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August 2010

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1st August 2010

Jennifer Wilkerson writes about her Peak Oil preparations on the Carolyn Baker site.

It was Suzy's turn for the pedicure today. Quite strange. At first she fidgeted and fidgeted and the she suddenly put her head on her flank, closed her eyes and laid quite still. It did not take long once she did that.

Swept through again. It seems that twice as many dogs invoke the square law - one dog, sweep through once a week, two dogs sweep through four times a week. I better not get another.

I had lunch and popped to the pub. Blast! The Hungarian Grand Prix was about to start, so half an hour turned into a couple of hours. I revoked on going up to take pictures at the football match though and did some random stuff at home, including getting in firewood and looking after the goats.

And apart from the usual evening ritual that was about it for the day.

2nd August 2010

It started off as an ordinary day - shop, goats, breakfast. After breakfast I went back over to the shop for something I had forgotten. I had just crossed the road on the way back to the house when there was a call from behind me. It was the lady from the faluhaz. "Is today alright?" she said. I said "When?", thinking about other commitments. "Now, in about ten minutes." "OK" I said. In Hungarian, of course. Blast - the goats were still all on one post and ten minutes was barely enough to do what I needed to do and put the goats out separately where I wanted them. Oh well, they would just have to stay on their one post for a little while.

I dusted off the camera (literally) and I was off on a photo shoot for the village. Mind you, the ten minutes became more like half an hour, which had I known would have been plenty to do the goats. First stop was the faluhaz itself. The lady was armed with secateurs and she snipped off a few blooms here and there and rearranged them. She noticed that the breeze had wrapped the flags around their poles so she went and tidied them. Two flags. The Hungarian one - which is red, white and green by the way just in case you did not know which way up it was, and the EU flag. The blue one with the stars on. I think they are very proud of being in the EU. The flag is flown everywhere official. The lady had me take photos here and there. She chose the general positioning. I just moved a little one way or another if I had to for composition. Next we went to the bus station. The blooms that she had secateured off accompanied us. They were in most of the photos after that, strategically placed here and there. Then we went to the western falutabla - the sign that says God Bless Halogy or some such. More photos. Then we went, in order, to the church on Telek utca, the memorial by the path that leads up to the cemetery just by the bus stop near the pub, and what I call the village green. The last stop was the pub where I took a few photos and was treated to a beer on the village.

It was by now gone twelve. I downed the beer a bit sharpish and cycled home to check on the goats. As it happened they were fine, but I moved then to their separate stakes anyway. The next thing to ponder was Körmend or not. I knew that I had to go to Körmend in the next couple of days at the latest anyway. I was cutting it a bit fine but I decided to go. A quick swill down and change, cycle up to the pub and lock the bike up. I just made the bus. It arrived at the stop as I took the last few steps.

Körmend on foot was the usual pain. The furthest that I ventured was to get coffee beans from the big Coop just over the main road. Thinking about it, I reckon that if I somehow inexplicably become rich I could still have coffee. Go on then, let's have an answer. What is (or was) Premium tea all about?

With my kilogramme of coffee beans and various other bits I limped my way back to the bus stop. Back in the village I paid the parking fee for the bike then went on home. For whatever reason I ended up spending quite a long time on the computer. Not blog - other stuff, including some Skype calls to the UK.

Normal evening. Goats, wash, eat, pub.

3rd August 2010

Once again the state of the house had descended into chaos courtesy of the dogs. Once again I swept up dust, muck, dog hair and chewed bits of kindling. Blackie is just at that stage. With sufficient verbal admonishments and quick smacks on the nose he will grow out of it. He is almost as big as Pickle already. I reckon on him being Rottweiler sized when he is fully grown. A very different character to Pickle though, altogether gentler and more placid.

I cleared up the yard and then gave it and the camping lawn a good strimming. I had to take the scissors to the strimmer before I even started. Don't ask me how (Hobo was the last to use it) but there was about twice the amount of strimmer line to be twirled around as was needed. Janos turned up and did his normal bit of work. That was a couple of nights worth of food in the wheelbarrow for the goats then. Well, it would have been but once again the skies darkened and once again I had to sprint up the garden (Ha!) and get the goats under cover. I don't know whether it is me now knowing the local meteorology or just pure good luck, but once again I had them back in their house just as the first drops of rain were beginning to fall. It was another thunderstorm but the rainfall was nothing like the one I previously posted. It continued raining after the thunderstorm had passed.

I forgot to mention that - via Hobo - I made a discovery. In the loft over the little garage, where the old hay is, I had seen a couple of what I thought were just boards. Quite a fair size. I reckon in total about three square metres, all white with dust. It turned out that it was not board, or cardboard. It is, apparently, leather. Very substantial leather five or six millimetres thick. I can feel a project coming on, but not until some of the outstanding stuff is out of the way. Does the surname "Varga" mean anything to you?

It was still raining. Rain or no rain I needed eggs. Once again it was the cycling under the umbrella thing. I went and purchased the eggs. I happened to notice as I cycled past that Jani's bike was parked at the pub, so on the way home I called in there and paid him for the work he had done earlier. I had a beer whilst I was there. Any excuse will do! It continued to rain, so I had another.

It continued to rain. I had to get to the faluhaz whatever the weather, so it was back on the bike under the brolly, a quick stop off at home for the camera and some paperwork and cycle down to the faluhaz. It was but a moments work to create a folder on the computer and download into the folder the pictures of the village flowers that I had taken. Whilst there I went on the Internet and printed out a single sheet of paper. More later.

I went back to the pub for the evening session. I still was not finished for the day. Once I got home I had to boot the computer into the dreaded M$ Windose and do a couple of hours work for someone in the UK.

4th August 2010

I have absolutely no idea what happened during the day, it was so mind numbingly boring. I know the dogs went out and the goats went out. I know that I had a load more work to do in M$ Windoze, which I did. Followed by a long Skype session in the evening for final tuning.

The only other thing of note was that I had what could have been a major catastrophe thanks to Blackie. I did actually shower and change before I went to the pub in the evening. As normal I went to move the stuff from the mucky gardening jeans to the cleanish going out in the evening jeans. The cash was where I expected it to be. There was no trace of my little black wallet/folder that holds all my plastic! At any other time that would have been a mild inconvenience. But not this evening as it happened. I started searching for it without spectacles, I was in so much of a panic. Sanity slowly returned and I put the specs back on and retraced my steps. The offending article was lying in the yard, much besmirched with dog saliva and the culprit caught in the act. The said Blackie. How the hell he got it out of the back pocket of my gardening jeans I will never know, but he did. I was just so pleased to have it back with all the plastic apparently intact that I did not even admonish him. Well, only a little. As I write I have a small bet on with Hobo. He thinks that he knows Blackie's parentage in Körmend. The bet is that he will or will not be a bigger dog than Pickle. I say that he will. I think I might win this one!

I went to the pub after that little interlude as usual. John turned up. Hobo was noticeable by his absence.

5th August 2010

As I write another thunderstorm approaches. I can see the flashes but I cannot yet hear the bangs. That could be on account of my deafness of course.

One way and another I had a busy day. My next door neighbour appeared with a load of miscellaneous greenery to be converted into goat shit. She told me some sad news, which was that a close relative had died suddenly at the age of thirty eight. I commiserated as best I could.

I dumped the stuff she had brought round for the goats on the doorstep. I returned the container and she departed. I spent the next half an hour preventing the dogs from attempting to eat goat food. I was busy inside trying to finish up the computer stuff that I was doing for the UK.

