Estonia – insects, lakes and log cabins

April 2019 Massiaru, Estonia

This little critter looks as if someone has been doodling on her in a bored moment – a V shape here, a straight line there, 2 half tear drops with black dots inside, colour that in black, leave that bit orange!

I could not get a photo of the big peacock-coloured beetle. He spent all his time negotiating the grass and falling over at almost every blade. He must have been used to it because he flipped himself over and just carried on.

Hawthorn was watching a moth which had got caught inside the double glazing, so he couldn’t get to it, but he spent a long time watching and trying, bless him.

Like a battlefield – you could almost see people picking through bodies looking for coins. It seemed strewn with sadness

The new leaves have come out next to the pussy willow which now look like they are bursting with excitement at the feel of the sun.

There is virgin growth everywhere
Spreading their leaves to get every particle of warmth
Magenta primula
These wood anemones have taller stalks than the ones from 2 weeks ago, now the air is more benign
Delicate and simple blossom

As I stand facing the rising sun to do my morning exercises, the sunshine gleams through the dandelion leaves at foot level.

I came across the most stunning lake
Beside a log cabin
Made in the old style with interlocking logs
The paths are soft under my boots
And the frogspawn is bubbling

The bus passes through mile after mile of forest with the longest straightest tracks dissecting them. Some are dense pine and others are deciduous, more spacious with a matching green floor. Occasionally they have been cleared for agricultural purposes (in the centre of one huge one were 2 storks lazily pecking), or for motorbike racing.

Along the rivers are clumps of bright celandines

I am picking up a few words of the notoriously difficult Estonian language : thank you sounds like aita; tee is street without the s, r and second t; kohvik is coffee shop ; kool is school – you can see why I know those ones!

Everywhere forest is being cleared for agriculture
Overhead is heard the constant honk of geese and squeak of swan
One evening’s walk I was accompanied by herds of cattle with calves on both sides of the road, lowing loudly
Really unusual pink flowers growing straight out of the ground as if someone had half buried them
We ate these maple flowers, battered, deep fried and sugared
Sprats are the locally produced fish
One of my favourite morning spots for ‘standing like a tree’
Dandelion half plays, half delights in the day

All those trees mean that of course the main house building material is wood and they are usually painted beautiful colours which shine in the evening sun.

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