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June 2008

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1st June 2008

While I think about it, look out for my new "Updated" icon Updated. Not very often, but sometimes, I do go back and amend or add to a particular date entry.

I celebrated the arrival of another month by, well basically, doing not a lot. I celebrated with a lie-in until 9am :) Spent the morning doing gentle domesticals. Well, maybe not so gentle in the case of washing clothes. Very hard on clothes is this environment. You wash them, and about three rinses later the grit is still coming out of the fabric. Brown is a good colour! Or red, green blue and brown. Before I came here I bought, at great expense, one of Primarks best bath towels, off white in colour. Nice and soft and fluffy. Mistake - huge mistake! It is an absolute so-and-so to wash it and get it back to off white! It just wants to be brown, like me :)

I have been bitten, stung and scratched to pieces. The neighbours and the village have been on my back. I've had the place set on fire. But I'm still here, still smiling and life is good. The water is good, the food is cheap and will get cheaper once mine comes on line. The beer is cold and the women are ... err, I haven't a clue.

Speaking of which: Steve's Handy Gardening Hints NO. 4 When you work in the long wild grass that has run to seed, don't wear trainers with fabric linings. Wear your stout leather farming boots. I made that mistake a few days ago. When I got home from the pub my feet were on fire - well they felt that way. It took me fifteen minutes the next day to pick all the grass seed out of the trainers!!

One other good thing to report. I am keeping my fingers crossed, but it looks like nature takes its course here with the dreaded Colorado beetle. I can't be sure, of course, but I think that the local ants have a taste for the eggs. I checked today (well, a half hearted check) and I didn't find a single leaf with CB eggs on.

I managed to water the peas and beans, plant out a load of salad stuff (I bet it's not there in the morning) and pot up some more stuff. I probably have about another two years to lick the land into shape - then I might start on inside of the house!! I reckon on another day to clear the results of having the man scyth down everything, then I need a serious metal rake to drag out all the underlying debris. The wooden one just isn't up to it. I need one that can stand some serious stick!

Tchaikovsky 5, cos it takes me back long ago and far away. There is a moderately crude epithet(?) for it involving the door to the smallest room - not on Google. I'll let you know when my contact gets back to me!

2nd June 2008

A pleasing day in most aspects, but a couple of minor disturbances to the equilibrium - not local! First there was This article taken from the Sunday Independant. Which Sunday Independant I don't know. Whatever - it paints a fairly grim picture of the oil situation! Second is the Pound's continuing slide against other currencies (particularly the Forint!).

Oh, nearly forgot! I had my first food off my land yesterday. Three tiny but delicious strawberries. I didn't get round to replanting the strawberries, and they have suffered enormously from being smothered in the overgrowth, but I must have thousands of strawberry plants, they have just run wild. I should have taken a picture of them (the strawberries) but I didn't - I ate them :)

By the way, did I tell you that the Hungarian word for Sunday actually means "market day". There is a little more to it than that, as the word vásár is associated with cheapness or shodiness, so possibly flea market might be nearer. Thought you would like to know that.

I finally got all the lose dry stuff off the land - thank goodness. Weeding is going to continue to be a priority. I don't want to tackle that again.

I has come back to me yet again via a source that my change of habits is noticed (with approval, I think) in the village. Good-oh!

I was due to go into Körmend to get paint and stuff for a job that I am paying someone to do. "About three o'clock". Well three came and went, and four came and went. He showed up at just gone half past four. We're not going to Körmend today then! So I went to the pub instead.

Later that evening when I got home, I was chatting on-line to a friend (ex-University - class of 2000). The talk got round to Peak Oil. I was quite surprised that he knew all about it, and is as worried as me about it. My best guess is that less than five percent of the population have any awareness.

A bit more Tchaikovsky - Romeo & Juliet and Capriccio Italien.

3rd June 2008

Another very different day. It dawned grey and cool. I was up early and out and about by seven. (Again). I have entered phase two of keeping the boundaries between me and the neighbours clear. Everything that can't be done with a strimmer has to come out - all the little woody stems left from the first major clear up. I didn't do badly - managed to get about at third of the way up one side in about an hour and a quarter. I had to knock it on the head then, as I had arranged to meet my hired help in the kocsma (pub) at 8:30. It was a bit unusual to be greeted with "Jó reggelt" (Good Morning). Reggel is morning, and ends at nine o'clock - after that it becomes Good Day until 7pm, and then Good Evening. My hired help was there, but our transport arrangements were in disarray, so I had a beer! (8:30am!! - not good). And another - nothing like getting into the swing of village life!

Got back to the house a little while later, and went back to my task, or rather I got as far as the veg. garden, when the next door neighbour called over and offered over his hosepipe for me to water my peas, beans, etc. So it appears that any incidents over fires and so on are history, which is good. Mind you, everything he does relies either on ICE or electrical power, which as you know is not what I am about. Nonetheless, I did not look a gift horse in the mouth! After that I did a bit of weeding and earthed up the two rows of later potatoes. The dreaded CB is back, in the form of larvae munching away at my crop, so some eggs obviously got away! The advantage is, that just like the adult beetles they are very conspicuous. They are also very soft and 'squish' nicely between thumb and forefinger! Pictures:
The Potato Crop The potato crop - in spite of Cororado Beetle. If you look closely you can just about make out that the rightmost row is in flower.
I will soon have home-grown peas!! I wonder how many will make the pot! Peas
Local Yellow Pod Haricot Beans These are the local haricot beans. Apparently you either pluck them off early and just eat them as a salad, or let them mature and use as dried haricot beans.
Ignore the weeds, but the stuff that has been watered is green (brown?) lentils. I just sprouted them straight out of the supermarket packet and stuck them in. Lentils
I was just having lunch when my hired help knocked on the door. The transort arrangements to Körmend had changed yet again, and he and I were going to go on the bus! It was already half past twelve, and the bus leaves at 12:52 (on the dot!) so I had to get a bit of a shift on. We made the bus and got into town. I got cash then went with him to the paint shop where he had already selected paint. I made a few selections of my own, including the ingredients of a concoction that passes as paint stripper. I was told the secret by a friend a couple of years ago. Make up a bucket of wallpaper paste and add to it a pound (500g - whatever) of caustic soda. WEAR INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH RUBBER GLOVES WHEN MIXING AND USING IT!! It is powerful stuff, and will remove skin as well as paint! Stipple it on the old paint with wire wool. Leave for about twenty minutes and the paint will have softened and can be scraped or wire wooled off. Cheap as anything, and on household paint just about as effective as expensive proprietory paint strippers. I'm probably going to be using quite a bit as every atom of paint on the place needs to be redone - most of it before winter.

We popped into another couple of shops, and then paid a quick visit to the Cellar Bar in town that I knew about but hadn't been in. Of course, I was an object or curiosity - again! He indicated that I was to get the bus back to Halogy and he would come along in an hour or so with other bits and pieces and meet me back at the house. I got the bus, and, of course, got off by the pub. Seemed a bit selfish not to go in, so I did - for a quick pint. Unfortunately, he managed to get back a lot quicker than anticipated (don't know how!) and instead of me being at home, I was still in the pub. Ooops! He came and found me, having left the stuff out of the way at the house.

