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August 2012

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1st August 2012

Well, another month goes by. I will start it off by having a few moans. OK, not so much moans as tell it like it is you old fart and get on with it. I will start by saying that only this very day, as I write, I sat outside the pub this afternoon in some excellent company, watched the huge flock of hedge sparrows that inhabit the pub garden and thought what a delight life is here. First moan is that it is that time of year. All the stuff that bites and stings is in full flight. In addition to that it is too hot to be wearing wellies. My arms and legs are covered with bites, bumps and scratches. Whatever - it goes with the territory. The second moan is regarding my mobility. It is not good and is seriously limiting me. The knee is getting worse by the day to the extent that if I need to go to Körmend I will have to do it by bicycle. Or if it is a one-off stop by the village bus on a Tuesday or Friday. I don't have a problem with cycling to Körmend except for the heat. If push came to shove I would not have a problem cycling to Szombathely and back in cooler conditions. The problem would exist to an even worse degree if I was still in the UK. Pavement pounding is the worst thing. Enough moaning.

All the normal stuff happened in the morning, and I finished off strimming the yard. A beer at the pub followed. Lunch/pigeons/goats. Computer work - some blog, some other stuff.

Tibi collared me again. Another barrow load of goat food. Ah, for goodness sake Tibi they did not eat the last lot yet.

Little pub outside the shop. There has formed a dichotomy. The younger element continue to sit at the front of the shop in the full heat of the sun. We older ones hide round the side in the shade.

Goats in/milk/pub. "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose"

2nd August 2012

Well not a lot happened on the ranch today so this will be a very short entry. Apart from doing the necessary goat/pigeon/dog/going to the pub work I was tied up all day at the computer doing a job for the UK. Short enough?

3rd August 2012

I started a cheese making, then it was another day at the computer. We had a shower of rain in the afternoon, which was welcome, but not enough to warrant getting the goats in. It had stopped by the time the little pub outside the shop convened. The rain was very welcome. Again, nothing else out of the ordinary.

4th August 2012

It was threatening to be another very hot day. All the normal stuff happened and I did some washing and got it out on the line. Speaking of which, the bottom of the catenary of my washing line is some thirty centimetres or maybe even half a metre closer vertically to the yard than it had been before the outhouse roof started collapsing. No doubt one of my Facebook friends who is current Brain of Britain AND Mastermind champion could tell me how much the roof has shifted if I give him the width of the yard.

I did the wether's hooves. It proved remarkably uneventful apart from the left hand rear. I have not the slightest idea why but that is the one with which Rudy gives me the most problem. I vaguely wonder if it is that whilst I am doing that one they cannot see me because of where I sit. I will have to experiment.

The day had already heated up to over thirty. Outside my comfort zone. Wether went back on station, dogs were secured within and I went for a beer. It was clearly out of Láci's comfort zone as well. I sat outside under his erection and several times he appeared and sprayed copious quantities of water onto the relatively newly tarmaced yard, just to try and cool things down a bit.

When I returned home another bloody great slab of brickwork had fallen out of the potting shed wall. Once again I thanked my gods that I was at the pub and dogs were within house.

I went to get the goats in and milk. All was normal - even Rudy behaved. Rudy was in, Vicky was in, the wether was in. I selected a choice bit of chobblage from the barrow, put it on the milking table tray and went to release Suzy. Now, normally she will head straight in the goat house, hop on the table and that is that. Not this evening. She decided to do a runner. Twenty minutes! It was twenty minutes before I captured her. I milked and returned to the house exhausted. Pub - beer. Hobo said something about goat food. In true Hungarian fashion it was one of those things that just did not happen.

5th August 2012

It was another scorcher. At the height of the heat it reached thirty three. Out of my comfort zone. All the normal stuff happened. I had just about got the domestics for the day sorted out when John unexpectedly turned up. He had an Internet problem at home and could he use mine. No was the immediate answer - not until I had at least squared up the big room a bit. It was an utter tip. I sent John for a beer, telling him that I would join him. He went off and I had at least a quick bash round with the brush and dustpan to get the place about a quarter decent. Then I cycled to the pub myself to join John. It was that time of day anyway. We had a couple and returned to my place.

Oh-oh. The small gate into the yard was open. I am punctilious about ensuring it is properly closed when I leave the place. What was transpiring? It soon became apparent. Tibi was just wheeling yet another huge barrow load of greenery for the goats from yard into garden. It took him three goes to get it up the one brick step between yard and garden. It is doubtful if I could have managed it at all.

With barrow in garden the garden gate was secured. Tibi left and the small gate was secured. Dogs exitted the house and John and I entered. I booted up the computer, signed in and left him to his Internet business whilst I made myself a sandwich. John was not long and left. I rebooted into a sensible operating system and did my normal stuff over lunch.

After lunch I went out on my normal rounds. Feed and water the pigeons and top up the goat water. That involves limping to the galambház and doing them then limping back to the outside tap and turning it on then limping up the garden to either fill a container and thence to the goats or if they are north of the end of the hose top them up directly. Today I did neither. The tap was turned on but no water was issuing. Bollox! I limped back to the yard. The remains of the Tesco hose that lies within the yard, which I already reported as falling to pieces has several hose joining connectors holding it together, had parted at one of the connectors. They sell then in Bödő with the inscription "Hose Mender" - thus, in English. I turned the tap off, reconnected the hose and turned the tap back on even more gently than before. Another limp up the garden. It was slow work with hose running at little more than a dribble but I got goats topped up with water eventually. I was sweating by then from a combination of the heat, the pain of limping up and down the garden multiple times and the effort of actually getting the water to the goats.

I withdrew indoors to tackle a fair sized bag of pears that had come over the fence from the old lady. I tried the facsimile of a Victorian peeler and corer on the pears. Trash one pear. It will peel but not core them. I adjusted it so as not to core. Progress was rapid after that. I soon had a kilogramme of actual pear flesh in the slow cooker with a little water and a level teaspoon of citric acid.

I put the slow cooker on Low and went for an afternoon beer. I have long since given up on the idea of having the stove on the go in the heat of the afternoon or early evening. Nope! Anything like that has become a two step process. The serious cooking, like boiling down jam, is strictly a morning job. Cook the fruit in the slow cooker one day and boil it down to jam the next. Same with the cheese. Separate out curds and whey one day then scald it the next day over breakfast.

