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May 2010

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1st May 2010

It was a bank holiday today. Except that it wasn't. It being Saturday the banks are closed anyway. The shops were shut as well. May Day on a Saturday, so I guess that makes it it a non-bank holiday. Hobo was quite disparaging about it. "Communist Holiday!" It's an awfully long time ago now and I was very young, so I really can't remember, but I recall May Day (as in the first of May) being celebrated in the UK. What I cannot be sure of is the status that it had. I seem to feel that it was not one of the official holidays but it happened anyway. I can remember it snowing - hard - one year too. Of course, eventually it became enshrined as the first Monday in the month. I was going to write some convoluted reasoning as to why it ended up being Monday, but I lost the will. Something to do with days lost through drink. You know the difference between an alcoholic and a habitual drunkard, of course? Alcoholics go to meetings!

I remained afflicted with the whatever it is. It was like wading through treacle for the day. Again.

2nd May 2010

I just suppose that if stuff like this actually caused BP, and all their inline suppliers to go bankrupt it might just wake the world up. Not going to happen though - BAU will prevail until the whole damned house of cards collapses. Sorry - getting a bit political there!

I remained under the weather with whatever the cause of it is. Hobo continues to insist it is the oil-seed rape. I remain unconvinced. By dint of wading through much treacle - that's what everything feels like at the moment - I finally got the kitchen cleaned. Three days! It took me three days!

I was under instruction from Hobo to meet him in the pub at half past twelve as we were going for lunch at one. I met him in the pub at half past twelve. I assumed that we were going up to his for lunch. Never AssUMe - it makes an Ass out of U and an Ass out of Me! The first clue came when Hobo asked me to chip in with buying some take away beers. He bought three and I bought three. As usual, it was a bit past one when we left. The second clue was when we turned down Dózsa ut instead of cycling up the hill of Petőfi ut. I was lost and baffled until we parked our bikes.

Turned out that our lunch invite was with another local family. I know them all well on a nodding aquaintance kind of relationship. They were eating al-fresco and Hobo had a bollocking for not turning up at one o'clock. We were seated at the table, which was nicely in the shade of the next door house. There was a huge cauldron - Mmmm not the right word. I don't know what the right word is. Is there a word for a cooking pot that is basically the frustum of a forty five degree cone? Or thereabouts. Anyway, this one would have been about half a metre across and about a foot deep. Sorry, I just can't help myself - I just love mixing and matching metric and proper measurements. It was swimming with blood red paprika stained oil. I was invited to partake, with my host giving it a good stir around to reveal various things swimming within. Well, some of it had been swimming as it proved to be a fish soup. I did what I normally do, which was to help myself to a small to medium sized portion. If it turns out not to be to taste then you don't have to go back for more. It turned out to be absolutely delicious and I went back for another bloody great helping. I asked what it was, and ran into one of the imponderables of the Hungarian language for a foreigner. "Pawn". I shrugged and dragged out the trusty kisszotar. The Magyar=>Angol variety. Nothing to be found! On a whim I pulled out the other one, and found what I was looking for immediately. Carp! Carp in magyarul is "ponty". Unfortunately the final 'y' becomes silent, in exactly the same way that it does in "dohany". Unless, of course you are talking about the "dohanybolt", in which case the 'y' is most certainly there. Whatever. It was delicous, it turned out to have been taken from the Raba - the local river - and in life it had been a big fish. I asked Hobo later whether it had been the famed Szeged fish soup recipe. He laughed and said that it was undoubtedly Halogy fish soup recipe. As usual I left with a food parcel. In this case a Tupperware-type container with more of the fish soup in it.

3rd May 2010

Up early - half past six. I ought to be up a lot earlier than that but I continue to have to balance updating the blog, being in contact with my family via the Internet in the evenings and the simple fact of the limitations of how much I can do on my feet in one day. I bashed out a bit of washing.

Into the garden and I managed to get a row of onion sets in. About forty, same as last year. Another row to do. Speaking of which I am now down to about ten good onions from last year. I suppose that I will have to go a couple or three months onion-less, but they really have lasted rather well. Hobo reckoned that they would last three months. Well, here we are some seven or eight months later and still have just a few of last years onions to go. Onions, potatoes, carrots and walnuts. Without money I still would not starve!

I want to talk about the birds. I am still feeding them and they continue to visit the bird table. Walnuts - just walnuts. I watch their behaviour. The messiest of them are the blue tits. They are amongst the smallest, but when they leave the table they do so with a flapping of wings which hurtles whatever was on the table this way and that. The sparrows benefit. They are ground feeders and all the stuff that the blue tits hurtle to the floor is just fine for them. The great tits just come and go. Ditto the greenfinches, although when they do appear they really make a meal of it. The ones that I really like are the nuthatches. They are the fighter pilots of the local bird world. When they leave the table they simply dive off the edge. They arrive the same way - skimming about a foot above the yard and pulling an abrupt storm climb to land them on the table. I have one (pair?) that appear from over the outhouse roof. I have seen it (them?) flick off the bird table, fly within a few inches of the floor and then suddenly pull about 25G and fly up the angle of the outhouse roof, tuck its wings and drop equally as quickly the other side of the roof. Ah, simple pleasures.

I needed to go to Nádasd, but it looked like it would rain. Cycle, or take the bus? It stopped looking like rain enough that I decided to cycle. Not good, really not good. I went the easy way, via Daraboshegy. All around was the oil-seed rape. I arrived in Nádasd sweating, coughing and really not in good condition. I bought a watering can to replace the plastic one that split with the ice in the winter - my fault - and then was eaten by Pickle - Pickle's fault. I bought a fairly serious galvanised one. Chew on that then Pickle! The bungees came out to play (thanks A). I cycled home the short way. There is only that one short sharp little uphill and I still don't have a problem with it. You know, what has happened with the leg since the fall in the snow continues to baffle me. Walking about for any distance on a tarmac surface is a trial. More than the shop and back and it becomes painful. Cycling - no problem. Here's the strange bit. I can be on my feet in the garden for several hours and I get no pain in the knee.

I called for one in the pub on the way back through the village. Hobo was there and we had a chat but I was good and limited it to the one beer and went home. We had a little shower of rain, which was good. I returned to the pub later, as usual. Hobo had disappeared. In fact pretty well everybody had disappeared. I think the maximum number of regulars that he had in their during the hour and a half that I stayed, including me, was five.

4th May 2010

I continued unwell in the same way. Very depressing and it drags down everything you try to do. Nevertheless, there was work to be done. Time presses and I needed to get more stuff in the ground. I had a fair sized bit of the main garden where the couch grass, twitch, goat grass - call it what you will - was attempting to take over again. Only one thing for it. Out it had to come. Three and a half hours later I had an add-up and I reckoned that I had cleared about four square metres. Well, so be it. It was noticable that at one end was a half metre or so where last years spuds had been, and ditto at the other end. The bit in the middle was riddled with it. I have to say that compared to last year the actual digging was easy. It was getting all the grass roots out that took the time.

After lunch, up the village for eggs with the obligatory call in the pub for one on the way back. At home I reconnected my long length of garden hose and hauled it up the garden to refill the water butt. I took the opportunity to take the new watering can up there too and use it to give various stuff that I had in the ground a bit of a soak. It was all getting a bit dry. I managed about another hour of the digging and the inevitable happened - it came on to rain. I caused it, of course, by watering the garden! That was that knocked on the head for the day.