We were still in the pub when it became grey and dark, and within a few minutes had started a monumental electrical storm. It poured with rain - absolutely tipped down - and there were lightneing flashes and thunderclaps every few seconds. I certainly didn't need to have watered the plants! It just kept on and on. Seems as though it was stuck right overhead. Several times the power went out. Sometimes for a second or two, the longest being a couple of minutes. The power system seems pretty resilient - it always kept coming back on. It was still raining hard when I went home, so the nice people in the pub lent me a brolly. It was still at it when I went to bed at 10pm!

4th June 2008

The road was still wet when I got up and the ground was extremly wet, so I tackled a number of indoor jobs. Got the bread on the go and prepared to make a new batch of ginger beer. Then I decided that the time had come now that I have an ADSL connection at home to tackle the blog and practice what I preached to my students. It had not been possible whilst I was reliant on the connection at the Faluhaz.

<Technical Discussion>
I wanted to make the site compliant with the standards of W3C (World Wide Web Consortium). In particular I wanted to make it XHTML compliant. This attempts to ensure that web developers write pages that comply with the standards and that will display correctly in any web browser that has also been written to comply with the standards. Those that know me know that I am an Open Source afficionado. I support the Firefox Browser and the Thunderbird E-mail Client whether in Linux or that other operating system. I stuck my site into the Validation service of W3C. Ouch - a hundred and forty odd errors. I wanted to make it XHTML 1.0 Strict, but was unable to do so because of certain aspects of the way the site works that causes different behaviours in different browsers. I had to settle for XHTML Transitional. It is fairly typical of the way that it works that a single out of place character can cause dozens of errors in the Validator. And so it was. I spent a fair bit of the morning, but now every single node on the site validates as XHTML Transitional, and I am able to put the little icon that you may have noticed in the navigation. I also checked it out for CSS compliance, and to my surprise it worked first time. I also support the Any Browser campaign, as I am a firm believer that proprietory browser behaviour is A BAD THING! If anyone spots that a particular page has ceased to be compliant do not hesitate to e-mail me! (sjwnospam (at) domain name - remove nospam and change to this domain name). I have some code that obfuscates e-mail links somewhere but can't find it right now, and I'm not about to put a live link to my e-mail address on the page. That is asking to be deluged with Spam.
</Technical Discussion>

Had lunch and went to the veg. garden to tie up the peas and squish all the CB larvae on the potatoes - there were quite a few. After lunch it was fine, so, feeling guilty, I returned the umbrella to the pub. Mistake! About four o'clock it came on to rain again - serious rain! I came out at closing time with a definite touch of Halogy leg plaiting disease. The local plod showed up in mufti, but I have to say that, as pleasant as he was, and his English was excellent - if with a heavy German (Russian?) accent, he was unmistakably plod. He bought me one of the beers that accounted for the leg plaiting! I could almost have thought he was 'sussing me out'.

5th June 2008Updated

Suffering the effects of the previous evenings excesses, I limited my gardening to an inspection of the spuds and a quick look at everything else. I found a single pod of peas ready. Here they are:
Peas on a Plate I ate them - just like that!
It was still murky damp and cool and really far too wet to be on the garden, so I spent the rest of the morning on the woodworking project. (Yes, it's still on the go. It had to be put on hold along with everything else!!).

After lunch it was still just as cold and murky and was raining on and off, so I updated the blog to 4th June. After that I spent a fair slice of the afternoon and early evening on computery stuff.

<Technical Discussion>
As some of you already know, this blog is written on a dv5244eu HP Pavilion laptop with AMD 64 bit processor running Centos-5 x86_64. I proof read and check the site on the same machine which is running an Apache 2 web server. The machine is dual boot with Windows XP Pro-64. The ratio of time I spend in each operating system is about 19:1 respectively. The site itself is homed in the United States, on a Red Hat Linux box.

I was given a Creative Live! Cam Notebook Pro as a going away present before I left the UK, and as part of the object of that was so that I could run live sessions in MSN Messenger I decided that I needed to make it work in Linux. I was using Gaim - a multi-protocol client that comes packaged with Centos. Does it give webcam support? No! (They are working on it apparently, but not yet). I had a quick check round and found a client that does the same and supports webcam - Kopete. Guess what? It also comes pre-installed in Centos. Quite nice it is too. I set up my three accounts - no problem. All straighforward. Plug in the camera - nothing doing. OK, find a driver. I found two out there one is French and I can't remember where the other one comes from. The French one didn't work on my architecture - try the other. It was all the good old
$ tar -zxvf whatever.tar
$ make
# make install
stuff. The second one fell over at the last step on
depmod -a
of all things. No permissions. Which was odd as I was running it as
I checked the Makefile and the depmod command was the last thing in the file, so I just did a depmod myself. That was it. Now works fine with Kopete. I have yet to use it in anger but we'll see. I also installed some stand-alone webcam software - Motion version 3.2.10 which installed straight out of the box. Haven't played with it yet. I would also mention that this entire site is coded by hand, using KATE (K Advanced Text Editor)
</Technical Discussion>

Had a quick look at my web stats. Seems some people in unexpected places are taking an interest. Highest on the list this month is a certain music college in the UK. Hmmm - wonder who that could be ;) There are also two IP addresses that belong to MIT!! Pleasing to note also is that more visitors are using Firefox than that other browser!

6th June 2008

Not much to report really. Except that on this day in history forty one years ago my life changed abruptly at about 9:20am. That was the day that I had my major motorcycle accident!!

Except I had a visitor this morning...

Keep scrolling...

I had taken a break from the work - phase two of clearing the boundaries - get rid of everything that won't strim, and was just going back when I saw this chap. Of course it did what hedgehogs do - nothing. It just froze and looked at me, and I froze and looked at it back. And I'm thinking "How am going to get a picture?" I must admit that I was a bit naughty - I gently (as gently as I could) poked at it with my boot until it did what hedgehogs do - curled itself up. Then I dashed (well, hobbled rapidly) back to the house for the camera - here's the result. Apparently if he's about, the moles will vanish! Hungarian Hedgehog
I thought you might also like to see my snails - I'm told I can get a thousand Forints a kilogram for them if I send them to France!
They do a wonderful job of clearing the debris, and I would guess, small as they are (big for snails - about three inches long) that what they eat, they excrete out the other end packed with nitrogen. Wonderful - get to it snails - enrich my soil. They don't seem the slightest interested in what I have growing - they just eat the ground litter, rotten wood etc. Here they are, muching with gusto on the outside of one of the great compost heaps after the clear up. Hungarian Snails
That's all for today, folks! (Must get myself a macro lens!)

7th June 2008

I was having my quick daily dose of gloom and doom at 6:30am and I see that Peak Oil made The Daily Telegraph today. And the BBC has this on the lastest oil price record. Not good, not good!

Not much to report really. Got rained off out of the garden - another two or three days of it yet apparently. Did some woodworking - some of the quality kind (well as much quality as the materials and tools will allow), and some of the rustic kind. Pictures later!

I was looking for something completely different in my e-mail archive, and this popped up, so I thought that I would share it with you...
First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us.

They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn't get tested for diabetes. Then after that trauma, our baby cribs were covered with bright colored lead-based paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking .

As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.
Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.
We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.
We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank soda pop with sugar in it, but we weren't overweight because......

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day. And we were O.K.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo's, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 99 channels on cable, no video tape movies, no surround sound, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms..........

WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!
We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.

We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.

We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just yelled for them!

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever!

The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!

And YOU are one of them!


You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated our lives for our own good and while you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave their parents were.
I'll leave you with that thought!


8th June 2008

It started out as such an unpromising day. Still wet, raining on and off. It just got better and better!

Did some domestics, then went to the woodworking. I FINALLY managed to finish Dale's translation box. Here it is in all its glory. It is the agricultural school of fine cabinet making - it fits where it touches!!
Translation Box The theory is that you start the cards off in the front little compartment and look at them two or three times a day. I you get it right it goes into the next compartment, which you only look at every other day. If you get it right again it goes to the next compartment that you only look at once a week. If you get it right it goes to the last compartment that you only look at once a month. If you get it right then, you Tippex it out and start it over with a new word. If you get it wrong at any stage it goes right back to the beginning!
The weather cleared, so I did a potato patrol - still finding the occasional CB and larvae. This is the damage that they do to the potatoes given half a chance:
This damage is mainly caused by the larvae, not so much the beetles themselves. Next year I will experiment with pyrethrins. Apparently it is possible to extract from dried sunflower heads after the seeds have been extracted, and it is also apparently extractable in aqueous solution, which is ideal for spraying. I could well also try growing pyrethrum flowers for the purpose. The pyrethrins are the ideal agent for this project. They are based in nature, non-persistent, non-toxic in reasonable doses to pets and humans, have a rapid knock-down effect, and of course are not petrochemical based. Damage Caused by Colorado Beetle
Found more strawberries. I wouldn't be surprised if they don't get two crops a year off them. Mine are still shrouded in grass and the ones in the middle are just overwhelmed.
Strawberries Here they are!
I popped to the pub to confirm arrangements for going to the local football match on a photo shoot, and on the way met up with a friend:
Well, of course I can't be sure it's the same one - I didn't tag it, but there it was as bold as brass just walking along the edge of the pavement. I actually had to walk alongside it to get this shot. Hedgehog Again
Arrangements for seeing the local football match were confirmed, so a bit later I set off with camera to shoot a few pics for them - ended up with about one hundred and sixty. Ah, the joys of digital. The local team beat a team from Körmend by four goals to one, so there was great rejoicing in the village, and particularly the pub. I have promised to take the laptop in tomorrow and show them some of the pics!! The landlord even gave me a drink :)

Dire Straits

9th June 2008

I see Peak Oil made The Times again this morning! Well, that's why I'm here. One of the 'Doomer' sites that I frequent tells me that the ideal place to be is in a community of between two hundred and two thousand people. If TSHTF that would be where you would be most likely to survive. I can imagine (wrong word - envisage) that happening here. I have had a couple of examples from the neighbours within the last forty-eight hours. Who knows, my Internet tech-savvy might also help them, but I doubt it. I have made the deliberate choice of taking on a (not quite) derelict cottage and a (seriously) run-down acre of land. If my neighbours see me working they pass small gifts of living plants over the fence. Now THAT is community!

It's hard graft, and I'm only scratching the surface. I'm trying to manage, without petrochemical help, an area that could support an extended family. Ah well, keep the neighbours happy first. I think (hope) I might have a lot of spuds to store and eat over winter. If "Peak Oil" seriously kicks in that is going to be the lot of everyone up to the super-rich. Imagine living in Tower Hamlets with no water and no electricity!

It's one of the things I think about while I am grafting. That's one of the the things about grafting - it gives you a lot of time to think. (Paraphrased from a saying by my son - something about car parks) At least I have the advantage of seeing the frogs, snakes, storks, lizards, snails and grasshoppers while I have time to think. To say nothing of the birdsong and the smell of country air.

Anyway, I thought I would share my lunch with you:
Cherries I would send some to the Witch, but they wouldn't be worth eating by the time she got on her broom!! I do hope that they are doing just as badly as ever. (The Cherries, that is)
Beatles - Sgt Pepper - my brother bought it for my twentieth birthday forty one years ago. Thanks Bruv, it is still an iconic album!

10th June 2008

Not in a good frame of mind this morning. One of the less good days. Lots of things piling up!

One of them is that I missed this one in my daily trawl of the Internet for doom and gloom. Probably because it doesn't actually use the phrase "Peak Oil".

I also came across this one - look for Megan Quinn Bachman, a very eloquent young lady promoting relocalisation. Some videos on YouTube. Well worth the look.

Hired help turned up at 8am. He said he would and he did. I was just mixing up the evil paint stripping concoction. By the way, I should have also said DON'T POUR THE CAUSTIC SODA IN IN A LUMP!!! otherwise the whole lot will boil, melt the plastic bucket and/or explode in your face. Pour it in nice and gently, a bit at a time, and keep stirring.

Between us we ridded the front wall (fence?? - whatever) of a lot of unnecessary shrubbery. He got on with preparations for painting, and I got on with testing out the evil concoction against Hungarian varnish and paint. Well, it works just the same. Not one of my better days, I have to say. One of the reasons being that the bloody strimmer won't start. I've only used the damn thing about three times!

I contented myself with labouring away at the window from the front door that I had decided to test the concoction on. It took all day to strip, clean, sand down and linseed oil that one window. Including the two in the front doors I have thirty eight windows to do! Well, one down and thirty seven to go! At least I don't have to get the interior ones done this year, but I really do want to get the exterior stuff done, made to fit, refinished and draughtproofed before winter. And do all the necessary rendering to make the shell of the house water resistant. And keep on top of the garden! Here's a picture - spot the bit I did:
Doesn't seem much for a days work! Window Re-Oiled
Chopin - to unwind!

11th June 2008

Had a much more productive day today! Out at seven, and by coffee time I had done phase two of the boundary clearup on about half of the boundary with No. 72. On my way back to the house I had a quick 'nineses' of cherries and strawberries with the dew still on them. Now what could be nicer than that? At the house, I found that my helper was there and carrying on with the paint job on the front wall/fence. He stopped for a break too, and produced two bottles of beer. One for me and one for him! Cherries and strawberries washed down with a bottle of local beer at 9am. Hey! Who says we don't know how to live out in the sticks??

After the break I changed jobs and went to clearing a load of the chopped down shrubbery, preparatory to burning it on Saturday, and pulling some of the wood that is lying around, fit only for firewood to a convenient location to saw it up and put in the woodstore. I also had another try at getting the strimmer to go - no joy.

Helper disappeared at some stage - I didn't see him go. He turned up back at the house at about half past two, armed with a couple of plug spanners. Neither of the fit the strimmer :( So in desperation we removed the plasic covers and got at the plug that way. Having removed it we tested to see what was happening. No sparks! No wonder it wouldn't go! He disappeared over the road, to be back withing a couple of minutes. Nothing wrong with the plug, so it is a problem with the electricals of the strimmer - warranty job! We were just putting it back together when it went dark, and a vicious, gusting wind picked up. Oh-oh - we are in for it! Fortunately, the storm passed us by, by a couple of miles. I saw on the news later that they have had severe flash-flooding in some parts of Hungary.

