Thank god for some bad weather. Over the past two months all I seem to have done is move piles of something. It has either been spreading piles of cow crap around the fruit bushes and trees, moving a large pile of sand to create a level base for our extension, moving piles of logs into the barn to keep dry or more recently raking and moving piles of leaves off our one hectare garden. My whole body aches and I have resorted to having a twice weekly massage to sort out some muscular problems.
Early on in our Latvian adventure someone told me that having chosen to live in the countryside I won’t have a minute of time to myself. They weren’t kidding. Since moving here I’ve lost 6 kg in weight (around a stone for my English readers) and found out why farmers have such strong handshakes. I wouldn’t change my life for anything though. Since the beginning of September I don’t seem to have had any time to myself. The journey from home to Pinki every day seems to be taking longer, school traffic I think. Up to 2 hours some days, although I have recently found a short cut through Jugla which can reduce journey time by up to 15 minutes. All my spare time is spent in the garden, driving to and from builders merchants or trying to find the most suitable furniture for our new bathroom and bedroom. With the bad weather today I’ve finally had the chance to sit down and write this blog.
So, to an update of our winterisation and house improvements. The roof is finished apart from a couple of small areas around windows. This will be completed once our new windows are installed which I am assured by Montaznieks will be on Thursday of this week. I think the roof is a success, all our visitors say it looks nice and as an added bonus we’ve noticed the house is considerably warmer. The bathroom/heating system is progressing, but not as quickly as I would like. My brother and his partner are due to arrive on the 28th October and we still don’t have a functioning bathroom so I’m sweating a little and Inta is becoming frustrated at having to clean all the building dust on a daily basis and having piles of tiles, a bath and other assorted bits and pieces cluttering the house. After four weeks of standing naked in front of the kitchen sink at six in the morning having to give myself a body wash I think I could cope with anything, but to ask guests to perform that routine I think is taking liberties. My plumber/builder assures me (no, assures Inta) everything will be ok, just have faith. My faith is being stretched to the limits I’m afraid. The one thing I do know is that when it is complete, it will be a job well done. Valdis, to give him his name, is a perfectionist, so everything takes that bit longer. At the moment (9.30 pm) he is here tiling the bathroom. If the house was to fall down, the only walls that would be guaranteed to be left standing would be the bathroom walls. Such is the thoroughness he is applying the tile adhesive.
We’ve concreted the storage area to the side of the house, waterproofed and insulated the outside wall and divided the area into spaces creating a new bedroom and pantry or as I prefer to call it “Inta’s office” and workroom/store room for me. Just needs the electrical work finishing and a window to complete everything.
I’ve been told that we’ve been lucky with our tradesman as none of them are heavy drinkers. However I have observed that the tradesman we’ve employed don’t have very good bedside manners. To my Latvian readers what that means is they can appear a little abrupt/rude when having to explain themselves. When you ask questions about what they are doing, they look at you as though you’ve gone mad. Their general attitude seems to be that you’ve employed me to do a job, so just let me get on and finish it, stop worrying and just have faith. In Ireland, they have Irish time, in India, Indian time. Not to be left out Latvia has Latvian time. Things happen when they are meant to happen, not according to some project plan. Pretty hard for an Englishman to get acclimatised to.
We have acquired a new resident. A black cat called Timo. You may remember that I mentioned in a previous blog we were looking after our neighbours two cats whilst she was in England visiting her family. Upon her return Timo refused to go back. We tried not letting him in, but with the workman constantly opening doors it proved impossible to keep him out. He even took to sleeping in the new roof, before it was completely boxed in. As might be expected our neighbour is pretty upset, and although enjoy the cats company we both feel guilty at this unexpected turn of events. We have subsequently found out that the cat was born here and used to live here with the previous owners. So it’s not really surprising he feels this is home.
Having been really busy over the last couple of months we were looking forward to a rare night out in Riga last Friday watching the London Symphony Orchestra play the Beatles accompanied by the Russian Army Choir. Unexpectedly I received an email on Thursday evening to say that the concert had been cancelled for economic and political reasons. Bloody politicians. Don’t they realise in their quest for personal glory they are ruining the world for ordinary folk.
If general tiredness wasn’t enough, the bad weather last night caused a problem with our burglar alarm which although not set decided to ring every 2 hrs during the night. I drove to work this morning feeling like I was on my way home after a long day. I somehow survived the day, arrived home in the dark and pouring rain, to be greeted by Inta with, “hi darling, we need some water”. Now you have to understand we don’t drink water from the tap, it doesn’t taste or smell nice, so I go to the well and haul up buckets of water to drink. So I’m stood there, in my suit, in the pouring rain, hauling up buckets of water from the well. Inta did at least hold an umbrella for me.
It’s amazing how quickly we have made contacts in the four months we’ve been here. We now have local suppliers/producers of dairy produce, eggs, honey, potatoes, carrots, beetroot and onions. On a number of occasions we have arrived home to find a bag a produce waiting for us. Life in Latvia is good, long may it continue.