Monday, 2 May 2011


Sorry I know its a bit scary but this was what I looked like
this afternoon. Fortunately no bruising so could be worse
I suppose.
Well I finished this week looking like I have done a few rounds with the recently departed Henry Cooper and lost, not a pretty sight. I started off on Wednesday with a red eye, by Friday I had to admit defeat and go to the doctors for some antibiotics, which unfortunately did not work. This morning I woke with an eye so swollen I could barely see out of it and yet strangely enough it felt better, still it needed to be seen and dealt with. The problem is that our Latvian is no way sufficient enough to be able to converse with the doctor yet and so I had to rely on a friend to make the appointment and translate for me. The Friday appointment went fine and I left with my prescription, total cost for seeing the doctor 2 LVLS (£2.50, $4.20) and prescription antibiotics 5.10 LVLs (£6.40, $10.70). This morning my friend rang the doctor and she was told that the doctor was going to refer me to the nearest big town, about 30 miles away, just call in and get a referral letter. We barged in on another patient to get the referral letter, common practice here, and the doctor took a quick look at my eye and went "sheesh" - translates quite well really. So off we toddle to the big town to see the doctor there, a bit pricier this time 3 LVLs (£3.80, £6.30) for seeing the doctor and prescriptions totalling about 8 LVLs (£10, $16.80), mind you the doctor looked so much grumpier than our dear local doctor. It is a good job that the weather is bright and so sunglasses looks perfectly in keeping, otherwise I think I would scare the local population.

As it has been so dry just lately Ian has had the chance to
do some more work on the ponds. He plans to extend the
lowest pond and make it easier for the water to run into it.
He even managed to avoid getting the tractor stuck this
time around.
The rest of the week has been busy again but at least I have finally got all my placement days completed for one unit of my course. It didn't go quite as planned as I ended up attending a meeting on the use of waste wood in communal heating instead of meeting up with a local forestry consultant. At least the main speakers were Finnish and they spoke English and it was translated into Latvian, so that was okay and the rest was in Latvian, but because I understood the concepts, I could pretty much follow the thread of what was going on, which was really interesting. I was amazed that the Finnish guys didn't have a translation of the rest of the meeting though, so they could follow along and actually spent time on the internet and therefore missing a lot of the interactions which I was observing. I could tell the concept of cooperatives was not really going down well and I can understand why given the history under the Soviet regime and some bad experiences with corrupt leaders of organisations after independence. Still I made a couple of interesting contacts with other people attending the meetings which hopefully will prove useful later.

I have passed this eclectic looking house many times this
week on the way to forestry meeting and to the farmers'
market, we also passed it last week too, and yes it really is
 a very bright pink and a very strange shape.
One of the contacts helps to organise one of the few farmers' markets here in Latvia and she invited me along to see the market. It was bigger than I expected and as we wandered around I could see some stalls I had seen elsewhere and I wondered how much they adhered to the concept of a local farmers' market. We went around a few of the stalls and asked about their products and I could see the problems in running a local market, one guy had honey and handmade pottery but was from the other side of Latvia, one guy had a local pottery business but employed 22 people, which does not fit into the criteria in England for a farmers' market as a family run business, but that in itself might not be a problem if the aim is to provide a better market for local businesses. It was very funny talking to the stall holders, as she introduced me as a rural specialist, well it would have been funny if it didn't carry with it a great deal of responsibility. I wanted to remind her that I am just a student, but then again in just over a months time I may well have enough credits for a diploma and so be considered qualified in the area of rural development, I guess I had better just get used to it and try to live up to the title. At least I can find the kind of information she requires and can ask some of the right questions they need to be asking, and if I can help in getting a good model set up that works in Latvia then hopefully we can do something similar in our home village, so I can help her now and hopefully she will be able to help me later.

A before and after picture of our hallway at our other
apartment. I know I posted the completed pictures a
short while ago but thought it would be good to see the
before and after side by side.
Besides working on my course I also spent some time out in the garden and I sorted out strawberry plants while Ian planted potatoes. It was much easier for Ian with all our mechanical gadgets as he was able to rotavate the soil and then plough ridges in which to plant the potatoes. Took two days to get all that done and now the soil is ready for seeds too. We were hoping that some rain was on the way as we have only had a light shower for ages and could really do with some rain now to help things grow. It clouded over and we could see pockets of rain around us but nothing over us and so we just have to wait. Still if nothing else this year we can dine on potatoes and strawberries. Talking of strawberries, I didn't realise how invasive those plants are, we started off with 12 plants two years ago and now we have two beds planted up with some more sat at home waiting to go out on the land. Not bad considering the lady who took over the bottom of our plot has the original 12 plants and another row of runners herself. I also sorted out the small flower bed in front of the kitchen window at the other apartment and noticed some rather bare patches and was wondering what I am going to fill those in with when one of our neighbours offered me some plants which she was lifting and dividing, so hopefully we now have some lilies growing - well I think that is what she said they were.

The bathroom is rather different now too!
I can't not mention the big event of the week now, can I? Of course I am talking about the royal wedding, I hadn't set out to watch it, honest I didn't. In fact I hadn't even really given it much thought as I assumed I wouldn't be able to watch, considering that nothing works on BBC iplayer outside of the UK, but I hadn't realised that the Royal Channel on Youtube was doing a live streaming of the event, so yes I got drawn in, and I followed the event online, and joined in some of the chats about it on facebook too - but I was working as well, honest I was! It was a lovely event though, with lots of pageantry and Kate did look splendid, very regal for a commoner, although I did feel sorry for her mum as she looked almost terrified. I am sure there are a few analogies to be drawn there as part of the body of Christ and royal weddings but somehow my mind won't quite function to put something coherent together that won't sound trite, so I will just leave it at that, as a beautiful event to inspire, full of dignity and love and I wish them well.


  1. Hope your eye clears up soon! At least your Latvian is geting a good airing!

  2. Thanks Ju, I hope it clears up soon too, it makes reading what I typed interesting. Fortunately I can just about touch type.

  3. I also hope that the visit to the second doctor will finally help the problem with your eye.

    Like you, I didn't set out to watch the Royal Wedding but ended up watching all of it. I must say the BBC did an amazing job of grabbing your attention and keeping it - at least they did with me!

  4. Must admit this morning is the first day for three days my eye wasn't glued shut in the morning which was rather nice.

    Yes it was the BBC at it's best, although the live streaming was a bit eerie in places as transmission could be a bit slow at times like in a horror or disaster movie


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