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November 2012

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1st November 2012

It was bank holiday, being All Saints Day. A day to avoid driving in Budapest where traffic chaos normally rules as a huge part of the population visit the cemeteries that day. It was just another day to me. After all the usual stuff I showed willing and went up to the maize stalk field. I did not want to particularly but there had been murmurings about slow progress and needing to get it ploughed. I spent a good stretch of the morning at it until it was beer break time. Hobo promised to come and strim some down in the afternoon.

I did all the usual lunchtime things. Hobo turned up whilst I was doing my stuff, grabbed the strimmer and set off. I followed at about two, having got done the things I needed to get done. Hobo was not there but the strimmer was and there was plenty of evidence he had been using it. There were a lot of stalks to get bundled. I stuck at it until the back and the knee said enough and it was time for another beer break anyway.

Surprise, surprise Hobo was in there. I had a quick beer and went back to work. Hobo returned and had rustled up another pair of hands. I worked as long as I could and then had to excuse myself to go and do goats and pigeons before the daylight faded. Hobo and Gyuri worked until it was almost dark.

Pub in the evening.

2nd November 2012

I had done the usual morning stuff and was getting in firewood from the wood house when Blackie went ballistic at the garden gate. This is not a normal place for him to go ballistic so I stuck my head out to see what was going on. There was a dog in the garden. Pickle! Oh, what now! I called Pickle, and to her credit she trotted obediently back to the garden gate. I let her into the yard and secured her within house with Blackie. If I remember the occasion correctly it was the day that I found half her chain hanging over the garden wall by the pigeon house with the other half still hooked onto its carabiners on the running wire. The half of chain that I found was wedged in the brickwork of the wall with her collar still attached, Pickle having slipped it, the other side of the wall.

I restored the collar to Pickle. The problem is always the same - one way or another the carabiners come unclipped. They are, basically, crap. I have yet to find a solution to it. One tends to think of such things as running wires, chains and carabiners as at least semi-permanent but I have had failures in all three. Escape of dogs and subsequent mayhem is always a worry, but I am not alone in this. There are a number of dogs that I see up and down the village on a regular basis. I know that one of Tibi's will go for a wander given half a chance.

I went to the pub for my alma fröccs and one beer. Hobo spoke to me about maize stalks and organised with Gyuri that they would do an afternoon's work on Telek utca. I went home to the usual lunchtime stuff. Gyuri turned up on the dot at one but there was no sign of Hobo. Gyuri disappeared. I think he went to roust Hobo out of the pub. He was not gone many minutes and returned, Hoboless. He asked to use the strimmer and said that he would chop the maize stalks. I did not have a problem with that, dug it out, showed him the starting drill and off he went. I finished lunch and followed him. I was astonished. He was just finishing off the last couple of rows half the length of the field. In a couple of minutes he was done. We set to bundling it up. At about three I took him for a beer.

We finished it off quite rapidly and returned, I to pastoral duties and Gyuri to the bundling. He worked until it was almost dark and by the time he had finished there was a pile of bundles in my garden come over the fence. I paid him and he said that he could do more tomorrow to which I readily agreed.

I had a culinary problem which was what to do with the pork that I had bought on Wednesday. I had little to go with the pork, I thought. What I did have was a small handful of little cabbages that had come from Marika. Internet. Pork and cabbage. A staple of German cuisine, apparently. Maybe, but what to go with it? It came to me that there was a jar of my home made lecsó lurking on the worktop that I had not put into storage. That it would have to be, then. Pork was boned out and cubed and cabbage sliced as finely as I could. It all went into the slow cooker with the lecsó, a little additional salt and the inevitable freshly ground black pepper and on it went. When I sampled it later for my evening meal it far exceeded my expectations. It was delicious. I will have to remember that one.

Pub in the evening.

3rd November 2012

Gyuri turned up for work in the morning at nine on the dot as promised. He must have a streak of Anglo-Saxon in him. It was not nine o'clock Hungarian time (ten?) or even worse nine o'clock Hobo time (half past ten or eleven). It was 0900 CET. I supplied the string and off he went. Jumping ahead just a little, by heck he worked. By the end of the day not only was the rest of the stalks bundled, but the whole lot, including the two big stooks standing at the top of the field, were in my garden and stooked around the walnut tree.

I got a load of firewood in and did some blog updating. Towards the end of the morning Gyuri reappeared from Telek utca and allowed himself to be dragged to the pub for a beer. I did the usual alma fröccs and then a beer. As usual in my revised schedule (CET vs. CEST) I did pigeons and goats first when I returned home. The two youngest pigeons were strutting about the floor with the others. When I put the food down they did not hesitate to get stuck in with the others. Good oh! Saved me the little job of returning them to the nest and feeding them there.

They are an unremarkable pair of pigeons. One is very plain grey and I can only tell the difference between it and the next youngest because it does not have feathers on its feet. The other one is remarkable only in the fact that, apart from being plain grey, it has one and a half white tail feathers. Now, genetically how does that work? That half a feather can be one colour and the other half another?

I was finishing lunch when Gyuri returned and went to carry on with the maize stalk work. No idea what I did but maybe more blog updating. At afternoon beer o'clock I cycled the long way round, down past the faluház and back onto Telek utca. I cycled up to the back of John's place. I was expecting to see half a plot of goat food. Nothing - shredded. Thanks! I was relying on that for winter goat food.I later contacted John. He had had to go to Budapest on business. The stalks were there when he left and gone when he came back. He thought that it was the work of me, Hobo and Gyuri.

I managed to catch Gyuri and drag him kicking and screaming (not) for an afternoon beer. We returned and Gyuri went back to maize stalks and I went back to checking the pigeon water and then feeding the goats. Vicky escaped. Twenty minutes! It took me twenty minutes before I managed to grab her by a horn and get her back in the goat house. Well, there is definitely an advantage in having goats that are not depolled. At least there is something to grab. They do not much like it, but even with Rudy, if push comes to shove he has those enormous twenty inch (guessing) horns that can provide a good mechanical advantage.

More pork, cabbage and lecsó and then pub.

4th November 2012

Hobo had contacted the people who did the roof on my neighbour's house over the road. They did it in the hot weather and several times we sat in the shade round the side of the shop and watched as they were getting towards the end of their working day. I had been impressed. Two blokes, four days and they did all that was necessary to sort out an outhouse roof about twice the size that I needed doing. They were supposed to come and look at mine at eight in the morning. In true Hungarian style it did not happen. I was certainly up and about in plenty of time. Hobo later made repeated phone calls to try and contact them and eventually got the response that they were working in Austria. Typical - Cheers!

I did a load of housework which occupied all the morning and much of the afternoon, including having a serious clear out of old work clothes that I had thought might come in handy for other stuff. Simply not going to happen so they were binned. I suppose in retrospect that I could have cut the old jeans/bits of old jeans into small squares and fed it to the goats. They can digest cotton you know.

It was quite a pleasant day, and certainly not cold. I wanted firewood for the tile stove. I tackled some of the considerable remaining stack of the old pear tree in the woodhouse. Mistake! I could not split it. It was like rock. I managed about a quarter of a basket and, dripping sweat, gave it up. Even with a small kugli the big axe would embed and I would lift the whole lot over my head and smash it down on the chopping block. The result remained the same. Other technology called for. I have it in mind. No doubt there will be more later. Fortunately there was still enough other stuff (acacia and oak) to finish filling the basket for the tile stove.

Still sweating I went to the pub. I caught the latter stages of the Dubai Formula One. Yawn!

The rest of the day was all the usual stuff. Vicky made another bid for freedom but I spotted it coming and trapped her neck against the goathouse doorframe. Oh no you dont't my girl!

Pub in the evening. Cheap night - Hobo was with the skittlers.

5th November 2012

It was persistently precipitating when I arose. Enough for under the umbrella to the shop, and after breakfast as far as possible under the umbrella when I did the goats and pigeons.

I retired indoors and did some blog updating. To be honest not a lot of anything else got done apart from washing the pots in the kitchen.

I did the minimum amount of firewood that I could get away with. I had another go at the pear wood. The same result as yesterday. After that I just hid from the weather. I fed and watered the livestock at the required intervals and that was it.

Hobo was on one in the evening, in one of his blacker moods. About the roofers not turning up. He went on and on and on about it - how much it had cost him on his phone. I told him early on in the tirade that I would pay for him to top up his phone. I told him several times after that as well but it just did not sink in. When I went out for a smoke he followed me and when I returned inside he followed me. Did not give in. Like a dog with a bone. By eight he was saying that he was going home. By five past he had no beer. I was certainly not about to buy him another in his present state of mind. With no beer he kept at it for another fifty five minutes. There was a good programme on the telly. French. High-tech scenes of crimes. When Hobo did finally bite the dust I looked up to see the end credits rolling. Ah, Hobo. Love him to bits and he really has helped me in so many ways and saved me a lot of money. But when he has that head on...