I had been talking to helper about the gates to the property. I have told him that that will be my job! At the moment, compared to all the other properties it looks like Colditz. I suspect that it has been like that since communist times - a sort of 'keep out of here' mentality. He told me who would supply the wood in the village - I know him anyway, one of the regulars in the pub. He is the one that made the new bar-front for the pub, and a superb piece of workmanship it is! He would need to know how much and what sizes of wood, so early evening I measured up, and set to work with Dia (an open source diagram editing program) and knocked up a quick impression of what I wanted it to look like, so that we could get the quantities sorted. I had to go through the whole export as eps and embed into a LaTeX document, then
$ latex gates.tex
dvips gates.dvi -o
$ ps2pdf
to get a PDF file that would print. Nice to know I haven't forgotten how :)

Here's what it looks like now - see what I mean about the Colditz thing...
Gates Now
And here is my "artists impression" of what it will look like when I manage to set the ellipse out correctly
Gates Impression

No music - was chatting on-line to a daughter and a friend.

12th June 2008

This from the Independant today!. And This from Reuters this evening. And This from the New Statesman, to which I have sent a reply. It really isn't good out there people! I have a load of fruit and veg coming on line (not nearly as much as I would want), but if supplies of food and cash to the village were cut off right now I think I would be down to the fruit from the trees and grinding up grass seed to survive. Either that or eat my snails - sorry, they might be a delicacy, but no, I couldn't bring myself to eat one! By the way if you know of any enterprise that wants edible snails be sure to let me know. It would provide me with the best possible excuse for all the cut down and dead stuff lying all over. On a rather sad note there is personal bad news as well. The litter of kittens, one of which you will recall I had said I would have, were killed - they think by a marauding tom cat. Ripped to pieces, they said. Horrid!

Worked the morning and decided to take the dead strimmer back to the shop. They took it in the back, and after about five minutes came back and told me it was dead (which obviously I already knew!) and that I would have to get it to Szombathely under warranty. Well, I was a bit put out at this - I really don't want to have to drag the damned thing to Szombathely - it's the inconvenience more than anything. I don't have the linguistic capability yet to argue the point, so I took it away. I had forty minutes to wait for the bus. Initially I sat in the grassy bit in the square, where I was engaged in conversation by the two ladies that cut the grass. I did actually manage a conversation (of sorts) with them. What was wrong with the strimmer? What do I do? Am I married? How long have I been here? Do I have children. I actually managed all that :) They finally touched me up for the price of a coffee each - 200Ft (about 60p)(for both!) and they were well happy. Seems to be a way of life for many here. No regular work, and ducking and diving to keep a hand-to-mouth existence going. That said, they are a lot more happy and contented with their lot than someone in an equivalent position in the UK! I still had time to wait for the bus back to Halogy so I went to the Halascsarda for a pint, not in the best frame of mind over the strimmer. The Raba is in its late spring flood due to all the rain, and I seriously contemplated hurling the wretched strimmer into the middle, off the bridge.

I caught the bus back to Halogy, and of course went in the pub. They were not overly chuffed with the way I had been treated in the shop. I get the impression that they think the shop should send it to Szombathely. One of the locals has even offered to go back to the shop with me - he has a fair amount of English too. It degenerated into a bit of a session after that, and I didn't leave until kicking out time - tut-tut - gonna have to put a stop to that!

Haydn & Howard Shaw.

13th June 2008

Friday the thirteenth! Means the same here, too. Be careful...

Nothing out of the ordinary to report really, except that I missed out of yesterday's blog that there was a little local unpleasantness in the pub. First time I've seen it in Hungary. A punch up. Well, hardly. There were only two hits - character No. 1 hitting character No. 2, and character No. 2 hitting the floor. A bit more to it than that, but not for publication here.

I'm seriously thinking of starting a little side-line business. Exporting my snails to the haute-cuisine restaurants of the world. If anybody reading the blog knows anything about shipping live molluscs please feel free to e-mail me (sjw (at) this domain name). At least it would give me an excuse for leaving all the dead vegetation lying around. I have lots of them - I'm actually growing quite attached to them. I seriously try not to tread on them as I go about my business. My helper does the same - we toss them into the undergrowth. Must try and get a macro photo of one of them by a ruler. About three inches long they are. Or four, if you find a big one! Hmmm - "Occupation:" "Snail Farmer". I quite like that :) I can't find a "Linux - Live Snails Howto" though.

Woodworking project No. 2 is moving along. It is seriously agricultural.

Otherwise, nothing except nettles and brambles, brambles and nettles!

John Surman - The Road to St. Ives.

14th June 2008

Here is a commentary on the state of world oils supplies that I thought you might like to check out. That's the only thing of note from my daily quick breakfast time trawl of gloom and doom. I spent a fair bit more time on the Internet this morning than usual, as I was looking for an anonymous proxy server located in the UK. There are loads of listing sites out there. Some were quite useless, as they just give IP addresses and the type of proxy server - transparent, anonymous, etc. I found a couple of sites and I suppose I tried about a dozen different IP addresses, but none of them worked. Reason for looking was that Trooping the Colour was on, and it would have been nice to watch it. Ah well!

Instead I did some domestics. Neaded a break from the outside clearup operation. After that I cycled to Körmend - cash and Tescos. I had nothing extra (i.e. electrical appliances, decorating stuff, etc) but still had a reasonable shop as I needed to stock up on some household luxuries. Bread flour, toilet rolls, stuff like that. Luxuries? You bet WTSHTF! Oh good - the power just came back on! We just had a power cut for about half an hour, that's why I'm writing the blog at an unusual time. The ADSL router doesn't half take its time rebooting!! As I was saying did a Tescos. It took me thirty one minutes to get to the Raba bridge by the Halascsarda - at the end of March that would have been forty five! There was quite a stiff head wind. I got home from the town square to the pub in Halogy in a little over twenty seven minutes. I won't say without breaking a sweat, cos I did :)

Had a couple of korsó (pints) and came home. Did a Colorado Beetle patrol and squished about a dozen larvae. Did not find ANY adults. Strange, you find a load of larvae on a particular plant but the next ones in each direction are unaffected, even though by this stage the plants overlap one another with leaves touching. It almost seems as though they are programmed to eat the plant on which they were born. Well, not if I can help it. If the plants are anything to go by I will have a lot of potatoes. It came on to rain so back indoors. Did I mention that they have their own St. Swithuns-type day? Can't remember the date - end of May, early June - but if it rains on that day they say it will rain every day for June and July. Not far wrong at the moment.

Late in the day, this from Ken Deffeyes one of the "Senior Statesmen" in the oil depletion movement. His graphs are really scary, and note the URL. Not dealing with a crackpot!!

15th June 2008

Treated myself to a lie-in - I didn't get up until gone eight!

The Guardian on Oil and Transport today.

Still did a fair bit of work even though it is a Sunday - making up for yesterday. A couple of hours on the boundary with No. 72. Then knocked off for lunch. After lunch, got out the scythe. It has got to that stage where soon all will require scything down and clearing up again (except the patch that got on fire). I did about an hours worth and I suppose I cleared back about two hundred square metres. Sounds a lot, doesn't it? Until you realise that it is a patch twenty metres by ten!

