Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A small puzzle shop along the coast of Finland.

When Tomas told me of the FPP and invited me along, he also very graciously asked me to spend a night in his house and to see his puzzle shop.  A girl can’t pass up an offer like that now can she?  I jumped at the offer and the morning after FPP we headed out for Vaasa.
  The ride was long, let me tell you.  Around 7 hours with stops, but it mattered not.  Tomas is a great host and we chatted all the way.  I guess we drove for around 3 hours before the first break to get some lunch.  While there he took me to Puzzle Street.  The next stop was his in-laws home to pick up a picture and then we went along for a while until we made a stop for some squeaky cheese!  Cheese curds!  I only get these in winter because of the heat in HK. See, we don’t have cheese curds there and my favorite dairy back in Wisconsin will only send them to me in January.  OK nough about cheese and back to the puzzling!  We finished our trip to his house, had dinner made by his lovely wife, and headed straight out to his work shop and puzzle shop.


WOW!  The first thing we did after unloading his van was to look at the worlds largest functioning Rubik’s cube!  No, we didn’t play with it, I didn’t want him to pull it all the way out.  But we did turn one edge of it. 

Tomas explained the machines to me and showed me how a few work.  He spoke of a hacker group that uses his shop for computer stuff, and then we dug into a few boxes!  HEAVEN AGAIN! 

I saw IPP exchanges, Kamai’s, Stickman’s, Boardman’s you name it.  After two hours rummaging through boxes, Tomas said it was time to go to his shop. No argument from me!


I went in and took a quick look around, but didn’t really focus on anything in particular.  Tomas showed me a few hidden areas but then went off to pick up his sister.  He left me alone in the shop!!!  I started to concentrate now on puzzles and began to make a pile on his counter.  I dug through boxes, I looked under cabinets, I searched and searched.  When I thought I had all I wanted, I sat down and began to play.  Before I knew it Tomas had returned and chastised me for not investigating the basement.  I’d not be a good thief. I’m just not curious enough. 


But first, a stop in the office area and a look through some cabinets.  Of course I found 3 or 4 more that I wanted and onto the pile they went. 


WOW! Is all I can say.  He has a full basement and I do mean full.  On the steps, I found a bottle I don’t have, and then another puzzle and another…. There is a pattern here.  At the bottom of the stairs, I saw boxes upon boxes stacked on shelves.  Like a kid in a candy shop I just started looking and couldn’t decide where to begin first.  Ok  be sensible Rox.  Start on the first row in the first room.   Hanayama.  Nothing new for me there so on to row two.  Eureka puzzles.  Same same. 

The second room started off with a bunch of Popular Playthings, SmartGames, and Think Fun puzzles.  Again, I have all of these, but did see quite a few that are no longer produced.  Backspin, spin out, switchback,  a few Nob designs….

Row 4 was promising.  I found some Pelican workshop puzzles that I hadn’t seen in a while, but already had and upon further digging, I was able to find a couple of packing puzzles that looked promising.  Up from the basement with a half a dozen more toys and Tomas told me it was past midnight yet again.  This long daylight is deceiving.  I had no idea it was so late.

After handing over a lot of hard earned cash, we beaded back to Tomas’ house for bed.  Once again because of the light, I saw 4:30 roll in.  I decided to finally take a sleeping pill and cover my head again.

We woke around 7:30, had some breakfast and got ready to head out.  But first!  The day before, Tomas showed me some Roger puzzles he had for sale, and though I tried desperately to find the prices, the simcard I purchased had very slow internet.  I photographed them last night and sent a photo  off to Saul.In the morning I was dreading not giving Tomas an offer, but I didn’t want to cheat him and he didn’t want to do the same.  Saul managed to find some prices for me and in the end Tomas and I struck a deal.  Back to his office to pick up 3 more toys!!!

It was then time to head off to the train station so I could finally go meet my professor.  I gave Tomas a hug goodbye with the comfort that comes with knowing I’ll see him again in a few more months. 

Tomas told me that he made a promise to himself.  That everyone would find a puzzle in his shop that they didn't have.  he didn't let me down.  If you're ever in Finland, I guarantee you the trip to Vaasa is worth it!  Go on, you know  you want to go now.

I’d say Finland has been successful!  Next stop:  Warwick and a visit with Allard Walker and his wife.  (And yes, a conference and a bit of work.)                         

Photos can be seen here.

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