6th November 2012

The shop lady had forewarned me that she would not be open this evening. So forewarned I got the supplies that I would need for all day. After that all normal stuff. When I returned to the house I set about the horrid job of the day. My HMRC form DT-Indivual had been returned to me as I had foolishly missed answering one question. That was sorted in less than a second with Yes/No tick boxes. The next query was that I had given then an an approximate figure of how much of my various pensions I would be remitting here to Hungary. They wanted a breakdown of it. Well, one pension was no problem. It is paid direct into one of my accounts here, so that would be one hundred percent of that one then. How to answer the others? The other three are paid into my UK bank account. I draw from the account on an ad-hoc basis using my debit card. In retrospect I should have just answered "All of it" or even better written an Open Office spreadsheet showing various amounts from various pensions (fictitious) varying every month, just to run rings around them. Pick the bones out of that. 1. I doubt that HMRC would be able to open an Open Office spreadsheet and, 2. what business of theirs is it anyway? It is MY money, earned and saved over a working life. I filled the form in. I could feel the blood pressure rising by the minute.

I folded the form, addressed an envelope, enclosed the form within and went for a beer.

Posta had not appeared by the time I went home, so I hung the sign out. Pigeons, goats, lunch - considerably more relaxed. I remain convinced that the pensions paperwork thing started the high blood pressure thing.

Posta appeared at about half past one, from a completely different direction and a different lady. I sent my envelope off registered. When I sent it off last time Magyar Posta, or their UK partners let me down. It was reported as received in the UK but never reported as delivered. I have yet to figure out who their partner in the UK is. Certainly not Royal Mail. But I have to rely on the tracking site of Magyar Posta for the information. I know that I will forget to mention otherwise but the Posta lady that appeared that day is now our regular post lady.

I got firewood in, did the rest and pub in the evening. Enough rambling.

7th November 2012

I forgot to mention that the shop was closed yesterday evening. I found out why this morning. There was a relief lady in charge. She seemed at home and clearly knew what she was about. I later found out that Hobo had known her personally for many years. I played a blinder and totally forgot that the shop would not be open in the evening whilst she was in charge, so I did not get any of the things I would normally get in my little evening shop. Oh well, too late by the time I realised. She was locked up for the day.

I had a bash at the pigeon house pointing up. At the end of the stint I had a look round and reckoned that I was about two thirds of the way through what I wanted to get done before the winter closes in. Off for my morning break after that.

Home, pigeons, goats and a leisurely lunch. In the afternoon I got the firewood in. I went for an afternoon beer after that. I caught Posta as she passed. She had for me a postcard from a daughter and a package that was totally unexpected. The postcard was instantly clear. Photo on one side and my address on the other. From Turkey. By the way, I hope that all my readers understand that an e-mail is about as private as a post card. I used to tell my students never to write in an e-mail anything that they would not want to see published in a newspaper. Now, how many politicians, media moguls thinking themselves above the law, etc., etc., have fallen foul of that? When I got home I opened the package. It was also from Turkey. It contained, to my great delight (pun intended) a box with an inner package that said it was Turkish delight. I wasn't. It was a block of a sweetmeat that I with my ex-Greek connections would call halva, variously called halwa, helwa and helva depending whereabouts in the middle east it is from. If you see it don't buy it! It has the highest calorific content of any food that I have ever seen. The base of it is sesame seed paste (tahini) with sugar, or honey, vanilla and in the better varieties either chopped almonds or chopped pistachio nuts. If you just look at it you will put on three kilogrammes.

All normal after that, then time to go back to the pub in the evening.

Hobo dropped it out that the pub would be shut all day tomorrow as they were having a pig killing. It did not surprise me as the preparations had been fairly obvious for a few days. Much cleaning out of freezer drawers and many other containers of various shapes and sizes and huge cooking cauldrons. I was a bit miffed about the fact that neither Láci or Jóli had seen fit to mention it.

I went outside for a smoke and was immediately collared by a certain (nameless) local character who started on again about the outhouse roof. Whatever! In no way, shape, form or timeframe would he have anything to to with it.

8th November 2012

A normal morning and boring - clothes washing, lots of. I was well ready for the trip to the pub. I took the little camera and took some photos around the village. Alma fröccs, one beer and home to the usual lunchtime stuff.

In the afternoon I got the firewood in and as it was getting along in November I decided that it was time to have a go at the kitchen stove internals and pipework. I did not need to be having to do it in minus ten and six inches of snow. Oh boy, was it ever ready for doing. It does not actually take that long now that I have the knack of getting the pipework out and back. There was half a big emulsion paint bucket of soot.

Before I took my afternoon break I sourced and ordered on the Internet a chimney brush from the same people from whom the drain rod set had come.

Early evening routine when I got home. Lock the pigeons in and check their water. A count up to make sure they are all there. Feed the goats and water if needed. Then back in the house to light the stoves and cook hurka and potato wedges. Lovely. I did some blog updating whilst it was cooking, ate and went back to more blog updating. No pub, as already mentioned, but I had supplies in and had a quiet night.

9th November 2012

It was not a good day. I had the usual start and after doing the livestock I decided to get in all the firewood early. When I went into the woodhouse one look told me that the outhouse wall, in spite of all the tiles being removed, was on the move again. From a respectful distance I inspected the props that were holding the great, rotten beam at the base of the roof. They were firmly in place but for sure were not quite at the same angle that they had been a few days ago. I got the firewood in and hastened as I had to pass under that beam. I even chanced my arm (head) by fetching my newly acquired long spirit level and going in each outhouse and checking the walls that adjoin Tibi's property for vertical. They were. Well, within the Hungarian definition of vertical anyway, and no signs of cracking or instability.

With firewood indoors I just sat in a black mood. I went to the pub at the required interval and had my alma fröccs and a beer, still with Churchill's Black Dog on my shoulder. Fortunately Hobo turned up for a late one from wherever he had been working. He did manage to lighten my mood a little. I imparted the knowledge to him about the outhouse wall. His response was immediate. "Tomorrow!"

I went home and did the necessary beating of dogs and dealing with livestock, then had lunch. The only bit of productive work I did all day was to use the file attachment on the Leatherman™ to sharpen a bowsaw blade. I have two blades. They get rotated at semi-regular intervals depending upon how much work the bowsaw has done. The blades tend to lose their set. I reset them using side cutting pliers. I like to let the actual teeth get a film of rust. That way, when I start to file them sharp again I can see the bright metal and know whether or not to file some more. I wonder how long you can keep a bowsaw blade going thus?

I had a wander down to the chicken meat farm a few doors down to collect a complete chicken breast that I had ordered for the weekend - left side and right. Again I was surprised how cheap it was compared to both village shop price and supermarket prices. I feel a ramble coming on but first a little political. Ever thought about what would happen if the Just In Time delivery system where you live broke down? It came mighty close in the UK when the tanker drivers went on strike and blockaded the refineries. Just Google "three meals from anarchy". Just a teaser. I will write more (and more pithy) another time.

The chicken bit took me back to when I was a young child. Chicken was a luxury to eat. When my father was a young man he was advised to move from Nottingham to Lincolnshire for his health. If I remember family history correctly (this was long before I was born) he found work helping out on a little farm. It was run by two brothers, Sid and Harold IIRC (no doubt my bruv will correct me if I am wrong). I clearly remember the delight of pumping the handle to the well just outside the door and seeing my efforts rewarded by a cascade of clear potable water. I also remember them having a radio, powered by a glass cased lead/acid accumulator which they would have to take to the local garage to have recharged. I remember too being there the day the clocks went back. They had only the one clock - a grandfather clock. I was allowed to stop the pendulum and then made to sit on my hands for an hour until the radio announced that the hour had gone by, and then restarting it. I digress. Our Christmas dinner for many years was a chicken in a cardboard box, plucked and dressed and for some reason it always managed to arrive through the post on Christmas Eve.

Well, I enjoyed that ramble. I went to lock the pigeons in and feed the goats. There was a small problem with the goats. Rudy would not eat. He just stood at the weldmesh between his half and the other and gibbered. Non-goaty people will no doubt not know what I mean by gibbered. I did not until I heard it. It was time for Suzy to go in with Rudy and the wether came out.

Pub in the evening, and sorry about the political and the rambling. I am not (as far as I know) going senile and such stuff has a purpose. More in four days.

10th November 2012

I had just about got finished with the normal morning stuff when Hobo and Gyuri arrived. They had said they were coming and told me when. They turned up at Hungarian time - about an hour late. I did not mind. At least they had turned up. John turned up too, his help having been enlisted. They started by carefully removing the covering tarpaulins. The tile battens were removed as they went and hurled down into the yard. John stacked them away in the one remaining lean-to. I did firewood, sort of there to assist if needed. I wasn't. By end of morning beer o'clock they had four of the six tarpaulins off and all the battens from that part of the roof. Of course, I had to pay for the beers.

