I can still remember the first visit I made to Finland, with a work colleague, over 25 years ago. That was before the Finns joined the EU and I would get my passport stamped at immigration when we arrived in Helsinki.
We left Manchester in the afternoon light and arrived in the cold, dark Helsinki night. I had no idea what to expect. Within 2 hours of landing I had learned that there were big, comfortable Mercedes and Volvo taxis with the latest satnavs and one truly excellent hotel that I've subsequently returned to many times.
I know now that they do have other excellent hotels too :)
I've made some very good friends in Finland over the years and I’ve been well schooled in the country's complex and convoluted history.
In the depths of winter even the Finns struggle when there's no snow to reflect the light and brighten the place up a little. The few days that I was there at the end of last year were so grey and so bleak, it was such a welcome relief when it began to snow.
Back in Helsinki after 2 days in Hämenlinna it snowed some more, and I wandered around the city doing touristy stuff like I was Bill Bryson.
It'll be nice to be back there when the days are longer.