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April 2012

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1st April 2012

I forgot to mention that yesterday evening when I was doing the goats Blackie escaped into the garden. Tibi told me later that he had had a wander round their garden too. He escaped again this morning. He had obviously mastered the art of undoing both chain at the top and cabin hook at bottom (on the garden side). To his credit, apart from his little expedition next door, he never left the garden and returned of his own accord within a couple of minutes both times.

Whatever, the gate had to be fixed. So fix it I did. It had a general makeover, replacing the odd bit of wood and reinforcing the nailing. I diverted a bolt that had been destined for another job and fitted it to the top of the gate yard side, and I mattocked out level by the bottom of the gate garden side and loose laid a course of bricks. It took most of the morning, once again diverting my precious time away from what I wanted to get done.

Necessary housework was relegated to the afternoon, so that was pretty much the day gone.

Pub in the evening and that was that.

2nd April 2012

I ventured into the garden with the intention of preparing where the spuds were to go. The area where the first two rows would go had been rough dug by Jozsi last back end. I put a line down and set to work with the broad mattock to loosen up for a trench for the spuds to go in. Two thirds of the way across I hit a snag. Well actually I hit a tree stump. I inwardly mildly berated Jozsi. He must have known that it was there. Out it had to come. It was fortunate enough that I found it now as it was right on the line where the spuds were going. I would have cursed some more had I found it whilst earthing up the spuds. By the time I had the stump out and finished off the row it was lunch time.

After lunch I returned to prepare for the second row. Blow me if it did not turn into a repeat of the morning, with an even bigger stump only little over a metre from where the first one was. I had to apply rough science to get that one out. I undercut it somewhat then borrowed a couple of the still to be chopped out vine posts. With one laid on the ground I forced the end of the other under the stump then simply sat on the other end and bounced up and down. I did say rough science! But out it came. Once again I finished off the row and that was certainly me finished with physical for the day.

Pub in the evening. Nothing else to report.

3rd April 2012

The two rows of spuds went in. The goats had been deprived of some spuds and so had I. They had been chitting on the window sill of the little room next the kitchen where I rarely venture. It is not nice! It needs the same treatment as the big room had, but I really must get my act together and get on with the outside walls repairs. Ah, whatever! There is in Daraboshegy a new house almost next door to the Daraboshegy faluház. Well, I say a new house. It is the shell of a new house. I can't remember the last time that I saw it whether it had tiles on the roof or whether the roof was just felted. If I recall correctly I think that they were doing what I would call the concrete over-site not long after I first arrived here. I might be wrong but I reckon that they are doing it bit by bit as funds allow. I remember a similar project from my time in Lincolnshire. Just outside of Ludborough on the A18. It had been started when I first went there to work. By the time I left the window frames were in. I think it was going to be a bungalow. You know that bungalow is an Irish expression, of course? Murphy - "Paddy, you know we haven't enough bricks to build these walls any higher?" Paddy - "Ah, to be sure Murphy. We'll just bung a low roof on it." Groan!

After lunch there was a bit of goat reorganisation. Suzy and Vicky had to go out whilst I captured the wether. It was not difficult to capture him, he is very tame. On the milking table he went to have his toe nails done. I released him and he had a wander outside, never far away. I left Suzy and Vicky outside. Poor Rudy remained confined. There was not yet really enough greenery in the garden to support tethered goats. It would not be long.

I was encountering my usual problem at this time of year. John has complained of it too. The available seed/potting compost here is far wrong and both John and I report the same results. Seeds germinate, quickly shoot up and then after about a week they fall over and die. I determined on an experiment. Armed with two buckets I went into the garden. One bucket was filled with ex-goat house compost, the other with ex-mole hill soil. Back in the yard they were thoroughly mixed together by hand. Wearing rubber gloves, of course. Then moistened and packed into a bag for use once the moisture content was distributed. Well, it was an experiment the likes of which loom large in my life. It would either be better than, the same as or worse than the local crap in the yellow bags.


A Reuters article on UK oil and gas production decline. Ouch!

4th April 2012

Normal start. The goats were still being fed indoors. There was not enough greenery to sustain them out and tethered just yet. Except the wether who continued to escape and nibble nearby the goat house. He never strayed very far away. Pickle normally warned me when he was out with frantic bouts of barking, jumping up at the fence and scratching at the gate. Which I ignored. I was still finding beans amongst the maize stalks.

I set about preparing where the late spuds would go. It involved removing some shrubbery which I think Marika had said were the small round plumbs found locally. I had had blossom on them but never fruit, and a fair number of the suckers were dead anyway, thanks to Rudy. The heavy mattock came out to play and I cleared about a metre and a half of them. The broad mattock came out to play as well and I chopped out roughly to where I wanted to extend the main garden this year.

After that, believe it or not, I had to water the garden everywhere that I had stuff in. Peas, onion sets, garlic and the first two rows of spuds. That was how dry it was. Drought conditions. It does not affect the meadow (goat territory). As soon as that shows green, at this time of year that precipitates dew which moistens the soil and it becomes a self-sustaining system. Fortunately.

After lunch I started preparing for the next garden fire, which would be a big one. Loads of miscellaneous stuff, vine prunings, hay that never made it to to goat house and spent maize stalks.

It was time to feed the goats. The old lady at No. 72 knows my habits anyway (the outdoor ones at least!) and had obviously hung around until I completed my well drilled routine. She was at the fence just as I locked Suzy in for the night. Could I let her have two good roof tiles? I went over to the stack by the fence between me and Tibi where there were a few stacked up. Mmmmm - not good enough. I indicated to her that I would get some in the yard. Some by the pigeon house. Not good enough. I ended up having to raid the store of roof tiles in the potting shed where I found her two perfect, undamaged ones. She was by the fence in the yard and I passed them over to her. Her gratitude was evidenced a couple of days later when a litre of her pink wine came over the fence to me.

Eat, wash, change, pub.

5th April 2012

All the normal stuff and then more preparation for a garden fire. I still had loads of stuff to burn, including I have to say all my bedding - including the Hungarian bed. The bedding would have to wait until I can afford to replace it, especially the bed. I will describe more later.

With two fledgling pigeons on the block I had to make another nest box. It took the rest of the morning.

Posta came with pensions paperwork from the UK. It raised more questions than it answered. There were two copies of the form that I had already sent and that I knew had been received as accompanying paperwork had already been returned to me. It was indicative of the failure of software systems at the most simplistic levels at this level of government:
if (pension_claim_form_received == true) {(don't send another one)} else {(send_claim_form)}
What can I say? And the country wastes billions on this sort of basic ineptitude!

I finished lunch, fed pigeons, checked goats, moved some more stuff, watered around and had a big garden fire. There will be a lot more to come once I clear out the goat house. I removed a few bundles of dead maize stalks in early winter. Since then they had been accumulating. Many thousands of them. The ones well buried will compost. The ones on top won't.

I had my fire, gave it a stir, watered around it again and went for a beer. As you do.

