Once again, another year has passed and it’s suddenly the Eve of the year 2022. The last time I wrote anything on my blog I am surprised to see it was back on the Eve of 2020. Near the end of my 2020 blog post I wrote the following pessimistic outlook for 2021:
“For 2021 I feel the spring will still be dominated by COVID-19 and there are some tough times ahead for every country. By the time summer arrives there might be a small rest bite and improvement as the vaccines will start to have impact and perhaps less restrictions. If I am lucky, I might even be able to visit my family in the UK, who I miss a lot. As with the start of 2021 I feel optimistic and hopeful that things might start to return to normality by the time the year is out.”
It seems I was correct in my prediction as the beginning of summer 2021 started with a restbite, as I was able to do a little travelling. The late Spring of 2021 started with a family trip with some friends to a place in Eastern Finland called Koli, which landscapes make up the national scenes of Finland. It was a very beautiful place, and the views were amazing – I highly recommend a visit if you ever want to see Finnish nature at its best!
Next was a salmon fishing trip (part 2 follow up from the salmon trip in summer 2020) with my international fishing friends Jon and Paul. The three of us have now made this trip our traditional yearly adventure where we all head to Northern Finland and escape into the Finnish wilderness for hunting salmon. We started the trip once again in Kukkolankoski in Tornio, which is the famous location of the rapids of Tornio River.
Last summer we didn’t feel confident using a traditional salmon fishing boat on the strong river current, but this year we decided to go out our comfort zones and hunt salmon just 100 meters from the deadly rapids - “koski” in Finnish. Although we all gained confidence with our boating control skills and salmon fishing, we did have one very “close shave” in the early hours when our boat engine wouldn’t start when we were just 25meters from the rapids. However, the river spirits came to our rescue and helped start the boat engine on the 8th attempt, so we now have the tale to tell.
We then headed further north to another salmon fishing location in Pello. This location felt even more remote, and the campsite was dominated by expert Finnish salmon fisherman who lived and breathed salmon fishing for their summers. Again, it was outside our comfort zone, but we were very lucky to have an expert guide called Jouni, who took as around the river locations beforehand and showed us the best salmon fishing spots.
We also managed to borrow a traditional salmon fishing boat, which we could use around our own timings. On this trip we came extremely close in catching our own salmon using the traditional salmon rod trawling technique. Many fishermen at the site had mentioned they had spent their whole summers in Pello for three years or so before catching any salmon, so in some ways we felt we had come a long way with our own fishing salmon skills. The start of summer 2022 we will be back once more in Pello and feel that this will be the year we will finally catch the elusive salmon we all much crave.
Next the summer took me to Alicante in Spain, where I spent just under 3 weeks with my family relaxing at a friends’ beachfront apartment.
We all felt very lucky to be able to have this experience with the continual threat of COVID-19 around, but as the July came to a close it seemed the COVID-19 situation was much improved everywhere, and many places were returning back to some form of normality. One of the big memories of this trip was watching my country’s national football team England progress to the finals of the Euros. The night on the finals against Italy was a nail-biting experience and the penalties was emotionally draining. At the end of the night my daughter had to witness her dad shedding a few tears in his England top, but it was nice when a random stranger said to me England played well and that I should feel proud!
The next trip came in late October as I was finally able to visit my UK family in London and Manchester after an absence of over two years. The feeling of seeing my family was amazing and really gave me a mental positive boost. Just being back in the UK I was able to renew my English ways and not use energy translating from Finnish to English. The small talk with random strangers is something which was good to practice once again. I left back to Finland feeling very positive and looked forward to going back with my wife and kids for Christmas and New Years….
And now December. First, what a bloody downward trend from the optimism at the end of summer and beginning of autumn!! The further we went into December the return of COVID-19 came back to gloom everything with the arrival of the Omicron variant. For a very long part of 2021 we had planned to spend three weeks with our family in UK for Christmas and New Years and in some ways, this was our main plan and hope for 2021. As mid-December approached it became increasingly difficult to pursue our Christmas plans in the UK as the multiple testing costs, quarantines and uncertainty in UK COVID-19 situation made it far too risky to go over. We therefore decided to cancel our Christmas once again for the second year in a row and all our Christmas spirit was pretty much ruined. However, we managed to spend Christmas at my wife's family in Tornio and cooked up a traditional Christmas dinner.
