Monday, 16 September 2019

Home again!

It almost looks like the alps with snow covered mountains
in the background. 
Well it's been a hard couple of weeks with a lot of intensive work. I managed to get a some chapters finished on my thesis, which is a start at least, but there is still a way to go. There are also plenty of tasks to do on the EU project I'm working on, so it is going to be pretty tricky fitting it all in. It was kind of odd this week meeting my colleagues who all congratulated me on finishing. I know that it is now a formality to complete my PhD because I have got the required number of published papers, but I still have to write my thesis and defend it before I am given the title of doctor, so it all feels a bit premature.
Early morning wake up call. I know the feeling

It's too early!
I daren't even think about the garden, especially after the wind and rain yesterday and today. My garden is pretty battered with pole beans, sweetcorn and Jerusalem artichokes all either on the floor or at crazy angles. It is going to need some intensive care and attention to get it straight in time for winter. Before I left for a trip up to Estonia last week, I had to get started on collecting some beans and get them in the freezer, as well as start on digging up the potatoes. It is annoying that the beans have only just really got into production. Still at least there are some packs of beans for the freezer with more to come if I can get them up off the floor. We also have some squashes and pumpkins that have suddenly started appearing, just in time for a forecast of a frost. Sigh!
Nice to see the mud pack the other week has washed off.
Seems to have done the trick, Herk is looking pretty youthful
here

Herk even looks like he has a smile on his face and a spring
in his step. Nice to see him up and about instead of slumped
on the ground avoiding the flies like he does over summer
I also managed to get to see the visiting gynaecologist before my Estonian trip. I thought it would just be a routine appointment but she said she wanted to send me for an ultrasound. No idea what for but my local doctor made an appointment at the hospital and then had to unmake it because I was going to be in Estonia. I wish she had asked first. I did hear today though that I have an appointment for next Monday so we will see what they have to say after that. I have been feeling really good just lately, especially since the menopausal brain fog has lifted and so I have no intention of doing anything unnecessary.
Sunrise on the farm

Rain on its way!
Visitors have still been popping along to our farm and I might hang around for some of it, but most of the time I leave it to Ian, so I can get on with my work. I shall be so pleased when I finally do finish my PhD. Maybe I will have more time, at least for the garden and maybe the visitors from time to time, or maybe I won't! I guess that all depends on whether I get more work with uni or not when my contract runs out.
Mr. P. I don't know why, but her reminds me of Guy Martin.
I think its the sideburns and dark hair.

Hello you down there!
This last week marked the start of travelling season. I started with a face to face meeting in Tartu for the EU project I'm working on. Our Estonian team were hosting our colleagues from Finland, Sweden and Germany. Because I joined the project part way through, I hadn't met any of the others before, so it was nice to be able to meet them in person and not just on Skype. The idea was to have a couple of intensive days and get a lot of work done which we did and each evening we went to a different restaurant to eat. The weather was so warm that we sat outside. That might not sound remarkable to many folks, since this is only September but we have known frosts on the first of September before.
Heads down eating. A serious business at this time of year

Jakobs is looking very fluffy already
One of my Estonian colleagues guided some of the our international colleagues on the bus and I guided those who wanted to walk to our evening meal. Tartu is such a walkable city (or large town really, it is smaller than the population of Chesterfield, which was the nearest town to where I used to live in the UK). It is also a very green city, which reminds me a bit of Sheffield, where I did my bachelor degree many moons ago. I found the Tartu Struve Geodetic point as we trundled about, it is the next point to the north of a point situated near our farm here in Latvia. It is weird to think there are two points that connect my life here in the Baltics that were marked in the 1800s to measure the meridian of the earth.
Freddie looking his usual sweet self

Just too much! It's a hard life being an
alpaca. At least it is for Josefs.
The meetings went well and I think everyone went home happy that we had made progress. After that meeting I got to see some of my Landscape Architect colleagues as we had a PhD seminar. This is where one of the students presents their work. I don't go to many of them, but since I was at the university all week and those meetings had finished I managed to slot it in. I was invited back to one of their homes for a quick cup of tea and a catch up, which was nice. I also got offered a room to stay in when I go up to Helsinki as my colleague's wife was at home who actually lives there, so that works. I have another place to stay on the way back too, so a time for meeting lots of people.
George finds it amusing though

Josefs demonstrating delinquent behaviour. Escaping, yet
again through the fence. 
We've been in Latvia now for nearly 12 years and in all that time we've not really had any issues with crime. We did have a wheelbarrow go missing one winter. We wondered if it had got buried in the snow because it was outside, but when the snow melted it was nowhere to be seen. Still it was not a major catastrophe. This last week though we found out that someone must have got into our woodstore and stole the two bikes we had in there. The door was still locked but Ian noticed that the window was not as secure as he thought it was and only held in by a bent nail. I wouldn't mind so much but I was just thinking of getting my bike out to get the milk in the mornings rather than taking the car to our neighbours. It's a bit awkward to carry back 4 litres of milk in glass jars and a bit awkward to get to our neighbours now they have dug ditches on the side of the road, so my bike would have been ideal and it had a basket on the front. Neither of the bikes were exactly expensive bikes, just Walmart specials but irritating to lose them nonetheless. Let's hope that is the last of the issues we have.
Little Ilvija is growing well and looking like her Mum
more and more each day

Chanel is keeping her condition pretty well so far. The new
food is obviously helping.

Aggie scratching her ear

Now chewing her toes

And she can still walk away nonchalantly. I wouldn't be able
to walk after such contortions.
Amanda! What is amazing is that Ian got this close. Slowly,
slowly he is gaining their trust.

Vanessa looking more and more like
her mother, Lady V. We'll have to start
calling Veronica, Dame V as she strikes
a regal pose.

Ilvija chewing on grass. A bit big that piece!

Lady V trying to hide in the long grass. Hasn't she read the
books? Alpacas do not like long grass

Oooh! I've been discovered!

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