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August 2009

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1st August 2009

It wasn't until the shop was shut that I realised I had ballsed-up. I have taken to buying a whole small loaf (seven hundred and fifty grammes) every other day instead of a half of a kilogramme loaf every day, thereby saving the princely sum of about forty Forints a day. All helps! I got out of synch., and ended up with only the remaining half of a small loaf for the weekend. Hmmmmm - dry crusts by Sunday teatime then.

I had happened upon some peaches so the press came out to play again. Surely I would have more success with peaches than I had had with apples. Well, yes. But it was quite disappointing that I managed to get maybe a litre and a half of pure peach juice from a big carrier bag full of peaches. You would naturally think them juicier than that. I did halve them and take out the stones, of course. Never mind, it is another litre and a half of free alcohol to sustain me through the Hungarian winter.

I have finally taken to doing a bit of reading whenever I have a break. At the moment I am doing a chapter a day of each of "Root Cellaring" by Mike and Nancy Bubel (ISBN-13 978-0-88266-703-4) and "World Made By Hand" by James Howard Kunstler (King of arch-doomers) (ISBN-13 978-0-8021-4401-0).

I taped up the leg again and cast fate to the winds by going out with the scythe. I managed one row and was half way through the second when there was a call from the fence (No. 68). I went over and the lady gave me a yellow tomato. We had a bit of a chit chat and I got a mild chiding for allowing their pumpkin plant to encroach upon my land. I was told to cut it off. Now, why I should have to cut it off my side rather than them cut it off theirs I don't know. And if I leave it to grow and it produces pumpkins are they mine or theirs? The mysteries of Hungarian law and real estate!

It was hot, so I finished the row and called it a day with the scything. It was near enough lunch time too, so the yellow tomato got sliced up and used immediately. It was a grandaughter's birthday today, so I was quite pleased (pleased enough to reboot into the wretched Windose operating(?) system) so that we could do a video chat. Rather nice!

After lunch I did a bit of what I would call light gardening. A bit of watering and a bit of hand weeding. I have to say that the weeds are winning at the moment. Even that limited exertion made me sweat for England. I retired again, defeated.

It came to me as a result of something my daughter said that probably many people reading the blog have never actually seen a scythe, let alone used one. Well, I can only do a picture at the moment. Time (and laptop battery) permitting I may even manage a short movie for you later. Picture:
Me and Scythe Here it is in all its beauty. The blade is ninety centimetres long, and would go down to the bone if you sliced it through a person. The snath is one hundred and sixty centimetres long, and relatively sturdy.

You know, they can be (and have been) turned into a weapon of war by simply mounting the blade in line with the snath.

And here is a picture from the other day that I forgot to post:
The ends of the carcase for the drying cabinet are assembled and glued up. I assembled the sides onto the two ends dry preparatory to glueing. With all in order I disassembled them again with a sharp tap from the first thing that came to hand. An empty beer bottle actually :) To my astonishment, one of the ends remained standing, just like a mini set of rugby goalposts. About two seconds after I got the picture it blew over. Extraordinary. Uprights

2nd August 2009

Had a lie in. I managed until eigth o'clock. That seems to be about Pickle's limit of endurance on the bladder front! I was ill-motivated and it took me an age to get started with the result that the housework dragged on into the afternoon. It was gone two before I stopped for lunch. Surprisingly for a Sunday there was nothing really worth reporting on the Doom And Gloom front.

I didn't do another stroke of work apart from taking the hose to the garden a bit later on, but you can't really count that as work. It depends whether the hose is full or empty when I drag it up the garden. If it is empty it is stretchy. If it is full it is more stretchy and heavy!

I had a cycle up to the football field to watch the locals. I don't know why, but it was a dull, dull match. I knocked it on the head at half time. Along with about two thirds of the rest of the spectators. I cycled home first and dropped off the camera. Then back to the pub. (Of course) I had only just bought a beer when a "kis Hubertus" landed in front of me on the counter. Fa szakember - birthday. Oh dear. Another session!

3rd August 2009

From The Independent this morning. Pretty stark and clear! The comments from the Yanks are sort of amusing, in a schadenfreude sort of a way. They still just don't get it!

The local idiot still has never turned up to do any garden work for me. I have to say I am getting more than a little teasy about it. I had made tentative arrangements to go into town for some stuff for the drier on the half past eight bus, and meet up with helper. I got waylaid by the fact that fa szakember was coming around to look at the big old pear tree. It has a huge crop this year. They are not eating pears, they are the type that are made into Palinka. He reckoned that there would be about four fermenters worth. He is welcome to them - I have no way of processing that lot. Just so long as a couple of litres of Palinka comes back my way! I also asked a favour of him - to fill my muanyag kanna with petrol for the strimmer when he next filled up the car, and gave him the necessary cash, and the kanna. I rang helper and told him that I would come into town on the one o'clock bus.

I managed a quick bit of woodwork and then it was time for a rub down with the Sporting Life, a bite to eat and away into town.

Once in town I rang helper to find out where he was. In the cellar pub, of course, so that was the first beer - the first beer in town, you understand, not the first beer of the day. We moved on from there and whilst I went to the bank helper went to another pub. I went to find him - and had another beer. I eventually moved out to do some bits and pieces of shopping. All quite successful, after doing battle with the street numbering system on the big main road. Each big block - they are flats above, I think - has a single number, so to get from No. 30 to No. 38 is actually quite a hike. Having got several of my bits I returned to collect helper from the pub, and was promptly presented with another beer. We were creeping gently down that one when the village handiman - the one who cuts the verges - turned up in the little pub with his wife. And another beer appeared. You can see where this is going, can't you? They left, and eventually helper and I left too. I had to backtrack to a shop that I should have called in and missed. I needed a tap washer. The big tap in the little garage (potting shed - haha) was continually dripping. The guy in the shop was not best pleased when me and helper turned up and wanted a single tap washer. It lost something in translation too as he tried to sell me 'O' rings. Eventually a couple of tap washers appeared on the counter. Looking at them with an English eye it was obvious that they were for a half inch tap. I needed a tap washer for a three quarter inch tap. (By the way, they do use inches here for stuff like taps, hoses and bike tyre pressures). Helper explained to me that the washers were the same size for both sizes of tap. Strange! More later! Anyway, I bought two. The price was forty Forints. I gave the guy fifty seeing as we had apparently pissed him off so much.

We wandered back into town and I made some more random purchases. With all the walking about, and that, we had worked up a bit of a thirst, so we returned to the cellar pub. I still had one set of purchases to make, from the paint shop next to the cellar pub. There was absolutely no rush, as the half past two bus had long since gone and the half past three bus was more imminent than allowed me to finish my inebriated shopping. We lingered over the beer and then I went and did the shopping. Helper appeared as I was about to go through the checkout and promptly berated me for paying what I did for a particular item. Ah well, shit happens!

We wandered along to the little Tanya pub by the Raba. And promptly got bought a beer each by a local character. There was a younger local character there too, and he and helper fed the jukebox and did the air guitar thing and sang along (very badly) to their selections. The younger local character managed to upturn his chair, and end up on his a*se on the floor. The landlady was not impressed. With barely a minute to spare we legged it for the half past five bus. Fortunately we made it with a couple of minutes to spare. The parting shot of the older character in the pub (who had a little English) had been "Sprint, sprint". As if I could!