My patience finally snapped, and I restrained dogs in the yard and went up the garden and fed what the neighbour had given me to the goats. Very strange. Most of it was corn cob husks. Just like nettles, they will not eat them green. Once they have dried out in the sun they will munch them down.

I got some welcome information from Hobo's half-brother at Hobo's house. After that I did a bit of reorganising the workshop. I can't say why right now but all will become apparent.

John Michael Greer wrote at length today about composting, which was rather odd as one of the few things that I did manage today in all the to-ing and fro-ing was to do another muck out of the goat house and get that and my previous effort onto the compost heap.

I just let the dogs in. They were thoroughly wet! It was persistently precipitating outside. As usual the goats had been returned to their house.

I went to the pub as normal but I did not have much and left quite early. Back home I packed my little travel bag, as tomorrow I would be going to the UK.

6th August 2010

Today I travelled to the UK. I won't dwell on it as it is not relevant to the blog, other than to say that Hobo came round - he was to be in charge of the place in my absence. I set out to limp my way to the bus station to catch the seven o'clock bus into town. As the bus passed the house my heart sank and I felt physically sick as I saw Pickle and Blackie sitting just by the house steps expectantly looking towards the shop for my return. I can tell you that it was a wrench.

The only other thing of note was that at Graz airport mine was the bag that had to be strip searched. There were two mobile phones, a charger, the camera body and lens separate and a fold-up umbrella. The guy on the scanner could not make head or tail of it so out it all had to come.

7th August 2010

In the UK - no blog.

8th August 2010

In the UK - no blog.

9th August 2010

In the UK - no blog.

10th August 2010

In the UK - no blog.

11th August 2010

I returned to Hungary from the UK today. The journey was uneventful. Apologies to any blog readers that might have hoped that I could see them in the UK but my time was fully committed with family matters. As the train pulled out of Szentgottard station towards Körmend I felt a profound sense of homecoming.

Once in Körmend I touched base with Hobo and he organised a lift back to the village for me. For a consideration, of course. Back home all was in order and the dogs went ballistic with excitement at seeing me. With the person who had given me a lift we went to see the goats. They were in fine fettle - all three were like barrels with what they had consumed during the day. They had grown quite noticeably in my absence.

I did a few bits and pieces around the house. Then, surprisingly, I went to the pub. It was another heart-warming experience. Every single man there shook me by the hand and there was a genuine feeling of happiness to see me back in the village.

12th August 2010

I awoke later than intended. Put it down to jet lag. As usual I went to the shop and then went to put the goats out. It being my first morning back I had no idea which areas were goat chewed and which were not. I cast my eye about and decided upon an area closer to the house rather than up the garden. I walked up the garden and my heart sunk. All forty of my tomato plants were quite obviously dead or dying. Ah - shit, bollox!

None too happy I retrieved the goat posts, stuck them in the ground, and in the fullness of time attached a goat to each. I retired to the house with Churchill's Black Dog upon my shoulders. One of my main staples for the winter was utterly wiped out.

I had to mentally stand back and reappraise what I am going here. The result was that what I experienced this morning is likely to be the fate of humankind all over the planet. Life goes on. Something (I know what not) will replace the deceased tomatoes. Or I can always buy some in, which in some way is what this is all about. I do worry about when fiat currency is worthless. I suppose that I am in a better situation than ninety five percent of the so-called developed world in that respect. It reminds me of a post some random person made to some random forum that I look at from time to time. Someone had posted about shooting game. The reply - I cannot quote verbatim - was something along the lines of "Shame on you. Why don't you just go down to your local supermarket and buy food where it is made?". Now how surreal is the disconnect between where food actually comes from and where a very large percentage of the population actually buy their food? Where it is made??????? If I knew who he was and where he was I would invite him to the village pig killing. I would have a handy bucket for him to vomit into when he saw the raw reality.

I have to say that the tomato thing thoroughly dishearted me. In any case I had much to do as is always the case when one has been away. Firstly I lit the stove and breakfasted. I had thought to get bread and one or two other bits whilst I waited for the Szentgottard train in Graz Hauptbahnhof. There was a Spar supermarket in the station precinct and it also allowed me to get rid of some Euro coins. I happened to glance at the till slip from the Spar shop over breakfast. Blimey! €2-30 for a small white loaf about half the size of the Hungarian ones.

After breakfast it was unpacking, washing, catching up with e-mails and some work on the blog. You will understand that I didn't want to advertise to the whole world my absence from the village for some days! Of course, the whole village knew - and beyond. They would have known anyway as my absence from the shop and pub by itself would have advertised the fact that I was not here. Plus the fact that Hobo would have been seen in his role of stand-in gazda. Hence the thing about Chinese whispers and the stranger in the car a couple of Sundays ago. The fact that I was returning to England obviously got as far as the next village. The fact that I would be returning in just five days obviously didn't.

I did a bit of work on the Internet also to try and figure out what had afflicted the tomatoes. The most likely candidate seems to be Fusarium crown rot which is a fungal disease. It mattered little. They were ex-tomato plants, deceased, turned up their toes... etc. One page to which I went did at least suggest a palliative for another year. Sulphite. The same stuff as I put in the wine. Scatter it about and rake it in about a fortnight before the tomato plants go in. Worth a try - relatively cheap here. I will need to do the maths. I think they said fifteen kilogrammes per hectare. I must check before I do it. I will try to remember to get a picture of the remains before I burn them.

I went to the pub. Nothing different there then. What I had forgotten to mention was that I had bought some (rather expensive) extra-mature Cheddar in the UK. John was there. I had given him a goodly slice. I asked him if he had tried it. Yes, cheese on toast. Which reminds me that I don't think that I have ever described how to do cheese on toast on a wood stove. First of all you need a wood stove. With a fire in it. Then you need bread and cheese. You slice the bread and slice the cheese according to taste. The cheese goes on the bread. The secret ingredient is a blowlamp. The bread with the cheese on top goes on the stove and you blowlamp the top - i.e. bread and cheese - until it is sufficiently burnt to your taste. All the time that this is going on you have to be aware of the toasting capabilities of the stove with the fire within. If you get it just right the toast is cooked underneath and the topping of cheese is bubbling nicely. If you get it wrong then there is a lot of carbon one side or the other. Which also reminds me, through a chain of thought far too convoluted to believe, to mention how bad the atmosphere is in the UK. I had a sore throat from within thirty minutes of my arrival until about a day after I returned to Hungary. Petrol and diesel fumes!

13th August 2010

Mmmmm. Friday the thirteenth. Well, I reckoned that I had had my bad luck for this week anyway. I tanked up the strimmer, sorted out the strimmer chord and set to work to make a lot of noise. The camping lawn had a haircut, part way up my path and all round one of the cultivated bits - the one by No. 68 - including my centre of operations.

After lunch, by invitation, I went out visiting. I had a look around the house and grounds and then we sat outside in the shade and over a beer talked for a couple of hours about anything and everything. I took four little mint plants home with me when it was time to go. I put them straight in the little patch of garden by the house. They look a bit sorry as I write. Time will tell whether they perk up.

I finished off for the day by strimming round the other patch of garden. On my travels around the garden I had noticed that peas and beans had germinated in my absence. Oh well, a minor consolation for the loss of the tomatoes. They were still not one hundred percent, but much better than the last try.

It was time to knock up an evening repast. I confess that in Graz I had bought a packet of convenience food, which is a thing I try and avoid doing. As I lit the stove the day became sufficiently overcast that I had to switch on the kitchen light. The convenience food was bland. I beat up an egg and added it. It was still bland. I should have thrown caution to the winds and put a teaspoon of my home made chili powder in it but at the time inspiration was lacking. I ate it bland.