I managed to get another two rows of peas in when I returned home, then it was evening routine.

John's parents were over and they joined me and Hobo in the evening, so a good time was had by all. By the time we went home there were distant flashes of lightning appearing from the west. It was too far away to hear the thunder. I fed the dogs and put them out. By the time I let them in it had started to rain. Wonderful!

6th April 2012

There was more rain today. Nice steady rain on and off all day - what the Hungarian country folk call good weather. I used the time to start on knocking up another pigeon nesting box and do a bit of blog updating.

It being Easter weekend I had had a yen for real meat so on a whim I had bought a bag of frozen chicken legs in the shop.One and a half kilogrammes for nine hundred forints - less than two quid a kilo. I had kept the stove going, so unusually for me I had a cooked lunch. Roast chicken legs, mashed potato and peas. No gravy, so I improvised by dissolving a goulash soup tablet in a little boiling water.

Just before one I went to do pigeons and goats. I had visitors (expected) as I was dealing with the goats - John's parents come to see Vicky. I had let Suzy out and of course Vicky followed her. The wether had escaped via the normal route and when they arrived the wether and Suzy were fighting - rearing up and charging together to clash horns. John's parents stayed about twenty metres away until I reassured them that it was safe to come closer. Suzy and the wether would not bother them. Nope, that's just Rudy with me! The old lady came to the fence and watched Vicky for a while, beaming with delight the whole time. The show ended, visitors left and I returned Suzy and Vicky inside to their hay and walnut leaves. I left the wether wandering. He would not go far and would return indoors when he was good and ready.

Nothing else worthy of report for the day, in an attempt to get at least a bit caught up.

7th April 2012

It was good weather. It rained all day until the evening. The goats stayed in. I finished off the nest box and did a bit more blog updating.

It was bank holiday weekend so the shop in the morning would have to last until Tuesday. Well, I had plenty of chicken. I shopped for the rest. Bread and a case of Kőbányai. Unusually Miki was in the shop. Never one to pass up an opportunity he carried the case of Kőbányai home for me. A pálinka and two hundred forints. Whatever! It saved me carrying it.

With the rain easing in the afternoon I had a walk up the garden. I was well pleased with what I saw. Little green shoots of onions and garlic aplenty. I mentioned back in February buying the onion sets from the Purina van. I don't think I mentioned the garlic. It was just bought from the shop, particularly nice looking, and split into cloves and planted.

Early evening there was a hail from the gate. Tibi. He was off over the road to do some scything. Did I want the greenery for the goats? Oh, yes please. Two big basketsful. Overnight and in the morning goat food sorted out then.

Pub, of course.

8th April 2012

Lots of housework. I started on cleaning the big room windows, in dire need. Speaking of which, I had to rescue a common redstart from the house. It was flying around in the big room, much to the interest of Blackie. When I went to open a pair of upper windows it escaped to the kitchen. I managed to shoo it back to the big room where it perched on the light fitting, Blackie going ballistic below. It recovered and made good its escape. I digress. Cleaning windows. I decided to do all the top ones first. That was just eight windows. Off their hinges a pair at a time, into the yard, cleaned off with strong vinegar and sprayed off with hose pipe then squeegied off. By the time I had done the eight I could no longer feel my fingers, the water and the ambient temperature were that cold. Enough.

I was supposed to go to Helmut and Silvia's in the afternoon. I had to cry off. The remains of the outhouse attached to the goat house of which I published a photo of the collapsed roof were evermore threatening to fall into the old lady's yard. Something had to be done about it. That was my afternoon. Dismantling the remains of the roof and various rotten wooden bits causing it to take a decided lean to the west. It took me about three hours to at least get it stable and not swaying about in the strong blustery wind. It is all falling apart faster than my capabilities to put it back together again, or just demolish it.

Pub in the evening. As expected I was on my own. Hobo and John were over in Csákánydoroszló.

9th April 2012

The housework that did not get done yesterday on account of outhouses trying to fall over got done today. That's it!

10th April 2012

The moment that I let the dogs out in the morning I could see that there was a problem. The goat house door into the yard was awry. Rudy was still within, however, and dogs went about their business - literally. I continued as normal - shop, fire, coffee, toast.

The goats went out not too far away. If I recall correctly it was the first day that the goats went out for the full day anyway. I returned to the house and did the washing up, then set about investivating awry door. Thanks to Pickle and Rudy the bolt had bent, come out of such slot as there was in the wall and was now bent back against the outside of the goat house. Fortunately my reinforcements with oak and threaded rod had prevented the door from going over the angle iron at the bottom, otherwise Rudy would have been in the yard.

I had to beat the bolt with a hammer to get it to go back the right side of the goat house wall. Inside the goat house I attempted to beat the bolt back into its slot in the wall without much success. Oh well, it would just have to be wedged up outside later as best I could.

That took me until lunch time. I had lunch, fed and watered the pigeons and then went about my business. The verge needed strimming. So I strimmed it. Half way through and the strimmer went into over-rev. Out of strimmer line. By that Hobo appeared looking or a lttle work. I set him on to sort out the remains of the outhouse by the goat house.

I sorted out the strimmer. Well, I thought that I had sorted it out. "Tap-and-go" would not tap and go. Strimmer line wound the wrong way. "Tap-and-go" would still not work - strimming head not assembled properly. I finished strimming with "Tap-and-go" still refusing to work. I will write more about "Tap-and-go" when I remember.

Hobo went off, I got the goats in and ate. Pub as usual after that.

11th April 2012

Well, it started out normally enough. Shop, breakfast... Time to get the goats out. I hooked Suzy and the wether onto their chains and led Suzy to where I wanted them parked for the day. I don't have to lead the wether - he just follows on wherever we are going. I returned to the goathouse for Rudy to find mayhem. Once again I found daylight where no daylight should be. Rudy was in the yard terrorising the dogs. The door from the goathouse into the yard was lying flat in the yard. More in a moment. Blackie was cowering out of sight of Rudy. Pickle was barking furiously, but at every charge by Rudy she kept a circumspect couple of metres away. What to do? Well, none of them were going anywhere fast. I had the forethought to fetch Rudy's chain and put it just inside the garden by the gate. I also had the forethought to retrieve a bucket of water from the goat house.

What now? I boldly strode back to the house and called the dogs. To my amazement they both responded. They just wanted to be away from the ravening beast in the yard. I soon had them in house under lock and key. The next problem was to get Rudy back into the garden and on his chain. It was not probematic. He was in unfamiliar territory and just wanted to get back to the herd. He came to the garden gate and I collared him and clipped on his chain. That was when he decided to have a go at me. He got very wet about the head, twice, thought better of it and headed off to the herd. I soon had him staked out with no more problems.