Back in the village we alighted, and promptly went to the pub. The landlord was not best pleased with helper when he bought the beers. Helper told me that he had told him "You have had a lot of beer!". I apparently passed muster. We lingered long over that beer. Helper disappeared into the dusk, and I was about to do the same when my new neighbour showed up. Well, it would have been churlish to just go away. We actually managed to talk about a lot of stuff useful to the both of us. When the pub shut I wobbled my way home in his company back as far as the cottage...

4th August 2009

It rained. Oh good, the weeds and the grass will grow again, then. I slipped the coat of many pockets on and went to the shop, as normal. I mentioned a few days ago the 'small' loaves. I bought one today, and the shop lady even commented on it. It was physically bigger than the one kilogramme loaves she had that day. I was about to leave the shop when the village hall lady collared me and presented me with a bill for the community charge. All of eleven hundred Forints! I had to sign for it,of course. The Faluhaz lady had a little difficulty locating my entry on her print-out. Hmmm - there was No. 69 and next to it No. 71 and there was No. 68 and No. 72 - no No. 70! Looking at the print-out took me back long ago and far away to when I used to program in CoBOL. It was just the sort of thing that I used to make the machine produce. As she flicked this way and that through the pages I could not help but notice that at some addresses there was a set of maybe eight/ten/twelve identical signatures. Extended families, all living at the same address. Eventually it was me that managed to spot my address. I did spot the address, not the name. They do need to sort out their sorting algorithm though (pun intended). I wandered home with my beer, bread and bill.

It continued raining, so I spent the morning in the tedium of once again chopping and mincing apples for cider. That took me up to lunch time. It did stop raining by then, but the garden was well soaked. I went back to the construction of the fruit drier.

With nothing else worthy of report I was cycling home much later when I saw the thunderstorm somewhere way, way off over Austria. I saw it. I didn't hear it. It was much too far away, but there were what must have been huge flashes of lightning that lit up clouds that must have been kilometres long. I thought to myself that I hoped it didn't come our way.

I was going to go off on one about THIS GEM with you. Instead I will just let you draw your own conclusions.

5th August 2009

I worked steadily most of the morning on the drier project. During second beer break I flicked in a cursory manner through the big bunch of junk-mail left by postie yesterday. There was one from a company that appears rarely. I normally get Tescos, Coop, Lidls and Euronics. This one had an advert in it for fermenting vessels. Not big ones you understand, but clearly carboy-type fermenting vessels. Ah-ha! Now at least I had a translation into Hungarian. "Uvegballon". Glass balloon. Over lunch I did a search, with the help of Google's "Translate this page" service. I found exactly what I was after - a Hungarian website that did on-line business. They had uvegballon in ten litre, twenty five litre, thirty four litre(?) and fifty litre sizes. Unfortunately I had to register to be able to place an order. Unfortunately, because as I was viewing the page via Google "Translate this page" their site was having none of it. Ah well, bite the bullet and go to the actual site. It was simplicity itself. Apart from a single field that I had to look up, having failed to recognise it as Postcode, it worked as well as - if not better than many UK sites. I registered, received a confirm your registration e-mail, confirmed my registration and ordered two twenty five litre uvegballon. The site gave the choice of paying cash on delivery or by bank, and included a field for any small message that needed to be included with the order. I took the opportunity of using that to send a note in my best pidgin magyarul that I was an Englishman and it would help me if I knew when the items would arrive.

I went about my business. By pure chance I went back on-line halfway through the afternoon. I had had an e-mail, in English, to tell me that my purchases would be despatched that evening and would be with me tomorrow. Oh dear! Oh my! (I would have used something a bit stronger than that! Like Oh shit, Oh bollocks) The reason being that I did not have the necessary cash to pay the CoD. Problem - will the items appear before or after postie arrives tomorrow? Answer - Don't know. Problem - what time does the Post Office in Nádasd shut? Answer - Don't know. Solution - go to Körmend and get the cash. Problem - cycle or bus? Answer - don't fancy cycling to Körmend on a nearly flat back tyre, don't know about the bus. Solution - my faithful black book told me there was a bus into Körmend at ten past four. Twenty to four. I dropped everything and cycled up to the bus stop by the pub. Yes, there was a bus a ten past four, and no, there were no little footnotes to say that that bus only runs during Lent, on a day of a total solar eclipse or something equally bizarre. I had just enough time to cycle the thirty metres back to the pub, lock the bike up and have a swift one to calm the nerves. Off I went to Körmend, encountering only one minor inconvenience. Neither of my bank cards would open the door to the vestibule where the ATM is. Fortunately there were people inside using the ATM. I just waited until they came out and went in myself. My card worked fine. With Forints in pocket I left, letting in another lady who was having the same problem with the door.

On the way home on the bus I noticed that the Raba river was in serious flood. All the time I have been here I had never seen it so high. There were piles of timber banked up against the bridge pillars in the current, and it was spilling onto the flat river banks before the big flood walls. Later, on the TV news, there was footage from the next village upstream from Halogy, showing them filling sandbags and preparing for a serious flood. That was last night's thunderstorm coming down the valley.

Later, in the pub, I discussed it with helper. He blamed the Austrians for not using flood control on their stretch of the Raba. Just let all the water come down and be Hungary's problem. He said it was the same on the Danube coming out of Germany.

6th August 2009

In the knowledge that I was expecting the parcel I was limited until its arrival to work around the house and yard. All mundane stuff, bit of work on the drier and a bit of general tidying up. Sure enough at about eleven o'clock I saw a GLS van pull up. Strangely though he pulled up at the house over the road. The driver saw me lurking and looking, and indicated that, yes he had a parcel for me but was just dropping off over the road first. Sure enough he did his bit of business over the road and then went back into his van and dragged out a big cardboard box, walking over to me with it. I did the necessary signing, and as a small precaution whilst he was doing his bit of the paperwork I picked up the box and gave it a bit of a shake. Reassuringly, there were no ominous sounds of bits of glass moving about. I paid him, including a nice tip, and he shook my hand in thanks and went on his way. I carried the box into the yard. It was not heavy - nothing like the two carboys that I took back up the road. But then, that was to be expected as the cages for the carboys are plastic. A quick whizz along the parcel tape revealed my two new carboys:
New Carboys Of course the reason for the lack of weight is that the cradles are plastic. Hmmmm - that has to go, then! I foresee a project there - make some nice new wooden ones. Great joy - lots of laminating curves and frustums of curved conical sections!

One of the tasks I did manage to do whilst waiting for the parcel was to replace the tap washer on the dripping tap. I turned off the water in the manhole, turned the tap on and let the pressure go, then took my pipe pliers to it. I was beginning to think they were not man enough for the job when I felt it give. After that it was only a few seconds work to unscrew it and extract the gubbins from within. The reason for the dripping became immediately apparent:
The washers (two of) had been crudely home made out of what looked much like bicycle inner tube. Well, I ask you? The new tap washer that I fitted had been all of twenty Forints - six new pence at current conversion rate! Home Made Tap Washers

The thread sealer was likewise home made - string! I took a chance on it resealing and reassembled it. Back down the manhole and turn the water back on, then back in the outhouse to see how I had faired. The job was a good 'un! No leaks, no drips. That will be another few pence off the next water bill, then. I forgot to say that when I first lifted the manhole cover there was a tiny little frog hiding underneath it. When I lifted it he did a kamikaze dive into the manhole. There has been a metamorphosis of (I presume) tadpoles into baby frogs - no bigger than the size of a small fingernail. There are hundreds of the little buggers - hoppity, hoppity all over the place. Where they spawn and go through their tadpole phase I have no idea. There is no permanent standing water on the place. I know they live in holes in the ground. Whether they go down as far as the water table to breed I just would't know.

