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November 2011

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1st November 2011

Bank holiday today of course. All Saints Day. I neglected to mention yesterday the telly news reporting of All Hallows Day - particularly the evening. Budapest was particularly zombified. Some of the costumes and make up must have taken a long while to do. Can't say I noticed any zombies in Halogy on my way home.

I was unwell. Same old, same old. I did some work to the wine, which was to weigh and add the right amount of sulfite for the keeping properties of the wine. That was a pretty big deal - took me all of about a minute.

I kept the stove going this morning and for the first time in a while made bread. I had rejected what the shop lady had tried to sell me yesterday to tide me over the holiday. Instead I made sure that I had flour and yeast and this morning away I went. I made a discovery, not to my advantage. The thing that had had to pass as a bread baking tin no longer passed muster for that function. For whatever reason the non-stick coating (which I have bemoaned before) had decided that in random patches it would leave the tin. In with the stuff to be weighed in for scrap it goes, I suspect. I used the enamelled, I suspect originally quite good quality tray upon which I cook hurka etc., and made a bloomer.

That was it. I did manage to wander out for a beer at about three in the afternoon. Then all I did was to do the goat stuff early evening and that was that. No pub in the evening either.

2nd November 2011

It was cold and spitting and spotting with rain first off. Not a nice day at all. After milking the goats stayed right where they were. Rudy continues to be a pain. He continues to stand wherever there is minor common ground in the goat house between girls and boy, and gibbers. It worried me at first. It sounds just as though he is in pain. Yeah, right. Just some interconnection between buck goat brain (???) buck goat testicles (!!!!!!) and female goat pheromones. If he plays his cards right and remains a good boy he might just get lucky towards the end of the month.

Hobo turned up, grabbed the broad mattock and set off to do battle with maize stalks on John's land. I had to hang around at home - I had the sign out for Posta, needing cash. Posta eventually arrived. Blast. Relief postman in the relief van that has no cash machine in it. Well, cash I had to have. So that buggered the early part of what I had planned for the afternoon. I was sorting out in the yard preparatory to cycling to Nádasd when there was a doggie commotion. John was outside the gate - with bicycle. It turned out that he was on the same errand that I would be in a few minutes. He set off. I still had a couple of little jobs to do, such as feeding the pigeons. I did the jobs and set off in pursuit of John. Didn't catch him though. He had just left the post office more or less as I arrived. He had been there some minutes. Some sort of hiatus with their cash machine. It behaved for me, fortunately.

John had set off back to the village. I had told him that I had to get a couple of bits in Bödő and would follow. I did catch him up on the way back. On the steep little rise up to the level of the football field and water tower. John had an excuse anyway. Slow puncture in his back tyre which was by now almost deflated. It did not look too bad though - it was only flat at the bottom!

We rendezvoused in the pub and had a beer. Then we went to see what was happening with Hobo and maize stalks. Well, there was lots of tying up to be done. Some did get done, and with light beginning to fade Hobo put a bundle under each arm and I balanced a couple of bundles on the push bike and we managed to get the four bundles over the fence from Telek utca into my garden. Well, a start at least. I cycled on up past Tibi's and the various other neighbours, then down the hill to the templom and thus home. As I pulled the bike in the yard I saw a figure walking down the garden. It looked a bit like a strawman. It was not a strawman, but Hobo who had managed to secure a grip on all four bunches of maize stalks and arrive them at the goat house.

Hobo propped them up outside the goat house, then came in through the yard, out through the front gate and away back to John's to retrieve his bike. I went to the shop. It was shut. I had not expected it to be shut. Neither evidently had John who I spotted striding his way home equally as empty handed as I was. I went home and cooked pörkölt of a chicken variety and mashed spuds.

Must post some photos!

John was in the pub in the evening and we had a mutual moan about being caught out by random shop non-opening events.

3rd November 2011

The general feeling of unwellness managed to metamorphose overnight into a full blown head cold - or at least what appeared to be a full blown head cold. I milked Suzy. I have to say that it is beginning to get moot. Without any doubt she is drying herself off.

It was a good enough day for the goats to go out. Imre was next door at No. 72 bashing up lumps of firewood for the old lady. He was there for several days. I think that he was there for a similar period last year. He paused and rested as I let the goats out. He watched as I persuaded the girls to where I wanted them and then again when I returned for Rudy and just let him run to join the girls. He gave me a wave and a nod as I went about it.

