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September 2010

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1st September 2010

Well, it didn't rain and the washing that had been out for days had somehow almost dried overnight. Otherwise, as per yesterday, I have no idea. That was short and...

2nd September 2010

It was another nice day. Shop, goats, breakfast and then I had a look at the new paperwork regarding the dogs. There were a couple of bits that I could not make heads nor tails of, but the rest was straightforward. I put it aside for the moment. If my understanding was correct it had to be back with the faluhaz lady by the tenth.

Hateful job. I tanked up the strimmer and did the yard, including the bit that did not get done last time, and not only the camping lawn but also the surrounding area under the footprint of the big walnut tree. It is that time of year and walnuts are beginning to drop.

I went for eggs. I took a few onion seeds with me and gave them to Eva. A few! Just a couple of hundred. Yes, I did count them. With the aid of the white squares on the plastic kitchen tablecloth. Five by four, and ten seeds in each. It is a bit strange but you can actually tell good onion seeds from bad simply by the feel of them. The good seeds are quite obviously hard (and somewhat pointy). The bad seeds are just a bit squidgy, and if you roll them firmly enough between the fingers they dissolve to dust. Eva asked me whether she should sow them now or next year. Well, Seymour says now. Other sites tell me that March is early enough. I am tempted to go with Seymour with my five thousand seeds. I left Eva's place with my eggs, and a couple of little plants. When I got home some unscheduled gardening happened when I had to find a place for them, clear the weeds and stick them in the ground. Speaking of which, otherwise I will certainly forget to mention it, my little mint plants from elsewhere in the village are quietly going ballistic.I had no idea that mint was so pervasive!

There was a definite feeling of pre-Bucsu in the pub in the evening.

3rd September 2010

This Guardian blog gives much food for thought with its discussion of the possibilities of global environmental degradation. And Sharon Astyk on the recently leaked Buneswehr report. AND Dmitry Orlov with a very grim prognostication on Peak Oil. Well, that's why I'm here. Wow - a busy day on the doom and gloom front!

Overnight it rained. It was still raining when I arose. After the shop I donned the green wellies and forked a bit more greenery into the goat house.

Back in the house I had breakfast. Purely to sample it I opened the first jar - only half a jar - of the apple and mint jam. Astonishing. As soon as I released the lid I could smell the mint. I had a slice of toast with plum jam on one end and some of the apple and mint on the other. What a contrast! I have to say that the apple and mint seemed to be an inspired combination. I have no idea where that one came from except straight out of my head!

The weather improved. The goats went out and I, still green welly clad, went back to the kitchen where I had kept the stove going and made some pear and ginger jam with the pears from next door. You know, all the years I lived here and there in various bedsit-lands in the UK I don't think I ever bought a jar of jam. Here it is one of my staples. I was going to talk about the self sufficiency thing. Well, the two things that are problematical are sugar and flour. The other thing that is a problem is meat. Not such a problem as the sugar and flour though. Chickens would be one answer. I have another solution in mind, but I suspect my readers would cringe if I mentioned it. Something smaller than chickens and edible - not hedgehogs.

Lajos appeared with a collar for Blackie. He apparently had had the choice of tan or black. He had decided on my behalf that if he bought the black one I would not be able to see it on the dog. Good call!

I took the scythe and the strimmer up the garden. I scythed all around the two good apple trees and the one pear tree that has some fruit on it. Then I trashed underneath them pretty well back to bare earth with the strimmer. I collected good windfalls in a bucket.

Back at the house the little peeling and coring machine came out to play again. I had a thought. Mmmmm - too much thinking - not good. But this was actually a good thought. Previously all the cores and peelings went onto the compost heap. My thought was that it would be much better if they went through the goats first. So that's what I did.

4th September 2010

I made more of the apple and mint jam. Old Janos turned up and created the goats' supper in the wheelbarrow, stalwart that he is. Me having no suitable change we cycled up to the pub where I bought him a kis fröccs and myself a beer, and paid him for his work. It suddenly came on a seriously sharp downpour of rain. Oh-oh! Goats. I abandoned everything right there in the pub - beer, pipe, tobacco - and cycled home as fast as I could go. I was seriously wet by the time I got back to the cottage. Whatever. Getting seriously wetter by the minute I rescued the goats and galloped them back to the goat house. The rain water off the roof ran down the back of my neck as I went into the doorway. I hooked the goats up inside still on their chains and set about forking some food in for them. The rainwater from the roof poured down my neck again as I went out to get the food. Blast - I was hoping that Jani's barrow full would last two evenings. It wouldn't now. The rain poured down my neck once again as I forked the food into the goat house. Lovely!

By now I had wet hair, wet teeshirt and wet feet. I went back into the house and sorted that lot out and then, under the brolly, I cycled back to the pub to resume my beer and rescue my smoking accoutrements. It rained solidly for three hours. Somewhere in the middle of that period I cycled home (under the umbrella again) and did some indoor stuff. The rain went away as quickly as it had appeared and the temperature must have risen fifteen degrees Celsius in fifteen minutes. In the afternoon sun, I put the goats back out to work.

I managed to present both my neighbours with a still slightly warm jar of apple and mint jam and a couple of hundred onion seeds each. They were warmly received. It was a small token on my part. Far more comes the other way and if I get the chance to reciprocate, in however small a way, I do.

Stock up the kitchen wood basket and raid the garden. Broccoli heads, a couple of spuds, a leak, an onion and a small handful of beans. Spuds peeled and chopped up, into a pan of slightly salted boiling water with the broccoli. The leeks and onion finely chopped and gently fried in butter with a crushed clove of garlic. Well, no. Cooking margarine actually - it would have to do. With spuds and broccoli cooked I mashed them together, keeping the cooking water. That went into one of my larger saucepans. The leak and onion were added, the beans were finely sliced and added too. I topped it up with more water and added half a cupful of wheat flour stirred into cold water just to give it a bit more body. A third of a carton of cooking cream went in and that was that. Superb.

I decided to have a quick look on the Internet before I went to the pub. The computer refused to boot. Twice. I traced it down to the fact that I had left a film DVD in the drive. I removed it, and the computer booted OK, but that is not a good sign!

5th September 2010

Today was bucsu. Most people in the village did nothing today except entertain visitors. I, and one or two more in the village, had livestock to be dealt with. The goats had no idea it was bucsu. It was a fine day but there was a very cool north-easterly wind blowing. It was somewhat of a contrast to my first bucsu in the village when I went up to Hobo's house. His mother was cooking in both the wood stove and the electric stove and in spite of the kitchen windows being open the sweat rolled off me.

Anyway, the goats went out and I went for a beer, it being bucsu. Hobo was there, and so was another chap I have mentioned before. It turned into a mini-session. I went home eventually and as usual checked on the goats. They were fine. I had just returned to the yard, still attired in my goatherders gear, when there was a hail from the fence with No. 72. I went over, expecting the old lady to pass over some cakes as in previous years. Not a bit of it. She indicated that I was to go round and join them. It turned out that there were two grandsons (in-law??) there that both spoke good English. It also turned out that it was the old lady's NINETIETH birthday. I had to mentally hang my head in shame. The workload that she puts in, year after year, is just astonishing. Anyway, I had cake and I had wine. I attempted to reply in my best pidgin magyarul to any questions asked me in English. I was complemented on my magyarul. Mmmmm - not really on my part. They are actually very good at understanding what you are trying to say if you leave off all the prepositions. I am getting my head around them slowly. It was cold. The party broke up, with one of the members taking the old lady's great grandchildren to cycle and skateboard up and down the street. I went home.

It was not long afterwards that it was time to get the goats in. Still clad in my goatherding gear I took them back to the goathouse. As I returned to the yard I noticed the old lady, now completely minus visitors, obviously making her preparations to retire for the night. I was not about to retire for the night. It was bucsu.

I showered and changed into something a little smarter than I would normally wear to the pub. Hobo was there and had saved me a place at the table. It was all happening inside the pub this year due to the unseasonable coolness of the weather and the ever present threat of rain. Hobo took over the Nikon and did his David Bailey bit - all evening. We were fed. Lots of beer was drunk and there was the inevitable disagreement between two young men over a young lady. Fortunately there were lots of people to intervene, and it never came to fisticuffs.

