Thursday, 6 August 2009

Day 9 – Thursday 6 August

Cēsis to Mujāni [near Kocēni]
30km [305km]; 7 hours 10 minutes
Weather fine

I have arrived at Mujāni. I am sitting outside looking over the lake. The building was apparently constructed for community events. On the middle floor, accessed through the front door, is what looks like the village hall. Downstairs has been renovated for tourist accommodation with a few bedrooms, a spa and a wood-fired pirts [sauna].
As you walk in from the main road, you pass a 17th century tower, which my host, Rasma, told me was part of the Swedes’ defences against the Russians. Little has changed – Latvians have a continuing suspicion about Russia's intentions and, according to Jānis, there is significant resentment against the Swedes for the economic influence they assert through their banks in Latvia.
Rasma's daughter Zane is staying here for the moment with her 3-month old son, Kārlis. She has job with GE, or a similar company involved with technical medical matters and is fluent in English. Most interesting is the fact that she is a rogainer and competed in the 7th World Championships in Australia in 2006 and the 8th WC last year in Estonia. And a very good rogainer, having come 8th of the women's teams in 2006.
Zane said that tonight the local orienteering association in Valmiera was running an event and I could go along and compete if I liked. The no-car rule would have made it a long event, so I declined.
Selga helped me through the day's walking. She walked about 16km with me from Cēsis to Vaidava, where Juris and Laura picked her up. Selga and I had a great walk and a great chat. The big question is whether Steven Carroll went to Glenroy or Oak Park High School?
We walked past the Cēsis castle. I visited it in 1987 but it is now greatly restored. Then an attractive route on minor roads before joining up with the road to Vaidava and crossing the Gauja River on the swing bridge. The lake at Vaidava is very pretty and after parting with Selga, I followed a track around its eastern side to Rubene where I passed the imposing Lutheran church.
I was extremely sluggish for most of the day and held Selga back with my slow pace. I certainly appreciated her company, which meant I was able to complete what proved to be a hard day's walking.
When I arrived at Mujāni, Rasma had a tray of food waiting, with birch-sap juice to drink. I was invited to 'treat the home as if it were my own'.
John Brauns visited me as I was having dinner. John is a Latvian who grew up in Leeds but moved here in 2000. John knows Juris and last year followed my blog and made a comment. John met Anita at the ELJA50 congress last week where he conducted a wine tasting. He brought along a bottle of his own oak-leaf wine. Zane declined the wine because she was feeding Kārlis. I doubted my capacity to both drink and walk and also declined. I asked John whether he was related to Mārtiņš Brauns. John said he wasn't but was proud of the common surname. I asked John and Zane whether they liked his music. They both said 'of course' and spontaneously started singing Saule, Pērkons, Daugava!
Tomorrow will not be easy – it will be a 45km day and will be incredibly hard – mostly road- walking in open farmland. Anita will be waiting at Mazsalaca and perhaps we will have a visit from the Swedish contingent of Atis, Matīss and Kristīne.
I am always touched and pleased to read the comments on the blog. So many thanks [again] to Jānis of Camelot, Jānīte of Melbourne, Vikki and Andrējs from Sydney and particularly Australian Cat with the Latvian boyfriend, whose contribution I was delighted to see.
I must stop writing now as I can barely stay awake.


  1. Graham, it was great to meet you at last. My mother asked why I was bothering to drive 35 minutes to meet you even though we had never met. I replied that the negligable effort required to drive to Mujāni from Limbaži was nothing compared to the effort you had put in. All the best, and enjoy the rest you will deserve after you finish!

  2. Two days left! And although I imagine you're ready to burn out, what's another 75km? A stroll in the mezs...

    I have a confession (the house is fine), I only remembered this morning to let Tanya and Doctor Michael x2 know about the blog. I could only leave messages and had a bit of trouble with a surname (I only know him as Doctor Michael!), but hopefully by the end of the day, there will be another few readers participating in your journey.

    Unfortunately I must get ready for Ivars Draguns' funeral. It is a beautiful sunny day in Melbourne and hopefully that will help us get through it. Lita is down again from Sydney for another devastating event. If all bad things come in threes, hopefully this will be the last for a long time.

    Keep those legs moving. Remember, your sluggish pace is how the rest of us feel on a normal day. X

  3. Hi Graham, cross-country walker extraordinaire!
    My thoughts have been with you today(Friday) as you completed yet another of your marathon length( even by your standards) walking days. Tomorrow should be a breeze.......
    After we parted at Vaidava yesterday, I had a wonderful swim in the lake and, suitably refreshed, was almost ready to join you again for the rest of the day's walking. The others held me back though, and eventually we all ended up in Riga and spent a very pleasant and relaxing evening together with Anita,sharing the reading of your Blog as well.
    Thanks, Graham, for the opportunity of being able to share just a very small part of your walk again this year. Loved the walk, and particularly loved the chat.
    All the very best for Saturday's home stretch, and "Sweet Dreams" for that night......