Back to the house and sort out the kitchen, then four pairs of working jeans to soak. All good fun.

It was lunchtime by then so I had lunch - some random sandwich plus apples off my tree. I went to feed the pigeons. Young pigeon came and perched on my arm whilst I was dishing it out. I quite enjoyed that.

I did not quite so enjoy dragging the maize stalks that Hobo and I had hauled up Telek utca back down to somewhere near the goat house.

Firewood, goats in and the second instalment of the pörkölt from yesterday. It was, as ever, better this evening.

For whatever reason Imre of the bashing of wood next door and watching me put out the goats bought me a beer in the pub in the evening. No idea why! Maybe just a thank you for the pleasure it obviously gives him to see me working the goats.

4th November 2011

The head cold was worse. Snot abounded and the head felt the size of a pumpkin. Whatever - get on with it. Goats went out. I did some washing. Then at eleven I had a wander down Telek utca to the back of John's place to see what was happening with maize stalks. Answer - nothing! No Hobo. Nothing going on. When I wandered back to mine I happened to notice that two stooks had disappeared from my neighbour's land. There had been nine. There were now seven.

Once again the Posta was the relief guy in the relief van and no cash machine. So once again, me having seriously misjudged the finances, it was a cycle ride to Nádasd. Much needed - not. With the prospect of much more bundling of maize stalks imminent I decided on a call into Bödő for more string. I had a shock. I bought a roll of the identical product to that which I had bought in Gazdabolt in Körmend. Gazdabolt price - thirteen hundred and fifty forints. Bödő price - eight hundred forints. I think the expression is seen off! I will know for another time.

John was in the pub when I got back to the village. A mini-session ensued. I dragged on home plenty late enough to do firewood, shop and get the goats in. I was just doing that when Hobo appeared with a sack of goodies for the goats from Toni. Once again it was pretty well dark by the time I finished. I stayed in in the evening.

5th November 2011

Well folks what follows today follows in almost identical detail on another six of the subsequent series of days. It gives me chance to have a little blog holiday. With the exception of a couple of days I would just be repeating myself over and over. So I won't.

It was time to move the maize stalks from next door on Telek utca. Well, next door but one. My neighbour at the top has two half plots it turns out. Anyway, the repeated days all followed the same pattern with only minor variations. The weather was set fair so each day the goats went out. Then the domestics and after that I collected, tied into bunches and got into my garden by various means one stook from the old boy's land. One a day was enough.

Afternoons was raking up and storing walnut leaves - two or three barrow loads. Then at the end of the afternoon it was goats in, etc.

6th November 2011

Today was not one of the repetitive days upon which I do not intend to comment. I knew that there was something amiss by the doggie commotion that was occuring after I had dismissed them into the yard in order to enjoy my toast with jam and my cup of coffee at leisure. I investigated. There was some sort of problem with the door between goat house and yard, and Rudy was making best efforts to ensure that it became a serious problem by having a battering match with it. I bunged in some temporary but serious wedging-type material and went back to my toast and coffee.

The goats went out, and I investigated. It turned out that Rudy in his battering spree had actually broken the steel bolt that holds the door closed in two. Bugger. Well, without disarranging any of the other repairs done to that door it had to come off, be repaired and go back on. And that today. The two halves of the broken bolt each stubbornly clung to the door, held on by what I guess you would call giant staples. I attempted to remove them. Oh-oh! Bits of door started falling off.

I identified the problem as being that the tangs of the staples had actually been roughly clenched over on the outside of the door. I roughly unclenched them and soon had the two staples and the two broken halves of bolt to hand. The first priority was to get the two halves of broken bolt reunited into a single effective locking unit. More in hopes than in anger I cycled on up past the park to see if vas Lajos was at home.

I knew he was before I got to his gates. There was the sound of grinding and the occasional pause and a couple of whacks with a hammer. My problem was solved in under a minute. It was not the first time that I had caught Lajos thus on a Sunday. Ditto fa Lajos. And ditto me. Sunday - just another working day!

I did celebrate by calling in the pub for one on the way back down the village.

