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February 2012

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1st February 2012

It was quite mild this morning when I put the dogs out. Only minus seven! There had been a little light cloud overnight that had helped to moderate the temperature. I made the usual (amended) start by lighting the kitchen stove and then shopping. I had my leisurely breakfast as the kitchen warmed and then donned the wellies to go and deal with goats and pigeons. As soon as I donned the wellies, as sometimes happens, I had to answer a call of nature. On my way through the bathroom to the loo I managed to trip over the drainage grating in the bathroom floor. In my haste I thought nothing of it until I had answered the call of nature. And then it dawned upon me that you can't trip over the grating. It is flush with the bathroom floor tiles.

On my way back to the kitchen I shuffled the grating back into its proper place. It was only as I was leaving the bathroom that I noticed. There was a pile of earth behind the bathroom door and another at the bottom corner of the kitchen unit just inside the kitchen. I later found yet another by the side of the stove. Well, something a lot bigger than a mouse had been inside overnight. Emergency repairs were called for.

Well, the pastoral duties had to come first. Goats, pigeons, then firewood. Apart from the small mountain of small stuff the amount of the old pear tree that I could deal with on the yard was coming to an end. Another barrow load went in the wood house and I smashed and chopped enough for tile stove and kitchen.

After lunch and having fed and watered goats and pigeons I set about the emergency repairs. As an aside, I will lay to rest what I think is yet another urban myth. Now, I do like my dogs and goats and pigeons having liquid water to drink. So I provide it. But it is utter bollox. I have seen the dogs lick and chew pieces of ice, and I know from the patterns in it that the pigeons will simply peck at ice to get enough water to sustain them. I have no idea about the goats - I do not tend to stand and watch them - but I suspect the same as the dogs. I reckon that ice and snow will see them through. By the way don't eat yellow snow!

I digress once again. A stout piece of oak fixed the problem by the bathroom doorway. A mixing of lime mortar fixed the problem behind the bathroom door. Another small mixing of cement mortar fixed the problem by the stove. And my water container in which to do heating of water for general washing duties - clothes, me - filled with water and placed over the grating in the bathroom would, I hoped fix it.

I forgot to mention a very odd problem that I had a couple of days ago. I was out in the yard chopping firewood when I smelt smoke. I looked around and there was a wreath of smoke around the goat house. It was not the day for garden fires anyway but I went and checked. No garden fires anywhere that I could see. Smoke continued to swirl around the goat house. I went into the garden to investigate and then into the goat house. Well, there was no trace of smoke or fire within the goat house. I could only put it down to the fact that my neighbours on Telek utca had lit their tile stove and the climatic conditions concentrated it in a cloud and it drifted down in the neglible breeze and ended up swirling around my goat house.

I came into conversation with Lajos in the evening. He reckoned that we were due for about half a metre of snow!

2nd February 2012

It was not a bad morning but by heck it was cold. I checked the thermometer on the kitchen windowsill. Minus fourteen! The kitchen stove was lit before going to the shop. When I did go to the shop I made the mistake of going hatless and gloveless. It is only a few steps to the shop but I could barely feel my fingers by the time I got back.

Goats and pigeons done, and immediately back to the house for a warm. It was sunny outside so I ventured out for some of the slowly diminishing small stuff stacked by the fence. I say slowly diminishing. In fact anything that is too big to chop easily is going on the heap just outside the old woodhouse. I managed half a small basket before the cold drove me off. At noon it was still minus four, and that in spite of it being a sunny day.

After lunch I got the rest of the firewood in. At least that is an activity where there is a bit of action wielding the various sizes of axe which generates a bit of body heat.

I lit the tile stove and got it going nicely and then I cycled up the village for eggs. Even Toni was complaining about the cold. On the way back I called and had my daily dose of Kommisar Rex. Back home and the usual evening routine after that.

3rd February 2012

Minus fourteen again when I let the dogs out. I lit the stove and went to the shop. Back home I chucked some more wood on the stove and prepared to make coffee. No water. Frozen up again. I despair of this Hungarian plumbing. Iron pipes running through an outhouse! You know why iron pipes? Because they are the cheapest. I swear that when I have I bit more money in the kitty I will smash the sink unit in the bathroom to smithereens and employ a bloke with a diamond drill to drill down to where has already been mended twice and the water feed to come up inside the bloody house, not hidden within the walls. Then I will have the whole lot replumbed with copper pipe all running around the inside walls of the house. This lot was all new in 1989. Until the boiler blew up there were only three taps in the whole place that worked properly. Two were the hot and cold supply to bath/shower. The other was the cold water supply to the sink. Crap. Utter crap! Rant over.

I had water in the kettle to make me coffee and I had water in the container in the bathroom over the grating sufficient to do pigeons and goats. As the coffee cooked and so did the toast I sat there and laughed.

With pigeons/goats watered/fed as appropriate and dogs secured I went on a by now familiar request. Up to the pub to borrow a couple of ten litre wine containers. I confess that I was so pissed off that I had a beer. Hobo was there. Now that's a surprise! However, Hobo was despatched by Láci the landlord and another beer came my way. Whatever! When Hobo reappeared the two ten litre containers were already filled with drinking water. I strapped them across the bike carrier and wobbled my way home. Twenty kilogrammes thus secured to the bike carrier does tend to make it wobble.

Apart from the lack of running water it was a fairly normal day after that. Once again this evening MALEV (Hungarian Airlines) featured quite prominently on the news. I could not quite follow the sense of it but it was obvious that something bad was going down.

4th February 2012

It was only minus nine this morning but there was a vicious, blustery north-north-easter blowing. Enough to raise clouds of dust from the yard and hurtle loose stuff about, of which there was plenty. The wind chill factor was fierce. I made sure to don hat, gloves and scarf before venturing to the shop. I was somewhat short of funds so the shop was pretty basic. I bought yeast instead of bread - I had enough bread for breakfast in the house and I had flour in the cupboard. Some evening beer to sustain me whilst writing up the blog or trawling for doom and gloom when I arrived home in the evening and some mandarins of uncertain species.

I did a load of washing up, which cleaned the hands sufficiently to make bread. I don't worry about it anyway. Wherever you are in the world bread, or equivalent, is safe to eat. You can be sure that once it comes out of the oven it is sterile. I made a short, fat poppy seed bloomer. It turned out to be one of my best creations out of the kitchen stove.

It all fell to bits immediately after that. I went to feed the pigeons and goats and black dog took it into his head to go walkabout. I had hoped that Tibi's dogs would be by the fence, in which case black dog would have gone for a barking, snarling match. They were not there. Blackie disappeared up to Telek utca. I just got on and fed the goats.

After I fed the goats I spotted Blackie at the top of the garden. I called him and he headed my way, only to decide to take a detour into Tibi's garden. In the meantime Pickle had managed to remove yet another (rotten) piece of Hobo's gate. Bollox!

There followed two hours of me trying to mend gate whilst simultaneously trying to corner the black b*stard. At one stage he obligingly reappeared down the garden and hopped through the gap which I was mending. Only to disappear again through the ajar small gate onto Petőfi utca that I had left open in hopes of enticing him in. I just got on and mended the gate. A bit of infrastructure was sacrificed.

At one stage I thought that I had him cornered. He went down the lane by the shop. I had caught him there before. Just down the little lane the gates were open and he went walkabout in their yard. I did not catch him. I returned to my yard and with unfeeling fingers managed temporarily to nail the new piece into to garden gate. Ah, Hobo it needs more than one nail at the top and one nail athe the bottom!

