Wish you were here!

The sun is high and so are our holiday spirits.  My mum and my wee nephew are half way through their holiday and both are absolutely in love with my adoptive home town and the French pace of life.  Mazamet is not a bad place to be in the summer: just last weekend we enjoyed the dance and music of the Fanfares Sans Frontières-festival, drove up and down the Montagne Noire and celebrated Bastille Day with a picnic up at the Lac De Montagnes.  It is all weird and wonderful for little Jim, but he’s taking it all on his stride like a seasoned citizen of the world, picking up bits of French, trying the food and hanging out with his new best friend – Rusty the dog.

I got my hands full to say the least, so better crack on and skip straight to the photographic evidence of our adventures:

Here’s a few pics from the Fanfares Sans Frontières.  I loved the marching bands and the bag pipes, but you can’t beat a bit of Samba…

It’s funny how enjoyable photography becomes when you have another pair of hands to hold the dogs lead!  These are my favourite snaps from around Mazamet centre ville.

I could not write this post without posting a few snaps of this adorable little fella, my nephew Jim – naturally with the consent of him mum.  I don’t think Rusty has ever felt this loved in his life.  Being a rescue, he needs a bit of attention and Jim is more than willing to fuss him to the ends of the earth.

Oh, and here you have some more dog photos.  The internet needs more Rusty, I am certain of it.  These are taken at the Lac de Montagnes and Payrin.

Right, that should be all for now!  See you again with a bit of painting and decorating news from chez nous N°21


Tiina x

North State - The Great Northern Road Trip vol 1

NORTH STATE – The Great Northern Road Trip vol 1


And greetings from Finland – my homeland.  This one is going to be the short but sweet story of our most recent road trip and spoiler alert: we made it in one piece.

route from Mazamet, France to Forssa, Finland

But oh boy was it a journey!

And not the first time we grunted it either – James has driven us to Finland once before.  That time, almost two years ago now, we took the longer route via Berlin, Olsztyn in Poland and the Baltic Countries, arriving in Helsinki two weeks before getting married near my old hometown on the New Year’s Eve.  That one set up a pretty high standard for all road trips to come!

The Scandinavian way is notably shorter, however, and as we are travelling with our dog Rusty, opting for the easier distance was a no-brainer.  He has never been to Finland before and we really wanted to take our little man on a holiday with us, even if it meant a gruelling drive across Europe.

I do not drive at all so it was up to James to get us to Finland safely.  Easier said than done, really, especially as he had broken his leg rather badly just seven weeks ago.  My dearest hubby did a smashing job though, sorting us out with an automatic vehicle, an ancient S-class Mercedes that turned out to be a fantastically comfortable ride despite of some operational issues, and by buying the pupper a sturdy travel harness.  Our Rusty is the most placid dog to ever travel in a car and would hardly need a harness to strap him down, but as they say… safety first!

sunrise in denmark

We took short brakes by the motorway to get some sleep and a spot of fodder here and there preferring to get to Finland as fast as possible.  In just a short weekend James had driven over two thousand kilometres and we arrived to the ferry port of Stockholm with time to spare.  Rusty had loved nothing more than snuggling up between us every night, even stealing my seat completely at one point, but I and James were pretty keen on getting some z’s on the proper beds on the boat.  Unfortunately, it was not going to be all smooth sailing…

When we arrived in out cabin on the boat taking us from Stockholm to Turku overnight, James’ leg was not looking good at all.  The on-board medics recommended an urgent visit to the nearest emergency room as soon as the ship had docked in the morning as he was clearly in a need of urgent care.  Although they let us drove our car out of the ferry ourselves, things were starting to feel pretty hairy.  To sum it all up, we were both scared the long drive had put James’ recovery in serious jeopardy.

Fortunately, there is a happy ending – the medical personnel in Turku hospital was fantastic in diagnosing and treating my most precious guy, and able to send us on our way within four hours from arrival.

rusty in his travelling harness

And this is where the first part of our road trip ends, in Forssa, at the breakfast table of my Mother who was anxious to receive us and had cooked for an army as usual.  Rusty is over the moon to be in Finland too, he loves his forests and lakes and there are plenty of both here.  Where he is enjoying running around like a headless chicken, surrounded by wilderness and its new smells, James and I are looking forward to a gentle, relaxing holiday – preferably without any further complications!

Finnish landscape

James always says Finland is like real life Center Parcs: everybody lives in a little wooden cottage in the forest and drinks are dirt expensive.  As a Finn, I can concur.  We have this whole theme park of a country to explore and I can’t wait to get started!

Until next time, au revoir!