I had sufficient to eat and drink, and went home very much later than normal. I was obviously not that bad, as I cycled home and didn't manage to fall off. Very late, I went to bed.

6th September 2010

I did manage to achieve a hangover this morning. Not surprising really. I was still up in time for the shop and bread, etc. The goats went out as usual and I set about breakfast. With stove lit and coffee on I realised that I had forgotten an item in the shop. I got as far as the gate. I could see that the shop was closed, as both the iron gates were shut together. There was a car there that I recognised from before. It was obviously handover day and that was the stocktaker's car. As it happened I had a substitute for the item that I wanted from the shop so it was not a problem.

I did a load of washing. I had managed to accumulate a load, as the weather had not been conducive to getting it done. I went out to move the goats after that. I had just started when there was a commotion from the yard. I saw old Jani beating dogs off and hobbling up the yard. I waved to him and turned back to sorting out the goats. The next time I looked there was no sign of him. There was still a commotion going on. I saw his head rise, as if from a supine position. Every time he did, a dog stood on his chest and licked him. I dropped all three goats onto one post and hobbled back to the yard myself as fast as I could limp. By the time I got there Jani had managed to beat the dogs off and regained his feet. He was obviously shaken. He sat down on an old petrol can and examined his injuries. He had a grazed knee! He had fallen foul of Pickle's running chain. I knew the feeling. Fortunately he only had a grazed knee. He recovered his composure and, dogs left behind in the yard, he went to do his hours worth of scything down overnight goat food and I finished sorting out the goats.

We separately accomplished our tasks and, I being without small enough denomination to pay him, we cycled up to the pub where I bought him a fröccs, myself a beer and paid him. I have to say that a number of the regulars in the pub were either there or came in whilst I was there. They looked like I felt. Including Hobo!

The chap that I have mentioned before came in. He bought a round. We chatted about computery stuff - he is interested in Linux but has no experience of it, I think. Then Hobo bought a round, then I bought a round and that was the afternoon trashed and the hangovers cured.

Back home I cleaned my office. It needed it! It took a while, mainly sorting out miscellaneous bits of paperwork and untangling wires. Then dusting. The dusting is a lost cause. Living as I do with two dogs who are allowed in the house, (much to the chagrin of Hobo) and a yard like mine, the inevitable result is dust if it is dry or mud if it is wet. The mud dries on the floor and with passage of dogs becomes dust.

The goats went in. I cooked and ate. I went back to the pub for one. It was only one - he closed at a quarter past eight. Not surprising after last night.

Lots of pictures to come by the way - forgotten over the last few days.

7th September 2010

As I suspected from yesterday the regular shop lady was back on duty today. The relief lady was OK but always a little formal with me. I think I probably said that I thought that it had been her first relief job. I did my shop and went home and donned the wellies and put the goats out. It was not a good day. Cold, grey and threatening rain. I put the goats nearby their house. I was feeling unwell anyway. Shivery and alternately hot and cold.

I sorted out the kitchen and then sat and contemplated my navel.

Early afternoon I summoned the energy to go into the garden and collect walnuts, apples and pears.

Some pictures:
Soda Syphon Lands In Welly Blackie exitted the house with a clatter and a clonk on morning, being the big bumbling clumsy thing that he is. I went to find out what the clatter and clonk was all about and found this. The soda syphon was empty and waiting to be returned to the shop. It had been on the milking stool in the hallway. This was how I found it. I promise you that this is not staged or Photoshopped.
Blackie and Pickle exhausted with playing and just lying and panting. Panting Dogs
Dog Problem I mentioned the Blackie kindling catastrophe earlier. Here is a picture.
Well, I said on the first of September that I had no idea what I did. Having sorted out the pictures I do now. Hobo's nicely decorated ceiling in the big room was showing signs of serious water ingress from the roof. This is a close up. Water Gets Into The Ceiling
Water Gets Into The Ceiling And this is a broader view.
I knew exactly where it was coming from. In the very early days of my being here what I called at the time the English Contingent had told me that it would leak. It was the TV antenna, and sure enough it had leaked. Cause of Water Damage
Cause of Water Damage Here is a bit more close up of the offending item. Hobo rose to the challenge. Up the ladder and onto the roof. It made me cringe watching him slide back a tile here and there to get a foothold. I withdrew indoors, expecting a scream and a thud any time. It did not happen, fortunately. Hobo armed himself with angle grinder and with no dramas in a matter of minutes the antenna, pole and associated ironmongery were in the yard. I was told off (once again in the military sense) to find fifteen good roof tiles. Hobo hurtled he bad ones from the roof into the yard. Always with back spin. The tiles just hit and laid where they were. There was no great shattering of small pieces across the yard.
Eventually Hobo made his precarious way back down the roof, replacing bad tiles with good as he did so. You know the Hungarian roofs are seriously not good. The lateral overlap of tiles is about thirty millimetres, the vertical about fifty. Anyway, there it was - gone. Roof Made Good

There is one more picture to follow but not right now.

8th September 2010

I felt somewhat better this morning. Not one hundred percent, but probably about a hundred percent better than I felt yesterday. It was dull, rainy and cool again. I had a comment back from one of my regular readers and correspondents that he remembers Bucsu in the village as being lovely weather. So do I, and that was only my third Bucsu. I really don't know what is with the weather here this year. Reports that I have seen or read indicate that nationally the crops are down twenty percent from normal this year. Fortunately, the country will still be self sufficient in food. Unfortunately, that means that there will be that much less surplus to export which means that there will be less money coming into the country. On a Peak Oil note has anyone read up about the Export Land Model?

The goats had to stay inside until ten, about which they were not particularly happy. I eventually got them out and in a moment of madness put all three on one post quite close to the goat house expecting further rain.

I went back to the house and started on apples, pears and peaches. They all went straight through the mincer. Except that the peach stones were removed first. They were destined for - well I guess that I can't call it cider, but - mixed fruit cider. I had a change of strategy. Instead of dumping all the pulp into the fermenter and then fishing it out again I put it straight on the press. It worked much better. Before, the pulp tended to float to the top and I ended up with the runny stuff at the bottom which was a so-and-so to get on the press. This time, each saucepan full of pulp sat nicely on the press.

I checked on the goats. They were fine. I went back to winding the handle of my toy mincer.

Whilst I wound the handle I did some mental arithmetic. Have they restarted teaching mental arithmetic in schools yet? If not, they should. Same as applied physics. Both skills have stood me in good stead throughout my life. I digress. My mental arithmetic indicated that to satisfy my alcoholic tendings I would need to produce the equivalent of a hundred gallons a year for my own consumption at home. That leaves aside the beer that I drink in the pub in the evenings. That is, after all, my social life just as it was in the UK.

I moved the goats to another place and went back to press the fruit. The whole process took four hours!

I pressed the pulp and got another gallon or so of fermentable juices. That was until I took a sample in my little jar and discovered that the original gravity was 1055 or so. Last time it was 1035. Mmmmm - a bit too strong. I let the juice down with a mentally arithmetically calculated amount of water and added a mentally arithmetically calculated amount of Camden tablets and shut the lid. In the meantime old Jani had appeared, done a load of scything and parked it outside the goat house. I followed him to the pub, paid him and bought him a kis fröcss. He bought me a beer back, so I was in the pub longer than intended.

When I got back home the goats saw me and immediately set up a "meah,meah". I discovered that they had been knitting whilst I was out. Knit one, purl one, knit two together through the back of the loop. All three were within a couple of feet of the post. My fault! Bad goatherder! Won't happen again. Until next time.

9th September 2010

Short today. Well, short-ish. For once the young man that deputises for the post lady actually managed to provide me with cash. I have no idea what he does wrong, but he swiped my card umpteen times through his machine, once again declaring it "Nem jo kartya". Eventually it worked. The normal post lady invariably only has to swipe it once. Whatever.

With upcoming events I had to make a decision on a trip to Körmend. I decided to call into Bödő first to see if I could get what I wanted there. It was of necessity a bicycle trip. With Pickle on chain and Blackie loose in the yard I set off. I went my normal route, turning right by the templom and up to the rough track that leads by the cemetery up to the football field. I got as far as the rough track when the pedals on the bike stopped going round. I got off, as you have to when the pedals stop going round. I suspected something wrong with the gears but no it was the blasted bottom bracket crank bearings again. I turned the crank by hand backwards and it freed itself. Does not bode well though. I decided to chance it as far as Bödő anyway. As I got to the top of the hill it started raining. Bollox! Goats! I paused for a few moments, sucking my finger and holding it up to see from which direction the wind was coming, and casting an eye upon the clouds. The rain was not sufficient to worry the goats and did not look like getting worse so I carried on.

