How on earth (a) did break end, and (b) am I almost finished with the first week back? Exams are in a few weeks time, and I don’t know how I’ll learn all the new material and review the old stuff in the meanwhile! The perennial problem for the student, of course.
When I last left you, I had nearly completed a stunning first week of EMS. The second week was great as well, especially since the vet who did most of the operations was back from vacation. I was able to watch a femoral head and neck excision arthroplasty on a Border Terrier and a splenectomy on a Rottweiler before I left, have a good chat with everyone about the realities of working in a small animal clinic, and enjoy some good cuddles with lots of interesting pets. Success!
Sadly my scheduled trip to Holland/Belgium/Luxembourg was cancelled due to an unfortunate cloud of ash from some Northern neighbors, but at least I spent an extra week ’stranded’ in Edinburgh, rather than stuck in a foreign country, with no certain way of getting home. I spent my last week of sweet, sweet freedom knitting and watching The Mighty Boosh on DVD. As you do.
My o w l s! This was my first proper sweater, and I would say it’s a good beginner jumper. Perhaps it wasn’t as challenging as I had originally anticipated because I was already confident with circulars, cables, and short-rows, but I still think anyone who can knit and purl can make this! The pattern is written wonderfully and is hugely popular on ravelry, and I’m proud someone who wrote something so fantastic is also a current resident of Edinburgh! I want to knit all of her designs (Manu is going to be my next ‘big’ project.) I’ve gotten several compliments on this sweater, which illustrates how knitted garments can truly be trendy and fashionable.
In addition, I found a way to use some of the lovely 4-ply I bought from Scottish indie yarn dyer Ripples Crafts:
It’s a very simply little shawl/wrap - I didn’t want a complicated lace pattern to obscure the colors in the yarn. I genuinely enjoyed knitting the the stockinette stitch base and then simple lace section, before finishing with some good old-fashioned garter. Garter - it’s coming back in, man. I have purposely photographed this from a distance, because upon closer inspection, it’s very, very obvious that I was off on some of my stitch counts, leading to a disruption in the lace pattern. You’d only noticed if you looked closely, and I’m going to let my amazing shawl be spoiled by details.
And finally, my pretty green hat. My wardrobe is unintentionally skewed green but my accessories are not, so this was a way to fill the deficit. The colorway is ‘Light Olive’ but it makes me think of lichen or moss, of damp forests and mushroom hunts with my dad when I was a teen. I call it my ‘Angwin Tam,’ and the yarn is 50% angora, 50% wool - it’s super-soft! I think I might buy another skein and knit some simple mittens to match, for next winter.
In addition to knitting my fingers raw, I also took a semi-impromptu day-trip to Thirsk, where the famous vet, James Herriot, had his surgery. All Creatures Great And Small is practically the bible for aspiring vets, and I’d been wanting to visit ever since I learned his old surgery is now a museum. The three hours of train journeys made it just far enough away to be someplace very different, but close enough to enjoy a full afternoon, arriving home in the early evening.
It was a very overcast day, but for a gal who lives in Edinburgh, the absence of rain is enough cause for joy. So forgive me if my photos are a bit gloomy and gray.
Donald Sinclair, aka Siegfried Farnon, vetted the Thirsk Races every year. I could just see the track, as I made the 20 minute walk from the train station to the town center.
On the front of Skeldale House
I was practically alone on my tour of the house. The guide at the entrance insisted that I take loads of pictures, and filled me in on many of the little details of the house, such as which pieces are original to the house, and sights that were directly referenced in the books. Wight’s widow was involved in the curation of the museum, so the house is a fairly accurate picture of how it looked in the 1940s. I couldn’t help but find the place a bit romantic, full of old charm, and a reminder of what vetting used to be. My absolute favorite room was the old dispensary, where James and Siegfriend mixed any number of strange brews for the farmers.
A real potions cabinet, full of 'Placentula or Cleansing Drink' and 'Oxygas for Udder Ill' and other strange wares. I wonder how vets 50 years from now will find our current pharmacies?
The consultation room for small animals
The cheerful kitchen
I doubt this tea cozy was originally in the house, but I'm still in love with it!
The back portion of the property included a short video on Wight’s life, and the car used in the television series. I’ve only seen bits and pieces of the show and wouldn’t call myself much of a fan, but I wasn’t going to pass up a chance to sit in that sweet car. Sadly, no one was around to take a photo of me in it, so I had to improvise:
Upstairs was a totally brilliant museum of veterinary medicine. I majorly geeked out, looking at the old instruments and reading about all the wonky things early vets used to do. I recognize that non-vets probably couldn’t care less about this, and since my tiny readership consists of my immediate family, and people from my knitting group who openly stalk me (hi, Jez!), there’s no need to detail all the photos I took, but I will share this beauty:
An old probang - used to retrieve potatoes and turnips lodged in the throats of cattle. It looks remarkably similar to the modern version, although the favored material is no longer leather. On a side note, it's a bit...wrong...that an instrument made from cow hide was shoved down the throats of other cattle to retrieve potatoes. I suppose it's not unlike using catgut in sheep!
In addition to the potato-grabber’, calving aids and castration instruments appear to have changed little in the past 100 years, and why would they? Those were skills based on experience and knowledge of anatomy, along with a bit of strength. The most important contribution to veterinary medicine (human medicine, too) has undoubtedly been antibiotics, and anthelminthics have dramatically improved welfare and production systems for food animals, but these don’t retrieve a stuck lamb or geld a horse. This was represented on the poster boards that guided the tour of the museum, but I imagine only someone involved in the vet profession would realize how humbling it is, after having a good laugh at the often useless potions at a vet’s disposal, that so much of this field hasn’t actually changed since the introduction of antimicrobials.
Okay, one more geeky thing:
A cat castration box - use your imagination. (Anesthesia is such a wonder!)
I spent about two hours exploring the museum, and loved every minute. I bought myself a few souvenirs and walked down the street to St Mary’s Church, which is a gothic-period church in really good condition. Its original windows had been destroyed during the Blitz, but this appears standard for most British churches; what makes it unusual is that one of these windows had been restored to near perfection. The inside was lovely:
View from the alter
There are a few more pictures on my flickr, especially of the vet museum, if you’re interested. Now I’m back in classes, and trying to relight that fire that led me to this place, to complete this course…with exams so frighteningly close, let’s hope I find my spark!