Monday, 25 February 2013

Oh that hurts!

I'm on the train!!!!! Sigulda to Valga leg of
the journey. The poster at the bottom end
says that selling goods on the train is
forbidden. I guess I won't be able to sell
Ian's candlesticks on the train then.
Last Monday I had to remind myself that "Big girls don't cry!" I know that isn't always a healthy thing to think, but on Monday it was. It was only a brief moment as the train pulled out of the station without me and I was left thinking "Oh, now what do I do, I'm stuck in a town miles away from home and I don't know anyone." I could almost feel my bottom lip beginning to quiver. The first thing I did was to ring a friend, who knew people in the area, but I couldn't get hold of him and the next thing I did was search for some information. There was information on hotels that were not out of the reach of lesser mortals, there were also details of buses and there were still buses running to my destination. So that moment of dread, the one I was kind of fearing because I hadn't been able to pre-book a ticket turned out to be a way of finding a different way to get to my destination. Sometimes a calamity is just that, a calamity, but sometimes it also opens up opportunities that you hadn't thought about before. This time the journey opened up a way to get home that I hadn't thought about and instead of staying an extra day in Tartu, I was able to make my way home sooner, using a combination of bus and train. At least travel is cheap on public transport, it's just getting to them in the first place when we live out in the sticks.

Ian's been busy again, clearing out the underbrush (well
the bits that are above the snow) and cutting out some of
the overcrowded trees. Anyone fancy helping to remove
it all from the forest later on in the year will be welcomed
with open arms.
The journey back was lovely on the bus as it wended its way around some small Estonian villages, a lot like Latvia but with some better roads. The sun shone, something we haven't seen in rather a long time and there were also snow showers that glittered in the sun's rays. The nearly two hour stop in Valga wasn't a huge amount of fun, but with a bit of organisation I will probably do a bit of shopping there next time. I do need to find a coffee shop though, close to the train station. The sunset that greeted me as I walked out of the train station waiting room to get on the train though was stunning and a welcome sight, so was the train! I watched out of the window, lost in my thoughts as normal, until the sun went down completely and I even saw two deer watching the train going past.

He's not the only one clearing forest, only this one was a
bit more drastic
The seeming calamity last week was not repeated this week and I was able to get the trains without a hitch and even paid by card - that was the issue last week, I only had a card to pay with and not enough Euros and I didn't want to risk getting on a train and not being able to pay for a ticket. I wish there were Visa signs on the trains, it would have made life a lot simpler. My hitch this week though was getting off the train to walk to my accommodation, shall we say I saw a little more of Tartu than I needed to and it is great that the bus stops have maps, even if I do have to hunt around for my glasses to read the things these days.

The section on the left is the border of our forest, the section
on the right is the clear felled section, that used to look
pretty much like ours on the left before the wood cutters
got to work. Our forest is going to get a lot more light this
year and we wonder what effect that will have on ours
The hurt in the title was not the fact of missing the train last week, despite the trauma of that (okay I'm milking this one for all its worth), it has more to do with skiing. My week is rather hectic at the moment, with all the travelling and then trying to do the work for uni, so I try to make sure Sunday is a day off, if not exactly a day of rest. I think with sedentary lifestyles these days a day of rest should be a day of activity instead - not that I am that sedentary at the moment as I have to walk all over the place here in Tartu. Anyway back to the point! My ski track had got a little snowed over at our land, but it was still firm underneath and I could just about make out the run Ian made and so I created a new track over the top of the old one. I was pretty impressed with myself, I only kind of collapsed in a heap once when the new track didn't quite match up with the old track and the snow gave way underneath me as it was a bit soft. The snow is pretty deep now and when I sink in, I'm easily up pass my knees. I also slid onto my bottom rather gracefully on one round of the track on a downhill section and got up okay from that. After I finished I tried to be rather clever and ski down our road to see Ian, it was a little icy and I have mentioned before that cross country skis aren't quite as easy to manoeuvre as downhill skis and so I came to rather a sad end on my behind. The problem is that this time there was no soft snow to cushion my fall and I jolted my arm on the descent. It didn't hurt much at the time but I knew it was going to and sure enough, later on in the day I made rather a sad spectacle as I couldn't lift my arm very high. It didn't bode well for today when carrying my rucksack, but I coped valiantly (yup milking this one too), actually it has been getting better as the day progresses which means I don't have to use my good arm to lift my poorly one, which is a relief, just have to deal with the aches and pains from the actual skiing now. I know, I know, I really should ski more often then I wouldn't have these problems.

