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September 2012

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1st September 2012

I thought I might have a very minor problem in the shop. I had asked the shop lady to put me by a Csákány Csemege Vekni (a type of loaf for recent readers). She had none. The last time it had happened I was fobbed of with a small white Coop loaf. Not the same at all. At least today she managed to rustle up a small Rozslanggal Keszult Kenyer as a substitute. I am very partial to the Rozslanggal bread and in all this time it was the first that I saw it in the small size - seven hundred and fifty grammes as opposed to a kilogramme. I begrudge buying a kilogramme loaf on a Saturday. Too much of it has to go into the dogs on a Monday morning.

It was raining. The goats stayed in and I fed them hay, which was not good as that was supposed to be for winter.

Most of my day was tied up with computer work. I seemed to have a fair bit of that cropping up at the moment. In a lull in the rain, which had continued all day, I did manage to get out and scythe down a barrow load of greenery for goat supper. At least they would have fresh once today.

I took my normal couple of trips to the pub. It was búcsú weekend and the clans were forgathering. Búcsú is the weekend when distant (as in distance, not lineage) relatives come to visit their village relations.

At the appropriate time I fed the goats their greenery. There was no milking of course. Vicky would have had the lot. You know, as I wrote that an image flashed through my mind of goats standing in a line, Suzy at the front with Vicky still sucking and Vicky's kid suckling from her, and her kid suckling from her, and her kid suckling from her... Whatever! I read on the goat sites that buck goats will suckle at any age given half the chance.

Pub in the evening. It was a relatively normal evening, quiet even. I suspect all the visitors were closeted in house with their relatives and some of the regulars ditto.

2nd September 2012

So today was búcsú. Even more people arrived in the village. Fortunately the weather had turned and it was a lovely sunny and not too hot day. The goats did not give a care about it being búcsú. They went out but nearby. I did a load of housework.

I went to the pub for a pre-prandial. The pub was crowded and so was the smoking area in the yard.

Home for lunch and then out to feed the pigeons and check the goats. Feeding the pigeons I had another of one of those once in a lifetime experiences. I had spread their grain rations about and as I went to leave I passed close by Mrs. Pigeon No. 1's nest box. I glanced in. She was not on the eggs. I noticed that one of the eggs was cracked. As I looked the crack widened. A tiny leg appeared and then a tiny wing. The chick struggled quite feebly to free the rest of itself from the shell. I watched for a few seconds then departed, not wishing to disturb. But how remarkable. I felt quite privileged. How many people have actually seen in real life a chick hatching, not more than eighteen inches away.

It coloured the rest of my day. Happy, happy. I did some blog updating and then before I went for a beer I went back to the pigeon house to view progress. Chick was sitting up and moving more strongly and the empty shell was now on the floor. I went for my beer. The pub was quiet by now - very quiet - as people had obviously withdrawn for their private family celebrations. It was quite lively in the yard though as all Láci's family were there. The grandchildren had invented a new Hungarian national sport. Stamp on the Colorado beetle. I did not mention it but over the last couple of days there had been an influx of thousands and thousands of the wretched things.

After I got the goats in and milked I had a sadness - not a great one but a sadness nonetheless. I found Mr. Pigeon No. 2 quite dead having, in effect, managed to hang himself. He was trapped in a position that I had never even contemplated a pigeon being able to get to in a small gap between two of the nesting boxes. To compound that he had his neck stuck in an impossibly small gap between the uprights on one of the nest boxes. Oh well, he had had a question mark hanging over him for long. Darwin had answered that one for me. Into the kitchen he went along with the milking and in the pot he would go.

I had a bite, swilled down, changed and headed out to the rest of búcsú at the pub. As usual, music, singing, dancing, drinking and merriment. As I have said before, the Hungarians do know how to let their hair down. I was there until about eleven and then home. I knew it would continue into the small hours but I would still have livestock to deal with in the morning.

3rd September 2012

Well, nature takes away and nature gives back. I had another newly hatched baby bird this morning. I had just got the goats out when I had an unexpected visitor. Pickle! She headed on past me, ignored the goats and went in the direction of Telek utca. There was no point in chasing her so I headed for the garden gate to await events. I saw Pickle in Tibi's garden and called her. She headed back towards Telek utca. To my surprise in a few seconds she was coming back down the garden. I went to collar her to get her back in the yard. No collar! WTF? I got her back in the yard and secured her in house to investigate. I found a delegation at the front gate - Marika and the old lady. Pickle had visited both their yards and apparently had got into my garden via the old lady's. Satisfied that Pickle was secured they went off. I investigated. I found Pickle's collar, still attached to her chain. The wrong side of the fence between me and the old lady's yard. Bugger! That could only mean that she had figured out how to climb weldmesh. As a stopgap I put the collar back on Pickle and removed one length of her chain.

I went for my morning beer. Upon my return several of the pigeons were pecking about by the roadside and others were pecking about on the yard. When I arrived they all took off in a great clattering of wings. Surprisingly noisy. I think that when they take off from the floor in particular they must actually clash their wings together at the bottom of the downstroke as they strive for height.

I had lunch. Over, and just after lunch I managed to acquire two buckets of peaches. One from my yard and the other from another source. I divided them equitably - a bucket for me and a bucket for the goats. They love them - cannot get enough. They spit out the stones, you know. Quite amusing - chomp, chomp, spit.

I made pigeon soup from Mr. Pigeon No. 2. I found a web page that showed how to crown (i.e. remove just the breast meat) a pigeon. I did not have the time to mess about plucking and cleaning one, and there is precious little meat on them apart from the breast. It went into the slow cooker with a Hungarian cabbage concoction that I had to hand.

All normal after that, apart from having pigeon soup for my evening meal. I had quite forgotten the taste of pigeon. It must have been in the 1970s that I last had it. Pigeon pie back in the UK, of course.

All normal after that, except in the pub in the evening. After yesterday, at half past seven there were two of us in the pub. I was home before eight with the pub locked up behind me.

4th September 2012

I was putting the goats out when Pickle was once again with us. Oh, what now? I had Suzy and Vicky staked out and was persuading Rudy to where I wanted him when she appeared. I abandoned Rudy and the wether to their own devices and headed back towards the yard calling Pickle. To her credit she obeyed and in a moment she was secure in house again. Someone I was expecting, but not this early, turned up. I asked them to give me half an hour.

I resumed putting the goats out. Luckily it did not take long as they were close by where their posts were already in the ground. Back to the house. Both dogs were secured in house, I did a quick change to town clothes and settled to wait. I had a lift into Körmend again. The same people as last week. I managed to locate the problem with Pickle. This time she had broken one end of her running wire.

They turned up in a while and we set off. In Körmend I made a call at the bank for cash then we headed to the opticians. I was to pick up and pay for my new specs. They were ready and in a moment I was trying them on. They were fine. I could see again. They made a couple of calls in town which did not take long and then we were heading back. We stopped in Nádasd for me to go to Bödő. New running wire - the tough stuff. New u-bolts and a big can of WD40. Almost ten thousand forints. Mmmmm.

Back home and I had to decide what to do about Pickle. I solved the problem temporarily by securing one length of her chain round a leg of my workbench and securing her to that.

I went for a beer after that. I deserved one after a fraught morning. Posta caught me at the pub with a small parcel I was expecting. It is a useful thing of great beauty. I will get a picture of it when I remember.

Lunch, pigeons, goats. I did some goat cheese work and then started preparing for what promised to be a big jam making of peach jam. I scalded them in my big stainless steel bowl. I peeled them and weighed them as I went. About three quarters of the way through I called a halt and went for a beer. The village mayor caught me there with a particular item that I had requested to get hold of. Back home I set about the remaining peaches. I had just about finished when there was a doggie commotion. I glanced out to see a car pulled up across my gateway. I expected them. It was the Hungarian man about whom I have spoken and his wife.

We introduced ourselves and had a chat. By a stroke of luck I glimpsed Marika and led them next door. Marika called Tibi from further up the yard. Tibi came and I witnessed a joyful reunion of friends who had not met for many many years. They were chatting away like good 'uns. Marika, I and the wife of the visitor stood and chatted for a while. Eventually I withdrew to finish my jam making preparations. It was a while before the visitors came back to my gate to collect their car and go and introduce themselves at the pub.

There was a foregathering in the evening. The visitors, Tibi and Marika, John and his parents and myself. We had an excellent evening. There was a small fly in the ointment. No food appeared. I had expected Jóli to put on a spread similar to John's birthday. With time going on it was clear that it was not going to happen. I caught Jóli and it was clear that something had been lost in translation. I did a quick think. Pizza. I had Jóli ring the pizza place in Csákány and order up pizza for us all. Plan Z!