I returned to the yard to probe the mystery of why the goat house door was lying flat there off its hinges. The mystery is that that door cannot be lifted off its hinges by human means. There is above a wooden lintel and there is insufficient head clearance over the door for the door to lift off its hinge pins. Rudy must have put a tremendous amount of bend/flex into it to get it as it now was. The problem was, of course, that a human being being unable to lift the door off its hinge pins was equally unable to put it back on its hinge pins. I pondered. Mmmm. A little Hobo assist was called for.

I cycled up to the pub. No Hobo - he was working for the day in Nádasd. I sat and pondered and calmed myself for a while over a beer. Whatever, that door had to go back on.

Back home, dogs still secure within house, I roughly wedged the door in place then released dogs. I studied the situation more closely. A possible solution revealed itself. You will remember that after the previous Rudy excursion from that door I had had vas Lajos come and fit nuts and bolts to the hinges, three in each hinge. I reckoned that if I removed the two bolts closest to the hinges and just slackened off the one furthest away I would have enough wiggle room to get the hinges back on.

So it proved. It was fiddly and involved multiple trips working both within and without the goat house, and it was also a case of do not drop the nuts into the still present deep litter or I would never have found them again. Both hinges needed a small persuasion with a knocking stick to get them to pop back in the hinge pins but after that it was easy. I rearranged the wedging of door, front sides top and bottom in the absence of a bolt.

I completed the morning by doing a bit of TLC to the staples to hold a bolt in position. TLC? Ha! They were in terrible condition and I had to beat seven bells out of them to get them straight enough that they would secure the bolt to the door. I forgot to mention yesterday a trip up to vas Lajos. I had decided that Rudy having bent the existing one he would undoubtedly bend it again if I just straightened it out and replaced it. I had cast about and found a considerably more substantial one not doing anything. The only problem was that it needed the extension to allow it to be operated from the yard side of the door fitting to it. I had angle ground said item off the bent bolt, ground a nice shiny spot on the bolt where I wanted it welding on and cycled up the hill with it. About one minutes work for vas Lajos. Unfortunately he was not at home. I left it with his mother with the instructions what I needed doing. As I write, it still has not come back in spite of me telling vas Lajos it was urgent. I reckon he has, err, misplaced it. Either that or his interpretation of urgent is at some degree of variance to mine.

After lunch I got a row of late spuds in by the simple expedient of bashing holes for them to drop into with the heavy mattock. By then I had a decided twinge to the right biceps. Enough physical for the day.

I sat and wrote a letter concerning a couple of pension queries and apart from goats in and fed, pigeons watered and locked in that was it for the day.

Eat, change, pub.

12th April 2012

It was raining. Once again what the Hungarians call good weather. It was not enough to warrant the umbrella when I went to the shop but enough to don a baseball cap. It also showed no signs of letting up so the goats stayed in.

Rain or not I washed clothes. I simply left them in the final rinse water until the morrow. I have the habit that if clothes that are on the line not dry and it rains they stay right where they are. If they are only very slightly damp I get them in, otherwise they stay on the line. I don't much care if it rains for a week. They stay on the line. Both my neighbours have nice discreet clothes lines tucked away out of sight. Mine is straight across the yard, in full view from the road. I don't much care about that either. They probably think that I am odd. Well, I suppose I am. It appears that I never mentioned on the blog a conversation about me being eccentric. It was me that was saying it. Hobo was quite put out about it. In contrast to England where people who are non-nuisance eccentric are regarded with tolerance and/or some sort of affection, in Hungary being eccentric is a definite no-no. Maybe there is another word in Hungarian to decsribe the likes of me. The nearest I have got is a phrase - from Hobo - "Not a normal man". Well, yes!

It rained until quite late in the day. I had a wander up to the garden but it was far too wet to think about doing anything there. Feed the goats, lock the pigeons in and go to the pub.

13th April 2012

Friday the thirteenth! Well, nothing bad happened.

One of the squabs - the pretty one - had managed to flutter to the floor when I went to give them fresh water. I returned it to nest. The goats went out. Rudy got wet and was no more problem. The washing went out with every promise of it drying.

I did a very little gardening - it was still very wet. One row of mixed carrot seeds went in. I hedged by bets a bit by doing that. You may remember that last year I got half a row and could not remember which seeds were which. This year both varieties went along the full row, but very thinly. I didn't much care about variety and as far as I am concerned a carrot is a carrot. I cannot ever remember seeing carrots in a supermarket labelled with variety - "Nantes II", "Serge de Nimes" or "Desiree". Spot the odd one out and reply!

Firewood accumulates and I made a start on getting some of it sawn up and in the wood house. I attacked the softwood from the two dismantled lean-to outhouses first. I am still attacking it as I write. The reason for doing that is simple - segregation. Softwood in one place, acacia in another, old pear tree somewhere else... It makes it so much quicker and easier to get firewood in if it is thus. I did two baskets and called it a day in deference to the biceps that was still twingeing.

Speaking of saws, I went for a beer after that. It had happened that the last time Hobo had been at my place he had spotted the first panel saw that I bought when I first arrived here and discovered Bödő, red rusty and lying on the wall outside the pigeon house where I had placed it for a reason before it rained. It had been crap when I first bought it and had grown crappier since. I cannot remember if I mentioned but I had to mend the handle with two wood screws. Hobo would have none of it. In Hungarian style it had to be fixed. Off he went with it however many days ago. Well, today it came back to me. I was having my beer in the pub when a local character named Tibi - not my neighbour - came in. When he saw me he made some comment, disappeared a bit sharpish and reappeared with my crappy saw. Wire brushed free of rust as far as possible, sharpened - also as far as possible - and the teeth reset. Well, it was probably as good as the day that I bought it. How much? Nothing! It had given him something to do. I pressed a fröccs on him. I will press another one or two on him when I catch him in the pub again. Very diffident chap. Always stands in the same spot by the bar has his fröccs and goes away. Right from the very earliest days of me being here he was curious about me but friendly towards me. There was a language barrier. Today, both being smokers we ended up in the late afternoon sunshine under Laci's magnificent erection, of which I still need to get photos, and chatted about village life and tools. My grasp of Hungarian remains lamentable. In the village domain I get by well enough.

Back home I grabbed a basket and set forth to gather a basketful of conifer from the No. 66 garden. There was a shout from somewhere, and another. Being about eighty percent deaf in one ear made it difficult to ascertain from whence it came. I recognized the voice - neighbour Tibi. It turned out that he and Marika were working over the road clearing up at the grey house that had been for sale since before I arrived here and had finally been sold. I went over with basket. Tibi indicated a patch of luxurient greenery. He went to took for a scythe but there was none. He attacked it with a broad mattock just like mine. In a minute I had a basket full to overflowing. It happened that Marika came up and told me what the greenery was. Lilies. A small alarm bell went off in my head. I dumped the basket over the garden gate and went back into the house to the computer. Internet - lilies. All the sites that I visited indicated that they were highly toxic to goats. In haste I retrieved the basket and dumped it where neither dogs nor goats could access it. It will go on a garden fire once dried. It was a lucky escape. I would have had four dead goats in the morning, or even worse four still alive goats in convulsions. I managed to catch Marika a couple of days later and shared the knowledge, knowing that in the summer she was likely to pop through the fence with goat goodies. Her response, as near as I could translate/understand it was "You did good to tell me."

