Adventures in Finland

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It’s been bloody ages since I last wrote a blog post! I had such good intentions to write regularly as well, but to be honest I got completely distracted by this glorious summer and forgot all about the blog. But now September is here, the crisp smell of Autumn is in the air (at least it is in Northumberland anyway), and there will be plenty more time for writing. Autumn is also coincidentally the best time for photography. The light is amazing, the golden hours are at a far more reasonable hour (no 5am starts/late night wanders), and the colours are the most interesting. The heather is about to come into flower, and there are hundreds of sloes hanging from the blackthorn thicket in our garden, just asking to be made into sloe gin after the first frost *future blog post alert!* Also after spending a good portion of last month in hotter climes, I am sick of wearing floaty summer clothes, and have started looking longingly at my jumper drawer….

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After nearly three weeks away on holiday, we got back to Blackthorn Cottage this week, and it was so lovely to be home. Our holiday was sort of four holidays in one, for various reasons. First we stayed in a cabin in the Finnish Lakeland (which is what this post is mostly about), then we drove to Tampere for our friend’s wedding, which was SO beautiful. After this we went to France for ten days, half the time we spend in Arles – an ancient crumbly limestone city in Provence, the other half, staying with friends in a house in the Dordogne. The French portion of the holiday was great – full of time spent with good friends, lovely walks and delicious food. Our time spent in Finland however, was one of the best holidays we have ever had.

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We stayed near the Linnansaari national park, in an area called Savonlinna, which is in the Finnish Lakeland. Finland is known as ‘The Land of a Thousand Lakes’, which massively downplays the sheer number of lakes, as  there are actually 187,888 of them! Obviously this means that much of your time spent in Finland is spent in, on or around water – which was alright by us! Our cabin was on its own, at the end of a peninsula, so you felt like you were the only people around for miles (which is handy when you are fully nude, running from the sauna to jump into the lake!) So every day followed the same pattern. Wake up, go for a walk somewhere beautiful. Come home – light the sauna, read or fish till the sauna was hot enough, then sauna/swim as many times as you felt like it. Cook some sausages on the grill, drink beer. Go to bed. Repeat. It was awesome! (Although we probably shouldn’t eat meat again for some time…) The only downside was the composting toilet, which was separate from where we slept, and involved a walk into the woods… Now I know that sighting of bears are rare, and that the murder rate in Finland is probably extremely low, but it made going for a wee in the night a pretty terrifying experience!

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The best day trip we had was on the last day, when we took a boat trip into the Linnansaari national park to the island of Linnansaari. We did a days hiking around the island, which is unoccupied (except for some holiday cabins by the pier). The trees there are no longer managed, like a lot of the forest in Finland, so the trees were super tall and the wildlife was really diverse. We hiked to the top of the island, where the trees parted and all you could see for miles was lake and tiny islands. It was insanely beautiful. It also involved two rides on a speed boat to get there, which is only ever a good thing.

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Now we are back home, and already planning our future holidays over there. Jonny is planning on doing a solo birding trip there at some point next year, and we planning on going out there for a longer trip at some point in the next few years. Next time however, I’ll make sure the toilet is attached to the cabin…

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