It all turned out all right in the end. Jóli laid table for us in the reserved area and eventually (quite late) the pizzas arrived. We tucked in with gusto. We went some time after closing time. The regulars made good use of an unexpected extension. I presented the visitors with what I had obtained from the mayor. It went down very well. The evening wound down and eventually we bade good night and went our ways. Quite a different day. I left with a doggie bag of a pizza box crammed full of the leftovers. That was the dogs' supper.

5th September 2012

The visitors left after dropping me off a food parcel round about nine. It was good to have met them.

The goats went out and I returned to the house for kitchen work. Cheese making and the first step towards a huge jam making. It was the peaches from the yard. I managed to get half of them done - blanched, skinned and stoned. Fortunately those peaches are a dry-stone variety so stoning them was easy. I had had enough and went for a beer.

I had a special treat for lunch. A corned beef sandwich. Nothing else - no tomato, ketchup, pickle, onion, garlic or cucumber. Bread, marg and corned beef. Loverly! There were a couple of tins in the food parcel. I will save the other until Christmas or New Year.

After doing the pigeons and goats I set about a horrid job. New running wire for Pickle. I was not surprised that the old one had given up the ghost. The rot had set in when Hobo and I dug up the yard after the third water catastrophe. For a while her chain was attached to one end of the running wire. It is wretched stuff anyway but it always ended up in tangles and kinks. It was not good when I managed to get it back with a stake each end. I had bought twenty metres of the new stuff. It was more than plenty. I decided to use just half of it and have a shifting of stakes. I also decided to cut her chains down a little so that she could not reach any of the fences.

I soused the new wire in WD40. I unreeled it up and down the yard and found the mid point. Much to black dog's delight the angle grinder came out to play briefly. I needed new stakes. I decided to sacrifice what was intended to be a vine cross member. Two lengths were sawn, holes for the wretched wire were bored and I roughed them into a stake-like profile with an axe. The first one went into the yard with no problem. I secured the new wire through it and secured it with new u-bolts, which was a horrid enough job by itself. Enough! I went for a beer.

Back home I set about securing the other end of the wire. The chain went on the wire, the wire went through the stake - equally horrid to doing the other end. I set about pounding it into the yard. About a third of the way in there was an ominous cracking sound. Sure enough the acacia stake was starting to split - right through the hole for the wire. Redo from start. (Come on then, who amongst my readers recognises that?) I made another, this time boring the wire hole a bit further from the top of the stake. I pounded it in. I managed to get it in about two thirds of the way. I could get it no further into the yard. I was using the back of the big axe. The problem was that the further in it went the lower I had to use the axe so that I was hitting the top of the stake with the axe handle at ninety degrees. I was not to be beaten. I cast my eyes around and only a few metres away was the remains of a pear kugli amongst some really big bits still on the yard. I called Sir Isaac Newton to assist me. I simply held the kugli over the stake and let it drop on the stake in a controlled way. In twenty or so blows the stake was level with the yard.

Dogs were belatedly released from incarceration in house and Pickle went on the new running wire. All normal after that until I returned from the pub. Another special treat. A tin of Heinz beanz cold, straight from the tin, eaten with a teaspoon. Simple pleasures!

6th September 2012

It was a really nice day. No rain and not hot. All the usual stuff to start the day. I hit the first problem when I went to put the goats out. Suzy and Vicky seemed determined that they did not want to go where I wanted them. By the time I had sorted out the goat posts they had both decided to return to the goat house. I had to trudge/limp all the way back and haul Suzy where I wanted her. At least Vicky followed and I soon had her on stake as well. Strangely, the boys were no problem.

From six pigeon eggs I now had two baby birds. Jumping ahead a little that was as many as I was going to get, but more later.

The knee was giving me serious pain. You know, if I try and walk on it normally I can actually hear it creak. It goes right through the skeleton all the way to the ears. I did more jam making stuff.

The slow cooker was washed out and I set about a load of tomatoes. I had had to buy some of them in, sadly. The others had come from Marika. This year off the garden I had one tomato that made it as far as the kitchen. Yep, one! I had made the pragmatic decision that this year I was not going to be without some home cooked tomato based stuff over the winter, even if it did mean buying them in. Last year I would probably have made the same decision but I was into my period of austerity and simply could not afford it.

I got in firewood and it was time to get the goats in. The knee still hurt. They were a fair way up the garden and I decided that they would all come in in one hit. Suzy and the wether came off their chains and I took the chains in hand. Vicky went on a short chain and then was released. Finally I simply pulled Rudy's stake and let him go. With just chains in one hand and trusty water bucket on the other I limped back down the garden. You have heard the expression Thundering Herd. Well, that is what I had. Periodically Rudy came and walked by my left thigh, but then the other three would come at a gallop and he would join them. Thus we made our way back to goat house. There are always munchies of the goat variety just outside the goat house and Rudy will always find them. It gives me chance to unclip his chain and guide him within.

All normal after that.

7th September 2012

The goats went out nearby today. It was a good job they did. I soon had them out and was doing the usual washing up when there was a fairly major doggie commotion. I glanced through the big room window from where I was in the kitchen and saw a tractor and trailer pulled up. The trailer was loaded with hay.

I went out. The chap where the hay had come from was there as was one of the pub regulars and his son who was driving the tractor and trailer. Dogs were secured in house under lock and key. The tractor was driven in the yard and I was asked where I wanted the hay. As near to the goat house as possible. Now, all this was somewhat unexpected. It turned out that word had got around that I could find no work people to move it. The pub regular had sort of flown mad and taken the attitude well I'll damn well move it. And so the three of them had.

They wangled the tractor and trailer as near as they could get it and started unloading it with forks. They soon thought better of it. Plan B was to lower both sides of the trailer and all three of them, a fork apiece, simply slid the whole jolly lot straight off the trailer and onto the yard. They had brought my black polythene back with them and in a couple of minutes it was sheeted down and secured with random bits of wood. Young man driver bottled out on reversing the trailer back out of the yard. He reversed the trailer back road tight and the four of us did some manhandling of it. Young man turned the tractor round elsewhere in the yard and reversed back to get the trailer recoupled. I settled up for the cartage. A thousand forints. Tractor and trailer went off. The other two stayed. Shop beer needed. Only too gratefully supplied by me! The young man reappeared on his bicycle and joined us for a beer. Obviously conscientious about the no tolerance thing, then.

It did scupper my plans to finish off the big jam making. Oh well, another day. At least the fruit was cooked down in the slow cooker and would come to no harm. I did a bit of blog updating instead.

All was normal over lunchtime. At about half past two I wandered down to the faluház where one of the regular little markets, for want of a better term, had set up. I bought two new buckets of the better quality they had, a gas lighter refill and a new besom. I dropped all off outside the house door and cycled on up to the pub for a beer.

All was normal after that except that in the pub in the evening I had plenty enough beer, little of which I paid for.

8th September 2012

I was not happy. When I first went in the pigeon house I was minus a squab. It was the one that Mrs. Pigeon No. 3 was raising on the floor. Gone, just disappeared. Stupid bird.

Goats went out and I returned to the house. There was soon a doggie commotion. Pitu had turned up for work along with his younger brother. I secured dogs in house and set them on. I closed and bolted the goathouse door into the garden and unwedged and opened the door into the yard. I indicated the pile of hay and told them it had to go into one side of the loft over the sties. Off they went. Pitu forked it in and his little brother stacked and packed it into the loft.

I returned indoors, keeping dogs within. I did the washing up and then blogged. I kept an eye on progress through the small opening window in the big house door. The hay disappeared bit by bit. We called a halt towards the end of the morning. They went home for lunch, promising to be back to finish off. I went to the pub.

They came back to finish off and reported a snag. They could get no more hay into the loft I had indicated. I had a look. Sure enough, it was full from floor to roof tiles in a solid vertical wall above the corridor. I considered. I had them move some timber in the other side of the loft above where Rudy and the wether live in what used to be the garage and stack the rest in there. In about half an hour they were done. I paid them and off they went. I had asked Hobo what sort of hay it was out of interest. He answered "Gabona" - grain. Yes, what sort of grain? The answer to that was a dismissive shrug. Whatever! It was clear that Hobo did not know what sort of grain. I was just interested to know but it really did not matter. I knew from the experience of last year that come winter the goats would relish it.

Nothing else happened - all normal.

9th September 2012

Very short and sweet today. There was only one thing worthy of note. All normal to start - pigeons/shop/breakfast/goats. Once the goats were out I returned to the house where come hell or high water I was going to get the peach jam jarred up. I had stocked well up on firewood as I knew that with the amount of fruit it would take a fair bit of boiling down.

It had to go into my big stainless saucepan - the one that I use for the cheese making. I could not use my normal saucepan because a) it was not big enough and b) it was still buggered from the last time I used it with a thick layer of carbonized sugar on the bottom that I had been unable to shift. Needs mending with a new one I think! Even in the big saucepan once I got the sugar in it was really too full for comfort. I would have to keep a constant eye on it to make sure that it did not boil over. I also needed to stir it very frequently to help drive the water content out and also to try to prevent a repeat performance of what had happened to the other saucepan.

