The Coach Trip to Leigo Farm
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'.
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.