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January 2010

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1st January 2010

So, the first day of a new decade. A decade that I fear holds profound consequences for humanity on the planet. It cannot have escaped the notice of anyone who reads this blog that I am a Peak Oil Doomer! Like many others - the likes of Matt Simmonds and Richard Heinberg spring to mind - those that know me know that I am an upbeat and (generally) cheerful guy. The recent debacle of Copenhagen shows that, I fear, the Powers That Be, or those that hold the purse strings behind them, intend to continue with Business As Usual until they either drive mankind and all the other species into extinction or force majeur of nature takes over and simply prevents BAU from continuing. I strongly suspect that by the end of the decade we will see quite clearly the peak of oil production in the rear view mirror, so to speak. There are starting to be persistent whisperings on the Internerd that Ghawar has peaked. If Ghawar shows the same sort of declines as Cantarell in Mexico we will really know that TSHHTF! My own feeling is that it is up to individuals or groups of individuals (Transition Towns?) to act. The politicians know it is coming but they also know that there is bugger all they can do about it, so they just do nothing rather than make themselves unelectable next time. Anyway, that's got my First of the Decade doom and gloom off my chest. On with the motley!

It was cool but dry, and certainly not as cold as last New Year. In keeping with my previous intents the only work I did again today was to get the wood baskets filled in the morning in the knowledge that I would be out all afternoon and into the evening. I had just done that when Hobo appeared, somewhat the worse for wear. He confessed that he had been up all night. I topped him up with beer and had the first of the day myself. He reminded me that we were expected at his place at about one for lunch and reminded me that he wanted me to wear my suit. Yeah, yeah!

In the fulness of time I duely abluted and changed. I met up with Hobo as agreed at half past twelve in the pub. There was some light hearted banter going on between Hobo, the landlord and one of the village regulars. Come to think of it there is nearly always either light hearted banter or serious argumentative discussion going on in the pub about something. I had a beer. I kept looking at the clock and Hobo kept reminding me that we had to be at his house at one o'clock. He was by this stage not making very good inroads into his beer, so I had another. Somewhat after one he phoned home to say that we would be about twenty minutes. Well, to cut a long story short we got there at ten past two! Just as we got on the steep bank bit of road that leads to his house the two little dogs next door to his came yapping and barking at the fence. He let his one remaining banger off and they scarpered a bit sharpish. When we got to his we found that the banger had not only terrified the next door dogs but also his little dog. Poor thing was sitting on the doorstep literally shaking with fear. For once it was let in the house to calm down. I might add that Pickle shows no such fear of bangs and crashes. The German Shepherd is not in the list of gundogs, but she certainly has those characteristics of just being curious and wanting to be there when the banging and crashing starts.

I experienced another new culinary first for me. I had finally admitted to them that I don't actually like kocsonya so instead I got pigs lungs! Better, I have to say. After that it was pretty well just another very pleasant afternoon at Hobo's house. A lot of wine, plenty of chat, the obligatory visit from the lady over the road complete with the obligatory winding up of her by Hobo. Towards the end of the afternoon they brought out some books for me to peruse. Obviously precious possessions, they dated back to the 1950s, 60s and 70s. One particular one quite fascinated me. It was a history of Europe from the start of the Third Reich to the end of the Second World War, with lots of pictures. On the last page was a picture of a poster, obviously Hungarian and equally obviously from the end of the war. The image depicted a jack boot, with swastikas instead of the hobnails, and the caption was simply "Nem több" - "No More!". Finally out came a record player and they insisted on playing all four sides of Pink Floyd's The Wall. I explained the lyrics to them as best I could. Hobo was insistent that The Wall was Pink Floyd's first album. I put him right!

He and I finally left at about half past seven. We intended to have a beer in the pub, but managed to pull exactly the same stunt that we had last year. When we got there the pub was locked, barred, bolted and in darkness. We shrugged, bade one another a goodnight and a final Happy New Year and went our separate ways.

2nd January 2010

I sewed the last two pieces onto the knitting, and a ball-ache job it was too. Unfortunately, at the last hurdle a minor bit of bad design had crept into the pattern. The pieces had to match up with colours on the rest of the garment and the designer had chosen to use two lots of odd numbers of rows, with another colour with an even number of rows in between. This meant that the joins in the different coloured yarns were both sides of the work, so whichever way I ended up with colour joins at the garment edge. Not good!

Hobo appeared, now fully recovered from the New Year celebrations. Just for a chat - no work involved. We had a beer (it was lunchtime!) and just sat and chatted for about an hour. Then he went away again.

The weather forecast is a bit grim. Overnight minus ten and with a cold snap and snow on the way.

3rd January 2010

Quite a cold day, as you might expect for this time of the year. It was not as bad as it was this time last year, though. It was not a day for doing much outdoors, and there is still no sign of any activity on the getting of a little stove for the outhouse, so it was too cold for other than the quick odd few minutes work out there. I did lots of little jobs. Too trivial to detail. But it was one of those days when (almost) everything I touched turned into a minor catastrophy. Nothing major, just stupid little things like half the cutlery falling on the kitchen floor after I had washed it, so I had to wash it again.

One job that, fortunately, did go well was sewing on a load of buttons. (I said the day was filled with trivia). The next job that went wrong was the bread. I decided late on in the afternoon that I needed to make bread. I had to relight the kitchen stove - it had gone out whilst I was sewing on buttons. I don't know why - perhaps the particular lot of firewood that I had to hand - but it took forever to start to get hot. In the meantime I had started the yeast, as you do. Of course, it was slow getting going because of the coolness of the stove. I went to weigh out the flour. One pound Avoirdupois. There was not enough in the open bag so I opened a new bag. The instant I started pouring it I realised that there was something wrong. A great dollop cascaded into the scale pan. As you know, you normally have to give flour a little agitation to get it to pour. I looked at the bag. Blast! I had managed to buy búzarétesliszt instead of búzafinomliszt. It was a bit like ground rice. I looked it up later and it is strudel flour. I had skip read it and seen the búza (wheat) and the liszt (flour) and it was the same bag that I usually buy, so I had bought it. Oh well, a dollop of it was in the scale pan now, mixed with the other flour. It would have to do. I carried on making it. The dough came out a bit on the sticky side, but I just whacked it in the bread tin anyway and covered it and put it on the clothes drying rack over the stove to prove. I carried on with some other stuff for a while and went back and looked at it. It was only about a third risen. Blast again! I looked at my watch and decided that there was no way that I was going to get it cooked before pub time, and I thought to myself that I would be back good and early anyway. They are in the habit of closing at about half past seven on a Sunday at the moment. That meant that I would now have to cool the dough down again to stop it rising too far before I got home. So I took it off the rack and put it in the bath!

Then I went to the pub! As expected they closed at half past seven. Once home I had to relight the kitchen stove yet again and get it up to baking temperature yet again. Anyway, I did that and baked the bread. It was, how shall I say, interesting. It had an almost cake texture to it, although it certainly just tasted like bread.

4th January 2010

Kjell Aleklett in Energy Bulletin on his outlook for oil in the coming decade.

It was a very cold morning, but bright and sunny. I took the opportunity of getting some wet washing out onto the line. I noticed that my next door neighbour did too. Of course it froze almost instantly. Ah well, some of the water would sublimate off during the course of the day.

I washed up and "unbusied" the working surface. I have no idea how it happens, but it invariably sneaks up on me and I find myself without any working space. It's all just stuff that needs putting away and if I did put it away immediately I wouldn't have the problem. But I don't. So I do! After that I packed up the knitting for the UK. Posta nearly caught me by surprise on that one. She was very early. As soon as she had gone I thought to myself "Bugger!". I had intended putting in the parcel some little balls of each colour wool and a couple of spare buttons. Ah well, I'll just have to send them separately.

It was much too cold to do anything productive outside except fill the wood baskets and saw and chop a bit of kitchen firewood. I did a bit of knitting, and then curiosity got the better of me. I went on line and looked up strudel flour, with a view to finding recipes. What I found instead was this page. I was so taken in by it that I never did actually find a recipe for strudel flour. I know the principle, of course. You make a dough with it and then roll/stretch it until it is almost translucent. I might try my hand at it, but to quote the above web page I can imagine the neighbours saying "My six year old grandaughter could do better than that". No doubt. The fact that it is alway in stock in the village shop certainly indicates that the locals make their own strudel leaves - or that there are other recipes that I never got around to finding!

I did venture up the garden with Pickle to get rid of the stuff for composting. It is still quite a big compost heap but it has started to shrink. I am hopeful of being able to leave it another year before I use it to let it get well-rotted as I still have two or three of the first years compost heaps on the ground which I can use next year. Plus there will be a huge ring of leaf mould round the bottom of the big walnut tree. There is a dearth of shit in the village. There are only two places with cows, and doubtless they keep their cow shit for themselves. Ditto pigs. And no horses! On the way back to the house I had one of those "I should have" moments. I should have taken the camera with me and got a picture of the now-denuded and pollarded walnut tree in the cold winter's light. I didn't, so it will have to wait for another day.

I did some knitting, ate, changed and went to the pub. There were few of us in there - maybe six or seven. The telly had already gone off when a character appeared. I had seen him before. Quite a larger than life character but nonetheless a big bloke. Probably four-five inches taller than me and proportionally built, with long, long wavy hair that begged to be tied back in a ponytail. Well, he bought our entire table a drink and plonked down next to me. "You are English, No?" in a sort of mix of Teutonic/American/Hungarian accented English. "Igen" I replied in magyarul. Some conversation followed and before I knew it I was speaking to an English chap from Cornwall living in a village only some twenty eight kilometres away on character's mobile phone. How strange! It turned out that character is Austrian, had spent some time in London and Dover, and at some stage had been persuaded not to buy a new car this year but to keep it for a year or two longer and with the money buy property in Hungary. He had obviously been here a while - his magyarul was far more fluent than mine. He used tenses. But the strange thing is that I found his magyarul to be far more understandable than that spoken by an actual Magyar. It's all about consonants. Both he and I tend to spit out our consonants. The Magyar don't. Particularly when it is on the end of a word. Very subtle, very difficult! As abruptly as he had arrived he departed. Time to go home. It had started snowing!

