Saturday, 19 February 2011

Saturday 19th February

Is this the right way to go?

Walking to the lake at Sami and Annika's homes.
The sun through the trees.
A welcome at Annika's house.
The view to the lake. It's a truly beautiful place!
The ice hole!

The block of ice from the ice hole.... 67cm thick!
Now, we try to drill another hole!

Happy girls, on the way to Sami's home.

Getting ready for the snowmobile.

George ja Mikko :-)
An experience of a lifetime!
Mr Purves, about to set out on his own!

The final full day of activities proved to be another outstanding one!

We started by having a lie in, until around 9am, when we had breakfast. Jyrki arrived soon afterwards at Seurakuntakoti, our accommodation, and we got ready to spend the day outside with the penpals and parents at the lake where Sami and Annika live. To get there, we went again on the coach, around 3km past Kuvansi. It wasn't so cold today- in fact it seemed almost balmy at 10am as it was only around -20C!

Once we arrived at the lake and were welcomed by Anne (Sami's mum) we walked down onto the frozen lake and were shown a hole that had been drilled by Mika (Annika's dad). Mika explained how this winter has been very cold and how the ice is much thicker than normal. We measured the ice that had been brought out from the drilled hole and found that it was 67cm thick! Truly amazing! Then we had a go at drilling our own holes, which was great fun.

After this we walked from one lake to another, and through some forest. We arrived at Sami's house, and the scene that greeted us was amazing. There was a roaring fire, next to the lake, with reindeer soup being cooked by Kari, Sami's dad. He is from Lapland- and it was as if we were all in Lapland. The scenery was truly outstanding. As we sledged down through the trees to the lake, Mika showed the class three different snowmobiles, and explained that the children could all be taken for rides on them, in groups of four, sitting in a trailer being towed by the snowmobiles. We then all had a series of brilliant rides on the snowmobiles, across the lake and through the forest. Although I don't have individual quotes from the children, I can say that each and everyone of them thought that this was one of the true highlights of this wonderful week. Many came off the snowmobile saying how much they had enjoyed their rides. I was then allowed to drive two of them myself, which was a highlight for me too! :-)

We ate, drank, ate more and drank more, and each and every one of the children was catered for individually. It was amazing! (Just like everything else this week, to be honest!)

At around 2.30pm, we left for the spa hotel in Varkaus, after saying goodbye to the penpals, and we spent the afternoon swimming and enjoying the flume rides and the jacuzzis.

At 6pm, after getting ready, we were then treated to a really fantastic meal at a restaurant in Varkaus, where Jari the headteacher from Kuvansi, along with Jyrki and Marjo the teachers, joined us. Everyone learned to sing Auld Lang Syne in Finnish and enjoyed the meal and the great atmosphere. Jari gave out gifts to each of the children, and we then finished off with a quiz, set by Jari and Jyrki. A really wonderful end to a most amazing week. I have never experienced such hospitality, and I know that the children have all been overwhelmed by the experience.

Tomorrow morning, we leave for home. It has been a great experience for everyone. And, an experience that I am sure they will recall for the rest of their lives. I want to thank each and every one of the hosts for their wonderful friendliness during the whole week. Hopefully we will be able to repay this in Scotland soon!!