We were to reconvene for the afternoon at one. I went home, did pigeons and goats and had lunch. To my surprise we did reconvene at one. The remaining tarpaulins were taken off as were the rest of the battens. Hobo and Gyuri, armed with nothing more than a pair of hammers started on dismantling the main framework of the roof. I was just astonished by how crude it was. The apex of the rafters was nothing more than simple halved joints held by a wooden nail driven through the centre. Other parts of the framework were held on by nothing - just gravity just like the roof tiles. I wonder how many roofs would survive what I experienced in Lincolnshire? Being an avid dinghy racer at the time if I was at home I would listen to the BBC Shipping Forecast. There was a forecast of Beaufort wind scale winds of force twelve. Yes, hurricane force on the Beaufort scale, but 'urricanes 'ardly hever 'appen in Lincolnshire. Wind speeds of gusts exceeding eighty miles an hour (a hundred and thirty kilometers an hour for younger readers).

I went up to the sailing club with some fairly serious rope. The wind was already strong enough to blow the tops off waves marching towards me. I normally parked the boat on its trolley bows up and stern down with the drain bungs out. I had a good quality boat cover that, errr, fell off the back of a lorry shall we say. All the boats had an allocated parking space with stout ring bolts embedded either side of each space. I undid my normal parking arrangement and snoosed the boat bows down and stern up with my stout rope, already knowing from which direction the wind was coming. I don't think you will find a definition of snoosed in any dictionary.

During the night the wind grew stronger and stronger. The house shook and the windows rattled. Not much sleep was had. The next day, the winds having subsided a little, we ventured up to the sailing club. It was a scene of devastation. There were boats hurtled about everywhere. Some were on top of other boats. Some were slammed against the clubhouse walls and one had even gone over the perimeter fence and down the embankment. My boat was fine, just as I left it. Fortunately so were the neighbouring ones. Nothing had fallen off the house either.

What I am getting to, after a nice ramble, is that here in Hungary they issue a severe weather warning for wind speeds of sixty kilometers an hour. In my sailing days that would have been a good blow and an exciting sail.

Where was I? Hobo and Gyuri manhandled the dismantled rafters and they went in the yard with a satisfying crash. John and I kept well out of the way. They descended from above and Gyuri, with Blackie secured in house, fired up a chainsaw and started on turning the debris of the roof into choppable firewood sized pieces. With nothing to do John excused himself.

I returned to pastoral duties. As it was growing dark Hobo and Gyuri left. I released Blackie. I had only been in the house a few minutes when there was a doggie commotion. I poked my head out. There was a big black car by the gate that I recognised. Helmut and his wife were on their way home and called to say hello. I went out to them. They did not venture in the yard.

I ate and went to the pub. Upon my return home something on Facebook reminded me that this evening was the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall. I rebooted into Windose and watched it live. Quite emotional.

11th November 2012

I had surprise in the morning. I opened up the pigeon house as usual and went inside to check the water. Mrs. Pigeon No. 1 was sitting an egg. I was not expecting that at this time of year. I had another surprise when I went to do the goats. Vicky was in with Rudy and Suzy. There was only one possible way she could have entered and I really had thought that she was now too big to get through. I managed to collar her and put her back in with the wether.

Nothing much out of the ordinary happened after that. I was somewhat happier that the majority of the outhouse roof framework was down, but the great beams that were at the root of the problems still hung over my head like the Sword of Damocles. I was convinced that they were still on the move too. Hobo and Gyuri were supposed to show up and take the rest down but it turned into a Did Not Happen event.

After a normal end of morning and lunchtime it continued to be a Did Not Happen event. Blast! As was my wont, I had checked the weather forecast on the Norwegian web site as I do every lunch time. It was dire and everything in the outhouse loft was totally open to the elements as all the sheeting down had been removed to allow Hobo and Gyuri to move about freely whilst taking down what they had taken down. There was nothing for it but to climb up there and sheet it all back down myself. It was a bit of a makeshift job but it would have to do.

I managed to get in a bit of firewood and it was afternoon beer o'clock. I was almost through my beer and was the only one in the pub unusually. Láci slapped a freebie in front of me. That was a bit of a surprise - it does not happen too often. With daylight beginning to fade I had to neck it fairly promptly and get back and do pigeons and goats.

Ate, changed and went to the pub.

12th November 2012 - Part 1

The weather forecast was right. There was rain, lots of rain all day. Cold and wet rain it was too. The dogs were out and I was finishing breakfast when there was a doggie commotion of the type that announced "There is somebody at the gate!" I poked my nose out and there was somebody at the gate - butor Lajos. Black dog was doing his leaping as high as he could just inside the gate. Now, Lajos is not afraid of dogs and started to come in the yard. He had the small gate open about an inch when Blackie took a particularly ferocious leap at it and even Lajos flinched back. Bang, closed went the gate. Not only was it closed, it was wedged closed. Hard. Lajos is a big strong bloke but even he had to exert some force to get the gate back open. Suddenly Blackie was his side of the gate helping. WTF? Lajos finally got the gate open and came in the yard. How the hell had Blackie escaped? All was revealed when I glanced out of the now open gate. One of the concrete uprights in the fence was lying on the grass outside. The inevitable happened and Blackie went walkabout up the village. Whatever! Get on with it.

Lajos explained the purpose of his visit. He could not find the card upon which I had written the dimensions of an item I wanted him to make. We went inside and I was ashamed of the state of the kitchen. I had tape measure to hand and we measured up. Lajos astonished me by simply memorising the measurements and off he went. He went to close the yard gate, in spite of the fact that black dog was still at large, and half the catch fell on the path. Blackie had hit it so hard that the catch had broken in two. Bolloxs! Lajos declared no problem. I left the gate ajar for Blackie to return when he had finished going walkabout.

He returned after only a very few minutes with a lock apparently identical to mine, still with bits of door attached. Blackie had returned but steadfastly refused to come in the yard. As Lajos got in his car and left Blackie discovered a new game. Chasing cars. As Lajos drove off Blackie actually overtook him and Lajos had to brake to a standstill to avoid running him over. Blackie thought that it would be more fun to chase a car going in the opposite direction and set off to do just that. Lajos made good his escape. Blackie resumed his village wander. Whatever! Get on with it.

Very belately I dealt with pigeons and goats. Back in the yard, or rather outside, I wedged the errant concrete upright back in its place. It was not yet ten in the morning. Eventually, inevitably black dog reappeared in the yard. I enticed him within house with a tasty morsel and enclosed both Pickle, who had been on chain all this time constantly barking, and myself within house also.

I set to examine the lock that had come from Lajos. It still had the handles attached. They would not turn. They were jammed in the open position. The catch was in the closed position. I stripped it out, having first to remove the bits of door. The handles would not come off. They had to be persuaded with the use of a knocking device (a.k.a hammer). I found the problem with Lajos' lock. One of the three screws holding the two halves of the lock together would not tighten. I needed to strip it out anyway, as the catch was right handed and the one on my gate was left handed (or vice-versa).

More follows! Second part!

I decided that the previously good lock in the gate had to be stripped out which would give me two options. Option one was to simply cannibalise a screw from it to use in the other lock. Option two was to cannibalise the catch from the Lajos lock and put it in my previously good lock. I stripped the lock from out of the gate. It was singularly unpleasant work in the continuing downpour of cold rain. It was held into the gate by two small nuts and bolts. It should not have been. The lock was countersunk and should have had in it countersunk machine screws with nuts on the inside where they went through the metal framework of the gate. In true Hungarian style whoever had buggered about with it previously had used the nuts and bolts and had compounded problems by angle grinding the flat part of the heads of the bolts down to a millimetre thickness or less. Tools went out, and more tools and more tools. I eventually found that the only tool with which I could get an adequate grip on the slim remains of the bolt heads was the pliers tool on the Leatherman™. Once I discovered that I had the lock out and retreated to house, more than a little damp and cold.

I stripped out Lajos' lock which was a challenge enough to get the two good screws out of the casing. Outwardly the locks appeared identical. I separated the halves of both locks. They appeared identical inwardly also. Except that mine had at some time, no doubt in the long distant past, had been greased internally and the other one had not. Now how's this for memory? It came to me that I had mentioned the internals of that lock before. I did, in October 2008. I digress but only a little. The other lock showed much signs of neglect internally. I decided to put the catch from Lajos' lock into my lock. I inverted it, thus turning it from right handed to left handed. It would not go in the case of my lock. I tried all ways. It became clear that the internals of the two locks although appearing identical were not. This catch, both from top to bottom and from front to back, was fractions of a millimetre bigger. In retrospect, and in view of what follows I wish that I had just filed out my case to make the catch fit. I didn't. I reassembled it into the other case, soused the whole lot in WD40 and cannibalised one of the screws from mine to close the case where there had been a problem before.

