Monday, 18 July 2016

Mission accomplished

Brencis just chilling
Well that's a bit how it feels. This week hasn't quite worked out in the way we imagined, but it still went well and we learnt a lot in the process. So  grab a cuppa, put your feet up and follow the antics on our alpaca farm for this week
A calm morning

Morning sunlight through the trees - pictures of the kitchen
will have to wait till next week. We forgot to take some
On Tuesday we installed a kitchen in our greenhouse, as you do. Doesn't everyone have a kitchen in their greenhouse? It was one of my mad ideas but in the end it has worked out quite well. One of our friends was getting rid of an old kitchen that has seen better days, but still useable and so we picked up the cabinets. I helped Ian to load it into the horse box so he could take it back to the land, but I couldn't go back with him, as I needed to do some cleaning at one of our apartments in preparation for some visitors and I also needed to do some washing. That left us with a problem of how Ian would manage at the other end to unload the kitchen. When I got to our apartment to do the washing, some friends of ours were there. I was expecting them to be in Riga to pick up their daughter from the airport but she had missed a flight and wouldn't arrive till that evening. Perfect! Well not for their daughter but for us it was and I quickly co-opted our friends to help. The guys went off to help Ian install the kitchen and I got the washing load on and went to do some cleaning with an assistant in tow. When I got back to the land the kitchen was just about installed.
Eager customers?

Galina, our felting tutor on the right and one our guests for the
Wednesday was an early start to go to Riga. First we had to find Baltcom, who supply our electric, because they had a problem with my account. I tend to enter my first name for various accounts but it does not correlate with my full name that comes with the personal code that all residents have here and they thought I had got a new family name. Middle names are not common here at all. Unfortunately the lady in the shop did not speak English and my rudimentary Latvian was not enough. In the end we made her photocopy my ID and put the company stamp on it to prove I had been to the shop and done what they asked me to do. What annoyed me is that there was no note on my account to explain what I needed to do.
Galina's assistant getting to know Aggie

The start of some socks
Next we hurried a little belatedly to pick up our guests, our tutor for the felting course at the weekend, Galina Blazejewska and her assistant. They had had a long overnight journey from Warsaw on the bus, so were tired but we needed to shop for wool whilst we were in Riga. It was the easiest way of making sure we had something that worked well for the felting course even if what we had didn't work so well. We had a very nice lunch in Ala, in Riga - highly recommended for a quality traditional Latvian style meal and fairly reasonable too. It is a little hard to find, if you don't know it and it is like making your way down into a labyrinth, but easy enough once you know. Then we navigated our way through the streets to find the two shops we needed for wool - we managed to make it without too much heated discussion. We don't do cities much!
The finished socks

The back of my poppy bag
Thursday was the calm before the storm, even if it was only a small storm. We took Galina and her friend out to our farm and chilled out on a lovely day. They helped us around the place as we cleared up the mess in our greenhouse, and then they picked fruit off our bushes for us. We also had a visit from a group who had made contact through the website. They were a lovely family and related to one of our neighbours. They even complimented me on my Latvian, which surprises me, it is really bad but I think my pronunciation sometimes isn't that bad, so people think I can speak more than I can. I do understand a bit more if I know the context, so that helps. We also had a visit from a lady who I "met" on the internet. We had been commenting on the same blogs for a while and found out she was originally from Lithuania, so as I usually do, I extended an invitation if she was ever in the area to call in and she did. She was visiting her parents in Lithuania and then making her way up to Estonia, so took a bit of a detour to visit. We had a rather nice email afterwards to say how much her children had enjoyed the visit and said if she was ever this way again, she would be sure to make time to meet again.
Another pair of socks

My completed poppy bag, modelled by
one of our visitors
Friday we got going on the felting course. We started off with a farm tour to meet our alpacas, and because we are English we had a break for tea, coffee and cakes before starting on the felting. We had one paying guest and our employee learning how to make socks or felt house boots and I learnt how to make a rather stunning poppy handbag (I can say that because I had a lot of help). It was a good start to the course and everyone really enjoyed themselves in a very relaxed way. We bought in food from the local hotel as we are not geared up for making anything more complicated than hot drinks and it proved too difficult to arrange a neighbour to do the cooking this time around. Most of the day was spent surrounded by people speaking Russian, as both Galina, our employee and our guest were all fluent and therefore it was easier for communication purposes.
Day two participants

