Video summary of another awesome holiday!

>> Monday, July 27, 2015

I've made a few videos over the years of our trips, but never one quite like this. I used three different cameras - my phone, a Flip camcorder and a small Go-Pro type waterproof camera to shoot more film than any year previously, then edited it all into the length of one song only.
Summer in Finland really is quite awesome. Watching this, I'm sure you'll agree!


Day 15: A fantastic final day at Palvajarvi

>> Saturday, July 18, 2015

Anna caught the lake in all its beauty this morning!
Anna and I were up fairly sharp this morning and were shopping in S-Market before Sandy or Keith were even awake, with the predicted warm sunshine promising a great day ahead.  I wanted to visit the chemist there too, as the tubigrip I wore yesterday was far inferior to the wrap-around sticky bandage I had worn earlier in the week. With a couple more of these bandages safely purchased, we had breakfast outside in the garden with the rest of the gang once they were awake and up.
Keith enjoying the comfort in the garden.
After that, it was a case of soaking up the sunshine, as the temperature rose steadily to ensure that apart from our first day in Helsinki, this was the warmest day of our 2015 holiday. I lit the sauna as soon as we had eaten an early lunch and decided to test the wrap-around bandage in both the sauna and the lake, and was delighted to see that it survived both of these without any problems. The lake itself was noticeably warmer - it's quite amazing how quickly it warms when the air temperature it a bit higher, and it doesn't surprise me therefore how the water temperature can become as high as it has over the years here in Finland during the warmest months.
Anna captured Sandy and Olivia diving from the jetty as I watched.
Despite the great weather, I knew it was going to rain this evening, and so it has, with the lake transformed once again to looking extremely choppy. But that doesn't matter, as we have been busy preparing for our departure tomorrow morning, cleaning the cottage and packing the bags.
With Sandy as we relax.
So, it's the end of our 4th year here in this heavenly cottage. All of us, Keith and Anna's family too, have already agreed we'll be back in 2016, and our friends Timo and Lissu have already said it'll be no problem for us to return again. We'd like to thank them again for inviting us over to their own house the other evening, as well as for continuing to rent the cottage to us. We'll leave for Helsinki once more in the morning knowing that here at Palvajarvi, we have continued to be captivated by the natural beauty of this wonderful, peaceful place. Until 2016!

All I need to do once we get home is to look through the more than 350 short video clips I have taken, to condense these all into a film of around 4 minutes or so. I have been looking forward to making what I hope will be the best video of our Finnish adventures over the years, and I have lots of ideas, so look out for that in a week or two, once all the editing has been done!


Day 14: Spa swimming and relaxation

>> Friday, July 17, 2015

At our landlord's house last night, Timo's wife Lissu had told us that today the weather forecast was for thunder and lightning all day, something I had checked myself and seen too, so we had decided last night that we'd make the 35 minute journey along the country roads to Laukaa this morning to the spa pools at Peurunka, as we have enjoyed them in previous years on days when the weather has been poor.

As we journeyed north, the weather along the way was great and I was beginning to wonder if this might be one of these days when the promised storms might not arrive. This has happened in previous years too! Anyway, we had good fun in Peurunka, and Keith tried all three different saunas there; the traditional one where I had to instruct him how to remove all trunks and take a sheet to sit on inside the sauna, the steam room, which he quite enjoyed, and the infra-red sauna which he seemed to really enjoy. He also swam around the circuit shaped pool many times, and also tried the various jacuzzi pools and the long flume, which at 130m is the longest in the Nordic countries.

We came out the pools at around 1.30pm and decided just to stay and have lunch in the cafe there, so it was burgers and chips for all of us, followed by coffees and cinnamon buns for the adults, and ice-cream for Sandy and Olivia.

On the way home, we stopped opposite a house that we have passed several times over the years, with a dummy Finnish blonde next to a bike in the driveway, as I wanted to take a short bit of film there. The owner of the house was in the garage, and she was happy to let us take a couple of short bits of footage, laughing as we did so. Just after we left the house and continued along the road, the sky suddenly got very dark and it looked distinctly like rain was on the way, but a couple of miles further on as we approached home, the sky was clearing again and so we sat down to sunbathe in the very warm sunshine. I lit the sauna here and the rest swam and enjoyed the heat, with me relaxing in the garden, as my leg was much more uncomfortable today than yesterday- I think the efforts at swimming even only a little at the spa had proved too much for it. About 5.00pm, I tried a wee walk up the road to see how it would stand up to it, but I only went about 250m, then turned back, as I was really slow and limping pretty badly.