The goats went to bed and I washed and changed. Quite late I set out for the pub. It was spitting with rain so I attached the umbrella to the bike. It was not raining hard enough to erect it. It was when we left the pub! I was pleased I had thought of it as it was persistently precipitating. I got home relatively dry and the rain shower decided to become a full-blown thunderstorm.

14th August 2010

It was a beautifully clear and warm morning. After some domestics I set out to have a go at the chestnut plantation which was most definitely in need of some TLC. Hobo had managed to put the strimmer around three quarters of it the last time he had come and done strimming. The remainder was still not done and the poor little chestnut trees had disappeared from sight. I started hand weeding around them which was easy going after last nights downpour. You have to do that so as to be sure and not strimmer the chestnut trees. I had done a row and a half when blow me down Hobo appeared. Not to do any work, just for a chat and to tell me that the pub was shut until six in the evening. Nevertheless he joined in the weeding. In short order we had done round the ones that had been strimmed and then had to search out the ones that hadn't. Some of them took a bit of. finding, but all were OK. Hobo wandered off. I was about to tackle the last chestnut tree, which really had taken some finding when Hobo returned. He sat down in the shade of another chestnut tree nearby, summoned me and produced two cans of Kőbányai. I sat down with him and we had a very leisurely smoke and can of beer and a long chat, mainly about village things. Amongst which was the fact that the whole village knew how pleased I was to be back.

Hobo left. I had a bite to eat and returned to the garden where I pruned the vines, with no concept of what I was doing - just dumbly emulating the neighbours - and carried the prunings down to the goat shed as part of their evening repast. The old lady at No. 72 passed even more over the fence. I left them on the ground for tomorrow.

I was finished for the day and was in the house getting a bite to eat and preparing for the usual evening when there was a doggie commotion at the gate. I poked my head out the door to see my neighbour from No. 68 beating off the dogs and pushing yet another wheelbarrow load of stuff for the goats into the yard. Blimey! I'm not quite sure whether they don't think the goats have enough to eat here on my plot or whether they want to see them explode! I wheeled the wheelbarrow through streets broad and narrow... No, no, I wheeled it into the garden, fending off dogs as I did so. That would be the goats' supper sorted out for tomorrow then.

I went to the pub. Hobo was there (surprise) and he was bemoaning the fact that he was going to Budapest in the morning with John. He roundly declared that Monday would have been better. Mmmmm. I could not get my head around that one. A train journey of maybe four and a half hours would be better on a Monday than a Sunday? I tried to explain that John had booked a hotel from Sunday evening and could not change it, all to no avail. Hobo reckons that Budapest is just a very big village

Totally unprepared I faced the next installment of thunderstorm when I left the pub. I was a bit damp by the time I cycled home. I fed the dogs. The black one promptly vomited on the big room parquet floor. Pickle did the honours and ate it. Too much information I know, but it saved me a nasty job. The thunderstorm grew and grew. The lights flickered on and off as did the laptop and modem. No point in trying to do anything computer or Internet based so I went to bed.

15th August 2010

I don't know whether you have been watching the European swimming championships. They are being held in Budapest. If you have seen any medal ceremonies you will know that as well as the medal and the now obligatory bunch of flowers the Hungarians have gone one better and all the medalists had a white dog (stuffed toy-type). Now, there is no way of knowing the scale of a stuffed toy-type dog, but the dogs have to be either a Puli (medium sized) or a Komondor (large sized). They both look like mops. Both breeds are in the village. When I first saw the large one I wondered why they never brushed it. Mission Impossible, I think. There is also a Puli in the village - maybe more than one - but the one that I know is a black one. Can't say I have ever seen a black mop. Well, not as new. One of my pub cleaners used to use one all the time but I don't think it was supposed to be black.

I confess it was a bit of a slow start. I wheeled next doors wheelbarrow into the garden and tipped out the goat food. Put the goats out all on one post and then breakfasted. Something odd was going on. When I wheeled the wheelbarrow back into the yard I saw the old lady at No.72 pottering about. She was not clad as I would have expected her to be clad, it being a Sunday morning, and she being one of the devout. No, she was pottering about just like any other day. After breakfast at about a quarter to ten I wheeled the wheelbarrow back to No. 68. Of course their dogs set off a barking and Tibi poked his nose out of the door. He was not appareled for church either. His wife appeared and neither was she. A large pálinka came my way. There was lots of chat - they wanted to know all about my trip to England. I answered as best I could. Another large pálinka came my way - oh dear. In the midst of this Pickle appeared on the scene. I have since located the hole in the fence but have yet to mend it. All was well until she spotted the kitten. Tibi chased her back over the fence with a mop. I am still chuckling about it as I write. I got away after some time but not before I received a food parcel.

I was shifting some stuff about in the yard when there was a hale from the fence with No. 72. The old lady presented me with a big bag of pears. What people these are! There had obviously been no church service today, unless they had all gone to six o'clock mass, which is quite possible. At six I was still in the Land of Nod. Maybe they just got a day off for good behaviour.

After lunch and a beer it was back to the weeding. That was another basket for the goats. I took a few spuds from the garden and one onion all destined for a veggie stew which I started cooking.

16th August 2010

Late on yesterday yet more food for the goats had appeared from No. 68. I shared it out this morning when the goats went out and washed out and returned the container. After breakfast the strimmer came out. I worked my way further up the path as far as the chestnut plantation and set about redoing it all. The bit that had been missed last time was just a bit heavy going - at the limit of the capabilities of my little strimmer. I must make sure that it does not get that bad again.

I had taken a short break after that and as I left the house to go back to work spots of rain were falling. Oh-oh, goats. By the time I reached them the rain had changed to a considerable downpour. When I got them back to their house all four of us were more than slightly damp. They shook themselves and looked miserable. I retired to the house and took off the fleecy jacket that I had donned to keep the worst of the rain off. It was well wet.

The sharp shower lasted half an hour or so then it stopped. It remained overcast and threatening so I put the goats back out somewhat nearer to hand. Needless to say it did not rain again. I had lunch.

After lunch the strimmer came out again. I did the path to within about twenty metres of the top, took the detour to the bamboo plants then went down the border with the neighbour at the top until I ran out of petrol. Good. That was that for the day. A thought came to mind. I wondered how you would go about getting jets which are as small as the one that is in the little engine in the strimmer bored out Just in case it ever needs to be run on methanol.

I could have done with finding my scythe but it had disappeared from sight. Jani just hangs it in a tree wherever he finishes working. I just could not find the particular tree that he had hung it in last time.

I took some pictures in the garden:
Dead Tomatoes I said that I would show you what happened to the tomatoes. Here it is.
On a brighter note the leeks are doing well but could have done with a lot more earthing up or growing in cardboard tubes. Leeks
Beans And the beans are in flower.

I had a visitor from elsewhere in the village to look at the garden together with a son who wanted to see the goats. I think we have a goatherd in the making. He pulled weeds and fed them to the goats. He pulled bunches of walnut leaves off the tree and fed them to the goats. He even found the store of kukorica and pulled the corn from them and fed the goats from his palm. He took Suzy for a run. Well, I'll rephrase that. He had Suzy on the chain and every time Suzy started to gallop to a spot he would run after her. Which caused Suzy to decide to go in totally the opposite direction, and it would all start again. From time to time Suzy would stop and munch.