Back home I still had to get the bolt refitted to the door. The bolt had been mounted on a piece that went horizontally, with suitable slots and holes. It had to go and be replaced. I expected a nightmare job. Not so. I took my Lajos knocking stick and hit it. Two hits and it was a heap of rotten powder on the floor. I made a new bit out of oak. It took a fair bit of drilling and whacking with nails and whacking for the bolt staples but I managed it as it was time to close it down and get the goats in.

10th November 2011

I stole a barrow load of goat greenery from John's absent neighbour's garden

14th November 2011

I shifted the last stook of stalks from my Telek utca neighbour this morning. Over the fence they went.

Hobo appeared. Big panic! Got to go and chop and shift maize stalks from John's land. John was roped in as well. Ah, I did not need this - in no way did I need it. I had been tying, lugging about and hurtling over fences bunches of maize stalks a fair bit of the morning. I persisted as long as I could. I went home to get in the firewood and do the goats.

15th November 2011

Someone pressed the button marked "Winter". Overnight it went from the succession of rather pleasant late autumn days of the sort during which I had single handedly retrieved the seven stooks of maize stalks from next door to what we had today. Slate grey skies and days and nights that varied about one or two degrees either side of freezing. Nice!

The sun made a token effort to appear around one in the afternoon, signally failed to burn through the freezing mush and went away again. I did goat food and firewood. Surprise.

On the telly in the pub they were already having a moan about the extent of the "smog" in the cities. I mentioned smog before on the blog. Three years ago. I rather cut it short by dismissing it as before most of my reader's time. I ought to flesh it out a bit. I was a schoolboy at the time. We had a system at the school. Some little way outside the headmaster's office right in the front of the grounds was our school war memorial. If, at a certain time in the afternoon the headmaster could no longer see the memorial everything stopped and we were all sent home. So it happened one such afternoon. We were all let out early. Sadly so was the entirety of the rest of the working population of Nottingham.

A series of buses passed me by, all fully loaded. In the meantime the smog gathered its strength and took a stranglehold. The smog of which the Hungarian telly complains, although no doubt unpleasant and possibly deadly, is orders of magnitude beneath those smogs in the UK. They were fuelled by many thousands of open coal fires with the sulphur content nicely oxidised and incorporated into to smog.

Still without bus to get home I decided to leg it down to the main bus station in the city centre. I managed to get on the second bus. In somewhat over an hour it had failed to progress as far as from where I had legged it. I got off. Little was moving. The visibility was somewhere between two and four metres. No - I do not joke! I set off to fumble my way home.

It happened that I had been scheduled to attend a local youth orchestra rehearsal in the evening. Back home, my failure to reappear had led my dear old dad to put two and two together and come up with six - "Silly young bugger has gone to his bloody rehearsal!". Stirling chap that he was he set out to come and collect me.

In the meantime I had managed to walk/fumble my way a couple of miles towards home. There was still little moving. The serendipity thing kicked in. I was still fumbling my way slowly homeward when through the sulphurous murk I heard the unmistakable rumble of a Brough Superior V-twin approaching. The lights were not equal to the exhaust note and when I saw their glimmer I shouted out loud. Fortunately the old man heard me. I clambered in sidecar and deposited back pack and musical instrument in case. Dad said words to the effect of "How on earth am I ever going to get turned around in this?". It was just a bit stronger than that. I told him that there was nothing moving, and just get on and do it. We fumbled our way out of the city. He watched for the white line, I watched for the kerb. In a short distance we started to rise from the Trent valley and quite suddenly broke out from beneath the temperature inversion into a clear, cold, frosty evening.

I looked back whence we had come. Nottingham was submerged in an amorphous, impenetrable, noxious, sulphurous cloud. And the Chinese want to carry on building coal fired power plants. Oh well. Not in my back yard thank you.

16th November 2011

I was still quite unwell. The head cold was by now clearly not a head cold. I was suspecting catarrh or something like. The combination of that and the normal drippeth nose effect of the current cold snap made working outside for long periods quite unpleasant.

Nevertheless there was work to be done. Apart from the patch of new ground broken by Jozsi and the patch on the main garden where the potatoes had been, no winter digging had happened. I at least managed a start by spreading partly rotted stuff ex-goat house upon the outhouse garden. I took a break and went back to the warmth of the kitchen after that.

Having been caught out so many times, not only in previous years but this year as well (amazing how one forgets), I got the firewood in at the end of the morning.

