If you told me years ago as I sat in my swanky office on the 27th floor overlooking the City of London and the Bank of England that I’d ever be up a mountain in SE Europe with 30 goats and an 80 year old goatherd, I’d have suspected you’d just got back from Corney & Barrow’s Bar with your friend ‘charlie’.
However, this is where I found myself this week, spending time with the delightful Lilli. One of eight children, but with none herself, she lives here in Alino with her sister (of similarly advanced years). She is a wonder, running her small-holding, keeping goats, and chopping wood. Her pension is 200LV per month (around £80), yet she is always smiling and welcoming. We talked about the goats, the weather and the price of new teeth (she can’t afford any). She described in detail how many of the villagers drank too much rakia. Then we talked about what we’d had for breakfast that morning – for me toast, two cups of tea and a smoke. For Lilli, milk, coffee, an egg and…rakia! The same as every morning. I love it here, but I’ll never take to the early morning special!
How lucky we are to know such an interesting woman and it’s so much more rewarding than listening to some wide-boy exclaiming the size of his bonus across the staff restaurant.