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This was possibly one of the most relaxing times Farida, my wife, and I have spent. My friend Mikka and his wife, Titin, had invited us to Vihanti for Mikka’s brother’s wedding. After the wedding the four of us and Mikka’s parents, Sinikka and Petri, spent five days at their summer house at Osmankajärvie.

The summer house

We arrived at Osmankajärvie and the summer cottage was located on the lake, not surprisingly as järvie is Finnish for lake. The seven by three kilometre lake has 250 summer cottages spread around its edges. Sinikka and Pertti’s summer cottage consisted of four wooden buildings, the main cottage, another dormitory, a sauna and a “Lapland Teepee”, smokehouse. There is no electricity but Pertti had installed solar power in the main cottage and no running water but there was a fresh-water spring nearby, which has the best tasting water I have drunk.

After unloading the two cars, the boat was launched and we set off out into the lake to set the nets for our lunch the following day. The first net was set for muikka, small dace, and the second one was set deeper for perch.

Perti, Sinikka and yours truly checking the nets

The following morning Sinikka cooked what became my favourite Finnish breakfast, spelt pancakes with blueberries. Then we went out onto the lake to bring up the net we had set for perch. We had six, in the net and back on shore after Pertti cleaned the fish, we had them fried with new potatoes for lunch. Pertti, Farida, Titin and I went out to check the nets, this time the net set for the muikka only yielded one muikka but 30 perch and the bottom net had nine larger perch. Back on shore I helped Sinikka and Pertti get the fish out of the net. For the inexperienced it was a tedious job as the perches’ spiky fins get entangled in the net. Pertti cleaned the fish and the larger perch were put in the smokehouse and the smaller ones fried whole.

Mother Nature

We spent a great deal of time lazing around the cottage, wandering through the forest, photographing nature and resting on the sandy shores of the lake. It was so peaceful and relaxing and we were so jealous of Sinikka and Pertti who spent so much time at their summerhouse, even in the harsh Finnish winter they would come here and ice-fish and relax.

Reeds Reflections

One of the highlights here was the obligatory pre-dinner sauna. Pertti had built their sauna close to the lake and every evening we would take turns to have a sauna. Here we were, in a genuine Finnish sauna with a view of the lake. What more could a person want? After our sauna we would take a quick dip in the lake, Farida abstained from the swim, as it was too cold for her at eight thirty at night. After a sumptuous fish dinner Farida, Sinikka, Pertti and I went out fishing. To Farida, it was a totally new experience as we sat on the boat in the middle of the lake at nine thirty at night amidst silence that was occasionally broken by the sound of fish moving around the reeds. All around, the lake was dotted by cottages with no obvious human intervention with high-rise condominiums and resorts or anything else to destroy the environment. We were trolling for hauki, pike, but unfortunately I only managed to catch two perch.

Early morning fishing

I have always wanted to catch a pike, however my disappointment quickly dissipated as the sunset over the lake at eleven o’clock was unquestionably one of the most ethereal sights I have witnessed. Slowly the night descended upon the lakes and the environs and the area was shrouded with not a complete darkness but a slow transformation into a giant silhouette of the forest around the lake dotted by the lights from a few cottages, as we headed for shore.

Berries abound in Finland

On the final day, our hosts took us to Kajaani for lunch before we boarded the train to Helsinki where we stayed for five days exploring the city and harbour, Porvoo, a day trip to Tallinn in Estonia and enjoyed a Finnish concert in a 100-year old theatre.

So ended the most relaxing holiday Farida and I had had for many years. This was only made possible by our graciously warm and hospitable hosts.