Black dog eventually returned of his own accord and met with my displeasure. He knew that he had been bad, but bless him he cannot help himself. At least on his excursions he has not worried chickens, goats, sheep, cattle or humans. He just goes walkabout. Aborigine dog. I was perished to the core after being out there for most of two hours.

I neglected to say that whilst all this was going on it had started to snow. Not much, but fine powdery stuff blowing about in the wind.

I had a belated hot lunch - veggie soup with a crust of my new bread and warmed up. I had been chilled to the bone. I still had to get firewood in. I circumvented the system and just grabbed what was available and got a good fire going in the tile stove. With all the comings and goings the temperature in the big room was ten Celsius. It took me five hours to get it back to sixteen in my office.

I had not seen the old lady next door all day. Very unusually her house door remained closed and her outhouse door remained closed. By the time that it came for me to go to the pub I was sufficiently concerned that I did a little cycle-by her place. I was reassured by the fact that her light was on in the room were I know she watches the telly. I hoped that she was not ill and had just battened down the hatches for the current extreme cold spell.

I went to the pub. The MALEV stuff was all revealed. Bust. No flights. Grounded. There were interviews with Wizz Air, Ryanair, and others all dubbed in magyarul so I understood little. I looked on the Internet later. MALEV had accounted for 45% of traffic into and out of Ferihegy. Not a good sign for that particular economy.

5th February 2012

It was minus nine this morning but the cold, bustery wind had dropped and it was actually a nice day. It was all the usual start but then I had to fetch water. Dogs were locked in for a few minutes and I cycled to the templom tap to replenish the containers.

It was a day for getting lots of little jobs done but only for a few minutes at a time. It took me four separate little sessions to get the firewood in.

Another little job - long overdue - was to stop Blackie getting in the unused outhouse where maize stalks had been last year. There was a hole in the outside wall my side where long ago an old furnace was ripped out. Repeated attempts by both me and Hobo to block it off had been ripped to shreds by Backie and he delighted in getting in there and playing merry hell with the next door dogs. It took me two goes to deal with but I ended up with the hole bunged up with dry-laid bricks and wedged in roof tiles. Pick the bones out of that Blackie! I completed the job in another true Hungarian fashion by recycling a big nail, straightening it, hammering it into the door frame and bending it again so as to keep the door into that outhouse closed.

Another little job was to check the drainage from the house to the septic tank. It was fine. Wet but clear. Something scuttled away as I lifted the lid.

I had had to open the doors to the potting shed to do that. I left hem open. The kitchen windowsill thermometer was well in plusses in the afternoon sun. I hoped that the sun shining into the outhouse might thaw out the water supply. A forlorn hope. What continues to bug me is that I have no idea where the water pipes are. In the UK a cold water supply comes into the house. With a stop tap. After that it is easy because all the pipes (except for the aberration of burying central heating pipes just under the concrete) are visible. Whatever!

Usual finish to the day and I went to the pub with just enough in my pocket for a couple of beers for me and shop in the morning.

I had begun to look into my pension. It has been a very long time since I had to read through anything like this. When I was a Trading Standards Officer - long ago and far away - I had to do it all the time. I think what it says is that I will not have to pay tay on my pension(s) in the UK, but if I pay tax on them here in Hungary they will also not be able to take in tax more than I would have to pay in the UK. Mmmm - could get complicated!

6th February 2012

Minus eleven - Brrrrrrr! Light the fire, shop, breakfast and out to do the pigeons and goats. Feeding the goats first thing is the coldest thing I do. They get maize stalks then. The maize stalks are outside, stacked in bunches around the walnut tree by the camping lawn. That means they were minus eleven.

Back to the house for a warm. In fact it was so cold that all day the warming up after whatever I did outside took up a pretty fair chunk of the day. I don't know about you, ladies, but I find it difficult to knit when I cannot feel my fingers! Firewood was obtained, tile stove lit early and kitchen stove kept going all day. The cold outside was just strength sapping.

Pub in the evening to watch people dropping through holes. Hobo was there, of course. He was almost bereft of beer when I arrived, so I bought him one. He lingered over that beer as far as the end of the news. Then, knowing that I was not about to buy him another he left very early. I had one more and left myself.

Back home and doing a bit more on the pensions front I discovered that I would have to fill in a Claim Form. I downloaded it and read through it. Utterly ridiculous! Whoever wrote that form shouls be hung by the heels from a lamp post. I'll give you an example. On the form you have to state the address at which you were born. Fair enough. BUT! As part of the documentation that has to accompany the form you have to send your birth certificate. What is on your birth certificate? The place where you were born. Another example is that they want payroll references for every place that you have ever worked in paid employment. They have to be joking!!! Do they seriously think that I can provide that information about when I worked as a police cadet in 1965?

It pissed me off and worried me. It took me a long while to get to sleep.

7th February 2012

God it was cold, and snowing to boot. It was another day that by the time I fed the goats I could not feel my hands. Part of that was due to the fact that their maize stalks were covered in snow which had to be shaken off before they were apportioned their rations. Back to the house for a warm.

It turned out to be back to the house for considerably longer than just a warm. I had stuff to do in relation to the form that I mentioned yesterday. That involved sorting out my paperwork. I confess that in the almost four years that I had been here sorting out paperwork was a very very low priority item. Not that I don't have a system. I do. Every single official or informational bit of paper that comes into the house is categorised as either scanning or filing. Scanning is when I think the bit of paper is done with and I might just want to keep it on record. Filing is the stuff that I think I might need to have access to the actual paperwork (Passport, Hungarian tax card, dog vaccination certificates, guarantees). All that was filed. Oh yes, it was all in a heap in one draw of one of my big room units.

I began to sort it out. By lunchtime I had managed to sort out bank statements. These were only the bank statements that I had received by post here. Many were unopened. Bank statement - chuck it in the drawer. I managed to find a fair amount of stuff that had passed from filing to scanning. The paperwork for the defunct MTD strimmer for example. I did manage to locate three particularly important pieces of paper on my quest. They were still in an envelope addressed to my last address in the UK. I said I had a system!

It was lunchtime, so I made a sandwich and turned on the computer. No Internet connection! Not again! I abandoned it, fed the pigeons and goats and got the firewood in. I lit the tile stove early. Whilst it was getting in its stride I went and turned on the computer again. Still no Internet. On a whim I unplugged the phone line and plugged it back in again. I had Internet! Oh, it is all so fragile: the plumbing, the electricity supply, the telephone lines...

I went to the pub for a beer, then back home for the early evening ritual. It included today more new bedding for the goats. The colder it gets, the more new bedding they get. I don't always remember to mention it on the blog but when it is this cold it is every couple of days.

Pub in the evening.

8th February 2012

Well, I am hoping that this morning was the coldest of the winter. It was minus sixteen! After breakfast I did the goats and pigeons and apart from the usual repeats and just a little firewood that was me finished outside for the day.

Inside I did more paperwork and then some knitting. Hobo turned up to get me water. He was a little longer than I expected. The tap by the church no longer worked. He had had to seek the help of a nearby neighbour. I know that I will forget so I will tell you now that Hobo knew why the tap at the templom did not work. I had thought that it was just the handle that was frozen solid. Apparently not. Hobo told me that they had tried to get it working again using a big blowtorch. That did not work. I have mentioned previously the ingenenous mechanism of it that uses air pressure to drive the water back down the pipe below the frost. It only works if a sufficient quantity of water has been drawn out. Hobo told me that a certain person - no names no pack drill - had been using the tap to draw just the odd litre now and again.

