As part of my guided tour around Culture Centre ‘Vanha Paukku’ in Lapua, we stop for an extended visit in the Lapuanjoki Museum. Museum Director, Sakari Hanhimäki and Cultural Director, Susanna Oversteyns regale me with historical tales of Espionage, Poisoning, Fascism, An Attempted Coup… and Photography!? Includes an intriguing revelation from Susanna’s family history.
As a supplement to the live recorded Finnish Football Show, Mark W & Mark H meet in person for the first time for a guided tour of SJK Seinäjoki’s OmaSp Stadion. Huge thanks (again) to Lari Paski, Supporters Liaison Officer, for organising the tour at very late notice, and to Tom Dunne for taking time out of the Academy training session to share his memories of the early days of SJK.
Part one of a two-part episode, I undertake a tour of the Kulttuurikeskus ‘Vanha Paukku’ with two expert guides; Susanna Oversteyns, Cultural Director and Sakari Hanhimäki, Museum Director. HUGE thanks also to Anu Haavisto, Leena Sarjola and Anniina Kivimäki for the impromptu, live performance of some haunting Finnish folk music. Mahtava!
In episode 23, we discuss the 2019 Veikkausliiga season at the halfway stage. We look back at the disgraceful scenes at the end of the Suomen Cup Final. We also hear Keke trying to remember his trip to Liechtenstein to watch the Finnish national team.
Add-in some short news stories and the new, regular features and it’s another high-standard Finnish Football Show.
I speak with Olli-Pekka Tuomaala & James McDade from Seinäjoki Rugby club talk about rugby in Finland; the history of the game in Finland, the development of rugby in Finland as a summer contact sport and how Finland is no longer the worst National rugby team. We also discuss the annual snow rugby competition because, if rugby isn’t a tough enough sport, the Finns have found a way to take it up a notch.
In episode 22, we look at Finnish players overseas, some reaching for the stars and some heading in the other direction. We allow Keke to bask in the glory of his Suomen Cup quarter final prdictions and look ahead to the semi-finals on 16.5.2019. We then review the first 6-8 rounds of the Veikkausliiga season 2019.
Add-in some news stories about protests, the new, regular features and Mark W’s tantalising tease for FFS23, and it asll adds up to another high-standard Finnish Football Show.
In part two of a two-part episode, I speak with Kalle Valkonen , Co-Founder and Haed Distiller at Kyrö Distillery. He gives me a personal tour of the distillery, taking me step-by-step through the distilling processes of both Kyrö Rye Whisky & Kyrö Napue Gin and answering questions, such as: What is malting? And what are the ‘heads and tails’?
In part one of a two-part episode, I speak with Miko Heinilä, Co-Founder of Kyrö Distillery. He gives me selected highlights from the history of the village of Isokyrö, including the bloody Battle of Napue. Bringing things into modern times, he explains the origins of Kyrö Distillery, the ups-and-downs of a start-up company and their future plans to become the biggest rye whisky producer.
In episode 21, we look back to late-2018 and Finland’s successful Nations League campaign. We discuss the 2020 qualifying competition which started last weekend (23rd and 26th March 2019).
We also cover the 2019 Suomen Cup competition, with the group games in February & March 2019, progressing onto the first knockout round in late-March. Add-in some short news stories and a few new, hopefully regular, features and it’s another high-standard Finnish Football Show.
When talking to the Vet from Ähtäri Zoo in Finland, it is natural for talk to turn to the giant pandas Finland has recently brought to Ähtäri Zoo resort, . Heini explains that she has many different things to do in Ahtari Zoo, not only caring for snow pandas Lumi and Pyry. She cares for a wide variety of different animals, from the selection of Scandinavian animals and Nordic wildlife, to the growing collection of wild Asian animals and the petting zoo which features domesticated Finnish animals.
Once you get out into the wilds of Finland, it’s easy to think you are in the middle of nowhere, but I discovered recently that the small town of Ähtäri, with it’s zoo resort, is actually at the centre of everything. Below are some of things that you must not miss-out on when you visit Ähtäri.