It took most of the morning to get it to setting point. I jarred it up. Four big and two medium sized jars. As I said, a lot of jam. In ballpark figures about ten pounds avoirdupois - four and a half kilogrammes. I had just enough time to shoot up to the pub for a beer before they closed for lunch.

Everything else was all normal routine including pub in the evening.

10th September 2012

It was not good. I had not slept well and the blood pressure was very high again. Why the hell were the blood pressure tablets not doing their job. It was early. I had shopped and breakfasted and the goats were out by just gone eight. They went right up towards Telek utca so it took a while.

Back to the house and a load of domestic jobs. Washing pots, washing clothes, preparing tomatoes for canning and getting them in the slow cooker and more. I pondered the blood pressure thing as I worked. I had read stuff on the Internet. A site that had rung a bell with me made a particular point. Lifestyle changes would be necessary. Well, it was my health I was thinking about. I eat healthily, I am not over weight (any more!), everthing I do outside - yard and garden - is some sort of exercise. I would not think twice if I had to cycle fifteen kilometers somewhere and fifteen kilometers back. It left two things that I could change. Cut down on the beer and baccy. And stop getting wound up about the pensions thing. So that is what I decided. Starting today.

Early afternoon I sawed up a basket of wood from the stack in the yard. The time will be here soon enough when my main exercise will be sawing and chopping wood for at least an hour a day. Hobo's attitude remains that I should get someone in with a chainsaw to cut it up and he would chop it. I cannot get through to him that that is not what I am about. If I had wanted to chainsaw it up I would have bought a chainsaw. And, although it is hard work, I enjoy it.

I needed eggs. I went a very strange way round. I cycled the wrong way down the village to the bus station and turned right down the unmade gravel road by the side whereon lives János the Scythe. It has a name, that track. It is Dózsa utca. In all the four and a half years here I had never cycled the length of it. I had been a short way down that end for maize stalks and had visited various properties at the other end for various reasons. It was quite picturesque, heavily wooded on the north side towards the Raba and with well spaced, neat dwellings here and there along the way.

Thus I made my way up to Toni and Eva's place. I could raise no response. I left eggless. I called for the one beer (instead of two) on the way home. I substituted a beer with an almafröccs (apple juice and soda).

I did this and that and the shop was open. I went there for eggs. No eggs! I ask you, a village shop with no eggs. I know why, but it is not for the blog. I was not happy.

The goats came in, once again in one hit. I wandered at my pace back towards the goat house. The goats thundered about as a herd. When we were within easy distance of the goat house Rudy took off and promptly disappeared inside. There was food already in there for him anyway. I removed his chain and bolted him in and that was No. 1 problem dealt with. The girls and the wether remained nowhere near, raiding somewhere that I did not particularly want them to raid. I limped back and managed to grab Vicky by the chain. I hauled her back to the goat house. Fortunately the other two this time followed. I soon had them all where I wanted them and milked Suzy.

Pigeons were counted in and secured and that was that. I did go to the pub. I limited myself to two beers.

11th September 2012

Once again I was up bright and early - I was in the shop by seven. No matter how early I get up Marika nearly always beats me into the shop. Not by much, she is very often in there when I get there. Mind you, that means little as she does like to linger in their and have her daily exchange of gossip.

The goats went out nearby. I know I will forget to say so I will mention it now. I had made a conscious decision to keep the goats on the bottom half of the garden for as long as I can. I rotate them around the bits that they are at the moment allowed on, but never further up the garden than the Jonathon apple tree. That way I am hoping that the top half will have a good coverage of greenery that will see them through from maybe the middle of October until they come in for the winter which can be anytime from mid November until the first week in December.

The morning was filled with innumerable little jobs. Too many to list and too boring to mention. And so it was lunchtime.

By afternoon it was getting hot. The thermometer still in the shade was registering thirty. I did the livestock stuff and retired to house to do some sweeping through and then some blog updating. A single beer in the pub followed as the afternoon wore on and then home to get in firewood.

Normal early and late evening after that.

12th September 2012

I did not sleep well. I do not know what was going on but the dogs were very restless and managed to wake me up several times. I have not mentioned it so far but that was in addition to the side effects of the pills I am taking. They contain a diuretic, with obvious results. An hour of sleep - pee. An hour and a half of sleep - pee. Two hours of sleep - pee. They say that you lose your get-up-and-go as you get older. Rubbish! I have to get up and go far more often.

Normal for a while after that. Once again I was in the shop by seven. The goats went out well up towards Telek utca. I just had them all out when there was a hail from the fence of the neighbour up that end. One of her sons was there. Did I want some maize. Oh, yes please. For the first time since the old boy died I had a conversation with his widow. There were tears.

I wandered my way back down the garden to find my other old lady neighbour also hurtling greenery for the goats over the fence. No scything today then, or for several more days judging by what was coming over the fence. To jump ahead just a little, but only today, I later took the wooden barrow to retrieve enough of the maize for goat supper. There were four great stacks of it. I was surprised by the weight of it. It came to me as I was loading it up that the cobs were still on it. I pulled a few off to throw to the goats. One unpeeled itself as I pulled it off. The cob was a miserable specimen. The corn was sort of half grown and wizened looking. The goats tucked into it well enough. It only occured to me as I was wheeling the rest of the load back to outside the goat house that what I was seeing was in fact the result of the extremely hot weather and drought conditions that we had had. This made me realise that what had come over the fence was a complete patch of crop that simply was not worth harvesting and had been abandoned. It was a complete eye opener for me, especially in view of the news that comes out of the mid-west of the US of A where similar conditions are taking their toll. And the bloody stupid American government will not suspend their mandate on how much of the crop goes to making ethanol to pad out gasoline so that fat, lazy Yanks can continue to drive their SUVs to the mall or McDonalds. Just watch food prices. A bit strong, but my opinion.

I did a load of computer work, not blog, after lunch. Enough. Time for a beer. Back home I set about getting three kilos of tomatoes peeled and into the slow cooker.

I went to the shop. The little pub outside was in full swing. I did not join them. It is one of the things that has gone by the board as part of tackling the blood pressure problem.

The goats came in - all in a bunch once again. They were well fed on maize stalks complete with cobs. It was plain that it was going to rain. I had a bite to eat and went to the pub. Sure enough, it did rain - quite considerably, complete with thunder and lightning. Láci switched the telly off. It amuses me quite considerably. He just switches it off - never unplugs it from the mains or unplugs the aerial. If the pub got struck anything electronic, or probably even electrical, that was connected to the mains would be toast anyway. Whatever. John turned up, dressed in storm clothing. Láci announced early closing. A little while later, at about the time that Láci intended to close, John's parents turned up. The early closing never happened.

It was still tipping down as I cycled home under the umbrella at best speed.

13th September 2012

It was still raining when I got up. It rained for most of the day. It was a nice steady rain though of the sort that would give the soil a much needed soaking, not the torrential downpour of last night which was of the type that washes away valuable topsoil. The goats stayed in. Fortunately there was loads and loads of the maize still to feed them. It looked set in when I shopped so I had the forethought to get a pack of the little coffee cream things. It looked unlikely that I would get a milking.

I canned the tomatoes from the slow cooker. My new pretty thing, of which I still need to post a photo came out to assist. The canning is straightforward. The tomatoes go in jars leaving some head space and lids screwed down tight. They go in the big stainless saucepan with wooden trivet underneath and the saucepan gets filled with cold water. On the stove, with the lid on and bring it to the boil. Boil for an hour. Take off the stove and remove each jar, momentarily releasing and re-tightening the lid. It releases the built up pressure and when they cool they have a nice vacuum seal.

I spent much of the rest of the day at the computer, some blog and some other stuff. I did the goats and pigeons at the relevant times and that was that.

Pub in the evening. It was still raining.

14th September 2012

The weather was still very uncertain looking when I shopped although it had actually stopped raining. I left the goats in to wait for the weather to make its mind up.

Kitchen work. Washed the pots and milking kit, washed some clothes, started a cheesemaking and cleaned down the fronts of the sink unit and the cupboard above - much needed. Then into the garden to collect walnuts. I collected until the knee said enough then went for a beer.

Home for lunch and then, the weather having made a turn for the better, the goats went out not far away. At least I would get some sort of milking in the evening. Speaking of milking and cheese making it turns out that my way of making cheese is unconventional but well known. I also found out that to make a harder cheese simply leave it out for a couple of days, turning regularly, to get rid of more moisture content. And speaking of that it sometimes happens that the older jars of curdled milk grow a brown skin which I do not much like the look of. I peel it off with a teaspoon before I syphon off the whey and hurtle it on the kitchen floor. From there it is invariably cleaned up by black dog who is always around during the proceedings, thus giving me a nice clean spot on the kitchen floor.

