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June 2011

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1st June 2011

Rain! Ah, praise be. How we needed the rain. It was sufficiently rainy that I donned fleece jacket and goat hat when I went out to milk. I threw some more greenery in for all three goats when I was done milking. It looked like they would be inside for a while.

Shop, breakfast and then a start on another woodworking project that had arisen to the top of the pile. I still have multiple woodworking projects in the queue. The only one officially abandoned remains the kennel. The ruins continue to fall apart and are consigned to firewood as they do so. The new project was something to do with the cheese press.

It stopped raining. I went in the house and had a smoke break whilst the weather finally made its mind up that it had stopped raining. It had. I took the goats out in the usual order. Suzy, Betty, Rudy. I was within twenty metres of where I wanted Rudy when he threw a strop. Down he went and I sat on him. It started raining. It rained quite hard. I sat, quite comfortable on Rudy but I was thinking "This is bloody ridiculous, me sitting on a goat in the pouring rain!". I let him up and he left me alone and went to join the girls. I sheltered under a nearby chestnut tree until there was as much rain coming down through the foliage as there was out in the open. I thought to myself "This is bloody ridiculous. I won't get any wetter if I just go and put Rudy on his post as I will standing here." So I did and went back to the house thoroughly damp.

It stopped raining so I was happy to let goats stay where they were. I did some blog updating, had lunch and went to the pub for a beer. For whatever reason the beer turned into three. I only bought the one.

Some while later it was time to get some goat food in, cook, eat and go back to the pub. Ah, what a life I lead. John was in the pub when I returned. The pub was open late once again. Well, that was tomorrow's hangover sorted out then.

2nd June 2011

It was a normal start - milk, shop, breakfast and goats out. For once I had no problem with Rudy. No idea why. It was a nice day but with a brisk wind from the north east. Good - a cool wind.

The second seed tray of English sunflowers went in the outhouse garden. Tedious work it was too. Vastly overcrowded in the seed tray. Next year I really must find some way of starting them earlier, being able to thin them out and having half decent sized little plants by the time they needed to go in the ground. Never mind, it was better than the last three years. As I recall, the first and second years I managed seven plants. Last year in desperation I ended up sowing seed directly in the ground at this time of year. I managed to get fifty plus little plants in the ground this morning. Not all will survive of course.

I had lunch and went back in the garden to earth up potatoes (and do a Colorado beetle patrol). I have given up on gardening gloves here in Hungary. Cheap pairs last a day, medium priced ones a week and the expensive ones a month. I squished the Colorado beetle larvae with my bare hands. Unpleasant, slow, tedious, necessary and cheap :) And as far as I can I want no poisons on my land. Once again I did not find a single adult beetle. Since then John has pointed me in the direction of another possible solution - an aqueous infusion of citrus oil. I will give it a try at some point. I can always find a use for a lemon. I managed to get another row of spuds earthed up.

I went for eggs and, of course, called for a beer on the way back. After that it was back to the weeding, all of which were set aside to go into the goats' evening provisions. Once again I managed to run myself out of time at the end of the afternoon running around doing this, that and the other with milking time fast approaching. Firewood had to be done, and was. I managed to cook something quick and was multitasking by attempting to make jam from the rest of a plastic box of strawberries which had come over the fence from No. 72. Hobo called, once again to drag me over to the shop and buy me a beer. I stopped cooking the strawberry jam. The strawberries were cooked down and the sugar dissolved. It could wait until the morning. Come on now, you don't think I was about to turn down free beer, do you?

I did down it pretty smartly and it was back over the road to get the goats in and milk. After that business as usual. It was quite amusing. Hobo was having a go at a young man of the village. The young man joined forces with Lajos and jointly they had a go back at Hobo. All light hearted wind-up stuff, but they kept it up all evening.

Back home I was feeding the dogs and kept hearing a peep noise about every minute. Blast, the smoke alarm needed a new battery. Well, I could not be doing with that all night so I disconnected it.

3rd June 2011

We had had a fair shower of rain overnight. Everywhere was very wet. Good-oh, I would not have to water this morning. One less job to do. I milked, shopped, breakfasted and put the goats out. It was still overcast and I half expected it to rain again so they went quite nearby.

It was a kitchen sort of morning. Cheese making and finishing off the strawberry jam which, in my enthusiasm, I had started yesterday evening. It was too wet to do much on the garden anyway. I did manage a bit of weeding later, the results of which went straight into the goats.

John and Hobo turned up and dragged me out for a beer. Hobo was rained off his painting job at John's and John was in the same situation I was - too wet to do anything much. We had a couple of beers and then wandered off our different ways.

Back home I started on another urgent woodworking project to do with the cheese press. It started to spot with rain. Then it really did rain with rumbles of thunder nearby. Goat hat, fleecy jacket on, the goats went in sharpish. It was running off the goat house roof fast enough that I got a few goodly drips down the back of the neck when I took them in. Loverly! It did not last long, but by now it was getting on in the afternoon. I had a sufficiency of food in the wheelbarrow so the goats stayed where they were. Strangely, earlier in the pub I had almost had a bet with Hobo that it would rain again today. My knee was telling me so. He said no, that it would not rain. Having been on the wrong side of a couple of bets with Hobo I revoked on it. Wish I hadn't. Such is life.

Later, in the pub, Hobo had bitten the dust. I sat and talked to Lajos. The landlady proudly showed me a trophy that the pub had won for (as I understand it) being the best skittles pub in the whole of the county of Vas.

Late in the day this 2009 paper on limits to growth. I found it in one of the comments on John Michael Greer's Archdruid Report. I have not reported on doom and gloom for a while, but you know, they have rerun the original Club of Rome computer simulations many times since the nineteen seventies. Computers have improved a bit since then. They are still coming up with the same answer. I will let you do your own research, but maybe Thomas Malthus was right. I worry about Peak Oil, John worries about the fiscal system. We both by coincidence ended up here.

4th June 2011

The usual start today included pasteurisation. I have fairly well got it off pat now. If I put the waterbath saucepan on the stove with the milk jar in as soon as the coffee is cooked the milk is pretty well up to temperature by the time I have eaten my toast and jam, drunk the coffee and had a leisurely pipe of tobacco. How long the process takes after that depends upon whether I am pasturising using the long, slow method - sixty five Celsius for half an hour - or the flash pasteurisation method - seventy two Celsius for fifteen seconds. I have tried both and I really can't say that there is much difference in the keeping quality of the milk. In the summer temperatures in my kitchen, and without refrigeration it soon starts to turn. Well, good. That is what I want it to do; after all it is destined to be turned into cheese.

On the way back from putting the goats out I did a Colorado Beetle patrol. It may be my imagination but the infestation seems particularly severe this year. My efforts as ever are twofold: a) to squish the larvae before they can do too much damage to the plants and b) to prevent them from ever becoming adult Colorado Beetles.

I had a wander down the road and had another session of scything down John's grass. The day was getting hot. I did six windrows and knocked it on the head. John kindly provided a beer and had one himself. We drank them in traditional style - sitting on the doorstep.

Whilst I had scythe to hand I wandered up my own garden and scythed down my customary one windrow for the evening goat food.

I had a reason for getting all done early - a village photoshoot. I washed, changed and set off in nice time to call in the pub on my way up to the village park, to be there for five in the evening. I was coming towards the end of my beer when the village mayor poked his head around the pub door in a mild panic to ensure that I would be there to take photos. I reassured him that I was. Hobo had been in the pub but had shot off somewhere. I finished the beer and went out of the pub. Bugger! No bike! Hobo's bike was there and mine was not. He had obviously borrowed it. Somewhat miffed I walked it up to the park. The ceremony was the second Day of National Unity. It marked the aniversary of Hungary being forced to sign the Trianon Treaty. You can read all about it here at the Budapest Times (English).

