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July 2010

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1st July 2010

After the usual start I did my row of digging. The sweat rolled off me. I retired to the yard defeated for the day. Another day with the temperature bumping around the thirty mark. I had to get back to the yard anyway as I had hung the sign out for Posta as I urgently needed cash. Down to about the last five hundred forints in the pocket.

I poked my nose out of the gate and had a look up the road. Sure enough I could see the Posta van a little way beyond the templom. In due course it got as far as my place. And ignored my sign and stopped at the next house beyond on the other side of the road. I limped out to find that it was not the regular post lady but a particular young man who deputises for her from time to time. It was by no means the first time he had ignored my sign. I wandered over. "Penz?". "Holnap." (Tomorrow). Now it is strange how the communications equipment that permits cash withdrawals signally fails to work for him. Now, I am reluctant to speak ill of Hungarians as they are the most helpful race of people that it has been my good fortune ever to meet. I think that I will just say that if he were an Englishman I would describe him as an arsehole.

I pondered the cash situation over an early lunch and came to the conclusion that I had to have cash, whatever. The only solution was to cycle to Nádasd and get some at the post office there. So I did that. I certainly did not break any records getting there, and I chose the easier, longer way. It was seriously hot. For the first time ever I actually had to queue in the post office. There were only two people in front of me but I think they were changing their life savings into Roubles and then back into Euros. I was queuing for quarter of an hour. I patiently dripped on their floor. It got to my turn and there was no further problem and with cash in pocket I cycled back to the village. Part way back, just before the final big down then up before you get back to the village, is a short stretch which is heavily wooded on both sides. It was like cycling through a steam oven. Naturally, given the fluid loss getting to Nádasd and back, I had to replace some of it on my way through the village.

I checked on the goats. They were where I had left them in the shade by the fence with No. 68. They had managed not to upset their water and I noticed that some food parcels had come over the fence. I tanked up and fired up the strimmer and had a somewhat overdue go at the camping lawn and started on the borders up either side. One tankful was enough both for me and the strimmer. It was still seriously hot.

That was it for the day. The goats went to bed. I knocked up something to eat, had a swill down and went to the pub. On the way there I noticed that it must have been seriously hot. The road had been gritted to help prevent the molten asphalt from running away to nowhere.

2nd July 2010

I had another birthday today. Well, the first one this year anyway. Strangely enough I had one on this date last year too. I'm losing count. It was just another day. The garden didn't know that it was my birthday and neither did the goats or Pickle.

I was not overly happy in the shop though. Nincs Kőbányai! I had to make do with a couple of bottles of Közel. Mind you, I did manage to get a chuckle all round out of that because the picture on the label of a bottle of Közel is a goat!

It was even hotter today. I revoked on digging. I contented myself with a couple of hours of weeding. The weeds are still winning.

I had a lunchtime drink in the pub. As you do on your birthday. Or any other day that takes your fancy if you live in Halogy. Back home I found it necessary to spend quite a long time on the computer. Something quite out of the ordinary. All will be revealed in the fullness of time.

With my business on the computer and the Internet finished I checked on the goats and went back to the pub for another. It being my birthday. Just the one, you understand. Back home it was time to put the goats to bed, eat, swill down, change and go back to the pub.

When the usual company was assembled I bought a huge round. About one thousand six hundred forints. A bit less than a fiver as I write. All except one, that is. I still cannot figure him out. I am not sure whether he does not like me, or whether it is that he just does not like anybody. Anyway he didn't get a drink from me.

Back home I found a big woven plastic sack just outside the little gate. Pea straw for the goats. Lajos.

I thought you might like to have a quiet grin at this slightly tongue in cheek article from the Budapest Times.

3rd July 2010

It was the normal start to the morning, except that the goats had a treat. I pegged them out not far from the sties and fed them the pea haulms that I had found by the gate. That made short work of that and I left them contentedly munching.

After breakfast I had a bash around with the little hoe. The weeds are still winning. I happened to poke my nose into the outhouse which is just by the gate into the garden. Movement caught my eye. To my amazement and delight there were two little baby hedgehogs snuffling their way along one of the walls. I hobbled back to the house and grabbed the camera. By the time I got back only one baby hedgehog was in sight:
Just for scale the plastic pipe on the floor is about five eights of an inch diameter. Fifteen millimetres-ish. As you can imagine that lifted my spirits for the morning. Baby Hedgehog

It was another scorcher and much too hot to do anything seriously physical in the garden. I checked that they had water and shade from time to time and a load more pea haulms appeared over my fence. You know, the goats are getting many more food parcels than I am! I suppose that I ought to reciprocate at some stage by supplying them with the odd bucket or two of goat shit. For any of my readers who do not know, goat shit is a bit like mini-Marvels - you know, the chocolate things. Little pellets everywhere. I didn't know that before I had goats.

I retired indoors and did some blog updating.

I needed firewood. How absurd is that? It was pushing on thirty Celsius again and I was out sawing and chopping firewood. Well, no firewood equals no cooking and no hot water. The electric boiler remains off for as much time as I can manage to make it remain off. Which is most of the time. The absurdity of me being out in thirty degrees of heat creating firewood made me chuckle.

On my travels through the dictionary I noticed a particular thing that I think shows a particular slant on the Hungarian psyche. I may be wrong but there seems to be an intertwining here. The word gazda in Hungarian means (inter alia) farmer. The word gazdagság means wealth. An interesting connection.

On the way back to their accommodation I noticed that Rudy was, how shall I say nicely - errr, keen to try out his wedding tackle or, slightly more earthily, was trying to get his end away. Ah, right. Solitary confinement for him then, which he did not like over much. The remodelling of the outhouse suddenly rises up the priorities. I must organise it that he is separated from but within sight of the does. Randy Rudy!

Last job of the day was to give the garden a good soaking. Another disaster was apparent. My three rows of beans had germinated - well some of them. Something, pigeons I suspect had eaten off many of the seed leaves. Whether they will survive I know not at this stage.

4th July 2010

It was another very warm morning. I had just finished breakfast at about eight o'clock when Lajos turned up, struck up his chain saw (at eight on a Sunday morning!) and with me steadying it he lobbed two slices off the trunk of the pear tree that had been felled and was now in my yard. For a reason - more later.

It being Sunday I did a load of housework and then, it being extremely hot again, I did a load of blog updating. Miki turned up. He had managed to rustle up a belated birthday present for me which was kind. We shared a pálinka and off he went.

I had todays catastrophe a bit later. I went to check on the goats, taking Pickle with me and chaining her up to the pipe which is by the garden area. The goats were fine. I was going to return to the yard with Pickle. I had unhooked her chain from the pipe when she managed to get the wrong side of the pipe. I had in a moment of foolishness slackened her collar one hole a few days previously having felt it and thinking it was maybe a bit tight. She slipped her collar and in a second she was amongst the goats. Chasing one, then the next, then the next, and all over again. I managed to give her a couple of good whacks with a handy stick but she continued. She never got near Rudy though. He would turn on her if she got near and that brought her up short every time. Finally in my "I really mean it" voice I told her "Pickle Down!". To my amazement she did even though she was only about two feet from a goat. I managed to get her collar back on and took her away from the goats. She had managed to down the girl goats a couple of times each, but she didn't actually hurt them. I think she was playing with them, but it was a bit rough and tumble - the sort of thing you see dogs indulging in in the local park from time to time. The girls did not like it much though. Pickle is just a bit too big, strong and boisterous for them. (Yet)

I needed a beer after that little episode, so with Pickle safely chained up in the yard and the garden gate shut I went for one. Hobo was in there somewhat the worse for wear. He had been to a village some kilometres away overnight, and went to a búcsú in the next village. He had been partying until half past five in the morning apparently.

Back home it was time to put the goats to bed. I did not enjoy it much. For some reason the mosquitoes were particularly active, I was wearing shorts, and by the time I got them in I was bitten to blazes around the legs and ankles. Not fun!

Later, in the pub, Hobo had bitten the dust and I got into conversation with a friendly village chap that works with computers. He knows his stuff. We were talking about hard drive partitions and the like. He was stressing to me that you should never keep your stuff on the C: drive, which I haven't done for many many years anyway, and told him that. On this computer I have a separate partition which is accessible both from Windows and from Linux. Very occasionally I do have to work in Windows for certain jobs and it helps if I can get at the stuff that I saved in Linux. He was interested in the Linux stuff. I think he would like to give it a try.

Back home I did a bit of goat research. I have some interesting times ahead. I was reading about bucks' behaviour in rut. Quite charming. They drink their own urine and spray it all over their faces. Makes them stink and apparently makes them irresistible to the does. Ah, so that's what I have been doing wrong all these years.

This absolute load of rubbish caught my eye on the BBC tonight. If you read through it the interesting paragraph is the one that reads "A spinal injury was admitted overnight in hospital and the 19 other injuries seen at accident and emergency were discharged without admission.". I think Professor Pollock would better engage himself with a comparative study of child cycling injuries vs. rugby, children falling out of trees vs. rugby, children being deliberately hurt by other children at school, etc., etc. What a load of clap trap! Professor Pollock - crawl back under your stone. I write this as one who was forced to learn and partake in rugby at my school. High tackles were simply unheard of in those days. We were taught the proper way - just below the hips, or failing that with a faster opponent click his heels together. Sorry, went off on one there but it is yet more bloody nanny state. If you don't believe me have a look at the figures for child injuries and deaths on the roads in Scotland in 2008.

5th July 2010

Well, well! Who would have expected this? Perhaps it is a tacit admission that they have in fact explored everywhere and there is no more oil to find.