5th January 2010

Kunstler yesterday. I still don't think its just America.

It was still snowing when I got up this morning. Not a huge accumulation but I think more than I have seen here before. Maybe four or five inches by now. It snowed pretty well all day. Very gently. If it had been rain I would call it drizzle. Is there a word for the snow equivalent of drizzle? If there is I can't think of it. It was cold too, not as cold as it has been but cold enough. The kitchen stove was lit first thing, of course, but by about eleven I decided that it was time to light the tile stove in the big room too. I had a special treat for breakfast too - toast and jam. well, you might say, what's so special about that? You have toast and jam every day for breakfast. I had hoped to coincide it with Christmas but the big jar of cherry jam I was using took a bit longer to get through than I anticipated. Today I opened my one and only jar of my home made strawberry jam - just to remind myself that winter will not last for ever and to think of summer delights.

I did a bit of knitting and that was about it for work today. I find myself still in resting mode.

Later - about half past six in the evening - I was cycling up to the pub when I bumped into Hobo by the templom. He had a carrier bag full of envelopes. I recognised the labels, so I knew what was coming. He went on his delivery round and said he would be back in the pub in ten minutes and I continued on my way. It was a quick ten minutes. I had no sooner got served and sat down than Hobo was back in the pub. I got him a beer and he had a rummage in his carrier bag, and over came my Disznóvágásra invitation. I had known it was coming - Hobo had told me the date of it a few days earlier. Twenty third of January. Blimey! That's five weeks earlier than last year, and as I recall it was a seriously cold morning that day. Mmmmm! Time for the thermals to come out to play that day, I think. There could be some entertainment on the day, if what Hobo has told me is true. I won't say more at this stage! The guy that organises it was in the pub - the local football club manager. The day is ostensibly organised on behalf of the local football club. I thanked him for the invite, of course. He just wanted to be sure that I would be there bright and early with the camera. Well - early anyway, I hope!

6th January 2010

It was a strange sort of a day, as it worked out. I had plans to do so much but there was a little job that I had to do in the village before any of my own stuff. I went to the shop, fortunately not too late for bread, but none too early either. I bumped into Hobo in there - with an open bottle of beer in his inside pocket! We had a conversation to the effect that he needed about twenty little nails and a little hammer. I told him that I had some little nails and he could borrow my special little hammer. I thought that he would follow me home and collect them. I went home with my purchases. The stove was already lit and I stuck the coffee on to cook. Still no sign of Hobo, so I went and grabbed a small handful of nails and my special little hammer and went back over to the shop. Hobo was still there so I handed over the nails and the hammer and happened to mention that I would be having a walk up to Pickle's breeders place a bit later. Mistake!

Coffee was cooked when I got home, so I set about the toast. It was a miserable day by the way. More snow, but soft and wet such that it turned to slush when you walked on it. I was just into the toast when Hobo turned up, I suppose about twenty minutes after I left him in the shop. Hmmmm! Breakfast! Coffee, toast, toast and jam and a beer with Hobo. Village life :)

When we had finished the beer (oh dear) he asked me when I was going up to Pickle's breeders. "Most" mondom. So we set off up the village together. He paused at intervals, either to deliver envelopes containing disznóvágásra invitations or to inflict criminal damage on the neighbourhood multi-purpose wooden poles that serve for both electricity and telephone connections. He had I suppose about half a dozen disznóvágásra invitations in A3 size, laminated, and at convenient points put them up with my hammer and my nails. One by the templom, one by the road junction up the road, and later one by the bus stop. Of course, we had to pass the pub to get as far as Pickle's breeders. Only we didn't! A little while later we resumed our amble. Hobo paused to relieve himself. Out of sight, of course, but not more than fifty metres from the pub. Had to be the cold! I have the same problem in cold weather, but I didn't right then. I might have written about it on the blog before, but you know that the UK is the only country in Europe where they have a problem with it. I blame Queen Victoria - "We are not amused". Or was it "Lie back and think of England"? No - that's something else.

Hobo disappeared a couple of invitations here and a couple there, and eventually we ended up at Pickle's breeders. I passed a little information to the daughter of the house and then we took our leave. More wandering about followed as we retraced our steps back down the village on the other side of the road, and a detour into one of the little side roads where the delivery of the disznóvágásra invitation was greeted with a rather large pálinka. To top that we had to pass the pub again on the way back down the village. Did we? Did we buggery!

I wandered home with at least one objective for the day fulfilled. The kitchen stove fire had long made its will so I had to relight it. I made myself a very special treat:
Beans on Toast Beans on toast. How mundane is that? Except that these were my beans grown in my garden with my tomatoes, onions and peppers in the sauce. Need to work on the bread thing.

After lunch I made flapjack. Well, I attempted to make flapjack. Once again the Hungarian ingredients defeated me, and once again, in spite of being equally as well oiled as I was, it stuck to the tin. I broke a kitchen tool - the sort with which you remove fried eggs from the frying pan. I ended up using my precious pointing trowel to get it out of the baking tray. That worked, but the flapjack was kind of crispy - not soft and moist as you would expect. Edible nonetheless.

I lit the tile stove and restocked the wood baskets, and settled down in front of the computer to burn a couple of CDs of szilveszter. This laptop came close to going against the wall. Windose, Linux, all the same. I managed to create three coasters! My Linux CD writing software gives the option of simulating a write to CD. After the third failure, I did that. It does everything except actually fire the laser that writes the CD. Perfect - no problem at all. Yet again I am faced with the problem of what to do with this Hewlett Packard device. It would not have been the first time that I would have hurled a piece of HP hardware against the wall!

I went back to the pub much later. My neighbour John was there but Hobo had bitten the dust!

7th January 2010

I will confess that I did not surface very early. I seem to be still in that Christmas/New Year mode, and the weather has certainly encouraged that. I noticed when I let the dog out that we had had a very minor flurry of snow. At one point on the path I also perceived footprints in it. Strange! I never heard anyone knock, and the dog had never gone ballistic. It was in fact much later in the day when that particular small mystery was resolved, when I noticed that my special multi-function tool that I had lent to Hobo to knock the nails in to hold the posters up had returned and was lying on the doorstep.

I was in no hurry to get to the shop - I still had bread, the rest could wait. So I lit the stove and put the coffee on and a slice of bread to lightly scorch. I was sitting on the stool by the kitchen table when I caught a glimpse of movement in the corner of my eye. I turned and what I saw gladdened my heart and filled me with joy. I probably turned a bit too quickly because it was gone in a flash. I sat quite still, and it came back, and another and another and another. They flitted and hovered about and eventually the boldest made a dash for the bird feeder, grabbed a sunflower seed and was gone in an instant. Then one of the others did the same. Blue tits. At last they have found the feeder. Just blue tits, but it's a start. I have to say it quite cheered me up and everything in the world was good. Until I went to the shop.

The lights were on, but both the iron gates were closed across the doors and it was plain that they were not open for business. This was about ten in the morning when I would have expected the shop to be open. I could not see the shopkeeper chap, but I could see a bloke that I didn't know sitting with a laptop and punching in numbers. Ah, bugger. Reorganise the day!

I went home and started to sort out to rack off my wine. The real stuff, the grape wine. Long overdue, I know! I rescued my second twenty five litre carboy from the potting shed and gave it a good wash out and sterilise. Out came my syphoning tubes and the full carboy went on the work surface. My plan of action was simple. Firstly I would syphon off a single little glass and see if I in fact had wine, or whether I had produced twenty or so litres of red wine vinegar. Then I would syphon a couple of bottles full. You never know when a bottle of wine will come in handy. And then I would syphon the rest into the clean, empty carboy. The plan worked perfectly. I syphoned a little glass off, and yes, I had red wine not vinegar. Rough, a little on the acid side but once again better than some of the Beaujolais Nouveau that I have tasted. Next I filled up my two cleaned prepared bottles. Then I hit the snag. My long syphoning tube simply was not long enough to syphon more than a couple of inches from one carboy into the other.

Oh well, I had been planning a trip to Nádasd anyway. The double catastrophy of shut shop and syphoning tube now made it an imperative. It was too late to catch the one o'clock bus, and that would have meant a lot of hanging about in Nádasd. I did this and that around the house and then caught the three o'clock bus at the bus station. It is only a few seconds walk from the bus stop in Nádasd to Bödő, and I was served immediately. I bought a new three metre length of syphoning tube, a refill for the blowlamp and a bottle of battery acid which had been my original necessary purchase from them. I was about to pay when a set of hole saws caught my eye. Five hundred and forty forints. About one pound seventy. Too good to miss, so I bought that as well. I still ended up with enough time on my hands to wander over to the little pub across the road and have a beer, and then still enough time to pop in the Coop shop there, which is open all day, and get the bits that I had not managed to get in the village.

Timely, I caught the bus back to Halogy. Of course I got off at the stop by the pub. I wandered over to be greeted by a hand written sign "Ma Zárva" (Closed today)! One of those days. I wandered home and unlocked the house. I have never mentioned it before, in all this time, but I still have a problem with keys. Oh, I know which one unlocks the door, but I have lived so long either in houses with Yale-type locks or in places where I needed to unlock an inner door once through the outer one that I still sometimes carry my keys into the house with me. For goodness sake! My door has a mortice lock. You unlock it from one side, go in, and then stick the key into the keyhole inside so that you can lock it when you need to. It's not rocket science, but I must have walked an extra mile when I find myself closing the shutters in the big room only to realise that I still have the door keys in my hand. I didn't forget today, but when I turned to put the key into the door inside it caught my eye that the lights were on in the shop. As a result of the pub being shut I needed a couple of beers to see me through the evening so I wandered on over there. Sure enough the shop was open (you thought I was going to say shut, didn't you?), and moreover the regular shop lady was back in charge. So that was what all the hoo-ha in the morning was all about. Handover day - stocktaking.

