The remainder of our holiday was spent on the Finnish mainland. After catching the ferry back from Brändö, we drove up the west coast via the beautiful, UNESCO World Heritage town of Rauma and then on to Yyteri beach, which is one of the longest sandy beaches in Scandinavia at around 6km. From there we turned east to our base for the next 4 nights, which was a self-catering wooden lodge, or chalet, next to Lake Vesijako.
We returned to spend 2 more nights in the delightful city of Turku, which is the oldest town in Finland, with stops en route at the towns of Lammi and Hämeenlinna
Some other things I learnt during this trip (which you might also like to know):
- As well as having thousands of islands, there are 100’s if not also thousands of lakes in Finland as well (and the Finns take great advantage of these by having weekend lodges close by).
- There are a huge number and variety of mushrooms and toadstools in the woods. (During one walk, I met a man and his wife foraging. They had collected at least one big bucket load of one particular type).
- The woods are not all conifers as I imagined they might be. There appears to be an equal number of deciduous trees as well.
- The people are extremely welcoming and friendly.
- The Finnish language seems to specialise in very long words, which often include double A’s, E’s, I’s, K’s, M’s, N’s or U’s. The longest word I encountered, which I don’t think is exceptional, was 25 letters long.
- I don’t know the significance, but many (most?) street or track names end in ‘antie’, ‘entie’, ‘ontie’ or ‘untie’.
- The peak summer holiday season is from mid-June to mid-August and, before and after that period, you may find some things are not running or closed. (Though the ferries appear to run all year round – when it’s not completely iced over of course!)
- In the depths of winter, when conditions allow, it’s possible to drive over the ice to some islands. (No doubt special tyres and a brave or trusting nature are required for this).
- Last, but by no means least, the beer in Finland (and Stockholm) is pretty good. They certainly know how to make a tasty IPA. 😊 Cheers! 🍻
I promised USAthroughoureyes that I would try to find a new dimension to my walks and so today we have something unusual – a flat(ish) walk in Switzerland. I have mentioned and posted pictures of ‘Bisses’ before. They are irrigation channels and there are quite a number dotted about the canton of Valais. But I think this one must be the most famous, due to the precipitous nature of the path, or at least the original path. Today, four suspension bridges help the inquisitive walker along the route, but you can still see how the bisse and path were originally built.
All of the images below were taken with my mobile phone (as I went off without my camera) and I just managed to catch the ‘thing’ in the last picture (which was a first sighting for me), before my battery ran out. I spotted it while looking to take a photo of some butterflies, but it makes a change… 😊 I also saw what may have been 3 Jersey Tiger moths (another first) but, by then, I had no battery left… 😌
Every year, on the 15th August, our village is host to one of the most traditional and colourful festivals. Every other year, it is supplemented by the inclusion of the musicians and dancers from the Célébrations Interculturelles de la Montagne à Evolène (CIME), which takes place in the few days leading up to this and concludes with a final Gala evening performance.
The main event starts with a procession of vintage cars. This is followed by people dressed in traditional costumes, demonstrating local dancing, music and crafts. This year it was interspersed with performers from Russia, Armenia, Ecuador, Italy and Montenegro.
As you can see from the photos below (the best ones of which were taken by my wife Jude, as marked), everyone had a fabulous time. And if you ever wondered where this utopia is that I live, but couldn’t be bothered to look it up, I’ve added a map at the end. 😊
This weekend and until the 15th August, sees the biennial CIME (Célébrations Interculturelles de la Montagne à Evolène) festival, which features dancers and singers from different mountain areas around the world. We haven’t bought tickets to see any of the evening shows, but there are impromptu events happening in and around the villages of the Val d’Hérens.
So, with nothing better to do and the sun shining, I wandered down to the village, taking some photos as I went, and stumbled across a procession of the Russian, Italian and Ecuadorian participants. I presumed this was a sort of preamble or practice for the main ‘mid-summer’ procession on the 15th. I hope to bring you some pictures of that later next week, but in the meantime, here are a few images from today.
Psst… Can you keep a secret? If anyone asks, you haven’t seen these pictures – OK?
