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May 2012

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1st May 2012

Being May the first it was a bank holiday here. I cannot remember if I mentioned it before but it used to be in the UK when I were a lad. Then they changed it to the first Monday in the month. Then they took Whitsuntide away and created Spring Bank Holiday which is the last Monday in the month. We will not have Whit here until June.

I was under the weather again. The hay fever again. The slight breeze was in the south again. I declared a bank holiday for myself and apart from doing goats and pigeons and cycling to the pub a couple of times during the day and once in the evening that was it.

2nd May 2012

The wind was in the west today. The hay fever was much better. After the goats went out I got in another spell of digging.

Back to the yard and another basket of the wood stack was sawn up and stacked away. Posta arrived with yet more pensions paperwork. Hobo arrived getting on towards lunch time. Just for a chat (and to drink one of my beers!). There was a doggie commotion whilst he was there from just outside the house door. Now, that is not a normal place for doggie commotion to ensue. We investigated. The dogs were barking at and attempting to harry something in amongst the mint and amongst the unweeded and unpruned rose bush nearest the door. Eventually they flushed it out. A snake. Every time the dogs got near it struck at them and they backed off. Hobo was all for chopping it in two. I, with my thing about biodiversity, would have none of it and the snake eventually made good its escape. It was by far the largest that I had seen since coming here. At least a metre long. I have attempted to identify it in Google images, without success. The only thing I can say is that it definitely is not a Hungarian meadow viper.

Hobo eventually went his way. I did pigeons and goats, had a late lunch and did a load more computer work and form filling for the pensions which pretty much took up the afternoon.

All normal stuff after that.

3rd May 2012

It was quite a bit cooler and the wind was from the north. The hay fever was better still. Once the goats were out I took the strimmer to the camping lawn. It really does need a serious make-over. I need to give it a serious workout with the rake, improvise some sort of roller to get it back some semblance of flat and when the season is right reseed patches of it. Tap-and-go still would not work. Invention of the devil. The amount of time that I - on two strimmers - and others that I have seen waste on sorting out strimmer line because of Tap-and-go is ridiculous. Whoever invented Tap-and-go wants stringing up by the heels with strimmer line to a lamp post.

There were a load of posts - birch sawn from the wilderness area - nearby. I moved them. They were a hazard to life and limb if Rudy happened to chose that way back to the goat house. In the process I had to saw off the branches from another one which Hobo had kindly sawn down and which I had not wanted sawn down. It had been right on the edge of the wilderness area and was one of Rudy's favourite spots for polishing his horns. You know, he will polish and sharpen his horns on anything. Trees, steel, bricks, window frames, wooden lintels, my legs...

More pensions paperwork - yawn!

It came on to rain, but it was just a nice gentle steady rain. The goats stayed out. I can tell when they don't like it as they start running around at the length of their chains. They were all happily browsing. I have mentioned the word a couple of times before but never have explained it. Sheep and cattle graze. The eat grass. Goats browse. They like stuff that grows higher off the ground than grass. They will eat grass as a last resort, but generally the higher the better. Only this very evening as I write I managed to coax Rudy back to the goat house. What did he do? Went to the corner by the old lady's fence, put one foot on the roof of the goat house yard (yes, he is that tall) and with the other foot dragged down an elderberry bush branch and had a good munch. Leaves, blossom - the lot. I let him get on with it at the length of his chain, and when he had had enough he dutifully trotted back into the goats house. But that was today - getting ahead of the game.

Eat, change, pub.

4th May 2012

It was cold and raining first off. Enough to be back to wearing three layers and a hat outdoors. The goats stayed in.

I stayed in too other than doing the normal goat and pigeons thing. More pensions paperwork and I completed the first lot that needed returning to the UK. The sign went out for Posta. Posta duly arrived and I went out to her van in seriously cold teaming rain. For the first time here I sent my package registered - it contained my passport. It turned out that the service was the exact equivalent of the Royal Mail "International Signed For™" service. I recognized the format of the bar code from stuff that I had received. The only difference was that the last two letters of stuff from the UK were GB, and the one I received today ended in HU. Clearly a country code.

With it still raining I did some blog updating.

It was still spitting and spotting when, for I think the first time this year I took the scythe out, sharpened it and scythed down a couple of windrows of lush grass and weeds by the walnut tree - you know, when I first moved here all that was rowing there was nettles - forked it into the barrow and wheeled it the ten metres or so to feed to the goats for their supper.

I did a bit more on the next pigeon nesting box. It is slow going, as I am having to recycle in true Hungarian style various ex-chicken crates salvaged from the loft with the old hay. I really must take the camera and get some pictures up there.

I went to the pub for a beer. Helmut was there. Oh dear, a mini-session.

I went to the shop as usual when they opened in the afternoon. Hobo was there and bought me a beer. It had by then turned into a quite pleasant early evening weather-wise. The little pub outside the shop was in full swing. There were eleven of us ranging in ages from those that were too young to drink alcohol but were drinking it nonetheless to septegenarians similarly inbibing.

The goats had stayed in. I threw the barrow load of greenery in to them and made an attempt to milk Suzy. I got barely sufficent for the morning coffee, Vicky having been with her all day. I would dearly like to reorganise the whole goat house into separate goat pens - at least couple more than I have at the moment. Marika told me about a man somewhere local that has thirteen goats. Round here that is a lot of animals. I cannot remember whether I mentioned about Hobo telling me about a man with lots of sheep. About twenty. He could not believe it when I told him that one of my relations in the UK was a Lake District sheep farmer on the fells and his sheep ran into the hundreds if not the thousands.


5th May 2012

It was a much better day, and nicely cooler. All the normal stuff to start, sadly without any incidents to report. Rudy and I seemed to have reached some sort of truce. He does not want to get soaked about the head and I do not want to get dumped on my bum in the garden. I worked him steadily up the garden until I was able to slip his chain on post and that was that. I have to say that I really do not miss the daily goat wrestling exercises.

Clothes washing. Hobo turned up looking for work. I set him on the pile of wood to be sawn in the yard with instructions to do the softwood first. I had told him maximum one hour of work was all I could afford. Bless him he did at least two hours of work whilst I retired indoors to tackle the next lot of pensions paperwork. Pensions? Ha! Do they not realise that I have a shambles of a smallholding here to get organised? Mind you, a smallholding here is a world apart from a smallholding in Lincolnshire. I have just less than an acre, which is more than I can manage without either goats or a bit of paid help. A smallholding in Lincolnshire is fifty acres! When I lived there in the 1970s, down on the fens near Boston, Lincolnshire were lots of pairs of identical houses quite widely separated. All with white painted rendering and all with an identical shade of green paintwork to the wood of the doors and windows. They tilted out of the vertical this way and that. I know not how true, but I was told that they dated back to just after the first world war when the surviving Tommy Atkins returned from an uncertain future to an even greater uncertain future. The chosen few had the dubious privilege of becoming smallholders in Lincolnshire.