Back indoors and I cooked, ate, showered and changed to go to the pub. It was still persistently precipitating. Well, I was not about to walk to the pub so I decided to try the local strategy of cycling with an umbrella. Another first. I had never done that before. It worked well enough. The only tricky bit was actually getting under way. After that it was no problem.

I had an interesting, unpleasant and disorientating experience in the pub. I have a hearing problem. "What?" I hear you say in a loud voice. I have mentioned it before on the blog. The remaining hearing that I do have is balanced at about ten percent in the left ear and ninety percent in the right ear. I had a little discomfort in the right ear of the type when you have had a shower and a little water remains in the ear. I stuck my little finger in the ear and gave it a waggle, as you do. Yes, I know you are not supposed to. There was a pop and a squeak and, quite suddenly, instantaneously I was profoundly deaf. I couldn't even hear myself think! Oh my god! Wonderful! At least Beethoven had it creep up on him gradually, not hear today, gone today. I could just - barely - discern that people were talking. Oh shit! I have enough problems with just understanding them without the burden of not actually being able to hear them. I supped up and went home.

At home I pondered. It had to be ear wax. There was no pain at all. I figured that somehow I had dislodged a piece of ear wax right against the tympanum. Hmmm - today was Tuesday. The doctor had been in the village today and would not be here again until Friday. I decided on a bit of home help remedy. If it did not work by Friday then off to the doctor I would go. I warmed a drop of olive oil, dripped it into the ear and bunged it up with cotton wool. Off to bed I went knowing that there was no chance of me hearing the alarm in the morning.

5th May 2010

I was correct. I didn't hear the alarm. It was also a very dull, grey morning so the daylight did not wake me up as usual. Pickle did though.

I was still very deaf. Deaf enough that the trip to the shop was a torment. I asked for a particular item and simply could not hear what the shop lady said. In the end she took me to the door and pointed on the sign to the evening opening hours. She must have thought that I had gone simple or something. You know, it is not until you suddenly lose your hearing in that way that you realise how much of your life depends upon it. Put the coffee on. How do you know that it is cooked - you hear it. Turn on a tap. How do you know how much water you have flowing - you hear it. And so on.

After breakfast I made up some warm normal saline solution. Only it wasn't, of course. It was just the correct amount of salt in warm water. It is, I believe, only saline when a) it is sterile and b) they inject it into you. Anyway, I gave the ear a good squirt out with that. Didn't seem to do a lot of good.

It not being a very special day I tackled a job that had been lurking since about November. One of my roller shutters would come down but it would not go all the way up. Something to do with Hobo, I have to say. It was a moderately horrid job. I had to take two of the outside windows out, prop the blind in place, completely pull the webbing strap that winds the roller up out from inside the house then wind the roller up by hand right to the top. Whilst I was at it I decided to have a go at fixing the problem with the bottom blade which persistently parted company with the second one. That involved rethreading the strap into the house and then letting the whole roller down outside of its guides. I pulled off the bottom blade completely, identified the problem with it and slid it back. The whole lot then had to be wound back up to the top and fed back inside the guides. Absolute ball ache of a job. The blades had gone this way and that and more or less every one of them had to be adjusted back before the whole lot would go properly up and down in the guides.

Then it rained again. I did some blog updating and repeated the olive oil treatment on the ear.

6th May 2010

An article by Timothy Egan which I suppose I would have to file under political comment. Thanks to Alex for the heads-up! Also John Michael Greer on The Principle of Subsidiary Function.

After the rain yesterday it was a wonderfully clear morning but everything everywhere was damp from the rain. As the sun came up I saw a phenomenon that I had seen before but I can't remember whether I commented about it. Once the warmth of the sun struck, the whole village was enveloped by an irridescent pearly mist. The sun disappeared behind it and it became quite cool again. Within minutes though the sun burned through it although it clung to the heavily wooded areas close to the village for some while.

The hearing was somewhat better. I repeated the normal saline thing and the olive oil thing. After breakfast I went digging again. On a whim, and pissed off with the digging, I fetched out the scythe and knocked back a couple of windrows across the garden. It felt really good to be doing that swing, swish, little step, swing, swish again. I will be writing more about it soon.

After lunch I went back to the digging. It was warm and I was sweating so I was spectacle-less. Something caught my eye away to my left. Two rows of dark green amorphous splodges on the garden. I went to inspect and found to my delight that the spuds had burst into life in a big way. For the last two years the spuds came to life hitty-missy along the row. This year I had chitted them on the kitchen window sill and my reward was a uniform spread of rosettes of potato plant leaves right along the rows. That cheered me up no end.

Out of pure spite I went and knocked down another couple of windrows of scything.

7th May 2010

Dmitry Orlov on the Carolyn Baker website commenting on the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

I dug, and went to the pub in the evening.

8th May 2010

Hobo turned up and set about the next bit of work on the pig sty. I bashed out the next bit of house wall repairs. I have to say that it will take me some while to finish. It is a fairly low priority job. The house hasn't fallen down and my repairs have stood either one or two Hungarian winters, and they remain uninfested with either ants or flying insects. When he was finished and when I was finished we went for a beer in the pub.

Back home I had a quick bash round certain areas with the strimmer, an equally quick bash round with the scythe and a bit more digging. Then it was time to contact some of my family in the UK via Skype.

I went back to the pub later.

9th May 2010

More digging. I'm pleased to say that the hearing has returned to as good as it was, which is not that good anyway. Disco deafness, only in my case not discos - brass bands. When you put a full brass band into a Portacabin it tends to be a bit on the loud side. In fact the only place where it is not on the loud side is when you play outdoors. Very unforgiving is outdoors. A bandstand does not class as outdoors. In fact the old style Victorian octagonal bandstands are dreadful to play in. Not enough height, and the sound comes straight back down at you from the internal ceiling. The best bandstand I ever played in was (is?) in Minehead. It was big - plenty of room for the band to set up. It had a back, two sides and a roof, all of which sloped outwards at about forty five degrees. I remember the first time I played there, and we finished one particular piece which did end a bit on the loud side. The echo came back right across the park from the big blocks of flats and hotels opposite and I thought when I heard it "Wow! Was that us?".

I went for a well-earned beer at lunch time. The oil-seed rape thing had not quite gone away, and I have to say that spending two or three hours working mainly with the head at the level of the knees and snot dripping between the feet is not entirely pleasant. Yeah, I know. More detail than you need.

I keep telling myself to take more pictures in the garden. And then I keep forgetting to take the camera. More digging, and then up to the football ground for the match. They lost. I managed about fifteen photographs. It was almost seven o'clock by the time that wound up, so it was straight back to the pub. Once again there was a bit of a party atmosphere in there. I know not why.

10th May 2010

Not Peak Oil doom and gloom but a deeply depressing report on the Beeb website today.

At last I beat the digging on the first section that I needed to get done. It took me up until lunch time. It remains a race against time to get all that I need to get done done.

After lunch, and in the heat of the afternoon, I put to use the freshly dug garden area. I marked it out with walkways into three areas. Into the first and biggest went ten rows of Triticum Spelta. Average sixty nine seeds to a row, so close on seven hundred seeds sown by hand. It is, as with many other things, an experiment. Or, rather, a learning process as to what is and what is not possible. I could have broadcast the seed, but Triticum Spelta being a grass that would leave me with the problem of distinguishing it from the remnants of the horrid grass that I weeded out, but I am bound to have missed some. At least with it being in rows I will be able to distinguish between weed and non-weed grass. My research shows that to feed a family some two hundred and seventy-odd square metres would need to be planted with a Triticum species. Well, I have nowhere near that - about twenty square metres. Then again, there is just me. I deserved a beer after that, so I went for one!