It was quite an impassioned ceremony with readings, solemn suitable music and addresses from both the mayor and the village padré. After it was over we were suitably watered, and fed with slices of a rather spectacular cake evidently made by four young ladies of the village, in the Hungarian colours and in the form of the map of Hungary pre-Trianon. I think I have mentioned before that you see such maps all over the place. Trianon still very much rankles with the Hungarians.

After that it was business as usual for me. Home, change back into work clothes, get the goats in and milk. Back to the pub afterwards, of course.

5th June 2011

After the usual stuff I did some clearing up in the kitchen. Essentially changing it back from a nursery into a kitchen. After that I cleared up the yard. Whilst I was doing that Lajos beeped his horn at me as he bimbled by on his little Simpson motorbike. I forgot to mention a) that he had a little Simpson motorbike and b) that it had come out whilst I spoke to him in the pub the other evening the reason that he has it. Quite simple. The price of petrol is making it too expensive for him to be running around the village in his car.

I managed a bit of blog updating, then took the goat water out and spent a while weeding. It was a hot day and it was thirsty work. It was creeping on towards lunch time anyway, so I went to the pub for one first. Hobo was in there. The conversation went along the lines of (Hobo first) "What you doing?" "Having a beer in the pub" "No, no - have you had lunch yet" "No" A phone call was made and that was that. Lunch was organised at his house. We downed the beer and cycled on up to his house. Fish soup - quite spicy, but delicious. Over lunch I chatted to Hobo's mother about this and that. I never had to refer to the dictionary.

At a suitable juncture Hobo dragged me away. Back to the pub, of course. John was in there. A mini-session ensued.

Back home I had time for more weeding. There was already food in the barrow. The weeds added to it. I was concerned about the amount of soil that came out with the weeds until I stopped to think about it. The weeds were going into the goats. In the goat house. They would eat the weeds but not the roots and soil. That would remain there until I cleaned out the goat house. Where does that go? On the compost heap. When it is ready where does the compost go? Back into the soil. Senior moment. Strangely, it turned out later that John had had the same thought. And had come to the same conclusion. The only difference is that my weeds get pre-processed by goats. His go straight on the compost heap.

Back home I did another weeding session and then, in the thirty degrees of heat of the afternoon went and chopped firewood and dripped sweat on it. I cooked after that. Full unhealthy - new potatoes parboiled then browned off in the frying pan, bacon, two fried eggs, fried bread and a small portion of peas which had actually come from the garden. So maybe not full unhealthy, then. Only about ninety five percent.

Goats in, milk, pub. Hobo bit the dust early. He was being collected early from the pub to go off and do some work somewhere. I was not late leaving the pub. I still had to deal with the milking, wash up the kit for the morning and attend to the ceremony of the turning of the cheeses. It is quite a short ceremony with the cheeses in store. The cheese in the press takes a little longer. The stored ones simply get picked up, examined and put back the other way up. The one in the press has to be removed from the press, the cheese cloth carefully removed, a new one prepared (i.e. clean and damp), the cheese placed upon it, the cloth folded over in a sort of fan-fold fashion and placed back in the press with a little more pressure than last time.

Just before I had left the pub an advert came on the telly. I recognised it in about a second and I was not even looking at the telly. "I'd like to teach the world to sing...". The Coca Cola advert. Maybe someone out there can tell me in my little Hungarian backwater - has that advert only just reached Hungary or have they re-released it?

6th June 2011

I got up and milked and then went to the shop. I managed to spend a hundred and thirty forints. I think that was definitely a new slowest lap record for me. I will be well pleased if I can get into the situation of only having to spend a hundred and thirty forints in any shop, any day. I guess that the village shop lady might not be so thus pleased.

After breakfast the goats went out. Suzy was a small but strong problem and headed straight for the peas and had to be hauled out. I had to chuckle. She was only doing what nature intended, and if I let her get amongst the peas that was my problem as goatherder, not hers. I got the rest of the goats out, with my usual session of Rudy wresting. Keep fit classes for the over sixties - wrestle a goat daily :)

Once again I did a Colorado Beetle patrol on the way back to the yard, and once again had to do lots of unpleasant squishing. I earthed up the final row of spuds once I had done that.

Washing. Clothes.

Water for the goats, then a little hoeing around the tomatoes and paprika plants. I headed to the pub for a beer. It was shut, with a notice up. I was about to turn round and go home but the landlady caught me and said to go round the back. I got served via the skittle alley. There was much work going on in the pub. The walls were stripped of pictures and ornamentation and the tables were stacked. All the chairs were in the yard, drying in the sun having obviously had the upholstery shampooed. There were a couple of other regulars sitting under the awning on the outside benches and I joined them. It took me back three years to when it was last done. Dear old Frank (the Hungarian Scotsman) was still with us then. It was quite pleasant sitting in the shade. I also recalled that that time was when I first got to know some of the locals a little better.

Back home I made another sandwich from the goat cheese that I managed to break. Yum-yum - a certain smug self-satisfaction. It is a huge step forward no longer having to buy either cheese or milk or cream from the shop. I do need Betty to kid before I can get into butter production though. That would be another big step, especially with margarine now over one pound fifty for five hundred grammes.

Over, and after lunch I had to do some computer work - administration stuff, not blog. Yes, I know I am struggling with the updates at the moment.

The knee was giving me some pain. I put it down to rain being on the way. Nonetheless I trudged my way up to Telek utca with barrow and scythe and got the goat greenery in nice and early. With that out the way I did some more woodworking, cheese press related. The weather was hot and I perspired freely over the work. It was a day for lots of short breaks to sit, mop the brow, have a mouthful of beer and a little puff on the pipe. You know, my work day begins at six in the morning and notionally ends after I have washed up the milking kit gone seven in the evening (later if you count the blog updating I try to get done when I return from the pub). There is no way that I work solidly throughout that period. Lots of short breaks and one or two longer ones if I decide to go to the pub for a beer. I know from my random meetings of other regulars in the pub that it is a lifestyle shared by many in the village. And a wonderful lifestyle it is too. I do what I want, when I want and for how long I want. The only part of life that is ruled by the clock is the morning and evening milking and even that is a bit flexible. Half an hour either way seems to cause no problems.

During one of my breaks I got to thinking about the state of the garden. Keeping fingers crossed, I am streets ahead this year in terms of what I have in the ground and how far on everything is. Last year was a disaster - mainly weather related. The two previous years I simply did not have the land opened up. I confess that my Achilles Heel is weeding. I struggle to keep on top of it. I console myself with what John Seymour says about it - that weed cover is better than no cover.

I had pancakes, batter made with goat milk, and the last of the acacia honey for my hot meal of the day.

When I went to get the goats in the old lady was busy in her garden. Several big armfuls of stuff came over the fence. I thanked her. Good-oh! With that and what I already had in the barrow I would not need to scythe tomorrow.

Hobo was in one of his moods about the dogs again in the pub. Once again he would not leave it alone. I ended up by telling him "Kuss!" which is quite an impolite expression, being I suppose the equivalent of "Shut the f*ck up!" in English. He did.

This recent report in the Telegraph on the vulnerability of Britain to energy shocks.

7th June 2011

When the goats went out I stayed in the garden and watered what needed watering, then did a Colorado Beetle patrol. Once again there were lots of larvae to squish but I only found a single adult beetle.

