Monday, 11 April 2011

Spring! Yay!


Catkins
Spring has finally arrived here, the snow is now rapidly disappearing and we only have small piles of the stuff lying about now, plus only a dusting of snow since last week, the roads are drying out and bumpy, the storks are here and mating (honestly it's like an x-rated movie outside our kitchen window), and the Latvians are lighting their smoky bonfires. It is so good! Ian can finally get out on the land and get things done as the land begins to dry out, which he loves doing. Just today he made some guttering for our workshop, finished taking apart the remaining bits of greenhouse using his new drill (the batteries on his old one were only lasting about 15 minutes before dying, and it costs nearly as much as the new drill for one battery and he needs two) and he rigged up the wire fence in readiness for taking the winter wraps of the trees later on this week, when the chance of frosts have reduced. Not bad for a days work. The electric fence is to keep the deer away from the new tasty shoots on the trees, since the grass is still a bit scarce, just in case the lynx isn't doing its job properly. Over the weekend we were having a look at the trees to see how they were doing and one of our new trees, the Ginko biloba, seemed to have disappeared completely. Admittedly it was not much more than a stick when we put it in, but we felt sure it should have appeared above the level of the snow by now, and so we started scraping back the layers of snow still on the ground in the general area of where we thought the tree should be. We did finally find it, squashed flat to the ground by the weight of snow. At least it wasn't completely snapped like one of the plum trees so we propped it up and are hoping for the best.

A bit misty this day but here are our two storks behaving
modestly at least for the camera.
This week we took a round trip of 200 miles to see the dentists, the bill for my filling was less than the cost of the petrol. Our dentist who is really lovely and speaks good English had moved from the nearest big town to much further away, to a place called Rēzekne, almost too far for us to bother but we have a friend who lives nearby, who we had meant to see over the winter and hadn't managed to so we decided to take the opportunity of seeing a town we hadn't seen before, and see our friend. I did so well navigating us to the right place until we got to a junction and I suddenly realised that the roadworks we had just crossed over was the road I wanted us to take, and we were in the middle of strange town wondering how to get to where we wanted to get too, fortunately Rēzekne is not Rīga and it wasn't too hard to navigate our way around, well kind of! Where we wanted to park was full and so we had to wander around looking for somewhere. We eventually found a parking place and managed to find the dentists which of course was in a medical centre situated in a hotel - as you would expect, right? When we got back to the car, I was beginning to wonder at the wisdom of our choice, as I hadn't noticed how near a rather swollen river it was.

The stork looking for frogs and toads
Had a really good time talking about faith, life and development. It has been a tough winter for him as he was one of those without electric for two weeks over the winter and that meant no heat either, not much fun when temperatures can dip pretty low. It certainly made me think about what we need to do, to make sure we can still run our boiler even if the pump goes off, there must be a way of keeping it going either with a manual pump or one run from a battery. Anyway, I think he was glad that someone had finally made it out to see him. He gets to see many folks over the summer period but not as many apart from locals over the winter, and many of them have lots of needs which can be wearing to deal with all the time. Also left him with a pile of websites to check out that might be useful, one of the good things about my course is the myriad of useful sites I come across. The place where he lives used to supply the Czars with fish from the lake, nowadays there is not much coming out of the little place where he lives but funnily enough, such an out of the way place ends up supplying Riga with hand me down clothing. Our friend has a lot of humanitarian aid coming in and word gets around resulting in a phone call from someone in Riga wondering if they had any clothing to give away. Must make sure we don't let time run away again and get out and see him sooner rather than later.

