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July 2009

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1st July 2009

I'll try and keep it brief. Still playing catch-up! Some domestics, then I had a go at the wine press which was in need of a little tender loving care. I had been indoors since last used (Noverber?), and had dried out somewhat. Some of the worse glue lines were showing obvious signs of the subsequent contraction of the wood. All the threaded rods were loose for the same reason. I tightened up the rods and cleaned out and made little wooden fillets for where the glue joints had failed.

Posta appeared and handed me my copy of the paperwork for the parcel that caused all the grief. It had some random scribblings of it which I did not understand. I hung around for the dog food van, and shortly heard his tannoy. "Kutyatap, kutyatap". I know it isn't but that's what it sounds like to me. I popped my head out the door and he drove up to my gate immediately. It had gone up. One hundred Forints. Come to think of it, it seemed like today was the day for price increases across the board. The beer (and other stuff) went up in the shop, and the same in the pub. I reckon, average ten percent. Hmmmmm!

I did a load of work in what I call the outhouse garden. I took a load of pictures too and I was going to post them, but once again I have managed to leave the camera connected via USB to the computer and it is, as you would say, as flat as a fart. They'll have to wait. I collected a couple of dozen (you know they don't do dozens here) green walnuts - a dozen windfalls for one job and a dozen nice clean ones straight off the tree for another.

I popped round to the new neighbour to see if all was well and to offer any assistance I could, taking a small offering. After chatting for a while I set off home. None to soon, as by the time I cycled the thirty seconds from his place to mine the fat raindrops were pattering about and the afternoon thunderstorm was gathering pace.

I made a minor Internet discovery. That is, that you can dry spinach for storage. Well, I'll just have to have a go at that, then.

Completely off topic, the girl children here all wear earrings from a very early age. As in six months, nine months, a year old. I mention it because of a family connection, which caused a bit of a kerfuffle at the time. It is quite normal here, and in other countries nearby. At least when they do that you have no excuse for saying "What a beautiful baby boy!".

I only just managed to get home before the next thunderstorm arrived. I have to say that I like them. Unless you are in a hurricane, or somewhere like Tornado Alley, a thunderstorm is one of nature's ways of reminding us just how puny we are.

2nd July 2009

I am still alive, blog readers! Circumstances to be revealed have led to a busy few days - more anon. It was my birthday today, but apart from that it was business as usual in the garden. I don't mind the whole world knowing that I was sixty two. Three more years before I can draw me pensions! What's the saying? "If I'd known I was going to live this long I'd have taken better care of the body!"

I put the green walnuts I had selected yesterday to good use. The dozen I had selected from the tree were made into a half litre of green walnut liqueur. Very easy. I can't remember whether I put the recipe on the blog last year, but I will refresh your memory anyway. A dozen green walnuts (pick them just before the shells start to set) roughly chopped. Into a jar with three ounces of sugar and some selected herbs of your choice. Top off with a half litre of spirit base and put the lid on. From time to time when you think about it give it a shake. The sugar will dissolve eventually. By stages it will darken to the colour of Duckham 20-50 motor oil. (Is that still on the go?) Eventually it will go a lovely rich chocolate brown colour. After about three months strain and bottle and put away for Christmas. This year when I made it I was short of herbage so I went to the shop, carefully neglecting to take my trusty szótár I grabbed a sachet of herbs at random. Kakukkfű, which turned out to be thyme, and translates as "Cuckoo grass". We'll see how it turns out.

The other walnuts (mainly windfalls) were put in one of the big saucepans, covered over with water left to steep for a while then simmered for a couple of hours. Strange smell, boiling walnuts. Almost antiseptic-like. Vaguely reminiscent of dentist's surgeries/waiting rooms. For another use, to be described tomorrow.

I was sitting in the kitchen, patiently gently feeding the stove to keep the walnut concoction simmering, when there was a kind of plop and a rattle and a rustling noise from the direction of the bathroom, enough to disturb Pickle. I investigated, to find that a section of the bathroom ceiling had fallen in. Into the sink, into the bath and all over the floor. In a fatalistic, Hungarian sort of a way I thought to myself "Oh well", and set about clearing it up.

With camera battery recharged I can now show you this:
Remember this? This was 24th March last year. Well, the outbuildings have't improved, but the rest now looks like... From This
Outhouse Garden ...this. Camping lawn on the right and the outhouse garden left and centre.
A variety of paprika plants - some hot, some not. Paprika
Outhouse Garden Tomatoes.
And a picture for Suzy! English Herb!

There was, of course, a suspension of the austerity campaign for the evening, it being my birthday, and a small libation to Bacchus (or whoever the god of beer is) in the pub. Not that I overdid it, you understand. I also received, unexpectedly, two small presents that I didn't expect. Well, it would be unexpectedly if I didn't expect them, wouldn't it!

3rd July 2009

Yet again not a good day weatherwise. I used the walnut concoction from yesterday to dye some fabric brown. Brown is a good colour of choice here - it is more or less the same colour as the soil. Draw your own conclusions. After that I did a nice little two hour woodworking project:
Tool Here it is. Any suggestions?

The weather improved as the day progressed. I had a little cycle ride up the hill of the main street to Pickle's breeders where I purchased eggs and tomatoes. Back home I set to and sorted out a knitting catastrophy which had befallen a couple of evenings ago. I had, somehow, managed to make an extra stitch in the double moss stitch ribbing at one end of the work, with the result that instead of the pattern going diagonally up the work it was going straight. I took down three rows and attempted to pick up the stitches. Hmmmm! No good. So I took down another row and then the next row stitch by stitch. The problem was that the pattern calls for a knit one/perl one/knit one into the same stitch - knitters will understand. Just pulling the knitting down resulted in it being impossible (well, certainly beyond my skills) to pick up those three stitches. Carefully I picked them up one stitch at a time. I still managed to end up one stitch short. I found where it was and knitted up a single row making good the deficiency. It doesn't show.

I managed a quick blog update, then it was eat, change, pub. A different sort of a day. Mostly!

4th July 2009

The only thing worthy of note is that I finally got the repainted exterior set of kitchen windows back in place. Only to find that the frame has apparently moved and they will no longer close properly. Not by much, but enough. Damn! That will be a little shoulder plane and make good job. Pictures:
It has been a long time coming, but I have gone from this... Kitchen Windows
Kitchen Windows this.

5th July 2009

A Chris Nelder article from CNN.

Sunday, and housework including clearing up a nocturnal catastrophy. In the wee small hours I had to get up and as I was about to enter the bathroom the dog managed to get under my feet and I had to put my hand out a bit sharpish to avoid going over. There was a clatter, and the little jar with the paint brushes in white spirit went over. I righted it but was not about to investigate further at that time and in the dark. I thought it had spilled on the floor, but in the morning light I saw that, no, it had spread itself over a fair bit of the work surface. Fortunately I got to it before the white spirit evaporated so it was a simple matter to clear up although involving moving and cleaning stuff that lives there. (Scales, rolling pin, pestle and mortar). Towards the end of my cleaning stint, and well after midday I noticed a lot of people obviously returning from church. It was either a very, very long service or there had been something extra going on. I know not what.

