Sunday, 20 July 2008

A more mundane week

It has been a more mundane week this week with lots of sunshine and loads of rain (as you can see in the first picture - vertical Latvian rain). The rain has presented its own problems as well as some cool cloud pictures. Our previous weeks have been filled with routine tasks and gardening but the question is what do you do when it is too wet to get out in the garden? I can always file papers - joy of joys! or I can do some embroidery or even get around to writing that handbook for helping children to engage in the prophetic that I have been meaning to get around to doing and haven't actually sat down with it until this week. Ian's problem has been that he has not had to fill in many days before and while he is happy to do the gardening or go out on his bike he hasn't really got anything that he can do in the house until we start on sorting out the electrics in the flat (apartment). Quite frankly at times he has been a pain as he keeps coming to have a look at what I am doing, and I am not used to someone watching what I am doing all the time (don't worry folks I know he reads my blog so I am not hiding anything :oD) this lead to a comment by me that he needs a hobby and it has become a running joke throughout the week. So if anyone has any suggestions for my dear husband to keep him entertained during those wet days when he can't get out in the garden or out on his bike, bearing in mind that we don't want to use the car too much due to the price of diesel, then we will be very grateful.

We did go and see our friends Steve and Natalija this weekend. Steve needed to take down some tents and because it has been so wet he couldn't do it when he had more help to do it, so he and Ian took a trip down to Tukums about 2 hours away from their house and dismantled tents while Natalija and I picked berries. We only have a small freezer but I still managed to squeeze in 10 boxes of fruit (red gooseberries, raspberries and red currants). (One of our projects is to buy an upright freezer, and possibly a bigger fridge/freezer but first we need to get the kitchen done). The weather was good for all of us and for the first day in over a week it was completely dry. I also got to watch "Finding Nemo" for the first time, I have never got around to watching it before but the rest of the family have and I keep getting left out of all the jokes that came out of that film (movie). It was nice to have lots of cuddles with Steve and Natalija's newest addition, Simon, who is now four months old and starting to take a lot of notice of his surroundings and complains about being put down quite so often now, he obviously is fed up of looking at the ceiling and wants to participate in what is going on. Unfortunately poor Samuel was too tired to be very sociable but he picked up at the end of the day and insisted that we stand and clap for his teddy as the teddy perched on top of some water bottles - why we had to clap for teddy I didn't quite understand but it was important to Samuel, who is nearly 2 years old.

On our way home from Birņi, where Steve and Natalija, live we saw a field with loads and loads of storks. It is quite common here to see storks following tractors in the fields in much the same way as a seagull would in England and quite often there can be 6 or 8 storks at a time, it is a wonder they don't get mangled in the machinery as they never seem to be in a hurry to get out of the way; this time there was a whole flock of storks and there could have been upwards of 50 of them. The storks must have travelled for miles around to all be in this one field it was an amazing sight and a little different to seeing over 50 seagulls following a tractor. 

When we got home I went into the garden to pick some veg for our tea (dinner, supper - this is complicated why can't we have just one word for an evening meal :P) and in addition to the lettuce which we have been picking for ages we now have green beans, kohlrabi and spinach. This morning while weeding the garden Ian accidentally uprooted one small potato and some Swiss Chard so we will have those for tea as well, we will savour our first potato of course.

To buy or not to buy that was the question earlier on this week. Our neighbours' friends are hoping to come out early next year to join them and us here in Ērgli and one of the flats (apartments) was up for sale but we knew it would need some work doing on it so we decided that it might be an idea to look at it now so that we could buy it and get started on some renovation and either our friends could buy or rent it or we could sell it on afterwards. After some consultation though we had to let it go as it is quite damp due to a lack of ventilation and could have more problems than we have money to rectify it. It was with dismay that later on we saw an advert for another apartment for 30,000 Lats (£33,900, $67,700) for a three bedroomed flat (apartment) of 73m2 (786sqft) which is a fantastic hike from even a year ago especially because they will need new bathrooms and new windows minimum and is ridiculous as Latvian wages are very low and is double what they were fetching last year. It would appear though that they are just fishing to see if someone, probably from Riga the capital would be interested or some foolish folks with money. These homes have a finite lifespan, perhaps another 20 years only as they are only prefabricated places. 

Our tenants for our house in Barlow gave notice to quit and now we are in the process of thinking do we keep the house or do we sever our link with the place we lived in for 15 years? It is not a good time to be selling houses in England but that doesn't worry me too much, but tax issues do, and having to find out where we stand with tax here in Latvia is not something I really want to delve into but will have to so we can move forward on our decision. If there is one thing I really dislike about moving countries it is the tax and trying to work out the different ways of working the system out and what applies in one country won't apply in another and vice a versa. So if you would pray for wisdom for us then that would be lovely.

Moving countries reminds me of something I saw today which illustrates what it is like to move. I transplanted cabbages from their seed bed today and they were looking really healthy and happy but they wouldn't have remained like that as they were too close together so I had to dig them up and move them, they wilted soon afterwards even though they have had a good watering. They will recover though like all the other plants I have transplanted. Often though there is a wilting period when moving countries, even if it is well prepared and necessary for the next stage of life but the good news is that we do recover. We have been transplanted into a new situation, one that we have been preparing for for over 6 years and there are times that we wonder what it is all for. I wouldn't say that we question whether we have done the right thing, God has graciously told us we have made the right decision but he hasn't given us a blueprint for what to do next and so we have to push some doors, and search for the next path. I keep thinking we get a glimpse of it but the doubts are still there but I am confident something will come together soon to guide us forward from here. 

This last week I finished the current year on NorthstarUK (an online school for which I am the student café monitor) for the summer holidays (vacations). It is a bit tricky at times when it comes to term times (semesters) in England and how out of step they are with the rest of Europe. I always find it funny when people complain about the long 6 weeks holidays that the English school children have as they have some of the shortest holidays in Europe, here in Latvia it is around 10 weeks, it was around 8 weeks in Denmark. Danish children and Latvian children finished at the end of June and the the Danes go back mid- August and the Latvians go back on the 1st September. 

Here is one of our neigbours colourful allotment. Latvians love colour and love flowers and it is lovely to travel around Latvia and see the colourful way they are painting their buildings - a change from the drab Soviet era they were coming out of when we first came. One day we will put some photos up of the various buildings like the new bakery in our small town they are just finishing off, it is bright orange and I mean bright but it looks gorgeous.

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