I made a discovery while I was doing that - raspberries! I had had my suspicions when they first started shooting up - two big patches of them. I never saw any blossom on them, but then again they all got scythed back in the first big clear-up. As with the strawberries, they are totally out of control and intermingled with innumerable miscellaneous weeds. Again, as with the strawberries, they need pulling out and replanting into a freshly dug and weed free area. Oh, great!! Another power cut - that gives me about half an hour then, as the laptop wasn't fully charged anyway. Better make sure I keep pressing <Ctrl> & <S>.

As I'm writing this, in the back of my mind I'm mulling over The Guardian article. Something along the lines of "at what stage does it all break down?". What proportion of the costs of a police force can by attributed to energy costs? If fuel goes up to, say, £10 a gallon, and the kickback from that is that electricity, gas and everything else goes up too, there are (as I see it) only two alternatives: either a) increased taxes to pay for it, at a time when the population at large will be feeling the pinch anyway due to the direct, and other indirect, effects of fuel at that price, or b) a cutback in the strengths of police including a big reduction in vehicle use. I suppose it might put more Bobbies back on the streets. You know why they are called Bobbies, of course - after Sir Robert Peel. Here's what Sir Richard Mayne wrote in 1829:
The primary object of an efficient police is the prevention of crime: the next that of detection and punishment of offenders if crime is committed. To these ends all the efforts of police must be directed. The protection of life and property, the preservation of public tranquillity, and the absence of crime, will alone prove whether those efforts have been successful and whether the objects for which the police were appointed have been attained.

I had to learn that by heart when I was Mr. Plod!

16th June 2008

The day of the strimmer!! You will recall the strimmer problems. One of the locals was going to go with me to the shop to try and obtain a local resolution to the problem. It was supposed to be on Friday, but he cried off that one. I was up early in plenty of time for the 7:07 bus, so I had a wander (with strimmer) up to the bus stop his end of the village. No show! Ah well, on a Monday there is also a bus at 8:25 for market day. I went home via the pub. 7:10am, and in the pub! I was good - I had a coffee!

I returned to see if he turned up for the 8:25 bus - no show again. Damn! One of the regulars went to see if he could find him. The regular returned with the news that he was ill. Frank (the Scots/Hungarian!) offered to go with me on the afternoon bus. By now it was about nine o'clock, so I had a beer.

I went home and knocked off a couple of hours in the garden.

I caught the bus, Frank got on at the pub and we went into Körmend to the shop where I bought the strimmer. This time Frank spoke for me, but it did no good - the answer was the same. It has to go to Szombathely for warranty repair. This puts me in a quandary of course. I found out that the thing wouldn't go when I needed to use it as the yard needs doing. That was on the 10th, and the grass and weeds keep growing! I suppose I could go back to the sickle while the strimmer is repaired, but it will keep me from doing other things. The scythe is no good for the job, as the only area where it would work has too many obstacles (trees, fences, walls) to be able to work with it! Hmmmm! Going to have to think about this one!

The camping lawn area had started growing its own crop of weeds, so I set to to weed it by hand. My physiotherapist at the Bournemouth Hospital told me when I had my knee problem that stretching exercises are good. Yep, well, I'm certainly getting plenty of them!

In the absence of any more news here are some pictures that I have been holding in the "library":
Cornflowers and a Poppy in a Wheat Field
Cornflowers and a Poppy in a Wheat Field.
Figures in a Foreign Field
Figures in a Foreign Field.
Fire Hydrant
Seems a strange place to find a fire hydrant!

17th June 2008

This from Richard Heinberg this morning. Understated but chilling is my own take.

It was a very grey start to the day, and it had rained again overnight. I decided to take bit of a flyer on the weather, so I finished weeding the camping lawn. Well, I finished it in fits and starts, as I kept getting rained off. In the rainy bits I carried on with woodworking assignment No. 2 - the log sawing bench. Now, it really is an agricultural bit of woodworking, as you will see when it's finished. My helper has seen its progress and looks on with astonishment. He went and found a bit of what I would call two by one, and told me that's what they would make one out of in Hungary. For lightness so you can move it around, apparently. My logic is that it is a substantial piece of kit purely for sawing firewood by hand. As such, it will live just outside the woodstore. All the "ready to use" firewood will live in there, so what better place for a substantial log sawing bench? I don't know, but what can you expect in a place where "See ya" means "Hello", and "Hello" means "Bye!" - seriously!

Spent a bit of time early afternoon catching up on here during one of the rainy episodes, then decided to take an even bigger flyer, and actually sow the grass seed on the camping lawn. Got four metres by five done by the end of the afternoon. That leaves three metres by five still to do. Yes, I know it is totally the wrong time of year to be sowing grass seed, but what the heck - the weeds were thriving, why shouldn't grass seed? You know, there is only one single person that has commented upon the fact that wherever camping lawn appears on the site it is emboldened! IT'S A HINT!!

By about half past five I had had enough, so I went to the pub for a beer. Ended up staying until kicking out time - not much changes then! About half past eight, old János appeared in the pub - rat arsed. Bless him, he is seventy eight, has no one, and his life is getting to the pub and home several times a day. But it is a bit unusual to see him in there at that time of day. So much so that the landlord actually greeted him with "Good morning, János". Told you the humour was the same! I hope I'm as good as he is when I'm seventy eight.

18th June 2008Updated

Washington Post today! Peak Oil or speculation? I don't know. But I do know that speculation in gold, silver, tin - whatever - has not had the same consequences as what is happening with oil. It permeates the entire fabric of western life.

Went back to finishing off sowing the camping lawn and got rained off again! Was just deciding what to do next when helper appeared with some more materials for the front wall/fence, and reminded me of an appointment that we had made for today. He went off, and as it was still raining, and as I had had a gentle reminder (thanks Peter) that this blog was being neglected I did some updating.

I met helper in the pub, had a quick one and then we went to see a man about a dog. Well, actually we went to see a man, his wife and their daughter about a dog. And yes, on Saturday I will take delivery of a lovely little Alsation bitch. I met the puppy, and her mother and father, and what a wonderful temperament they have. Alsations in the UK have a bit of an "iffy" reputation. All the ones locally are very even tempered - I don't know whether it's breeding, environment or whatever. Photos later. She was born the day I arrived in Hungary - it's a sign!

Unfortunately, this has precipitated a couple of majorly urgent extra woodworking projects. No. 1 to close the hole in the fence at the top end of the property, and No. 2 to build a dog house (kennel!). I had some interesting conversation with the daughter who is quite fluent in English. (Bless her, she actually complimented me on my Hungarian!) I managed to find out that this property has been unoccupied for four or five years - no wonder it is in the state it is in. I also found out from her that the price I paid is OK. She was astonished when I told her what a similar property in the UK would cost.