I got to Bödő and enquired about the items I wanted. Nothing. I left for once empty handed. Well, I would have to chance the bike and carry on to Körmend then. So I did. As I cycled through Nádasd Jozsi overtook me on his bike. Well, he is younger and a lot fitter than I, and his bike is a tourer type and mine is a hybrid with great chunky tyres. I kept him in sight all the way though. Just before the turn off into town I saw him stop and look at something. He cycled on, and as I approached where he had stopped a leveret hopped into the road obviously intent on suicide. I might have mentioned it before. Apparently the Hungarians have two hundred and odd words for horse, but they have no differentiation between a wild rabbit and a hare. I cannot say that the prospect of jugged hare was unappealing, but it was only a young one and I was not about to play equally suicidal games trying to catch it on that main road.

I cycled on into town and set off in persuit of one of the items I had wanted in Bödő which they had not. I had been assured by Hobo that this shop would have it. I cycled and cycled. Out past the Berki hotel, out past the roadside shops with all the baskets on sale, out past the currency exchange places on the edge of town. I had a street number for the shop but there were no street numbers in sight. I was about to give up, right on the outskirts of town when I saw the shop I was looking for. I breezed on in. "I need grout for a tile stove." "We don't have any. Only grout for floor tiles." "Well that will be better than nothing. What is the minimum quantity?" "Four kilos." "How much?" "Two thousand." Thinks for a moment. "OK." "What colour?" "Yellow or white." He showed me a colour card and I chose one that was near enough for the tile stove. He fetched it, I paid him and that was that. When I think back to my first days here in Hungary every trip or visit to a shop filled me with trepidation. Well, my Hungarian might not be up to much but I manage!

Being equipped with bicycle I cycled out to Tescos for a few bits and pieces, formost amongst which was coffee beans. With cycling into town and not paying a bus fare, plus the savings made in Tescos on the coffee beans and other items it effectively made the grouting cement free.

The back pack was by now quite weighty. I stopped off at the Halászcsárda for one. That's the third different spelling - I might have got it right this time! I hefted the backpack and cycled on home. It had managed to turn itself into quite a pleasant afternoon with little wind and I made good progress with not too much sweat. When I arrived home there were two big fermenting barrels just over the big gates. One standing up and one on its side. Blackie was not at all happy with them. He was hiding when I arrived home. Once I was there he just barked and barked at them. Good boy! I knew what they were all about - more later, maybe.

I checked on the goats. No disasters. Then I unpacked the backpack.

Goats, eat, shower, pub.

10th September 2010

How interesting! I don't think I have too much to worry about on the handshake thing. I hold my own, and this is after all the land of Good Handshakes.

It was dull and grey but at least it wasn't raining. After the normal start I set about a job that I had mentally noted every time I put the goats out. Elderberries. I had collected a few when I made the apple and elderberry jam, but otherwise there was now a tree full. This was my third season and I was determined to do something with them. The first year was when I had to do a serious hacking about of all the stuff growing in and around the fences, and this tree and its immediate neighbour had a very serious pruning back.

Armed with bucket, secateurs and panel saw I attacked the tree. Many big bunches were out of reach. The branches all got pruned and off came the elderberries. I don't know the growth habits of the elder. Maybe I will have no elderberries next year but a repeat of this year the following year. We will see. You know, parts of the elder are quote toxic. My goats don't seem to know that. They have been eating as many leaves, and later almost ripe berries as they could reach. Particularly Rudy on account of him being half as tall again when he stands up on his hind legs.

There was a commotion from the yard. I investigated to find John beating off the dogs. Well, Pickle anyway. He had brought his barrow round for a load of sh*t. Well, some of the choice removings from the goat house anyway. He wheeled his barrow up and I loaded it up with fork loads of what was already outside, and some more from within the goat house. Whilst he was there, and never likely to be in a more convenient spot I grabbed some trays for him from the garage loft. I have a plethora of them - more than I am ever likely to use - and they are ideal for standing loads of plant pots in and suchlike to move about the place. Simple four wooden sides and a hardboard bottom, only a couple of inches deep. John took his goodies and left, beating the dogs about with the wheelbarrow as he retreated back through the yard. I returned to elderberrying.

I had no sooner begun when there was another commotion from the yard. I investigated again. It was Jani come to top up the wheelbarrow with goat food greenery. He just went about it. I finished off giving the elderberry tree a haircut and recovering the fruit. I returned to the house with my tools and a bucket overflowing with bunches of elderberries. I had time to make and eat a quick sandwich for lunch before Jani reappeared. "Kocsma?" "Igen!" So we cycled up to the pub where I bought him a kis fröccs and paid him. I had a beer, of course.

Back home, another tedious and as it turned out much more physically demanding job than I remembered or bargained for. Separating the elderberries from the stalks. You remove the berries using the tines of a table fork. I needed to weigh the fruit as I went, so it was bend down and pick up a bunch from the bucket, flick flick flick with the fork into the scale pan and repeat. The flick flick flick bit was almost at shoulder height, given the height of the stool, the height of the table and the height of the scale pan above the table. Some of the bunches of fruit may have held an ounce of berries. Some had only maybe ten or a dozen berries, and some had only two. All were processed. Waste not want not.

Eight ounces at a time. I kept a score sheet. Just over half a stone of berries. A couple of gallons then. If it turns out right it will compare rather favourably to anything that ever came out of France. You know, I have a personal boycott on anything French. I have had for years, since they last did their load of nuclear bomb tests after the moratorium on nuclear bomb testing. I will not knowingly buy anything French. They can stick their Golden Delicious where the sun does not shine. They can pour their Chateaux de Mouton Rothschild down the drain. I will have none of it. As for French cheese I was never a lover anyway. All smell and no taste. Worse than the Hungarian cheese, and that's saying something. Camembert, Brie? Good for lubricating squeaky gate hinges maybe!

Sorry, went off on one there. I had to restrain myself from going off some more. Where was I? Ah yes! Berries in my twenty five litre bin I boiled up the kettle twice and poured it over the berries. Other necessary ingredients followed and the lid went on for it to cool down.

Eat, wash, change, pub. You know the routine.

11th September 2010

I was putting the goats out, and I was doing it properly - one goat, one post. I had just decided where the third goat should go when I turned and found that Rudy had gotten himself into a bit of a pickle. He was just a bit too near one of the peach trees and had obviously been raiding it for greenery and had managed to get his right front leg stuck in a particularly acute angle of a branch in the tree. He was not going "Meah, meah" but he obviously had a problem. He was doing exactly what Pickle did when I had to rescue her from the gate. He was trying to pull it out directly, rather than getting it out the way it went in. I wandered over, supported him round the chest and lifted his foot out. I rather expected a set of horns in the chest for my pains but not a bit of it. He was quite acquiescent and in a caprine way thankful that I had rescue him. I moved him a couple of feet so that he could not get in that particular pickle again.

I had just done this when there was a voice from over the fence at No. 68, followed by a series of thuds. I investigated to find Tibi playing skittles with pumpkins across the camping lawn. For the goats, he said. Lots of vitamins. He has a thing about vitamins. I piled them up within and without the goat house.

The pumpkin season is in full swing. As before, all they are interested in are the seeds. Some of the pumpkins came over the fence whole, some already halved and some with the seeds removed. The goats will eat any of it, including the skin, but only so much.

I set about removing the pile of previously extracted stuff from the goat house and putting it on the main compost heap for this year. Two big barrow loads, quite weighty. After that I started on the next lot by forking out the uneaten greenery and the worst of the urine and faeces laden straw from the goat house. Oh, mucking out after the winter is going to be fun. I don't know how it works here, but in the UK, come the time that the goats have to live indoors you just leave the stuff where it is and sprinkle a couple of inches of new on top every day. The new keeps them dry and healthy. The old keeps them warm as it starts to compost down underneath..

