Tuesday, 31 May 2011

It is finished

Our orchard all nice and green
Yes the blog is finished, but also other things too. So first of all sorry for the late blog again, but some friends of ours were free and wanted to look around our land and see what we are doing, so we took a trip back out there and had a very interesting time chatting about land and edible plants, how to keep wild boar away and lots of other things. Anyway back to those things which got finished this week.

The view from my office. The lilac of course
helped the essays to flow, well maybe not!
I managed to get all my course work done and handed in and now I am just awaiting the marks. This finishes the diploma part of the course I am studying, which for those who don't know is Managing Sustainable Rural Development with one of the newest UK universities the University of the Highlands and Islands. I study this online which is why I am living in Latvia but studying with a Scottish University - complicated heh! In the next academic year I have a thesis to write for my Masters, and that will take up the whole year and one I have to plan myself, so no more tutors asking for specific work or for me to read through specific books, I have to find them for myself. Scary!

Yes finished! Rather nice isn't it!
Having finished the course I now switch into gardening mode and I am busy planting up seeds and plants that should have gone out a couple of weeks ago but had to wait until I had time. Yesterday I went out to our land with Ian to work on a plot that we have just turned over for vegetables and we were surprised to see the guys working on our greenhouse (Monday). They only work at weekends usually as two of them are still at construction school and this weekend they only made it on Saturday as one of them at least has exams and needs to study. They really worked hard to finish the framework of the greenhouse on the Saturday, but we resigned ourselves to it only being finished at the end of this week when they returned back home from school, which is why we were surprised to see them in the morning. Well they didn't half crack on with the work and one even had his lovely wife on the job too to make sure it all got done. So it is finished and it is looking good. It looks very sturdy and robust and so we hope it lasts a lot longer than the last one ie more than a year will be very good.

Before they put the plastic on they erected a wreath
of birch leaves. It is a Latvian tradition to celebrate
finishing the highest point of the roof. We will not
go into the other symbolism of it all, I will just take
it as they were pretty glad to get to that point. You
may have noticed that they hung the wreath by
the door when they finished the plastic
I mentioned a few weeks ago that we had given up part of our allotment outside our house to an older lady who had recently moved in, well we have watched in amazement as this lady, who is a pensioner, first dug over the section of the garden which had already been dug and plant it up; she spent many an hour on it. But did she stop there? Oh no! She then started on the patch which had not been dug over in all the time I have known it. Next in line were the trees. This dear little white haired lady was out there wielding a chainsaw and a machete and cleared the branches off to the local fire spot about 200m away. Did she stop there? Nope! Next on the list was a small greenhouse which was erected with a great deal of precision, which you don't often see here. And it goes on, because on another day I wasn't paying much attention,  as I was busy sorting out our garden, but could hear the drone of a machine and just assumed it was another neighbour who I knew was cutting the grass, when I looked up, however, I was absolutely gobsmacked as supergran was out there with a rotavator, not a little one either. Is there no end to what this lady will do?

Inside the greenhouse, looking pretty
sturdy. Ian did find out the hard way
though that this plastic lets the UV
through, unlike the other plastic we had
on that cost four times as much.
Earlier on in the week, dear hubby took me up to our other apartment for some peace and quiet so I could get on with my work because my eye has been bad and I have been ultra careful about making sure I didn't go out when it is windy, as it seemed to set it off again. He took a bit of time to have a cup of tea before toddling off to do whatever he was going to do when he noticed another leak. This time in the kitchen and not the bathroom. Doh! Fortunately we still had some spares and he spent a bit of time getting that fixed rather than doing what he would rather do and that is be out on the land. Good job we also have a dehumidifier for all these leaks we have had. Good job it also appears my eye is completely better this week when I need to be outside a lot.

Our new vegetable plot on the land, mulched up to protect
the plants from the hot dry winds of summer. Just in time
for this plot but our other plots are in bad need of the same.
It has been an active week in Latvia on the political front, first of all the Prime Minister published a book called "How Latvia Came Through the Financial Crisis" with a Swedish economist. Bad move I think! In one way Prime Minister Dombrovskis may indeed be right in the traditional GDP sense of the word and yet he is almost certainly wrong on many other measures. I think that the financial crisis could be over for Latvia, but only because the people are choosing to dig up more land and plant food for themselves to see them through this next winter and not trust in the Government to provide for them or they are just leaving the country looking for work. But I think he is oh so wrong to be pinning his hopes on economic growth as an indicator that all is well with the economy, and I think he is oh so wrong in looking to financial models to get this country out of the mess. A new day is coming and a new way of working and it is happening out on the fringes, out perhaps from underneath the noses of those in power.

10pm at night and it is still bright outside
It does seem funny, however, that on a week that the book "How Latvia Came Through the Crisis" gets published, we are beginning to feel like a bank. We've had four requests from friends and relatives for extremely varied reasons, and we are only too glad we could help, but temporarily for one day we had a cash flow issue too - a case of exceeding daily limits - must go and sort that out. In some ways though, the reason we have had to act as a bank is because the crisis is not over, people are still active in business maybe, but there is not a lot of cash sloshing about. Neither is the crisis over until people get their incomes raised to pre-crisis levels, when cuts are no longer applied to education, police and local authorities, as they continue to be. Only then can we really talk about an end to the crisis and not some arbitrary rise in the GDP.

Ian with good old sudocrem, chamomile
and honey cream. He promises to wear
suntan cream tomorrow when he works in
the greenhouse again. We actually think
we will add fleece or one of the filtered
plastics on the overhead struts to cut
down on the UV inside, otherwise I will
look even worse when I go in.
The most surprising event of the week though was the President calling for a referendum on the dissolution of Parliament. The President, who is elected by Parliament, does not have many powers apart from ceremonial and the ability to call referendums and next week there is an election to decide on whether to re-elect President Zatlers or another to the post making his decision an incredibly brave moral stance. The Parliament voted last week to decline the request by the Corruption bureau to search the house of one of the MPs and this was a step too far for President Zatlers, he stated that the lawmakers should not be above the law themselves and by that act had distanced themselves from the people, which is why he called for the referendum to see if people will agree with him or not. Whether he gets re-elected or not on Thursday of this week there will be a referendum and if people agree with him then there will be another election in October. Interesting times!

Just to finish off I have been reading the lyrics to the song "Joanna" sung by Jon Allen, quite amazing how it follows what we are doing in following new paths here in Latvia. My favourite line is "we'll train our feet to follow the footprints of our dreams," what a great description.


  1. Well done! for all the finished thigs. The greenhouse looks great. The photo showing the inside shows just enormous it is. Let's hope it holds up under the snow this time - with the sloping top it should.

    Anyway, what a relief now that so many things that were ongoing for so long are now fnished.

  2. A relief of sorts but why is it finished on the hottest day of the year so far? :oD

  3. I am not surprised at the efforts of your neighbour...my dad is 73 yet still works an allotment and a big garden at home, he also put his own shed up....and that looks like mightily painful sunburn!! Ouch!!

  4. I do know lots of healthy active 70 year olds too, I think what surprises me the most is the diminutive size of the lady and the way she was swinging a long plank about later had me gasping for breath just watching her.

    It was a painful sunburn indeed, normally he is very sensible but got caught off-guard. Our fleece protection seems to be doing the trick though.

  5. The greenhouse looks fantastic Joanna. Hope you manage to grow lots of good things in it and that it remains sturdy and strong.
    It will be good for you to have time without course work and be able to concentrate on your land. Enjoy!

  6. Thanks Danast. It is looking good, just a pity that the plants are looking a bit sad for spending too long in pots. Hopefully they will pick up


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