Saturday, November 8, 2014

International Falconry Meet

Today we went to an International Falconry Meet near Košice and had an amazing time.

We met at Uni at 7am and got a coach with the rest of Falconry club from vet school to a hotel in Dargov about 40 minutes away from Kosice.
There the Falconers lined up with their birds and had an opening ceremony. We didn't understand what was said but the birds looked amazing; Golden Eagles, Harris Hawks, Peregrine Falcons and even a little Kestrel!

From there they separate into groups and go off hunting. We didn't have cars and the bus couldn't take us so we tried our best to speak to people and jump in cars and get a lift with them.

I went off with the Eagles with Sian, Lucy and Niamh while others spent the day with Hawks or Falcons.
We had nine Golden Eagles with us from all over Europe - Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary - so it was really interesting seeing the falconers speak to one another, mostly in German and English as their common languages, though they all knew a few words of each language.

We spread out along the boundary of one field in a straight line 10 metres apart from each other with two people between every Eagle, the idea being that we flush the field as we walk across it in a line and the eagle closest to the prey or quarry is flown.

Being November everyone layered up expecting winter weather but we had glorious sunshine all day and walking all day everyone was roasting! We stopped at midday to give the birds and everyone else a rest. The birds all sat there good as gold, some of them not even hooded without stressing or trying to bait off the glove so they really were a credit to their trainers.

After lunch we carried on as as the weather cooled down a bit the birds were flying better and had a lot more successful catches.
We saw pheasants, hare and deer but only caught hares - Eagles don't go after pheasants and the deer were a bit too far away for the falconer to run after them and get there should there be a problem.


After the hunt we returned to the hotel for drinks and to talk to people then everyone sat down for a four course meal of soup, chicken with roasties, goulash (which everyone went mad for) and then cake!

I'm so glad we went and it was an incredible experience.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Weekend with Family

We've had a really nice weekend with family and am already sad that it's over; my mom and brother came over to Slovakia on Friday with Sian's parents and we dropped them back at the airport this morning.

Family Falconry Selfie

We met them at the airport on Friday and went straight from the airport to town for food which was a slight disaster...
Wierd nutty paste pancakes, pasta with jam and chopped up pasta with poppy seeds, spinach balls... You get the idea.

In the afternoon showed them around town and Uni then took them to fly the falcons:
Everyone was pretty tired so after dinner we separated and got an early night.

Saturday morning we met on Hlavna for late breakfast at Theatre cafe then spent the day at Košice zoo.
We missed out loads of things when we went last time so was nice to go again - the zebra, some of the birds and monkeys weren't on exhibit, I guess because it was so cold, but we saw the bears this time.
It's a really nice zoo, the only criticism I have is the big cats - they don't have enough room or enrichment so not great to see. They're in good condition but the tiger was pacing in a figure of eight obviously waiting for food and he didn't have ponds, balls, swings, logs etc like the enrichment they'd have in UK zoos.

Yesterday we did our own things with our families so we went shopping to AuPark and met up late afternoon. We went to look at food in M&S and there was a sale on so I got two pairs of jeans which should have been €40 each, one pair was €7.99 and the other €3.99!

We met up later for coffee in a really nice place, Cafe Frei, and decided to take them to Steel Arena to watch the Ice Hockey!
Košice were playing MHC Martin and tickets were only €5 (cheapest were €3!) which is awesome value for a night out.

Košice won, obviously, 3-2 but there were something like 35 and 22 goal attempts so was exciting to watch.
At one point a guy took a puck to the face and was knocked out...

We dropped them off at the airport early this morning and I'll be home in less than 2 weeks! :)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Meet Gizmo...

Meet Gizmo, my new roommate...

He was on the streets yesterday but a local lady took him to a charity so I'm fostering him until Christmas or a home can be found for him... whichever comes first.

The clinic checked him over, wormed him and tester for FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis) and FeLV (Feline Leukaemia Virus).
He's amazing well behaved considering he's come straight off the streets and has taken to the litter tray straight away.

This is him and Simba, Roxie's foster kitten, who is a few weeks older - they only met each other for the first time today!

Friday, September 19, 2014

First week of Vet School

The first week at vet school has flown by and although it wasn't what I expected, I think it was better.