It was a normal early evening after that. Goats in, etc., etc. Pub in the evening of course. The Olympics was on and Hungary had won another gold. At the medal ceremony it immediately struck me that Himnusz was not the same version that I commented upon adversely earlier. Well, it might be my imagination, but this time it was played at the very measured pace that I would expect. Hats came off (Hobo and Miki). Tears appeared in eyes (Hobo, Láci the landlord - and me).

It came time to go home. As normal, in a habit that I have arrived at, I parked the bike, let both th dogs out to run free and went in the house to turn on the lights, close the roller shutters and prepare the dog food. As usual I opened the door and called out "Do you want some food?". Black dog appeared. Pickle did not. I gave Blackie his food, locked him within and with wind-up torch went in search of Pickle. She was nowhere to be found either in yard or outbuildings. WTF? I opened the small gate to the street and retired in house. I checked for Pickle every few minutes and sure enough she appeared after about ten minutes. When I opened the door Pickle bolted within and Blackie bolted without. Oh Sh*t - the little gate was still open. Blackie saw it and made a bolt for that one too. I set off in pursuit and issued a stern "NEM!". To my astonishment he obeyed and I was able to have gate closed and dogs safely confined within seconds. I have since discovered that Pickle has discovered that she can get over the concrete fence at the front of the house when not on chain.

6th August 2012

It was a normal start and then I set about a jam making. Hobo, Pitu (Steve) and John turned up to do some work taling down the collapsing outhouse roof. Well, a half-hearted effort. It was seriously hot again.

I managed to finish my jam making with the temperature about the same as outside. Thirty six-ish. We knocked it on the head by mutual agreement and went to the pub. The new people with the BMW turned up with a delightful puppy. A little dog - a bitch I think. We all went home at closing time. I bought some canned beers to see us through the afternoon session. Hobo had promised to reappear at about two and do some more on the outhouse roof. John and Pitu were primed accordingly. John showed up, Pitu showed up, I showed up. No Hobo. It did not happen, in true Hobo style.

We knocked it on the head to await events. Well, three out of the four turned up for the afternoon session in the pub. One was Hobo - he had gone home and crashed out.

The two remaining participants carried on for a while. I went about my business - goats, pigeons. Nothing out of the ordinary after that.

7th August 2012

Well, I was up and about early enough - not long after seven. I had got into the habit of opening up the pigeon house at the same time as letting the dogs out. After that I went to the shop. It all went somewhat downhill from there. I was at the shop by half past seven. I got back to the house at ten past eight. First off the shop door was locked as the shop lady was seeing in a delivery. Twenty five minutes! In the interim a small collection of the old girls of the village had foregathered. Eventually the shop door was reopened. Being the gentleman that I am I let the old girls precede me into the shop. Mistake. Big mistake. Huge. They all somehow managed to get into the queue in front of me. It was situation normal, they all wanted to have their bit gossip with the shop lady. The problem was (and is) that the shop lady cannot multitask. Gossiping takes precedence over serving the next customer in the queue. Hence ten past eight before I got back to the house.

The next bit was not normal either. The bike came out, the dogs were secured within house and I cycled down to the faluház to catch Tibi who drives the red village bus (people carrier) before he left. I needed tarpaulin for the outhouse roof. At least that bit was quick and he understood what I wanted. Back home and at about half past eight finally got the stove lit for breakfast. I had hoped to be doing that before a quarter to eight.

Needless to say, the goats went out later than planned. Hobo and Pitu appeared to continue with removing the tiles from the outhouse roof. A little while later John appeared, to help as well. I retired to house and finished off a jam making. At about twenty to twelve we had all had enough for the morning, me with the heat of the kitchen and the other three with working in a loft with the sun on the tiles. We retired to the pub for a beer before they closed for lunch. Beer done we went our separate ways. I paid, of course.

The working party reconvened after lunch. I went about my routine. They continued stripping the roof. Mid afternoon we all had a smoke and beer break. Hobo wound the canned beers from the well, where they had been in the bucket at the bottom of the well. I was quite surprised. They were pleasantly cool. Not as cold as from the beer fridge at the pub but cool enough. It was Hobo's suggestion to put them down there. An old Hungarian technology, he told me. A technology to be remembered methinks.

I carried on making the new pigeon box. Tibi turned up with what I expected to be tarpaulin but proved to be heavy duty polythene on a roll. I paid for it and off he went. As it happened we all finished work pretty well together, with my goat bedding in the outhouse loft sheeted against inclement weather, and would you believe it was time for the little pub outside the shop to convene. Guess where we went?

Normal after that - goats in without incident, milking done, pigeons secured and me swilled down and off to the pub.

8th August 2012

It was a normal sort of day, so really not much to report. I had a load of Internet and computer stuff to do which occupied much of the time.

On one of my travels to the pub I spotted a garden gnome standing in what was to be the small gateway at the house of the new couple. Ah, Hungarians and their gewgaws. It is by no means the only house adorned with garden gnome(s). The work on their new wall continued. It still continues as I write.

Hungary won more golds at the Olympics, which pleased me.

More normal stuff after that - goats/eat/pub. When I went home I followed my normal routine. Unlock the house and let the dogs both run free whilst I put on the hallway light and close the roller shutters. As usual I called the dogs - "Do you want some food?". Only Blackie appeared. No Pickle. I secured black dog inside and set off in search of Pickle using the wind-up torch. I checked the whole yard and all the outbuildings. No Pickle. She had clearly escaped somehow. I checked the garden gate. It was properly shut and no suspicious holes had appeared in it. I went to the small gate, opened it, took a couple of steps out and called her up and down the street. No Pickle. Oh well. I left the gate a little way open and went inside and fed Blackie. When he finished I went to let him out and Pickle shot in. Blackie shot out. Blast. The gate. He had just spotted it and sure as eggs are eggs he was about to make a beeline for it. I stopped him with my most commanding "Nem!". To his credit he stopped and I was able to secure the gate. It was an eventful end to a relatively boring day.

9th August 2012

After the shop I had to grab an armful of firewood from the woodhouse. The dogs who were both loose followed me out. I was in the woodhouse less than a minute. I came out to be greeted by the sight of Marika letting Pickle back into the yard. Clearly she had made good her escape again. Not having seen, I still had not the slightest idea of how or where. Oh well, chain it would have to be.