Hobo turned up and did some strimming. I went into the house and dealt with a large carrier bag full of peaches from the neighbours. Blanch, peel, chop and into the slow cooker. It was a lot of work. They don't peel like tomatoes once blanched. Fiddly job. I finished that, had a bite to eat, and hobo and I cycled up to the pub for the evening. Unwashed, unchanged, didn't give a damn.

12th September 2010

No doubt you will be delighted to know that there are some short entries coming up. I know I am behind again! But then again you never know when I will go off on some random tangent.

Apart from the goats, today was one of those days when I managed to spend six hours in the kitchen. I mentioned the peaches yesterday. Today they were turned into spicy peach chutney. They may have a word for chutney, but I can't find it. It was about an hour of preparation and two hours of cooking. When I retrieved the peaches from the slow cooker they were a beautiful brown colour (that's color for American readers). Somewhere between milk chocolate and plain chocolate. I cooked it and jarred it. I have yet to sample it. It might be horrid - I hope not.

After that a short hobble into the garden, dig some more spuds and hobble back to the house. I exaggerate. I still have to make considerable accommodation to perambulation but it still improves.

Back in the kitchen I knocked up a potato, onion and yellow split pea soup. With some cream and just a little flour to give it a bit of body. Enough for me for two days. Plus a little dribble for the dogs.

Of course, I went to the pub.

13th September 2010

It was a better day so the goats went out early. For once they stayed out all day. I moved them at half time to the other end, as you do. Must stop watching so much soccer. It's not football. That is played by teams of fifteen real men - not prima donna ouches - with oval balls. The game that is, not the men.

I cleaned up the yard and did some washing and hung it out. All mundane stuff.

Hobo appeared. We sat in the kitchen and had a red wine fröccs. He had already supplied the red wine. I supplied the soda. Jani appeared to do some scything. He got a piros fröccs also. Hobo disappeared saying he would be back in three quarters of an hour. It was a long three quarters of an hour. With dogs securely in the yard Jani and I trudged or way right up to the top of the plot, me armed with heavy mattock he with wheelbarrow and scythe. I reiterated what Hobo had told him, which was that he needed to start working back from the top of the plot by Telek utca.

It had come to my ears that there was a problem. I can't say that I am surprised - that end of the land continues to be neglected. But apparently I was once again being threatened, by hearsay, that I would be fined thirty five thousand forints unless I did something about it. My little path to the top end had all but disappeared. I instructed Jani to hack a way through with the scythe. I set about finding all the nasty shrubby-type stuff and knocking seven bells out of it with the heavy mattock.

I had been at that for a while, well satisfied to being able to open my shoulders and with all my puny strength bash seven shades of something out of the offending shrubbery. In a pause to take breath I realised that I could no longer see Jani. He had been less than ten metres away. I saw an arm rise, then fall again. I limped across, to find him on his back just by where he had managed to cut down with the scythe. I enquired after his health. He said that it was just the heat and he would be all right presently. Well, presently he did manage to get to his feet. He departed. I watched him all the way back to the little front gate, worried all the time. He managed to skirt marauding dogs, and I saw him retrieve his bicycle. I had no idea what that was all about.

It did not matter. I abandoned mattock and took up scythe. I hacked my way right to the top of the plot, and out of pure spite, across to the neighbour's house there and took out a metre or so by the side of his house back to where it had been strimmed by Hobo. All went into the wheelbarrow to be wheeled back for the goats.

Whilst there I considered what the problem was at that end of the property. One look over the fence told me. There was shrubbery hanging over the road sufficient to decapitate the hood of a very nice BMW 325 convertible. Mmmmmm! Tempting, but no. (Film quote Heather?) Oh well, I knew what tomorrow would bring, then.

I loaded the scythed-down greenery into the barrow and limped my way back to the goat house with it. I went to the pub for a beer and some company. I had one and then went home and did some more house work.

When it was time to get the goats in it proved problematical. As usual I had all three in hand. I have no idea why, but they were skittish in the extreme getting them back to their house. I ended up with three goat chains in hand. Between me and the goats was an impenetrable mass of chain. I managed to isolate the two girls. Rudy was a lost cause. I unhooked him and took the two girls back to the goat house. I was almost there when Rudy, still munching in the garden, realised that his harem was not there. He just galloped back to join the girls. Might have to rethink that one then.


14th September 2010

A fine September day dawned. This was a bit more like it. Shop, goats, breakfast and I set out on another unscheduled job. As I mentioned yesterday I had a need of doing something about the non-hedge by Telek utca. I thought about what I needed for the job. Secateurs, the Leatherman, panel saw, pipe, tobacco, lighter, bottle of beer... In a flash of inspiration I put everything except the panel saw in my shopping bag, clipped the panel saw on the carrier of the bike and cycled round to the top of the plot. Up there is one bit of alloy fencing which is basically, err buggered, and my home made paling fence where there was obviously once a gate which still stands sound (ish).

I decided to start by the buggered bit of fence and work my way towards where the neighbouring house is at the that end of the plot. I sort of took as my guide where his chamaecyparis lawsoniana are allowed to grow to along the roadside. Mine was not chamaecyparis lawsoniana. Thankfully. Blasted stuff causes more neighbour disputes in the UK than chavs do! Mine was mixed trees and weeds. Elder and the still unknown stripey stuff that the goats love abounded. There were two or three proper trees in there as well. I set about it. Oh how I longed for my hedge knife. It was forgotten in one of my many moves many years ago and I have searched and searched on the Internet but no such tool seems to exist now. It was not a slasher - that is entirely different, like a bill hook on a long handle. No, the hedge knife was a graceful tool. The blade was of the same form as a large Sabatier chef's knife - maybe about a foot long, but the back side was about three times as thick as a chef's knife. It was carbon steel and could be honed so that you could shave the hairs off your arm with it. It had a hardwood handle about two foot six long, and it was a very lethal weapon. I have seen the guy who showed me how to use and sharpen one go through a two inch branch with a single blow. When I ran a pub in a particular area there were times when I kept it under the bed. I would have used it too. It made a very effective throwing spear. I know. I tried it, but not on people or animals. Mmmm! Where was I?

I set about and secatuered, sawed and generally hacked all the offending greenery as high as I could reach and hurled it all in a heap over the buggered bit of fence. I was expecting it to be an all day job but I had that side finished in an hour or so. Time for a break. I sat down on the verge of Telek utca, got the pipe, filled it, lit it. Got the bottle of beer and opened it using the tool on the Leatherman for removing boy scouts from horses hooves, and sat in quiet contentment for a few minutes. The sun was warm, the breeze pleasantly cooling and, for the moment, all was well with the world.

Beer evaporated, I arose myself from my pipe dreams and set about the other half. Oh dear, I really wished I had done it first, but it was much the shorter half. It was a tangle of vines, grapes, brambles and tree branches. At the worst I took about two feet off it. It was a bit like large scale sheep shearing but with only a pair of cuticle scissors. I heard the church clock strike twelve. It grieved me to sacrifice the grapes. I may have mentioned it before, but all the bells in Hungary ring out out twelve midday. Apparently to celebrate some sort of battle victory. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong. Anyway, I persevered and by just gone one that side was finished too. All loaded back on the bike I cycled my way back to the house.

Back at the house I had lunch. Then I had a good clean round of the kitchen. I checked on the goats and they were fine. I cycled up the village for eggs and called in the pub for one on the way back, as you do. I was on the way to completing my one when Lajos (fa szakemeber) and his drinking buddy came in. Laci (landlord) managed to open two incorrect bottles of beer. One came my way! Oh well.

Back home another bout of housework. For a reason. More later. By then it was time to eat and get the goats in. I adopted a new strategy. I retrieved the two girls and led them back to the goat house. Rudy looked bewildered and bleated. I hooked the girls up in the goat house and went back for Rudy. I just unhooked him from his post and let him go. He trotted (and goats do trot - I don't know if they canter, but they do trot and gallop) all the way back to the goat house without any intervention from me. A result, then!

Eat, pub.

15th September 2010

After the usual start I sorted out in the kitchen in preparation for a serious bit of cooking. After that I had to cycle up to the pub and get the main ingredient for the cooking - dead pig. I very nearly missed the meat van which would have been a major catastrophe. Anyway I didn't. The meat bloke noticed that the pack I chose was undone at one corner so he wrapped it into another plastic bag. I chucked it in the shopping bag, had a beer and cycled home.

