Coming to an efficient, organised place like Finland, one might have thought that opening a bank account would be as easy as falling off a log. Hence, it was a bit of a surprise to me to find that a few friends had not only had difficulties, but had in some cases simply given up.

A little investigation with one friend revealed that several Finnish banks not only do little to entice foreign customers, some seem to actively discourage them.

On a ferry back from Tallinn a few weeks back, I happened to sit close to a family with a youngish child – probably around eight-years old. She was playing with a robot toy that squawked a few bars of heavy metal guitar music at the push of a button. Needless to say, the button was pushed continuously.

At first it was only mildly irritating, but I noticed that after 20 minutes, passengers were starting to stare, and the child’s parents to notice. At first, they settled on “Isn’t she sweet?” smiles, which after another hour sank to, “I know… but what can you do?” grimaces.

During the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to make extensive use of Finland’s health care facilities. Not that I would have really wanted this opportunity, of course, but I must admit that I have been curious as to how good the hospitals here really are.

I have undergone a couple of different outpatient medical procedures, and such a battery of tests that I could now find my way to the Meilahti Hospital laboratory in complete darkness.

A lot happened in Estonia during the summer of ‘88. It began following the banning of a rock concert in Tallinn’s inner city by the ruling Communist Party, when a few thousand ordinary people walked down the road to a large outdoor arena, and started to sing.

The next day, there were 10,000 people at the arena. By the sixth night there were 200,000 people, holding hands and singing traditional songs unheard in the country for 50 years.

In a pattern repeated across the East Africa, between 1976 and 2014, Tanzania’s Selous National Park lost 88 per cent of its elephant population. From a population of more than 100,000 animals, there are now only a little over 10,000 left. Lost is a polite word; in actuality they were murdered.

The impacts of this extend far outside the park itself; ecology changes, tourism numbers drop off, and jobs are lost both directly and indirectly.