Early afternoon I carted another couple of loads of stalks from Telek utca down to outside the goat house. I fancied a beer after that so I went for one. I lingered over that beer, and then the tail-end of the afternoon was complicated by Hobo buying me another - unasked. I had to wind that one down the neck faster than I would have liked, as the light was starting to fade and I still had goats to deal with.

I stayed home after that.

17th November 2011

Short and sweet today. Shop, goats, breakfast then once again a little work in the garden. I fetched another load of stalks down, then returned towards Telek utca when I had noticed a compost heap that needed to be moved. It was one of the ones that Hobo failed to burn down when he set fire to the garden. This was just well-rotted hay from the first year that I was here. Goat sh*t compost it was not. Nevertheless it was barrowed down and spread over the area where the tomatoes and paprika were this year, preparatory to being dug in.

I had a visitation from Hobo with a moan about the fact that the maize stalks on John's land were not getting chopped down. I had multiple misapprehensions about this. One being that it was Hobo who had set himself on chopping down the stalks and had not been seen during the daytime for days, and another was that it was actually John's land and it was surely up to John to say that the maize stalks needed cutting down, not some third party. Oh well, the Hungarian way. Apparently it was a fait accompli that because someone else had rented out the land last year the same thing would happen this. Well, I was not about to wander down there today and move maize stalks.

I did go to the pub in the evening. I was home by half past seven.

18th November 2011

No idea what I did, so here are some pictures instead, in no particular order:
Maize Stalks Maize stalks stacked by Telek utca fence on my garden.
Maize stalks already stacked by the goat house, with another load on the barrow. Maize Stalks
Maize Stalks Four big stooks of maize stalks waiting to be moved from John's garden. Gives you some idea of the preparedness necessary and the amount of work involved to keep (this year) four goats through the winter. As I write I am negotiating with Tibi for a tractor and trailer job to get them moved.
This old barrow had been in what is now the pigeon house for years. I had planned at some stage to preserve it and make it an ornament in the yard. Mmmm - methinks that, as seen in the previous pictures it is too useful for its intended purpose. Old Hungarian Barrow
The Pigeons The pigeons at feeding time. Ah - pretty! The young one is the multicoloured one just in front of the two white ones.
Walnut leaves raked up preparatory to going into the plastic sheet in the barrow and then handballed into the loft in the goat house. More feeding the goats through the winter work. Walnut Leaves
Water Pipe Problem The broken water pipe dug up again...
...and repaired. If you look very closely you can see the price on the widget that did the repair. Water Pipe Repaired
Drying Walnuts Walnuts drying in the autumn sun.
That is what a felled huge old pear tree looks like. Felled Pear Tree
Pear Tree Stump And just to prove how big it was. Ninety inches girth!

19th November 2011

I was a happy man today due to an unexpected pleasant discovery. When I gave the pigeons fresh water this morning the water in their drinking vessel was quite frozen over. I bashed the ice out and gave them fresh. They all queued up to get at it. I happened to look on top of the original nesting box put up for my first pigeons. On the top of it was a nest (of sorts) and in the nest was an egg. That was quite unexpected. What was even more unexpected was that when I went to feed them at lunch time there were two eggs. I have since seen one of the grey birds sitting and at other times one of the white birds sitting, so it seems that I have acquired another pair. Time will tell with the eggs, of course. I had a senior moment worrying about them rearing squabs at this time of year until I suddenly thought about penguins. If they can rear chicks in the inhospitability of the Antarctic I am sure that my pigeons will do just fine with whatever weather conditions we have here.

I had a session with maize stalks round at John's after lunch. I gathered some bunches up and tied them, then lost patience with it and just bashed the rest down and left them where they lay. Excess to requirements I think is the term. The broad mattock went home, with the string and the Leatherman and that was that.

Firewood, goats and that was another day. They had been indoors for days now. There simply was not enough pasturage for them anywhere where they are allowed to go. I thought to look back at last year on the blog. At this time they were still going out except when it was raining. I did comment that it was starting to get a bit thin, but they were still just about finding enough. Of course, they are much bigger goats this year. Particularly Rudy! And there are also four of them. I have to say that I did not believe one of the goat sites that said that they do not achieve full stature for two years. I do now!

