Ii (pronounced ee) may well turn out to be the shortest-named camperstop on our travels. It could also come in very useful in a quiz if asked to give a place name made up of vowels only! We’re spending a second day on a campsite here, catching up up with the laundry, fully charging up all of our gadgets and having a bit of down time before we continue on our way up to Nordkapp tomorrow.

Finland is a beautiful country which is practically covered by lakes and forests, but there is a downside to this, and that’s the midges. A few nights ago when we were parked up at the Kvarken Archipelago we had a midge nightmare. Our van has mesh screens covering the habitation door, and all of the windows and roof vents to help keep the midges out. There were swarms of them outside, and some of the little biters had got into the van when we’d been been getting in and out of the van, so at bedtime we went round the van and got rid of all the ones we could find. Fortunately the Nordic midges seem to be much more dopey than their European cousins, so this didn’t take too long. However, throughout the night we were woken by the buzzing of yet another midge, which we had to find and kill. In all, we splattered over 50 of the buggers, and we both have quite a few bites (they’re not so dopey after all!). They’re getting into the van somehow, and if we can’t stop them then maybe we’ll have to buy some mosquito nets or beekeeper’s pyjamas or something if it carries on.

Just some of the midges hovering outside our van
This was taken at 03:17 when dispatching another mozzie – broad daylight!
Some ex-midges

The next day we were both shattered as we’d hardly had any sleep, so we did very little apart from driving up to Kalakoji, with a stop off in Kokkola along the way. Parked up by the beach that night, we were both relieved that it was cool and rather windy, so the midges didn’t bother us.

Yesterday we drove another couple of hundred kilometres further north to Ii. The roads continue to be great to drive along, with the scenery alternating between open farmland and forests of pine and silver birch trees. We’ve driven past countless warning signs for moose, but we’ve yet to spot any four-legged wild mammals. Hopefully we’ll see some moose or reindeer soon.

We’re currently at 65°N (the same latitude as Reykjavik in Iceland) and so it’s now light all through the night, which is rather weird when you wake up in the middle of the night.

Ii is quite a small village so there’s not much here, but we did find a nice café for lunch yesterday, and we’ve been to the ‘gym’ a couple of times. We’ve also been round the two supermarkets here (we don’t only shop at Lidl!) and one thing we’ve noticed is that they all have slot machines inside which take debit cards which is a bit weird. The Finns are also partial to a bit of liquorice, and so there’s loads of different varieties in the confectionery aisle. The weirdest is a bar of white chocolate with raspberry and liquorice, which sounds yuk!

According to a book I’m reading, the Finns have a thing about saunas. Apparently there’s one sauna per two people in the population, so there are more saunas than cars! The campsite’s website advertised that it has a sauna, so I was going to have a go – when in Rome and all that – but when we got here the sauna looked dilapidated, so I’ve had to give it a miss.

Carol at the gym – we’ve seen quite a few of these across Europe so they’re getting very popular
The nearest I’m going to get to Nordic skiing
Maritime weather vane at the church
There’s a WWII cemetery by the church in Ii
Picturesque lake
Slot machines in the supermarket

The laundry is now all done, gadgets are charged and the van’s had a good spring clean inside, so we’re raring to go. Tomorrow we will move on to our next stop which will be at Rovaniemi, just inside the Arctic Circle. It’s also where Santa Claus lives.


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