After breakfast the goats went out as usual, except for Suzy who stayed on the permanent post just outside the goat house. The others went in the vicinity of the Jonathan apple tree. I returned to Suzy, took her back in the goat house and did her hooves. As usual she was very amenable and it was but the work of a few moments. I took her to join the others.

There was a load of the normal stuff to do in the kitchen - washing up, washing and some general clearing away of accumulated stuff on the work top.

At the tail-end of the morning I rescued the heavy mattock from the garden and cycled up to Lajos with it. It needed a new handle - again. I had bought the last one in Bödő and fitted it myself. Considering the treatment it gets I suppose it had lasted quite well. I caught Lajos in and he took it away and set about it immediately. I did not hang about. I had to pass the pub on the way home. As you can well guess, I didn't. Pass the pub, that is. I saw Hungary win another gold in the K1 class. I saw the medal ceremony as well. You know, the playing of Himnusz at an Olympic ceremony evinces far more emotion than when it is played at some random domestic sporting occasion and there were more than a few non-dry eyes. Hobo and Miki even removed their baseball caps.

Home, lunch and the normal routine. I had returned to the house after topping up goat water when there was a doggie commotion from the yard. I poked my nose out just in time to see one of Lajos' daughters starting to cycle away. I called out a thank you. The mattock had been repaired and she had leaned it up just outside the yard gate. That was quick. The price later proved to be the usual. Two or three beers.

I strimmed the verges. Very unusually there was no sign of the old lady. She caught up with me later. It proved to have been a good move as a little while later it came on to rain. It was not enough to warrant getting the goats in though.

Nothing out of the ordinary after that until the pub in the evening. I fell into the same good company that I have mentioned before. I then fell into conversation with one of the sons who had been told by his father to practice his English on me. We had quite a long, wide-ranging conversation about all manner of things.

10th August 2012

Very short and sweet. The goats went out a long way away. It took a while. I did the normal washing up of breakfast stuff - one knife and one coffee mug, plus the milking kit.

Washing. Posta turned up. I got cash plus a letter from the UK relating to pensions and tax. If I recall correctly this was Notices of Tax Coding from HMRC. It did not matter. I went to the pub for a beer. By the time I returned home the Notices of Tax Coding were firewood. I carelessly left the envelope wherein said Notices of Tax Coding were stored and when I returned home all was in shreds on the floor. Well, I have to say what better way could communication from HMRC be dealt with than being ripped to shreds by dogs.

More washing. It was hot again in the afternoon. I still had to go out and scythe down some goat greenery.

Pub, to keep it short.

11th August 2012

I had no idea why but when I came to get Rudy and the wether out they played merry hell with Suzy and Vicky who were already where I wanted them. They were running from one to the other and all were playing head butting games. Rudy ended up getting very wet before I had him where I wanted him. When I went to put their water in place I noticed that Rudy was leaning over the fence and nibbling the old lady's vines. Oh-oh. That would not do. Well, he would just have to be moved, which I feared problematic in the mood he was in. In the end it proved not to be so. I picked a goodly pocketful of windfall apples and lured him away from the fence with them. Whilst he was busily chasing and chomping apples I rapidly moved his post a couple of metres further away from the fence then beat a hasty retreat out of the circle of his chain.

Back up the garden I picked a five litre fermenter of windfall apples for me. I already had in the house a bag of pears come over the fence from the old lady. Mixed fruit jam coming on. The peeling and coring machine came out to play. I used it to peel the pears. I gave up on trying to use it to core pears. The cores are too soft and when it gets to the corer attachment pears inevitably break up. I cored them by hand weighing them as I went, and they went in the slow cooker with a little water and some citric acid. Time for a beer.

Home, lunch, feed the pigeons, check the goats and then back in the kitchen to do the apples. That produced another pound and a half of fruit which went in to join the pears. It did not take many minutes as I was able to use the corer this time. A second washing up of the day followed, to clean up all the kit used in the jam making, and a good clearing up of the work surface.

Another beer, and after that some scything and getting in firewood. All normal after that.

12th August 2012

Sunday. The day of rest. Ha! I let the dogs out and let the pigeons out and then back indoors for breakfast. It followed the usual pattern. Light the stove, coffee on and three slices of bread for toast. Dogs were let back in and as usual they had a fair anount of the crusts of the first two slices as titbits. By then the coffee is cooked so the dogs go out again in order that I can sit and enjoy my third slice of toast with my home made jam and my mug of coffee with my very own goats milk. The dogs went out after second toast. They both did a double take and then went ballistic in the direction of the shop. Now, I have no idea if dogs, unlike goats and pigeons, recognize days of the week but I glanced over and to my astonishment the shop was open with two bikes parked outside. Whatever, there was nothing I required from the shop on a Sunday. I went and finished breakfast. By the time I did the bicycles had gone and the shop locked up again. I do know that she will, in dire shortage, turn out to a phone call. Usually someone ran out of bottled gas. I could say a thing or two about that but will content myself with saying that I am more than happy with my wood stove.

The goats went out without quite so much ado as yesterday. Rudy and the wether still managed to make it to the Jonathon apple tree which was many metres from where I actually wanted them. I managed to entice Rudy away with windfalls and he chose a spot the other side of the garden. Rather than try and move him to the post where I had intended to put the wether which was just a few metres away I moved the post to Rudy. Well, to the extent of his chain plus a bit, where I whacked it in the ground. Rudy was on it in seconds and I withdrew from the danger area. The wether, when I finally caught him, went where I had intended to put Rudy.

The weather was more pleasant today. Mid twenties with a nice breeze, which was a good thing as I had the jam making to finish. I did that, fitting a little housework around it. Two large and one medium jars to go into storage. The kitchen still managed to reach the thirties even with doors and windows open all around to let the breeze in. It was thirsty work. You can guess what came next.

On my return to the yard gate on bicycle there was a big clattering of wings and a crowd of pigeons fluttered up from where they had been scratching about for whatever it is that they scratch about for. They flew up and perched on the electricity wire between house and outhouse. Except one which perched on the telephone wire. I looked up to identify which of the pigeons had decided to go its own way. It took a few seconds to realise that it was not one of mine. It was one of the local wild ones that had decided to join the scratching about.