20th November 2011

I think that the time has come to let Suzy dry off. I milked her this morning and barely got enough for my morning coffee. As for Betty I gave up long ago. I do despair of that goat. Whatever. Put it in perspective. May to November I have had to buy no milk in the shop. Probably June to December I have had to buy no cheese in the shop - except a little of the local sajt (pronounced shite) to go on the mousetrap as the goat cheese was too crumbly. On balance, say two and a half litres of milk a week in the shop. Seven hundred and fifty forints a week. Just for ball park figures the same on cheese. Total one thousand five hundred forints a week. Say six months of milk and cheese. Forty thousand forints. They only cost me eighteen thousand forints. In addition to which they have kept the bits of garden upon which they are allowed under control all year. As I value my own time at nothing the product of that is moot. But had I had to have Mr. Expert Scythe Man in twice to keep it under control that would have cost me twenty thousand forints. Were the goats a good investment? And quite apart from that is the sheer pleasure of learning to be a stockman at my time of life, and the sheer pleasure and sometimes frustration of their antics.

It was another horrid, grey and cold day. I did some stuff in the kitchen and decided to go for a beer. As I was cycling to the pub I was overtaken by an ambulance with blue lights flashing. It pulled up some way up the hill towards Nádasd on the left. I went in the pub. Hobo was there. I mentioned the ambulance and he went out to look. He came back in to say that it looked like the ambulance was at Imre's house (he of the pigeons). I cannot say that pleased me. Hobo shrugged. Too much alcohol was his verdict. But then again...

Long overdue, back home I had a thorough sweep through of the house, including ceilings, tops of doors and door frames and so on. It took a while.

I was all ready to go to the pub in the evening when black dog escaped. Nothing to do except hang around and wait for him to reappear. He did eventually, on the other side of the road, and decided to investigate the small lane by the side of the shop. I managed to collar him down there and return him to the yard, only to discover that I was minus one glove. Torch, search, found. I went to the pub, managed one beer and then they closed. Ah well, the time of year.

21st November 2011

The weather continued the same. Day after day of dull grey mush and a variation of maybe three degrees between night and day temperatures. The weather forecasts (multiple) continue to tell us to expect some brightness. They lie.

I managed one barrow load of maize stalks from Telek utca down to the goat house and was driven off by the cold. It was not like this last year.

I have a new most tedious task. The five and a half sacks of maize on cob that came from Laci the landlord have to have the maize removed from the cobs. Why bother? I hear you ask. For a twofold reason. If I feed the goats with the cobs they will eat the maize on the top and leave that on the bottom as it will have been pressed into the deposits that goats leave naturally. Out on the field, no problem. In the goat house fifty percent wastage. The other reason is that the cobs when thoroughly dried out will burn. Anything that burns will help me keep warm in the winter! I have an odd problem with the job. I said that it is tedious. It is also compulsive. How can anything be tedious and compulsive. I find myself thinking that I will just do another five. The five turns into ten and the ten turns into fifty and an hour has gone by. I have to wrench myself away from it. Right. Stop. NOW!!

After a sandwich I went out stealing. Well, not really. I had noticed whilst chopping the maize stalks at John's that his absentee neighbour, from where I already had a load of hay, had a goodly crop of scythable greenery still standing. I went to raid it. Barrow, scythe, fork and a walk up my garden and then down Telek utca to the back of John's. There was activity already there as I approached. John's next door neighbour, known to one and all as Uncle Steve, was walking up and down Telek utca in the vicinity. I found out why when I got there. All the land that had held the maize crop was being ploughed. That is to say the strip at the back of Uncle Steve and the bit on John's land. It was obvious that they had only just started.

The first thing that I noticed was that all the lying stalks which I had hoped would be chopped up and ploughed in were piled upon the absentee garden where I had hoped to scythe. Oh well, a job for later. I exchanged pleasantries with Uncle Steve. By the way, Uncle Steve is the man by whom you could set your watch as he goes to the pub. Daily he passes my place at nine fifty five precisely. His return journey is more varied and I have to say that he does only ever do the one trip to the pub.

I went about my task. I scythed down and forked up a big barrow of greenery for the goats. By the time I was done the ploughing was finished. An area that would take probably a year to dig by hand, and maybe a full week to plough by horse. All done in the time it took me to fill my barrow. Fossil fuels. Utterly taken for granted. But they are going away. What then? My children will see the start of it. My grandchildren will sadly see the end of it. Ah! I will comment more later.