I went out to continue collecting walnuts. I stopped when I had a bucketful. It was quite a big bucket as well. The nuts were on the whole smaller this year, but lots of them. A casualty of the drought conditions I suspect. The muse had left me and I did not compulsively count them. Maybe it was the pain in the knee. Hobo turned up whilst I was collecting, looking for a price of a pack of ciggies-type job. I set him on to barrow down the remainder of the maize stalks which were still on the ground by the Telek utca neighbour fence. We both finished at the same time. I never even bothered looking but it later turned out that he had put them in a most inconvenient place and had just dumped them on the floor.

I confess that we did go to the shop for a beer. The little pub outside the shop was one of the casualties of the lifestyle change. Home, goats in and milk as the sun was beginning to set. As usual I went to lock the pigeons in. Also as usual I did a head count. I came up a bird short. Now that was not normal. If I was going to lose a bird it was normally overnight. I went back outside and cast my eyes in all the places that it might be lurking. It was nowhere to be seen.

Nothing to be done. I left the pigeon house open and went to the pub. Once the photographer's blue hour started I cycled back home and closed up the pigeon house. I even went back in with the torch when I got home from the pub. The count came up the same. Still a pigeon short.

15th September 2012

I got my vekni this morning. At least it was the right one. I didn't get fobbed off with just a small white Coop loaf. The goats went out in the vicinity of the Jonathon apple tree. I went and got Rudy. He obligingly trotted off up towards where the girls were. I expected him to raid the apple tree but no, this morning he made a determined and persistent attemp to ravish Suzy. By the time I arrived I could see there was a problem. Both their chains had become clipped together right by the goat stake. Nothing for it but to intervene. Risking life and limb - well, a battering or a goat wrestling match - I marched myself straight up to the goat stake. I still had to hand trusty water bucket anyway. Fortunately the carabiner on Rudy's chain was clipped through just one link of Suzy's and it was quickly resolved. I stepped smartly out of the radius of Suzy's chain and enticed Rudy away with an apple. It is amazing how quickly his carnal desires become subservient to the demands of his stomach. I had him on his post in a few seconds, unmolested. I still had to catch the wether and put him on his chain though.

When I did the pigeon water I still came up a bird short. I identified which one was missing. The dark grey speckled one from Mrs. Pigeon No.1's successful brood from earlier on this year. I did the normal washing up and then set about a clean up of another little area of the kitchen. Pub time after that and my now accustomed soft drink only followed later by a beer. A tray of cakes came my way from Jóli for no particular reason.

After lunch I decided that, minus now two birds in a sort period, something more needed doing about the inside of the pigeon house. I used the hoe to go around the bottom of the walls and clear away the debris/guano. I made an unwanted discovery. Sticking out of the corner of one of the remaining places covered with hardboard inside were tail feathers. I pulled out the hardboard and there was the remains of my pigeon that went missing yesterday. I say remains and they were. Only the wings and the tail remained. The rest of the bird had been consumed. I remain fairly convinced that it was post mortem, considering that it went missing in the daytime. I suspect that it had got itself behind the hardboard - one corner was already loose - and found itself in a situation where it could not turn round and had just died.

I made a big mixing of cement mortar and set about plugging every hole that could possibly grant rat access into the pigeon house. There was one that most definitely was. It was in the north east corner about six inches up the wall and the giveaway was the two buckets of earth that had been pushed out of it into the pigeon house. The next conundrum was how to make good the wall where the hardboard had come from. When I got it cleaned off it was obvious that it would be impossible to brick it up from the bottom I found. It was brickwork but was so uneven as to provide no base upon which to lay bricks. I pondered. Concrete! I found a suitable piece of wood for shuttering (oak) and wedged it in place with a couple of suitably hefty other bits of wood. I made a mixing of concrete and in it went, well tamped down and worked into gaps at the side where some rotten wood had come out. Not enough. Blast! Another little mixing and I had it up to the top of my shuttering, tamped and trowelled off. I had done as much as I could today, and it was beer o'clock.

On the way I cycled up the hill for eggs and tomatoes. I could raise no reponse so tomato and egg-less I went for my beer. Hobo was in the pub. I told him where I had been and had no response. He made a quick phone call, asked me what I wanted - I told him ten eggs and a kilo of tomatoes. He took some money, grabbed my shopping bag off the bike and off he went. He was back in short order. Somewhere between pub and Toni's place my order had morphed into ten eggs and two kilogrammes of tomatoes. I had expected a little change from my thousand forint note. There was none, ten eggs and two kilos of tomatoes being conveniently exactly one thousand forints. Oh well, I did not mind.

When the goats came in there was a doggie problem. Not mine! One of Tibi's was wandering about in the garden. I had to shoo it back shouting at it Tibi-like and waving a stick at it. The goats came in without fuss after that. Milking complete, I let Suzy off the table and Vicky off her chain. By the time I had the door bolted Vicky had found an escape route and was off for a wander. I did not want her out on her own with the dog wandering about so went to collar her. It took a while. I put her back in house and made a very gash temporary repair using a bit of plastic pipe.

A normal evening after that.

16th September 2012

I found another dead bird. It was the sibling of the one from yesterday. A very pretty bird, brown and light grey speckles. Quite unusual. I cast my eye around. Sure enough, the hole in the corner that I mentioned had reappeared, my cement plug now being in bits on the floor.

Goats out, washing up done and back to repairing the pigeon house. Most disheartening. I had been up to twelve birds and was now back down to nine. Two young pigeons from a year and a half of breeding. Whatever, I was not to be beat. The repairs took me all day. This time I filled the hole in the corner with concrete using a rammer. A lot of concrete went in before I could get no more in. I finished it off with a cement pointing. Get through that you bstd! The rest of the repair was removing the shuttering and making good the rest of that bit of wall with brickwork. There were no gaps anywhere now big enough for a rat to get through except that at the last moment I spotted a possible one near the other. I had no mixing left at that stage so I found a suitable piece of brick and hammered it in hard.

On a couple of lighter notes regarding the pigeons, Mrs. Pigeon No. 3 and her mate have taken to nesting in the spot vacated by Mrs. Pigeon No. 2. I have made good by extending the sides of that nesting box upwards to make it more nest box-like. The other thing is that Mrs. Pigeon No. 2 has found herself a new mate. She is sitting, but I do not hold out much hope as I have an idea that he appeared on the scene too late to have fertilized those eggs. Oh, and Mrs. Pigeon No. 1's squab, which as I write is almost fledged has feathered feet. Most unusual.

The goats came in and Rudy blotted his copybook. He decided to get involved in a pushing match before I got him unclipped. The goat house door came to my rescue and he got wet. That dampened his ardure somewhat and he beat a retreat into his end of the goathouse. I had to follow him and unclip his chain but that was no problem.

All normal after that.

17th September 2012

It was a cool morning but with the promise of being a really nice day. The goats went out nearby. I went back to the house and set about canning the tomatoes that I bought yesterday and neglected to say that I had skinned and cooked in the slow cooker for a couple of hours.

Pub - soft drink, one beer and home. I was having lunch when there was a big doggie commotion. I investigated and found Marika at the gate. Something about dog, and she indicated my little front garden (weed patch). I was a bit baffled. Both mine were present and correct. I removed Blackie from the scene and secured him in house. Pickly dog could not reach that far anyway. I returned to see what the problem was and found that their dog - the same one terrorising the goats a couple of days ago had managed to get into my patch of weeds and could not find its way back out. There is a sheet of aluminium wedged against a drainpipe and the very gash bit of fence into the soil at the bottom and with stout pieces of oak at the top. I helped Marika move it. She went in to collar miscreant dog. It took a while. And I thought mine were badly behaved. Marika eventually had it collared and ushered it back into their back yard where it should have been. The joys of dog ownership.

During the afternoon I spotted Tibi in the garden. He was distributing pumpkin halves to the goats. I later noticed that he had a little ladder leaned up against my side of the fence. How he gets up the other side escapes me. I fear that they have had a poor harvest this year. I know that Tibi has had to irrigate by taking his tractor, with trailer behind full of barrels the same as my big fermenter, down to the Raba and pumping them full of river water. There had been no working parties over there this year. Tibi and Marika had pretty well done the lot themselves. Not good.

Nothing else happened. All normal.

18th September 2012

It was definitely autumnal and misty, the mist clinging to the wooded parts down towards the Raba. I put a work pullover on before I went to the shop having felt the chill whilst opening up the pigeon house. The sun was only just rising when I returbed from the shop. Breakfast. Change into wellies to go and get the goats out. A thing occured to me. I had gone back to wearing wellies a few days ago after all the rain. Everything had been soaking, and since then every day there had been very heavy dews. What occured to me was how much better I was getting about the place now that I was back in wellies.

The goats went out. I was not overly happy with Suzy who seemed a bit down. I resolved to keep an extra eye on her throughout the day. By the end of the day it was plain that whatever had been bothering her was no more and thankfully she was back to her normal self.

