Datcha Days


Most Russians live in apartment blocks these days and so many of the city dwellers want to have something that is peculiarly Russian: a datcha. If I said that this was a "country house", then you might think of a French chateau or an English stately home, whereas a datcha is usually quite a humble affair, a small bungalow or even a hut. Some have electricity and running water, but many do not. Sometimes you get to your datcha by driving on a proper road, but in most cases it will be a rough, muddy track for the final kilometres. Fruit trees, flowers and vegetables are the order of the day in the datcha. Nothing very special or splendid, just a simple, rural home-from-home.
Picking blackcurrants for Mamulichka.
Although Mamuluchka also has ducks and chickens, this is not normal because many Russians only go to the datcha at the weekends and holidays. A datcha, therefore, is more like an allotment with somewhere to live, but the living space is sometimes not much more than a garden shed.

Mamichka's datcha is more substantial and better equipped than most. Her datcha needs to be bigger and more comfortable because she and Boris live there for all of the year. Although the Crimea is well to the south, winters can still be long and very cold, so the datcha has insulation, a proper roof and central heating.

Cats, neighbours, ducks, dogs and chickens wander along the paths and through the trees and flowers. It is a magical place. And yes, there is a samovar and a carpet (or two) on the wall. I have never worked out what Russians do with their samovars. Irena once told me that they are used for making tea, but you do not actually make the tea in the samovar. Maybe it has something to do with boiling the water, but electric kettles have been around for years. 


As for putting carpets on the wall, this is also a mystery that we foolish westerners will never understand. I mean, if you were to put the carpet on the floor, then of course silly people would walk on it, so the carpet would get dirty and worn out. If you think about it, then you will have to agree that it is really much more sensible to put your carpet on the wall.



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