Monday, 3 May 2010

Off week

Stormy skies and greening grass
 Its been an off week this week, water off, electric off, heating off, me off. They are working on the water system again as they upgrade the whole lot to European standards and they did warn us the water was going off (amazing how quickly you cotton on to key words when you need to ie udens = water, remonts = repairs and added together means your water is going off) and it did, the night before they said though and so we had over 24 hours without water. Fortunately we have a pond nearby which kept the toilet flushed but we had to buy some water for drinking. Must say though it is not much fun lugging buckets of water up three flights of stairs. Keeping hydrated fortunately wasn't a problem but what do you do about having a wash? And food preparation can be a problem as things like potatoes need too much water to prepare even if you save water by baking them. Still we managed. I tend to keep a jug of water handy now just in case it goes off again, without warning, like it did again today.

Surprisingly the wild boar haven't eaten all the bulbs I have
planted. These were such a beautiful, unexpected sight
Not sure why the electric went off and whether it is anything to do with messing about with cables to put new lights in along our road, but I doubt it as it went off in the middle of a holiday weekend; just the vagaries of our system I think, as it does go off on a regular basis especially if it is windy. Maybe one day they will upgrade that system too. Talking of electric the electric company have now marked off the path for the new cable that will run along our land and so there are lots of red and white tapes flapping about on twigs or tied to trees. That work will probably start soon as I signed the papers to give them permission in my official capacity as power of attorney on the land ie we don't own it but we can do what we like with it (within reason of course).

These wooden constructions form the basis of the
 old-fashioned hay stacks that are often still seen around
Latvia, although it is now more common to see the white bales
As for the heating I think the heating company must have been reading my blog last week as I mentioned that I was surprised the heating was still on as we had had some lovely days, they obviously took note and agreed with me by turning the heating off. Hmmph! Should have kept quiet as wouldn't you know it the next day was cold and damp. It did mean we could test the wood burning stove in our apartment though and it worked really well which is a relief. We have used it as a supplement to the heating when the temperatures got down to the -20s but the intention was really for it to be used in the in between times ie when the heating company think the weather isn't cold enough to put the heating on but we do, and when they think it is warm enough to do without, which normally does not coincide with when we think it is warm enough.

Leaves unfurling
Me being off? Well I have been struggling recently with studying and finding it hard, I had decided it was due to tiredness but then began to realise that it was actually to do with a problem with the apartment construction and the way it transmits noises. There is an intermittent low frequency hum that seems to make my brain resonate and the wavelength of it means it is worse in our living room. The noise is difficult to escape from as it can be heard in the rest of the apartment too and so I have often been trying to study with the noise without really realising it. I have started going up to our other apartment for some peace and quiet as I find I can think clearer there without the hum. Problem is though that once the other apartment is cleared of stuff which should be soon then our Swedish friend will be sorting out the bathroom and then there won't be much peace and quiet there either, might have to go up to the hotel and work as I can at least use the internet there. Good job that I have only two weeks to go and all assignments should be handed in by then.

Eggs frying on our stove, what better
setting could you have for a Sunday
I have been making sure to take Sunday off from studies though and Ian and I both go out to the land usually. This time we took some bacon and eggs and a frying pan and had bacon butties (sandwiches for the uninitiated) followed by egg butties. They were wonderful even if we did get a bit smoky because we haven't go the little wood stove connected up to a chimney yet and the wind kept changing direction - oh but it was worth it. We had a walk around so Ian could show me what he had done that week and things are certainly changing. We now have an orchard of 9 apple trees which ripen at different times, 3 pears and 7 plums of different colours. We also have a five rows of bushes with raspberries, gooseberries (sweet ones we are told), blackcurrants, white currants and red currants. He has been harrowing more of the land too which means he has been dragging spikes across the grass to get rid of the thatch. Hopefully this will give us quite a bit of compost eventually but is also making a big difference to the grassed areas as the areas that have already been harrowed are much greener than those that haven't - it is almost as if the grass has a chance to breath now its thick winter coat has been taken off.

There is an orchard there, honest, if you look very, very
carefully you will be able to see the white labels on the trees
Even Ian has had an off week too. Tired with excuses he sent a text off to the company and asked when the polytunnel would be ready in rather undiplomatic terms shall we say. It had the desired effect though as on the Sunday in the middle of a holiday weekend we arrived to see some guys working on the polytunnel. We now have doors fitted and the start of the inner layer of plastic (two layers will be needed as we want to extend the season that we use it and temperatures can plummet quite quickly). Felt a bit bad that they had turned out on a Sunday but then again if they had got it right in the first place it would have been finished by now.

Ian signing the papers for the new company. Starting as we
mean to go on, on our knees hehe
All this work will be a bit useless unless we can do something with the produce and so we thought it would be a good idea to set up a company with some friends and we started the process of getting that underway. We are hoping to call the company Jiksi which we got from playing around with our initials and pronounced Yik-si in Latvian. We don't think there are any other companies with the same name and it doesn't really mean anything so should be okay. I think it sounds a fun name too. We started off the process by opening up an bank account and putting the required amount of money in and then filled in the relevant forms and took them to an office for registering companies. The office was quite a nice office with friendly staff but with the most unwelcoming entrance you could ever hope to see, it looked more like the entrance to a garage or maintenance building with wiring everywhere. We only had one hiccup as we needed our signatures notarising (ie verifying by an official for you Brits) but fortunately that could be done in our home village and meant we didn't need to make the long round trip back to the office to register, we just had to post everything off to them. Well at least that is what they said when we were there, we will have to wait and see I guess if they still think that next week when they get the forms in the post.

The ploughed rows with our fruit bushes
For once there are two positive items on the internet amongst the dreary depressing statistics about Latvia and one was on the Latvians love of singing. Latvia has been called the land of song and their recent independence was started with a singing revolution, reminds me a bit of the story of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe where Aslan the lion goes around singing things into existence and the Baltic nations in some ways sang their nations into existence as they showed their defiance to the Soviet system through their songs.

A beautiful Spring day
Another item I found surprising was that Latvians love to smile, maybe they visited our area as they do smile a lot, apart from the local building supplies merchant who has only been known to smile once; that doesn't mean he isn't helpful and tries to save us money, he just doesn't smile. In the survey Swede, Latvian and Estonian officials, shop assistants and bank clerks smile when helping. I have found that Latvians elsewhere in Latvia are helpful but I wouldn't have necessarily put them at the top of the smiling league. Still it is nice that someone has found them pleasant which I would agree with. At least that is a nice way of finishing what has otherwise been an off week.


  1. Sorry you had an 'off' week but under such circumstances a bacon and egg butty are just the thing. Mmmm. Congratulations on getting Jiksi started. I hope it is the beginning of a thriving business.

  2. Bacon and egg butties certainly were most welcome and made for such a pleasant day.

    Thanks for the good wishes


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