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June 2009

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1st June 2009

An important interview with Michael C. Ruppert that I would urge everybody to read.

Very late up this morning having never even heard the alarm which was on and set for its normal time of five o'clock in the morning. I must have been very tired. Pickle was amazingly good. She normally starts making "I need to go out" noises by about seven at the latest, but today she left me alone. It was Whit Monday of course, so that may also have partly accounted for it, there being none of the normal activity of people to and from the shop, and various vehicles on the road as people travelled to their places of work.

Nevertheless, it was just another day for me, so after a rapid breakfast (didn't even light the stove), I headed out to the garden, scythe in one hand and Pickle held by the other. I was headed for the next patch on the western side of the property. I was not looking forward to it, as the next twenty metres or so is absolutely riddled with shrubbery. Much work with the heavy mattock to come. I managed only two rows before the knee said enough. The reward was another pile of the weed shrubs smashed out by the roots. They will return, of course, but the new shoots are easy enough to scythe off at ground level. All part of the plan for this year.

More painting and a bit of woodwork followed. Helper appeared late afternoon armed with a Hungarian style digging implement. In short order he had cleared and dug a couple of metres worth of the main garden in preparation for plants that I had been promised. The inevitable tomatoes and paprika. I quizzed him on some plants that have reappeared just up the garden near the little cherry tree. He identified them immediately as torma (horseradish). They have been scythed and strimmered multiple times but just keep coming back. He attempted to dig a root up to show me but just managed to break off the tops, with a little white of the root broken through. He just stuck them back in the ground with the assurance that they would grow again. I busied myself with the hoe.

And apart from the pub, that was bank holiday.

2nd June 2009

Bank holiday weekend over, and back to the grind for me. I was slashing and bashing (scythe and mattock) when I noticed the old lady next door hoeing with a big hoe. I got to thinking about the range of Hungarian garden tools. They seem to have a speciality for every job. I have now seen six different types of hoe, all used for slightly different jobs. Mind you, that is counting the narrow and broad mattocks as hoes - they regard them as hoes here anyway. I have four different ones now, so I only need two more for the full set. The two that are missing are a large version of the little hoes that I posted pictures of a while ago and a very broad one - probably about twice as wide as the broad mattock but definitely a hoe, not what I would call a mattock. A couple of pictures to show you what I am up against:
This is what I have to tackle. Note the amount of the tall, straight shrubs - those are the ones that cause all the grief. Before Scything
After Scything All gone.

At break time I decided that both the mattocks needed a birthday, so I took them back to the yard and put nice sharp edges on them with the angle grinder.

Having done enough hard grafting in the garden, I settled for a little leatherwork for a while. Then it was lunchtime.

I had noticed on my travels that the strawberries which had invaded the spot where all the tree roots were had quite a lot of fruit on them. Small, but lots of them. I decided to take a container and see how many I could collect. If it wasn't that many I could always just eat them. I took one of my five litre fermenting buckets and managed to get about six or seven centimetres-worth in the bucket. Too many to eat, so they were destined for the first jam making session of the year. It's a good job I like jam. It also has the benefit of being a high energy food source which certainly helps when you think of the amount of hard graft that I do.

I decided to keep the neighbours happy by having a general bash round with the strimmer. They like it when they hear me making lots of noise. It means I am doing stuff. On my travels I carefully strimmed around all the torma, so this year it will keep on growing. Not long afterwards helper appeared with the promised plants. In short order he had them in the ground and watered in. Having hand-balled the water up to him - one watering can full and my twenty five litre fermenter full - it came to me that if it gets hot and dry there would be a lot of work involved doing it that way.

Later, in the pub, I asked helper the best place to get fifty metres of garden hose. The fa szakember was there and immediately jumped on it. He was going to town tomorrow and he would get some and bring it round. Remember what I said about helpfulness? Helper asked me if I could find some stakes the next day for the plants he had installed. The conversation got around to stake and steak, the fa szakember recognizing the word "steak" I wrote in my little black book, with accompanying pictures, the words stake and steak and explained that in English they sound the same. My picture of steak on the hoof was not that good, so I improved it by turning it into what was very definitely a bull, which provoked a degree of hilarity at the table. At kicking out time I managed to provide a bit more entertainment. There was a pile of what turned out to be election flyers - mini-newspaper-type - on the icecream cabinet in the pub. The landlady was desperately trying to get rid of them. At first I said no, but it came to me that they would be ideal for wiping down windows after cleaning. So I said yes, and mentioned windows and made wiping windows motions. Hilarious.

Unfortunately, I was not finished with work, as I returned home to deal with the strawberries. So I lit the stove, rinsed out the deep jam pan and made the strawberries into jam. I had a problem; that being that strawberries are notoriously short on pectin, which makes it difficult to achieve a satisfactory 'set'. I had hoped that the shop would be open earlier so that I could at least see if they had any. It wasn't. A quick Internet provided the solution. Apples. Apples are very high in pectin. I had an apple that I had intended to eat. I sacrificed just a couple of thin slices from it and added them to the strawberries. Once again I adopted the stratagem of removing the plate from the stove and putting the pan straight over the fire. You know, there is all this hoo-haa about the setting point of jam. When you cook it as I do there comes a point at which, when you stir it, the remaining moisture content in the fruit it driven out quite vigorously by the elevated temperature of the sugar solution. There is a very definite sound to it that indicates that the jam is at, or near, setting point. From my meagre collection of strawberries I managed one and a half small jars:
Here is the full one. Strawberry Jam
It went into storage. Not believing in having half full jars in storage the half a jar was left out for immediate use. Well, in the morning anyway!

3rd June 2009

The strawberry jam proved to be delicious. I had resisted the temptation to bugger about with the recipe - you know, strawberry and anchovy jam kind of thing - so it was just plain old strawberry jam. I did a load of housework, sweeping through, that kind of thing. I normally reserve Sunday mornings for that, but it was kind of, errr, needed! Living and working on what is effectively a derelict smallholding keeping me, the house, clothing and bedding clean is a constant uphill battle. I did splash out money-wise in the local shop on some Persil washing liquid. Whilst not wishing to endorse a particular brand, I have to say that I think it is probably the best washing liquid I have ever used. It actually gets stuff clean!

Later I sorted out the paint for the windows, which is to be a different colour to the frames. It had turned out to be very pale. Little more than off white. I wanted it to be a bit more noticable than that, so I did a bit of blending and painted a couple of patches on the kitchen woodstore door to see how it dried. It still needs to be a little darker yet.

Helper turned up, installed stakes for the new plants and proceeded to dig around them what I can only describe as an irrigation system. A channel about four or five inches deep wandering around all the plants. Helper has more or less turned his back on his painting activities and seems to be working pretty well full time for Pickle's breeders who are - I don't know whether I would say farmers, or market gardeners - somewhere in between, in a big way. He explained that this is how they deal with the many thousands of plants that they grow.

Whilst this was going on there was a hail from the yard. The fa szakember had turned up with the promised garden hose. There was some discussion about getting it up and down the garden and an exchange in Hungarian between him and helper of which I understood nothing. Fa szakember shot off with my promise to sort out the payment in the pub later, and helper shot off too. He returned a short while later with a (slightly damaged but nothing that a hose connecter piece wouldn't fix) hose reel holder, on wheels and with a handle to wind the hose in. Mine for two thousand Forints. The hose was three thousand five hundred Forints. A new hose reel thingy, with the necessary amount of hose would have been fifteen thousand Forints! So, a saving of nine thousand five hundred on buying a new item.

