Monday, 25 March 2013


Well some signs of Spring! Inside! The
peppers are producing nicely, from the
plants we brought in from the
greenhouse last year.
I should be in Tartu tonight, braving the still icy paths, but I'm not. I'm sick and have been over the weekend so decided it was not wise to travel up today. Good job, I was asleep for two hours this morning and another half an hour this evening. I am on the mend, not coughing so much, thank goodness, but it hasn't been terribly convenient. It should have been the last week up in Tartu for a while and I so nearly brought my suitcase with spare clothes in back last week. Wish I had now. If I am well enough and Ian doesn't come down with it in the meantime, we will both travel up to Tartu, so I can go to the lecture and fetch my suitcase. If not it is plan B for what I take with me when we go away. It is not exactly what we want when we are contemplating going to see family, especially new born grandchildren.

Some of the things you notice when you let your mind
wander! In the centre of this picture of a train seat is "Jo,"
a name I am known by in England, Australia and the US
who almost automatically shorten names. 
As I said the paths are still a nightmare and I suppose I shouldn't complain when you see the snowdrift pictures coming from the UK. Snow is one thing, but drifting in strong winds is not pleasant. My Mum and Dad are once again snowed in. Good job they are used to it. The problem I have noticed more than anything else, about trying to walk on the paths, is how it narrows down my focus to just a few feet in front of me. Tartu is a beautiful town with lots of interesting buildings, well that is what I glimpse, but all I seem to see is ice. I decided it is a bit like being overly busy too, your focus narrows down to the few feet in front of you and taking your focus off the broader picture of where you are and what you are doing. A BBC article talked about the value of allowing children to get bored, allowing them freedom in their brains for creative thinking. One commentator also said it was good for adults too, allowing brains to wander over the landscape of our minds. I am sure we would be much more productive as a society if we did that more often. I know there are folks whose minds are in the clouds most of the time and that is not always helpful either, but allowing our brains time to wander helps us to make connections we perhaps wouldn't have made before.

Outside Eduard Vilde's cafe. Statures of Oscar Wilde and
Eduard Vilde, who never actually met in real life, but here
they are having a chat. 
It has been an interesting week of making new connections and reconnecting with old friends. About a week ago I had an email from a lady who lives in Tartu. She had read of my worries about getting stuck in Tartu if I missed my bus and had very thoughtfully offered a place to stay if I needed. She had been following my blog for a little while, but never commented, so the email was a little out of the blue. We agreed to meet up in Tartu over lunch to get acquainted, and she treated me to soup and salad at Eduard Vilde's. Well we chatted and chatted about all sorts of subjects, from the price hike of electricity in Estonia since they privatised the electric market (something that three people have now mentioned who live in Estonia, so obviously a worry) to growing vegetables and a little history of ourselves and where we've been. Mind you, as some things are on my blog, some of it was already known to my blog follower which is a little weird when chatting to someone I've never met before, but I guess one of those things I should get used to if I meet folks who have followed it.

The flags were out. At least we took them down before
the Latvian flags were out at half mast or with black ribbons on, commemorating the exile of
many Latvians to Siberia 
As I said we also had a lovely day with old friends, who we have known for nearly as long as we have lived in Latvia, but don't see so often as we live quite a few miles apart. In fact they have never made it to our apartment before and since they are English, I put out the English flags specially for them (thanks son for the flags, knew they would come in useful sometime). I must have been coming down with something when they came as I managed to have a few senior moments (or is it intellectual overload as another friend prefers to describe such moments) - I forgot to put the flour in the Yorkshire puds so had mini baked omelettes (nice in a sandwich), I nearly forgot to put the bread in the oven too. Goodness only knows what else I managed to achieve in the process. Still it meant we had plenty to laugh about and that is one thing we are good at when we meet. One of the problems of getting together is the fact we do like to chat - a lot! Had you noticed? So going all the way to their house and having to get back for the animals in the winter time when the days are short is not easy, there is just simply not enough time to chat, as much as we would like and even then they only left because it was getting dark.

This is the nearest we get to Spring
outside. That patch though is over
the spot where the heating pipe runs
I am not a great fan of genetic modification, aka Monsanto style that aims to tie up the market and keep farmers coming back to them time and time again for expensive seed and using genes from unrelated species i.e transgenic crosses, but I did see a model that I am prepared to accept. Crossing genes in the laboratory with crops from the same species, or cisgenic crosses, is far more acceptable to me. It is really doing in the laboratory what it would take years to do in the fields anyway. I also like the way that the Dutch University, who are developing blight resistant potatoes, are allowing the potatoes to be grown under licence by more than one company to prevent a monopoly. A much more healthy way to use scientific skills I think, especially after the problems of last years wash out crops of potatoes. The potatoes used are wild potatoes from Mexico and not a completely different species. Introducing wild potato genes is also likely to improve the genetic variability of the stock. Of course there still needs to be strict testing, as there should be for any new strain of plant, just to make sure that a monster has not been inadvertently created, but at least it is a start in a better, fairer direction. It should never take over either from the slower way of improving stock, that in itself may throw up other possibilities and the more possibilities we have of preventing major crop diseases the better, as long as it isn't introducing those unnatural genes into the mix.


  1. I was trying to visualise your omelette Yorkshires! You mention intellectual overload - does that mean that I am really, really intellectual? I have those moments all the time. Hope you're feeling better soon and ready to enjoy your trip to see the grandchildren (and children).

    It's amazing how many people you connect with through keeping a blog. The lady in Tartu sounds like a very nice new connection.

  2. I was trying to visualise what I had made when the realisation dawned on me that I had forgotten to add flour. Good job they tasted fine anyway.

    Of course you are really, really intellectual Mavis, everyone knows that! I do hope we are both feeling better in time too, Ian is starting to cough a bit now too.

    It is amazing the connections that come through the blog. The lady from Tartu is indeed lovely.

  3. lol - love seeing your name in a train seat bound to be freudian :-)

  4. I have made so many friends through my blog...I hope you have a 'melt' soon. We still have snow piled up as it is too cold for it to melt but our roads and paths are mostly clear now

  5. It is amazing who you virtually bump into along the way and then when you get to meet them in real life it is quite something.

    I got quite excited today, there was a brief few minutes when the snow turned to rain. At least it does promise a warmer time ahead. I saw the photos from my Mum's place and there is quite a bit of snow up there too. At least it can't last much longer now.


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