I completed my paperwork ready to go in the post on Monday. I dragged Hobo kicking and screaming up to the pub for a beer and paid him for his one hour (read two and a half) of work. We had a smoke under Láci's magnificent erection. Whilst there his son, daughter-in-law and the two grandsons turned up. It was a heart warming scene. The family affection was palpable. It is a thing that I have noticed here in Hungary. Where I come from we have a wonderfully descriptive word. "Mardy" It describes in a single short word, the origin of which I have no idea, a child that is miserable and crying for no good reason. I only know of one mardy child in the whole village and I have to say that it has a mardy mother. Similarly, I know of only one ill behaved child in the village. They are taught right from wrong and proper behaviour from a very early age, but gently.

Back home I had a really good session in the wretched Windose system with family in the UK via Skype. An hour and a quarter well spent!

I cooked and ate and then the goats came in. All went well until I unclipped Rudy's chain. Then he decided to have a go. Ha! By then there was a stout door between me and him. He persisted in battering the door so he got wet about the head. He fu... went away after that and resumed his rations. I milked.

Pub in the evening. Hobo said the Austrian contingent would be there but they never showed up. In true Hungarian fashion Hobo said "Their problem."

Is the US growing to be an ever more corrupt and abusive nation?. The cruel acts of a terminally crumbling empire? John Michael Greer thinks so.

6th May 2012

It was a nice morning but there was a cool breeze. Shop, breakfast, goats. As usual I led Suzy out on chain and Vicky and the wether followed. I staked then out where I wanted them and returned for Rudy. As usual I opened his gate stood aside, and collared him as he went past. You are all wondering what follows, aren't you? As I collared him there was a sound from somewhere the other end from where I was clipping on his chain that I did not recognize. With his chain clipped on I let him go. As soon as he went past me I realised what the sound had been. Rudy had farted. It stank almost as bad as mine. It was the first time that I ever heard, or smelled, any of the goats fart.

Once the goats were on station I stayed out a good while digging for where the beans will go. As before it is always slow and painstaking trying to get rid of absolutely as much of the couch grass as possible.

No housework today although there was dire need. After a good spell on the garden I went for a beer.

After lunch I had a go at a little handicrafts. It did not go well. I set it aside to consider what next to do with it. I did some blog updating instead.

Hurka and Hungarian style chips, goats in, Suzy milked, me changed and off to the pub. A relatively uneventful day.

7th May 2012

It was starting to rain as I went to the shop - just spotting and spotting. As I lit the stove and cooked my coffee and toast it came on to seriously rain. Cold and wet. Suitably clothed I fed the goats from the ever dwindling supply of maize stalks and checked they had water. The wether had a quick wander outside, decided he did not like it and returned indoors. I cannot say that I much liked it either.

With it pouring down outside I did some clothes washing. Posta arrived. Along with the usual crop of supermarket fliers was an A4 folded in three sized envelope. It bore a postmark that did not ring any bells with me. I hastened back inside out of the still falling rain and opened it. To my surprise, and delight, it was from a person totally unknown to me with a Halogy connection that had found my blog. Over lunch I sat and composed and sent by e-mail a reply.

The rain continued to fall although lessening. I braved it again and did a quick bit of scything around the walnut tree and forked it into the goat house for their lunch. I did some work on yet another pigeon nesting box.

I needed eggs so cycled up to Toni. It had stopped raining and the sun was peeping through. Well, at gone three in the afternoon I was not about to put the goats out. On the way back I called in the pub. I needed petrol for the strimmer, much as it goes against the grain, but it keeps the neighbours (and the mayor) happy. Hobo had forewarned me that Helmut was coming to Halogy to move some of his tools to Csákánydoroszló for a job, and we could get petrol there. It seems the filling station in Nádasd is no more. Helmut and Hobo appeared, and Helmut provided the beer. Eventually we set off for Csákány. Getting the petrol was but a moments work. Dropping off the stuff that Hobo needed where he would be working was a few more moments work. Helmut set off, and in very short order went up a little lane of which I did not even know the existence, so quite naturally I had no idea that there was a little pub there too. Another beer. I did pay this time.

We sat outside so that we could have a smoke. Some random pikey-type bloke appeared and asked us if we wanted to buy a bike. Now, we all have quite servicable bikes. Hobo spoke to him quote sharply in Hungarian and the guy withdrew, bemused and dismayed. I have not the slightest what Hobo said to him but my best guess at a shortened version would be "F*** O**". The skies darkened and big spots of rain started pattering down. We drank up a bit smartish and in teaming rain dashed back to Helmut's van. We motored back to Halogy. As we reached the outskirts of the village we came out from under the rain into bright sunshine. Hobo dropped my petrol can off in the yard and we motored back to the pub so that I could rescue the bike and eggs. Another beer. Oh dear. Three beers and two and a half hours to get four litres of petrol. Might just cycle it next time. It would be quicker - and cheaper.

8th May 2012

I did as much on the digging as time permitted. I had to go to Körmend to the Egészségbiztosítási Pénztár - the Hungarian Health Service office.Locally it is based in Szombathely and only comes to Körmend the one day a week, on a Tuesday. That was where I was going a fortnight ago when I missed the bus. I was determined not to miss it today!

I did not miss it. Dogs were secured, pigeons fed, goats checked and I was in plenty of time for the bus. Once in Körmend I headed straight for the Egészségbiztosítási Pénztár which was in the same block as the Land Registry Office. I had been told that it was in the same room as that office. That proved not to be the case. I retraced my steps to the outer door and reread the sign. Ah! Door 5. I found door five. Thankfully there was only one person in front of me to be attended to. They went in the office and it was ten or fifteen minutes before it became my turn.

I went in to find a single chap in his thirtys manning the office. I explained in my best pidgin magyarul that I was English, that I lived permanently in Hungary, would become a pensioner in July, that I needed to register and that I had some British paperwork that they would need to process. I handed over the paperwork. It was, of course all in English. He had no English at all. Mmmmm - brick wall time? Not a bit of it. He had to take advice from Szombathely and it took him a long while to get through on his mobile. The forms I had handed over clearly meant something to him. They were forms S1 - two copies.

He had a brief conversation, found another form (in Hungarian) which he filled in by hand and I had to sign. He took scans of my residency and ID cards and told me what would happen next, which I roughly understood. And that was that. I left and celebrated a minor success with a trip to the Presszo bar. In all this time that was only my third encounter with Hungarian officialdom - four if you count the bike being stolen. Out of pure spite at my success I went to the Spar shop and bought chicken breast to continue the celebration later with a more substantial meal than normal. Well, not more substantial but somewhat higher quality. I intend to write a bit more about this later

By the way, for the non-Hungarians "Egészség" means health, or well-being. Strickly the "szs" in the middle is an "S" sound, immediately followed by a "SH" sound. Ever tried it? The Hungarians manage it. I still struggle. "Egészségedre" is the local equivalent of "Cheers" when drinking. There is a very local one here that Hobo assures me you will only find here, in Nádasd or in Csákány - "Egészség, új krumpli", which means "Cheers, new spuds" apparently. Why, I have no idea.

Early and late evening routine all normal.

9th May 2012

The usual start, and then I finished off the digging for where the beans were going. It was warm. I started to sweat. The spectacles rapidly became more of a liablility than an asset. I have mentioned before that when the sweat starts to drip I can no longer see through them with clarity. It was by now, since the arm fell off one side, much worse than that. Every time I bent over to root out couch grass they fell off in the soil. I discarded them until I had finished

I went back to the house, did the washing up and did some work on the next pigeon nesting box. The specs continued to fall off.