Helper did about another hour bashing out a bit more of the path back towards the house, for which I was thankful. Meanwhile I carried on with my current woodworking project. He left at about half past six, destined for the pub, of course. I grabbed a bite to eat and followed him.

4th June 2009

It was one of those mornings where it couldn't make its mind up if it was going to rain or not so I concentrated on some yard stuff and a bit of woodworking.

By lunchtime it had cleared, so it was back to the garden. The realisation had dawned that I still need more land opened up. Quite a bit more. I still tend to think of gardening on an English scale, where a house on a quarter of an acre is regarded as being a big garden. Here, a lot of the people have their entire plot opened up, and stuff is planted out with big, big spaces between the plants and rows. Even the old lady next door has, I would guess, about two thirds of her plot opened up as garden. The rest is grass. Of course her plot has been split to allow for the cottage at the top. His garden is all opened up - not grass at all that I can see. I need space for brassicas that are ready to go in the ground, with more to follow - they can be sown until quite late in the year. I need space for a herb garden. Mind you, that is this year's disaster. I sowed about eight different lots and the only thing that germinated was basil! I have also noticed that my garlic in the kitchen is beginning to sprout. I'll stick it in the ground and see what happens. It is probably a bit late now, but nothing ventured nothing gained. It would have been destined for the compost heap anyway.

I put the new hose into operation, joining it to my existing hose. The old one only just reached into the garden from the outside tap. I could just use it to water what I call the outhouse garden. No use at all for the main garden. The full length of hose (seventy five metres) now easily reaches up to the main garden, and beyond.

It faired up in the afternoon. Not sunny, but brighter - what an old fashioned photographer before the days of exposure meters would have called "cloudy bright". Time to open up another bit of ground. Using the broad mattock I rolled back the weeds from another section of the strawberry patch. I am tempted to chuck all the stuff that is coming out into the barrow and find a suitable place on the plot to make a little hill out of it. Sort of about twenty-twenty five feet across and as high as it gets as I keep throwing stuff on it. Would make a nice little feature in the garden grassed off.

The new hose went into operation after I laboriously hauled all seventy five metres of it up the garden. I forgot to mention that helper and I between us installed a new water butt by the main garden. He chose the best one of three that I had found in one of the outhouses. Surprisingly, it is of wooden construction. It looks like it has a moulded three-ply body with metal strengthening bands, and a plywood bottom sealed in. After a good spray round with the new hose I started filling the water butt by leaving the hose gently running into it whilst I wandered back to the yard finished for the day.

5th June 2009

Clearing up and scything for as long as I could stick it.

After that it was time to take the weight off, so I finished the leatherwork project. I can now reveal...
Hand Crafted Leatherwork ...the whole process.

Firstly the stitches were measured and the leather pierced with an awl using a straight edge. Six stitches to the inch.
The piece of leather to be joined was positioned, and using the already pierced one as a guide the awl was used again to pierce through the second (or second and third) layer of leather. The "Leatherman" tool lived up to its name, although it has nothing to do with leather but is in fact the name of the inventor of the particular type of multi-tool - Tim Leatherman. Hand Crafted Leatherwork
Hand Crafted Leatherwork I used a double running stitch for the actual stitching. I have always found it to be a reliable and durable method, particularly for leather. Here the thread is going in the downward direction, so the needle is simply passed through the hole just punched with the awl.
Next you have to come up through the work. Slightly more tricky, and I found the best technique was to punch the hole as before but then lift the work and pinch the two halves together close to the awl before withdrawing it... Hand Crafted Leatherwork
Hand Crafted Leatherwork ...whereupon it is easy to locate the hole right through the work. Note the needle coming back to the top of the work.
Some hours of painstaking work. Here is the finished product. No. 1 Outside. Hand Crafted Leatherwork
Hand Crafted Leatherwork No. 2 Inside.
No. 3 With its intended contents. The area where the "points" of the auger bits are located is three layers of leather thick. They are the most vulnerable part of an auger bit, and if it is chipped off the bit is, well basically buggered! Hand Crafted Leatherwork
Hand Crafted Leatherwork No. 4 Folded up and tied with its securing tape.

After that I did a two pronged attack on the windows. The first item was to make all the inner set of windows come off their hinges easily by cleaning them off where they had just been painted in-situ. The second prong of the attack was to clean the glass as I went along. I think I have mentioned before that window cleaning is a fairly major task, with twenty eight separate windows in the big room and kitchen between them. I have to say that I do tend to leave them until they really do need doing! One of the reasons for making them come off their hinges is precisely this. Window cleaning is by its nature a somewhat wet operation and with them in place it takes a fair amount of time wiping down the sills, etc. after they have been cleaned. Much quicker and easier to whip them off (I can have one set of big room windows off their hinges in less than a minute) and take them outside to clean. I managed to get the kitchen ones done and it was time for a quick turn round trip to Nádasd to get a few bits - mainly to put the new hose reel into operation.

Back at the ranch I carried on where I had left off with the windows. At least now all the inner ones are clean. I'll do the outer ones as and when they get put back after the painting is complete.

By now five o'clock, and I had done enough physical stuff for the day. I sat on the step and put the hose parts I had bought into operation and did a makeshift job on the damaged hose reel. I now had seventy four metres of hose connected to, and able to be reeled onto the reel, and a short one metre length attached to the tap which can be connected to the rest using a "Hozelock"-type connector.

The usual early evening hoeing session preceded the usual trip to the pub. I took the completed leatherwork with its contents along to show fa szakember. He examined it and asked if I had used a machine to sew it. I told him no, all hand work. He nodded and made "I take my hat off to you" type motions. Ah well, another box ticked - designing and making a useful item of leather from scratch. I'll have to catch some moles for a waistcoat! That would be another box ticked - skinning and tanning. Or is that two boxes?

6th June 2009

Saturday, so time for a garden bonfire. A nice warm, dry morning but plenty breey enough so I would have to be careful. The new hosepipe came into its own. It just nicely reaches the spot where I normally have my bonfire anyway. I chose the spot precisely for the reason that at the time it was an area where there was no dry ground litter to catch fire and burn the whole garden down (as per last year!). I gave it a good soaking all around the edge with the hose before I made and lit the bonfire. Blast! Once again I neglected to take pictures. One of these fine days I will remember. A load of scythed down stuff that had dried out too much to go on the compost went on the fire, as did all the accumulated bashed out shrubbery and roots. Various bits of vine prunings remaining from here and there also went on. As always it was a hot, sweaty and smoky job. I always err on the side of caution and remain there until there are no more visible flames. It always seems to be a couple of hours job, and, also as always, by the time I have finished a beer is a serious requirement.

Over the beer I managed to get some computer work done for an associate elsewhere in the world. Even now, some thirteen years on from my first exposure to the Internet, it still amazes me to think of the capabilities that it has bestowed on the members of mankind that see fit to make best use of it.

After lunch I went back to the garden and set about the final remaining bits of sawn off wood from the old apple tree. I needed to do that anyway as that is the area on that side of the plot that I next need to scythe down and bash out the shubbery. Whilst I was doing that there was a call from the fence. It was the nice old boy from the cottage at the top. He passed over the fence to me a couple of mini-branches clipped from his cherry tree - leaves, wood, cherries - just clipped off. Always the same - so long as I am seen to be steadily working there is always an acknowledgement and more often than not some kind of neighbourly act.

