Saturday, December 22, 2018

Skopje, Macedonia

I passed my Ruminants State exam on Wednesday and then at 7am on Thursday I headed off to Bratislava to catch a flight to Skopje, Macedonia with Tom one of my best mates (depending on which day you ask me; think Marmite)

The flight wasn't too bad (and a bargain at €9.49) but we landed and realised we hadn't researched anything - currency, taxi's/transport - so booked a bus into town which took about 40 minutes and booked into the Nordic N-box hostel, with everyone having our own little pod thing to sleep in.

The whole trip basically consisted of eating and drinking so I will try and make it sound more civilised with some nice photos.
We found a local bistro called La Puerto selling traditional Macedonian food (Mexican) which was so good we went twice!

We spent a few hours sightseeing and learning about Macedonian history on a free walking tour of Skopje. We were the only ones who turned up as it was so cold and out of tourtist season but Vasko was an awesome guide and we stopped off at the Old Brewery halfway round for a beer or six hahaha

His son phoned him to say he'd finished school and needed picking up so he had to leave us.

I saw online that Skopje had a Zoo which was 100 dinah to get into (80p) so of course we had to go. Some of the old photos make it look really bad but they've just spent millions on it and I was really impressed, especially considering the entrance price!
We were pretty much the only people in there, including a lack of keepers, so we had a good nose around. I didn't see any stereotypic behavious and the big cats had lots of space and enrichment.

The best encounter for us was with the Hippo which you can literally lean in and touch

He came up to the bars, we tapped on them and he opened his mouth waiting for food, bearing in mind Hippos kill something like 3000 people a year!

Drinks were so cheap that it would be rude not to so we went to a couple of cocktail bars and worked our way through the menu, returning the next night to complete the ones we didn't manage.

Our hostel had a 10 week old kitten they found freezing outside and called her Luna

Then Mom picked me up from Luton. Normally I can't wait to drive when I'm home but I think I was still wayy over the limit so Cal drove

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Diseases of Ruminants State

Another one bites the dust! We all passed our Diseases of Ruminants exam and have finished for Christmas

To be honest I didn't really enjoy this block as much as I did Horses as we had a lot of free time (I was home for two weeks and went to the BVZS conference) which was great and we went on four farm trips which I really enjoyed, I just missed having a structure of daily lectures and practicals.
Anyone that knows me will know I need pressure to study and I didn't get "The Fear" until a couple days before this exam!

There were 'only' 17 questions for the Ruminants State so we are given 17 topics, study those, pick one from an envelope on the day and speak your answer to a panel of four examiners. The topics were really broad and of course I picked one of the topics I didn't want, Vitamins, but it was actually fine and I passed.

We're all heading home for Christmas over the next few days for some much needed time off.

4 States done, 2 to go before graduation!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

New member of the family, Céline

This little monster came as a foster for ‘a few days’ back in April forward a few months and I signed her adoption papers this week.

Céline has her passport will be moving to the UK in summer

Monday, November 19, 2018

Starting off the week right, rounding up 400 sheep and goats.

We rounded them all up for a quick health check and worming. It’s been years since I’ve done lambing and I forgot how heavy sheep are, especially after tipping hundreds of them!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Residential Ruminants Trip

As part of our Ruminants block we have a three day trip to the uni farm

We stay over in the dorms so we can get up bright and early to do work, then spend the evenings drinking in the local.
We got to do Repro, doing rectal examinations for pregnancy detection or parturition problems like retained placenta, metritis/endometritis

At the end of the day before we headed back we stopped at the calving shed to see if anything was going on, luckily there was...
A heifer was having some problems calving so we had a feel and found her calf had his head back which needed correcting and he was really big. At first we thought we might need to do a c-section but after correcting his position we managed to pull him out.

It’s always been on my bucket list so I’m really glad we got the chance to help.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Home Time

I’m heading home for 12 days tomorrow ...time to pack!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Diseases of Horses State Exam

Today we had our Diseases of Horses State Exam which went really well; we all passed and I got a B!

I’ve never wanted to be an equine vet but I’ve really enjoyed this rotation and learnt loads from it.
The first horses I worked with were the Heavy Horses at Ash End Farm who, looking back, were amazing and really easy to work with. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Topolčianky Slovak National Stud

We had a trip at the end of our Equine block to Topolčianky, the Slovak National Stud.

They have 550 horses over five sites, mostly Lipizzaner, Arabs and some Slovak breeds. We were really there just to have a look at the horses, facilities and the work they do.

Indoor riding school...

We saw a pair of horses being trained to pull a carriage and then met their vet, who graduated from Kosice and has been there ever since, who spoke to us about his role in disease control with vaccinations, disinfection and parasite control.

They have a Lipizzaner stallion, a gift from when Queen Elizabeth II visited Slovakia in 2008.

Farriers room...