I love this picture because our land looks like a picture stuck
on the wall, but it is the real view from our workshop for the
Saturday was a real international day to cap a week full of international connections. It was day two of our felting course and I acted more as a helper this time around as we had three paying guests. One lady was local and two were from America - our friend who has been with us for a few weeks now and her daughter who was delayed earlier on in the week. In addition to that we had two groups visiting us, the first were ones we weren't expecting a young man on his third visit with lots of girls and the other group who we knew about in advance. In total for the day we had at least six countries represented on our farm: Americans, Polish, Belorussian living in Poland, five French, some Latvians and a smattering of Brits (i.e. more than just us). Normally we ask for a contribution but the young man who had visited us before brought a bottle of wine, so that worked, rather nice wine at that.
Working on a bag handle

Having a laugh at the process
Sunday was a quieter day. we were expecting one person for the course, but in the end she didn't turn up until five to take Galina to Riga, but that gave us a chance to make some things for the shop and plenty of food left over to see us into the week. I'm well and truly stuffed with rather good food and found that cakes do not send up my blood sugar, in fact it sends it down rather ironically. It is still the potatoes, rice and pasta that seem to affect me the most it would appear. So as Maria Antoinette would say, "Let them eat cake."
The body of the bag starting to take shape

Gently, gently: the watchword for the course. You can also
see some of the kitchen in this picture
Working outside once the bag was wet and a visit by Brencis
Galina putting some effort in to shrink the
fabric to make some tough socks
Monday was a fairly relaxed day with a second visit by some of the folks who visited on Thursday. After the visit on that day we had a lovely email, asking if we would be interested in trading English lessons for some help - we are! As we were relaxing after the course, we were happy to chat and get to know the husband who hadn't visited before. The little children got a little antsy and so we sent them on a mission to collect snails for the chickens. They were occupied for quite a while and even found an enormous slug, which we don't find very often around here, plenty of snails but not many slugs. We then went on a walk with the alpacas so that the alpacas get used to walking with groups. The flies were a bit of a nuisance to Agnese and she wasn't so happy about Brencis being behind her and she played up a bit, but at least we know now that Agnese has to be behind Brencis to behave.

The husband came back a bit later as the little ones needed a sleep (apparently they both slept very well in the afternoon) and he helped Ian move the sheep. As he is an electrical engineer we explained about the tumbler for the fleece we could do with powering by electric. Something he is going to think about. It would be good to get that up and working well.

Wetting the fleece
Yes! Finished! And a wonderful time was had by all
As I said, the week hasn't been quite what we expected. In someways we were disappointed with the numbers for the course, but it actually made things easier to find out how it would work and what we need to think about in the future. The greenhouse worked quite well as a working space but our biggest problem was a hot day which was windy at times. Cool rainy days were fine, apart from the noise of the rain and hot days when it is still are fine for working outside in the shade. Still we managed and everyone, including Galina, were happy. Galina was even quite sad to go. I think our cats and alpacas were sad to see them leave too, as Galina's friend was enthralled with them and gave them lots of tasty treats. Another unexpected bonus is finding out our sheep were actually better fleece for felting than we expected. Always nice to find out.


  1. What a wonderful setting for a workshop. It looks like everyone had a good time.

    1. It was a good setting and worked well for us and I think everyone did enjoy themselves, it was a lovely relaxed time

  2. It was wonderful time for me and Beata . We miss You and Agi, Brencis :)

    1. I'm really glad you enjoyed it. It was also wonderful having you both and I think our cats are missing Beata :D

  3. I was wondering abut your workshop and how it seems it was a success! Well done :)

    1. We certainly enjoyed it and I think now we know how it works, we will try next year again. Thank you for thinking of us


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