Back to the house and a load of washing up accumulated by yesterday's culinary exercises. Then clothes washing. Then collecting walnuts which did cause some pain in the knee. Not enough moving about.

Normal end to the morning. Then in the afternoon I set about making lecsó (Hungarian tomato and paprika stew). It was quite time consuming. Two kilogrammes of tomatoes to blanch and peel and a kilogramme of paprika to slice, de-seed and de-pith. All went in the slow cooker. An afternoon beer after that.

It was soon time to get the goats in. It was getting earlier quite rapidly now. Only a couple of days to the equinox. Suzy was quite down on her milk yield but that did not really surprise me.

Normal after that - pub.

19th September 2012

It was a normal morning but I got the goats out quite promtly and quickly as I wanted to get to the meat van outside the pub.

I had time to get the washing up done and put away and then cycled to the pub. I was good. I had a coffee followed by an almafröccs. I waited three quarters of an hour until I could wait no longer. I had stuff to do at home so I went to do it. The first job was to relight the stove which had burnt itself out in the length of time I had been away. Next was to jar up the lecsó which was not many minutes work. It went on the stove and I set about the normal canning process.

I had set my heart on meat, so meat I was going to have. I had to settle for frozen chicken from the shop. The shop lady recounted to me a local tragedy about which I had not heard. Apparently a lady of the village and her friend (I know not whether also a village person) had managed to put their car under a train at a level crossing somewhere local. One was dead at the scene and the other had been air ambalanced to Szombathely in a very critical condition. The shop lady gave me more details but it did not ring any bells with me. I would probably have know them by sight but not by name.

Back home where the canning process of the lecsó was nicely on the boil. Somewhen the wrong side of eleven Miki turned up to impart the knowledge that the meat van was now at the pub. Too late. His loss. I started a cheese making. The canning finished and I had time to get to the pub by quarter to twelve and get a beer before they closed.

Lunch, pigeons and goats. I finished off the walnut collection that I started yesterday. I stopped when I had near enough a bucketful. Back at the house I had another big washing up of the lecsó and cheese making stuff. I found mouse signs. I dug out the mousetrap, set it off a few times, serviced it and set it. I caught three mice in thirty six hours. As I write, no more since. The trap remains out with cheese on it but unset. The cheese remains unnibbled.

I did more cleaning up of the kitchen and went for a beer. Not long after I returned it began to rain. It was soon raining quite sharply. In haste I got the milking kit together and at best limp went and got the goats in early. In spite of the earliness of the milking I got a fair bit more milk from Suzy than I did yesterday.

With a little time in hand I made a small fire in the stove and had a special treat. Extra mature cheddar on toast. I also managed to spend more time on the blog. Then it was time to go to the pub. Still sticking to the lifestyle change I had my soft drink and two beers, then home.

20th September 2012

It was a pretty normal day. Once again I had to spend time in the kitchen. I don't think I mentioned my decision regarding canning the tomatoes. The first year that I was here, which so far had been the only year with any degree of success at growing my own tomatoes I spent hours at this time of year making various sauces, passata, etc. This year, buying the tomatoes in, I came to the conclusion that that was stupid. It came to me to just cook them and can them. Nothing else, just tomatoes, the reason being that the time when I would be getting through the stock would be the time when I would be in the house with kitchen stove going. There would be plenty of time then for making this sauce and that, fresh on the day.

One in the pub, then lunch. Usual pigeons and goats stuff then I had a sweep through of the house. There were some bits I needed from Bödő. I thought to cycle there. Dogs in and I set off. I had no sooner got just past the pub when the half past two bus from Körmend came down the hill into the village. I did a quick double take - I had not realised that time had got on quite that much - a quick think and a decision made to take the bus. I did a smart about turn on the bike, dumped it outside the pub and walked back to the bus stop. It was quite a breezy day anyway and it was bound to be hard work one way or the other. The bus was along in just a couple of minutes.

For once Bödő let me down. For all the time I had been coming into Bödő I had always seen some finely meshed (maybe three millimetre open sqares) but reasonably substantial wire mesh on a roll by the door. Today there was none. I asked him, but failed signally to make him understand what I was talking about. Blast! I had wanted it to make a mouse proof cheese cage. I bought some other bits and wandered over the road to do a raid on the Nádasdi Coop for tuna fish, which I have never, ever seen in the Halogy bolt. I was at least successful in that. It was the normal multilingual bus driver, but now that the schools and kindergarten were back from summer break it was recognized stops only.

Nothing out of the ordinary after that.

21st September 2012

I was up early and after all the usual the goats went out nearby. It was a very pleasant morning. Sunny, not too hot and with virtually no wind. I decided to go exploring. Marika had long extolled the virtues of the gazdabolt shop in Csákánydoroszló. I decided to find out for myself.

Bike out, dogs were locked in and I set off. It was a very pleasant ride, except for the stretch of road that is two and a half kilometres dead straight and level. I figured out a strategy for dealing with that. Don't look at the horizon. I kept my gaze fixed on the road about twenty metres in front of the bike and pedalled steadily. In what seemed no time I was going around the first bend at the end not many hundred metres to the Raba bridge.

I had not cycled far when, in the silence of cycling and alone with my thoughts, I heard a strange "Plop". I cycled some metres before an alarm bell went off in my mind. I checked about my person. Bum bag, pockets. Oh-oh. No tobacco. Almost a new pack. I stopped the bike, turned it round and retraced my cycling for about a hundred metres. Sure enough, with some relief, I found it there by the side of the road and retrieved it.

I resumed the ride. In a very few minutes I was in Csákánydoroszló. I rode up the slight slope of Fő utca (Main Street) and past where Helmut has his house. A ways further on, on the right hand side, I saw a shop that may or may not have been the gazdabolt. It looked more like a garden centre than a farmer's shop, so I carried on. When it was obvious that I was running out of village I spotted a chap painting his fence. I stopped and asked him where the gazdabolt was. He told me, and it was clear that it was the place that I had cycled past. He also imparted the knowledge that they were closed until noon. Bollox! I was not hanging about until noon. I did have a moment of quiet gratification as I cycled away. I had been able to approach, make an enquiry of and understand a complete exchange with a total stranger. As I passed back by the shop I saw a lady on a bicycle cycle up to the gates, find them locked and abandon it as a forlorn exerise as I had. I cycled my way back to Halogy.

I was quite gratified to find that, in spite of the dawdling about in Csákánydoroszló, I had managed an average speed of nearly seventeen kilometres an hour. Old man, unfit, high blood pressure? The trip did throw into stark relief a couple of upcoming problems with the bike. The first was the pedal crank bearings. I have mentioned them before. There were ominous sounds and feelings of an imminent break up of the bearings. On the urgent list - i.e. before next spring. The other was the saddle. It breaks up by the day. I had thought some while ago that when my pensions kicked in one of the first frivolous itemes of expenditure would be a Brooks leather saddle. I was quite saddle sore by the time I got home. I have made a couple of observations since. There are a couple of bicycles here in the village of great vintage. Maybe fifty or sixty years old. They both still have what is clearly the original leather saddle on them, and neither of the riders of these bikes are what you would call lightweights. Mmmmm! Maybe not such a frivolous purchase after all. Not that I am expecting to be riding on it for another forty years!

I had not long been home when John's parents turned up to say Ta-Ta for this year. They were shortly setting off to return to the UK. I chatted to them for a while by the roadside - I do that with irregular visitors to the house (I was going to say odd visitors, as in seldom random people, or strange visitors, as in people unknown to me or the dogs. I thought better of it as John's parents are neither odd nor strange). John's mother caught sight of Rudy. She could not believe how big he is. We made our goodbyes and they went off. I went off as well - to the pub for a beer.

To cut was is getting to be a long entry short, nothing out of the ordinary happened after that.

22nd September 2012

After a normal start I set about a number of jobs that had reared their heads. The first was to resecure the goat house against the ingress/egress of Vicky from the goat house. My previous efforts were in tatters. She came and went as she pleased. Stout wire. I needed stout wire of good quality. Now, I am quite sure that wire breeds in my yard and garden. It keeps turning up. I keep removing it. It is invariably old wire of not good quality. Blasted bits of wire everywhere! I set my mind upon where to find some sufficiently strong good quality wire.

It came to me. In my little front garden. There, semi-buried at the bottom of the fence between me and Tibi, was the last remnants of the chain link that me and Hobo had installed in the long ago vain attempt to keep Pickle off the old lady's chickens. Without success - she tore it to shreds, just as she has recently learned how to climb weldmesh.

I pulled it up. It was like unknitting - unknit one, unperl one, except that I actually know how to do that. It took quite a while but eventually I managed to free four complete strands of the chainlink. At intervals I had had to beat off black dog who was curious about the whole thing, and equally curious to see if it would let him in to next door's yard. I put the wire safely out of way and it was time for my almafröccs and a beer.