The drier is rapidly taking shape. Pictures:
Food Drying Cabinet It is a seriously rough piece of work, but the main body is complete. I only need to make the pieces for the trays to slide upon, make one tray initially and paint the cabinet and it can go into operation.
The underside is substantial. It will need to be, as the bottom half will be filled with a honeycomb of bricks to retain heat and continue the drying process overnight. Underside of Cabinet

After lunch I had a bash around the garden borders with the strimmer. After that I cooked. Pizza! It took a while. I have to say that whilst the weather is so hot I rarely do cook a full meal. I just don't feel the need of it. Couple of hard boiled eggs and a bit of bread and marg. does me equally as well. But I just fancied pizza. The tomatoes for the topping came fresh out of the garden and I used what is hopefully the last shop bought onion that I will have to buy. The cooking down of the tomato topping was what really took the time. I had yeast and flour to hand for the base. I guessed at the amount of flour to use and I have to say that it turned out to be an "eyes were bigger than" job. I managed half of it for my main meal of the day - early evening, and a further slice when I got home from the pub. The remaining third disappeared (sneakily) into the dog!

7th August 2009

A very depressing read from Tom Whipple. America, of course, but there is no reason for me to think that Europe will be exempt.

I managed a good bit of scything today, and managed to clear most of it up as I went, so onto the compost heap it went. At least the household waste and a little spoilage got well covered over. I have to admit that last year there was far too much spoilage. I really had no idea what to expect, and the growing season here is so much earlier than it is in the UK.

On my travels I noticed that I had a row of onions that were ready come out of the ground. Now here's a strange thing. As far as I can recall without checking back on the blog I think that I put my two rows of onions and my two rows of carrots in all on the same day, but the southernmost row of onions was ready to come out and the northernmost row not. Only two or three days, but they have not had the leaves drop the same way as the other row. The only difference is that the northernmost row were definitely planted closer together than the others. The larger ones in that row are now almost touching! I have to say that the onions have definitely been one of this years success stories. Subject to how well they keep, of course. I grew them on the ground that had the potatoes in last year. I might just do that again next year.

I went back to the garden later and collected the tomatoes that were ripe enough to pick.

Early evening I had an interesting interlude. The dog set up a furious barking so I poked my nose out of the door. There were two ladies, probably in their thirties, at the gate. I wandered down to see what it was all about. Of course they started off with a load of magyarul that I did not understand so I fell back on the trusted and tried "Angol vagyok. Nem értem sok magyarul." "Angol?" quoth one of the ladies. "Igen". Without further ado she pulled a little booklet from her bag of tricks and looked through the contents page. She turned to page seven (I happened to notice) and handed over the booklet to me. Blow me down if they weren't the Jehovah's Witnesses! I politely declined, and they didn't press the point. I kind of find it quite amusing that in this sleepy little backwater on a road from nowhere to nowhere in deepest rural Hungary we are not exempt.

8th August 2009

A very long but important guest posting from Richard Heinberg on The Oil Drum website. There are legion comments but expect to spend a morning (or afternoon) if you want to go through the lot.

Saturday, so bonfire day. Yet again I forgot to take the camera, but it was only a little bonfire anyway - all over in about half an hour. After that I had a real good bash round with the strimmer. I cleared pretty well all the area that is in the garden that corresponds to No. 72, so it's all looking quite good at the moment. That used up a tank and a half of fuel in the strimmer. I suppose, thinking a way into the future, that I could always trick the strimmer up to run on methanol. I have a potential plentiful supply of that anyway. It is not also known as "wood alcohol" for no reason! Destructive distillation of various types of wood yield a variety of useful products, ranging from methanol, through turpentine (real turpentine!), creosote up to tar, which would be handy for posts going in the ground. All can be done by solar power, of course, with no problem here in summer.

There was supposed to be a plan for me and helper to cycle out to a village about four kilometres from Körmend to some sort of festival, but he shot off from the pub last night without clarifying, so it came to nought. I just carried on working.

Towards the end of the afternoon I sawed and chopped a big basket of firewood for the kitchen stove. You know, there is something slightly perverse about doing that in the blistering heat of the afternoon, and the sweat pouring so that it drips from the end of the nose. I have to confess that after that I went to the pub for a swift, cold one.

I found out later in the evening that my new neighbour is also writing a blog about life here. I ask you - what are the chances of that? Two English language blogs from a small community like Halogy! His headline is "No Going Back". Says it all really.

I don't know whether it is coincidence, but it always seems that whenever I have had a serious bash round with the strimmer my neighbours from No. 68 turn up in the pub, as they did this evening. My new neighbour's folks turned up too, from the UK. Which was nice for him,. And me. I was interested that the conversation turned to the implosion of the world's economy, and whilst Peak Oil was not mentioned there are lots of similarities in the reasons why John is here and I am here.

9th August 2009

Housework, as normal on a Sunday morning. The place was not too bad (HAHA), so I limited myself to a quick sweep through. As you will have noticed I did manage to get a bit of blog updating done.

I managed a bit of gardening. I can't remember particularly what, except that I have started to pull the onions. A fine crop they are too. I pulled the southernmost row and just a few from the other row - they are still not quite ready to come out. I just laid them out on a relatively weed free bit to dry off for a day or two. Looking forwards to stringing them. I had thought about plaiting them, but I have decided against it - too time consuming, as countryfied and nice looking as it would be.

When I got home from the pub, as usual I said "Where's my Pickly dog?". There was no sign of Pickly dog. She wasn't on the door step and she wasn't by the sand heap and she wasn't in the outhouse. Where the bloody hell is the dog? There was a little wimper from by the well. She had lived up to her name and was well and truely in a pickle. She had obviously been chasing/barking at something at or near No. 72 and she had managed to get amongst the little fruit trees by the well. Four times round she had gone, and was left with about a half a metre of freedom. Why do dogs do that? Round and round - always in the same direction. I released her and she was so grateful. Stupid dog. Speaking of which, the word in Hungarian is "bolond".Take out an 'o' and put an 'e' on the end and what do you get?

Late in the day, and picked up within about an hour of publication this from the Financial Times. Makes you think. What I think is that TPTB know all about it, know it is coming and know that they can do bugger all about it, so why not keep drawing the salary of an M.P. whilst the going is good. Not just in the UK, but everywhere.

10th August 2009

Work proceeded with the drier. The main shell is finished and I was working on the sliders to hold the drying trays. If I at least get one pair of them made and one tray it can go into operation. I can add sliders and trays then as I go along and finally finish off with the glazed bit that helps keep it warm overnight. As I think I said it is loosely based on a plan from John Seymour's book.

Washing followed. I am having to make sure that I keep on top of it. I only have four pairs of shorty socks, and that is what I am still limited to wearing.