It came an early thunderstorm so that put paid to getting on the garden for a while. I made a sandwich and settled to do another quick blog update.

I knocked off another one hour woodworking project. The water butt in the garden is infested with wriggly things and starting to become algal, so I made a lid for it to keep the insects and the light out:
The top. (Outside, obviously) Water Butt Lid
Water Butt Lid The underneath. Another fine bit of rustic Hungarian craftsmanship!

Late in the day this from the Oil Drum, Europe. Very dryly reported. Scarey nonetheless. Scarey, or scary? On line dictionary says either!

6th July 2009

A pleasant and sunny morning, I finished off a bit of the housework that did not get done yesterday and did a load of washing. It had managed to mount up a bit for some reason. I suppose the reason is that I had not done it! After that I had another good bash round with the strimmer. Yard, camping lawn and all the boundaries both sides had it. Always good to make a lot of noise from time to time - keeps the neighbours happy!

After lunch it was time for some digging. The second gardening catastrophy this year had been the brassicas, which had germinated well and were fine little plants when planted out. Sometime between then and today they had been eaten to bits. They were simply beyond hope, so I just dug them in. The second patch of digging was where the peas were. Both my rows were well finished by now. Another bit of learning - next year I will plant less peas at a time but lots more peas in total with a lot more succession. Half way through the sky darkened rapidly and a flash and a bang came shortly afterwards. Only about a mile away. Time to get off the garden. None too soon as by the time Pickle and I had got back to the yard the rain was starting. The storm came from the south, and passed overhead. Twice the bang followed the flash in less than a second - really close by. A brooding, static-filled silence followed apart from the sound of the torrential rain. I thought to myself "We are going to get the next one. The house is going to get hit". It never came. The storm ran away towards the river and eventually the rain eased.

It was much too wet to get back on the garden of course. I contented myself by starting to deal with the remainder of the kilogramme of tomatoes purchased a couple of days ago. I decided they were destined to be pure tomato passata to be cooked and preserved in a jar. Another tedious little exercise.

Later, in the pub, on the telly was a Bud Spencer/Terence Hill film. It has to be at least the fifth time I have seen this, or a part of this film. There are at least seventeen films in the series, plus more starring either one or other of them with different co-stars. The format is predicable. Lots of implausible situations with lots of gratuitous slapstick violence. The Hungarians never tire of them and are happy to watch them over and over.

7th July 2009

I don't know how, but once again the washing had accumulated. It was a rainy, rainy day so I had no chance of getting it dry. nevertheless, washed it got. I had a tidy up around the yard whilst waiting for an answer to an SMS I had sent. That was the morning - not very productive!

After lunch, and having received my answer, it was back to the bashing and scything. I would normally try and get that done in the morning but the rain (and the SMS) had put paid to that. The rain had stopped but of course everything was very wet, so it was definitely a green wellies job. The other good thing was that the soil was nice and damp which makes the bashing out of the shrub weeds that much easier. I have found that a couple of hours of that is about as much as I can stand at a session. There is plenty else to do anyway. It isn't the scything. I could easily do four hours a day of that. It's bashing out the shrubs. With some of them I am getting roots out that at the surface are about three inches in diameter. Some succumb with just a couple of blows with the heavy mattock. Others can take a good five minutes of serious back-breaking work. It just has to be done. I have set my plan out to complete the scything and bashing and also have the path up the plot and round the fruit trees (except the big old cherry, which is done for this year) by the end of this month. It might be a little optimistic, so I will be well pleased if I achieve it.

The tomatoes never made it into a jar. Instead they formed one of the ingredients for one of my enormous stews.

8th July 2009

Once again it was raining. Persistently precipitating. I had a quick go around the house instead of gardening. The rain is well and good - saves watering, but of course the weeds love it too. If you stand still long enough I reckon you could see them growing! I was in a good mood anyway as today I was expecting visitors from the UK.

I managed to put a nose out of joint in the shop. Knowing that I had four bikers coming to stay I did a raid on the shop for a case of the cheap (and good) Hungarian beer - thirty pence a half litre bottle! There was not a full case in the place, but by raiding what was left in the cases in the middle of the shop and what the shop lady had in the fridge managed to knock up a full case of twenty. I don't think I have mentioned it before but they don't do dozens here. Eggs are in tens, fifteens or thirties; beer in twenties... My nearest neighbour from across the road appeared with a case of empties just as I was leaving. The shop lady had to turn him down - no more until tomorrow. C'est la vie.

Shortly after lunch my visitors arrived. I was alerted by the sounds of motorcycles going down through the gearbox in the way that only motorcyclists (or boy racers in cars) do. My detailed instructions had worked. Google maps is fine and good, but it relies on distances travelled, and as we all know there is nothing better than knowing what to look out for. I had told them to look out for the second fire hydrant on the right hand side. Worked like a charm! Here they are having arrived, and subsequently set up shop on the camping lawn:
Visitors arrive... Visitors Arrive
Camping Lawn Busy ...and set up on the camping lawn.

As soon as the bikes were safely esconced in the yard - almost out of Pickle's reach, beers were handed round. Can't have my visitors falling foul of the zero tolerance rule, now can I? Lots of chat and food followed. Then, of course, it was time for the pub. My guests were made welcome - at least, I hope they felt they were made welcome. They were already aware of the movable feast nature of closing time, so ten minutes after the telly went off we wandered back down to the cottage, causing a great barking of dogs along the way. I think the only one that didn't bark was mine. She just wagged her tail and got excited! More chat followed, and they dug into my supply of walnuts making the merest minute dent into it. And then it was time for bed, as Zebedee would say.

9th July 2009

I was up and about at my normal-ish time - round about six in the morning. I have tried to make it earlier in order to get out on the garden before it gets too hot. Failed miserably! The problem is, as they also say here, burning the candle at both ends. When I get home from the pub I try to get a bit of blog updating done, but as often as not end up chatting on the Internet to friends and relatives. I have come to accept the fact that I am going to end up out on the garden in the heat, so I just discard the specs., which are simply a liability and get on with it and sweat! If I am bashing out serious shubbery I can only stand a couple of hours of it anyway.

The visitors surfaced when they were ready and breakfasted. I might explain that the friendships between the visitors were forged via a couple of Internet biker's fora. Quite an astonishing phenomenon. Many, many real and lasting friendships have been formed. When I was in the UK, and a biker myself, we would host parties at the house and a load of total strangers would turn up. I don't know whether it is attributable to the particular personality traits of bikers but there was never, ever a problem. We always had a good time. They never trashed the house. And they were always considerate of neighbours when arriving and leaving. Top people, bikers!

There was some bike talk and a bit of checking out of the bikes in the midst of which helper appeared. It didn't take long for him to be press ganged (not very relucantly) into a helmet and one of the group took him out for a spin. I thought he would probably take him maybe up to the next village and back but they were gone a while and it turned out that they had had a good old tour around the district. I can say that when helper removed his helmet on his return he had a grin from ear to ear!