I wheeled my wheelbarrow through streets very narrow and back down to the goat house. A beer was in order, so I went for one. John was there. The one beer became two. Of course I ended the afternoon scrambling to do the firewood and feed the goats. The goats fell upon the greenery with gusto. I stayed home in the evening.

An interesting set of James Burke clips sent to me by John showing just how fragile the modern lifestyle is, especially in cities. Well worth the watch. A little light upon what I just said.

22nd November 2011

The weather remained the same - grey and cold. The goats stayed in and not much got done on the garden - too cold for me.

After lunch I did a job which I knew I had to do but had been rather putting off - that of winterising the push bike. It was precipitated by the fact that once again the rear brake cable had begun freezing up. All the bowden cable inners and outers were cleaned and oiled, as were the wheel bearings, bottom bracket, free wheel, all the deraileur pivot points and small gears, and the chain. Speaking of which, I happened to notice the bicycle of the chap that Hobo likes to call magyartarka one evening when sitting outside the shop at the little pub. It is a very old bike, built like the proverbial brick outhouse. I noticed that everything on it worked, and that everything that should be lubricated was lubricated - even the chain. In contrast I also noticed that the bicycle of a young man relative of his, who I have mentioned on the blog before, only has one brake that works and has the left hand crank welded to the bottom bracket spindle.

After it was all back together and everything adjusted up I took the bike out for a road test. You can guess how far I got. As I cycled on home, with just enough time before dusk to sort out the goats, the smell of woodsmoke was everwhere as all the tilestoves were being lit. I did the goats and lit mine too. I had kept the kitchen stove going as well for the warmth whilst I did the bike in the hallway. It was still going so I stoked it up and made myself a special treat. Jacket potatoes! With grated goat cheese. Loverly.

Pub in the evening as usual.

23rd November 2011

The shop had not opened yesterday afternoon and there had been a car parked there most of the day. I had an idea what was going on, and sure enough when I went to the shop this morning there was a relief lady on duty. It occured to me (correctly) that she might well not open in the afternoons so I made sure to buy the odd bits that I would normally get in the afternoon this morning. I blundered by not giving John a heads-up by e-mail or SMS and he got caught out by it later.

I did Suzy's feet this morning. I had to entice her into the little yard where the goat table is without allowing any of the others out. That bit was fun. Suzy was very good whilst I did her feet. It was all over in a very few minutes and off she went back to join the others.

Another of those must do before winter really sets in jobs jumped to the top of the queue this morning. Clean the stove internally and dismount and clean the stove pipes, so after breakfast I let the stove go out. I also removed the inspection hatches at the bottom of both chimneys and dug them out too. Nice clean work! As it turned out none of it was too bad and I ended up with less than half of the paint can I use to put the ash in full. I gave the cast iron plates a birthday after that. Hobo had left here an angle grinder equipped with a wire brush. He does that, you know. Tools everywhere. But he always knows exactly where he has left what. It made a fine job of the plates, and black dog had a field day of barking at it and jumping around. The stove was relit after that. Too cold to have no heat anywhere in the house all day.

After lunch I did yet another job that had been beginning to bug me. I made a mixing of lime mortar and stopped up a load of holes between the pigeon house and the outhouse of no use next door to it. What precipitated that was that one of the holes was right behind where the sitting birds are and it was quite big enough for a rat to get through and steal the eggs. It was cold and relatively unpleasant work. Once finished I determined on a beer.

John was in the pub. He already had a beer so I bought one and joined him. One became two when John bought himself another and one for me. Oh-oh. I looked at the clock and the daylight. I still had the goats to do. Oh well, I just put a lid on it and left smoking accutrements and went home and did the goats, returning to the pub after that. It went rapidly downhill into a full-blown session after that, with Hobo joining us part way through. We got away a little before kicking out time. But not much.

24th November 2011

Short and sweet today. I managed to leave the shop in the morning owing money. It was quite a big shop for me, but I had over two thousand forints in pocket. The lady calculated what I owed and scribbled it on the back of my till receipt and stuck it in the till. I was just a bit sure that I had been overcharged somewhere along the line but couldn't prove it.

I hung out the sign for Posta, got cash and paid a bill and then wandered over to the shop to settle up. My till receipt went in the waste bin behind the counter so I was not able to check it.

The pub was shut for the entire day including the evening. They were having their own private pig killing.