Once home I pondered where to put the meat so that it would be safely out of the reach of dogs. In the end I hooked it on the end of the clothes drying rack over the stove. That was a mistake! There was already on there my one and only food drying tray with walnuts in to dry, as the conditions had been such that it was impossible to dry them outside. It had been there some considerable time when, totally without warning, there was a bump and a crash as one of the wall screws let go. Meat, tray and walnuts scattered across the kitchen floor. Not only did I have to re-collect all the walnuts, find another spot for the meat and sweep the floor again but I also now had another unscheduled job to resecure the clothes rack to the wall. As if I didn't have enough jobs lined up.

I set to to cook pörkölt and nokedli to the good recipe that I had found before. I was expecting visitors. A couple that I had never met before, but the lady is a regular reader of my blog and a regular e-mail correspondent. I was about to start cooking the nokedli when I heard the bimbling of a horizontally opposed twin engine outside. I poked my nose out, and sure enough they had arrived. It was an unusual motorcycle/sidecar combination - a Ural with the sidecar on the right. Introductions were made and we chatted for a good while. They confirmed the impression that I had gained in our e-mail exchanges - that they were what I would call motorcycling "good people" just like the couple that had returned earlier this year. You know, motorcyclists on the whole tend to get bad press which in many many instances is simply not warranted. Unfortunately there are the nutters that cause motorcyclists to get bad press. I forgot to say that, naturally, we had a beer whilst this was going on.

Boris got wheeled into the yard, and they set about sorting themselves on the camping lawn. I returned to making the nokedli. One of the reasons that I had chosen pörkölt and nokedli was the fact that it can all be prepared in advance. The stew can be rapidly reheated, and the nokeli can be refreshed with a few seconds in boiling water. The other reason was that it was authentically Hungarian.

They finished setting up camp and I finished preparing the meal. In due time I served up. By sheer chance I had managed to find the Goldilocks slot with the paprika. Spicy enough - definitely didn't need any more - but not bland, and my guests went back for seconds, so I guess it must have been right enough. We sat and ate, and chatted some more. Before we knew it, it was time for me to perform my pastoral duties and get the goats in. After that I changed and it was time to go to the pub. We had a pleasant evening. Naturally Hobo was there, and I acted as best I could as interpreter for all the stuff that he wanted to know.

16th September 2010

The visitors decided on an early retreat. They had hope to stay another day but a combination of the mosquitoes - they are absolutely horrendous at the moment - and the forecast of heavy rain made their minds up. They packed up and I made them tea, and toast and jam whilst they were sorting all out. We made our farewells, the dogs were secured, the gates opened and Boris started at the first kick. I watched them off down the road, and a sad thing happened that marred their departure. A young kitten suddenly darted across the road - right under the front wheel of the bike. Sadly it didn't survive. It turned out later, coincidentally, that it was one of a litter from the feral cats in John's barn that he cannot get rid of.

Hobo turned up, expecting to meet the visitors again and was surprised to see them gone. With typical Hungarian aplomb he shrugged it aside and turned to his other purpose. Plums from my tree in the little front garden. We laid out a dust sheet and my tarpaulin one each side of the fence. Hobo climbed all over the tree and shook it. I started processing the plums. They have at least to be split. Every once in a while I would be deluged by a shower of plums over my head and shoulders. Once satisfied with the shaking, for now he joined me in splitting the plums and they went into the big one hundred and ten litre fermenter. It was steady, sticky work. Yes, his efforts had dislodged a fair few sticks ;)

We stuck at it for about three hours when the forecast rain arrived. Oh-oh - goats. Hobo helped me with the goats and then also helped get a wheelbarrow load of greenery for what could obviously be an extended stay in the goat house. Goats housed and fed, and Hobo and I a bit damp we retired to the pub for one. Or two. It was by now about four in the afternoon anyway. Just gone five Hobo indicated that we were leaving. It was by now a definite cycling under the umbrella job. Hobo told me to join him at the shop. I did. Someone bought us a beer, and for the very first time since I have lived here I joined the p*ss heads standing outside the shop under the eaves out of the rain swigging beer straight from the bottle. Not that I am any the less of a p*ss head - well yes I am, to the extent that I don't start at six thirty in the morning. But I have my public image to worry about, you understand.

I still went back to the pub, as usual. It was still raining too.

Late in the day this from the BBC. And that's rich then. As it happens, unreported that I could find on the Beeb, the Hungarian TV news carried an article about demonstrations against the Pope's visit, including how many empty seats there were at the mass that he held.

17th September 2010

It was still raining when I went to the shop. Hard enough that I took the brolly. The goats stayed in. I braved it, put the wellies on and my new baseball cap - courtesy of the visitors - and went and threw some greenery into the goat house. They gave me two baseball caps. One is a Motorcycle Action Group - that will definitely be for best!

I had some computer work to do anyway so with the weather as it was I took the opportunity and did it. Whilst I was doing it the weather improved so once I had finished with the computer the goats went out. After that the press came out to play again and I pressed off the elderberries. It was hardly worth it. The pressing only yielded about a pint of juice. I could probably have got most of that just using a cloth and squeezing it out by hand.

It rained again, so the goats came in.

I went briefly to the faluhaz, it being Friday. I printed out a letter and the faluhaz lady did me photocopies of four documents. Well, without printer or scanner it is what I pay my council tax for!

Back home I cleaned up the press and the semi-dry elderberry pulp went into a bucket for the goats.

It was raining still when I went to the pub. It was raining even more when I left. You know, I am thinking of renaming the blog "Perfecting the Art of Cycling Under an Umbrella"

To my astonishment when I got home I found one of the little frogs on the kitchen work surface. He dived into the murky void between the end of the kitchen and the electric stove. Believe me, it is a murky void. Question is - how the hell did the frog get up onto the work surface anyway?

18th September 2010

It rained. I made cider. I had almost two buckets of apples to deal with. I took a break at half past ten to put the goats out. I didn't put them very far, as it remained overcast, threatening more rain, miserable and depressing. I went back to mincing apples. All day! It was late in the afternoon by the time I had finished mincing. It came on to rain again so the goats went back in, and I went to the pub, with a decided twinge in the triceps of the right arm from mincing apples.

I had refined my technique from last time, finding that a little more time spent chopping them made them go through the mincer that much more easily. As last time, I had built up the pulp in cheeses on the press. I pressed it. I got just over five litres of juice. All day for one measly gallon of cider. There has to be a better way.

I checked the original gravity. 1065. Mmmmm - a fair bit better than last time. Well, still aiming for about a four and a half percent drink I was able to let it down that much more. I threw some metabisulphite into the juice, shut the lid, grabbed a bite to eat and went to the pub for the evening. There has to be a better way!

19th September 2010

Raining again when I got up - depression. Both me, the goats and the weather. In the kitchen, and under the cover of the little porchway - if you can call it that - above the house doorsteps I cleared up from yesterdays marathon apple grinding and pressing session. The pressed pulp went into a bucket for the goats.

The weather improved a bit. It was not quite raining and not quite drizzling. The goats would have to take their chance and out they went. In the knowledge of the absence of goat greenery, the absence of Jani and the possibility of more rain I went and scythed down a good barrow load of greenery and parked it by the goat house. I deserved a beer after that, so I went for one.

Back home I thought about lunch. What to do for lunch? I wanted something quick, easy and cheap. It not being Lent I decided on pancakes. There was a small problem. I am still not buying milk, so how to make the batter. I happened to have an unopened container of tejföl (soured cream). Purely as an experiment I made a batter in the usual way except that for milk I substituted tejföl let down to a consistency approaching that of milk. It turned into another culinary success. The batter cooked completely differently to how it would have cooked using milk. With the pan smoking hot the pancakes just cooked to a glorious deep golden colour. I lashed a bit of my home made golden syrup about, and that was another stunningly healthy meal.