Once back in the house it was cheese making day again. Another two and a half hour stint. The weather is now invariably hot, and having a fire in the stove for the whole morning does tend to make the kitchen a bit warm even with windows and house door open. It is only a little fire but the stove nevertheless remains hot. It is necessary. The simple recipe I am following from my cheese making book calls for a temperature of thirty four whilst the rennet works and thirty eight whilst the curd is cut and drained of whey, which takes a while. Once all the whey is drained with the ladle I put the saucepan at a slope, and the curd is piled up on the high side of the saucepan to drain. Every ten minutes the curd gets restacked and and collected whey removed.

I felt in the need for a beer after that so I went for one. The pub was closed. It was really closed this time - no service round the back in the yard. Beerless I went home.

I did a bit of woodwork and some computery stuff then had a latish lunch. I decided to try the pub again. I had more luck this time. There was already a bicycle there that I recognised so I knew they were now open round the back. At home more computery stuff followed.

Later in the afternoon, whilst I was cooking my meal, I went over to the shop. I got collared by the faluház lady. Where were the pictures? Back home again I ate, then had to reboot into the wretched Windows system to get the pictures off my borrowed camera and burn them onto mini-CDs. It was pushing on half past six when I finished. I cycled down to the faluház, still in my working clothes, and delivered the CDs.

Back to the house, and the goats came in at best speed. My neighbour from No. 72 caught me as I was getting the goats in. She knows my goat routine. A bucket of pea pods for the goats came over the fence and a plastic box of strawberries for me. What can I say?

Pub in the evening as usual, but round the back. One of the regulars was baffled by the fact that the pub was locked up and the bar in darkness. What got to him was that the bike park was full - probably about eight bikes there. He eventually put two and two together and found us.

8th June 2011

There had been a storm in the night. Enough to wake me up, which takes a bit of doing. I was up at my now accustomed time of six. I prepared to milk as usual and wandered up to the gate between yard and garden. As soon as I got there I could see the first bit of devastation caused by the storm. A huge great piece of the conifer by my fence had come down. The tree had already had a fairly serious haircut this year but this was a fair sized chunk. Fortunately it had missed both goat house and fence. There was nothing I could do about it then - I was kitted out only for milking Suzy, which I got on and did. That precipitated the second disaster of the day. The milking stool died. Ah, whatever - just get on with it. I perched on the edge of the milking table to complete the milking. A picture will follow, just as soon as I have time to deal with the pictures that I am taking with the Canon G2. Speaking of which, as I write, some of my pictures of Gyereknap have already appeared on Facebook.

With nothing to do about the fallen branch I resumed morning routine. Back to the house, light the stove put the coffee on and cook toast. Well, turn bread into toast anyway. After that it was take the goats out. That's when I noticed the second arboreal catastrophe. A huge great chunk of the old, not in very good condition apple tree had also come down. Sadly, the piece that fell off - still attached by a sliver of bark and sapwood - was most of the tree that was still alive. I parked the goats around it such that the could munch on the leaves and baby apples whilst they remained green. Ah well, every silver lining has a cloud, they say.

I went to the pub just before ten to catch the meat van and bought my usual slab of dead pig. It was a bit larger than I intended. I didn't realise how much until I got it home.

Back home, some work on the blog and then lunch. There was a doggie commotion whilst I was having lunch. I investigated just in time to see the faluház lady cycle to the next house. There was a tell-tale bit of paper wedged in my gate. I retrieved it before Blackie could do his canine shredder bit and took it inside. I read it through and to my utter astonishment, without recourse to dictionary or Google Translate, I understood it. They were once again changing the days and the times when we can have a garden fire. I was well chuffed.

After lunch I decided that, in the absence of village handimen, it was time to have a go at my verge and drainage ditch. I took the strimmer to it, and included on my perambulations as far as Tibi's gate and as far as the old lady's gate.

I wandered up the garden a bit later on with barrow and scythe to get goat greenery. I was hailed by the neighbour on Telek utca. He presented me with two cherry tree branches laden with fruit. In case I forget to mention they (the cherries) are now on their way to becoming the first alcoholic endeavours of the year - a gallon of cherry wine.

I ate and went to get the goats in. The old lady caught me again. More pea pods for the goats and a bottle of beer for me. I never saw her whilst I had been strimming the verge, but she quite obviously had seen me.

Rest of the goats in, milk, sort out the milking kit and off to the pub. We were still drinking in the yard. The usual suspects.

Draw your own conclusions.

9th June 2011

It rained all morning and into the afternoon. I did a load of work in the kitchen and other domestics including clothes washing. I have an attitude towards clothes washing, especially at this time of year. If it it washed and rinsed, out on the line it goes - rain or no - and it can stay there until it is dry. 'Tis only a nice extra fresh water rinse after all.

I pasteurised milk, made jam (for which the digital thermometer is invaluable - no more dabs of hot jam onto a cold plate to see if I had a setting point) and checked the cheeses. One cheese had on it what looked suspiciously like a white mould on it. Oh-oh. Consult the cheese book. "Brush it off with dry kitchen towel..." That did not work. On to the next suggestion which was to scrub the cheese gently under a running cold tap. I did that, and felt an irritation to my left arm. The "mould" that I had brushed off with the paper towel was busily running about on my arm. Ah bugger - cheese mites. I consulted the book again. "Scrub with brine, dry off and recoat with lard...". I did, and as I write it seems to have worked.

The goats stayed in. From time to time I checked on them and threw in a bit more food. I did some blog work.

It stopped raining but it still looked as though it would start again any time. I left the goats in and threw in some more food. They were not overly happy. I was not about to march them up the hill and ten minutes later march them down again. I did a load more weeding and that went into the goats as well. It continued not to rain, but by now was well into the afternoon. I tackled the huge piece of conifer that had fallen off the tree into my garden. It impeded getting the goats in and out. Armed with just medium sized ax I denuded it of branches. Half way through I had to roll it over to get at the other side. It was heavy, and the blunt end was six inches in the ground. I managed to turn it over with a struggle and finished of chopping off the branches. At least now it was just a lump of wood lying on the ground over which I could lead goats without a detour by the walnut tree.

I confess to having a beer at the pub after that. I say at - we were still consigned to the yard. Back home I did have to take the barrow and do a bit more goat food scything. Then it was time to cook and eat, after which it was time to milk, sort out the milking and go to the pub. Run of the mill sort of a day really.

10th June 2011

Milked, shopped and breakfasted and the goats went out. Another fine day with the promise of it being a hot one. I had a new strategy with Rudy. I was tired of the constant battles both outbound and inbound and had decided to try something else. Simple - I took the remnants of the goats' drinking water all in one bucket with me when I took Rudy out. As soon as he turned on me, which he inevitably did, he got a good faceful of water. He did not like it. He went as far away from me as his chain would allow. Once past the garden I let go of his chain and let him trot on to where I had parked the girls. Once there, keeping water bucket with me, I slowly let him munch his way to where I wanted him parked. As I write it has worked every single day, including one evening when there was actually no water in the bucket. I threatened him with it and he f... - went away. A result then. Now why did I not think of that before. Mind you, I could get dreadfully unfit without the Rudy wrestling.

I decided it was high time that I weeded the pea patch. Guess what I found? Peas :)

I went to the pub for one before lunch. We were still parked round the back. Hobo and the one remaining painter there (Hobo does not get the contract - he just helps) were provided lunch by Jóli the landlady. Half of Hobo's lunch came my way.

Back home I did some digging. More space for peas and beans needed. You know, the Hungarians do it completely differently. They do not grow stuff like peas and beans as a succession. They grow the lot in one big hit. Same with lettuce, and lots of other stuff. I seem to think that they aim for getting two crops a year out of every piece of land that they possibly can. I have not yet gotten round to that mindset. Maybe I will with another couple of years under my belt.