Looking back to the house as I leave to walk up the road a bit.
No sign of rain yet- a gorgeous sunny afternoon!
I propped the camera up on a rock to take this selfie.
Keith's still swimming as the clouds begin to darken.
Finally, about 7.00pm, the heavens opened after the clouds suddenly returned and the thunder appeared too, but it was short lived, and by 8.00pm everything was beautifully sunny once again!

Tomorrow, it's our final full day here and the weather is suggesting it could be the best day of the whole fortnight. Let's hope it's correct, and we can simply relax and have fun right here!


Day 13: Shopping, sunshine, a snake and a visit to our hosts!

>> Thursday, July 16, 2015

With Anna on the steps this afternoon.
A lovely morning dawned early as I woke up after a great sleep at around 6.45am this morning. It's an amazing sight, being able to lie in bed and look out over the lake here, with the sunshine rising and the temperature also heading northwards. The intention was to be up early and get away shopping in town by 10.00am , but Anna and I shared a couple of coffees and biscuits and just marvelled at the views while the others were still sleeping.

After breakfast we did get out to Jyväskylä, where we looked in various shops for some things for Keith, as well as Sandy and Olivia, who spent their holiday euros on clothes. I found walking a good bit easier today too, as I was wearing a different support bandage which was tighter and much better at keeping my calf muscle held in place. After a good look around the shops, we stayed in town for lunch, having a great pizza buffet before we headed back via the S-Market at Vaajakoski to the cottage, where the temperature was at its highest this week, and the sun was still beating down on the lake. Anna and I lay in the garden while Sandy, Keith and Olivia swam and took saunas. Anna had spotted a snake sunbathing by a tree this morning before we left, and we saw it again several times this afternoon in the same place. I tried repeatedly to photograph it, as well as film it, but it was extremely elusive, slithering away into the long grass each time we approached!
Keith and I contemplating earlier this afternoon on the jetty!
Olivia goes for a row...
The water shimmers on the lake this evening.
We ate at a more normal time for us, around 5.30pm, as we had a few small presents to take to our hosts, Timo and Lissu, after dinner. They live about 15 minutes away, close to Jyväskylä, in a really beautiful house, and there we had some really delicious coffee, Karelian pies, as well as strawberries and ice cream. While we talked about our fortnight, Olivia had great fun bouncing with Timo's daughter on their huge trampoline in the garden. After an hour or so, we said our goodbyes, and made our arrangements to return next year for the 5th year running to this heavenly place for another fortnight. Although it's been cooler than last year, we've still had decent weather and have all discussed whether we'd like to return (these discussions having included Anna's family too) and the unanimous decision has been that there really is nowhere as beautiful, as peaceful, and as close to good shopping as this tranquil and lovely cottage.

Writing this now, there is a distinct possibility of a storm approaching I think, with the lake now choppy and the wind rising. Could be an interesting night ahead! Also, I'm hopeful that I have managed to rebuild my iPhoto library here on the laptop, so I should, with luck, be able to add the photos that I have taken over the past few days either later tonight or tomorrow, once the rebuilding process has been completed.


Day 12: Eventually sunny

>> Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Gorgeous reflections in the lake tonight.
After a stunning sunset last night, we had high hopes of a sunny day today, but it was annoyingly cloudy and cool once again this morning, as it has been several times this past week. I had slept better than the night before but had already decided I'd have an easy day relaxing and resting my leg, and so I lazed around the house in the morning, with Anna as well as Olivia and Sandy deciding they'd head up to the wee zoo a mile up the road after an early lunch.
Liv and Sandy off on the boat.
Relaxing on the jetty.
Keith wanted to swim, so I set up the sauna for him and supervised as he swam and enjoyed the heat. I ventured into the sauna too, for a couple of quick sweat-building sessions, as Gabi had advised yesterday that heat wouldn't harm the leg, though I avoided the lake and simply sat on the jetty watching Keith continue his swimming routines for yet another day. By the time Anna and the others were home, the sun was shining so we enjoyed it during the late afternoon and early evening. Sandy and Olivia also took the rowing boat out a couple of times today and explored our end of the lake.
Another on the jetty.
Beautiful evening sunlight once again.
Reflections were amazing tonight.
Below, the wee house that Olga and Arnold slept in last week next to the main house. 
Tomorrow, we plan to head into town to do a bit of shopping in the morning, assuming the weather follows its recent pattern of cloudiness then sunshine later in the day. We'll also try the pizza place we have enjoyed large, tasty pizzas over the past three years once we get hungry for lunch!