In the afternoon I was busy stealing greenery again from John's absentee neighbour when the mayor, who lives next door to John but on Telek utca, wandered over. Just to make sure that I would take photos on Sunday at the Advent ceremony and could they borrow Suzy again? No problem on any account. I carried on with the scything and achieved another big barrow of three evenings worth of greenery for the goats.

I wheeled it home and it was time to feed the goats anyway. As ever at this time of year they fell upon the bit of fresh greenery with gusto.

I settled in for the evening, did some computery stuff and then booted into the dreaded Windose system and watched a DVD. I just do not have the time to get Linux to play nicely with the architecture of this system.

25th November 2011

I confess that I was not overly early at the shop. It was not a big shop. It was not until I got home that I found out that she had fobbed me off with a half a loaf of yesterday's bread. I was not best pleased. If they are going to do that they might at least have the sense to sell the half with the paper sticker on whilst fresh and then sell the half without the paper sticker the next day. Not that anybody would be deceived.

Anyway, I get a little ahead of myself. I had just left the shop and was following only a few metres behind the mother of the chap that came and sawed up the acacia wood who is a very pleasant, friendly, elderly lady. There was a hail from across the road. We both turned and looked. It was my neighbour at No. 72 and she was beckoning me over. I went. She handed over to me a jar of her own pickled horseradish. I thanked her profusely. You know, that little exchange set the tone for the whole day. Forget the stale bread.

After that it was water the pigeons, feed the goats, do some washing and start on yet another mini-project that had jumped the queue. I needed to make at least one more nesting box for pigeons. The wood was easily found. Getting it to pieces another matter. As ever there was lots of ironmongery and nails. I removed the ironmongery and nails. It took a while. After that, suffering withdrawal symptoms from yesterday, I went to the pub for a beer.

I was enjoying my beer, sitting by what I would call the tradesmans entrance. The door up the little driveway, not the one that opens to the street. The landlady came in with a carrier bag and presented it to me. Hurka. Lots of. So for the second time today I had been presented with unexpected largesse.

Back home I had a bite. Well, more than a bite - half a pizza but don't tell Hobo. Then it was serious firewood time. I was bereft of firewood in all baskets. I never did say, but the big ax had finally reappeared with new handle. The handle was not a wood that I recognised. Very white and very bland. I asked Lajos about it. "Gyertyánfa" Of course that was not in my little pocket dictionaries but the on-line ones reveal that it is hornbeam. Not a thing I ever experienced in all my woodworking. Lajos has a source of it growing wild not that far away. I looked it up on the Internerd. Something along the lines of highly valued for tool handles.

I digress. The newly refurbished big axe had to do a lot of work. Felled pear tree kugli. Sadly I also had to do a lot of work. Few of them split easily. A quite small kugli will fill a basket of firewood when split. The splitting is the problem. I did discover that it is better to hit not so hard but to hit more accurately.

By the time I had finished that it was time to feed the goats and ensure that the pigeons were roosted and as secure as I could get them. Back at the house I had a phone call on my Hungarian mobile, which was unusual. It was Helmut. He was in the pub. Where was I? I did a quick change and went to set off for the pub. Blackie escaped and disappeared. Bollox. Nothing for it but to wait until he reappeared. He finally did, but over the road and disappeared again down the little lane by the shop. I collared him there and dragged him home. For his pains he had a good leathering and got locked in the outhouse. Belatedly I got to the pub.

26th November 2011

I had bread in the shop this morning. I had ordered it yesterday. A Csákany Csemege Vekni. The ordering process had been a bit circuitous. "Holnap kérem egy vekni" The relief lady did not understand. The stumbling block was apparently "Holnap" - tomorrow. I spoke to Hobo about it some while later. The problem is apparently that I do not pronounce my 'L's distinctly enough. Well, my children have told me that miyyions of times! It is a local accent thing. Must learn to do better, especially in Hungarian. Mind you, it is a bit rich coming from a language where 'G's and 'K's and 'B's and 'V's are utterly indistinguishable. Hungarian is all about the vowels. It is one of the only two countries in Europe (sorry - I regard Turkey as being in Asia-Minor - age thing, I guess) that have vowel harmony, the other being Finnish which is not surprising given that they sprang from the same roots.