At the end of the day, all was well. I finished achieving my objective of racking off the wine. The wild birds are visiting me, and I had sufficient comestibles and beverages to see me comfortably through the evening.

8th January 2010

A very sensible article from Nigel le Page writing in South Africa.

Well, we're all doomed then. "Doomed, we're all doomed Captain Mainwearing" Is there anyone left alive from that series? Answers on a postcard please addressed to
Nothing more - let us see how good the postal services are!

I have no idea what I did today, except that I got a food parcel in the pub. The reason that they were shut yesterday was apparently because they had a family pig killing. I didn't even know they had pigs. Enjoy the links!

9th January 2010

Oh bugger! I had lost a day somewhere. I had yeast and intended to bake, so I was in no particular hurry to get to the shop. As I wandered over at about ten o'clock she was about to lock up. She waited for me and I grabbed what few bits I wanted, including a couple of beers for the course of the day. I paid and left and that was that...

...until I realised it was Saturday, not Friday. Cocked that up then. Certainly not enough beers for the whole weekend. To top it off there was an icy cold rain falling.

Hobo turned up, just for a chat. Well, as it turned out not quite just for a chat. He wanted to "borrow" the small remaining amount of "Glett" that was left over from when my big room was done over as it were. He borrowed a bucket as well. Not one of mine. It was here when I arrived and he found and rescued it but left it here. As I write, I can find no translation, either in my little dictionaries or on-line, of "Glett". I have just been and checked the bag, and sure enough it says "Glett". The only word on the bag that jumps out at me is gypsum, so I guess it is some sort of plaster. He went off to do a little repair job for John, and I started in with making bread for what I now realised was the weekend.

I had made the dough and set it to prove when Hobo returned. He brought back my "Glett", unused. He had found some other stuff with which to repair John's wall - I know not what. I say unused. Well he had used a little bit. The bucket that he had recovered proved to leak when he used it, so he had repaired the leak with a little of my "Glett". Ah, the Hungarian way! "There's a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza. There's a hole in my bucket, dear Liza - a hole. With what shall I mend it, dear Liza, dear Liza, With what shall I mend it, dear Liza, with what?" With "Glett" you stupid bugger!

I baked the bread, got the firewood in, got changed and went to the pub. I know not why, but a fair number of freebie beers from various sources came my way during the evening so that partially alleviated the weekend dearth of supplies.

Later, at home, Pickle managed to steal, and eat, my small remaining supply of indoor walnuts, half a pot of soured cream which I had inadvertently left within her grasp and the remaining half of the fresh yeast that I had used for todays baking! All my own fault, of course. I was in the frame of mind that I actually found it quite funny. Dog - fresh yeast. I ask you!

10th January 2010

It was an absolutely horrid morning. A raw, cold, grey day. I let Pickle out and poked my nose outside to behold another catastrophy. Whilst I was out last night Pickle had obviously decided to get a bit of exercise to keep warm. The sand heap! I'm guessing, but I reckon that she must have scattered at least a cubic metre of it across the yard. That's a lot of sand! Oh well, it had to go back on the heap! I could not afford to lose that amount of it. In fits and starts I got the lot back onto the heap. Some of it had gone as far as five metres from the base of the heap! Apart from having a few breaks and doing a general sweep round of the house that was my work for the day. I did it in fits and starts with plenty of breaks to a) rest and b) warm up. By the time I had got the lot back it and remade the fence around the heap and found a couple of extra bits of corrugated iron to go on the top it was pushing on three in the afternoon. Time to fill the log baskets. The only saving blessing with the sand was that it had gone all over lying snow, so it was easy to get it all up without putting lumps of yard into the sand heap. Boring day, with not much achieved.

11th January 2010

Monday morning. Up early and I was determined to get more done than I had for the past few days. After the usual breakfast and the normal check of e-mails and trawl for doom and gloom I did a load of washing. More than I like to let accumulate I must say.

I did some gardening too! Indoors, in the warmth of the kitchen. My garlic had started sprouting so I got five pots from the shed and the potting compost and in they went. Hopefully they will fare a bit better than last years which were at about the same stage when I stuck them straight in the ground outside. It must have been May, as I don't think I would have put them out before the chance of a last frost would have passed. I never got any of them anyway, because they got walked on. More than once! They didn't seem much to like that.

After that I did another first for me. I made carrot cake. I had been thinking about all the carrots I have. You may remember that there were a lot more than I bargained for. I found a recipe on the Internerd. It had two ingredients that I didn't have to hand - pecans and vanilla essence. Ah well, walnuts would have to substitute for pecans - same family anyway. And vanilla essence I would have to do without. Grating the carrots was a pain in the elbow! It turned out better than my highest expectations! Absolutely delicious. I had never really been a fan of bought carrot cake but this was superb. Enough of blowing my own trumpet!

Postie arrived with two parcels that I was expecting - long delayed! I had a hot lunch. I seem to have reorganised my day again by doing any cooking at the end of the morning and having the hot meal of the day for lunch. Makes sense whilst I am keeping the kitchen warm at least through the morning.

I can't remember what I did in the afternoon. Nothing especially noteworthy anyway. Sat and ate carrot cake is my best guess. I did the wood baskets, of course. For whatever reason, I ended up in the pub quite early. He closed quite early too. What I hadn't done was to light the big stove and I have to confess it was quite nippy in the big room, and took some while until the stove kicked in. Warm enough by the end of the evening though.

12th January 2010

Another cold grey day. I got on with the current knitting project after breakfast. Hobo appeared. I had promised him some work and I set him on to tackle the hallway. He had other work later in the day, so he only did a couple of hours and then disappeared.

It occured to me over lunch that it was about time to tackle the rabbit pelt. I checked back on the blog (as good as a diary!) and sure enough it had had a couple of days over a fortnight stewing under the salt/ash mixture. I rescued it from the potting shed, shook off all the excess salt/ash outside and armed myself with a board for the next step. The instructions said to use a dull knife and scrape away all the clinging salt/ash and in the process remove the inner membrane from the actual hide. So I did. For two or three hours. I really did not seem to be getting very far. Various bits scraped off and some just clung on. To top it off I was working standing up, which is really not good for me. The worst things that I do are those where I just stand in one place for a length of time. The knee, you know. My ex-students would verify that when I was lecturing I used to walk about a lot. Did you know that the Hungarian for lecturer (elöadó) also translates to performer?

Eventually, having scraped and scraped at about a quarter of the pelt I gave it up for the day. The normal ritual followed. Firewood, something to eat, change and go to the pub. The TV news was full of the fact that the Budapest transport company (BKV?) had a strike on, and it caused absolute chaos in Budapest. They showed interviews with ladies in tears and footage of monstrous traffic jams as people that would normally use public transport tried to get to work by car. Reminded me of my days on the M25!

I just had to share this one with you. About half way down you will find "Case Study: Odyssey Petroleum Corp. - Presents exceptional valuation risk-reward scenario". This company has found oil in Mississippi. Yeah, a whole fifty million barrels in the ground! That's Million with an 'M' It is being described as "large". Yeah, right! Assuming they have exception success they might get lucky and get half of it out. Say twenty five million barrels. How long would it take for the US of A to get through that? The U.S. Energy Information Administration gives the U.S. daily crude oil consumption in 2009 as 18.7 million barrels. A DAY!! So the "large discovery" above mentioned would supply the U.S. for, let's see now, a whole thirty two hours and five minutes. Puts it in context a bit, doesn't it?

13th January 2010

I found this about UK natural gas supplies this morning. Seems to me that the UK came (is?) very close to disaster! Oh well, I can't talk - I've only got about sixty days of heat stored ;) Could probably put on another layer of clothes and eke it out to about ninety days. Reminds me of my comment back in August 2008 about Carolyn Baker's comments on flatlanders.

Hobo arrived to do a bit more in the hallway. He did that and then shot off elsewhere to do something different. I went back to the rabbit skin. I don't know why, but I started in at the other end. Quite suddenly I had a small area where the inner membrane was quite clearly coming free of the outer hide. It was totally unlike my efforts of yesterday. It couldn't be just be pulled off, but had to be worked off with a combination of scraping it back with my dull knife and using a very sharp knife very carefully to separate difficult patches. It was a strange mixture of very tedious, quite demanding - the scraping with the dull knife required a fair amount of force - and very delicate work.

That was all I did all day. By the end of the day I had about two thirds of the pelt trimmed ready for tanning. Hobo reappeared and disappeared a couple of times. Did a bit of work and had a beer. By the time I rolled up the pelt and put it away for the day I had definitely had enough! Not beer! Work on the pelt. By the way, I just put "skinner" into the on-line dictionary and it came back with fifteen different Hungarian words that translate as "skinner". They include such things as a bulldozer driver and someone who lifts turf! Thought you might like to know that.

The strike in Budapest continued into a second day. I really can't say it affected us much here!

14th January 2010

Hobo turned up for another go at the hallway. Between us we cleared it out, mostly into the pantry. Ha! Pantry!! Well it will be. Probably sooner than the small room off the kitchen. The mirror on the wall, designed for the use of a person of short stature, disappeared never to return. I already have a much better one than that lined up to replace it. The big notice board type thing upon which I dump all manner of stuff (dog brush, dog treats, strings of onions, etc, etc) proved to be simply hooked onto a couple of wall nails and simply lifted off. I think that I will keep that. Give it a bit of a refurbishment and maybe add a couple more shelves to it. The wall behind it proved to be quite sound, thankfully. And not that many cobwebs considering that it has to have been hooked up there for probably a minimum of six years. Possibly many, many more.

