Monday, August 11, 2008

Stories from the lake #1: Team Antinranta

The weekend before we went away, I read an article in the Guardian about how you should never, ever go on holiday with your friends. I began to worry.

We were:
  • Me: first most likely to sauna au naturel, eighth most likely to eat blood sausage and jam*.
  • M, braver of cold lakes, lighter of fires, cooker of breakfasts. Usually in that order.
  • Mr B, who has all the moves, including the ones that make the boat go in a straight line. He was oarsome.
  • H, who brought glamour and intrigue: her continued presence was decided by Turkey's Constitutional Court.
  • K, aka Sauna Girl. Löyly, vihta, implausible bikini, vodka. Repeat to fade.
  • Dr A, researcher of indigenous foods and expounder of obscure philosophies.
  • L, growing fast to fill the space where the Old Testament stops and pear cider starts.
  • J, half boy, half biscuit. All about the show that must go on.
Me, Mr B and Dr A were all at university together. K was there too, though my orbit and hers never intersected at the time. There are few people I have known and loved for longer. What a ridiculous thing to jeopardise, I thought, while wading through mucus the week before we left. What made me think that a fortnight in rural Finland with *other people* and *other people's children* was ever going to be a good idea?

I don't know what made me think it, or even if it was me who thought it first, (though I seem to remember that alcohol was involved) but having done it, I say shame on you, Guardian Family Section. Find the right people and set them by the right lake in the right Scandinavian country, and you will have just about the best holiday imaginable.


* This is not a Germaine Greer-style euphemism. That, I'd be much higher up the list for.

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Blogger Spine said...

HEINOLA, Finland, Aug 9, 2008 (AFP) - Finland held onto its
reign in 2008 Sauna World Championships by sitting in a piping hot
sauna for longer than competitors from Belarus and Belgium.
Bjarne Hermansson who won the male championship stayed in a
sauna heated to 110 decrees Celsius (230 Fahrenheit) for 18 minutes
and 15 seconds.
"It feels wonderful, it is a dream come true," said Hermansson,
his red hot skin covered with sweat.
Hermansson, who has attended the competition every year, said he
had trained for it by going to a really hot sauna for more than 30
But he admitted reaching his dream had not been easy. "It was
slightly more pain than pleasure," he said.
The toughest woman was Leila Kulin who could take the heat for
five minutes and 21 seconds, but Belarussian Natalya Tryfanava was a
close competitor and only lost by one second.
"The secret to my success was Finnish persistence," Kulin told
reporters just a few seconds after she stepped out of the sauna as
the champion.
The world championships in sauna sitting have been held in
Heinola, 138 kilometres (86 miles) north of Helsinki since 1999.
This year 164 competitors from 23 countries including Canada,
China and Germany participated in the contest.
Finns love sauna. The Nordic country of 5.3 million people has
around three million saunas and on Saturdays almost everyone goes to
a sauna to unwind.
But the traditional Finnish sauna is far from the extreme hot
competition sauna.
"This is a wrong way to go to sauna, this is not about relaxing,
this is competition," Ossi Arvela, the head of the competition, told
He said the idea for the competition came after a group of men
had frightened other customers in a Heinola swimming hall by
organising their own competition in sauna and throwing so much water
on the stove it became piping hot.
Finland is known for other weird competitions such as
wife-carrying and ice swimming.

"throwing so much water on the stove it became piping hot"?

11:36 am  
Blogger Jo said...

I like the way the man who runs the competition is keen to point out its flaws. That feels very Finnish.

8:47 pm  

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