I had lunch and went to feed the pigeons. I forgot to mention that in the last couple of days a nest had appeared in a pigeon box that previously had no nest. Today an egg had appeared there. Nobody was sitting it, so that left me with no idea whether I had another pair on my hands.

I checked the goats and whilst out in the garden did the scything down of goat greenery before the afternoon became too hot. After that it was all as normal for the rest of the day.

13th August 2012

When I went to do the pigeon water after breakfast I discovered who the mystery nest builder was. It was Mrs. Pigeon No. 2. She had clearly become despondent about her lack of success in raising offspring where she had previously nested and decided to move her centre of operations. I hope she has more success. I got near enough to make her rise and noted that she was now sitting a pair of eggs. I noticed something else as well. One of the pair of chicks raised earlier this year by Mrs. Pigeon No. 1 had been persistently sitting in the same spot on the floor for a couple of days now. Today I spotted that she was sitting an egg. Ah glory, I had another pair on my hands. Happy. Not too happy about her nesting on the floor, though.

The goats went out nearby. Vicky went back in the goathouse and for the first time went in the goat table. At first she did not know what to make of it but in caprine fashion quickly settled down to munch what I had given her on the tray once she knew she could not escape. I did her feet. She was surprisingly cooperative, considering. I do hope that she will prove to be Suzy's daughter and be as cooperative at milking time as is Suzy.

Edited highlights. Got cash from Posta plus a parcel. Two new knee supports. Lunch, pigeons and goats, blog, pub - Hobo and Janos. Hobo had said he would do some work - didn't happen. Some scything for the goats when I got home and another pile of greenery over the fence from the old lady.

Goats in, milk, pigeons in, a bite to eat, swill down and pub.

14th August 2012

After breakfast when I went to do goats and pigeons I found that one of Mrs. Pigeon No. 1's latest pair of squabs had fluttered itself to the floor. It was fine. I returned it to the company of its sibling in the nest box and topped up their private little supply of water. The goats went out, about as far up to Telek utca as they ever get. It took a while.

My next door but one neighbour John turned up with a couple of big baskets of sunflower heads (minus seeds) for the goats. I did more work on the pigeon nest box.

I was at the little pub outside the shop when Miki turned up and dropped a devastating bombshell. He told me that my dear old neighbour up on Telek utca had passed away quite suddenly at lunchtime today. I was quite cut up that I would never again see that gentle, kind and helpful old chap again. I confess I cried.

I went about my business for the rest of the day with a heavy heart. As I was going to get the goats in I spotted Marika in her garden. I called her over and she confirmed the news. I asked her to let me know about the funeral arrangements which she said she would. I had been let down by not getting to know about the last funeral I would have attended - Imre the pigeon man. Hobo never told me.

Apart from that it was a normal end to the day.

15th August 2012

Nothing special today so, in no particular order, a selection of photos from the village days:
Sound Guys The sound guys.
The academic who was the first speaker on the Sunday who is coincidentally a relation of one of my regular correspondents from the UK. Speaker
Car Fire Extinguished Putting out the car fire - quite spectacular.
Here it is before they put out the fire... Car On Fire
Car On Fire ...and again
Getting out the "casualty". Casualty
Bucking Bull Bucking bull.
Finished potter's work. Pottery
Pottery The potter and his assistant at work.
Local hand craft display. Hand Crafts
Bar Láci and Láci set up the bar.
Local codgers. Codgers
Bull Covered The bucking bull had to be covered up at one stage because of the rain.
The children playing on the bouncy castle in the rain Bouncy Castle
Mayor Presents Prizes The village mayor presenting the prizes for the football.
Hobo doing what he does best - sorting out the beer (and opening two). Hobo Beer
Huge Tent The huge tent wherein the musical entertainment and the eating took place. You can gauge the size of it from the step ladder by the second upright.
The cooking tent. Cooking Tent

16th August 2012

Very short today. Apart from the usual looking after of livestock, which was all uneventful, and the normal visits to shop/pub all that happened was that I had a letter from Posta from my British pensions provider that has still as I write not paid out. The contents of the letter at least reassured me that I would be getting paid out. It referred to some paperwork previously mentioned on the blog that quite clearly they had now received. It transpired that would not be paid by them but by a well know third party. It also told be that payment would be further delayed since I had requested to receive payment into one of my bank accounts here in Hungary (and one of my Shift keys has just ceased working). After lunch and all the above mentioned usual stuff I rang them up. Once again I got through immediately to an actual person called Nick. He was very helpful. I wanted to be sure that both his company and those that will actually be paying me understood my requirements. One was to emphasise that I did want it paid into my account here in Hungary (and bugger me if the Shift key has not now started working again), two was to ensure that they clearly understood that it was a Stirling account and three was that needed a tax reference in order to complete previously mentioned form DT-Individual still sitting on my desk incomplete. I suggested that he reply by e-mail. He took my e-mail address and as I write, to his credit, he has since replied.

It left me with little time other than to do some reorganisation of stuff in the yard and then the end of the day routine.

17th August 2012

I let the pigeons out before I shopped as has become my wont. After shop and breakfast I went to water the pigeons and put the goats out. This morning both the young pigeons had fluttered to the floor. I let them be, not too worried about their welfare during daylight hours. Goats went out nearby - I had much pain in the knee.

All normal after that until the tail end of the afternoon. I changed into my best, but it being a very hot day settled for smart shoes, smart black trousers and an open neck short sleeved shirt. Via the pub I headed for the cemetery to say goodbye to my next door neighbour.

The cemetery is situated not far from the water tower and football field. It is up quite a sharp slope from Petőfi utca. There is a chapel there that faces more or less north-west. There is a room in the back which is a private part. In front of that is a roofed open-sided patio where the actual funeral ceremony takes place. The service takes about thirty minutes. As the service ends the church bell begins to toll and the coffin/urn is moved to the place of interment. I have no idea how they sychronise that. There is another short ceremonial and then the undertakers, who in no way, shape or form resemble British undertakers - more like smart council workers - fill in the grave completely there and then. Floral tributes are laid on top when that is done and that is that.

Hobo was with me. We went back to the pub for a beer. I went home to change back into working clothes after that. At the cemetery there had been something far wrong with my one and only smart pair of black shoes as we moved from the chapel to the place of interment. Mmmm! They were now definitely an ex-pair of Clarks city veldt shoes. The right shoe was split from side to side all the way from the heel to the instep.