Hobo got a load more firewood in - to the extent that I later had to stack some of it by the side of the cserepkalyha, where some of it still remains. Hobo departed to try and earn a few more forints here and there. It was very thin pickings at the moment. Ground work was out of the question, apart from me all the firewood work was done and certainly nobody wanted any painting done. He was happy to have done for me what he did for the price of a box of cigarettes.

I went to the pub for my dose of Kommisar Rex. Láci immediately told me that Rex would not be on. I shrugged. It is after all his telly. He had a quick thrash round the channels and within twenty seconds told me that Rex would be on.

Back home and all the usual. Cold work it was too but I already had both stoves lit so the house was warm as toast. I had a worry. I had not seen the old lady at No. 72 today, nor had I seen any sign of her being out. Normally, by the time I am up and about, I can see that she is up and about because her outhouse door is ajar. Today it was not, and remained so all day. By the time that it was time for me to cycle to the pub in the evening I cycled the opposite way, doing a little ride-by her house. Her light was on, her Venitian blinds partly closed, and I could see that she had the telly on. Reassured I went to the pub. I think she had just battened down the hatches because of the weather.

I had just a couple on the pub. Hobo had the one whilst I was there and beat a retreat. So did I after the second. We were both skint.

9th February 2012

It was warmer this morning. Only minus fourteen! Life went on. I lit the fire before going to the shop as usual at the moment. After that the usual stuff. Feeding the goats was once again a hand numbing experience. Back to the house for a warm.

I got the firewood in a bit at a time and did some computer stuff in the warming up periods. I forgot to put in my notes, but I think that this was the first day that I had a morning fire in the cserepkalyha. It had happened that in the wee small hours of the morning that was actually what I needed, so I answered that call of nature. I thought to check the cserepkalyha and it was just right for throwing a few more logs on so I did. In the morning I checked it again and there were more than enough red embers just to chuck on some small stuff and it set off burning again within seconds.

On my travels around the house I decided to try the cold tap to the handwash basin in the bathroom. That tap had been turned off for months. Not only did the tap drip but so did the stop tap when it was turned on. It stayed off today too. It was frozen solid. So were all the other taps in the bathroom. I stoked the kitchen stove up to what I call a cooking fire as opposed to what I call a keeping warm fire. When the kitchen was good and hot I opened the bathroom door to let some of the warmth of the kitchen get in there. It was a vain hope. The taps thawed out but there was not a drop of water anywhere, including the dripping stop tap. I now knew why there had once been a radiator in the potting shed. It was not there when I arrived. The potting shed having been insecure in the interval that the property was vacant, clearly someone had had it away with it.

Hobo turned up with typical Hungarian punctuality to borrow my angle grinder. He was only between three and four hours late. He set off saying that he would be back in half an hour to go and get me the water in. An hour went by and no sign of Hobo. Another fifteen minutes went by. Ah, bollox to it. I locked the dogs in and went to the pub for my daily dose of Rex. It is very predictable. Somebody gets killed (or maybe a baby stolen). Rex gets a new toy. Invariably he manages to steal a ham roll. Invariably he plays some sort of prank on one or other of the policemen crew and invariably he becomes the hero of the hour at the end when he thwarts the getaway of the criminal. Love it.

Hobo tracked me down in the pub about half an hour after I had arrived there. I don't think he needed Sherlock Holmes. We cycled back to mine after Rex. Hobo returned the angle grinder, disc somewhat battered. But then, good chap that he is, off he went and got me the containers of drinking water.

I stayed home in the evening. More computer work. I had a problem. I had lost several hundred scans of documents that I scanned in the UK before I moved here. I knew that I had had them. The pattern for the cabled pullover that I had knitted for myself had come from them. They were on my external hard disk somewhere. Back to the command line - find -type d -name scans. That did it. Well, it partially did it. It found where I had put the raw scans in a temporary directory straight off the scanner. Where were the rest - the ones I had categorised and dated? It was certainly four years since I had done that. I remembered a directory name. Payslips. find -type d -name Payslips. That did it as well. They were not where I expected them to be but I had found them so all was well. I copied the whole lot back onto this machine, a bit better organised.

Half an hour of normal Internet browsing - weather forecast/exchange rate/BBC News/doom and gloom - and off to bed.

10th February 2012

Mrs. Pigeon had given up on the single egg that there was. Mr. Pigeon had steadfastly refused to sit it as if to say "You daft woman! What you doing laying one egg at this time of year anyway?" I removed it from the pigeon house when I did the morning water. Shame. She had built a nice little nest. Bits of straw arranged in a circle about six inches in diameter and about half an inch high. It was only minus twelve this morning.

You know, touch wood (not that I am supersticious), it still amazes me that goats and pigeons survive this. Much better than we humans could. Well, humans survived the ice ages. I suspect with the help of animal skins. I wonder how they rendered the skins fit to wear to keep them warm. Did they have some sort of tanning process? It was back to the routine. Top up the firewood with warming up intervals. Then lunch. Then feed the goats and pigeons. I sat in the warmth of the kitchen after that and did some long-neglected knitting. Then up to the pub for Rex.

It was a normal (?) finish to the day after that. Up to the pub for a couple of beers. Back home and feed the dogs and bank up the cserepkalyha. Having fed the dogs and kicked them out for a while I settled to a bit of Internet and computer work. I became aware that it was colder than it should have been in the big room. I checked. The dogs were both in the hallway and the house door wide open. Not only that but I found the knitting on the doorstep. Quite obviously black dog had thought it an interesting plaything. I kicked and cursed the dogs, locked them within and retrieved the knitting. The ball of yarn was wrapped around Pickle's chain to the extent of x to the power of y. Some thirty or forty metres. In the freezing cold I retrieved and untangled it from dog chain. Black dog suffered severe retributions.

11th February 2012

Another bitingly cold morning. I do not know what the temperature was - I forgot to look - but certainly a fair bit colder than minus ten. It came on to snow soon after I was out and about. It did not amount to much.

After the usual I investigated the well. It had up until now remained a quaint curiosity in the yard apart from one abortive attempt to use it. Well (pun intended), the current no water in the house situation could go on until March. By March I would have no clean(ish) clothes to put on. I was not about to sacrifice precious drinking water that had to be carried in small quantities for such a purpose. It was as I feared. The winding handle and drum were fine. The metalwork for getting a bucket up and down the well most certainly not. It was crude and it was rotten. The system was quite simple and I have since found out that it is standard practice. Secured to the winding drum is a length of wire rope. Seven by seven or six by nineteen if I remember collectly. At the end of that is a short length of chain that actually has the bucket attached and goes into the water. The wire rope was held on the drum in true Hungarian style with lots of bent nails. The rope itself was rotten and broke in two places just unwinding it from the drum. The method of attaching the wire rope to the chain was unbelievable. It consisted of a piece of what I can only describe as extra-heavy duty fuse wire about two millimetres in diameter poked through the wire rope and twisted around the top link of the chain. It would not do. It would not do at all. Trash the whole lot out and start over. More later.

I went to the pub for a fröccs. John appeared briefly.

Back home more of the old stuff from the loft went into the goat house. The amount that goes in is in reciprocal proportion to the ambient temperature. With goats and pigeons all sorted I retired to the house and had full unhealthy - a great fry-up. Sausages, eggs, chips and peas. Lovely.