Whilst Hobo did what he was doing - alapozó - I finished off the rabbit skin. We both finished at about the same time. We had a beer and a smoke and just chewed the fat for a while. He enlightened me greatly about this property. Not for the blog, unfortunately, folks. He went on his way, and I set about the second to last phase of the rabbit pelt. Tanning, with fur on. It was not a long job, but it was one that required a certain circumspection. The tanning solution is a gallon of water, a pound of salt and five fluid ounces of battery acid. Fifty per cent sulphuric acid - not to be messed with. I donned the industrial rubber gloves for that bit. The instructions also said to weigh down the pelt to prevent it just floating on the surface. I rescued some clean, large pebbles from the yard and wrapped them into the pelt so as to ensure that it would be submerged but also that the tanning solution would reach all parts of the pelt. In went the pelt and out came a profoundly unpleasant smell. A nasty sulphurous smell, akin to hydrogen sulphide but not. Hmmmm! I was supposed to keep it in the warm for a week whilst the tanning process takes place. Not if it smells that bad! Fortunately it either i) went away or ii) my nose can no longer detect it.

I had a very late lunch. Enough that it would have to serve as lunch, high tea and dinner. I gathered the materials for the next couple of small projects, but that was it for the day. Had enough!

I think I forgot to mention that I had a new visitor to the bird feeder. A chaffinch! He/she lingered quite long too, just standing there and eating stuff, unlike the blue tits which behave more like smash-and-grab raiders.

15th January 2010

It dawned another grey day, but it turned out a bit milder than it has been, with a slow but steady thaw causing a steady drip, drip, drip from the edges of the roofs. I never mentioned it before but it occured to me as I was on the bus a couple of days ago that you can tell the state of insulation on the houses by the amount of snow that is left on them. You could even take a guess at which houses were unoccupied - they were the ones with all the snow left on the roof. The well insulated ones tended to have just a small circle of snow thawed around the chimney. With other houses you could see that some rooms were unused, or at least probably unheated. The snow remained above those rooms, but elsewhere had melted off the roof completely. Other houses had no remaining snow anyhere on the roof. My own house maintained its covering of snow rather well. Hobo had told me at some stage that the original ceilings - the traditional wooden ones - remain above the present ceilings, and that the house is insulated between those original ones and the lower, plaster-type ceilings that exist now. I already knew that the original ceilings remain, as both Jozsi and the guys that removed the central heating pipework were walking about on them when they went into the house loft. I had a look up there whilst they were doing that but still have not set foot up there. Maybe I will one of these not-so-fine days and I'll take the camera and show you the internals of a Hungarian cottage roof.

I finished off the current knitting project. Only three weeks late - they were supposed to be a Christmas present! Pain in the whatsit. Love knitting - hate the sewing up. Necessary though, but I could maybe send them off with all the loose ends hanging and say it's a part DIY present!

After lunch I took my egg box and cycled up the village for eggs. We had the usual chat, including the fact that the daughter is now in England and had reported back how much snow there was. Toni (the husband) mentioned how warm it was today. Hmmmmm - maybe three Celcius! But, looking back, that is quite mild for this time of year now. When the eggs arrived - ten of - the egg box would not close. They were huge eggs! I stached them carefully in the bottom of the shopping bag, made my salutations and cycled as far as the pub. Mistake. Big mistake. I got home at about nine! And one of the eggs bit the dust on my travels. It didn't go to waste though. I fished it out of the egg box and it went straight into Pickle!

I also found Tim Robbins writing in the Shropshire Star. I have comments there, and it has resulted in an unexpected exchange of e-mails from a like-minded individual.

16th January 2010

I found Karen Sweet writing for This is a really good round-up of Peak Oil preparation and why it is a good thing whether Peak Oil happens or not.

It was a really nice morning. Clear and sunny, but still cold. So much better than the series of grey days with dull leaden skies that we have had. The shop only had stale bread - expiry date today! I have no idea what was going on with the stock rotation. Speaking of which I don't think that I have ever mentioned stock rotation of my clothes. Oh yes! Clean pants and socks go to the back of the shelf and I take from the front. I have a different system with tee-shirts. They all get stacked on the "clean" pile when washed and dried. I also have an "in use" pile. They are all clean too, you understand. When I need a clean tee-shirt it gets taken from the "in use" pile Once a day in summer, and once a week in winter! When the "in use" pile runs out I simply turn over the "clean" pile, so that the ones that have been in the pile the longest are now at the top and it becomes the "in use" pile. When I was at University as a student my group had quite a discussion about pants and socks one day, and it was clear that anyone who had separate drawers for pants and socks could quite rightly be regarded as posh. I digress - again! I revoked on the stale bread in the shop and bought flour and yeast instead.

So, with the stove well hot I baked. I just can't get the bread quite crusty enough though. I know it has to be the flour, but to get bread flour I have to go all the way out to Tesco. I have seen none in any of the other supermarkets in town and they certainly have none here in Halogy. I mentioned way, way back in April 2008 the baker's strike. I never talked about bread flour though. I had access to two sorts. "Swan Brand" and "Baker's Choice". They were as different as chalk and cheese. The "Swan Brand" flour produced a wonderfully crusty bloomer-type bread, and it would freeze and defrost as if it had come straight out of the oven. By contrast the "Baker's Choice" flour produced what I would call a farmhouse loaf - you know, the ones that are always a bit floury on the outside. Freezing them was a disaster. And you had to eat them today - tomorrow they would be stale. I suppose the ones that I bake myself here usiing the village shop flour are a bit akin to that, but they don't go stale. They are perfectly fine the next day.

I did some work on the sweater. You remember the sweater? That I started last February or March, or whenever! Slowly but surely shelved projects are bubbling up to the top. I still need to get a stove in the outhouse though! Of new projects I have a couple of small ones in mind, but only small. And here's another curious thing. This time last year I was absolutely dreading spring and having to get out on the garden. This year I am cursing winter and simply cannot wait to get out there again. I don't know whether it is down to the fact that I lost so much time with the leg problem last year, or whether it is the fact that I know that at least a fair bit of winter digging got done last year. It may also be partly due to having so much of my own stuff to eat also. Not nearly enough I know, but if it all stopped tomorrow (food deliveries to the village, etc., etc.) I would survive the rest of the winter.

Later, in the pub there was a bit of talk. I was promised five angorra rabbit pelts for the price of a couple of beers. Oh dear! I need to find a way of improving the productivity on the scraping front!

17th January 2010

There was an arrangement with Hobo that this morning he was going to make good the hallway walls around the stove pipe where it comes through from the kitchen and where it goes into the chimney. Of course, that meant that he wanted it cold so that he could work round it. That meant not lighting the kitchen stove. It was just a bit on the chilly side in there - about eight Celcius. I could manage without my toast and jam, but I couldn't manage without toast, jam and coffee, so the electric kettle was put into action for once and I had a cup of somewhat past its best Nescafe. Then another.

Hobo turned up as promised at a rough approximation of the time he had said. Sunday is just another working day for Hobo, and for quite a number of others in the village. He set to into doing those wall repairs and in half an hour or so had them sorted. I satisfied myself with staying in the big room which was still passably comfortable from last night's fire and doing a bit of computer work. Once Hobo was satisfied with his repairs the kitchen stove was lit. It took a while to get going enough to take the chill off the kitchen. Outside it had begun to snow again.

I had a quick sweep through. Waste of time mopping with all the snow outside. Even if I clear the path a certain amount of snow manages to get dragged in to the hallway and promptly melts and gets paddled about. I stocked up early with firewood. Doing the kitchen firewood is about the only serious exercise that I am getting at the moment. I am burning my way steadily through the old firewood outhouse! One of the timbers is square and about seven inches by seven. I have only tackled that one once with the bowsaw. After that I went for a beer. I was a good boy and just had the one then returned home.

I made a potato soup. To get a bit of variation on an original theme I kept the potato cooking water and after mashing the spuds put that water back as the bulk of the soup. I also put the onion through my finest mincer then gently sautéed it in butter for about ten minutes, with the seasonings. The soup was delicious, and the minced onion just gave it a little texture. With a couple of slices of bread it proved to be very filling.

The pub stayed open late this evening! They didn't close until eight o'clock. </sarcasm>. It was snowing again when I left.

18th January 2010

I had managed to leave myself with a small mountain of housework. Washing and washing up. That occupied the morning, on and off.

Arrangements had been made to meet Hobo at twelve (guess where?), and I was to have a walk with him to check out the stove that may or may not be available and which I may or may not buy, then we would be on our way into Körmend to buy decorating materials for the hallway. I was going to kill one or two other birds whilst in town. Sure enough, I got to the pub at twelve - no Hobo. I managed to watch almost a whole episode of Zorro before he appeared. They are showing the 1957 to 1959 Zorro TV series at lunch times. The Hungarians love it. Hobo had been held up on another job, so that was going to look at the stove out the window.

In town, the paint shop is right next door to the cellar pub. You have to pass it to get anywhere in the town centre. We rarely do. Pass it, that is! After the beer in there we did go to the paint shop and sorted out what was needed for the hallway. I looked at colours and decided on a cheerful green. Hobo took one look at the price and the Tikkurila emulsion was rejected instantly. Thirteen thousand forints for enough to do the hallway. He had already selected some sale price white emulsion anyway (just over three thousand forints, to put the other in context) and the shop lady could see that she was not going to make a sale on that one, so she took us to the pigments. There was a nice primary green one at about five hundred forints. We bought two. We left all the purchases there in the shop for retrieval later and headed into town.