All was normal after that until I got back from the pub in the evening. There was a foregathering, quite loud, of a fair number of the younger men in the village at the fine house that is for sale opposite me and I saw lights on within. I pondered what to do. Ring Plod or not? But then again they had seen me arrive home and did not scurry and scuttle away, and had exchanged the usual end of evening pleasanties with me. I left well enough alone - but a little more tomorrow.

18th August 2012

When I went out to let the pigeons out and check on them this morning both the squabs had fluttered to the floor. I left them be, except that the one that had been on the floor the previous time came to hand. I let it perch there for a minute then returned it to the floor. At this stage I was not worried about them during daylight hours but would put them back to the nestbox to roost at dusk.

My new young helper turned up. In the garden away from the dogs. I set him on to consolidate the two piles of rotted goat compost by the main garden into one. I did a gash repair to the scythe. The blade had started persistently parting company from the snath. I fixed it with a wooden wedge about twelve millimetres by six millimetres by about eight. Plus a nail. The nail was nothing to do with the wedge. I did say a gash repair.

Pitu reappeared having finished the compost shifting. Or so he thought. I set him on to barrow the partly composted ex-deep litter still outside the goat house and pile it into a new compost heap where he had moved the other one from. He set about that as well. I carried on with pigeon nesting box.

Towards the end of morning we had both had enough. We headed to the pub where I bought him a beer. He went off for lunch after that and so did I. Except that a certain village character also at the pub kept hammering on about my outhouse roof. Well, I have to say that if he and I were the last two men left in the village he still would not get to fix it!

Pitu turned up again after lunch and carried on shifting goat sh*t until he had had enough. Excuse the pun - intended - but midway through the afternoon he did have the bottle to come straight out and ask if I could give him a beer. Of course! By the time he finished the compost heaps in the garden were in order and about a quarter of the ex-deep litter remained to be moved. I paid him well and he was happy.

All normal after that. When I was getting the goats in I spotted Tibi and called him over to the fence. I told him about the foregathering of young men last evening over the road. He told me that it was in order. Some of them were doing painting in the house. He did thank me for mentioning it. Might just have earned Brownie points in the village!

Goats came in, milked, a bite to eat, a swill down and off to the pub. I managed a bit more blog when I returned home. Forgot to mention locking the pigeons in and returning the squabs to their nest.

19th August 2012

The knee was particularly sore today, so it was going to be a minimum work day. Hence very short. The normal morning stuff happened - pigeons/goats/etc. At the appointed time I went for a beer.

I had an amusement on the way home. As soon as I left the pub I saw pools of water on the road at the house next door but one to the pub. It was a very hot day and I thought they might just be spraying water about to cool things down a bit. Not a bit of it. They had a house carpet over their big front gates and were washing it with a power washer - you know, the sort of thing that you would use to clean a patio. Well, it amused me.

It was an afternoon spent mainly on the blog. Early evening was all normal - goats/etc still had to be done, pain in the knee or no.

Pub in the evening. Local character was still banging on about my outhouse roof!

20th August 2012

It was one of the main holidays of the year today, and with it being a Monday it happened to become a bank holiday Monday. Once again, here on the ranch I signally failed to convince either dogs, goats or pigeons that today was different. It was just another day here - all as normal.

I did a load of domestics - washing up, tidying up and clothes washing (although you would not know it). It being a bank holiday I went to the pub a little earlier than usual. Lots of the regulars obviously had the same idea. There was a programme on the telly of an air display over the Duna in Budapest. After that there was ceremonial to mark the day. I went home and lunched.

After lunch, goats and pigeons and then more work on the pigeon nesting box. It is another time consuming job. Having to cut every piece by hand and then assembling. Time for another beer, it being bank holiday.

There was still ceremonial on the telly. Back home and more work on the pigeon box. Oh, how much easier would it be to cycle up to Lajos with a cutting list! Still not what I am about. Time to get the goats in.

I assembled the milking kit and, having done no scything, withdrew winter rations hay from the store and proceded to the garden. One, two, three goats. Where the hell was Vicky? I found out when I reached them - hiding behind Suzy. WTF? I investigated. There was still a length of chain attached to the post where Vicky should have been. Vicky still had her collar on (the girly pink one that a daughter sent me and that Pickle broke in about a week) with the rest of the chain attached. Mmmm - top quality chain then. I jury rigged the chain so that I could get Vicky back to the goat house where I wanted her. All was normal after that, except that having Vicky loose made me think I would get no milk this evening. Not a bit of it. They all ended up indoors where I wanted them and I got a normal milking from Suzy.

I had a bite and went to the pub. I have for long forgotten to mention a character temporarily on the scene. He is yet another Láci. He lives in Germany but had come to stay for a while in Daraboshegy. He has a lovely middle-aged Irish setter by the name of Ari. Several times a week he would walk Ari down to the pub, have a beer and walk Ari home again. Fascinating bloke. Well read, multilingual. He and I had a number of conversations, me in my halting and incorrect magyarul, he replying first in English and then correcting my faulty magyarul.

21st August 2012

It was plainly going to be another hot day. I was up early. The sweat started as soon as I put my feet on the floor. The goats went out a long way up towards Telek utca. I stayed in the garden and scythed down a barrow load of greenery before it got too hot. I did not want to be out there doing it in thirty plus, thank you.

I went for my end of the morning beer as usual. On the way I caught Posta. It was the relief van - again - the one with no cash machine. I mentioned it to Hobo, less than pleased. He suggested he might be able to organise a lift to Nádasd and back. It did not happen, so in the full heat of the afternoon it was an unwanted cycle ride to Nádasd to get cash. I killed a few more birds with the one stone by calling in Bödő, the Coop shop and the Csillag buffet.

Back in the village I called in the pub. John was there. We had a couple and went our ways.

