Monday, 24 August 2015

En Rigtig Dejlig Dag

My Danish friends who turned out to see me
And just in case your Danish is not up to translating the sentence above (apologies to my Danish friends if it is not 100% correct) my title says "A really nice day." I know this is all back to front, but I must tell you about my overlay in Denmark on Saturday. It is the first chance I have had to meet up with my Danish friends since we left nine years ago. I managed to get in touch with some of the folks there and one lady who is a nurse in intensive care explained she wouldn't be able to make it because she was working, but she gave me the email address of some other friends. I had tried facebook, but of course not everyone is on there every day like me. We managed to arrange for them to pick me up at the airport and to go to their nearby summer house for the afternoon and they would let some others know about it.  I arrived at the airport and was busy heading out of a very familiar terminal with all the relatives and friends of people travelling lining the exit. I was trying to think if I had ever been met coming out of that airport and not sure if I had. I was usually with Ian and even if I had travelled on my own, there was no guarantee he would have been there if he had been at work. Suddenly I saw a face I recognised, it was my nursing friend.
The obligatory pipers for piping us into the
building. You can't go to a conference in
Scotland and not have some pipers there
for the dinner

A bit blurry, sorry, but it was a bit dark. The dancers were
dancing around sabres with lights around so we could
see them
I was a bit confused at first, but she told me she had got the weekend off after all and she had told the other folks not to tell me, so she could surprise me at the airport. She certainly did that. I'm still smiling about it, as I write. We managed to find the other folks and headed off to their summer home. I had never been there before as it was a new acquisition, but it is a lovely little place, perfect for those with an apartment in the city to rest at weekends. We had a lovely lunch and then were joined by another couple who I had spent many a day with when I was in Denmark. I was in for another surprise. I knew that the lady had won an award for best carer in the district we used to live in, what I didn't know was that it was for teaching old people in a care home English. When I met my friend she couldn't speak English or at least very few words. Whilst my Danish improved a little, her English improved a lot. In the care home where she works the old people were having a problem talking to some of the carers who were from other countries and they wanted to be able to talk to them, so my friend designed a course to teach them English as all of the carers at least knew English. Relatives of the old people really appreciated what she was doing and nominated her for the award. She was telling me she would never have been able to do that if it hadn't been for that time I spent in Denmark. It was with lovely warm feelings of friends who had re-connected so well that I waved goodbye at the airport - grateful for the eight hour overlay which had made it possible.
Crathes castle. This was the castle we
visited on the field trip

I love the combination of windows, wall
engravings, doors and windows in this
shot, as well as the millstone
Some of the other highlights from last week was also re-connecting with people I had met before. I recognised one lady who was from Wales from the dinner in Florence, where the last meeting was held. Fortunately she also recognised me and we kind of stuck together on and off all week. It is so nice to have someone that you can meet with and just talk ordinary things and not all academic talk and we also had a similar sense of humour. She had one of her students with her, who was also doing a PhD later on in life like me and she was lovely too. It was funny at times when they were talking, as they would slip into Welsh and for a split second I was wondering what was being said, then realised that I wouldn't have understood anyway, which was fine. I also met an academic who I had been emailing with about positive images of Eastern Europe especially with regards to gardening, which many love and do because they want to and not, as the academic literature often suggests, because they have to. He was a keynote speaker (a speaker to the whole conference and not just a small working group) the last time and we sat next to each other for a different keynote speaker this time. Unfortunately that particular speaker was not portraying post-Soviet countries in a positive light at all and his talk was dreadful, causing my neighbour to groan at the way the statistics were presented. It is a good job that not all the speakers were so bad, the rest were listenable to at least.
A view from Scolty hill. Now I shall be honest and say I
picked this trip because it was a walk and I love seeing
the heather covered moors in August in Scotland

