Tuesday, 29 November 2011

About time too!

We have a bridge across our stream now. Now no
attempting to jump across, rather tricky for a short person
like myself!
Sorry I'm a bit late this week, yet again but we talked and talked with our unexpected visitor last night and covered all kinds of subjects, mainly the economy and where is it going. We are of course no wiser than the next man, still the economy has so much influence on the decisions we make. It was strange to think than none of us were afraid of a complete collapse of the economy, after all we would work the land we have, but this bounding around up and down, not knowing from one day to the next how it will all turn out makes preparing for the future very difficult. I don't think we are any clearer on where it is going after our long chat, but we do know we will watch all the more closely for the finger of God to point the way.

Winter preparations. Our patent road finder markers for
when it snows!
So back to what I started to write. Over the years we have lived here in Latvia I have discovered that milk can taste different. I have also discovered that unpasteurised milk that has gone off is very different to pasteurised milk that has gone off, it doesn't smell as unpleasant for a start. I did wonder if I was making it up at times and if it was just all in my imagination, but no! I found out this week that it is perfectly correct according to an article in the Guardian. I'm not sure what kind of milk I get mine from, they may be Latvian brown cows or they maybe the standard Fresian, but it tastes good anyway and is probably due to the fact they are grass fed and only housed in the barn over the winter months - which in this harsh climate is perfectly understandable. I very very rarely throw away milk these days as milk which has gone sour is either used to make scones or is used to make a simple cheese with the whey being used in bread making. Butter was another recent revelation, in fact the first time I tasted it I wasn't sure I liked it. It had a very rich taste, which was quite over powering. The butter was made from a mix of sweet cream and sour cream, hence the taste. Once I got over the shock though, I found I quite liked it, unfortunately I have to be up early to make sure I get some and so we don't have get it that often. Makes you wonder what else supermarkets do to food to make it bland and last far longer than is natural.

Our ponds are distinctly full, even the middle one has water
in it, which it hasn't for most of the year.
We spent some more time this week shifting stuff around, such as some well rotted wood chippings to our garden, a yard full of mud cleared away, and a good proportion of a huge pile of sawdust to our land. At least that helps to clear our friends' workshop up a bit, in preparation for their move to new premises and gives us some more mulch for paths and gardens. It's quite an impressive pile of stuff we have now. It also proved what a handy sized tractor we have, as it was able to work in the workshop to collect the sawdust instead of spending the whole day shovelling it by hand. It didn't stop a group of men laughing at our titchy tractor though as we drove past them, little did they know! Besides shifting stuff, Ian has been fettling again, fettling drains to keep our new barn dry, fettling a radio to keep it going for a wee bit longer (it is getting on a bit now the radio, but until it breathes it's last, Ian will keep it going, even if it means pinching two wires together to 'switch' it on) and trying to fettle a leaking pipe. I went up early to the other apartment to warm it through for our traditional bath night and ended up stepping in a puddle that had collected next to the toilet, the small leak had obviously manifested itself into something a little more serious and overflowed the margarine tub used to catch the drips. I was just grateful it was not the toilet itself leaking as I first feared, but it did mean clearing out a lot of pots of paint etc,. that we store in that little room, while the floor dried.

Fettling the damp area outside our barn with yet another
ditch. The wooden planks stretch across the ditch so the
tractor still has access.
It has been a week of change really as the weather has finally deteriorated into normal late autumn weather, wet and windy. In fact we were on the edge of hurricane Berit the other night, and some parts of Latvia had 70mph winds. I don't think we had anything nearly as bad but were still relieved to find the barn and greenhouse intact, even if some parts of the flooring are getting wet through seepage from the sodden ground. Our power went off momentarily a couple of times, but we were surprised that it came back on again quite quickly, much better than in the past. Our internet though gave up later on and so we just tormented the kittens for the rest of the evening. Don't worry there is no need to call out the Latvian equivalent of the RSPCA as they love it, although I have a feeling that the word torment won't translate well.