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Equine Skills

Two things I learnt to do today, place a nasogastric tube and a urinary catheter in a mare

Luckily Nora was very patient with me and was rewarded with apples and scratches afterwards

It took me three attempts to place the urinary catheter as you have to palpate and go in blind so I was about to give up but persevered and finally got it.
Don’t ask me to do another one for a while though!

Saturday, September 29, 2018


Lviv is a few hours away from Kiev by train and often called the Prague of Ukraine. I know lots of people who have been and recommended it so we spent a few days there.

Our Airbnb in Lviv was a lot cheaper than Kiev but the decor was very, Slavic.
Toilet roll in Ukraine doesn’t have a hole!?
We were never up in time for the 10am walking tours so we found one on Google and did our own.

The city is really pretty with lots of nice architecture, fountains and displays. We didn’t go to any museums but the Folk Museum is meant to be good.
We walked up to the High Castle and viewing tower (which nearly killed me) but the view was nice so I guess it’s worth it...
The main thing we did in Lviv was eat and drink.
Champagne and katchipuri (Georgian break with cheese and egg yolk) breakfast was amazing

Dogs Like Ducks is a vegan hotdog shop (apparently 107% vegan but I don’t get the reference) which were really good. Being veggie I think the only other hotdogs I’ve had have been in Ikea so not much to compare to, they’d have been better with a bit of crunch.

Carrying on the vegan theme we went to Om Nom Nom for dinner, more hotdogs and burgers. The ‘cheese’ sauce was rank so I think get two hotdogs/burgers and skip the fries/wedges!

And finally because we were fed up of meaty Ukrainian food we went for a massive pizza
The Craft Beer and Vinyl Festival happened to be on the weekend we were visiting so we went along. You have to buy a 330ml glass and put tokens on a card but it meant that we got to try beers from loads of breweries. There were loads of food trucks but all very meaty and BBQ’y with hotdogs and ribs so I struggled to find something - the only thing was a caprese pitta bread thing which was decent.
I got a sleeper train from Lviv to Uzghorod which cost £4.47 and was old but fairly comfortable, I slept the whole way so that was fine.
From there I got a bus from Uzghorod to Košice which should have taken about an hour and a half. We got to the Ukraine-Slovakia border and there we sat for 8 hours... Slovaks are renowned for taking their time but this was a joke.

We were sat on the coach inside the border compound just waiting for Border Control to check our passports, I brought some Pringles for the journey but as it wasn’t meant to take long didn’t bring a drink. First world problem I know but annoying all the same.
I got off the coach in Košice and went straight to McDonalds for a drink (and 20 nuggets).

All in we had a great eight days in Ukraine and I’m sure I’ll be back again...

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Chernobyl Tour

After years of talking about it we finally made it to Chernobyl!
There are a few companies offering day trips from
Kiev, we booked with Chornobyl Tours and had a great guide so I’d recommend going with them. The tour starts early to make sure you have a full day at the site.

It’s a couple hours drive from Kiev to the Exclusion Zone and once inside you have to stick to the strict guidelines.

We hired a Geiger counter for the day which measures radiation - average background radiation in Kiev is about 0.7mSv/hour and the highest we saw was close to 100mSv/hour.

One of th first things we saw was the Duga 2 Radar which is 150m high, built in secret by the Soviets.

As we drove up it was completely out of view of the road hidden in the forest and the end of the track had the bus stop painted with children’s to disguise it as a children’s summer camp.
I guess in those days you accepted it and didn’t ask questions for fear of being shot!

Driving up to the reactors you start to get a scale of the place

on the left, covered in the sarcophagus, is Reactor 4 where the 1986 accident happened, next to that is Reactor 3 and on the right either side of the chimney are 1 & 2.
The other side of the cooling water lake are Reactors 5 & 6 which we’re being built and never completed, with plans for 12 reactors on the site.

We ate lunch in the canteen just to the right of that photo, a Ukranian feast, most of which we couldn’t finish.

After lunch we visited Pripyat, the modern city built for the power plant workers which at the time was a really desirable place to live with nice apartments, shops, many schools and recreational facilities.
The entire city was evacuated within days of the nuclear accident and has to remain uninhabited for 20,000 years due to nuclear radiation.

The most interesting thing was to stand on a spot where photos were taken at the time and compare it to now. Nature had completely taken over with trees and plants everywhere which largely disorientate you.

Several of the buildings have collapsed which is why tourists aren’t allowed inside, though we did go inside a few and there are plans to make some save to visit in the future.

One of the most famous spots is the Chernobyl Fairground which had only just been finished before the accident happened.

Aside from nature taking over there are also lots of animals living in the exclusion zone.
We met lots of dogs who mainly hung around busy places like checkpoints and the canteen as people feed and look after them.

Interestingly most of the adult dogs were only 4 or 5 years old with no older dogs around, maybe because of human population control or due to radiation?
A friend visited over summer to help vaccinate and neuter the dogs so it would be awesome to come back and help with that.