Monday, 22 June 2009

Corncrakes and apologies

Ian has continued to be busy this week creating crop circles, as someone referred to them, with his strimmer (weedwhacker), getting rid of the pesky weed, Ground Elder, but at least he did finish. Only problem is that it is a bit like the forth bridge (well used to be until they got a special new paint for it) now he has finished strimming it is growing back again. So now he is dreaming tractors! He had to strim it by hand first time around as there are quite a few rocks so we didn't dare borrow a tractor to cut the stuff down as we would have broken the machine and we didn't think that would go down to well with the owners. The piece of land though does look rather peculiar with its rather odd haircut. Stones weren't the only things that Ian found, he also found a Corncrake's nest. Corncrakes are relatively rare in England due to the low numbers of meadows and the different way hay is cut these days but in the nest Ian found about 10 eggs, fortunately Mum came back to the nest later. So if we want to encourage the bird to flourish we will have to bear it in mind when we cut the hay next year. As well as a Corncrake Ian also saw Eagles flying around, it will be interesting to see what else inhabits the piece of land over the year and what else we will be sharing it with.

A good piece of news is that I passed the first unit of my course, Development: Context and Practice. I did quite well on some questions and abysmally on one in my exam so overall I got a Pass, which is better than a fail anyway. As I mentioned a few weeks ago there is a potential for my course to start costing me more than I had planned so I have been hunting around and comparing prices and course contents. This has lead to some interesting discussions with one of the tutors from the University of Highlands and Islands and I have decided to make the switch from the Open University but still continue towards a Masters. Instead of a Masters in Development Management though I shall be aiming to get a Masters in Managing Sustainable Rural Development (just rolls of the tongue doesn't it?). This course is a bit more scientific which will suit me better than the more theoretical stuff. I have really enjoyed doing the theory and it has been very thought provoking but it will be nice to be able to include something a little more practical for our situation like Water Management (and there has been lot of it to manage) and Biodiversity as well as Developing Communities.

The wind and the rain this past month has just added to the doom and gloom that was hanging over Latvia but on the way back from somewhere this week (Now where was it? I can't remember) I looked up and something about the sky made me think that something had shifted in the Heavens. At the time I had no idea what it meant or what had happened but when we did make it home and I was browsing through the Latvian news I came across and article where the Prime Minister and the President of Latvia were apologising to the Latvian nation for the pain they are having to put them through. The Prime Minister, a youngster in political terms being only 37 years old, is caught between a rock and hard place, trying to adjust the economy to comply with the direction required by the IMF and amending the wrong choices made in previous years and that is not going to come without massive pain in the country. I think there is a humbleness coming from the leadership in apologising for that which I found encouraging.

It would be easy to think well it is alright for him as he is earning good money, well he is and he isn't. I wrote last week about the wages earned by Latvians which is not particularly high, well this week there was announcement that the Latvian Prime Minister would be having a cut in salary from 2385 LVLs (£2894, $4730) to 1908 LVLs (£2315, $3784) per month before tax. Not a huge sum for the head of a European country and there maybe more cuts ahead depending on how things go.

One thing I have learnt moving around is that it takes a long time to actually leave a country entirely. One of the last things to be dealt with is usually the tax and if you leave towards the beginning of the tax year it can be a long time before that gets sorted out. Well we finally reached another milestone of leaving America as we got our overpaid tax back from 2008 so the last thing to do is to wind up our American bank account and then that will close the final page on that era of our life.

Well I shall wind up this blog with one final quirky happening this week. Ian had been strimming our garden (yes there is a lot of strimming to do!) and he came up to me as I was doing some planting out and said "Have you been planting in the dung heap without telling me? Because I nearly strimmed some plants." I went to have a look and there in the heap are about four very healthy looking plants which could be something like pumpkins, or melons or courgettes (zucchini). One thing for sure is I haven't put them there and they seemed to be too regular to be dropped seeds, so has someone planted them? Are they a gift? Or has someone just taken advantage of our spare dung heap? Who knows! And we will have to wait to find out what they are.


  1. Two things: I love that (thanks to Google) I can now see and translate the birds you post that I've heard and read of from my younger days. eg. Grieze. The Corncrake looks a bit like our meadowlark, but skinnier.

    The other thing is that it took me this long to learn what you have been studying. I admire your stewardship of the land very much because I've always had a strong drive to preserve and protect this small planet of ours. That you're doing it in Latvia makes it so much more special.

    Oh... and another... I remember my mother complaining about how dirty the streets of Boston were when I was young. I never fully believed her claim that Latvia was so much cleaner, but it seems you've backed her up. How sweet!

  2. I am finding your comments fascinating Gunta and thank you for your encouragement regarding my studies.


I love to hear your comments and will always reply, so go ahead, ask a question or just say hi