Monday, 27 August 2012

Say hello, say goodbye

This is where we stayed! You can see it in through
the trees! Really you can if you look hard. I
said it was a leafy town
I wrote most of my blog whilst sat in a house in Tartu, Estonia although by the time you read this blog I will  be back home. I was staying in a house, that was the only registered guest house in Tartu during the Soviet era, not that it is a guest house now, it is a family home. I found out that Tartu was a city that could not be visited by just anybody, as it was in a restricted military zone and so all the pretty, leafy streets of this rather interesting place would have been unseen by many. It is really weird to be walking round streets that kind of look similar to Danish, Swedish or Latvian city streets and yet hardly able to read a word of the signs or menus outside the cafes. I feel my brain trying to process the language but not making it. The streets were so similar to Copenhagen at times and the shops in Tartu that we got quite nostalgic about our time when we lived there.

The ruined cathedral in Tartu. Quite a
magnificent set of ruins and people were
playing boules around the perimeter
It is odd how we came to be in Tartu. Firstly the reason I was there was to talk about doing a PhD, something that a friend of ours suggested to me as he teaches in Tartu university. Nothing odd about that, apart from our friendship sprang from doing an internet search on papers written about Latvia, Latvian people and the countryside, of which there are precious few of them. These particular papers had been written by someone with a very English sounding name and so I hunted around to find out more about the author and contacted him - hence our friendship began with him and his wife. The place where we stayed also came about through the internet and an offer of meeting up whilst in Tartu which, turned into an offer of a room overnight. The offer of a room, sure made our stay easier to organise and it was nice to meet a new face. I prayed all morning whilst touring Tartu that I would be able to connect with the right people and that certainly happened. I am happy to say that I now have someone who is willing and able to supervise my PhD and the Specialist in Doctoral Studies is happy to help me gain admission to the university. Now all I have to do is write a good proposal for the area I wish to study and a research plan. It feels very surreal to have got this far.

Our poorly broiler chicken sat in its box
I mentioned last week that we brought home one of our chickens and I thought we would be off to the vets, but by the morning the bird was looking a little perkier and he was packed off and sent back to the ark. It's a good job we didn't try to go to the vets anyway as she was away and the other vet in the village doesn't speak English. All the birds in the one ark were definitely under the weather, lethargic and depressed. and before the week was out we brought another two birds home to be taken care of. We think it was a virus or something like that or maybe just the wrong food in that ark but at least after a couple of days most of them had perked up. Having chickens at home makes us realise that they really are smelly creatures, not good housepets at all. Let us say it is a good job we have tile floors! One of the chickens that was brought home was the female broiler chicken and despite her big size we suspect that she is bottom of the pecking order and maybe not getting enough food as the others grow and take precedence and this didn't help her to throw off the virus/ food bug/whatever. As I write this blog she is sat in the greenhouse in a special box all on her own, hopefully building up strength as she doesn't have to fight for her food.

More ruins, this time at our friends land and a picture specially
taken for a fellow blogger Diane, who is building an amazing
eco house that you can see here

Some of these stones had drill holes in them
the holes are drilled and either explosive added
or water. If water is added the stones are then
set on a fire to heat it to steam that cracks open
the stones. Quite amazing the power of water
A model of the old bridge in Tartu
We met with the young couple again that we saw last Monday and they took us for a tour of their land and heard more of their plans and talked and talked and did I say talk? As if that was not enough we also bumped into them the next day at the hotel and talked and talked and errr talked again. Ideas and possibilities floated back and forth and still we have no idea where this will lead. Progress comes though as people dream and try to live their dreams. Okay there is also hard work and graft to make dreams become reality but without the dream how do you go forward?

Modern Tartu by the river. It was rather dull but at least
it didn't rain until we were inside
We've eaten out a lot this week, which at least means I haven't had to cook much, which is always nice. It is even nicer when there is good company to share it with and the company this week has been a mixture of old and new friends, hence the title "Say hello, say goodbye" as we have been doing a lot of that this week. One American family who came to visit for three months has been the catalyst for many a meal we've had just lately and it has been lovely to share with them and the new people they have introduced us to. One meal we were at we chatted so long it started to get dark and by the time we got to the land we needed the headlights to put away the alpacas again but they weren't playing ball that night, of course they were letting us know they weren't impressed at being put away in the dark yet again. They have also escaped from their temporary enclosure yet again, but fortunately they usually don't go far, although obviously the grass is greener on the other side. I did say that they don't usually go far but the fact is that two of them were away up to our oak hill one day, which is stretching it a bit. We think we have them sorted now though as we have added another layer of wire to the fence, but lower down than you would expect as it means they can't eat underneath the fence. We'll see how that works for now. Our friend was saying that it's the autumn, she doesn't know what gets into the animals, but it seems to make them into escape artists. She used to look after sheep and they would stay quite content in the fields all summer but as soon as autumn started to set in they had a great urge to find pastures new and now her goats are trying the same thing.

This street really reminded us of Copenhagen
with the style of houses and the cafe
We have quite a dilemma now that we have animals. There are difficulties emerging of when to put them away. Too early and it is not fair on the animals, too late and our evening meal is extremely late, especially if I have been out on the land. Do we cook out there? If we do the caravan cooker needs replacing. Do we build a house? That is expensive and where would we build it? Do we stay put in the flat and just try and work a way around it? Decisions decisions. Looks like next year will have some changes in it, but what? We don't know yet! We will have all winter to talk about that I think, well in between writing my proposal that is!


  1. good luck writing your proposal...a massive task I think. I am sure though that you will accomplish everything you need to. One thing I have learned about you is that you have buckets full of determination.

  2. Thank you Karen, I really appreciate that encouragement

  3. Sounds exciting and promising! Good job God has it all planned out!

  4. There seems to be no end to your ever-expanding activities and always thinking of new things to be involved in. Follow your dreams and do what you can when you can.

  5. lol - your wild social life, in the middle of no were turns out to be the centre of everywhere, well for you and God anyway !

  6. Thanks Ju and Mavis, really encouraging

    That is an interesting way to put it Liz, it certainly seems that way

  7. Glad to hear your good news.
    Best of luck with writing your proposal, Joanna.
    And blessings on you both & your animals.

  8. Thanks Pene and thanks for letting us stay. It was good to meet you in person


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