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“We moved to Dartmouth” U


RIINA, NICK, ERIC AND MAX MOVED HERE IN 2016


ntil two years ago Riina, Nick, 10-year-old Eric and nine-year-old Max spent


half the year in Totnes and the other half in the French Alps. They had, what many would call an idyllic life - climbing through the snow-covered mountains in the winter and enjoying summers in Devon by the beach. Riina home educated the boys, teaching them about the flora and fauna of the mountains and finding inspiration for maths lessons anywhere from the local supermarket to pebble towers on the shoreline. But as Eric and Max approached second- ary school age Riina and Nick (a carpenter and builder) decided to settle in Britain and join the nation- al curriculum. They were tempted to stay in Totnes but a love of the water and a desire to always try something new brought them to Dartmouth at the end of 2016. Riina was brought up in Estonia and came to Britain in the 90s. She settled in Totnes where she ran ceramics workshops and became a tango teacher. It was at one of her classes that she met Nick: “It was his charming and spirited demeanour that got us together. It made me


drop my strict professional code of never dating my students!” The pair soon got together and after a couple of years Eric and Max made an appearance. It was then that Nick found work opportunities in France, in the Alps. They decided to all go out together and their British/French routine began. “I tried enrolling the boys into French schools but they didn’t like it,” says Riina. “One was awful; the teach- er was a tyrant. I decided I could teach the boys just as well - and they would enjoy it too.” She says they leant a lot from nature and at


“It’s a great way to get to school - out in the fresh air and it’s so pretty.”


the age of five they were trekking across mountains, learning about everything from astronomy to phi- losophy. Riina continued to teach them in France and Britain and her work has paid off as both boys have now settled in nicely at Kingswear Primary, without need of any catch up lessons. The family say they’ve fitted well


into Dartmouth life. Their house, on the walk to the castle, has fantastic views and with large patio doors leading onto the street they say it wasn’t long before they met locals and visitors. “The first summer we were here people kept putting their head in asking if we were a shop! We thought it wasn’t a bad idea actually! At the time the boys really wanted a puppy so I said they could set up a shop to pay for the dog.” They baked cakes and made soap and Riina soon turned it into one of her home ed projects. Eric and Max couldn’t just hand over the goods and reap the rewards! They had to keep books, learn about street trading permits and


profit margins and pay the staff (Riina - for working in the kitchen and running the shop a few days a week!). It was a hit and by the end of their four-week run they had earned over £400. Lola, the black lab puppy, arrived the next month. The new four-legged addition has taken the family on various long walks along the South West Coastpath. Riina says a walk in Devon is very different to a walk in the Alps. “There you have to be prepared for everything. We always packed a hot water bottle, flask, first aid kit and torch. You never knew when and how the condi- tions would change. It makes such a difference here, just walking out the door with a few snacks and my wallet, if bad weather hits it’s normally a little shower!” Husband Nick is getting plenty


of work in and around the town and Riina busies herself crossing the river twice a day for the school run. “It’s a great way to get to school - out in the fresh air and it’s so pretty.” She says one of the best things about Dartmouth is the sea- sons: “You get to watch everything changing on the water. All four seasons are so clearly defined in England. We really enjoy the vibrant nature of the summer with the visitors and the regatta, but we also love the cosy quieter winters.” She says there are still many things on their Dartmouth bucket list - number one for Max and Eric is to learn to sail.


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