Adventure time!

So this week has been very hectic! Lots going on and lots to sort out!! I’m shattered now!

I’ve been helping my Dad move house for most of the time. He’s bought a house with an annex for my Grandpa to live in. It was all go on Thursday! My back was killing me by the end of the day and I lay on my bedroom floor for a while to calm down and try and work out the kinks!!!

I’ve also had a lot of time with my Mumma too. We’ve been busy walking my aunties dog and on Friday we got to babysit Arthur, my little nephew!! He is the cutest little bean!!! He doesn’t stop smiling and he napped on me for a solid two hours! Cutie!

We’ve been on a few walks this week, lots of birds singing and flowers blooming. I heard some birds squabbling and found a pied flycatcher and a coal tit having a bit of a flighty fight! Not sure who won, I was just chuffed I’d seen the flycatcher!

I’m now back in Poznan, the first leg of my journey to Mozambique. I’m currently sat in my office packing my equipment. I have two huge automatic recorders (6kg each!!) a small recorder, a microphone, gps, camera and headphones. As well as the tech, I have my binoculars, bird book and various notepads!! That’s just in my hand luggage! My big bag has my home for the next three weeks! Tent, sleeping bag, clothes and wash kit!! I’m prepped and ready! Just hope no monkeys raid my smellies when I leave my tent unsupervised!!

I smiled a lot walking to uni this morning, I was listening to the yellowhammers and wood warblers singing close by. I don’t get to hear them much at home so I stopped and took it in. They both have lovely sounds!!

So tonight I’m relaxing before a very hectic few days ahead! I’m not sure why, I’m a little apprehensive about travelling to Mozambique. I know I’ll love it once I’m there. Think I’ve gotten too used to being home!!! My family are just too bloody lovely to leave!!!

Xx

To Poland and back again.

I’ve had quite an exciting week this week. Nipped out of the U.K. to go to Poland to do a presentation and a little bit of teaching. I set off on Tuesday night and met my friend Donata and her boyfriend Sergio at their flat. I stayed there for my trip which was lovely!!

The first day back in the office was great. I got to see all of my favourite Polish friends and got a few hugs! My office buddy, Paweł, has inherited a lot of house plants and so the office is like a mini jungle! It’s lovely! He’s very proud that he’s kept them alive and that the zz plant is flowering! I saw my supervisor and we discussed the paper we’re writing and chatted about Mozambique plans. Cameroon Kasia bumped into me in the corridor and we had a lovely chat. I saw my favourite ever Polish person, Kasia, in the afternoon. She came into my office and picked me up and span me around. I went and had coffee in her office and she introduced me to her new pets. She has a gorgeous boa constrictor, some huge tarantulas, patterned cockroaches and some other beautiful African beetles. Her room is like a mini zoo now, amazing!

The next day I had my presentation for the conference being held in the biology department. I was having trouble connecting my Mac to the projector but luckily my colleague Michał came to my rescue!!! I think it went well and I answered my questions well. There were a few great presentations. One guy was talking about neurons. It’s a bit beyond my comprehension but he explained it so well and I felt very brainy for those 20 minutes!!

On Friday I went with Michał to do some field work teaching. We went to a small forest just outside of Poznan with 12 undergrad students. It was absolutely blumming freezing!! It was about 0 degrees and we were outside for 4 hours. We took the students around to do point count surveys and playback experiments to assess woodpecker behaviour. I was excited! I got to see some ravens, middle spotted woodpecker, common crane and a hawfinch!!! I was absolutely freezing and my lips were blue when I got back but it was a lovely way to spend the morning.

On Saturday I just relaxed and did some work before my flight home. It was a late flight but I got to cuddle my mum at the end of it!!!

It was a lovely change up this week. Nice to see my friends over in Poland. I’m shattered today though!!!

Xx

2 hangovers in 1 weekend

This week has been lovely. As usual. The weather is still lovely and the birds are still singing.

I was in the office during the week doing PhD work. It’s always lovely to see everyone. And I also had another Turkish lesson. Slowly but surely I will get there!

A nice mid week treat came in the form of home made cookies and shisha. Donata has her own shisha set so we enjoyed an evening on the balcony smoking and drinking kwass. Kwass is a Lithuanian bread drink. It’s weirdly tasty! I love evenings like that, when it’s nice and warm and the sun sets really slowly. We had a lovely chat and just relaxed.