When it was time to get the goats in it was still seriously hot. I decided on a little experiment. All the goats were released at the same time, but two on-chain and two not. Suzy and the wether were released from their chains and I carried them back in hand to the goat house. Vicky and Rudy still had their chains on. I knew from experience that letting all four run with chains on was a recipe for disaster. Two or more goats would end up with carabiners clipped in another goat's chain. I thought it might turn into a catastrophe this time too, as there was much cavorting about, head butting and such, some of it a bit too close for comfort. There were a couple of forays into bits of the garden where I really did not want them. I just limped my way back to the goat house. I was still just a few metres away when, one two three four, and they were all back in the goat house of their own volition. I even managed to relieve Rudy of his chain on the doorstep. A minor problem remained in that Suzy had gone in the boy's end but I managed to entice her back into her half.

I milked and went to the pub. I made arrangements with Hobo and a young man of the village to do some work for me tomorrow. Back home I had my main meal of the day. An icecream, a tin of tuna straight from the tin and some potato crisps. Well, sort of healthy.

22nd August 2012

I was up and about by seven. Normal routine. I was just getting the goats out when Pitu (Steve) turned up. I set him on to move the rest of the ex-deep litter up the garden. As he was starting I got Rudy out. Rudy saw Pitu and in his vague caprine manner did not know what to do about the presence of this strange young man. Rudy paused for a moment, then did one of the things that mature buck goats do. He p*ssed in his mouth and on his beard then set off at a trot to join the girls. Pitu witnessed this in astonishment.

Hobo never showed up. No big surprise there then. The forecast for the day was thirty seven degrees. Ouch. At about noon with the thermometer on the kitchen window sill still in the shade it was registering thirty eight!

I had a sandwich and then fed the pigeons and topped the goats up with plenty of water. The old lady caught me with another bag of pears. An afternoon of preparing for another jam making session followed. I had a wander up the garden to collect some windfall apples to go with the pears. Peeled and cored the pears were a pound and a half in weight. I peeled and cored a pound and a half of apples to go with them. Probably four and a half pounds of finished jam. I don't know. I never weigh the finished product. I ought to, I suppose.

With the fruit in the slow cooker I went for a beer. Oh the way home my next door but one neighbour John with the cows caught me. Something about goat food. I cycled on home and sure enough in a very few moments John turned up with a couple of baskets of pumpkin halves for the goats. They went over the fence. I exchanged them for a jar of my jam. I would normally exchange them for beer, but as far as I know John is not a drinking man. He turns up to some of the do's in the faluház but I have never seen him in the pub.

Various other greenery had come over the fence so thankfully I did not have to go out scything. The usual little session at the pub outside the shop followed, then it was time to get the goats in.

I adopted the same tactic as yesterday. All four goats at once. There was a little bit of goat horseplay if you know what I mean, but nowhere near what there had been yesterday. Rudy surprised me. Most of the way back to the goat house he walked quite calmly by my left hip - just like a good dog walking to heel. I still had trusty bucket of water to hand though, just in case.

Pub in the evening and I found myself in a cleft stick. They had been polishing the skittle alley. The smell of the polish was overpowering. It made the eyes smart and made the beer taste foul. I tried outside. Mmmmm - mosquitoes. I stuck it as long as I could but was finally driven back inside. At least by then the stink of chemicals was subsiding just a little.

23rd August 2012

The weather forecast on my clock/radio alarm forecast thirty eight degrees for today. Not good. Seriously not good and not at all conducive to getting anything practical or physical done. The goats went out as nearby as I could get them.

John with the cows turned up again. This time he had two baskets of sunflower heads minus the seeds. The goats liked them.

I hid from the heat, doing the necessary of feeding/watering pigeons and watering goats. Nothing much else happened until it was almost time to go to the shop in the afternoon. Another villager - the one that provided the still unidentified hay last year - turned up with a barrow load of pumpkin halves for the goats. Dogs were secured in house and he and I chucked the contents of the barrow over the garden fence. He went off with the promise from me of buying him a beer to drink at the little pub outside the shop. I released dogs, went to the shop and fulfilled my promise. It was that time of day anyway.

The goats came in, I milked, had a swill down and went to the pub. More than enough beer flowed. I was in the same company that I have already mentioned on a couple of occasions. It got worse. We all left the pub at the appointed time. I had every intention of just cycling my way home. It was not to be. Said company, who only live a few doors from the pub, stopped me and called me in for a nightcap. Yet another beer and a couple of pálinkas. Oh dear! I was distinctly wibbly-wobbly cycling home. I seem to remember landing on my bum when I attempted touch down outside my gate. I also seem to remember doing the same when I parked the bike. Nonetheless I ended up where I should end up. In bed, having first managed to feed the dogs and let them out for a few minutes.

24th August 2012

I arose with more than a little of a hangover. I can't think why. I made an unfortunate discovery once up and dressed. I could not find my spectacles. Oh well, look later. Dogs went out and I went to the shop.

Nothing much out of the ordinary after that except that Pitu turned up to do some work for me. I set him on. I set him on mucking out the goat house. It was more than a morning worth of work. He piled it all out in a new heap just outside the goat house. He did not bargain on the shovel work to get down to the bare concrete. Whatever - he soldiered on until it was done, with a lunch break. I paid him well.

It was another scorcher of a day. Apart from the necessary goat/pigeon work I hid and did some blog updating. I did notice when I fed the pigeons that my latest pair were both now fully fledged as neither of them was on the floor when I went in. They had not yet ventured out though.

All normal after that, except when I returned from the pub in the evening. As I approached home, there being no traffic about, I veered the bicycle over the the left hand side of the road as I approached Tibi's house. I could see that he had been spraying water about on the road to cool things down a bit but I saw no sign of activity. Wrong! Just as I was almost level with his gate another burst of water came over. I ran straight into it. I just laughed aloud. It was rather pleasant and refreshing.

25th August 2012

For some reason the knee was particularly bad this morning. I did the minimum work with pigeons and goats, took an ibuprophen and settled for some blog updating and clothes washing. It was out of my comfort range anyway. By not long into the morning it was thirty three. I went for a beer at the tail end of the morning.

On the way home I caught sight of Tibi and Marika in their yard. I wandered round there to have a chat to them about the fact that in early September there would be visitors in the village (a couple) and it might be possible that Tibi would know the man. They might have been schoolfriends being about the same age. It was one of those strange things that had come about because of the blog. He had a Halogy connection, found the blog and exchanged correspondence with me. I had some details scribbled in Hungarian on an index card. I explained as best I could. Tibi took the card and looked at it. As he read the name and details I saw the penny drop with Tibi. His eyes lit up and a big grin came from ear to ear. It turned out that not only did he know the man but they had been good friends at school and in the village. Tibi was like a dog with two tails. They would not have seen one another since nineteen fifty five-ish.