I had a thrash about with the strimmer using up a tankful of the worlds precious diminishing resources of black gold. The goats don't like it. Even if I am fifty metres away they get as far away from it as they can. I tend to agree with them. Off topic I really do need to get two patches each of clover and lucerne growing. One each for the goats to browse and one each to turn into hay fodder for the winter. Mmmm - life changes. A couple of years ago I was more worried about the appearance of Colorado beetle on the spuds.

Hobo appeared, took over the strimmer and managed to use up two more tankfuls, hither and thither and yon.

I noticed the old lady at No. 72 making hay. Not a lot, just a small patch, but she was quietly and gently turning it over in the summer sunshine. A thought crept to mind. "She is doing that for the goats". I turned out later that I was correct. Hobo had spoken to her, and indeed the hay was destined to be made into goat shit. I was dispatched to see Lajos with the slab of wood that he had sawn off the ex-tree trunk yesterday. He was shovelling huge heaps of planings and sawdust into bags when I arrived there. He finished of what he was doing, and then I had a treat - at the expense of whatever powers his stuff. Electricity, I reckon. He planed off one side of my slab and sanded it down. On his work bench he sharpened a pencil and put it in his huge pair of compasses. A couple of tries and he found the centre of my slab. He drew around, close enough to be into the heartwood. What followed next should not have surprised me but it did. He went round the circumference of the circle that he had described and divided into sixths. Is that applied geometry or applied trigonometry? Whatever. He chose three of the markings and bored them out at an angle. His drill and bit did not like it. My slab of wood was after all green. He stalled his drill and his bit smoked. I have to say that I hope he didn't f**k it. Next some bits of oak appeared. Sawn to size and reduced to octagons on his planing machine. Then onto the lathe. In seconds he had them so that they were the correct diameter, with the other ends nicely radiused. He made three, and only one had to go back on the lathe. The other two were perfect by his eye. Back on his bench he lashed a bit of glue about and smacked the legs into place with a mallet. With two legs one side and one the other it sat quite happily in the carrier of the bike as I cycled home. I recorded it for posterity, of course:
Milking Stool I set out with this...
...and came back with this! Milking Stool

You know, in retrospect the bamboo is in about as bad a place as I could possibly not have chosen. Well, I didn't choose it. Hobo did. It multiplies my evening work and I really don't feel like walking to within twenty metres of the national park just to water the bamboo. My early evening consisted of putting Pickle on the first staging post, watering the outhouse garden which now has seven (out of forty five) English sunflower plants and several dozen little ones from my desperation sowing, moving Pickle and hose up to the main garden, watering the main gardens and Pickle, walking up to where the goats where and collecting the remnants of the water that they did not drink in the day, walking up to the bamboo and watering it, walking back to the yard with the empty goat buckets and collecting Pickle along the way, walking back up the garden to collect the goats and herd them back to their shed, filling the goat buckets and putting them in with the goats so that they had water, and finally taking Pickle back into the yard. Total distance covered - thirteen kilometres. I exaggerate, but only slightly. I have told myself a million times not to exaggerate!

I had a swill under the cold tap and went to the pub.

6th July 2010

Shop, breakfast, goats out. Then it fell to me over breakfast to do some work in the dreaded Micro$oft Windose operating system. It took me forty five minutes before I was able to do any actual productive work! FORTY FIVE minutes! Yes, three quarters of an hour! Skype needed updating. My free antivirus software had expired, in the background Micro$oft was stealing all my bandwidth with "first Tuesday" updates and Firefox decided to join in the fun.

Eventually an opportunity arose to reboot, so I did. In the full knowledge that I would have to reboot again once Micro$oft had finished trashing my hard disk with yet another twenty gigabytes of shite to update an operating system that I did not want to use but was forced to.

I did my job using Micro$oft Worm. It took me the rest of the morning. Somewhere in the middle Jani appeared with a little bag of gherkins for me to pickle. Aside, there is no differentiation in Hungarian between gherkins and cucumbers - they are both simply uborka. Big uns or little uns.

After lunch I gave the goat yard a bit of a clean out which was hot, unpleasant and smelly work. More goat food came over the fences.

I finally managed to get my row of butter beans, which had been patiently growing in large pots on the kitchen window sill, into the garden. All day it had been overcast and threatened rain. None came and it was hot, humid and oppressive.

7th July 2010

More weeding in the garden. It is just never ending. Once again the weeds went in the basket and from there into the goats. After that, once the heat of the day struck, it was some (much needed) housework. I confess it had been quite neglected in my efforts to keep everything up together outside.

I discovered yet another horticultural catastrophe when I returned to the garden to check on the goats. Absolutely one hundred percent my problem, my fault. There, where there had been a nicely developing row of Brussels sprouts plants, was a row of green stalks sticking up. The plants? In Rudy! I had managed to stake him out about half a metre too close to the garden. It was time to move the goats into more shade anyway, so I did. No good berating Rudy - he was just doing what he is paid to do. Munch everything within reach. I related my misfortune later in both the shop and the pub. It caused much merriment and commentary.

8th July 2010

Another article by John Michael Greer today. Available from my links page. Also a must read article on the education system by Carolyn Baker. I will be interested in any feedback from my erstwhile colleagues in higher education in the UK in comparing the UK to the US. You know, I do regard my finding and reading such stuff to be an important part of my work here in my belief that about now or not long in the future the world I have seen develop will start to unwind.

I was continuing with the weeding campaign when Jani appeared. He had grabbed my scythe on his way, disappeared up the garden, reappeared only about ten minutes later and buggered off. I had not, and still have not the slightest idea what that was all about.

The day hotted up again and I went back to the housework. I spend my days at the moment either finding something to do which does not involve physical effort such as updating the blog, or otherwise inevitably drenched through with sweat. It is so hot now that just walking up the garden to check on the goats brings me out in a sweat. Today was housework so I sweated. Jani appeared again, grabbed my scythe again and disappeared up the garden again. This time he did put in about an hour and a half of work. I had him scythe down various patches of nettles. The goats understandably do not eat them. When he was done, and with goats checked, he and I retired to the pub where I bought him his eighty forints worth of fröccs and had a nice cold beer myself.

Hobo was there. When it was time to leave he came back to the house with me and helped put the goats to bed. He likes the goats. He stole one of my evening beers and returned to the pub. I went over the shop to replenish the missing beer and there was more merriment when the lady asked me if the goats had had anything else from the garden.

I went to the pub myself later, naturally. Back home I had my normal trawl for gloom and doom. Now this is scarey. As someone who regularly uses the SWIFT-BIC system I object to this most strongly. That the EU parliament has agreed is nothing short of nauseating. I have long thought that the Yanks are the most paranoid and dangerous people on earth. Not as individuals you understand. Their government, or maybe the shadowy figures behind the government. The country is up shit creek without a paddle and their only response is to lash out at everyone else. Until they realise that the party is over and that unless they do something about it right now and at home I fear that they will simply regress to the status of the countries upon which they seem intent to conquer and destroy with their military might. Vietnam obviously taught them nothing. Just my thoughts you understand.

9th July 2010

Another scorcher of a day and apart from looking after the goats I did not do a stroke of work in the garden. Instead I did a bit more housework and then chopped out the earth wall for the final brick that needs to go into the angle by the door. It was horrendously dusty, dry and hot work. There was a reason for it and that was that as part of my houseworking blitz I wanted to give my house doors a good wash down. All the work I had done on the wall earlier in the year had resulted in them being heavily begrimed with the earth dust.

I fetched the hose back from the garden, swept up all the earth I had chipped out and put it on the recycling pile. Then I set the hose on a fine spray and starting at the top worked my way down the doors and frame. A fair amount of the spray billowed out around me as I was working, and rather pleasant it was too.

You know, an earth house has to be the ultimate in recycling. Apart from the roof tiles, and maybe the electric wiring. If you took the roof off the whole thing would eventually collapse, the wood would rot and it would all return to nature. It works just as well the other way too. At the moment I have a sufficiency of stock of earth to make more bricks, but if I need more at any stage it would just be a case of digging it up, letting the weather wash out all the organic stuff, making sure nothing grew in it and there would be my building stock.

Normal evening - nothing special to report.

10th July 2010

More housework. There was a reason - more later. And it was another sweltering day.

In the early evening I ran myself out of time to get the myriad jobs done that I wanted. A fair amount went undone! The essentials happened, like putting the goats to bed and making sure they had fodder and water. And eventually swilling me down, changing and going to the pub.

With a seriously short one today I thought I would regale you with a couple of snippets from the Budapest Times. Firstly this about Pálinka. Mmmmm - so they aren't supposed to distill it? Another one observed more in the breach! And this about the Trianon treaty. Bloody French again. General De Gaulle says No. But somebody else and earlier.

11th July 2010

I made a discovery this morning. The goats love nettles. Just so long as they have been scythed down and wilted. They couldn't get enough of them as we made our way up the garden. I might just have to advertise on the village noticeboard for nettle hay. In my readings on the Internerd I have found out that the hay that you would feed to horses is significantly lacking for goats. Goats need rough hay with lots of scythed down weeds in that bloody fussy horses would not eat. They don't like hay with prickly stuff in it though. Mmmmm. It is going to take me a long while to get rid of the wild brambles that permeate certain parts of the garden.

I staked them out and left them munching. I don't bother with their water at that time of day. Everything is bedewed anyway. You know, I had to check that one. grep revealed that I had never used the word before on the blog, and it suddenly came to mind "Is there such a word?". There is, of course. The blessing (or curse) of a long ago and far away public school education. Anyway, it was bedewed so the goats did not need water for a while.