Ian has been laying a lot of wood chipping paths so we
don't have to walk in mud
Talking of the kittens, besides using them to brush the floor (their game - and it is their game - is to try and catch the brush while we try and sweep the floor, if they catch it, they cling on while they slide across our laminate flooring, it must amuse them some what as they play this game everyday) they are also beginning to charge around the house like a couple of overgrown teenagers and it's getting to the stage where they are big enough to start causing damage. Trying to curb some of their youthful enthusiasm is wearing a bit thin at times, but like kids, it won't be long before they grow up and become more sedate and settle down - I hope! This week it is not just Bella who has been in places where she shouldn't be, but so has Sofie. One day Ian went to lock the outer door before we turned in for the night and the next stage in our nightly routine is to shut the kittens in the living room where they can do least damage and means we don't trip over them, if we get up in the middle of the night; well we could find one kitten but couldn't find the other, until we heard a plaintive meow, which sounded like it was coming from outside, instead it was coming from between our inner and outer door - a distance of about 10cm. Sofie had snook in there while Ian was locking the outer door and he hadn't noticed. Another day Ian went to shut a door and rather unexpectedly grabbed something furry, Sofie was half way up the door hanging onto the side of the door and the handle. Is she beginning to work out door handles? We are in trouble if she has.

But it looks so nice in the sun! Although if you enlarge
the photo you can see the field is flooded. Next year we
will have a raised bed with squash in it, but how to tackle
this for future years we have yet to decide
The changing weather is bringing with it more opportunity to visit folks, when it is wet there is not a lot to do out on the land and socialising is much better than staying indoors cooped up all the time. We have had two opportunities this week for afternoon tea, how civilised and how English! Our first trip was to see the ladies who I taught English, we have all been too busy to really start back on the lessons and we have wanted to see them for ages. We text them to see if we could arrange a time to see them, but I didn't get a reply, so as it has been getting dark early we decided to go and call in and see if they got my text and check out the best time to meet up. We waited and waited outside for ages, having rung the bell and eventually a very surprised young lass opened the door with an equally surprised director behind, but we were ushered in and asked if we wanted tea or coffee and a few minutes later the rest of my English group turned up with a translator and we all settled down for a good long natter  with tea and biscuits- well Ian did. I had to make a mad dash back home to help sort out a money issue, wrong money in the wrong account - my fault. Still we all had a great time and I was requested to start back on my teaching in the New Year, "can we go back to the beginning please" was the additional plea - I know the feeling. I think we are almost the same with our Latvian. Our next trip was a wee bit further, actually a lot further but it was good to reconnect with people we haven't seen in a long while and as one of them was English anyway, we were treated to scones with jam, to which we added some cakes from our local bakery, so a rather jolly time was had by all.

A small but deep hole dug by the wild
boar, but worryingly close to our
blueberry bushes
Our land is pretty soggy now due to the change in weather, but also looking a bit worse for wear due to the wild boar. They were back again this week and this time they had dug some much bigger holes and re-dug some that they dug earlier in the year. It is quite disheartening really and means that as soon as it is dry enough in spring, we will have to be out filling in lots of holes and re-seeding the patches. From my research on wild boar I have found there are only two effective methods for keeping them off the land, one is electrified pig fencing which would be horrendously expensive and the next would be hunting. It looks like we will have to chase up the contract with hunters to restrict the damage, otherwise we are wasting our time trying to grow vegetables.

A surprising carpet of green amongst the brown
Not sure how much the problems with Krajbanka is making the news elsewhere, but it is sure creating problems here in Latvia. After all what do you do when your wages are paid into a bank that has ceased trading? Many people have more than one bank account here in Latvia and I can see why. If one bank fails then maybe there is some money in another account. Another reason for the number of accounts is that it costs to transfer money between different banks, quite scandalous really as these costs add up over time and is probably why most of the banks are back in profit so quickly.