It turned into more than one. In fact it turned into a session. One of the topics of conversation with Hobo was the possibility of a little rideout to a not too far away village to check out a possible source for something I am thinking of getting. We'll see what happens on that one.

11th May 2010

I found a little strip in the main garden that was just right for getting my row of leaks into, so that was dug this morning. Didn't take long - only three spades wide. After lunch I put my tray of leak seedlings in there, and although it is probably rather late for this year I finished off the row with some more seeds. I'll see what happens. A couple of lettuces came over the fence from No. 68 whilst I was doing that. After that, going along with what I said from last year, a few more peas went in. I also made a little nursery bed and put about a dozen of each of cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and sprouts in. They can't be a lot more unsuccessful than the ones I started in the house. I have ended up with one cabbage plant and one cauliflower and fairly miserable specimens they both are too. I will have to knock up a butterfly net as well before they start showing through based on last years experience. I did get more going last year, but as soon as they went in the garden they became lunch for something!

I managed another hour with the scythe later. Pub in the evening, of course.

12th May 2010

I had just got into the digging when Hobo arrived. He had said the previous evening that he would come and do a bit of work. I set him on repairing the gate to the pigsty yard. I left him to it and went back to the digging. There was much sawing and hammering. I just plodded on. Eventually Hobo came to me and said that it was time to fit the gate and he wanted me to drill out for the hinge pins. I fetched the brace and bits. By the way, did I tell you that Lajos (fa szakember) calls it a gypsy drill? I bored for the hinge pins which involved boring a couple of centimetres then stepping down a couple of sizes and boring another couple, and so on. That was because the hinge pins have quite a taper on them - almost down to a point. It would have been impossible to just whack them into acacia wood without first boring for them though. Hobo was satisfied and belted the pins into the post. The next door lady (No. 72) turned up at the fence to see what was going on.

I went back to the digging. I really do seem to be in a race against time with it. Getting the weeds out is just so time consuming. It has to be done, as otherwise I will be back to square one by next spring. To give you some context, I need enough ground opened up to put the paprika, tomatoes and some rows of beans in. After that I need to open up another seven metres square elsewhere on the plot. Once that is done the little chestnut trees can come out of the outhouse garden, and this years crop of herbal smoking mixture can go in. Once all that is done I can go into maintenance mode - hoeing, sowing peas in succession, scything and carrying on where I left off with making the path from top to bottom and clearing all the shrubbery out from around the fruit trees. Speaking of trees, I appear to have lost half a chestnut tree. "How the hell can you lose half a chestnut tree?" I hear you say. Well, the bottom half has come into verdant leaf and the top half hasn't. No idea what is going on there! Hobo finished the gate, and it was quite late-ish lunch time so we went for a beer. It came on a shower of rain whilst we were there.

I only had the one and back home and into the garden again. Back to the digging. I was plodding away when the old lady from No. 72 came to the fence. "What are you going to put in there?" "Tomatoes and paprika." She seemed quite happy with that, and I gave her a bit more about getting rid of all the bad grass. I carried on until I had had enough.

I did a bit of research into hay somewhat later. Blimey! I had not the slightest idea it was so complicated. I thought hay was just hay. Not so at all, apparently. Lucerne, clover, alfalfa, this grass and that other grass, and how much protein (etc.) such and such a mix will provide at what time of year! Oo-er!

13th May 2010

I was out quite early carrying on with the digging. It was a warm morning and I had the foresight to take a bottle of beer with me. After three or four rows the sweat was running and it was time for a little sit down, a couple of swigs of beer and a small pipe of tobacco. The gods decided otherwise and threw a little joke at my expense. Out of nowhere came a sharp shower of rain. Sharp enough to drive me back to the yard. I sat on the step and swigged the beer instead.

The shower didn't last long and I was soon back out digging. It didn't last long. The skies darkened and it came on to properly rain. It was what the Hungarians call good weather. It was not torrential, but enough not to want to work in and persistent. I had lunch and then set about some woodwork.

The rain persisted and I carried on woodworking. Towards the end of the afternoon it cleared and the sun came out, but it was way too wet to think about going back on the garden.

14th May 2010

A story from Der Spiegel which illustrates how big oil is desperately trying to exploit oil in ever more inhospitable and marginal conditions. And John Michael Greer on the demise of money. Another very good read, and interesting to note what he says about having land given the possibility of the demise of a fiat money system and a possible return to some kind of feudalism. Deep joy!

It was a bright, warm morning so I put some washing in to soak and went out digging. I decided that I had enough dug to actually get something into the ground so I wandered back to the yard and chose some paprika to be the victim. I stuck a row of the pointy Hungarian paprika plants into the ground, and there was just enough room on the end of the row for the two surviving apple paprika plants to go in as well. It was lunchtime by then. I was pleased that it was, as it was warm, humid and just the right weather for the mosquitoes to be a serious nuisance. I went back to the yard with my arms smeared with red streaks.

Over lunch the skies darkened, and darkened more and within minutes we had a torrential downpour with frequent flashes of lightning and crashes of thunder. I was, as is my custom, on the Internet whilst I lunched, but one particular crash of thunder was so close by that I quickly ventured outside to see if I could see smoke issuing from anywhere round the buildings or bits of smouldering tree somewhere in the garden. I couldn't, but it was very nearby. I retreated to the house and finished lunch.

The storm passed and the skies cleared. It was far too wet to think about digging, but just right for scything. So with Pickle and scythe to hand and wellies on the feet I went to it. I scythed a windrow across half the garden and then scythed around what is destined to be this years huge compost heap. I forked up what I had just scythed and added it to the compost heap. With that, the skies darkened, and once again Pickle and I beat a retreat to the yard in an ever increasing downpour. Another thunderstorm broke, but this time the rain just carried on and on. I did some updating of the blog.

By evening it had cleared, and I cycled to the pub with the sun going down and the skies in the west doing a Technicolor red stunt.

15th May 2010

It was a horrid day, cold and with a blustery wind from the north east as strong as any I have experienced whilst I have lived here. I went and had a go at the digging but it was just too wet. I took some pictures instead:
Spuds Potatoes (and weeds)
Promised long ago, this is the walnut tree that was pollarded by Hobo and Jozsi. Well, they didn't kill it. Pollarded Walnut Tree
Garlic Garlic (and weeds). Did I mention that everything that is in any way onion-like is, in Hungarian, some sort of onion. A plain ordinary onion is hagyma. Garlic is fokhagyma, leeks are póréhagyma, spring onions are sarjadékhagyma (I suppose that is excusable) and chives are metélöhagyma. I'm sure there are more.
Here are the three onions (and weeds) that are last years, sprouted and growing on for seed. Not that I have had a lot of success growing from seed, but I'll have a bash at germinating them in late October and over wintering them. As with a certain other type of seed, when you have many hundreds (or thousands) if you can get going the amount that you need for the year there really is nothing lost. Growing Onions For Seed

I was going to give you a picture of this years onions, but the autofocus took over and it was crap. When they are a little bigger.

I just took the pictures and it came on to rain again. It was already cold. It got colder still once the rain set in.