I did housework. Again. Must do the maths some time - better to do four hours every Sunday or better to do it once or twice a year when visitors are due to arrive? Unless someone wants to volunteer, of course. The variables are the problem. Being a Cancerian doesn't help. The only two women that I have ever ever known that were seriously untidy were both Cancerians. Not dirty you understand. Just extremely untidy. I am the same. Any horizontal surface is fair game. Eventually, when no more horizontal surface is visible something goes "Boooooiiiiiinnnnngggg" in the brain. Then all hell breaks loose. "That does not live here!", "WTF is that doing here? - it should be over there.", "Ah, that's where that got to!". You get the picture..Housework it was, all day. And it was hot again.

After I came home from the pub in the evening I fed Pickle which is the first thing I do when I get home. As usual, after a suitable interval she needed to go out. I let her out. After a short while there was a frenzy of barking. I have mentioned before all the different barks that she has, and I thought to myself "I know what that is.". I was right. She had one of the baby hedgehogs curled up in a ball just by the ruins of her kennel. Nothing she could do about it except bark at it. I found them with the aid of the wind up torch and just called her away. As soon as she stopped barking and went a couple of metres towards the house I saw the little hedgehog uncurl itself and scuttle away into the darkness. Ah, simple rural pleasures.

12th July 2010

Another voice is raised in alarm about Peak Oil. A Lloyds of London report is discussed in The Guardian.

Panic stations! Late on yesterday evening I had been sent an SMS, which due to the patchy network coverage here in the village I did not get to read until breakfast time this morning. Guests from the UK, who had planned to get here tomorrow were arriving today. A blitz on the rest of the housework followed, with what being undone to remain undone. And I found time to give the camping lawn a haircut.

I even found time to make myself presentable - well as presentable as I get - before I heard the telltale bimbling of motorcycle engines from outside. Pickle did her usual bit, and I met up again with two of the four bikers that came over last year. It was wonderful to see them. I don't know whether I related about when I lived in the UK in a big posh house in a very exclusive part of Bournemouth. It was a rented house. Rented by me and two other bikers. We were all members of an Internet forum, and one of us suggested a party at our house. I can't remember how many turned up - somewhere between twenty and thirty I think, and we had a great party. They were all total strangers to me but we talked bikes and trips and so on. You know, bikers get a bad press. There was not a hint of bother and I found out later that if it were not for all the bikes parked outside the neighbours would not have even known that we had had a party. I digress. It was as if my two visitors had only left yesterday and returned today.

They set up their tent on the camping lawn and we discussed plans. Their premature arrival had to a degree caught me on the hop food-wise. I suppose I could have rustled up a fried egg sarnie for them. An either/or suggestion from me resulted in the or. We caught the bus, went up to Nádasd and ate at Café Rick. In spite of only being in the next village I had never eaten there before. Hobo regards it as being expensive. Well yes, if you think of a restaurant meal being just top side of three quid! I have a sneaking suspicion that the people in there knew who I was. "Look out - it's that mad Englishman from Halogy!"

We beered and dined in a leisurely fashion. We had plenty of time as the bus back to Halogy was not until half past five. At the appointed time we wandered back and caught the bus. Back in the village a beer in the pub was de rigeur. I was going to cycle back to the house and check on the goats but the lady visitor insisted that she would have a wander back and look at them. She returned presently reporting that all was well. We gently finished our beer and wandered back to the house.

Back home, Pickle was given a sound beating (not really) and the goats were put to bed. In the midst of this Hobo arrived - I had sent him an SMS to let him know that they were arriving today not tomorrow. He was just as delighted to see them as I had been. He had been working all day in Csákánydoroszló, the next village to the west and with the unpronounceable name that I can actually now pronounce such that the locals can understand my murdering of their language. Having said that, it is obviously still a mouthful as the locals tend to abbreviate it to Csákány.

With goats safely in their hotel we all went back to the pub. Surprise. A bit of a session ensued. Surprise, surprise.

13th July 2010

We put the goats out first thing. My visitors were up and wanted to help. I think they were quite taken with the goats. The goats certainly took to them. They don't like everybody you know. Then we had breakfast, and chatted and checked the goats and chatted and checked the goats...

Eventually it was time to go to Körmend so we wandered off to the bus. I made some calls in town - tobacco shop and so on. I introduced them to the Presszo bar, then we went looking for a shop about which me and Hobo had had a somewhat animated discussion the previous evening. We had argued at some considerable length about which shops were where on that street. I come to the conclusion that if it is outside his purview (i.e. paint, tools...) it does not exist in Hobo's consciousness. I mentioned the textile shop. What textile shop? And so on. Anyway, I think we identified the shop but there is not a single clue from what I could make out of the signage. It was shut, so that was that. The quest had been for doggie choccies!

We wandered our way at my by now flagging pace back towards the Raba. We went the back way and eventually got to the Hálászcsarda which was our destination. We ordered beers, passed the menus around and chose what we wanted. It arrived in short order and a good job too considering what followed. Whilst we ate the skies darkened, and darkened. It was obvious that the thunderstorms were gathering and the goats were still out. The bus went at twenty five past three. The next one was twenty five past five. We necked the food and drink as fast as we could, settled up and legged it at my fastest limp back to the bus stop. A bus passed us when we were some hundred metres short of the stop. Fortunately it was the Őriszentpéter bus. We turned the corner into sight of the bus stop and there were a couple of people there that I knew by sight to be Halogyi emberek. I just had time to sit down, get the pipe out and light it and the bus appeared.

The bus driver was in no hurry. We looked out of the windows with concern. Here and there in the general direction we were going were quite obvious downpours of rain. Just as we got to the village it started spotting with rain. I grabbed the bike which was at the pub and pedalled home. The other two legged it. By the time I got up the garden to the goats they had caught me up and it was spotting even more. By the time the three of us got the goats to their yard it had just started coming quite big spots. Just in the nick of time the goats were under cover. It sort of rained for a while. Just about enough to lay the dust.

Of course we went back to the pub. We managed to cover a lot of ground in the evening, including several beers, but the conversation ranged from the prices of property to the differences in the driving laws and beyond. It turned up in the conversation that Csákánydoroszló had had half an inch of rain in a very few minutes during the thunderstorms that day. We went home after that.

14th July 2010

The visitors left this morning but not before helping to put the goats out to work. They were bound for Croatia. Life here went back to normal. Well, nearly normal. I decided to try out the meat van - the one that Hobo had recommended. Ten o'clock and sure enough there he was outside the pub. There were quite a lot of the villagers there too, so I guess that had to be recommendation enough. I half expected that there would be a butcher type man with big knives and cleaver carving lumps of meat off a slab, but no, all the meat was prepacked in vacuum sealed bags. I got a lump of pork that you would chop into about five chops. Almost a kilo. Just over a thousand forints. I would certainly get four meals off it.

Naturally, a beer in the pub followed. It was just a bit busy in there, as all the other meat van customers had the same idea. Laci the landlord was all in favour of putting my meat in the ice cream freezer, but I told him that I was going to deal with it as soon as I got home. It was a little later than intended as Hobo bought me another!

Back home the meat was processed. I boned it out and divided it into two. One half was cut into bite sized pieces and went straight in the slow cooker with seasonings, onion, garlic, new potatoes, beans, split peas and green peas. The other half I finely minced and then had to ponder preservatives, being without a fridge. I decided on a mixture of salt and sodium metabisulphite plus herbs. I intended to make burgers with it.

The weather continued extremely hot. That was one of the reasons for using the slow cooker. I really did not need to be stewing on the wood stove for two or three hours. I continued to check on the goats at intervals resulting in streams of sweat just from walking up the garden and back. Anything physical outdoors was simply not to be contemplated. I managed to do a bit of blog updating in between. My office (table) is probably the coolest place in the building but the earth walls are storing up a serious amount of heat and the inside temperature was by now round about thirty. I did some blog updating.

The evening news had several items about the heat, with warnings to holiday makers at Balaton and clips from various cities showing children running in and out of the various ornamental fountains. Another clip reminded me that I had never written on the blog about the treatment of those in custody here in Hungary. They don't mess about here. They are brought to court manacled hand and foot and chained to a balaclava clad armed guard.

15th July 2010

As normal I went to the shop. What was not normal was that the shop lady told me that she would be away on holiday from tomorrow. I kind of knew that as she had been training up another lady in the shop for the past few days. I was forewarned that the shop would not be open in the evenings.

I put the goats out, broke my fast and did a bit of hand weeding of the beans. Yet another horticultural disaster this year. I planted about a hundred and fifty seeds. Eleven bean plants. ELEVEN! Not good, not good. I will fill the gaps in but I am not holding out that much hope. The sweat dripped about my feet as I weeded.

I got back to the yard just in time to see Posta arrive. I had a parcel. I had been sort of expecting it for some while, as it was a birthday present. Once I got it indoors, stopped the sweat dripping on my specs and looked at it I found out why:
World Tour As you can see (I hope) there was a little sticker on the package that said that it had ended up in Australia. And then sent back. Well, a bicycle tool that I had been waiting for did a world tour before it decided to arrive here.

In the heat of the day I did a bit more blog. After that I had to go to Bödő for buckets and one or two other bits. I managed to forget one of the bits. An eight millimetre one to be precise. The buckets were for the goats. The present ones are about two years old, plastic and disintegrating before my eyes. I hope none of you have UPVC double glazed windows. I would give them about twenty years here - probably thirty in the UK. What then? It degrades in the sunshine, you know. It was the same when I was sailing. A fifteen year old GRP boat would take more maintenance than a fifteen year old timber boat.

When I got home I did a bit more at the blog, but before I did that I stuck the thermometer out on the kitchen window sill. In ten minutes it went off the scale. It's a wonder I didn't burst it. It goes up to fifty four degrees Celsius. And it was off the scale. I reckon on the outside of my kitchen wall it was about sixty Celsius. Global warming anybody?

