Monday, 3 November 2014

Weird and wonderful things

Ian has been busy stacking wood to make walls around the
stove. Half way there now
It has been quite weird this week how things have worked out. Not always good and not always bad either. Firstly it is November - how did that happen? Okay I know that you know it is November and it comes around every year, but it doesn't seem that long ago since we were waiting for the snows to clear to get in the garden. It seems such a lot has happened this year, so much so it has really raced away. Anyway onto the subject of happenings this week

Estelle and her hopefully wobbly remaining tooth
If you follow the blog, you may remember that we have been worried about the teeth of one of our alpacas, Estelle, as they have grown so long they needed cutting. Ian phoned our friend last week to help, but he was just setting off on holiday the following day and so we were supposed to phone another guy, but stuff got in the way, as it does. This turned out to be a blessing. One day Ian was looking at Estelle and noticed her tooth was more twisted than ever, she bent down to eat, looked up and her tooth was straight. Ian by now was beginning to doubt his eyesight. This happened a few more times and so in the evening, at lock up time, he got hold of her and took a look at her mouth. Her tooth was wobbly! Of course the questions then arise. Have we left it too long? Is there something wrong with her? Or........, she couldn't be ......... losing her baby teeth could she? Do alpacas have baby teeth? Well apparently they do and they don't lose them until they are about 2 1/2 years old, Estelle's age, which seems rather old to us, we would have thought about a year. There are other teeth further back that they lose later, up to 6 years old. So I guess, we now wait for the other tooth to drop out, rather than put her through the trauma of trying to cut it. Phew!

A view along the river at Jekabpils
Our car went in for a service this week, as a rubber boot on the front drive shaft had split and the last thing we want on the numerous dirt roads around here is for grit to get into that. Ian does all the regular routine stuff, but for something more complicated we take it into a garage at Jekabpils. We had to be there for 9am and so it meant an early start. The day turned out to be rather nice and much warmer than the previous week so we wandered around a little and Ian bought a new mega thermal neckwarmer and we found a new cafĂ©, deep in the bowels of a row of shops. We were obviously the first customers of the day, as they vacated their chairs where they had been drinking their morning coffee to serve us. After wandering around some more we went for fish and chips at our usual place then did a little boot shopping for me (yes more boots but this time the sort that go on feet and these are for out on the land when it gets too cold for my wellies and three pairs of socks) lastly we went for a walk by the river. It is so long since we just mooched around anywhere and took in the sights. It almost felt like we were on holiday. It has been awhile! In fact it was when the grandchildren were born and we took a visit to the UK and Australia to see them and so about 18 months ago.
Such a glorious day
Along the path and looking towards the bridge
We then headed back to the garage and waited a little while for them to finish on the car. They would have worked on it some more, as some glow-plugs were not functioning properly, which is what Ian suspected and had asked them to check, but we had to get back to put our animals away - one of the downsides of this time of year is the early hour we need to be back. Ian also asked about the timing belt on the car and how often that should be changed. It turns out every 100,000 km and it costs around €450 (that does include other jobs done at the same time though, like changing the water pump). Yikes! Was it necessary? Oh yes! You should have seen the colour drain from the face of the guy when Ian said we had done over 120,000 so far. It's booked in again for this coming Friday. I won't be going though, I need to get out on the land and spend some time there and I can't go if I keep taking days off.

