“We ended up with a restaurant”

Pekka och Janina Lindström

Janina Lindström had actually applied for half a year’s leave of absence from her work as a pre-school teacher outside of Stockholm in order to try her hands on arts and crafts. But at the same time an old camp site in Åland was for sale: forest, a couple of cottages – and an amazing beach. Her architect friend saw the potential and visions of the place started to take shape. Life took a new turn.

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It was neither silver-smithery nor ceramics that kept Janina busy in the spring of 2007. Instead she, her husband Pekka, and a couple of friends had half a year time to transform the overgrown and slightly derelict Degersand into a summer paradise.
- We started with taking down what felt like 1000 trees in order to get a sea view. In March I got a slipped disk in the neck and was not allowed to lift more than two milk cartoons. There I went with my neck support and dragged small branches behind me, she says and laughs at the memory.
In a way the first year was a challenge beyond limits. The cottages were rebuilt in order to be able to keep guests around the year, the simple restaurant building was painted white on the inside and panorama windows facing the sea were installed. Staff was needed, guests had to be tempted to come there, everything was new.
- I remember one time when we had been working really hard and wanted to relax with sauna in the evening, we got home and we had gotten a booking request from Eckerö Linjen for a cottage. So the night was spent decorating a cottage, making sure everything was in the right place, Janina explains.
- It went so fast and quick decisions had to be made constantly. When the first ice cream delivery came I had to ask the first customer what she usually paid for a chocolate ice cream cone.

Janina remembers the best beer of her life. It was drunk in Spain the same autumn, when she finally let herself relax after the first season: “We did it”. Nowadays the business almost runs by itself, with a bit of profit gaining as well. Janina’s colourful jewellery made of dichroic glass are for sale in the reception, but otherwise there has not been that much time for arts and crafts lately.
- I can’t claim it’s a dream that has come true, since this wasn’t something I planned. It was more like we just ended up with a restaurant, says Janina.
- But it’s fun, and creative in many ways, from the decorations to the baking. And I like meeting the customers.
After the up-bringing in Swedish-speaking Finland and many years in Sweden, Eckerö has become her home: the croft, Degersand Resort & Restaurant Q, as well as the curling hall to which she is committing in a non-profit way.
- I still feel like an outsider and don’t know that many people. But here is quiet and beautiful. The municipality of Eckerö has been approving towards our projects, and it feels like the people here help each other out in order to make things happen and make it work.