Pub. Hobo did not appear until well after I got there. He had but the one beer and left early. 'Tis the weather. Unpaid, he keeps the football club water system alive by firing up the central heating evening and morning. I probably mentioned it before, but why not drain the whole lot down at the end of the season and refill it at the start of the next season? Save them a fortune in firewood.

12th February 2012

Only minus nine this morning and no wind. It felt quite pleasant. I had a minor stove catastrophe this morning. The cserepkalyha was still going so I stole some coals from it to start the kitchen fire. To say that it was reluctant to light would be the understatement of this year and next. The penny did not drop until I removed the big cooking pot that holds the dogs' water out in the yard. The constant freezing hard and thawing had taken its toll and it had sprung a leak. I reckoned about four litres worth of a leak. The water had all found its way into the stove. Every time I blew some life into the fire it evaporated off more water and damped the fire down again. It took me an hour to make a pot of coffee and cook three slices of toast. It did eventually evaporate off all the water and started operating normally again.

I had a good go sweeping through the house. It desperately needed mopping through but I was not about to sacrifice drinking water for mopping floors. Speaking of drinking water where the heck was Hobo? He had promised to be here between ten and eleven to do the drinking water. It was pushing on towards twelve and I needed the water for goats and pigeons. I need not have worried. He appeared at half past ten Hungarian time - just gone twelve - and never even came in the yard. I passed the containers over the gate to him and he set off immediately.

He was not gone long, so that was goat and pigeon water sorted out. I spoke to him about the well. He had a look. Apparently the wire rope joined to a bit of chain is standard practise. The chain goes in the water which keeps the wire rope dry, and the wire rope makes for easier winding up of the loaded bucket. It makes sense. But not with just a bit of wire holding the two together. He also confirmed my worst fears about what covers the well. It is asbestos sheeting. God, if this was the UK you would need men in white overall suits and respirators to draw water from the well.

I did the goats and pigeons and Hobo stayed and did the firewood for me. Lots of firewood, but it does bugger up my system. There was all the right firewood all chopped up in the right sizes but all in the wrong places. Never mind. We went to the pub. He had a beer, I had a fröccs. I paid him for his efforts. The price of a pack of cigarettes. An hours physical work for somewhat under two pounds.

I went home, had a late bite to eat and sorted out all the firewood into the right sizes in the right places. I ended up with a two foot high stack of stuff suitable for the cserepkalyha actually stacked on the floor right at the side of it. Pigeons and goats. It was by now cold work in the late afternoon.

Back inside and hot food. Hurka, burgonyapüré and zöldborsó. Luverly.

Pub in the evening. The news had scenes of them struggling with the ice on the Danube. There was also a bit imploring people to feed the wild birds and make sure all the animals had water. Well, I said my bit on that and dogs, goats and pigeons get water three times a day.

If you want your Internet not to be censored there are on-line petitions that you can sign. I urge you to sign them!

13th February 2012

It was a normal day in the farm department. Goats, pigeons, dogs firewood.

I spent the rest of the day dealing with the scans aforementioned. Mind numbingly boring work, but before I came out here I had a small mountain of paperwork that I had no intention whatever of paying carriage to get it shipped out here. The only paperwork that got shipped was a small folder of personal stuff - P60s,etc -and the bank statements that I had to keep according to UK law. They had been scanned in somewhat of a hurry and the result was that I had a few hundred files that were just a consecutive number as they came off the scanner plus a file type. There was no clue as to the file content.

I set about viewing each scan and saving it somewhere sensible. All day! Except that I did go to the pub for my daily fix of Rex.

I had started to worry about Suzy. She was huge, and I wondered whether she maybe had bloat, whch can rapidly become fatal to goats. I investigated on the Internet. Ha! No she most certainly did not have bloat. A goat with bloat will be reluctant to move and in obvious signs of distress. Suzy was bounding about, bullying the kid out of the way, and her tail was up. One of my favourite goat sites on the Internet told me that her size and her behaviour all indicated a goat that was "in good condition". In other words she was just fat! I cannot get used to the pictures of goats without horns though.

Relieved, I went to bed.

14th February 2012

It was not cold this morning, only minus nine. Once again I found the tile stove still alight and managed to steal half of the glowing coals to light the kitchen stove and have the remaining half relight a small fire in the tile stove for the morning in true Hungarian fashion.

By the time I had done that I was at the shop by half past seven. That meant that breakfast was early and the goats and pigeons were done early too. I had a plan for the day.

I spent the morning on getting all the various firewoods in. Hobo turned up and did the water. I did the pigeons and goats early, did a quick change routine, locked the dogs in and cycled up to the pub for a quick fröccs before catching the Körmend bus. The fröccs turned into a beer, as Láci misunderstood my intentions. Oh well!

On the bus I noticed the effect the snow fences had had upon the recent snowfall when it had been very cold and quite windy. The fences are just a series of iron stakes driven on the ground and a quite dense plastic netting secured along. The fence is about twenty metres to the north of the road. The effect had been that the snow had curled over/through the fence and formed a wide drift from five to ten metres wide about five metres from the fence. The result was that the five metres or so on the land next to the road and the road itself remained relatively snow free. I had seen snow fences when I lived in Lincolnshire but with never enough drifting snow to observe the effect.

In Körmend I did a Spar shop. Liver, coffee beans and cooking-type beans. I revoked at the margarine. Four hundred and fifty forints for a half kilo! I went to the bank for cash and then had a relatively leisurely beer in the Presszo bar. The lady in there, who I have known now for some while, engaged me in conversation. It turned out that her mother lives on Kishalogy utca in Daraboshegy. Kishalogy (Little Halogy) and Daraboshegy all used to be part of Halogy until they obtained their independance.

I headed for the bus. I did not intend to miss it. I had calls to make in Nádasd. I caught the bus. It was the usual standing room only, and the usual crop of selfish female students occupying a seat with a small back pack. Why is it always female students going through puberty that act thus? I let it go and stood. I alighted in Nádasd. I think it was the first time that I ever did that. It was only twenty metres or so to the Coop shop. I called in there and checked. Yep. Margarine was thirty forints a tub cheaper than the Spar shop in town. I bought two.

I walked over to Bödő for my next mission. Stuff with which to repair the well. I did not get off to a good start. I wanted six metres of wire rope. I just said wire. He shrugged and we went walkabout. We were heading back to the counter, me having rejected everything he showed me, when I spotted it. Two drums just lying on the floor. Sorted. Two metres of chain, four U-bolts to fit the wire rope and a carabiner. A touch over two and a half thousand forints. Oh well, another day that I would not be able to go to the shop or the pub then. Anyway, I had what I needed to be able to get water out of the well. I had enough time left before the next bus back to the village for a gentle stroll to the Csillág Bufet. I was enjoying my leisurely beer and decided that a leisurely pipe of tobacco was equally in order. I sat at the table and filled the pipe, as you do. There was a muttering and coughing from somewhere over my left shoulder. I turned to see one of the regulars who I knew by sight wagging his finger at me and shaking his head. I told him in no uncertain terms that I knew and was going to smoke it outside. Which I did. I sat at one of the picnic tables outside where the sun was full on. It was almost like a spring afternoon. Most pleasant.