The temperatures have been going up in the
greenhouse. We had 16C on Sunday! This
means the chickens will need more water and
so Ian has extended the water trays. The tray
idea has worked so well and meant that the
chickens have not been tipping them up
and losing all the water, unlike the specially
designed chicken water containers. 
In April last year, Ian bought me the set of the "The Good Life" on DVD and every Saturday we would watch an episode. There were quite a few episodes but it was entertaining watching them again now that we are living the good life. We could see where some of our inspiration came from and we could also see some of the faults, where living the good life didn't quite match up with the programme or where some of the details were not correct. However it still makes good entertaining TV after all these years and so it was with a lot of sadness that we saw the death of Richard Briers aka Tom Good in the programme this week. It felt a bit like losing a friend, since we had spent so much time watching him perform last year.

The Russian Orthodox church in Valga. The orthodox
churches with their onion domes do look very pretty in
the snow, shame the trees are in the way obscuring the view
This week I got into a discussion about relationships and when to leave them. I won't give the source as I didn't agree with the stance, in fact I found the view quite offensive, but it did make me think a little more about the subject. When moving around it is difficult sometimes to maintain relationships with those left behind. Often it is because we have moved away and they have moved on with their life and people kind of forget about you. That's okay, it sometimes takes a little getting used to, but that's life! Recognising though when a relationship should be worked at and when to let a relationship die a natural death is hard. It is not possible to maintain a relationship with a great deal of intensity with everyone we meet. Jesus shows that it is possible to reach out to many people, but even he had his close friends and then the followers that he didn't invest as much time in. It is easy to work on relationships when things are going well and you are getting on with each other, but working on a relationship when that is not the case is a different matter. Jesus didn't choose people because they were easy to get on with, Peter was an impulsive sort, may have been quite young too and perhaps immature, but Jesus saw the potential, James and John were also called sons of thunder - doesn't sound like they were easy to get on with either and they wanted the top seats at the table, so to speak. They were his closest companions and the ones who got to see the transfiguration. Jesus was even friends with Judas, knowing he was going to betray him. He even stuck by him till the end - giving him the opportunity to turn around. Would we do the same? In the words of the song, perhaps we should just get on and "Love the ones we're with"

Monday, 18 February 2013

Major milestones

Tartu ice sculpture
Well the first one has to be that this is my 300th post, okay some of the posts are apologies for being late but at least I got this far. I really never thought that when a friend of mine in America asked me to start a blog about life in Latvia that I would still be managing to write it almost 5 years later. The milestone of having been in Latvia 5 years is itself only a few weeks away.

The Estonian University of Life Sciences -
well one of the blocks!
The other milestone is starting my doctoral studies at the Estonian University of Life Sciences in Tartu. I really felt like a fish out of water, as I had no map to follow when I arrived. That is partly because I have started mid-academic year which is never a good thing really, but heh I rarely do anything the simple way. I had to ask people for directions and follow the crowds a little. It was all rather strange as I couldn't read a word of the signs, my knowledge of Estonian is zilch! I know though that I will just have to take it one step at a time and I know it will get better, although not easy. I have been here before, landing in a country that I had only visited once before and no knowledge of the language; that happened when we moved to Denmark nearly 10 years ago. It was very bewildering at first, but eventually a routine was established and I got to know all the important words - usually anything to do with food. I also had a couple of angels to help me on my first day, one appeared to get me down to the statistics practical and another to get me out of the warren of a building before it was locked up for the night, she also took me to the supermarket afterwards. I must admit, it was very exciting discussing the actual project I will be doing. Nothing is set in stone yet, but I will be travelling to conferences and doing work with some Masters students as a supervisor, oooh and lots of other exciting things that were bandied about to think about. You'll just have to see what comes out in the wash though on those.