I needed the calorific intake because after lunch I wanted to do at least a partial clean out of the goat house. You know, for every cubic metre of stuff that goes into the goat house about a tenth comes out. It still weighs the same, or even more as the goats do tend to wet it somewhat. I managed about a half of it. Bear in mind that this was still the stuff that Hobo had piled in there about two metres deep and that I had sorted out last time. Out it came - about two thirds of it anyway - and went on the temporary pile just outside the goat house to be moved to the main compost heap later. Up into the loft over the garage and out came a barrow load of the old hay to be used as bedding. Hot and dusty work as usual. It went into the goat house in a layer about six inches deep over the area I had cleaned. It occurred to me as I write that I could probably make a hot bed for the winter. Somewhere against a wall, south facing, and bricks either side and front. A couple of feet of the stuff that comes out of the goat house and an old window on top. Might just have to try that.

I was by no means finished. The goats went back into their partially cleaned and refreshed house. I got firewood in. I cooked and ate - I have no idea what - and in consideration of what I had been doing I did actually shower and change before going to the pub.

Hobo was there, of course. His half brother turned up a little while after me, and it turned into a bit of a session.

20th September 2010

It was a beautiful clear morning but there was an autumnal freshness in the air. The shop lady commented on it. I put the goats out well up the garden today. The forecast was good for all day and there were some patches up there with lots and lots of goodies for the goats.

I went back to the house and breakfasted then had a clear up and sweep through the kitchen. After that I set about what turned into an all day job. Between the dogs they seemed determined to spread my precious building sand into a one centimetre deep layer covering half of Vas megye and half of Zala megye.

All day I shovelled it back into a decent heap, working my way steadily round and remaking the fence of metal sheets at a much steeper angle to discourage the dogs from attempting to get on there. The sand was wet and heavy. It was another physical day. I took the necessary refreshment breaks, of course. I finished off by finding an extra sheet of corrugated iron and managed to create a makeshift roof over the sandheap. Pick the bones out of that, Blackie and Pickle. There was still a little more sand to recover by the wood sheds but I had had it for the day.

I ate - can't remember what - and it was time to get the goats in. I went up the yard to be greeted by an astonishing sight. Rudy was loose. He was alternately galloping down the little path as far as where the garden patches are, then galloping back to inspect the girls, then repeating the whole performance. It was almost as if he were looking for me, as if to say "Come on you old fool! Don't you know that it is time me and the girls were back in our little house?" He was still attached to his chain. I have not the slightest idea how he got the chain off the post. The strange thing was that he had every opportunity to go marauding amongst the beans and cabbages but just didn't. I'll write about it now, but it doesn't especially relate to today, just every day. Once in a while Rudy and I have to have a little trial of strength. When he is in that particular frame of mind I have a number of options. Option one is to walk away, but on the whole that is not a good option, as I know that he will come back for more later. I know by now that he has two quite different butts. One is a "Hello you, here I am!" butt. The other is definitely a "Here I am, and given half a chance I'm going to damage you." That one is the one that results in the trial of strength. I have multiple tactics. I can either force his head between his forelegs until his nose and horns are pressed into the dirt, or I can do the opposite and force his head way back almost onto his back and just hold it there until he bleats. There are other tactics but they all involve putting him in such a position that he can neither move or get at me with his horns. Might sound cruel, but he has to know that whilst he might be in charge of his little harem I'm still the herd boss. And yet, at other times he will just walk alongside me, his shoulder by my left thigh, just like a dog walking to heel.

Anyway, back to their little house they went, and I went to the pub.

21st September 2010

It was another nice clear morning. When I opened the shutters and looked out in the early morning light I could see the trees on the edge of the village shrouded in mist. I shopped and the goats went out. I breakfasted and cleared up. Then I contented myself with a few little jobs around the yard. I was expecting visitors.

I was in the house when they arrived. Much barking of dogs gave me a clue. I secured Pickle to the well and went to greet them. In much the same way as Blackie had obtained ingress to the pub the night that I adopted him and took him home he managed to obtain egress when I went to greet my visitors. He was his normal big, clumsy, bumbling, friendly self. Eventually the whole entourage managed to get into the yard, and from there into the kitchen. Pickle continued to bark. Blackie continued to be a big bumbling friendly menace until I banished him.

My visitor was a contemporary of Frank - the Hungarian with the Glaswegian accent, now sadly gone from us - and had also managed to leave in fifty six. He is one of my several random e-mail correspondents and it was really good to meet him in person. His visit was fleeting, but he and his party managed to meet both my neighbours. He did not remember the old lady at No. 72, but the old lady's grand daughter was there and one of the other members of the party had a good chat to her. Eventually they left, having numerous other people in the village to see. It was good to have met them.

Business as usual after that. With the prospects of a few fine days weather, I started on scything down the remaining bit right at the top of the land with the intention of turning it into hay. It had already been scythed down once this year, but the hay never got as far as the hay loft. It still sits in a couple of heaps up there rapidly turning into compost. The scything was hard going. There were a couple of reasons for that. One was that when it was scythed down earlier it was only scythed over the top of what was underneath, which was the remains of when it was scythed down by a certain person last year when I did not want it to be, and was never cleared up. The other was that it was the remaining area where I had not cleared all the shrubby weeds that were such a drawback to scything. I armed myself with the heavy mattock as well as the scythe. I managed two windrows across half the width of the garden.

Wringing with sweat, I went back to the house. It's a long walk. I encountered Rudy on the way. He wanted to show me that he was boss. I was really not in the mood and I used one of my as yet unmentioned methods of subduing him.

I had just got back to the house when old Jani and A.N. Other appeared. Jani to do some scything and A.N. Other to assist to get it back to the goat house. I let them get on with it. Of course, they took full advantage of the fact that there were two fresh windrows of scythed down stuff, and were back with a wheelbarrow full of greenery within not that many minutes. Later I noticed that half of one of my windrows had provided them with the barrow load. I followed them to the pub and bought them a fröccs each. Naturally I had a beer. One of them bought me a beer back.

Back home I determined that pizza was what I wanted, and pizza I would have. I had all the makings anyway. At some waiting stage - I think for the pizza base to prove - I went and got the goats. The girls went back first, then I went back for Rudy. He was a long way up the garden and it was further than I really wanted to go, but he was bleating pathetically once the girls had gone. It was one of those days that he walked beside me until he was about twenty metres from the goat house - I never held his chain - then he trotted ahead to join the girls. I went back to cooking pizza.

Pizza I had, apart from about a fifth of it which I saved for Hobo. He is a huge aficionado of my pizza. I went to the pub after that.

22nd September 2010

Robert Rapier clip on fossil fuels.

I was late up. Too much time on the Internet yesterday evening. I went to the shop, fortunately they still had bread, and went home and put the goats out.

I still had my coffee and toast. An invariable part of my day. After that, the weather was fine, the goats were happy and I went and did some more scything at the top of the plot. I carried on with my campaign of getting rid of all the shrubby stuff and miniature trees that abound up there. It was hard going again. Scythe a couple of metres then go to work with the heavy mattock. And repeat. I managed to do another couple of windrows. The weather was fine, warm and sunny. I satisfied myself after that with forking over the lying stuff for hay. I reckoned on it being ready to go into storage for the goats tomorrow if the weather held. I stuck at it quite long before I retired for a late lunch. I collected walnuts after that. As with many other things it looks like this year will yield a very poor crop.

I viewed the afternoon with some trepidation. It was doggy vaccination day. And I now had two dogs. The prospect of taking two big, powerful dogs at one time was simply not to be contemplated. Fortunately here in Halogy the vet does two sessions. One at "the old place" which is just by the bus stop after the pub, where the path leads up to the cemetery, and the other session in front of the Faluhaz. I pondered upon which dog to take to which place. The "the old place" is quite a bit further than the Faluhaz. I decided that Blackie would go there and Pickle would go to the Faluhaz. It suddenly came to me that Blackie had never been on a lead. Oh hell! With just five minutes to go I tried him out on the lead up and down the yard. Well, considering, not too bad. I had a quick intake of nicotine to calm the nerves. Pickle was left on the chain and I set out with Blackie. At first he was trying to go hither and thither and yon. Every new scent he seized upon. We came across a couple of dogs in yards and a barking match resulted. He soon calmed down. Within a couple of hundred metres I had him persuaded that he had to be on my left, and not to pull on the lead. We got to where Herbi lives. I was expecting a major incident. Well, in a way there was, but it all came from inside the fence not from Blackie. Herbi went ballistic. His owner had to threaten physical violence. Blackie looked on in disdain, as if to say "What is that one that looks just like Pickle making so much noise about?".

