Leigo Farm

Creina at Leigo Farm

We got off the coach and filed into a wooden building of the type I think of as Scandinavian, but which seems to be just as typical of Estonia. There were a lot of us to file, and most of us were still outside when one of one of the Ledbury cricketers, known as Smash, appeared on the balcony above our heads and said that everyone was going to be sleeping in a dormitory. Some panic on Creina's part, as she has strong views on bedrooms. Fortunately Mark and Klaire had anticipated this, and Creina and I had been assigned one of the private rooms. We had just time time to get changed before the ceremony began.

Next morning we were slow getting down to breakfast because of the difficulty of getting into the bathroom. There were only two on our floor, one for the dormitory and one for the bedrooms, most of which were occupied by family groups, who switched possession expertly between them. Perhaps as a consequence of the Soviet heritage, Estonian bathrooms, or rather shower-rooms, are almost identical wherever you go: the same design of lock on the door, the same mixer-tap in the basin, the same push-button flush on the toilet, and most significant, the same arrangements for disposing of the shower-water - there is a curtain, but no other barrier between the shower and the rest of the floor, so that the whole place floods very quickly. Creina has even stronger views on bathrooms than she does on bedrooms, and by the time we got downstairs she was threatening to go back to Tallinn (and I was thinking it wasn't such a bad idea at that). But Mark pointed out that the facilities wouldn't be this overstretched from now on, because many people were only here for the wedding, and the manageress stepped in very quickly and graciously to sort the problem out, letting us use an ensuite room that had become available. So we lurked behind a curtain downstairs, taking care not to give away our new position in case the others became jealous.

Diana - Photo: Sean Knight

A lot of the guests were still very merry from the night before. I suppose there were some hangovers, but I didn't notice them. Mark's brother Robert, a sports scientist normally noted for his clean living, was still clinging affectionately to a bottle of vodka, which his mother Diana eventually separated him from and poured into the grass. 'It's not every day your brother gets married in Estonia,' he explained at frequent intervals.

Lake at Leigo Farm - Photo: Sean Knight

After breakfast we went for a walk. Leigo Farm is clearly in the process of being developed - new cabins were being built around the place, and we were very taken with the simplicity and attractiveness of the construction. We walked between pine woods and round lakes, shadowed by butterflies. It was very hot, and the dust was an inch thick on the path. In Wales it would have been mud, and even after a few weeks of sunshine there would still have been a thick crust, so I concluded the weather must have been dry for a long time. (We learned later that there had been a drought.) We walked for maybe a mile and a half, but turned back on meeting some fierce dogs - they were on chains but seemed likely to pull them up at any moment.

Matthew at Leigo Farm

The rest of our time at Leigo Farm was spent relaxing, eating and drinking. The food was very good everywhere in Estonia, but here it was quite exceptional. We ate every meal outdoors at a long table. I talked to an Estonian songwriter, Valmar, and his partner Anne, who gave me some tips on the Estonian language and discussed the status of the Russians in the country, the former rulers now reduced to the status of an ethnic minority, and, according to the Estonians, still resenting it.

In the evening, we moved inside the house, and an impromptu musical session developed around the piano. Klaire and her sisters taught us some Estonian dances, and Klaire's mother Olly, who teaches the accordion, played the piano, until Klaire took over. Her new brother-in-law Robert was deeply impressed by her talent and announced: 'It's the most beautiful motor skill you can have!'

Next morning we set off on the coach trip, and arrived at the Ahja Valley soon afterwards.

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