I went back out into the p*ssing rain and installed it in the gate. It installed with a lot less bother than it came out. I had had the forethought to also souse the two nuts and bolts also with WD40 and to ensure that I could thread them up finger tight by hand. I put the handles back on and tried it. Snag. I said that the catch was fractions of a millimetre bigger than the other. It was enough fractions of a millimetre to prevent the catch engaging with the rough bit of steel that holds the gate closed. My immediate thought was angle grinder. My second thought was "Angle grinder? P*ssing down with rain? Don't be daft!" I decided to give the offending piece of steelwork a little tap with the knocking stick to see if I could bend it out the fractions of a millimetre needed for the catch to catch. I tapped it and tried the gate. It still would not catch. I tapped it a little harder and the whole piece of steel parted company top and bottom and fell on the floor. Bollox! Well, that catch would not be holding the gate shut today then.

I scouted around in the workshop and found a suitable piece of wood to wedge the gate shut. It would have to do. It was by now half past eleven. I let the dogs out briefly, standing guard by the gate and the front fence so that Blackie should not once again have chance to probe the weaknesses of the perimeter. Dogs did what they needed to do and went back in house. I did what I needed to do also. Cold, damp and p*ssed off I went for a beer.

Back home I fed the goats and pigeons and had lunch very quickly. With dogs still confined I investigated the fence from whence an upright had fallen out allowing Blackie egress. Several of the other uprights were similarly loose. How to fix it? Stout oak and my favourite threaded rod. A piece behind and a piece in front extending either side to sound uprights. Brace and bit work in the still falling rain. Not good.

Lajos turned up with the thing that I had asked him for. He had the good sense to stay outside until I had tied Pickle to the well and secured Blackie in the big room. Blackie has not yet learnt to open doors, unlike Pickle. Lajos delivered my item, already paid for and a thing of great beauty and utility. A picture will follow.

A degree of normalcy returned. I went for an afternoon beer and then did pigeons and goats. I went to see if the other Lajos was at home to explain my problem with the gate catch. Nobody at home.My gash repair upon the front fence appeared to thwart black dog.

I caught up with Lajos the fabricator in the evening. He was fully committed tomorrow. The next day, he promised me. You know, I wonder if that is the longest entry for a single day that I have written on the blog.

13th November 2012

It was not a normal day. I was up early, had a swift breakfast, did goats and pigeons and then changed into town clothes. Dogs were secured and I wandered down to the faluház where, by arrangement, I was for the first time ever availing myself of the village bus. I was destined for Tescos where I hoped to buy something that I really did not want to have to struggle with on the normal service bus. Tibi the driver had said to be there at nine. I was, but it was some little while after that that we set off. The first stop was in Nadásd where Tibi went in the faluház with a sheaf of paperwork. He was a few minutes and returned accompanied by a lady from the faluház who also came on the bus to Körmend. Seeing Tibi with his paperwork made me think. I had really not ever given thought to the administrative burden of running a village like Halogy. We reached Körmend and Tibi, driving on autopilot, turned down the slip road to the town centre having completely missed that he should first be dropping me off at Tescos. We did a longcut, turning down a rough road with a couple of businesses on it and coming back to the main road. Tibi dropped me off and said he would pick me up again in about twenty minutes.

I did my shop. A Canon printer which was on special offer went in the trolley as did a pack of printer paper. The rest of the shop was just a bit of normal grocery shopping of the nature of stuff that I could not reliably get in the village shop and coffee beans which I can never get locally. I paid, dumped my stuff on the seat outside and parked the trolley and retrieved my hundred forints. I just had time for a quick pipe of tobacco when Tibi returned. He opened the tailgate of the bus, grabbed my shopping and put it in the back of the bus. I did not have to lift a finger. We returned to Halogy.

I put my stuff in the house and put the groceries that had to be safe from dogs safe from dogs. It had been a successful morning. I changed back into work clothes, did a couple of jobs and then went to the pub for my morning break.

On my return I was about to feed pigeons and goats when Sandor the musician appeared. We had done a deal for some firewood. He told me that he would be along in about an hour with the first load. Oops, problem. Not enough readies to pay for it. Not a problem. He had me jump in his car and ran me to the cash point in Csákány. It gave me chance to use my new chip and PIN card. When I had validated the card previously the lady on the phone told me that the card was now validated and could be used with my existing PIN code. It worked. Sandor dropped me back home and I belatedly did the goats and pigeons.

I had a quick lunch and was just finishing when Sandor appeared with the trailer load of wood. It was of a good size for the cserepkalyha. We got it unloaded in but a few minutes, just dumped on the yard. I settled up and we chatted for a while, mainly about the outhouse roof. He spotted the stack of rafters across the yard. He told me on no account to let the guys saw them up for firewood. They were worth money. He would make some enquiries.

Hobo was supposed to work all afternoon. Never showed up. Gyuri appeared at the gate, told me he would find me in the pub at the usual time and then come back and do some work on the roof. And so he did replete with chain saw. He was more than a little miffed that Hobo was nowhere to be found. Nonetheless, up the ladder he went with chainsaw. He tackled the remaining structure of the framework of the roof. Three interior gable shaped supports and two braces. They were big, heavy pieces of wood. Some of them came down with a crash on the yard. The longer ones he lowered over the edge by hand and left them propped up. I locked the pigeons in and fed the goats towards the end of this as daylight began to go. When I came back to the yard Gyuri was tackling the huge pieces that lie along the tops of the wall and supported the whole roof structure. He did the one along the top of the wall that overlooks Tibi. It was cut into manageable chucks and went over the edge into my yard. Finally he sawed the one that had been hanging over my head this last little while and the pieces dropped into the yard with a crash. The metaphorical millstone was lifted from my shoulders.

We went to the pub. We had a discussion about the price for the work. We settled on a figure that was his work plus Hobo's work, which he had had to do because Hobo was not there, plus something for running the chainsaw. It was more than I bargained for but I paid it gladly. He had worked bloody hard and sometimes in positions and situations where I feared for his safety. All was in the yard. The outhouse roof had been made safe. I reckoned Tibi would be happy too. The third outhouse roof remained to be tackled but I was not unduly worried about that. It had largely collapsed in on itself anyway.

Hobo and Helmut appeared. Hobo at least (I don't know about Helmut) had been working in Ivanc (where the goats came from) all day. It became a session. Much beer flowed and I left much later than intended. I wobbled my way home. The tile stove never got lit. It was not cold in the house anyway.

14th November 2012

All I left the shop with this morning was beer and fruit. I was well stocked on bread and was not about to feed the amount I had left to the dogs so it would have to do today.

Early part of the day was all the normal stuff. I will not bore you with it. I cycled up to the pub at the normal earlier time that the meat van was likely to appear. I was good and just had a coffee followed by a steady alma fröccs. The meat van had not appeared by the time I finished so I left it and went home. I forgot to mention that when Helmut and Hobo appeared Helmut had presented me with a small parcel of pieces of glass that I wanted. Hobo had for long been carrying the measurements around with him. His working in Ivanc yesterday had given them the opportunity of obtaining it. The price? A beer each. In my cups yesterday I had deemed it a not good idea to attempt to get it home last night. It had been left for safety in the bottom of the pub ice cream cabinet. I retrieved it and transported it safely home. I still find it surprising that there is no glass merchant in Körmend.

I had not been there many minutes when fabricator Lajos appeared as promised to fix the gate. Blackie was secured in house. Pickle could not reach the scene of activity anyway. Lajos had me plug in his electric welder and find the piece that had broken off. Fortunately I had not discarded it and knew exactly where it was. He did a bit of cleaning up with angle grinder and tacked the broken piece on at the bottom. He offered the gate up, made a slight adjustment to the piece going back on and welded it up thoroughly top and bottom. He tried the gate and the catch went home with a satisfying click. He never did any measuring, no tape measure or Vernier callipers, but I would have to use feeler gauges to determine the clearance on the catch and not very thick at that. I unplugged his welder and coiled his cable for him and returned it and that was that. The price? The same! some beers in the pub later.

Just after Lajos left, the pigeon food arrived. I paid him and off he went. I secured dogs and went to the pub. By sheer good luck and coincidence as I parked the bike the meat van turned up. I made my usual purchases before I even went in the pub. I went in and with a certain smug satisfaction over my usual alma fröccs and a beer I reflected how well the dominoes had fallen this morning. Hobo was there. He sort of spoilt it by buying me another beer right at last knockings before they locked up at noon. We had to go and drink it in the yard. I was in no rush and neither apparently was Hobo. We left in our own good time.

Somewhat belatedly I got home and fed pigeons and goats. Also belatedly I had lunch. I was part way through when Hobo and Gyuri appeared. They knew what they were going to do so I left them to it and went back to finish my lunch. I kept hearing this strange sound. It sounded almost like a hen was about to cluck when it would be cut off half way through. All was revealed when I finished lunch and went back out. They had cleared and stacked the litter of huge beams that had come down yesterday and Hobo had jury rigged a slide using the ladder and a couple of good pieces of oak. The huge stacks of roof tiles were coming off the outhouse floor and being stacked in the yard. I cannot say that I was sorry about that. The weight of those huge stacks of roof tiles on the outhouse floor of dubious reliability was another thing that had worried me, but not as much as the beams that Gyuri had taken down yesterday.