My visitors left and it was time to put the goats to bed anyway, so to bed they went. Not without a struggle. Rudy had figured out where the bag of maize cobs was and determinedly raided it on the way back to his hotel. A hauling match ensued. I won. I wonder how long that will prevail.

17th August 2010

It was a lovely day when I got up. I opened the roller shutters to the early morning sun and when I opened the window a cool fresh gentle breeze drifted into the room. If the wind had been in the other direction I would have smelt the heady scent of goat shit from the goat house. But then, it would have just drifted by - not into the room. I enjoy the animal smell of the goat house. It gets particularly pungent when I do a bit more mucking out. It will get much better in the winter. It reminds me of what dear old Frank (the Glaswegian Hungarian) said about when he were a lad here. The road through the village was apparently constantly covered with shit. Pig shit, cow shit, chicken shit, horse shit. There are plenty of pigs and chickens in the village and just a few cows, but they don't get herded up and down the street. There are now, to my knowledge six goats in the village but alas not a single horse. Horses pass through from time to time but they are not local and are on the borderline of what Oscar Wilde called the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable. The nearest place that I have seen a working horse is in Körmend. When I were a lad and went to school in Nottingham it was just normal to see a dray and shirehorses from Shipstones brewery delivering beer in the city. Rightly or wrongly my understanding was that it was in Old Man Shipstone's will that so long as the brewery remained in family hands all the beer within the City of Nottingham should be delivered thus. You know, I wonder if anyone has actually done the complete math of tractor versus horse. Yes, you have to feed a horse but in the process of that your horse will fertilise your land. Additionally if you happen to have two compatible horses of opposite sexes along will come a new little baby horse. I believe that the workhorse mare can continue to work up to about a month before foaling. I don't believe that the marvels of the petrochemical age and human ingenuity have managed to get two Massey-Ferguson tractors to "do it" and produce a new little baby Massey-Ferguson. Thought for food!

I made jam with the old lady's pears. Then I went to the pub for one. Hot work jam making!

When I returned home there was food all over. Most for the goats and some for me. There was a big bag of grass mowings just inside the gate together with a huge bag of apples. I knew where they had come from. On the doorstep was a basket of pumpkins. I had no idea what that was all about.

I was in the process of dealing with it when Lajos (fa szakember) turned up with a carrier bag full of mushrooms. Mmmmm - thanks but no thanks Lajos. I don't like them so I don't eat them.

In the meantime I collected plums. Two kilogrammes just from the tree in the front yard. The tree was (and is as I write) still laden with fruit. Well, the gods taketh away and the gods giveth. I spoke later to someone in the village and it is apparently very unusual to get such a bumper crop of plums.

The wheels of time turned. The earth rotated and it was time to put the goats to bed, eat and go to the pub. I had a discussion in the pub with an English speaker about self sufficiency. I centred around what was possible and what was not possible in my situation. The main concerns would be sugar and flour. Well, I suppose that sugar would be answered by bees, of which I know nothing. Flour I will return to. Plastics were mentioned. I have spoken about it on the blog previously. Animal protein was discussed. Not a problem once the goats get going. We talked about the lack of refrigeration. You know, in my youth we did not have a fridge at home. We had a pantry which was just a bit cooler than the rest of the house. I have no refrigeration here. It was a good discussion and I will come back to it.

The English speakers left and I cycled home to see inky blackness in front of me punctuated by flashes of lightning. The nightly thunderstorm was on the way in. At home the electricity supply flickered on and off. I abandoned all hope of getting on the Internet and went to bed.

18th August 2010

I apportioned the apples. Some to go into jam, most to go into cider. I set aside the jam ones and assembled the little mincer. I set about the apples and for the first time had a problem with Blackie. As soon as I started operating the mincer he went absolutely ballistic at the sound of it. I don't know why but he was bad enough - even going so far as to have a nip at my leg - that he had to be banished from the kitchen and the door closed.

It was going on ten o'clock and a Wednesday so it was time for what I had decided would be a monthly treat. I cycled up to the pub to catch the meat wagon. Pork as before, plus some extra dog bones this time. I cycled home with the meat and bones. After the beer, of course. Some of the bones went into the dogs which caused a bit of a squabble which they eventually sorted out between them. I minced some more apples until my fingers ached from gripping the handle of the mincer. Time for lunch.

Mature Cheddar and tomato sandwich. I have made a discovery. It has only taken me over two years to make this discovery! The Cheddar that I brought back from the UK was a reasonable sized lump. It was wrapped in Finoplas as you would expect in a supermarket. When I buy cheese from the village shop it is somewhat similarly wrapped except that the wrapping is Finoplas-type plastic on one side and paper the other. I remind you that I am operating without refrigeration. Experience shows that, wrapped in the plastic/paper wrapper, the cheese rapidly deteriorates, tries to melt, and goes mouldy within maybe seventy two hours. I feared the same with my precious Cheddar and pondered. There had to be a better way. A moment of perspiration hit me. Why not try greaseproof paper? So I did. I can tell you as I write that it was most successful. The cheese tends to lose a little butterfat which soaks the greaseproof paper. The outside of the cheese goes a little bit crusty but I don't mind that, but the cheese has never looked like going mouldy. I must try it with the local cheese to see if the results are the same.

After lunch I finished off mincing apples and went to check on the goats. They were fine. I do tend to panic about them but they are actually very resilient (and gentle) creatures. I think I have said before that if they get tangled up and stuck they will happily munch away at what is within reach until help arrives. Their accommodation needed a bit of a clean out so I did that. More good stuff for the compost.

I reluctantly called time on a mini-project today. The triticum spelta. Utterly overrun with wild grasses and weeds. Not a hope of sorting out a crop from it. I took the scythe to the lot. It was a lot. About a third of it filled the barrow with enough for the goats for a couple of nights. I left the rest where it lay. At least it is not now threatening to overrun the cabbages. I deserved a beer after that so I went to the pub and had one.

Back home I once again stocked up the kitchen firewood basket. You know, the kitchen wood stove has to remain the best buy that I have made here. Apart from the occasional jacket potato that at this time of year goes in the electric oven all my cooking is done on the wood stove. And apart from the occasional chopping up of a couple of bits of the remaining walnut bought in wood into small pieces I have fuelled it entirely with the stuff from the estate. Either debris from the garden or sawn up bits of crumbling infrastructure. Plenty more of that to come.

I put the firewood to good use. I was seriously multitasking. I prepared and cooked a dead pig pörkölt whilst at the same time making plum and ginger jam and in the interim I used my little Victorian facsimile apple corer and peeler to prepare for tomorrows jam making session. It worked like a charm. About five seconds to peel, slice and core an apple. In the midst of this I found time to make nokedli. Blackie went ballistic at the apple coring/peeling machine. It seems that everything that makes any sort of scraping noise sets him off.

The pörkölt worked out really well. I had added a level teaspoon of my ground erös paprika to add the necessary amount of zing. It was just right.

I went to the pub after that. It was a bit busy. The Hungarians were obviously winding down for the big holiday of the year. Twentieth of August. Nemzeti Nap. Szent Istvan a Kiraly.

19th August 2010

As usual I went to the shop first thing. I was not that late either. There was no bread. Fortunately I had enough at home for breakfast. The lady in the shop (the relief one still) told me that there would be bread about ten o'clock. I took the rest of my purchases home. Two crates of beer for the weekend and a Mars Bar. I jest, of course. I didn't buy a Mars Bar.