I finally got all the bits of apple tree into barrow sized lumps and set off to wheel it back to the yard, destined for the kitchen woodshed. On the way past I noticed that the young morello cherry had quite a lot of ripe fruit on it:
Sorry Jayne! How did yours do? Sour Cherries
I grabbed a container from the house and went back and picked them.

I managed a quick blog update and amongst my travels on the Internet looked up possibilities for what to do with the morello cherries. I found an interesting jam recipe, (I really must diversify from just jam) for a spicy morello cherry jam. Apparently, here on the continent (well in Germany anyway) it would be known as a Herrenmarmelade (a gentleman's jam). Morello and black pepper jam! Having stocked up in the shop with black peppercorns I set to and made it. A jar-and-a-bit worth.

That was it for the day. Ate, washed and went to the pub. A local in the pub who has a bit of English (he does like practising it on me) called me over and introduced me to his son-in-law who turned out to be a fluent English speaker. We had quite a long conversation about why I would want to be here (I didn't go into the Peak Oil thing - I will at some stage), the financial situation in Hungary and many other topics. He did confirm what I had suspected, that there is little money about in a place like this. Fine for someone of my generation with low expectations. Not so good for the younger generation who inevitably see an 'improvement' in their standard of living as being a presumption of life. I may have mentioned it before, that those of my age are more likely to succeed in an enterprise like this than the 'thirty-somethings' that attempt it. But then again, we all know that 94.7% of statistics are made up anyway!

7th June 2009

From American Reporter. Very simple, very straightforwardly explained. And this. And this from Permaculture USA. Also Nate Hagens from The Oil Drum. Hmmm - I wonder why Sunday is always such a busy day for doom and gloom.

No idea! I didn't leave any notes and it is a week ago.

8th June 2009

Having breakfast, and something waving about in the breeze caught my eye. It was the clothes line. Now, yes, clothes lines do tend to wave about in the breeze, but this was not the whole clothes line - it was just one strand of it. Oh-oh, the writing was definitely on the wall for that one then. It would have been most frustrating and time consuming to have had it snap and dump a load of washing on the ground. A good job I spotted it. I rummaged round and found the half of a steel one that is kicking about that gets used for odds and ends of jobs (like dragging buckets of water out of the well!!). I found it and checked it out across the yard. A metre short! Blast. Back to the shop I went, bought another new one and went home and installed it. Quite tough it was to cut, too. At least I know that my clean clothes won't get dumped in the dirt.

Back to the garden, and cleared up the last lot of scything down. Then I did some more scything. Once again there was a hail from the fence of the cottage at the top. It was the wife this time. I rarely see her, but once again a lot of cherries came over the fence, for which I thanked her. With yesterday's as well I now had quite a lot of cherries. I collected peas today too. I managed to fill half of one of my five litre buckets. That is including the pods, of course. Just to prove it:
Peas Podding them was thoroughly tedious. There will be another load ready by tomorrow as well.
Peas drying in the sun on an oven tray. They were by the house wall and my photographic thermometer which only goes up to a hundred and twenty in old money crept off the top of the scale. Ideal - the peas will dry in about four hours in that. Tick another box. Preserving vegetables for the winter by sun drying them. Sun Drying Peas

That's it for the day.

9th June 2009

Getting seriously behind, so I'll try and keep it brief. The morning was clearing, scything and strimming. I went right up the border with No. 68 with the strimmer, just a metre and a half wide, across the top of the plot and down the other side in less than an hour and using less than a tankful of petrol. My efforts spent in bashing out shrubbery have certainly paid dividends.

After lunch I started on the painting of the actual windows, having achieved a shade of paint to my liking. I painted one side of the small top kitchen windows and was about to start on the big ones when I hit a snag. A big snag! Where the drip rails meet the actual windows had been a gap. It managed to get filled with silicon sealer (in spite of the fact that helper had said it was no good to paint over). He was right. The primer and undercoat were cracking and peeling off. Damn, blast and bugger! It all had to come out. The remainder of the painting session was taken up with peeling out all the silicone sealer and going right back to bare wood then redoing the filling with acrylic sealer. Grrrrrr! I did manage to get a coat of primer back on it though.

Another half bucket of peas were ready. By the way, who remembers the "Birds Eye" frozen food advert of some years ago that featured the man with his "tenderometer"? Did you know that it is true. Where I used to live in Lincolnshire they used to grow fields and fields of peas. Mr. Birds Eye used to go into the field with his instrument (I know not its real name - no doubt something scientific) and test a sample of peas. The grower would be given x number of hours to get the peas into the freezer factory. If they didn't, they ended up as dried peas. At a significantly lower price, of course. The huge pea vining machines would move in and lorry loads of peas moved out. Anyone who had access to a lorry used to get on the band wagon. One of the local midwives held a Class 'C' HGV license and used to take a week of work every year to do the pea run. Good money it was, too. So much for keeping it short!

I finally found time to clear and (well, half) dig an area for some of the brassicas - cabbages and cauliflowers. Still need more space though! I can quite foresee that the area of the strawberry patch will get extended gradually almost back to the rear of the garage.

Later, in the pub, I asked fa szakember where I could get hold of some plywood. He asked what I was making, so out came the black book and a quick sketch produced. He looked, and asked what it was for. I told him it was a sun-drying cabinet for (e.g.) fruit. To my amazement, he never batted an eyelid. "Ah! Fruit drying!" was his only response. Seymour has a good one in his book, upon which mine will be modelled. More later.

10th June 2009

I had to face it! Something had to be done! I weighed them and found that I had accumulated about two kilogrammes of cherries. Hmmmm! Looks like cherry jam, then. I set to to pit them. I had done four or five when I noticed the grub. Nothing wrong with the cherry - it just had a little white grub in it. I winkled it out with the knife. The pit went in the composting pot, the grub went on the yard. The next one had one too. So I back tracked and checked the ones I had already done. Three of those had grubs in also. Almost every cherry had a grub in it, and once again a tedious job became tiresome. Some cherries had no grub, and of all the three hundred and odd cherries that I processed two had two grubs in. Must have been twins. It was a longish job so, of course, I took some breaks. During the first one I went on the Internet and soon found an answer. Cherry fruit fly. The description and photo was quite distinctive. A single egg in a cherry, so a single grub. It always nestles by the stone, etc., etc. Not a new problem. Note the date and the publication. Cherry depitting finished, I stuck them through the little hand mincer just to chop the skins up a little more. That surprised me - it only took about five minutes to do the four pounds three and a half ounces Avoirdupois that I had. I have to work in Avoirdupois in the absence of metric weights. They were destined for cherry jam, of course. Just plain cherry jam this time. Errr, well - if I have missed any grubs it will be "Cherry Jam - With Added Protein". The Hungarians either know not or care not about the grubs - they just eat the cherries straight off the tree. I did too, in a state of knowing not! As another aside, black (sweet) cherries and Morello cherries have two completely different names here. Sweet cherries are "cseresznye" and Morello cherries are "meggy"

The garden is going ballistic and taking more and more of my time. Cherries, peas, strawberries and before I know it there will be raspberries too. Half of it remains a meadow. The grass isn't going to get any longer and it will get dealt with in the fulness of time. There will be a lull between the soft fruit that I am dealing with now and the tree fruit - apples and pears type stuff when I will be able to do that. Another half a bucket of peas were ready. Next year I will sow the peas in single rows with much longer between the sowings.