I retired to the house and set about a long overdue job. Concerned about the fact that I have seen door keys around that appear to be identical to mine, on my last wishlist I had asked for a Chubb five lever security mortice lock, which duly arrived. Today I fitted it into the door. As I write it is totally useless because I have not fitted the plate into the other door. I reckon it is eleven years since I fitted a mortice lock into a door. It was also the first time ever that I had the benefit of having carpenter's brace and bits. Chubb recommend the use of brace and bit. Always before I have used an electric drill and high speed spade-type bits. Yeah, fine! They wander about whilst you are drilling, and if they wander far enough they come out of the face of the door, and you need a new door before the furniture is even fitted. My Jennings pattern bits don't do that. They go exactly where you point them. Of course, if you point them in the wrong direction you can get exactly the same result, but that is operator error, not a fault of the tools. The jennings pattern bits have two spurs and two cutting edges. I have found that if you wind into the work quite slowly you can see when both spurs begin to cut simultaneously, which means that you are boring nicely perpendicular into the work. If not, you have a chance to adjust accordingly.

It took a little time, especially as the only decent chisel I have is just eight millimetres, but eventually it slotted into the door perfectly. The next potential for disaster was drilling the key holes inside and out. The lock came with a template, which I chose to ignore, other than to use the sizes of bits suggested. I simply lined the lock up by eye on the outside of the door and marked the centre of the keyhole, then bored for the key. It worked out within about a quarter of a millimetre, with which I was well pleased. Here it is, installed:
New Door Lock That's about as good as I can get. Should have left the key in the keyhole.

I ate and went to the pub. Hobo was there (of course), but he was very upset. There had been a sudden death in the village, and I too was quite shocked when I found out who it was. One of the pub regulars, and I have to say one of those who was indifferent towards me in the early days but later came to accept me and be quite friendly. I guess he was in his early seventies. I was astonished to find out that he had a mother still alive, in her mid-nineties. Quite sad.

16th May 2010

I watch and read with mounting horror the unfolding catastrophy in the Gulf of Mexico. It seems that BP, in the search for ever more elusive oil supplies in ever more inhospitable environments, have opened a Pandora's Box that they know not how to close. I fear it will get worse, much worse before it gets better.

I did some house cleaning. It needs a whole lot more, but at the moment the garden has priority. I was going to garden today. I got as far as putting on one of the extra socks I wear inside the wellies and it rained. And rained.

Bugger - that was the end of any attempt at gardening today, then. I did a long overdue inside job and cased the second crop of last years smoking herb with rum and vanilla. I did a little weighing and calculating. Mmmmmm - not good. Last years crop from seven plants amounted to about five ounces of finished product. Ouch - they are supposed to grow a lot more than that. At that rate, to be self sufficient I will need about a hundred and fifty plants a year.

I managed to mess up again. I went to the pub intending to have one beer and catch the last half hour or so of the Formula One. Off-by-at-least-one error. When I got there they were only just lined up on the grid. Ah well, one beer became two and I watched all of it.

Back home I had quite a long chat to family in the UK. I don't know why but the conversation turned to Classic FM. Now, I used to like to listen to Classic FM on-line from time to time. I tried to listen today - "It appears that you are trying to listen to Classic FM from outside the UK...". I entered a genuine UK postcode in an attemp to circumvent whatever, only to discover that they have also sold out to Micro$oft and now only stream their programmes in a Micro$oft proprietory format. It was supposed to work on my machine, but my sixty four bit architecture has never supported it. I have to say that now I am here in the back of beyond I really do regret buying this machine. It dies by the month, and there is no way that I can afford to replace it until all my other pensions kick in - if they ever do, and upon which I am not banking (literally). Hmmmm - Classic FM. I recall reading their user feedback and seeing good comments from all over the world. No more, it seems. Sold out to the Pigopolists, apparently. In the very early days of my employment at Bournemouth University I went to a lunchtime talk by one of the Finance and Law lecturers. He gave a very succinct talk on why copyright is now irretrievably broken. I guess that I am now well outside the time limits for action under either civil or criminal law so I will confess that a fair bit of my music collection came from Napster, before they were screwed. Lots simply came from my local library. Borrow a couple of CDs, take them home and rip them to MP3 format. Still works.

It was still p**sing down when I went back to the pub in the evening. I had to do the cycling under the brolly thing again. I noticed a phenomenon that I had seen before, but not for a long while. All the puddles caused by the rain were fringed around the outside with a primrose coloured scum. Pollen, washed out of the air by the rain. Going back a few days to my "wading through treacle" bit, my neighbour John experienced the same symptoms.

17th May 2010

It was time to get the strimmer out again. Oh how I hate it, but it keeps the neighbours happy. The first target was the yard. That involved dragging various bits of future firewood about, and hurtling a load of now firewood, but damp, into the kitchen firewood store. I have been going on and going on about a load of firewood since, I think, February. It still has not appeared. I might just have to get stroppy about it. A load of just cut firewood appearing in November will not keep me warm over the winter. Then again, I could just import a couple of decent duvees from the UK and stay in bed!

After the yard I started on the bashing out of the borders by the neighbours with the strimmer. I got about half way up the eastern side. I had had enough by then, and my neighbour came to the fence and indicated that there were another couple of lettuces by the fence. I found them, and not only were there lettuces but a bunch of radishes as well.

It was lunchtime anyway, so I retired. Well, cheese tomato and lettuce sandwich was just a nice little variation on a theme. After lunch I had a bit of a bash around with the scythe. That bit was all right. The clearing up as I went was not. Whatever! At least I got this years compost heap started.

Later I had a discussion with Hobo. He repeated that if the weather was good on Saturday we would have a little rideout to look at what I need.

18th May 2010

I was out digging when Hobo appeared. I set him on with what needed to be done with the pigsty. I carried on digging. It remains a serious pain in the back. I just know that it all has to be dug over slowly and carefully and all the deep rooted weeds fetched out. It isn't hard work - just slow and painstaking.

A number of rows of digging later, Hobo had finished what he was doing and I had had enough for the time being. You know, it is a serious eye-opener how much human effort is involved in just trying to keep my one acre plot under control. My one concession is the strimmer. I begrudge every single tankful of petrol that I put into it. I can still outperform it about ten to one in the long grass with the scythe. And it doesn't leave nice tidy windrows of stuff on the ground. It just mashes it all up to a pulp. I cleared the area that I had chosen for the chestnut plantation with the scythe. Seven metres by seven. I worked from my litle path to the border with the neighbour. I did eight rows. Hobo cleared it up.

We went to the pub for a quick one. Or two.

Back home I carried on digging. Hobo set about the area I had scythed down for the chestnut trees with the strimmer. He managed to kill it. It wouldn't start, wouldn't run, and the business end could barely be turned by hand. I had, in the meantime, managed to get twenty tomato plants into my newly cleared ground.

We retired to the yard to try and diagnose the strimmer problem. Whilst we were doing that a particular villager happened by. A conversation took place between him and Hobo and he came in to look at certain little plants of mine. It turns out the he grows them too, but in a greenhouse. Not tomatoes!

With the sun setting, and the strimmer problem not fixed, we went back to the pub.

Late in the day Sharon Astyk taken from The Energy Bulletin.

19th May 2010

Oh dear! And so it goes on. And more from Tom Whipple. Lots of very worrying reading.

