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.
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.
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.
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