A sea swim in the sunset, a woodpecker, and more

Estonia 2

Place names with too many vowels! Lanksaare, Uuemaa and Urisaare of the startling green Orthodox church.

Local place name. Notice the red and white stripes below denoting the National Walking Trail

Häädemeeste (yep, there’s anotther one!) which is the nearest biggish town (it actually has a Co-op which was open on Easter Monday).

Local church, Haademeeste, Estonia
Talking of which: beautifully decorated local eggs dyed with onion and beetroot skins
A small lake nearby where I am staying, Massiaru, Estonia

I have seen some magnificent birds here. There was an aweee(p) single repeated call. A large bird, it looked like a black and grey raptor swept down over the ploughed field with a huge wing span.

Strong shadows, forest, Estonia

Pee pee pee, pee poo pee poo. I didn’t see this one but I certainly heard it. Is it the bird who mimics others? It is as if he is practicing all the tunes he can remembers in case he forgets. Or pretending to be more birds than he is!

They don’t seem to take care when cutting down the trees

A confetti of leaves
A trill of birds
A stumble of stones
A crunch of cones
A prickle of pines
The roughness of riven birch
A needle of fir saplings

Silver birches shining in the early evening sun

The straightest roads I have ever seen. They have ditches running parallel on both sides, some filled with water. Ahead they go, as far as my eye can see.

This one was a railway running from the coast inland to transport the wood and putting lots of fishermen out of work. It opened in 1923 and was finally taken up in 1975. It was the last public narrow-guage in Estonia

Four long wheee calls, a flap of large wings. I looked up, shielding my eyes from the sun with my hand. Across to a high-up tree it flew and then I heard a distinctive wooden drilling – it was a woodpecker! Much bigger than I expected, I saw it so clearly silhouetted against the blue sky.

I found the river but none of the promised beaver or otter, although there was a dam which looked as if the former had been busy. It was so peaceful that I sat on a stump and inhaled the fresh water smell

So far I have seen two storks – one flash of white at the corner of my eye revealed a gawky version of a heron in the garden; the other striding in a field, surely taller than I.

I walked along the boardwalk, three quarters finished and the scent of new-sawn pine, through the alder forest and came out on Kabli beach

Earlier I had visited further down the coast where ducks and geese took their turns in the air. There was also the wide V-shaped wedge (or bevy, aparently) of swans – necks extended – which swept around the coast.

Kabli Beach, Estonia

I have rarely seen a more beautiful sight. The Bay of Riga with an individual, gracious swan on satin water. In and out I went, it was so cold, a little deeper each time – my skin tingled.

A blood-orange sky lazed around a golden sun. Eventually I swam, legs brushing rocks I couldn’t see. Otherwise it was ridged sand underfoot

Later, sitting in gritty clothes, I marvelled at the upside down exclamation mark of magenta egg. The setting sun was suspended a few centimetres from the horizon and the matching pillar, no it was more of a column because it seemed to have rounded edges, was in the sea underneath.

Sun setting on the Bay of Riga, Estonia

It got squatter, closer to merging with the ocean. I took a stone seat full of the day’s warmth under my bottom. The view was luminous, now a magic mushroom. All the birds went on tweeting as if nothing was happening! The sky was rainbow coloured. The orb started to flatten. Then there was just the merest cap, and at the last a distant errupting volcano, a flying saucer far away, a pink dash and it was gone. My toes were numb.

I think it only lasted around three minutes in total before the sun vanished below the horizon
When I turned round, it had bathed everything in mahogany and chestnut

Yesterday, deer ran across the road in front of me. Today, I disturbed a flock who thought they were camouflaged, but I had already heard and seen them. Off they scarpered, white arses flashing up in the air as they bounded through beige bracken.

The aura of a pussy willow is the same as the cats with the sun behind them

It turns out that the round, glowing bees are wild for the pussy willow. They buzzed so loudly I could still hear them as I walked away.

Can you see the white aura around Hawthorn, one of the resident kittens captivated by something? He is so curious that it doesn’t take much to get his attention!

This morning when I was doing my exercises in the garden and was on the Wood part of the 5 Element chi gung, a tiny rustle caught my ear and there was a mouse beside me on the pile of wood shavings. In the evening I heard that one of the cats had brought one in as a ‘present’. I hoped it was not him.

