Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Manor with orchard

Now that we no longer have the old garden with many apple trees we have made sure to see plenty of apple blossoms in other gardens. This season the blooming has been more abundant than in decades, they say. Late last week, we drove to the Kakskerta island to have a walk in the orchard of the Brinkhall Manor to witness that firsthand.

As you can see from the photos, we certainly got more than our fair share of wonderfully flowering apple trees.

The history of Brinkhall dates back to the 16th century. The present manor house was built in the 1790s but the interior was modernised and renovated in neoclassical style in the 1920s. Later in the 20th century, the place was unoccupied for several decades until it was rediscovered as the setting for a popular historical TV series Hovimäki that was filmed there in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Since then Brinkhall has been owned by a cultural heritage foundation. The place is operating only in the summertime, which in our part of the world means from June to late August. During the latest winter season, the interior of the main building underwent careful restoration now offering an improved venue for events, art exhibitions, concerts, etc. The summer café in one of the annexes will also open on June 1.

Last summer, we saw a couple of art exhibitions and attended a concert on classical guitar – one of our absolute favourite musical genres – at Brinkhall. We will definitely keep returning to this lovely setting located between a lake and a strait with a cottage for rent on the shores of both. I will post more about the buildings and grounds of the estate including the English garden as soon as we have explored them properly.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Early summer

In the summertime, my favourite café is this old villa that was originally a private summer residence but has been owned by the town of Turku since the 1950s now serving as a café, event venue and inn. Its popularity does not spring from its offerings or interior but rather from the great location on the furthermost cape of the Ruissalo island.

Who wouldn’t love to enter this building and walk through the glassed-in porch to the garden to be able to sit with some refreshments under the aged oak trees and maples there? Show me such a person and I’ll show you an unfeeling zombie.

Café Villa Saaro opened the season on May Day and we have kept visiting watching the surroundings come to life.

At the moment, it is apple blossom time. All the broad-leaved trees that were only slightly green last week are now turning all bushy. Two weeks ago, the lifeless leaves of last year were still hanging from the barren-looking oak trees.

The lovely path bordered with oak trees will take you from the garden to the beach which will be crowded before too long. And so will the beach huts and barbecue shelters.

Spring and early summer constitute such an overwhelming season you cannot but wonder in amazement: is this really happening? You’ll be struck by the eternal dilemma of Nordic life. The winter season is so dark and depressing you’ll find it hard to have anything extra done. The summer season is so light and fabulous you’ll find it needless to accomplish anything extra. Thank goodness we no longer have to waste this glorious time at an office.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Mountain panorama

Let’s go back to last October and our Lago Maggiore excursions for a while before the present season takes me over completely. Otherwise you might never hear anything more about this Piedmontese holiday and this place is too gorgeous not to post about. 

We returned to Stresa and Baveno another day planning to take the cable car to Monte Mottarone to see a bird’s-eye view of the lake. It turned out the service was closed because of a statutory inspection of the system that is performed every 40 years. So we thought we might as well drive to the mountain instead.

As it happened to be a Sunday quite a number of people had headed that way, too. There were dozens of cars and motorbikes, even several camper vans parked at the foot of the final rise.

The highest hump of the mountain is not much of an attraction with its trampled sides and antennas at the top but the climb certainly pays off. The summit offers 360 degrees of fantastic views! The Borromean Islands of my recent post (here) lie more than a kilometre below. You could even spot the Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso (post here) in the distance.

As picturesque as the views to Lago Maggiore and beyond might be on a sunny afternoon the panoramas to the mountains and valleys with the snow-peaked Alps in the distance are even more marvellous. It is no wonder many people were spending their day off at Monte Mottarone hiking on the trails or simply admiring the breathtaking views.

In early October, the autumn colours were at their best. We were thrilled to see some hang-gliders, even the take-off of one. I can only imagine how fantastic it must have felt to float over the colourful landscapes of such stunning beauty.

The lake in the valley behind the hills that resembles the head of a cartoon fish with an open mouth is Lago d’Orta. A couple of days earlier, we were walking the path around the tip of the cape forming the bottom of the mouth. (My posts on that day trip here and here.)

Should you ever visit Monte Mottarone it might be a good idea to reserve a whole day for the excursion. There is an alpine garden, Giardino Alpinia ad Alpino, not far from the first stop of the cable car. Should you be driving to the mountain you could stop also at the Umbrella Museum at Gignese. We didn’t have the time to stop at either. A trick to get me going early is yet to be discovered, I’m sad to say.