Another of my routines is to navigate this
steep cobbled road, Fun in the ice
My routine for the next six weeks or thereabouts is to travel up to Estonia every week and this is proving to be a bit of a headache. I have a four hour statistics practical late on Tuesday afternoons (yes I did say four hours - I hope you are sending up prayers for me at this very minute) and a two hour statistics lecture on Wednesday morning, which if everything would connect up transport wise would mean being away for two days most weeks, except on the weeks where I also have a morning lecture of academic writing. I say "if" though because it doesn't. There are not enough buses and trains that I can find the information for, to connect up and take me home in a reasonable time frame and so I have to travel up on Monday afternoon and come back Thursdays - maybe! I am going to do some more hunting and see if I can find an alternative as I inadvertently discovered an alternative tonight.

A family oriented place I guess
Oh yes! I managed to make a bit of a hash getting up to Tartu tonight. Last week I took the St.Petersburg bus from North Latvia, but it is an overnight bus from Riga to arrive in St.Petersburg in the morning and so is a tad late for me to get into Tartu at 11pm. Tartu is a safe city but I'm not a late night person. That meant I was very tired the next day, which is not a good start and by the time it came around to the statistics I was well and truly flagging. I did get a lift back though with someone travelling to Latvia, so that worked. In chatting with the driver I did find out there was a train, but for some unknown reason the train goes from Tartu to a place on the border called Valga stops and then connects with a Latvian train which goes to Riga, stopping at every little station on the way. Unfortunately the trains that connect of course only go once a day!!!!!! Well getting to Valga was fine, I bought my ticket at the train station, but I needed another ticket to get to Tartu. I got off the Latvian train and tried to find out what to do about the ticket, but by the time I found out and rushed out of the station back to the train, it closed the doors on me and left. I was stuck in Valga with no cash and not much of an idea what to do. I tried a friend who had friends in the area but couldn't get hold of him, so next I tried to work out if there was a bus. Success! There was! Next I found a cash machine, which of course only dispensed a €50 note, which I didn't think the bus driver would be happy with, since I knew the train was only €3.63 and so I had to then buy something from a supermarket. Absolute bliss! I managed to get back just in time to get the bus. So I wasn't stranded in Valga overnight then. I was also welcomed to my accommodation with a lovely bowl of soup - just what I needed after a bit of a fright.
An Estonian house
I think my walk to the uni will be a little
different in Spring
A cheery fellow to greet me back to my

Finally! We have electric
That wasn't all the milestones this last week, the other one was to get the electricity connected up to the greenhouse. Ian can now plug the electrics in on the caravan, he can have a heater out there and just as exciting a toaster. Now that might not seem so interesting to you, but when he is working out in the snow at below freezing temperatures then a heater and a toaster are very exciting, It has been rather a long time from getting the cable laid to actually getting the meter installed, but thankfully it is mainly done and working. The barn wasn't connected up as that is going to have to wait until Spring when Ian can dig a hole in the ground, it was bad enough digging the metre into the greenhouse - well dig is perhaps not quite the right word, chippped through the solid ice would be more appropriate and then the frozen ground.
A blessing for Ian
"I'm not walking in the snow!" They are funny they want to
come for a walk but end up having to jump between
footprints or end up nearly buried in the stuff
This isn't a milestone but it could well be in the future and the thoughts I am working through at the moment. When I think of the possibilities that are available these days via the internet and technology, they are mind boggling. There will be things that our children can do that we can't even conceive of, some of course are not so great like the ability of being able to abuse each other online, but somewhere along the lines we have to trust the next generation, we have to encourage them to be the best they can be, to do all they can for the good with the technology they have. Let's not just shut down the possibilities, let's pass on what we can, which is a discernment, as they move forward. At some point whether we like it or not we are going to have to make way for the next generation to take the reins, we may as well do it willingly and with encouragement and support or we will have the reins wrenched from our hands.

"Would you have been eating the snow by any chance?"
"Who me?"
A different kind of milestone over the last few weeks is the revelation of horse meat in products labelled as beef. That has been a real eye opener for some and the cause of much embarrassment for corporate businesses. Mike Small on the Fife diet website (an organisation that seeks to help people to eat more locally) has called a complete restructure of the food supply chain and he says the last thing we need is for the corporate businesses to regain trust and then to continue with business as usual. It is a very well written article and I have to say I agree with what he has to say. While I don't advocate a collapse of the supply chain, that would be chaos, but a radical overhaul will help us get back to some better connections with our food.
A little deep in places

The view from our other apartment. There are greenhouses
in there, somewhere. I don't think there will be any growing
going in there any time soon