Lunch - tuna sandwich. The result of my recent raid on the Nádasdi bolt. You know, not once in the years I have lived here I have never seen tinned tuna in the Halogy shop

23rd September 2012

Nothing out of the ordinary until the goats were out. I returned to the house, did the usual, and then set about a job I had been putting off for a few days. Since I did the last huge lot of peach jam the outside of the stove and the tiles at the back were in a hell of a state. When I make jam, once I get near setting point, when I stir it it invariably sets off a ferocious plopping as the last of the excess moisture is driven out. Little spatters of it go everywhere. The stove is at quite a high temperature as you can imagine. Everywhere on the stove top they more or less instantly carbonise. Getting that off was what faced me today. It took a while. Before and after pictures will follow. That was the housework of the day.

All normal after that until the afternoon. The maize that had come from Láci at the pub was still cluttering up the workshop outhouse. It had to be moved. For one, it cluttered the place up, for two it was too cold and damp a place to be storing grain and for three it would encourage the rats. I hit an immediate snag. When the big lot arrived last year it also ended up in an unsuitable place. I was able to lay my hands on eight or so woven plastic hessian grain sacks. As I dealt with it last year into one big sack the smaller sacks were all folded and put together. They were nowhere to be found. I searched all the likely places that I might have put them. Not found. Gone.

I got on with it with what I had - about three woven sacks and some heavy duty plastic bags. I got most of the maize moved into the hallway before I knocked it on the head. I secured dogs within and went to the pub for my one apple fröccs, one beer and to catch the end of the Formula One. My, it was exciting. I think I saw an overtaking maneouvre. Mind you it could have been that the bloke who was overtaken was blue flagged and had to get out of the way and be lapped.

Nothing else out of the ordinary.

24th September 2012

It was a nothing sort of a day with very little to report, so brief. I let the pigeons out as usual. After breakfast I noticed that all the birds that were going to be out were out - including Mrs. Pigeon No. 2. When I went in to do the water what was quite clearly the new Mr. Pigeon No. 2 was sitting the eggs. Ah - now I was sure. That meant that both the plain grey pigeons that came from Imre were now paired up, the other one being Mr. Pigeon No. 1. I was quite pleased, as he had had a question mark hanging over him for a while as to whether he should go in the pot or not. I still find those two pigeons impossible to tell apart.

I had been offered some hay by one of the pub regulars. I had a trudge with the old wooden wheelbarrow. It took me a while, firstly to locate him and then locate the hay. I had had a cycle round and spotted what I thought might be it in a certain spot. Wrong house, wrong people. At least I now knew where those particular people live. They directed me to the correct house and warned me about the dog - it would bite me given quarter of a chance. I let the dog go ballistic and there was soon a response from the house. The lady of the house directed me to it. It turned out to be in the National Park but not more than thirty metres from the hole in my back fence. I had passed it on the way to find out where it was and signally failed to see it. Mmmm - that would be a nought out of ten for observation then.

It proved to be more of the gabona (cereal/grain) hay that I have mentioned before. I still have no idea of what species of cerial/grain it might be. I have a list as long as your arm of stuff that I know it is not. Anyway, before goat inside I managed to trudge a couple of barrow loads of it to just outside the goat house. He had said that there were a couple of barrow loads. Yeah, right. Fit young bloke, bloody big barrow - maybe. I managed about half of it. The rest would have to take its chance until another day.

Time to get the goats in, etc., etc. Pub, home. I had retired to bed when there was a thunderstorm. It did not keep me awake long. In the morning I could tell that it had been short and sharp. There was not much extra water in the outside goat buckets, but other evidence showed that the rain had bounced quite high.

Some overdue pictures:
Outhouse Garden First, the outhouse garden. Oh well, at least it has lain fallow for a year.
The area of pigeon house wall that I repaired wherein I found the remains of a perfectly good young pigeon. Concrete at the bottom and bricks laid above. Wall Repair
Wall This is what the rest of that entire wall looks like. The photo does not do it justice. In many spots the mortar between the bricks is eroded to a depth of an inch or more. The whole lot needs repointing with a good strong cement mix, then a new coat of rendering. Getting at least the pointing done is a high priority job before winter.
This is what the stove looked like after the huge peach jam making that I spoke about... Burnt Stove
Cleaned Stove ... and this is what it looked like after I returned it to its (almost) pristine condition.
I mentioned a couple of times a pretty thing, nay a thing of great beauty that came my way. It is, of course, a jam funnel. Stainless steel and of fine quality. It is not just useful for jam. Anything that needs to go in a jar that will go through the hole in the bottom, with or without a bit of prodding, is fair game. Jam Funnel
Sign A lttle thing to amuse. Sent by one of my daughters.
The spectacles that were found on the yard, strimmed. I tried to get a picture - close up - of the lenses but failed. Strimmed Specs
Saddle I recently mentioned my bicycle saddle. Well, here is exactly what the Hungarian climate has done in just four and a half years.

25th September 2012

I noticed when I went shopping that the guy who sets up stall in the little lane by the shop was doing just that. I resolved to return a bit later in the morning. All normal at home. Breakfast and goats out. It was another very pleasant day.

I did this and that and then did return to the guy outside the shop. I needed a new winter working coat. My old fleecy one had done me well for almost four winters but was now past its best before date. The last straw had been when the zip broke towards the end of last winter. There was one on display that would have done me fine except that it was size XXXL. Once round me and twice round the gasworks. He had a hunt around. He came up with nothing suitable in my size. In desperation to make a sale he had a rummage in the van and came up with a rather plain but good one in XXL. it was plenty big enough, me only tee shirt clad. It would do me for what I needed. I bought two pairs of socks for putting on as second socks inside the wellies. He was happy and I was happy.

I can't remember what I did at home after that. Not much of anything apart from take the goats their water. I had made a decision. With mounting urgency I needed to make a multiple call trip to Körmend. It was infeasible on foot, particularly as one of the calls I wanted to make was to Fittings - the big builders merchant-type place out towards the edge of town. By bicycle it would have to be, and today was going to be the day. It was not too hot and there was just a gentle breeze.

I fed pigeons early, checked the goats, abluted, and locked the dogs within house, then set off. Notice the use of the Oxford comma there? I had a steady ride into Körmend. I did not want to arrive there sweating buckets. It still did not take me that long and I had most of the afternoon.

The first call was the tax office in the town hall, now reopened after its refurbishment. It took me a few moments to locate the tax office - it was only the second time I had call to visit it in all the time I have been here. I had a small dilemma finding it which was soon solved with the help of a very pleasant young lady. The concierge bloke had told me it was on the second floor. Now, the Hungarians tell the time in the American way. I thought it might well be the same with the floors of a building. Not so, I found. They use the British system - ground floor, first floor, ... The tax office was on the second floor (third for my American readers). I found it easily enough after that.

I had a stroke of luck. I sat down to wait my turn. Nobody else was waiting. In a matter of seconds the man at the window was finished, some paperwork returned to him and off he went, indicating to me as he passed by that it was my turn. I went over and sat down. I produced my paperwork and explained in fluent Hungarian (NOT) for what I was there. I was there to get my completed form DT-Individual stamped and countersigned, or at least start the process thereof. I recognized the young lady. It was she that I had seen on the one and only previous visit. With relief I knew that she also had a smattering of English. It was not needed. She took and perused my paperwork and after that it was an almost déjà vu experience. It was near enough the same as what happened with the pensions health care stuff. She clearly recognized what the form was, made a call to Szombathely, found a form and filled it in and had me sign it and told me that my paperwork would be returned by post. Literally the only difference was that this time I received a copy of the form that I had signed. That was that.

Well pleased I limped down the two flights of stairs, retrieved the bike and set off the hundred metres to my next call. I forgot to mention that on the way in to Körmend I noticed a thing. My lock and chain were missing from the bike. That was odd. It had not been that long since I used it and I could not remember dropping the bike since. The only time, apart from actually using it, that the lock and chain had come off the handlebars was either when the bike had been dropped - drunk/dogs, or when I had turned the bike over for (e.g.) puncture repairs. Mmmmm. Two possibilities. One,that it had been done for nuisance value or two, that it had been done as a prelude to someone stealing the bike again.

Next call, Gazdabolt where I relieved them of their entire stock of three hundred and seventy five millilitre jars, all five of them, rejected their supply of dog collars, rejected their supply of axes and failed to come up with a replacenent seal for the coffee pot. They did point me in the direction where I might get dog collars and another direction where I might get coffee pot seal.

I got the dog collars in the unlikely place of the fishing shop next door to Dazdabolt and I got the coffee pot seal (wrong size, my fault) in Zenit, the bloody miserable ironmongers from whence came the kitchen stove. They remain just as miserable.