At the appointed hour they knocked off and I took them for a beer for which I paid, of course. Back home they returned and resumed. I did my usual pigeon/goat routine. As darkness fell they knocked off. There was one small stack of tiles still to come down. I paid them and they went their ways.

Food, pub in the evening.

I get the occasional e-mail from an organisation called the Simplicity Institute. A recent e-mail had pointed me to a recent paper (he calls it an essay) by Dr. Samuel Alexander. It is about the necessary, shall we say, retrenchment of the middle classes. And preparation, if not physical then at least mental, for what is to come. I found myself surprised by how far along this path I have come, if not by design then by accident or misfortune, in many cases that he outlines. I used to consider myself middle class. I suspect that many/most of my readers consider themselves middle class. I now consider myself at best a yeoman, at worst a peasant doing as good a job as I can with my little patch of my gods' earth. If you consider yourself middle class READ IT!

15th November 2012

I was just finishing off breakfast shortly after eight when there was a doggie commotion of the kind that there was someone at the gate. I glanced out to see a brown van outside. UPS. Well, I knew that they were delivering a parcel to me today but, blimey, I did not expect them this early. I went out and signed for the parcel and went to finish breakfast.

I did the pigeon and goats stuff after that and then returned to house. I unpacked my parcel and found what I expected and of the quality I expected. I left it and went to doing some domestics. A bit of washing up and some clothes washing.

I had a job to do on the bike. I tried and failed. My socket set would not go on the nut that I needed to undo. I popped round to Tibi's and borrowed a ring spanner. That worked! Within ten minutes I had the job done and the spanner returned to Tibi. It was by now getting on in the morning so I secured dogs within and set off to the pub to road test the bike. I had cycled about three quarters of the way there when I was flagged down by Sandor the musician. He was with a friend and he imparted the information that the friend might have some, shall we say, comestibles that I might be interested in at a very cheap price. Sandor told me to go down to his house once I had been to the pub (he knew where I was going) and sample the comestibles. I went for my alma fröccs and a beer.

After that I did as requested and cycled down to Sandor's house. I sampled the comestibles, was fed coffee and wine and agreed to buy some. I was given a quick guided tour of the house. There was a tile stove. I thought that it was quite a small one until we went in the next room and I discovered that the tile stove had had a wall built around it, and one third of it was now in one room and two thirds in another. Quite amusing. Time was pressing and I took my leave.

Home, and I belatedly fed the goats and pigeons and then myself. Hobo turned up and did a load more clearing up of the outhouse loft. I got the firewood in. At the appointed time we went to the pub. John was there. A small session ensued. John had just bought the beers when I noticed that the light was beginning to fade. I put a lid on the beer and cycled home to do the goats and pigeons. Then I returned to the pub.

We lingered quite long, me still work clothes and welly clad. We decided that enough was enough and went our ways. Back home the house was quite cool so I lit the tile stove. Well, I attempted to light it. The first little fire lit with no problem but a small amount of smoke came into the room. I added some larger stuff and closed both inner and outer firebox doors. As soon as I closed the outer one the fire attempted to go out. If I opened the outer door and left the inner one closed the fire blazed up again but I was by now getting a lot of smoke into the room, enough to set off my smoke alarm. I was baffled. The entire house was by now well full of smoke. The smoke alarm was going off every few seconds so I disconnected the battery. I knew well enough that the house was full of smoke. In the end I had to give it best. I opened some big room windows, got the dogs in and went to bed. The inevitable happened and I woke up in the small hours freezing cold and had to get up and shut them again. At least by then the smoke had dissipated.

I never said what the job on the bicycle was. It was to fit my new Brooks leather saddle that was in the parcel that arrived this morning. Well you might consider that an extravagance but the bike is my lifeline to mobility if push comes to shove. Where is nearly all your weight when you ride a bicycle? On your bum. I have already described the degradation of the saddle that came with the bike. Might be an extravagance to you not to me. I rest my case (bum).

16th November 2012

After a normal start the number one priority was obviously to fix the tile stove. I investigated. I started with the inspection hatch at the bottom of the chimney. There was a little soot in there but not that much to disrupt the operation of the tile stove. In any case the outlet from the tile stove into the chimney is well over a metre above that.

The next easiest suspect to eliminate was the chimney itself. I went up into the loft with torch and a brick on a length of polypropylene clothes line. Down the chimney went the brick a little at a time with me clattering it against the sides as much as I could until it found either a blockage or bottom. I pulled it back up and repeated. I left the brick this time and descended back down to the pantry. The brick was in the bottom of the chimney by the inspection hatch. Not the chimney then. I was not worried about the top half of the chimney as I could see daylight in the chimney from the inspection hatch in the loft.

Working my way backwards, the next suspect was the outlet pipe from the tile stove into the chimney. Mmmmm! I had not the first idea how to get to it. I pondered. I decided that the easiest way was to get at it from the chimney, but there was no inspection hatch. Well, there would be! I measured up from floor to where the outlet pipe went through the wall and from the centre of the pipe to the doorway. I mirrored these measurements in the hall and pantry.

Right then. The outlet for the tile stove should be about HERE. All I had there was a plastered wall. The tools came out and a section of plaster removed. By sheer good luck it revealed a whole brick. Out it came. It did not take long either. I fetched the torch and shone it in. Spot on. Right there was the outlet from the tile stove. I did the brick trick again, but this time with a smaller piece of brick so that it might easily go round the bend in the pipe that I could see.

It was by now afternoon. All the other normal stuff had gone on at its various appointed times. I decided as a last measure to see if I could have a poke around using various makeshift devices to see if there might be anything else at the top of the firebox to cause problems. I could find nothing. Whilst I was doing this the wood that was still in the tile stove from yesterday evening got hotter and hotter to the extent that it was becoming uncomfortable to work and I could see glowing red embers appearing. I threw a couple of cups of water on it to damp it down whilst I finished my explorations.

I decided to test my efforts by making a paper fire in the stove. The fire burned and as far as I could see the smoke was disappearing upwards somewhere. I checked my makeshift inspection hatch with the torch and there was clearly smoke going up the chimney. I lodged the brick back in place. When I returned to the tilestove to my astonishment not only had the paper burned but the wood from last night that I had damped down with water had also rekindled. Not to look a gift horse in the mouth I made the fire up whilst the going was good. Hopefully, that was a result then.

I went back to the day job doing the early evening stuff. Then ate and went to the pub having first made up the tile stove again. When I returned home there was the merest suspicion of a haze of smoke in the big room. Nothing like last evening. I had a nice warm night.

17th November 2012

It was a very normal start to the morning. Hobo and Gyuri were to come and work. I had done the goats and the washing up when they showed up. They had said nine. For nine read ten. They set about getting the last of the roof tiles for the moment down to ground level. I filled the firewood baskets.

Naturally, by half past eleven we all felt the need to go for a beer. I paid, of course. We had the one and went our ways. They promised to come back at one. To my surprise they did. They continued the work until all the tiles were off the loft floor. Hobo started on putting all the tarpaulins and plastic sheeting back in place. Gyuri fetched his chainsaw and started in sawing up the litter of great beams that had come down. Blackie had to be secured in house. He is the same with a chainsaw as he is with the angle grinder. I can put up with him chasing the sparks from angle grinding but a chainsaw is definitely not a thing that he should be getting near.

Work halted. There was a problem with the chainsaw chain. Hobo and Gyuri spent some considerable time, borrowing various of my tools to try and fix it. It was to no avail and work stopped for the day. You can guess what happened next. At least the boys did not try and get paid for the time they were trying to fix the chainsaw. I went home to early evening routine.

The tile stove played up again. I did not persevere with it very long. I closed it down hard and went to the pub leaving just one window open. I recounted the problem to Hobo. He said that I needed an expert, which was rich considering that long ago, the very first year I was here and I found out the internal condition of the tile stove, he had said that there was no such thing and I should just get on and repair it. He did promise to make enquiries. As it happened, this was overheard by Sandor - he of the comestibles and firewood. He made the enquiries and came up with a telephone number the next day.

Helmut and Silvia turned up. So did John. It was a good evening. I wobbled my way home to my cold house. At least I was able to close the open window before I went to bed.

18th November 2012

It was a horrid day - grey, cold, damp and miserable. The house was cold. I dressed in haste and lit the kitchen stove as quickly as I could. It was soon warm enough in there.

I did the livestock and then the normal domestics - washing up and such. After that, housework. I differentiate between domestics and housework. Domestics is the stuff that happens on a day to day basis. Housework is the stuff that happens once a week or less often (sometimes much less often). Today it was the big room which needed a good going over. Well, some of it.

It had a good sweep through first. Ceiling, walls and floor, in that order. Sweeping the ceiling is not my most favourite job. The proverbial pain in the neck. It was time to go to the pub. I stoked the kitchen stove up before I went. An alma fröccs and one beer and then back home.

