Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Helsinki Boy

I have written about him here and here.

A whole year since we had seen that mischievous little grin.

He is much taller now. Faster. More daring. Climbing and swinging from the inside and outside of a spiral staircase in the lake house.

Running and running and running down the country road (it was over a mile) to get the daily paper. 

Pillow fights, wrestling matches, getting tossed higher and higher in the lake, he was a ball of energy from morning (when he put away an enormous bowl of oatmeal) till night. 

And always seemed to be several steps ahead of us.

Several dozen steps!

Last Wednesday, July 24th, he became a big brother.

Given that his baby sister was born an hour after his parents arrived at the hospital, she might also possess the same amount of energy and 'need for speed'.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Tertti Manor in Mikkeli

On the way to the lake house in Finland, we were treated to a fancy lunch at Tertti Manor.

And I do mean 'treated'.

In every sense of the word.

Unexpected delights and surprises at every turn...

I'll just start at the beginning.

After hours of driving and passing mostly trees and gas stations, we finally found Tertti Manor along Highway 5. We parked the car, stretched our legs and meandered over to say hi to the hunting dogs.

Hi Vekku!

Up the path was the manor and a row of five cozy guest rooms.

The foyer was charming.

Perfect room to enjoy a cup of tea.

After signing the guest book, of course.

Turns out there were many options for where to dine in the manor.

Here is the main (most spacious) room in the house.

Love the lighting.

Here is the dead-stuffed-flying-bird room.

The Bloggess would be right at home but we felt a bit, errr, overwhelmed (as if something might 'drop' on our heads).

Oh my! 

Think we'll check out the other rooms.

Cozy nook and lovely Victorian settee.

This little frog held the door open and beckoned the three of us to the porch.

Fresh air. 

The sounds of non-taxidermied wildlife. 

And the greenery...induced us to pick a table outside.

This is where we settled in.

Nope, did not recognize even one Finnish word when I was handed the menu.

In yet another room was the buffet.

And a gorgeous chandelier....hard to look down and select from the variety of fish as I was so enchanted by the dangling glassware.

The elderflower wine and local beer were delicious --- we picked some up in the gift shop to take on the road.

Our lunch was a medley of flavors and crunch and smokiness.

Yes indeed, we all went back for seconds.

And dessert.

And tea.

But then the three of us walked off our lunch by visiting the gardens.

And the boutique up the road.

Offering a wide selection of umbrellas and fascinators.

Not sure either would be useful back home in San Diego.

The gift shop was full of treats and the building itself was quite impressive.

And this light fixture.


What did I tell you.

Our stop for lunch was a treat in every sense imaginable!

We hopped back in the car, declaring many times over, "much better than a gas station".

Which was the understatement of the year and a terrific phrase to use the rest of our vacation!

Monday, 29 July 2013


Best lawn game EVER!

Forgot to take photos while we were actually
PLAYING the game at the Sulkava lake house.

It involves throwing and math and keeping score and standing up the bowling pins, ooops I mean the Molkky wooden pins, over and over after each person takes a turn.

It is both harder than you expect.

"Shouldn't I be able to knock 'em all down with one good toss?"

And surprisingly strategic.

"Ok, I am going for that 10 off to the side, I think I can do it."

It is basically a box of sticks, wooden pins, numbered from 1 to 12. Plus a throwing pin that is slightly bigger and unmarked.

First the pins are bunched together tightly in an upright position about 4 yards from where the throwing takes place.

Here comes the strategy and fun. Knocking over one pin scores the amount of points on the pin (i.e. knock down wooden pin 11 and you get 11 points) BUT knocking over two or more pins scores the amount of pins knocked over (i.e. if you knocked over pin 11 and pin 3, you get 2 points).

After each player throws and the points are counted, the pins are lifted up again in the exact location where they were knocked over (so the game starts with all the pins bunched up but they quickly get spread out).

The first player to reach exactly 50 points wins the game.

Scoring more than 50 will be penalized by setting the player's score back to 25 points.

A player will be eliminated from the game if they miss all of the target pins three times in a row (this is easier to do than you might think).

Raise your hand if you have ever played Molkky.

(put your hand down if you are Finnish)

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Lake House Vacation in Finland

Our very dear friends invited us to join them on their summer holiday at a lake house they rented in Suklava, Finland.

Housemates included a very pregnant gal (due in July), her husband, their 2-1/2 year old boy and her mother.

During our visit the little guy was being potty-trained and his Mom was sporadically dealing with contractions.

Which might sound like a recipe for disaster as we were all living under one roof and sharing a single bathroom.

But instead it was great fun, everyone got along fabulously and we couldn't have asked for a better time.

Lots of squeals as the little guy got tossed higher...
.... and higher in the air!

No need to get out of the water,
just lift your glass and champagne was poured!

We were very far from the closest neighbor which provided
privacy for skinny-dipping and communing with nature.

There was perch to catch.

And a boat to go fishing.

Checking out the little swimmers.

After expert instruction, I pushed a worm (only half a worm
is used, by the way, ewwwww) onto my hook and caught one
perch after another, while standing at the end of the dock.

Catch of the Day!

Found sparklers in the house. We lit them and ran down
 the dock twirling them in the air on the 4th of July!

Holiday dessert table.

No blueberries at the market, so our flag cake consisted of six gummy
people representing us, the 'stars'. And strawberries for the 'stripes'.

Approaching midnight on the lake...long summer days in Finland.

And this is my favorite picture, regardless of the poor lighting.

It is a family hug.

And we felt like we were right in the middle of this embrace during our entire visit.


(Cheers in Finnish)

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Getting to Sulkava

At the end of June we flew from San Diego to San Francisco to Frankfurt to Helsinki.

In Finland we rented a car and drove almost 4 hours east towards Russia.

One hundred miles before we hit the border, the directions got more specific.

As in "you will cross a bridge" "you will see a mailbox" "there is a big tree".

The last couple of miles are photo-documented below.

See the rainbow?

Through our bug-splattered windshield.

Stacks of timber lined the road.

Found the bridge.

Is that our lake?

Bumpitty bump bump, hope this was the right turn.

YIPPEEEEEEEE, we are here at last!!!!!!!

Friday, 26 July 2013


On our last evening in Scotland and first trip to Edinburgh we walked, took pictures, admired.

It reminded us of London.

No time for tours and spreading out a map - this is what we saw.

That is a lot of ink. No, he is not wearing knee socks.