Mr. Herk are you eating through the fence again?
As I said Ian usually does the routine maintainance and so when we were at the garage he ordered an air filter, oil filter and a fuel filter for him to fit. Ian tried to change the fuel filter, something he was doing as a precaution due to the possibility of dirty fuel here and also just as a precaution before winter when we can end up with wax coming out of the fuel on especially cold days and it is good to have a clean fuel filter before that happens. Or something like that anyway (she says not being particularly mechanically minded when I don't feel like it). Anyway, as I was saying, Ian tried to change the oil filter and the emphasis here is on the "tried". The one that the garage gave him, didn't fit and so fortunately he was able to carefully put the old oil filter back on and order another one. A day later he got a phone call from a friend who has just bought a similar car and it started dying on him on the way back from a holiday after the car had been stood in the airport car park for a week. Although, as I have already said, the weather is warmer this week, it was bitter last week and the fuel has not been changed to winter fuel yet and so there is a possibility that the waxes in the diesel may have come out and started to clog the fuel filter - we sound so knowledgeable but it only has to happen once for us to be ultra cautious about it happening again. Well it just so happens we have a spare fuel filter as we haven't had the chance to return it to the garage yet and since it was supposed to fit an L200, maybe it would fit his! And it did! Weird. So we spent Halloween around at their place while Ian helped to fit the fuel filter, thereby avoiding any kids who come knocking at the door to extract sweets from us that we don't have. There seems to be more and more of them every year.
The look that says "It wasn't me!"
Veronica looks quite the stately dame
Well apart from doing some more work on that blessed paper I have been trying to write all year (at least it feels like that) and visiting the garage, we took a visit to a mini zoo at a place called Rezekne to have a look at their alpacas. We had hoped to meet the owner, but it didn't work out quite the way we had planned. Ian had phoned to talk to the lady, but apparently she didn't speak English, she did, however, get her daughter to ring back later. Ian spoke very carefully and arranged a visit for Sunday 2nd November. All well and good. The problem is that Rezekne is a two hour drive from us and he wasn't convinced that the arrangements would work out. Still a day out.
... but does she look pregnant yet? We think they might be
beginning to show, but then again it could just be their
fleece growing
Snowdrop! Is she or isn't she?
As expected when we got there, no owner and the lady who was there, couldn't speak English. The daughter, who spoke English, who Ian thought he had arranged to meet was also not there. The lady we talked to when she realised that my understanding of her Latvian was not keeping up phoned for someone to interpret. A nice young man on the phone then informed us that the alpaca male was €2000. Whoops! We think there was a misunderstanding then. We are not in the market for a male alpaca at the moment. We will need one in about three years time when it comes to mating with any females born this next year, but not before. We would also like to know the pedigree of the animal, as we are anxious to maintain fleece quality of our stock and we weren't given any of that information. Oh well! After 15 mins we headed home. On the way home we visited a supermarket to stock up and tried to go to a restaurant we had visited before, but that was shut and to cap the day off, a stone hit the windscreen and cracked it. Not a particularly good day out then!

Ian has also been busy building a small enclosure inside
the girls paddock area for a training area. He hopes to train
our dear little bundle of mischief to walk with a halter.
We'll see!
As always a slightly different note to finish on, but one that is rumbling on due to the politics in the UK. Why should the politics in the UK affect me here in Latvia? Most of it doesn't, but one issue does and that is the one of immigration. It was slightly chilling to read that Angela Merkel of Germany would accept the withdrawal of the UK rather than change the policy of free movement within the EU. Well good for her in one way, but the thought of that happening is not pleasant. If the UK clamps down on immigration from the EU this will almost certainly have repercussions for those UK citizens who are living in Europe now. It probably won't affect those already in a job, but no job and that could change things.


  1. what a week!! Sorry a out the car trouble, cars have ever open, money, money. I suspect we disagree on the EU so I won't say anything other than it is something that desperately needs addressing and I must add, I don't have a problem with immigration.
    I hope your poor animal loses those teeth painlessly...ouch!

    1. Our car hasn't been too much of a bother so far, just some hiccups along the way, but now age is starting to creep up.

      I suspect we disagree on the EU too, but I would agree that something does desperately need addressing, it isn't a perfect institution by any stretch of the imagination. Interesting though that today there are headlines speaking of how much value Eastern Europeans actually bring into the UK.

      I hope she loses teeth painlessly too. Poor lass

  2. I'm loving the pictures of your meanders. Also wondering how EU changes might affect my nephew working in the UK. It's pretty tough when there's no work to be had in Latvia.

    1. It is worrying, especially the anti-Eastern European sentiments that are rising up. The statistical evidence that most contribute far more than they take out, seems to play no part in people's minds. The fact that they have the skills that the UK needs seem to be irrelevant to them. What I would dearly love to see though are jobs or better still the right environment for people to make a living here in Latvia. Many of the few entrepreneurs I know here, seem to have a real difficult job keeping their businesses afloat due to the complexity of the system and unhelpful banking system most of the time. Plus people are just not used to working together


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