Every day I set myself targets for the day. I always overreach myself. I rarely achieve my target for the day. What tends to happen is that as a job rises in priority it goes to the front of the queue. Something else that I wanted to get done has to remain in the queue.

I had a lot of pain from the knee today. I have no idea why, but for the first time here on the farm I had to resort to Ibuprophen. I suspected incipient rain, but none was forecast.

As the afternoon drew on I went into the early evening routine. Greenery for the goats, shop, light the stove, cook and eat.

I went to get the goats in as normal, Betty then Suzy then Rudy. When I went to get Rudy I made a discovery. He was parked where he could just get his head either side of the old apple tree. There on the ground was my sickle, last seen about two years ago. I think he must have turned it up with tramping about. I had begun to doubt the efficacy of my memory trick previously mentioned. I knew that I had left that sickle embedded in the old apple tree but when I went for it it was nowhere to be found. That area had been scythed and strimmed multiple times with no sign of the sickle. This evening there it was on the ground.

With goats in I milked, sorted out the kit, changed and went to the pub.

11th June 2011

Jozsi had promised to turn up and do some work, and true to his word so he did. We did a bit of negotiating about how much work. I had bargained on having a couple of hours work for him today and another couple tomorrow. It turned out that he was not available tomorrow so I happily settled for him doing four hours today.

As usual I pointed him at work and he just got on with it. I made cheese and did some blog updating. Jozsi was soon looking for more work, so I found him something else to do and away he went again. When that was done I decided it was beer o'clock and dragged him to the pub for one. I was content to linger over a beer but Jozsi would have none of it, nagging me to down it so that he could go back and work.

I downed my beer and we went back to the house. I set him on a job that I had been doing in penny numbers for a while. That of shifting the ex-deep litter from outside the goat house and consolidating it into what I had already shifted. Well, that kept him busy the rest of his working time. He is a fine fit bloke much younger than me, but a couple of times I noticed him struggle with the weight of what he had in the barrow as he wheeled it up the garden. I had a bit of a bash round with the strimmer, sowed some peas and beans and then did a Colorado Beetle patrol. It happened that Jozsi finished wheelbarrowing goat sh*t just as I was doing the last couple of rows of spuds. He came and helped, obviously knowing exactly what I was doing. It made me wonder just how many others hereabouts prefer to control them the same way.

I had a discussion with Hobo about it later, another day. He confirmed what I had been told - that the Americans dropped them during the war. He reckoned that the best way to be rid of them was to find the leaves with the eggs on and remove them. I disagreed. Too labour intensive having to look on the underside of every single leaf on every single plant. Been there, done that.

With Jozsi finished, I took him to the pub, bought him another beer and paid him. In true form he bought me a beer back.

At home I hauled the strimmer all the way up to Telek utca. There had been mutterings about the state of my verge up there, well founded as it turned out. I confess that since the demise of the village handimen it had not surfaced on my radar. I gave the strimmer a bit of a workout. I have to say that it was quite fun using it in a vertical orientation as a hedge trimmer.

I left the strimmer close by, hidden in the long grass, thinking to have another use for it at that end of the plot. I had second thoughts about that later and in the blue hour wandered up there and retrieved it. I had never been right up the plot at that time of evening before.

In the meantime I had carried out the usual evening routine. As I got the goats in, the old lady at No. 72 caught me. Two lots of goat food and a bag of cherries for me.

I have no idea why, but Suzy gave me more milk than she ever had before. I should be keeping records of course. I don't. What's the point when it is only for me, and from milking to milking I know whether it is more or less than normal as soon as I finish milking, before I even leave the goat house.

Pub as usual. No Hobo and no John.

12th June 2011

Whit Sunday. I milked, had a leisurely breakfast and then went to put the goats out. After that I deviated. I did not return to the yard, pass Go or collect two hundred pounds. Instead I carried on up towards Telek utca, collected the scythe and sharpening kit from where it was, within ten metres of Telek utca and went out the gap in the fence onto Telek utca. I turned west and wandered down to John's place, arriving by the tradesman's entrance.

I wandered down the unmarked but plainly visible boundary between his place and his neighbour and set about scything down his long grass again. I managed another six windrows before being beaten back by the heat of the day. I bade John good day on the way out and we chinwagged for a while, then I walked back up the street to my place.

I sorted out the goat water and gave it to them, then it was definitely time for a beer. Well, I have no idea what was going on, apart from the fact that it was Whit Sunday, but I bought one beer and ended up consuming five. Oh dear! I wobbled the bicycle back home.

I did a little woodwork, most definitely of the non-precision kind and then headed out to the garden where I checked on the goats, did a little watering and did a little weeding. Mmmm - I know - you should not water in the heat of the day. I ask myself about that. What happens in nature? What if it is a really hot day and it comes on a shower of rain? Do all the plants keel over and die? Speaking of which, Marika spoke to me whilst I was thus engaged. I had wondered what the concrete tube was all about on their garden. I found out. It was a well. That is to say, as I write in the past tense, it had been a well. Alas it was now dry, and all their gardening watering has to come up from the yard, as mine does. That got me to thinking about rainwater catchment systems. We are not short of rainwater here. The problem is its intermittency. No expenditure and a little effort and ingenuity would probably give me a couple of hundred litres or so of captured rainwater. A moderate investment would probably give me a couple of thousand litres, and a fairly substantial investment would give me ten or twenty thousand litres of rainwater or more with which to irrigate the garden. My plastic water butt in the yard is, in ballpark figures, about half a cubic metre of water. I could fill that many times over just with what comes off half of one side of one outhouse. It is about a metre and a half high and is open. The most I have seen it lose to evaporation in the driest conditions is about fifteen centimetres. I ramble.

After the five I had at lunchtime I felt the need of a hair of the dog towards the end of the afternoon. The F1 was on telly. Well, that is to say that pictures of the party that was going on whilst the drivers sat under their umbrellas in the pouring rain was on.

I went home and finished off the port stew. It had done me five meals, no two of which were the same. The first day it was just pork, spuds and peas. The second day I added one of the last of my onions, braised in the Hungarian way. The third day I added suet dumplings. The fourth day it had paprika - the mild kind - added, and this evening I gave it a bit of zing by adding some of my home made chilli powder. I tend to get bored with the same thing after a coupe of days, but that was lots of variations on an original theme.

The goats came in and I milked. Once again, with water bucket to hand, Rudy was no problem.

Back to the pub. John was there but no Hobo. There was beer with a beer mat on top where Hobo sits. He turned up shortly afterwards with his (and now my) Austrian friend Helmut. More beers came my way. It was a good job it was holiday weekend. At least I would not have to go to work tomorrow. Oh - errr...

13th June 2011

Whit Monday. I spoke about it long ago. It always brings back thoughts of brass banding days. Except that Whit Walks was on Good Friday.

Business as usual here. Milked, breakfasted, put the goats out and once again, with water bucket in hand, had no problem with Rudy.

I had decided on pizza tomorrow. What do you need to make pizza? Mozarella. I decided to make some. It did not require the use of rennet, merely cooking. With stove still lit that is what I did. It worked as per recipe and at the end of the process I was able to fish out of the whey a fair sized, squidgy and pliable lump of what I was hoping would be an acceptable substitute for real buffalo milk mozarella. Not many buffalo here in Halogy. I bagged it up and put it away for the morrow. After all that hot work over the stove I fancied a beer. I cycled to the pub only to find it shut. Now, what was that about on a bank holiday weekend? Beerless I cycled home.

Goat cheese sandwich for lunch, and then a goat inspection. They needed more water, which I supplied.