Day 11: Visitors return

>> Tuesday, July 14, 2015

I spent a difficult night in quite some pain from my leg after hurting it yesterday, and didn't sleep well at all. At 3.30am I was genuinely wondering how we were going to get back to Helsinki if driving proved too sore, as I couldn't imagine pressing the clutch pedal would be anything less than agony. By 7.00am I was up and searching the internet for local physiotherapists that I could call to get advice from. By 8.30am I had spoken with two separate ones, both of whom had listened carefully and given me the same advice. Rest, elevate the leg, use ice to reduce swelling and get something to compress the calf, like a tubigrip. I had also spoken to a local doctor who said I could come along to be seen, but I might have to wait for a while.

So, Anna and I set off to Vaajakoski, and I was relieved to find I could actually drive and it wasn't as painful as I thought it might be when using the clutch. This made me feel a lot happier, and in the end we didn't go to the doctor, but only as far as the chemists, where I bought a couple of tubigrips. We also got some things from the supermarket as our German friends, Gabi and Carsten had agreed to come up to see us today with their family.

In and around the hot-tub with our guests!
Our guests arrived in time for lunch and we showed them around and enjoyed good food and great company for the rest of the day together. The day had been decided as it was supposed to be the warmest of the week, but in fact this morning turned out to be quite grey and cloudy, as well as disappointingly cool. I read on the YLE Finnish News website this morning how this year is turning out to be one of the coolest and wettest in the last 100 years in Finland, so we had to be content with a couple of nice hours of sunshine later this afternoon. Gabi, who is a children's doctor, looked closely at my leg and confirmed that the calf muscle has a couple of significant tears in it, and that I will be struggling for a while with it. She thinks it'll be ok, but did say I need to see a doctor if it swells up much more.
Time for dinner.
Our guests left after a great day together at 8.45pm for their drive back towards Lahti, which will take them a good couple of hours. For me, immediately afterwards, I got the leg up on the sofa to settle down to write this. I hope I have a better sleep tonight!
About to say goodbye.


Day 10: Palvajärvi Games and an injury

After our late return from Lahti the day before, we spent an easy-going day relaxing today by the lake in reasonable weather with some nice afternoon sun which allowed for some swimming and saunas.

Event 1: Darts; Anna starts us off.
Event 2: Trampolining, Sandy gives Olivia a run for her money!
Event 3: Welly-boot throwing, Keith was the outstanding winner here!
In the evening though the weather was colder and cloudy and so we decided to have some fun by taking part in the Palvajärvi Games, which involved playing darts, disc golf, welly boot throwing, trampolining sessions and "wife carrying". These activities were all great fun, but unfortunately right at the end of the contests, I hurt my left leg quite badly, when after carrying Anna, I then carried Olivia. It felt like someone had shot a bullet into my leg, with a very severe pain, and I had to lie down immediately and search the internet for what the cause might be. It seemed like a calf strain, possibly a tear of the calf muscle, and so I elevated the leg and took some sessions using ice to try to stop it swelling too much. It was a pity to end the day like this, and I was actually quite unsure even if I might be able to drive the car safely, so I spent a very difficult night trying to sleep afterwards.

Event 4: Wife-carrying. Moments before disaster struck for me!


Silja Line - Sweden to Finland

Silja Line - Sweden to Finland
A fantastic way to arrive in Finland is by using the Tallink Silja service from Stockholm in Sweden. These are magnificent boats which take you overnight into Helsinki's centre, and to travel by car with a good quality sea-view cabin is relatively inexpensive. Buffet dinners are outstanding!

Viking Line - Sweden to Finland

Viking Line - Sweden to Finland
An inexpensive way to arrive in Finland is to take the Viking Line ferry service from Stockholm to Helsinki. This overnight service gives the opportunity to sleep in a spacious cabin, taking your car, and arriving the next morning in central Helsinki. This service operates at the same time as the Silja Line service each day.

Finnlines - Germany to Finland

Finnlines - Germany to Finland
On several occasions over the past few years, we have used the excellent FinnLines ferry service from Travemunde in Germany, to sail right up the Baltic Sea to Helsinki. It's an expensive option, but it is a truly memorable journey on what are very modern and extremely comfortable boats. Highly recommended!

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