On the upside, here in Helsinki is where I met up with my lovely partner and travelling companion Simon (Dusty) Duringer, who is already posting in parallel with me about our journey on his very well-established blog, at http://simonduringer.com/category/on-my-travels/ . While we’re both extremely inspired by the eco-practices we’ve discovered so far in Scandinavia, we’re writing about them in different ways :)
In the short-term, however, Micke needs volunteers to help him finish building his house! He has already endowed it with some impressive features, which I’ll describe in more detail in separate links :) To name a few (go right ahead and click on each!), his house has a sauna, underfloor heating, solar collectors on the roof to heat the water, and the best compost toilet I’ve ever seen/smelled! Micke has a Volvo V70 estate car that runs on biogas, and – like a great many people in Finland, I gather – he’s a big believer in making the most of nature’s bounty, i.e. foraging for seasonal wild food such as nettles, berries, mushrooms and even birch sap! He also enjoys fishing in the lake a few hundred metres away, where it’s possible to catch a pike-perch – a highly prized fish by all accounts! He and Simon were lucky enough to catch one during our stay, and Simon’s blog post about this experience is well worth a read :) http://simonduringer.com/on-my-travels/that-is-simply-fishy/
The red paint is a traditionally Finnish finish (sorry), and also happens to be a natural, low-chemical option, since its chief constituent is red ochre, an earth pigment containing hydrated iron oxide. Ochre paint is extremely convenient for use in cold climates, as any that ends up being left over from one year to the next – during which time it’s bound to freeze – responds very well to being boiled over a fire when needed again, and then it’s as good as new!
We also rowed on the lake once, sunbathed beside it post-swim and did crosswords, saw a Great-Crested Grebe surface with and devour a fish... and on every occasion we marvelled at the light, the quiet, the sky, the beautiful setting. Motor boats are banned on the lake; only rowing boats are permitted, and people regularly pop across the lake in a canoe or tiny boat to visit their neighbours! A lovely place altogether, and we were glad to venture so far from the beaten path to discover it :)