Back at the house I set to with the mending the hole in the fence job. Stuck at it for a couple of hours. Need to find a few more bits of wood yet. When I knocked off, as I was walking back down the land the sun was lowering in the sky, and I glanced across at the big cherry tree. The fruit on it shimmered with an irridescent radiance like huge drops of blood being given up by mother earth. I must do something with them within the next two days or lose them until next year! Picture of the hole in the fence:
Hole in the Fence The hole in the fence. Note the fire damage to the left.
On my travels to find wood, in an entirely neglected part of the estate I came across this:
Raspberry canes. Some of them are about eight feet high! Raspberries
Going through the 'B's - Billy Joel, Blondie, Dylan (?)

19th June 2008

A bit of a busy day on the doom-and-gloom front! First this on the possible effects of Peak Oil on IT (Thanks to Peter - I'm a bit out of the loop on Computing UK), then, on a somewhat lighter note, but with ominous overtones as to what may come, this about cycling in Bristol. Know it well. Cycled from Clevedon (which has the happy distinction of having the second highest tidal rise and fall in the world - a small prize for the first e-mail I receive telling me the highest!) to Alton in Hampshire once, via Bristol.

Continued the soul-destroying task of trying to get the boundaries clear of weeds. Two hours at a time of heaving mattock, pulling weeds and raking is enough! If I make a good enough job of it, I might be able to keep it under control with just the hoe - bugger the strimmer.

After that, I knocked back another two hundred square metres with the scythe. I really do love that tool. I simply cannot imagine why anyone would leave behind something like that (apart from the fact that the handle was rotten and riddled with woodworm!). There seems to be a big local difference of opinion - my scythe is somewhat akin to an English scythe. The blade is delicately curved and about two foot six inches long. The guy that scythed down the lot in two days uses one just like it. The other side of the opinion divide is what I can only describe as a crude heavy implement. Much, much heavier, and much shorter - about eighteen inches long. Not for me! I prefer the refined approach!

Was just finishing lunch when helper appeared unexpectedly. Something about dog. By the way, I have decided to call her (for the benefit of English speakers) "kutya", and for the benefit of Hungarian speakers I will call her "dog". I digress. I might even call her "bitch" if the need arises! I digress even further. Apparently, for now the dog must be kept in the yard, so helper was proceeding to rebuild the gate between the yard and the land that I had dutifully knocked to bits because it was all rotten. I tried to get a picture of the finished article but the camera was not playing ball - maybe something to do with it being pitch black out there and me being errr... slightly inebriated.

20th June 2008

This from Australia on the end of oil. With a transcript of a conversation with Richard Heinberg.

Cycled to Körmend (again). It was quite hot, so I opted for the slightly longer, but less hilly route through Daraboshegy. Got cash, did a Tescos - the main purpose being to get dog food, for tomorrow I get the dog. Strangely, a 3Kg bag of Tesco Value dog food works out cheaper ounce for ounce than a 10Kg bag. I was mulling over what to do about the strimmer too. In the end I decided to do nothing immediately, but of course at some stage I am still going to have to get it to Szombathely for repair.

Well, it's three months to the day since I moved to Halogy. Time to take stock. I have a house that is falling to pieces, I have a garden that is going to take many months of backbreaking toil to lick into shape. Do I miss my friends and family in the UK? Of course, but the decision to move here was not taken lightly, and in the light of the way things are going in the world I cannot honestly say I think I have made a wrong decision. Time will tell - it is still very early days. Successes: the spuds, tomatoes, paprika, local beans - all doing very well. The next door neighbour even complimented me on the potatoes! Failures: some of the stuff brought here from the UK. Broad beans are a disaster, as are "Early Onward" peas. The lentils, pretty little plants that they are, have also done nothing. Surprises: how early the fruit is ripe on some of the trees (cherries!).

Here is a picture of some fine Hungarian agricultural construction:
New Gate The new gate.
I did a bit of clearing up the stuff that I had scythed down yesterday. I very nearly forked hedgehog. It was right there at the end of the row. I do hope that it is resident on the estate. I'm also pleased that it is not the one I saw squished in the drainage ditch earlier. Obviously hit by a car. The swallows are about in force too. In and out of the summer kitchen constantly - I think I might well have baby swallows!

There were strangers in the pub this evening. A father and son - cycle touring. The father had a fair amount of English. His Hungarian accent was very different from the local accent - I don't know, but I suspect Budapesti. He actually complimented me on my magyarul :) which was nice, considering that I have really been just too busy to actually do any real amount of studying of it.

21st June 2008

Dog days! Well dog day anyway :)

Never even looked for doom and gloom. In the pub just after seven, and then went to pick "kutya" up. I had two coffees in the pub! Did the deal with the dog - 5,000Ft (£16, for a pedigree dog), the daughter got all upset, and the husband drove us back to my place. Pictures:
Alsation Dogs
From left to right - Kutya, Mother, Father.
As you can expect, a good deal of the day has been spent 'bonding' with the dog. I am amazed at her intelligence at only three months old. Hungarian dogs live outside - I don't know whether that includes the winter - but my door has been open all day, and she never even attempted to get inside. I did attempt at one stage to go and get some scything done. I managed about twenty square metres and had to knock it on the head to prevent "kutya" strangling herself by trying to get under the gate!

After lunch I set to to make a kennel. After a couple of abortive attempts I found a treasure trove of decent wood where I had never looked before - in the attic space above the garage. I discarded the two inch by ten and six inch by eight pieces of wood as being somewhat overkill. Found a couple of nicely sawn and parallel pieces that will do well for a floor. And some waney edge what I would call two by two which will do nicely for the frame. I will clad the outside a-la larch lap, or in boat building terms, clinker built. I can recycle the chipboard from round the old furnace to line the inside. Hey presto - job done. Cool in summer, cold in winter (well, she'll just have to grow some fur then). Only one problem - I will certainly have to assemble it finally where it is going to live. Two man job to move I reckon. Not surprised - the bits of wood I chose for the floor turned out to be oak!!

It's getting a bit hot here - forecast 30+C for the next few days. It could be 33°C by Monday. Here's what Weatherbug says:
Sunny. Pleasantly warm. Temperature of 33°C. Winds 11km SSW. Humidity will be 39% with a dewpoint of 16° and comfort level of 33°C. There is a 0% chance of precipitation.

Yeah, right - 33°C - pleasantly warm!! I digress.

By five o'clock I had had enough, so it was time to retire to the kocsma for a quick uveg vagy ket (bottle or two). "Kutya" will just have to get along without me for a little while. She'll just have to get used to it.

Went home in about twenty minutes - no problems, no mayhem, but she was there right by the gate. I did about another hour on the kennel and she slept under my bike :) Jigsaw would be useful, but it gets away from the point of the project.

Did a bit more on the dog house, then went inside to eat. Jam and Butter it - I put the slow cooker on low instead of high. Ah, well - eat when I come home from the pub. Shower, change, pub - "Kutya" will just have to get used to it. Pub was almost deserted, WTF? Sat there with a quiet beer when Hobo turned up. Indicated to follow him. Full scale eat-in and drink-in in the back yard. Food sorted then! After that, I tried to get away promptly to get back to "Kutya", but they were having none of it. Even the people that sold? me "Kutya" were not bothered. So I ended up leaving after the first half of the football (that's when we leave!). Home, and there she was, waiting right by the gate. No wonder they say "Man's best friend".

Foreigner - apt!