There had been a little stray dog wandering around the village at intervals all day. Pickle had barked at it several times as had the next door dogs. It found its way to the pub in the evening. A dog after my own heart apparently. Laci kicked it out several times, not in an unkindly way but he doesn't even allow his cat in the pub. This little dog was quite devious however, and with both doors to the pub shut it would watch for the arrival of another customer and was back in the pub before they even knew it had happened. It caused a degree of hilarity. It obviously liked me because it would come over to where I was sitting whenever it managed to get in for a stroke.

It was still outside when we left. Maybe I had one too many beers, but I walked the bike home and encouraged the little dog. It came in the yard when I opened the gate and it shot into the house when I unlocked. Hmmmm! Looks like I have two dogs. It was obviously parched and starving, so I watered and fed it. Oh bugger - I just became a two dog family, and here is me going on about Peak Oil!

16th July 2010

It was very wet everywhere when I got up. It had obviously rained overnight. What surprised me was that when I went to put the goats out I noticed that the wheelbarrow had somewhere between four and five inches of water in it. I would guess that we must have had about two inches of rain, an absolute deluge. I had never heard it at all. Oh well, the plants would not need watering.

The dogs had been very well behaved together through the night, though I will confess that the new arrival had had "a little accident". It came to mind that I am going to need the vet. Being a stray, I have no idea whether he has had any vaccinations at all, and of course I have no vaccination certificate for him. Another bridge to cross. I might just wait on Hobo reappearing for a bit of help on that one - I fear the technicalities of explaining myself to the vet may just strain my linguistic abilities a bit too far.

I did a bit of research on the Internet about my new arrival and it looks as though he could possibly have a bit of leonberger in him, although I reckon he is a mongrel. A picture:
Pickle and Blackie. Although predominantly black he has just a shading of brown towards his feet. The leonberger (which is a breed I had never heard of) is the same coloration on the top half, with the same feathered ears, but the shading starts much higher and gets much lighter as it goes down the body and legs. Pickle and Blackie

Once again it was a sweltering day. I felt the need of a cold lunchtime beer. I was cycling up there and encountered Miki who was headed the same way. The pub was locked, barred and bolted. Posta arrived too, but was unable to raise any sign of life. We all left, our various needs unassuaged.

I lunched and then set to with my new bicycle tool to investigate a problem with the bike. Right from being new I have at intervals had to readjust the crank bearings. A few weeks and they would need doing again. Right from being eleven years old I have had bicycles and of all the ones I have ever owned it was extremely rare to have to adjust the crank bearings. Normally maybe once when they have bedded in on a new cycle. This one was getting to the stage of running out of adjustment so I needed to investigate what was going on. Hence the need for a crank extractor, which is what my bicycle tool is. I was but a few moments work to pull the cranks, and another minute to undo the bottom bracket locking ring and bearing cup. The bearings proved to be caged ball bearings. The left hand one was fine. The right hand one was more or less in bits. All the ball bearings fell out when I removed the crank shaft, and the cage was severely distorted. Hungarian workmanship strikes again. It was absolutely obvious that the right hand one had been assembled the wrong way round, hence crushing the cage when originally adjusted.

I jury-rigged it all back together. I needed the bike, so it would just have to do for the time being. It was just another few moments work to locate new ones on Ebay and order them from the UK. Ninety nine pence for the pair, and one pound fifty postage. They are winging their way towards me as I write. I hope they don't go via Hawaii, the U.S. and Canada!

In the pub in the evening everybody was asking me about the little dog. I reckon that they all seem happy that I have taken it on. Hopefully it will - how shall I put it? - not do my street cred in the village any harm at all.

17th July 2010

Both the dogs had been in overnight and this morning there were no problems, apart from my trainers not being where I left them. And socks. I reckon Blackie is about the same age as Pickle was when I got her. I went to the shop and got my weekend stuff. Whilst I was there the electricity supply went off momentarily. Quite amazing how quiet the shop was with no fridges and no fluorescent lights running. It was only momentary but it actually caused me to breath an inner sigh of relief. For days I had been plagued with the Internet router rebooting itself over and over again. I had begun to think that it might be the supply to my house, but obviously not. It had been a serious pain though and continues now as I write. I reckon the router has rebooted itself about ten times whilst I typed this paragraph. I took a chance when I went to the shop and left both the dogs together in the yard, Pickle unchained. I was in the shop a while. The new lady only knows the prices of the regular stuff like bread and milk. She has to look everything else up. The price labelling is a bit hitty-missy. Some stuff has prices on every single item, some has a price scribbled on the outer and some not at all in which case the lady had to get out her printout and scan through it until she found the relevant entry. I need not have worried. Pickle and Blackie were lying by the house steps together when I returned.

I put the goats out in an open spot that needed chewing, which is what I do before it gets too hot, and went and had breakfast. As is my custom I shared the lower crust of my toast with the dogs. Pickle will sit up and beg for it. Blackie just snatched. I started his training by making him snatch it a bit gentler. The first time he nearly took my fingers off.

I left the goats out just a bit longer than I intended in their unshaded spot. I moved them to where they each had shade, and gave them their new water buckets with what I though was a sufficiency of water. The girls were fine. I didn't need to give them any more all day. Rudy literally sucked his dry within a minute so I had to return to the yard and refill his bucket. No idea why he needs so much more water than the female goats. Bloke thing, I suppose. Knew a girl once who after a half of lager was anybody's and after two halves of lager was everybody's.

As I type the lights continue to flicker, and the router reboots itself for about the fortieth time. I exaggerate not. Fortunately, this being a lap top it does at least last about five minutes on its battery.

Dripping with sweat with the effort of moving the goats I retired to the house to see if I now had an Internet connection. Pickle went ballistic and for the first time I heard Blackie bark. And a wonderful bark it was too. A great deep-throated "Woof" that would make the hairs on the arm of an intruder stand on end. I investigated. A young man from the village was at the gate. There was a discussion. Well, not so much of a discussion as him saying stuff and me saying "Nem értem" and "Nem tudom". I did manage to get to the bottom of it in the end. He wanted to know whether I had a need for some carpets and furniture, which I had not. It was not a problem and we shook hands and he went on his way.

I had a sandwich and then went for a Saturday lunchtime pint. Well, half litre. The landlord's son served me and it came over the bar 'on the house'. Ah, bugger. That meant that I had to stay and have another that I actually paid for. A conscience thing.

I went home, checked the goats and started on a long overdue job which was just a bit unpleasant in the current weather conditions. A huge amount of the sand in the big heap was once again scattered across the yard. To get to the kitchen woodshed I had to climb and descend a small mountain of sand. It all had to go back on the heap and have the various bits of metalwork replaced around it. I did it by fits and starts. The work was not the problem. The heat was. I made a discovery whilst I did this. Blackie is also a digging dog. Bugger!

The goats were moved in accordance with the climatic conditions. Rudy was strangling himself on the walnut tree and Suzy had run out of shade. I identified several stumps that have to come out of those part of the garden which causes them to get in a tanglement.

As it drew on towards evening I took the wheelbarrow and secuteurs and pruned back another three vines which was wheeled to the goat hotel and spread about for their supper. The bloody horse flies had a field day!.

I ate, showered with the last of the tepid water in the boiler, changed and went to the pub. John turned up, quite late. Apparently he had been doing some computery type work and had been watching the clock on his computer which said 7:17. It was a little while before he had realised that he was in fact looking at the date.

Back home, with both the dogs indoors was a bit of a trial. The pair of them just wanted to play. And pant loudly in sychronicity.

18th July 2010

You might have noticed the blog catching up. That's on account of the heat wave and the humidity. I suppose I could have put some of the time aside to actually start learning Hungarian proper-like. But I didn't. I caught up on the blog.

We had a thunderstorm overnight. Lots of water in the wheelbarrow again this morning. When I got up it was still extemely hot in the house - thirty-ish. I opened the roller shutters and opened a big room window. A blessed waft of cool air traversed the room. The weather forecast had said a cold front and it was. I was expecting Miki at eight. He never turned up, of course. Which reminds me to tell you that "Pickly dog problema" has entered the lingua franca of the village. Anyone that is a bit scatty, one finger short of a KitKat, knitting with only one needle, not the sharpest knife in the box - I could go on and on - is now spoken of as having a "Pickly dog problema". Nice to know they think of my excellent dog that way :)

Outside there was a nice cool breeze and it was still overcast. Good. The goats could go on a couple of areas where I cannot put them when it is still, humid and blistering hot. So I did. They stayed there all day. I put water out for them but they barely touched it.

I was also able to put in a moderately physical day. I got involved with one of those dependencies things. The goat accommodation was getting a bit niffy. I needed to get the old "old" hay off the floor and give it a good sweep out. The consequence of that was that I had to start with finally moving the new hay that came from John's place to where I wanted it in the first place. It took a little while, not assisted by the fact that the dogs wanted to play in it as I moved it. I managed to disturb a little lizard as I did it. It scuttled off somewhere. In spite of the relative coolness of the day it was hot and dusty work. I went for a beer.

With good hay where I had wanted it all along I was able to get on and muck out the goat yard. As much of it as I could get to anyway. There remains the remains of at least two of my extended barrow loads of hay that Hobo forked in there that I would much rather have seen disappear into the goat house hay loft. It must have been five feet deep when he forked it in. Whatever! It gets forked over and every morning the goats seem to have found something in there to chew. The nasty stuff from the goat house floor (that is a euphemism for soaked, ammoniacal, goatshit laden) went in the barrow together with the household stuff for composting. I think I mentioned the non-edible paper labels on the bread. They all go in the stuff for composting, as do all the used coffee grounds which I am told are excellent. I trudged up the garden with it and it all went on the compost heap which also had a bit of a spring clean as a lot of stuff had either fallen off or been blown off.