Hobo turned up and set about mending the strimmer. I helped from time to time. He managed to get the offending bit off without breaking anything and it turned out to be virtually solid. We tried to get it apart with a bit of impact engineering. That failed, and I was reluctant to hit it any harder, one half being plastic. I tried the WD40 trick, and for a while that just seemed to make it worse, but for whatever reason it suddenly freed up quite a lot, and Hobo suggested that we put it back on the strimmer and see what happened.

I set about repairing the wheelbarrow extension that Hobo and Jozsi had managed to smash to bits when they pollarded the walnut tree. Fortunately I still had a small stock of the same wood to hand. It is the remnants of the softwood strips that help the polystyrene sheets to the walls in the big room. Well, I say held. In most places they didn'!

Posta arrived in response to my sign outside and I paid my monthly Internet bill, which remains my greatest extravagance, and I put some credit on my Hungarian phone. Peculiar system here. If you don't top up a pay as you go mobile once a year you lose your remaining credit and have to buy a new SIM card. And the cheeky buggers only forward date when you next have to to it to a year from today - not a year from when it would expire!

Hobo put all the bits back on the strimmer, and to my astonishment it worked. He set about the bit where it had conked out yesterday and did a load more. I finished off the wheelbarrow thing repairs. We went to the pub after that. For one, or two. Hobo insisted on watching a film on the telly to the end.

We eventually retired back to the ranch and set about the transplanting of forty nine little chestnut trees into my chosen area. Hobo marked out, I whacked back the overgrowth with the broad mattock, Hobo dug the spots where they were to go - with almost millimetric precision, I dug up the little trees (and they are little - the biggest is about five inches tall). He planted them and I watered them in. We managed four rows, so that was twenty eight chestnut trees planted. Three rows to go. I'll take a photo when they are big enough to be worth taking a photo of.

We went back to the pub after that. C'est la vie.

20th May 2010

Not a good day. The weather was cold and with a blustery north east wind. I was not too good either with both the effects of yesterday evening and the bad leg saying that it was bad weather.

Nevertheless, I simply had to go to town. I discarded the idea of cycling it - just too windy - so I caught the bus. I restricted myself to the town centre. It was still hard work and painful. Better than the last time I went in by bus, but not what I would call good. I managed to get everything that I wanted, except, would you believe, some small picture frame size screw in eyes. Gazdabolt had loads but the smallest was about twelve millimetres across the eye. I managed to hobble down the steps to the cellar pub for one. Seemed like a long time since I was in there.

I caught the half past two bus back to the village, which was painful as usual. Standing room only all the way to Nádasd. My bike was parked at the pub - it is about a tenth of the distance to the bus stop by the pub than it is from my house to the bus station - so I felt obliged to go in and pay the parking fee ;) Speaking of which, when I ran a pub not far from Broadmore the public seemed to think that my car park was fair game. Except for one lovely old boy. He parked his ex-red ex-post office now hand painted green Morris Minor van in my car park and walked in the pub. "I hope you don't mind if I park my van in your car park for a few minutes. I don't drink but here is a jar of my own honey. If that's all right?". Of course it was alright. Delicious honey it was too. Sometimes, at closing time in the afternoon, I used to spot a couple of unknown cars marooned in my car park. That was in the good old days when the pubs closed for a few hours in the afternoon. If I felt like being not a nice man I used to put the chains across the entrances and lock them. One guy hammered on the door until I went to see what the problem was. "I need to get my ****ing car out!!!". "Sorry mate, the landlord has locked it up and won't be back until opening time at six o'clock" From upstairs I watched him drive up to one of the chains, lift it onto his bonnet, drive a little further and lift it onto his car roof. He made good his escape. At what cost to his paintwork I neither knew not or cared. Company car anyway! Mmmmm - sorry, went off on one there.

In the evening Hobo made a couple of phone calls to try and locate what I was looking for and urgently need.

21st May 2010

I was working in the garden when Hobo appeared, complete with yesterday repaired strimmer. He was going to finish off the area that he had started when it packed up before. He couldn't get it going. I had a go and broke it. There was a cracking sound and the starting cord went loose in my hand and refused to rewind into the machine. Bugger. Once again we set off back to the yard to try and fix it.

Another half a days gardening lost! Hobo stripped it down, and the starting mechanism was quite obviously broken. Between us we stripped that down and out fell a piece of plastic from where there should have been no piece of plastic. After that the spring that actually does the rewinding of the cord went twang and came out looking like the path of an electron around a proton. I left Hobo to it, but stayed nearby and took the opportunity to fit the other half of The Chubb lock to the other door. It had just as much potential for cock up as the fitting of the lock, but it went perfectly. I tested the lock once the wood had been removed for the securing plate in the other door. I breathed a mental sigh of relief when the lock turned and the bolt shot fully home.

Hobo in the meantime had enlisted the help of my neighbour at No. 68 who used some special glue to replace the broken bit of plastic whence it had come. It needed twenty four hours to achieve hardness, so that was the strimmer repair done for the day. Hobo took off and I went back and managed a bit more digging.

Later, in the pub, Hobo attempted numerous times to contact the person that he had tried to contact yesterday and had got the message that he/she could be contacted this evening. Ah well, a pretty unsuccessful day all round!

I forgot to say that I saw in the yard today either a redpoll, or a breeding male linnet. Difficult to distinguish but quite a striking bird with a little red skull cap and a red wastcoat, unbuttoned. Certainly another first for me.

22nd May 2010

After the normal start to the morning Hobo appeared and set about putting the strimmer back together. I did some scything. At the moment it is a bit of a balancing act between getting everything in the ground that I want to get in the ground and keepin the village happy that I am at least making some effort to control the rest.

Hobo hit a bit of a snag with getting the strimmer back together. There was a problem with some of the glue used to repair it being where one of the springs should fit. Enough to make it so that it didn't work properly. One of the tools on the Leatherman sorted that out. The one for getting Boy Scouts out of horses hooves, I think. He finally got it back together and by then it was lunchtime so we went to the pub and had a quick liquid lunch.

Back home I had a quick bite of solid lunch and then went to the hateful job of clearing what I had scythed down. Part way through that Hobo appeared with the strimmer wanting me to start it, so I did. It was OK, but not perfect. It could do with another turn on the cord return spring, maybe two. Nevertheless it started. Whilst I had it in my hand I kept it running and used it. I did all the way up the path that had not been done for a while, but at least it is possible to see where the path will be. After that I did from the top of the plot down the No. 68 side until I ran out of petrol. Hobo, good chap that he is, had continued with the clearing up of the scything and as I walked back down with the empty strimmer he had almost finished. I know he would much rather have been doing the strimming!

Hobo is very much in favour of me having lots of petrol powered machinery. I try to enlighten him but he will have none of it. I don't publicise my thoughts, except for those in the village who either read the blog, or get it translated for them. The only time that it has come up in conversation was the evening when the Fire Chief sat at our table. I will say that there is obviously an awareness, as a Hungarian Internet forum regularly turns up in the top fifty of my daily trawl for Doom and Gloom. It runs to a lot of pages too. I have to use the Google "translate this page" tool, of course.

23rd May 2010

It was already warming up when I went to the shop, and had all the makings of a scorcher. I don't know if I am right or wrong in this, but it seems much later this year that it has got into the heat of the day. I think I have become inured to the heat over the last couple of years. I still sweat just as much - I could sweat for England if they had a sweating team - but I can continue to work in it far longer. Thus it was today.