I breakfasted and with the stove going well made the next lot of jam. Apple and elderberry. You know, elderberries are quite toxic if eaten raw. My goats don't seem to know that. They have taken to grabbing bunches of them off the tree right outside their house, ripe or not. They ate all the leaves earlier.

Jam cooked - two medium sized and one small jar - I returned to the shop it being now about a quarter past ten. No bread! There were others there on the same errand. I went home and cleaned up from the jam making session. I went back again at eleven and there was still no bread. Oh well, fall back on primitive technology then. I bought yeast and flour instead.

I had a water problem in the kitchen. The cold tap would not turn off. It would reduce to a dribble but then persistently dribble. Any of you out there that make pastry will know how fast the tap was dribbling. Not good. I had simply too much on the go to even think about trying to get to Körmend for a tap washer. It came to me that I had a least one tap unused in the bathroom that might just have a decent tap washer in it. The hot tap to the sink. When I first moved in I had turned it on at the isolating tap by the wall and promptly got wet feet. It had obviously been missed when they drained down the water system. The tap had a plastic top, quite modern, with a little red blob at the top indicating that it was the hot tap. I expected that the little red blob would pop off and there would be a little brass nut holding the plastic top on. Not a bit of it. By dint of some force and quite a lot of deformation the red blob came out. To reveal more plastic. I finally figured that they just push on and pull off. I pulled and it came off. The next problem was whether the tap mechanism would unscrew from the body with just my pipe wrench. It did. Next it was down the manhole, turn off the water supply to the house and repeat for the cold tap in the kitchen. To my amazement that worked too. The washer from the kitchen was - well - a bit chewed. I swapped it for the bathroom one. Cold tap in the kitchen went back together as did the (disconnected) hot tap in the bathroom. I went back down the manhole and turned the water back on. There was a rapid rotation as I heard the house system fill. And then the little wheel on the water meter continued a steady, not-so-slow rotation. Oh bugger. Out of the manhole and back in the house only to discover that I had failed to turn off the cold tap in the kitchen. I turned it off. The water stopped flowing from it. I went back and looked down the manhole. The little wheel had ceased its revolutions. All was well.

I still had to bake. I started the yeast and made the dough. once it was proved I kneaded it again and put it in the bread tin, then the stove was re-lit and stoked up to bread baking temperature. By the time the loaf was risen and the stove up to temperature it was thirty five Celsius in the kitchen. Sweat from my brow dripped upon the bread. Ah, whatever! It was only going to be me (and a little bit for the dogs) that would be eating it, and it would be sterile anyway. I baked it successfully and set it to cool where dogs could not get at it.

I checked on the goats to find Rudi kecske entangled with a tree stump. Out it had to come. It was a good spot for a goat. Much wielding of the heavy mattock followed, but out it came. Rudi occasionally gave me respite by coming to inspect and having a nibble at the tree root to see if it was edible. He kept trying to have a butt but I made sure that the only thing he butted was the handle of the mattock.

Dripping wet through with sweat - it was quite a hot enough day to be wielding the heavy mattock - I returned to the house. I sat and dripped on the kitchen floor for a while then heated the rest of the pörkölt and ate it. It was by then near enough time to get the goats in. I showered and as usual went to the pub. Jozsi was there. It was some time since I had seen him. He bought me a beer and in due course I bought him one back. We chatted about this and that. I do get on well with him. He is what I would call a bit countrified and wiry strong, but a very gentle character with a smile never far away.

20th August 2010

Today was National Day, also called Foundation Day which celebrates the declaration by Szent István a Király of Hungary as a country with Roman Catholicism as its religion. As you might expect it was a bank holiday. It has been every year since I arrived. Not for me though as I don't run a bank. I did celebrate by having a lie-in until eight o'clock. After that it was Business As Usual.

The goats went out and after breakfast - apple and ginger jam from last year today - I found myself with a succession of small but necessary jobs. A necessary clearing up and wiping down of the kitchen, washing, clearing up in the yard... You get the drift.

I forgot to mention yesterday that I had another food parcel from the pub. Pörkölt would you believe! And a jar of cabbage done in a particular delicious Hungarian way. I must try and figure that one out. The pörkölt was dead cow though, not dead pig and so was a particular luxury.

There was a working party next door at No. 72. Lots of relatives that I had seen before but not that often and some others that I see every week. It looked like they did a good spring clean only it is summer. Loads of washing down and wiping off of paintwork and lots of furniture brought out by her porch and given a once over.

I had made the mistake of putting Bozsi where she could see the comings and goings next door. All day long she went "Meah - meah - meah". I tend to worry about her as she is not making the same progress that the other two are. Having said which she is eating well enough and in the last few days she has started to gambol about with Rudy and Suzy on the way back to the goat house. I thought that they all might be bigger by now, but a little research reassures me that dairy goats go through growth spurts and I can probably not expect them to reach their full stature until they are about two or maybe a bit older.

It being the day that it was, it was one of my several névnáps today. I popped in and out of the pub just a little bit more frequently than normal. Fortunately, in the absence of Hobo who was still in Budapest, it never degenerated into a session. During one of my visits a fit young man came in, attired for I think they call it Alpine Walking, complete with the two telescopic ski sticks and flaps around the tops of the boots that you can lace up around the calves up to the knees when striding through a dewy meadow. He had a coffee and a beer, consulted his maps and strode off. He had a brief conversation with old Jani whilst he was there.

I made a change to routine in the evening. I had been in the habit of leaving the dogs in the house during my normal evening visit to the pub. This evening I left them outside just to see what would happen. Pickle was on the chain of course - unfortunately she is just not to be trusted either to get through the fences and try and follow me or go marauding next door. Nothing happened. There they were on the doorstep when I got home. I released Pickle from bondage, turned to unlock the door and found it not only unlocked but wide open. Ooops. Once inside the door was firmly shut, the dogs were fed and kicked outside later for a while at the usual intervals and then it was bed time.

21st August 2010

I woke up, arose, clothed and let the dogs out as is my wont. I had a bit of a surprise. Pickle's running wire was coiled up about the yard right up to the house door. Her chain was still attached. It had parted company with the stake in the ground at the garden end. The wire had rusted through. Oh well, an unscheduled job.

Before I tackled that the normal domestics happened. Goats, breakfast. The dogs had to stay in the house whilst I did the goats. Sadly Pickle is not to be trusted not to go over the fence to the garden or chew her way through the gate. After breakfast I repaired the running wire. I reckon that I should have done the other end too, but I'll just have to wait until that end breaks. Remove the clamps, tape the wire, angle grinder the bad bit off, WD40 the wire and the clamps. Find a suitable bit of wood for a new stake, bore a hole for the wire, axe the other end to a pointy bit and hammer it into the yard. It took some hammering as well. I had to use the back of the big ax to get it into the yard. With some pauses to draw breath. Until I managed to break it through what is about six inches down it was about a quarter of an inch per axe blow.

Now, the most observant of you might have noticed that I have above, and several times previously alternated the spelling of an implement for chopping wood. Sadly the Oxford English Dictionary appears to have gone commercial. Well stuff them, I will continue to use I once had the opportunity to buy the complete Oxford English Dictionary in two volumes (with magnifying glass) for thirty six quid. Sadly I did not have the thirty six quid to spare. All good fodder for Scrabble players, as are jo, adze and adz.

Rudy got himself tangled up - again. Fortunately it was just a vine stump. Just a few blows with the mattock and it was history.