I had much to do in the garden. It did not get done. Instead I dealt with the chicken I bought yesterday and into the slow cooker it went.

There was a big meeting in the faluház this evening. I didn't go. I had missed several. Sadly they are scheduled from six in the evening until seven-ish. Right at the time that I get goats in and milk. One of the inevitables happened this evening whilst I was getting Rudy in. No, he did not have to get wet - but he got amongst the peas. I despair!

Nothing out of the ordinary after that. Eat. Pub.

10th May 2012

It was another nice morning as I shopped. When I asked for my usual half a loaf of bread the shop lady suspiciously found a half a loaf in a plastic bag. I asked her if it was fresh. She was adamant that it was and squeezed it through the plastic bag to prove it. I was not best pleased when I got it home and found that it was in fact yesterdays bread and had probably been in the plastic bag since the tail end of yesterday morning. The white bit was fine and still moist but the crust had lost its crispiness with being wrapped in the bag. Oh well, put up and shut up.

After the goats went out it was time to take the strimmer to the verges. As usual I went as far as the old lady's gateway. I had just started on the way back when she came and spoke to me. Would I mind doing the other half - the bit in front of her house? Of course not. So I did it. I had just started back on where I left off to work my way back to my gate when she collared me again. A bottle of beer and a thousand forint note. The beer was welcome. I tried very hard to refuse the one thousand forint note but she would have none of it. She was insistent that I take it. What can I say?

By that Posta arrived. I had the sign out as I needed cash. I got the cash - no post today - and finished off the strimming.

Back in the house it was time to make a sandwich and have lunch. I had an astonishment when I went into to big room with my sandwich, my apple and my bottle of beer to switch the computer on. The snake that the dogs had been harrying was slithering about the big room floor. I actually said to it out load "Oh, hello. What are you doing here?" It slithered under one of the units. I left well enough alone. I have not seen it since so I reckon it made good its escape. Speaking of which, as I write I have seen no little frogs this year at all. I wonder if that is what said snake has been living on.

It was hot. I fed and watered the pigeons and checked the goats and topped up their water and retired to do some blog updating.

I went to the pub for one just after three to watch Rex, then back home to start early evening routine. The absurdity of having to chop and fetch in a basket of firewood when the thermometer on the kitchen windowsill outside was registering on the upper forties Celsius made me chuckle again.

Once again it was a normal end to the day after that.

11th May 2012

It was a normal start and I did at least get fresh bread from the shop. The goats went out with no problems. I stayed around the yard much of the morning and some of the afternoon. I had been tracking a package on the Royal Mail site and knew it was in Hungary. Speaking of which, guess what the Hungarian for tracking is? "Tracking" Anyway, white van man never turned up.

My self-enforced stay in the yard did allow me to make some inroads unto the current pigeon box construction. I still had to check on the goats from time to time but they were not far away. I did some blog updating. back in the garden I did a bit more hand weeding around the onions. I still do not intend Hobo getting anywhere near them with the hoe - bless him.

I went to the pub as normal and returned home to a scene of kitchen devastation. The dogs had managed to get hold of half a cabbage that I had acquired as goat food. The goats - well mainly Rudy and Suzy - had had a half of it. I had thought that I had put it safe. Wrong! It was chewed to bits and what was left was strewn over an area of the kitchen floor. I ask you? Cabbage as dog food. I can guarantee that if I just filled their food bowls of an evening with chopped cabbage they would turn their noses up at it. Obviously within range of theft they relished it. I will post a picture when I next get round to posting pictures.

12th May 2012

All normal in the morning and then lots of scythe and strimmer work. I strimmed the yard, refueled it and then out into the garden. I did the camping lawn and all up the eastern side round the vines as far as where the bit where the beans were to go. Then round the vines further up, then a pathway right up to Telek utca, then the verge outside on Telek utca and finally down the west side to the extent of my neighbour's buildings up that end. I had had enough by then, and it was lunch time.

After lunch, pigeons and check the goats. Then scything. I took scythe, barrow and fork up to the non-goat area, scythed down a couple of windrows west to east as far as the path I had strimmed and loaded it in the barrow for goat supper. Then I scythed north to south the western side of my path and south to north on the eastern side and left it lying to dry for hay.

I wheeled the barrow back to the goat house, and they tried to raid it as I went past. It was time for a beer by then, but I had one little job to do first. John had reported a strimmer throttle cable problem. As his strimmer and my ex-MTD strimmer has the same engine, though not the same model, I resolved to cannibalise mine and take the throttle cable to John. It proved a so-and-so of a job. The problem was not removing the cable. It was getting the screws of the plastic casing that held the trigger mechanism apart. The halves were held together by Torx screws. All except one came out with no problem. The one resisted every effort. I finally resorted to having to fetch my Allen key set to it. I managed to find an Allen key that with a bit of persuasion went into the Torx screw head. It finally turned. In seconds I had the throttle cable off and somewhat belatedly cycled to the pub for my beer, via John's where I got no response, so stuck the cable in the gap of his front door in hopes he would find it. He did.

Back home I had a final bash at gardening for the day. A couple of barrow loads of ex-goat compost went along where I was hoping that beans would grow and were dug in.

The wind had picked up and was gusting about. I went into early evening mode. Goats in, milk, eat and go to the pub. As I got back to the house the first big spots of rain were falling. By the time I had fed the dogs, they finished eating it and I kicked them out for a while it was persistently precipitating in a serious manner.

13th May 2012

There was a threat of rain so the goats went out nearby. As in previous years I tend to cycle where I put them - once day fairly nearby, next day far way then in the middle either east or west. As long as we don't get drought conditions there are enough munchies to keep them happy, and as I have said before most of the year the meadow part of the garden tends to attract heavy dews anyway which keeps it growing.

Housework, lots of. Swept and mopped throughout, except for the little room off the kitchen where I rarely venture anyway. I took a break in the middle and had lunch.

Housework done, pigeons fed, goats checked and floors allowed to dry I put the dogs in and went for a well deserved beer, managing to catch the tail end of the Formula One. It seems better this year - more overtaking manouvres.

Back home I got a basket of firewood in. Still has to be done or no toast and coffee in the morning. Apart from getting the goats in and going to the pub in the evening that was it, except that in the pub I got involved in something very strangely unusual. I read a thesis. Fortunately for me it was in English! It was about Yeats. Not my subject area at all but I found it quite fascinating. Also, not knowing the system in Hungary or what the markers would be looking for, I was unable to comment on the academic content, but as a read it was very well put together, researched and referenced. I corrected the (very few) spelling and grammatical mistakes that I found and that was that. A bottle of beer came my way for my trouble.

14th May 2012

Once the goats went out I was once again confined to the yard. I was still waiting for white van man to appear with a package and was worried that it had maybe gone missing. White van man did not appear. Indoors I booted up the computer and on a whim went to the website of the people that I know deliver anything to me "International Signed For™" I found their tracking search and typed in the scan code. To my amazement it worked. It was on a van for delivery. What I signally failed to appreciate was from whence it was scheduled for delivery.

