Tuesday, 27 March 2018

A change of scenery

The boys sunbathing in the snow
I know it is probably showing my age, but it still amazes me what can be accomplished through the internet at times. It is so easy to moan about all the bad things that are achieved that it can be forgotten the good that can also happen. I was doing some embroidery on a felt piece and at the same time chatting to a guy in Uganda about permaculture and farming. He asked me if I knew how to grow watermelons as he hadn't grown them before. I haven't had any success as they require a long hot season but I knew someone in the States who I thought did. I sent a message off in my American friend's direction and within half an hour had a reply with instructions on how to grow them, which I duly passed on of course. The internet has been a great source of inspiration and knowledge for us, since there is so much that can be researched on the net. Of course we also have to learn how to sift the good from the bad, but it is often worth it.
Lady V looking very regal as usual

We do feed our animals, honestly. There is also
some rather nice fresh hay to eat
I have spent time unpacking the boxes we took to our other apartment last week and then re-packing boxes with more stuff from the apartment we live in. At least the unpacking didn't takes as long as I thought it would. So far it is working okay and I am finding homes for everything, which is encouraging. I also got the cellars sorted and vacuumed at the one we are moving into - good job we have a heavy duty vacuum cleaner to tackle the thick layer of dust/soil that was in that cellar. The new owners of our apartment had arranged for someone to measure up for a new kitchen, as we plan on taking ours with us. This is partly for cupboard space, as there is a lack in our other apartment and partly because we spent quite a bit on it and it was made by our friend to order. Hopefully he will be back soon for a holiday and therefore help us to take it down. It helps when the person who constructed it helps to take it apart.
A downy birch tree

George is getting quite fluffy now around his face
and we are obviously going to face the same issues
we had with Mari when it came to shearing time
of how to shear around the cheeks and under his
Some of my waiting this week, that I mentioned last week, is over, as I heard that my application for the job  has been rejected without an interview. I wasn't really anticipating getting an interview and so wasn't too distraught, but it would have been convenient if I had, as the interview date was while I was still in the UK and it was one of the reasons why I took a chance and applied. I was encouraged though as some of my friends sent me messages of support when I told them they wouldn't be needed as referees.
Even though the snow is still down on the ground
you can tell spring is on its way due to the redness
of the branches of the trees. We also heard the first
cranes of the year and saw some swans

It can be a struggle at times to get
my work done with a certain little
boy giggling in the background
I don't think my supervisor was too upset that I didn't get the job either, as I think he was worried that I wouldn't have time to finish my PhD. I mentioned last week that I was also waiting for him to finish reading my papers I had written, which unfortunately he didn't have chance to do as he was at a conference. However, the good news is that he did get an unexpected opportunity to submit a paper with a faster turnaround. He would like me to contribute to that paper too and that would give me the third paper I need to finish. The problem is that it needs submitting before the end of this week, which doesn't give us a lot of time and it is a bit inconvenient as I am currently in the UK visiting grandchildren. I am pleased I did get a good start during my flight over and in the morning during a quiet spot of yet more waiting.

Mind you sometimes my little
grandson is engaged in other
activities like getting to grips
with car racing using the console.
He did choose a rather nice
purple car
I had a meeting with a professor today who was visiting the university in the city where my son lives. I have been using her work to analyse the situation in the villages that I have been studying and so it was great to be able to chat about my findings and encouraging to hear someone who has been thinking along the same lines I have in terms of development in rural places. I didn't feel like I had to start at the beginning to explain where I felt the challenges and opportunities in these villages lay, she understood where my ideas were going and agreed more work needs doing in the areas where I am doing the research, I still just need the funding to keep it going though.
Ian asked for captions for this on Facebook and one
of our friends put ""My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Unaccustomed as I am ..." I thought it was very funny

Not the tree in the city but out on our land which
often has the type of lichen that shows our air
quality is very good
After my meeting my son's partner came to pick me up but she needed to get a blood test doing (nothing urgent), so we went off to a walk-in-centre. It was not a problem for me to look after the kids while she went in, but what we didn't anticipate is the waiting time before she even got to go in. After two top-ups for the car parking charges, one drink time, one snack time, a drawing game, a drawing squares game, playing with playdoh, a walk outside looking at lichen and maple leaves later, she finally got to go in. It wouldn't have been so bad, but the school age granddaughter had an unexpected day off as the electric and heating was off at school (there may have been some dancing of joy in the morning from a certain young lady and despite the teasing she assures she wasn't responsible for the electric fault).
Mr. Herk looking good these days. His hair is keeps
growing back so well now.

We spent our first full afternoon in the park
and as you can see it was warm enough for
an ice cream
It is nice having little grandchildren but it is also nice having a nine year old step-granddaughter who has a curiosity about life. We've talked about all sorts of topics, discussed complicated words like Ostinato - a musical term that had my son and I looking up musical terms because she could remember it was to do with rhythm and began with an O but had forgotten the actual word and we hadn't got a clue. I've already baked a cake with  an orange icing drizzled on the top with her or rather supervised as she baked, as well as played the waiting game at the walk-in-clinic today. While outside we also discussed making maple syrup from the sap of maple trees and using lichens as an indicator for air quality. She is quite the bright spark.

Getting his vitamin D. The days are sure getting
longer now in Latvia. I am quite surprised here in
the UK when it seems to be dark for longer, even
taking into account the clock change
Ian is home alone looking after the alpacas once again. I did go out a couple of times before travelling to the UK to help sort out a few things and check up on the skin issues we have been having. We decided to give Chanel the heavy-duty stuff to try ensure the mite issue is well and truly under control. She has stabilised but we cannot risk a deterioration while I'm away. Our snow is gradually going so Ian is still on the winter jobs of cutting trees and taking the alpacas for a walk. Ian often times his walk to coincide with one of the buses going past our land, as the driver always gives an enthusiastic wave as he goes past. The bus driver even seems to make sure the passengers knows they might see Ian walking them, as occasionally he has been seen pointing out the alpacas to someone on the bus.
I had to take a picture of the ivy on the rock, we
don't have that in Latvia or at least it is fairly
rare, but here in the UK it is everywhere

Spring is obviously further on in the UK than it
is in Latvia and the celandines are already out
The nicer weather over the weekend, meant that we did have some visitors. Typical how they wait until I go away, I try not to take it too personally (only joking). Talking of visitors we have had lots of virtual visitors too, both to our website as people begin to search for things to do in Latvia on their holidays but also to a video I posted online about two years ago. The video shows our younger girls pronking around the paddock. Pronking is a technical term for the stiff legged way they bound about sometimes, antelopes are known to do something similar. It seems that it appeared on searches after someone on American Idol said they wanted to win the competition so they could realise their dream of owning an alpaca herd. Last time I looked the video was up to 17, 680 views - a bit different to the views we normally get. You can see the video below


Anonymous said...

I just love the internet - I have become a better cook, thanks to it. I have seemed like a genius in the eyes of my mother, all because I showed her how to read Zambian newspapers online :) and watch Nigerian movies to her heart's content. I have a friend does some felt crafts and she produces beautiful things.

Joanna said...

Oh I love that! Just shows what we can do :). If your friend ever wanted to visit Latvia and do felting we have different workshops planned this year, one in June and there will be one in August (see Griezites Alpakas on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/griezitesalpakas/)