After lunch I had a right good session in the garden. My plans, as you know are all awry! Nonetheless I determined to make some sort of progress around the fruit trees. Out came the strimmer and I found the rake from where it had been abandoned. I blitzed round all the fruiting fruit trees, so that's minus the cherry trees and the chestnut tree, except one - the pear tree right at the very top of the garden that still bears the scars of last year's fire. Speaking of pear trees, I made a discovery. Another pear tree. Now, it's not as though you could miss it. It's another one of those trees that just grows straight up, stick like, reaching for the sky. Many times I have looked at it. It leans precariously with most of its foliage actually overhanging the old lady's garden at No. 72. It looks for all the world like it will fall in her garden at any time. How on earth it has escaped me for a year and a half that it is a pear tree is a mystery. It isn't even on the plan of the plot (to be rectified)! As I say, it is not a little tree. The other thing that is a mystery to me is why so many of the trees just grow straight up - not all, but certainly I can think of four big trees that are growing that way. I digress. Having seriously trashed around all the trees (bar one), I also managed to rake up and clear all the early windfalls from around two of the trees. There were quite a few half decent ones around the Jonathon apple tree, so I went back to the cottage and returned with one of my five litre plastic fermenters which I had no trouble filling. The knee said "enough", so I returned to the yard complete with bucket of apples, strimmer and dog.

I set about something a little more sedentary - finishing off the painting of the three windows remaining to be returned to the front of the house. Engrossed in my work I heard the sound of an engine approach. It was that rattly/tappety noise that you get with a Hardly Dependable - ooops Harley Davidson. It came and went. And then it came and went again. Definitely faster than a Hardly Dependable! The third time, I saw it. An old biplane. It skimmed across the roof of the house opposite me and disappeared from sight. Less than a minute and it returned once again. This time the sound made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. He went absolutely straight over my yard, and I am not exaggerating to say that he cleared the cottage chimneys by a scant twenty feet. I swear I could feel the prop-wash! The shadow he cast from the sun momentarily dimmed the yard. Of course all this time I had been busily painting. Camera nowhere to hand, and quite frankly, cameras and painting don't really go together. I thought to myself "He'll be back in a few seconds". I dashed in the house and got the camera. Sure enough, he was:
Crop Spraying Biplane By the time I got this he was a ways up the garden. It really doesn't do justice to just how low he was flying

Later, in the pub, I asked helper about it. Spraying against mosquitoes. As I write this I can say it hasn't really helped - as soon as the sun started to set this evening they were back in force. Helper said that he knows the pilot. "Jó soför!" (Good driver). And a good job too!

11th August 2009

From the Financial Times yesterday. And an article from Geoff Styles of The Energy Collective. And a good essay from Chris Nelder. Plenty of doom and gloom today. Looks like it is picking up again!

I set about the results of yesterday's exertions in the garden. A bucketful of little but good windfall apples from the Jonathan tree. I decided in my infinite wisdom to make apple pie filling of them. Oh, the tedium! Peeling and coring little apples by hand. Towards the end of the morning the ennui had driven me to distraction, so I took my distraction to the Internet. The result was an Ebay purchase of one of those old fashioned apple peeling, coring and slicing machines. Looks identical to one on Amazon, but at half the price, and Amazon don't ship to Hungary. If it works OK it will be a godsend. I returned to the ennui. Then had lunch. Then returned again. Finally I was through. All the little apples were safely ensconsed in the slow cooker, in a little citric acid solution to stop them going brown. I discovered I had no cinnamon. Bugger! Oh well, that will have to wait until the shop opens in the evening. I had already discovered that they have no cornflour.

I finally managed to get out and clear the strimmer debris from around two more of the fruit trees by the end of the afternoon. I have to say that I was quite pleased with my efforts. Not quite where I wanted to be, but it begins to look a bit like an orchard in a meadow, rather than a meadow with some trees in it. I'll settle for that.

Early evening, and I did - almost - overreach myself. I had the apples to jar up, a load of tomatoes to cook down, and cook myself something to eat. Turned out alright in the end :) Multitasking at the stove. I have to say that I am spending much, much more time this year dealing with the produce of the garden than I did last year. So much went to waste - not so this year. Very time consuming, but I will have a hugely increased variety of my own stuff to see me through the winter.

12th August 2009

Nothing much to report. Some garden work, not worthy of note. Some woodwork equally not worthy of note. The only odd thing throughout the whole day was when I went to the shop in the early evening - the beer well ran dry. I was walking over the road, the few metres to the shop with my empty bottle in hand to exchange for a full one, so as not to incur the cost of twenty four Forints for the deposit on a bottle, when I saw a figure approaching from the west. It was a person on rollerblades. Now, there are lots of children here in the village that pootle up and down the footpath on rollerblades. This was different. The person was using them as you would expect a speed skater to do. Not only that, but they were on the road, not the footpath. The person emerged from the setting sun and proved to be a young lady. A young lady on a mission certainly, as she never slackened her pace as she went past the shop and through the village. What brought me up short was the fact that it was an Islamic young lady. Not wearing the burka, you understand - I think roller blading might be a bit difficult. But wearing the simple wrap-around headscarf. Understand that I do not have a problem with it. I do have a problem with the perverted expressions of Islam presented by the likes of the Taliban. I went in the shop and replenished an empty bottle of beer. By the time I left the shop she was out of sight. She certainly wasn't Halogyi, so that means that she had roller bladed from at least the next village which is seven kilometres away. I suspect a lot further than that. Her destination will forever be a mystery.

13th August 2009

Projects continue to mount up. Some urgent, some not. A realisation dawned that one particular project needs to be put in motion some time quite soon. Although rural in nature certain parts of its construction will involve some seriously accurate and thought provoking work. A grape crusher! I have it in mind, but I have to say that I am not looking forward to the amount of detailed work involved in making by hand a pair of (near enough) identical wooden gears. Of course, I could pay a lot of money and have them laser cut. I could equally buy a pair of metal gears. But that would be against the whole ethos of this project, wouldn't it! Make, make do and mend.

The village guy that keeps promising and promising and promising to do some work turned up. This time he promised faithfully that he would work all next week. I told him "No, not Thursday". Thursday is the BIG national holiday - the National Day! I got rid of him eventually. It remained to be seen whether he turned up and actually did some work.

Whilst we were discussing... I'll rephrase that. Whilst I was giving him his orders as to what I wanted him to do it came on to rain. I happened to have a look and feel at Suzy's English herbs and realised that they were quite sticky. Hmmmm, time to harvest, which precipitated another urgent project. I had a spot in mind - the utterly useless, falling down (well, half of it) outhouse behind the pig stye. I set about turning it into a curing shed. This is not for curing bacon, ham or trout you understand. It is for curing Suzy's English herbs. I blame Sir Walter Raleigh! Cryptic enough?

Nothing much else to report, other than that the little frogs were out in force in the rain. Hoppity, hoppity - everywhere you set foot. Hundreds of them. Quite a joy to see, actually.

14th August 2009

Not a good day. For whatever reason - I don't know - I felt "out of sorts" all day. I managed a bit of housework and later on cycled up the village and bought eggs.

Later, I did venture into the garden and found myself doing a load of hand weeding. Quite large weeds they were too. Some of them needed both hands to pull out. I noticed a serious problem. I have two lots of tomatoes. One in the outhouse garden and the other planted by helper in the main garden. Helper's plants were seriously sick. Every almost ripe tomato was rotting, centred always on the bottom of the tomato. A fair number of the green ones were similarly sick. I had no such problem with the ones in the outhouse garden. As neglected as they were, they are producing a crop day by day that is enough to give me a fair amount of work just processing them for winter fare. I really do need to get the drier finished!