I had to rescue the big ladder next. It was still propped against the old apple tree where it had been used to chainsaw off all the dead stuff. Getting the ladder into the yard without letting the dogs into the garden was a challenge. I managed it. It did make me notice that the fence and gate were in need of a little TLC. Hammer and a handful of nails sorted that.

The ladder went into its rightful place in the outhouse. I ascended and hurtled down a sufficiency of the old hay and descended. It had been hot and dusty work. I went for a beer.

Back home the old straw went into the goat house then I used the barrow to collect the goats' supper. More vine prunings. I parked the barrow at the first vine just a bit too close to where Rudy was parked. He stole the first lot I put in the barrow. I moved it. Some choice weeds went into the barrow too and when I thought I had enough it all went back to the goat house. I had to do firewood after that. It came in handy, as I fancied an omelette.

Blackie has started barking today. He is only young but he has a fine deep bark on him sufficient to deter intruding cigany or FBI agents.

I met up with John just as I was leaving for the pub. We had a couple of beers together and Hobo reappeared. He had been on the road about five hours. He said top side of four hundred kilometers. It turned out that he had been working on an old "tanya", and from the distance it had to have been somewhere on the Great Southern Plain of Hungary. I wanted to post a link but they all came up with touristy crap. He did say that the water came from a traditional nodding donkey pump. I think he said there was no electricity either.

Apologies for no updates for a couple of days. I had just about got up to date when my laptop power pack decided to die on me so I was without computer for a few days. Like having the right arm removed. A flurry of SMS to and from the UK fixed that problem.

19th July 2010

An interesting read from Olga Bonfiglio published on Energy Bulletin.

Over second toast - the one with jam, pumpkin at the moment - I attempted to get on the Internet to check e-mails and such as normal. Once again the mains supply to the house was playing up and after a few minutes I just gave up. I did leave the router plugged in and the laptop on though. I strimmed the yard instead. Blackie showed no fear of it, and got a bit too close for comfort once or twice. It had managed to get quite long again and took me two sessions with a smoke break in between.

With that done I returned to the house to see if the power had settled down. In the case of the router yes it had. I had a comforting row of green lights. In the case of the laptop it had settled down semi-permanently. The laptop was off and I knew that I had left it on. I pressed the power button on the laptop repeatedly to no avail. Now what? The little multimeter came out to play and it was a matter of seconds work to identify that there was no voltage at the plug that goes into the laptop. It was a matter of more seconds to discover that there was two hundred and thirty volts at the plug which plugs into the power pack. The power pack was at ambient temperature. A dead parrot! Hence my later comment on yesterdays blog. I rechecked it all. Whilst I was doing that and changing settings on the multimeter there was an ominous grinding sound from it and the dial suddenly stopped going click, click, click from one setting to the next and the dial rotated freely. I thought to myself "Oh dear, there seems to be something wrong with the multimeter". Well, I thought something somewhat stronger than that actually, with lots of words beginning with F and B. It now rattled when shook. It hadn't before. I unscrewed the back and a little ball bearing dropped out. Ah! That would account for the lack of click, click, click then. I tested it, and with some relief it still worked. Oh well, just have to do without the click, click, click.

I went out and did a load of weeding instead. I continued after lunch until driven off by the heat. I retired to the pub for a cold beer. To my surprise Miki asked me if I had a couple of hours work - like now! Oh yes. So me and Miki finished our drinks and went back to the cottage. I set him on a job and to my amazement he actually did what I wanted. There were a load of small branches left on the ground from when the tree fellers were here. He not only wheelbarrowed it back to the yard but also sawed and chopped it into suitable kitchen stove size pieces. He did a couple of hours. I paid him and then we cycled back to the pub and I bought him a fröccs. He was well happy.

I had the one and went home to put the goats to bed and prepare myself for the evening. The goats were nearby. I left the dogs in the yard playing. They had been playing all day. I collected the two girls and I had them in hand and was making my way to collect Rudy when, suddenly, Pickle was amongst them. Once again she would not go near Rudy, but she chased the girls round and round in spite of my admonishments. Unfortunately she chased them round and round me. Bear in mind that I had them in hand. I could not let them go. There would have been goats and dog all over the county of Vas. Round and round they went. Taking their chains ever more round my legs faster than I could untangle myself. Eventually I fell over. There was a fringe benefit however. By now all three - two girl goats and Pickle - were within my prone grasp. I collared Pickle and with a firm grasp on her untangled myself from the goats. They wanted to be as far away from her as possible and that allowed me to drop their chains onto the stake which was holding Rudy. Pickle got the first equal greatest thrashing that she has had in her life. About the equivalent of the one that she had for chasing next doors chickens. In the yard she went straight on the short chain. I finished putting the goats to bed.

Unwashed, unchanged and in what I would call a muck sweat I went back to the pub to calm down. It was nearly time to go anyway. Having calmed down, Hobo managed to wind me up by going on and on about the fact that he disapproved of me having two dogs - never yet having met Blackie mind you. I went home not best pleased and, computerless, settled down to do a bit of reading. I needed my makeshift lamp to provide enough light to read by comfortably. It had been on about ten minutes when there was a crack and it went out. One of the new low wattage type bulbs. I guess it had lasted maybe two hours total. The perfect end to the day.

20th July 2010

I had got into the habit of letting the dogs out for a run in the yard and going straight to the shop leaving Pickle off the chain. They seem quite happy to just run around and play together. This morning I returned to find a catastrophy. No problem, they were still in the yard. Unfortunately they had chosen to play their rough and tumble right where the gladioli were. They wrote the lot off! I was not best pleased as the corms had been a gift from someone in the village. It somewhat firmed up my intention to have a dividing fence in the yard, much like the one my neighbours at No. 68 have. A doggy area and a non-doggy area. It has risen up the priorities a bit with the arrival of Blackie!

Weeding again! One of the big problems here is a particular grass. It is very succulent, quite shallow rooted and grows at an absolutely astonishing rate. I weeded it out of a few areas in the garden - there is always more to do - and it all got chucked in a basket and from there into the goats. They love it.

Posta arrived with a little parcel. Good-oh - my new bottom bracket bearings had arrived. I returned to the weeding and remembered to take the Roundup with me. I had noticed that the dreadful viney stuff that clambers up the fence between me and No. 68 just by the outhouse garden had returned. It was a very still day so I did not have to worry about overspraying the neighbours garden. It got a good dose and I remembered an errant elderberry bush which was in an unwanted spot by the neighbour's fence at the top. It got a dose of Roundup too.

I got distracted on my way back to the weeding, noticing that the chestnut plantation also needed a bit of hand weeding around the little trees, so I set about that. Out of the forty nine transplanted trees forty eight have survived. Even the one that was chewed off by one of the goats managed to survive.

After lunch I fitted the new bearings to the bike. Strip down, wash off with petroil mix, rinse and repeat. The bearings themselves were dropped into two stroke oil before fitting. All was reassembled and adjusted and as I write appears to have done the trick. The adjustment is near enough the same now as when I adjusted it then as to be indiscernable.

After that I went back to the weeding. The outhouse garden where the English sunflowers (wink, nod) are growing. Again the weeds went into the goats.

Towards the end of the afternoon I stocked up on firewood. The dogs galloped around the yard, panting. I just sweated. After that it was just the normal routine.

21st July 2010

After the usual start I was confined to the yard as I was expecting the vet. It had come to me that I did not know if Blackie had had any vaccinations and in any case I had no vaccination certificate for him. Hobo had kindly organised that for me. It is still possible that someone will come looking for him, of course. I would be rather sad if that happened. I know that if either of them wandered off and was not back within the day I would do some notices and cycle round all the local villages putting one up on the village notice board. I have to say that the day after I adopted him I had grave misgivings, but his very nature, his obedience and desire to please soon overcame that. Even Hobo changed his tune once he had met him a couple of times. He now declares Blackie to be a good dog - better than Pickle he reckons, and also says that (on the whole!) Pickle is actually better behaved with Blackie there.

The vet eventually arrived, was not in the slightest interested in Blackie and put Pickle on the pill, as usual through the gaps in the gate. I asked him about Blackie. September he said, when all the village dogs are vaccinated. He would do a new vaccination certificate for him then as well. I paid him and that was that.

I mended the heavy mattock. It involved removing the shaft, shortening it by about three inches, planing down to fit, cutting a wedge slot and making a wedge, then reassembling it all. More than a couple of minutes work! Never mind, it has seen a lot of hard work and if I have managed to double the life of the shaft well and good. It was certainly nice and solid when I finished.

I strimmed really hard the two feet or so around both the dug bits in the main garden. It was very hot again so I knocked that on the head for the day. Back in the yard I tanked the strimmer up for next time and used the last of the petroil mixture in the container. I made the decision that I might as well go to Násasd and get petrol, so I did. It was a very leisurely ride with the temperatures again well in the nineties. I pulled up at the pumps on the pushbike, which always gives me an inner chuckle, and the young man came out to serve me - it is attendant service at the petrol station. I had the container on the bike in such a way that I did not have to remove it, just unscrew the cap. I went to Bödő next and bought the bit that I forgot to buy last time I bought bits in there. The bit that I managed to forget this time was a light bulb to replace the one that went pop. Such is life. I had a leisurely Soproni sitting at an outside table in the shade at the little bar on the main road. I even managed a conversation about my bike with a customer who was just leaving as I parked up. "Nice bike!" - "Thank you!". No, it was a bit more in depth than that.

I cycled straight home and checked on the goats. I moved one into a bit more shade. It was still scorching hot. It was too hot to cook. I made do with a bit of bread and cheese I think. After that it was business as usual for the rest of the evening.

22nd July 2010

Yet another really hot day. The effort of putting my feet on the floor first thing broke me out in a sweat. Oh well, mop it off and get on. Shop, goats, breakfast. I was busy after that in the yard. That's a euphemism for collecting and disposing of dog shit.