On Friday my friend Beth arrived. She wanted to come and visit Poznan again and have a mini adventure with me! We’ve been enjoying Poznan night life! On Friday and Saturday we went out in the old square. In the normal Amie style, I had lots of tequila and danced my sandals off! I also decided to try and speak as much Polish as I possibly could. Alcohol definitely makes me more confident in languages!

We leave Poznan tomorrow. It’s been so lovely seeing all of my people in this part of the world. But I can’t stay in one place for too long. Time to move again. Next stop is Naples!

Pilots in Poznan

This week has gone by in a flash. It has been really lovely and with a mix of even lovelier people!

Earlier in the week I went for two nice walks. One was in my lunch break where I went to the huge reed bed nearby. The reed warblers were so loud and joyful. The same day Donata and I went for a forest walk. We were graced with chaffinches, greenfinches, blackbirds, blue tits, great tits and tiny wrens. My idea of heaven.

On Tuesday I had my first online Turkish lesson. I have to learn a foreign language as part of my PhD and so I’ve decided to learn Turkish because of my connection to Northern Cyprus. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be able to write a translated version of my blog!! For now I know how to say “I would like a coffee please” which is vital for me.

Thursday evening came and me and Donata went to my amazing Czech families flat for something to eat and a catch up. Pavel cooked an amazing salmon, cream and spinach gnocchi. Bloody delicious! All washed down with red wine of course. It was so lovely to see the kids too. Astrid is the calmest baby ever, Hynek just wants to climb on things! It’s always so nice to see them.

As well as work I’ve been practicing my drawing. This week I did a lion for my Dad. The strongest, bravest man I know.

Anyway….then the weekend came.

Saturday day was spent relaxing. In the evening we got ready and heading into the Old Town to meet Donata’s friends. The rum and cokes started. We had several each. After the first few we went into the Ratusz (town hall) as it was open all night with free admission! Being slightly drunk inside a museum is hilarious. I’d highly recommend it. We went to a bar after that. Had more drinks. Me some Dutch fighter pilots. Drank some more. Moved on to another bar. Had tequila. Met the pilots again. It was light by the time we headed home! Such an amazing night!

 

Today we are hungover.

I just wanted to end with this…When we were at the Czech family’s house, Marketa commented that she has never seen me so calm and relaxed. She is the second person to say this to me during my visit here. Kasia said the same to me last weekend. It makes me feel really good that I have come a full circle in a whole year. I’m back to Amie. I’m so happy in my lovely little life. I think for now it’s just great to be in a flow that suits me. You only live once. This isn’t a dress rehearsal or a practice run. This is the now. I’m just going to enjoy it all. And most important thing, I’m going to enjoy being me!

Back in Poznań

So this week I have been back in Poznan. I’ve been going to the office every day and getting through lots of work. On Friday I had to do an official presentation for my PhD in front of the faculty council. I think it went okay!

My lovely friend Donata is my host for my stay here. I always get amazing breakfasts and we enjoy a good sing along to chart topping hits!

I met her Spanish speaking friends on Wednesday. We had a mini pizza feast. Her friend Kris had been travelling around Greece and brought back some amazing cheese for everyone to taste. She also brought us some traditional cheese from her village in Spain! Both bloody delicious!

This weekend I’ve been at my amazing Polish family’s house. For those of you who don’t know, when I first moved to Poland (for the year long stint) I lived in the flat of one of my colleagues, Kasia (I had never actually met her before hand!). I got to know her and her family and they are now my Polish family! I even got to see my friends Viola and Łukasz! Viola is pregnant and only a couple of weeks away from the big day! They are a lovely couple. Always laughing and smiling. I can’t wait to meet their little one!

Anyway… This weekend we have been at the house in the countryside enjoying the sunshine and the peace and quiet. It’s amazing. You can hear birds for miles around. My favourite is probably the yellowhammer. The first one I ever heard was in Poland, so now they always remind me of here! Both evenings I’ve heard a cuckoo calling. The first evening I even caught a glimpse, it was perched at the very top of a silver birch tree.

All week I’ve been delighted by the birds. Walking to work I can’t help having a smile on my face. I hear chiffchaffs, blackbirds, great tits, blue tits, song thrush, chaffinch….. its a chorus just for me. I love it.

Cześć Poznań

As usual I am on the move. Currently sat drinking my second coffee of the day in Poznan airport. Back to Manchester for a couple of days now!

