Monday, 26 April 2010


I love the clouds in this photo
We started off this week with injections for tic-bourne encephalitis. The lovely little tics can be found whilst tramping around forests and long grass, which of course when you have land you get to do lots of. Now before I put you off ever visiting Latvia, you have to remember that tics are not just the delightful, little, blood-sucking insects that you only find in Latvia, these sorts that pass on this rather nasty illness, can be found from Alsace-Lorraine in the west to Vladivostok and north-eastern regions of China in the east, and from Scandanavia to Italy, Greece and Crimea in the south, so they are kind of extensive. At least now we can be a little more confident that we shouldn't get a nasty illness from them, well at least in a few days time we can. Apparently you have to make absolutely sure that you do not get a tic bite for the first ten days, when it would be even worse than not having the injection in the first place - something Ian remembered only after he had been making his way through the forest one day and had to strip off to make sure he hadn't got any of the wee beasties. I have also read that if you do remove them within a few hours then there is much less chance of getting an infection from them, so worth remembering even in the UK where there is the delight of Lyme's disease from tics and I don't think there is a vaccination for that yet.

Wood anemone in our forest
There has been lots of processes started off this week from getting lots of lovely manure for the garden, finally finding out how to get milk directly from the farmer, to seeing a man who wants to lay some electricity cables along the edge of our land to starting off the process of getting our barn built. The electricity cables are to connect a biogas unit that is being built to the local substation and we are on that route. It is actually  a good thing as that means we will have a new cable, carrying three phase electric along the edge of our land which should make getting a transformer easier for us when the whole thing gets connected and hopefully the electric supply should be more reliable than the electric in nearby areas. The biogas unit I have also found out will be using grass and we could at a later stage write out a contract with the company to supply them with grass, the only problem is that I am now trying to find out if this is grass that is cut at the same time as silage grass or the end of year meadow grass, if it is green grass that could mean that the local corncrake could come under more pressure in our area. I somehow don't think it will be corncrake friendly grass they will want as that probably won't provide as much biogas unless something is added to it. Swings and roundabouts with trying to think green.

Pied Wagtail with a thing for our car, which it decorates in
its own inimitable style. 
The barn process we are hoping will not become another saga like the polytunnel but we are not holding our breath. We went to see the architect - the same one who gave us permission to have the stove put in. We did wonder if she wanted to see where it was going to be built but she didn't, good job really as we knew she wouldn't be prepared for traipsing across the land by having a suitable pair of shoes or clothes (previous experience told us that). We were a little worried to see her leave the building at around the time we were due to meet her and wondered if we should stop her, problem is we know she doesn't speak English and our translator hadn't arrived, fortunately she didn't take the car so we knew she wouldn't be far away. We were assured though that we could have the technical details by May 15th - I will believe it when I see it though. And as for that polytunnel - we are still waiting. For some reason not known to us they finished off a kiddies playground which has been on the go about as long as our polytunnel and installed it at the kindergarten, at least someone has a finished project!!!! Maybe next week (I could do with an emoticon right now that issues a long sigh)

Working hard in the allotments. Reminds of us of Pat and Mat
It snowed again this week after a lovely few days too. Still it was not totally unexpected as that happened last year as well but the biggggg difference this year is we still have heat (or we did, I think the radiator is cold as I write this for the first time this winter). Last year we were sat shivering under blankets trying to keep warm with just oil-fired radiators to keep warm for much of April after they turned the communal heating off at the end of March. This year we were panicking a bit because we don't have a huge amount of wood left to heat our apartment if they did turn the heat off early so have been really relieved not to need it. Hopefully it means that our neighbours were paying their bills over winter this year, which must be easier to do since the heating bills are so much lower, despite the massive drops in salaries but I still wonder. 

