The Land of the Moomins 17/04/11
The sun shines down on the land of the Moomins. Light blue skies and distant cotton wool clouds. Red wooden houses with white windows and mossy roofs sit amongst forests and flat green plains. The naked Silver Birch stands straight and tall beside the pine, which glows with life with warm toned trunks and deep green branches. Snow still lies in patches where the spring sun’s warmth has still not broken winter’s spell. We sail effortlessly through a Nordic landscape wriggling free from the clutches of winter. I am travelling on the new high-speed Allegro train, the first high-speed train between Russia and a European Union country. The train feels fresh and modern, I enjoy the calm grey of the interior and peer out through the clean windows. I sit at the only seat by itself, Seat 1. Bags and cases neatly line the luggage rack above my head. Suddenly I know I am in Russia. The landscape is wilder, the houses more ramshackle, the trees less uniform. I have gone from Legoland to the former USSR. A decrepit concrete hulk of a building confirms it. Russia. Even the air has changed, from the pure sweet air of Finland to the smell of chemicals and coal.