I wanted to call in the bank and activate my new Visa card, so we arranged to meet back up in the "Presszo". Once again the process of activating the card defeated me and I had to seek the assistance of one of the ladies. It was the other one this time. She activated to card for me very quickly, then made me sign for it. The other one hadn't done that. It is like at the chemists at the hospital. Sometimes they made me sign, other times they made me sign both the back and the front of the prescription and other times they didn't make me sign at all. I think they make it up as they go along!

I met up with Hobo as arranged. Another beer. I legged it to the Spar shop for a few bits and was back in half an hour. Hobo had arranged by phone that we would get a lift back to the village by car. Sure enough a young man from the village who I knew by sight but not by name appeared. He has a passing resemblance to Prince Harry! We stopped off at the paint shop and with our supplies got dropped off at the cottage. Christian refused any petrol money. I bought him a beer the next time I saw him in the pub, and I'll buy him another one the next time I see him. Very pleasant and helpful young chap.

Later, in the pub, I got to thinking about so-called flow control taps. You know, the ones that are commonplace here on the continent but I believe are outlawed in most situations in the UK. I have no idea why I was thinking about them! I say so-called, because here in Hungary about ninety five percent of them don't. Control the flow that is. The gents in the pub has three stalls (if I might call them that) and out of the three two of the taps don't work properly. It's the same everywhere. They squirt when you push them and stop immediately when you release them when they are supposed to allow a measured flow of water before shutting off after you release them. It was snowing again when I went home.

19th January 2010

Hobo appeared to "Glett" the walls. We had bought a new bag yesterday. But this one has an actual Hungarian product description on it - not just "Glett"! It is actually called felűletkiegyenlítő, which I find absolutely impossible to get my tongue around. It translates as "surface equaliser".

I finished another piece of work. The jumper! Yes, it is finally finished, and to prove it:
I had decided that the ribbing round the neck was likely on the slack side, so I have given it a bit of help. Once of my purchases from yesterday was a bit of elastic. I made up a neck band and slip stitched it to the inside section of the foldover. Cabled Sweater

Here are a couple more pictures that got missed along the way:
Pickle with Skittle Ball Here is Pickle guarding her(?) skittle ball. This was from 6th January.
And here is the carrot cake, of which I had forgotten that I had taken a picture. Carrot Cake

I cooked too. Liver in a rich onion gravy, mash and peas. I bought the liver in Spar yesterday - pigs liver. It is very cheap. Just over a pound for a kilogramme. I asked for half a kilo. and the lady slapped a bloody great piece of liver on the scales. It was just over four hundred grammes. I told her that that would do! It did me for two meals anyway. I forgot to mention that I probably had a near miss with it last night. In the absence of fridge I simply stuck it on the workbench in the outhouse. I got to the pub and suddenly realised that I had left the outhouse doors wide open when I retrieved the bike. Oooo-er!! Dog! I whizzed back home and closed the doors. All was well - she had not found it!

Hobo knocked off for lunch, saying that he would be back in a couple of hours when the "Glett" had had time to go off a bit. He never showed up, which was quite unusual. He appeared at about half past five and apologised. He had been called to a plumbing crisis at home. I think the saying is "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!". I had occupied myself in the afternoon by doing a blog update, taking the stuff for composting to the compost heap and, as ever, filling the wood baskets and the bane of my existence - chopping kindling. Hate it! It is fiddly and time consuming and you don't get any benefit from it exercise-wise.

Hobo disappeared off to the pub. I sorted out the stove, changed and headed off to join him. Yet another day slipped by without me seeing a stove for the outhouse!

20th January 2010

It was a thawing sort of a morning. That is to say, not a morning for thawing firewood with a lithp, but a melting of snow. Hobo appeared and started painting out the hallway. I returned to a leatherworking project that has lain abandoned for some while. Did a bit at that and then started in on a small new woodworking project. Yes, I know I have woodworking projects queued up, but they are just not going to get done until I get a stove in the outhouse so that I can use the workbench! Lajos (fa szakember) appeared unexpectedly to measure up for some small pieces of wood to go round the inside of the door and match up with the refinished walls. He was somewhat displeased by the muddy, Pickly paw marks up the outside of the door. Well, if I had know he was coming I would have cleaned them off. Bless, she does like to see what Hobo is up to. He noticed that the door was sticking slightly, promptly borrowed my shoulder plane and planed here and there. He also whipped the door off its hinges gave them a turn this way and that and plonked the door back on its hinges. It didn't stick any more. The funny bit was when he was doing something somewhere near the sill, on his knees, and Pickly dog, all waggy tailed, came up and gave him a wash. Layos was not too pleased about it. Hobo and I thought it was hilarious.

In the midst of this mayhem I was trying to bake bread. It was not too cold a day, and even with the front door open it was warm enough in the kitchen. Layos disappeared with his measurements, Hobo went back to his painting and I kneaded the bread dough and set it in what has to pass for a loaf tin to prove.

I opened a beer for Hobo and one for myself, filled and lit the pipe and Hobo lit a cigarette. We sat in the warmth of the kitchen and he gave me a bollocking! "Why are you buying chicken from Spar?" "It's very expensive!" "Why don't you buy it here in the village?" It turns out that, unbeknown to me, only about five houses away is a major chicken producer. Where the chickens are I have not the slightest idea, but Hobo said that at any one time he has over twenty thousand. These are not egg chickens like the ones Toni has, but meat chickens. Apparently you just put your order in by Wednesday at the latest and on Thursday or Friday anytime or on Saturday afternoon you just go and pick it up and pay. Anything you want - whole birds, big or smaller, legs, breast, drumsticks. Hobo went back to work and so did I.

The bread was nicely proved and the oven sufficiently hot, so in it went. I have taken to spraying water in there for the first five minutes or so of cooking the bread and brushing the top of the loaf with water before cooking in an attempt to improve the crustiness of the bread. Hobo finished what he was doing and left for lunch promising to return and do a first coat of colour on the walls later. I turned the bread out of the oven, knocked it out of the tin and set it to cool on a wire rack. Then I had the rest of the liver with some rice. Different!

Hobo did return today and set about mixing in the pigment that we had bought into the emulsion. It was green, but not quite green enough. Hobo explained that this was just the first coat and tomorrow we would put in more green and give it another coat. I went about the usual ritual - kitchen firewood, cserepkalyha firewood. By then Hobo had finished, and so had I for the day.

Looking back to a year ago, at this time I was just getting over water catastrophy No.2 - the freezing up - and I (we) had not even started on ripping out the polystyrene in the big room. This year - touch wood - I have water, the wood stove in the kitchen keeps me warm all day and the cserepkalyha keeps me warm in the evening and all night. I still very much miss not being able to see in the flesh my family, but Skype helps, and I miss my work colleages and the contact with students in my previous employment. The language barrier continues to irritate. I continue not to study, but as an e-mail correspondent said "What better place to learn a language than in the pub?". I have food in the cellar, and in the cupboards.

Later, I had one of those "Oh, Bolloxs!" moments. Before I even took the bread knife to it or tasted it, I thought to myself "Oh, Bolloxs! I didn't put any salt in that bread.". I hadn't either.

21st January 2010

It snowed. And it snowed and it snowed and it snowed. I suppose we accumulated six or seven inches during the day. Doesn't sound a lot, but it is for here! For the first time since I have been here the snow caused problems for people trying to leave the village by road up the hill, towards Nádasd. It actually didn't cause too much grief as someone with a tractor and a couple of people with big four by fours dragged stuff up the hill. They even managed to get the bus up the hill. I did hear later that one of the buses slid off the road between Daraboshegy and Nádasd, and it took a couple of hours to rescue it. Nobody was hurt, fortunately. Just somewhat of a large inconvenience.

I just carried on as usual. I have fallen into the Magyar way, and I swept a path clear out to the road several times during the day. I saw my neighbours both sides doing the same. I also swept a path out to the woodsheds. The first job after I had been to the shop and lit the stove was to chuck a handful of napraforgómag on the bird table. By the time the coffee had cooked all hell had broken loose! The table was absolutely mobbed by blue tits. Anything up to six at a time! I managed a couple of pictures:
Blue Tit Feeding It's not that great as I had to take it through the kitchen window from inside. The optical qualities of the window glass are dubious at best. Exposure metering was also tricky to say the least. For those interested, I used program mode with spot metering and an exposure compensation of plus one. You can see the snow falling!
I managed to get two at once this time! Blue Tits Feeding

I needed cash, and hung the sign out for Posta. I happened to spot that the Posta van had driven past and was parked by No. 72. It turned out not to be the normal Posta lady but a young man that I had never seen before. "Pénz?" mondom. "Gép problema!" mond ö, "Holnap!". "OK" mondom. So that was that - no cash until tomorrow. I was not desperately short. It could wait until tomorrow.

I made, and ate a half of, one of my chicken, cream and peas pies. After that it was an early lighting of the cserepkalyha and settled down to do a good blog update.

I did manage to dig my way through the snowdrifts and get to the pub for a couple in the evening. When I got home I found this on the Beeb news headlines. Well, in about a hundred years we have come a long way haven't we? One of the world's foremost car makers can't even build its cars without the accelerator pedal sticking, or carpets getting wedged underneath. Whatever! Whatever happened to KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid)?

22nd January 2010

Hobo turned up. He made good a couple of bits in the hallway that were not to his satisfaction, **then sat and had a beer and a leisurely smoke whilst the** repairs dried. So did I. I hung the sign out again for Posta. Hobo did the second colour coat and we (repeat from ** to **) emulsion paint dried. I stuck the other half of the pie in the oven to warm through, then assisted Hobo to put up the border. Did I ever explain the border? There is always a border because the Hungarian ceilings have no right angles to cut in to. The top of the wall is radiused into the ceiling. Probably a five centimetre radius. I suppose you could just mask off a little way down the wall and paint a hard join between the white of the ceiling and the colour of the wall. It would look a bit harsh though. So they just do a rough job of the join between the white and the colour and then paste a paper border round. Like in my pictures of the made-over big room.

