Monday, 5 February 2018

Never boring

Freddie was brave enough to come up and sniff my hat
this week
Sitting around writing can get a bit samey and I certainly do a lot of that it would seem. This last week I have written an abstract for a conference that I might never get to go to due to funding issues. I have continued on the paper I am currently trying to finish off. I have written emails galore and got a good way on with an advertising brochure for our Latvian Alpaca Adventure #2 and now I am writing my blog! I did emerge out of the apartment though from time to time, first to Riga and then out to the land.
King or is it Queen of the castle?

Ian has cut a path so the alpacas have somewhere to walk.
They will walk through the snow but prefer not to and it
is a way of encouraging them to actually get out a bit
The first event of the week was an email sent from my university to say I have been de-matriculated, which sounds kind of painful. If I was sick I could get a doctor's note and I would still be a student, but it seems a bit odd to do that really. It does now mean I cannot access funds for travelling to conferences from the foundation that Estonian students can apply to, hence the funding issues above. Mind you, I never got any money last year either. I can still finish my PhD, that isn't a problem, as soon as I get all three papers published that is. I'm still waiting for paper 2 to be accepted. I should get to hear soon, I hope.
Our old oak tree, always looks its best in winter. It really
stands out then

Looks like Brencis is having a chat with Sofie our cat
There was one day I have a confession to make. Ian rang me from the land to say that there was someone on the way to the apartment to have a look at the issue with our regularly overflowing pipework at the other apartment. I wasn't dressed! I was about 10 minutes later though. I had to take the chap up to the apartment and show him where the problem was. Eventually he got the idea and he said he would go and find our neighbour upstairs and lend him the equipment needed to fix the problem, since the problem (or so I thought) was in his wood store, which is underneath our apartment. I was told by Ian that actually the problem is further underground than that, so hopefully they will sort it out though.
All the boys coming to see Sofie

Ice-skating anyone?
The most eclectic day of the week was Friday. I found out early last week there was an interesting (and free) planning conference in Riga, so I got the 6:40am bus on a cold and chilly morning. The night before I printed off some work to do on the way in, only forgetting it is dark till about 8am and only light enough on the bus to read by about 8:30am. Doh! I was at the stage where reading it on the computer was just not working and needed a paper copy to sort it out. Anyway all was not lost along the route I took a phone call regarding details about selling our apartment and then sent off some emails to chivvy the process along. It also meant I could look out of the window and I spotted three deer running across a field.

I was too early for my appointment and so had
a wander around old town Riga. I love old
doors and so took a few pictures
By the time I get into Riga I'm ready to eat — why am I always hungry then? I think it has something to do with trying to eat breakfast too early and arriving not long after normal breakfast time. I would probably be better just having a drink and then having breakfast when I get there, assuming I have time of course. As the conference was mainly in Latvian and only switching to English in the afternoon I decided to see if I could fit in a trip to a shop we hope to visit in June on the holiday tour. The shop is called Hobby Wool and it is a wonderful Aladdin's cave of knitted and felted products and knitting kits. I managed to arrange an appointment with the owner and we sat and chatted about knitting and alpacas. We arranged that we shall have a cup of tea there and a talk from one of the staff about Latvian knitting, particularly their wonderful varied knitting patterns - over 5000 have been catalogued across the country.
The back entrance to Hobby Wool
A little sunshine and blue skies does you good

Did I mention I like old doorways? 
It was still a bit early once I finished there and so decided to walk to the University across the river, but of course it started snowing. Fortunately nothing dire but did end up a little damp on arrival. I should have found the cafe and got something to eat, but didn't as I thought surely they can't factor in a whole day without a lunch break - well the answer is yes they can and so I lasted until I got home mid-evening on biscuits, tea and coffee. It was a good job that I had that extra breakfast earlier.
I said it was chilly. The Daugava river and that is ice floating
down river. Rivers further inland are more iced up than this

A memorial to the barricades built to deter the Soviets
from taking back strategic places in Riga after they
declared independence
The trip was interesting and I met a chap there who now lives in the town where I took my driving test as a teenager in the UK. That's going back some years. He has been to Latvia many times though to study planning and it was interesting to hear he had similar perspectives to me on the way things are in Latvia. It was nice to hear, he also has been ongoing with his PhD over many years, in fact longer than I have apparently. We both love the country but also recognise the challenges.
I am informed (because I know nothing) that these are
Fiat 126s

A metal design on a building
I also got chatting with a lady who has a summer house nearby to us and she was telling me how she regularly comes into our village to buy cheese from the Saturday market. I laughed when she told me who she bought it from. Of course it was my good friend the goat farmer. She also was friends with her. Small world as they say!
Aggie being nosy

Chanel investigating Sofie. The reason Sofie is in so many
pictures is because she was following Ian around all over
After the meeting finished I walked back into Riga centre with the guy from the UK, so I could catch the bus and direct him in the direction he needed to go to meet up with someone later. I got to the bus station with three minutes to spare. The driver was an absolute treasure as he let me pay with a €50 note. I think he knows me and I the fact I haven't done that before. Most would not have accepted that at all. So on the way home on the bus I had a little catch up on FB as you do and I found out that my hubby’s highlight of the day is finally getting poo from one of our alpacas to test. Oh yes and I got an email to say my mammogram from the Monday was clear, so that’s okay. I don't have to wait in the freezing cold again until next year. The things you find out on a bus journey these days!
A little motherly advice?

They sure needed cutting and this is after 2 1/2 months
The weather was supposed to be nice but cold on Sunday, so I went with Ian to help him with cutting the alpaca's toe nails. What I hadn't realised was that there would be a bit of a wind and a northerly one at that, so it wasn't just cold, it was freezing. Still the weather wasn't that bad and the sun did briefly appear. I also applied lots of wonder oil on different animals as it looks like the girls are struggling a bit with the mites. I suspect it is because it hasn't been cold enough to kill off the little critters. Hopefully this week it will. We also gave them all top ups with Vitamin D. I also cleaned out the chickens and was rewarded with an egg left in an accessible position by the chickens that usually lay their eggs on the far side of the ark and in a position I wouldn't be able to reach.
This is the look I usually get from Aggie. She doesn't like
me really! 😁 Can't think why! 

Alpacas often have such smiley faces. Here's our George
The little alpacas are growing up and Freddie now has his own bowl of food each evening. George still won't touch the grain though. George will eat the squash that Ian cuts up, but Freddie won't. I suggested that maybe if he mixed the two together, then they might start eating both. No! Freddie ate all his grain and left the squash and George ate all his squash and left the grain. Pah! Well that didn't work.

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