Day 6. 1 August 2003
Friday. “Pinch, punch, the first of the month, and no return.”
Steve, Vicky and myself are woken at the breakfast table from our weary state of semiconsciousness by Jane’s cheery greeting. Oh yeah, it’s the 1 August … and it’s Friday. Our last (half-)day of work. This day we have been promised swimming in the Baltic after work (but before our return home to Sutu) and so in addition to our supplies of cameras, film, water, suntan lotion and insect repellent, we board the bus today with swimming cozzies, towels and changes of clothes. At the farm these last items are transferred to the bench outside our lunch table whilst we go out to the woods to work.
This time Paul, Steve, and myself linger back to finish tidying Team A’s woodland clearing of yesterday, whilst the rest of the group move on to further build Tim’s pyre. As we work forwards though, Tim, Tom, Annika and Jane are working back towards us and soon Jane has rejoined the fold to stack branches on our pile (as this is closest to where she’s working).
Shortly after, in a revenge attack (or is it the Curse of the Sacred Tooth??) a tree fights back, mistaking me for Tim, and draws blood at my inner elbow. I don’t consider it to be too serious, but concerned not to have it infected by woodland dirt I seek a first aid kit. In the end it takes three first aiders (Tom, Annika and myself) to bandage up the wound (a bit from this kit, a bit from that), but I think this is largely because we haven’t needed first aid all week and it seems a shame to miss out on the opportunity. I return to work with an impress looking bandage round my arm.
One o’clock comes, and we depart from our woodland with our tools and the churn of water, returning to the farm for a bit of a sit before lunch and an opportunity to take photographs of all us, and Hagrid, and Hermione and the family…
Our last lunch at the farmhouse, and it’s sausage soup from the BIG pot with the BIG ladle followed by doughnuts. We retire to the garden to sleep it off whilst we wait for the bus, but Tim and Tom do not feel much like sleeping, egged on as they are by the farmers son who finally pays for the apple throwing of earlier. A chase round the garden later and the boy is hung upside down in sweet punishment.
It’s been a running comment throughout the week so far that both Alice and myself have zip off trousers of slightly different colours. And it has often been remarked how funny (?!!) it would be to swap legs … so we do, discovering that the zips of each are subtly different and so are unable to complete the transformation. Undeterred, our friends persuade us to pose for a photo shoot, first from the front, and then from the rear with our heads between our legs. Why we agreed to do this I shall, for the life of me, never know – but we do – and it seems funny at the time.
Bus arrives (this time the mini one from Tuesday) and breaks the fun. We gather up our swimming kits and board – being driven off first round to other side of the bay, stopping at a bus stop to let off tools (temporarily) and pick up our guide. The bus moves on, down an ever-narrowing track to the coast. We walk further on, down to some stables, and some native horses (but again, these aren’t the one’s we can ride). The curse manifests itself as Tim comes close to the back end of a horse, but Vicky is there to talk it round, coaxing the horse round, demonstrating to the full her Horse Whispering skills.
Next, we are led off on a guided walk, but see what, none of us are entirely sure. The only reason why we trudge on fighting off horseflies and mosquitos is the promise of a swim at the end of it, and even that we find is to found after another ride in the bus. We change, using the bus, trees, and reed beds as our changing rooms, and head into the sea. Annika finds a rock out in the deep, and we join her, seeing how many volunteers we can fit on it before falling off. We get up to about nine, just one more, just one more – before we all jump backwards into the water. Hannah: her environmental hat on, examines some of the types of seaweed, declaring some as freshwater species. Interesting…?
Refreshed and rejuvenated we continue on our way returning to our guides house where we are to supper tonight. They have laid three tables out in the garden complete with a Samovah for the after dinner tea. We eat a delicious meal of potatoes and pork in a fantastic creamy sauce followed by the most wonderful pancakes served with a summer fruit compote. On our table Tom, Steve, Jane and myself share out the last two pancakes for seconds – and Jane, she burns herself on the water from the samovah.
The extended family who have cooked for us come out afterwards and we applaud their cooking rapturously. They follow up the meal with a talk about their house, how the corrugated iron roof is to be replaced by thatch, and they show us how the thatch, cut from their own reed beds is prepared.
We then return to Sutu, and to the baar where a 16 person game of piggies is enjoyed. Our game playing is not as extensive as on previous nights and we retire to bed early as the Latvians party on into the night around the bbq.
Addendum: As these diary pages are written up, Steve and I each discover, across the boarded floor of our chalet, that the other is a writer, and hour or more is taken up discussing plots and ideas. It is gone two in the morning when at last we lay our heads down in sleep.
Day Seven: Windmills, a meteorite crater and a sauna, Soviet-themed restaurants and the Queen of Spades…