On to the work. I shifte another load of maize stalks down to the goat house on the old barrow. Then I spread goat sh*t compost upon the main garden. It is wonderous stuff. This was the ex-deep litter from last winter. I suppose I could at a push venture how many cubic metres of deep litter came out of the goat house in April. It was a lot. Something like ten metres long by two metres wide by a metre deep. Between then and now it has sat in its heap and reduced to a circle about three metres across and about a third of a metre high. Rich and black. I look forward to eating it next year!

I started on the hurka from the pub for lunch. I have to say that I had not realised quite how much of it there was. It was something of the order of a metre of white pudding and three quarters of a metre of black pudding. Well, that was hot food sorted out for a few days then.

I did firewood, then went to the pub for a late afternoon beer before bedding the pigeons and giving the goats their supper. Hobo was in the pub - in his cups. I had my one beer and went home to do the aforementioned. After that it was soon dark. I did a bit of this and that and had a sandwich and it was time to go to the pub.

Black dog escaped. Again. I hung around and eventually he returned. He had a leathering for his pains, which he did not much like. He also got locked in the outhouse before I went back to the pub in the evening. He did not much like that either. Tough!

I went to the pub. Hobo had bitten the dust. I had a couple of beers in good company and returned home to release black dog from confinement and feed them. That was it.

27th November 2011

The weather remained the same. Grey, cold and horrid. I know that I will forget to say, so I will say now as I write, but both the local TV weather forecasts and my Norwegian on-line weather forecast have been competely wrong for about a month. Whatever. You get up, open the roller shutters, and look outside and decide immediately whether they got it right ot wrong. Wrong again today. Another day of minimum minus one and maximum of plus one. Horrid.

I did manage an old wooden barrow load of maize stalks from Telek utca to the goat house and a couple of barrow loads of goat compost onto the garden before the cold drove me off.

I went out on a village photoshoot at the tail end of the afternoon. The little local Advent ceremony on the green. Suzy was there again, having been collected and delivered. I thought to myself "Where did that year go?" and all was much like last year, except that I did manage to understand a little more of the ceremony. I do emphasise a little. At my age, and without studying, understanding does come slowly.

We returned Suzy to her quarters and went to the pub. Tibi, the guy that drives the village bus, bought me a beer. Apart from the fact that I supplied Suzy I know not whyfor.

28th November 2011

I got up and opened the roller shutters, which are still my only form of curtains, to discover that quite clearly the sun was about to rise. Happy, happy. The weeks of grey mush had finally decided that it had had enough of Hungary and was going elsewhere.

After a couple of hours of winter digging it was back to the kitchen to cook and bake bread. The relief shop lady is intrigued by my purchases of yeast and always asks me what I will make. Todays answer was "Bread". She had the thought of mind to ask me if I needed flour. I told her that I had enough at home. I have to say that I am a long, long way from the Mormon tradition (edict?) of having a years worth of food stored.

I stole more greenery from John's absentee neighbour in the afternoon.

29th November 2011

I was up early for once, and after all the usual early morning stuff went out to dig. Ha! Forget it. The spade was frozen into the soil, and once released could not be reinserted into the soil. That would be a No, then.

I turned my hand instead to knocking up another nesting box to go on the pigeon house wall. With breaks to go indoors and warm the hands that took the rest of the morning.

After lunch the goats went out nearby and I cleared out all the accumulating dead maize stalks. It is going to be a regular job. With all the maize stalks yet to come there would be no room for goats in the goat house! After that I did firewood which is now a regular job.

Firewood! Well, I have to mix and match three lots. The mixed oak, birch and pine that came from Lajos - yes, I still have plenty of that left - the acacia wood which is now nicely dried out and the mountain of wood from the big old pear tree in the yard. Well, I needed a fair amount of the latter. The pearwood was hard work, with the big axe. Oh well, it is what keeps me fit. That and the digging and the scything. I certainly do not feel the need to go to a gymn.

I ate, changed and went to the faluhaz with the Advent pictures. After that I went to the pub. Hobo was there, of course. He regaled me with news of a wondrous new machine that Toni had, powered by electricity, that split kugli. I know that I will forget to write about it, so I will write now. In true Hungarian fashion it broke. Hobo was reduced to splitting kugli in the same way that I do. Oh well!

30th November 2011

I managed three hours of winter digging today. That was about as much as I could manage physically, and the cold finally drove me off. All I did after that was to do the firewood and feed the goats. That was it.


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