Of necessity I had to pop into town so the suggestion was that we all go, on the bus (via the pub), which met with general approbation. Helper tagged along. First port of call was, of course, the cellar pub which they found interesting. After that we went to the town centre. We parted ways for a while and arranged to meet back shortly. When we reassembled I took a picture:
Visitors by the water feature in the centre of town. Visitors By Water feature
By now we were all, well, peckish to say the least. We arranged a rendezvous point with helper to catch the bus back to the village and he went his separate way for a while. We headed for the Halászcsárda - the hotel where I stayed when I first came to the district and again when I came to live here. It's not the most expensive eating house in town and it's not the cheapest either but I have never had a bad meal in there. My vegetarian visitors have a bit of a moan about the lack of choice for them. We sat out under the awning to eat:
Halászcsárda Sorry if it looks a bit red. It is! It's a Coca-Cola awning and the chairs, tablecloths and floor are all red too. A bit overpowering.

We left at the appointed time to meet helper in the next pub - the tanya pub, which is only a minutes walk from the Halászcsárda. The visitors went round the outside of the building. I went through the bar to thank our waiter. I received a warm and friendly handshake in response. They know in there that I am living nearby, and I don't go in there that often but they know that it is my place of choice to take visitors.

Outside I found that the gang had been joined by helper who had been lurking in what I would call the public bar. So we all trooped round to the tanya kocsma together. A swift one in there and it was time to catch the bus home. Once in the village we went straight in the pub. (Of course - I had to let my visitors have experience of a proper Hungarian drinking day). We stuck it out until about eight, then wandered back to the cottage. They snacked on my walnuts and we had another good chat. And that was the day.

10th July 2009

Another rainy, rainy morning. My visitors were departing anyway, so they took down and folded up their wet tents and packed all away. Almost before I knew it, it was time for them to leave. I did persuade them to go up to the pub and say thanks and goodbye to the landlord. By good luck helper was there too, working not drinking. I had taken my Hungarian mobile to try and get in touch with him anyway.

The bikes had been a talking point in the village. There are nonesuch here. In Körmend there are a few - not many. I had seen various people, young and old, peering over the fence. Some came right up to the gate which, of course, caused Pickle to have a good barking session.

I cycled up to the pub, and they bimbled gently up there on the bikes. They must have got up to, I don't know, all of twenty kilometres an hour! The landlord and landlady were genuinely pleased that the visitors came by to say "Viszontlátásra", which is equivalent to "Auf wiedersehen" in German or "A bientot" in French. In otherwords, goodbye for now. Helper shot off on his pushbike promising to be back in five minutes. For once, he was. Pictures:
Visitors prepare to leave Halogy. Visitors Leave The Village
Hungarian Colours Helper returned armed with a length of tape (cloth) in Hungarian colours (red/white/green - not to be confused with Italy which is green/white/red). All the bikes got a little length of it tied around the left hand mirror. One of my visitors said "That is going to stay on there for a long time!".
Finally they got on the bikes, two this side of the road and two that. And at a suitable lull in the traffic (a car went by) they set off into the wide blue yonder. At least it had stopped raining. Visitors Leave The Village

I was, as always, a bit emotional when they left. I am certain that they did nothing but enhance the standing of bikers in the village and also Anglo/Hungarian relations.

I had a beer, then went home and knocked about a bit in the garden. I didn't have much choice - the landlord had - errr - f***ed off, and the landlady promptly shut the pub!

11th July 2009

Wouldn't you know it? The day after my visitors left dawned clear and without a cloud in the sky. I went out and scythed and bashed for a couple of hours and that was enough. It was seriously hot!

Later i did manage a bit at the woodcarving project. (Oh, yes - it is still on the go!)

12th July 2009

Sunday. Housework and washing. Not a lot more to say on that. Later a bit of woodwork and I managed to bash out another few metres of the path. Hot work! It's Sods law of course that whilst I had visitors the weather was not good, and as soon as they went away it went back to typical Hungarian summer weather. I fancied a beer after the bashing out of the path so I popped up to the pub about four o'clock for a quick one. Mistake - big mistake. Helper was in there, and I ended up staying until kicking out time. Not good!

I can now reveal the progress of the woodworking item that went to the UK:
Making a Spice Rack Another box ticked here! This is the first time I have ever made anything from timber "in the round". The timber is apple from the old apple tree in the garden. The big branch had been dead for a long while so the wood was pretty well seasoned on the tree. The big branch was sawn down by one of my April visitors. Here a suitable sized lump has simply been split in two.
It had to be sawn right through to give at least one flat side to base the work on. A fair amount of work in itself just using a panel saw. Making a Spice Rack
Making a Spice Rack The other side was roughly trimmed by axe which got rid of quite a lot of wood fairly quickly. I could really do with a side axe for that sort of job, but they are an expensive item.
All the pieces bar two are here planed up to their final sizes... Making a Spice Rack
Making a Spice Rack ...before starting to be assembled using the home made clamps which worked very well.
Here is detail of one of the smallest dovetail joints - the cross pieces are only four millimetres thick by ten millimetres wide. I decided on linseed oil as the finish and it really brought the apple wood to life with its wonderful range of marbling colours - from a pale almost straw colour to a rich dark red. Making a Spice Rack
Making a Spice Rack And here is the completed project being road tested. By chance the container of hardener for the wood glue was exactly the right size for its intended use, which is of course...
...a spice rack. Fully stacked with its contents in its place in London. Making a Spice Rack

13th July 2009

An Australian article by Michael Lardelli, on Peak Oil. I note with interest his access to unpublished data from the IEA purporting to show conclusively that oil peaked last year. It may be an Australian article but it is a global problem. I find what he has to say - errrr - interesting.

A couple of hours of scything and bashing. And that was all I could manage. My teeshirt clung to me like a wet rag. Well, it was a wet rag. The sweat ran off me and dripped into the wellies. Lovely! Pickle was chained to a local tree, and, being the sensible girl that she is, just kept moving round in unison with the earth's rotation thereby staying in the shade of the tree. I had no such luxury. At the end of the two hour stint I had managed to complete the circumnavigation of one of the better apple trees (a russet sort of an apple when ripe), and get within touching distance of one of the three new baby apple trees planted last year. They have all survived well. Two of them have little apples upon them.

I think back to the Internet advert that I saw for the cottage. "Old farmhouse with large land, in reorganisation needy condition" Well, softly, softly catchee monkey... If I can have half the land properly sorted, and the outside of the cottage stripped and rebuilt where necessary by the time I retire I will be quite happy.

With the threat of a lack of rain I had to do to Nádasd. I needed a new hose connector to the outside tap. The old one (hmmmm - bought in Tesco last year) was - errr - buggered. Something to do with Pickly dog. I bought two or three more items and managed to spend almost four thousand Forints. So much for the austerity campaign, but necessary.