A close up of the Scottish heather and ling flowering.
There were also blueberries ripe on the walk,
something that the Scandinavians and Eastern Europeans
among us noticed.We actually found some heather on our land
this weekend too. It is in my favourite glade where there are also blueberries and cranberries. 
My presentation went okay. I was a little bit worried at first that it hadn't gone okay, as there were no questions, but once one started there were others and no one was critical and many seemed interested. One guy asked me later about the work I was doing, so at least I knew someone was listening. Of course I was very good and tried to connect with folks I thought might be useful to know to do with my work or for possible collaborative partnerships - as you do at these types of events. One lady I got chatting to had Western Australia on her badge and so I asked her if she was from Perth - there are not that many places for universities in Western Australia and so I had guessed correctly. I told her my daughter had lived there for a few years and then for some reason I told her about my trip down to Denmark (the name of a town on the south coast of Western Australia) only to find out that that is where she grew up. I mentioned that it was that trip that had got us into breeding alpacas and she asked me if it was due to a trip to Pentland Alpacas and sure enough it was. She was only good friends with the owners of the farm and she encouraged me to write to them and tell them that we had got into alpaca breeding because of them, they would be thrilled. It is so strange the connections that can come up in some really random places.
My new friend from Western Australia. I wore
the shawl that I had knitted from the hand spun
wool from Tellus

You can never have too many photos
of the heather covered moors! 

I think the park was a little flooded, but it made a restful
So my trip to Aberdeen has been one full of surprises, lovely ones at that. So despite the fact that the seagulls are noisy and some children have voices like foghorns, it was an enjoyable time. The reason I mention the child with a voice like a foghorn is because I keep saying the Brits are loud, but that kid took the biscuit. After my fish and chips last week, I saw an ice cream van on the way back to my accommodation and I couldn't resist finishing my meal off with one. There were a few children in front, some with parents and one in particular without. He proceeded to do his whole order by shouting to his mother to ask about the various intracies of the ice creams he was ordering. Everyone in that park I think, heard every question, he was so excruciatingly loud. Fortunately the rest of my walks through the park to and from the conference centre were at quieter times of the day and I was able to enjoy some solitude every morning and evening.
Although if you tried sitting on this seat, you might get
wet feet

Breakfast out on the land. Can't beat it!
Yesterday was a relaxed day for both of us, as my plane had arrived late in the evening and so we arrived home well after midnight. We still had to be up for the animals the next day but apart from that we didn't do a huge amount of work. Mainly just sat around drinking cups of tea or coffee and chatting. In fact we have chatted so much, we even managed to start to crystallise out some plans for the future development of our land. Quite a bit of progress really for us. Today was a bit better from the point of view that we continued our productive chatting and also got some work done. In addition we had a visit from the local regional newspaper. A journalist and photographer came. I would love to see all the photos the photographer took of our little Brencis, he took a lot of photos of him, as well as a selfie with Tellus while feeding him. We went on a short walk with Agnese too, to see how she got on with someone else being on the walk, besides Ian and I. She wasn't too bad, just bucked a little at one point. She certainly knows how to play to an audience though, which is nice when you are trying to demonstrate how nice alpacas are.
Can I come in please? I've been on rodent patrol. The answer
is no, she has brought two mice in already.

Chopping up barley to get it ready for winnowing

The garden doesn't look too bad from this angle. The weeds
are bad though. Oh well!

Squashes ripening

The squash plant has taken over the compost heap, which is
what we wanted it to do

A delivery of wood while I was away. Hopefully some guys
with a mobile saw mill will come and cut it up and then Ian
can start on building some more alpaca houses

The chickens in one of the arks


  1. you're never still, flying here there and everywhere. The heather images are stunning, really beautiful.I love the tradition of Summer houses. As you must know it is very common in Sweden too and I think it must be lovely to know you have a place to escape to for some simple, isolated living...

    1. This next few months should see me here there and everywhere, if everything falls into place. No guarantees on that though.

      I sort of like the idea of a summer house, but I prefer the idea of a house in the country instead :D

  2. The picture of your cat makes me smile. Ours has been at the back door with a mouse in his mouth twice last week. We tell him, "Good boy. Thanks for catching the mouse. But you cannot bring it in the house." :)

    1. That's better than my response has been this week. Twice it has been "Get that thing out of here," because, unfortunately, she has brought them into the caravan. Fortunately they were not live ones.

  3. Don't know how you can resist Eyre's sweet face. Not that I'd let her in with the mouse either!


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