Dusky pink, plum, apricot: the stalks and trunks. Anything that has the faintest natural hint of these colours picks up the evening sun and the moon sits just above the tree tops

Later I saw a black snake. It was approximately 35 inches long (70cms) with a slight yellow on its head, but it had been run over which was how I got to photograph it and measure the length with my thumb. (I thought better of including it here as it was somewhat damaged and seemed a bit gruesome somehow).

Last week’s full moon
and one more sunset (from a different evening) to end with.

I recommend the Alien Heartbeat blog for beautiful short accouts of walks in Estonia including the people he meets and gorgeous photos.

Riga, Pärnu, Massiaru

April 2019 – backpack travel.

Disclaimer: the sky really was that blue – it wasn’t a fancy camera filter!

I travelled to Riga in Latvia (one of the 3 Baltic States) by plane from Edinburgh, arriving late on Thursday night.

Early April morning, St Peter’s Spire, Riga, Latvia

I took 22 bus from the airport to the centre and walked through the underpass to the Wicked Weasal Hostel which I highly recommend. It is clean and the staff are really friendly. I was offered a free beer and there’s tea (including green) and coffee in the well stocked kitchen. I was in a shared dorm with a Spanish soldier and ended up reviving my Spanish until late at night as we swapped life stories!

The Art Academy of Latvia, Riga, Latvia

I stayed less than 12 hours so have very few photos to show for it. On the way out I passed the astonishing golden domes of the Riga Nativity of Christ (Russian Orthodox) Cathedral, and the statue of Rainis (Janis Plieksans, a famour Latvian poet, playwright, translator and politician in the Riga Esplanade park.


Unusual clock behind the Art Academy, Riga, Latvia

Mural in the Pärnu bus station, Estonia

Pärnu River, Pärnu, Estonia

Pärnu River, Pärnu, Estonia

I took two buses that day – one to Pärnu along the main highway, and the other which doubled back south for some of the way and then headed slightly inland to Massiaru – four hours in total.

A church I snapped through the bus window on the way – the majority of Estonians say that religion is not important in their lives. The ones who are, are either Christian or Orthodox

This part of Estonia (south west) is flat and forested. In many places they clear the pines and leave the silver trunks of the birches

Everywhere there are brightly coloured timber houses – pink, yellow and blue

Many of the houses have smaller buildings in their gardens which are buried up to the roof on three sides

I am staying in the small village of Massiaru in the Pärnu region of Estonia

Russia is to the east of Estonia, Finland to the north west. I came north from Riga in Latvia

In the old school house, Massiaru, Estonia

Every day I walk for a couple of hours – on the first day to the south, then to the north, the west and east. The roads are straight and wide, some dary grey tarmacked and some stony and pale apricot. It is monotonous walking – mentally relaxing.

Pussy willow, one of my first successful close-ups enabled by my new phone camera

I am surrounded by trees including the familiar Scots Pine

Standing amongst them
The patience of trees
The forebearance of trees
The pure being of trees
Do you think the birds tickle them?

Mostly silver birch and various types of pines

Also some oaks in the garden which has farm land around it

I find a sunny place in the mornings to do my swinging exercises, T’ai Chi and to ‘Stand Like a Tree’ (a chi gung exercise) for my general health and to counteract the 6-7 hours a day of cerebral work writing hours at my laptop.

There is a new pond in the garden. The reflection reminded me of a natural green version Dali’s Mae West lips

I sit in the sun to have my lunch, topping up my vitamin D levels after the Scottish winter. In contrast to my trips to Spain in previous years, I have gone back in time coming here, leaving the Spring behind me, but it is getting warmer every day and the plants are shooting nicely.

The forests provide for many people’s livelihoods – logging and wood preparation. The hay bales are in long, white plastic covered snakes

Nearby is an industrial building

Nepeta cataria (catnip). The primary resident is creating an artist’s herb garden – cultivating and planting seeds in hanging trays in the old classrooms, and creating presentations indoors in the bedrooms through the winter

Hawthorn and Dandelion – 2 more residents

I am writing about death and loss, so this window sill display is most appropriate

This thrush was not killed by the kittens who live here as they were kept in after their operations. A sleek grey lynx was spotted in the field next to the garden that day, but I think it was more likely to be the visiting cat


Before they left, M and R took me to the beach on the Baltic Coast near Kabli which has a camp site where the RMK Estonian Hiking Route walkers can stay close to the end of the trek

The patterns in the sand are amongst the most impressive I have seen. Beach, Pärnu Region, Estonia

This green painted Orthodox church is 3 kms away in the village of Urissaare