I stoked the stove up again, did the livestock and then had lunch. I did not linger and went and got the firewood in. I returned to the housework. I cleaned one pair of big room windows. There was method in my madness. I thought that if I just started with one pair of windows it would prompt me to get on with the others as they looked so bad. Then I gave the floor a good mopping with several changes of hot water. It was much needed.

I cycled up the village for eggs, calling in the pub on the way back. I tried the tile stove when I was back home. The same. Well, it had me beaten. If I had any idea of its internal construction it might give me a clue as to where to look for the problem. I had no idea, so I had no clue.

Pub in the evening. A little while after I got there Hobo and Helmut turned up. It was early closing this evening. The telly went off at twenty five past eight and within two minutes we were all drunk up and gone. I was home before half past eight.

19th November 2012

The weather was the same. After all the normal stuff I carried on with housework. I cleaned another pair of windows in the big room. I had changed my modus operandi for cleaning the windows. It was much too cold to be thinking about taking them outside. Instead I did them in situ using actual window cleaner. I applied it sparingly then worked the window over with a washing up sponge. The glass was then given a first wipe down with the paper that the bread comes in and then a final finish with kitchen towel. At least that way by starting from the outside and working in, the time that the room was open to the elements was kept to a minimum. The bread paper comes in handy for all sorts of things. It is absorbent enough to mop up minor spills and also doubles up indoors as a substitute for paper hankies. I can get six out of one piece of bread paper.

Next up was the hallway and kitchen which was not touched yesterday. It received the same treatment as the big room had had. I tidied all up then everything was moved as I swept through everywhere. Guess what I found? The floor. Having found it, it also was mopped. I deserved a beer after that so I went for one.

All the normal lunchtime stuff and then I got in a huge great basketful of kitchen firewood. With a non-working tile stove - it still was acting up - I needed to at least keep the kitchen end of the house warm as late in the day as possible.

Pub in the evening. Helmut was there. A sufficiency of beer followed.

20th November 2012

A normal start. The weather was still the same. Once again we were stuck under a high pressure weather system with a grey murk that wobbled from here to there over the country but would not go away. Washing up, clearing up in the kitchen and clothes washing saw off the morning. Pub, alma fröccs and one beer.

As usual the first thing I did on my return was to feed pigeons and goats. When I returned to the yard I immediately noticed that half of Pickle's chain was lying on the yard - the half attached to the running wire. Of the other half there was no sign. Nor was there any sign of Pickle. Blast! Now what? There had been no ominous squawks of chickens whilst I had been feeding the goats so I did not think that she had gone that way. I put Blackie in the house and went to look for Pickle. By luck I went to the front gate first. She was on the other side of the road headed back towards me from wherever she had been and still trailing the other half of her chain. I checked for traffic and there was none. I called Pickle and to her credit she came back to me immediately. I resecured the two halves of the chain. The carabiner thing baffles me. Between the two parts of Pickles chain are two carabiners - the largest that will go through the dog chain - and a swivel - the biggest and strongest that Bödő sell. And still somehow Pickle manages just once in a while to get one of the carabiners to part company from the chain. I do have a plan.

I did a very brief top up on firewood. None for the tile stove since nothing had happened to fix it and very little for the kitchen as I had stacked it high yesterday. Oh, we had made contact with a tile stove expert from Felsömarác. He was working in Austria for the next fortnight. Well, that was no good to me. I had a backup plan anyway. That was that if push came to shove I would buy what they laughingly call a small portable tile stove in Körmend for the small room adjacent the kitchen, seldom used and rarely visited by me, and move my sleeping arrangements in there. It had been in my slightly longer term plan. You might wonder why I say laughingly call portable. Well, as advised by Hobo, it takes four strong men to move one or six of the likes of me and Hobo.

I stoked the kitchen stove up and cooked. Meat and tatie pie. It was successful. It was also hot and sweaty work. I went for a beer. Gyuri caught up with me looking for work. I had work. We finished our beers and I cycled and Gyuri walked back to my place. I let the dogs out and Pickle was attached on short chain to the well. I set Gyuri on to reorganise the wood house and stack all the big lumps of softwood which were scattered about in the woodhouse, in the yard and in the one remaining lean-to by the side of the third outhouse.

I fed the goats, checked the pigeons and locked them in and threw some more wood on the kitchen stove. It was more or less dark when Gyuri called it a day. I secured dogs and we returned to the pub where I bought him a beer and paid him.

I went home, let the dogs out and sat before the computer and devoured my first portion of the pie. It had turned out to be quite a big pie. It would last me certainly more than one day. Somebody, sometime when the blog is quiet needs to send me an e-mail with the subject "Pie" and the message "Spilsby - savoury pie".

I went back to the pub in the evening. Hobo had information of which more tomorrow. I went home and did a little research on the Internet.I found that the internal construction of a tile stove was far more complex than I imagined - more to come on that. I also happened on a page about a Hungarian man somewhat older than me (probably a 1956 escaper) who had imported a tile stove from here in Hungary and had it installed in his flat in London. Apparently he saved eighty percent of what his gas heating cost and his flat was warm throughout. The other little factlet that I gleaned was that these tile stoves go back to the fifteenth century. Maybe that tells you something. But you need some land to grow lots of wood.

21st November 2012

All was normal until about ten when Hobo turned up. He had from somewhere gleaned some tile stove information. Either side of the ash door on every tile stove that I had seen were two round tiles. In my naivety I had thought that maybe they were for fork lifting the tile stoves about or maybe putting the equivalent of scaffolding poles through so that they could be manhandled. I had never even thought of looking to see if there were matching ones round the back. They had to come out Hobo said. They were cleaning points.

They were cemented in, or at least grouted in. Hobo borrowed my much used and abused and in need of replacement stainless steel scraper. He scraped away and indeed the two round tiles came out. He produced his pièce de résistance which was what I would call a small coal scuttle shovel but either made or modified with considerable curvature that nicely fitted in the holes left by the round tiles. I emptied the ash paint can into a dog hole in the yard and took it back to Hobo. Three and a half twenty five litre emulsion cans of soot came out of those two holes. They went in the dog hole with the ash. I cannot imagine how long it had been since they were cleaned out. Judging by the fact that this is my fifth winter of using the tile stove plus a brief period when I first arrived and the amount of crap that was in the bottom of the chimney when I first cleaned it out in the very early days and the amount I have removed since a very long time ago. Hobo tested his handiwork by getting a couple of bits of paper, lighting them and holding them in the holes. The results were dramatic. They were drawing air fiercely and I confirmed it by going into the pantry, removing the lodged in brick and seeing the smoke disappearing up the chimney.

We went for a beer. Normalcy returned. Back home, pigeons and goats were fed and I had lunch. Confident that tile stove problem had been resolved, after lunch I made up a mixing of grouting cement which I recently mentioned and glued the two round tiles back in place.

Pub, home and early evening routine. Feed the goats, check the pigeon water and account for them. I do that, you know. Morning and evening. To paraphrase "I count them all out, and I count them all back" Now, who said that? Ah yes, Brian Hanrahan, alas no longer with us.

I went to light the tile stove. No good, exactly the same. I got as far as lighting the kindling and the smoke was already coming into the room. I closed it down hard, abandoned it and went to the pub in disgust. Helmut and Hobo were there. I just looked at Hobo, turned my mouth down and shook my head. Helmut cottoned on to the problem and promised to come round tomorrow and help. But that is for tomorrow.

22nd November 2012

I had just finished breakfast when Hobo and Helmut turned up. Helmut and I had a discussion and we were both agreed that the problem had to be somewhere within the top half of the firebox, but where? I went to do the livestock and left them to it with Helmut this time in the drivers seat as it were.

When I returned all my fine work from yesterday in replacing and regrouting the two round tiles had been undone and Helmut was giving that area another clean out, somewhat more thoroughly than Hobo had done yesterday. Helmut began exploring the inside of the firebox. He asked me for a torch and a mirror. Using the torch within and the mirror propped up in the grate he was able to see what was what in there. Now why had I not thought of that? Next he wanted a piece of steel about so long. I found just the thing - a piece of ex-weld mesh that was lying about on the yard. Helmut bent over about nine inches on one end and began poking around inside the firebox with it. It took some while but eventually we were rewarded by the rustle of soot falling and some ominous louder thuds. Helmut once again cleaned out where the round tile had been. Another half a bucket of soot and several quite large pieces of firebrick came out. The firebrick bit was worrying. That stove had to be in very poor condition internally. Well, I know it is by the amount of patching up I have had to on the bits I could reach.

There was a repeat performance on the other side of the stove. The round tiles were lodged back in place and it was time to give the stove a test drive. It was immediately obvious that Helmut's ministrations had worked. The smoke went where it was supposed to go - up inside the firebox. Helmut described to me the path of the hot gases. From inside the firebox there are holes on either side, one left and one right. They were the cause of the problem. They had been blocked, caused in turn by the lack of cleaning out the area inside the round tiles. From the holes in the side of the firebox the hot gases are forced downwards in separate chambers either side of the stove. From there they pass into another separate chamber up the back of the tile stove and thence into the outlet to the chimney. Much more complex than I imagined. Helmut reckoned that if I remove the round tiles once a year and clean out I will never again need to worry about where the gases pass from the firebox to the side chambers.