Whilst I was weeding I noticed that I had a helper. A religious insect. This time I abandoned all, and having coaxed her into my plastic bucket containing the tomatoes I had picked, legged it back to the house. I had to give the bucket a little rattle as we went. She seemed to have the ability to climb the inside of a polythene five litre fermenter. Once back at the house I tried a number of stratagems to get a picture. Not easy. I ended up settling for this:
She seemed quite happy amongst the hairs on my arm. Not as good a picture as I would want but the best I could do in the circumstances. Pickle just wanted to eat her but I prevented that, and once she was finished being the star of a photo shoot I released her back into the garden. I'm not entirely sure, but I think I may have seen a male on my travels. Quite a bit smaller than the female and a very bright vivid irridescent green. Praying Mantis
Late in the day this rather jokey, but rather serious also article from Byron W. King. And another.

15th August 2009

Not a good day. I still did not feel at my best. The leg continues to concern me but that was no more problem than usual. I still had no idea why I should have felt unwell, but I did. It was not an excess of alcohol - well, no more than normal anyway. Probably a bit less. I just felt "unwell". Nonetheless there was work to be done. Having suitably girded my left ankle I went to work with the wretched strimmer. I had another good thrash around with it. Still hate it! But it keeps the neighbours happy.

I finally got round to painting one side of the remaining windows to the front of the house. After that I set to with another semi-urgent design project. I need to have designed and built a grape crushing machine by the end of September. I have the design in my head. It is a basic home-built copy of the one that the next door neighbour brought round last year. The design is quite simple. A hopper into which to dump the grapes, and beneath two loosely intermeshing eight pointed cogs about fifteen centimetres wide with a gap between of maybe five millimetres. That will crush grapes with no problem. I set to with "Dia" to determine the dimensions of the bits of wood that I would need to build up the pair of eight pointed cogs. I used the eight pointed star from the "Miscellaneous" shapes built into "Dia". The figures did not add up, in spite of me using quite a high degree of zoom. I thought to myself "Am I losing it here?". I went to "KCalc" and did some 'O'-level trig. Hmmmm - well the "Dia" diagram and my home-brew calculations differed by over two millimetres. I even went as far as checking my screen geometry by using a bit of paper on the screen. North-South vs. East-West. The result was the same. Now, you might be asking yourselves "What's the big deal if there is a discrepancy of a couple of millimetres between the cogs?". To which my answer would be "If you have three barrow loads of grapes to deal with and the the machine jams every quarter of a turn then it is a pretty big deal!".

I went back to pencil, paper, a forty-five degree triangle and my calculations. I drew it out, actual size, on what passes for graph paper here in Hungary - five millimetre squares. Considering that I was trying to work to at worst nought point two of a millimetre it was a bit of an effort. I finally had my eight pointed star plotted. I drew the centre point, and ran the pair of compasses around it. It made me feel quite good. My eight pointed star was right - "Dia"s was wrong. An eight pointed star is simply two identical squares superimposed upon one another and concentric, one being rotated forty five degrees. The problem with the "Dia" eight pointed star is simply that the two squares are not the same size!!

Having been forewarned that the pub would be shut I decided, in my infinite wisdom, to cycle up to the little pub in Daraboshegy. It was shut too!

On the way home it came to me that there was already a touch of autumn in the air. The days remain hot. The evenings progressively cool and the mornings become even cooler and damp and misty. It is a reminder of the changing of the seasons. We do have seasons here in Hungary - one of the reasons for moving from the UK. The swallows begin to gather on the various wires. Another reminder.

16th August 2009

At last! At long last I got the final coat of paint on the final three windows to the front of the house. It has been a while. I already know that certain parts of certain windows will need a quick rub down and another coat of paint next year. It's the expansion and contraction thing that I spoke about before. Nevertheless, they are all so much better than they were when I moved in. You have seen the pictures!

The strimmer came out and I had a bash around.

It was time to harvest Suzy's English herb. I set out with bucket and knife and sliced off all the ready leaves. For the most part still green there turned out to be a couple of kilogrammes. I have to say that either it is a different variety from that which I grew in Lincolnshire, or the soil was very deficient in nitrogen, or they just got germinated/planted out too late. I am leaving one plant to run to seed as it is supposed to aclimatise to local conditions anyway, so I will know more next year. The next job was to crush the veins using my best marble rolling pin - on the kitchen table. Then they had to be threaded onto a string, and finally all were hung up in my improvised curing shed and spaced out with an air gap between them. I took the hose in there and sprayed the walls and floor liberally. There is a load of semi-folded up cling film scattered around the floor which will hold lots of little puddles of water. The idea is to keep the humidity as high as possible.

I had a plenitude of paradicsum. A surfeit of solanaceae. I harvested them too, and on went the kitchen stove. After I got them peeled and gently simmering I decided to branch out into a couple of jars of Bolgnese sauce base. I can always put the meat or whatever in there when I do the final cooking of it. A quick Internet revealed a recipe of which I quite liked the look. It called for, in addition to the solanaceae, onion carrot and sweet pepper, all of which I had in the garden. A quick trudge up to the vegetable garden and I returned:
Garden Fresh Vegetables It doesn't get any fresher than that.

All got incorporated into my basic Bollock-Naked sauce, as someone I know would call it. Cooked down and into jars for yet another bit of winter sustinence. Mind you, it was hot and sweaty work - it was thirty three degrees of Celcius in the kitchen.

The freshly painted windows were by now well dry to the touch, so back they went into their appointed places. Oh-oh! One of them would not shut. I diagnosed the problem, and with a bit of a heave bent the offending hinge just a bit. Enough to allow the window to shut.

17th August 2009

Praise be! The village guy finally turned up to do a days work. I told him in words of one syllable what I wanted doing, and, for once he went to it like a good 'un. I indicated that I was going into town on the half past eight bus. Which I did.

In town I wandered to the market, did a raid on the Spar supermarket, had another wander round the market and went for a beer in the little pub by the market place. Guess who I bumped into in there? Hilary Clinton!!! Don't be daft - helper, of course, plus one of the other (myself included) Halogyi piss heads. I had wandered about, to the point of exhaustion to try and find either a roll-up camping mattress or a pump up air bed. Helper set about the case. We made our way back into town and helper called in this shop and that. No luck. With time running out for me to catch the bus back to the village we had a quick one in the cellar pub. I left myself a comfortable time to get the bus and was having a smoke. Just as the bus hove into sight helper came legging it up the street calling out. He had managed to find what I would call a li-lo (with or without the hyphen). It was the best that Körmend could offer as regards an air bed. A swift exchange of words and I did end up legging it for the bus. Helper stayed in town.

Back in the village the obligatory stop off at the pub ensued. Well, it was nearly one o'clock and that was only my third of the day. Home, a bite of lunch, and back to work. There was no sign of my worker. Plenty of sign that he had actually done a bit of work, but, as for a full day, I think not!

I "flavour cased" Suzy's English herb. I had had a vanilla pod gently soaking in a large glass of slightly sweetened water just for the purpose. A gentle spray around in the curing shed was all that was needed. After that it was back to painting the drier. In my infinite wisdom I have decided that the inside will be painted brilliant white and the outside will be painted matt black. I figure that the best way to get and retain heat in it.

Pub as usual in the evening. Nothing special. Once home, onto the Internerd and I ended up having a very long chat to one of my daughters in the UK. Rather late to bed!

18th August 2009

The result of last night's Internet exertions was that I did not surface until half past nine! Not good! I had a shed-load of housework to get done and was not at all in the mood for it. Nonetheless it got done.