Some blog updating and a load of other miscellaneous computer work followed, after which I did a bit of woodwork. No idea what.

Late in the afternoon I wandered up towards Telek utca with scythe and barrow and got the evening food for the goats in. The goats went in. I distributed food, milked Suzy and that was it for the day.

Pub. No Hobo and no John. Whatever, it was human company. I had tried holding philosophical discussions with the goats: Betty "Meah, meah", Suzy "Munch, munch", Rudy - Bump-bash. Same with the dogs: "Now, Pickle, can you explain to me the function of infinity in metaphysics?" - "Yip, yip, yap, yap". "Blackie, why do you always have to wander about whilst you are having a crap?" No answer...

14th June 2011

I half expected rain after the usual start so I put the goats nearby. One of the original Pickly dog staging posts had been moved from where it was - within goat munching distance of the maize plants at the top of the garden - and had become a Rudy staging post not far outside the goat house. Rudy went there, Suzy was chained round a peach tree and Betty went just the other side of the path. But not where she could reach the potatoes. Three goats. Only one of them will eat potato plants - Betty. Maybe it is a pregnancy thing.

With only one goat on a mobile goat post I decided upon a modification of the other three goat posts. It was getting tiresome having to use the back of the medium sized axe to hammer them into the ground. Much of the ground, mainly on the eastern side seems at this time of year to have an almost impenetrable layer some nine or ten inches down. I decided to put points on the other three goat posts. Back to the yard they went and were suitably bashed about and angle ground. As I write I can tell you that it was not a huge success. There remains no difference between getting the pointy ones and the non-pointy one into the ground.

I had to further reinforce the fence between yard and garden. More weld mesh. The dogs are still trying to chew their way through it. Posta arrived with my bill for emptying the dustbin. Two thousand three hundred forints, which is actually not a lot were it not for the fact that the last time I put the bin out for emptying was about halfway through February.

Once Posta had been and gone I put a bit more wind in the bike tyres, put on a brave face and cycled into Körmend. I went the shorter, harder way directly to Nádasd with the two big hills to negotiate. Well, I was not about to break any records anyway as it was much too hot for that. I had a senior moment when I reached the Körmend spur road turn off. The yellow diversion sign for Körmend centre was still in place so I carried on cycling as far as the Raba. I signally failed to notice that a) the road block saying the Raba bridge was shut had been removed, and b) there was a bloke on a pushbike just turning out of the road having obviously just cycled along the cycle path. D'oh.

Once along the Raba bank I found out why the yellow sign was still in place. Bajcsy-Zsilinsky utca was severely dug up. The Raba hid was open, and there were several back ways from there to get to the town centre. But not for the like of large lorries or buses.

I went to the bank and got cash, then the thirty metres to the Presszo bar for a beer. Well, it had been hot enough work cycling from the village. After that I went to the sandwich shop, bought some goodies and went and sat down to munch on the seats by the eccentric water feature. I was happily muching when who should turn up but Hobo. My bike was still by the sandwich shop and he had spotted it. I was told in short order to stop munching and get back round to the Presszo bar. Hobo bought the beers. I lingered a while then set off on my actual purpose of going into town.

My first call was at what I would call the animal dispensary where I bought Front Line for the dogs. Yep, after two years (I think) Pickle had fleas, and so did the black dog.

From there I went to the good agricultural/hardware shop from where I had bought the Al-Ko strimmer. I bought a couple of items in there, one of which was a fairly meaningful wood chisel of obviously excellent quality. I had thought that it was of German manufacture but when I got it home it turned out to be from the Czech Republic. Nonetheless it was clearly beautifully machined and precise. Somewhat unlike the chisels that I bought in Tescos when I first got here. I made a quick call into Spar by the market place, a call in Trafik for a small dohany top-up and cycled my way back to Halogy.

Back home I had already decided on pizza, so pizza I made and had. I was going to say that it was with a certain sense of smug self-satisfaction that I topped it off with goat milk mozarella made by me, but I thought better of it. So I will just say that it was with a certain sense of smug self-satisfaction that I topped it off with goat milk mozarella made by me. I will admit that the mozarella was not perfect - a bit too dry and not stringy enough. Oh well, still a new hand at this cheese making business.

The goats came in. I milked and it was pub time. There was an item on the news about schoolchildren winning prizes for designing Google logos for

15th June 2011

Now I really am going to try and keep it short. Lots of gardening. Two rows of tomatoes arose triumphant from a sea of barley. I know where the barley came from - it came out the goat house. The strange thing is that only the first two rows of tomatoes that I put in were thus afflicted.

Lots of weeding, a Colorado Beetle patrol and some overdue transplanting of unknown species of brassica from the nursery bed.

I went back to the yard at about eleven - I had to catch the dog food van. There were anyway yet more repairs to be made to both gate and fence between yard and garden. The black dog almost made good his escape into the garden though an unimaginably small gap at the hinge end of the gate - I had had to beat him back with the handle of a hoe, and both dogs were conspiring to tear the aluminium sheet that forms the basis of the fence in two. The fence was repaired with more weldmesh and the gate had a reasonably meaty piece of oak added.

Hobo saw me out and about in the yard and called me over to the shop for a beer. There were only the two of us. There are two rush hours for the p*ss-heads outside the shop. One begins somewhere after six in the morning. When I go to the shop round about seven there are anywhere from two to five there. The other rush hour is about six in the evening - midway through the shop opening. There can be eight or ten there then.

The dog food man appeared, as usual heralded by Pickle barking long before I could hear his jingle. Dog food obtained I went back in the garden and picked peas.

I ended up having a late lunch - goat cheese and tomato - and then taking the strimmer to the yard. I managed about a third of it. It was seriously hot. I wanted another beer, so went for one. Which became two, as Hobo was there and bought me another.

Back home it was evening routine. Chop firewood with the sweat dripping (ridiculous!), eat - in this case the other half of yesterdays pizza - and then get the goats in and milk.

Then back to the pub.

16th June 2011

To keep it short, after the usual start I made cheese. The waiting times in the procedings allowed me to do some washing and some blog updating. That took me to lunchtime.

Early afternoon I did the Colorado beetle patrol. It was hot and I sweated freely just doing that. Not a day for serious physical in the garden.

At the evening milking Suzy gave me more milk than she ever had before. She must have spent the day on a particularly good piece of browsing.

The guy that bought the kid was in the pub in the evening for the first time that I had seen since you-know-what happened. Relations between us were a little strained. Hobo had always been in the habit of winding him up. He wound him up even more tonight.

This from the Guardian yesterday.

17th June 2011

It was one of those days when lots of little jobs cropped up. Once the goats went out I did the beetle patrol and then took the hoe to some other parts of the garden. Lots of goat food came over both fences so that got carted down and put in the barrow for evening. Good-oh - no need to take the scythe to the garden today then. More washing got done. Then I took the strimmer to the yard.

I had done about half of what had not got done when Hobo appeared, for no other reason than to drag me to the pub for a beer. I needed no encouragement - it was a hot day once again.

Back home I made lunch and turned on the computer to go on the Internet. Mmmm - only three green lights on the router. T-Home playing up again. It had happened a couple of times since the last time I had had to report it but both times it was sorted out within a few hours and I had not had to report it. I hoped that the same would happen this time and abandoned it until later.

Instead I went back and finished off strimming the yard. On my travels I noticed something untoward and quite sad. The huge old pear tree in the yard was looking very sick. I had not the slightest idea why. Oh well, it happens. Trees do tend to have a finite lifespan and even the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest is only kept alive with massive human intervention. If the pear tree does pop its clogs it gives me a bit of a problem. Getting it down will undoubtedly be a job for a specialist. I have looked at it from all angles and there is absolutely nowhere that it can be felled. It will have to be taken down piecemeal, but taken down it will have to be, as I cannot take the risk of it shedding a huge dead branch onto the goat house.