I sat and ate my pie. Hobo cleared up and washed out his painting equipment. I mentioned Posta - the fact that it was now gone one o'clock and I had not seen Posta. Hobo more or less said no chance, he will have been and gone from the village by now. Bugger! I was still not that short of cash, but it was Friday and I had the whole week end to do, including the village pig killing day. Ah well, only one thing for it - a trip into town.

Hobo departed, and I did the wood basket thing.

I decided on the five to three bus. That would give me either five minutes or a couple of hours in town. I caught the bus at the bus station. There were no dramas because of the snow, today, although the roads in most places were still just packed down snow.

Once in town I immediately decided on the two hours option. Mainly on account of the fact that after yesterdays snow many places were slick with snow that had been tramped down and had turned very slippery. Discretion was definitely the better part of valour. I got to the bank and got cash. Then I checked out my other Visa card, as I suspected that I had had a "grey" moment and buggered it up by changing the PIN to something that I could not remember. It transpired that all was well - "grey" moment averted. I kind of just lost interest after that. I could have made seriously good use of the time in town, but with the conditions under foot and my knee seriously not liking the cold I carefully retraced by steps as far as the paint shop. Well, not quite as far as the paint shop. About five metres short, actually.

So, after a very leisurely beer in the cellar pub, I did manage to visit the paint shop. I bought some wood stain to touch up the front door and frame where Layos had planed seven shades of ***t off of them with my shoulder plain, white spirit to wash out the brush, and on a whim I had a look round for kettle descaler. I saw a product that I thought would fill the bill and sought assistance from the young man. I explained in my normal butchery of the Hungarian language that I needed to clean the inside of a kettle, and would this do it? He seemed at a loss for an answer, and I put it down to having butchered the language into incomprehensibility, but the lady in the shop, who was busy playing with the paint mixing machine, came over and looked at what I had and declared it to be good for what I wanted. That was actually quite a fillip to know that I had not butchered the language as much as I had thought from the young man's response.

With about three quarters of an hour still left after I had finished in the paint shop I decided to have a wander to the Halászcsarda and have another steady beer. There was only one single customer in there, but it happened to be a young man from Halogy who is a regular in the village pub, and one of the skittlers. There was also a lady there that works in the Halászcsarda who is also a skittler in Halogy. Of course, as soon as I walked in I got from them "Szia Steve", "Hello Steve", so I was amongst friends. The staff were sitting around a table with nothing to do other than to challenge one another to flick a box of matches off the edge of the table into an empty glass. I was sitting with my back towards the restaurant and facing the way that I had come in, and it took some little while to realise that there was no longer a telly in there.

I caught the bus back to the village, and for some reason the driver dropped me off right outside the pub. Can't think why ;) I had a couple. Hobo was in there anyway (surprise), but by about half past seven I was done and made my way home.

23rd January 2010

It was the pig killing day organised for the village by the village football club, Halogy SE. A bit of reorganisation took place quite late yesterday, and everything was put back half an hour. With getting home early yesterday evening I was much, much better prepared than last year. I remembered to charge up the camera batteries, I had a fire laid in the stove so that I just had to put a match to it, and the coffee maker was on top of the stove with water and coffee in it ready to go. I had set the alarm for five and I kept it there in spite of the putting back of the kick off. It would at least allow me another half hour to get ready.

I was pretty well awake when the alarm went off. I don't know if it is normal, but my body clock rarely lets me down. If I know that I have to be awake and up and at it at a certain time I (almost) invariably am. I lingered in bed for just a few moments and glanced at the clock when my feet finally did touch the floor. Five twelve. Loads of time. I got dressed and for the first time since I have lived here all the thermals came out to play. The forecast had been for minus ten overnight. The big room was still very warm at that time of day and by the time I had all my layers on I was actually pleased to escape to the relative coolness of the kitchen. It was only seven Celsius in there. I kicked the dog out. It was cold outside, but I didn't think it was that cold so I stuck the thermometer out. Only minus five - relatively balmy!

A single match lit the stove. I glanced out and saw that the shop lights were on so I wandered over there and made a few purchases (beer for Sunday!) mainly so that I could change a ten thousand forint note. The pub landlord would definitely be a bit iffy if I turned up there at half past six in the morning and gave him that for a coffee. When I was a pub manager I used to get a particular customer that would come in on a Friday lunch time and buy a single bag of crisps and tender a fifty pound note. I fixed him after the second time. He pulled the same stunt a third time and I told him I would have to change it from the safe. I did. He got forty nine one pound notes as his change! Plus the oddments of course. He had the cheek to remonstrate with me, so I remonstrated right back, along the lines of "You know, if you want a fifty pound note changed you only have to say to me "Steve, can you change me a fifty pound note?"". We got on all right after that. I digress. The shop lady was a little surprised to see me at that time of day. I certainly beat most of the village. The chap who goes and does a bit of tidying up for her - getting rid of cardboard boxes, putting the empties back into the store room and bringing another case out kind of thing - was in there. With a bottle of beer on the go!

I returned to the cottage just as the coffee cooked so I just went with routine and had my toast and coffee. I double checked the camera kit and set off on a leisurely stroll up to the pub in plenty of time. In plenty too much time as it happened, as the place was still in darkness and locked up. I could hear that Láci was about, as there was the sound of beer cases being moved about from round the side of the pub. I had only been there a couple of minutes when John turned up. We moved across to the pub and stood talking. Láci came to do something in the cellar and spotted us and without further ado unlocked the pub and let us in. We had a coffee apiece and sat in there chatting. It was a good ten minutes before anyone connected with the pig killing came in, but after that they appeared in dribs and drabs. Hobo appeared too. So much for fires under boilers being lit.

They had the first ingestion of pálinka which John and I were also invited to partake of. We didn't get asked up to Daraboshegy to meet the pigs though. After a suitable interval we took our leave of Láci and wandered down to the Faluhaz. We needn't have rushed. It was some little while before the pigs arrived. There was a hiatus. All the snow from off the courtyard at the Faluhaz was just piled up in the driveway. They could not get the vehicle and trailer to the back of the Faluhaz. Someone was detailed to clear it. He did, unlike whenever he worked for me and did not do what I thought wanted doing but did what he thought needed doing. No names. no pack-drill!

Eventually the pigs arrived at the back of the Faluhaz. This year it was pigs plural - two of. They did not have a huge bad tempered sow like they had last year. They were quite contented in their trailer. I got quite close to take some pictures and didn't get snarled or barked at. John says that it is because they are communal animals and if they have company they are much happier. They were despatched, in the traditional way.

After that a well-drilled routine sprang into operation. Much the same as last year, but different. This year the whole operation was more leisurely, with a lot less people involved and instead of being all over by round about lunch time it went on steadily for most of the day. There were of course regular ingestions of pálinka. I think that John and I partook in the third, fifth, seventh..... You get the idea.

I popped home a couple of times, once for just a sit down for a while and the second time for a couple of Ibuprophen. The cold and the standing about had taken their toll. I had thrown a bit more stuff on the bird table too. I was just sitting in the kitchen waiting for the Ibuprophen to kick in when something caught the corner of my eye. I turned to see a big bird - well big in comparison to the blue tits and such that I usually get - on the table. It was a strikingly handsome bird. With the beak that it had, it had to be some kind of finch, but big! I had one of those "Ah, bugger" moments. The camera was in the big room and the battery for it was in the charger. By the time I got back the bird was gone. Some investigation between then and now reveals that it was coccothraustes coccothraustes, or in Hungarian rózsás pirók. I had never seen one in the wild. I suppose I might have in an aviary somewhere along the way. A friend in the UK who is into birds has never seen one either. The RSPB web site has it badged with a red icon. Cause for concern at diminishing populations. I have to say that in spite of it being pig killing day seeing that bird was actually the highlight of my day.

I returned to the Faluhaz to find the sausage makers in full swing. They worked in a team of three. One person winding the handle, one person guiding the skins and one person linking them. They had two tables full by the time they finished. Inside the hall the tables were being prepared for the evening. Hobo and another laid the tablecloths with millimetric precision. Hobo revoked on setting out the paper napkins and plastic cutlery. It took the another three hours to complete. Totally disorganised. He had a serious bollocking from the head bod of the day at one stage. I really thought that head bod was actually going to physically throw him out. He had just about finished when several village ladies appeared with baskets of baked stuff that were set out on each table. Time to go and get ready for the evening.

It was all a bit of a scramble. First light the kitchen stove and stoke it up really well so that at least a minimal amount of heat penetrated as far as the bathroom. Then light the big stove. Refill the log baskets as much as possible - I was not about to spend an hour cutting kitchen firewood. I simply hurled enough bits and pieces in there to ensure that I could keep the stove well hot whilst showering, with enough to spare to at least make coffee and toast tomorrow. I didn't get dressed in my finest. I think that in English terms it would be "smart casual". As it transpired it was a good choice. Most of the other people that turned up were similarly attired. There were one or two in suits, but not many. When I arrived back at the Faluhaz I was surprised that there were not more people there. Well actually there were hardly any people there apart from the workers who remained as they were. By degrees the villagers appeared until the company was complete. I have to say, not as many as last year. Where was the turn? There was no sign of the cigány band. Aside, did I ever mention the definition of a critic? "A man who leaves no turn unstoned"! They did arrive eventually. It was not the same band as last year.

The evening proceeded as last year with lots of free food and free drink. There were not quite as many people there as last year. I don't know why. Their loss! The wine and beer flowed and various bits of dead pig were served up. And the musicians played and walked about. On a scale of one to ten compared with last years group I would say about five out of ten for musicianship, but I would say about eleven out of ten for entertainment.

