Four years ago today, I was on holiday, abroad. How strange those concepts feel now. Still it is lovely to return to the bonkers world that is Finland, if only for a while…
Finland is full of trees. When it’s not wet. After Helsinki we ventured north, to the Lakeland and, boy do they have a lot of lakes. We flew about 400 miles and hired a car and then looked at the map. A to B as the Finnish Alpino Swallow flies was 25 miles. To avoid motorised water surfing, the road was 72 miles. This was something we had to get used to.
Confession number 1. I assumed the trees would be pines, like in the Alps. All very nice on a postcard but a tad effing dull if you drive through canyons of the buggers as you meander around lakes that you know are just there but are buggered if you can see them. Wrong. As long as they were tall and thin with few spreading branches they got the gig. Rowan and silver birch, white beam and… well that’s about it but still. Better than I expected.
We stayed in two places from which we explored.
The first a splendid one woman operation at Eevantalo – Eeva’s House. Eeva was a dynamo. She did absolutely everything. Including cardamon buns freshly cooked. Now, when it comes to spices cardamon isn’t in my top three but in Eeva’s hardworn hands they were delicious.
We managed several walks while hearing about some of the tough winter weather we were avoiding – ‘oh last year we had minus 46..’ Now pardon me but at that temperature the glib crap about ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing’ begins to look like so much bollocks. I mean that will freeze the inside of an atom.
We thought, it being August and all, that we were still in the summer paradigm but the turning of the leaves and the plethora of fungi rather disabused us of this notion.
And the nights did get a touch parky.
So we stayed indoors, and played several ridiculous games of charades that Eeva watched but I suspect didn’t follow (and probably reinforced any notion she may have had that so far as the rest of Europe is concerned, Brexit and hermetically sealing off the UK might not be such a bad idea).
One highlight that I did pass up, but which the Le Pard Youth undertook was the smoke sauna, involving regular dips in the fast flowing river. What is it that makes sweating such a pleasure? I sweat without a sauna. Indeed without any artificial heat. Just give me a pair of walking boots and a hill and I’m a pedestrianised puddle. But whatever floats your boat, even if it is saline…
We left Eeva to rest up before the next guests and headed south. An eco resort awaited us, as did a 27 hour power-cut, a castle of Disney-esque beauty and bloody history and the most extraordinary museum imaginable