I hand a particular job on and had been waiting some considerable time for Lajos to assist. It had become quite apparent that it was one of those things that was just not going to happen. I decided that today was the day to turn a two and a half metre long forty millimeter thick plank of oak into three pieces. It took me an hour with breaks. Five metres of hand sawing through forty millimeter oak! I deserved another beer for that, so I went for one. Another came my way from an unexpected source and suddenly it was ooops, late getting the firewood in, late cooking, late eating and late getting the goats in and milking. This evening was the evening I pulled the psychological trick on Rudy. I had a bucket in hand when I collected him. There was no water in it. When he threatened to turn on me I just threatened him with the bucket. He decided better of it and went away to the extent of his chain.

The guy to whom I sold the kid was in the pub again. It was quite amusing. The assembled company came and sat at the table normally frequented by Hobo, John and me and filled every seat so that he could not come and join us thus outcasting him. Hobo wound him up again.

18th June 2011

It was a hot one - seriously hot. They were warning about UV-B on the telly. The only worthwile thing I did was to rough out a new milking stool seat - I forgot to mention yesterday planing down and glueing up a couple of pieces of oak for the new seat. I rescued the legs from the old one and used my biggest auger bit to bore the holes for them in the oak. Unfortunately Lajos had turned them thirty millimetres diameter and my bit was one inch (25.4mm) so I had to carefully enlarge the holes by hand. It worked out OK and did not take too long. With lashings of wood glue and a few taps of mallet I had a milking stool again.

A load of goat food came over the fence again from the old lady. Horseradish leaves. A barrow load of them. Not being a horseradish expert I have no idea of the agenda. About once a week she pulls off huge quantities of leaves (and heaves them over my fence). I can only suppose that pulling off the leaves thus encourages the root to grow. You know, I still have horseradish in my garden. For three years it has been scythed, strimmered and eaten by goats. It still comes back. John Seymour describes it as being "rather thuggish in the garden". Quite. Anyway, the goats cannot get enough of it. If it is green and fresh they start with the leaf and move onto the stem. It sounds exactly like someone eating celery. If the leaves are dry the goats will still munch them and it sounds like someone eating a packet of crisps.

It rained in the evening and most of the night. Good-oh.

Some long awaited pictures:
Palette Knife A perfectly good palette knife...
...and after I turned it into a knife for doing horizontal cuts in curd Palette Knife
Curds and Whey Curds and whey. Can't help myself, but every time I do this a nursery rhyme springs unbidden to my head.
I found these wild strawberries all over the place when putting the goats out one day. Strangely, the goats do no eat them. Wild Strawberries
Betty Betty
Rudy. I made sure to have the bucket in shot to give you and idea of how big he is now. Rudy
Garden This was how the garden looked on the fifth of June. I was going to caption it but I do not have the time. There is a lot of stuff there.
The remains of the milking stool Remains of Milking Stool
Fallen Tree The huge lump of conifer that I found in the garden
Ditto my old apple tree Fallen Tree
Morello Tree Morello cherries

19th June 2011

It was raining when I got up. Enough that I needed the fleece jacket and the goat hat on. As usual I got drips down the back of the neck when I went in the goat house. Lovely! After breakfast, as it continued to rain quite steadily, I fed the goats who stayed in.

I did a load of housework.

Fed up with housework and my own company I grabbed a sandwich and then went to the pub for a beer. Láci was selling singing beer. It was like a party. There were about half a dozen of the regulars who were giving it large. Not so much Bel Canto as Can Belto. It was almost a holiday atmosphere - except that it was not a holiday. A food parcel came my way from the landlady. Cakes - a lot of cakes. I have no idea why.

Back home I did some blog work and then it finally stopped raining. The goats belatedly went out but not far away. I stayed out in the garden and forked the compost that Jozsi had placed around the compost heap onto the top of the compost heap. It was ideal - it had all had a good soaking in the rain.

It was time to eat. I simply could not be bothered to light the stove. I did not mention yesterday that I succombed to the craving for a meat-and-tatie pie. When I do, they are always big enough for two days. I ate the other half this evening cold. I had a surprise. I actually preferred it cold to hot. I will undoubtedly be trying that again.

I managed a bit more on the blog and then it was time for the goats to come in. It did not take long. It came on to rain again whilst I was milking. Once finished and all the goats fedded and bedded I made best haste back to the house. A quick swill down and off to the pub, once again cycling under the umbrella. You know, I am thinking of changing the title of the blog to "The Halogy Blog - Life in a Hungarian Village. Or how to master the art of riding a bicycle under an umbrella.". Which takes me off on one. I wonder how many of my readers have read Robert M. Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"? E-mail me if you have. If you have not, you should read it. Sadly, I gave my copy away in the UK. I could do with re-reading it.

20th June 2011

After the usual start it was cheese making day. Well, I said before that it would happen and today was the first. It will happen again, I know. I had a cheesemaking disaster. I did everything as normal but failed to produce a decent curd. All was not lost, however. What I did manage to produce was something akin to cottage cheese. It took much, much longer than it does when I have a good curd. In retrospect I should just have tied the whole lot in cheesecloth and hung it up somewhere to drain. Oh well, all part of the learning curve.

I had the sign out for Posta, and it happened that as I was getting cash John passed by. It became beer o'clock. We had a couple in the pub and then went our ways home. I gave the strimmer some exercise.

After that I had to finish off doing what I could with the curd cheese. If I had had digestive biscuits I would have made a cheesecake, but I had none so I didn't.

A little scything down of goat food, goats in, Suzy milked and that was the day. Apart from the pub, of course.

21st June 2011

It was time to trim Rudy's toe nails. I enticed him onto the table with some suitable munchies and to my surprise he hopped straight on the table and obligingly put his head in the trap. That was a bonus then - last time I had had to manhandle him. Whilst I was clipping his nails the little locking device on the clippers that holds them shut when not in use decided to part company and disappear forever. Whatever! Non-critical. The clippers still functioned and I am sure that in true Hungarian fashion a suitable sized rubber band around the handle will equally well serve the same function.

I had grown quite fed up with the remaining sheet of weldmesh still lying on the yard and preventing me from effectively strimming that area or being able to check the water meter. I still like to check from time to time to ensure that the little wheel is not spinning at the speed of sound unbeknown to me.

Lots of measuring up went on, followed by lots of work with the angle grinder, much to the delight of Blackie who did his normal hysterical bit. Some boring work followed. Boring a post hole in the little front garden. This threw up a small mystery. I used a post hole borer about six inches in diameter and went in two feet six deep. Into the hole went a reclaimed post roughly three and a half inches square. The mystery was that every single particle of soil extracted from the hole went back in. How does that work, then?

It was by now getting on towards the end of the afternoon, so early evening routine started. Stove, eat, goats in, milk, wash and go to the pub.

22nd June 2011

Up early and the usual start. Sort out the milking kit and go and milk a goat. I have to say that I am actually quite pleased that she is not a Saanen - a gallon a day! I would have to go official and build a cheese factory! As if anything much official is recognised here in the village (but I did not say that). Over breakfast I pasteurised what milk I had. It fits in well enough with the routine.