After lunch the yard and the camping lawn had a haircut - unlike me. Helper turned up and helped me erect the resident tent on the camping lawn, as I was expecting visitors tomorrow.

Later, in the pub, the TV was on as usual, and as usual at a quarter past eight they showed the program called "Önök kérték!" One of the items was a monochrome studio recording of the Beatles singing "Let It Be". Obviously, being a live studio recording it differed qite a bit from the released version. I have to say that it quite got to me. It got to helper too!

I had some rather unwelcome news from the UK whilst in the pub. A friend, a drinking buddy, had died - it transpired later in, at this stage, somewhat mysterious circumstances. I wandered home with a dichotomy of feelings. For one part I was really looking forward to having visitors, and for the other a sadness engendered by the Beatles thing - far from home and family type of stuff - and the knowledge that I will never, ever see "Vinny" again. Thus I went to bed.

19th August 2009

Visitors arriving today, so, as you might expect lots more housework. Not as much as I would have liked - I didn't get the windows cleaned! I arranged to meet helper in the pub at half past two. I don't know why - his idea, and we caught the three o'clock bus into town, being there by three twenty. We went to a pub and had a beer. He kept glancing at the clock and finally said that we should be going to the station. I kept the disillusionment until we had left the cellar pub. "No, they are not on the train that arrives at half past four. They are on the train that arrives at ten to seven!". I think he said the Hungarian equivalent of "Oh, shit!" We wandered gently round the town in the general direction of the station, pausing here and there for the odd hour to have a beer. By now the drinking was seriously sedate, but I did at least get to see a couple of well out of the way pubs. The last one that we went to had a place for a barbeque:
Hungarian Barbeque. Hungarian Barbeque

Whilst we were at that pub a group of horsemen passed by in Magyar regalia, destined for the evening's festivities in town. They were greeted with applause as they went down the street. The pub appeared to be built entirely of wood, which is fairly unusual hereabouts.

At the necessary time to greet my visitors we wandered back from the pub to the station, which was two or three minutes walk. As we walked up the railway tracks the train came in, and as it stopped and the doors opened we had just walked onto the platform. Serendipity!

Visitors arrived. Greetings were made and we set out back up to the town to find somewhere to eat. Helper had said that he knew a good place and "nem draga" (not expensive). Sure enough he led us straight back to the town centre and up a small flight of steps into an establishment that I have passed many, many times without even realising that it was a pub/eating house. Such is the external advertising here! We ate well (and cheaply!), the food of choice for the carnivores being sertespörkölt, and the choice of the veggies, well something else obviously. Away you go to your dictionaries.

Helper led us a back way to the Raba Hid.Wasn't a lot of help - they were already twenty seven deep on the Raba bank! Last year the firework display was at ten o'clock. This year it was at half past nine. As with many other things I think they make it up as they go along. We waited for the throng to disperse a bit and had a beer in the Halascsarda while we waited for our prearranged lift back to the village. Once the sleeping items had been sorted out the visitors soon set off to the tent for the night. I left the door unlocked in case they should need to use the facilities and shut Pickle in the big room with me so that she would not eat them if they did.

Late in the day this rather heart warming piece from The Beeb about Hungary's part in the fall of the iron curtain.

20th August 2009

National day or not there was no bank holiday here. The visitors set about some garden tasks and I set about giving the food drier its final coat of paint. It took rather longer than I had anticipated and it was near lunchtime by the time I had finished. It was hot too - early thirties I would guess. A quick lunch was knocked up based on tomatoes from the garden. I can't remember what they called it but it was basically slightly toasted bread rubbed with garlic covered with fairly finely chopped raw tomato. Basic but good.

After lunch we all ventured out to the garden and just worked on through until we had had enough. I knocked off a bit before they did to get a meal knocked together. It was a soured cream based veggie stew and apart from the garlic, which came from the remains left from lunchtime, it all came straight out of the garden. I even dug up a few spuds. At least there are spuds which is always a relief. Of course you can see the potato plants grow but without x-ray vision you cannot see what is happening underground. Spuds, spinach, an onion, some peas which fortunately happened to be ready and a carrot. Twas good.

Over the meal there was some discussion on the visitors' plans for the morrow. There was some discussion about them taking a trip out to Balaton and much perusing of the Internet to try and establish where and how. The train proved to be a no-no so we turned our attention to the buses. It proved a bit difficult (understatement) but fortunately helper turned up part way through and assisted.

After that we all went to the pub for my visitors to become reacquainted. They were greeted with genuine friendliness by all. The discussions about plans for the morrow continued and eventually the plan for Balaton was abandoned due to the uncertainties of the trip. Instead, a trip to Szombathely was proposed. Helper had managed to conjure up a programme of events that were going on over the national holiday so that helped the decision. It was also much easier with the transportation plans.

21st August 2009

It being, as I thought, a normal day after the bank holiday we were all up and about bright and early in order that my visitors could get the five past seven bus into Körmend and then on to Szombathely. The shop was certainly open as usual and I got bread and bits and pieces just after six o'clock. Just before seven off went visitors to catch the bus, only to reappear within a quarter of an hour. No bus! A neighbour by the bus station had told them the bus would be at half past eight. Now what's all that about, then? We took the opportunity to make more coffee and just sat and chatted for an hour, then at about twenty past eight off they went again. Sure enough the old lady by the bus station was right and I saw the bus go down to the bus station, reappearing a few minutes later with visitors safely aboard.

I dealt with the kitchen. Sorry, boring, kitchen sink stuff! I know! Then I went on to the next stage of the food drier project. Fixing the runners for the first tray and making the tray. Fixing the runners was no problem - they were already made and the holes for the screws pre-drilled. I had the foresight to do that before I painted it. Making the tray involved a bit of sawing and I found that the panel saw was well blunt. Half an hour with my homemade saw file sorted that out and I soon had the sawing done after that. I got the first pair of dovetail joints done by lunchtime.

After lunch I set about another project. One of my visitors had seen the stitch holder that I had made (25th April) (and nobody has commented that the picture wasn't there - I have only just found out!) and had indicated that she would like one like it. So I made one.

Then it was time to start thinking about the evenings food. I had promised to knock up a pizza. It soon got around to a quarter to six and sure enough my visitors reappeared, having caught the half past five bus from town. It transpired that there had been a hoo-haa in Szombathely. A number of people had been waiting for the Körmend bus and it had never appeared. One of them was dressed in a toga having obviously been part of the day's events. As luck would have it he contacted his wife who came out by car, and kindly offered my visitors a lift back to Körmend. Hungarian helpfulness again. Kösönöm, unknown magyar ember! It turned out later that the buses operate a Sunday service right through the holiday time until the following Monday.

The pizza turned out quite well, though I say it as shouldn't.

After that, pub, of course. All three of us are knitters so there was quite a little knitting circle going on in the pub. Strangely, we all three managed to have knitting catastrophies at one stage or other. So there was a fair amount of "Oh, bollox!" and pulling down and picking up stitches.

22nd August 2009

Lots of garden work. That's it!

23rd August 2009

The kitchen wood basket got stocked up in preparation for a marathon cooking effort. It started with me peeling a load of tomatoes to get cooked down. Then one of the visitors decided that it was time that the strudel leaves that I had bought on a whim were used. I happened to have bought butter in the village shop - an unheard of luxury in this house. Some pears were cooked down and some walnuts shelled and crushed. I still have three quarters of a basket of last years walnuts. Nothing wrong with them - they are still in fine condition. There was some discussion about just how old the ones you buy commercially must be, because the visitors still say that mine are so much nicer and fresher than any they can get in the UK. Anyway, a pear and walnut strudel was knocked up. We had that for lunch, and quite delicious it was, too.

