Monday, 9 November 2009

Humour needed!

Thought I would give a little update on the Latvian lessons first. We are by no means fluent in any shape or form as I have just not had the time to do more than glance at the books before the lessons and Ian is struggling to memorise what he needs to remember but we muddle on through. The great thing is though that our teachers are wonderful and patient and when things aren't going well we can laugh. I was listening to a service which was part translated on Sunday and I realised that I could recognise quite a few words which was great and I even managed to follow along with a piece that wasn't translated - I don't think I got the whole of it but at least I think I got the idea of what they were talking about which is encouraging.

Last week I mentioned how Ian was switching between the roles of consultant, farmer and househusband and the pattern continued for the rest of the week and the result of that is that he is off to Cyprus at the end of this week. He told his colleague that he will only go if she can guarantee some sunshine to which she replied she couldn't guarantee the sunshine as it is cooling down now in Cyprus, but she can guarantee it will be warmer than in Latvia. How true! The Everglades have just begun to defrost slightly with a rise in temperature and the snow that fell at the end of last week is disappearing but it is going ever so slowly, the crocodiles are ever so sluggish!

Just in case you think we have finally lost it and maybe you are not so far wrong on that score, our piece of land was jokingly labelled the Everglades last week as the ground has become rather saturated over Autumn. The problem with jokes in our household is that they have a tendency to rumble on for weeks, if not years. It is a trait of Ian's family! Honest! His Dad used to joke that the Queen would regularly pop in for a cup of tea on her travels and the spin offs from that joke still rumble on now and Ian's Dad died a couple of years ago but they are heroically kept alive by son and grandson in his honour. So various jokes about the Everglades have abounded, hence the crocodiles and the frequent mention of hovercrafts. 

One of the things we have to get used to in Latvia is the attitude to private land is rather different to that in England. I would never dream of venturing on land in case it belonged to someone but here there is no such scruple and perhaps that is as it should be, as long as they are not damaging land and respecting the environment. Often people go into woods to collect mushrooms or willow which is fine. One incident that I had forgotten about from the previous week happened to Ian while he was busy clearing out the wood. Ian came out of the wood and spotted a lot of people with high visibility vests on, Ian's first thought was that it was the police and there had been an incident, especially as they were all in a long line walking across the ploughed bit of land. Ian summoned up courage and went up to one of them and asked if they spoke English (Angliski?) which fortunately the guy did and he explained that it was a hunt. Phew! Well they set off into the woods "whooping" as they went along, I guess they were driving the game towards those with guns - no wonder they had high visibility jackets on then. Not quite sure what I think about folks driving game off the land we are stewarding but in some ways I just hope they reduce the number of wild boar as I can foresee they maybe a real problem if we try and grow veg. I perhaps would feel better if we could benefit from their activities though, I don't think I have actually had venison but wild boar is pretty good. 

We don't often have guests turn up unexpectedly very often  but  this week was an exception which has been fun. I agree with one blog site that measures how beautiful a home is, not by the elegant setting or the eclectic chic appearance but by the abundance of generous hearts, so hopefully our guest was blessed by arriving at a meal time and my eking it out to feed three instead of two, he seemed to appreciate it anyway. Our young American friend, Marvin, also came round for a meal for the last time this week as he is off back to America, he will be sorely missed around here. His last visit will be memorable for one reason in particular though as he made an explosive exit  - well not him personally but the front glass section on my oven shattered while we were in the kitchen preparing the meal, thankfully no one was hurt. Not sure what I am going to do about the door now and it is proving interesting trying to get food into and out of the oven as it does not stay fully open due to the lack of weight from the missing glass front and it requires an almost yoga type exercise in order to keep the door open. 