It was time to go for the bus so I finished the beer and headed out. What a difference fifteen minutes had made. It was by then quite cold. I went to the bus stop. I noticed a thing. I did not see the lovely old Hungarian Vizsla poke his nose out of the gate railings. He had always been a regular feature. In true Hungarian style he would bark at anything that moved, apart from traffic. The house had the appearance of being closed up. I had never seen who had lived there - only the dog. It looked to me very much like whoever had been in the house had gone on. Oh dear, whatever happened to the dog? With that a car pulled up and parked right at the end of the bus stop. A young man who I knew by sight (pub - skittles) got out, went to the boot and opened it and extracted a large plastic tray. He went in the house gate and went somewhere round the back. I heard the barking of dogs. Well, maybe I was putting two and two together and coming up with five but it cheered me up immensely to hear those dogs bark. From the sound of it one of them was the old Vizsla. I caught the bus.

After the normal courtesy call in the pub I went home. I had another astonishment. There was still enough fire in the tile stove for me to rob some of it to relight the kitchen stove and also to get the tile stove going again. After that it was business as usual. Pigeons, goats, eat, change and go to the pub. There was an oddity on the weather forecast. There was a cold front coming in. It would be three or four degrees warmer than it had been. How does that work then?

15th February 2012

It was warmer again this morning - only minus seven. I had a normal start. Once again I lit the kitchen stove from the remnants of yesterday evenings tile stove fire. I put a little fire in the tile stove as well.

I did a bit more work on the computer sorting out scans. I took a break and sorted out the wire rope for the well. For I think the first time I was not overly pleased with Bödő. The chap there had cut it with bolt croppers and side cutters.It looked like the ends had been chewed. Well, it would not do for me so I redid it the proper way just as they had done the last time I bought any (Pickle's running wire). A couple of rounds of insulting tape about half an inch apart and then very gently through between the rounds with the angle grinder. I lost a whole three centimetres off each end! Next I secured the ends back into loops, one slightly bigger than the other, with the U-bolts, securing the last link of new chain within the smaller loop. I used the last of my WD40 on the U-bolts. It was only the small size of can but with twenty percent free. It was one of the first things that I put in the basket one of the first times I went to Tesco when I first arrived here nearly four years ago. Use sparingly I think the saying is. The reason that I assembled the wire was that I did not want Hobo getting his hands on the U-bolts. Good chap that he is, he is a bit heavy handed with a spanner and they were only diddy little eight millimetre nuts. Tight's tight. Too tight's loose!

I popped to the shop after that. I fell into conversation with Marika and the shop lady about the well. It turned out that not only the old lady next door but two other near neighbours also use (and drink) their well water.

Kutyatap-Kutyatap turned up with my pigeon food a short while later. A good job too. I had cut it just a bit fine on that front and had had to pad out their rations the last couple of days with a bit of this and a bit of that that I had around the place

I started on getting the firewood in and then it was lunchtime. After that goats and pigeons. I started on getting the rest of the firewood and Hobo turned up to fix the well. He removed the remains of the old wire and then all the bent nails that were holding it to the winding drum. Yep - Hungarian style - bent nails. I fetched the new stuff. He managed not to drop any nails or tools in the well. The new stuff went over the drum and then chain and the rest of the wire rope fed back through the loop made by the U-bolts that end. He secured the loop to the drum with staples that I provided. That way should the staples ever come out none of it was going anywhere anyway. I fetched my galvanised bucket, a spare carabiner and my twenty five litre fermenter and we gave it a road test. In a minute we had about twenty three litres of turbid well water with lots of floaters. Hobo's hammering had dislodged lots of semi-rotten bits of the infrastructure and they were just sitting on top of the water. As with much on the estate it needs mending with new. The only bit that was really OK was the drum and winding handle and it squeaked. Hobo told me to lubricate it with lard - not oil. In conversation Hobo ventured that, apart from my previous feeble attempts, he reckoned that it was a least twelve years - maybe more - since water had been drawn regularly from the well.

We went and had a beer and watched Rex. I went home and finished off firewood. Goats and pigeons done I cooked the liver. I did not eat it tonight as I already had something else. It went in the slow cooker on low to braise and I would sort it out and start eating it tomorrow. There was enough for three days, maybe four.

Pub later, and Hobo related the happenings of the day víz-a-víz the well (look at that carefully and ponder). It precipitated quite a lively discussion amongst the locals. I just think that having a working well holding potable water could turn out to be a huge asset.

This from the BBC. When are they going to get it? YOU CANNOT HAVE INFINITE GROWTH IN A FINITE WORLD. Sorry to shout but I feel very strongly about it.

16th February 2012

It was another very pleasant day. Cold to start but clear skies and sunny. The only thing I saw of it was when I did the animals and firewood. Otherwise it was a nothing sort of a day. The pub was closed for the day - they were having a private pig killing. Otherwise I sat in front of the computer.

I had a minor disaster when I managed to miss the Purina van. And another minor disaster when the shop had nothing but piddling little five hundred gramme bags of dog food in stock when I went in the evening.

17th February 2012

It was good weather again. Cold to start - minus five - but a clear bright dawn. I still had computer work to do but I was getting to the end of categorising and renaming scans. I had discovered that over the years of scanning documents thus I had used about three different conventions for naming the files. That would have to be fixed then. I gave it some thought.

The kitchen stove was playing up. The place kept filling with smoke and the smoke alarm going off, which was no bad thing as I at least knew that it worked. Suspecting the pipework I let the stove go out and cool down after breakfast and pulled it all out. I normally hose it out but with no running water anywhere I had to make do with bashing it with the palm of my hand until no bits of carbon/soot fell out. Strangely enough, not that many days ago I had seen the old lady at No. 72 on exactly the same errand. I wonder if you can envisage your grandmother (greatgrandmother?) ripping the pipework off a stove, taking it out and cleaning it and then reassembling it. All in a days work for her.

I managed to get a much needed pants and socks wash done using well water that had settled. I still thought the well needed some TLC.

After lunch and doing goats and pigeons I locked the dogs in and set off by bike for Nádasd. I still had to settle the dog food problem. Fortunately it proved to be a really nice cycling afternoon with warm sun and virtually no wind again. The weather was not windy either. I bought ten kilogrammes of dog food in Bödő and yet another item of ironmongery - a combined swivel and carabiner to replace the one on Pickle's chain. I had noticed that the one on there was considerably worn. If she hits it hard it will break. Oh, I do look forward to the time when the dogs will be in a virtual cage in the back two thirds of the yard. An open air cage to be sure, and bigger than most of the gardens at houses where I have lived but a cage nonetheless - brick and steel throughout and higher than they can jump. It is high on my list of priorities for many reasons.

I got back to the village just in time to call in the pub for Rex. I bought myself a beer and sat down to watch. With that Láci plonked another beer in front of me. He indicated an Austrian gentleman who I know well by sight who was there with his wife. They have a house in the village. By that John appeared and bought himself a beer. The same thing happened to him. It happened twice more from the same source. The guy is always generous. He was exceptionally generous today. And it was not just me and John. He bought rounds for the whole pub. I still had two on the table when I had to go and do the evening round of goats and pigeons. I lidded my beer and explained to the Austrian that I had to go and do work at home but would be back - all in best pidgin German.

So I did. Home, pigeons, goats and grabbed a quick alcohol soaker on my travels, then back to the beer in the pub. Hobo had turned up by then. It turned into a bit of a session. Not sufficient for me to be incapable of cycling home, but I do admit to taking the centre line of the road route. Fortunately there was no traffic. Dogs were fed and let out for a while, then I was not long out of bed.

