What’s not to like? Saunas, the Northern Lights, Moomins, Angry Birds, friendly people, Lapland, reindeers and Father Christmas (if you believe?).
And don’t forget heavy metal bands. A Finnish friend sent me a Nightwish CD swearing it was the national music of Finland. (Read more about them and hear them here).
The fact that it’s dark for half the year in the North and Summers are short doesn’t seem to bother the hardy Finns that much.
I’ve visited a couple of times to Helsinki and Espoo and apart from the difficulty in buying alcohol it seems a wonderful place. I’ve also flown to Lithuania via Helsinki on a number of occasions and it never closes (well once it did),and the airline crews are really helpful.
Finnair is my favourite airline – even though you don’t get free Lapin Kulta beer in economy anymore – and Helsinki is probably my favourite airport. Did I mention that the reindeer stew is very tasty too? And those liquorice and caramel toffees? And my Finnish felt boots I bought in Lithuania are perfect for this cold weather.
So congratulations on topping the list of 156 countries surveyed for the annual UN report. As usual the Scandinavians all feature in the top ten (along with several other countries that enjoy snow – is that significant?). In fact the same countries appeared in last year’s top ten but in a different order.
I described the methodology in last year’s blog on this topic here.
- Norway (in top spot last year)
- New Zealand
War-Torn countries and sub-Saharan Africa feature at the bottom of the table.
How did the UK do? We came in at 19th place, the same as last year, and the US dropped to 18th from 14th.
And when it comes to homework they help less than parents in most other countries according to a survey by educational charity Varkey which surveyed 30,000 parents of children aged 4 – 18 in twenty-nine countries.
They helped on homework and school projects for an average of 3.6 hours a week. Only parents in Finland (3.1 hrs) and japan (2.6 hrs) were less involved.
Parents in India spend 12 hours a week, in Vietnam 10 hours, in Russia 8 hours, in Germany 5 hours and in Spain 4.8 hours.
Only 1 in 5 British parents worried about their children not being academically stretched compared to over 40% in Russia. This could be because we have more confidence in our teachers and schools.
Two-thirds of British parents rate the quality of state schools as fairly or very good, compared with a global average of 45%, and almost 90% rated the quality of teachers as fairly or very good – the fifth highest proportion of all the countries surveyed.
Unfortunately that confidence is misplaced. The UK is ranked 23rd out of 35 OECD countries when it comes to reading and 27th in maths.
Perhaps British parents should be less complacent and do more to help their children?
Great blog bringing back happy memories of my trips to Czech Republic and Prague in particular
Prague is lovely city also in winter, when the number of tourists slows down (but not that much as expected). It can be freezing but when the sun shines, its nice and almost warm for nice walk. Find some pictures from the winter walk on Letná hill and area, which rises above the river and the Old Town to combine walk in the nature with beautiful views with wandering through the residential area with hipster cafes, pubs, or design places.
I started my walk at Hradčanská tram stop and walked by the former ramparts around the Prime Minister villa for the views to the river from Hanavský Pavilion.
The view from here is really beautiful :-),
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Yes the Norwegians have toppled the Danes from the top position, but it was a close finish.
The UN’s World Happiness Report measures “subjective well-being” mainly by asking a simple question: “Imagine a ladder with steps numbered from 0 at the bottom to number 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?”
The average result is the country’s score. So Norway scored 7.54 whereas the Central African Republic scored only 2.69.
The report also looks at economic strength (GDP) social support, life expectancy, freedom of choice, generosity, and perceived corruption. Having a job was also important although white-collar jobs were more associated with happiness than blue-collar ones.
To see the full report go to http://worldhappiness.report/
The top 10 countries
The USA came 14th and the UK 19th (Bristol was named the best place to live in Britain in 2017 by the way)
Western Europe dominated the list with African countries doing least well. The regular dominance of the Nordic countries (see previous reports) has encouraged others to adopt the Danish concept of Hygge – the concept of cosiness and relaxation.
Note on the flag. The Norwegian flag is interesting because apart from using the red, white and blue – symbolising liberty – and the Nordic cross (centred towards the hoist or flag pole), it incorporates the white cross of Denmark and the blue cross of Finland.
Celebrating Ukrainian Orthodox Christmas in Rochdale, Lancashire, today. (See last year)
It’s two years since the new offence of coercive and controlling behaviour (see my post on this here) came into force yet only 532 charges have been brought in England even though more than 4,000 offences were recorded by the police in one year.
The offence carries a maximum sentence of 5 years.
Six police forces have brought 5 charges or less and only eight of the 43 forces in England and Wales have taken up an accredited training programme dealing with the offence.
Elfyn Llwyd, whose private members’ bill led to the introduction of the offence said it was very frustrating that training had been so low. “The poor take-up of training among the Welsh and English police is reflected in the low number of prosecutions. The government must ensure that training is made mandatory and funded centrally“.
It’s just not good enough. When police forces are spending money demonstrating how PC they are by painting their cars and finger nails it suggests that they haven’t got their priorities right in protecting victims of what Theresa May, then Home Secretary, said could be “tantamount to torture”.
Essex police were also criticised for their campaign offering support to over-55 year old victims of domestic abuse who decided to stay with their partners.
It included a fictional case study which said “She knew the abuse in her relationship was wrong but also knew she wouldn’t leave. With help and support from specialist organisations and agencies she and her husband stayed together, but safely”.
Refuge, the domestic violence charity, were less than impressed saying it was the police’s job to arrest abuse perpetrators and that it seemed they were failing victims. Every week two women were killed by their partners or former partners.
Essex police acknowledged it had used “clumsy language“.