Posta arrived early with a little parcel for me. I went indoors, mopped the sweat off me and the specs and opened it. It was my new power pack for the laptop. Excellent, amazing. Royal Mail and Magyar Posta had beaten my expectations by at least a day or maybe four. I had expected it at best to arrive tomorrow or maybe Monday. Well it was here so I checked it out and it worked fine. Thirty three e-mails and only two of them spam :(

I went back to the garden. More weeding. They are still winning. I don't know why - maybe the weather gods told me - but I started on a long overdue tying up of the tomato plants. Amazing how time consuming it was. Making sure that I had all the branches from each plant and making sure that I was not tying in a branch from the next door plant. I managed one row. I have four rows of ten plants. It might be enough, we will see. Lots of fruit (unripe) and lots of flowers. My take on it is that if you have canned or dried tomatoes, potatoes, onions and garlic in sufficiency you can be a culinary king throughout the winter.

The goats needed moving, so I moved them. I was doing that when the grandaughter of the old lady at No. 72 came to the fence to speak to me. We spoke about the goats. Then she wanted to know all about Blackie and after that we talked about what I had growing in the garden. It was actually quite a rewarding experience.

I needed a beer after all that so I went for one. John turned up, so one became two as it does.

I had had an e-mail from a stranger that had found my site via the link that I had posted when I mentioned about checking my web stats. Anyway, they had read my blog. You know it really pees me off that many writers of English either never knew or have forgotten that "they" when speaking in generalities can refer to third persons, either singular or plural, of either sex. It p***es me off even more when a writer insists on using "she" when they are referring to "they". I am not a "she". I am most definitely a "he". Sorry - went off on one there. Anyway, I replied to this e-mail which was from a person that has a cottage some kilometres away in about the same state as mine. They replied. We had been corresponding about soap making and I asked permission to quote this from the reply which actually made me laugh out loud when I read it. "No room for kinky sexy soapmaking underneath one of the walnut trees with wind in hair and sunshine on the face" I hope that made you chuckle too.

23rd July 2010

I was just having breakfast when Hobo appeared. He hadn't said that he would do any work today. It turned out that he just came round for a chat. I gave him a coffee Hungarian style - black, strong, sweet and served in a little glass. It was much too early for a beer. For me at any rate. He helped me put the goats out. It was already hot and promised to get hotter so we put them in a nice shady spot a fair way up the garden by No. 68. I made sure they all had water. The placing of the water is an artform in itself. It has to exactly at the extent of their chains so that they can just and just get their head into the bucket. Either that, or if they are by a fence wedged by a fence post. Otherwise it is a certainty that at some stage the chain will go round the bucket and over it will go. Rudy will occasionally just butt his over out of spite anyway.

Hobo left and I had a much needed sweep-out of the big room. Pickle was in full moult and every time that she played with Blackie clouds of hair would erupt and the wind of their passage would waft it to the edges of the room where it lay in billows like the foam upon a sea shore. By the time I swept it up I had a carrier bagful. It was unfit for my collection so it simply went into the kitchen stove to be burnt the next time I lit it.

More weeding.

After lunch Hobo reappeared with old Jani. Hobo did some strimming and Jani some scything of a bit of fresh greenery for the goats. I went back to the tying up of the tomatoes. As I worked with the sweat dripping I noticed that I had a little company working nearby. A bee was busily pollinating my tomato flowers. Good-oh! There are lots of green tomatoes - I hope I limed the ground enough - and lots more trusses of flowers to develop. I had happened to notice when I used up the last of my home canned tomatoes from last year that it was dated 31st July. I will certainly not be canning my own by then this year. Down to the cold, wet May I reckon.

Hobo and Jani finished their stint. We went to the pub where I bought them a drink and paid them. Hobo bought the next round. After that we all three returned to the cottage. Jani forked a full wheel barrow of greenery and Hobo wheeled it down to the goat house. Hobo and I were in the process of getting the goats to bed when Jani returned the scythe to the yard. We had just about got as far as the goat house when Blackie appeared on the scene. Jani had not fastened the gate at the bottom and Blackie squeezed through. Both Hobo and I more or less simultaneously said "Nem!" to Blackie and to his eternal credit Blackie just stopped and sat down. I handed my goats over to Hobo and then went to where Blackie was, praised him and returned him gently to the yard, making sure that the gate was fastened this time. Just somewhat slightly different to if Pickle had appeared on the scene. She was chained so she could not get through anyway.

Hobo and Jani went on their separate ways. I ate, showered and changed and somewhat later returned to the pub. I had not been there longer than a couple of minutes when the local policeman came in, not in uniform, shook hands all round leaving me until last and then called me outside. Oh, shit - what now? He started talking about dogs. I put two and two together coming up with five in the belief that there was some sort of a problem with me having Blackie. Fortunately Hobo was there to intercede and it turned out that it was nothing to do with Blackie. It seemed that policeman and wife/girlfriend are thinking of having one of Toni and Eva's latest litter and wanted to see what sort of a dog they would make. In the end they decided there was no need and that was that. Probably a good job, knowing Pickle.

24th July 2010

It was sunny when I went to the shop but a look at the sky to the south west persuaded me to leave the goats indoors for a while. Irrespective of the threat of rain, what with dogs and circumstances I had managed to accumulate a huge wash. It all went in to soak.

Sure enough, it came on to rain. I made sure the goats had some fresh greenery in their yard and they stayed there a while. I did some blog. The prolonged shower passed and the goats went out to work. I cycled up the village for eggs.

I forgot to mention that yesterday I caught Rudy practising his buck goat thing. He was urinating into his mouth and around his face, drinking it and smacking his lips with the pleasure of it. Probably more detail than you need, but that's life as it is. I know it will get a lot worse. The joys of goatherding.

I called in the pub on the way home from the eggs. Hobo was there. I had a beer and Hobo spoke about doing some work. I said yes, and Hobo said something that I completely misunderstood. It later transpired that he thought that I was on the way for the eggs and that I would call back in the pub on the way back. I thought that he had said that he would finish his beer and then come on down. I cycled on home.

It was lunchtime so I had lunch. I was having lunch when I heard the tell-tale toot-tooting of multiple car horns. A wedding party passed by. I leaned out of the window and waved. Some while later they passed again, the other way and with many more cars tooting.

After lunch I went to do some woodwork. I no sooner did so and started chipping away than the skies darkened to the extent that I no longer had sufficient light to work. A tell-tale pattering started, and it was a quick dash into the garden to get the goats in. It came on to what the Hungarians call good weather. A nice steady rain. With goats in the goat house and dogs in the house I did some more blog updating. Then I went to the pub, cycling under the umbrella, to find Hobo still waiting for me to return from buying eggs. Yeah, right! Expanations followed. I had the one and sub-umbrella cycled back home. It was still persistently precipitating. As I went round the little bend by the templom I noticed a car by my gate. As I got closer two adults and a child appeared, as if from my yard, and got into the car. I cycled their side of the road to prevent their escape and as I approached they got out of the car again. The driver of the car was a big bloke - probably about six foot four and four feet across the shoulders. I did not know him. I knew the other guy though. They greeted me sociably enough with handshakes. The big bloke was like shaking hands with a bear. A conversation of sorts followed. The upshot of which was that the big guy understood that the house and land were for sale. I told him as strongly as I could that the house and land were most certainly not for sale. It went back and forth until I convinced him that the house and land were, in fact, not for sale. He was finally satisfied and they got back in the car and departed. There was nothing untoward in the yard and nothing untoward in the house. A certain unnamed person's name had been mentioned in the discussions, and I came to the conclusion that Chinese Whispers had been taking place. Well, I hope I put that one to bed.

Later, in the pub, Hobo went off on one. It took me a little while to get a grasp on it. At first all I understood was "buza" (wheat). I thought he was having a go at me. It turned out that he was having a go at at the school system here. He was criticising the fact that they sit in front of computers all day, and he thought that they should be taught at school to use a scythe and a hoe as well. I can't say that I disagree with him!

25th July 2010

This from Ugo Bardi on The Oil Drum Europe site. The comments are worth a read too.

It was just one of those days when I hit a brick wall. It was an overcast day, so I was able to stick the goats out wherever there was the most munching for them to do and not worry about them.

I lost an umbrella. Well, I didn't exactly lose it. It was written off by Blackie. I had propped it up to dry last night under cover of what passes for a porch. I resumed my reverie triste. At whatever stage that I snapped out of it, Blackie had not only grabbed the brolly from the porch but had also managed to open it and then jump on it and bite it until it was just wreckage. My fault entirely. If I had managed to catch him in the act then I could have given him a swift "Nem!" and a little smack on the nose. But it was a bit too late for that. I consigned it to the dustbin. Fortunately I had another.

After yet another sweep out of the house - the dog hair storms were not quite so bad today - I decided that I really should do some long overdue system administration to the computer. I backed up all, then set to to get all the latest upgrades to my system. It was going to take a while, so I went for a beer. When I returned I found that it had fallen over on download one hundred and thirty seven out of one hundred and thirty seven. The law of sod. I set it off again. Fortunately it is clever enough to know what had already been downloaded, so it ran through quickly until it found the final package. It started on the upgrades. That would take a while so I left it and did some other stuff - yard, etc. When I returned it had fallen over again in spite of my specifying --skip-broken I ran it again, this time including --skip-broken --excludes=subversion. It still looked for subversion, and promptly fell over again. I did a sudo yum clean all and ran it again. It fell over again. Patience was wearing thin by this stage. I edited the configuration file and hard wired in to ignore subversion. It didn't! AAAARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!. I edited the configuration file again and told it to ignore the cache. Finally that fixed it. Once again I left it running and went to the pub in time to catch the last bit of the Formula One, including Ferrari's blatent team orders overtake.