Photo ÄhtäriZoo Panda Lumi3 by Timo Ahopelto
#BeLikePanda or #SleepLikePanda
Since they arrived in early-2018, Pyry and Lumi the giant pandas have become the headline act at Ähtäri – they have even been re-branded, as SnowPandas. They reside in the custom-built Snowpanda House at Ähtäri Zoo, in enclosures that were designed to replicate the mountainside environment of their native China, complete with a stream running down the sloped, rocky terrain.
If you are lucky, you will be there at playtime, when the pandas are most active, padding around both inside and outside, playing with their toys or climbing frames. Or you will be there at feeding time, and see them expertly stripping their bamboo canes and devouring the inside. Making a lot of noise in the process.
It is recommended to buy a combination ticket for the zoo and panda house. This gives you two days at the zoo plus one visit to the panda house. Be sure to take your time, the pandas are not always ‘performing’, they also sleep. A lot. There are benches and bean bags, so you can make yourself comfortable and just hang-out with the pandas. People have been known to stay in the Panda House for hours. #BeLikePanda indeed (although I’m not sure if anyone has taken the #SleepLikePanda hashtag seriously, not yet anyway.)
In Winter 2018, I was commissioned to make a pilot series of a new podcast; The Ähtäri Zoo Podcast. This episode is a selection of stories from the first three interviews with people powering Ähtäri Zoo:
Satu Keski-Valkama, Tourism Development Project Manager
Heini Niinimäki, Zoological Director,
Anna Palmroth, Panda Keeper
I’m sure you will find this a fascinating look, at the workings of a modern-day zoo. If you search for Ähtäri Zoo Podcast on your podcast player, you will find two full-length episodes, with more to follow.
The podcast will be supported by blog posts that highlight some of the unique aspects of Ähtäri; at first this will focus on the zoo but, with your support, it could expand to include the town of Ähtäri and the surrounding area – there is plenty here to show you.
So if you want the series to continue, then we need to hear from you. Whichever episode you are enjoying, please share it on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Be sure to tag the zoo @ÄhtäriZoo and me @explorefinland and use the hashtag #AhtariZooPodcast. While you’re doing this, why not tell us where in the world you are?
This will help spread the word about this new podcast. It will also demonstrate to everyone in Ähtäri that there is an international audience for this show and it may convince then to continue making it – it’s up to you now.
The Giant Pandas Finland has welcomed to Ähtäri Zoo Resort, Jīn Bǎobǎo and Huā Bào, have been re-branded as snow pandas Lumi and Pyry. In this episode, we hear from Panda Keeper, Anna Palmroth, who explains when she became involved with the project to move the pandas to their new home at the Ähtäri Zoo panda centre.
Guest: Satu Keski-Valkama, Tourism Development Project Manager, Ähtäri Zoo
When you visit Finland, there is so much more to do than simply checking into the best luxury boutique hotels in Helsinki. In this episode, Satu Keski-Valkama explains that if you venture a little further north to the Snowpanda Resort Ähtäri Zoo, you will find plenty to fill both action-packed or relaxing weekends.
Hello. Welcome to the Ähtari Zoo podcast. My name is Mark Wiltshear, and during this series I am going to take you behind the scenes at Ähtäri Zoo.
Some of you may have heard me on the Explore Finland Radio Show and this series will have a similar feel to that. Each episode will feature an interview with one of the people that have an important role keeping the zoo running, but who we do not normally hear from.
In episode 20, we look at how the Veikkausliiga season 2018 looks with 33% of games played, and we discuss the June 2018 friendlies for the Finnish national team. Add-in some short news stories, Finns Overseas and ramblings about Rich’s shirt, and it’s another high-standard Finnish Football Show.
In episode 19, we preview the Veikkausliiga season 2018, marvel at the continuing impressive form of the Finnish national team and discuss the past week of Suomen Cup action (Quarter- and Semi-finals). We also dive into Academy teams in the lower divisions and an interesting closed-season transfer.
Season 3, Episode 39
For this episode, I am grateful to Engel Jones for allowing to rebroadcast an interview that first went-out on his 12 Minute Convos podcast in January 2018.
