Finland and Cottage Life!

As some of you may remember, last year we purchased a cottage close to my childhood home in Finland. We had not been there for the whole long winter, obviously. The place was covered in a deep blanket of snow and had been living its own quiet life.

In the meanwhile it had not been quite as quiet for us. Loads of our friends are really interested about the cottage, some wanting to visit it, some not quite understanding why we even bought the thing. The concept of Finnish holiday huts is not really familiar for everyone. The cottage is now listed in Airbnb too!

Once the snow was gone, my parents took to enjoying the cottage, while we were stuck in Belgium. We ourselves got there last weekend, we also brought around our dear friend Maria, for whom it would be the very first time in Finland! I don’t know who was more excited, her to see Finland or we to show the country for her.

On a Thursday afternoon we headed off to Amsterdam to take a flight with Norwegian to Helsinki.  We arrived a bit past 11 pm, took our car and headed to Kirkkonummi to quickly visit my dear friend Miia and take a little boat engine out of her hands. After the detour, our road trip to the heart of Savo could begin.

We were treated to the beauty of the light of the Finnish summer night. I was tired but too taken by the beauty of the green scenery and the changing colors of the northern sky add to that the eagerness to finally get to see our cottage again, I just could not sleep! I never really grow tired of looking at landscapes passing by a car window.

The morning was well on it’s way when we finally pulled into our own little piece of paradise. I was home! My parents had been kind enough to make the beds for us so we could just crawl under the covers and let the coma take us away. Maria slept in the dedicated sleeping hut, as we dosed off in the main hut.

It had been an abnormally warm May in Finland and luckily we got to enjoy it too, once the sun poked our eyes through the curtains; the temperature had already risen above 20! I was brave, ran to the dock and dipped my toes into water. That send a chill up my spine and I was instantly a lot less brave. Waffle did better, taking a dip and a short swim in the cool lake. And what would I have been, if I did not follow in that, after all.

What a refreshing start it is for a day to have a short swim and freeze your toes off. Our delighted screams of pain and shock lured our dear Maria out of her bed too. She was happy to leave the swimming for us, tipping only a toe or two in the surface waters.

After we all were fully awake, we visited my parents and their new rescue dog Vili. We were fed well over some cups of coffee and got a tour of the garden before going to town to buy some food for the rest of our stay.

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I was half way to heaven. The lilies of the valley were in full bloom, and our whole yard is covered in them. We have starlings nesting in two of the trees and their life is a joy to follow. Every evening we could hear a bittern making its peculiar noise as well as the cranes.  There is a certain sense of urgency in the swiftly passing Finnish spring.

Followed some lovely days of summer. We swam, bathed in the sauna (using the birch whisk in the sauna was something odd and new to Maria), ate, enjoyed the peace and beauty of the nature. Our new boat engine let us explore the further islands, with even more peace and quite on offer. I was feeling positively reborn when the time to go home came, all too soon.

Luckily, we could already start thinking about our next trip to Finland in the half way of June. This time Waffle’s parents are tagging along and we have a luxurious 2 weeks to spend there!

 

 

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Uprootings and Other Changes

The spring is once again here, the days are stretching out longer and there is a little more warmth and a new, vibrant, buzzing energy starting to appear everywhere.

A buzz is going on also in between my ears, as it seems to happen every spring, I realized, now that I looked back to the archives of this blog, for example. Most often it has stayed as that. Buzz between my ears and words on the pages of WordPress. So to be honest, I am a bit hesitant to write anything about any of it this time. It might still just remain as a buzz.

But since I have no impulse control, I find myself blurting.

Well. I was not completely honest right there. You see, something has already happened, so this all can’t stay just a buzz anymore.

We are moving. For real. We have found an apartment closer to Brussels, with a completely tolerable commute to work for the both of us! To get this far has been a bit of a process. Waffle has long roots in Rupelmonde and the surrounding area, so it took quite some mulling over to get to the point of actually moving. Sure, we wont have such an area rich in wildlife right at our door step and yes, we are leaving behind a lot of memories but hopefully all of this will bring some improvement to the overall situation and life quality.