When I returned home the upgrades had finally completed successfully - praise be! In a moment of madness I also decided to update my Opera web browser which had been nagging me for a while. Big mistake! Huge! (There's a quote there, isn't there, Heather?) It updated with no problems. When I relaunched it I instantly hated it. Horrible, in my opinion, absolutely horrible. There is more to come on that.

It was pub time by then, so I grabbed a bite and cycled up to the pub. Must take more photos.

26th July 2010

I put the goats out. It came on to rain. I put them in again. It stopped raining so I put them out again, but there was the threat of more rain, so I didn't put them very far away. It rained again so I put them in again. Then I put them out again. Quite a pain!

On my travels I had noticed that the plum trees were shedding quite a lot of unripe fruit. I say plum trees plural. Once again the place has surprised me and I have found that I have two more plum trees than I bargained for. One tight by the fence with No. 68 and the other in some random unaccounted for spot in the garden. I already had a recipe for unripe plums. With the state of the tree fruit being as it was this year - i.e. cherries a disaster, no pears at all and the apples showing every sign of becoming premature windfalls - I was not about to look a gift horse in the mouth. The last time I tried the recipe was two years ago. I have to say that it was not a success. Anyway, I spent quite a bit of time collecting all the unripe windfall plums from the big tree at the front of the house. I reckon two two hour sessions with lunch in between. I filled the collander twice. About two kilogrammes all told. I think I rejected about ninety percent of the stuff on the ground. I just chose an area where I knew that there would be no fresh windfalls and chucked them over there. The dogs ate some!

I pondered upon the lack of success of the last lot. I did a little experiment with paring off the flesh from the plums with a knife. Mmmmm. That was a no-no then. I tried grating the flesh off them. That was a no-no too. What to do? In a flash of perspiration it came to me. I put about a third of a litre of water into the slow cooker and, having weighed and washed the unripe plums, in they went. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. What will we use instead of slow cookers when there is no longer a reliable power supply I ask myself. My best guess is that at this time of year use a crock pot and gentle solar heating. Not there yet, but I'm thinking about it.

With goats to bed and dogs suitably chastised I went to the pub. I did remember to turn the slow cooker off when I went home. I could hardly have failed to notice it. The scent of gently cooking unripe plums permeated the house. Quite pleasant it was, too.

27th July 2010

I swept through the house - again. The storms and swathes of dog hair were thankfully now beginning to diminish. Pickle's moult is almost over. I finished off a load of washing that had been in soak overnight, then hung it out. I did a quick sink wash of the few bits remaining and that went out too.

Then it was on with the weeding. Two solid hours of hand weeding followed. The worst of the stuff out of the potato rows and one row of onions and half the beans. By the time I had done that I had a basket stuffed full to overflowing. That would be a good start on the goats' supper. That lot went into the goat house and having heard the village guys doing the verges I had the forethought to take the basket back to the yard with me as I knew there would be clearing up to do outside when they got to me.

A gentle cycle to the pub for a beer followed - thirsty work, weeding. For various reasons one beer became three. Oh dear!

Back home I knocked up a sandwich and ate it. The dogs were playing in the yard. After the sandwich I found a casualty. The basket that I was using to collect the weeds was now without handles. Thank you, Blackie! Oh well, holding it by its rim I carried it out to the roadside. I had to go back in the yard to get the lawn rake. I had a senior moment - beer assisted, no doubt, and left the gate open. The dogs made their escape in a trice. Pickle went straight over the road to the pavement and began tracking something by scent, nose down. Blackie was undecided about joining her and half heartedly got as far as the roadside. I just told him to come, and he came. Simple as that and I at least had Blackie by the collar. Pickle refused to obey and was steadily making her way up the road. Fortunately a family up the road were out en-masse doing what I was intent on doing. They threatened Pickle with their brush and rake handles, and being the devout coward that she is she turned round and hightailed it back to me. Both now safely collared back in the yard they went. I did the clearing up and that went into the goat house for their supper as well.

Back in the garden more weeds went in the basket. I finished doing the beans and the other row of onions. All went into the goat house. I had no need of further greenery for them overnight.

I went to the pub for a top-up. I was, in the words of the Hungarians, kimerült. Knackered. Hobo was just on his way out of the pub as I arrived. He pressed me and pressed me to cycle along with him to the little pub in Daraboshegy. Not ****ing likely. There was absolutely no way that I was cycling up that blasted hill out of the village. We agreed to disagree and he went off the Daraboshegy. I had a beer in the local.

Back home I set about sorting out a computer problem. In my ons and offs of the Internet during the course of the day I had found a major, major bug in the Opera web browser. I had had occasion to use several web pages that included the use of forms. You know, stuff where you can type stuff into a box and so on. Only I couldn't. The boxes were there and the cursor was blinking at the left hand side but nothing happened when I typed. I had managed to find a cludge workaround with which I will not bore you, but the final straw was that I went to the Opera web site to report the bug, and it happened again on their own web site. Enough.

I tried a downgrade. My system was having none of that. Only one thing for it. I put on my system administrator's tin foil hat and expunged both the Opera web browser and the remnants of the Firefox web browser entirely from my system. I ended up having to use Konqueror - the built in thing that is a bit like Windose Exploder - to get on the Internet. I found the latest Firefox, downloaded it and via certain magical incantations (bunzip2 firefox...... and tar -xvf firefox.....) and suddenly I had a brand new version of Firefox to play with. I have to say that it is not as fast as Opera and its rendering of fonts leaves somewhat to be desired, but it worked. And forms worked.

Eaten, showered and changed I went back to the pub quite late. John was there. I told him about Hobo and the Daraboshegy thing, looked at the clock and said that Hobo would either be in the pub in about fifteen minutes or not at all. They must have stayed open late in Daraboshegy - Hobo was half an hour appearing.

I had to add this afterthought this evening. I was warned by a work colleague about the sheer drudgery of life on a smallholding. It is. But as I type I think about taking the goats out every morning. Pure pleasure. Doing the weeding. Necessary, and what better than to be out in the fresh air doing something productive. Also as I type the dogs are playing and causing mayhem. I suppose it is just in my mental makeup, but it makes me chuckle with pure pleasure to see them thus.

28th July 2010

It was a fine morning with a nice relatively cool breeze. After the shop I put the goats out. I confess I lingered over the task letting them meander here and there to choice bits of greenery that took their eye as we made our way to where I wanted them. I had just finished that and was back in the kitchen making breakfast when Hobo turned up, once again just for a chat. I gave him a coffee and had mine and toast, sharing it with the dogs as usual.

Hobo departed. I did my normal morning checking of e-mails and trawling for gloom and doom. There is not that much new on the horizon at the moment. I thought about bookmarks for my newly reinstalled Firefox. Mmmmm. Firefox stores its bookmarks in a file which is somewhat surprisingly called bookmarks.html. Now, when I went to Opera I imported all my Firefox bookmarks. Since then everything that I had added to bookmarks was added via the Opera menu item that said Firefox bookmarks. I located the Firefox bookmarks.html file in my backup. Last modified in 2008. Another bit of research revealed that Opera stores Firefox bookmarks somewhere completely different. I found it. Firefox would not import it. Fortunately it proved to be a plain text file. I'm all in favour of plain text files. A moderately tedious three quarters of an hour followed whilst I rebuilt my bookmarks in Firefox.

I set about the plums after that. It had to be done today otherwise they would only be fit for the compost heap. My plan with the slow cooker worked and there followed an hour or so of tedious and also messy work. Pick out a plum, squeeze it, extract the stone. Stone into one pot, flesh into another. I completed the task of separating flesh from plum stones, then had the forethought to weigh the stones to find out how much unripe plum flesh I had collected. The result surprised me. I expected it to be about fifty-fifty. No, from just over four pounds of plums I had three pounds four ounces of flesh. I set it aside intent on going to the pub for a beer. But not before I managed to capture this:
Pickle and Blackie Playing Someone will recognise this as the remnants of something they sent. You know, Blackie is still no but a puppy. He is going to be a big, fine, powerful dog. And I have to say that he is already a better guard dog than Pickle.

Hobo was in the pub, so one became two. We had those and he returned to the house with me, him intent on using the strimmer. As usual I had to start it for him. I have no idea why but he cannot get it running from cold. Mind you, it is a bit of a palaver. Close the choke to the fully closed position, press the fuel nipple ten times then give it a pull on the starter chord. It will go "Cough". Move the choke to the second position (half-choke) give it another couple of pumps of fuel and off it will go. Reminds me of my Velocette motorcycle upon which I did myself so much damage. There was a starting drill for it. If you did not follow the starting drill it would not start. Turn the petrol on. Close the choke. Press the little knob on the carburettor until you saw petrol. Lift the exhaust valve (it had a little lever that you pulled so that you could turn the engine over with no cylinder compression) and turn the engine over a few times with the kickstart lever.. Release the valve lifter. Press down on the kick start until you got to the compression stroke. Lift the exhaust valve and gently push the kickstart pedal to the extent of its travel. Release the exhaust lifter. One good kick on the kick start and off it would go - all other things being equal. I was in digs at the time, and the place was frequented from time to time by a young man who had a Yamaha ninety cubic centimetre learners bike. He was there one day when I went home from work and, as usual, hung his nose over the Velocette. I told him that if he could get it started he could take it out on the road, which would have been quite illegal. I went inside and my then landlady provided me with an unhealthy but nonetheless excellent and tasty fry-up. I went back outside to find youth collapsed over the petrol tank of the Velocette panting for breath. He insulted my parentage and accused me of doing something to the bike to prevent it starting. I removed him from seat, placed my self on seat, did the drill outlined above. Of course it started.