Disaster averted I finished off the day, ate and went to the pub. I went outside for a smoke and fell into the company of a bunch of the younger people in the village. Quite unexpectedly a couple of beers came my way. I was not in a position to reciprocate. It did not matter. Hobo was quite put out about my prolonged absence from the table. Whatever!

Sorry for the short entry. I will try to do better tomorrow ;)

14th April 2012

OK, I will keep it short. I went to give the pigeons their water and both the squabs were wandering about on the floor having fluttered down from the nest. Oh well, they could stay there and share the water that I put down for the adult birds. I was not worried about them in the daytime.

Goats went out in their usual order, some way up the meadow. As usual I hooked up Suzy and just took the chain for the wether with me. It is a time consuming business getting Suzy and Vicky where I want them. Suzy always wants to have a little munch here and a little munch there on the way. I don't much care. It is a pleasant time. I planted Suzy for the day, then clipped wether on his chain and planted him where I wanted him. I went back for Rudy who was by now going "Meah, meah". Also as usual I let Rudy out and clipped his chain on as he barged past me. I followed him at a circumspect distance.

As I followed him I found a goat chain where no goat chain should be. I followed it to the end. I found a goat collar - Rudy's! Oh bollox! By now Rudy was raiding the little fallow area on the main garden. I enticed him to the end by the fence and collared him, literally. He determined on a shoving match. I had my back against a little plum tree. I had collar around his neck and, with some difficulty with his shaggy coat resecured collar and chain. Then, with trusty bucket of water to hand, he got very wet, withdrew gracefully and went to join the others. You know, when I went to buy the goats there was a huge black buck in the goat pen. I thought at the time "F*** me, I could never handle that!". Well, I reckon that Rudy is now not far off that size. All I need is my trusty bucket of water. Hobo tells me that the other buck goat in the village is far smaller than Rudy. Rudy went on station.

I started on another project. The former bit of fencing closing off the garden from Telek utca consisting of angle iron top and bottom rails and aluminium alloy uprights was by now a total write-off. I was looking to create a woven hurdle with which to replace it. I got as far as selecting, measuring and sawing to length the nine uprights. They came from the birch stuff coppiced from the wilderness patch, of varying diameters and degrees of straightness. As I write, that is as far as I have got with it. It is sort of one third urgent.

A lunchtime beer unexpectedly became three when Hobo bought me one and another came from elsewhere. Oh dear.

More garden work in the afternoon clearing the next bit for late spuds. Business as usual after that. Goats in, pigeons locked up, eat, change, pub.

15th April 2012

Boring and short for the most part. Once the usual morning stuff was out of the way I spent the rest of the morning in the kitchen. Pants and socks wash and cooking. I said boring.

Water for the goats and check that they were OK - not tangled up on chains and so on.

I spent an hour sawing up the stuff on the yard and stacking it in the wood house. Then it was time for the main meal of the day. Bean Bolognais. Different, but none the less nutritious and tasty.

I noticed particularly today that pretty well all the trees that were going to blossom were in blossom. I crossed metaphorical fingers that we did not get a late sharp frost to spoil it. I particularly noticed the big plum tree in the front by Petőfi utca - it had much blossom - and the little Morello tree, which was laden with blossom. Mmmmm - plum wine and Morello and black pepper jam :)

Pub, which shut particularly early - not much after eight in the evening. Back home I checked on the pigeons whom I had forgotten to lock in. All was well.

16th April 2012

Once the goats were out I started sawing. The stuff outside the old woodhouse in the yard had just mounted up and up. I started on the rotten softwood piled up from collapsed outhouses. I managed a couple of basketsful. It went in the wood house to dry off.

I had the sign out for Posta as I had a letter to post to the UK with a couple of queries regarding my pension. It happened that she had an envelope for me from the pensions centre in the UK. Well, it answered one of my queries. And to my satisfaction. It was confirmation that I would be getting a pension and it quoted figures. I was happy with that as well. It was fifteen quid a week more than I had bargained for.

I fed the pigeons, checked the goat water and wandered down to the faluház where there was one of the regular little markets. It seemed to me that there were representatives of most of the families in the village there perusing what was on offer. I had a general wander round with going through my head "Can't afford it, can't afford it, can't afford it."... I left with what I went for. A couple of cans of lighter refill gas - one for me and one for Hobo.

Back home another vine post and crossmember went in the garden. Then I went for a beer. Lajos came in, definitely down in the mouth. Not only did he have no work but the switch on his planer/thicknesser was broken so he could not use it to do no work. Not a happy bunny.

I had my one and went home. I got firewood in, organised what I would have for food and it was by then time for the shop. And the little pub outside the shop. It happened that a fair contingent of the younger element of the village were about, and they had with them a football. An impromptu kick-about on the street ensued. It gladdened my heart to see it, although I kept tight hold of my bottle of beer. Going off on one, I remember a news report on the BBC long ago about a new estate in Taunton, Somerset. It was a mixed housing estate of families and older people. Apparently the older people had banded together and were going to try and obtain an injunction to prevent children being allowed to play on the street. I know what my reaction would have been! "Were you never young? Did you never play on the street?" The words vexatious and frivolous come to mind as words used to dismiss such crap under the English legal system. Maybe they should be adopted by the world to cover the nonsense patent claims by multiple software/hardware companies against muliple other software/hardware companies. Rant over.

Anyway, the football degenerated into horseplay to see who could kick the ball furthest up the road. The inevitable happened and a kick sent the ball some thirty metres away, from where it rolled into the drainage ditch and disappeared from sight into to the concrete culvert tube. The boys tried to retrieve it without success. I sighed, rose from my semi-comfortable position on the concrete flower trough outside the shop and wandered briefly home. I returned with my trusty Baileys drain rod set. In the mean time one of the youngsters had also found a couple of drain rods. In total they were about three metres long. They had nothing on the end. They were ineffective.

I tipped all the drain rods out by the culvert pipe. One, two, three went on. By then I had a helper. Bright lad, youngest son (I think) of the guy that did the inside of my big room walls. No sooner had I screwed on another drain rod he had another one to my hand. About five metres in I felt a bump. Young man went to the other end. No ball in sight. Another couple of drain rods went on and another bump. Young man had the ball with a smile on his face. Did he return to the others? No, he rolled the ball back to them and then helped me repack the drain rods into their case. His final remark? "Köszönöm Sztív" (Thank you Steve).

Now, I ask my readers who have ten year old sons or who have immediate relations or friends who have ten year old sons whether those sons would have the slightest idea what a drain rod kit was all about? This little chap did. I went back to my uncomfortable seat on the concrete flower trough and finished my beer.

Goats, pigeons, pub.