I’ve had a lovely week. I’ve seen all my favourite people from my Poznan life. I saw my beautiful Polish Mum, Kasia. The amazing Czech family with their most gorgeous new addition, tiny Astrid. I saw my office friend Paweł, we mostly bickered. What a fab bunch of people I have!

I’m was staying with Donata this week. She’s was lovely enough to agree to take me in! It’s always a treat staying with her. She cooks up the best food, breakfasts are a special feast! I was welcomed with a white chocolate cake! What more could you ask for?! Last weekend we went on a chilly wander so I could go and spot some red squirrels! The cold air is so much nicer than back home, it’s dry and clear. Manchester is just so rainy!!!

The working week began and that consisted of lots of hours in the office spent listening to Boubou calls. I’m pretty fluent in Boubou now…. I had a couple of meetings about next steps and am feeling very positive!

On Thursday afternoon everyone in the behavioural ecology department met in the common room for beers and to look at videos and photos from past Cameroon trips. It was so nice to have everyone together! Nice bunch of people! I was slightly tipsy after one beer! I went back to Donata’s and we carried on with the drinking vibe and enjoyed a glass of very strong Lithuanian spirit. Dancing happened.

Last night we went for a drink and some shisha. I met some of her friends and enjoyed a chilled Poznan night.

It’s been a short but sweet trip. Loved seeing everyone. Now to get back home and pack for the next adventure.

Being honest

It has nearly been a year since I took the plunge and moved from Manchester to Poznan. I have been writing blog entries about my exciting travels, new friends, new foods, new adventures. Everyone I talk to back home says when they read my blog it sounds like I am having the most amazing time. This much was true for the most part. I enjoyed getting to grips with a new language and culture, I enjoyed forest walks and the cold winter, I enjoyed forging new relationships and I enjoyed the pierogi. I do have to admit something though (which is possibly the most personal thing I have written on this blog), I was also really struggling.

I’m not one for getting homesick. Exploring the world is something I have always wanted to do and I know I’ll always have my family and friends back in England to return to. Moving abroad was a scary prospect but I took it in my stride. Unfortunately, a few months before my return to the UK for a summer break, things got too much for me. Living in Poznan is such a change from Manchester. I don’t feel there is much international acceptance, you’ll have read in other posts of mine that I have been at the end of some negative interactions. There is also a massive issue with sexism. These things, coupled with a massive language barrier, limited friends and hard work, meant I lost myself. I wasn’t Amie anymore. I wasn’t even fussed about birds! It was like everyday was ground hog day and I just had to get through. Each day was one day closer to going home to my family.

I went home to England for the summer. The first few weeks weren’t great. I didn’t realise how much of me had disappeared. With the support from my amazing family I got back on track and my mood picked up. I am now back to my smiling, happy self. It’s strange how things can happen without your control. How the body and mind cope with negative situations and you just can’t keep up.

Whilst being home, I made the decision to move back to the UK and continue my studies remotely. This was not an easy decision for me to make, but happiness and health are the only thing of true value in this world, they are the things that matter most. My team in Poznan have been so supportive of the decision. It has made the whole process a lot easier. I am actually quite proud of the choice I have made. I could have given up and quit or stayed and been unhappy. Instead I am adapting. Adaptation is the thing that gives any individual strength. Whether it’s birds adapting to the presence of a noisy road, or bees adapting to a lack of suitable flowers…Some will adapt at least. Those individuals will be stronger.

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I want people to read this and to think that they can do whatever they need to do. It may be hard. It may be awkward. It may be really annoying. But just do whatever makes you happy.

I now find myself smiling at the little things again. Long-tailed tit song, a fox in the golden dusk light, a really fat wood pigeon waddling around the garden. Even a really good cup of coffee is a thing of greatness now!

Years ago, my good friend Cat told me a quote:

“Let the sun bring you new energy by day and then the moon should restore you by night, the rain wash away your worries, the breeze blow new strength into your being and you should walk gently though the world knowing its beauty all of your life.”

Be happy. Keep smiling. Enjoy life.

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Gdansk and a Shaman

This working week was the usual business. Wake up, run, shower, office time and then Polish lessons or see friends.

It was Corpus Christi on Thursday and so Poland being the highly religious country that it is, everything was shut and it gave us a lovely long weekend. My friend Simla and I decided to take advantage of this and headed to Gdansk for a quick holiday.