I managed a second coat of undercoat on the offending parts of the two kitchen windows. That was the painting for the day.

The cherry jam was made, and I had a small disaster by getting the jars too hot in the oven and cracking one. I need a lot more small jars - a precious commodity. I tried to get some last time in town but they had none in stock. Big jars are fine for dried stuff, pickles and even wine at a push but the small jars are ideal for jam, sauces and pie fillings when you only need limited quantities when feeding a single person.

Final job for the day was a little gentle hoeing. I do enjoy that at the end of the day.

11th June 2009

Hmmmm! The jam I made yesterday, having been left overnight to cool, was still running around in the jars! Onto the stove went the jam saucepan and the whole lot went back in and was boiled down to a decent setting point. I didn't even wash the jars. They went straight in the oven to hot up - jam remains and all. Of course, boiling it down again obviously reduced the volume so I ended up with three and a half jars instead of four.

That done I set off outside to start thinking what was next on the agenda, only to find Pickle stealing whole pea pods from the bucket which was still on the doorstep from yesterday evening. OK! I knew what was next on the agenda then.

Peas podded and out in the sun to dry I did a bit of the current woodworking project. A very unsuccessful bit! I managed to balls up one of the eleven pieces of wood that are going into the project. Bugger! Make another one from scratch.

Later we had another thunderstorm. What was that the English say about summer? Three hot days and a thunderstorm. Sounds familiar. The rain was good though - steady, wetting. Not torrential to batter stuff down but enough to give the ground a good soak.

12th June 2009

This from Mother Jones. Take note of the increasingly pessimistic forecasts from Energy Information Administration in the US, until their most recent reports always an optimistic agency.

I didn't have a very good morning. Too much thinking about doom and gloom - Peak Oil, global warming, etc. Nonetheless I had to go through the motions of domesticity and so did a load of washing. Washing remains another tedious, physically demanding chore. I don't have a nice clear stream or river in which I could pound my stuff with boulders whilst singing rugby songs. Kitchen sink, or bath. Both equally tedious and hard work.

I needed a box. A cheap and cheerful cardboard box in which to pack something and send it to the UK. The only suitable candidate was the box in which my Tesco Value kettle came. Unfortunately it contained my seed collection. OK, then the seeds needed to be rehoused elsewhere. I found another of the trays of the type in which I stored the spuds, and spent a relatively non-productive half an hour sorting out the seeds. I did try and be reasonably methodical about it. Root veg., brassicas, legumes, herbs, tender stuff like tomatoes and paprika - all have their own slots in the tray, except there aren't any slots. Once sorted and finished I had the thought that I had no idea where to keep them. I finally settled on the pantry where some shelves have been carved out of the earth wall. Good enough - not too hot in the summer and not too cold in the winter.

Seeds relocated, I packed up the newly liberated cardboard box with what I needed to send to the UK and wandered over to the shop to get it weighed. It came in just nicely under the two kilogramme weight division, so my home calculations were proved correct. At home I sealed the parcel up, labeled it and hung the sign on the gate so that Postie would call. She did, about half an hour later, and I killed three birds with one stone. Got cash, sent off the parcel and paid my rubbish collection bill - all nineteen hundred and thirty five Forints of it. I cannot make out from the bill the period that it covers.

Gardening activities had been displaced from the early morning slot to take into account the other stuff, so after an early lunch I went out with the scythe. It was not the best time of day to be doing it! Hot and relatively humid. The only saving blessing was that the area I was working was at least partially shaded by trees. I ran into an area of raspberries. I had known they were there and hoped to do something about them. No good. They are beset about by couch grass and brambles. No option but to scythe the lot. I did salve my conscience to an extent by eating all the ripe ones I found, before putting them to the scythe.

The time had almost come in my current woodworking project to put a final finish on the pieces of wood. To that end I decided that it was time to sharpen the panel scraper that I received at Christmas. It has been used before, but only with the edge that comes from the manufacturing process - few and far between. How to sharpen a panel scraper:
Sharpening a Panel Scraper Here I have already flattened off the edges and I am putting the burr on the edge using the tang of a file.
Here is what happens in fine cross section. The result is that when used the scraper removes a really fine shaving of wood. Cross Section of Panel Scraper

Later - rather later than planned - helper appeared to rescue the ripe cherries from my tree. By eight o'clock we had both had enough and retired to the pub for a couple. He managed to get about two kilogrammes. Quite a fair sized containerful.

13th June 2009

I'm long overdue a garden bonfire but with the rain we have had all the rubbish was far too wet to burn. In fact the whole garden was pretty well soaked so I got nothing done there.

I had a little knitting job to do. I normally reserve the knitting for in the pub, but this required daylight. Steve's Handy Knitting Hints - No. 1 - How To Make Invisible Joins in Yarn:
Joining Knitting Yarn - Step 1 First you have to un-ply the yarn from the end of the knitting. You can't just pull it out, you have to unwind it twist by twist keeping the twists in place in the individual plies. Un-ply the first strand for about six inches (15cms for the younger generation). Then un-ply the remaining two strands for about four inches. The younger generation can calculate that for themselves. By the way, I would only try this with yarn that has three plies. Even I revoke at four!
Similarly un-ply the yarn to be joined. Joining Knitting Yarn - Step 2
Joining Knitting Yarn - Step 3 Next, take the two ends of the least un-plied of both sets of yarn and fit them together. To explain, put both your hands in the air and make a 'V' sign with them. Turn the hands until they are pointing at one another, then rotate one hand ninety degrees and move them together. The first and second fingers on one hand should mesh with the first and second fingers of the other hand. Well, do that with the yarn. It should end up as per the picture, with one ply above and one ply below each other from the knitted yarn and the yarn to be joined.
Here's a bit more close-up picture. Joining Knitting Yarn - Step 4
Joining Knitting Yarn - Step 5 Next, take one of the strands that you just put together from the left hand side and re-ply it into the yarn on the right hand side (or the other way round if you prefer, or are left handed) by twisting it back around the other yarn, once again ensuring that you keep the twist in the original ply in place.
Then tie a reef knot (or any other knot of your preference) in the two plies, the one from the left and the one from the right. Be careful here. If you pull the first part of the knot too tight it will upset the ply of the yarn, and if you pull the second part of the knot too tight you will break the individual ply of the yarn and have to start over. The voice of experience! Snip off the remaining ends with scissors about a millimetre from the knot. Joining Knitting Yarn - Step 6
Joining Knitting Yarn - Step 7 Next, knot the two remaining middle strands similarly. Be careful here. Make sure that the twists are correct and be doubly sure not to make the knot too tight either on one side or the other. Again, snip the ends off.
On the home run now. There should be just two loose strands remaining and you just re-ply the yarn from the right hand side into the left hand side (or vice-versa). Knot them as before. Joining Knitting Yarn - Step 8
Joining Knitting Yarn - Step 9 Give the joined yarn a bit of a twist this way and that between the fingers just to make sure the plies are nicely bedded. Once knitted in, the join will extend over six or eight stitches. Be careful not to put too much tension on those stitches and ideally work them into a wrong side row. Of course those of you who are of a nautical or campanalogical bent will recognise this as a "long splice". The only difference is that the size of the yarn precludes the tailing off and tucking in of the ends of the joined plies.
As a pure aside, the nastiest splice I ever did was a seven by seven stainless steel wire into a dacron three ply rope. Lots of cussing and bleeding fingers!