Update: I hope the changes of dates haven't confused anyone but for some reason blogger has stopped automatically setting the date for when the post is published and reverted back to the date when I start to write it. Very annoying as I often jot notes down to remind me through the week.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Oh no, not again!

Yes! It's another apology. A lovely long chat with an unexpected visitor. I was so close to finishing but not near enough and so my blog must wait until tomorrow.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Happy days

Another reason to be happy, isn't this
sunrise glorious? What a joy to wake up
to scenes like these
Our youngest is now a happy boy, his computer got fixed and best of all they recovered all his data. All he lost was a days work whilst he waited for his computer to be fixed. The nice people at Apple even fixed it for free, because he had had previous problems with his computer. Phew! We were happy too, our glass bowl which we had sent with our friend filled with a meal for her husband, who hadn't joined us for last week's meal, because he had to work, came back with a rather nice dessert in it. No idea what it is, but it tasted good! I also got lots of interesting books to read this week, "Power and Powerlessness: Quiescence and Rebellion in an Appalachian Valley," "Conflict and Cooperation in Participating Natural Resource Management" and "Resolving Human-Wildlife Conflicts" - you can spot the theme can't you? These are all books that have either been recommended to me, or came up in my literature research for my Master's thesis and so hopefully they will all be useful in my write up. At least they will help me while away the winter evenings with a little light reading. Our vet wasn't left out too as we bought her a book "Alpaca and Llama Health Management." I know we are not getting alpacas until next year, and we haven't even been to see the guy who we hopefully will be buying the animals from - that's next month - but we need to be laying the groundwork now; it is no good waiting for something to go wrong with our alpacas to then try finding out how to deal with it, and winter is a good time for reading. She seemed happy enough to be getting the book anyway.

Tate Modern here we come! I spent a good afternoon's
work on these objects of great artistry, commonly
known as wrapping trees up for winter to stop the deer
eating them or sharpening their antlers on them.
We finally made it once again to the Farmers' Market in Straupe (link in Latvian), where a brave group of people are endeavouring to create a market for local farmers and businesses and at the same time increase the quality of goods sold. It is hard trying to get the concept going, as it is not as simple as importing the idea from elsewhere, although other examples are useful, but it is working and the market place looked busy while we were there. In fact there are many companies/farmers from further afield who would like to sell their goods at the market. It is difficult to balance the concept of a local initiative with the need to have enough stalls to attract people to come to the market and one that they are still working on. It is also hard trying to work out who is a genuine trader of goods produced by them or their family and those who buy in goods from abroad. Having contact with the organisers of this market, I hope will be useful for our own area when the roads are tarmacked making travel easier for traders and customers alike. I did buy a couple of presents while I was there, and I didn't go for the cheapest, but I bought my goods from a lady who was making the goods while she was there - so I know she produced the things I bought. What are they? Well I can't tell you, I know the recipients will be reading this! We also bought seeds and beans, partly for consumption over the winter but also for plants for next year, as it will be interesting to see how well they do, compared to the beans and seeds I buy in from the UK.

Not so happy to find this! This is the
kind of damage those dear little pigs
can make. I have to admit though that
it is quite incredible the depth of holes
they can dig with their snouts, and
the size of stones they can move. 
We also finally made it to a little craft shop that we have passed many times. The owner started out as a stone mason for gravestones but he is a creative soul at heart, so the website says,  and so some of the stones ended up as ants and tortoises. The best one I saw was a wild boar shaped stone, complete with wrought iron ears, snout, tail and legs - the best type of wild boar, apart from one on a plate, I think at the moment. Unfortunately it was a lot of money, and rightly so, but I was seriously tempted to erect this as a dire warning to the wild boar that traipse across our land. I bought an angel instead to add to my Christmas decorations from around the world, not that they will be going up again this year, as we are away in England. Probably a good job though, as I think our dear little kittens would have a field day with decorations. Better to wait till next year and they maybe (only maybe) a little calmer.