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Thursday morning we got to the main train station in Poznan, found our train and climbed aboard! Unfortunately we were unable to reserve seats because the train was so busy and so the 3 and a half hour journey was spent stood up, next to the toilet, in the aisle of the carriage. Nice. Time passed quickly though and it was really nice to look out of the window and see all the lovely wild flowers. There are poppies everywhere now, so beautiful against the pristine green fields and bright blue sky. If I’m not mistaken I think the poppy is the national flower of Poland. I can see why now!

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Anyway.. we eventually arrived in Gdansk and got some lunch at a lovely Mexican place near the Old Town. We then went and found our hostel, changed into our swimming costumes and headed off to find a beach! We hopped on a crowded tram and made our way to Stogi Plaza. Google told us this was the most popular beach near Gdansk. It was full of people enjoying the sunshine, but we were slightly concerned as there was absolutely no one swimming! We dumped our bags, stripped off and went for it! Into the Baltic sea! To our surprise it really wasn’t that cold and we enjoyed standing in the waves and feeling the sun on our cheeks. It’s not every day we get to swim in the sea so we made the most of it.

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After drying off and changing, we went back to Gdansk city centre and enjoyed a coffee on the Old Street. Then we wandered around and even decided to get on a big wheel to see the city from a birds eye view. Very touristy! We enjoyed looking at all the lovely buildings and watching the rowers practicing on the river. I have to write a few words on the Polish people and their obsession with ice cream. On the old street there are at least 15 ice cream shops and all of them have queues! Everyone you see is eating the stuff! I know ice cream is nice, but here it is like a drug. I’ve tried some in Poznan and I must admit, they make it well. My favourite so far is werthers original!

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Anyway, I digress..

Tea time came and we found a nice place to eat next to the river and I had some lovely halibut. Only seemed right to have some fish when at the sea side. A wander back to the hostel followed and the day ended with a read of my book and the sound of swifts outside.

Friday morning we headed for breakfast and went to a museum in the old town hall of Gdansk. It was mainly about the history of Gdansk in the 16th and 17th centuries. There was one room, the “red room”, which used to be the summer time meeting room. The ceiling was covered in amazing paintings. Even the doors were impressive, the wood carvings were so intricate.

After the museum we grabbed a quick lunch and went to get our train back to Poznan. The train was relatively empty compared to the outward journey. We found our carriage and got settled. There was a man in our carriage too, dressed in technicolour trousers and fashioning a large beaded necklace. We started talking and he told me that he moved to Ireland 15 years ago and was an accountant there, but a year ago he packed it in, went to Peru, drank the “medicine” and became a shaman. His guide in life is his necklace. He was so interesting to talk to. He asked me what I did, so I told him I was an ornithologist. He then produced a small plastic bag filled with feathers. He insisted I chose two to keep. They were from birds of the amazon. His name was Chris and for a good hour and a half we chatted about anything and everything. He was saying how nothing is a coincidence, everything happens for a reason. I love talking to fellow hippies!

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At Bygdoszcz, a city half way through the journey, an elderly Irish couple with their daughter joined our carriage. They were visiting Poland because Maive’s (the daughter) husband is currently living in Poznan, teaching at a flight school. They had a huge bag of strawberries with them and insisted we helped them eat them. They were delicious and a nice unexpected treat. We talked about all sorts and it was so lovely to hear all the anecdotal stories from the couple. The journey passed so quickly and we were back in Poznan before we knew it.

We said our farewells and me and Simla headed home. I felt so happy after that journey, it really lifted my spirits. I love meeting different people and hearing their stories. And now I have my feathers as a lovely reminder of my special train journey and the shaman.

x

A northern girl at the Opera

This week has gone quite quickly. Had lots of nice little things happen.

On Monday I had my Polish language exam. It seemed to go okay, although I thought of a couple of silly mistakes I had made. All that grammar is hard to remember! The first lovely thing in my week was enjoying a refreshing drink with my friend Simla after the exam. It was that time of day, just before dusk, when the air goes slightly humid and the light in the sky is a mix of pastel colours. I think that is my favourite time of day. It reminds me of playing outside with my sister when we were little, listening to blackbirds singing and catching fresh water shrimp from the stream. Anyway…

Tuesday is reserved for rock climbing. Me and Pavel set off and had good feelings about routes we would choose and exercises we could do. Half way there Pavel realised he had left his climbing kit at the office so we turned back. During the retrieval of his gear the tram 16 we need to take to get to the climbing centre had a problem and had stopped running… disaster. But oh no.. Pavel decided he would make up for this lost opportunity and hire us city bikes to ride back to the city centre. It was so much fun! I haven’t been on a bike in years and I had forgotten how great it is! We were riding for about 25 minutes and then enjoyed a scoop of ice cream afterwards. Maybe he should leave his rock climbing kit more often!