Monday, 11 February 2013

Religious chickens and not so religious musings

What's going on down there?
Our chickens are, or rather have been, quite religious, since they started laying they always had Sundays off. Not sure if they changed their religion this last week though, as they had Friday off instead. Mind you they at least gave us five eggs the day before and four the following day and so we are starting to move into the productive period now. Housing them in the greenhouse over winter has worked a treat. Even on the coldest of days in the minus 20s they have been fine after shutting them up in their boxes overnight. They have been scratching through the hay in their runs and turning it into lovely compost for us and eating up all the scraps we care to throw at them. Many people were worried that they would get frostbite without other animals to keep them warm, but this has proved not to be a problem. The problems we have had are keeping them watered with the tendency for it to freeze in their small water boxes, but Ian discovered just lately, they actually quite like snow and although we would have to watch it didn't make them too cold on the coldest of days, at least they won't dehydrate.

Blue sky! Looks good, doesn't it?
We are still running into problems with getting a house out on the land. This time it was the price of the architect. Unfortunately for us he is Riga based and prices are higher there than out in the sticks. It is a shame as we would have loved to have worked with him, but I am guessing that the solutions may also have been too expensive too. At the rate we are going, we may end up with another barn and not much more - only joking, but just! I am not sure how we are going to get it done, and we would only move step by step, but I do sense the need to be out there and getting involved in the farming community and for that we need a house. We also need a place out there as we are now tied with the animals. Fortunately another friend has suggested another more local architect and so we will try that route now.  I must admit that re-reading this paragraph makes it sound oh so sensible, but I did not feel oh so sensible when I read the quote from the architect. I knew it was going to be more than for the barn project, but felt quite shocked at how much more. It took me a day to pick myself up after that.

Not many candlesticks made this week, but look at the
potential candlesticks!
I have been emailing backwards and forwards a lot this week. I hadn't heard more from Tartu and decided to find out where they were at with my place. The paperwork should be done today, but lectures have already started. Fortunately they don't seem to be too onerous to catch up on, but it did mean that I had to get my act together to get myself up to Tartu this coming week. By the time you read this post I, hopefully, should be sat on a bus somewhere between Valmiera in Latvia and Tartu in Estonia. Seems weird to take a passport on a coach journey, but I have that ready too. To ease me in gently someone will meet me at the bus station and let me stay at her home again, an answer to prayer in itself. At least I can then find out exactly what will be expected of me in the next four years this week and therefore find out what my needs will be regarding accommodation too.

We found out recently we were supposed to making more
of an effort to thin out the forest from growth that was
stunting it and the weather hasn't been too bad, so Ian
has been making an effort to do some clearing. 
On the heating front, we are still plodding through with that. Our lawyer managed to get the papers done on Friday, which meant that we were able to take them down to the heating company this morning to get their official stamp and signature that they had received them. Hopefully now we might get some answers from them about the way they add charges to the bills without explanation and why they insist we owe money for inadequate heating. I'm not holding my breath though, the business is supposedly in such disarray they might not be able to. We'll see. The actual heating is also still a bit hit and miss. It was cool overnight with the radiators barely warm this morning - that was actually nice for a change as recently it has been too warm and this was reflected in the absolutely enormous bill we received. The bill was nearly 147 LVLs for one month. With average wages around 269 LVLs a month in our region (source Latvian Government statistics) and the minimum basket for foodstuffs and non-foodstuffs also at 113.36 LVLs (again according to Government statistics) that leaves 9 LVLs for electric, water etc. for a single person, nothing left for mortgage or rent. And they wonder why people can't or won't pay? We still haven't decided what to do about this months bill, there are question marks still over the way our heating is plumbed in and the new meter is suspect too. We would like some answers, not accusations.