These are four Capercaillies, which we came across when
we took a detour just for the sake of it. Amazing what
you can see when you get off the main roads.
It has been another amazing week in the news, some of it is just downright depressing, but some of it is quite exhilarating and powerful. I was horrified to see a policeman casually spraying sitting students with pepper spray. I am not quite sure what horrified me the most, the fact that he sprayed obviously non-violent students, or the casual manner in which it was done. However it was amazing to watch how each student present was recording what was happening, no longer can incidents take out the journalist to remove any chance of recording it, all have the opportunity to record an event with the use of phones, video cameras, ipads and computers - many uploading the images as it happened. If that fact was not amazing enough to see people bringing accountability to the situation, it was more impressive to hear the rise of the chant "Shame on you" and the students peacefully but firmly causing the police, armed to the teeth, to fall back. Not a rock was thrown. The police appeared to only have two options, carnage or retreat, and they chose retreat thankfully. When the chancellor of the university, where the students belonged, decided to leave the campus the following evening, despite the presence of many students outside she was treated to a most powerful sit down silent protest that lined the route to the car. There was an atmosphere of restraint and yet somehow there was also the force of an unspoken argument, disapproval that hung in the air. Is this what was meant by the New York Mayor, post Occupy evictions at Zuccotti park, when he said "Now they will have to occupy the space with the power of their arguments?" I doubt it, but those students certainly occupied the space in a very powerful way.

"I think I'm stuck again!"
She is up there so often now we are going to have to install
something to stop her walking across the fleece lining,
preferably before it gives way underneath her.

More wood chippings for our garden, as Ian continues to
thin out our forest to provide us with firewood for next year
but also to improve the health of the forest.

Alder oxidises on exposure to air and so
you get these bright orange stumps when
they are cut.

Our raspberry bushes with their fir coats. Looks like they
needed it!
It snowed again this week, not much but still a reminder
that winter is on its way.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Talking stuff and shifting stuff

Preparing for my Skype conference, thought I had better
check how I looked 
Skype has been immensely useful this week and I wonder how I would get on without it. First of all I did a Skype video presentation to my tutor and a colleague on the topic I wish to research for my Masters. It was a very technical experience, as I used two computers - are you impressed? My old laptop, that was repaired, has a bigger screen than my new one and so I could have Skype on and see my tutor and his colleague as they listened to my presentation and have my notes in front of me for the presentation; on my newer laptop (no I'm not greedy, it was just we didn't realise that Apple would repair the computers before I bought a new one) I had my presentation slides, so I could see the slides that were being viewed far away on the Isle of Lewis where my tutor works. There was also the usual chats with children on Skype and the not so usual, the usual how are you doing and the not so usual hope you are okay and help my computers packed in and I haven't backed my stuff up and I'm panicking sort (have to admit to that being a wake up call and I went and backed mine up immediately after that call). We also had the opportunity for a fantastic chat with some old friends from our church back in the UK and one of them even treated us to a bit of ukulele playing. Modern technology can be an invasive experience but for us it has allowed us to do the things we are doing, while still maintaining contact with friends and family. Which is especially good when our daughter had a car accident this week and it was good to know that she was fine.

A lovely sunset after a busy day
Of course it wouldn't be much of a life if we lived it solely online and we have a couple of great opportunities to enjoy good company with some good food this week. A friend of ours and an old friend of his from overseas joined us in the hotel this week, not planned, but one of those lovely impromptu moments  that just happen. It was a really pleasant experience chatting about accents and misunderstandings and different experiences that life has thrown our way. Our next meal followed an impromptu invitation to some neighbours of ours who are working hard and one day looked like it was going to be worse than normal; with two little ones in the household I could just picture the evening arriving home and the lack of energy to do much in preparing a meal - I have been there quite a few times when our children were little, at one point we had three children under the age of four and life could get a bit fraught at times. In the morning I had made use of the slow cooker to start a meal off with chicken stock and some borlotti beans, then added some salted beans, barley and beaver sausage and I knew that meal would stretch to a small family with addition of some potatoes and baked squash. An easy meal knowing we would also be busy during the day. In fact they did us a favour by accepting as the bean casserole needed the additions to make it a great meal, the casserole on its own needed toning down with the potatoes and we got to be entertained by the little ones to. Bargain!