Engel is an Entrepreneur & Podcast Host who set himself a goal: 800 recorded conversations in 12 weeks from Sep 19th – Dec 12th 2017.
In this conversation,hear me on the other side of the mic (for a change) talking about why I make the Explore Finland Radio Show, the motivation behind founding Xport, writing a blog for Visit Seinäjoki and the relevance of the Diana Ross song ‘Chain Reaction’.
If you know me, you won’t be surprised that my #12minconvo lasted 18 mins!
Crest image by Nilakka (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Season 3, Episode 38
Recorded in 2016, I speak to Marjo Matikainen-Källström, Satu Hallonberg and Markku Pulli about Karjalaisetkesäjuhlat; the commemoration of the evacuation of 430,000 people from Karelia after World War 2 and a celebration of continuing Karelian culture. I then speak to Satu Pihlajaniemi who shares some of her family’s memories as evacuees from Karjala.
As a supplement to the live recorded Finnish Football Show, Mark W speaks to Lari Paski, Supporters Liaison Officer and leader of the Klopit; Seinäjoki FC’s supporters group. It was recorded on the coach to watch SJK vs KPV in the Suomen Cup in February 2018 – so there’s a little background noise.
Season 3, Episode 37 In this episode, I speak to Teemu Öhman who is a Craterologist or, to be more precise, an Earth and planetary scientist and lecturer at Arctic Planetary Science Institute. Teemu explained about the creation of Lake Lappajärvi in Etelä-Pohjanmaa, and then gave some recommendations of places to visit in the Lappajärvi area. All of which you can discover for yourself, using the new virtualCraterlake Geotrail commissioned byJärviseutu-Seura ry
Mark exploring the stables at Sankta Maria Kyrkä, Narpes
Season 3, Episode 36
I visit Sankta Maria church in Närpes/Närpiö, and speak to town guide, Marianne Winter. I learn why the church is surrounded by over 100 stables, about the unique Swedish dialect in Närpes and why the Vietnamese name, Nguyen, is the most common surname in Närpes.
Season 3 Episode 35 I discuss the traditional Finnish Puukko knife with Ethnologist and Bushcraft champion, Marcus Lepola. We talk about it’s importance in the history of violence, love & marriage, and everyday life in Finland.
Season 3 Episode 34 As a companion to my interview with Kristina Vänni in episode 33. Here is a replay of my conversation with restauranteur, Miia Keski-Nikkola. We talked about Finnish food, busting some myths, discussing Mother Nature’s offerings and looking at traditional Xmas food.
Season 3, Episode 33 I speak to internationally recognised culinary authority and TV host, Kristina Vänni, who is also a food writer, TV host, recipe developer, cooking contest expert. We discuss her upcoming cookbook, Homefarm, but also her Finnish roots in Peräseinäjoki, Etelä Pohjanmaa. She tells the the story of her Great-Grandmother, Josefiina Pitäkranta’s emigration to the USA in 1899 and how Kristina came to connect with her distant relatives, her ‘return’ to Pitkäranta Farm and the inspiration for her book.
Season 3 Introduction
Hi everyone, it’s Mark here. I’m back and I just wanted to take a few minutes to explain where I’ve been, what (or rather who) inspired me to get back behind the microphone, and to introduce to you a few of the upcoming subjects. In this episode, I ask for some introductions to potential interviewees, so if you can help, contact me on one of the following:
Date: 16.9.2017 Satu and I, accompanied once more by Herra Boris, enjoyed our first road trip so much, we decided to go out exploring a different part of Pohjanmaa once again. Below is a photo blog of our road trip, the second in this series.
Similar to my summer 2016 post, in summer 2017 I had another opportunity to put what I learned in the podcast into practice. Whenever I have visitors staying with us, I always try to give them the ‘Finland Experience’, and it was no different when my parents came for a one-week holiday. It seemed that we had a different activity for each day, an ‘ideal week in Etelä-Pohjanmaa’. I thought I’d share our week with you along with some photos, from a small sweet factory to live sport to a music festival.