17th April 2012

It was an unseasonably cold day and when I went to do the goats I was back to wearing three layers. The Norwegian web site had forecast rain - quite a bit of rain - so I had made the decision that goats could remain in house where I fed them from the by now ever dwindling supply of dry winter fodder. I have probably mentioned it before, but the other goatherder in the village and I are the only people that I know of with livestock bigger than chickens that actually put them out on the land. All the few cows and many pigs spend their entire lives confined. Well, that is after all the primary reason why I employed the goats. The dairy side of it is a very nice fringe benefit, as is raising a wether. I did not mention investigating goat ham on the Internet. I had a surprise. There is an Italian product called Violina de capra - literally Goat violin, so called because the traditional way of carving it is to rest it on the shoulder and carve with a very sharp knife used in the manner of a violin bow. Two and a half kilogrammes is ninety six Euro!

Mrs. Pigeon No. 2 was still sitting a single egg. I was beginning to have my doubts about that one.

Two sessions of sawing up the stuff outside the old wood house and some general tidying up in the yard saw off the rest of the morning. There was no post. I am daily expecting to hear back from the one pension provider with whom I have yet to make contact.

I chopped out another vine post after lunch. Steady moderately tedious work. The promised rain arrived. It was not a torrential downpour but was sufficiently heavy that everything else I did out of doors until gone five in the evening was done under the umbrella. By about half past five it had eased sufficiently for the hardier characters to assemble at the little pub outside the shop.

I was not about to get the goats out for just a single hour in the early evening so they stayed where they were. I did get up the garden with barrow, scythe and fork and in about ten minutes had sufficient greenery to last them overnight.

Pub, of course.

18th April 2012

Nothing special happened today except for another envelope from Posta regarding pensions. I have to say that I find the whole exercise extremely trying and time consuming.

Lots of seriously overdue pictures instead:
New Vine Posts The first two vine posts go in plus the crossmember
This is what the vines looked like before... Vines Before
Vines Before ...and this. I will get some more shots once the next stage of this particular mini-project is in place.
The repaired wooden rake... Rustic Repair
Rake with New Tooth ...with its new tooth
The newborn goat twins. Sadly, the nearer one is the one that did not survive. The further away one is Vicky Newborn Twins
Newborn Twins and Suzy And a shot of them with Suzy
Here is the wether, taken so that he should not feel left out... The Wether
Rudy ...and also Rudy
An (abortive) attempt to bury the big pear tree stump in the yard. Abortive, as Pickle's running chain has scattered the lot far and wide. Burying Pear Tree Stump
Cracked Outhouse Wall This one is worrying - seriously worrying. This is the wall between the potting shed and the wood house. It is trying to fall in the yard. I strongly suspect that the whole outhouse roof is on the move. One side of the bit above where we stored the maize stalks last year has pretty well collapsed already. I asked Hobo about a new outhouse roof that a particular family had fitted recently in terms of cost. A lot of money, he said. It translated to about twelve hundred quid, which of course in terms of property values in the village is a lot of money, but in terms of my pension will be relatively small beer.
One half of the acacia post that I laboriously sawed in two Sawn Acacia Post
Goats in the Garden The whole goat family in the garden
The jury rigged kitchen light of which I wrote Kitchen Light
New Nest Box Rustic handicrafts at its best. Another pigeon nesting box
Preparations for burning along the two rows where I wanted the early spuds to go... Fire Preparation
Garden Fire ...and the actual fire
This is the complete set of vine posts and crossmembers for the vines further up the garden. I did not mention that I have hopefully found there three self-ground layered vines that I will be able to transplant into the main row. More New Vine Posts
More Goat Food This is the extra goat food that appeared from my neighbour John with the cows

19th April 2012

Apart from the normal stuff I had made a decision that come whatever Thursdays was going to be house wall repair day. So that is what I did. I continued where I had left off, seemingly very long ago.

Where I had left off was running a course of bricks up the crumbling north west corner of the house, alternately east and south. It needed a lot of packing of earth mix into it so that is what I did. I took a break at about eleven, went over to the shop and bought a bottle of the cheapest (and nastiest) beer to drink with the ever present members of the little pub outside the shop whilst I awaited the arrival of the Purina van.

Purina van arrived. I was second in the queue but got crowded out by multiple old girl close neighbours wanting to talk about geraniums. Eventually the Purina man dismissed them for the moment and served me. Bag of dog food and a packet of fresh cabbage seeds, my attempts with the old ones having signally failed.

By that a white van pulled up outside my gate. GLS - Global Logistical Services. I knew what he would be delivering and hastened home at best limp before he had the chance to determine that I was not at home and go away. It was only an A5 envelope but it had been posted via the Royal Mail "International Signed For™" service. It works very well, but it also baffles me. I have not a clue as to who will deliver it. It has been Magyar Posta, DHL and now GLS. Once again I had to sign for it and had to produce ID. Quite right too - except when Magyar Posta delivers it. I don't get asked for ID. I don't know if I ever mentioned that the regular post lady lives in the village, is married to Tibi that normally drives the red village bus and is next door neighbour to Hobo.

After lunch Hobo appeared to do a couple of hours work. I set him on moving sawn down bits of estate nearer to the yard. I did not want it in the yard just yet until I have sawed, chopped and stacked what is already there. I went back to house wall repairs and a single brick went in. It is just so time consuming. I finally managed to catch Marika and told her about the toxicity of lilies for goats. Her comment was that I did well to tell her. It needed doing, as I know that she will pop through the fence from time to time with goodies for the goats.

Having had enough of house repairs I set to and made myself a hand hawk, which was something I had been promising to do for a long time. Whilst I was doing that I saw my first swallows of the year. It was good to see them back. Mind you, the pair that nested in the potting shed will have to find themselves another nesting place as I now keep the doors closed so as to reduce any stress on the cracked outhouse wall.

Pub in the evening, of course.

20th April 2012

I went to give the pigeons their water. Unusually Mrs. Pigeon No. 2 was not on the nest. I soon found the reason. Dead baby bird. I removed it. That pair of pigeons are now in Last Chance Saloon. Three clutches of eggs and not a single bird to show for it. I have to be pragmatic about it. It costs me money to feed them. The decision was made that if they fail to raise viable chicks next time Mr. Pigeon No. 2 is in the pot and she will have to find a new mate. If she does not, or if she does and continues to produce non-viable chicks she is in the pot as well. I have a feeling that I am overstocked on cock birds anyway.

Washing - boring!

I took the strimmer out into the garden and did by the fence between me and Tibi as far as goat territory. What an utterly simpler exercise it was where the vines were off the floor. After that I started on digging a strip tight by the fence. I had decoded that I would grow the beans that I had collected from the goat stalks the way that the old lady next door does. Up the fence. Once again a painstaking and slow process as every spadeful had to be hand weeded.

I had enough of that so I went back to the yard in case Posta had anything for me and sawed a basketful off the stack and stacked it in the wood house. Then lunch.

More sawing after that until the biceps said enough. That was it, all a relatively bring day.