Anyway, Hobo managed to go through three tanksful of petroil. I must convince him that he only needs to strim two feet from the neighbour's fences - not two metres. I lit the stove and made jam. I put the flesh through the mincer first, not being a great fan of jam with whole fruit skins in. For the first time Blackie went ballistic. He did not like the mincer one bit. It had to be the sound it made, but he just stood there and barked and barked and barked. I just carried on and made the jam.

Hobo departed having done his bit towards global resource depletion. I ate, washed and followed him to the pub somewhat later. There was a little local unpleasantness when I returned home. I fed the dogs and it turned within seconds into a snarling, growling frenzy. They were both chastised. Particularly Pickle, as the fact that she was trying to eat the food that I had put for Blackie was what precipitated the whole nastiness.

29th July 2010

I had a bright idea this morning. Over the last couple of days Hobo had managed to "find" three carabiners which he had passed on to me. The goats always linger in the area between the two garden bits. There is always quite a bit of munchable stuff there. Unfortunately I cannot put them on the standpipe there, as their chains would allow them to get about a metre onto the gardens at either side. My bright idea was to shorten their chains making a big loop at the ends using the carabiners and to stick all three goats there for a while whilst I had breakfast. So I did. When I returned after breakfast it was a total disaster. The whole lot of chain was tangled into one solid mass. I am not joking when I say that it took me a good twenty minutes to sort it out. At one stage I had both the girls unclipped and was holding them by the tails of their collars. Mmmmm. Not such a bright idea.

Dripping sweat I moved the goats to their separate stakes and returned to the house for a smoke and cool down. Then it was back to the weeding. Today it was the leeks, peas and cabbages. Once again I filled the basket to overflowing. It is pretty much like painting the Forth bridge. The growth rate of the weeds is just astonishing. John has commented on it too.

With nothing more happening than weeding I thought I would give you a progress report on the rest of the garden:
That's about the size of it. Lots of stuff didn't make it - a fair amount being due to the Hobo-type catastrophy with the seedlings tray the first day the goats were here. All in all it has been a very odd growing season. It affects all of us, of course. The only other thing of note is that as I write I am down to a couple of handsful of walnuts. Astonishing. Me, dogs, wild birds, visitors and a couple of food parcels to the UK have seen the lot off this year. I really do not worry about this time of year anyway. You could pretty well get by with foraging. The important stuff is what you can store for the winter.

After lunch I went back to the weeding. As I weeded I could see the skies darkening and distant thunder rumbled. It approached, and none too soon I abandoned the weeding and scurried the goats back to their house. By sheer good luck I timed it to perfection. The first drops were falling as I put them away. I went back to the house and in a very short space of time the heavens opened. It was a huge, torrential downpour:
Looking towards the front gate, and yes that is all standing water by the gates. Rain
Rain Looking up the yard.

I think it was probably the worst deluge that I had seen here. I always count between the flash and the bang. Five seconds is roughly a mile. With one flash and bang I never even got to one! I didn't see the strike though. The rain came in through the bathroom ceiling washing stuff down to the sink and floor. The storm went on its way and suddenly it had stopped raining. I let it dry off a little while and the goats went back out. It came on to rain again after about an hour. Just ordinary rain this time, but the goats had to come in again. It rained on and off all evening. It was still sprinkling when we left the pub.

30th July 2010

It was still raining when I got up. What the Hungarians call good weather. Just a nice steady rain. After the shop I went to the goats and threw in some more greenery for them to munch. I took the nail clippers with me, secured Rudy on the goat table and attacked his feet. I can't say I really made a good job of them. He was very fidgety. I will have to revisit them in a few days I think. I decided there and then on a new stratagem for the goats' feet. One goat one day. The next goat the next day, and the third goat the day after that.

I was doing my normal computery stuff over the last of my breakfast when I had a thought. I needed to book a couple of nights in a Budapest hotel in November. I went to the website of the hotel that I stayed in when I came looking for property. Nothing available. Oh-oh, not good. It took me quite a while. I enlisted the aid of Google maps, which shows hotels. Working concentrically out from where I will need to go I checked hotel after hotel. Either nothing available, or stupid prices. I was certainly not about to pay in three figures of Euros per night! Eventually I found what I was looking for. A new, cheap hotel only a few hundred metres from where I needed to be. Thirty five Euros a night. That was more like it. Only two rooms left. I jumped on it and booked one for a couple of nights.

On my computery travels I also used Google Earth. The imagery for Halogy has been updated once again. It is still a far cry from the imagery for the UK, where you could identify individual vehicles parked even some while before I left the UK. It puzzled me for a while as to why my plot looked like green cotton wool whereas the neighbours were all neat and trim. I identified the reason. The imagery dates from when the tail end of the winter snow was on the ground. Because my plot has much more growth and shubbery on it it retains the snow for a bit longer. Hence the green cotten wool appearance. I can tell you that my front door is located at 46°58'14.01"N 16°33'36.48"E. Give or take a metre or two.

Around lunch time it stopped raining but remained overcast. Good. Once again the goats were able to go out on an unsheltered spot and munch. It was also the ideal day for what I did next, which was to have a bash - literally - at my path from bottom to top of the plot. The ground was far too wet to get on the garden but it was ideal for that. I knocked it on the head after about two and a half hours which included removing one small, two medium sized and one rather large tree stumps using the heavy mattock. I really enjoyed being able to open my shoulders and give the upper body muscle groups a good workout. I still sweated. I would sweat midwinter doing that. I deserved a beer, so I went for one.

Back home I determined that some of the old stuff just had to come out of the goat house before any new stuff went in. I am still working my way steadily through all the excess hay that ended up in there. A bit more of it comes out each time I muck out. Which is not as often as it should be. Out it came onto a mini compost heap just outside the goathouse, to be moved to the main compost heap when I get around to it. I had to take the scythe and get a barrow load of new stuff for them. Once that was in I put the goats to bed.

Usual evening routine after that.

31st July 2010

Normal start to the day, except that I forgot to buy a couple of things in the shop. Weekdays it would not matter. I normally remember and can still go over there for whatever it was. They close at ten on Saturday, so they are shut by the time my ageing mental capabilities kick in. Do without for the weekend, then. I forgot to mention a reply that I posted on The Oil Drum Campfire site. One of the peple that runs the site, pseudonym Gail the Actuary, posted the question "What do we do without all of the things that are made from petroleum?". My reply - "Do without". All part of why I am here. It may not benefit me but I suspect it will most certainly benefit my children and without any doubt once my grandchildren are adults they will be seeing a very different world. If my gods give me the time to teach just one of my grandchildren how to milk a goat and how to make cheese then this project will have been a success. Time will tell. I have to learn myself yet! I grow melancholy. John said that I should call Blackie "Churchill" in deference to Churchill's Black Dog, which I have mentioned on the blog before.

Miki turned up and set about removing tree stumps. I started weeding the potatoes. I watched the time and at the appointed hour knocked Miki on the head. Not literally, you understand, but figuratively. Mind you, literally would probably have been the same result. I paid him a pittance and then we went to the pub where I bought him a fröccs.

Back home I had lunch and then went back to the potato weeding. Jani appeared. He had a few words to say, none of which I understood and then he went and got the scythe and disappeared up the garden. Some while later he reappeared complete with wheelbarrow full of new greenery for the goat house. I never even saw him go up the garden with the wheelbarrow. I piled my potato weeds on the top and he limped the wheelbarrow to outside the goathouse. In spite of the language problem he is a kindred spirit. He is crippled up about the same as I am. We just get on with it.

Somewhere along the line I did some maths. I wanted to know whether this village was actually sustainable. It was crude maths, involving some crude map work. I checked on the populations of all the surrounding villages and then roughly drew the area that we would have if it was distributed per capita. I ignored the large swaths of National Park beyond the areas of the villages. Arbitrarily, I chose to use the Raba river as a natural boundary to the north. The other areas were roughly sketched in on the above basis by drawing lines according to the population ratios of the local villages. This gave me an arable area of about one hundred and twenty five hectares available to the village, less the areas of the houses/outhouses/paved yards, obviously. At the last census the population of Halogy was two hundred and ninety eight. That comes out at over four thousand square metres per person of available land. I thought about trying to work it out per family, but there is such a disparity between actual family sizes and the average that comes out through my crude maths that that was a non-starter. The reason for that is that there are a surprisingly large number of properties occupied by just one person. Myself, the old lady next door and John come to mind - there are many more. Instead, I thought about an average of persons per plot in the village. It comes out at about your classic two point four children - about two point five. So each notional family (per plot) in the village would have about a hectare. I did the same exercise for the entirety of Hungary, and for the England. In England, ignoring the fact that places such as the Peak District and the Lake District are only fit for growing sheep, it comes out at about a fifth of a hectare per person. Here in Hungary it comes out at one hectare per person. In addition, here is still quite heavily forested. I think that I have mentioned before about them harvesting it. It certainly appears to be sustainable forestry. John Seymour says that an acre of land, properly managed, will keep a family in firewood forever.

When I first became Peak Oil aware I happened upon a web site that suggested that in the absence of oil the ideal place would be somewhere with a population of between two hundred and two thousand. Less than two hundred and community defence could be a problem. More than two thousand and the logistics become a problem. Much as I applaud the efforts of the transition movement, how do you transition a place as big as Seattle or Vancouver? Just two that I have come across out of many. Sorry - getting a bit political there! Well no, geophysics and the laws of thermodynamics.

I have a gender problem. Not me personally you understand. I have been male heterosexual all my life. No, the animals. The Hungarians have no use for genders in the spoken language unless it is very specific. I find myself calling Pickle "Good boy" and Rudy "Good girl". Too many animals of mixed genders, or maybe just me losing the plot.


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