New Year's Eve 2021 Reflections...
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!!