This area is still to do and so you can see the difference.
Mind you when the snow clears we will have a lot of
tree stumps and it will be interesting to see how big
they really are.
I have had some interesting discussions via emails and blogs just lately. They have not necessarily been with people who I would agree with, mind you who could we say we agree 100% with, but it has been interesting to see my point of view challenged or supported from surprising sources. I think one of the big problems with the Christian church is its fear of challenge at times, its fear of facing questions and worse still the fear of not having the answers. Ian sent me a link to the Radio Two's "Pause For Thought" by Rabbi Shoshanna Boyd Gelfand. She talks about a Jewish tradition of Makhloket, which is a concept of arguing "for the sake of heaven." She says that the tradition was a way of rabbis to seek debate with people of different opinions from their own in a sincere attempt to get more in touch with the divine nature of God. It might even put a different spin on Matthew 18:19-21

Matthew 18:19-21The Message (MSG)18-20 “Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.”
I've been busy too. I finished off this baby sleeping
bag for grandchild number 2. It still needs some
buttons on the bottom but I can do that later
What happens if these were actually short, pithy statements, and not meant to be taken as an integrated whole. Point one, a yes on earth is a yes in heaven, point two, what you say to one another is eternal (would we think more carefully about what we say if we thought about this more?), point three, a prayer together of agreement connects together with God in some way that one doesn't, point four when two or three of you get together for God's sake he'll be there - it doesn't say if we agree on this point, but if we get together for the sake of God. He can be there in the debate, helping us to see more clearly the breadth and scope of his work, of his desire for us a human race, of his perspective that is infinitely broader than our human eyes alone can see. We should not be afraid of talking to people who disagree with us, we should be grateful to them for showing us a different way of thinking. That does not mean we have to take on board everything that others say, but it does mean we get out of our brains the things that we believe, examine them carefully in the light of what is said and at that point decide if it is something we should keep or discard. Life should be a process of growth, where we carefully think about our beliefs, our reactions to situations, how we live our life etc.. For me there are some absolutes, such as there is a God in Heaven who cares for us, enough to send his Son who is also part of God, to rescue us from the mess we are in, he overcame death to give us life and expects us to live in that revelation. I have taken those beliefs out and I feel they have stood the test of time, even become stronger in some ways. But how we live our "church" life, the beliefs in the church on various issues, I am not as strong on, sometimes I even think they are a hindrance. I have no desire to throw the baby out with the bathwater and so I am happy for people to continue living out their faith, in the way they see fit. So let's talk about it, let's discuss it, let's not be defensive about our faith. Let us examine together what we believe and why. Above all, let us discover more about this creator who wants us on board to sort out the mess we've made and make life beautiful again throughout the world. Utopian? Perhaps! Possible? Well I think so and I will put all my passion and energy into seeing this world transformed.
I think we might need to clear our balcony

A view down the road. Yes there is a road down there

Monday, 4 February 2013

Entertaining week

The snow piles outside our apartment block.
Any wonder I sometimes have a little laugh
to myself when I see the woes of those living
in England and having to deal with the
snow there. I suppose 
Our week started off with a visit to an architect. We arranged to meet in a cafe near to where he lives in a village we know. Being a small village, we were pretty sure we would stand out as the incomers, I mean we look so English don't we? Well perhaps not! Maybe we have assimilated, or maybe it was more to do with one of the local villagers recently acquiring a car very similar to ours and so the architect was still waiting for a new couple to turn up in a different car. Not quite sure how long we both sat in the cafe before the architect approached us to see if we were the couple he was waiting to meet. In the meantime we both had ordered drinks and something to eat. I was just about to text him when he came up and introduced himself. The meeting went well though and we talked about all sorts of things, we even talked about the house that we want to build. We did worry him at one point though. After spending quite a bit of time talking about how we felt that people should be paid fairly for what they do, whilst recognising the economic realities of Latvia that not all materials can be purchased with receipts, we then got onto talking about our barn and the costs of the architect to build it, he thought we were talking about the total cost of the barn, which was substantially more. Here was the poor man thinking how could he possibly come up with plans at such a low price. He was rather relieved when we got that point clear.

I was recently looking through some old pictures and saw
some of alpacas when they first came. They look quite
skinny compare to the thick fleeced individuals we have now
For those who have been following along with our story, you may know that in the last heating season the heating company sent cold water around to our apartment block. This is not much fun when temperatures are as low as they get here. Going out for a walk is not nice when you know that there is no warm home waiting for you when you get back. The heating company were also indifferent to the request for an increase in the heat, despite the fact there were babies in the apartment block and only 9C in the flats where they were, they also blamed the apartment block for their "faulty installation." That in itself was a joke because the "faulty installation" had worked perfectly well two years previously. The heating this season has been much better most of the time, so we thought that perhaps they had listened and we would start to look at what we owed and how much we were willing to pay back, having refused to pay the bills they sent until they sorted it out. We requested a break down of the bills and how they had been calculated, especially since they had added some strange, unexplained costs to the bills. We might be willing to pay for what we feel is justified, but we are not mugs. The answer we received back from that request was not helpful and in fact rather childish and so we decided enough was enough and go and see a lawyer. Of course the process of doing that is far more costly than just paying the bill, but that is what the heating company rely on. In fact the costs of getting the lawyer involved, as usual, is far beyond the scope of most people anyway. We decided though that the principle is more important and we acknowledge that principles do not come cheap.