I know from comments that I have received that some of my readers are interested in the gardening aspect. It is, of course just part of the project, but on my travels I managed to get one or four more pictures. I took these on the way up to do the scything this morning:
Hagyma es Sargarepa Onions and carrots. The onions seem to be doing particularly well. Hope that's not the kiss of death! Many of the bulbs are by now about three inches in diameter and I expect they have some growing to do yet!
Krumpli. Krumpli
Bab Beans - two different types.
Linum Usitatissimum. When I took the picture, as you can see, the plants had a nice covering of the pretty and delicate blue/mauve flowers (the colours don't show up well in the picture). Two hours later, having done the bashing and scything, when I passed by on the way to the yard there was not a single flower on the plants. The petals lay on the ground like discarded confetti. Linum Usitatissimum

At the end of the day I went to the pub. There was a Bud Spencer film on the telly. I must have seen it four, maybe five times now. As I said, they never tire of them!

14th July 2009

Another fine day dawned. Not that I saw the dawn, exactly! The recent wet weather has brought on the mosquitoes in a big way. My baby swallows have fledged and there seemed to be a whole flock of swallows wheeling and darting around the yard gorging themselves on nature's bounty. Good work, swallows - get to it. I had occasion to go into the potting shed for something and I managed to corner a couple of the new young swallows in there. It was quite amusing.Ever since they nested in there the mummy swallow and daddy swallow have swooped in, flying past me no further than a couple of feet away with utter disregard for my presence. The new ones got in a panic when they saw me. They flew in small circles twittering and chirping, not daring to fly past me. You could almost hear the "Oh god, what do we do now" in their twitters and chirps. I made haste, got what I wanted and left so that they could make good their escape and return to the feast.

I had to visit the doctor today. I have a problem which I needed to do something about before it became a serious problem. Pickle's fault, I'm sorry to say. I have a lesion just above the ankle on my bad leg. It started when a couple of times Pickle managed to go right around me and drag her chain right round my ankle. It was not getting better. In fact it was getting worse. I met my next door neighbour in the waiting room and he greeted me warmly as "Neighbour". Which was quite pleasant! A couple of the old girls from the village were having a good old gossip. I knew what they were talking about, but it's not for repetition here. I suppose that I am quite gratified that I could understand what they were talking about, it spite of my continued lack of actual study of the language.

I saw the doctor when it was my turn - just a simple queuing system. He pondered what to do. The last time he wrote me a prescription it turned into a bit of a farce and I never did get what was prescribed. He made a decision that the village factotum would get the necessary and deliver it to me later. And that was that.

I returned home and had just changed into gardening gear when there was a call from the fence. The old lady next door was there, with another neighbour who lives down the lane by the shop and I think is a relation. They wanted, of all things, a bucket of my sand. Only too pleased I took the bucket and scooped it full of sand for them. No idea even now what they wanted it for. I hadn't even got as far as the garden when there was another call. The other neighbour had been to the shop and got me a bottle of beer in exchange for the sand. Now isn't that nice!

Now of course I had a problem. I couldn't wear wellies or gardening boots as they chafe the affected area on my leg. Ditto jeans. Ditto even normal length socks. So for the time being I find myself restricted to wearing shorts with short socks and trainers or sandals. That definitely precludes digging, scything, clearing up and bashing out the path. In a word - bollox! The only things I could do in the garden were hand weeding, using the small hoe and clipping back the vines with the secuteurs. That was my plans for the month totally scuppered. Whatever! I had to get it sorted or I foresaw having an ulcer on the leg, which would seriously cramp my style.

Later in the day the village factotum arrived with the stuff from the chemists. As fate would have it I was working on the "Viggyáz kutya!" sign. He marched straight in the gate in spite of my call of "Viggyáz kutya!". Of course in no time Pickle had jumped up at him (in enthusiasm, of course), made him stagger against the house wall and raked her bloody great claws down his back. Wasn't best pleased, but I did warn him. The chemist bill was almost sixteen hundred Forints, so getting presciptions here is not cheap either. I probably paid as though I had gone private.

There was a tube of what was obviously ointment and a little dropper bottle of some sort of tincture. Unsurprisingly, the instructions were in Hungarian, so a session with the on-line dictionary followed as I deciphered them.

I followed my normal routine of going up to the garden to hoe and weed last off before going to the pub. Another serious mistake. All I managed to achieve was to water 'helper's' tomato and paprika plants before I was driven off by literally clouds of mosquitoes. I was bitten to pieces by the time I got back to the house. Ah well, another alteration to the working day then.

15th July 2009

As you can imagine I was not best pleased by the limitations that I was now working under. I pondered what to do about it and decided that I would have to bite the bullet and hire someone in to do some of the donkey work. That meant that I would have to pay them. I knew that helper was not available except maybe for the odd hour here or there. I needed someone to do maybe one full day's work a week until I am back in full action. In the knowledge of having to pay someone I hung the Posta sign out so that I could get some cash.

Posta arrived - it was the bloke that had been with the normal lady when the hoo-haa with the parcel for the UK went on. I asked for cash so he got out and opened the boot where the comms. equipment is. I gave hime my card. He stuck it in the machine and promptly declared it "Nem jó". I had him try my other card. Same result. Damn and blast. That totally screwed up the day. I was left with no option but to drop everything and bus into Körmend to the bank to sort out what was wrong with the cards.

In the meantime I had managed to touch base with a local character who I knew I could get a bit of work out of. Not good work, you understand, but work explained in words of one syllable that he couldn't possibly screw up. He promised to be back in ten minutes. Well, he was back in about an hour, just as I was preparing to go to catch the bus. I explained to him in words of one syllable what I wanted doing, and he indicated that he would go and have some lunch then come back and do it. OK - no problem. So off I went into town.

First port of call was the bank. I decided to see what would happen if I put my card in the cash machine. In it went. I punched in the PIN and the normal menu came up. I hit the button to request cash and the cash menu came up, so I requested a rake of money - about three weeks worth for me - on the off chance that it would dispense the cash and also on the chance that the card might work today and not work tomorrow. The machine made all the normal noises and gave me my cash. I decided to go into the bank to see if there was some other underlying problem of which I was not aware. I was served immediately, which is unusual. I explained to the girl that the Posta guy had told me my cards were no good. She asked for the cards and I handed them over. She checked them out and declared them to be both OK. Hmmmmm - fools errand. At least I made sure and made best use of my time in town. I would not ordinarily have gone for another ten days or so, but I just brought forward my essentials purchases, so I would not have to go back for maybe five weeks.

I went straight home from the bus. To find that local chararacter had never reappeared and nothing had been done. What with the Posta/bank fiasco and him not turning up it left me not in the best frame of mind! When I left the pub there was a thunderstorm brewing. "Good!", I thought.

16th July 2009

The local character decided to turn up and do some work. Not the work I wanted him to do, you understand. Work that he thought was needed doing. So he scythed down the last twenty metres or so up to the top of the plot. Oh well, I will just have to remember where I got to with bashing out the shrubs, because they will still be there the next time that I have a go at it.

I achieved nothing. A thoroughly bad day when I achieved nothing at all!

To top it off, late in the day this from the Huffington Post. Makes you think!