The moon added to the show
Our kittens have also been a little surprising this week. They had to go back to the vets for their second injection and it was there that we found out it wasn't just Bella that has surprising agility. Sofie, our usually calm, placid kitten is beginning to show streaks of not being quite so calm or placid and in the vets she was decidedly not happy with the injection and twisted herself around in a way a cat should not be able to and ended up giving the ver some rather nasty scratches. The vet was rather apologetic because she said it was her fault as she was not expecting that reaction at all - neither were we to be honest. This is from a cat that likes tummy tickles and paw massages!!!!! Bella was well and truly pinned down between us though, as we weren't going to have a repeat of that episode. Reminded me of the time I used to help out at a vets as a teenager to find out if I wanted to be a vet or not in later life. The other episode involved Bella, our mischievous one, who managed to get up onto the higher rafters of our greenhouse but was struggling to find a way down. Several times she crossed backwards and forwards looking for a way down, even walking on the fleece that is stapled for shading below the apex - at which point I felt sure she was going to come through it. Ian was just about to head off for the ladders when she decided to make a jump for it, it was rather a long way down but although she looked a little shocked she is none the worse for the event. So far though the kittens have not caught a mouse that we know of but I found one out in our allotment patch and ended up killing it with the spade - not something I enjoy doing but we do need to keep the population down to manageable proportions.

Our new beds with the sawdust path
Most of the week seems to have been spent shifting things around. I had to shift some old manure and compost around the garden to make room for some new manure. Ian used the tractor to shift two loads of manure, one to each garden and two loads of wood chippings, one load to our neighbours garden and one back to our land, plus a car trailer load. Having written that down it doesn't look a lot but it took two days to do, albeit short days due to the shorter days and being dark by 4:30pm. One thing Ian discovered today is that all this transporting things by trailer has improved his ability to reverse them. He had to reverse the tractor trailer with one load of manure quite a distance and managed with just one or two small deviations from the path and today he drove a trailer into a building with a heavy saw on it that needs renovating, not only did he reverse it, he had to turn the trailer into the building to put it where it needed to be put. All I can say, is it is a good job it wasn't me, I am getting better at reversing our truck but it is still tricky as it all has to be done by wing mirrors and not looking over my shoulder. There was more shifting on the land as all those wood chippings needed to be put somewhere as there are still more to come, so I started putting rotted straw down where the vegetable beds should be and then put a good covering of wood chippings on the top. It won't be perfect for vegetables next year as they will need a good lot of compost added to give the roots something to anchor into but the year after it will be great and hopefully easier to manage for weeds. I also began laying the sawdust paths, not sure that they are deep enough to stop the weeds coming through but decided a light going over with a blow torch to any that dares to put its head above the sawdust will do the trick (and no I am not going to set the sawdust alight in the process!!!!! Trust me!)

It was like this all day, on one particular day, the frost lay
on the ground all day, never bothering to shift
I read a lot about sustainability issues and I had to laugh this week when I read an article about building with sand filled water bottles. Comments were made that there was now a worry that the area would run out of sand due to the amount required in the building. It harks back to the idea that if you find a sustainable building method then you multiply it and replicate it lots of times, but that is not sustainable. Sustainability is about applying principles not blueprints, each area needs to find creative solutions bearing in mind the type of area it is. Sustainable solutions will not be mass produced, but small scale. Reliance on single products for the answer to all problems is not an option, that is what got us into the mess we are in now. I suppose that is similar in principle to the Occupy protests at the moment, the world is looking for "one solution fits all" answers from the protest groups, but the groups are not providing answers, they are seeking first the right questions and then looking for principles that can be applied, not blueprints that once applied with help us to live happy ever after - that just won't happen. Sustainable solutions to today's problems will take a lot of time to work out as they are going to take some massive rethinks in how we do business, how we live and how we interact with each other. Interesting times indeed!