After a bit of woodwork I had a ride up the village to buy eggs from Pickle's breeders. They are egg producers in a big way, but they are quite happy to sell them to villagers. I took a couple of empty papier mashe egg boxes with me. One to get filled and buy and one to return to their stock. As always such things are precious and get reused over and over. Once again it reminds me what a wasteful society other parts of the world are. I handed the boxes over and asked for ten eggs and off he went only to return a couple of minutes later with both boxes filled. I didn't have the heart to tell him I only wanted the one, so ended up with twenty five eggs instead of ten. Ah well, be eating a lot of eggs then! Something was obviously lost in translation, or at least in the transmission of the message. While I was there the dogs were frisking around. I took particular notice of the mother dog and realised how much bigger than her Pickle is. The mother dog is actually quite slight. I reckon that Pickle is two inches taller at the shoulder and two inches (at least) broader in the hind quarters. In fact I would say she is not much smaller than the father dog.

Later, I took the opportunity of the ground still being damp to knock out another few metres of my path. All in all, although the very top of the garden has yet to be scythed, I am happy enough with progress. Slow progress, yes, but when I think back to the panic stations of last year and the way the garden went downhill once I panicked about the house, yes definitely progress.

14th June 2009

Sunday. Housework! And some clearing up in the yard.

In the midst of this I found time to make cherry wine. I confess to using the electric kettle to boil the water. Using boiling water to steep the fruit also has the benefit of killing off the grubs. I was not about to de-pit and remove the grubs from that lot. I am not coy about it - they will get filtered out when I press the pulp anyway. You don't have to drink it when you come a-visiting! If you don't, I will :)

After lunch I did another collection of peas then set about the job of locating, sharpening and bashing into the ground stakes upon which to tie my tomato plants. Once again, not to be caught out as I was last year. With the ones that helper installed I have twenty eight tomato plants. Mine (as opposed to helper's) are, of course, much too close together, although I do recall last year seeing a local growing them that close together.

Later I went along to the local football match. I took the camera as usual and captured some of the action. (Any football fans out there want to see some?) After the match there was "a bit of a do". Tables and chairs appeared, tablecloths, baskets of bread and two great cauldrons of meat in paprika-type sauce and potatoes. I was asked to partake. Beers were handed round. Speeches made, and general goodwill and bonhomie reigned. I sat, on the high ground of the football park at the top end of the village watching the sun set over Austria. I felt utterly, utterly privileged to be invited into the company of these people. At the end everyone helped and the whole issue disappeared as quickly as it had appeared.

Then we spoilt it. A few of us raided the pub for a last quick one. It was well gone normal shutting time for a Sunday. The landlady was NOT happy!

15th June 2009

I neglected to say in yesterday's blog that I stripped the small morello cherry tree of the rest of its fruit. Well, I did. I put them to good use this morning. In the shop I bought a bottle of cheapo brandy - three quid half a litre. You can guess what is coming! Yes, found a recipe for cherry brandy on the Internerd. Much the same as many of the other pseudo-liqueurs. Fruit, sugar, spirit. Into a jar and give them a shake from time to time until the sugar has disolved. Great - starting to stock up for Christmas already. Next will be the green walnuts in another few days. Interestingly, the cherry brandy recipe came from The Foody UK and Ireland website, which appears to be putting on-line Mrs. Beeton. Nowt wrong wi' a good old fashioned recipe. Picture:
Here it is. Of course it is a bit of a double whammy - you drink the cherry flavoured liqueur but you also get to eat the cherries, nicely preserved. Cherry Brandy

The fa szakember turned up with wood for the drying cabinet. Something was lost in translation again, as it turned out to be high density chipboard, not plywood. Ah well, it will be painted inside and out anyway, and I intend to cover it if it rains and put it under cover for the winter. I need to find a really suitable spot for it. I think I may have one in mind. Fa szakember left after I paid him (at least it was cheap), with the promise of producing some twenty millimetre square lengths of wood for joining the pieces together. As I write, still waiting.

I was hoping to meet up with a visitor from the UK today. We were in touch via the wonders of the Internet and particularly Skype, but alas the four letter word that is the curse of the drinking classes got in the way.

Out of spite I went and watered the garden.

Somewhat later, and about to do a bit of painting, I decided to cut back my savings on my austerity scheme by one bottle of beer for the day. Well, it was a very hot day! I popped over the shop for one. On my way back the old lady next door called me to her gate - she must have seen me wander over there. She presented me with...

... yes, you've guessed it - a plastic bag of cherries. I thanked her profusely, of course. More cherry wine on the way, I think!

Painting done, it was time to eat and get ready for the pub. I decided, faced with a plethora of eggs, to treat myself to omelette, chips and peas. A quick trip up the garden provided the peas, a quick trip into the outhouse provided the potatoes (alas - they are about done. Many will be returned to the soil as compost). Now, you might think that cooking omelette, chips and peas is a matter of some simplicity. Well, it isn't when you are cooking on a wood stove. The big problem was not the omelette. It was judging the cooking times and the necessary positioning of the cooking pots so that the peas and chips both came to perfection at the same time. I also multi-tasked the stove by heating water for washing me at the same time. I suppose I must be getting quite good at it, as it all worked out fine. Cheese and ham omelette - yum!

Of course, I washed, changed and went to the pub. I don't know what it was about this particular evening. The combination of clientele, I think, but I got into a round of handshakes. In the typical continental manner it is normal to shake hands with people that you know. That's what it was like this evening. It came to me then that this is a country of what I would call good handshakes. There is only one particular character that shakes my hand like a royal handshake - you know, like shaking hands with a jellyfish. Some while ago, in the UK I got what I can only describe as "the funny (strange) handshake". I knew what it was but for the life of me I can't quite put my finger on what was different about it! Groan!

16th June 2009

As normal, I lit the stove and put the coffee on then went to the shop. As normal I bought my half a loaf of bread. I got to thinking about the bread. From day to day it is never the same. It might be a little shorter and fatter, or slimmer and longer. The everyday bread is what I would call a bloomer. The differences might be more subtle than that. The texture of the the inside of the bread varies too. Sometimes it is quite dense and moist. Other times it is what my dear old dad would have called "over proved". Very open inside with lots of big holes for the jam to drip through onto clean jeans. Always the way. The crust varies as well. It is always nicely crusty, but some days you need a hacksaw just to get through the crust. On those days neither my local Tesco bread knife nor my Sabatier-type stainless steel carving knife is really up to the job. The lady in the shop cuts them in half with a wicked, obviously carbon steel knife with a blade about fifteen inches long.

Speaking of the bread, one of my annoyances here is the bloody paper labels they stick on the bread. It is obviously enshrined in the constitution that it should be thus as all the bread on sale anywhere has a paper label stuck on it. Fine and well, it tells you by when to consume it. Not fine and well is the fact that it is (or appears and tastes to be) not edible paper, so you have to trim it off therefore losing a precious bit of crust. And we all know that the crust puts hairs on your chest, don't we girls? Or was that Captain Morgan rum? Another annoyance is Co-op margarine. My toast comes off the stove piping hot but the wretched margarine does not melt. Spread the jam and you get a nasty emulsion of jam and magarine. Yes, I know - butter. Butter here is only for very rich people. Not me then! My other main annoyance is the quality of goods. I have written on here before about the stuff that has broken. It all seems to break just nicely out of warranty! At least a scythe will last a decent amount of time. "That's my great grandad's scythe. It's had three new blades and seven new handles."