In the meantime the onion crop had appeared by the house door in the wheelbarrow, having spent a few days drying out on the garden:
Onion Crop The onion crop. About eighty of them - less what had already been used of course. Maybe three or four.

I sat on the step and strung the onions. There was a lot of weight and I have no idea of the breaking strain of the string, so I just put a dozen to a string. I made up some hooks as I went and hung them in the hallway:
Probably not really the best place for them but at least it is not overly hot, gets no direct sunlight to that spot and maintains a reasonably even temperature at this time of the year. As I understand, they need cool and dry. Helper suggested the cellar in the outhouse. Hmmmm - think not. That's permanently cool and damp. Onion Crop

No sooner had the wheelbarrow been emptied of onions when it reappeared with the bean crop off the garden. I'll speak more about beans later. Suffice it to say at this stage that I had a wheelbarrow full of uprooted bean plants. One of the visitors was told off (in the military sense) to create a lasagne. Another of my random purchases - real lasagne - the fresh stuff, although the shelf life on it whilst unopened was amazing. I had kept aside a rather bruised onion that would surely have gorn orff if strung. Tomatoes were already cooked, and visitor raided the garden for spinach. By the skin of my tooth I managed to keep the stove lit, and soon there was a lasagne cooking in the oven. Whilst that was happening I went back to the step and managed to separate bean pods from bean straw. Mmmmmm - I could see what tomorrow's job was going to be. Or the next day. And/or the day after that!

We ate, showered, changed and went to the pub for this particular lot of visitors' last evening for the present.

24th August 2009

The visitors returned to England today. Fortunately, being a Monday we did not have to bust a gut to catch an early bus. We all caught the half past eight bus which we knew would give us nice time for a gentle coffee and an easy stroll down to the station. I forgot to mention that the MAV website was broken yesterday. It showed the latest time for getting Graz in time for their flight as something stupid, like ten past seven in the morning. Strangly, the page had a "Back" button on it, and if you hit that the train that we expected to see was there. I did a double-check by going to the Austrian railways OBB site. Sure enough it was there too.

There was a hoo-haa at the station. They would not sell my visitors tickets for the Graz train. "You have to go to Szombathely to buy tickets for that train!" Oh, what! Forunately, a young man next in the queue (well, he was the queue) had a little English and managed to explain that my visitors should just buy the tickets on the train. And that's how it worked out. We abandoned the ticket office, went to the platform and within a matter of minutes the train arrived and they departed. It all worked out OK, as I know they got back to the UK safely and are not marooned in Outer Mongolia!

I trudged my way back to town, at this stage still worried that I would get a call from them "We've been thrown off the train at Nádasd!". It didn't happen, so I had a wander round the market, and popped in the little pub there for a beer (as you do). It was about eleven in the morning, and the market was packing up as fast as they could go. Bit different to Boscombe! But then again "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy and wealthy and wise." To which the counter is "Early to rise and early to bed makes a man healthy and wealthy and dead.".

I wandered back into town and made my essential purchase of the day. Doggy chews for Pickle. From the Schlecker drug store no less. With about forty minutes still remaining I went to the cellar pub and had a beer. Only my second of the day, you understand! Sure enough I bumped into a number of the usual Halogyi suspects in there.

Back home, I sorted out the knitting catastrophy. It was a good one. Forty rows!!. It took a while. After that I took the tent down. It didn't take long. Once the last bit was down, folded up and rolled up and in the bag, I noticed another catastrophy. The bloody moles had had a field day under the tent. The camping lawn was like the craters of the moon. I am seriously going to have to trap the little buggers. I can feel a moleskin waistcoat coming on!

I collected the ripe crop of tomatoes and by then I had had enough.

I hauled the tent back to the house and ate my main meal of the day, which was strudel and rock cakes. Ah well, lasagne still left for tomorrow.

Of course I went to the pub, where helper described in detail where I had been on the market, which pubs I had been in and what I had bought on my travels. Small world!

25th August 2009

The village guy was supposed to come and do a days work in the garden for me today. Never showed up. Again! Once again I was tied up in the kitchen processing tomatoes. 'My' tomatoes continue to crop freely, ripening anywhere between a dozen and twenty a day.

Postie arrived, quite early and with a parcel. My fruit peeler off Ebay:
Fruit Peeler Mmmmm - must go and find some windfalls to try it out. If you swing the coring and slicing bit out the way it will apparently peel spuds too. Then again, why would you want to core a spud?

The lesion on the leg was quite sore again today, which I think is actually a good sign. The unfortunate side effect of that is that I kept off the garden. Work there continues to mount up but I simply did not want to take the chance of making it worse. I settled for shelling out some of the beans instead. I have two lots of beans. A haricot-type bean which I have mentioned before. I grew two rows of them this year. And some beans that are a creamy colour with a purple marbling marking on them. I bought the seeds on spec. in the village shop.

26th August 2009

An autumnal morning, with mists hanging over the trees and a chill in the air. Made one think of Keats and harvest festivals. I never did go much for that harvest festival stuff but now I can appreciate it. I am guessing that all (most?) of the worlds religions have some sort of thanksgiving for the year's provision of crops. What made me think of it was the sheer amount of work just to make the best of what nature has provided, to put aside for the winter. I still have the spuds to dig and the carrots, and come October will be the grapes. In the meantime there will be a load of apples, peaches and pears. The last thing will probably be the chestnuts. Oh, and not forgetting the walnuts, of course. Still a fair bit of work to come. And I still need to get back to the repairs of the earth walls.

I got back to the tedium of shelling out the little white beans. I have hit a new high of tedium! There has to be a better way, but the pods shrivel up to - well, simply - toughness. You can fold them over a couple of times and roll them between the hands, but then you get a load of bits of pod all amongst the beans. The other, larger beans were no problem at all. Simply give them a squeeze and they pop open right along their length and out come the beans. With the mind in neutral I got to thinking about adverts:
A million housewives every day
Pick up a tin of beans and say
Beanz Meanz Fartz!
There was also the series that featured two little boys, one of whom was named Mark and as far as I can tell the name of the other, who did the speaking, was never divulged. They all centred around "My brother Mark and me" This one sprang to mind:
We're going to have a gang bang, my brother Mark and me.
We've found a girl who's got big t*ts and does it all for free.
We're going to take her bra off, her panties and her jeans
And then we're going to take her home and feed her Heinz Baked Beans...

(sotto voce) ...We're not really. We're going to f**k her but it doesn't rhyme!
And this one, which was not from an advertisement but from a daughter, learnt at school I think. (Out of class!)
Beans, beans are good for the heart.
The more you eat the more you fart.
The more you fart, the better you feel
so eat baked beans with every meal.
Apologies to H.J. Heinz for the first two.

I decided that there were not enough of the little white beans. Obviously the tedium was not a sufficient demotivator. I got to thinking about how many to grow and how much land space I would need to set aside to be able to have a (equivalent to) small can of beans every day. Being of an enquiring mind I went on the Internerd and found this web page. Hmmmm - think that about covers it, then. I also thought about how much we take for granted a simple thing like baked beans. I intend to see if I can make my own tomato sauce to go with them. The last tin I bought here (you don't see that many in the shops) were, quite frankly, not to my taste at all. I reckon I can do better than that.

