Monday, 30 January 2012


A bit of a contrast to last week's picture,
the sun has been beaming but oh so cold
Last week I was kind of looking forward to those wintry days when the sun glistens on the snow and it is a delight to go skiing. This week has been really cold. Cold we can do but cold and wind is not nice and we have had more than a few ice blocks for toes this past week, fortunately though the sun has since come out from behind the clouds and we have had some beautiful glittery days with gorgeous rosy sunsets. It has also got a lot colder and we are seeing temperatures of below -20C in the mornings and it only warmed up to around -14C today. Sunny days are a joy to work in, so I'm told. I was stuck inside transcribing an interview again.

It is like a fluffy white blanket draped over everything
The interviews for my project for my course have been going well at national level and it is nice to know people are interested in my research to-date as well. It does make me feel that this is a piece of research worth doing. I just need more local interviews, but they have been a struggle since I need translations for them. Hopefully this week it is sorted, as a friend knows a young graduate who is currently unemployed who is free for at least part of February. We go to pick him up tomorrow and bring him back to our village so that he can arrange interviews for me and translate during the interview itself. I have one lined up on Friday for us already, but that is with someone who does speak some English and just needs a bit of help as there are times she struggles. Sad to say there are some local folks who won't speak to me, and say they are too busy. It could be that they are actually shy, who knows! I do hope that isn't the case for everyone else otherwise there won't be much for this young chap to do.

.. and you can see the snow is deep. The dark
centre is a land drain that takes water
from the road. This year it should get a cover
The cold days did not come with any improvement in the heating situation until today that is. We have had to light our wood stove most nights or endure apartment temperatures around 13C. It makes the thought of going out to ski very unappealing as I don't want to go out and come back to a cold home. I half wonder if the improved temperature of the heating today is due to being near the end of the month and bills due out soon. In the warmth people might forget the cold days we have had to put up with. We will have to look at the data and see how much of this month has been below standard and pay our bill accordingly.

The snow has not been deep enough to stop
the wild boar though. They are still digging
as the ground is still soft under its powdery
blanket. Maybe the cold will put a stop to
that now
Little by little we are preparing for the year ahead. Ian surprised me the other day by telling me he had emailed to enquire how much it would cost to use the ferry to fetch the three alpacas we are planning on buying. He usually leaves that kind of thing to me, but I think he must be feeling sorry for me as I have been typing up interviews which can take agggggesssss and then reading books for reference material (journals are so much quicker). Don't get me wrong he isn't a layabout, it is just that usually anything that smacks of admin I usually do and he usually does the research on machinery and gadgets. I did manage to email a company about an egg incubator so we can raise chickens for eggs and meat next year, although they deliver the incubators they don't deliver eggs, as they make take too long to arrive and are sometimes x-rayed by customs which isn't good for them. As an aid to preparing for next year we also started using a new software programme to help us with managing our farming and gardening projects. but I think that is going to take a little time to input the relevant data. It isn't until I was typing in the crops we grow that I realised how varied are the crops. It came to 48 different types of crops and that is only if we lump all varieties of tomato plants and herbs etc together.

I wasn't sure what to think of an American site announcing the loss of development funds to Latvia due to poor control of funds. I haven't seen anything on European sites. It is obviously not good for those who genuinely need the funding for projects, but it is good that the EU is beginning to tighten up on scrutinising where project funds end up. I am not sure that people really understand that when they spend money elsewhere and not where it is intended it makes it difficult for those who follow, they just see their own needs. There is definitely a need for improvements to be done on many homes but that shouldn't be money earmarked for a business say. Better accountability and better surveillance is needed in the system, but how can that happen when funds are being cut back on those very institutions that do the monitoring? This is always the issue, how can communities build their own surveillance systems when they are also being squeezed of funds for infrastructure? You can see why there is a temptation to use money improperly.