A few weeks ago I asked on a forum site if anyone had any good ideas for marrows as I had used them in just about any way I could think of and had run out of ideas, an interesting suggestion was to make marrow rum. The recipe was easy enough, brown sugar, juice of an orange and some yeast all packed into the hollowed out centre of a marrow and left for a few weeks.  Eventually the marrow started leaking and so we thought we had better deal with it as we didn't want anything exploding in our dump room, I think that would entail a far more complicated cleaning up job than the exploding pumpkin down in the cellar (anyone get the impression that it is getting dangerous around here?). We opened up the marrow and a very pleasant but alcoholic smell began to permeate the apartment, we tipped the juice into a plastic bottle and added more orange juice and yeast, scraped the rest of the flesh out of the marrow and left it to drain in a colander to extract the maximum amount of liquid. The sweet alcoholic smell lingered and wouldn't you guess it that is the time for more unexpected guests to turn up, we smelt more like an illegal distillery and wondered what our neighbours would think as the smell wafted out the door. Alcohol is a major problem here in Latvia so they probably thought we had just succumbed to the onslaught of poor weather and turned to drink. Fortunately our guests saw the funny side of it and we laughed and giggled about it. 

Last week I mentioned that our tractor had been driven back to the tractor company and wondered how long it would have taken them as it takes an hour by car and our tractor is only little, well we found out it took them three hours. Three hours of bumping around on dirt roads for our little tractor - poor thing! Can't imagine whoever drove the tractor was in good shape either at the end of that. Worse thing is that didn't even solve the problem, our front loader is still not fitted. Somehow the wrong part was either ordered or sent and we have to wait for the right part to come from Italy. We had the tractor delivered back to us for the time being though and would you believe it, it arrived one snowy evening! And yes the transit pulling our tractor on a low loader did get stuck didn't it! And yes Ian pulled ended up pulling it out to the land. He is going to have to get a new tow rope at this rate but Ian did say it looked rather peculiar with our red truck pulling a big transit that was pulling a low loader with a tractor on it. So what is the betting that the part comes next week while Ian is away? I have to go and get tractor driving lessons to learn how to reverse it out of the tight space where it is parked just in case. Deep joy! Advantage of the returned tractor is that Ian could turn the tractor lights on and the guys finish off the concreting for our poly tunnel base, we are kind of glad that bit is finished despite the mud, rain, ice and snow, just not so sure about the wisdom of trying to concrete in the ice though. Only time will tell on that one.

Our eventful week was rounded off by the announcement that our chimney is ready for our new stove. We weren't able to find the right parts but that doesn't seem to matter here in Latvia, if you don't find the part, you find someone to make it for you. That did mean that our living room needed a radical rearrangement. Well we kind of put it off as long as possible as changing furniture around and deciding where it is going to go is fraught with problems in our household, Ian hates change - I think it might be a man thing, not sure, but I love to change things around and would do it a lot more if it didn't cause so much strife. The thing I don't like though is the wires to all the bits and pieces of electrical stuff - now that causes me strife. Well we survived the trauma without too much strain and if anyone asks the yellow bruise on Ian's nose is because a twig hit him last week. OK!

Just a quick ponder this week so here goes, as I sit and write this blog it is 20 years ago since the fall of the Berlin wall. I remember the shock of that happening and the consequent falling of the communist regime. It was amazing how such an act can have consequences down the line and even the fact that I am sat here writing this blog here in Latvia would not be possible without the momentous changes that  occurred all those years ago.

And talking of wonders that will never cease an influential think tank released a blog this week that supported the work of the Latvian Prime Minister in the face of the IMF and doesn't think he deserves the flak that he is getting and believes that the IMF has been making a hash of things in Latvia. Now where have I heard that before?

Pictures 1 & 2 - Our wintry village
Pictures 3 & 4 - The cleared out woodland and the pile of brush (I know I am only little but that pile is still huge and one of I think three)
Pictures 5 & 6 - More scenes from the land.
Picture 7 Our new stove, do you like the fire?


  1. you wait how many months for your stove and you put a candle in it?!!! If that's all you were going to do, surely a little glass dish would have been less hassle and a lot cheaper. ;)


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