We reached "the old place". There were dogs of all shapes and sizes milling about. I think we may have jumped the queue. I didn't much care. Blackie got his jab and I went to the queue of humans to pay. There was someone in front of me with a young German shepherd bitch, and Blackie desultorily sniffed its backside, as dogs do. He took not the slightest interest in the dog equally as close behind.

Payment made for both dogs, and an explanation the I would take Pickle to the Faluhaz, I got my two new doggie vaccination booklets. The way home was quite pleasurable. Blackie walked on my left, by the drainage ditch. I held the lead loosely. I had on a couple of occasions to persuade him to come this side of the telegraph poles. We arrived home without further adventure.

I had time for another calming nicotine hit before setting forth with Pickle. I hadn't even got her on the lead when she went ballistic at the sight of Tibi and Marika with a dog apiece walking past. I finally secured her and we went out of the little gate leaving Blackie at home. She lauched immediately, as if to hasten to ravage the next door neighbour's dogs. Fortunately, I had a good double grip on her lead. Thus it was. We made our way to the Faluhaz eventually. I kept Pickle a circumspect distance from the others. She had her jab and we had a repeat performance on the way home. Being slow of gait I was overtaken by another near neighbour with his dog. He had to walk it with its front legs off the floor. And I thought Pickle was a problem.

I still needed eggs so I cycled back up the village. I came away with more than eggs - gratis paprika. I called in the pub on the way home, as you do. One became two when Jozsi appeared. Once finally home I still had to do firewood. With a plethora of eggs I decided upon poached eggs on toast. You know, that is the most difficult thing that I cook on the wood stove. If the bread goes onto the stove too soon it is poached eggs on soggy toast. If too late it is hard boiled poached eggs on toast. It calls for a fine degree of skill and judgment.

Laci, the pub landlord, had a momentary lapse when I bought my beer. I gave him a thousand forint note. He was simultaneously engaged in a conversation with one of the skittlers whilst sorting out my change. He had to come back to me and ask if it was a thousand or a two thousand note. Naturally I was honest and told him that it was a thousand.

23rd September 2010

It was a bright morning, but cool. The shop lady commented on it. There was an autumnal mist hanging over the wooded areas. Oh well, not too warm, just the day for goats' toe nails. As before I picked on Rudy first. After him the girls are easy. I did adopt a different tactic this morning though. I put all three on their chains and then took the girls out and parked them nearby. I left Rudy's chain on the hinge pin in the goat house. I collected an armful of weeds from the outhouse garden and went back to the goat house. I hooked the tray on the goat table and put the weeds on it. With a bit of persuasion Rudy got on the goat table and stuck his head through the neck trap. I had a bungee round it in a trice. He tried just once to get out, found he couldn't and settle down to munch the weeds. I set about his hooves. With gay abandon I snipped here and snipped there. Bits of nail and bits of hard skin pad were sheared away. He still kicked a bit, but not as bad as last time. I was quite quickly finished. He was still contentedly munching. I released him, took him to join the girls and we made our way to where I had decided to park them for the day. It remains one of my best times of day. I don't rush. I let the goats pause here and there to munch at whatever takes their fancy along the way. I view my domain, mentally cataloging all the jobs that I need to think about doing. There are many. I savour the cool, damp, fresh air of an autumn morning.

I returned to the house for a very late breakfast. It was developing into a very fine day and I was quite happy.

The forecast for the next few days was for fine weather, and in the knowledge that I have not the slightest idea how much hay three goats will get through in the winter I decided to make more hay. I continued with the area at the top of the plot by Telek utca, and continued with the bashing out of all the shrubby weeds and miniature trees that were so much impediment to scything. I was still working the "easy" side of the plot. The other side, by the neighbour at the top whose name I know not still, I regarded with dread.

I put in another hour and a half scything. The day was by now warm and I turned to something a little gentler for half an hour - turning over the stuff that I had previously scythed down to turn it into good hay. It still peeved me that I had already lost a good hay crop from this piece of land as it was never brought down and stored before the rains came.

I went back to the house and had lunch, then cycled to the pub for a beer and some human company. I can buy beer to drink at home at half the price of the pub, but it does not (necessarily) provide human company. I'm on my own here, and to a certain extent happy with my own company. But I am not a "loner".

Back home I went back to the scything and bashing out of shrubs. I encountered an errant elderberry bush. I know not how many times it had been scythed down. Certainly three since I had been here. Left to its own devices the elder will grow into a tree, like the couple that I have outside the goat shed. Coppiced, they will just continue to grow into an ever broader bush. I returned to the yard and fetched the panel saw. All the branches - ten or fifteen of them - were sawn off. I scythed around it. The stump will be bashed out, but it wasn't today. By then I had run out of energy and inclination.

I did manage a bit of actual gardening work. I dug a few spuds, and dug a little nursery bed into which went my onion seeds. As I write there are no seedlings yet. I pulled a cabbage too.

Back to the pub in the evening of course.

24th September 2010

I had a potential catastrophe with Pickle's running lead this morning. Last night, when I got home, she was stuck half way up the yard. I thought nothing of it and released her. This morning I went to untangle her chain and found that the clamps that held the running wire to the stake at that end of the yard were no longer clamping the wire and had jammed with the chain. I investigated at the stake end. A bit of digging about with pointing trowel revealed where the other end of the running wire had got to. Fortunately it was both intact, and with enough still through the stake to retrieve it. I used my fencing tool to retrieve the end, rescued the clamps and reclamped the wire good and tight. Another unscheduled, though fortunately reasonably short job.

After that it was Suzy's toe nails and put the goats out. I got a rather late breakfast.

The day turned into a repeat of yesterday.

25th September 2010

Betty's toe nails today. I have no idea why but one of her feet was much worse than the other four. That done, they went out to work. I breakfasted.

I cleaned up in the yard after breakfast. Hobo had said that he would be here but he never showed up. Rain was forecast, so I just got on with it and wheeled a couple of piled high barrows of hay from the very top of the garden to the yard. Some was still a bit green so I temporarily stored it where it could finish drying without risk, some in the big garage and some in an area of the firewood house.

The forecast rain arrived. I took the goats in.

The Budapest Times published a report that it is shaping up to be the wettest year for a hundred years here in Hungary. In the pouring rain I got in firewood. I lit the kitchen stove and cooked a meat and potato pie. For the first time in many, many years I made pastry with lard. I didn't get the oven hot enough. It was alright, but it was one of those "seven out of ten - could have done better" times.

Pie consumed, I went to the pub. I managed to get as far as the bar before I was accosted. There were two (very) strange women in there. Much to the amusement of the locals - and the landlord. Anything in trousers was fair game. Including me. I have to say that they were not the most attractive pair of women that I have ever met. Now, dear readers, you know by now that I do not speak ill of the Magyar. As I have oft repeated they are the friendliest and most helpful people I have ever met. But. Well, I think these two might have been mother and daughter. They were certainly not Halogyi emberek. They both had milk bottle bottom glasses and bosoms that hung down to their waists. I don't think you need any more detail. Well, a little bit. The older one's hung down lower than the younger one's. As you might expect. After about the third time of the older one trying to get it on with me Hobo intervened. There were a lot of words, but I think the gist of it was "He's English. He doesn't understand. Now f**k off!". They were still in the pub when we left. They were trying to get a taxi. Ha! Some hope.

26th September 2010

It was raining. The goats stayed in. It stopped raining and the goats went out.

I did some housework, in the midst of which visitors arrived with about four buckets full of apples. They no sooner deposited their gift of apples than it started raining again. Blast! Goats inside - again.

I went to the pub for one. It became two, as the Singapore formula one race was in progress. Back home it was still tipping down, so I went to work on the tile stove. I raked out all the joints on north, east and west faces. The southern face is only about three inches away from the big room wall. It didn't get raked out.

Rain or not I still had to go out and fork some more greenery into the goat house.

Apart from the pub, that was it for the day.