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Wednesday was exam results day. I got 58/60! So so happy. In English we don’t really use cases and conjugations and so I am so proud of this grade. Polish is a really hard language but everyday I am getting to understand a little bit more which is quite exciting. I need to keep practicing now!

Thursday’s lovely thing was seeing my colleague Michał at the coffee break at work. He has been really busy doing field work and even when he is not in the field he lives in Warsaw and so we don’t get to see him much. We were talking about the work he has been doing and about Cameroon. Sometimes the little things can make a lovely change.

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Friday was another office day and then I went to an amazing Mexican restaurant with Simla. It is on a tiny street off of Old Town and I genuinely forgot I was in Poznan for a while. It is like you are transported to Mexico. There was a lovely atmosphere and colour all over. I love finding these new little places. I must say, I haven’t had a bad meal since being in Poznan. The food is always top notch.

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Now for the day of the Opera…

People that know me will understand that I am not exactly the Opera going type… I don’t have high heels, I don’t have minimalist clothing. So I was slightly stuck with what to wear. So me being me, I put on my most colourful dress, matched with Birkenstocks and bangles and my favourite wicker handbag and off I went. Safe to say, I was under dressed. I met my friends Viola and Łucaś and we went to a great vegetarian restaurant called Słodka and Ostra in my district of Poznan. We had a taster of the different soups and then a great salad. It was brilliant. Then off we went to the theatre. It is so grand inside, a huge chandelier hanging from the ceiling. Gosh I was out of my depth. But I sat in my seat and became mesmerised by the beautiful voices. We saw die zauberflote. Viola had informed me that the Queen of the Night character has one of the most difficult aria’s to perform in any opera. It was so impressive and beautiful. Her voice was incredible, I’m not sure how she got to such high notes. I wasn’t exactly sure on everything that was happening due to it being performed in German and translated in Polish, but it didn’t matter. I thoroughly enjoyed it. A night to remember! Next time I will probably opt out of the sandals though…

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Sometimes it’s nice to pick little things that have been lovely in your day. You might think it was just any old day but there are always little things that can make you smile. I’m a big believer in silver linings.

Here is to more silver linings next week.

xx

 

A sister and a bee.

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This week has been very emotional for many of us.

A terrorist attack in my home city of Manchester has taken 22 lives and effected so many in ways I cannot fathom.

I am not a great writer. I can’t write a blog post to explain this. Or in any way make it better. But I can write about how utterly proud I am to be from such an amazing city. I can talk about Mancunian spirit and the way we rally together. I can say that Manchester is a great city filled with inspirational people.

Mancunians…We are kind. We are strong. We are one.

I used to work in the city centre. I would walk through the streets hearing a jumble of different languages and seeing a mash up of different faces. In a line up of people you couldn’t pick out a Mancunian. We are a people of all sorts. We have china town, the curry mile, hipsters in the northern quarter. We have buskers, business people and students. We have sport, music and pubs. We are diverse and weird and amazing. It took me to move abroad to realise this. It is no ordinary city.

This week we have seen Manchester show the rest of the world just how me we care for each other. Strangers coming together in times of crisis and showing such compassion. In times of such horror, this is not our shield. This strength is our weapon. We fight with love. Love for any human being who needs it.

I am so proud of this.

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Now for my usual post…

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I had a visitor this week which was nice. My lovely little sister joined me for 4 days of sunshine, ice cream and walks.

Most of our time was spent wandering around parks and chatting. One day we went to a place called KontenerART which is created for the summer season. It is a venue made from shipping containers with a beer garden and small beach. At night there is even space for bands to perform. We didn’t feel like we were trendy enough to stay here but we embraced it and sat for a while!

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One afternoon we went and sat by Warta river. This is the river that runs through Poznan. It’s a nice place to go to escape the centre of the city. We had a lovely view of the Cathedral and just enjoyed the quiet. We played cards. I won 5 of the 6 games…

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I mainly enjoyed the hugs. It’s always nice when you are with your favourite person.

Just lovely.

And that’s that.

xx