Last week Cal and I both caught a horrendous stomach bug from our younger son. Three days we both took off work – unheard of for me. And they weren’t good, restful days off. I was constantly preyed upon by the need to rush to the toilet, looping between feeling hungry, eating something, regretting it, not wanting to eat anything ever again and then feeling a bit hungry again.
This triggered a bit of an existential crisis for some reason. After I could sit up again for longer, I started researching first other areas of England where there a combination of good schools, good commutes and cheap houses could be found. This quickly frustrated me. I then widened the search area to Helsinki, ‘just to see’. Mistake!
In Helsinki, families live in enormous, well-insulated houses with in-built saunas that cost a penny. They have 30-minute commutes through fragrant woodland into downtown areas where they do meaningful work in imposing art deco buildings. Their children go to high-quality nurseries for free. They don’t worry about their children’s educations, because every primary school is good.
On the weekends they use their considerable disposable income to do wholesome outdoor activities, take boats out in the archipelago and leave their children with grandparents to visit art galleries. Sometimes they go on holiday to places like London to wonder at the withered parents they see there, pushing their ashen-faced children through the fumes to attend £1m-a-month nurseries before taking them home again in the evening, squeezing pushchairs through mouldy doorways into their corridor houses.
I believe this is an accurate depiction.