My time was not wasted. I did various things around the yard and sawed a couple more baskets of the very slowly diminishing stack of wood on the yard, in the middle of all of which I had lunch.

Up to the pub just after three for my daily dose of Rex. I left a note on the gate for white van man saying where I was. Back home just after four and up the garden to scythe down goat supper. After that it was time for the little pub outside the shop. I had just about finished my beer when Hobo appeared. He must have been in funds as he bought me another one. The result was that I was still there at a quarter to six when to my astonishment white van man stopped at my gate. I did not realise that they worked so late. It was the regular driver - soför 89 (soför being pronounced in Hungarian exactly the same as chauffeur in French, but with a Hungarian accent instead of a French one). I got to him at best limp, signed for my package and that was that.

Goats in without incident, milk. You know, the milking remains one of the best moments of the day. As I write it has again become a three trip job. Vicky and the wether first, and Vicky secured within the goat house and the wether secured without, much to the delight of Pickle who alas cannot get at him. Then Suzy, who is also secured without. And then the Rudy b*st**d. I work him down from the meadow in the same way that I work him up there. Eventually his quest for food will overcome his quest to see if Suzy is amenable. I draw him in gradually and at the goat house door unclip his chain and direct him inside, always with water bucket to hand. I have only had to use it a couple of times this year. Routine, routine. The goats - particularly Rudy - like routine.

Eat, take the wellies off and put the beaten up trainers on and go to the pub.

15th May 2012

Apart from the usual of goats, pigeons and dogs it was a somewhat unusual day. Once the goats were on station, without problem, I sowed my big row of beans. After that I returned to the house and, very unusually, made a phone call to the UK. My financial situation was so dire that at this late stage I had to ensure that a certain safety net - I won't say what - was in place for me to fall into. It was. It was also a mill stone lifted from around my neck that had been weighing me down since last August. I can trace the causes of it to three things: new computer, new strimmer and weldmesh all around the yard to keep the dogs out of the old lady's garden. Otherwise I had budgeted pretty well on my limited income and limited savings.

Whatever! I was going for a short time to have to go into debt. Anathema to your Peak Oil doomer. Well, if I pop my clogs before it is paid off it will not be my problem anymore. Not that I am intending to shuffle off this mortal coil any time soon. As the Chinese proverb says, I think we live, or soon will live, in interesting times.

John called at the gate. Sausages and rhubarb. Mmmmm - sausage, egg and chips and rhubarb crumple then. Both enjoyed since.

Pigeons were fed early, goats checked and watered, dogs beaten and I went to Körmend on a little bank business. I made just one quick call in a shop then headed back for the early bus. Fortunately the schools are on holiday at the moment so it was not too crowded. I was back in the village in nice time for a daily dose of Rex.

Back home I did some blog work and it was time to get the goats in. I already had evening munchies available to I took a flyer on it and got them in and milked, etc, still in my town clothes. After that I wandered down to the faluház to print out yet more pensions related paperwork. As I arrived at the faluház a young boy cycled past me and as he rode by said in a Hungarian/Canadian accent "Do you speak English?". Not a boy I knew, a visitors to the village I suspect. I shot back at him "Well, I should think so - I am English!". I printed out my paperwork and wandered back home.

Then to the pub. After a while I went out for a smoke. I was invited to sit with a family well known and friendly who had with them a couple who I had met a few times, friends of theirs, and who both spoke good English. A beer came my way. And another. We chatted in a mixture of English and Hungarian for quite a while. When I returned inside, it creeping on towards closing, to finish my long abandoned inside beer Hobo was quite miffed. Well, it would have been churlish to accept the beer and then just bugger off.

16th May 2012

It was a bright morning but an unseasonably cold breeze had sprung up. I went to the shop jeans, trainers and tee shirt clad and wished that I had slipped on the little jacket.

After breakfast, as soon as the goats were out, out of pure spite I cycled up to catch the meat van at the pub. The meat guy was in the pub having his habitual coffee so I had one too. Only mine was cold, amber and frothy and came in a bottle. By the time he finished he had a small queue of customers waiting for him. I let him serve the old girls and then bought a slab of pork and a bag of bones. Pork for me, bones for dog treats. They had been thin on the ground lately, for all of us. Jumping ahead a little the pork did me seven good meals with variations along the way. All in the slow cooker.

Back home I strimmed the yard, then had an early lunch. After lunch I tanked up the strimmer and gave it a serious workout. Around the vines by Tibi's fence and one or two othe bits that the goats cannot get at, then the pathway right up to Telek utca and the verge on Telek utca. Then a strip down the side of my Telek utca neighbour's buildings. Once again I had had enough before the strimmer had. I still never have run it out of petrol.

Back to the house, checking the goats as I passed. A quick sit down and smoke and then a cycle up the village on a two-fold mission. First stop was up the hill to Tony to buy in some tomato and paprika plants. I had reserved some but it turned out that he still had plenty. I was soon sorted with plants in a tray to put on the bike rack - it would be a walk back home. I asked Tony how much. A wave of the hand and "Ajándék" - a gift. What can I say. Another little thank you for the thesis thing I reckon.

You can guess where the next stop was. Daily dose of Rex.

Back at the house I managed to lock myself out of my Hungarian Internet banking by my own stupidity. Caps Lock key, I ask you. That would be another unscheduled trip to Körmend then. Blast.

John was at the little pub outside the shop. I joined him to be sociable (any excuse). We chewed the fat for a while and went our ways. Normal evening routine for me, for the most part. The only out of the ordinary was that a)Hobo was not in the pub and b) the pub skittles team were having a social and skittles evening with food. A delicious dish of fish soup came my way with some hunks of bread. Back home I got some blog updating done until I was too tired to do any more.

17th May 2012

It was another bright morning. Once again I went tee shirt clad to the shop and once again it was quite fresh. My attire provoked comment from the early morning members of the little pub outside the shop. I teased them gently by stressing that I am an Englishman and I don't feel the cold. At that time of day there are either two of them, both Láci, or three, the addition being Janos the Scythe. John and I have taken to identifying them thus in the Welsh way - Jones the Post type thing - but using given names rather than surnames. László, its variations and its diminitive Láci is by for the commonest given name in the village and not knowing many of the the family names is the easiest way to identify them - Alpha Láci, How Do You Do Láci, Rabbit Láci, pub Láci (the landlord), Janos the scythe, Janos the cows... The list could go on and on but it gives John and me an easy handle to identify people that we have had dealings with.

Breakfast, pigeons, goats. The goats went out with no problem again. I have a worry with the pigeons. Mrs. Pigeon No. 1 has only laid once this year, producing two fine pretty young pigeons who I call stripey pigeon and speckled pigeon. She has not produced another clutch of eggs since.

I made cheese. Not much cheese admittedly since I was only getting a part of a day milking. Never mind, it is all bonus. I had already fallen back on a previous plan. No pasteurization, no rennet. Just let the milk curdle naturally for a few days then syphon off the whey and feed to the dogs and scald, salt and press the curd. It was a good curd today. When I scalded it (nothing to do with boiling water - just what it is called in the cheesemaking books, gently raising the temperature to blood heat or just above) the curd shrank nicely, I was able to cut it cleanly with the knife and the rest of the whey drained off. Into the press it went.

