The year 2019 was the real turning point for us. Since the end of January, we were officially landowners, however owners of a land far away. We still lived in a small studio flat in London, where the traffic noise was perennial and the feeling of being suffocated by a life that no longer suited us.
Absurdly, the idea of owning a hectare of green and wonderful land that was just waiting for us was even more intolerable than not having it. We got up at 3am to go to work everyday, breathed in smog, spent hours at work in the demanding chaos of London.. and were sad. Sure, proud of our step forward .. but fundamentally sad because we were too far away.
We made the difficult decision not to ask for any leave or vacation for 7 months, so that we could spend Summer in our happy place. We therefore booked 3 weeks of vacation in July, in order to start working at our dream.
In the following months, the desire for freedom was replaced by rationality. How could we stay 3 weeks in a place without owning a tent, electricity, running water, or work equipment? And how could we transport everything by plane?
Again, these obstacles never frightened us. We spent hours talking, imagining scenarios, possibilities, solutions, researching and laughing at our sometimes absurd ideas.
We were aware that the property already had electricity, water and sewers. But the house was now in pieces, with the collapsed roof and the floor full of holes. Using it was unthinkable.
The first problems to be solved immediately were: where to sleep, how to take showers, the use of a bathroom, electricity, how to cook, how to shop (the nearest shop was one and a half hours away).
On a Finnish website we were able to find a very large, high, circular military tent, with the possibility of inserting a wood stove in the center. It seemed to us the most logical solution.
Speaking and discussing with our family, another solution was suggested to us. A Kota.
The Finnish Kota is generally a wooden house with a typical hexagonal shape, inside which there is a central hearth both for cooking and for heating the environment. It is also equipped with grill and smoker, windows, benches, hood and fireplace. We realized that not only we could sleep inside with a dry air mattress, but we could also warm up the environment and cook just about anything we wanted. Also, we could have kept our tools, clothes, boots, materials away from the elements.
Finally the perfect solution!
We contacted the seller realizing yet another obstacle: again, the language barrier. It was hardly possible that we finally found a person in customer service who was willing to respond quickly enough and with understandable English.
We discovered that it was necessary to build a concrete base to support the kota, as is done with the foundation of a house. Furthermore, there was no assembly help provided and the instructions were only in Finnish.
At that point, jokingly, I asked my parents if they ever wanted to visit Finland. What a surprise to find that they were already considering it!
Our prospects for success suddenly increased. My parents planned to come by with their camping-car from Italy, crossing Europe, passing through Poland, also bringing us a camping tent to use while the Kota was being built. And this step was fundamental: a Polish colleague of mine in fact suggested me a site where we could buy all the materials necessary for the work (saws, hammers, lawnmowers, shovels, etc.) at bargain prices. Not only that: my mother, thanks to an old couchsurfing friend, contacted a Polish boy who she had hosted in Italy. He made himself available to order what we needed and receive it at his home, awaiting their passage to pick up everything.
For weeks, I made lists in Italian of materials that were previously unknown to me, then translated all into English, took them to work where my colleague translated them to Polish. At that point I sent the translated lists to my mother who passed them on to her contact in Poland who proceeded with the order. They were chaotic months.
In the meantime, I also reflected on the problem of electricity and toilets.
Online I bought a portable camping shower and a mini vertical tent that served as a bathroom . Inside, we placed a portable camper toilet, kindly given by my parents' camping friends.
But I was still not satisfied: my fear was to pollute what for me was, and is, Eden. How could I fill with soap and detergents what I wanted to turn into a bio farm in the future?This is how I approached the world of organic cosmetics and soaps for the first time. Looking at videos, blogs, articles and books, I found that it was easier to make them yourself than to buy. I was fascinated by it. During the spring, I had produced enough soap, toothpaste, laundry soap, deodorant and cleaning products to be able to face our adventure. Thus it was, from a necessity, that Chez Nous Finland Soaping was born.
At first, we hoped to be able to use the motorhome generator. Unfortunately, however, we immediately realized that it would not be possible: the path that leads from the road to the ground is not passable by cars.
We therefore contacted the real estate agent and asked for the contact details of the agencies with which the running water and electricity contracts had been stipulated.
Again, communication was impossible. So impossible that only once we got to the ground and made friends with the best neighbors a person could want, that we really solved the problem. They offered us their electric hookups and spent hours on the phone requesting a temporary reopening of contracts and the new header.
We then discovered that our electricity meter was inside the crumbling house and therefore not accessible. Even today, we haven't settled the matter. We take advantage of the neighbor's panel every time, who never wanted anything in return. They really are wonderful and helpful people. So helpful that they were there building with us the now famous Kota, together with the workers we had hired for its foundations.
Without these unexpected, amazing people, we would never have been able to do it all.
The three weeks were spent in nature, in the mud (the rain kept us company for one weeks out of three) and amongst the mosquitoes.
Listen carefully to our words: if you are planning to spend your summer holidays in Finland, invest in liters of Autan and mint essential oil (best tool against itching). Finland is made up of trees, water and mosquitoes. Trust us.
We also passed by the municipality of Äänekoski , to finally meet who had helped us remotely in those months for all the bureaucratic issues we were had had. They welcomed us as a family, also giving us the opportunity to talk seriously about the project and presenting our business plan.
Thanks to these days spent working hard, building the kota, cutting the grass as tall as a grown man, collecting garbage and plastic accumulated over the years, cutting shrubs and weeds, preparing piles of firewood for the winter and making space for future greenhouses we were able to lay the foundations for all the projects that followed.