Helmut was much besmirched with ash and soot and swilled down in the kitchen as best he could in my cold water. You know, I thought that that might have been the first time I used the word besmirched on the blog, but not so. I used it just once before. I may be able to rustle up a small prize for the first person that can tell me when (date) and in what context. Lovely word - so descriptive. Hobo and Helmut set off for the pub. I said that I would pay for the beers when I got there a few minutes later. I made up the tile stove fire and closed it down somewhat, secured dogs within and followed them.

One became two when Helmut bought a round back. Oh dear, one of those days. Somewhat belatedly I arrived home and immediately did the goats and pigeons. Then lunch. I kept the tile stove lit and for the second consecutive day glued back the round tiles.

An afternoon beer was called for. I was just about through it when John appeared. He offered me another beer. With the willpower of a jellyfish I accepted. I had just poured it out when I realised that the daylight was beginning to fade. I lidded the beer and cycled home to do the livestock. The dogs came out for a run around and I did the necessary goat and pigeon work. The tile stove was made up and the dogs resecured. I cycled back to the pub to finish the beer that John had bought and then home again.

Wrong! Helmut appeared. More beer appeared. To cut a short story shorter both John and I rolled out of the pub at kicking out time. To add a little entertainment to the evening two cigány drug pushers had appeared. Cocaine freely on offer. Thanks but no thanks. Enough problems with nicotine and alcohol. Company best avoided. They were in the smoking area in the yard. Our smoke breaks were short and infrequent.

I wobbled home safely. The fire in the tile stove had made its will, but the big room was nice and warm. Dogs. Bed.

23rd November 2012

It was quite cold in the big room by the time I arose. As I said yesterday, the fire was out when I returned home and I did not relight it. It was raining slightly when I went to the shop but not enough to warrant the umbrella.

A normal morning after that, including clothes washing. Nothing worthy of writing about. Pub, home, pigeons and goats, lunch.

After lunch I replaced the brick that had been removed from the chimney. I cheated by simply bedding it on decorator's filler and then sealing round it. I had had the filler in stock a long, long time and wondered about it, but it had been unopened and was fine. I had started on getting in the firewood when Hobo appeared. He was going to make good the area of plaster removed to get at the brick. I had to find this and that for him then he got on with the replastering and I went back to the firewood. One thing that I did notice was that he used what I can only describe as a type of scrim to bond the rendering onto. It had been tucked down the side of the steps up to the loft all the time that I had lived here, untouched by me. I did not even know what it was for.

He had me inspect his handiwork when he was done. It needed a finishing coat he said. As I write, it still needs a finishing coat.

Helmut was in the pub in the evening. We had a long and animated discussion about when he had done the tile stove. I was utterly, utterly convinced that it was the day before yesterday. He was equally insistent - quite rightly - that it was yesterday. Somewhere, somehow in my head I had gained a day.

24th November 2012

I shopped as usual first thing. The relief lady had by now got the hang of the bread that I wanted for the weekend. A Csákány Csemege Vekni. I was going to venture further into the breeds of bread but I will save it for another day.

I did a load of blog updating. Hobo and Gyuri turned up to set about the third outhouse roof. Well, they would have a right job on. I knew. I had been up there and looked. That outhouse had an inner ceiling. As well as the roof, the entire inner ceiling had collapsed in on itself and the remains of it were all that was preventing the rest of the roof in its entirety from totally collapsing within the outhouse.

At the appointed time I took them for a beer. Then back home for lunch and the rest of the usual stuff. I had resumed blog updating when Hobo and Gyuri returned to continue with the roof. I got the firewood in. They continued working until the light was beginning to fade. They had hit a snag anyway, and a fairly big one. The gable end of the third outhouse that overlooks the pigeon house was trying to collapse, fortunately away from the pigeon house. It was trying to bring with it a big iron chimney pipe that was (is), typically, wired to the woodwork. Hobo reckoned that it probably weighed about two hundred kilogrammes and it had to come down safely. As I write, it still needs to come down safely.

As darkness fell I took the boys for a beer and paid them. Pigeons and goats were already tucked up for the night. I managed to linger in the pub quite a bit longer than intended and went home to a cold house. That had to be fixed and I rapidly lit the tile stove. It was still cold when I went to bed but at least the stove was lit and banked up for the night. I knew that it would be warm in the morning.

25th November 2012

Edited highlights. Housework. I gave the floors a good going over and started on the second window of the big room. I did both pairs of the small windows at the top. Hobo and Gyuri turned up and did some stacking away of roof tiles in the potting shed. There were by now several hundred good roof tiles stacked in there.

Took them to the pub at the end of the morning and then home to all the usual stuff. I had a very strange Internet problem. I was browsing my usual sites over lunch and suddenly had no Internet connection. The usual suspect is the phone cable connection into the wall socket. I gave it a waggle. Same result. I unplugged it and plugged it back in. Still the same result. Mmmmm - what goes on? Onto a command line and ping Ah, one hundred percent packet loss. That would do it. It was an Ethernet problem then. I went to the back of the modem, unplugged the network cable and plugged it in another port. That did it. Back on the Internet. Maybe the port that it had been plugged into had run out of electrons and needed to be rested for a while ;)

The rest of the day was just the normal stuff with nothing special to write about.

26th November 2012

I was not impressed with the shop this morning. I was not late there but there was no bread and to add insult to injury there was no yeast either. I could imagine a certain disgruntlement if the good ladies of the village could not make their pogácsa. I was disgruntled enough not to be able to knock up a plain and simple loaf. I had to settle for zsemle - the breakfast roll things. Fortunately there was enough of the vekni left for my morning toast.

It was a day with some sunshine, but there was a cold wind. Normal stuff, then more housework - window cleaning etc. Nothing much to write about after that until Gyuri turned up in the afternoon, on the dot as promised. I had a job for him. I already had the firewood in and when I had finished that I had cleared a space in the woodhouse by some restacking of stuff that did not take long. I had Gyuri stack up the chain-sawed lumps of ex-outhouse roof all in one place. It was hither, thither and yon. Some was chucked in the woodhouse mixed in with the pear wood, some was chucked in a general heap in the yard and some had found its way into the last lean-to attached to the third outhouse where there was a load of ex-infrastructure that was fit only for sawing up and burning.

I went about my business, including as light began to fade feeding the goats and checking pigeon water and locking them in. By happy coincidence we both finished at about the same time. He insisted on showing me his handiwork. It was, as I expected, just as I had wanted it. Two rows deep and about head high. A lot of firewood for the kitchen. I took him for a beer and paid him.

All normal after that. Home, eat, change (out of the wellies at least) and back to the pub where nothing out of the ordinary happened.

27th November 2012

I was up bright and early. Well, early enough that it was not bright. At least the shop had bread today. All the usual stuff back home in slightly more haste than usual for a reason. It was doctor's day.

I needed a new supply of blood pressure pills. Over the few times that I have had to visit the doctor I have evolved a cunning plan to be there as little time as possible. Cunning but simple. Get there as late as possible before the nominal closing time of the surgery. I had been warned in the very, very early days that I came here not to get there too soon. The nominal hours are eight until nine Tuesdays and Fridays. Apparently the old girls of the village start to queue at about half past seven. Well, I guess that they can sit there and have a good gossip. My plan worked again. There turned out to be only two people in front of me. Did I ever mention that there is no appointments system and the queuing system is remeniscent of a barbers shop back in the UK. Go in, sit down and count how many people are in front of you, then mentally tick them off as they are shorn.

Anyway, I was soon in with doctor. He rose from his chair and shook my hand when I entered and he did so again as I left. Once again he used his sphygmomanometer to check my blood pressure. He declared it a little high but was happy enough to just give me a repeat prescription for the ones he first prescribed. I went back to the day job.

Hobo had promised to come and do some work for me at nine. Sure enough he did, at nine o'clock Hobo time == ten o'clock CET. He did manage to get in for me a load of chopped firewood for both stoves and a load more chopped in the wood house before it was time to haul-ass to the pub.

All normal after that. Gyuri appeared again looking for work. I had work for him. Up on the remains of the third outhouse roof was still most of the collapsed inner ceiling. I set him on to bash it to bits and get it in the yard. After that it was almost a carbon copy of yesterday. By the time I finished (goats/pigeons/etc) he had not only cleared a great area of it from the third outhouse but also stacked it all up in the lean-to.

All normal after that. Helmut was in the pub when I arrived but he did not stay long. He had to go back to Csákánydoroszló and put the heating on in his house. By then my cserepkalyha was burning nicely. Thanks to Helmut.

