The Coach Trip to Leigo Farm

The Coach

On Saturday, we assembled outside the Opera House in Tallinn for the four-hour coach trip to Leigo Farm. 'We' doesn't include Mark and Klaire, who had gone on ahead by car. We were to become very familiar with this coach next week, as we set off in it for our lightning tour of Estonia.

For a long time, we drove through flat countryside, with fields and farms. Sometimes dense coniferous forest loomed up beside the road, suggesting hidden depths of wildness. Estonia has a low population density, and its wildlife includes bears, wolves and lynxes. But the most exciting fauna we saw were the storks that nested on chimneys and sometimes on specially built columns. It occurred to me for the first time that the way storks are supposed to bring new babies must be by dropping them down the chimney, like Santa Claus delivering Christmas presents. (I know it's obvious, but we don't have storks in Britain so I'd never thought about it.) We saw two species of wild flower again and again. One was lupins, which I've never seen in the wild before, and the other was similar to the garden plant Jacob's coat.

There were two kinds of entertainment on the trip.The first was provided by Estonian wedding customs. We were given a pamphlet to read listing some of these (and we kept finding more and more of them in the course of the holiday). I'm convinced people make them up - the invention of brand new wedding customs is a kind of folk art, the way British people make up football chants. There was a whole set of procedures to follow if the bride was kidnapped on the way to the wedding. Whether Klaire had been kidnapped or not, her sister Katre was appointed a surrogate bride for the duration of the trip (complete with veil), and Mark's brother David as a surrogate groom. They both had to swear to hand over to the real bride and groom the good luck accumulated as a result of the various customs. Every time we stopped, David and Katre had to go through some new ritual.

The other form of entertainment was musical. We listened to a lot of Estonian radio during the trip. Trying to make sense of the language, Creina and I were sure the word 'cockscomb' occurred almost every time the disc jockeys said anything, so we took to calling the station Radio Cockscomb. It had a very eclectic selection: Estonian country music, followed by a torch song, followed by one of those Europop songs with a chorus something like 'Zum zum zum zum'.

Picnic - Jenny Meg in Foreground Our last stop was for a late lunch at a roadside cafe known as the Estonian Hollywood. (It even had a miniature version of the sign displayed on a miniature version of a hill.) We had four kinds of pasties (cheese, sausage, cabbage and carrot) and dry sherry.

In the last stage of the journey, the country began to change. The Otepää area is the only hilly part of Estonia, and we also passed a lot of lakes. Finally we arrived at Leigo Farm, set in beautiful countryside dotted with pine trees, and with three or four lakes of its own.

Estonia home page

Matthew Francis home page