A special Visit

Trip Start Apr 29, 2011
Trip End Sep 03, 2011

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Flag of Finland  , Southern Finland,
Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A sad day but with a major compensation. Sad as we were saying our farewells to Lou, who had been great fun, a good sport and the boat will seem empty without her – actually it was, as she occupied the main saloon at night! She and I were up at 05:15 and she was safely on her Finnair bus at the station by 06:05 and I got back to the boat for a shower and breakfast by 06:45, when everyone else was up and about. Julie had already completed some washing, Louise's sleeping bag was done and was in the dryer. Good to have such an efficient wife.

Now the major compensation. Do you recall Eric and Helena von Troil who came for dinner on our first night in Helsinki? At that time, I mentioned that they had invited us to spend the day with them at their summer cottage near Porvoo, about 40 km from Helsinki. So at 10:38 we were on the Porvoo express bus and an hour later, we were on board Eric’s fast Targa-like (can’t recall the make) power boat and cruising at 25 knots towards their cottage. A cracking boat and one that Eric used to use to commute to the office in Helsinki during the summer months – nice way to travel!

I don’t think any one of us had experienced or visited a Finnish or indeed Scandinavian or indeed any summer cottage before so we didn’t really know what to expect but I’m quite certain that what we did find was really, really special. Apparently Eric’s grandmother, after years of searching, found this wonderful spot and she commissioned one of Finland’s top architects to design and oversee the building of the house. It boats its’ own little natural harbour and dock and has views to die for. The house consists of a kitchen and huge lounge with sleeping accommodation adjoined but separate to the main living area. Toilets are earth closets some distance away and on another little bay is the sauna. Despite being on an island, there is mains water and electricity so one isn’t exactly camping!

The ladies had first turn at the sauna and Eric and I put the world to rights and an hour later, it was our turn. The sauna has recently been refurbished and so was very smart. It wasn’t roasting hot, as the previous occupants had let the heat subside somewhat (not good) but at 70C it was still useable. Once heated up, we swam in the Baltic (not cold, about 22-23 degrees) and then back inside and we repeated this, with the single variation of sipping a beer whilst admiring the view until it was time to shower and return to the house for lunch and what a lunch!! Helena had excelled herself, we had meat loaf based on a Finnish recipe and no doubt embellished by Helena, of which the primary constituent was Elk (many Finns hunt Elk and it is an important meat source), new potatoes with dill, delightful carrots, a supreme mushroom sauce and finally, a compote of sweet-sour lingonberries, to add colour and flavour. Absolutely delicious and thank you Helena. Ah, but I haven’t finished. We then had the most divine bilberry tart and ice cream, absolutely scrumptious. And of course, Elaine’s Blue Peter cake was also consumed.

If, like me, you didn’t know what a lingonberry was, here, thanks to the internet, is some more information


Sadly, our visit had to come to an end and it was with some reluctance, on our part at least (!) that we got into Eric’s car for a lift back to the bus station and thence back to Helsinki and the boat, back on board by about 20:15. What a super day! Thank you once more, Eric & Helena, for making it so special and for the record, if you are ever in the UK, you are most definitely welcome to stay with any of us – perhaps next year after a CA meeting?
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