Frosted grass

Okay I know you have to tilt your head to see this
it won't turn round. It is correct on my computer but
Picasa won't turn it around. Okay now I have moaned
what you can see is a dusting of snow. Winter is on its way

Monday, 7 November 2011


All finished and in working order
It passed!!!! The horse box passed its technical. Ian was so relieved to get that out of the way, even if he found one of the problems was the wrong type of bulb. The problem with changing the units meant that not all the old bulbs were suitable for the new unit, one needed a double filament for brighter lights when braking. He could kick himself for not realising sooner, but then again if he hadn't put in the wrong bulb, he wouldn't have noticed all the loose connections or corroded wires and they would have gone eventually anyway. Electrics on cars and trailers though are pretty difficult to diagnose, especially without sophisticated equipment. It just needs a nick in a wire, in an out of the way place and it becomes almost impossible to track down. Still it's done now and he can concentrate on other jobs like digging more trenches around the barn to drain all the water away when it rains or eventually from snow melt - well that is if we get snow, it has been so mild this autumn.

A gift from some neighbours
It has been all excitement around here just lately, the other week Ian arrived at one of the petrol stations (gas station) in our village, to find it being roped off. There were people in combat outfits - camouflage trousers (pants), camouflage jackets and big boots - it all looked pretty intimidating. Had there been a robbery? Was the petrol station or the company in trouble for corruption? Who were these guys and what were they doing? The petrol station remained closed all week and under surveillance or at least with security men sat in a van the whole time. We asked around and others seemed as bemused as we were, but eventually someone explained that Ziemelu Nafta, the petrol company, had been repossessed by the bank for non-payment. We eventually also found out on the internet that they have been reported to the "economic police" for unfair practices - I presume that means the fraud squad as we would say in the UK. It is a good job we have another petrol station in the village, otherwise we would face some very long trips to the nearest one.

The very useful fork lift truck that meant we got our
delivery. Not the most up-to-date or modern of machinery
but it was more than up to the job.
We also caused quite a bit of intrigue ourselves this week with the arrival of a shipment from the UK. We have learnt now to expect that we need to organise something to get shipments off the lorries, as none of them seem to carry equipment to get them off the lorry, nor packed in a way that makes them easy to remove. This time we were told beforehand that we needed a crane, well we didn't manage to obtain the use of a crane but a forklift truck that can take up to 5 tonnes did the job. One of our neighbours who owns a firewood processing company has the use of a forklift truck and so we organised for him to help us. The lorry arrived with a tractor trailer, a baler and a tipping box (it goes on the back of the tractor and we will use it to counterbalance the tractor for lifting jobs). Getting the trailer off the lorry was the easy bit, it was assembling the equipment to make it easier for us to take away, that proved a challenge. It wasn't the nicest of days, dreich as the Scots would say, damp, cold and foggy. We used the forklift to lift the trailer high enough to get the wheels on and remove the metal frame and pallets underneath - now that sounds simple, but it wasn't. The little baler which makes small round bales, not the huge monstrosities, that are difficult to move without a tractor, proved to be quite a draw as a number of folks came to ask what it was. The next day it was the turn of the little baler to be assembled which also proved to be an enigma in itself, as inside were packed the wheels, but how to get the wheels out without damaging the baler proved to be beyond all of us. Eventually Ian went home and phoned the company, who we bought it off, and asked them how to release the wheels. Of course it was simple but it did take three of us to do it, one each side to release a catch and one at the front to open up the compartment. It took us all afternoon to get the wheels on the trailer and all the following day to sort out the baler, remove some wood chippings to make cleaning up easier for our friend, as they are moving soon and the place has to be left tidy, and then to take the items back to the land and packed away. It was only supposed to be a short job and I was meant to have an afternoon of peace and quiet doing some reading for my presentation tomorrow (tuesday) for my course, but that didn't happen.