Holding forth on some interesting discussions obviously.
Actually she was doing her usual trick of hiding in the
caravan (trailer) rather than spending too long in the
greenhouse, despite it warming up to above freezing in there.
Last week I mentioned the problem of micro-nutrient deficiencies in our diets and especially of developing nations. I said it is possible to feed populations without resorting to adding unnatural genetic material to things like rice, even in the most remotest and most difficult of circumstances and I was right. A new tree is being promoted in South Africa that can grow in arid conditions and yet provides more calcium than four glasses of milk, the vitamin C content of 8 oranges and the potassium equivalent of 3 bananas - pretty impressive stuff for a tree that can grow in tough areas. Seedlings and powder are being provided at a cheap price by one lady trying to promote the tree to help those who are at risk of malnutrition and I think she is setting such an inspiring example of what an alternative economy can look like if we put the needs of the poor first. We need to rediscover some of the local plants that can feed populations well in other areas, as I am sure there must be other examples out there. I know we have personally introduced a lot of foreign plants into our area to extend seasons and food availability but I also have a heart to see what is really available locally. Now that would make another interesting project, oh so many interesting things to research and only so much time to do it in.

Living the life of Reilly! Who was Reilly
I'm not really sure what I thought Russians were like, but whatever I thought before I have to take my hat off them for some pretty creative forms of protest. A group from a Siberian city were unable to hold a protest as the authorities wouldn't let them, and so they created a miniature protest with plastic figures complete with placards, that now has the police confused. Brilliant! It did make me realise I still harbour some stereotypes in my mind and to some extent stereotypes are accurate but in other ways it just lumps people together. I love stories that bust the stereotypes and the story of a couple who are possibly the oldest married couple in the UK is another such story, it is a delightful story of how a Sikh couple have lived a long life, moved to the UK brought up a family and that family still love and honour them. The family seek to keep them healthy by making them happy to get up every morning. What an incredible testimony to a life well lived, and to how older folks can be cared for within the family when they all work together to make their life good. Okay I know there are some pretty cranky old folks out there, and I used to visit one old lady on a regular basis and she could be incredibly difficult, but get below the exterior bluff and she was a fascinating old woman. So what stereotypes do you hold? Who do you lump together as one unit instead of seeing the individuals in that group? I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Even the workshop has its blanket to keep it warm err cold
Finally for all those chocolate lovers out there, and you know who you are, here is the recipe for those wonderful chocolate desserts you always ask for at the local hotel. For those who don't know, the recipe is for a chocolate pudding that is cakey on the outside and oozing with chocolately goodness on the inside.

And finally! I know it's juvenile but I did snigger when
I saw this promotion on the slide doors of the
supermarket in the nearest big town. I wasn't sure
if I wanted to go through or not (by the way bums = boom)


  1. What a post.Do you think you will ever come back to the UK?DO you ever see your children?I can't imagine not seeing my children and grandchildren at least 4 or 5 times ayear.

  2. Hi busybusybeejay. I don't ever imagine moving back to the UK it is far too busy for me, I like the peace and quiet of rural Latvia. It is hard not seeing the children as often as we would like but we do keep in touch on a regular basis. Normally our son likes to come and visit but this year he will go and see his sister in Australia instead as they have enough holidays to do that. I felt sad to encourage him and his wife to do that, but I knew it was perhaps the only chance they get. I don't quite know how I will feel when it comes to them having grandchildren though, we might have to rely on Skype more

  3. caMy what complicated lives you lead, what with software programs to manage growing vegetables etc and micro nutrient deficencies{not sure if I can even spell them}and then to plan to hatch chicken as well. We just wait for a white van to turn up in the village and buy our chicks/PoL birds from Latvian producers and keep the money in the country. make life much more simple Ha ha.

  4. Lol I sometimes wonder what we are letting ourselves in for. We wanted some chickens for meat but we think we now have a source of eggs for those, so our money will be stopping in the country but also hopefully be making us some money as well - no pension for us otherwise!

  5. your sign reminded me of something my son always wants us to bring back from Sweden....a chocolate bar called Plop....
    as for cold...I laughed at your facebook post yesterday re the Guardian and plunging temperatures over here....I know it is colder where you are but we English are like delicate little flowers....

  6. But Karen you are another Lancashire lass, you should laugh at temperatures of daytime temperatures of 2C and -3C at night, at least in the winter anyway. I see it did get a little more serious and actually down to -9C in Shap in Cumbria, so that is cold.


I love to hear your comments and will always reply, so go ahead, ask a question or just say hi