Monday, 28 March 2011

Going, going, gone!

Our polytunnel, that came down over the winter, has now finally totally collapsed, partly due to wind and partly due to a little help from us. One end section came down while Ian was working in the area. He had been sorting through the bits, separating the components and taking out nails and screws so the salvageable wood can be reused and remembers thinking that he wasn't stood in the best of places as it was a bit windy and the end piece could come down anytime, he looked up and the piece had gone. It fell onto the snow so quietly he never heard it and fortunately it fell away from him, otherwise it could have been a different scenario. The opposite end, however was a little more robust as there were still two sections held together with struts and so between the two of us we began the process of taking off the remaining plastic and weakening the construction - Ian inadvertently weakened it a little more than anticipated with the back hoe on the tractor as he drove over a bit of a hump in the doorway, it was only just a bit that caught the top of the doorway but enough to weaken the structure some more and split a crosspiece. A few hefty wallops from a long piece of wood removed some other cross pieces and then we were able to push the rest of the structure over. It was kind of sad really, all that work and aggravation to get it put up in the first place and then we ended up pushing it over. Still the site can now be cleared and work can begin on the new construction, well just as soon as we get the wood - hopefully it's on order but the guy ordering it for us had more important things on his mind as he was making the coffin for his sister-in-law, so we don't think we should hassle him really.

Friday night we had been out to some friends and as we rolled up to our doorway there was a group of young men getting out of the car in front of us, we groaned. Not that we have anything against young men but when this lot turn up, it usually means loud music ensues, well not really loud, but the bass can be heard clear up to our apartment from the first floor apartment (English -ground floor) and we are on the third floor (English -second). One of the delights of living in a concrete apartment block is the way that bass sounds carry, which is a shame as normally our neighbours are quite quiet really. The noise levels went up and down practically all night and meant we didn't have a great deal of sleep, if it had been loud all the time I would have got up but because it went up and down I would drift back of to sleep. The other reason for not getting up is the fact it doesn't really happen that often and could be far worse with a young chap in his late teens left to fend for himself as his parents work abroad (all too common in Latvia), however, when the music started again the next night I wasn't prepared to put up with it. We had gone to bed and it was just tolerable but as I lay there the music volume went up, so I waited till one minute past eleven and got up, got dressed (didn't want to frighten him too much and besides it was cold outside and they were in the next section along from our block of six apartments) and went to the apartment to confront the young man. I wasn't sure what to expect, but at least I knew he understood English; in fact he was perfectly pleasant and asked if it was past eleven with a grin (the hour at which noises should be kept to a minimum) to which I replied yes it was as pleasantly as possible. I was completely amazed that the music was then turned down and stopped low - perhaps he hadn't realised that his music can carry all the way up so many floors and thought since the neighbours above him were away it wouldn't matter if his music was loud.

Sad really! But had to be done.
Christmas seemed to come early or late this week, as we had lots of parcels all turn up at once, a book, a load of seeds, two phones and a packet of plasterboard raw plugs. An eclectic mix of things to be sure. We can get raw plugs here very easily but not plasterboard raw plugs so when our daughter-in-law sent us some phones to replace our fast dying ones I asked if she could put a few of the them in the post at the same time. My mobile phone is a very ancient beast as we bought it shortly after we moved to Denmark and so was close to 8 years old. Ian's phone was bought in America and the battery didn't seem to hold the charge, especially at low temperatures, which is not terribly useful when he works out on the land in winter, and we couldn't seem to get a replacement for it although we have tried. The replacements, therefore, came just in time to keep us connected with the world. Ian is happy now as he has the theme tune from Spike Milligan's Q8 series on his phone, think it might drive me nutty but fortunately we don't get too many phone calls. One thing I did learn with my new phone is that I need my glasses to input numbers I added * instead of + for all the international codes which didn't help when I wanted to send a text to one of my sons in England, took me ages to work out why it wouldn't send. Senior moment I think they call it!

See the snow is going, honest! Check back with last week's
blog if you don't believe me.
I wondered if the Latvian remembrance marches by those who belonged to the Waffen SS would make it into the news again this year, with all its dilemmas and problematic viewpoints; they didn't exactly, the news from Libya and Japan drowned out the yearly roasting the Latvians get from the march, however it is a play about the marches that has made the news. It may not solve the dilemma of whether it is is right to march in remembrance of fallen comrades of the SS, after all the Germans have remembrance parades too, but it does at least open people's eyes to the complexity of the issue, as to what is being remembered. Many of the soldiers fighting on behalf of the Nazis were co-opted and even if they weren't, they were fighting against the Russians who they feared would take away their sovereignty, which had oh so recently been won and indeed was lost when the Russians invaded. Don't think I am justifying the marches, I am not, as sometimes they are just an excuse to stir up racism against the sizeable Russian speaking minority but I do wish that the media were not so quick to condemn as they usually are, especially when only a few days later the Latvians remember so many who were rounded up and deported to Siberia, many of whom never came back, including children too.

Yes we have gorgeous piles of mucky looking snow, well
actually they look like great heaps of soil but really it is
more snow than soil. 
I had a bit of a shock last week in our English lessons. We were having a bit of a rest between topics and I asked one of the ladies when she was next going to Ireland to see her husband, only to be informed she was going next week and she was going for two months. I wasn't the only one to be shocked as her friends didn't know either, but it means that lessons are cancelled now until September as that would have reduced the class down to just two ladies and it is bit of a way to get there. By the time the lady returns back from Ireland it will be the summer holidays, hence the long gap. I shall be sad in one way not to be going, but in another it actually makes my life a little simpler as I have quite a few assignments due over the next 8 weeks before I finish the taught bit of my Masters; next year I start on the thesis proper. It was also good as our printer decided to act very strange last week and would only print out two sheets at a time before flashing an error message at me, which meant printing out the lessons for the next section a pain in the neck as I needed four copies of about 8 pages and doing them two at a time was not funny. I managed to print out enough for last week and then gave up, and now they will not be needed until September anyway.

I was going to post a picture to show you that finally our
snow was going, but it snowed again and instead of a
broad patch of grass we have pristine snow again.
Came across an interesting idea this last week called guerilla funding, a bit like guerilla gardening but planting money in strategic places instead of seeds. The idea is to plant money in places where money doesn't often get to and doesn't feed the glowing virtuous feeling that sometimes comes with giving to charity and doesn't have the hang ups of micro-loans and the problems that can come with that. It is just using money to bless people without them having to be eternally grateful to the giver. Love it! Another interesting idea is from a young man who set up a website called Save Latvia. His premise is that if enough people would give at least a symbolic 1€ then Latvia's debt to the IMF could be paid for or at least a good proportion of it. It is a brave and novel idea and I don't know if the guy is kosher but you have to applaud him for his initiative and so far I haven't found anything to doubt he is anything other than just a young student with a deceptively, creative idea. Still wondering whether to donate or not but then again I shall be contributing my own little contribution to the Latvian Government - I have to pay my taxes for this last year, while Ian gets a rebate for his work at the hospital. Jammy dog, as our family would say.


  1. An interesting episode as usual!

  2. Maybe one day we will have a really boring week and I won't know what to write :o)

  3. What a shame to see the polytunnel finally go. Still sometimes the old has to go in order to make way for the new, better model. And in the spirit of Haggai may the second polytunnel be better than the former! Now you'll be wishing the snow to be gone so you can start on the new one so you can get planting again.

  4. Thanks Mavis, I hope the second is better than the first too. I am not in too much of a hurry just yet about the polytunnel but once we run out of window space we will.


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