As for 2022, I feel again optimistic and feel things will likely be similar to the beginning of 2021, but with perhaps more of a faster return to normality near March-April. I think society will just need to live with COVID-19 and for those who listen to the facts and take their vaccines, life will be pretty much normal. It will be those, who for whatever reason refuse to take vaccines and risk their own health, will face the consequences. Overtime this minority will hopefully realize their strategy is flawed and their numbers will be less and less. I feel quite angry with these people, but I guess this is the trade-off we must accept in a democracy. In terms of my 2022 plans I plan to invest in a new boat, explore more Finnish lakes and finally catch that Salmon! One main hope is to get my family to UK soil at some point when the COVID-19 a situation permits, but we will not booking any flights yet as we have learned our lesson. With some luck England might even go onto win the World Cup in Qatar in December – now wouldn’t that be a way to end the year!!
By early April, with all the time stuck at home, I decided to set myself a target of getting healthier. My health target consisted of fasting (18hr periods of no eating) and daily exercise in the form of 10km – 13km walks. To supplement my healthier lifestyle, I also decided to do a lot more gardening and grow plants and flowers – any excuse to spend time outside when free from my work computer. Another project I started was rebuilding my front house deck to keep me busy.
By the time June arrived the COVID-19 situation in Finland seemed to have calmed down a little, so my family and I were able to travel to northern Finland for a small holiday break. Our original plan was to visit the Highlands of Scotland, but travel restrictions meant this had to be cancelled. However, this gave me a unique opportunity to do salmon fishing on the Tornio river (Tornionjoki) with some other international friends – something I had always wanted to do. I also invested in purchasing new camping equipment and spent many times wild camping around my local lake (Tuusulanjärvi) - I even managed a forest wild camp for the 1st time with my son (watch the YouTube video of the trip adventure below). In some ways over the summer I felt I rediscovered Finland and learnt to appreciate nature and the wilderness again. At the end of summer was my son’s confirmation celebration and we had a small family garden party to celebrate, which was really nice but also emotional for my wife and I – kids grow up so quickly, it makes you wonder where the years go! When August arrived, it was time to be back at work, but again working from home because of the slowly deteriorating COVID-19 situation. Luckily, I felt much more mentally ready and had lost over 30Ibs of body weight to keep me motivated and ready for the Autumn start.
I wish everyone who has read this short blog a Happy New Year and better 2021!
Haaga-Helia's The Space Tourism Forum Porvoo brought together more than eighty people interested in space tourism from all over the world. The first space flights for tourists are expected to start in the next few years.
In November, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences organised a virtual event on space tourism, which caught interest all around the world.
The event, originally scheduled for May, showcased that the people are really interested in the latest megatrends in space tourism as well as research in the field.
The Space Tourism Forum Porvoo was supposed to be already earlier this year, but the legislation following the global corona pandemic made it impossible to organise.
The keynote speakers were Ms Annette Toivonen, a tourism lecturer at Haaga-Helia, and Mr Mikko Dufva, a future expert at Sitra, both well-known and respected in their own fields of expertise.
A panel discussion was also held at the event. The panel was attended by Mr Pekka Janhunen, a space physicist and research manager at the Finnish Meteorological Institute, Ms Maija Lönnqvist, Chief Space Policy Specialist at the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, and Ms Toivonen, who also acted as a keynote speaker.
It was moderated by Mr Darren Trofimczuk, a long-term space enthusiast and educational technology expert at Haaga-Helia.
Haaga-Helia for ethical tourism
To many, the Space Tourism Forum Porvoo was a welcome variation in the midst of a challenging pandemic year and at the same time, it also shifted their gaze towards the future. According to Mr Trofimczuk, the arrangements for the event were successful despite the adversities of May.
A big thanks for that belongs to Haaga-Helia's event management students, and to lecturer Ms Monika Birkle, who guided them. Students' work was considered essential to the success of the event.
Mr. Trofimczuk believes that there are still several aspects of space travel that still need answers.
In his view, it isn't just about getting into a rocket and blasting off into space.
— Over the coming decades, new jobs and industries will develop and grow, which is very positive for our students who are possibly thinking of a career in this new industry, but at the same time the ethics of operations and, above all, ethics in tourism should be considered, he says.
Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences is one of the pioneers of space tourism-related education. Since 2019, the world's university course has been organized on the Porvoo campus, which intertwines the megatrend of sustainable development and space tourism.
Mr Trofimczuk is responsible for the implementation of the course together with Ms Toivonen, who also served as the keynote speaker at the event.
Rising theme in the fields of tourism and aviation
Ms Annette Toivonen, PHD researcher and lecturer in sustainable space tourism, also says that she is very satisfied with the arrangements for the event. The cancellations in May naturally brought some challenges, but in the end, everything went more than fine.
According to Ms Toivonen, she finds it fascinating that even at such a time as this, she can inspire people.
— It felt great to be able to help and share my academic space tourism expertise for the benefit of the event organising students as well as the audience, she says.
Toivonen is already excitedly looking forward, both organising the next year's event, as well as developing the space tourism-related educational content for Haaga-Helia even further.
Toivonen, who launched her debut book Sustainable Space Tourism: An Introduction (Channel View Publications, UK 2020) at the event, believes that interest in sustainable space tourism will increase exponentially in the near future.
— Due to technological breakthroughs in the last decade, the first space flights for tourists are expected to start very soon. Space tourism is a rising theme in the fields of tourism and aviation, she says.
The Space Tourism Event Porvoo was held on November 26th. Learn more about the event from the official event pages: https://www.spacetourismporvoo.fi/
Website article source: www.haaga-helia.fi/en/current/news/space-tourism-forum-porvoo-brought-together-experts-field
On the eve of each new year I tend to start reflecting on how the year has progressed and I start to make plans and targets for the year ahead, but the urge this year has been much more powerful. The last few days I have spent my time watching the series by Professor Brian Cox called Human Universe, which explores human existence, Space and the possible future that lies ahead of our species. The last episode called “A Place in Space and Time” was particularly interesting and motivated me to write this New Year Eve blog post.
First let’s briefly reflect on how I feel this 2019 year has gone. Much of the first part of the year was the same as previous years and I welcomed new business degree students at my work to their studies and counted the days until the weather improved. The first few months of 2019 also orientated around helping plan my mother’s 60th surprise birthday party in London with my brothers. The party turned out to be a huge success and it was great to be around family and distant family friends, although the evening went like a flash. Before long the summer quickly returned and after the Easter break I started a long vacation, part of it spent in Alicante and short trips around the UK staying at various locations such as Highcliffe in Southern England and Ramsbottom in Northern England. Summer for me is always a chance to see something new, try new experiences but also a chance to visit family and close friends in the UK. Living in Finland is very secure and stable for me and my family, but as the summers are so short, we usually try to make the most of things by enjoying the nicer weather in Finland from late April and then breaks away from late June to August. The later part of this year focused much in staying in Finland and we decided as a family to have our first Christmas at home in Järvenpää with just my wife and two children. The Christmas went extremely well, and it was relaxing to enjoy the company of my wife and kids without the hassle of traveling around anywhere.
Looking ahead to 2020, a new decade, I have much the same basic plans as in 2019 - get started with new degree students at work and make plans for the summer 2020. However, next year there are bigger things happening that I feel I must briefly highlight in my New Year’s Eve blog. Firstly, there are huge milestone events planned for one of my big passions in the field of space exploration. In the summer of 2019 celebrations were held around the world for the 50yr moon landings, and I celebrated this milestone with mixed views as no man has been back to the moon since 1974. The year of 2020 could possibly see a huge advancement of human spaceflight if Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, NASA and Blue Origin get their way.
Secondly, the impact of climate change has been a topic frequently mentioned in the news, but very little concrete steps have been taken by governments to address these concerns. The 2020 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, will be held in Glasgow in November is most probably the last chance we have as a species to agree concrete practical steps for slowing down the effects of climate change. However, many do not want to hear this worrying statement - even many of you who are reading this blog post right now! How we as individuals can influence a big summit such as COP26, is very little, but what we can do is put greater pressure in big global companies and governments to take the matter more seriously. In the Brain Cox Human Universe series, extinction was highlighted as a natural process of evolution that enables another species to evolve, but humans have the potential to do something about their future unlike many other species. Newer technologies such as Fusion power and cleaner sustainable energies offer the potential to make some kind of positive impact, but greater investment is heavily needed now to advance these technologies quick enough to make the transition off fossil fuels. Therefore, the COP26 summit in November next year is a crucial moment for all of us and I really do hope something can be agreed by all governments to collaborate together. If there is no agreement, then I really do fear the worst, which in many cases will first lead to poorer nations suffering environmental catastrophe beyond repair and then onto the more richer nations affecting billions of people.
