Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pascal has a new home and a new dog!

Recently we went on a visit to see our French friend Pascal and armed with some scrummy bakes from the Valintatalo bakery, we sat and shared coffee in his new abode, for the first time.

A few weeks back Pascal bought himself (and his Finnish girlfriend Merja) a little wooden home to live in. Quite a sad little story attached to it, in that the owner was a little old lady who had lost her marbles and been forced into a nursing home. Her family had no interest in helping her or taking on the debt of her being in care, so the local authority had to seize the home and sell it to cover the bills.

Being in the middle of nowhere (for most people) and with the economy as it is, Pascal found himself a nice little bargain and a little home that he can really do something with.. as it does need some renovating.

The view on approach


Located in Vuojärvi, about 35km from where we live, it backs on to a lake (as do many Finnish homes.. what with Finland being the land of a thousand lakes!) In fact the word Järvi does mean exactly that... Lake. Vuo means Flux or Flow. It has three additional outbuildings, two for storage and the third being an outside sauna...despite the fact that there is also an indoor one. They believe it was built indoors quite recently, because the little old lady could not deal with the outdoor trek anymore.

The outdoor sauna

The place also has its own flagpole, like many Finnish homes - who all fly the flag on the various flag days this country has. I've dared Pascal to put up his French flag! LOL

Driftwood decorations, when lit the right way, the shadow looks like a frog!

It looks like what I always describe as a Gingerbread house, a very traditional style of slat wood housing here, deep red in colour, with white painting. To me it is like something out of 'Hansel and Gretel'. Here is a photo that was left behind (along with lots of other furniture and belongings of the old lady).. and it shows how the place used to look a few years back, in summer time.

It has an upstairs, but you can only access it at the moment from outside - a bit daft considering the environment, so that will be changed eventually. It is an easy enough thing to do, a couple of fellas together, it would take no more than a few days to get done and would make the world of difference.

The peaceful view from the rear of the house

An image donated by Pascal, but taken on another day...

We also went to visit him because he has a new dog. In fact his first ever dog! Talk about go off the deep end with your first dog! He has a one year old Malamute that needed to be rehomed...again it was living with an elderly couple that just couldn't cope with him. Pascal to the rescue! He has wanted a dog for some while, particularly a Malamute...although it has to be said, he was expecting to get a puppy, not a dog with a few old tricks to wean out. That said, Mosku is really no trouble at all. He lives outdoors and has the run of a long leash, up and down the huge snow hill, by the side of the house. I think he thinks he is 'King of the Hill' :D

Meeting Mosku

Mosku is just gorgeous! He is so huge! So friendly and so wonderful. Even me, the woman who is always wary of other peoples dogs, felt totally at ease with him, despite the fact that he is one BIG dog and apt to really pull you! Pascal has his own forest guiding and trekking business, hence why he wanted a Malamute, as a trek helper. Where he was, poor Mosku never had much human contact, never got walked etc.. so this is all still one big adventure for him.....and Pascal!

Isn't he just gorgeous?

Mosku and I

Mosku, King of the hill

Oh I am SO excited!

His name is the one that he came with. He was named after a famous character of the region. Aleksi Hihnavaara aka 'Mosku' who was a legendary reindeer ranger in Lapland during 1882-1938 who battled against reindeer thieves from Finland to Russia. It is said that without his determination to cover the borders, there would be a much smaller scale of Reindeer these days. There is a 40% strength Vodka named Mosku and a film was also made about his life.

Whilst we were there Pascal told us a funny store of how he was sitting in his cabin and he kept hearing a 'knock! knock! knock!' down by the side of his wall. He thought that he had a woodpecker knocking on the wall of the house, so banged back on the wall, whereupon the noise stopped. A few minutes later and several times over, this happened again - almost like a conversation! Eventually, Pascal decided to put on his boots, go outside and investigate. What did he find? He found a fish trying to get into his house! Yes, a FISH! LOL!! Here is the picture!

The fish was banging backwards and forwards down through the snow, to a place a little under the house wall. Of course it was a very well frozen fish and totally inanimate... the real culprit was further underneath - an Ermine! This little furry fella has a nice little home right under Pascals house!

Pascal called it a Hermelin (I guess that is the French name), in Finnish it is Kärppä and in northern Sami it is Buoidda. I guess most of us English bods, might call it a Stoat. The type of animal as shown below (Photo by Tor Lundberg).

Although a Stoat changes to an Ermine when its coat changes white during winter.

Ok, to finalise this blog, whilst looking up about Stoats, Ermines and whatnots... I found this link.. Oh, it is just SO funny.. that I had to include it! Pascal...if yours starts doing this.. do let me know!!

It was nice to see you Pascal and Merja....Good Luck in your New Home!