Mmmmm! A fair bit of waffle there. Back to the plot. Literally. I cleared a load of the wood that was cut down from another apple tree. green wood this time, so it will have to go in the drying store. Then I was able to clear up the last load of scything. Destined for bonfire I fear, not compost. Left on the ground too long. Yet more cherries came over the fence. The old boy from the cottage at the top this time - again. Then it rained.

I managed a bit of a blog update whilst it rained and then the weather changed again. Yep - it went from raining to being a full-blown thunderstorm. Marvellous.

17th June 2009

Wednesday - bonfire day - and once again not a hope. Everything was drenched through from yesterday's rain. I did try but it just wasn't having any! The stuff to be burned continues to mount up. I had occasion to pop back to the shop for something I had forgotten, and I was very pleasantly surprised to be greeted by the shop lady with "szervusz", rather than the formal "jó napot".

Woodwork and a little work with the light hoe was about the limit of the day's achievements.

Later, in the pub, helper seemed a little out of sorts. His explanation, once translated, surprised me for the fact that it is just the same in English - "Burning the candle both ends"!

Late in the day I finished reading this Dmitry Orlov presentation. It is a long read. It is well worth the effort for it gives insight into what is coming. I cannot resist posting the following quotation:
"It is an unfortunate fact that the recent centuries of settled life, and especially the last century or so of easy living based on the industrial model, has made many people too soft to endure the hardships and privations that self-sufficient living often involves. It seems quite likely that those groups that are currently marginalised, would do better, especially the ones that are found in economically underdeveloped areas and have never lost contact with nature.

And so I would not be surprised to see these marginalised groups stage a come-back. Almost every rural place has its population of people who know how to use the local resources. They are the human component of the local ecosystems, and, as such, they deserve much more respect than they have received. A lot of them can't be bothered about fine manners or about speaking English. Those who are used to thinking of them as primitive, ignorant and uneducated will be shocked to discover how much they must learn from them."
Ring any bells?

18th June 2009

I adopted a new modus operandi with the scything down and clearing up today. I have been in the habit of doing a load of scything and them clearing it up the next morning. The scything down is pure pleasure; the clearing up less so. Also, when it is hot the scythed down stuff starts to dry out and is no good for the compost heap. (I really must do something about compost - I must have literally tons of it). So, I adopted scything down a row right the way across the plot and getting it on the compost heap immediately.

At beer break time I dealt with the last lot of cherries. Well, I hope it's the last lot! Another gallon of cherry wine followed, and I had to consolidate the two previous brews into one in a larger fermenter as I was starting to get short on small ones. When it had cooled I thought to pop the hydrometer into it before casting the yeast. Just top side of 1.090 O.G. So, just over nine percent alcohol when fermented to dryness. That will do nicely!

The afternoon was hot. Very hot, certainly the top side of thirty. I collected the raspberries and was sweating profusely even with such a leisurely activity as that. Nonetheless, the stove had to go on and one small jar of jam was the result. How good is that? Half an hour previously the fruit had been on the canes. A small study on the Internet educated me somewhat into the mysteries of raspberries. I had not known that they are biennial - this year's new canes will fruit next year. They all need sorting out though. As with everthing else they are disorganised and overrun with weeds. I think the strawberry bed will be joined later in the year by a couple of rows of transplanted canes.

Later in the afternoon I managed to have all the pieces of the current woodworking project completed and scraped to a fine finish. More to come on that one.

19th June 2009

Tom Whipple.

No idea what I did - business as usual I think. I forgot to make my aide-memoire notes. The only thing of note was that I deliberately didn't get any cash on this day. It left me with just enough cash that I would not be tempted to splash out on anything extra at the weekend.

20th June 2009

A good all-round article from The Bohemian. Well worth the read. Our mate Matt Savinar gets a large mention.

It rained. Pretty well all day. I dedicated some time to some Internet work (not blog), and did a bit more at the woodworking project. Time is beginning to press on that project. In the afternoon I braved the drizzle and went up the garden for peas to actually cook. When I can be bothered to cook I normally make enough for a couple of days. Plus a bit left over to put in with Pickle's food. If there is even a hint of human food in her dried dog food she invariably lashes it down like there is no tomorrow. Anything. Even just a drizzle of cooking oil! Quite funny really. My meals are invariably a Hungarian-ish concoction based either on tejföl (sour cream) or paprika (paprika). One makes a nice creamy sauce, the other very red and mildly spicy. Todays concoction had in it potato, onion, the peas from the garden, finely chopped sorrel also from the garden, finely chopped spinach also from the garden, yellow split peas, tarhonya (egg barley - almost like a grain sized pasta), salt and freshly ground black pepper (of course) and the remains of yesterday's cold meat finely chopped and thrown in. It was one of the tejföl ones. It turned out to be one of my better ones.

I don't know what was on at the pub. There was some sort of a skittles do, and the village mayor was there which is in itself fairly unusual. We didn't get kicked out until eleven which has to be something of a record. The only time I have known it later was last year on the Saturday of búcsú, but that is an organised thing with music, dancing and such. I mentioned being tight for cash over the weekend. Well I only spent what I bargained on spending but the drinks kept coming from various directions. By the time we finally did depart I had certainly had enough.

21st June 2009

You know, there are five steps of reaction when you find out about Peak Oil. I know. I have been through all five steps, now accepting. The signs are all there. When I was in the sixth form at school our biology teacher used to tell us about global population growth. I think he may have been a closet Malthusian. Either that, or he sailed as close to the wind as he dared in educating us. Of course, as a seventeen year old I was thinking "So? What does this have to do with me?" - as you do when you are seventeen. It has only been in the last three - maybe four - years that I have thought about what he taught us again, and the realisation has dawned that, yes, this does affect me. It affects me right now and it even more affects my children and grandchildren. Well, that's why I'm here.

Sunday! Housework! No, not today. A bit of woodwork, then after lunch collecting peas and raspberries. There were not enough of each to be worth processing. So I just ate them! Everything is still drenched.

Towards the end of the afternoon if faired up a bit, so I went back to bashing out the path up the garden. Mostly the soil was nicely wet but in odd places when I went in with the broad mattock I was turning up dry soil. Now how does that happen considering the the amount of rain we have had? Also, inadvertantly and unexpectedly I managed to chart a path that found three tree stumps on the way. Whatever! That IS where the path is going, so out they came.

It reminds me of the "travelling salesman" algorithm. Only this is in real life. How do I make a path from the bottom of the garden to the top, which includes clearing around all the various fruit trees, with the minimum of effort. Which I suppose supports what we already know. That I KNOW where the path is going, with the minimum amount of effort.

I think about the scientific "Holy Grails". Artificial intelligence. Fifty years they have been playing with this. What have they achieved? The intelligence of a slug! god Help Us All if they do manage to achieve it. Nuclear fusion. Another fifty years and bigger and better experiments than ever. What have they managed to achieve? Fusion for about 10-30 seconds?

The world falls apart around our ears. Well, not here it doesn't. The old lady next door carries on hoeing her garden and quietly and patiently sowing, planting and gathering her produce. If I can get to her situation in three years time I will be well happy. The national ethos increasingly impinges upon my lifestyle. They haven't got it in the shop? Well, I'll do without then. Don't get uptight, just get on with life.

22nd June 2009

It was a grey and murky morning when I wandered over to the shop, before seven. I happened into an English speaker before going in the shop. We talked for a few minutes about the village, about what I was growing and what I was doing to the house. The talk got around to cherries, and an explanation about the grubs was forthcoming. The answer is that they know and don't care. Extra protein - they just get eaten.