22nd June 2008

I got an early alarm call this morning. I had already set my alarm for six o'clock, but I was woken at five thirty - "Kutya"! I already knew that that is the time that the people that sold (gave!) me the dog start their day. No wonder the pub shuts early! She was wimpering and clonking about. I guess her digestive system was saying "Where's my breakfast?" I got up and fed her.

Julian Darly wrote this for the Post Carbon Institute on 20th June. I like his style - a nice mixture of fact, humour and totally unrelated chat!

It was not too hot by then, so I knocked off a few hours in the garden - mainly maintenance, scything back the stuff that is springing up all over, again. This time I let "Kutya" come with me. No problems! She just found a bit of shade and plonked down. Sensible dog! Mad Dogs & Englishmen comes to mind!

I was about to finish when the neighbour spotted me working away with the scythe. "No machine?" "Nem, kapput" True to form, he appeared a few minutes later with a plug spanner, and I had to explain in my best pidgin Hungarian that it is, well basically f****d! He told me where to take it in Körmend that would mend it under warranty (I think). He said it was a friend of his. I'll have to get him to write down the name of the firm and the contact. There is obviously some local politics as to why the shop wouldn't tell me that!

Oh! Forgot. I got a gallon of cherry wine on the go! Should have been ten! And some dried, and some pie fillings. Ah well, looks like potato and walnut stew washed down with cherry wine and ginger beer to survive the winter :) Hopefully lots more to come, as there are a load of other fruit trees on the estate, and I suspect a chestnut tree.

Went to the pub to watch Moto GP. Then home. It was simply too hot (for me) to be working outside, so did some domestics. Washing clothes & baking bread. Hotter still next week - even the locals are commenting! Early evening I did a bit of clearing up after the scything. Half an hour was enough - still very warm. Then I went to the pub (surprise!). Got kicked out at half past nine, and walked home in what photographers would call "the blue hour" (and it is round about longest day). I must take the camera and tripod with me one evening - I walk home more or less into the sunset.

Dog was lying on the front doorstep (well, the only doorstep) when I got home. Just to cheer you all up This from the Independant about Russian oil production!.

No music - going to bed. I suspect I will get woken at five thirty again tomorrow.

23rd June 2008

Just to start the day off right! Getting a bit close to home for some of you! And a fascinating discussion on sustainability in Hawaii.

I thought today was going to be rather boring and unnoteworthy, but I have a couple of things to brighten the spirits. A had done a couple of hours, and I'm almost through with clearing the boundary to No. 72. The old lady there will think I'm a nutter - I am going to scrap and grub out two vines. Just to keep my big elderberry tree. Once it started getting hot, I worked in the shade at clearing it of the entangled vine. Wretched stuff really does wreak havoc with trees. On my way to have a break, I witnessed something I have never seen before. I heard a commotion of swallows' alarm calls (I recognize them!). I looked where it was coming from and there were literally dozens of them mobbing a bird of prey. I think it might have been a kestrel, but I'm not really a bird of prey expert, and it didn't stop for me to ask it. In normal flight the swallows obviously have a big spead and agility advantage. They were at it from all angles, but there was obviously some pattern to it, as they drove it away out of the village. Not a thing you see every day!

"Kutya" likes raspberries! Not that she will get many. I think I have got just about enough on the canes to make half a pound of raspberry jam. Every little helps, as the old woman said.

I was having my break when the neighbour came round armed with a plug spanner. I had told him of the problems. He insisted on having a go at it. His plug spanner didn't fit, so he disappeared again! I never heard him come back, but, damn me the next thing I heard was it running. Don't know what he did, but it runs. So he got a free strim of his bit of the front and drainage ditch as a thank you! Saves me a trip to Szombathely. He also told me whereabouts in Körmend they would do it under warranty. After that it got too hot for outside work. 34°C today (that's ninety three in old money ) - they do have the good grace to say "Hot" on the Weatherbug site.

From the BBC News site this afternoon. Peak Oil or speculators? You choose. I have been checking the web stats for the site, and they are way up this month. I've had hits from the Caymen Islands and The Seycelles - what is that all about?

24th June 2008Updated

Here's a piece from the Asia Times the writer of which plainly does not understand geology, or even history (Hubbert in the USA - 1970 peak!). Again, you choose! Also Australian Centre for Democracy & Justice. Somewhat the other side of the coin. And this in the the Guardian on climate change. May be a bit disingenuous of me, as I am from the Petrol Head, don't give a damn, generation. Are you?

Today was the day of the frogs. I started early - it was going to get hot. I'm working the corner behind the pig sty and garage. There were three vines there that simply had to go if I want to keep my big elderberry (tree/bush?) and a half decent peach tree, plus miscellaneous dead and alive conifers. Plus nettles and brambles. Now, I don't have a problem with brambles - - - in their place. I have one patch that I will actively encourage. I was just sawing down the remains of a long defunct mini-conifer when a movement caught my eye. Of course, I didn't have the camera with me :( Don't know whether it was a frog or a toad. It certainly wasn't bufo bufo, or if it was, it was way bigger than any I had ever seen. I picked it up gently in my gloved hand, and it covered the entire palm on the glove. Should have had the camera!!

I did have the camera close by, when a little later when, round about lunch time I went to check whether I had had mail. For the second day running, this chap is inhabiting my mailbox. Yesterday I outed him - he was not very friendly about it - spurted some sort of toxic liquid about, but fortunately I didn't get any. I got a picture today instead, as he was right back there. What on earth can he be living on living in my mailbox? He is also very pale - do they use chlorophyll (sp?) as a pigment? (Answers on a post card please!):
Ever seen a frog living in a letterbox? Tree Frog in a Letterbox
After lunch had to do a Körmend - dog food and dohany (tobacco - still a necessity, especially as they still do it in the pubs). Home, a quick bit of scything, and eat, shower, change, pub. Somewhere between that lot it got kind of dark. By the time that I set out to go to the pub, it was really dark - so I took the brolly. And a good job too - we had about two inches of rain in about three hours. I know because when I got home under the umbrella "Kutya"'s food bowl was full with rainwater. She was a bit damp, also. Bless her, she was sat on the front step awaiting my return. There are loads of places she could go to get out of the rain! I don't know what triggers it, but the frogs were having a field day again - including some of the big variety.

The Hungarian National Anthem - Himnusz. Trying to learn the words

25th June 2008

A really scarey piece from The Oil Drum Europe web site detailing what is happening to the UK. There. That's got you off to a good start.

Work continued to clear most of the corner behind the garage/pig sty. It was also too hot to work after noon as the weather continued to reach temperatures of over 30°C daily with no let up in sight. It seems as if we are in a cyclical weather system where the heat triggers thunderstorms late in the day or overnight, that brew up over the hilly regions (the alps are not that far away) and then trundle away to the east. If you were watching the Euro2008 football the other evening and saw the rain in the city, well that's what we are getting.

The outhouse is trying to fall down. Not good!

I tried to continue work on the kennel after lunch, but had to give in - too hot. Here is how far I had got:
Dog Kennel The kennel floor starts to appear! "Kutya" is really enthusiastic about it.

26th June 2008

The Actuary. Rather a well written article I thought.