27th September 2010

Praise be, it was a good day weather-wise. The goats went out early. The neighbours at No. 68 were already at it. Pumpkins!! As I was moving the goats on station I heard the tell-tale thud-thud-thud of Tibi playing skittles with pumpkins onto the camping lawn. I called a thank you down the garden. I mentioned previously about the pumpkin season. They have a little work station set up next door under a gazebo. That's what they do, all day every day at this time of year. I have no idea how many they process. It has to be hundreds if not thousands. Sometimes there are just the two of them. At other times they have a little team of helpers. I'm guessing that the sale of the seeds must be a significant supplement to their income. I know not what they do with all the hulls. I do know that this is the time of year when Tibi has what is obviously an industrial sized refrigeration plant running day and night. I hear it every time I cycle past.

Somewhat overdue, I collected walnuts. Two buckets full, somewhat damp. They went on my one and only tray for the food drying cabinet and went out of the dogs way on the corrugated iron on the rebuilt sand heap to dry.

Of necessity I went to Körmend. Whilst there I forgot to buy two needed items. I really should write a list. I managed to get all done - except the two items - in time to get the half past two bus back to the village. I even managed to get a seat, but only by dint of pointedly looking at one that was occupied only by a back pack. I called in the pub to pay the bike parking fee. Hobo was there. He came back to the house with me and we did another raid on the plum tree. I helped him to deal with the plums and then he helped me to get some greenery for the goats and get them back to their little house. He went back to the pub. I ate and then went back to the pub.

It has been a while since I wrote about Blackie's progress. I have no idea why, but whilst Hobo and I were having a smoke break from the plums I got the tape measure out. Blackie is two inches shorter than Pickle from the base of his tail to the collar. What astonished me is that he is five inches bigger than Pickle round the chest. He is much more thick set right the way to his back quarters. Although shorter than Pickle and about the same height he is altogether much more massive. He is built like the proverbial brick outhouse and must weigh many kilogrammes more than Pickle. He remains of a gentle, bumbling, clumsy and loving nature. Oh, and I nearly forgot - it is a long while since I saw a dog do it but he chases his tail. Round and round one way, then the other. Hilarious. Speaking of which, I don't think I have mentioned his hang up about being either indoors or out. If he is indoors he is reluctant to go out, and if he is outdoors he is reluctant to come in. He is getting better, but I think that wherever he came from he must have had a pretty tough time as a young puppy. Both the dogs are lean and hard through playing together. Pickle gets far more exercise than when it was just me and her here. The yard is a catastrophe. There are areas which they jointly have decided to dig up, and other areas that resemble horse rides, where they gallop round and round and the vegetation is reduced to nothing.

Late in the day Sharon Astyk with a piece worth a read. Not too long.

28th September 2010

The goats went out. More pumpkins came over the fence. I did a load of much needed washing and got it out and that was the morning gone.

I had just finished lunch when Hobo appeared. He set to at my instruction to strim the area around the chestnut trees. I had noticed that it was that time of the year. Last year was a disaster. The chestnuts lay on the ground much too long and got far too damp with the result that the majority were unusable. I had resolved not to make that same mistake this year. Hobo got three parts of the way through that and had a disaster. The starting mechanism on the strimmer broke again. I suspect a repeat of last time, with Tibi's repair failing. That's the problem with plastic stuff - once it is broken it is, essentially, buggered. Throw it away and buy a new one. The other big problem that I have with plastic is degradation. Going off on one - I can't remember if I have written about it before - just before I went to University in 1996 I did a couple of weeks work for a good brass banding friend. He had a contract to replace all the windows in a listed building in Wiltshire. The new windows had to be identical to the old windows in every respect. So he (I was not there for the whole job) made nineteen new windows for this listed manor house. Just pine - ordinary softwood. The old ones were rotten and had to come out. They were two hundred years old. Mmmmm - I wonder just how long UPVC will last.

With the strimmer broken I had Hobo dig up and transplant into my plantation three little chestnut trees which were determinedly clinging to life under the others. They were obviously self seeded from last year as they were about the same size as the ones in my plantation. That brought me back to the full complement of forty nine. Speaking of which, which I wasn't, the Ringwood Brewery in Dorset produces an ale called "Forty Niner". I once heard a customer in my local ask how strong it was. D'oh. Four point nine percent, of course.

Hobo and I collected chestnuts. After that I went back to scything down the stuff right at the top of the plot by Telek utca and Hobo manned the heavy mattock. Hobo berated me for scything down little oak trees. Mmmm, well, I don't think I really needed thirty or forty oak trees in what is essentially the orchard end of the plot. I left a token two, which in ten or fifteen years can be coppiced. Forward thinking. We turned the hay over whilst we were there. On our travels back to the yard I raked up a load of chestnut leaves. A couple of big basketsful. All good food for the goats over the winter. I might just have to speak to the neighbours on that one as I know they will just burn them. They have their separate preferences of course but all three just love walnut leaves - fresh or dried.

The goats went to bed and Hobo and I went directly to the pub. We did not pass Go, and we most definitely did not collect two hundred pounds!

29th September 2010

The goats went out, and I spent another physical day up the top of the plot. Scything, bashing out shrubs.

Hobo turned up after lunch and helped again. I scythed and he bashed out shrubs. As I write I consider what do do with this bit of land. The goats will never go on it - too many fruit trees including last years three young apple trees. If I have time I might just bash it all about and plant maize for the goats. Winter feed.

I went to the pub in the evening. Hobo turned up at nine o'clock. Some sort of family conference at home. He was not happy.

30th September 2010

It rained solidly all morning. The goats stayed in. I forked some green stuff into the goat house. Fortunately I had some to hand in the wheelbarrow. I like to do that if I can. It means that I only get slightly damp going from house to goat house and back, rather than getting seriously wet by having to go up the garden and cut more greenery then get it back to the goats.

After breakfast I set about a needed job that I had reserved for such a day - regrouting the tile stove. It was still adorned with the soot streaks from last winter and had accumulated a fine layer of dust on the top. By fine I mean impressive ;) It was all swept down and washed off. Except the back which is almost inaccessible. Whilst it dried I mixed the first load of grout. Inaccessible or not, the back still needed grouting. Arm behind the thing and use the fingers was the answer, and it took me an hour of somewhat uncomfortable and awkward work to get done. I reckon it is not very pretty but nobody will ever see it until either the house is demolished or the tile stove gets mended with a new one. That is a possibility, but as far in the future as I can make it. Not a cheap item.

I set about the front and sides with a new lot of grout. I was taught the easy way to do it many years ago. Mix the grout to about the same consistency that you would use for the batter for nokedli. Yeah, right, like most of you have any idea what that is. Well, just very slightly stiffer than a dropping consistency. Not runny but still brushable. Just brush into the joints with a paint brush. The bloke that taught me, if he had a big wall to do would use a wallpaper brush and just do the whole wall. Have to hand a clean cloth in a bowl of water and from time to time follow up the work wiping off the greatest excesses and rinsing the cloth out. Don't try and get the tiles abolutely clean, just take the worse off and leave a nice finish in the joints. Once dry the tiles will be covered with a powdery film where you wiped off. Take a duster to it. That's it. It took me an hour to do the back, and I had the sides and front done in three quarters of an hour.

Just after lunch it stopped raining. Good! At least the goats could go out for half a day. I put them on station and collected chestnuts. I got another half a pocketful in my fleecy zip-up jacket pocket. Jani turned up and did his usual. He forwarned me that the pub was shut until four and went on his way. I took the panel saw and went right up to the top of the garden to get a piece of beech, for a reason. I selected a branch and set about it with panel saw. It was tough going. Not only did I have to saw the branch off but the whole tree is so thickly entwined with one or more vines that the branch refused to part company with the tree and I ended up sawing out the piece I wanted in situ. I think its the first time I have seen a beech tree growing grapes! Speaking of the beech tree, I think that at some time it has been coppiced. There are multiple trunks growing from the base, all between four and five inches diameter. It will soon get coppiced again!

A short while after four I went to the pub. For one reason to catch Jani, pay him and buy him a fröccs, and for another to have a beer myself. John was in there too. He bought me another. I would have bought him one back and turned it into a mini-session but it was time to get the goats in. I cycled home and got them in. Naturally I ate and went to the pub. There was quite a bit of coverage on the news of the death of Bernard Schwartz. I suppose there would be, him being born to Hungarian Jewish parents in the US. now, you'll either know, or you'll have to follow the link to find out waht that was about. And that was September, and about time too.


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