It was still hot and just the minor work of sorting out goats and removing a little stump worked up a thirst. I went to the pub only to find Hobo and John ensconced having just landed back in the village from Budapest. A mini-session followed. Well, that buggered up the end of the afternoon then! Whatever, the goats had to be fedded and bedded and all that stuff. And of course I had to go back to the pub in the evening.

22nd August 2010

An article in the Ugradnia about the government's refusal of a FoI Act request regarding Peak Oil. I'm probably more likely wrong than right on this one but could it just be that if their discussions were disclosed it would throw the whole country into financial chaos and general panic? I ask myself which is worse, panic now or an even more profound state of chaos later when the facts can no longer be hidden?

Sunday - housework.

More apples appeared. The little mincer came out to play again. Blackie played merry hell for about thirty seconds and then stopped. Whatever it was in his history, which I can never know, anything that made some sort of scraping noise set him off. The mincer, the vice on the workbench, a file, a saw: all would precipitate a paroxysm of frantic barking to the extent that he would foam at the mouth and drops of spittle would fly in all directions. I have black thoughts about him seeing his siblings put through a mincer and fed to their mother. Mmmmm - not good. The darker side of the Hungarian psyche begins to impinge. Speaking of which I had another occurence of it. I noticed the old lady at No. 72 rummaging in the remains of her tomato plants. They have suffered the same fate as mine. I had a millisecond flash of schadenfreude before sense returned. My only consolation was that if her tomato plants have suffered the same fate as mine it was not anything that I did wrongly this year that saw them off.

After lunch, more turning of the handle of the mincer. I decided on an alternative strategy for making cider. For the first time this year the press came out to play. It was a right royal pain compared to pressing grapes. The grapes stay where they are put on the press. Apple pulp doesn't. What makes it worse is that it is thixotropic so just one more spoonful would send it cascading over the sides of the press and I had a minor pool of apple juice lapping round the kitchen table legs. Once I had it under control the little press worked well enough. I have to say that a nice, big, professionally built one like they have next door would have to be a good investment - if only for the time factor. Nevertheless I ended up with my medium sized small fermenter about half full, with still some pulp to press. I reckoned on two to three gallons by the time it was all pressed.

The press needed to be opened and the apple pulp removed from the pressing cloths. That could not wait until tomorrow. I sat on the doorstep and did that. I got stung by a wasp for my pains - right in the crook of the elbow. That was the first wasp sting I had had for many years. In the days before I could afford motorcycle leathers it was a regular occurance. I had a waxed cotten waterproof upper garment at the time. Once in a while I would feel a small impact as in hitting an insect. Wasps would be stunned and invariably fell down the front of the jacket destined for where my legs gripped the petrol tank. When they recovered they would invariably sting me on the inside of my thighs. Ouch.

I digress. I like digressing. I had a thought regarding the apple pulp. Why not put it into the goats? I tipped it into a bucket. It was by now goat bye-byes time anyway. I gave them their normal ration of greens and hurtled the apple pulp about on top. What's the expression? "Feeding frenzy." That is what it was when I got the goats back inside.

I had a thought later, in the pub. "Oh sh*t - I have fed them the equivalent of about a hundred and fifty little apples! Am I going to find exploded goats tomorrow morning?"

23rd August 2010

I went to town with Hobo on the half past eight bus. That involved being up before six and dressing in the work clothes, going to the shop, putting the goats out in a suitable place and making sure they all had water and then making myself presentable to go on the bus.

We got to Körmend and I limped along in his wake, he pausing to let me catch up from time to time. We worked our way around the obstacle course of the works to the town centre still ongoing. I have seen a plan of what it will be like in a shop window. It will be nice when it is finished. Hobo and I negotiated our way to the Presszo bar. Where we had a coffee. The village pub had been shut when we left, so we were both coffee-less. I had not had time to light the stove and cook coffee at home. It was welcome. I was followed by a beer, courtesy of Hobo. At least by now it was gone nine in the morning. Two of the older ladies from Halogy that had also been on the bus turned up in there. They had a joyful greeting with the lady in there who Hobo said was a relation and then someone else turned up and joined the party. It had a party atmosphere. We finished our drinks. Hobo left to estimate a job. I left to do some needed bank business.

It was but a short limp to the bank. In the bank I used the ATM to check my forint account balance and then to withdraw a minimal amount of cash. I used the ATM to check my GBP account and had a nasty, though not unexpected surprise of which more later. Next I had to actually use a cashier - a human one - for the very first time in Hungary. One tends to underestimate the extent to which we depend upon ATMs. Going off on one, it reminds me of the days before ATMs existed and all cash transactions were at the counter. My sister-in-law worked in such a position at a bank. These were the days when discrepancies had to be checked, double checked and explained. My sister-in-law was in such a situation and at home my niece who was quite young at the time answered the telephone when it rang and if I remember rightly her reply to the caller was something along the lines of "No, mummy's not home yet. She has lost her balance." Ah, the good old days!

Where was I? Ah, yes. I punched in my requirements into the queueing machine and got a ticket. All the banks have these queueing machines. It is as bad as trying to get cheese or ham in Sainsburys. My number came up immediately. My first requirement was to change some € notes into forints. Bloody rigmarole. In spite of the fact that I was actually one of their customers I had to produce ID in triplicate and sign a declaration as to whether I, my father or my grandfather ever picked our noses. My answer, of course, was that none of us had picked our noses. We were born with the ones we had. I had to sign for the €s. The next transaction was to attempt to pay in some Stirling to my Stirling account. That was uneventful. I still had to sign for it. In duplicate.

The next encounter I feared would be more complicated. For whatever reason I could no longer access my Internet banking. I went back to the machine and it spat out another queueing ticket. At least I was able to sit in the comfy seats for a while. One of the young ladies was with a customer the other was probably playing Solitaire one her computer. The customer left the young lady after about ten minutes of just chatting. I didn't mind. I was in no hurry. My queueing number was three hundred. The young lady punched in her computer and the display went "Bing-Bong" - customer number four hundred. Nobody appeared. She looked at me quizically and I held up my ticket that said three hundred. She half grinned, punched in her computer and "Bing-Bong" customer number three hundred appeared. Well, one cannot subvert the "system" can one.

Once seated in another comfy chair the other side of her desk I explained my problem. My magyarul was quite obviously up to it as within less than a minute I had a new PIN and access code to my account. I had to sign for it in quadruplicate though :(

I left the bank, went to the sandwich shop and bought a small bag of delicious delicacies (film quote (almost), Heather?) and limped across to the seats around the water feature in the centre of town. I sat in the shade and comsumed some of them and then enjoyed a leisurely pipe of tobacco. After that I hobbled to the miserable ironmongers in town for one item, stocked up in the dohanybolt and then returned to the Presszo where Hobo had said that he would meet me at about eleven. Mmmmm. Eleven, quarter past, quarter to twelve, twelve o'clock... At ten past twelve I gave up on Hobo, left a message with the barman to the effect that I was going for the bus, and went for the bus.

Back in the village I paid the bike parking fee and cycled home. All was well with goats and dogs. I ate some more of the delicious delicacies from the sandwich shop and then finished off pressing the cider. At least today, forewarned of its thixotropic tendencies I restrained it within more reasonable bounds. By the time I finished I had just a puddle on the floor - not a lake. As before, having failed to explode the goats, the pulp went into them.

Hobo never reappeared. I went to the pub as usual in the evening and John was there. No Hobo.

