:

Don’t forget to read about my latest visit to Repovesi National Park in Winter, as well as my other posts from my nature trips in Finland:

Repovesi National Park in Autumn

Three Nations Border Point

5 Things to do in Finnish Lapland in Summer

Repovesi National Park in Winter

Among my many aims during the winter months was to spend a night camping. I had been camping many times but in the U.K temperatures generally stay above zero and the chances of snow is almost none. To winter camp in Finland would be an interesting experience and, more importantly, a test of what I could endure.

With a few friends we drove out to Repovesi National Park with the aim to spend a night in the Finnish nature. Luckily, the temperature was a pleasant -8°c., not too cold but cold enough.

Repovesi National Park in Winter

Repovesi National Park in Winter

While walking it was easy to stay warm, normally stripping back to only the necessary layers but once we stopped it became important to put those layers back on.  My difficulty has always been my toes, no matter what I do when I stop they are the first body part to get cold and the hardest to keep warm.

Repovesi National Park in Winter

Hiking during winter had one great difference, there were short cuts everywhere, when ever we needed we could just cut across the frozen lakes rather than keeping to the trails, making the national park very accessible. There wasn’t much snow cover so walking without the assistance of snow shoes was comfortable.

Repovesi National Park in Winter

Our aim for the day was the rock formation Olhava and we arrived a little before sunset, though there would be little chance of seeing one. The clouds broke for a moment when we arrived but more rolled in as we made the climb to the top.

Repovesi National Park in Winter

After spending some time on Olhava, we decided to camp in the area and use the fireplace by the lake to cook our dinner and supply some much needed warmth.

Repovesi National Park in Winter

After dinner we headed back to Olhava across the frozen lake to take a few night time shots, using our headlamps to create different light effects on the iconic cliff face.

Sleeping was the time I was dreading the most, it was easy to stay warm while walking but during the night that might become more difficult, especially if the temperatures dropped. I layered up, almost wearing more clothes now than I had been wearing during the day. I was determined to sleep well.

Repovesi National Park in Winter

The next morning we broke camp and hit the trail without breakfast, aiming to be back at the car park before lunch and indulge in a pizza on the drive back to Helsinki. It wasn’t as cold as yesterday but by the time all our gear was away we needed to start moving to warm up again.

Compared to the others I had similar experience but I didn’t have the gear. I had to pack more to make sure I was prepared, extra clothes. two spring sleeping bags combined with a liner,  and two sleeping mats. Everything was used to ensure I ‘survived’ the night.
Repovesi National Park in Winter

A short route was planned with some backtracking involved. We wanted to take in the view from the viewing tower, a place I had also visited during the Autumn. Repovesi National Park is full of excellent viewing spots and we had managed to visited a few of the best during this short trip.

After the viewing tower we cut our way back across lakes to find the shortest and most enjoyable route, making any detours that we desired until we found out way back to Lapinsalmi Bridge. This time we crossed the lake underneath it rather than crossing it as we had done the day before.

Repovesi National Park in Winter

If you have enjoyed this then my other experiences in the Finnish nature may be of interest to you.

Further Reading:

Repovesi National Park in Autumn

Three Nations Border Point

5 Things to do in Finnish Lapland in Summer