I fed the pigeons early, checked the goats, abluted and was half way to getting changed to go and sort out the Internet banking thing in Körmend when, on a whim, I booted up the computer and tried the Internet banking. I got in first time. No need to go to Körmend, a waste of a good all over wash down. They have quite obviously changed their system, as the last two times it happened I was locked out, stayed locked out and had to go to the bank to get a new activation PIN.

I put the work clothes back on and had lunch, somewhat disappointed that in spite of the unwanted journey I would not be able to do a raid on the sandwich shop in Körmend.

I took barrow, scythe and fork up to the top end of the garden. A couple of short windrows went into the barrow. Then I set off from the limit of where the goats are allowed at the moment all the way at one side of the path I strimmed yesterday up to Telek utca scything down a windrow. Questions - answers please. I am right handed and I have a right handed scythe. Did I work up the left hand side of the path I strimmed or the right? And why? Anyway, up at Telek utca I reversed my way of working and did the other side back down to where the barrow was. The knee was by now telling me that enough was enough. Barrow was wheeled back to goat house, dogs secured and I went for a beer.

Helmut and Silvia were there - I did not get to watch Rex. Of course the time spent with friends is immeasurably superior to the time spent watching the telly or generally trawling the Internet, interesting as they may be.

Back home and evening routine. Pigeons secured, goats in, Suzy milked. I ate, changed and went back to the pub. I know not why, certainly not the alcohol, but I did not feel at my best. I had a couple and went home.

My encounter at the shop this morning prompted me to look up on Google the word nesh. I was astonished to find a whole article on it. I had thought it a very local word meaning someone that feels the cold. I will let you look it up for yourselves.

18th May 2012

The weather was good and I felt good. Shop, breakfast, goats. Rudy had a strop on all the way up the garden and had to get slightly damp. The old chap at the top paused in his work in the garden and watched the antics of me working Rudy to where I wanted him. I achieved it without molestation and went and had a chat with him. We chatted as best we could. Me being not that good in Hungarian and him being as deaf as a post does not help. I caught him later throwing handfuls of freshly hoed weeds over the fence for the goats.

I set about earthing up the first row of spuds. It was not good work. I was basically chopping couch grass into little bits and dragging it over the spuds just to get down to actual soil with which to cover them. I knew it would be thus. Marika caught me at it so I had a break and chatted to her. She was bemoaning the fact that her spuds were not doing well. I was about getting finished when there was a prolonged doggie commotion from the yard. I had a quick look, could see nobody and went back for the few seconds that it took to finish the row. Doggie commotion continued. What the heck?

I limped at best speed back to the yard. By now I saw Janos the Scythe at the gate. By that Mr. GLS white van man pulled up, spoke to Janos and promptly drove off. Bugger! Janos saw me and waited outside the gate. I went and spoke to him. I got the drift that whatever it was that Mr. GLS was wanting to drop off had been dropped off and signed for at the shop. I wandered over to the shop and sure enough the shop lady had a Royal Mail International Signed For ™ envelope for me. Well, if Mr. GLS was happy enough to get it signed for at the shop that worked for me.

On the strength of that, being hot and dripping sweat, I had a beer at the little pub outside the shop - me and Janos. The package proved to contain my születési anyakönyvi kivonat returned to me from one of my future pension providers. It is exactly the same age as I am - to the day. Nineteen forty seven. Something to do with ration books.

Back home I did some cheese making stuff and some clothes washing.

After lunch I went out up towards Telek utca with scythe and barrow and randomly chose the northern boundary of the wilderness patch to do some scything. I scythed a couple of windrows west to east for the goats and then a couple more windrows north to south and south to north to dry for hay. I paused on my wayback with goat supper to do a Colorado Beetle patrol. There were none. That was odd.

By the time that I got the goats in for milking and their supper the row of spuds that I had earthed up was looking decidedly sick. The next row did not look too healthy either. I contemplated this. Not good. The loss of an entire potato crop would be a disaster in terms of what I am trying to do here.

I went to the pub and pondered the potato problem. I am still pondering it now. What on earth could I grow at this late stage to substitute for the staple of potatoes? Internet research gives a possible cause as Alternaria solani. If it is that is seriously bad news as it afflicts all members of the Solanum family so that bodes ill for the tomatoes and paprika. I read somewhere else that the only environmental way to fix it (i.e. without using a load of fungicides) is to not grow any Solanum for three years. It seems that, without anything to infect, the spores do not survive three successive overwinterings.

19th May 2012

Well, it will be fairly short but it was an interesting sort of a day. Goats went out and at the appointed time I separated Vicky and Suzy. Next time I checked Vicky was off the chain and wandering round the garden. I found the cause. She had managed to wind her chain into a single unpruned vine rod to the extent that it had inclipped the carabiner. I moved her elsewhere.

Washing. Lots of clothes washing and then lunch.

I finished off what I could do to the latest edition of pigeon nesting box. It had to go in half the window space where the demolished outhouse was. I knocked out the bit of hardboard into the pigeon house from outside. The pigeons went away quite rapidly. I nailed the carcase - sides, top and bottom - into place and then had to nail on the back from outside. Once that was done I went into the pigeon house, trimmed the bit of hardboard to size and stuck it back in place. By the time that I had gathered up the tools outside I could hear that the nesting box was already occupied.

It had been hot and sweaty work. I went for a beer. John was in the pub. A beer became several.

Back home it was time to scythe some greenery for goat supper, and then it was time to get the goats in. There was a problem. Rudy had once again managed to divest himself of his collar. I carried on regardless. Suzy, Vicky and the wether ended up tethered but where I wanted them. I just waited patiently and eventually Rudy arrived. I enticed him within goat house, gave him a good shove from behind and that was that.

Pub in the evening. The UEFA final was on telly. Situation normal - the telly went off immediately at the end of the first half.

20th May 2012

Sunday. Housework day. It didn't get done, but oh how it needed it. Both dogs were now in full moult and there were swathes and drifts of dog hair everywhere.

I pottered, went for a beer, had lunch and pottered again. Nothing worth writing about. Later in the afternoon I scythed a couple of short windrows for goat supper then it was goats in uneventfully, milk, change and off to the pub.

There was no sign of Hobo so I sat outside in the smoking area. I was invited to sit with a bunch of the younger regulars all of whom I knew. We chatted about all manner of things and once again I was complemented on my Hungarian. One of them made the point that Hungarians know that their language is difficult for foreigners. As ever I managed. A couple of beers came my way which made for a cheap evening.

21st May 2012

Lots of garden work today. The morning was taken up with hand weeding, hoeing and giving two complete rows of garden a serious weeding preparatory to the donated plants going in. Lunch, feed the pigeons, check the goats, and then the plants did go in. It came on to rain whilst I was doing it - much needed. It was good rain. Nice and steady, not torrential. I looked at the goats and they were happily munching so they stayed where they were. Rain or not, I still watered the plants in. No. 2 on a list of top ten ways to kill plants. Failing to water them in.