17th July 2009

Steve's Handy Household Hints NO. 1 I have made a discovery! Ordinary brown parcel tape makes a wonderful substitute for labels. On jam, for instance. It appears to be waterproof and resistant to hand hot washing up liquid. You can write on it with a permanent marker but when you wash the container the writing comes off, so you're all set and ready to go the next time you use the jar. The only thing I don't know so far is how well they will fare when you sterilise the jars in the oven. I'll let you know later.

Well, lesion on the leg or no lesion I had to get something done in the garden, so I chose the strimmer. "What?" I hear you say. All that crap flying about at ankle level. I thought about that one too. Easy! one of the little plastic bags from the shop with the end cut out. Cut the end out then tape it round the leg above the problem with ordinary insulating tape and tape it round the instep of the foot so that it goes inside the trainers. Worked like a charm. I bashed about with the strimmer making lots of noise for about three hours. Did the postage stamp front lawn, the yard and a big stretch of the garden. I didn't quite get the bit I was working on finished as the strimmer ran out of fuel and to be honest I had had enough by then. It was a blistering hot day! The only problem I encountered - I should have realised it, but didn't - was that strimming nettles was - errr - interesting. I ended the session with a decided rosy glow to the fronts of my legs.

Takes me back to the difference between the strimmer and the scythe. The amount of effort needed to swing the strimmer from side to side is not far removed from the amount of effort that it takes to swing the scythe. The strimmer weighs five kilogrammes. I know that because it says so on it, on a label. A quick rule of thumb calculation reveals the weight of my scythe to be about 2.2 kilogrammes. That's a big difference in effort over three hours. Also, properly used on good ground the scythe is slid lightly in contact with the ground, so you are not even supporting the whole of the 2.2 kilogrammes - the ground does some of that.

Well pleased with progress and in deference to the temperature if the day (mid thirties!) I decided on a slight relaxation of the austerity campaign and popped to the pub for a well-earned quick one. After that it was back to the garden and a load of hand weeding before the blasted mosquitoes came out to play. I did the Seymour trick with using the hose for hot water too. Well, almost the Seymour trick. He suggests threading the hose through a load of clear PET bottles. That's a bit overkill here - you would probably get boiling water!

18th July 2009

Rainy, rainy day but at least the forecast says that that is the last of it. Oh well, it gave me a chance to catch up with one indoor job which was long overdue. The press came out to play for the first time this year and I pressed off the pulp from the accumulated batches of cherry wine. It worked well after my ministrations to it - better than it had before, when it was first made. It really was about time. I dropped the hydrometer in it and it almost disappeared. The wine had completely fermented out to dryness whilst still on the pulp. As usual, just too many balls in the air.

I started on the next woodworking project which, with the change in the weather forecast, really needs doing. It is the drying cabinet for which I have had the materials for a while now. As above - priorities. I spent a pretty tedious afternoon ripping down lengths of oak with the panel saw. Just two of the pieces took about fifty minutes of continual sawing. Not that I sawed continually for fifty minutes you understand, but I was certainly doing stretches of twenty minutes at a time, with just the occasional few seconds breather. At least it was not hot enough to make it sweaty and unpleasant work. That took me up to the end of the afternoon.

I discovered, to my shame, that Pickly dog had a serious problem. Fleas. Again. I was still dusting her with the diatomeceous earth at least every other day, and all around the house. She had started to lose condition a couple of days ago and today I noticed a patch on her back where she had chewed away her fur. Upon closer inspection I found that she was absolutely riddled with fleas - a really serious infestation. Obviously the diatomaceous earth was simply not cutting it. Much as I hate using it I had, fortunately, a reserve supply of 'Spot On' so I simply had to use it.

19th July 2009

Trust Gail the Actuary to brighten up my Sunday morning.

I started the day with a bit of belt and braces. Having poisoned Pickle with the 'Spot On' I decided to use some of the remaining, supposedly anti-flea, shampoo on her. There is always a reluctance on her part to actually get in the bath. Once in she behaves very well. I gave her a good shampooing and let it soak for a couple of minutes. That was the only time she tried to escape, but held firmly by the scruff she couldn't. I rinsed her off and made sure she had a couple of good shakes before releasing her to the outside world via the kitchen.

Of course the first thing she did was have a bloody good roll about in the dust of the yard! A good mop out of the bathroom, kitchen and hallway followed. I had even had the forethought to brush through first, before shampooing Pickle, in the knowledge of what was to come. I have a thing about mopping. When I was in the pub trade it used to astonish me the number of cleaners that would attempt to mop a floor with a mop that was actually dirtier than the floor to start with. On occasion I would have to do the job myself. Start off with a clean mop, well rinsed out, and lash plenty of hot water about, barely squeezing any out of the mop. Then rinse the mop again and go back over with the mop as dry as I could get it. I used to shout at people for even thinking about walking on my floors until they had dried. Didn't care who they were - "Don't even ***king think about walking on that floor!!!". Of course here I can use it as an excuse to sit on the step and have a beer :)

I had barely started into yet another (but small) woodworking project when there was a hail from the gate. Someone came along with a bucket of apples. I transfered them into my receptacles and returned his bucket. Another unexpected job! I returned to the woodworking, finished what I was doing on the new project, and managed a bit more on the drying cabinet. The new project is another go at a chimney door mould, by the way. I have to tell you that my last effort (you may recall me casting one in fire cement) eventually turned into an abject failure. The stuff never sets properly unless you get it up to the temperature inside a stove and the thing I made eventually went all shapes other than what it was supposed to be. It went in the hole in the pantry floor!

Lunch was followed by a swift one in the pub. Well, the day was hot and the work hard and tiring. Back home I set to to deal with apples. Approximately a third for jam and two thirds for cider. So I sat on the step and started peeling and coring apples. I forgot to mention a couple of things I spotted in the village shop - both "must haves". One was citric acid, the other potassium metabisulphite. Now, can you imagine a village shop in the UK possibly stocking those items? I made up a little solution of citric acid and as the apples were peeled cored and quartered they were coated with the solution. I kept swilling them around in it as I went, to avoid them drying off. What for? Stops the apples going brown when peeled, on exposure to the air. I worked on the doorstep for a while but was driven back indoors by the heat. All done, I lit the stove, prepared something for me to eat that would just simmer and cooked the jam. In case I forget to mention it later, it didn't turn into apple jam - it turned into apple jelly. Definitely a jelly-like consistency, unlike last years which was equally definitely a jam. Difference in the apples, I suppose.

After eating, I turned my attention to the other apples and in my infinite wisdom decided to just chop them up and bung them straight in the press. Mistake. I managed, by the exertion of might and main, to get about half a pint of pure apple juice. I had about a quarter of an inch of bend on the press, top and bottom, and we are talking more or less four inches of three ply oak here. Have to think that one out again.

Later, in the pub, the character that is helping me out in the garden in my infirmity promised to come at seven o'clock in the morning and do some more.

20th July 2009

Short but sweet article on various depletions, with just a mention of oil.