28th November 2012

After a normal start it was domestics again. I managed two lots of clothes washing - I never seem to make inroads into it. Then another pair of house windows. One pair to go and the house windows, at least the ones I ever do, would all be clean. For now. I must have been working well because by the end of the morning before I took my pub break I had all the firewood in as well.

I was waiting for the dog food man to appear, but his window of opportunity closed as time advanced. Tough. I would have to get some from the Purina van tomorrow. I cycled off to the pub. By sheer coincidence, just as I was parking the bike dog food man appeared with a bag of chicken feed for the pub. I got a bag of dog food off him whilst he was there. Save me having to keep an eye out for Purina tomorrow. The problem with Purina is that he has no jingle - just a short, indistinct spoken announcement just as he pulls up outside the shop. The dogs do not howl or bark at his presence and if I am inside with the house doors and windows closed I never even hear him. I dumped the dog food by the bike and went in the pub for my alma fröccs and one beer.

I was hoping to catch the meat van whilst I was there as well. He pulled one of his no show days and never appeared. Some of the regulars were moaning about it later. I went home to a minor catastrophe of my own. When I went to feed the goats Rudy had battered his way out of his half of the goat house, goats were everywhere but at least still in the goat house, and Rudy was trying to dismember the roof. Fortunately I had goodies with me and was able to entice Rudy back into his half with no problem. I secured the door as best I could and fed the goats their hay. Fortunately the door and the bolt were undamaged. The problem was with the big softwood upright that the door was supposed to bolt behind.

Right! Workshop, suitable piece of good hardwood (walnut), drill, nails, hammer. I went back to the goat house and reinforced the softwood upright with the walnut which extended well above and well below the bolt area. It was not nice work. The nails were big and although I had predrilled the walnut for them they proved tough to hammer into the upright. To compound it I was having to hammer backhanded. To do it forehanded would have meant having the door open and doing it from Rudy's side of the door. Thanks but no thanks. It took a while. The weather was considerably mild and sweat dripped. Goats were where they were not supposed to be - except Rudy. It could wait. Somewhat after two I finally managed lunch.

By the time I finished lunch it was beer o'clock anyway so I went for one. I had earned it slaving over a hot hammer. Back home to lock the pigeons in and feed the goats. Rudy was still where he was supposed to be so that bit was OK. I reorganised the others. Suzy and the wether came out from the Rudy half and Vicky went in. It proved in a couple of days to be not a success. Jumping ahead just a little, Suzy was being bullied by the wether, believe it or not, so she went back in with Rudy so both does were now in with the buck. As I write that is where they remain apart from a couple of times when the wether managed to find his way back in with Rudy and the girls. I have no idea how.

Posta delivered a letter that I recognized as being from HMRC in the UK. It was a Notice of Coding - you know, your tax code thing. The code on one of my pensions had been changed from whatever it was to NT (No Tax). Good-oh! Jumping ahead a little again another of my pensions has also been changed to NT. They also do not take any tax from my state pension. Well, the filling in of form DT-Individual had produced a result. Three out of four was not bad. It had not been a thing that I had considered or even knew existed in my decision to move here. It only came to my attention when the whole pensions thing kicked off (and raised my blood pressure to astronomical levels) and reared its ugly head.

Nothing else to write about. Light the tile stove, eat, change (out of the wellies) and go to the pub.

29th November 2012

It had rained quite a bit overnight. It was still spitting and spotting when I went to the shop. I really must poke my nose over the top of the well and see if the rains had replenished the water table. I think that I mentioned that by the end of the second drought spell this year it was almost devoid of water. It needs digging out. Well (pun intended), that would have to wait until a) I have a decent new aluminium ladder capable of reaching the bottom with height to spare, b) a pair of waders and c) the water level being more at summer levels than it is now. Hobo blows hot and cold about going down there and doing it. I cannot say that I blame him, he having been down the well at home where it is over twenty metres down to the water. Somebody had punched the button marked "Winter". It was cold

All was normal after that and I did more housework. Another pair of big room windows were cleaned. That left one pair to do. For the second time this year I had to clean at least the front of the tile stove. The recent escapade had left a fan shape of oily soot deposits all up the front of it in an ascending fan shape upwards from the firebox from whence the smoke had billowed out. I had to take one of those plastic pan scourers to the worst bits.

All normal after that until the afternoon. I had some computer work to do and then get in the firewood. There was one of the regular little markets in the faluház. I cycled down there and amongst other things bought a small size wooden spoon and a medium sized one. I was down to one at home. A big one. I used to have a medium sized one bought in the very early days of my being here. It had disappeared, I know not where. I suspected a dog. To jump ahead just a little, I used my new medium sized one just once. I came home one evening to find it chewed to bits on the kitchen floor. Definitely the work of dog(s) but at least I knew what had happened to it. Moral of the story is - if you have used a wooden spoon either wash it up and put it away immediately or at least put it out of reach of dogs.

I went for an afternoon beer and then home to lock the pigeons in and feed the goats. It was cold enough to relight the kitchen stove and I had a full unhealthy bacon sandwich. As usual I fished the remains of the fire out of the kitchen stove and put them in the tile stove to get it going. It works well. I can have a healthy blaze in there in a few seconds. I did some blog updating whilst waiting for the tile stove to be going well enough to shut down the air supply. Then went to the pub.

30th November 2012

It was all a very normal and boring sort of morning with lots of housework to occupy me until it was pub time.

One alma fröccs, one beer and home to do goats and pigeons and have lunch. Helmut turned up at an appointed hour. He had not known until I told him last weekend about the chicken (meat) producer only a few doors down from me. Helmut had given me an order to order for him and asked me to collect and pay for it if for whatever reason he could not be about in Halogy. It turned out that he was so we went together to pick up his order. It also turned out that he knew the son of the business from the Halogy pub anyway. I took the opportunity to get some for myself since the meat van had not shown up on Wednesday.

I was cheeky on the way back to my house. I asked Helmut if I could scrounge a lift to Tescos sometime in the next few days. Not a problem. We would go now. That is the sort of chap that Helmut is. I dropped off at home to put my chicken safe and at least change out of the wellies into trainers. Off we went. There was a certain item on the flyer that I had received from Posta this week. It went on sale today at a considerable knock down price. The only fly in the ointment was that the advertisement for it had a small legend emblazoned by it. "Subject to Availability".

We arrived by Tescos. Helmut surprised me by knowing the shortcut way in to the car park down a short rough track off the main road. I had only found out about it a few weeks ago on the day that I was given a lift to collect my new specs. It avoided the roundabout at the big main road intersection a couple of hundred metres away. It was not a place that I would have ever explored anyway. Certainly not on the push bike, as it would mean exposure for a much greater distance on the main north-south road. It had been bad enough when the Raba Híd (river bridge) by the Halászcsárda was renovated but at least then I could get along the path by the side of the river.

Helmut, not to waste a journey, grabbed a trolley. He said that he would be fifteen, maybe twenty minutes. I expected to be in and out a good deal quicker than that. I went to the counter where I knew that the item at which I was interested would be. A young lady served me very promptly. I had had the forethought to bring along the bit of the Tesco flyer with the item on. I showed it to her. She went away for a few seconds into an inner sanctum there and in equally few seconds returned with the one word answer "Nincs". Sod's law had prevailed and it was not available in Körmend.

Interesting word "Nincs". In conjunction with "Van". Both Helmut and I had to be educated by Hobo that they are mutually exclusive. Certainly in colloquial language here "Nincs" means "We have none", "There is none" etc, etc whilst "Van" means "We have some" etc, etc. You apparently do not say in Hungarian "I have none".

Out of pure spite for not getting what I wanted I grabbed a shopping basket and went to do a little groceries shopping. Coffee beans, margarine that is rarely available in the shop and the prize of the day a kilogramme of minced beef. I felt a huge chilli con carne coming on. I went to the checkout with the least number of people, as you do. The bloke at the front was making a hoo-haa about phone cards. I noticed that the next checkout had opened. There were only two people there. I changed queues. As the person at the front of the queue was served the lady in front of me decided that she had forgotten something. Off she went. I stood and the cashier sat until she eventually returned. To add insult to injury she put half her stuff through the checkout, paid and left half a dozen items behind. The cashier was about to put them through as mine. There was a three way hoo-haa this time between me, the cashier and the lady in front. Fortunately it was quickly resolved. The lady went through another round of scanning goods and paying. I quickly got served. She was still packing her stuff away by the time I had packed mine and started limping away. I had to push her trolley out of the way. She overtook me as I limped towards the exit. Minus trolley. I realised that I could have reduced my expenditure by a hundred fontints by returning, collecting her trolley, returning it to the trolley park and retrieving the hundred forints. I was too footsore to bother.

By sheer good fortune Helmut was paying for his trolley load of groceries just as I was passing the checkout where he queued. We made our way back to Halogy where I was in nice time for the afternoon stuff - firewood and such.

All the usual stuff, including pub in the evening. Helmut and Silvia were there. It was a pleasant evening.  


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