Episode 76

Fascinated by Finland with Matty Davenport

Matty Davenport lives in the UK, but he is a ‘superfan’ of the Mastering Finland Podcast and pretty much of all things Finland. From an outsider’s perspective Matty explains how he first became aware of Finland as a child and became increasingly fascinated through adolescence into adulthood.

Inspired by the idyllic Christmas card scenes that are how many people imagine Finland and by the tales of the Kalevala (Finland’s national poetry and folk tale epic) Matty has written three different fairy tales as part of the National Novel Writing Month #nanowrimo annual competition. All before having ever set foot in Finland!

Matty’s first visit to Finland came in early March 2018 after a planned trip in 2008 had to be cancelled at the very last minute. Due to the time of year and heavy snowfall, Matty’s visions of Finland were not just confirmed but widened through the cultural experience of visiting tourist attraction in Helsinki and being embraced by Finns on an unforgettable Friday night ferry to Tallinn.

Since that time, love blossomed for Matty when he met Tanja-Maria in Tallinn at the Winter Swimming World Championships. Tanja Maria is from Turku and Matty is from the UK and he describes how their interests in swimming brought them to be in the same place in Estonia, at the same time as each other.

Despite living in the UK Matty has applied himself to learning the Finnish language having completed every part of the Finnish Duolingo course and the Finnish course on WordDive (a language app made by Finnish developers). Matty is also a ‘superfan’ of Varpu on the HerFinland platform. Matty has also studied Finnish online through Turku University’s kesäyliopisto courses and is still learning a little every day.

Over the summer Matty will be following some Finnish swimmersattempting a two-way relay crossing of the Baltic Sea to raise awareness of the sea’s environment and habitat and to support the work of John NurmisenSääitö