I tried out the new peeling machine as well today. Pears. It worked extremely well on reasonably firm pears but was no good if they had started to go soft. The prongs didn't hold in the base of the fruit. Fruit problem, not the machine. I have loads of apples and pears still on the trees so I can see it getting a fair bit of use yet this year.

The workload at this time of year - in the kitchen, in the garden and trying to move forward with projects - is huge. I have to say that next year I might just declare a blog holiday for a fortnight. Mind you, what followed today certainly didn't help. I popped to the pub just after lunch for a quick one. And found myself in there for three hours. Not good, really not good. When I finally found my way home there was a car parked outside the cottage. I recognised it as belonging to fa szakember. Sure enough, he had braved Pickle, tied her up to the well and him and his two daughters were busily gathering the fallen pears from the big tree in the yard. Before they left they had another two sacks and a couple of bucketsful. I had wondered how they harvested the pears for the Palinka. Now I know. They just wait for them to fall from the tree and pick them up off the ground. There are loads left, so he will be back.

Later, I managed to screw up the knitting again in the pub. At least it wasn't forty rows worth! I begin to feel like I am destined never to get the back of the jumper finished!

27th August 2009

As soon as I got my feet out of bed I knew I had a problem. The knee is fucked! (That's a technical term, children) Seriously bad. Bad enough that I struggled my way and found the crutches. Thus I struggled my way to the shop and struggled my way home again, to looks of great concern from the villagers that crossed my path. Not that they had a problem crossing my path. Even the oldest of the old girls were travelling about three times faster than I was.

My achievements for the day? I finished shelling out the little white beans and sorted out last night's knitting catastrophy. Another four rows back! Oh, and I managed a bit of blog updating. I never even got to the pub, so you know it must have been bad!

28th August 2009

The knee was still not good this morning. Once again I took to the crutches to get to the shop and back, but the first thing I did when I got home was to pop a couple of Ibuprophen tablets. By about ten o'clock it had eased a little, and out of spite I walked crutchless back across to the shop where the guy had set his stall up outside to sell clothing. I bought a new pair of shorts.

Back home I made three jars of pear and cinnamon jam. That was the morning.

After lunch I did manage to complete the first tray for the food drier. The bottom consists of the plastic mesh that they sell for fly screens and it proved to be a right royal pain to get it tensioned and square. Fortunately it was a sitting down job.

Later I did manage to hobble into the garden and collected peas, paprika and a load of tomatoes. I managed to get to the pub, too :)

29th August 2009

There have been three major attacks on the Peak Oil theorists this week, one of them as a prominent op-ed in the New York Times. Chris Nelder in this article basically makes mincemeat of them, their affiliations and their track records. Without even having to quote a single statistic. Worth the read, both of the original Peak Oil debunkers (non) arguments and Chris's response.

The knee was still not good today. Fortunately I had a big bowlful to tomatoes to deal with which I was able to do sitting down once they had been scalded and cooled down. I had kept the fire going after breakfast, but I had to hobble out to the yard and replenish the firewood basket in order to cook down the tomatoes. I really do cook them down, too. Probably to about a quarter of their original volume. I saw some interesting statistics on some web site or other about the benefits of cooking down tomatoes. Apparently you lose pretty well all the vitamin C. That's no problem - potatoes are a wonderful source of winter vitamin C. But what you do get by cooking down tomatoes is greatly enhanced levels of anti-oxidants, which apparently is significantly helpful in preventing cancers. By the time I jar them up you can see the tomato oil starting to swim about on the surface.

As I was sorting out the tomatoes to cook it came to me that I ought to be selecting some good 'uns from which to save seed. So I did. Two of mine and one of helper's. Ah! And here's another strange thing that is different between his and mine. Mine have the little knuckle about half an inch from the fruit that allows you to just lift them away from the vine when ripe. The local ones don't have that knuckle - you have to secuteur them off the vine or risk tearing the vine and losing the rest of a truss. It came to me that I really didn't know the proper way to save tomato seed. I would have just chucked them on a paper towel to dry out and hoped for the best. In the never ending thirst for knowledge I went to the Internet. No, you don't just chuck them on a paper towel and hope for the best. The 'goo' which is around the seeds in the tomato (you know what I mean) is actually an anti-germination agent to prevent them germinating in the fruit if they get left too long on the vine. What you have to do is to ferment them. Add an equal amount of water to the seeds and goo, give it a bit of a shake about, cover with muslin or the like and leave until it grows mould on the surface. Pick off the mould, rinse the seeds until clean, and dry in a warm place on a plate - not on paper. Dry for about a fortnight and there you have your seeds for next year.

I made another discovery too, on the same website. I now know that the problem with helper's tomatoes was "tomato bottom rot". The cause? Calcium deficiency! In other words the soil needs liming. Well that won't be a problem then! I have fifty kilogrammes in the workshop right now. CaOH, meszhidrat, slaked lime, builder's lime. Should do the trick. Mind you, I won't be growing them in the same place next year anyway. I'm a long way from having my head around crop rotation, but at least growing everything in a different place is a start. I know that you can follow leguminous plants with leafy sfuff as the legumes fix nitrogen in the soil, which is ideal for leafy plants.

The various types of capsicum are getting interesting:
I have refrained from picking any green ones. I have some little round ones that are all still green at the moment. Not to be recommended! Blow your head off. They are still extremely fierce when ripe, red and dried. The others are going all sorts of shades from yellow to a deep rich red. The long pointy ones are the basis of Hungarian paprika - the red powder stuff. It is very mild. When I am cooking with it I use it by the tablespoonful. You can, of course, mix and match your own. Some of the stuff I have eaten (Falunap) had quite a bite to it. Various Capsicum

30th August 2009

Once again lots of work in the kitchen processing the current batch of tomatoes. There seems to have been an endless amount of cooking up of tomatoes and sealing into jars for storage, but I'm far from convinced that it is enough. It would have been a lot closer but for the catastrophy with helper's tomatoes. The amount of work is inevitable - you just have to get on and process stuff as it becomes ripe, or lose it. You know, I read here and there on supposed preparedness sites that we should all keep three weeks worth of food to hand in case of disaster. Ha! Being the arch-doomer that I have become I am a lot more inclined to say how about six months worth?

I did what I had threatened to do, which was to cook up beans and my own tomato sauce to go with them:
Home Made Baked Beans Here they are. They look right. I have, for once, kept a careful note of my own tomato sauce recipe that I used. I'll let you know how they turned out when I eat them. Christmas day and St. Stephen's day special treat, I reckon. I'm seriously thinking about getting a little hard back note book and writing down my successful home concoction recipes. "Grandad's Recipe Book"! There's something for the grandchildren to look forward to!

I ended up with a small bowlful of the beans that I had put into the tomato sauce surplus to requirements. For my meagre early evening repast I just finely grated some cheese over them and stirred it in, and just ate it. Delicious!

31st August 2009

The sawing horse expired today:
The rot had set in (literally) when my visitors were here. One of them is left handed and was using, as I might say, the wrong end of the sawing horse. The top of one of the legs just broke off. Not her fault - just crap wood. Today the process completed itself and the crossmember died at both ends almost simultaneously. Oh well, I'll know to use hardwood next time. Dead Sawing Horse
Nothing else to report, except that it was not a bank holiday here! And that was August.


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