18th February 2012

It was a lovely day again and as the day progressed it grew quite warm. I had been in the habit of opening the potting shed doors whenever the temperature on the kitchen windowsill rose above five. They were open much of the day today. I still had no water though. Of course what I was dealing with was a combination of lagged pipes and the latent heat of fusion of ice. Seventy nine calories per gramme, as I recall. No, actually, I looked it up. The knowledge made no difference. The pipes remained frozen. I had got into the habit of a tour of the taps at intervals over the last few days. That did not help either.

Computer stuff with which I will bore you no more other than to say that I was dealing with thirty year old paperwork, some of which I would need to be able to claim my UK retirement pension.

It happened that the dogs were inside when there was a knock on the door. Lajos with a bag of hurka. I answered him through the little opening window in the door. I retrieved the bag of hurka and held it head high out of harms way whilst I attempted to converse with Lajos above the cacophonous barking of the dogs. He told me to settle up in the pub later. He also asked where John was, as he had been unable to get him to answer his door. With a bit of insider knowledge I told him that John was at home, but to try knocking on his other door. Tomorrow. He had left John's hurka with his mother who coincidentally lives straight opposite John. Lajos left, I put the hurka well out of dogs way in the kitchen cupboard and kicked the dogs out for a while.

No sooner had I done so than there was another doggie commotion. I poked my head out to see what was going on and it turned out to be one of the other village dogs going walkabout. I am not the only person in Halogy with dogs that go walkabout.

Later, in the pub, we were treated to the spectacle of a Hungarian bartering with an Austrian. Helmut had turned up and wanted to strike a deal for the purchase of Hobo's much unused Puch Maxi moped. There was a long impasse. Hobo was insistent on x-amount of forints and Helmut would buy the beer. Helmut was equally insistent on x-amount of forints and he would not buy the beer. Helmut won in the end. I think the temptation of x-amount of forints in his pocket there and then was too much for Hobo. He even got a round in.

Back home I fed the dogs then kicked them out as usual. I was doing a bit of blog updating when - click - out went the light and off went the computer. It happened that I had candle in candlestick within arms length. I lit the candle and went to investigate. I looked out of the door window and the street lights were still on and by chance the neighbours over the road still had an outside light on. Blast! Not a power cut. I retrieved the wind-up torch and investigated the meter cupboard. Sure enough two of the earth trip circuit breakers had tripped. The third one, since day one when I arrived here remained - to use a technical term - buggered. I punched the buttons in and the lights came back on in the house. I let the dogs in at the same time, then rebooted the computer and went back to where I was. Fortunately I had not lost the habit of pressing [Ctrl]+[S] every time I typed a new line or a full stop. I had lost half a sentence. I had barely resumed when - click - out went the light and off went the computer. Ah, bollox to it. I relit the candle and went to bed. You know, I don't know which scares me more - Hungarian house plumbing or Hungarian house electricity supply. On second thoughts I do. The plumbing might get me wet but it is unlikely to kill me.

19th February 2012

It was another nice day and pretty well just all the normal stuff so I won't bother writing about it. Nice and short.

Hobo turned up to fetch water just as I was about to feed goats and pigeons at lunch time. He set off with containers. I fed the goats and pigeons. When he returned he emptied the two ten litre containers into whatever other containers I had available and set off again for another twenty litres. He said that he would do well water when he got back. Ha! I beat him to it and had another twenty three litres of well water in the house before he arrived.

We chewed the fat for a while over a pálinka (his), and by that it was time to go and watch Rex. Hobo set off and I followed once dogs were secured.

Normal again after that and I finished off going for a beer in the pub. When I returned home I had the usual fussment of dogs, fed them and kicked them out for a while. Back in the house I did my tour of the taps. Praise be! I had running water back on in the house. Well, everywhere except the WC, the cistern of which remained stubbornly empty. I went to bed happy, but knowing what tomorrow would bring. A start at least on catching up with those jobs that needed running water.

20th February 2012

I got up kicked the digs out and ventured into the kitchen. I could hear water running. Oh no! I ventured further into the bathroom to discover that the WC had unfrozen overnight but the ballcock had petulently refused to work and the excess water was running out of the overflow. With the typical efficiency of Hungarian plumbing the overflow was down the loo. I flushed it to see if that would fix it. I didn't. I just turned off the water supply to it.

I rescued fire from the tilestove, set off the kitchen fire and went to the shop. On my return I entered into the battle of the taps. I had noticed it before with previous water disasters. Once disrupted, the taps misbehaved. All except the one over the bath. All I wanted was coffee. The tap turned on and would not turn off. I turned it back on again and off again several times before it settled to just going drip-drip-drip. Whatever!

Breakfast, pigeons and goats. On my return to the yard I thought to look at the water meter. It was not going round fast, but it was going round a lot faster than the drip-drip-drip in the kitchen would indicate. Where the hell was that going? I found it. The cold tap in the potting shed was dribbling. With effort I turned it off.

Normalcy almost returned. Until I had washed in lye and scrubbed and rinsed three pairs of work jeans. I hung them out and had the thought of how much water had gone into the septic tank overnight. I wandered over and had a look. Mmmm! None! The water level was much lower than I expected. I heaved up the manhole cover which is in a ridiculous place half way in and half way out of the potting shed. It looked suspicious. I went indoors, turned the taps on and flushed the loo. Sure enough when I returned there was a good level of water in what passes for a manhole.

The industrial strength rubber gloves came out and so did the drain rod set imported from the UK. Seven yards in (yes, the drain rods are a yard long. Sadly I do not have enough to mark out a cricket pitch) I hit whatever it was that was blocking the drain. The water in the manhole whooshed away, and I was rewarded by the sound of it cascading into the septic tank. I washed another two pairs of jeans - the two half decent pairs.

After that the day returned to some normalcy. Firewood, Rex, goats and pigeons, eat and go to the pub.

21st February 2012

I woke up in the early morning, too early for the alarm to have gone off, and rolled over to look what time it was. The alarm clock would not have gone off anyway. It was off. No electricity in the house. Again. I did the usual rescuing of fire from the tile stove stunt to start the kitchen stove and then went to the shop. The kitchen clock was saying that it was just before quarter to seven. On the way past the meter cupboard I once again punched in the two circuit breakers that had tripped. There are three. The middle one never worked. It won't even trip if you press the test button for the simple reason that the whole unit is solid. Nothing budges.

I shopped and returned to the house. The electricity was off again. I went and punched in the circuit breakers again. By the time I had had my toast and coffee it was off again. On it went again and this time it settled down and stayed on for the rest of the day.

Goats and pigeons were done by eight and all the firewood I needed was in by nine. It was a nice day and by then the sun was well up. There was starting to be real warmth in the sun. I decided to return to rechopping out one of the recycled vine posts. It lay half in and half out of the workshop where I had abandoned it for the duration of the really cold weather.

I had just got the post finished and stacked away with the completed ones when Hobo turned up. I thought he might be looking for work but he had just come for a natter. He stayed about three quarters of an hour and that was the morning gone. I had lunch when he left.

Goats and pigeons then back to work on the vine posts. I was not looking forward to the next bit. There remained on the yard five or six posts that were simply overkill to use as posts as they were. I decided to see if I could make two posts out of each by sawing them in two. Well, three quarters of an hour later, with plenty of breaks, I had managed a foot. I reckoned on a ball park figure of six hours of actual sawing per post to cut them in two. So be it. I value my time at nothing anyway. What I really need of course is one of these - ref PAX24, bottom of the page, the rip saw. It is on the list. It will have to wait.