Tibi and Marika went off with my card in hand to see if they could round up more people. I had lunch.

Later on, Tibi and Maruka turned up with a great bowlful of pumkin halves and a machine wherewith to turn them into pumpkin chippings for the goats. Unfortunately they managed two when the business part of the machine disassembled itself. They took it apart and left, tibi taking said disassembled bit. I think he is still waiting for it to be repaired as I write, as the body remains under my walnut tree.

All normal after that. Goats, swill down, pub.

26th August 2012

Thank goodness it was quite a bit fresher this morning. There was still no sign of the missing specs. Thank goodness I had the intermediates which are fine for computer work and also double up as reading glasses. The goats went out right up towards Telek utca. Once again it was becoming problematic to know where to put them due to the lack of rain and hence lack of greenery. Speaking of which, but off topic, there was an article on the TV news about the discovery of a previously unknown ancient road which was found by the evidence of the existence of a wooden bridge over some random river. The stumps of the bridge posts had been revealed by the two exceptionally long, dry spells this year.

I did the normal domestics, some blogging and went to the pub.

Lunch followed - scrambled egg sandwich, a kefir and a couple of my home grown peaches off the trees in the yard. Miki turned up with yet more peaches. I somewhat belatedly fed the pigeons and checked the goat water. Not much else and a trip to the pub. It came on to rain whilst I was there but nothing worthy of note. Certainly not enough to warrant cycling home in haste to get the goats in. Back home, and after a few minutes the rain intensified to the extent that it was necessary to assemble the milking kit and get the goats in sharpish. At least I did not miss out on a milking even if it was a bit short, having got the goats in quite early.

I had time to do some blog and have a bite to eat, then off to the pub under the brolly. Hobo had bitten the dust. No sign of him.

27th August 2012

I was having my last slice of breakfast toast when there was a doggie commotion in the yard up towards the garden gate. I was expecting Pitu and sure enough he was at the garden fence. I put the dogs within house - Pitu is afraid of dogs - and let him in the yard. The next thing, Pickle was amongst us and, spotting the garden gate ajar was off up the garden. Double stupidity on my part - a) failing to actually lock the dogs within house, and b) failing to ensure that the garden gate was secured once Pitu was in the yard. Whatever! I limped a little way into the garden and called Pickle. Some hopes. I saw her having a run about Tibi's garden as far down as his fence between yard and garden to see if she could find one of his dogs to play with/terrorise. I called her again. To my astonishment she trotted back up Tibi's garden and in very few seconds came back down my garden and obediently into the yard. Pitu hid up the ladder into the loft. Pickle went back in house under lock and key.

I was finally able to set Pitu on with what I wanted him to do, which was to strim the yard. I started the strimmer for him and he set about it with a vengeance. I did not say anything but he soon realised that the Al-Ko is a fine powerful machine and he just did not need to give it that much razz. When he was finished I had him help me get a barrow load of greenery in for the goats. I scythed and he forked up and did the barrowing. That was the work I had for him today. I paid him and he went off happy.

The goats had stayed in anyway. The knee was giving me considerable problems today.

I went to the pub then home for lunch. I did the minimum necessary after that, doing some blog updating.

Tail end of the afternoon and over to the shop. The old lady caught me on the way there, saying something about goat food and something else which I did not catch. Hobo came along. We did the little pub outside the shop. When that was done Hobo came back with me to see if any help was needed. Not really. All I had to do was chuck some greenery in for the goats. He came along anyway. I went to do that and Hobo came in the garden with me. The old lady called him over to the fence and in a bit more detail spoke to Hobo about whatever it was that she had tried to get through to me. A huge pile of greenery was lying in my garden come over the fence from her. Hobo went over to it and carefully turned it all over, twice. He came back, explained to me that the old lady had lost a garden knife and thought it might be in the greenery. Hobo told her he could not find it. I said that I would check again as I fed it to the goats. I did not find it. She would no doubt find it lying somewhere in her garden at some stage.

Hobo went off back to the pub. There was no milking of course, so all that remained for me was a bite to eat, wash, change and follow him.

28th August 2012

It was all a normal start with nothing special to report. At least the goats went out today. Hobo turned up looking for a bit of work. I had something lined up for him anyway. The area in front of the fallen down roof was strewn with debris, some from the fall of the wall and some from the removal of the roof tiles. I wanted it stacked away in the corner by the goat house where the previous small outbuilding had collapsed. Hobo set about it.

We knocked it on the head at half past eleven and headed off for a beer before they closed for lunch. On the way I caught Posta. There was no post and she was yet again (still) in the relief van. No cash machine. Beer done, we headed our separate ways.

At home I had a surprise. I opened the gate and parked the bike. Something caught my eye. There, quite nearby in a spot strimmed by Pitu yesterday were my specs. Well, the wreckage of my specs. The arm that had been taped on was gone. Both nosepieces were gone as was one of the nosepiece mounts. The other nosepiece mount was pointed in a direction it had no right to be and the remaining arm was, shall we say, mangled into some interesting shapes. The lenses were, as I thought, utterly beyond redemption. They had been bad anyway. Quite clearly they had fallen off the evening that I was in my cups and I had never even noticed.

I had lunch, fed the pigeons and checked the goats. At a suitable time I set off on yet another not particularly wanted cycle ride to Nádasd for cash. Hobo had said that he would come and finish off the tidying of the yard in the afternoon. We had arranged that we would meet in the pub upon my return from Nádasd, have a beer and then back to my place and that is what happened.

Conveniently, Hobo finished just as the shop opened and the little pub outside was covening. Guess what happened next? I had an almost altercation with the shop lady. She more or less accused me of not taking bottles back. I was quite affronted. She knows that I am punctilious about telling her about excess bottles one way or the other.

All normal after that.

29th August 2012

Nothing special happened that I can remember. In other words I forgot to make my notes. I don't think I published this before:
Outhouse Roof The outhouse with the tiles taken off the falling down part. It remains thus as I write.
My mind is jogged that in the evening Sandor the musician kindly offered to run me to the optician in Körmend tomorrow and offer his assistance in interpreting if needed. How kind is that?