The goats went out and I watered what needed watering. Then it was back to the house to wash clothes again. I am going to go off on one now. You know, jeans (farmernadrág) are supposed to be tough and hard wearing. Mmmmm. They last barely a year here. Goats, dogs and gardening take an enormous toll. I got to thinking about what they did before poly... this and poly... that were ever invented/discovered. Well, I reckon that if you go back that far either homespun (which has an undeserved reputation as cheap and nasty) or leather would have been the order of the day. I am guessing that homespun would probably have been quite hard and not that comfortable to wear but very durable. Now, as a knitter I can tell you that I used to have a pullover made from Herdwick wool. It is tough. It is harsh. It is the sort of wool from which you would make carpets. I could happily wear it next to my skin. Off topic, Herdwick tups are big boys. I have seen two fine strapping Lakeland lads struggle with just one of them. They would make mincemeat out of Rudy.

Anyway, back to the story. I did a load of washing then wandered on down to John's to do a bit more hay making. An hour of that was enough. We decided on a beer so I took the scythe and stuff home and collected the bike. Speaking of that, the bike has now done over two thousand kilometres and I have to admit that about ninety five percent of that has to be from home to pub and back. We had a couple and set off home.

I did a load of housework.

On my travels to check the goats the old lady called me over to the fence. It took me a moment to click on to what she was trying to tell me. When the penny did drop I cast my eye up the line of the fence to see a couple of big stacks of pea haulms that she had thrown over. Good-oh, no scything needed this evening then. I later noticed that the haulms were not only fresh and green but several of them still had flowers on. I wondered what that was about and could only come to the conclusion that maybe the old lady just needed the space to get something else in.

It was a normal end to the day with goats in, Suzy milked and me washed and changed and off to the pub. They are in high summer mode now, and tend to stay open until half past nine or so. A number of the regulars do not get in there until about nine at the moment. I guess they are out in their gardens and such whilst the light holds. I am a bit more selfish in that respect. Apart from Internet stuff, I consider that my working day is done once the evening milking is over and the kit washed up. After all that is a thirteen hour day.

23rd June 2011

On my way to milk I noticed that the big old pear tree of which I already wrote was now shedding what few leaves it had. I increasingly feared that my prognostications about its future were right.

All I did all day was housework. For a reason. I had to turn the kitchen back from its usual shambles to a place where people could eat. I had visitors arriving in a couple of days.

The end of the day was normal and of course I went to the pub. Towards the end of the evening it grew prematurely dark. The lightning rolled and the thunder flashed and a torrent of rain began. It showed no sign of abating so I finally bit the bullet and cycled home coatless and umbrellaless at best pace. I was drenched when I got in. The dogs sensibly were sheltering under the little porch and the goats were abed of course. A good job - they would not have liked it one little bit. I closed the shutters, towelled down and had to have a complete change of clothes. As I was doing that the rain changed to hail and I could hear the rattle of it against the aluminium of the roller shutters. I wondered what it was inflicting upon the garden.

24th June 2011

With milking done the goats went out. To my relief the garden had suffered no apparent damage at the hands of yesterdays storm. I went back to the housework until lunchtime and then changed and caught the bus into Körmend for some necessary provisions. John was on the bus. I sat with him and we chatted.

Körmend was uneventful. I went to the Spar shop first and got what I needed, as the bus was still diverted by the latest round of works going on near the town centre and the bus stop was only just around the corner from the shop. Then into the town centre for a few nibblies from what I call the sandwich shop, cash from the bank and a beer in the Presszo bar and that was that. I made sure not to repeat the senior moment of my last bus trip into Körmend and was back at the stop in plenty of time for the half past two bus back to the village. When the schools are in I tend to avoid that bus as it is inevitably jam packed with school children and standing room only. John was at the stop having completed his missions as well. We returned to the village and both got off at the pub for a beer.

Back home I unpacked the provisions and put them well out of harms way and did manage a little gardening before it was time to go into the evening routine.

I was sent this link - I have to blow the family trumpet a bit. The guy that is in close-up top left of the body, playing the double bass, is my son.

25th June 2011

I finished off around the house in preparation for the arrival of visitors and, happy enough, went for beer in the pub. Of course, the goat work was slotted in in its usual places. Goat milking, goats out, goat water, goat inspection...

I was just starting preparing to cook when there was a doggy commotion from the yard. They had already had one doggy commotion which I traced to the arrival of a white van that I knew by sight next door at Tibi and Marika's. This current commotion went on longer and was more insistent than the previous one. Oh well, better investigate then. I poked my nose out of the door to find a bloke that I did not know from Adam at the gate. It turned out to be white van man. He asked if I knew where the neighbours were. I didn't. I went out of my gate and had a look and the neighbour's gates were open. That normally means that they are out somewhere in the car, which knowledge I imparted to white van man. He started on about something and I got the gist that he was going on about a house in Ivánc. On and on he went. Some of the things he told me three or four times. Eventually he took me over to his van and there was a protracted delay whilst he rummaged in paperwork, eventually coming back with a leaflet about Ivánc and a printed A4 sheet about a house for sale. Ah, that was what it was all about - he was trying to sell me a house. Now, why would I want to buy a house in Ivánc (for a lot of money) when I have a perfectly good house here? Well, maybe not perfectly good. I was saved only by the arrival of Hobo, followed shortly afterwards by Marika. Forty minutes! Forty minutes during which I should have been cooking for the guests.

I was cooking pörkölt. Like a good curry, pörkölt is not a thing to be rushed, so I did not rush. At least Hobo had come bearing goodies. A bucket of nokedli which he had bribed (doubt it)/cajoled his mother into making. Hobo left them with me and went to the pub.

It was all nicely under way when the guests arrived. A cousin of mine from the UK and her husband, not seen for some years although we had been in touch by Facebook. After a chat and the completion of the pörkölt to my satisfaction, it was lidded and put on the cool end of the stove and I let the fire go out. I cycled to the pub and visitors followed in car at a leisurely pace. They were staying in the pub, so they got booked in and showed the room and then we had a beer. We were at a different table to Hobo and eventually I got the chance to introduce them.

Somewhat later we all managed to land back at my place, including Hobo who was getting fed as his contribution to the meal. The stove was relit, electric kettle boiled and the pörkölt and nokedli heated up and dished out. Hobo declared the pörkölt good, so it must have been, him being a Hungarian. I do make it to an authentic recipe.

The visitors went back to the pub for a sort out, Hobo went back to the pub for beer, and I went into goat evening mode. Goats in, milk, do the goat kit ready for morning and then wash, change and off to the pub. I think (hope) that my visitors experienced a fairly typical evening in a fairly typical Hungarian village pub. Well, this village at least.

The day ended. My guests went up to their room at the pub, Hobo and I bade traditional end of evening greetings and I cycled home to feed the dogs.

26th June 2011

I went out to milk at the usual time and it was raining quite sharply. Enough that whilst it lasted the goats would remain indoors. I had other plans for the day anyway. I bunged some more food in the goat house, enough to see them through for a while and that was that.

My visitors turned up, breakfastless as there had apparently been some misunderstanding at the pub. I had arranged via Hobo for a lift into Körmend. Alas, the half past eight bus into town was no more and the only morning service now was at stupid o'clock, like twenty to five in the morning. I think not.

Our lift turned up and off we went to the delights of Körmend on a Sunday morning. We got dropped off at the Halászcsárda. We took the opportunity for coffee and a very simple bite for the visitors. Then we set off for a wander. They were, as with all my other visitors, very taken by the storks which nest in lots of places in the town. You know, if a stork gets deliberately killed here in Hungary it makes the national TV news. My cousin turned out to be very knowledgable on birds and had already identified one species in my yard that I had not known before which turned out to be a black redstart. As you will see from the link, quite rare in the UK and on the amber list. We have a lot here.