Pub in the evening. No Hobo, and by half past eight on a Friday evening there were three of us in there - me, Lajos and his drinking buddy. They shut up shop at quarter to nine. I have to say to my credit that I was the last to leave.

You might have noticed that there has been no mention of the village pig killing this year. Simple explanation. There was none. The village football club could not afford to sponsor it.

21st April 2012

Pigeons were watered, goats went out and I set to to do another spell on the digging by the fence. I had about had enough when it came on to rain. Mmmmm - goats in or goats out? I looked around the sky, put my finger in my mouth and wet it, held the finger up for the wind direction and adjudged that it was to be a passing shower, so the goats stayed out. They do tend to know when there is serious rain coming and run round in circles on the ends of their chains. Today they were happily munching. Not so me. The rain got quite a bit heavier and I headed back to house.

It rained for about an hour. I poked my head out from time to time but goats were still happily munching, even little Vicky. It stopped after about an hour. I had been right - a shower, albeit a long and quite heavy one. There was a doggie commotion from the yard. I poked my head out again to see John at the gate. He had been making sausages and had brought a couple round for me to try. I retrieved them from him and held them over my head as I went back and stored them safely out of the way of marauding dogs.

I had a sandwich, fed and watered the pigeons and went to check on the goats. They were all fine, but their coats were still damp and definitely punky looking.

I determined upon a little, long promised but unfulfilled work on the other half of the old lady's drainage ditch by the roadside. The next door but one neighbour that side had dug theirs out so I started that end. Broad mattock and shovel. The inevitable happened and Hobo came by, only to tell me that I was doing it wrongly. I bit my tongue and let him take over. No point in arguing - a no-win/no-win situation. Yeah, right Hobo get on with it. I had been intending to do maybe a third of it today, a third of it tomorrow and the final third another day. Hobo would have none of it. It all got done today. Sweat dripped - it was by now a warm afternoon. Bless her, the old lady came up with a couple of bottles of beer about half way through. At some stage I asked Hobo how long it was since it had been done. Ten or fifteen years he reckoned. I asked him why her numerous relation visitors did not do it. "They don't like the digging!" Oh well, just part of me trying to be a good neighbour to my neighbours.

It was close on four in the afternoon when we finished. I was knackered. I took Hobo for a beer in the pub. Back home I lit the stove, boiled and mashed some spuds and fried John's sausages and served them up with a good dollop of spicy peach chutney. I have the recipe if you want it, and it appears to last forever - nothing grey and hairy grows upon it. Unlike my head and my face.

22nd April 2012

Housework, and I was not at my best today - slightly under the weather but I had no idea what the reason.

Both the Norwegian web site and the local telly forecast had forecast a fair amount of rain today. It looked like rain too. I took a flyer on it and the goats stayed in. I still had a fair amount of dry rations for them anyway but towards lunchtime I decided to supplement it with a basket of Christmas tree greenery from the next door but one garden. Much later - several days - I could not find the secateurs. I looked in all the likely places. No secateurs. I retraced my steps in the next door but one garden in case I had left them there or they had fallen from my little jacket pocket. I did not find them. Blast! That was a considerable inconvenience. They were a good pair of secateurs and (for Hungary) they had not been cheap. Well, right now I could not afford to replace them. Another thing to go on the list marked "later".

By lunchtime the Norwegian site was forecasting no rain. I was not convinced. The goats stayed where they were, and my intuition proved sound as by midafternoon it was tipping down. The goats stayed dry. I got wet, as I decided that they should have some fresh greenery for overnight munchies. Bejacketed and hatted I went up the garden at best pace with barrow, scythe and fork and in short order had a barrowful for them. It went straight into the goat house and that was me finished with goats for the day.

It was still raining, so I did some blog updating.

Pub in the evening, but not for long. It was half past seven when I got there and by half past eight we were kicked out and they were locked up.

23rd April 2012

It was a fine day. Goats went out and I had a little attempt at digging. It was really too wet and I was saved further endeavours by a doggie commotion from the yard and the arrival of Hobo.

As I got to the yard I saw he had something in his hand. My bolt for the goat house door. Vas Lajos had finally got round to welding it up. I have mentioned before the Hungarian finely balanced viewpoint on what urgent means. I have to say that in this instance vas Lajos has been proved right. The bolt remains as I write on the workbench. I find I cannot fit it to the goat house door until the winter litter is removed from the corridor in there. Long ago, one of my regular correspondents (Hungarian born) commented that the Hungarian attitude is "Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?".

In true style Hobo and I sat and chatted for a good hour over a beer. So that was an hour of putting something off until tomorrow that I could have got done today.

I went back and had another look at the digging. It was still much too wet so I abandoned it for the day. I checked on the goats only to find that Rudy had managed to find a piece of tree branch with his chain and had wound it round his post in a tanglement almost to the extent of his chain. Armed with water bucket I went to untangle him. The inevitable happened and as soon as he realised his chain was untangled he managed to run completely round my legs. I had nowhere to go except on my backside on the ground. He decided to have a go, came for me, got very wet and backed off. It gave me sufficient time to untangle legs and scramble away out of reach of his chain. Reminder to self: wherever you put Rudy make sure there are no bits of branch lying about!

The first couple of spuds in the first two rows had poked their heads out. Good-oh! New potatoes on the way. It was also time to start the hoeing campaign for the year. For the first time of the year I had sweat on the brow. Not enough to drip but enough to notice.

During the afternoon Hobo came back to do some work. I set him on to shift the stuff lying around the estate still. I was only going to pay him for one hour of work and he knew that. He still did the best part of two hours. By then it was time for the little pub outside the shop where I bought Hobo a beer and had one myself.

The goats went in with no problems. It has devolved into a pattern. Unless Rudy is nearby he goes last. The wether goes first and I just take him off his chain and carry it. I release Suzy but lead her back on chain. She goes on the staging post just outside the goat house. I go back for Rudy, release him and let him go. He normally raids the main garden half way back. Fortunately most of it at the moment is just weeds and they are far more attractive to him than anything I have growing there. As John Seymour says, weed cover is better than no cover. Rudy has to be gently persuaded away from there and then I let him run again. He invariably heads for Suzy to see if she is amenable. Of course at the moment she is not. Rudy loses interest and heads into the goat house to see what goodies I have put in the manger for him. (I always do). Whilst he is busy with the goodies I poke my head and arms round the hole in the wall and unclip his chain and that is that.

I ate and went to the pub.

24th April 2012

Not a lot to report. I tried digging again but it was still too wet. Hobo turned up and did a bit more sorting out of wood off the estate. I did some sawing of the pile on the yard. It rained in the afternoon but not enough for the goats to go in. Little pib outside the shop for one, goats in and pub in the evening.

Plans for mining asteriods from the Beeb. Well, I hope they will be mining steak and kidney, because that is what they will mine. Pie in the sky. Can you begin to imagine what the EROEI (Energy Returned Over Energy Invested) would be? I reckon 0.01:1. I still see web sites talking about negative EROEI. It is a ratio. As it tends to zero that represents infinite energy invested for zero return. You cannot have negative.