By the time I came out of the shop it was raining. It rained all day. It was still raining when I came out of the pub at kicking out time (nothing new there then!) and went home to bed.

I did a bit of web-type work, and then (as usual) caught the bus into town with seconds to spare. In town I got cash then headed to the tobacco shop, carrying with me the non-tobacco pouch that I had previously been sold. There are two young ladies that work in the shop. Without being unkind, I got the more clued up one of the two. Of course she recognised me, having been a regular customer since I became aware of the shop. I said, in my best pidgin magyarul "Pipa dohany, de élsö pici problema" (Pipe tobacco, but first a little problem). I handed the pouch of supposedly a rather good brand of tobacco that I spoke about a little while ago. She said "It's not tobacco". I said "I know, but I bought tobacco". We had a good laugh about it and she replaced it. I bought the rest of my supplies and wandered back into town. I bought storage jars in town. Small ones. They had none the last time. I have a fair few big ones, and one or two really big ones but the big ones are no good for such things as jam and sauces. Fine for pickled stuff or dry goods but not so good for stuff that goes off once opened.

Pickly dog is moulting big time and at the end of the day I was utterly exhausted. What on earth has the dog moulting to do with me being exhausted? Bit of a non-sequitur there!

23rd June 2009

James Howard Kunstler on the on-rushing financial catastrophy that is America. Europe to follow?

More rain! It rained all day again, which is fine and good as it saves me watering the garden, but it has the side effect of making everything grow like mad. particularly the weeds. Restricted to the yard, or more particularly the house and the summer kitchen/workshop I carried on with the woodworking project. In between I managed to bottle up a brew of ginger beer. Do you know, I don't think I have ever posted my ginger beer recipe. Well, here goes. This is for four gallons. Imperial gallons you understand. Not those short measure crap American gallons. Couldn't be simpler. In a suitable sized fermenter chuck two kilogrammes of sugar (four point four pounds Avoirdupios for those that prefer to work in old money). That will give you about five point two percent alcohol. Boil a big kettle of water, but if you have your normal sized electric kettle fill and boil it twice. Pour the water on the sugar and stir until dissolved. Whilst it is still hot chuck in the contents of a couple of sachets of ground ginger. Of course, you could go all the way and buy ginger root and pound it yourself. Rather tedious. Give it a good stir. Top up with cold water to four Imperial gallons, but aim for it to be lukewarm. Add more boiled kettle water if necessary. Add the juice of a couple of big lemons, or three small ones, then pitch a decent wine yeast and put the lid on. It is rather slow to ferment out towards the end. For UK based readers I would advise the use of one of these. They are cheap enough at two pounds-odd anyway. Don't bottle it until it gets down to at least halfway of the yellow bit. If you bottle it whilst still in the red bit you risk at best ginger beer fountains when you open it, at worst burst bottles and a lot of cleaning up.

I don't know whether it is the warm, moist weather or the fact that Pickle is moulting or something else, but I have a major flea problem. Little b*****ds are everywhere. I keep having a go with the diatomaceous earth, but I think that the dog gets wet, the yard is soaked - whatever - reduces its effectiveness. Aside, it didn't work on the Colorado beetle larvae. I'm back to inspecting the potato crop and talking a vindictive delight in cutting them in two with the secuteurs. It remains a blessing that they are so conspicuous.

They sell string by weight here. Yes, yes - I know - you can buy a one pound ball of string, and knitting yarn is sold by weight. The difference here is that the ball of string is random, and they weigh it on the shop scales to determine how much it costs. I bought some to tie up the tomato plants. It is a bit like fine plastic (yes, I know) raffia. There must be about forty miles of the stuff on the ball.

24th June 2009

The weather is improving. It only rained all morning. I put the wellies and the leather jacket on and busied myself moving some of the junk that helper had screened out from being put by the roadside as having value. Hmmmm! It may have value, but not whilst it is just sat cluttering up the yard. Rain or no rain I needed kitchen firewood, so I sawed enough for immediate needs. I have to say that it was rather hard going whilst wearing the leather jacket. It's a biker jacket, complete with CE armour at back, shoulders and elbows. The leather is heavy enough and stiff anyway, even discounting the armour.

After lunch the weather improved. Enough to go out to the garden and do some scything and knocking back shrubs. It was also hard going. In one hour I managed about four square metres. This is the patch of garden that I had been dreading anyway, the patch by the old not good apple tree. As an aside, apparently the local tree expert (who is the same guy that strims the village verges) would take cuttings to use as scions and graft them on to new stock. The tree may well be an old variety of apple and if it is would be well worth saving thus. Might even be able to do a bit of barter - he gets to keep as many grafted little trees as he wants in exchange for me getting back two or three new little grafted ones.

A little gentle hoeing was followed by the mandatory trip to the pub to round off a fairly boring (for both you and me) sort of a day.

25th June 2009

It was a half decent morning and everything was not too wet, so I sacrificed a couple on mini-tankfuls of earth's precious remaining drops of fossil fuels to have a good whack with the strimmer around the camping lawn, the other side of the plot, and the area beyond the camping lawn on the same side. I'm trying to do a plan of the entire plot for you. I keep talking about the outhouse garden, the main garden, the fruit trees and so on in the full knowledge of how difficult it must be to visualise. It will take me a while, as there are only so many hours in the day and at the moment I find I am either working in the garden, in the yard, in the workshop, in the house, drinking in the pub in the evening or trying to keep the blog updated.

Did a bit more at the woodworking project, then collected peas from the garden and had another hoe around. The state of the land is such that just trying to eradicate the couch grass and similar perennial weeds is a major operation in itself. Plans are afoot to at least control it - more later.

Later, unexpectedly, my neighbours turned up in the pub. Of course they caught me knitting. I haven't mentioned it in a while, but yes, I continue to knit in the pub. They (or more particularly she) didn't know that I am a knitter. Intrigued by what I was doing, she watched my technique with disapprobation. I explained that I only knew the English/American way of knitting. As I have previously said, the Hungarian/German/Continental is much more rapid and efficient, but I'm not about to change now. I might have a go when I find time. (HA-Ha-ha)

Much bonhomie abounded. They left a little while before I did. No surprise there then. On the way home a thunderstorm rumbled away in the distance. I haven't checked from last year's blog but it seems to be thunderstorm season.

26th June 2009

At last the current woodworking project was completed. I will only say at the moment that it is a birthday present and that I will give you a full rundown and pictures on it when it is safely delivered and in its place.

After that I did some washing - boring, and made a brew of ginger beer.

We had a thunderstorm - a good one. It flooded the yard:
Flooded Yard The puddle in front of the summer kitchen was about nine inches deep...
...and the drainage channel was full. It is supposed to go out of a pipe under the front fence into the village drainage channel. It never has, and there is little point in doing anything about it as the exit of the pipe is lower than the level of my drainage ditch let alone next door's which is another four or five inches higher again. Flooded Yard
Pickle Looks Out Of Her Window My new door has a dinky little window which is just the right height for Pickle to look out of. Here she is looking disconsolate at the continuing downpour.

I contented myself with doing some long overdue Internet/Web type work (not the blog). On my travels around the Internet I made a discovery. I was doing a bit of adding up whilst waiting for a big upload to complete. As I write it is still the same. If you want a smile go to Google and type into the search term "tesco value slow cooker" (with the quotation marks) and see what comes out at No. 1!! After my other Internet work was done I did manage a bit on the blog. It continued raining outside. Typical. I am absolutely stymied. Today was Friday, so tomorrow would be Saturday. Saturday is garden bonfire day. Not a hope! It will probably be still too wet to even get on the garden.