24th August 2010

After the goats went out and I had breakfasted I decided that today was the day when the goat house had a really good clean out. You may remember that Hobo had heaped about four feet of perfectly good hay into there that could well have gone into the loft. Each time I cleaned out I sorted a little more of it out. Today was the day to finish the lot. I set about it. First out came the remains of a couple of days worth of evening greeneries that the goats had not eaten and had trampled about in doing what goats do. I started a new heap just outside the goat house to be removed to the main compost heap later. Underneath that was more of the remains of the hay that had been in there a while. It was in fine condition - soaked with goat urine and full of droppings. That went on a separate little heap in preparation for the fulfillment of a promise I had made to John to provide him with some "good stuff" for certain special plants of his. It ended up about right, as I reckoned that by the time I got through that lot there was just about a barrow load of it.

I was just starting on the rest - separating out good hay of which there was quite a bit - when I heard the dogs go ballistic at the gate. I poked my head out to see my next door neighbour at the gate. He held up a petrol can. He had kindly volunteered to get me some on his travels yesterday. I collected my can on the way past the potting shed. We were in the midst of transferring the petrol from his can to mine when another visitor appeared. A young lady charity collector. I gave her five hundred forints - my standard donation - and she gave me an official receipt which is standard practice. We don't get too many of them - maybe three or four a year - and I suppose that I regard my meagre contribution as helping to do good works.

Whilst this was going on Tibi finished transferring the petrol. I paid him and he went on his way. I had not even got back inside the gate when posta arrived. I put the post in the kitchen and returned the petrol can to the potting shed. I was just doing that when there was another outburst from the dogs at the gate. It was the lady from the Faluhaz. "Kommunális Adó" Community charge! A half-yearly bill for eleven hundred forints. At todays exchange rate thats three pounds fifteen pence. Six pounds odd for the year. A bit of an eye opener for those of you in the UK!

By the time this almost queue of visitors had subsided it was almost time for lunch. So I had lunch.

After that it was back to shovelling sh*t. Well, almost. That came a little later. What I did was to sort out the good hay from the bad and stack it into the little corridor in the goat house. The bad joined the rest on the heap outside. Eventually I got right back to the concrete floor. That was when the scraping, sweeping and shovelling of sh*t happened. I was determined that it was going to have a thorough going over so I went to get the hose. I turned it on and it promptly sprayed water all over the yard. Considering that the business end was still in the garden that was not so good. Back to the house for tools. I undid the jubilee clip clamping the house to the joining piece of metal pipe, disconnected it and sliced off a few inches up to the offending hole in the plastic hose pipe. I reconnected the pipe, tightened the jubilee clip and went back and turned it on again. It still sprayed water all over the yard. This time I found that the piece of metal joining the hosepipes had now developed a lengthwise crack between where the jubilee clips clamped them. I sacrificed another metre and a half of hose, discarded the metal bit and took it back to a Hoselock-type connector that was there as the result of a previous repair.

Praise be, this time it did not leak and I was able to finish off my clean up of the goat house by giving the concrete floor a good hose down over its whole area. I left it to dry off a bit and did some weeding. Whilst I did that the skies darkened and it became obvious that rain was imminent. Blast - the goat house now had no bedding on the floor. Back I went and scattered a covering of about six inches of the good hay all over the floor. That left me with a small haystack of good hay remaining in the corridor. I forked it into the loft. By good fortune old Jani had been along and I had a full wheelbarrow of greenery for the goats. As the first raindrops started to fall I forked about half of it into the clean, fresh goathouse and went to get the goats in.

The only thing that happened after that was that it continued to rain. I braved it and forked the remainder of the wheelbarrow of greenery into the goat house for the goats overnight.I nearly said forked it into the goats. Mmmmmm! Interesting mental picture.

Eat, pub.

25th August 2010

The next phase of the goat house project was beginning to loom large. I really needed to get it done by early September. The plan is to go through the wall of the corridor in the goat house into what used to be the main garage. Simply knock an opening through and make good. After that I need to remove the rest of the old rendering from the house to fill up the remainder of the old inspection pit in the garage. Next I will need to make up a weldmesh frame to block off the corridor between the two sties. That's the urgent bit so that I can segregate does and buck in such a way that they will still be able to see one another.

The first thing I had to do was clear out and clean the garage. So I did. All the sawn down Christmas tree trunks were in there. I had had a plan for them but now I had a change of mind on that one. By the time that part of the plan comes around I should be in a position to either use my own home grown chestnut posts or be able to afford new acacia ones. I carted them across in penny numbers into the firewood house. They were followed by the more rotten of the timbers that used to be across the inspection pit. There were a number of perfectly good hardwood ones, for which I had in mind another use and which were stored separately. Various other bits came out including some precious sheets of glass which were stored - I hope safely - in another place.

In the meantime another working party, of the gardening variety this time, had appeared at No. 72. In one of my trips across the yard I had a chat to the granddaughter and the old lady presented me with a bag of pears.

All that remained in the garage was a big, old, very bent hand fruit mincing machine. It was quite useless as it was. I had another use for some of it. The mincing bit came off, mostly destined for firewood. It got upturned and the four legs were shortened with the panel saw so that it finished up about sixteen inches high. Tough going it was too. I think the framework is acacia. All that remained was to sweep the accumulated floor debris into the old inspection pit and remove some miscellaneous bits of wire and string from around the place.

Time ticked on. I neglected to mention that another big bag of apples had appeared a couple of days ago. It was time that I dealt with them. The apple peeler and corer came out again. Once again it worked perfectly. Just as soon as I had straightened out the corer blade and installed it the correct way round. I weighed them as I went - eight ounces Avoirdupois at a time, and they went into the slow cooker with a little water and some citric acid. I stopped at four pounds, my fingers aching again from turning the handle of the little machine. I added a little sugar and turned the slow cooker onto Low. That would cook them down nice and steadily in preparation for a twofold culinary exercise later.

Time to put the goats in - they had a special treat of the few remaining apples, quartered - eat, wash and go to the pub.

26th August 2010

The goats went out and, it being a pleasant sort of a day, I stayed in the garden and did some weeding. I noticed that it was time to get the onions up. The tops had fallen over and most were either brown or beginning to turn brown. I had to use the spade to loosen them, the soil was so wet. I laid them out along the row to dry off.

I had a break after that but then returned to the garden where I retrieved the scythe and had a go at a few bits that the goats cannot get at, mainly close by the vines. One of the handles fell off. In true Hungarian fashion it had been held in by one small nail. Inevitably, and also in true Hungarian fashion, the nail had rusted through and nothing now held the handle in. I worked for a while with it thus. I also noticed that the blade had also once again become loose in relation to the snath. I traced this down to yet another nail, missing this time, that was supposed to hold the plate around the bottom of the snath and to which the blade is clamped. I managed with it until I had enough greenery for the goats' evening repast, which I forked into the barrow. I happened to end up right by the two vines that still needed pruning back. That went straight to the goats as a treat. The barrow went outside the goat house, the scythe went into the yard for repair and I went into the pub for a beer. The beer became two, as Hobo was in there and bought me one.

I still had a mountain of necessary work when I got home. The goat food went into the goat house then I refilled the barrow with one load from outside the goat house and added in onto the compost heap. The compost heap is much smaller than the one at the same stage last year. I think I put that down to the fact that much of it has been through the goats. It seems to make the composting much quicker too. The scythe was repaired at the cost of two new nails - the first one bent - to hold the handle in, and one stainless steel screw to hold on the bottom plate. I took it out and gave it a test run on some bunches of nettles here and there. I left them on the ground to wilt knowing that the goats would relish them once they had. It was getting on by now. I put the goats in, went back to the house, cooked and ate something quite quick and showered, changed and went to the pub quite late. It was gone eight by the time I got there.