We got as far as the market place where the Spar shop was open and we went in and had a look round and the visitors made the odd purchase. We meandered back towards the town centre where I showed them all the improvements to the square, and the local landmarks. Speaking of which, I never mentioned the improvements they have made for cyclists along Rákóczy utca, the big East/West main road through town. They have stolen a couple of metres of carriageway and there is now a dedicated cycle lane that goes most of the way out to the West along the industrial part of town. Good for them!

Eventually we made our way back to the Halászcsárda and went in for a meal. In adequate time we made our way to the bus stop for the bus back to Halogy. We were the only passengers. I had intended getting off at the bus station and showing the visitors that end of the village. The bus driver had other ideas, obviously knew roughly where I lived and set us down within about fifteen metres of my gate. Now how often would that happen in the UK?

It had stopped raining whilst we were in Körmend so my first job after changing from town clothes into work clothes was to put the goats out. I set the visitors on with a couple of little gardening tasks which they were pleased to do - one collecting green walnuts and preparing them for pickling and the other staking tomato plants. Hobo turned up so I told him off to dig some new potatoes from the garden. I wanted just enough for me and the visitors as part of what I had in mind for an evening meal. He came back with a bloody great bagful. When I checked later he had dug best part of half a row. Not only that but he had carefully replaced the plants, expecting them to survive. Oh well, as someone once said to me, God loves an optimist.

The visitors and Hobo left. The visitors to freshen up and change, and Hobo just to go back to the pub for a beer. I cooked as many new potatoes as I needed and hard boiled some eggs. It still left a bloody great bagful of new potatoes. Grrrrrr!

The visitors returned just as I was getting the goats in. They were content to watch from the yard, beating dogs off as necessary, whilst I did that and milked. Back in the house I knocked together our humble repast. Cold new potatoes, hard boiled eggs, wedges of goat cheese, hunks of bread and spicy peach chutney. It went down well enough, I think. At least there was nothing imported from California, South Africa, Chile... (Well, maybe a minor part of the peach chutney).

Visitors wandered back to the pub. I sorted out the milking kit, the kitchen in general and myself and followed them. I was somewhat late on parade, but a normal evening session followed after that.

27th June 2011

I did the usual. Up and out to milk a goat then back to the house, shop and breakfast. My visitors appeared shortly thereafter having settled up at the pub and about to set sail - well tyre to tarmac anyway - back to the UK. I commented about them being the modern equivalent of the aristocracy of old - undertaking the Grand Tour of Europe. Before they went we did a raid on the village shop for tobacco. Hand rolling variety. My cousin does not smoke but her husband does. He bought a fair quantity at the very cheap price here in Hungary compared to the UK, plus some ready mades. To my amazement the shop lady also had a couple of packs of pipe tobacco - very cheap - which I bought.

We went back to the house, beating dogs off en route (mine!) and chatted for a while. Then they took their leave and drove away into the sunset. Only it wasn't. It was mid-morning. They drove away in the direction of sunset. I watched them out of sight, went indoors and had a pipe of tobacco. After that it was business as usual.

I did some work on the fence that will prevent the dogs getting in the little bit of yard in front of the house, and thence preventing them from getting into the next door yard, and also preventing them from shitting where the plums will fall.

It was time to water everybody. I gave the dogs fresh water. Then I set off up the garden with water for the goats. To behold a catastrophe. The goats were parked to the west, up by my neigbour on Telek utca. Rudy was in disarray, and so was the fence. In his search for ever higher and greener munchies he had managed to get the carabiner of his chain hooked in to the topmost strand of barbed wire that my neighbour has there. In his struggles to get free he had knocked a bloody great hole in the chain link fencing. I tried to extricate him from barbed wire and chain link to no avail. He did not much like it and as I write the cracked rib that I received in recompense has just about gone away.

I ended up having no option than to take off his collar, let him go free and then sort out chain, collar and fence. He did not go far and I was soon able to try to get his collar back on. That yielded another surprise. It must have been getting a bit tight before, as I had to let it out another notch. And he won't reach his full stature until early next year! I re-parked him well away from the fence.

Now, that is a shame, as your average goat likes nothing better at this time of year than a good scratch against a chain link fence or a brick wall. They do not moult, you know, goats. But, being that much more intelligent than sheep They know how to deal with it. Except for Betty who has not got the slightest idea so far.

Exhausted and bruised I retired to the house and had lunch. After that I went to the pub for a beer, as you do. Hobo was there. I inveigled him into a little postprandial liquid lunch work. I shovelled the shit out of the goat house and Hobo wheeled it up the garden, eventually to be turned into nutritious compost.

The old lady had thrown another heap of goat munchies over the fence. Another day I would not need to scythe goat food.

Pub as usual in the evening. Both Hobo and I had planned to make it an early getaway from the pub. Yes it does happen sometimes. We were three parts of the way down what was to be our last beer of the evening when a couple came in that I know well by sight. They have a house in the village and I suspect that he may be Hungarian and his wife Austrian. They certainly have Austrian plates on their car. Anyway, he insisted on buying a round of drinks for the whole pub, so that was our early getaway plan scuppered. As it happened there was a rather good film on telly anyway. It was a black comedy that was a serious p*ss take about life in Hungary under the communists, called The Witness.

28th June 2011

Well, being so far behind and having signally failed to make any aide-memoire notes I will talk a bit about Hungarian. The language, that is.

I manage to hold my own in conversations about stuff that I know about - village life, goats, shopping in Körmend. I absolutely know that I murder the language, something along the lines of "Allo, allo" - you know, the RAF officer posing as a gendarme "I was just pissing by...". They are very forgiving, the Magyar. I constantly get told how well I speak Hungarian, which is basically bollox.

The one advantage of magyarul is that it is a WYSIWYG language. They have far too many vowel sounds for me to get my head around, but the basis is that all the consonants and all the vowels are what they are, and the emphasis in every word is on the first syllable. Which helps.

My thoughts when I first arrived in the village were "OMG - I am never going to get my head around this!!". I could not even distinguish where that words began and ended. The grammar defeats me. They still manage to understand me. Conjugation of verbs still defeats me. They still manage to understand!

I will continue this discussion of the language, but right now I just need to sleep.

29th June 2011

Very short and sweet today. I spent a fair amount of time doing one of my triannual computer jobs for an organisation in the UK. That was interspersed with the usual checking of goats, etc.

Later on I managed to get down to John's place for a hour or so to knock back another load of his long grass to be turned into hay for the goats, and to turn over some of the stuff that was already lying. Apart from the pub in the evening, that was it for the day. Sorry to disappoint!

30th June 2011

After the normal start it was cheese making morning, so when I shopped I retrieved the rennet from where it lives in the shop fridge. The shop lady had found a new home for it. In the refrigerated drawer under the cold meat display fridge.

I have no idea why - I always follow exactly the same recipe - but today I managed to make what I think was the best curd that I had made so far. I put it down to natural variability plus the fact that we had been having a spell of slightly cooler weather, so the pasteurised milk was staying good just a little bit longer. I think that the variation makes it interesting to see what the result is like at consumption time. Par for the course of a cottage industry type of thing. Even the Hungarian bread is so. You can buy the same type of bread day after day and it is always just a bit (or a lot) different.

A load more stuff - and I do mean a load, more than I could carry in an armful - came over the fence from No. 72 for the goats. Yet another day that I would not need to scythe. After that it was back to the computer work.

Towards the end of the afternoon I went and did a load of weeding. I know that it is one of my bête noire jobs. I can never seem to find the time to keep on top of it. Anyway, the results of that toil was also added to what had come over the fence for the goats to pre-process into future compost.

After that it was into the evening routine when nothing out of the normal happened. And that was June.


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