The mission was to complete the chestnut plantation. Four rows of seven trees were in the ground - three rows to do. Hobo had said he would turn up and help but never came. I managed two rows of seven trees. The plodding up and down the garden got to me, and so did the dehydration. It was gone twelve by then so I grabbed a sandwich and then went to the pub for a beer. Surprise - Hobo was there. I had the one and returned to the gardening. More digging and weeding.

Later in the afternoon Hobo turned up. He didn't do any work, just dragged me back to the pub. John turned up too. He was sensible and went home after the one. I was going to be sensible too, but an Austrian friend of Hobos turned up who I had already met several times, and one became two and two became three. You can see where this is going? Hobos friend left, and John returned. Mmmmm - serious session! John commented on it on his blog. I did have a conversation with Lajos (fa szakemeber) about what I need. He asked for the phone book and wrote a number down. He would ring tomorrow he said.

Late in the day and quite amusing this clip from ABC in Australia which rips the s**t out of what is happening with European economies.

24th May 2010

Well, very short and sweet today because I can tell you that there are a couple or three big days coming up which will take me a while to type.

It was Whit Monday today, so a bank holiday here. Bank holiday or no there was work to be done. I did some scything, digging and weeding, and I managed to transplant the last seven chestnut trees. That's it.

25th May 2010

Unusually I spent most of the morning on housework. Sweeping up, doing a load of washing and even managing to make a meat and tatie pie. I popped to the pub for a quick one. As soon as I got in there Laci, the landlord, told me that Lajos (fa szakember) wanted to see me. A quick one became two when I was, unexpectedly and unasked, bought another. Ah well. I was in no hurry and supped it slowly. Come the time to leave Laci (by the way pronounced Latsee with the 'a' as in 'cat') repeated his admonishment to see Lajos.

It being only about fifty metres to Lajos house I cycled straight on round there. He imparted the news that he was very optimistic about having sourced the thing that I need. He was to confirm by telephone at four in the afternoon and if it was on he would come and collect me.

I went home and did what I can hardly call gardening - more of a repair job. Pickly had managed to dig a ginourmous hole just outside the yard gate into the garden. She had even managed to start tunneling at right angles to the original excavation. Unfortunately, where she had chosen to dig was full of pebbles and bits of rubble which was now scattered as far as the camping lawn. It all got raked back in the hole, but a fair amount of the soil just seemed to have evaporated. Never mind, I had something with which to make good - I won't say what. I made good and raked it level with the remaining soil that was still around.

I kept an eye on the time, and about five past four there was a toot from outside the front gate. Lajos - it was go. I put Pickle back on the chain in the yard, locked the house and went to the car. We drove a few kilometres to a fairly nearby village, quite a big village, called Ivanc. We pulled up outside a very pink house and were greeted by a youngish man, late twenties I would think, and his mother. I inspected the goods, cash changed hands and I became the proud owner of three half grown goat kids. Two does and a buck. They were cast on their sides, which they didn't like very much, and with a lot of bleating their front and back feet were all tied up together in a bunch. Lajos had a huge sheet of foam rubber which he laid in the boot of his car. The goats were loaded in, the foam rubber folded on top of them, and off we went back to Halogy. Once home we carried the goats, bleating loudly, to just outside the pig sty. I fetched a knife and their feet were released. We guided them into their new quarters, somewhat bewildered. The goats, that is - not us. Lajos left and Hobo turned up. I think the jungle telegraph was working. In fact I know it was working.

We had already provided the goats with water, but they needed food. I rapidly scythed down a random row of stuff. Hobo forked it into the wheel barrow and wheeled it back to the sty. We bundled a fair load of it into the two compartments. The goats were still very skittish and bewildered. We left them to settle and went to the pub.

As I left the pub the western horizon was a dark inky black, punctuated from time to time with lightning flashes. It was too far away to hear thunder but it was obviously a big, big storm. When I got home the lights were flickering constantly. To the extent that I made sure I had candles and maches to hand both in the kitchen and in the big room. I took the wind up torch and checked on the goats. They were fine, but still very nervous. I left them to it. The storm approached close enough that the thunder could be heard. I heard rain falling outside, but it didn't last long. I turned the computer on, but connecting to the Internet was impossible. The modem would get half way through booting up and start again. Whatever, it was an early to bed sort of night, it having been a life changing day.

26th May 2010

Up before six. That's the new lifestyle for the foreseable future. I might get away with getting up at dawn the first winter, but once the does are in milk it will be early rising winter and summer. I checked on the goats and gave them some more fresh greenery for breakfast. They were fine, but still skittish and nervous of me.

Hobo turned up quite early and between us we set about getting the goats out of doors. Hobo decided they should be in the yard for the first day. Poor Pickle was bannished to the tying up post just by the garden gate and I jury rigged two new chains onto Pickles running line in the yard. The next job was making three new collars fit the goats. They are quite big collars and the goats so far only have scrawny little necks. I drilled lots of new holes in the collars. The next job was fitting the collars to the goats. The larger of the two does was no problem at all. She was quite placid. The smaller doe was a bit more problematical but not too bad. The buck was a little sod. He literally climbed the walls of his sty and ran around them. I let him calm down a bit and then cornered him, and that was that.

Next job was getting them onto the yard and attached to the chains. The other chain was attached to the buck's collar, and with much bleating we got him into the yard. Hobo, in his wisdom, attached him to the ruin of the dog kennel. First mistake. He didn't like it much and sprang about, finally managing to uptip a big tray of seedlings that were still to go in the ground. Bugger. There were casualties. With more bleating we got the does out and hooked them onto the other chains. We decided the best place for the buck was also on the running wire so we moved him.

All the bleating attracted the neighbours, and I soon had a minor stream of visitors. Several people with children that were passing by to and from the shop came to the gate to show the children the goats. Pickle's nose was severely out of joint, and she never ceased a frenzied barking all the time this was happening. The goats regarded her with disdain, as if to say "What's that all about? You big daft animal.". Picture:
The Goats
They have names. Not chosen by me I hasten to add (in case they offend any of my readers). The names are (in English from biggest goat to littlest goat): Rudolph, Elizabeth and Suzanne. In Hungarian (and traditionally using diminutives) Rudi, Bözsi (equivalent to Betty) and Szuzi.

Some degree of normality returned and things calmed down. One of the neighbours came round with a gift (for the goats) of a bucketful of lettuce trimmings. That kept the goats happy for quite a while. I managed to get back to my digging, and presently another village chap came along to do some scything or me. He is cheap, good and only wants to do a couple of hours of work in a day maybe once or twice a week. Ideal!

A relatively normal day followed, with the exception that Pickle was not allowed back in the yard all day. She was not happy.

At the end of the day the goats were provided with plenty of fresh greenery for overnight and fresh water, and they were returned to their respective sties.

Later, in the pub, there were continuing scenes of serious flooding in the north east of Hungary, around the city of Miskolc, further down the Sajó river and into the Tisza river area. Once again I was glad that I chose here instead of there. Oh, and I forgot to mention the return of "my" swallows. They are definitely the same ones - there was no buggering about looking for somewhere to nest. They were straight in the potting shed, like a rat up a rhododendron. As I write, I see one at a time flitting in and out all day long. More baby swallows I expect.

27th May 2010

Up before six again - into the new routine. I looked in on the goats first thing and gave them a bit more greenery to nibble for breakfast. The old lady at No. 72 saw me go across the yard and gave me a wave and a smile. I have to say that the neighbours both sides seem more than happy to see goats on the place. Of course, all the village knows by now.