Birthday flowers
It was my birthday this last week and I got flowers galore, a sweet little pink potted rose from a family and bunches from my English class with a vase and a bunch from another friend. My friend bought me a lovely sunny yellow bunch of chrysanthemums because she said the sun had disappeared and so wanted something to remind me of the sun. That made me smile a lot. I did get a DVD from one of my children, one forgot as usual and one tried valiantly to get something to me but I think was defeated by the volcano which shut down Latvian airspace too. Oh well at least I know it is on its way, err as long as it doesn't get lost on route that is. My presents from Ian are usually a long time in arriving, mainly because I decide what I like and then spend absolutely ages trying to find something that fits my criteria. It took months before I found a handbag (American = purse) that I liked. Many bags seem to have way too much bling for my liking. 

After a meal out at our restaurant I sat down to the computer to investigate toilets, composting toilets to be exact and why may you ask would I be doing such a thing, because someone thought I might know about that sort of thing. Well I have looked into it from time to time and I had even had a very interesting site bookmarked where you can learn lots of fascinating things about composting toilets, about toilets in the developing world, how to build a toilet of various sorts and what to do with all that errr compostable material :o), for instance why not dig a pit, build a loo over it and then when it is full, move the loo and plant a tree in the hole or even tomatoes. Smells? No problem, use a ventilation pipe and plenty of sawdust and it's sorted. No wonder he thought to ring me and ask me. 

Ian praying our polytunnel will be finished!
Actually it is a gadget to support the roof
whilst nailing on slips of wood to hold down
the plastic but it does look rather like a crucifix.
Despite the snow we now have returned to some lovely spring like weather. It would put me in mind for some more spring cleaning but I need to get my studying done so no chance. What I might get chance to do is some spring cleaning for the soul though. Spring cleaning for the soul is an idea from the Timber Butte site that I follow and talks about getting rid of the clutter from our souls such as unedifying or even painful thoughts. Clearing out does not mean ignoring them or pretending that they didn't happen but facing them and sorting out the ties surrounding issues, such as what needs to be forgiven? what is an unresolved issue that needs resolving? what is important? what is better to be let go? But like a spring clean it can leave you feeling clean and prepared for what lies ahead. 

A Sunday spent gathering the thatch  Ian has
harrowed up with his tractor instead of gazing at a
computer studying. A brain rest with some much needed
physical work for me.
A very interesting turn around for the IMF this week as they suggest taxing banks - does that mean theirs too? This surprising move has taken analysts by surprise too but reading between the lines it sounds like the IMF are hoping to benefit from such a move and suggesting it goes into their own coffers. Unless the IMF become much more transparent and accountable in their dealings then I think that would be a very bad move indeed. The IMF seem to have gained rather too much power in this crisis, power that only a couple of years ago seemed to be on the wane.

If anyone can identify this weird cup shaped fungi, I would
be most grateful
I mentioned last week that people were beginning to think of a world without planes and this is beginning to happen. It appears to have given fresh impetus to a high speed rail link between Helsinki and Berlin (all that needs to happen now is for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to stop quibbling over it and it could become a reality) only hope that with trains travelling at 300km/hr (186 mph) they do something about the numerous level crossings in Latvia, I somehow don't think the combination will work without a lot of heartache, hopefully they will build bridges over them. It would also be nice to think there is a realistic alternative to air travel, especially as I vowed never ever to travel with Ryanair after the head's ridiculous comments this week. He seems to think that encouraging people to travel on cheap tickets is somehow doing them a favour when the reality is that if they travel with Ryanair and get into problems then Ryanair will not care two hoots about them and believe they should be able to fend for themselves, fine if they have the money for that but the reason that people use Ryanair is because it is cheap. So it seems they are really encouraging reckless behaviour that could leave people stranded. Well not me!


  1. Glad you had a nice birthday. Your blog this week seems to be about two steps forward and one step back but it's good to know that on the whole progress is being made, even if slowly. I think Spring is a lovely time of year when we see new things happening and the way forward seems a bit clearer.

    How good that you are gaining a reputation as someone who can help(even if the subject is toilets!)

    The polytunnel is looking good. It won't be long before it's producing food.

  2. It certainly did seem like two steps forward and one back but like you said it is still progress.

    I hope the polytunnel is ready soon. They did at least tighten up the plastic which is good.


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