Did he turn up at seven o'clock? Did he buggery!! Nor did he turn up at all today. Thanks, character!

I started the day by dealing with the apples in the press. When I undid it I found that I had had so much poundage on it that it had ripped the surface of one of the washers. Well, I did say might and main! The whole jolly lot, plus a few left over had to go through the hand mincer. Tedious. Compulsive counting kicked in and I can tell you that it takes nineteen cuts to get an apple into small enough pieces to go into the hand mincer. Sometimes I managed to get it down to thirteen if the pieces fell well enough into place.

It was a hot day. I am still somewhat stymied with regard to garden work so I settled for a little painting in the shade. As with everything else it is coming along slowly. I reckon on about another six hours work and all the exterior windows that I have dealt with so far can go back in place. It has only been on the go a year, after all.

After lunch I had a wander up the village, killing several birds with one stone. I intened to buy eggs and tomatoes anyway. I have loads on the way, but none ripe yet and at less than a pound (£) a kilogramme they are cheap enough anyway. Food miles - about point four of a kilometre! I returned the two large carboys that I borrowed at wine fermenting time. About time too, but then they had no need of them until this years grape harvest. I used the bike to transport them, strapping them over the carrier pannier-wise. Had to push the bike, of course - impossible to ride it thus, difficult enough to push it without catching the back of a leg with the bottom of the iron carboy cradle. I also took along the Hungarian tryplane in the hopes of catching fa szakember. I did indeed catch him. He was sat on his porch with his family, obviously having a break from his work. He cursorarily examined it and declared it to be no problem. I said I would call back as I was going up the road to return the carboys and buy eggs. So that's what I did. On the way back I clean forgot to call in about the plane, and had cycled as far as the church before realising. Ah well, I didn't have the smoking accoutrements anyway so I returned home, dropped off the eggs and tomatoes, picked up the smoking stuff and cycled back to fa szakember's place. He was still having his break. With my reappearance he decided that he had probably been on his break long enough, and so surged into action, dragging me along with him up to his workshop where he set about the plane. A single pass over his planer trued it up - about five seconds work. He set to, just for the pleasure of it, and made me a new oak wedge to go in the plane. Total cost - a couple of beers later!

On the way past as I went out I noticed that the neighbours at No. 68 have a new gewgaw. Hands up all those who had to look up what a gewgaw is! It is in the form of a windmill made of ladybirds, two for the tail that rotate it into the wind and four for the blades of the windmill. It looks nice (if you like that sort of thing) and goes round and round when the wind blows. That's it!

I mentioned it being hot. Whilst I was pushing the bike up the village the bus into town went by and I saw that the driver had implemented his hot weather stratagem. He had the doors open as he drove past. What they do is to keep them open between stops. If nobody wants to alight or embark at a stop they just drive past and the doors remain open. If there are people to get on or off they close the doors twenty or thirty metres before the stop, open them when they get to the stop, close them as normal after everyone is on or off then reopen them once under way, again twenty or thirty metres after they leave the stop. Keeps a nice breeze blowing through the bus preventing the interior from being unbearable.

21st July 2009

I started the day by sorting out the knitting - again! It took me all of about thirty seconds this time. It was a case of the thing much beloved by computer programmers and knitters everywhere - an Off By One Error. I had to unknit about twelve stitches. It is light enough in the pub to knit but not to sort out such problems. I sorted it out and finished the row, and that was that. Until next time. There's always a next time.

When my last lot of visitors were here one of the party took a walk right up to the top of the garden. He made the comment when he got back, not the first time it had been made either, as to how big the plot actually is. It came to me that I keep putting pictures of various bits and pieces on the blog but none of it really shows quite where everything is or the scale of the entire thing. So I sat down and created this plan of the plot to try to give you a bit better idea of where everything is and the scale of the whole thing. It's as accurate as I can get it without getting out there with a measuring chain, theodolite, etc. I had a chat with the local tree expert the other day and he has promised to come and sort out my fruit trees in October. That will definitely be a case of look and learn.

Later on I did manage to get a bit done in the garden, in the continuing absence of the promised help. I had a bash round again with the strimmer - more rosy glows to the front of the legs - and managed a few metres of the path. All is now well behind schedule and there is no way that I will meet my self-imposed target this month.

Speaking of the leg, the lesion continues to improve, but slowly, oh so slowly. When I mentioned a tincture it is Betadine which is Povidone-iodine, or in other words tincture of iodine, so I was quite right in calling it a tincture. The ointment is basically zinc and castor oil cream, with various additives supposed to help the formation of granulation tissue.

Mention of my visitors reminds me to say that helper is still enthusing about his ride out on the back of the bike whilst they were here, continuing to extol the virtues of the rider.

22nd July 2009

Not a good day! I coundn't settle to get on with any serious jobs, and found myself distracted by this and that, spending lots of small amounts of time on silly little jobs. They all needed doing, so I suppose none of it was time wasted, but I didn't get any of the multitude of big, serious jobs attempted.

I did manage a bit of time on the woodwork. The need to get it done is now becoming urgent. Within a matter of days I will be starting to get a tomato crop. I will eat some, of course - nothing like one of your own tomatoes straight off the plant. The reason for growing so many is for winter storage and as far as I know that gives me two options. I can either cook them or sun dry them. Ideally I would like enough to be able to have a tomato based cooked meal at least once or twice a week. I really don't relish having to cook them all though. All those hours over a hot stove when it is hot enough already. Low thirties today!

I have taken to sun drying spinach too. Outside on a baking tray and in three or four hours you can crunch them up like tealeaves. Dry them, scrunch them and into a jar for the winter. I got that one off the Internet - you can actually buy powdered spinach. I am spending quite a bit of time at the moment thinking about what I can store for the winter and how to deal with it. Potatoes - no problem - straight into the cellar in trays. Carrots - bury them in sand on a tray. There is a difference of opinion though. Some sources say dry sand and some say damp sand. Anybody out there have any experience? Onions - simple - plait them with the leaves still on. I'm leaving the beans to mature on the plants this year. I can either sprout them, or soak them and cook them in a soup or stew.

Anyway, just to cheer us all up:
Napraforgo The whole jolly row is like this. They really do like that south facing aspect. Absolute monsters. Don't know what I am going to do with all those sunflower seeds though!

23rd July 2009

It was hot when I got up and it just got hotter. Fortunately I knew this was coming - as all good Englishmen (and Hungarian men it would seem) study the weather forecast. The forecast for here today was thirty five in new money - that's eighty eight in old money. Elsewhere in Hungary the forecast was for over forty! (The Great Hungarian Plain - pleased I didn't go there).

Having watched the forecast I settled down indoors to do some computer work. Later, on the news, I saw that Hungary had declared a heat wave. Bloody hell - it must be hot! In Budapest they were handing out sachets (about half a litre) of water to schoolchildren visiting the city. About eleven o'clock I had a wander over to the shop to find that they had actually gritted the road. A van approached from the west as I waited to cross the road to the shop and an impressive plume of white dust arose in its wake. The tarmac was melting, and in the places where it was just tar on the road it was already molten, like a tar pit. Reminds me of "No Silver Bullet" by Fred Brooks. I thought I had a copy here but I can't find it. As I recall, one of the chapters (essays?) is titled "The Tar Pit".

