For those of you wondering if we've moved in to our 'castle' yet, here's a pictorial report of how things are going... and I suppose it will be patently obvious that we are NOWHERE NEAR moving in! Nothing has been done to the house yet, we are still consulting with various building firms. Opinions range widely about how much work needs to be done to the structure of the place - some people are advising us that it's all bad, bad, bad and we need to rip it all apart and rebuild it, others seem to think that things should be approached more conservatively. There's also a huge cultural difference here about what to keep in an old house - most builders seem stunned by the fact that I want to preserve the old floorboards, the plasterwork, the staircase - the number of times I have listened to lectures on the advantages of gyproc and new plastic window frames. Mind you, there's not very much charm to preserve in this old place! One heartening incident recently was when I found the original plans for the house in the city building archive - it was built in 1898 and the facade used to be a bit more ornate (the paperwork was mostly in Russian although the streetnames were in German - our street, Mazā Nometņu iela, used to be known as Kleine Lagerstrasse - "Small Camp Street"!). We will try to recreate the facade as far as we are able - I'll scan the drawing and post it here soon.
The photos are from this weekend when we spent an afternoon at the house trying to plan out some of the spaces. Jem ripped up some lino while the boys watched old 1960s "spiderman" episodes on my laptop. It was cold - around zero - so we tried out some of the old stoves while we worked...

The staircase is the only interesting feature in the house...

If you don't count the twin loos at the end of the second-floor landing

View from our bedroom to the corridor

The last two years have been pretty pathetic in the snow department - we have spent the past two Christmases waiting for the snow and having to endure slush and mud instead. Disappointing for a pack of Aussies who think snow is terribly exotic. But at least this year Mother Nature had a romantic and spectacular trick up her sleeve - she decided to hold back the snow until New Year's Eve. This year we celebrated with friends who have a house in the forest at Jūrmala - and before we got there, it started to snow. And snow, and snow, and snow. By midnight the whole world had been turned into a big white fluffy paradise. I went out into the unlit forest by their house with big flakes falling silently all around me in the dark, it was totally magical. In the morning we all woke to a world transformed - everything covered in a clean white, rounded layer - every fencepost and tree branch and car and house. A very fitting way to begin a new year. And the snowball fight we had was also pretty good!
So Gabe, how's about some time in the future you come over and have a white New Year's (or maybe even Christmas) with us?
Oh and here's another shot of the snow, taken yesterday in our new back yard, note the new (unreasonably expensive) fence!


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