25th April 2012

The goats went out in their usual order. I was literally just about to get Rudy on his stake when a black dog ran past. My black dog. I looked down the garden and sure enough yet another of the uprights was missing. Once again I knew what the next job would be. I just let Blackie get on with it. Back in the yard I had only just sourced a replacement bit of wood and Blackie was back, returning the same way he left - though the hole in the gate. He had not been gone very long and to his credit had once again limited his perambulations to my garden and Tibi's. You know, he bothers not the slightest about the goats. They bother about him, at least Suzy, Vicky and the wether do. Rudy just wants to get at him.

Blackie was secured in house for the short while that it took me to saw to length the replacement piece of wood and nail it in.

Hobo appeared. Just for a chat (and one of my beers!). Once again we sat for about an hour and that was the morning almost gone. I did manage to saw another basket of wood from the stack in the yard and get it stacked away and then it was lunch time.

After lunch Hobo reappeared with instructions for me to get myself round to John's absent neighbour's garden. There had been rumblings of discontent about the few small stacks of maize stalks that had been abandoned there, never having been moved to my place. I wandered round there via Telek utca. I had had the forethought to take with me a couple of bits of maize stalk bundle tieing string. Together we carted and stacked them on John's garden to dry out and later be burnt. I found a nest with tiny baby animals in, obviously not long born as they had their eyes closed. Hobo identified them as baby rats and euthanased them. I won't say how!

It took us a while to shift the stalks - they were scattered about a bit - and it was near enough three by the time we finished. It would be to my benefit anyway as I expect to get one or two crops of goat hay off that garden and not have to scythe it down. Imre caretakes the garden and will do the scything. Probably Hobo and I (or just me) will turn the hay and that will be a good start to next winter fodder for the goats.

It was a warm day, and Hobo and I were hot and tired. Guess what happened next?

Back home it was back to the normal stuff for the time of day. Eat, goats in, go to the pub. I left the pub for a few minutes to check on and secure the pigeons. To my pleasure I found the young pigeons perched on a shelf, both now fully fledged and flying. They have both turned out to be very pretty birds: one quite distinctively speckled and the other with alternating stripes of white and grey feathers everywhere - body, wings, tail. It would also save me the job of making sure that they were roosted at dusk. I would now be able to check their water and lock them in before going to the pub. Until the next lot.

The pub had a sign on the door with new opening hours. It said nine in the morning opening, closed for lunch from twelve until two and only open until nine in the evening. As I write, all except the lunchtime closing has turned into a bit of a movable feast. Hobo assures me that they still open at half past six in the morning. They are certainly closing earlier in the evening than in previous years but it is sometimes somewhat after nine.

John and his parents were in the pub. We had a pleasant evening.

26th April 2012

I was on my way back from the shop when Hobo appeared shouting about aggregate, as in sand and gravel for making concrete. I had not made it as far as the gate when a small tipper truck turned up. Dogs were secured in house, Hobo opened the big gates, I removed clothes line and tipper truck driver reversed up the yard and set about tipping two cubic metres of aggregate on the yard. By that the dogs were out. I had neglectfully failed to lock the house door from outside and Pickle had cunningly opened the door from inside. To her credit Pickle only made it as far as the gateway. I called her back and to her credit she came. In the house she went under lock and key this time. Not so black dog. He made good his escape onto Petőfi utca and had a good run about.

Hobo and I set about recapturing him. He only went as far as the templom then across the road and back on the opposite side. He was intent on going along as far as the faluház but the little pub outside the shop was in full swing and they shoo'd him back. He diverted into the lane by the side of the shop. I followed him and Hobo stayed at the end by the shop. Blackie went to escape again, cocked his leg on a signpost at the end and simultaneously crapped. I had never seen a dog do that before. It was his undoing. By that Hobo had him collared and back in the yard he went.

Belatedly I had breakfast and relative normalcy returned. Well, it returned until I put the goats out. Usual system. Last went Rudy. He got as far as the pollarded walnut tree and determined to have a go. Whack! He butted the water bucket in front of me and got very wet. He also managed to break the handle off the water bucket, so I gave him the rest of the contents for good measure. He had enough and trotted off obediently to join the others a little way further up the meadow. It happened that the other goat buckets were nearby so I selected another one and filled it up from the garden water butt. I did not need it and soon had Rudy where I wanted him. He really does not like getting wet about the head. At least, he does not like getting wet with water!

I wandered down the road to John's to settle up for the aggregate. We had done a deal on the cartage. He needed aggregate, I would be needing some before very long and the cartage was what it was. One cubic metre or five - same cartage. Hobo told me that he would be doing concrete work after lunch for John, and could I help.

Back home and Posta turned up with a load of pensions paperwork. Hate it, but it has to be done.

After lunch, feeding the pigeons and checking the goats I wandered back down the road. Mmmmm - very strange method of making concrete. First thing was that Hobo was mixing it on the grass. Now right next to where the concrete was going to be needed was an existing area of good concrete that would have been ideal to mix upon. Mix, dollop the concrete in and hose down where it was mixed. Too easy. Next thing, he had John with a rake, me with a watering can and he added shovelfuls of aggregate/cement mix to the mix on the grass. I poured on water, John stirred it about with the rake... There was a lull in the procedings. It was mutually decided that I was not needed. Either of John's parents were quite capable of tipping a bit of water from a watering can into the mix. I took my leave. There will be more later.

I went home, did some more sawing, checked on the goats and went to the pub for one. There was nothing out of the ordinary after that.

When I returned home after pub in the evening I had a surprise. There was a message for me on Facebook from a person unknown to me. How he found me on facebook I have no idea but he turned out to be a Hungarian living in Canada. It was a very pleasant message telling me that by chance he had found the blog and was reading it from the beginning. He disagreed with me about Peak Oil but not in an argumentative way. I hope he will not mind when he gets this far that I quote verbatim from his message: "your blog shows a very rare and important perspective". I was modestly pleased by that, but I have to say that Hungary is an unknown quantity to the vast majority of Western Europeans, Canadians and US Americans. I confess that it was for me until I decided to move from the UK.

27th April 2012

I mentioned once a couple of days ago feeling off colour. Well, it was going on and on. So it was today. It was a nice warm morning with a southerly breeze. I was fine until I went to the shop then it hit me. The penny dropped. Hay fever. Tree pollen. As I write it has gone away but for days if the wind was in a quadrant somewhere centred on about south-south-east I was suffering. Sniffly, snotty, head like a bucket. Another penny dropped. In that direction was the forested area of the Őrség National Park. I still have not the slightest idea which tree pollen(s) set it off but I have suffered from it for twenty odd years. It was cycling nine miles each way to and from work in the south west of England that set it off. It was a case of put up and shut up.

The goats went out and I tried a bit of digging. Forget it.