The baler fitted to the tractor to take it to its storage place.
Unfortunately we won't really know how it works for
another 8 months when it is hay cutting season once again.
You all know of course that I'm always right, never wrong - you must have noticed hadn't you? (And if you believe that, you'll believe anything!) The trouble is that in my head I am right and yet I know that is not always helpful. It could be feeling angry at someone for something they did and I know I'm right to feel angry. It could be the feeling that someone has gone off and done something stupid despite your warnings, oh a whole host of things, but sitting there feeling angry or feeling smug is not helpful. Sometimes I have to just lay those things down, put the past behind, and start again. These things happen in marriage, family and even between the closest of friends, but to hold onto the hurt or the anger is not doing anyone any good at all. I had to laugh though when God reminded me of a situation recently and I felt like "but I'm right!" and I felt like God say "and?" At that moment I felt like our youngest kitten, Bella, when she has been caught doing something she shouldn't, who chirrups her protests, while making a hasty exit from whatever trouble she has got herself into, as I muttered under my breath. A couple of my friends had posted the following quote on their facebook walls this week:

 Apologizing does not always mean that you are wrong and the other person is right. It just means that you value your relationship more than your ego. 
The trailer! A very sturdy piece of kit this and tips as well.
Lots of folks posted their likes, but I didn't. I don't like it! I like being right! I do know though, that in many ways the quote is true, not necessarily always apologising but certainly making amends. Building bridges is important. Not all bridges are meant to be repaired and it takes much more wisdom than I have to know when to build and when to just walk away. Fortunately I think God does give us the time to work through the issues, to come to a point where we can leave the past behind and move on.

On a separate note, it was quite a shock this week to read the recently released provisional figures from this year's census of Latvia. The census came back with the figures of 1.9 million Latvians remaining in Latvia, down from 2.3 million. It is thought that the final figure will be just over 2 million but is still shocking that there has been such a huge loss of people from this land.
Martins Bondars, a former bank chief executive, jokes that “Greeks demonstrate on the streets. Latvians buy a one-way ticket on Air Baltic”.
Very sad, but true in many ways. Latvians do not demonstrate their feelings very much, but get on with life and if that means moving away, then that is what they do. Many families only have one parent at home or even none, with children being brought up by grandparents. Still it is a shocking statistic and incredible to think that 5% of the population has moved away since the crisis descended.

Cute heh! You wouldn't think they had been rolling around
the floor, scratching and biting five minutes earlier would you?
Can't finish the blog on such a down note or without mention of our kittens. I mentioned last week that we have started taking our kittens to the greenhouse with us, hopefully to curb the mouse population that seems to have taken a liking to our greenhouse and particularly the polystyrene in our caravan. Well our youngest kitten enjoys the journeys out so much that when we put our boots on she often goes and sits in the basket in anticipation and is very disgruntled when we don't take her with us. Spoilt or what! The kittens love Ian though, so much in fact that they can't wait till he comes in and then use the litter tray! Aww such love, glad they don't love me that much. And finally! I really mean finally this time, I have found the perfect job for Ian. For anyone who knows him well knows he is serious about cycling, even if it is on a fixed frame in the dump room as we call it (the place where we dump all the stuff that we don't know what to do with just in case you are thinking of something else), just take a look at this site (link here), can't you just picture him on his bike while doing something useful?

These must be the craziest male turkeys ever! They both
patrol around together and make gobbling sounds in unison.
They don't fight but take care of the lady turkeys together.
They are not ours by the way. Maybe next year we will
get some?

This is specially for my friend Pauline. Ian found this stone
amongst the gravel.