In the previous post I left you hanging, as we were speeding up north through the countryside of Finland. It was me having the wheel as Waffle was peacefully sleeping, missing dozens of moose and a bear running across the road (just kidding Waffle, just kidding, you only missed some bush).
We arrived at my parents in the late afternoon. There was an air of excitedness. A new cottage had joined the family. My parents had of course already had their change to enjoy it to some extend, since it was my dad who got the keys as he signed off the sale. They were rather eager to get us there as well. We were of course anxious to see the place, for the first time as our own property!
We drove there as soon as we got the keys. So many times I have gone down that road, on horse back, whit a dog, on the way to pick berries or mushrooms. But seldom have I been so anxious to actually get to the end of it. We were driving towards our very own summer home!
Our cottage is actually a combination of 4 huts and some storage buildings for fire wood etc. In the main hut is the kitchen, with wood heated stove and oven, a living area with an open fire place and a sauna, which can be accessed through the porch, and is at the perfect running distance from the lake. There is no running water, it is carried by hand from the lake. The lake water is technically drinkable, though it is a bit tinted, but we reserved to carrying water from my parents’ tap. There is no electricity either, just a generator, powering a vacuum cleaner, lighting and the TV if needed. All basic and adorable, true off-grid life.
We entered first the main hut, a descent log cabin. The previous owners had left almost everything behind. Which meant a mismatch pile of furniture, carpets and cutlery. I could see Waffle looking and scanning and deciding to throw practically everything out.
The sauna is somewhat the heart of the place. It heats the whole hut nicely, making it a comfortable place to sleep in, even if the night gets cold. The stove in the sauna has a water tank, in it we can heat about 30 liters of water to a boil while we bathe. And it stays warm all the way till the morning. Wonderful! Of course the sauna is also the place of bathing and relaxation; the most important functions of it.
We were very happy about our new home. In the evening, after sauna and skinny dipping, we wrapped ourselves in towels on the dock, to look at the warm orange light that colored the lake and the forests around it. The wind was gone and the surface of the lake was like a mirror. We breathed in the silence and the peace, as the following days would be full of work.
The rest was needed. The next week was rhythm by the slow mornings (getting the coffee ready took an hour, on our charming wood stove), removing the furniture, kitchen and cupboards. We visited furniture stores almost every day, as it was slowly clearing out, what all we would be needing to make the place functional and pretty. Always, by the end of the day, we took our dusty and tired bodies to sauna and swim. That is the ultimate sleep bringer in the evenings.
The goal was to get the main hut and the sleeping hut at the lake side livable and ready by the time our holiday was over. The stress was taking its toll. Not everything we wanted was deliverable by the time we would be out of the country, so we needed to make some compromises to get the whole thing in place and just choose the items in stock. Good thing me and Waffle had pretty similar vision of the end result and what would fit the cottage.
In the midst of it all, we managed to put together a small cottage warming party, with my family and some friends gathering around for pancakes, BBQ and beer. The weather treated us good, with sunshine and warmth. That was such an important moment to get our minds off of all the work and enjoy the surroundings with good food and noisy babble.
Every now and then there was time for enjoyment. We got to experience some of the most beautiful sunsets and sunrises; at that time of the year it is hard to tell them apart. There had been bears right at our property earlier in the summer, but they were now gone. Our neighbors were a crane family, with a brown lanky youngster, some owls and a small herd of deer. They made sure that we were entertained in the evenings before the new TV arrived.
My parents and brother were a great help for us, almost every evening we ate fresh fish they had caught the same day from the lake (delicious!) and they were helping us out in throwing out the old stuff and to carry in the new. In return they can use our cottage and sauna as much as they wish.
To be honest, as the holiday came to an end, we did not feel so very relaxed. We had been stressing and yapping at each other and there had been no relaxing outdoorsy adventures around. We were both still missing the mountains, since that is where we normally would spend a holiday. But next time the cottage hopefully is less work and more relaxation.
On the way back, we still managed to have a small moment with friends in Helsinki, before taking the boat to Estonia. On the other side of the sea we were aiming for some wild camping. Estonia is littered with free camping grounds, most of which offer basic, but good facilities, meaning an outhouse, fire pits and a source of water.
One of those locations was on our route, situated in the middle of a pine forest. We arrived in the middle of the night in darkness and rain. A little less adorable as we maybe hoped for. There were some Finns and a Dutch already fast asleep as we were just pitching the tent.
Somehow we were a bit too tired to make the return journey a descent road trip. We drove fairly straight towards Riga, with one pit stop to stretch our legs and visit the seaside. Also Latvia should be more famous for the camping grounds. We happened by a very large one. It was made in the forest right on the seaside, a strip of a few hundred meters, or more, of forest housed multiple fire pits and tent spots, definitely very pretty and tidy! It happened to be the season for bill berries too, and the forest there was full of them.
In Riga we climbed to the plane, fingers still dyed by the blueberries and an apparent longing to get back to our cottage. The next trip to Finland has already been planned!
More pictures you will find from our Flickr!