I can't get over or express how nice the years above have been in looking after us, getting us settled in and sharing stories.
When we were at the airport they sorted out taxi's for us, they've shown us cclassrooms, where to go for cheap printing/photocopying and every few hours on the UVM Facebook there's offers of books, notes and revision material being given away for various modules.
So many people have invited us in for a chat, brew, to give us notes on a memory stick - someone even gave me a set of laptop speakers for free so we can watch films 'cos they had 2 pairs!

It's strange going back to the classroom environment after a year out and lectures are all 2 hours but apart from having to get up for 7am lectures twice a week I'm enjoying it!
 Our Genetics lecturer is German so quite heavily accented and speaks quietly so we had to concentrate on hearing him as well as understanding what he was trying to get across but all other lecturers have been really good.
The Anatomy lecturer has great spoken English and really knows her subject so that was interesting and that lecture flew past - it helped that we have a 2 hour Anatomy practical straight after the lecture so it's all fresh in our minds and we can apply it to real bones etc and anything we didn't understand in the lecture we can recap in the practical.

We've put in for Exemptions in 3 subjects, Anatomy, Physiology and Immunology, as we covered those quite a lot in Animal Science - it basically means that we still go to all lectures, practicals and do mid-term Credit tests but instead of having 120 topics we'll be examined on in the Final Exam, we could have those cut down to a dozen topics that we'll be examined on.
The requests are submitted to professors/heads of department along with the syllabus from our previous modules and our results and can take a few weeks to hear back but here's hoping!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

New arrivals

Sian and I walked to HyperTesco and I bought the Guppies a couple new additions; a plant, a Dwarf Gourami and a Catfish to keep their tank clean!

The walk was actually really nice, took about 25 minutes via a reservoir, along the train track and past a few fields so better than walking along boring streets!

I also spent a few hours this afternoon putting photos up around my room to make it a bit more homely...

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Amazing week in Dubai

I've been in Dubai for a week with friends, Jack and George, and had an amazing time!

We found cheap flights a few weeks ago, via Bucharest on the way there and via Sofia, Bulgaria on the way back, so decided to book it and go!
The flights were £300 return - the Dubai to Sofia was only €20! - and the 4* hotel was £60 each for 6 nights so pretty good deal!

It was 41oC during the day so too hot to stay outside and even at night it didn't drop below 34oC at 3 or 4am!

The first day was a bit of a culture shock with the massive clear divide between wealth and poverty; 5 star gold and marble hotels next to falling down apartment blocks and exploitation of Indian workers doing manual labour in blazing sunshine...
But once we took if for what it was worth, a showy resort in what once was nothing but desert, it was amazing!

The Dubai Mall was like nothing I've seen even compared to New York and America - there's a 10 million litre aquarium, Sega World theme park and Ice rink just dotted around the mall! 

We did Burj Khalifa, the worlds tallest building, at 7pm on one of the evenings.
It was dark when we were up there but apparently you can see Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan during the day!


We went to Aquaventure waterpark on The Palms, man made islands, which was awesome! 
Some of the slides and the lazy river go through underwater tunnels through the shark tanks and you can see dolphin training as you queue for rides.

Food was amazing and actually quite cheap.
On the first night we went to Just Falafel and had Falafel panini, hummus (not in the photo), chips, extra falafel and a drink which cost about £4.00!

We went to my favourite The Cheesecake Factory TWICE but learnt after the first meal all we needed was starters (Mac 'n' Cheese balls) not mains, to leave room for cheesecake!


Monday, May 5, 2014

Marrakech Photos

Had the best week ever in Marrakech!

We spent 3 days on an excursion to the Sahara desert.
Drove to the town on the edge of the desert and then trekked on camels for a couple hours into the desert and camped there under the stars




Thursday, April 24, 2014

Trip to Marrakech

Booked a week in Morocco with Nat (brother); we landed in Marrakech this evening so I've only been here 3 hours and am already completely overwhelmed.

Walking through alleyways and side streets to find the hostel was an experience in itself; 8foot wide passageways with people walking in both directions and motorbikes trying to pass through too!

We're staying at the Riad Layla Rouge hostel and Abdel the manager is really nice. Spoke to us all about Marrakech, some do's and don't and said to treat the hostel like home.

