Sunday 21 August 2016

Of work and study

Where was I? Ah yes, wondering about what it was like to be a 5-year-old and waving cheerio to friends and family. I've recently had the pleasure of greeting another friend and we enjoyed a few quiet and lovely days together in the sunshine. Maria, as you might recall, is the intrepid soul who helped make the Vis hiking/camping weekend possible. All those months ago... And now I'm sat on the ferry looking forward to more friends and festivities. 

It's been a surprisingly interesting month job and study-wise. I met up with Emma, a friend from the University of Split about 8 weeks - or two full moons - ago and she mentioned a site called Upwork. The point being you load up your credentials, you find and get jobs, and you get paid. Without even catching a sniff of the London Underground. This sounds like a perfect medium term solution because I'm really not ready to come home yet and would prefer to eke out my savings a little more. As a result I've got something interesting starting next week and there may be another thing coming along. 

In terms of study I've been having fun with a modern phenomenon known as MOOCs. This experience requires an article by itself but the education establishment offering the two courses I'm doing is well organised and impressive. I'm doing Writing for the Web to brush up my technical vocabulary to impress would-be employers, and Teaching Adult Learners because I'm thinking about the TEFL course. Learning and assessment takes place online and there are discussion groups for both. All this is free which makes it all the more impressive. In any case, it's a way of filling in the gaps, revising and revisiting useful knowledge. If you have a spare few hours a week and a learning addiction, go have a look at the list of MOOC courses. 

It's strangely familiar to be thinking about jobs and courses. Especially when I cast my mind back to June and the exam blues! Having seen all the excited tweets about university courses all I want to do is get back into a classroom and start reading again. And it's not even the end of August yet. It's not even as if the learning came to an end with summer: I had a crash course in olive husbandry yesterday. My landlord mentioned this week that he wanted to check up on the olive groves but had been unable to due to fishing nets requiring attention. Oh and some new winching machine for the small boat...yes I'm paying attention! So after a medicinal white wine spritzer - he had a headache - off we zoomed to the olive groves. 

If you thought the weather had been bad in London, apparently the relentless dry sunshine here has been hell on many of the olives. The fruit is shrivelled, and falling black and dead off the branches. Where the soil is thicker in the newly reclaimed ancient Field (Poljie) terraces, they are better but clearly struggling. I'm told that the olive tree never dies but obviously it's harder to flourish when they are neglected. The undergrowth becomes overgrowth and needs hacking away. That is the job in winter and there is a lot here to be reclaimed. The three different types of olive tree are reacting to the harsh environment in different ways but whichever way you look at it, the harvest isn't going to be a good one. Let the rains come soon! 

My agricultural education continued with the revelation of carob beans. Their caramel-date flavour and scent, with a chewy sticky texture is incredible. Having always thought of them as the vegan's chocolate, I've normally been a bit dismissive. However inspired by these trees, this week's Clare special was a decidedly non-vegan carob honey banana pistachio cake. With butter and eggs. Other marvellous fruity wins include knowing the location of the best trees for juicy green figs and walnuts. 

Despite my best endeavours, some things will always be beyond me. As I was making a thorough mess of the sheet folding, and feeding them into the ironing machine, I could sense the fisherman's blood becoming as heated as one of his olive terraces. He consigned the infernal machine to lose itself in unspeakable places. This was woman's work apparently, so we had a lively exchange on why women will never haul nets, and why 'business women' like me will never iron sheets. It's a wonder I didn't fling the cake at him. 

Bit harsh: if you're smart you'll always buy fitted sheets and non iron duvet covers. Simples - no MOOC needed to know that. 

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