30th August 2012

It turned into an interesting day one way and the other. I made a normal start but a few minutes early. All the usual stuff. I mentioned yesterday Sandor and the opticians. We had arranged ten o'clock. I had abluted and was in the process of getting dressed when he and his wife arrived outside in their car. Shoeless and shirtless I poked my nose out to tell them I would be out in five minutes. They were early anyway. I finished dressing, gathered my stuff together, locked the dogs in and out to the car. Off we went.

After one or two minor calls we ended up at the opticians. I knew that I had seen it but in my mind had placed it wrongly. It was right next door to the T-Com shop on the main drag. Sandor explained my predicament to a young lady and an exchange took place, little understood by me. Whilst that was going on I rooted about in my bag and dug out the trashed specs better to demonstrate my problem as I thought. Not a bit of it. The young lady immediately took them off me and put them in a machine she had on the counter. She made various adjustments to the controls of the machine whilst looking at one lens. She made various scribblings. She moved the specs and did the other lens similarly, announcing that there was a big difference between the lenses.

What happened next astonished me. I had half expected to be dragged into an examination room, or be told to come back on such a day at such a time... Not a bit of it. The young lady disappeared into the back and in a couple of minutes came back with what I would call the dispensing glasses and put them on me. I could see! Better than with the trashed glasses. I was made to step out of the shop and look up and down the main road. All was fine. Better than that, I realised that they were varifocals. I could see everything clearly from a hand held at reading distance to far away and everything in between. The young lady tried a couple of other pairs of lenses in and made me repeat. They were no better, in fact the last pair she tried were definitely worse. Between the young lady and her machine they had matched my prescription perfectly, including the axes of my astigmatism which I knew were quite different.

I chose some frames. Paperwork was done and the verdict was "Next Tuesday, ten o'clock" And that was that. They were to cost twelve thousand two hundred odd forints. About thirty five quid at current exchange rate. Mmmmm - a bit different to the hundred and forty odd I had to pay in the UK some years ago for the trashed ones.

Off we went, with Sandor promising to turn out next Tuesday and give me a lift back into Körmend to pick up the new specs. They had another couple of calls to make, one brief and one that took a while. We went and did a Tescos. I took the opportunity of stocking up with a couple of items - margarine, which is always hitty-missy in the village shop and a kilo of coffee beans that were on offer. I also spotted some minced beef which I bought. I could feel a chilli con carne coming on. By the time I got through the checkout the knee was shouting at me. I went and sat outside and had a smoke whilst they finished their shopping. Sandor joined me having left his wife to go through the checkout and pay. We went an interesting way out of the car park. I expected left out of the car park, right at the main road and right again at the roundabout onto the main road to Nádasd. Nope. We went right out of the car park, down a gravel track and came to the Nádasd road some way down from the roundabout.

They dropped me at home and life on the ranch resumed. Lunch, pigeons, goats. It was going to be a hot afternoon. I hid from the heat and did some blog.

The day became more interesting. I went for my usual afternoon beer. Somewhen during the course of it I went out for a smoke. Jóli caught me and would not take no for an answer. She took my blood pressure. I expected it to be fine. It wasn't. It was high - very high. She had a machine - digital readout. No denying it.

Whatever, but seriously worrying. Back home life resumed with all the usual evening stuff.

31st August 2012

It was a Friday. I went to the shop, back home and hung my shopping bag outside the gate. Then I limped my way to the faluház. Doctor. It happened that I was called in quite quickly, maybe jumping the queue a little. Some explanations were made and I explained the problem to the doctor. He took my brand new, never been used before Health Card, and with just a few more details (including the inevitable mother's maiden name) I was seamlessly installed in the Hungarian Health System. He took my blood pressure - both arms - declared it high and got a prescription signed and stamped. It went on a pile. "Do I need to sign?". "No, Tibi." I understood what he meant. Part of Tibi's (village red bus driver) job was to go in the afternoon to Körmend and pick up the prescriptions and distribute them around the village. As a parting shot the doctor asked me about my drinking habits. I told him. He never batted an eyelid. He did ask me if I drank pálinka or wine. Well, not habitually. That was that.

Very belatedly I breakfasted and went out to do pigeons and goats. The forecast was not good and it was already threatening rain. The goats stayed in and I fed them hay.

I had a source of hay. The hay was already dried and stacked. It was the same as last year - the chap that had come round with barrow loads of pumpkin halves for the goats. He had been chivvying me for days about when it was going to get shifted. Day after day I told him that I had no workmen to help. We talked about rain and I told him that I had another plan if necessary. It became necessary today. It started spit spotting with rain. I secured dogs in house and with Leatherman in pocket I retrieved the remainder of the big roll of black polythene from the outhouse. I cycled up to where the hay was with polythene under arm and with some difficulty. He was about when I got there. Together we sheeted down the hay against the rain. Four stacks of it. I wondered how we were going to hold the polythene down. With typical Hungarian ingenuity he weighted down the edges with pumkpin halves of which there were hundreds lying on that bit of land. Just the hulls, seeds removed. It was soon done and we were both happy.

With rain increasing I cycled from there to the pub for a beer. As I cycled I contemplated that I had made a good call leaving the goats in. I caught Posta at the pub, once again in the spare van with no cash machine. I was not happy. Why the heck should it be that Halogy has to suffer it for days and weeks on end? Why can they not cycle it around all the villages on a day to day basis. They are after all supposed to offer a mobile banking service.

Home, lunch, then feed both pigeons and goats. I still had three birds sitting but sadly Mrs. Pigeon No. 3 was now only sitting one egg. Well, she was stupid enough to nest on the floor. Blog, and then cooking of the self-promised chilli con carne. I did not mention trying to get chilli powder in the shop. None. Should have got some in Tescos. What she had was some red stuff in a jar that said "Erös" - Strong. It would have to do. As it happened it was a perfectly good substitute for chilli powder.

Tibi turned up with my prescription. Six hundred and odd forints. Not too bad. In a lull in the rain I scythed down goat greenery and gathered a couple of dozen windfall apples for their supper. The knee hurt. I had timed it right though. The rain came back with a vengeance. Not torrential, but a good solid soaking rain. Much needed.

A tail end of the afternoon beer, then all the normal stuff except that there was no milking of course and I enjoyed the first helping of the chilli. Pub in the evening.  


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