We went for a walk to try and find the Jemaa El Fna square...
First of all we got lost so turned around and went back to the hostel and asked Abdel the way - it turns out it's only a 2 minute walk and we'd just gone the wrong way!

Once we found it I felt completely alien.
It took a while to settle in and get used to being dragged into restaurants by waiters, shouted at to but orange juice and having wooden pythons thrust in our faces.
"Hello Chav, I love to shop at Sainsburys"  "Do you shop in Primark?" were their most common phrases so no idea what they've been watching to learn English!?

We got fresh orange juice for 4 dirham (28p) and a chocolate cakey thing for 5dh (35p).
Probably overcharged compared to what the locals pay but it's pennies!

Weekend in Berlin

Been to Berlin for a long weekend visiting a friend.
We left Luton on Thursday morning and spent the day walking round Berlin.
On Friday went to Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Wall and a museum and went out on the night. Got in about 11am.

Saturday was mainly spent sleeping!
We went to a Mexican restaurant and got Chicken Chimichangas... Was so good!
Went out to a karaoke bar and ended up in Ritter butzke.

Pretty good weekend!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Edible Garden Show 2014; A right Royal visit!

This weekend at The Edible Garden Show has been pretty awesome.
The show moved from Stoneleigh Park to Alexandra Palace this year so I went down to London on Thursday night to help set up our stand.
As usual we were running late so most of it was done on Friday morning but it all came together in the end!

HRH Prince Charles and Camilla visited the show on Friday morning and came over to the PoultryTalk stand to meet my Pekin Bantam chicks!
Charles was asking Jamie all about what we do, how long the chicks take to hatch and about the incubation process while Camilla held a chick and spoke to the school children on the stand.
She held a chick which she named with the school children; they decided on Rosie!

The rest of the weekend seemed to fly by!
We went out for dinner and spent most of the show networking and making new chicken friends!

I did a talk in The Experts Theatre on Sunday afternoon with Naomi from BHWT which went ok - I'd forgotten about it until half an hour before we did it so it was all quite rushed but a Q&A session at the end helped to fill time!




Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dr Chicken with The Rookies in Country Smallholding

I went over to Helpless Homestead in Machynlleth in July to help them dispatch some of their poultry.
They had a batch of Ross Cobbs but we did a couple of Aylesbury drakes.

They write as The Rookies in Country Smallholding and the article was published in the October issue:


Poultry Dispatch Course Feedback

Just had 2 messages of feedback from the Poultry Dispatch Course this weekend and am really pleased!

"Just want to say a huge thank you to Lewis for a very informative Dispatch, Pluck and Gut Course which my husband Dave attended yesterday - he thoroughly enjoyed it and learned so much - came home and was gutting chickens like a pro! Excellent course and highly recommended. Will be fantastic to be able to eat "home-grown" chickens from now on, no more supermarket rubbish  
A must-do course for anyone keeping chickens for eggs too, gives you peace of mind and confidence to know what you are doing when dealing with ill hens. THANK YOU!" - Lorraine L

"Hi just wanted to let you all know about the dispatch, pluck and gut course I have just been on, was not looking forward to this course,but felt I needed to do as I keep chickens. I arrived on the day I did not know anyone that was there but was made to feel really welcome. The course was brilliant, I learnt how to dispatch correctly without causing the chicken any discomfort, different ways to pluck. Lewis who runs the course was great at explaining and answering all questions that were asked, he made everyone feel at ease. I never thought I would be able to do anything like this 
but I came home confident and prepared a bird on my own. I would definitely recommend this course to anyone. Lewis if you read this many thanks not just for the course, but also for the new friends I have made."
- Tazmin O


Next one is at Cotswold Chickens on 6th October!

Poultry Dispatch Course in Wales

I ran a Dispatch, Pluck and Gut course this weekend in Aberystwyth and had a great time.
We ended up with 5 people on the course and then as families arrived later on we had 11 for the BBQ.

The course went well, everyone seemed to enjoy it and feedback has been really good.
We dispatched in Angela's new goat shed and hung the chickens from beams:

Then went into the mock Medieval Tavern for gutting.

We spatchcocked and BBQ'd the chickens and ate them out on the decking

Then when I got home I roasted mine...
...was the best roast chicken ever!!

Really looking forward to the next course on 6th October at Cotswold Chickens now!