It wound down and we all went home. It is not a long walk from the Faluhaz to my house. As I got towards my house I saw three people going along the footpath in the direction of up the village. There appeared to be a conscious one either side and a semiconcious one in the middle. I have no idea who they were. I got home, to find that when I took off my outer jacket there was an unexplained bottle of beer in one of the many pockets. So I drank it!

24th January 2010

I can't think why, but I had an all day hangover and did nothing apart from light fires to keep warm, and ate. At one stage Pickle did her ballistic bit and I poked my nose out of the door to see Hobo in no better state than I was dragging his music centre and various other festooned bits and pieces home, on foot.

I did manage to drag myself to the pub in the evening for some hangover relief. Hobo was not to be seen. I have no idea why, but I left there with another food parcel which turned out to be a load of delicious cakes.

25th January 2010

This is very scarey reading!. We know that these events do occur, and if one is happening right now it will be utterly catastrophic for the UK and Northern Europe. Look for the link to the ocean temperature map. If you want to know what life would be like without the gulf stream, Port Stanley is about the same distance south as Fairford and Potters Bar are north. Makes you think!

I was having a sort out in the kitchen when Hobo arrived. Not for any particular reason - I had no work for him. Just for a chat (and a beer). We lingered quite long over that beer, chewing the fat about the weekend. Eventually he went on his way. It was lunchtime by then, so I had lunch. I kept an eye out for the return of coccothraustes coccothraustes, but there was no sign of him/her. Apparently they are a very shy bird and it is extremely unusual for them to get as close to human habitation as getting on my bird table!

After lunch I settled down to a session of blog updating. That was it for the day.

Except for the pub, of course. Charlie Simpson was on the news! As was another Englishman called, if memory serves correctly, Paul Young. The context escaped me, but what did surprise me was that he was fluent in magyarul.

26th January 2010

I forgot to mention on pig killing day that John and I finally diagnosed that my remote control for the camera had died. He has a Nikon too and his remote control is exactly the same as mine (was). Mine had been iffy for a while, but today absolutely refused to work. Until John got his out it had been impossible for me to diagnose whether the problem was with the remote or with the camera. The remote had had a brand new battery in it quite recently. I had even checked the battery with my multimeter and it was fine. Well, the camera worked perfectly, first time every time, with John's remote control. Time for mine to be pensioned off, unfortunately. I took the battery out and gave it to John as a spare, then handed the remote to Hobo and told him to bin it. He won't, of course. He will keep it as a souvenir.

Speaking of the remote makes me think about the birds. I have still had only the one glimpse of the hawfinch. At least, it hasn't returned whilst I have been looking. The tits have found the bird table big time. They seem to have feeding frenzies at certain times of the day. First thing in the morning, about eleven o'clock and about half way through the afternoon seem to be favourites. There is a constant stream of visitors all day but at those times they seem to come en-masse. The other species of which I see quite a lot is the red breasted nuthatch. I have, of course, made myself an on-going task that manages to take up quite a few minutes of each day. As I write, we are having a particulary fierce cold spell. Having attracted all this avian company it simply is not fair to cast them back on their own resources when there probably simply is not enough food about for many of them to survive. It will remain a daily task until the weather turns and they start to get their natural food supply. Even then, I think they will get a couple of daily treats of walnuts. I have to say that their antics do cheer me up on these dark and cold days.

I am no ornithologist, but it excites me to see a new visitor, and my readings on the Internet make me realise how closely a small thing like this ties in with what I am doing. There is no doubt that large scale industrial agricuture is detremental to rural bird populations. The birds are a very sensitive indicator of environmental degradation. I feel quite strongly about it. Can we - humankind - afford to lose any species of anything? The world becomes a poorer place.

Work-wise, I restored the hallway to some semblance of order. The tool tidy went back in its place and the tools sorted out and put back. That was after I had swept and mopped. Various areas of the kitchen seemed to have become temporary homes for stuff that should be in various places in the hallway. The notice board type thing had been put back but the dark red background shouted at the new colour scheme, so I had given it a couple of coats of left over emulsion to match the rest. Towards the top of that thing is a device with brackets. Sort of a shelf, but not. There is a bracket either side connected by square section aluminium tubes, with a gap of a couple of inches between them. It had been a constant irritation, as stuff invariably ended up falling through the gaps. I fixed that! I just cut a piece of hardboard to fit, and now nothing falls through. There is another rail underneath anyway that has a series of hooks on it, and that remains as a place to just hook stuff up. Such as the onions. I took the opportunity to give them a check over as I hung them back up. One had bitten the dust and was consigned to the composting. Another had decided to sprout, so that one was used in todays cooking. I have to say that they are keeping very well hanging in the hallway. Goldilocks treatment!

Having managed to clear the decks a bit in the kitchen it had the same treatment as the hallway had had. A bit of a good tidy round and swept and mopped. Long overdue!

That was the day. I did the usual. It was bitingly cold cycling to the pub. Enough to make hard pedalling and hard breathing unpleasant, so I took it easy. During conversation Hobo promised to take me to see the stove for the outhouse tomorrow. John came to the pub, so we walked home together chatting. It was even more bitingly cold. I stuck the thermometer outside for a while once I got home. Minus thirteen!! Ouch!

27th January 2010

It was a beautiful, lovely sunny morning. If only it was not so cold. I forgot to say that I baked yesterday - bread, that is, so I was in no hurry to get to the shop before half past seven to be sure of bread. I surfaced a bit before eight and wandered over to the shop about half past. The forecast was for snow, but all around was a pale azure sky with not a cloud in sight. But so cold! The weather forecast continues to be a guessing game. Hobo never turned up to take me to see the little stove!!

I forgot to tell you about the birds and the pastry, as well. The last time I baked - chicken pie, some days ago - I had a little left over pastry. I wrapped it in foil and it sat there for a couple of days. I eventually decided that it was not going to get cooked, so I just took it out and squeezed it around one of the wires suspending the bird table. The birds were initially very suspicious of it - maybe it smelt of man! For a couple of days it was untouched, then I began to notice peck marks in it. As I write it is almost gone. Hmmmm - I need to bake again.

I did a bit of leather work, but it is not going well. My measurements are all over the place. So much for on-line calculators of the circumference of an ellipse. Somewhere in excess of two inches (five centimetres for the younger generation) out. I can't remember where, but someone on a forum somewhere had a right go at the Yanks for not using the metric system. Now, I really don't care. But I really do care that their gallons are not gallons and that their feet (as in measurement) are not feet, and their pounds are not pounds as in Avoirdupois. I know! Some of those are not true. I don't do political, except to say that Maggie caused all the sh*t that is now going down in the UK, and that right now the US of A is the most hated nation in the world.

Some little while ago, long before I left my erstwhile employment I happened upon two students who I knew from their final year. They had been to the States for six months, and they had absolutely hated it. This was in the days of Dubbya. They said that throughout the US the forethought was that there was a "terrist" behind every bush. Kind of figures, doesn't it?

I find myself cooking. I have a million and one other things that need doing. What do I do whilst the kitchen stove is well hot during the morning? Cooking and baking. I enjoy the results though.

Later, I had a go at the door into the pantry. It (still) is one of the only doors in the place hat will not close properly. I tried to get the screws out of the bottom hinge. They wouldn't come out. I tried to drill through them and succeeded in pretty well killing the electric drill. Ah well, yet another Hungarian tool bites the dust. It still runs, but I cannot get it off the hammer drill function, and it has blown all the blades off the cooling fan, so it is not long for this world. I resorted to the hammer, and a lump fell out of Hobo's freshly decorated wall. I managed to get enough straightening to get a meaty screw into the one and only hole from which I had managed to remove the original screw. It made the door a little more vertical. A bit more investigation showed that there was a completely unneccesary fillet of wood nailed to the sill. One nail came out, and the other broke off. I chiselled the unneccesary wood off, carefully avoiding the broken nail. Then I punched the offending broken nail well below the surface of the wood. With a bit of planing and chiselling I managed to get the pantry door to almost close. Well, it was a lot better than it had been. The only way to keep it closed before was in the traditional Hungarian fashion - with a bent nail. At least now it would close until it stuck in the aperture, and then stay stuck. It needs more work, but I had had enough by then.

28th January 2010

Tom Whipple on the recent Post Carbon Institute meeting. A must read.

It was another bitingly cold morning, and this morning when I drew back the hallway curtains and unlocked the door there was not only frost on the key on the inside of the door but also on the door handle itself. I unlocked and let Pickle out. I had the thought that it was about at this stage last year when I had frost on the key inside the house that the water system froze. It was with apprehension that I went to the kitchen and turned on the cold water tap. All was well - I still had water! No power cuts (so far) this year, either.

I was not long finished breakfast when Hobo turned up. I had told him that I had had a catastrophy when trying to straighten out the pantry door hinge. It took him all of two minutes to fix. And cost me a beer. It was a bit on the early side but I joined him. We were supposed to go and look at his little stove that he had for sale. Once again it didn't happen. He had to go and do some other work elsewhere. He was obviously not in that much of a hurry, as we sat and chatted, had a smoke and drank the beer in a leisurely fashion. I threw the occasional log on the kitchen stove. During the daytime whilst I keep it going it is a bit of a balancing act to know just how often and how many and what sort of logs to throw on there. At this time last year I was invariably running it full blast, as various sets of blokes came in and out of the house, and the front doors were wedged open for various indeterminate lengths of time. Now, with the new house doors closed, if I run it like that it is tee shirt weather in the kitchen. If I let it just tick away and barely keep a fire going the stove doesn't keep the kitchen warm enough.

Hobo left to go away to whatever job he had on for the day. The house was not cold, but a lot cooler than normal for the time of day. I brought forward the time for stocking up the wood baskets and also the time for lighting the big stove. I still never got to see the little stove for the outhouse.

