26 August 2012

An August weekend

We put our bikes on the car on Saturday, and zoomed through Joensuu to Noljakka. Here's Orb and M racing along the ski trail...

...towards the lake, and our favourite view.

M's new Islabike (a Beinn 20) is fantastic - the gears mean we can finally all ride at a reasonable speed, and go up and down (small) hills without lots of whinging. Result!

Sunday involved skating school in the morning for M, while I revisted some knitting I'd started in March and then got sidetracked from. I have one and a half legwarmers, which will apparently be perfect for skating practice once I've finished the other half...

It was such a beautiful sunny day that we drove to Koli. We climbed (and climbed and climbed) every large rock we could see, and trekked along the trail from Ukko-Koli. It was beautiful - the first time we'd seen all the views with greenery (our previous trips were in October, March and April, so it looked a bit different!).

But two hours of trekking about makes a small family very hungry, so we decamped to the service station for buns and coffee. I love the service station at Ahmovaara. It's a souvenir shop, supermarket, burger joint, cafe, bar, posti, otto machine, petrol station and kids playground all rolled into one. With an appropriately diverse range of customers...

All in all, a great weekend!

08 July 2012


It's holiday time, yay! I have a month off, which is fabulous. There's so much we want to fit in, it will be a miracle if we manage everything...

The most exciting news is that we'll be moving to our new house in a couple of weeks, as the sale has gone through. It's been relatively non-stressful, thanks to an excellent estate agent and mortgage advisor and the lovely HR people at my work, who have been so helpful with all the bureaucracy. It's certainly a much speedier process than the UK (also helped by the fact that we've already sold our Gateshead house). So now we own 4,000 square metres of Finland. Wooo!!

Aside from that, so far this month we have mostly been occupied with sitting on the beach at Avaranta. This week has been hot and sunny, so we headed there most days after work. I even swam in the lake, which is something of a minor miracle given that in May it still had ice in the middle. I can report it was a bit on the chilly side...but still warmer than the North Sea! On Saturday we spent the whole day there, eating takeaway pizza for lunch, and launching The Enormous Walrus, M's new boat. She took to rowing pretty quickly (luckily we have a rope attached, so she can't zoom off across the lake...) 

30 June 2012

June, part 2

The rest of June disappeared into a fog of work, but we did find time for a few other things:

1. We investigated the world of Rallicross at Ylämylly. This turned out to be fabulously trailer trash, and incredibly entertaining. It had the excitement of cars streaking round a 1km track what felt like inches from your nose (with characteristic Finn disregard for health and safety, the spectators were sat on small banks, with a stretchy piece of tape stopping them from getting too close to the track), combined with several grilli stalls, a pit lane/section you could wander round and see the cars being worked on, and a large proportion of trollied Finns, kicking back with 97 cans of beer. It was extremely dusty, dirty, and excellent fun! There was much high speed barging of rally cars (and lots of bits falling off, including rather worryingly a wheel at one point, which careered down the track, bounced through and over a crowd of spectators, and landed on some poor person's car in the car park. Here's a driver's eye view: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTzqY-wolEU (though sadly not of the wheel-escape incident!).

And here's me and M watching, post-makkara (hence all the ketchup). We like the ear defenders...

Despite the drunken Finns, there were lots of kids and dads having a nice day out, and everyone was very friendly. We'll definitely go again next year!

2. We celebrated Midsummer in style, with our friends Anu and Heikki, including a sauna, grilli and kokko (bonfire). Here's us (and about 5,400 mosquitos) at 10.30pm. We went to bed about 1am, and it still wasn't dark...just white twilight.

3. We went on some more cycle expeditions, mostly through the woods in Noljakka. Here we are on our way to our new favourite place (Avaranta beach).

The trail through Noljakka is excellent - all the more so because we tried it on skis in the snow. It looks very different now! (M's bottom-sliding hill is now covered in tall green grass, and the vast plains of white on either side are now revealed as fields...).

16 June 2012

June, part 1

So far this month, we have:

1. Grown salad

2. Created a mökki for Captain Jack (as you can see, he's got a rather nifty sleeping bunk, a sofa (with stripy cover), a chair, and a boat (doubling here as a table, with his saucepan and plate on top). He also has a fishing rod. Maybe a grilli next?

3. We've also gone swimming (in the pool - the lake is too chilly yet to do more than paddle!), cycled a lot, baked lots of cake, and agreed to buy a house. The next couple of months will also be busy!

03 June 2012

Summer's here!

Here's M (at 1:13-1:15) helping 6,000 other elementary schoolkids in Joensuu celebrate the beginning of summer on the 1st of June. They sang some lovely Finnish songs (including our favourite, Terve, to the tune of YMCA...), backed by a military band. The sun shone, and everyone clapped along. Fab...

14 May 2012

A Finnish mother's day

It started with breakfast in bed (yoghurt, banana and toasted bagels), and was followed by an expedition to Outokumpo to the nature park:

We had a picnic in the sunshine (soup and karjalan piirakka). It was a bit chilly, which is why we still have our winter hats on.

And then we trekked around one of the lakes - which took us across boggy bits, over bridges, up and along steep ridges, and in and out of the trees. We saw butterflies and frogspawn, and heard lots of birds. Here we are at the bottom of a particularly steep bit:

And at the top:

We walked for about two and a half hours, so it was a good job we had the Karelian pies first. There was also a small amount of bribery halfway round with chocolate Easter rabbits which we'll gloss over.

After that, we headed home in the sunshine for a barbecue in our garden. A perfect day...