I went back to the house, did a bit in the house and the yard and then prepared to go to Körmend. I really did not want to go to Körmend but the Halogy shop lady had run me out of pipe tobacco and pipe tobacco I had to have. So, to Körmend I went.

I did a Spar raid first. Margarine, liver and, oh what? No coffee beans. I went on towards the town centre. I called in at the big Coop. They had coffee beans - at a price. I bit the bullet and out of spite bought a Mars bar as well.

Sandwich shop for a belated lunch, tobacco shop and then Gazdabolt. I needed another goat collar. At the moment the wether is wearing the remains (quite servicable) of a nice girly pink collar that a daughter bought me when I first had Pickle. I needed another collar just a bit more substantial than that for the wether to wear. As usual I was pounced on, in the nicest possible way, by one of the assistants. I was not about to say that I wanted it for a goat collar so I said dog collar. It was sorted in seconds.

Presszo bar for a beer. One of the Halogy residents was in there as were some other regulars known by sight. I was greeted in the Hungarian way with friendly handshakes all round. It always makes me happy when the Hungarians greet me thus. One beer, one quick call and back for the bus where I sat beside the same Halogy resident.

Goats in, etc...

28th April 2012

It was another lovely morning. I went over to the shop, not overly early up, and did my usual shop. Amongst it I asked for a vekni. Shop lady had one. Back to the house. Well, I had a pleasant surprise. The shop lady had not sold me a stale one. It was fresh today.

The liver from Körmend went in the slow cooker.

The wind was in the west. No hayfever. Happy. The goats went out without problem. Happier. I did a load of digging for where I hope the beans will grow. Time for a beer by the end of the morning so I went for one. Going off on one - why do the electricity/telephone people use softwood poles? Cost, I suspect. How short sighted! Cost/benefit analysis required. If a good, straight grown oak or acacia or any other species on the ground costs ten times as much to buy but lasts twenty times longer the benefits are obvious. Sadly, big business is just too blinkered to see that. Where was I? I did not buy the beer in the pub. Someone bought me one.

I checked the goats and fed the pigeons. Mrs. Pigeon No. 2 had presented me with another egg and was sitting it. I will write now as I know that I will forget. A couple of days later she laid the second one. Very protective of her eggs, that one. She will growl at me and peck me if I attempt to get anywhere near. Nevertheless, she and her mate remain in Last Chance Saloon.

It was time to strim the verges. The Al-Ko would not start. Not a sign of life. I noticed that when I pulled the starter chord it was spitting neat petroil mix out of the exhaust. Flooded. It took some days before the penny dropped that I had stood it on its end intending to sort out the tap-and-go. Back in the yard it went. I unscrewed the plug. It was in good condition but soaking. I gave it a bit of a brush off and also gave the Al-Ko a few good pulls on the starter chord to clear the cylinder. I decided to see if there was a spark at the plug. I could see none, but at the third try I received a good electrical belt. Yes there was a spark. Plug back in, cap back on and try again. After a couple of pulls it fired reluctanty into life. Lots of caughing and spluttering and blue/black smoke but it was soon running perfectly again. Except. The bloody tap-and-go still would not tap-and-go. Invention of the devil. Both the MTD and now the Al-Ko with the same problem. I returned to the yard again to fix it. Ah, speed, speed - the modern world obsessed with speed. Well, my design might be a little slower but would be a lot faster when tap-and-go stops working. Two spools in the line head, a separate one for each line. NO tap-and-go. Need more line? Turn it off, press a button one side of the line head and pull out the line required. Ditto the other side. I wonder how many man-hours are wasted by people having to do the same as me - sort out strimmer heads. Ah, the need for speed is what slows us down.

I finally managed to get the verge strimmed, as usual as far as the old lady's gate. A litre of her pink wine appeared as I was finishing it off.

Goats in with no problem, a bite to eat and off to the pub. I had my normal three and only managed to pay for one.

29th April 2012

Short and sweet. It reached thirty two in the heat if the day. Global warming anybody? Speaking of which I have heard far more "Oo-cuck" birds than I had in any previous years.

The whole village was winding down towards the first of May bank holiday and I have to say that so was I.

I took refuge from the heat and did a bit of blog updating. I made sure the goats had shade and water and that was about it until I got the goats in. All proceded as normal with me taking Suzy and the wether with Vicky accompanying back to the goat house. Rudy appeared. WTF? I still have not the slightest idea how he escaped his stake, but there he was, bothering Suzy as usual with chain still attached. Well, it saved me walking up the meadow again. I managed to bundle him into his half of goat house and detach him from chain without molestation.

Pub in the evening, John and Hobo. Hobo told me that a near neighbour to me who I knew had been taken into hospital had died.

When I returned home I had received an auto-generated e-mail from my service provider that I was about to run out of bandwidth. Blimey! I jumped on it a bit sharpish and upped it fifty percent. I haven't looked at the statistics yet but I must have had a lot of readership of the blog this month.

30th April 2012

After the usual start and the goats went out I started on the weeding campaign for the year. Jumping ahead a little, I wished that I had not. The goats found the peas, or at least Rudy and the wether did. I know from experience that they are a particular delicacy of the goats. Plants, pods, peas - the lot! Oh well, hopefully it will be the last time they get ravaged. If all goes according to plan by the end of March next year the goat meadow will be separated from my bit of the garden by chainlink fencing. I had a mystery with the peas anyway. About a fortnight after I had sown that two rows I sowed another two rows just a few metres away. The rows I weeded were more or less totally complete. Very few seeds had failed to germinate. I did not get a single pea plant show itself in the other two rows. Maybe that is why the Hungarians grow all their peas in one hit.

I stayed in the garden and had another hit at the digging by the fence where the beans will grow. It was hot by then. The spectacles rapidly became more of a liability than an asset. With the insulation taped arm now not gripping my head and sweat dripping, every time I bent down to weed out the couch grass they fell off. I discarded them and carried on. They are high on the list of priority items for replacement when the pensions kick in.

Speaking of which, Posta arrived with another lot of pensions paperwork from the last of the providers from whom I expected to hear. Once again I was pleasantly surprised by the result. In total of all the pensions I would be getting about £1600 a year more than I had bargained for. Nevertheless, the whole pensions thing was very time consuming and I confess that it was preoccupying me to the extent that I was not getting done what I needed to get done.

So it was today. The arrival of that paperwork prompted me to begin completing the stuff that needed to be returned to the providers of the previously received paperwork. It took most of the afternoon, except for checking on the goats, topping up their water and separating Vicky from Suzy. This evening I intended to milk!

And so I did. I was well out of practice. Not on the goat side of things - on the preparation of the milking kit. I finally got it sorted out and the goats came in in their usual order. With all organised in the goat house I settled down and milked Suzy. It is like riding a bicycle - you never forget. I had only separated Suzy and Vicky for a couple of hours or so but I was well pleased with the result. More than enough for the morning coffee and that would do me at this stage.

Normal evening. Pub. And another month ticks by.


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