After that I shopped, lit the fire and breakfasted myself. Then it was onto the next challenge. The goats were to start work today in the garden. I put the stakes in where I had decided that they would go, then went back to the sty. First mistake. Big mistake. I took them to the garden one at a time. I took the buck first. All he did was stick his front legs out and bleat. I was sweating by the time I got him hooked on his stake, still bleating. I got the first of the does. She at least came with me, but she bleated all the time too. The same with the third one. I got her on her post, and quite soon she and the buck stopped bleating and started eating. Good - that's what I am paying them to do. The other one started eating but continued bleating. How do they do that? Eat and bleat at the same time. That was mistake number two. She could not see the other two and was pretty unhappy. I moved her where she could see the others and she stopped bleating.

I had informed myself as much as I had time for about goats before getting them. The intention was always to have multiple goats but one of the things that struck me is that you should never "keep a goat". You should "keep goats". A goat on its own is bound to be a pretty unhappy animal. They like company. And they like to be able to see one another, as I had just found out.

Mistake Number Three. They don't like the long grass. That is to say they like eating it - they don't like exploring into it. By heck, it's a bit of a sharpish learning curve, this goatherding.

The older chap from the village turned up and did a bit more work for me. He likes scything. But so do I. I hope he leaves me some! Here are my new family at work:
The one on the right is Rudi, the one in the middle is Betty and the little one on the left is Suzy. I had to move her shortly after this. She had no shade. I suspect that she is a little bit young to have been separated from her mother and Betty tends to bully her. She will also attempt to suckle a proffered finger. I'm not too worried - she is eating the grass and weeds well enough. Goats in the Garden

I set about planting a load of precious plants salvaged from yesterday's disaster. Cherry paprika, and what is getting known in the village as English sunflowers. I will let you draw your own conclusions on that one, other than to say that I managed to plant thirty five before the heat drove me off.

I checked that the goats still had shade then went for a beer. Hobo was in the pub. Now there's a surprise. He came home with me. I scythed down some fresh greenery. Hobo wheelbarrowed it down to the sties and apportioned an amount to each. I renewed their water supply. Together we fetched the goats back off the garden. It took a while. One or two would go off on a little side expedition, but so long as you kept the front one where it was the others would eventually join back in. Lesson five - keep the front one where it is. There was n'ery a bleat and we got them back to the sties. The goats safely corralled for the night we retired, unwashed and somewhat slightly dazed, for a couple in the pub.

28th May 2010

Up at six and out to check the goats. The old lady at No. 72 saw me again and gave me a smile and a wave. The goats were fine. I shoved a bit more greenery into them for breakfast then went to the shop and set about mine.

I organised whereabouts on the garden I wanted them today. It was a lovely warm and pleasant morning anyway. I adopted a completely different tactic for getting them into the garden today as well. I took all three at once, and basically let them make their own way up to where I wanted them. It took a while, but probably no longer than it took yesterday making three separate trips. The old lady next door saw me again as she worked in her garden and stopped to watch our progress. There were multiple pauses as they chose to stop and munch at what they thought was a particularly delicious patch. The old lady smiled and nodded. We paused for quite a while and the goats decimated a strawberry patch that was destined to produce precious few strawberries anyway. I stood for a few moments in the gentle warmth of the early sun until they were ready to move on. I thought to myself as I stood there "Sod Peak Oil! What more could a man want than this?" And then I thought "If only that bloody dog would stop barking!". Mine, of course - still going ballistic in the yard. I don't think there was a single bleat all the way up the garden.

The village chap who is doing a bit of scything for me turned up, having beaten off Pickle in the yard. If she gets too boisterous he just gives her a whack. Fine by me - he certainly isn't scared of her. He's a nice gentle guy, crippled up in one leg to about the same extent as I am, and I suspect a one time pugilist, which unfortunately does not help when he tries to speak Hungarian to me.

I earthed up the potatoes, fairly big time. I was three quarters of the way through when he called it a day. I treated him to one of my beers and had one myself. We sat on the house doorstep. of course. I went back to the garden, checked on the goats and finished off earthing up the spuds

After lunch it was back out into the garden for another stint. Hoeing around the onions and digging. About three in the afternoon I thought that I deserved a beer break, so went to the pub for one. Hobo was in there. In fact me and Hobo were the only customers. Something unusual happened. There was a great barking of dogs from the set just to the west of the pub and a police motorcyclist, blue lights flashing, slowed down as he came past the pub and apparently stopped just out of sight by the pub driveway. We were sitting at what I call the old boys' table, and with the pub door open you can see down the driveway from there. Suddenly a bunch of runners came past, the front one carrying a torch and various others carrying flags including the Hungarian one. A number of what were obviously backup vehicles followed them, all being backed up by a police car which also had blue lights flashing. It turned out to be The World Harmony Run. Hobo was visibly emotionally moved by it. I was too to a lesser extent. How extraordinary to see a thing like that come through a sleepy out of the way spot like Halogy.

Speaking of police motorcyclists, I had a dream that I had died and gone to heaven. St. Peter checked his list. Yep, I was on his list. Just across from the pearly gates was a huge aircraft hanger-like building. St. Peter said " There's one of everything ever made in there. Take whatever you fancy. No restrictions up here." I went across, and sure enough it was as he said. I wandered across to the bikes and chose myself one, a good one. The tank was full and the keys in it. I fired it up and followed the arrows on the floor. No need of any protective gear of course - I was dead already. The arrows led me out of the building and eventually onto a road that was a motorcyclists dream. A wide, perfectly surfaced road with sweeping bends left and right, and enough ups and downs to make it interesting. I came out of a twisty bit onto a stretch of dead straight and level road for about three miles. I wound the bike up as fast as it would go. I had about a hundred and eighty on the clock when I saw the flashing blue light in my mirror. Oh no! It was going a good bit quicker than I could so I slowed the bike, went down through the gears and pulled up at the side of the road. Plod pulled up behind me. "Excuse me sir, but is this your bike?" "Well no, not exactly." "Can I see your driving licence please?" "Err, well I don't exactly have one for up here." "Insurance certificate?" "Haven't got one of those either" He got out his little black book and started writing, speaking sotto voce as he did so - "Not his bike, no license, no insurance" Then to me again "Where is your protective gear?" "Haven't got any!" Sotto voce again "No helmet or leathers" "Do you know what speed you were doing back there?" "Oh, about a hundred and eighty." Sotto voce again "Speeding". Then to me "You'll be hearing from us." With that he jumped back on his bike and disappeared into the distance. Somewhat disconsolately I turned the bike round and at a sedate speed rode back to the big shed, parked it up, and found my way back to St. Peter. I told him what had happened. "I thought you said that there were no restrictions up here?" St. Peter chuckled and said "Oh don't worry about it. That's just God. He thinks he is a police motorcyclist!" (Apologies to any police motorcyclists who happen to read the blog) :)

I went back home and did a bit more in the garden. Hobo came along a few minutes later and by then it was time for the goats to go byebyes. I whacked back some fresh greenery with the scythe and Hobo wheelbarrowed it down to their hotel. Pickle was restricted to the yard and Hobo helped me get the goats back from the garden. The reverse of this morning. All three together and letting them stop here and there for a browse. There was a pause whilst they decided whether they wanted to go back in their little yard. Eventually Suzy led the way in. The others followed. That seems to be the way it is. One of the girls - either Suzy or Betty - will lead, and the other two will follow.

