Monday, 10 February 2014

Good day at the office, dear?

On the road back from Jekabpils, a stone house on the hill
Things are settling down a little here and we are getting back to some kind of normality, whatever that might be. Normal for us, isn't exactly most people's idea of normal. I often ask Ian if he has "had a good day at the office" knowing full well that his office is the caravan, or the woods, or the alpaca paddocks. So Ian is now back to his regular routine of going out to the land, a bit earlier now each day since the days are getting longer, where he first lets the alpacas out, feeds the chickens and has a cup of coffee whilst sitting down to watch the chickens, usually with the cats on his lap. Next he will clear the alpaca poo, gathering up the precious manure for the gardens later on in the year or for the pasture, before then giving the animals fresh hay if they are low. After that it depends on the day, cut up wood, clear some more of the forest, sort out electric to the barn, do maintenance on the car, or other myriad winter jobs. After lunch he feeds the alpacas with beets, squash, apples or carrots depending on what we have, with some commercial food concentrate. The amount of concentrate varies according to the temperature. Their rations will be cut this week as the temperatures have risen, so much so that the snow has practically all melted. Then it is back to the other jobs of the day.
A little village where we take a short cut
Every time we take this route, we wonder if it will still see
this house standing, as the weather slowly eats its way
through the cob walls
My days have been filled with studying again. I got some good news and bad news this week on that score. The good news is that the academic paper that I finally submitted has not been rejected, the bad news is that I have to do a bit of a re-write of one of the sections and a cull of some others. I was actually encouraged by the pre-review process though, as the editor was quite encouraging and the basic work of interviews with different people can remain the same - at least at this stage and that means the core of the paper was good. At first I was wondering what on earth would I have to cull, but after looking at the paper again, I can see where the editor wants me to aim and I think I might be able to use the carefully crafted work in another paper (not all my own crafting I hasten to add, my supervisor has been working hard on it too), so in the end, she may even have done me a favour and I like that bit.
A frozen river. Sorry the photo was taken
whilst Ian was driving - hence the lines
There is lots of sand mining in Latvia. Many hills are just
plain sand
I am trying to take weekends off from studying to give my brain chance to process things and pace myself better. I will study at the weekends if I have had to take days off to do something else during the week, but otherwise I have been much better at putting the work away. This week I made some bread, sliced the bacon, packed some files away, sorted out the knitting patterns, did some washing, put some new elastic into my pyjama trousers, resewed the channel for the elastic by hand and finally put away the nativity scene (oh yes, the nativity scene! It just kind of sat there, rather unobtrusively and got forgotten about). The Christmas tree is still up though, albeit without decorations and it is only just now beginning to drop needles, but I think that is because it hasn't been watered for a while.
A little cottage by the woods
They are trying to add wild ponies back to some areas
This week I did take extra days off, as we had to sort out the radiators at our other apartment. If you read last week's blog you will know that our old ones cracked or even exploded in the freezing weather. As the weather warmed up slowly, the radiators began to leak and the floors still needed cleaning from the bursts before that all liquified and ruined the laminate. I seemed to have spent quite a bit of this last week on my knees and it wasn't in prayer. I cleaned up our living room floor where we live, because of all the mess from Benedikts over the previous week and then I spent the rest of the day cleaning the floors and emptying pots sat under the leaks at our other place. A friend of ours came with some young men to remove the old radiators on the Tuesday and take them for scrap, thankfully before the real thaw got going. One advantage of the old radiators is that the cast iron weighs a lot and we got enough to cover one replacement radiator anyway, which we got from Jekabpils. We were blessed by the fact that one of our neighbours was outside when we got back and he immediately offered to help take in the radiators for us.
Most of Latvia is like this, flat!
Looks like it has seen better days
A trip to Jekabpils does mean "Fish and Chips" but we were disappointed this time, no pureed peas, French fry type chips instead of English style chips and the batter was all wrong. It was okay as a meal and the fish was nice, but it was not like our little bit of Englishness that we had come to expect. We are pretty good at not really missing much from the UK in terms of food. If we can't get it, we either do without or I make it. So I am quite adept at making bacon now, although that is actually quite simple anyway and I make pies and cakes from time to time. After that it is pretty much the way I have always cooked, using what vegetables we have. We make a joke that we eat a lot of processed food at this time of the year, the difference is that we have processed it, so we eat a lot of frozen food or food in jars and really we only have squash, potatoes and onions that aren't processed in some way.
The race against time. The sun is setting here and we had to
get back to put animals away
The cake display today was even better than this
So that's about this week, a fairly ordinary week! I am back in Tartu again after my regular four bus journey starting at 7:15am and going through till 5pm ready for lectures to start tomorrow morning at 8:15am (that is not a civilised time of the day to have lectures) and Ian is still back at home. I did find though that Cesis on a Monday morning is a little livelier than Cesis at about the same time on a Sunday morning and I even found a lovely little cafe for a hot chocolate and a piece of cake. I wish I had taken a photo now as the window looked even more stunning today than in this photo taken off the internet.


  1. replacing elastic in your pyjamas!! For some reason that made me laugh...probably because I would have just bought new ones and I'm surrounded by stitching equipment. That says so much about me...I'm bad I know....

  2. Tut tut Karen. You could make a far lovelier seam than I could too :D


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