Having done the computer work, during which I knocked up a sandwich for lunch (by the way the Hungarian for sandwich is "sendvitch" - not spelt that way,of course) I managed to knock out a bit of the woodworking project.

I went to the pub for a beer, which turned into a mistake. I was about to leave after my one beer in the middle of the afternoon when helper appeared. Not good! It turned into a session, of course.

I don't think I have ever mentioned expansion and contraction before. The extent to which wood and metal expands and contracts in accordance with the seasons/temperature/humidity is astonishing. Today my front gate - the little one - stuck again, the reason being that the seriously high temperature has expanded the metalwork to the extent that the lock housing catches on the bit on the gatepost to which it matches up. The same thing applies to the woodwork, but oppositely. I am seeing wood expand and contract within and without the house expand and contract by up to a millimetre between hot/dry and cool/damp. Unfortunately that includes newly painted windows, and, of more concern, all the tools that have a metal head and a wooden handle. Axes, hammers, scythe, hoes - all suffer from the same maladie - loose heads. The best solution I have found so far is to dunk them in a bucket of water for a couple of hours before using them. Which is fine and well if I can plan that far ahead.

Purely as an aside, I looked up the Hungarian for expansion in the on-line dictionary. Twenty one words for expansion. I ask you, how many types of expansion are there?

24th July 2009

Very short and sweet today! I did a bit of work on the drying cabinet and some hand weeding. The leg continues to improve but no faster than before. In for a long haul - good job it is summer and I can at least stay in shorts.

25th July 2009

Today was Falunap. Or in other words Village Day. They didn't have one last year - for various (political) reasons the village could not afford it! That did not go down too well. Anyway, we had one this year and it was today. As usual I had been summoned to bring the camera and take lots of pictures. I arrived on the scene (the football field) somewhat later than intended due to the previous day's exertions with the right elbow! I got there at about a quarter past nine. There were a load of mini-football matches going on. I thought it was just the local lads having a kick-about, but it later transpired that it was all part of the day, and there was five-a-side sort of stuff happening. Helper appeared from somewhere, greated me, and promptly raided the mayor's stache of beer and stuck a can in my hand. Oh well! A bouncy castle appeared (inevitably) and a kind of inflated sided mini football pitch.

The football continued. I have to say that the day was largely based on football until much later. To one side of the pitch were a couple of gazebos with the inevitable huge cauldrons of food being inspected and stirred by the usual suspects. A bunch of ladies sat peeling potatoes.

A table appeared and was set up by the club house, and a number of trophies and bottles of wine set out. I have to say that I would not have put it there. It suffered several near misses as errant footballs flew towards the clubhouse! It rained briefly. Nobody took any notice, so the shower having signally failed to upset our day went elsewhere to rain on someone elses parade. After that it just got hotter and hotter.

There was a lull at lunchtime. The mayor made a brief speach and presented prizes for the mornings football from the amazingly still intact display. After that food was served. It was a gulyas-type (goulash) meat dish served with pasta, and grated cabbage with various other things including grated peppers served as a side salad. Simple and delicious.

Festivities resumed, with a ladies football match - seemed like the maturer ladies versus the younger ones. They didn't mess about either - it was quite rough and tough. The wife of the local fire chief is quite a petite lady but she really got stuck in. The shop lady, who without any disrespect is no spring chicken, kept goal for the older ladies. The older ladies lost. Not, I hasten to say, through age or lack of ability - I guess they had about an equal amount of possession, but the younger ladies had a couple of good strikers and just found the goal a few more times. After that was a mens match. Similar format to the ladies. There were a number of players in the older mens team of at least my age. They got stuck in too.

Towards the end of the afternoon there was another lull and another round of food. Similar, but served with potatoes this time. Whilst I was busy eating, what I suppose I could best describe as a Hungarian carriage and pair had appeared and was parked by the roadside. Finished eating, I had a wander over and took a few pictures. The driver was lounging in the driving seat, quite relaxed. He had a couple of helpers with him and one of them was "Horse Whispering". I got a picture of that too. Whispering over, he came and talked to me. I got across to him that I am an Englishman living in Halogy. "No, I don't speak German" and so on. He told me to speak to the driver, which I did, and to my delight he was not only a fluent English speaker but a highly intelligent and very interesting character. It turned out that he is an international banker, but his real love and what he spends his money on is running a horse rescue centre. The two horses he had that day were both rescue horses. They were very well behaved. Apparently they had set out at eight o'clock that morning and had covered forty kilometres so far that day. They were heading a few more kilometers to a birthday party in a nearby village and the carriage (cart?) was bedecked in traditional Hungarian manner. One of the things that he said really struck a chord. He said (words to the effect of) "You know, I spend my working week in a suit and tie, but at the weekend I just love working with the horses and being dirty". Whilst we were chatting the village children turned up in force. They just wanted to climb up and sit beside him on the driving seat for a few minutes. They took it patiently in turn as one would expect from the well-behaved Hungarian children. I had to lift some of the smaller ones up so that they could get up there. Whilst this was going on I noticed - with a degree of astonishment and some amusement - that the carriage was fitted all round with hydraulic disk brakes. A fine meld of the traditional and modern! Eventually I took my leave, having first promised to send him by e-mail copies of the pictures I had taken.

It took time to get all the assemblage of villagers fed and watered so there was another lull. The guy that had acted as MC and dutifully done battle with the sound and music systems all day packed up and a pro. setup appeared on what they were using as a stage (the large covered - err - porchway?). At seven o'clock prompt the 'turn' started. It was a man and woman team, backed up by a guy operating the sound system. By the way, you know the definition of a critic? A man who leaves no turn unstoned! Groan. They were very good and it was very traditional Magyar stuff. Many quick changes of costume, duets, solos and lots of little dance routines, which must have been quite tricky on the grass. I got a few pictures of them - had to steal the camera back off helper who was snapping away merrily. With my blessing. Anyway, the turn did their turn, and it was well appreciated by the large audience. I enjoyed it, in spite of the lack of understanding. They went off, and the guy that was doing sound system turned himself into a performer. He had keyboard and mike tucked away and off he went.

The shadows lengthened and the sun burnt its way down into Austria. It had burnt its way into my legs as well. I am still enforced to wear shorts and short socks. The first time in many, many years that I have had sunburnt legs. As dusk fell the mosquitoes came out to play. By the time it became the Blue Hour I had had enough. I had had enough food, enough beer and enough exposure. I actually felt quite shivery - almost as if I had a chill coming. I took my farewells, including personally thanking the mayor, and carefully rode home to the blessed warmth and lack of mosquitoes inside the cottage. And that was my first experience of a Hungarian village day.