We have the keys at the end of this month, so we have plenty of time to go full KonMari and let go of everything we have gathered. Waffle has been living in the house for 10 years now, so you can imagine there is some accumulation. We are sincerely looking forward to moving, to gaining an hour of extra time every day. An hour less spent on the road, every day. Whoop! And we have been thinking to start going to work by bike,  and getting those killer butts everybody is always dreaming about!

The increased amount of free time is hopefully going to change our daily lives. I am  wishing to and looking forward to finally getting back to horses, back to the saddle! Maybe we’ll be running a bit more the both of us. And Waffle is looking forward to further developing his extensive knowledge of the computer things he does. I am afraid we will be having just extra time, but way, way too much time in our hands which is going to lead to more and more travel plans, plummeting us into bankruptcy and eventually forcing us out of the country and moving to the Azores. Is this the silver lining to every cloud, people keep talking about?

At the same time, I am having the regularly occurring existential crisis. This time it is rather loud and demanding. Partially it probably stems from the fact that I am turning 30 in less time than I would have hoped. And I have a nagging feeling that I should have achieved something in life by now. What that something might be, I do not have a clue.  Partially the roots of this crisis are on the work front. There is some turmoil going on internally. New hires etc. I have kind of promised myself, that once the result of this shifting is clear, it is time for me to figure out where to go.

Ever since I moved to Belgium I have kind of been floating, I left my roots behind me in Finland. Now we are just planning ahead trip by trip, but nothing much deeper than that, it has been quite enough until now. But slowly I have been developing a need to root down to something. Create a meaning for my existence. Possibly not the most unique set of feelings in the life of expats.

One reason to get these thoughts on the move is that lately we have met and surrounded ourselves by some inspiring, brave and curious souls. People who have been and are brave enough to live the life they want, no matter what the people around them think. They have given me some seed of thought.

Maybe work should be something more than just means of earning money. Maybe it would be important to feel that you are doing something meaningful. Maybe it would be good to actually enjoy the work you do and feel that you can be good in it. Maybe. What do you think? It puzzles me, that it took me so long to get this idea.

I might finally be brave enough to actually do something about this nagging feeling. Take and tackle those maybes and get going. Now the challenge is to fit some studying into the schedule, and take a step to the direction without ending up bankrupt and living in the Azores. Hopefully I’ll be able to put some more concrete plans on paper in the near future.

Oooh, what a cliff hanger!

Mediterranean

 

 

2017 – What to remember

Once again, a year has passed and it is semi-mandatory to look back into what on earth happened in the last 365 days. How odd we people are.

So, as I don’t want to rebel and do this in April, here we are. The moments to remember from the year 2017 in the lives of Veera and Waffle:

1.

We started the year off by visiting Cyprus in the midwinter. We often like to break the winter with a little bit of summer. Cyprus was a destination from which neither of us really expected much, but it turned out to be a fairly positive surprise! We indulged on the rugged coastal line and tried to find some turtles.

Lesson learned; travel with an open mind, where ever the ticket in your hand is taking you!

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2.

It was pretty quickly after Cyprus that we headed for Terceira island in the Azores. It had been my dream to visit these islands, and since Waffle is very keen on spoiling me (my inner strong and independent woman screams at him for this), he bought us tickets to go there for my birthday!

Oh my. I was gobsmacked! From the very beginning the island sprouting from the volcanic core of the earth was taking my breath away. From the starlit skies, to raging ocean to the green jungles I felt like I was in a paradise! The air is so fresh you taste it in the cheese they produce!

So far I think it is the most rewarding travel experience we have had. So far so, that we are traveling to the islands again, very soon!

Lesson learned; Fish of the day on an island in the middle of the storming Atlantic is not going to happen…

Terceira, Azores, Coast

I could have woken up to this every morning for the rest of my life.

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Terceira, Poolsof Biscoitos

Pools of Biscoitos.

3.

One of the best moments in the spring time was having my dear dear friend over from Finland! I wiped off the dust of my girlier side and we took a train to Paris. Spend there a day running around the city like mad men, enjoying the slowly awakening spring. Waffle came to rescue in the evening and took us to the seaside, to  jump on the rocky shore of Ambleteuse.