Up to the pub for a fröccs and Rex. Back home and the usual. After that I wandered down to the faluház with some photos to go on their computer and to ask a favour. I asked Erzsi if I might print out my pension claim form - all twenty four pages of it. Not a problem.

I stayed in in the evening - no pub. I did some blog updating. I left the pension form well alone. Best done in the cold clear light of day methinks. I had a look on the Internerd to see if there was any advise on how to clean out the bottom of the well. Not that I could find. Ninety five percent of what my searches brought up were not even actually talking about wells, they were talking about pumped boreholes. Obviously in the States that is called a well. Not where I come from, it ain't!

22nd February 2012

No bloody electricity again! Punch the circuit breakers back in with venom! The left hand one went in OK and I saw the red LED on the meter come on. I punched in the right hand one and there was a satisfying bang and an impressive blue flash from within. Well I guess that one is fubar as well. In so going bang and flash it tripped the left hand one as well. I punched it in again and the red LED on the meter came on again. That would do. At least I knew that the left hand one was the one that fed the house supply. As I write it has not gone off again. It still worries me. I don't think that the Hungarians have the concept of a ring main. It looks like every single circuit in the whole place, outbuildings included, are spurred off beind the meter board. There is a bunch of cables there the thickness of a big man's wrist.

If the whole lot went bang and burnt to the ground (unlikely - how do you burn down earth walls?) it would not worry me unduly. There are few things here that are irreplacable. Some, but not many. Counted on the fingers and thumb of one hand I guess. I am not a possessions person. Set me thinking. A couple of things I ought to do is to seal up all the precious photo negatives and put them in the goat house loft. Ditto computer backups. Or in a box at the faluház. And I have been a bit lax about off-site backups.

I would only ask for three bits of devine prevenance: firstly that me and the dogs get out of the house safely, secondly that it would happen in April and thirdly that it would at least leave the tap in the yard outside the bathroom working. Number one requires no further explanation. Number two - well, the dogs could go in the outhouse and I would be quite happy for several months sleeping on a palleas in the goat house loft - hence April. Number three requires no further explanation either. You know, I have described a pretty dire situation but I would be in an immeasurably superior position to those reported on some random web site - ex American middle classes living in their cars parked on the side of turnpikes.

Sorry, went off on one there. All was normal after that until I decided to get well water. The first thing that I did was to modify the galvanised bucket that has been seconded to serve the well. The bucket has loops diametrically opposed through which passes the handle. Unfortunately the loops on the end of the handle also were wide enough to allow the carabiner to get trapped at the side of the bucket thus bringing it up from the well with about a third of what it should contain. I closed the handle up with brute force and ignorance so that the carabiner would always return to the top of the bucket handle, thus bringing it up vertical. I returned the bucket to the well. Splish-splosh. Half a bucketful. With each successive try I got less and less water. It was clear that the bucket was on its side on gravel at the bottom of the well. Mmmmm! The water that I did get was relatively clear and free from floaters. The dogs had been drinking it with impunity.

I managed a good cleanout of the loo and bathroom. Believe me it needed it! After that all normal. Lunch, pigeons and goats, firewood, Rex. I stayed home in the evening and enjoyed my bean goulash.

23rd February 2012

The electricity was still on this morning. Thank goodness. As it happened I did not need it - I was wide awake by the time the alarm went off. I was up early enough that there was still fire in the tile stove. It got shovelled out and stuck in the kitchen stove. In a couple of minutes I had a good blaze going in there and went to the shop.

After that the usual and lots of little jobs. Vine post sawing, firewood, more house cleaning and clothes washing. I managed to catch the Purina van today. I do wish he had a jingle like all the others. All you get is a bit of indistinct speech when he pulls up at the shop. As usual he was in the shop chatting when I wandered over. He saw me and poked his nose out of the shop. "Dog food?" "No, something else.". I had forgotten to get a bit of fruit anyway and indicated that I was going in the shop anyway. I do like a bit of fresh fruit and there was nothing on vine, tree or plant on the estate. I bought four little mandarins. Speaking of which, I must ask Marika what she does with the mandarins she had been buying. Kilogrammes at a time. Several times.

Mr. Purina followed me out of the shop to his van and asked what I was after. Onion sets, I told him. Did he have any? Did he ever. About six different varieties. I rejected the first lot he showed me instantly. It carried the dreaded emblem "F1". Filial one hybrid. Thanks but no thanks. I will not entertain them. They do not breed true. No, give me good heirloom varieties any time. I settled on a bag of Stutgarter Oriol. And fine onion sets they looked to be. I have to say much better than the random selection in Gazdabolt in Körmend. Thirty dekagrammes for somewhat under a pound. I continue to fail to get my head around the use of the dekagramme as the unit of weight of choice here in Hungary. I can happily work in grammes or kilogrammes, but dekagrammes - no. It involves me in a mental arithmetic calculation of dividing by ten whilst simultaneously figuring out what it is that I want to buy and translating that to Hungarian. I should also say that Mr. Purina is, as with the vast majority hereabouts, most friendly, polite and dismissive of my mangling of his mother tongue.

Usual stuff after that.

I went to lock the pigeons in and feed the goats early evening. Some of the pigeons were still up and about and they had managed to knock over their water container. I went in to replenish it. To my delight I found that Mrs. Pigeon had presented me with an egg.

Knitting in the pub in the evening. On my return home I found that I had lost a plant pot. I suspected black dog. Well, I would either find it intact somewhere in the house or in shreds somewhere on the yard.

24th February 2012

It was another nice morning when I arose and kicked the dogs out. I had a look at the thermometer on the kitchen window sill. Plus two. Back in the house I ventured to find out if there was still fire in the tile stove. Was there ever! I made the mistake of opening the top door first and it went whoosh and spat a load of sparks out across the parquet floor and my jeans. Whatever. I retrieved coals and had the kitchen stove going in a couple of minutes. No need to chop kindling again.

Once again I spent the entire morning, once goats and pigeons were done, doing paperwork for my UK pension. It did not amuse me, but I knew why. Some while back, in the 1980s, it happened that I found myself in lodgings with a UK tax inspector. The person told me that the UK tax service at that time was so distrustful of computers that all they held about you on computer was your name, your National Insurance number and your address. All the rest was on paper.

I had lunch. Hobo turned up. He was looking for work but got caught up by the old lady and ended up going round to her house. It turned out that the work she had for him benefitted me anyway. She wanted some conifers trimmed. All the trimmings came over the fence. Goat food! Somewhat late the goats and pigeons were fed. One of the grey pigeons had presented me with another egg. I had realised that the current arrangements of goats will actually suit me quite well. Instead of what happened last year when the deep litter had to come out all on one day, this year it can be done in stages. Only the actual sties need doing in one hit, but one at a time. The rest can be done piecemeal once the goats are out.

Hobo returned and we sat an yarned for a few minutes over a couple of (very) small pálinkas (his again). Then it was time to go and watch Rex. Stolen baby and murders today. I was cycling home when my next door but one neighbour to the east (next door but two if you count the vacant plot between him and Tibi) flagged me down. He wanted to know if I needed any more maize stalks as he had loads. I told him that I thought I had enough but would go and see him if it turned out that I needed more. He is one of the two people in the village that keeps a couple of cows by the way, although you would not know it unless the happened to moo just as you were walking past.

The little pub outside the shop had started to reconvene as the days were lengthening. I had not joined them. Still too chilly at that time of night for me.