Our neighbour has been having their forest cut down as
most of it was alder and birch which don't last so long,
around 40 years. This pile here is the second
load to come out.
I said that the snow has been disappearing rapidly and that means there are areas where it is pretty damp and whereas many of the roads are drying out nicely, some sections are not doing so well and one of those sections is on the road next to our ski hill. Our neighbour lives at the top of the hill and had managed to get out in the morning to pick up their daughter who had been on an exchange visit to Germany, but they got well and truly stuck on the way back. We had only just driven past the road that morning thinking it looked pretty nasty and driven back to our village, done some shopping and then we got the phone call, can we come and pull them out. First Ian tried to pull the car forwards up the hill to dry ground but that didn't work and for a moment looked like he might get stuck himself, he ended up pulling the car out backwards, back onto the dry road and then they took a run at the road together with Ian keeping the neighbour's car going when it started struggling. It was close, it was nearly a get the tractor out job.

Finally grass and our tractor implements are no longer
encased in a wintery blanket
With the arrival of spring has come the arrival of a new baby in our apartments, a little girl too! All the other children who live here are boys, all six of them. It does mean though that any news from our heating company will have to wait as it is our house manager's little girl and she will have more than enough on her hands with two little ones, without having to argue with heating companies. Such is life here in Latvia, things get sorted out in their own time and not necessarily according to a timescale of our own choosing.

Our temporary lake re-appearing
I forgot to mention an amusing incident last week at the hotel. We sat down with the menus at the table and were busy deciding when a few minutes later the waitress turns up at the table with a grin on her face and two cups of tea in her hand. We are just so predictable we don't even have to ask!

Had some good news finally on our sale of our house in England, we are fairly sure we have a buyer but these things are never certainties until people sign on the dotted line in there. We have now had a valuation done for the mortgage for the prospective buyer and so little by little and very slowly it is moving forward.
We have steps again, these bushes
were buried up to their tops in snow not
long ago.

River in full flow, the trees in the background
are not normally in the river
I have been playing around with the video on my new phone and had hoped to post  a video of the local river as there is a lot of water flowing through the weir at the moment but unfortunately the video keeps posting over my writing and it won't work for me anyway, so you will have to put up with a static picture of a very full river. The river is overflowing in a few places and I wouldn't like to be down stream from it as we are at the source pretty much.

We have ponds again!

9 comments:

ju-north said...

Starting to see the steps!?

Mavis said...

Great news week! The snow is going, your house seems to be selling and you had a chance to catch up with friends. I hope your little tree manages to survive. I'm always amazed how nature seems to come alive all of a sudden out of seemingly nothing but dead twigs. Here's hoping you've had the last of the snow so you can get ahead with all the planting etc for the summer/autumn harvest.

Joanna said...

Starting to see steps? I hope so Ju, we will see what this week brings

Ir is good news Mavis. The rhythm of life is really apparent here as we now move into quite an intense season while we try and get our vegetables planted.

karen said...

phew!! another hectic week for you. My daughter is in the middle of buying her first house, it's such a long, drawn out process...I sympathise.

Joanna said...

I guess we couldn't fit in full time work as well Karen but it sure gives us a varied week which is great.

This protracted business has been going on for a year when we first put it on the market. Just the wrong timing but heh! We will still have money in our pockets at the end of it and so that is good.

busybusybeejay said...

I have just come on your blog a couple of days ago(can't remember where I saw it) and am intrigued as to how you come to be in Latvia.I am also a Lancshire lass hailing from Bolton and now live in N Wales.

Joanna said...

Welcome busybusybeejay, that is indeed a very good question and have you got half an hour? Seriously I did do a short resume of our journey from 2000-2010 and you can find it on

http://thejourneytosomewhere.blogspot.com/2010/01/moving-experience.html

Don't worry it won't take half an hour to read.

I moved from Lancashire when I went to Sheffield University to study Pharmacology and Chemistry of all things and it was there I met my lovely husband Ian. We stayed in the Sheffield area for five years and then moved to Derbyshire for 15 years (you can pick up the rest of the story on the link)

Grace said...

You are an inspiration, Jo. I have added your blog to my blog roll. Blessings in abundance.

Joanna said...

Thank you Grace. It has been a privilege to know you, you have such a gentle sweet character