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It’s called the Dawn Chorus...that hour or so before sunrise when the air is thick with bird song. It is at its most prominent in spring as birds mark their territory and began to mate. Or at least, they used to. These days the Dawn Chorus is a shadow of its former winged self.

A lot of research has been conducted into the loss of bird life in the UK, with depressing results. The number of birds in the UK has fallen from 210 million to 166 million since 1966. It is estimated that the UK loses one breeding pair of birds every minute.

We don’t become entirely different people in Finland, but we do take on some very Finnish features.

While certain sectors of society obsesses about how immigrants impact Finland and Finnish culture; a less-discussed topic is how Finland and Finnishness impacts immigrants. For while it is tempting to believe that we are the same people here that we are in our countries of origin, I don’t actually believe that is the case. We don’t become entirely different people, but like air masses, most of us do tend to take on the features of the landscapes across which we pass.

I AM usually rather admiring of the way in which the capital region has been able to design and build challenging infrastructure projects with a minimum of fuss. As a result the city enjoys possibly the best urban public transport system in Europe, and has generally not been overly distracted by issues of politics, funding or geography.

THIS admiration soured somewhat this week as I looked into the plans for the Helsinki City Rail Loop (Pisararata), a billion euro ego-trip which has “white elephant” written all over it.

The preacher’s sermon began at 22:30. The hotel receptionist suggested it might end by midnight, but soon conceded that around 7:00 am was more likely. While evangelical events take place all over the world, in not many countries do they run all night, nor involve such massive speakers that the windows of neighbouring hotels rattle in their frames. With sleep impossible through the din of souls being saved, I lay back and wondered quite why it is that silence means so much to Europeans...and apparently so little to Ghanaians.

Finland may be a lucky country in many ways, but certainly not when it comes to energy production. While Iceland has geo-thermal, Spain solar and Denmark wind, Finland seems almost unique in lacking any natural source of viable renewable electricity production.

Visiting Turkey recently, I was awe struck by the number of solar panels on urban rooftops. Right across the Mediterranean, households are able to produce their own hot water and reduce their power bills with a single moderate investment. Some 90 per cent of households in Cyprus and Malta benefit from this.