It had been on the whole rather a good day. It was pub time so, unwashed and unchanged and undoubtedly slightly redolent of goat, Hobo and I cycled up there and had a couple. Or three. As one of my daughters would say - skanky old man! Didn't care!

29th May 2010

Once again my new morning routine. Goats, shop, breakfast. The shop lady was not there. Her son was deputising for her. She had been noticably unwell the previous day and had lost her voice.

I was digging when the village chap turned up to do a couple of hours. He made a fuss of Pickle and then set to work. I have to say that he is a fine hand with a scythe. I'm not bad, but not as good as he is. He had just got started when Miki turned up looking for work. "Nem kell" I said. (No need). He made some excuse to speak to the old chap and the next thing I knew Miki had the scythe and was bashing away at everything in sight. I went and spoke to the old chap. I told him that I had told Miki that I didn't need him to work. I said that it was his work and he would get paid, not Miki. Somewhat grumpy at the turn of events I went back to the yard. Within minutes Miki and the old chap followed and it was fairly obvious that the old chap was a bit grumpy also. Well, no. That's an understatement. He was fuming. At this stage, and at this stage with my Hungarian, I was not quite certain whether he was fuming at Miki, fuming at me or both. Fortunately, it later turned out that he was fuming at Miki.

I had an early lunch and then got back to the hoeing. I had done that and turned back to the digging when Hobo turned up looking for a bit of work. I set him on strimming the camping lawn and the bit of border by No. 68 that had not got done when I used the strimmer after its repair. The strimmer is playing up again. For no reason it decided to leak petrol a day or two ago. Now, when it is running it is absolutely drinking petrol. I'll have to investigate. After that he set about turning the hay crop. There is now a lot of hay. Of course I will need it in the winter. I have a huge amount of old stuff. The loft of one of the outbuildings is three feet thick in it at the middle. No good for food but fine for goat bedding. Hobo reckons that the stuff lying needs another good day of sunshine on it and it will be ready to go in the loft. To this end, unasked and unseen by me he later cleared the first half of the little loft above the pig sties so that it can be used to store feed hay. I may well at some later point clear the loft above the garage - there is a lot of wood in there but most of it is only fit for firewood - and start to transfer old hay into there from where it is now. That way when winter comes both bedding and food will only need to be forked down into the passageway between the sties and the garage and thence into either the sties or the yard.

30th May 2010

It was very wet first thing. We obviously had a good shower of rain overnight. I put the goats in their little yard and gave them their breakfast there, intending to let it dry out a bit before I put them to work. I went to the shop and breakfasted myself. Getting a bit repetitious, isn't it? Well, that's what life here is like. But then again no two days are ever the same. You know, it was just the same when I used to lecture at university. I could give exactly the same lecture in successive years, or to two different courses, and the response was never the same.

I took the goats out about ten and set them to work. I went back to the digging. It was not good. I was by now into unbroken ground, hand weeding (a lot of weeds), and a single row took me an hour. The rain had just moistened the top inch, or less. By the end of the morning it was seriously hot and I had to move the goats to find them more shade. The little one (Suzy) seems to feel it the most. I still think that she was taken from her mother too soon, as she will still attempt to suckle my finger.

I went and had lunch. I had no more than returned to the garden when the sky darkened, drops of rain started to fall and I could see a huge curtain of rain coming our way not more than a mile away. I grabbed the goats. They did not need to be encouraged. They trotted as fast as I could limp. About half way down the garden there was a huge crash of thunder which made the little ones leap about and resume their trotting behind me with even more urgency. With luck we made it back to their hotel just as it really struck. Lightning flashed and thunder crashed and a torrential downpour ensued. I was marooned with the goats in their little yard. It leaked. And it flooded from just outside the gate. The goats huddled in the passageway. I suspect that it was the first thunderstorm that they had experienced. They didn't like it much. Well, they better get used to it. We have a lot here. I think that I already said that Pickly dog doesn't have a problem with thunderstorms. Not too fond of the rain, but the flashing and banging doesn't bother her at all.

The storm passed and the sun came out again. I left the goats in their yard and went to inspect the damage in the garden. There was none, other than that I discovered the first (?) Colorado beetle on the spuds. I beat it to death with the small hoe.

Went to the pub later. Nothing of note.

31st May 2010

The goats were confined to barracks, it being a rain and welly boots sort of a morning. They don't mind wet grass or wet feet but they don't much like rain. I did housework. Lots of housework. Three parts of the way through the morning it stopped raining so I put the goats to work.

I wanted to have a go at digging and didn't want to leave Pickle in the yard. That left me with the interesting conundrum of threading her up the garden between the goats. I solved it by putting her on the actual dog lead, arming myself with a blue drain rod and every time she attempted to make a lunge for a goat she got "Nem!" and a sharp whack with the drainrod. We made it through without major incident and with some amount of strain to my left arm. I tried the digging. It was really not good - too wet - and a single row took me an hour. I knocked it on the head and reversed the procedure of threading Pickle between the goats on the way back to the yard. The old lady from No. 72 was watching. She wagged an admonishing finger at me, but smiled.

The village guys appeared (there are two of them now) and with one mowing and the other strimming the ditches they worked their way up the village. I got the leaf rake and started to clear up. All the neighbours were out doing the same. I was using the leaf rake to get as much of the stuff as I could off the roadway. I find that if I rake it to where the grass starts by the roadside I can give it a flick and the mown grass will hop nicely across the drainage ditch to join the mown grass on the other side. The next door lady helped me by brushing off the grass that had got between the fence posts. Whilst she was doing that Pickle was going ballistic in the yard and Tibi came out and had a go at me, not in a nasty way, I think to say that I was using the leaf rake wrongly. Marika said "Bolond!" (Stupid). I replied "Igen - bolond kutya." (Yes, stupid dog). Marika said "Nem! Bolond ember" (No! Stupid man!). I had to laugh. The clearing up of the grass revealed flotillas of slugs. I wonder what the proper collective for slugs is or if there even is one. After I had cleared the grass I went and got the salt bag and despatched all the ones I could find. The old lady from No. 72 was doing the same.

I decided that a little mucking out of sties was in order. It was getting a bit smelly in there. Another first! I started with Rudi's sty. The whole lot came out and into the wheelbarrow destined for the compost heap. I was going to do the same with the girls' sty. I got as far as removing the uneaten greenery that had been there a while. I was going to clear their bedding but made a curious discovery. It was actually quite dry and the sty did not smell. I went and got a basket full of fresh bedding. One sty got completely recovered with new bedding. The other I just threw a few handsful over the top. I was in the middle of doing that and just carrying over the basket of the old stuff from the outhouse loft when the old lady at No. 72 came over to the fence. She passed me over a big margarine tub of her strawberries. It quite got to me I must say.

Mucking out finished it was time for the goats to go byebyes. Rudi was not happy about having to return to his lonesome sty.

I just had time for one quick job after that. I was not overly thrilled with the escuteons that came with the Chubb lock. They were open escuteons, and not overly special at that - stamped anodised aluminium. I had bought some nice Georgian style covered ones on Ebay. Very cheap, including the postage. They had arrived, so I fitted them:
Brass Escutcheon Like this.

Pub, of course.

Unfortunately I have to count May as a failure. I ended the month some way short of what I had hoped to achieve in the garden. My only excuse is the vagaries of the weather. It has not been normal. I can't say that I expected cold and wet at this time of year.

Via e-mail from Post Carbon Institute this from Richard Heinberg.


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