Monday, April 10, 2006

Mud, Cookers and a Wedding

Well we cannot say we were not warned, before we departed on Saturday to Zvannieki to deliver said cooker, Sarma had advised that the road was a little muddy. this proved to be an understatement - but more of this later.

On Saturday of we set, S..... ( Welsh), J... (Irish), V... (Australian/Latvian), A..... (Lebanese) and myself, accompanied by driver courtesy of Rietumu Bank, and of course the new cooker. This time we made the journey almost without mishap, only a couple of moments of indecision regarding which road to take. However on entering the into the lane leading to Zvannieki, it was clear that with the recent Spring thaw, the lane was basically a bog.

However undaunted down we went, and on arrival unloaded said cooker, and with the assistance of A..... ( Lebanese - and a brilliant electrician) and J... in charge of connecting gas supply, we finally got the cooker installed, and it was duly tested by Sarma, as she proceeded to bake a wonderful apple pie - the oven was duly christened. Mind you we had to phone A... (Bristolian ) in order to get instructions on how to set the clock. No clock - Cooker no work - that's technology for you !

So having completed our task for the day, and eaten the apple pie, it was time to set off back to Riga, in we piled into the car and set off, somewhat gingerly up the slope towards the main road, well we did pretty well for the first 1000 meters, but then on the final slope before the main road we managed to find a seriously deep rut, into which the front wheels duly embedded themselves - STUCK !!!

But this is when you see men at their best, S...., J..., and V... sprung into action, out they went managed to find some pieces of wood and proceeded to try and dig out the wheels. It was a bit like primitive man discovering tools for the first time, but despite their best efforts the car refused to move.
Then without warning off S.... went, leaving J... and V... still trying to dig out the wheels with their improvised wood "shovels" -and about 10 minutes later S.... returned with a real Shovel, acquired from a nearby farmhouse.

If you are wondering what my personal input to all of these activities was ? - well somebody has to supervise and take the pictures, do they not ? and using my years of management skills, I called Sarma to say we were stuck ( as she later advised not an unusual occurrence), and she duly arrived to assist in towing us backwards out of the rut we were in.

Even this was not completed without incident, as we were having serious difficulty in working out how to insert towing bracket onto the car - but V... finally managed to accomplish this task, again under my supervision.

But were we finished ? - NO - now we (well actually they) now had to "repair" the deep rut we had created, so off they went in search of broken trees, stones and anything else that came to hand to fill in the rut, so that any future vehicle would not suffer the same fate.

With these new skills learned, they are now fully qualified as Latvian road repairers - and if you were to see the state of the roads in Latvia, you would understand the need for such skills.


But with this task completed off we set once more to on the last few meters to the relative safety of the main road. (To put this into perspective for the next 40 or so kilometers the road was a dirt/sand/stone covered road)

When we started our little journey we had a relatively clean car, now of course we had a mud splattered vehicle, which require a little loving care, so on arrival in Riga, into the car wash we went to clean said car, and for those who had indulged in road repair to wash the mud off their shoes.

So all in all an interesting day, but as ever it was a joy to see the children, and in particular the new arrival - only six months old.

Finally and with apologies to S.... , I later discover that their was a shovel in the boot of the car - Sorry !


As all of this was going, one of the De Lacey's village people was getting married (why were none of us elder statesmen invited I wonder ?) - however I did get a little involved in the prenuptial hen night. On Wednesday night unsuspecting as ever, in I went for a little light refreshment only to be greeted with a group of weirdly dressed women, and in the lead was the bride to be L... ( Latvian). Apparently it was a Latvian version of hen night - -but if that was the case why was the Norwegian groom there ?

I was then invited (obligatory) to purchase a fruit or vegetable for a modest sum, which would be put towards her dowry. I chose a banana (Freudian I think) - All of this greeted with much hooting and hollering by the accompanying group of females.

Having duly paid, I then had to take a bite of her biscuit necklace - do not ask me why - but they were damn hard biscuits I can tell you so it took some time

J... (he of diminished stature but heart of gold) - also partook, well at least as far as buying the fruit and vegetables - the offer of biting of the biscuit was not taken up - but as you can see from picture L... is a tall Lady

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