A late afternoon trip for my dose of Rex. It was a new series today and from context it appeared that it was series one episode one as his handler was introduced to new work colleagues and went out to buy toys and water bowl for Rex. Rex's familiar table with Polizai blanket had not yet appeared. In this series Rex is much more mischievous than in later ones.

Home and the familiar bit of scything but double rations as rain was forecast for tomorrow. Shop, and I joined John for one at the little pub outside the shop - it had by now stopped raining.

Pub in the evening and a certain group were having a family and friends skittles evening. I knew that it was a birthday bash as one of them is a Facebook friend and I saw the fact that it was his birthday flagged up on there.

22nd May 2012

It was dull and threatening when I got up. By the time I was returning from the shop the first fat drops of rain were falling. Over breakfast the rain increased to a downpour. The goats were going precisely nowhere. Hatted and leather jacketed I went and fed them some of the extra that I had done yesterday, pleased that I had had the foresight.

The housework was done, at least as far as sweeping up the dust and dog hair and sorting out stuff to be washed. I also managed some blog updating.

I set out by foot to catch the bus on a twofold mission to Nádasd under the umbrella - it was still tipping down. First call was Bödő for some miscellaneous ironmongery for upcoming jobs: threaded rod, nuts and washers, nails and three strainers for the wire that will run above the wooden vine cross members. Then over the road to the Coop for, would you believe, margarine. I positively refuse to buy the rubbish in the Halogy shop - Coop light and Delma light, neither of which will melt on toast. That was it. I went and stood under the brolly to await the return bus to Halogy.

Back in the village I called for a beer, as you do. Helmut was there but no Hobo. I joined Helmut in the smoking area and we chatted. We finished our drinks and I scrounged a lift home with him to save walking. It had stopped raining by then but at gone four in the afternoon the goats were still going nowhere. Except for Vicky and the wether who can escape the goat house at will and have a little wander.

I scythed goat supper and wheeled it down to the goat house. Then over to the shop and with the weather having cleared it was situation normal there.

Pub. When I left it was raining again. Quite sharp, but nothing like the downpour of the morning and early afternoon.

23rd May 2012

The weather was good when I got up. All was normal after that and I did a load of hoeing before returning to the yard. I was expecting "Kutyatap - kutyatap" to deliver a bag of pigeon food this morning. As usual Pickle alerted me to his arrival at the far end of the village. She might be totally stupid, inclined to chase/kill livestock at the slightest opportunity but she does have the knack of having lots of different barks for different situations. I recognised the bark. How sad is that? Am I becoming Dr. Dolittle?

On the subject of pigeons, I had a problem. Mrs. Pigeon No. 1, after raising a fine pair of squabs who I call stripey pigeon and speckled pigeon has not laid any more eggs. With my mentor Imre gone I know not what to do about it. The websites say call the vet. Mmmm. Think not. But it did leave me in a bit of a quandary. Mrs. Pigeon No. 2 continues to lay but has not yet produced a viable squab as I have already written. I read on the Internerd that pigeons will adopt/foster squabs. Well, I might have to try that. Otherwise I am hoping that one or more of the three will pair up. If not they will all be destined for the pot and I will have to go back to Plan A - Guinea Pigs.

I had lunch, over which I managed a good chat on Skype to one of my offspring.

More pensions paperwork. Boring!

Pub. Rex. Joli the landlady was dashing about hither and thither. I think that she was looking after her precious plants before the thunderstorm arrived. It did arrive. Only it was not a thunderstorm, just a gentle refreshing shower.

Back home I scythed for the goats. It did not take long. Then over to the shop for a couple of bits and a beer to drink with the rest of the little pub outside. There was a drop more rain. Not enough to bother.

Back home goats in. It has been a while and the system has changed again so I thought I would describe in detail for you. Firstly, before I release any goats the remaining water gets pooled in one bucket for protection for me from Rudy and later Suzy and Vicky drinking water overnight. I put it out of reach of Rudy. Next Vicky and the wether go down to the goat house on chain. Vicky goes temporarily on the permanent post just outside the goat house then the wether goes on a hinge pin on a steel post that is part of the fence between garden and yard. Vicky goes in the goat house on a hinge pin in the little yard. I return for Suzy. She goes on the permanent post just outside the goat house just vacated by Vicky. Then Rudy! With bucket in hand I just pull his stake and let him run. His first call is the main garden where normally he has a good munch at weeds. If he gets on my stuff he gets dragged off. If he throws a strop I just let him run again. His next port of call is the Morello tree to polish his horns. Fortunately on that side is a dead branch which is what he normally uses. If he goes for the other side he gets pulled away sharpish. I work him steadily back towards the goat house and he will invariably investigate whether Suzy is amenable. I stay well outside the circle of Suzy's chain. Of course Suzy is not amenable so Rudy loses interest and raids the elderberry tree. I let him have a munch and then work him to the goat house door where, all being well, I can unclip his chain and encourage him inside. He goes to see what goodies I have left him inside, I bolt the door behind him and that is that. Vicky gets moved to another hinge pin, Suzy gets released and goes on the milking table. I milk. Vicky gets released, the wether gets released, I put fresh greenery in for Rudy in his half and Suzy in her half and release her from the milking table. It normally works well, but more later.

Pub. John turned up and Hobo bit the dust early.

24th May 2012

As I was getting up the dogs were barking about something. By the time I was fully dressed, just before seven, whatever had caused the barking had gone away. I found out what it had been when I went to the shop. Before I entered the shop the mayor, clad in shorts and on his bike, pressed a paper upon me. He had a gentle moan about my lack of letter box. It turned out to be an invite to the same informal gathering on the village green on Saturday as happened last year and written about on the blog.

All normal after that. Goats went out and I began to hand weed around the onions and the few carrots that I have managed this year. Well, a few would do me. I confess that I am not overly fond of the likes of carrots, suedes, turnips, etc... as vegetables. Spuds, yes. After that I managed another windrow of scything each side of the path up towards Telek utca to dry for hay, and turned over the rows already almost dry.

Nothing much else to report for the day - all normal.

25th May 2012

When I went to the shop the shop lady reminded me that it was a bank holiday on Monday. Whit, of course. I would certainly have missed it as for some reason I had it mentally noted as being the first Monday in June.

More hand weeding. It was the time that the succulent grass appears. Its growth rate is astonishing. Within a week of germinating it can be eight inches high. Speaking of weeds, the mint, which started as a donation of four sprigs, has taken over about half the little strip of garden by the side of the house. It smothers out everything. Good - let it. It saves me another weeding job. I want to get some of it into the ex-patch of garden which I have abandoned to goats. When I do get some in I will keep the goats off it for a while and let it get established. I want to get some established here and there elsewhere on the meadow as well to see if it can out-compete another weed which is tending to spread which none of the goats will touch. I know that they all love mint. Mmmmm, intriguing - ready minted wether.

The spuds were looking a little better. There was lots of small new growth appearing. We shall see.

I got the goat scything done early and the barrow parked outside the goat house. Something caught my eye as I was wheeling the barrow back. It was a brightly irridescent wiggle of gold on top of a shrivelled chestnut husk. I stopped and bent to look closer. It scuttled off. It was a very pretty green and gold lizard the likes of which I had never seen before. Quite big - about five inches long. Google Images seems to have gone down the pan as a search for green and gold lizard, with and without quotes returned nothing remotely like it. In fact it returned a random load of crap the vast majority of which seemed not to have the remotest connection with lizards.