That was it. I did not manage to do a constructive blow all day, apart from feed the birds and keep the house warm.

Somewhat later, as normal, I went to the pub. Hobo was there. Before I even had chance to sit down he said to come on and look at the little stove. "In a minute" quoth I. I was determined to at least have a couple of mouthfuls of beer before I went anywhere. I had my couple of mouthfuls, put all the thermal insulation back on, and he and I cycled up to his place to look at the stove. It stood, tilted at an angle and forlorn and neglected in a corner of the yard. Very old, very rusty, but a perfectly servicable stove nonetheless. All thick steel and cast iron. It needed a bit of putting back of firebricks inside, and otherwise a bit of TLC, but it was perfect for what I need in the outhouse. We returned to the warmth of his house. No, I will rephrase that - we returned to the heat of the kitchen in the house - and it was hot. I accepted a glass of wine, but revoked on the offer of food. I had already finished off the veggie broth at home earlier. We struck a deal on the stove and eventually found our way back to our previously abandoned beers in the pub.

About an hour later it was kicking out time anyway. We took our leave of the landlord and landlady and of one another. When I got home the kitchen and hallway were still warm and so was the big room. It got even warmer once I closed the hallway curtains and put the sausage at the bottom of the door. It would be warmer still if I had curtains up everywhere else apart from the hall. The temperature gradient between the inside of the door and the inside of the curtains is astonishing. In the morning there is hard frost on the inside of the door glass. In the hallway it is the same temperature as in the kitchen - seven or eight degrees.

I have some more pictures of birds. I will try and post them soon. I'm hoping that it will snow for a day and a half too. I might get chance to do a couple of picture galleries!

29th January 2010

It was a little less cold today thank goodness. I lit the stove and shopped. I was early enough for bread. After breakfast I fulfilled a couple of promises and packed up, weighed and labelled some Hungarian goodies to a couple of recipients. It took surprisingly long. I only just managed to get it done when Posta arrived. It cost at least half an arm for each package in postage. Good job I am ambidexterous. (Think about it!)

I fed the birds and suddenly it was time to cook lunch. A karfiol had taken my eye in the shop, so I made myself sajtos karfiol - certainly enough for two days. Angol karfioltre receptje. I think that it was the first time that I had made that particular delicacy since being here.

I attacked the pantry door again after lunch. Either the house had moved (quite possible) or the door had changed shape (more likely), but it no longer fit as ill as it did after the last time I bashed about with it. It was worse, again. I was in the midst of attacking it when Pickle announced a prospective intruder. I know the barks by now. When Hobo appears there is a minor yip yip then I hear him beating her off. There is another bark for cats, people, whatever that should not be where they are. As in, people on our side of the road and cats anywhere in eyeshot. Then she has a really frantic bark as if to say "I know you, and what the **** are you doing trying to come in here?". It was one of those. Miklos (he who always said he would work...etc) turned up. Well, if he wanted to speak to me he would just have to brave Pickle. To my amazement he did. He had with him a three litre bottle of white wine fröccs which he seemed determined to share with me. I got out a couple of (very) small glasses and he rabbetted on and refilled them several times from his PET bottle. I eventually went back to attacking the pantry door, and, bless him, Miklos actually assisted. Eventually, in the Hungarian way it transpired that he wanted some more of my very hot little round peppers. As he went on his way I thought to myself "What was that all about?". As a complete aside there has sprung up a small lingua franca in the village. There are a number of people who will now say "Pickly dog problema" to refer to people of excitable characteristics. Ah well, my contribution to Angol-Magyar affiliation.

30th January 2010

Some while ago - well a long while ago actually - I mentioned a memory trick. I was taught it whilst I was training to be a policeman. The Inspector of Police that taught it to us impressed upon us the need to be able to recall events that may have happened long ago whilst giving evidence. It is very simple. Simple, but tough - and if you do not follow it through and do the whole course it will not work. Simple - easy! When you go to bed at night, before you fall asleep think through every single thing you did yesterday. Not today! Yesterday. You must do that without fail every night for ten nights. Think through every single thing you did YESTERDAY. I can promise you that it works. "Now, where did I put that xxxxx (whatever)" and your memory will tell you exactly when the last time was that you used xxxxx, and exactly where you left it. It's tough, and you want to go to sleep, but if you follow it through you will find as I still have to this day that you can recall where you were, what you did and most importantly for me "Where TF did I leave that hammer?". As an example of how it has worked for me, there was major major power outage where I used to live. I had a box of candles on top of which there was a box of matches. I think that they had been with me for maybe five - six - ten house moves. I knew exactly where they were and could put my hand on them in the dark! Try it. Get back to me in ten years if it doesn't work!

Being not short of bread I had a relatively leisurely arising - about half past eight. When I did go to the shop I made sure to buy yeast for tomorrow. I settled to do a long overdue job. It is rather suck it and see as I cannot find instructions anywhere around on the Internet. My intention was to create a British style flake pipe smoking mixture. Did I post a picture of the press that I made for the purpose? I can't remember. I knew that it was going to be a fairly painstaking job, and so it proved. The leaves were hung over a big saucepan of hot water so that the rising vapour would bring them into a condition such that they could be flattened out without splitting into a million pieces. Next I rescued the press from the outhouse and promptly found that I had to take a plane to the bit that fits inside and does the actual pressing. In the cold and damp conditions outside it had expanded and was now just a bit too tight of a sliding fit. I lined the press out with the polythene backed paper that the lady in the shop uses to wrap cheese and cooked meats. I had scrounged some off her for the purpose. Then I started. Flatten out a leaf. Use the inside bit as a cutting guide and cut a rectangle of leaf. Into the press and brush with rum that had had a few bits of vanilla pod soaked in it for a couple of days. Repeat. Pack all the odd left over bits in, as far as possible evenly throught the interior area of the press. Repeat until tedium set in. After an hour and a half or so I had had enough for one day. I screwed the press up finger tight just to start compressing down what I had managed to get packed and left it for the day.

I finished off the cauliflower cheese for lunch. I hadn't bought an especially big one but there was still enough for two days. After lunch I did a bit of housework then went up the village for eggs. I was treated to a glass of their own red wine. I believe they make a lot - several hundred litres a year! We had a chat about Pickle's antics and about how their daughter was getting on in England. She had told them that a little snow there causes absolute chaos. I left a called in the pub for a quick one on the way home as I was passing. Hobo was in there. Not really a big surprise! We took the opportunity to make arrangements for the transportation of the little stove down to my place the next day - Sunday - as Hobo said that he had no work then.

Home, firewood, ate, changed and back to the pub just before seven. No big change there either! On the news was an item about severe weather in a number of parts of Hungary. More severe than usual as it was causing problems. They showed them clearing snow off certain areas of Lake Balaton that were frozen sufficiently to allow skating.

31st January 2010

I was up quite early as I wanted (needed) to take the opportunity to bake before starting on the arrangements with Hobo. I was to take my wheelbarrow and meet him in the pub at twelve o'clock, then he would take over the barrow, wheel it up to his place, but the stove in it and wheel it back to my place. I had just got the bread proved and was about to put it in the oven when he appeared at my place. A change of plan. He had arranged to borrow one of the little two wheeled handcarts that are quite often to be seen transporting stuff around the village. They have a handle at the the back, or front depending on whether you are pushing or pulling them, and the two wheels are side by side on either side of the cart. Well, if they were one in front of the other it would be a bicycle wouldn't it! He hung on whilst I baked the bread and turned it out to cool.

He put his bike inside my gate and set off to borrow the cart. I followed after a couple of minutes, just timing it right to meet up with him as he emerged with the cart from the driveway of the house from where he had borrowed it. We wheeled it up the main street. Well, Hobo wheeled it and I tried to keep up. Just as far as the pub, where he parked it under the bike rail at the front. One beer became two. I know not where the second one came from - it just appeared. We watched a film on the telly. I think it might have been one that I had not seen before, which is unusual. A Terence Hill one, at that!

Eventually at about two o'clock we resumed our trudge up the hill with the cart. Until we hit the apex of the bend at the top of the village I continued to try and keep up. After that it was a two man job to get it parked outside his house. We went in, and were promptly fed. A pork-type stew which I suspect had a fair amount of tejföl in it accompanied by pasta and with help yourself pickled green tomatoes and pickled green hot paprika. Surprisingly the pickled hot paprika were not that hot. Maybe the pickling process gets rid of some of the heat from them. We shared Hobo's one and only can of beer, which I think he may have liberated from the Faluhaz on pig killing day. After a couple of hours of the usual fine Hungarian hospitality the little cart was dragged into the yard, and Hobo and I manhandled the stove into it.

I made my "szervusztok"s and "köszönöm"s and we set off back down the village. I provided the extra braking effort in inverse proportion to the extra uphill push on the way there as we made sure that cart, stove and all did not leave our grasp and hurtle into the road. We got as far as the pub...

When we finally got to my place it was almost dark. The stove was manhandled out of the cart and just dumped in a convenient spot in the outhouse. Hobo rescued his bike and chucked it into the little cart. He wheeled the cart back to its owners and cycled to the pub. I filled a log basket with the aid of the torch and lit the big stove. The house was by now seriously cold having had no heat in the kitchen since midday and being about a couple of hours late lighting the big stove. I got it going, let it burn through, stoked it up again and closed it down and went to join Hobo in the pub! I don't know why, but we ended up talking about wells. I thought that the water in my well was a long way down - I reckon about five metres or so. At Hobo's house it is apparently about twenty five metres down to the water. We talked about having to dig the silt out of the bottom. At some stage Hobo had had to do that. He said that he did not like it. The entrance to the well was a little white dot in the darkness. He also said that there is a fairly elderly chap in the village that would still dig you a well if you wanted one!


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