Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Wet, wet, wet

Tuesday was the turn of the orphanage girls to go shopping and we decided to start earlier as we thought they may take a little longer than the boys to get their shopping done and we wanted to get there before the market stalls started shutting up this time. We were right, they did need longer but they weren't that bad really. I can't imagine taking four teenage girls from the UK shopping with a set budget and they being quite happy to stay with the list set for them, that they had helped to draft anyway, and not have any tantrums if they saw something else they wanted. I have been so impressed with how grateful the children have been from the orphanage at the chance to buy their own things and have lunch out, there was no greed that I perceived. One thing that did spoil the day was the rain though, none of them had coats and it started to rain the minute we got to town and it poured the rest of the time, the poor girls were blue with cold and we were all wet through even with our rain coats on. We half wondered if it was wiser to go home and get changed before having lunch but home was three quarters of an hour away and the girls were so hungry we decided to eat anyway.

The Baltic Way has been in the news quite a bit this week and often it is described as a remarkable peaceful demonstration that ushered in democracy and independence, which is testament to the heroic actions of the people from these lands. In Disneyland Paris they even created a mini Baltic Way with a number of people holding hands from mini Tallin to mini Vilnius through mini Riga in the mini Europe section. I would loved to have seen that, I used to love going to see miniature villages and my grandparents often took me to the one in a nearby park in Blackpool. I had hoped there would be some pictures of the relay run commemorating the original Baltic Way but so far I haven't seen any, so if anyone else comes across any please let me know.

Thursday saw me heading out to Scotland, it was a very early start and we woke at 1.30am and left the house at 2.30am, needless to say I slept pretty much most of the plane journeys both Riga to Stockhom and Stockholm to Edinburgh. I never used to sleep so much on plane journeys but either I am just getting older and snoozing comes easier or I have just got used to falling asleep on planes and since I don't often snooze in the day I think it is the latter. It was nice to be welcomed by a friend at the airport, Phil a medical student who we met in Latvia last year. He goes to Glasgow University but had taken the time to drive over to Edinburgh so we could meet up over a coffee. It was wonderful to hear the hopes and dreams of a young man embarking on a future which will lead who knows where but with such a big heart for people. Sometimes when I get jaded with church and people getting stuck in programmes and idealistic visions that don't go anywhere because they are not really listening to God it is refreshing to hear of the hopes and dreams of the young and be able to offer some encouragement and guidance to follow the path God has set them upon, hoping by doing so they will avoid some of the mistakes of the past. I know God does sometimes set all of us away on idealistic visions and we wouldn't be here in Latvia if we hadn't followed one such dream, but we have waited on God's timing and seeking to dig deep and slowly, if God says run we will run, but he hasn't and even though there are times we feel impatient with the pace we know that a hurried pace will mean leaving too many weeds in the garden which will rise up and choke the dream later.

The reason for being in Scotland was a couple of Induction days for the new course I am starting. I did find out that the University of Highlands and Islands does not exist yet, it is on its way to becoming a University but the degrees are properly accredited anyway. It did seem appropriate to be in near the beginning of an enterprise and seems to be something of a pattern in my life. When I went to University it was to join a course that had only just been created and it was pretty tough because of that. I studied Pharmacology and Chemistry and it was if they tried to stuff the whole of the two courses together and subsequent years they cut the workload drastically. When we first went to Latvia we were the some of the first to go to the camps but we were definitely the first to take kids along with us and that set a pattern for what was to come. So to be using an online educational institution that is moving towards University status and pioneering education amongst a sparsely populated part of the world, the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, just seems so fitting. I am sure there are lessons to be learnt for developing education as well as what I hope to be learning about sustainable development for here in Latvia. It was really exciting to talk to the Biodiversity Management tutor from the new course, up till now I have been studying the theory of Development management with a lot of reflective thinking on power relationships and trying to get my head around the complexity of the systems that make up development which is great and useful but it was refreshing to be able to talk about something practical regarding our piece of land and how the course might actually be useful for deciding on the best way to manage the piece of land (no we haven't come up with a name yet!) and still maintain the rich biodiversity of the place and even enhance it. I am really looking forward to seeing how this course develops and there are some courses I will have to do but there are some that I would love to do and wondering if I might end up doing more than I need to just out of interest - we shall see, as finances or common sense may stop play on that score.

The second day of the Induction days was only a half day so it was opportunity to get out and see some of Scotland which I love, and I would have been nice to have shown you some pictures but I forgot my camera, so I guess you will have to just take it from me that the scenery North of Perth is wonderful, with some surprising sights, like Menzies castle that suddenly appears in view and is so different to English castles I uttered "Oh Wow!" when I saw it, which is not like me at all, and the internet pictures don't do it justice at all. It was lovely to see the heather in bloom on the hills still, although it wasn't at its best as the hills looked more brown than purple from a distance but I took the chance of a dry day (so why oh why didn't I have my camera?) for some short walks so I could see the heather up close. I do love Scotland, even if it does rain a lot and I love the change of scenery from the bleak moors to the sweeping hills and mountains, the trees and lochs and the cute cottages and dour looking stone buildings that look so solid that they should be there for hundreds of years more. I hope that won't be my last chance to visit but at least I did get the chance to take some photos on my last wet day in Scotland on my circuitous route to the airport - a last chance to take in some sights - and they are from a little village called Douane where it was only drizzling and not pouring with rain and somewhere for me to stretch my legs for a few minutes.

I won't always do an internet trawl, just in case you think this going to be a regular feature but if something does strike me in the week I shall mention it here. This week I was struck with the phrase from a Guardian article "History is too important to leave to the politicians", which is so true as the Russians are desperately trying to convince the world that they are really cuddly bears and not the evil big bad bears that is sometimes depicted and that the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact was really not an attempt by Russia to steal the lands of the Baltics but was the best approach in the circumstances in order to make a pact with Hitler for the sake of the Russian nation. History does get re-written for the convenience of those who wield power, and we have to read all history bearing in mind it was not written objectively, no matter how hard the author tries, it will still be suffused with the ideals and politics of the writer or the politics of the those paying for the "research". All history is useful to help us with our present and our future but it needs to be read carefully and not at face value and certainly not from one source only.

No comments:

Post a Comment

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