Looking more rounded
The lawyer was a lovely women, who asked lots of questions and took our documentation to work through. She has also dealt with the company before and knows what they are like. During the course of this obviously serious meeting, Ian suddenly leapt out of his chair and started dancing around the room, clasping his leg. Snigger! You bet! The poor guy had cramp! It didn't stop any of us from laughing though, even Ian. Fortunately cramp translates quite easily and she wasn't left wondering what kind of clients we were. We also learnt a new Latvian word, but I would think that Ian would be really glad to never having to be the source for using the word in future encounters.

What you've all been waiting for I know. Our little man
(aka our first grandchild) with his mummy and daddy
During last year, we were chatting to a friend who was telling us that his wife had had a really painful arm and after various tests was still not sure what it was, either that or it was something more serious, I can't remember the exact details now, but what I do remember is that eventually she talked to a doctor who suggested a large dose of vitamin D and within days there was a major improvement. Ian had been getting sore fingers, which of course gets put down to old age and so I thought that perhaps he should try the vitamin D, plus of course we had a fairly damp summer too (not as bad as the UK, but not good either) and the autumn had been rather overcast and so a good dose of vitamin D was perhaps necessary. There has been a lot in the media about vitamin D just lately with suggestions that it is perhaps quite important in a range of diseases including heart problems too and since that runs in my family, thought that perhaps I should take note. Well I have to warn you, we think we have discovered a very serious side effect of this medication, it could lead to a serious case of a cheerful disposition, even in the middle of winter. Now I think our children will concur with me on this, Ian has been renowned for being a bit grumpy at times and winter can be okay as long as the sun shines, but this winter there hasn't been a lot of that, but there has been a difference in Ian. His grumpiness usually leaves around March, maybe even as late as May depending on the weather, but this year he is whistling and making cheerful remarks, even smiling to himself and it is only February. It is very disconcerting. I know he is a chap with a brilliant sense of humour, but general cheeriness is not his style. Makes you realise why Vitamin D is prescribed in the mental health hospital where my daughter used to work. So be warned, if you do start taking Vitamin D, you may become quite cheery! Imagine a world populated by lots of cheery people, quite scary really.

The little man sleeping in
the cocoon I knitted for him
We hopefully have the car finally sorted, they eventually managed to find four glow plugs which didn't cost 48 Lvls each, only 28 Lvls each (say it fast it doesn't sound so much does it, well maybe not). It is funny how these things can take time to get organised sometimes. We were in before Christmas trying to find out what the issue was with its poor starting in bad weather and it has taken them a month after the Christmas holidays to source the glow plugs which were the problem and getting us booked in for the service. Still it is done now and we will find out tomorrow morning whether it has cured the problem. One of the nice things about taking the car to Jekabpils for a service is they wash the car for us, bit of an expensive way of getting a wash though but at least it is no longer quite so ice encrusted as it was earlier on in the day, the second is much nicer, we had our customary fish and chips at one of the few places in Latvia that do a nice English style fish and chips. What more could you ask for?

A bit gloomy but very atmospheric
I have still been doing my liaising for the local timber company and some of those contacts are beginning to see results now, which is very satisfying. One thing my neighbour really understands, which is sometimes lacking in Latvian companies, is the need to ensure customer satisfaction. She is very flexible in adjusting her products to the requirements of the customer - the advantage of being a small company - and will always make sure that the load that goes is to her satisfaction as far as quality is concerned. Many companies realise the importance of good customer relations and realise that is what brings the customers back again. I see though that the Swiss train companies have forgotten this important piece of business. Fining customers who have tried to legitimately buy tickets but couldn't thought issues such as broken machines or because a payment arrived a little late for mobile phone payments. The article in the BBC beggars belief for such a well respected company. Revenue from fines is no compensation if you lose the goodwill of your customers.