Off to the pub to watch Rex. John appeared, to watch Rex too.

Back home and not too much more work. At the appointed time I went over to the shop, got my bits and pieces and a beer for the little pub outside the shop. John showed up for that as well.

Pub in the evening. No Hobo. I spent the evening outside in the smoking area in very pleasant company.

26th May 2012

Cheese making, as before, for the second time this year. Interspersed with that was clothes washing. One an important part of what I do here, the other mundane. Guess which is which? That took me up to lunch time.

After lunch I went into the garden to do more weeding. The beans were germinating. I had a count up. Just over thirty so far. That was a fair proportion of them. Strangely, there was a section of about a metre and a half at the top end where none had shown through. Odd, because they were all sown at the same time and it was just random different types of bean that went in.

I stuck at it until the knee said enough. By then it was beer o'clock anyway, so I went for one. Once back I pottered about doing this and that - dry clothes in, a little bit of firewood type of thing - until it was time to get the goats in. There was a problem. Rudy had thrown off his collar and was loose and raiding the Jonathon apple tree. I ignored the problem hoping that it would go away and unhooked the wether and Vicky from there stakes. The problem did not go away. To my astonishment as I made my way back to the goat house at best speed Rudy walked right by my side most amenable. We got back to the goat house and Rudy just trotted on in and I bolted his door behind him. That was that. The others went on their various staging posts and I went back for Suzy.

Milked, all goats released and fed and back to the house. A quick change and out, but not to the pub. Zászlópark, which is the posh name for the village green on the corner as you go up the hill towards Nádasd. It was the evening of the informal get together. It was the usual suspects - many of the pub regulars (Láci must love that) plus a sprinkling of others including quite a few of "the old girls" of whom there a number in the village, not pub goers but who I know enjoy a little drop. When the time was right I put on my village photographer hat and shot off a couple or three dozen pictures.

I was not overly late home. A beer and bed.

27th May 2012

I was not early up. Not as a result of over indulgence but rather in the want of a little lie in. Half an hour. Up at half past seven. There is no morning milking of course. Vicky is still with Suzy and the only way that I get a milking at all is by separating them during the day. Hence some of the maneuvres with goats when I take them in in the evening. I miss the morning milking. It is one of the nicest, gentlest things I have ever undertaken. The getting out of bed at stupid o'clock is the worst bit, but once in with the goats and whatever doe on the table it is positively therapeutic.

It was not thus this morning. Suzy, Vicky and the wether went out nearby. I had put another post in for Rudy also nearby. Rudy had to go on the goat table for two reasons: 1) to get his collar back on and chain attached, and 2) to have his toe nails trimmed. I had suitably inviting munchy morsels on the table before I released him. With a bit of cajoling, I had him on the table in the trap. Item No. 1 above took mere seconds. Item No.2 was a problem. It was a twofold problem. The first one I had encountered before. His lack of cooperation in the venture and the toughness of his hooves. The second was a new problem. He had managed to figure out how to use his horn to unclip the cabin hook that holds him in the trap on the table. With four out of eight hooves done I had to give it best. He was already out of the trap (again) so I opened the goat house door and let him out, then gently worked him to where I wanted him.

Some housework, lunch, check the goats and then go for a beer to catch the tail end of the Formula One. A nice little session on Skype with a daughter and a little light scything of a barrow load of overnight goat food. It was Sunday after all.

Time to get the goats in. And that was when it all went horribly wrong. Rudy was nearest. I decided to get him in first. All was well until I got him to the goat house door. Somehow, as I attempted to unclip his chain he got between me and the water bucket. Unclipping the chain - either dogs or goats is a two handed job. One for the clip and the other for the D-ring. Rudy realised that I was parted from water bucket. He went for me immediately and had me on my bum in about half a second. He came again, head down. I hooked the back of my knees behind his horns. Now, big and strong as he is he did not have an answer for that. Using horns I hauled myself semi-upright. I grabbed the opposite front leg and downed him. It was actually a bit reassuring that I found that I could do that. Especially as I was still on my bum on the ground. Holding his horns I dropped on him, prone. Ouch!!! I knew immediately what I had done. Cracked rib. Third time the same one.

Whatever! I ground his nose into the dirt until he bleated. By the time I let him up he had had enough - and he got a good wetting for his pains. Memo to self: don't let him get between you and water bucket! I have to emphasise that it was me that cracked the rib not Rudy. The first time I did it was getting a piano into a first (Amerikans read second) floor window using ropes. It was good to know that if push came to shove I could still floor Rudy if necessary.

Once Rudy was securely bolted in his side of the goat house normalcy returned, although I was in a little discomfort. Milked, back to the house, ate, changed and went to the pub.

John was there. Hobo was sort of there. His beer was on the table but he was dodging about all over the place. A little job here, a little job there, some times with the skittlers. A couple of beers came his way so John and I had a cheap evening.

28th May 2012

I can't say that I was on best form when I got up. As expected I had had a lousy night's sleep and also as expected the rib was much worse this morning than it had been yesterday evening. The goats remained in their house. I found some nearby stuff already cut for their breakfast and checked they had water. I simply could not contemplate pulling matches on goat chains today.

A bit of light housework. Cooking, cheese and some washing out and some dry washing in, but not necessarily in that order to paraphrase a famous TV sketch.

In the afternoon I had to bite the bullet and go up the garden to do a bit of scything. It was very gentle scything of the likes of which I had seen my ninety four year old neighbour up on Telek utca do. I took my time about it. Fortunately the scythe was at the moment like a razor and it took little effort to do enough for the goats overnight. Forking it into the barrow was the worst bit. I was just about finished when there was a hail from Telek utca. Three young men (teenagers) of the village were there. Eventually they came down my garden. They wanted permission to scrump cherries from my next door neighbour's tree that overhung my fence. Now, how ingenuous is that? To actually come and ask permission to go scrumping. I told them not until I had gone (I could not have stopped them from doing it at some stage anyway) and that if my neighbour caught them it would be their problem, not mine. I wheeled my barrow away. When I was about two thirds of the way down the garden I glanced back. The biggest boy had the smallest boy on his shoulders and sure enough they were scrumping cherries. I had a little chuckle to myself and carried on. It took me back to my own childhood which in those days in a small town in the UK was not that far removed from the childhood of the young people that I have written about. We used to go scrumping on Cabbage Stalk Lane which was an actual street with houses. The local authority decided that Cabbage Stalk Lane was not posh enough and changed it to Mill Road. Now, I ask you - which address has more character? Cabbage Stalk Lane or Mill Road? I know where I would rather live. Also it takes me back to something upon which I have previously commented. The many, many people of my generation (or older) that have simply blanked out the fact that what the young men in my garden were doing, they had probably been doing themselves at that age. I don't know and never will, but I suspect that my old neighbour up on Telek utca, if he had happened to poke his head around his outhouse buildings and seen what was going on, would have withdrawn with a wry chuckle to himself. Sorry - went off on one there.