After that, the bank, the sandwich shop for some munchies, a sit down by the water feature and munchies and a smoke and then the ride out to the Fitting shop. I had a wander round and selected this and that that I needed, using a supermarket trolley as a walking aid. I rejected their selection of axes as well. I wish I hadn't. I need a replacement for the medium sized axe. Mine is now fubar. One of the items was a front inner Bowden cable for my front brake. They were just bunched in a coil on the shop fitting. I uncoiled one and dumped it in the trolley. They were not labelled so I had the forethought to check the price. A whole ninety forints. I was pleased that I did. At the cash desk the lady had no idea. She was about to send someone to find out the price when I told her. She found it very quickly on the computer system. It amused me that she had to ask me if it was a front one or a back one. It was about half a metre long. They were the same price anyway.

I cycled back into town and stopped off at the Presszo bar. First beer of the day. Back on the road to Halogy and as soon as I left the town the wind hit me. It was now blowing quite a stiff breeze more or less in my face. It was hard work all the way to Nádasd and it was only when I turned into the road for Halogy that I had it just slightly behind my left shoulder. It took me a quarter of an hour longer than expected and I was just a bit exhausted. A beer in the village pub.

As soon as I got home I could see there was a problem of the goat variety. They were in a huddle milling about and two of the goats were definitely not where they were supposed to be. I dropped the back pack on the step and, still town clothes clad went to see what the problem was. Tibi's dog was wandering about in my garden again. I shooed it out, bandishing a stick. Then I went to see what was on with the goats. Vicky and the wether were the two that were not where they should be. Vicky still had her collar on but had escaped her post. The wether had no collar on and the remains of it were still attached to the chain but the post had been pulled from the ground. Oh well, there was nothing I could do about that right at that moment. I resecured the Vicky post in the ground and put her back on it. I returned to house to sort me out.

The first thing I needed to do was get to the shop. It was half past five. I got as far as the gate only to see the shop locked, barred and bolted, with shop lady wandering off towards her house. I later found out that it was my own fault. There was apparently a sign up in the morning that I had failed to see saying that the shop would be closing at half past five. Whatever it was that I wanted it would be a case of do without.

The goats came in in a thundering herd. I eventually had them all in their correct compartments. I milked, dealt with the necessary goat food and went to the pub quite shattered. It had been a pretty exhausting afternoon.

26th September 2012

Nothing special to report early on. I determined that meat from the meat van I would have so went up to the pub. Good boy again, coffee and an alma fröccs. And another. Time dragged on with me chafing to get home and do some actual work. Jóli told me to hang on - he would be here. I did, and at about half past eleven succumbed to a beer, which was what I would do at about that time anyway. The meat van did turn up. Quarter to twelve. To add insult to injury he had no meaty bones, so the dogs would go treatless.

I was home in time for normal lunchtime routine, with a morning virtually wasted. Once that was out of the way I took the wooden barrow and went over the road at the top to collect the rest of the hay that was still there. There were a couple of good barrow loads. There was also a very strong breeze from the west. To get back into my meadow it was slightly uphill a short distance along the road. The wind was strong enough that with the windage on me and the windage on the hay it was easy work. It was a nice day, and the forecast was good. I forked the hay about and fluffed it up to that it would be nice and dry again - it had been rained upon.

I went back to house for a little rest and a smoke. I had made a mobile phone call earlier on to the vet. Tomorrow was dog vaccination day. I had made the personal decision that the extra five hundred forints per dog for a house call was well worth it in personal comfort of not having to haul dogs up and down the village. I had not long sat down for my little smoke and rest when there was an ongoing doggie commotion from the yard. I looked out, to see a familiar car outside. Vet. What? Thought that was tomorrow. Whatever, I dragged each dog in turn to the big yard gates and by the time I had pinned them against the gates the injections were done. I asked the vet if he wanted the money now. I had it set aside indoors along with the vaccination booklets. No - at the faluház. I secured dogs and cycled on down there. I was quite surprised to see vet similarly dealing with lots of other dogs that had appeared from here, there and everywhere. I paid, got the vaccination stamps in the doggie passports and that was that. Well, it saved me from possibly having to hang about in the yard tomorrow afternoon. You know, I reckon that the doggie vaccination thing probably is his main income for the year. Ten quid a dog, plus one pound fifty for a house call. Probably almost as many dogs in the village as people, and I guess that he services many such villages in the Körmend district.

I was getting the goats in later when the old lady called me over to the fence. A bloody great bag of peaches. WTF? Mine were long gone. Goats in, I set about the milking. I had Suzy washed off and was literally reaching for her right half (goat talk - cows have quarters, goats have halves) when a pain like a red hot heedle went in my right elbow. Insect bite, or sting. I instinctively whacked it. I saw something drop away from where I whacked but could not identify it. Suzy did not give me much milk. I suspected that she was beginning to dry herself off.

I had just finished off in the goat house when there was a doggie commotion. As I returned to garden gate I beheld Tibi and Marika advancing up the yard, Tibi struggling with the weight of numerous bundles of maize stalks upon his normal garden wheelbarrow. Marika had to assist from time to time. They parked the barrow nearby the garden gate and I opened it wide enough for Tibi to wheel the barrow through. Not a hope. I expected black dog to make good his escape, but he was far too interested in what was happening here. The three of us hand-balled the bundles in. It fell to me to get the last one. It was as much as I could carry. Tibi in the meantime had pulled off a couple of cobs and thrown them for the dogs. I realised that they were so heavy because once again I was seeing cut down maze plants complete with cobs that were not worth harvesting.

Pub. I went outside for a smoke. There was a free-for-all general discussion as to what I should do about the outhouse roof.

27th September 2012

The alarm went off at its normal time. Six in the morning. I don't get up at that time you understand unless there is a special reason for doing so. I did as I usually do - hit the snooze button a few times. My Sony clock radio continues to work well, but I do have a serious annoyment with it. Hitting the snooze button repeatedly sequentially increments the snooze time by eight minutes. Eight minutes! I ask you. What integral part of an hour is eight minutes? Five minutes, yes. Six minutes, yes. Ten minutes, yes. Twelve minutes, yes. Oh, I do so hate having to do mental arithmetic at that time of morning in a semi-soporific state and having to calculate how many times to hit the snooze button. If I ever laid hands on the software engineer that pulled that one I would be happy to put him in the goat house for seven eighths of two hours with Rudy. Whatever! This morning the alarm went off, I did the mental arithmetic as to how many times to hit the botton. The radio at the appointed time came on, said "Blah" and promptly went off again. I rolled over to look and it was blank. No power.

I had no idea what the time was. I just got up and started the day. The dogs went out and I looked in the electricity meter cupboard to find that the one and only earth trip switch in there that I ever have connected had tripped. Again. The kitchen wall clock told me that it was a quarter past seven. I went to the shop.

All was normal after that. Purina arrived early outside the shop and I went and got dog food. With a little time in hand I secured dogs in house and then sprayed some weedkiller on various patches of the yard. Horrid weed! It lies flat to the ground and grows out horizontally on tough little stems. The strimmer makes hard work of it. I went to the pub. For the first time in a while Helmut was there.

I did all the normal at home then changed into town clothes to go and visit the locum doctor at the faluház. I needed more of the blood pressure tablets and I was not that happy that the current ones were bringing the blood pressure down enough in spite of lifestyle changes. I had been checking the blood pressure daily with a machine which John had kindly lent me. Goes round the wrist. Doctor checked my blood pressure and declared it still too high. In addition to the repeat prescription for the ones I was already on she issued a prescription for another lot. She tried to palm the prescriptions off on me. She got a two word answer - "Nem. Tibi.". Tibi is the driver of the village bus, and also husband of the post lady. One of his jobs, normally twice a week, is to collect the prescriptions from Körmend and distribute them on a little round throughout the village. Any service like that in the UK? Not that I ever heard about. If I want anything in the pharma line I just have to ask him on prescription day. Normally Ibuprophen for the knee. Amusing part is that when he finishes his round he always comes in the pub. It always coincides with my afternoon visit to the pub, so that is where I get my prescriptions or whatever. Joys of village life in a Hungarian village. He was in there today when I had my afternoon visit. He would be collecting the prescriptions tomorrow.

Home, a bit of blog and all the usual evening stuff.

28th September 2012

I was up and about early and I could see that it was good weather when I opened the shutters. All the normal stuff happened. Once the goats were out I went on-line to track a parcel. When I get a parcel sent from the UK by Royal Mail International Signed For ™ I can track it until it reaches Hungary on the Royal Mail web site. After that I have to check the site of Royal Mail partner company in Hungary which happens to be GLS. I checked the web site and the entry was already there - out for delivery today. Well, good and bad. I would get my parcel but would be limited to in and around the yard until it appeared.

I went to collect walnuts. It had been getting like a minefield just getting up and down my little path trying to avoid stepping on the walnuts. There was a stiff breeze blowing and the patter of more walnuts falling was constant. By the time I had just cleared my path I had a bucket full to overflowing. The whole area under and around the walnut tree would be the same. I returned to the yard and spread the walnuts in a tray on top of the wheelie bin to dry. Out of harms way, if you know what I mean. I think I mentioned that the walnuts are smaller this year. Well maybe, but it was going to be a bumper crop.