Just a few pictures selected from the several hundred that were taken on the day:
The food was already cooking when I arrived. A small team of them took it in turns to stir it with a great wooden paddle as you see here. Preparing The Food
The Mayor Presents Prizes The mayor presents the prizes for the mornings football.
Ladies football - the shop lady saves. Shop Lady Saves
Ladies Football - Rough Play It got quite rough and tough from time to time.
The Hungarian carriage and horses. Carriage and Horses
The Turn The turn.

26th July 2009

After yesterday's exertions I was not about to bust a gut today! I downloaded the falunap pictures onto the laptop and burnt them onto two CDRs, one as my own backup and one to put in the Faluhaz library to do with as they see fit. After that, some very light housework, some very light gardening and a bit at the woodworking project.

I had just about finished when helper happened by. Did I want to go to another falunap in a village fourteen kilometres away. Errr, thanks, but no thanks! I'm pleased I turned it down - more later. I just didn't fancy twenty eight kilometres on the pushbike after yesterday.

By the way, if you looked at the plan of the plot did you notice the compass rose. It is labeled in Hungarian. It's rather quaint. North is észak, which means night. South is dél, which means noon. East is kelet, which means dawning. And west is nyugat, which means sundown. Quite logical really.

On another topic, I had a hatching of fleas today. Everywhere. Nice! Bloody thousands of them. You know that they hatch within a second by detecting body heat. They were everywhere. These must have been from the eggs that Pickle dropped hither and thither and yon before I made her poisonous. I gave them a good dose of the diatomaceous earth, and had a good spray round with a can of insecticide that I bought about a year ago. Had to be done. That fixed the little suckers!

27th July 2009

Still trying to catch up, so short again today. I caught up with some domestic stuff left over from yesterday, then set about the next batch of a kilogramme of tomatoes bought in from Pickle's breeders. I got rid of the skins (into the stuff for composting) which is a pain of a job anyway, then set about cooking them down to a thick enough consistency for storage. One and a half hours later I had my product. Another jar (I would call it a twelve ounce jar) of cooked tomatoes for the winter. Working on back-of-a-fag-packet calculations I reckon that I either need to grow and/or buy in about thirty five kilogrammes of tomatoes a year to satisfy my penchant for tomato based food. OK, on potatoes you can survive. Did you know that Hungarian researchers are amongst the leaders in the world in breeding blight resistant potatoes? But with tomatoes and onions you are a culinary king.

After that the morning was getting on, so I had a bash around the yard with the toy mower. It was one of my plans to get at teh bits that the toy mower won't go on and get them leveled out and a bit of new grass seed strewn about. Can't see that happening.

After lunch some woodwork and painting. Then a trip for eggs. Whilst there I had my first commission of the day. I have been asked to make a leather quiver! Yes, as in archery. That will be interesting. Back home I sawed another basket of firewood for the kitchen. There is some sort of irony in being outside in top side of thirty degrees sawing firewood until the sweat drips from the end of the nose.

Later, in the pub, it transpired that helper never got to work today, the result of two falunaps on the trot and two hours sleep in forty eight hours. Now you know why I was pleased I did not go with him. He gave me my second commission of the day. Make a new handle for a dainty (though crudely cast) tack hammer. There was only about an inch and a half of the broken handle still in the hammer. My guess is, by the way it was split, that someone had used it as a lever.

28th July 2009

One way and another I managed to have quite a different day today. I started off by repairing the little hammer. I found a bit of well-seasoned oak amazingly without woodworm holes. Ash or hickory would have been better but I have none so oak it would have to be. Some while of hacking, chopping, planing, sandpapering and cutting wedges later I had restored the little hammer to a working condition. Sorry, never thought to get a picture of it, but helper was later delighted with it.

I had spoken to the local blacksmith the previous evening in the pub and asked about getting a couple of little jobs done. No problem - pop them round. I knew roughly where he lived and worked and helper had told me to look for the barrel. As far as I can tell you all the local artisans' places of work are at the back of their homes. The only person in the village that I know of that has to leave home is the shop lady - it is a lock-up shop. Otherwise, where they live is where they have their workshops. I cycled up the village with the items for repair - the scythe blade and an ax head. The ax head was cracked right across the hammer side and the scythe blade was developing a crack - time for a little TLC. I got up to roughly where I knew he lived and scouted about for sight of a barrel. There was none! Fortunately a couple of villagers that I know happened by and put me in the right direction. The blacksmith was not home but an elderly lady who I presume to be his mother was pottering about with her chickens. I managed to explain and left the items with her, returning home via the pub. Well, it was another hot day!

At home I search for and found a suitable cardboard box and went into the garden and, as best I could with the ground becoming like concrete, dug up a selection of strawberry plants and delivered them to my new neighbour. On the way back I popped in the Faluhaz and gave the lady a CD with copies of all the pictures from Village Day. Did I want it back? I explained that I didn't - put it in the library. I also said that I would provide CDs of szilveszter and disznóvágásra, also to go into the library, to do with as the village sees fit.

As previously mentioned I returned the repaired hammer to helper in the pub. It got handed around a fair bit, and was used to test reflexes :)

29th July 2009

I was going to have a go about an particular character here but I changed my mind and I'll just let it ride for now. We'll see what happens next week - watch this space...

It was hot, and I did a bit of woodwork.

30th July 2009

More cooking of tomatoes this morning. It is a bit like tightrope walking. Jobs that must be done, jobs that need to be done urgently, jobs that need to be looked at before the house falls down any further. One of my main priorities is to ensure that there is not the wastage of my own stuff that there was last year when I was first in such a panic about the house walls.

I cycled back up to the blacksmith's house to collect the scythe blade. He had told me the previous evening that it was repaired. Once again he was not at home, and once again I managed to convey to the elderly lady in my pidgin magyarul what I was after. We looked in three workshops, and I have to say that it was her that spotted it. Wedged up between the rafters and the planks of the loft. Why do we not look up? It worked to my advantage once. I had declared myself bankrupt and the representative of the Official Receiver in Bankruptcy cames and took stock of everything on the premises. But he never looked up. I won't say more other than that it was to my advantage! Anyway, the old girl did look up, and there it was. Beautifully repaired and ground down. I thanked her (as you do) and cycled back home. Via the pub, of course.

Once home I reassembled the scythe and took it for a test drive. Hmmmm - needed a bit of sharpening after all the handling! I managed, I don't know, maybe sixty or seventy square metres before driven off by the heat. After that I did a bit on the woodworking, ate, washed and went to the pub where I started to pay the blacksmith in kind. Beer, of course!

31st July 2009

Up early, I watered the outhouse garden before doing anything else. I was still in the shop before seven. A bit of washing on the line and then another four windrows of scything. Blistering hot once again. I don't know whether the heat has to do with it but we have had two sudden deaths of elderly people in the village this week. The second funeral was today. I can't say that I knew either of them. I didn't attend.

The heat beat me off once again, but I'm not too worried about that. In this heat the stuff that is not watered is just going to stop growing. I did a bit more on the woodworking then retired indoors and did the previous blog update. By the way, does anyone want pickled horseradish? If you do, send me an e-mail at istvan (at) this domain and I will gladly ship you out a small jar!


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