How grateful I am for having such a friend, whose eyes see your soul and with whom you can connect with no matter the time or space in between!

Lesson learned; A freshly made chocolate fondant in France is a perfectly justified breakfast!

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4.

Easter and Normandy. We can’t seem to get rid of that duo. Normandy was probably the first landscape I really fell in love with in France, I am always eager to return there. This Easter too, it was as pretty and serene as always. We brought friends along, hiked the coast and the meadows, enjoyed the tender spring sunshine and aired out our brains!

Lesson learned; Sea is well able to eat away the white cliffs, so be careful when camping on top of one. Also, if you are looking to surf, go further. 

 

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Normady, Hiking, Coast

5.

The half marathon project. The venture where Waffle soared and I tumbled down with my knee problems. Not much of a happy experience, giving up never really is. But I was happy to start trying, in any case, and I still am running, at least to get in better shape, maybe eventually aiming for some speeds at 10 km. Maybe.

Lesson learned; Patience. Patience in letting your body get a hang of jogging. I am not 20 anymore. Sadly. 

Jogger, Runner, Mist

6.

Oh, the biggest accident we have yet had in our lovely little relationship. Buying a cottage in Finland. I say accident, because that’s was it really was. We rolled the thought of it on the table for 3 days before sending our final offer and receiving the keys.

Such excitement I have not felt too many times in my life. I actually had acquired a piece of my childhood and one of the prettiest landscapes in Finland! I could return to my family more often now. My my, so very happy about this!

Oh, and the sauna in that cottage – marvelous!

Lesson learned; 4 trips to Ikea in a week is definitely enough!

Log cabin

The main hut.

Family!

Family!

Finland, lake, Autumn

7.

For a while now, we have been inspired to travel to the Eastern Europe. For 2017 the destination was Bulgaria and the Pirin mountains. It was not a disappointment. The country is pretty and the mountains with all the lakes scattered around make it a unique surrounding for hiking.

Spending the night high up there under the stars, in freezing cold at the lakeside was a memorable experience. A night slept outdoors is never quite like the other.

Lesson learned; Taking a smelly cheese up to a mountain with bear population, might make you nervous… 

Pirin, Mountains, Bulgaria

Ice crusted tent anyone?

8.

The home extension project is finally hovering above the finish line! What a thrilling feeling to see the work of your own actually get realized and exceed your hopes! Every little bit is there, just some moderation, improvements and finishing touches need to happen, as we gain experience in using this little house!

A more detailed post will follow, once I have time to put my thoughts into words and online.

Lesson learned; With a project like this, it is a winning lottery ticket to have an actual carpenter in the family. 

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9.

Israel. Double feelings. It was a pain in the back side to get this holiday starting. First to make our way out of the airport, then get a car, and lastly get going through the desert. But once the starting hiccups were over the country treated us with beauty and bizarre flotation experiences.

The part where we left the country was even bigger pain in the derriere, making us thinking whether we will ever be back. What would bring us back, is the magnificent camping facilities Israel has to offer, plus we would still like to see the northern Israel.

Lesson learned; Salt from the dead sea tastes bad. Also, try not to piss off an Israeli customer servant. 

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10.

The year ended for us with another Christmas road trip. Once more, we headed south, to the space between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean in France. And then we camped. Our small home proved to be just what we needed; a shelter from wind and rain and a functional living room, kitchen and bedroom combo.

We had gathered a bunch of special people around us and the atmosphere was, if not Christmassy, at least warm and welcoming around the slightly too big campfire. The weather was not on our side when it came to hiking the mountains, so beach life was what needed to entertain us.

Lesson learned; Putting a bunch a relatively crazy people around a campfire with little social supervision can result in inappropriate songs. 

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That was 2017. 2018 is here with us and it is looking promising. The travel year starts with Azores, we have a bit of Finland in the planning too (Waffle’s parents first visit!), and who knows which other places Waffle comes up with.  Hope you’ll hang along too!

Oh! aand the pictures, once again, here: Flickr!