Quite late towards lunch time closing I went for my one beer. Tibi caught me in there with my prescriptions. Unusually he had collected them early and was killing two birds with one stone by delivering them as he did the milk round. In all this time, according to grep I have not mentioned it. If I am about at that time of day towards the front of the yard I see the village red bus head west towards where I know is a milk producer. Whoever is driving - normally Tibi, but first deputy the village mayor, or someone else - I see them advancing up the village. I think maybe you have to be a born and bred Halogyi ember to get on the list. My dear old lady neighbour is certainly on the list. When they get as far as the templom Tibi's and the mayor's habits diverge. Tibi calls in the pub on his way past. The mayor completes the round and calls for a beer on his way to the faluház and home. Tibi knows that he will normally catch me in there anyway, and so he did today. I settled up with him. I had to do a double take and query for what he asked. I looked at the receipt from the chemist. Tibi had to explain it. The couple of items at retail would have been over two thousand forints. The price I had to pay was heavily discounted from that. I know not why but it had to be a) because I was a pensioner or b) because it was on a prescription or c) both a) and b).

I cycled home for lunch with my carrier bag full of prescriptions. Na, not really, a little nondescript brown paper bag such as you would have seen in the US of A during prohibition with a quarter bottle of whatever inside. Mr. GLS had not appeared. I turned round my little sign and hung it inside the gate.

Over lunch I opened the prescriptions. Me being a nosey sort of person did a web search on the second lot of pills that the locum doctor had prescibed. I searched on the generic name of the drug - Amlodipin. I did not like what I found. Right at the top of my Google search was a UK forum with pages and pages of the adverse side effects of this stuff. Well, bollox to doctor, if I had those side effects I would simply not be able to function here. I could list them. I won't. It was immediately a case of sod that, I cannot afford to take that risk.

After lunch and in the continuing absence of GLS I was still stuck in and around the yard. I finished moving the maize from Láci from the outhouse to the house hallway. After that I tackled a fairly long overdue little project by upgrading a couple of the pigeon nesting boxes. One I put sides on to make the top deck more box-like. That was the original one that Hobo had put up when I got the first pair from Imre. The top deck was where Mr. & Mrs. Pigeon No. 2 had set up camp, failed to raise young and abandoned it. It was now occupied by Mr. & Mrs. Pigeon No. 3 but she had yet to lay there. The other repair was a new hardboard floor in one of the other boxes I made. It had minor gaps in the wooden floor but that seemed to be enough to discourage the pigeons from using it. I had a piece of hardboard already cut to size which I had loose laid but it consistently found its way onto the floor. Fixed in minutes with a few panel pins.

GLS sign out again and pub for an afternoon beer. I did not linger long and was soon back home. It was a good job I was as in just a few minutes Mr. GLS was there with my parcel. I knew what it was, of course. I unpacked it and checked the contents. It was supposed to come with four AA size batteries. It was an electronic blood pressure monitor I had shipped from the UK. I only found two batteries and I thought something about cheapskate bstds. I had to rapidly unthink it only a couple of minutes later. I investigated how the arm cuff worked and the other two batteries dropped out on the table from the fold in the cuff where they had hidden themselves. Good-oh. I could not resist a play, so in went the batteries and on went the cuff. The result surprised me. It was about 20mm Hg lower on both systolic and diastolic than I had expected. I wondered about that so I waited a few moments then checked it again using the machine on loan from John. Same result given two or three millimetres of mercury in either directon.

The goats came in in a thundering herd, except that I had to go back for Vicky who had managed to get her chain tangled in the fallen branch of the apples tree. Normal evening after that.

29th September 2012

Nothing very special in the morning. The goats went out quite nearby and we had a brief shower of rain that did not warrant getting the goats in. I did the normal housework type stuff somewhen in the midst of which I checked the blood pressure. It was good again. Again I cross-checked it against the other machine and again they near enough agreed. Bit of a mystery. Only a couple of days ago the blood pressure was such as to cause me to mention it to the doctor and now it was at a level that certainly does not give me cause for concern. Very odd. I sawed a load of firewood from the now ever so slowly shrinking stack on the yard and then went to the pub.

After lunch I went back to repairing the pigeon house walls. My previous effort of ramming concrete into the wall until I could ram no more had paid off. There had been no further evidence of re-entry by rodents in that quarter. I started on the pointing up of the east wall. Horrid, horrid work as most of the worst of where it needed pointing was the bottom foot of the wall. Hobo had said just render it. Well, that might be the Hungarian way but it is not my way. Doing it that way would mean huge variances in the thickness of the render which would surely crack again where the disparity in depths was great in quite a short time span. No, my way will ensure that when it does get rendered it will be at least an approximation of an even coat.

I was about half way across that wall when I had to pull one last piece of hardboard off the wall. It was held on by just two nails diagonally opposite corners of a rectangle. Off it came. Oh what! There was a nice, perfectly circular hole about nine inches in diameter through which I could see straight through to Tibi's yard not many inches above his ground level. The reason that it was perfectly circular was that it was lined with a piece of steel pipe. Oh well, filled in it would have to be.

And filled in it was. It was big enough for an army of rats to walk through. Another mixing of cement mortar, much scavenging about for various sized bits of brick and broken roof tile later it was done, with a skim of cement mortar over all of it. I still had to point around the outside of the circumference of the pipe on the inside of the pigeon house. That was done too. I knocked it on the head for the day, withdrew and washed down tools and containers. I was not best pleased. It made me late for my afternoon beer!

Back home I was determined on pie. I had the fillings of a pie and pie I would have. Not a thing they do here. Stove, pastry, pie dish, filling, lid, oven. How to make a pie in seven words. The pie was a success. It came out of the oven and went on a plate to cool out of harms' way.

Back to physical. Goats in - no dramas, Suzy milked and then a trudge back up the garden to fork together, compact as much as possible and cover with tarpaulin the hay from over the road.

Pub. Pie when I got home. I was hoping to be able to publish 30th Sept blog as well. Not going to happen.

30th September 2012

Sunday. No idea what happened outside all day but inside I made some token housework and a load of blog. Somewhen whilst doing the blog I finally ran out of patience and fetched the soldering iron. It was not for the inner workings of the machine, nor yet for the external electrical connections. Nope - it was for the keys on the keyboard. I used to be able to touch type. On an actual typewriter whilst in the Police. They stopped us doing the touch typing and gave us little dictaphone things upon which to dictate whatever and send it to the secretaries for typing up. Years went by and I ended up here trying to keep the blog up to date upon a keyboard upon which I could no longer read the letters. The letters were to be reinstated using the soldering iron.

Strange, but the worst affected were on the top row below the numerals. Q was hardly affected, there being no Q in Hungarian. W should have been done but was not. ERT were done but Z was not. Ha! How many expected Y? UIOP were all done. I re-inked in the letters using a gell roller ball pen. So far they are standing up very well.

I went to the pub for an afternoon beer. Just the one. Back home there was a power problem. There was power into the house so it was not earth trip switch related. Clock/radio alarm was flashing 12:00 at me so clearly power had gone down for however long somewhere up line from my house supply. I rebooted the computer. It went through its normal sequence. It was then that I noticed that the Internet modem was petulantly displaying an orange LED by the legend Power. I hit the reset button on the front. Same. I switched it off and on again using the power switch at the back. Same. I unplugged it from the mains, gave it a few seconds and plugged it in again. Same. I knew what the problem was, but could do nothing about it except wait. Low voltage to the house. I unplugged modem and abandoned any hope of doing any worthwhile computer/blog work. I went and did some equally worthwhile work by getting in a basket of firewood.

Normal stuff - goats in, milking. Obviously no dramas or I would have made a note of it. The Internet came back up. Pub for gentle evening session.

And that was September, except for a couple of observations. One was that it was plainly now officially winter in Halogy. I did not see it happen or know when it happened but at some stage in the last few days the ice cream freezer in the pub had been emptied and switched off. My second observation is, I confess, a considerable degree more acerbic than my usual comments on the blog. I totally neglected to mention a thing I should have mentioned about Búcsú, also involving the ice cream cabinet in the pub. Now, long time or even short time readers of my blog will know that the Sunday of Búcsú is by far the busiest single day of the year. The village is thronged with parents, children, grandchildren, nephews, neices... The weather was good this year. The yard in the afternoon was thronged with children of all ages. What did they want? Ice cream. What did Láci have in the ice cream cabinet? Nothing worth reaching in there for. It defeats me - it utterly defeats me. If that had been my ice cream cabinet it would have been full from end to end. It seems to me sometimes that there is some sort of block in the Hungarian psyche. "No, it is not time to fill up the ice cream cabinet, so it will not get filled up!" Maybe one of my Hungarian correspondents can enlighten me?  


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