Jude and I went to the Irish Festival in Sion last night, featuring 3 bands, with the Chieftains as the main act. The cloakrooms were outside of the entrance gate, so after the first act and a few pints of the black stuff, I toddled off for a comfort break. But when I returned, I’d taken my point and shoot camera out of my pocket and the security guard wouldn’t let me in – pointing to a sign saying “No cameras”. (It was in Jude’s bag when we first arrived and a different security guard must have missed it). With almost everyone else inside taking pictures or videos with their phones, this seemed a bit ridiculous, but you don’t argue with a 6ft+ security guard! (Well, I don’t anyway).
So I obviously didn’t take these pictures of the Damien Mullane Band and I certainly couldn’t possibly have taken any of the Chieftains. Though I can tell you they were as good as ever, ably assisted by a local Swiss drumming band and 2 superb Canadian dancers on some of their songs.
This week contains Swiss National Day*, so I’ve decided to include a song by a Swiss group, called Double, though in reality it’s mainly a guy called Kurt Maloo. I really like it for a number of reasons, like the haunting melody, the simple piano riff, the clarinet and, when the question was asked “Who sang The Captain of her Heart?” in a pub quiz in York quite a few years ago now, I actually remembered the answer. I still have no idea how I got that.
*The 1st August is also Yorkshire Day. Ey up, didn’t tha knows? But I figured this song might go down a bit better than a rendition of Ilkley Moor Bah T’at (especially be me!) Oh, go on then, yev twisted me arm – see darn below… 👍👍 It’s grand as ‘owt!
I promised you a few weeks ago that I would post some pictures of my daughter’s wedding. Well, the official photos are now available (courtesy of Fox Moon Photography) and so it gives me great pleasure to replicate some of them here.
To say that it was a very special day would be the biggest understatement of understatements. The sun shone brightly and everyone had a fabulous time – especially the bride and groom, who were smiling throughout day.
I received such positive feedback on the village photographs in my last post, (thank you Jet and M.Oniker), that I decided to take a few more pictures for you to enjoy. But first, a little background…
Evolène is a village at around 1,380m (4,525ft) in the Val d’Hérens, which itself is in the southern part of the Valais canton of Switzerland. The population of the whole commune (which includes the neighbouring villages of Les Haudères, Villa, La Sage, La Forclaz and Arolla) is only about 1,700. Despite this relatively low number, we have 8 bar/restaurants in our village alone. These survive due to the number of visitors that we get both during the winter, for skiing, and the summer for walking, cycling or mountaineering. I read that 55% of the available light (i.e from when it appears from, or disappears, behind the mountains), is sunshine. And with little wind and a fairly dry atmosphere, not to mention some beautiful scenery, you can see why it’s quite popular.
At the moment we have the annual Carnival, which this year runs from 6th January to 5th March, (this explains why some of the pictures still show what appear to be Christmas decorations) and in the summer from 10th to 15th August there will be the biannual, CIME mountain folklore festival. More posts to come on these no doubt… 😄
With a certain festive period approaching, Jude and I took ourselves off to Zurich for a few days to find some ‘different’ presents. I’d been there before to run the marathon, but I hadn’t really had time to explore the city and I have to say that we were both very impressed with how organised and quiet it was. It was more like a large village than a big city. It was also nice to see the wooden Christmas market stalls and the streets decorated with more lights than you could ever count.
Grass plays a very important part in the lifecycle of the mountains. It’s around this time of year that the farmers take their second cut to feed the animals during the long cold winter. And, of course, where there is grass, you will often find an abundance of tiny creatures, which leap out of your way as you walk along the paths. Below are just some of the grasshoppers and crickets that I managed to capture. (They are devilishly quick at jumping out of the way when you approach with a camera).
I’m often asked what’s the difference between a cricket and a grasshopper and the answer is that, in general, crickets have very long antennae, whereas the grasshopper’s are quite short. The same sort of distinction can be made between moths and butterflies where, again in general, the latter have a sort of bulb at the end of their antennae, while moths don’t and theirs can be more feathery or saw-edged.