Finland, Finland, Finland …

Aww go on, how many of you remember the Monty Python song? I recall sitting in a lecture sometime during my nursing training in the early 1980s and the guest lecturer, probably a doctor, mentioned something about Finland, and Sue Sanossian (waves to Sue if she’s reading) and I spontaneously burst into song. Do you remember that, Sal? I still giggle when I think of it.

Finland, Finland, Finland,
The country where I want to be,
Pony trekking or camping,
Or just watching TV.
Finland, Finland, Finland.
It’s the country for me.You’re so near to Russia,
So far from Japan,
Quite a long way from Cairo,
Lots of miles from Vietnam.Finland, Finland, Finland,
The country where I want to be,
Eating breakfast or dinner,
Or snack lunch in the hall.
Finland, Finland, Finland.
Finland has it all.
You’re so sadly neglected
And often ignored,
A poor second to Belgium,
When going abroad.Finland, Finland, Finland,
The country where I quite want to be,
Your mountains so lofty,
Your treetops so tall.
Finland, Finland, Finland.
Finland has it all.Finland, Finland, Finland,
The country where I quite want to be,
Your mountains so lofty,
Your treetops so tall.
Finland, Finland, Finland.
Finland has it all.Finland has it all.

written and sung by Michael Palin

Anyway, here we are. In Finland. Lots of trees, lots of lakes and lots of mosquitoes at this time of the year. We have camped ‘in the wild’ for the last couple of nights in nice spots in forests, and last night we were near a small lake as well. Tonight is our last night before we get to Helsinki and we’re staying at Vaihelan Tila, a ‘farmstay’ hostel a couple of hundred kms north of the capital. It’s still a small working farm, but the large barn has been converted into accommodation. It’s lovely – all timber inside and sleeps around 14. There are several self-contained huts on the property as well, but tonight we’re the only ones in the large converted barn, which also has a wood-fired sauna. Our hostess told us about the various accommodation options and mentioned that her house has an electric sauna ‘and it’s not as good as a wood-fired one’. So we have had a sauna which Greg liked so much that he’s planning to have another one in the morning. I did like it but I tend not to sweat (and that’s nothing to do with ‘ladies don’t sweat’, it’s actually a nuisance as I don’t cool down easily when I’m hot).

We have been so excited to be back in a country that doesn’t require a second mortgage whenever you go shopping that we have visited at least one supermarket a day, mostly just to see what’s available. Norway is not part of the EU and the range of food available there is quite limited and more expensive than in EU countries. Here in Finland, food, fuel and accommodation are all cheaper. We still have some food that we bought in Sweden a couple of weeks ago – pasta, mashed potato, pasta sauce and a jar of beetroot (what was I thinking I would cook with that when I bought it? I have no idea) and I’m looking forward to being able to use an oven in the apartment we have organised in Helsinki, I’m a bit tired of one-pot cooking on a camp stove.

I thought I’d share a recipe that I kind of made up last night:

Mince and White Bean Hot Pot
250g mince
1 small onion, diced
tomato paste
1 can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
1 small can corn

Fry onion in oil, margarine or butter, add mince and cook until browned. Add a couple of tablespoons tomato paste with some water and cook for a couple of minutes. Add cannelini beans and corn, cook until hot.
Note: Don’t try this at home, it probably only tastes any good when you’re camping and you’ll eat almost anything and think it tastes great.

4 thoughts on “Finland, Finland, Finland …

  1. So I guess the ‘shed’ (now under construction at 15 Raldon Grove) will instead become a sauna?? Hz

    • Funny you should mention that, Hazel. I thought for sure that he would want to build one at home, but he reckons it hadn’t even crossed his mind until your comment.

  2. Yes Jude I do remember ‘ Finland ‘ , but it said nothing about mosquitoes !

    • I think Michael Palin got it a bit wrong about the lofty mountains too. Our hostess last night told us about a ski slope near her place that was about 100 metres high. We have driven straight through the centre of Finland, from north to south, and it was all flat, flat, flat. Maybe on the eastern border there are some ‘mountains’.

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