27th June 2009

Short one today. I went out on the garden to do some scything, but I was having a bad day. I simple had no energy. I have no idea as to the cause. It was hot, but it does not normally affect me that way. I suppose I persevered for about forty five minutes, then gave it best.

Later I managed to collect raspberries - enough for another jar and a half of jam. The stocks are beginning to mount. It's a good job I have made it my staple for breakfast!

I got to thinking about the lack of progress on the garden. What with continually getting rained off, having bad days from time to time and the pressure of other stuff that needs doing I pondered what to do about it. In the pub later there were four of us at my usual table - me, helper, the fa szakemeber and a chap that is not from Halogy but I know by sight. Very Magyar looking. One of the rare cases where you would take one look and say "Hungarian". The talk got round to my dilemma with the garden, and before I knew what had happened I had agreed to go to Nádasd early in the morning to look at some young goats. Oh my god! What had I let myself in for?

28th June 2009

Sure enough, I was up at half past five, on a Sunday. No buses at that time of day anyway, and a long long wait for one to get home, so I cycled up and down the hills out of the village to meet Magyar ember in the little pub in Nádasd at seven o'clock. I was late. It was five past seven by the time I got there. I plead a head wind. No sign of Magyar ember, and the pub was locked, barred and bolted, with the remains of the late goers leavings on one of the picnic tables outside. Hmmmm - "Fool's errand", I thought. I sat on the little wall out the front and filled and lit the pipe. Well, I wasn't about to cycle back to Halogy without some sort of refreshment. A guy turned up on a push bike. Not the Magyar ember, an older man that I know by sight. Also a Magyar ember, you understand, but not the one I was looking for. We exchanged pleasantries. He stooged about a bit, trying the doors and such. I continued to sit on the wall and watch the world not pass by. Within a couple of minutes a car appeared at speed, and although there was not a screeching of tyres as he turned into the car park, it was close. Ha! Kocsmari appeared at last. He kept us waiting about another five minutes whilst he sorted out inside and removed the miscellaneous debris from the outside table. Eventually the other bloke that was waiting disappeared inside so I took my cue from him. Which is rather strange, as I gave away my cue many years ago in the UK. Whatever - I went in the pub and had a beer. At a quarter past seven on a Sunday. I lingered and lingered over that one beer in the hopes that my Magyar ember would show up. He didn't. Somewhat after eight o'clock I left, and cycled my lonely way back to the village. As I hurtled down the hill, round the bend at the bottom and down the rest of the slope the temptation was great to call in the village pub and have another, and another and another and another...

I didn't. I went home, lit the stove, made coffee and toast and went about just another day. In a way somewhat disappointed. I know nothing of goats except that they will eat anything. And that billy goats need to be hit on the head from time to time with something that inflicts a bit of pain, like a big ladle or a frying pan. I know you can milk them - nanny goats, that is, but I don't know how. I know you can make cheese, but I don't know how. I know that excess billy goats can be raised for meat, but you need to castrate them, and I do know how :)

The day degenerated into mundaneness. Housework, preparing the woodwork project to go in the post. It rained. Again.

I did some web-type stuff, then out of pure spite at the weather I cooked. I will admit that at this time of the year I rarely cook properly. Top end of cordon-bleu is a bacon or sausage sandwich. But I made one of my big (almost) veggie stews. I thought I would share it with you:
  1. A jar of tomato paste. Not tomato puree - about half as strong I would guess
  2. A fair sized onion peeled and finely chopped
  3. Paprika powder (of course) - two or three heaped tablespoonsful!
  4. Fresh green peas from the garden
  5. Yellow split peas
  6. A good dollop of my own wine
  7. Some very finely chopped bacon from which all the fat had been removed. Pickle liked that! Leave this out if you are veggie!
  8. A small handful of - err - no idea what it's called, but little flat pieces of pasta, maybe half a millimetre thick, three millimetres wide and three centimetres long
  1. Chuck the tomato stuff in a saucepan with another three times the volume of water. Use the water to rinse out the jar. Put on the stove to heat.
  2. Whilst that is heating peel and chop the onion and put it to simmer in a frying pan with plenty of oil. Of course I would also include garlic here. If I had had any. Don't brown the onions, just get them tender.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients once it is simmering, except the pasta
  4. Add the pasta for the last ten minutes or so of cooking, and adjust the water content to your taste.
Absolutely delicious! Fed me for three days, and acted as a supplement to Pickle's dried dog food for two!

29th June 2009

I caught a frog this morning. In the kitchen! Walking up the tiles at the back of the sink unit, cool as you like. One of the little green tree frogs. His suckers on his feet certainly worked well enough on the tiles. I have no idea how long it had been in the kitchen, or what it was living on. I liberated it to go and find a suitable tree, of course.

I hung around and did some stuff in the yard in order to catch Postie with the parcel for the UK. It caused a hoo-ha. Too big, apparently. It was not overly heavy - under two kilogrammes - but the length of it caused some discussion. The lady had a sidekick with her - in training, I think. They took it anyway with the promise to sort it out tomorrow if there was a problem.

I carried on with what I was doing in the yard, which was cutting up wood dragged off the garden. It had accumulated a bit, and some of it had been there since I had my last lot of visitors in April. Anyway I started at the smaller stuff and worked up to the bigger stuff. It made sense to do that, as that is how it is sorted in the next year's kitchen wood shed. I got as far as the stuff that needs sawing when I was rained off by the daily thunderstorm. Not as bad as the one that flooded the yard but certainly not to be worked in. So I did a bit of blog updating. And that was another boring day.

30th June 2009

Back to the garden routine of scything and bashing out shrubs. Progress is steady, but the area untouched yet really is a meadow. Various wildflowers, unknown to me, abound. One I do know is vetch, it having pointed out to me in the district by one of my visitors last year. Another is a daisy-like flower, but tall - maybe three feet tall. I note that vetch is recognised as a "soil improver". Worth keeping in the back of the mind. In the distance I heard the characteristic sound of the village handyman's strimmer. Ah well, another little unscheduled job, then.

I heard the sound of the Post van cavalry charge away up the village, so headed back to the yard in anticipation of possible problems with yesterday's parcel. Sure enough, there were! I had to fill in a customs form and pay more postage. Such is life. Hopefully it will ensure its safe arrival in the UK. I had just finished dealing with that when the lady from No. 68 made clearing up motions clearly about the fact that the village handiman had done his work. I initially thought she was urging me to get on with it and clear up, but once I turned round I realised that she had cleared up the part of the verge that we share, up to the gateway and it was already in two nice little heaps ready for me to collect. Which was nice, and I duly thanked her. The old lady from No. 72 was, of course, already clearing up her bit. With the verge trimmed I could no longer put off having a go at the yard. I had let it get too long for the toy mower so I took the strimmer to it and combined the clearing up of that with the clearing up of the four little heaps from outside.

After lunch I went back and did another stint of scything and bashing. Almost through the really bad bit now.

Later, in the pub, a new neighbour turned up to track me down. Another UK person that has chosen Halogy. Must be something about the place! He had his folks with him (which explained a small mystery) and we had a good old chin-wag. We managed to keep the pub open for about an hour after the telly went off. The late regulars took full advantage :)


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