I went for a beer and Rex. John came in.

Back home I managed to touch base on Skype with son and grandsons which was good.

The food went into the goat house and I attempted a milking. Not quite a waste of time. I managed to get just about enough for my coffee in the morning.

Pub in the evening. Láci had the film channel on. It is a bit like the old eight-track audio cartridges. The same films over and over. Of course the telly goes off at about nine, but I can be sure that whatever film in was, at some stage and some other time of day I would get to see another bit of it. The radio station to which I have my alarm clock tuned is the same. Same tunes day after day. Carpenters - Close to You. Never heard another single Carpenters track, etc... They can probably only afford to pay the royalties on a single track. Mind you, just once in a while - only rarely - there is an Adiemus track. Bonus :)

29th May 2012

I had a better night but the rib still ached when I arose. The shop had no bread except what I would call breakfast rolls and I was not late in there. There were a number of people behind me in the queue that I knew would be wanting bread. Now, I rarely criticise, but criticise I must. Did the shop lady not think that on the Tuesday following a bank holiday Monday she might just need to order more bread than usual? Whatever! There were a lot more than me that would be walking away from the shop dissatisfied. I had at home enough of the one kilogramme loaf that I had bought for the weekend to make my breakfast toast. Speaking of which, handy hint for UK readers. If you happen to buy a mini-baguette from whatever supermarket and happen not to eat it by next day it is stale. All is not lost. Bung the oven on high. When it reaches temperature turn it off. Put the mini-baguette under the cold tap and drench the outside. Shake it off, bung it in the hot oven for five minutes and you will have a fresh, hot mini-baguette.

The goats went out with no problem except that Vicky and the wether did a raid on the main garden whilst I was staking out Suzy. It was no great problem as all there was growing where they were was weeds. I had to clip the wether on his chain a bit sharpish though as he was starting to get a bit too near my row of beans.

I did a row of digging/weeding for where I wanted more stuff in. The soil was getting very dry again. Marika was busy in her garden and a load of stuff came over the fence, some for the goats and some for me. I distributed the goat stuff and once I had finished my row returned to the yard with my stuff - a couple of lettuces and some radishes. Radishes here are quite unlike in the UK. They are very big - three or four times the size of UK ones - but very mild in flavour.

I hung the sign out for Posta as I needed cash, and got on with a few bits and pieces jobs. Lunchtime came and I made myself a cheese and radish sandwich - different. I had just finished the sandwich and was busily quartering an apple when Posta arrived. I went and got my cash. When I returned inside, no apple. Blasted thieving black dog!

I forgot to mention that Mrs. Pigeon No. 2 had presented me with an egg. When I went to feed them I could see that there were now two.

The early part of the afternoon was devoted to the next stage of opening up the pigeon house so that they would be able to fly free. A landing platform. Very rough and ready and agricultural it turned out! With that done and ready to be fitted in the pigeon house window it was time for a beer and Rex.

Back home, a couple of rows of scything for goat supper and then over to the shop, and the little pub outside. I have not mentioned that there are three or four locals that are there regularly who are also pub regulars. At the shop they drink beer. In the pub they always drink fröccs. I can only put it down to the pub beer prices - they cannot afford it, I suspect.

The goats came in with no problem. I ate, changed and went to the pub. All normal.

30th May 2012

When the goats went out I had just managed to work Rudy to where I wanted him and slip his chain on the stake when something disturbed all the goats. Then there was a woof from very nearby. A familiar woof. Blackie was in the garden - again. I looked back down to the yard gate. I could see no telltale hole in the gate. How on earth had he managed to get out? I found out when I got back there. The cabin hook at the bottom of the gate was still in place and the bolt at the top was still shot. The bolt was not in its slot in the gatepost though. It was now the garden side of the post. That had allowed the gate to flex enough for black dog to slip through. I investigated. I found that the gate upright to which the bolt was attached was now so nail sick in its attachment to the top crossmember of the gate that if enough pressure was applied it twisted, thereby effectively foreshortening the length of the bolt and allowing it to pop out of its slot. Mmmm. A job for the threaded rod.

I had bought the threaded rod to do some reinforcing work to hinges on goat house gates. Oh well, kill three birds with one stone. Both of them and the garden gate in one session. With a lunch break it took me until quarter to three. First I measured up for all five pieces that I would need. I angle ground them to length in the kitchen out of Blackie's way and gently chamfered them off so that the nuts would go on nicely. Much work with brace and bits, some of it awkward, working at ground level. It was hot and very humid. I was sweaty and the specs were worse than useless, continually trying to slide off my face. I cursed every time they did. The rib seriously did not like the brace and bit work. I got to the very last one and found that the threaded rod was too short. Blast! Back to the house and cut another one. Finally it was done.

Time to cycle up the village for eggs and into the pub for a well-earned beer and Rex. I had barely started into my beer and settled to watch Rex when there was much scuttling about outside by Joli the landlady, the telly went off and I heard the word vihar. Oh-oh - goats! I lidded my beer and by that the heavens opened. I cycled home at best speed but I was soaked to the skin by the time I got there. Indoors the soaking teeshirt came off, I towelled myself dry and put on a clean, dry teeshirt. On went the biker jacket and I made by way at best limp to where the goats were, by Sod's Law just about as far up towards Telek utca as they get. By the time I got to them the goats were already as wet as they were going to get and the rain was petring out. I hesitated and just stood for a few moments. It became obvious that clear weather was following very shortly. Well, the goats would dry out much better in clear weather in the garden than being put back in the goathouse soaking wet. They stayed right where they were. I cycled back to the pub to finish my beer and my decision was vindicated because the sun broke through again before I had even finished the beer. Helmut had appeared, so one beer became two.

By the time I returned home it was obvious that there was going to be more rain. The goats, as I had expected, were completely dry by then. I did not want them getting wet again. I reversed the order of early evening. Goats in and milked first, shop and pub outside the shop second, and scything and distribution of greenery last. When I got the goats in, Rudy had once again slipped his collar. It was an exact repeat of the last time it happened, with me leading Vicky and wether on their chains and Rudy calmly walking by my side then trotting himself into the goat house. I got damp by the time I did the scything. The expected rain had arrived.

Pub in the evening.

31st May 2012

I finally managed to get Rudy's feet finished this morning, taking the opportunity to do a collar swap on him. I stole Blackie's and he had that. I was not worried about the collar itself - it is a fine strong leather collar - but I had my doubts about the D-ring. The goats went out and I did a little gardening.

Lunch and then I decided the camping lawn needed a haircut. I took the strimmer to it. Whilst I was doing it the skies darkened and it was clear there was a storm coming. I went back to the house for the leather jacket but the rain started before I even got there. On my way up the garden it turned to hail. The goats definitely did not like it. Apart from Suzy I just unclipped the other three from their chains and let them go. I led Suzy back on chain and we all went down the garden in a bunch. The goats needed no encouragement to get inside. The rain had almost stopped by the time I went to watch Rex. The sun came back out whilst I was there. Oh well, I was not about to trail the goats back out at that time of day and they had been out for nearly six hours anyway. There would be no milking this evening.

I did the scything and fed the goats, then shop, shop pub and pub. And that was May.


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