Cereal magazine on Helsinki

Cereal is a relatively new magazine about travel and lifestyle that it is produced in Bristol. It is published as a quarterly and the 5th edition is now available although they also have an active blog site under the url readcereal.

The latest issue opens with four pieces on Helsinki with a brief assessment of the work of Alvar Aalto; a review of the most important modern buildings in Helsinki; a short piece about the Finnish language and an interview and report on coffee drinking in the city. Through all four articles there are interesting comments and observations about the history of Finland and its culture. 

One clear theme of the magazines, and their online site as well, is the alternative city guide although they do not actually use the word alternative. So far they have covered Bristol, Bath, London, Paris, Copenhagen, Charleston, Manhattan, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Austin, Hong Kong and Seoul … an impressive list for a young team who have only been together - as a group of writers, photographers and editors - for just over a year. They promise to add 10 cities this year and presumably Helsinki will be one of the next. 

You have to subscribe for access to the city guides on line (I have) but don’t expect a definitive guide for the tourist in a hurry wanting to claim they have been there and done that … these guides, like the graphic style, are much gentler and much more subtle than that. These recommendations are for travellers who want to find quiet places to sit and watch and learn and want to find places away from the usual tourist circuit. In the Copenhagen guide they recommend a hotel that has just one room and among the sites they recommend is a church well away from the centre that no tourist would stumble across by accident but is an absolutely stunning building and there is nothing in England to match it. You will have to subscribe to the guides to find out which hotel and which church.

The layout online is a simple grid and basic information including background information, address and contact details drop down from clear prompts. Listed are one or two hotels, several pleasant restaurants, major but less obvious architectural sites and, of course, design stores. The graphics work well on an iPad but you would need a map as well but that is hardly a problem and, again, certainly not a criticism. A flag at the bottom of the guide now states that pdf versions are in preparation but I hope that, as they are using a subscription format, they will at least try to keep links and addresses and so on up to date.

Screen grab from the Copenhagen guide

Both the printed version of the magazine, on heavy matt stock, and the online site have a distinct graphic character with soft muted colours and images shading from sepia to grey. Again, that reads as a veiled criticism but it is not … I get tired of the brash and flash graphics of too many glossy magazines and the house style here is more grown up and subtle. One article on line is a series of photographs in soft greys and pine greens showing Bristol in fog but even for photo essays on Malta and LA they seek out soft evening light or a heat haze.