I went to the pub but was not there long.

25th February 2012

It was another really pleasant morning. The nights were still cold but it had got to the stage of being able to feel the warmth of the sun as soon as it was over the horizon. The snow was gradually melting in a steady, slow thaw. Not so the ice in my rainwater butt in the yard. I forgot to mention that the other day whilst having breakfast there had been a dull boom from the yard that you could feel as much as hear. It had set the dogs off. I poked my nose out to investigate and black dog went ballistic immediately. The water butt had done its falling on its side thing again. That was enough to set Blackie off - it was not where it was supposed to be. I ignored it and resumed breakfast. I was not about to try and stand two hundred litres of solid ice up again.

The day was normal until Hobo turned up again. I set him on to somewhat belatedly fix the very few cracked and dislodged roof tiles on the goat house from when the pear tree was taken down. I did firewood, Hobo did the roof. He spent an hour on it giving it a considerable makeover including removing years-worth of moss which uncovered more unservicable tiles. The only bit he didn't do was the start of the catslide roof of which the rest had collapsed or been removed by me that had been over the little wood house in that corner of the yard.

Pub and a beer and I paid Hobo the price of a pack of cigarettes. He was happy enough with that. Thin pickings at the moment. Beer, home and apart from the usual that was me for the day. Home in the evening.

26th February 2012

Lots of housework. Swept through, cleaned through and mopped through for the first time since the return of the water. Nevertheless a losing battle. With slow thaw still going on, within a couple of minutes it started getting dirty again.

It took a while and I did the kitchen floor last. The rest was dry. I let the dogs in and locked them in and went to the pub for a well earned kis fröccs. Quite unexpectedly Láci plonked another one in front of me on the house. I lingered a little.

When I had fed the pigeons at lunch time Mrs. Pigeon had presented me with another egg. Great delight. I did the firewood. With the thaw and the return of warmer days the firewood requirements were plummetting day by day. It did not take long.

Pub in the evening. John and Hobo were there.

27th February 2012

I put the bin out for collection today. That was the first time in about fifty four weeks. It was by no means full, but I had a reason to make a fresh start. The refuse disposal people had started a recycling scheme for certain selected refuse. Once a month they would pick up a yellow plastic bag(s) from outside. Not to bore you with the list but ninety percent of what had gone into my dustbin over the course of a year - mainly cleaned and washed tins and aluminium foil - could go in the yellow bag. I could not be bothered this once to sort out the ninety percent from the ten percent. Speaking of the yellow bags, they are yet another thing about which Blackie goes ballistic. The extended family over the road have to be one of the most punctilious in the village. Their yard is always spick and span. They mow and strim their own bit of verge, wearing the recommended protective gear for mowing or strimming, and they always put their yellow bags out on collection day. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, but Blackie goes ballistic when I let the dogs out in the morning.

Breakfast, pigeons, goats, etc... Then five hours of computer work researching, documenting and organising the backup paperwork for my UK pension claim. Precious time that would have been far better spent elsewhere and otherhow.

The only bright part to the day was that my second pair of pigeons had presented me with a second egg. I now had two hen birds sitting four eggs. As I write I have managed to identify the second pair. The hen bird is the lightest grey of the three grey birds I have and the cock bird is a white pigeon with clean tail feathers. I have another all-white bird. I can tell it from the other because its two lowermost and outermost tail feathers are always mucky. It sits on a window sill quite away from the others. I fear it is destined for the pot. That leaves two dark grey birds that I simply cannot tell apart. One is Mr. Pigeon the other is an identical clone, of unknown sex or sexual orientation. I say that because apparently they will form same sex relationships.

28th February 2012

Well nothing out of the ordinary much happened until Pickle got the gold star of the day. Somewhen in the morning I decided that I needed to go into the root cellar on a threefold venture. Firstly to get some spuds for me, secondly to get some little spuds for the goats and thirdly to find likely candidate seed potatoes. Pickle, on chain, followed me in. She immediately started rooting about along the wall that divides the root cellar outhouse from the workshop. There was a fair amount of stuff stacked against that wall. Some of it from my time and more from before I even moved here. I started moving stuff, and in seconds Pickle caught a rat. In one lightning quick grab she had it. I was amazed. I did not think that she had it in her to be a ratter.

It squealed and screamed once Pickle had it. It bit and scratched her about the nose and mouth. Pickle did not let go. Dripping her own blood Pickle carried it out into the yard and harried it until it was devoid of life. I found the five gallon fermenter and filled it multiple times and poured it down the rat holes. Hopefully if there were any more rats down there they would be drowned rats.

Industrial rubber glove clad I removed rat carcase from Pickle and the yard.

A while later (at the pub watching Rex) it occured to me that maybe Pickle should have a jab, having been bitten by a rat. I rang the vet, told him what had happened and asked if Pickle needed an injection. His reply was instant, emphatic and two words - not in a curt way, but as one who knows that he is speaking to a linguistic half-wit. "No need" Well I can only conclude that Hungarian rural rats must live a healthier lifestyle than British town rats because I know that had I been bitten by a rat in the UK it would have been straight to casualty for a jab.

Late on in the day we had a brief shower of rain.

29th February 2012

I mentioned a shower of rain last evening. Guess what? No electrickery again this morning. For some days we have had dry and good weather and I had had no problems. The merest hint of damp and off we go again. My research on the Internet told me that isolating and locating an earth leakage can be a b*std nightmare from hell job, and that is on a UK system let alone the cobbled together fragile system here. A job for a sparky, and also a job for a sparky when I have sufficient funds to pay said sparky. Later this year, but in the meantime if ot becomes a problem it will remain a problem. Just so long as I can get connection from time to time to do Internet stuff the rest does not really matter. Apart from the angle grinder I use no power tools and there is not much that you can do with an angle grinder that you cannot do with files or hacksaws given about twenty thousand percent more time.

I did not have a good day anyway. I felt out of sorts - not ill that I could put my finger on but just not my usual self. I reckon it was the mental stress of the UK pension thing. That nagging "What if?" feeling. It was a nonsense of course, as I had had the aforesight to have a pension forecast done before I came here in case I needed to continue to pay National Insurance contributions. It came back that I did not need to. I had enough contributions to qualify for the full basic retirement pension. I think that what got to me was the comparison between doing that on-line and having to fill that blasted International Pension Claim Form in which I have already mentioned and so will not dwell upon.

Aside from all the usual I managed to get a bit of garden work done. Scattered around the big, half-dead chestnut tree was a considerable amount of chopped out stuff that was only fit for garden bonfire. The reason for doing that was to be able to take the brush cutter to the whole area before it started to grow greenery again. I noticed that the whole area was thickly strewn with dry and crispy chestnut leaves. That surprised me. The few remaining walnut leaves not collected for the goats had changed to a black mush. I resolved to collect them before brush cutting to use as goat bedding, which I later did. Jumping ahead a little, When I did use them Suzy immediately started eating them which is strange as the goats were very picky about eating them when the leaves fell. I similarly did Rudy's sty. I did not hang about to see whether he ate them.

It was leap day. Nobody proposed, for which I was profoundly relieved.

It had also proved an expensive month, which did not bode well for later on this year - June/July time I reckon. Oh well, if that happens my meagre income will go to feeding dogs and pigeons. In return I am expecting by then pigeons to eat, and also fresh stuff coming on line from the land. Mmmmm - grown pigeon squab in cherry sauce with fresh green peas :)


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