Once again I really don't have much to report. I personally had one of my down days - reflecting on stuff. Separation from family, the enormity of the effort involved in resurrecting and upkeeping the cottage and land, etc., etc. Not a good day, but they are bound to happen. I read someones blog in similar circumstances and they admitted that they cried every day for six months. Well, I can cry for England. Put a romantic comedy on - I'll cry. I am one of at least two people I know that cried watching Jungle Book. You know the scene with the vultures with Beatles-type voice-overs. Hello Pete if you are reading the blog! But I haven't cried here yet. Close, but No!

For the first time since I arrived here I bought eggs from the local shop. We had to go next door and the shopkeeper lady disappeared into a cellar. The surprise was the price. OK, they are all shapes, colours and sizes (they're not, actually - they are all hens egg shaped), but they are only two thirds of the price of Tescos eggs with a nice red stamp on.

I sawed down several conifer trees. I have quite a nice open area developing at the back of the garage/pig sty. I had another surprise with prices too that I did not tell you about. Loo rolls are much cheaper in the painting and decorating shop than in Tescos. Who would have thought that!

I spent most of the afternoon doing computery-type stuff for the Magic Flutes and Windbreaks bands. That's it really apart from this article late in the day from Auntie Beeb. Went to the pub, as per usual, and when I got home was online chatting to someone on Skype (wonderful program) and using Trillian to message an ex-Uni friend in Canada. Reminds me of an Ivor Cutler track:
My father once had intercourse with a polar bear in Canada. If you ask him about it he will deny this. "Ah, Canada" he will say, in a restrained manner.
That's it - a complete track! If you have never heard any Ivor Cutler (1923 - 2006), I suggest you do. Best listened to whilst just slightly inebriated. Try "Dandruff" and "Life in a Scottish Sitting Room Volume 2".

27th June 2008

I'm very disappointed. In my (admittedly very brief) trawl this morning I could find you no bad news. A bit like the fishermen of the worlds oceans - nothing to catch!

Nonetheless I have had a good day. Notwithstanding that I personally did not do that much. Workmen (men seems to be plural, and therefore implies >1 in number - there were two) appeared (quite late - 8am) They did get stuck in once they got there!

The dog managed to disgrace herself on multiple fronts overnight, so she is persona non grata at the moment (don't ask). Basically, this morning I did bugger all apart from being present in the pretence that I was actually working. Well, that is not quite true. I recycled a somewhat dodgy post to help prop up the peach trees on the yard. Now why do peach trees want to grow horizontally? At the moment I have one dead one which is holding up vines, weeds including nettles, and brambles in the patch I am clearing. I have another one which still has life but is seriously threatened. I sawed down one unwanted conifer today, but still have another one to go before I can see what is what with the bits of vine still entangled. Tomorrow maybe.

I learned quite late in the afternoon that I may be subject to some obloquy as regards the colour scheme for the front fence/wall. Whatever - AFAIAC it is a mark of respect to this place that I have chosen as home!

They do "name days" here. It was the landlords name day today. We had quite a good evening. Didn't get kicked out until nearly ten pm. Had some photos with me and ended up having a good crack with the owners of "Kutya's" sire and dam.

The news was not so good when I got home. BBC and The Independant (again!). Had a little drop of my home made ginger beer when I got home, and I got to thinking how much pressure PET or polycarbonate bottles will withstand. And then I got to thinking well you can kiss PET and polycarbonate goodbye if it really is "Peak Oil". I am led to believe that good old fashioned glass, as in Champagne bottles, hold about three bar (caps?) or roughly forty two pounds per square inch. Half as much again as a car tyre, and about half of a heavy goods vehicle tyre pressure. Think of a semi-trailer (artic) or even more so a separate unit and trailer. A semi-trailer (artic) will have two tyres at the front and two doubles at the back. The trailer could have as many as six big industrial size tyres. I make that eighteen. If it is only a two axle trailer, then that is fourteen. Just to put into proportion the problem we are facing, imagine having to inflate that lot with either a hand pump or a foot pump!! Just that simple bit of maths brings into perspective our utter dependency on a lucky strike - cheap oil. Well as far as I can see it is nearly gone, so all the truckers (and everybody else) better get used to pumping up the tyres by hand. I am, but then I only have a push bike :)

28th June 2008

A whole raft of thought provoking video clips on The Oil Drum this morning!

Up late - 6:45! Tanked up the strimmer with "The Excrement of the Devil". Have you watched "A Crude Awakening" yet? If not, you should. It is happening now!

Blitzed the yard with the strimmer and then went right the way up the right hand border (that's No. 72 and the other cottage at the top). I got right up as far as the hole in the fence at the top. The dog never even attempted to get out of it. All she did was find a bit of shade and dig a scrape within a few metres of where I was working. I had just turned the corner to come back on the No.68 side, and the 'Tap and Go' locked itself up solid. It never has worked properly - I have always had to undo it and feed a bit more string out. No way - solid. So I had to trail back to the yard and use pipe grips on it.

I had had enough by then anyway, so I knocked it on the head. I had made arrangements to take a couple of photos in and around the pub, so took camera and tripod. I did the business with the pictures required, and then it turned into free-house with the camera. Don't know how many got took - a lot. I know one thing - your average Hungarian loves having his picture took :) I'll post some (with permission) when I have sorted them. Also, keep your eyes open for a Wikipedia (yes, I know!!) entry against Székely Himnusz. It is short of an entry, and the landlord of the pub has it framed on the wall, so when I find time I'll post a picture and a transcipt of the words to Wikipedia.

Late in the day, and how's this for stupidity.

Apologies for delay in posting. I am working my b****xs off at the moment.

29th June 2008

Didn't do much all day. To be honest, felt very rough for no apparent reason. That's it.

30th June 2008

References to other stuff on Energy Bulletinand this, this and this from Matt Savinar today!>

Up 5.30 and out by 7am. Did a load more clearing up at the back of the garage. I am inclined to leave the remaining small stack of logs where it is. I cleared round it, but I think that that might be where Mr. & Mrs. Hedgehog could well reside. I am so looking forward to the day the dog comes face to prickles with a hedgehog. I have seen it happen before - very funny! I figured out what was wrong with me yesterday too, as I woke up with a raging thirst. Dehydration. Simply not getting enough (alkoholmentes) liquids inside me!

That bit of clearing took me all morning, then it rained quite heavily, so after a quick one at the pub I spent the afternoon doing computery-type stuff. It included trying to sort out a page that was built with an on-line authoring tool. It would not play ball, and I gave up after about three attempts to reorganise a single table. Now, children, remember what your Uncle Steve tells you and don't use authoring tools - code it by hand!

Early evening the rain had cleared. It was cool but somewhat muggy. Nevertheless I did some scything down and clearing up.

Early evening, I was searching on-line properties for sale in the district, and guess what I found? Mine!! Here it is, right at the bottom of the page. Notice the date(s) of the page, and the price - I did not pay 5.5 Mil. Forints for it! I knew they had had a property price slump here after some mega-inflation when they joined the Common Market - well here is proof!

Here are a couple of pub pictures to whet your appetite:
Interior of pub with some of the regulars. Hungarian Kocsma
Me with Lazlo, the pub owner Me with Lazlo, the landlord (character!). And "No, I will not fix your computer"


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