27th August 2010

Once the goats were out I spent another whole morning in the kitchen. Jam, getting ready for the next lot and so on. I made some little jam tarts today. They were all right, but the oven could have done with being hotter and the lids didn't stick very well. Sweat from my brow dripped upon them as I made them. I could not mop it off the brow fast enough. Whatever, it would only be me eating them and they would certainly be sterile once they came out of the oven. Just a bit of added salt here and there. I enjoyed them. That used up twelve ounces of my four pounds of apples. The rest was to be the next lot which would just have to wait until tomorrow.

It struck me that the cooking/preserving season is in full swing. One tends to forget from year to year but it is astonishing just how much time I have spent in the kitchen the last few days. I noticed the thermometer in the kitchen whilst I cooked today. Thirty five! No wonder I was sweating.

28th August 2010

It was raining first thing. Enough to need the brolly to go to the shop. I even used the brolly and put on the green wellies when I went to put some more greenery into the goat house. It was far too wet for them to go out.

I had run myself out of firewood yesterday and had to create a basketful before I could even cook coffee. Not a good start to the day.

Fire lit, coffee and toast made. By the way Blackie has already learnt to sit up and beg. He is still young enough for it to be a struggle for him but he does it. I kept the fire going and set to using the remainder of the apples. I decided on apple and mint jam. I kept back just a little of the cooked apples, for a reason. It was just a hint of mint. I robbed a very small sprig from my recently donated mint plants, which are all surviving. I chopped it up very finely with my big knife. Which totally reminds me of something else. I have never mentioned before Top Shop here in Hungary. They advertise a load of stuff that, quite frankly, the locals just sneer at. Like a device for sharpening knives and scissors. As if country people like us need such crap in order to sharpen something. I do include myself in that. Where was I? I put the mint in at the last possible moment to let the flavour and aroma percolate into the jam and then I jarred it up. It remains to be sampled as I write.

The remainder of the apples went into the jam pan. Now, me and Hobo had been having a discussion for several days, which I confess started as a wind-up on my part. I had said that I was going to make apple and garlic jam. Hobo declared me to be not normal. A couple of odd things came out of that, one now and one later. The now one was that had I mentioned it to Tibi, my next door neighbour and he declared it "Certainly good, lots of vitamins". He never batted an eyelid about the combination. I crushed four cloves of garlic, tied them in a cloth and added them to the cooking apples. From time to time I gave the cloth a good pounding with the wooden spoon. It just nicely made one jar and there was just a bit left in the pan to try at breakfast time tomorrow.

As the stove was still lit I went full healthy and had a fry up for lunch. Sausage, egg and chips. That involved a walk into the garden to dig a single potato for the chips. Purely by good fortune I found a nice big one with the first spadeful.

Somewhen in the afternoon I wandered up to the pub. Hobo and John were in there. In fact Hobo and John were the only people in there. I immediately said "I want to be d'Artagan". It only came to me later that d'Artagan was never one of the Three Musketeers. He was just a sort of apprentice musketeer.

It came on to rain. Time to get the goats in. Blast. I was hoping the wheelbarrow full of greenery would last them two nights. It wouldn't now. The weather has been unseasonal in the extreme. I checked back on the blog for what it was doing in 2008 and 2009. Continuous hot sunny days. Not normal.

I returned to the pub in the evening as usual. Both Hobo and John had bitten the dust. A chap I know well by sight, but who I had never really spoken to apart from the pleasantries came over, bought me a drink and we had a chat. He actually complemented me on my Hungarian! Mmmmm! I still have far to go.

Back home I saw on the BBC website Missing rafters found. Strange. I saw the link and followed it thinking to find out how various roof parts had gone astray, and where they had been found. Silly me!

29th August 2010

Well the morning was buggered before it even got started. I was about to light the fire for breakfast when Hobo appeared intent on mending his bicycle. As a thank you for his looking after the place whilst I was in the UK I had a pair of twenty seven by one and a quarter tyres shipped over from the UK. They are apparently only available here to special order and just a bit expensive. There were also spokes in the package to replace four missing ones in his rear wheel. He set about the front wheel and I set about the rear. In short order the old tyre, inner tube and rim tape were off. It was only then that the vague recollections of replacing spokes in a rear wheel kicked in. Three out of the four missing spokes were behind the freewheel cluster on his bike. I had no way of getting it off. Oh well, that would have to wait then. I replaced the one I could get at and found another on the same side that needed a bit of serious tightening. The inevitable happened. It always used to happen when I did my own bike. With a twang and a crack I broke the spoke. Not a problem as I had eight spokes. The wheel really needed completely respoking and trueing. I replaced the one I had broken and that was as far as we could get. The back wheel was better than it had been and after a few more minor bits and pieces Hobo left, well happy. I set about breakfast in dire need of caffeine. At half past eleven!

After breakfast I managed to get into the garden for a while and did some weeding. Suzy goat was nearby and her antics of springing on and off of last years compost heap and raiding the leaves on the pollarded walnut tree amused me more than a little. It was time for a beer, so I went to the pub and caught the last few laps of the Belgian Grand Prix, which was interesting. By the way, I bet you didn't know that the Hungarian for Safety Car is Safety Car!

Back home I filled the firewood basket, lit the stove and cobbled up an early evening meal. Pasta, with cheese grated in and finely chopped red pepper stirred in. Must get some basil on the go so that I can make pesto.

Back to the pub in the evening as usual.

Late in the day this discussion on Peak Oil. You might even spot my effort in the comments!

30th August 2010

I put the goats out, then I put the washing out. I cleaned the kitchen and then it rained. The goats came in. The washing stayed out. It would not hurt from a nice rain water rinse.

I cooked a pizza. In the midst of that the kitchen cold water tap decided once again that it would not turn off. Well, it would just have to stay not turned off until I had finished cooking and eating my pizza. I ate my pizza and simultaneously did some mental arithmetic. Do they still teach that in schools? The mental arithmetic proved too problematical. Too many variables. How long would the tap hold out? What would the rate of flow reach? How long would it be before it caused me excessive entry of water into the cess pit, in which case I had to factor in the cost of getting the lorry in to empty said cess pit. I returned to eating the pizza and contemplating my navel. It continued to rain which did nothing to help my mood.

I had a sandwich and went to the pub. Hobo was there. John turned up. I had a heated discussion with Hobo about the remaining missing spokes in his bicycle wheel. It ended up in a bet. The bet was a round of drinks for me, Hobo and John. Hobo reckoned that he could get the spokes in behind the freewheel without removing it. Mmmmmm - don't think so. One of the ones on the other side was so tight that I actually had to thread the spoke through the hole in the hub. As write, Hobo seems to have conveniently forgotten about it. It turned into a mini-session.

I went home and sorted out the disaster area that the big room had become, thanks to Blackie. There had been a small cardboard box just by the tile stove of combustibles - paper, cordite, that sort of thing - for use in lighting the tile stove. Blackie, being still at that puppy stage took a liking to it and efficiently shredded it and cast it to the four winds all around the room. It didn't take long to clear up and stick it all in another cardboard box which, as the tile stove has yet to be lit, was placed well out of reach of Blackie on the top of the tile stove.

It was by now early evening so I ate, changed and went to the pub. When I got home I had some Internet-type work to do. I also ended up having a long on-line chat with someone. I went to bed far too late.

31st August 2010

No idea, other than that it continued to rain so the now sodden washing remained sodden and remained on the washing line.


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