Although my thoughts sound a little negative there is still time for an international agreement to make the positive changes required and it is on that note I am going to end this blog post and stay optimistic for 2020.
I wish everyone a prosperous New Year.
Curious about the impact of space tourism in tourism studies? Read my recent e-signals blog post about the topic here: https://esignals.haaga-helia.fi/en/2019/04/08/the-benefits-of-space-tourism-in-tourism-degree-studies/
Credits: By News Now Staff February 18, 2019
“If there is a startup company and they’re thinking of starting in Porvoo, the costs are much cheaper, and there’s a cost advantage compared to Helsinki and Espoo” says Darren Trofimczuk, who lectures on international business, aviation and tourism courses at Haaga-Helia’s Porvoo campus.
Another advantage Trofimczuk explains, is that with a growing number of students from Asia, Finnish companies have local expertise on hand when they want to look at strategies for breaking new markets in China, South Korea or Japan. Expertise that comes at a fraction of the cost of big name consulting firms.
But one “game changer” he says, would be a train link from Provoo to the capital city region. It’s lacking right now, and although the motorway is fast – Trofimczuk drives it every day to and from work – he thinks better transport options would bring even more international companies, startups and students to the town. “If they had a train link it would change instantly. Porvoo is a very nice place, it’s one of the most beautiful places in southern Finland and there’s lots of tourists who go there just to see the old town. It’s just that getting there is a bit of a disadvantage compared to Helsinki and Espoo. It will always be seen as a negative” he tells News Now Finland.
Full article by News Now Finland can be found here: newsnowfinland.fi/startups-tech/porvoo-carves-a-space-in-the-crowded-startup-market
Before the UK 2016 EU referendum I debated with some family and friends living in the UK my reasons why I strongly believed the UK should remain in the EU, but after returning back to Finland from my holiday, I already had a strong sense that the referendum result was highly likely to vote leave. My worse nightmares and predictions came true on 24th June at 04:40 when the result was announced on BBC News. The result ruined the rest of my summer holiday and I struggled to process why many of my country men and women voted to leave-my nightmare had come true!
Over two years later I think I have finally accepted the result and I have now concluded a hard Brexit is most probably required to reset the mindset of the British nation. In my opinion the political system (class system) in the UK needs to be removed and measures put in place to help reduce the many people that live in poverty. In a recent Finnish Yle news article published on 26.01.2019 the title read "Broken Britain." The article is only in Finnish but in summary it stated “The UK is the 5th biggest economy in the world but one fifth of its people live in poverty including 4.5 million children! The Conservative government continue to deny the facts even when a recent UN report highlighted these truths.” https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-10606354?fbclid=IwAR1-o7F-u-A57xydBHROu7pQfwjp49pomodO9kf67jqSGIGlj0yFcqOD8A8
In my opinion the constant denial by previous and current governments about these sad facts is so they can fill their pockets and support the elite. Many of the main campaigners supporting the leave campaign were from an elite group in UK society such as Jacob Rees Mogg, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage. I have said this once before to those close around me but I really do feel the whole UK political system needs to change and move away from a system of unelected elites (House of Lords and Royal family etc), to a type of a republic/presidential style system. However, this can only happen when people have faced the realities of how these elite have no better solutions compared to what the EU actually offered the working class areas around the UK.
Therefore, maybe Brexit isn't such a bad thing if it does finally wake the working class people up to the reality of the small elite that have suppressed them all these centuries? Yes there will pain, increased poverty and possible public disturbances in cities around the UK, but in the long term the whole UK system might rebalance to a more fairer society? It is even possible if the EU political institutions in Brussels reform their bureaucracy, properly deal with migration issues and the big differences in fiscal policies between the northern and southern EU members, the UK may even one day rejoin back. There is a possibility Theresa May might get her withdrawal agreement passed before the March 29th Brexit deadline, but even this would still just delay the Brexit process until 2020. Brexit is therefore going to happen and possibly change the UK for good, but it will likely take a generation or two to fully go through the necessary changes to bare fruit. Nobody really knows what will happen, but I guess I hope something good will come out of this mess.