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December 2012

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1st December 2012

Nothing much to write about today, and I could do with a few more days like it in an attempt to catch up. All normal to start. The weather was cold again. Hobo and Gyuri were supposed to turn up and work on the outhouse roof. It did not happen. For some reason that totally escapes me I ended up doing housework on a Saturday. Maybe it was just the state of the place. I got the kitchen firewood in.

Usual end of the morning - up to the pub for apple and beer. I saw where Hobo was working. It is a dead giveaway when he leaves his bike propped against the front fence. I had an idea what he might be doing when I saw where he was. He popped in very late on at the pub and confirmed it. He was spray painting a car. Well, I could not blame him for taking that choice. He would be able to charge at least double what he would have got from me. Gyuri caught up with me in the pub. He had had a problem at home and would come and do some work this afternoon. Jumping ahead a couple of hours, it also did not happen.

I went home to all the normal lunchtime stuff. I really must find time to redescribe in detail all these entries that I describe as the normal stuff for the benefit of those who have forgotten and late comers to the blog. I spent all afternoon cooking. I have no idea what but it took me all afternoon.

Pub. John was there so one became two. Home to lock in the pigeons and feed the goats for the evening. As darkness fell I scrambled in firewood for the tile stove, cannibalised the last of the fire in the kitchen stove and lit it.

I washed, changed and waited. Somewhat late I was picked up and transported to Csákánydoroszló to perform one of my more pleasant duties of the year portraying a certain character for the children who appears at about this time of year. I expected Hobo to be there to portray a certain other character at this time of year who accompanies my character. That did not happen also. Helmut and Hobo had had two evenings of sharp and prolonged disagreements in the pub in the last two or three days, so I cannot say I was surprised. Duties performed I was suitably watered (not with water) and then transported home at a sensible time. It is one of the two handsful of evenings through the course of the year, barring accident or illness, when I can be relied upon not to appear in the Halogy pub.

2nd December 2012

It was cold and looked like living up to the weather forecast of rain, turning to sleet and then snow. It was not a day for doing anything spectacular so I didn't. Neither did my work cohort who were also supposed to show up today. I did a little housework and then retired to computer to do some checking of e-mails and blog updating.

The usual end of morning break at the pub and home for all the rest of that time of day stuff.

After lunch I got the firewood in quite early and also lit the tile stove early. Goats fed, pigeons locked in and dogs secure within house I set off at about half past four for a swift one in the pub and then cycled up to The Park for this year's Advent ceremony. It was quite different to previous years in many small ways. There was a goat there as usual. It was not one of mine. It was from the other herd in the village. I had half expected Hobo to come and ask to borrow Suzy. Given the weather conditions tonight my answer would have been a resounding NO! It was not a happy little goat in the prevailing weather conditions. Its tail was down all evening in the falling snow. A goat with its tail down is not a happy goat.

After the ceremony there was the usual party of nibblies and lots of mulled wine. I partook of a couple of mugs, mainly to warm my hands up. I had a small incident towards the end of my stay there. I needed to relieve myself. The village bus was just far enough away from the centre of celebrations to hide me from sight. I went the far side of it. It was only when I had myself unzipped that I realised that there were people in the bus waiting for Tibi to take them home. I turned away promptly and as rapidly as possible went away another ten metres or so before seeking what was by then urgent relief.

I made my goodnights and freewheeled the bike down the hill as far as the pub. I had a couple of beers in the relative warmth of the pub and then cycled home. Dogs were fed and out and I settled in the relative comfort of the big room with the door closed and the sausage at the bottom called into play.

3rd December 2012

I was out and about very early. I was in and out of the shop before it was really daylight. There was a reason. Once again Helmut was coming to the rescue. Unfortunately for me Helmut had to pick up Hobo for work and be somewhere else by nine. Hence me rushing about.

I managed a relatively rapid breakfast and an equally rapid dealing with pigeons and goats and did it with moments to spare before Helmut arrived. We set off to Körmend. The reason for the trip was straighforward. The dogs had an infestation of fleas. I had already tried and failed to get Tibi, the village bus driver, to pick up what I needed. We went to find the Euro-Vet shop. After a small detour and a walk we found it. Closed. He keeps odd hours for here in Hungary, only open for a couple of hours in the morning and another couple of hours in the afternoon. Both two times that I had been there previously had coincided with the afternoon opening times so it had never occured to me to make any sort of note of the times.

Well, that was an epic fail then. Helmut asked if there was anywhere else we might find it. The only place that I had seen an equivalent was in Tescos, long ago and only once. We tried Tecso and failed there too. With a wasted journey we drove back to the village. On the way back Helmut said that he had to drive to Austria this afternoon and he would see what he could find. He dropped me off and we resumed our separate days.

All was well at home - apart from the dogs having fleas. I just managed to catch the kitchen stove and relight it from a few embers and it was a morning in the kitchen. Pie for today and tomorrow and start the chilli con carne off. All was normal after that. Pub, home, pigeons, goats and lunch.

I was doing the chopping and sawing of firewood in the afternoon when there was a doggie commotion. Helmut had pulled up in his van and he and Hobo were at the gate. Helmut had a little bottle of some anti-flea stuff that he had found in Austria. I paid him for it and they went off to the pub. It was near enough afternoon beer o'clock so I finished off the firewood, secured dogs and went and joined them for one (or two).

Back home and all the usual stuff. Count the pigeons in, top up their water and lock them in for the night. Feed the goats, feed me a goodly portion of pie and pub in the evening.

4th December 2012

Helmut turned up just as I was finishing breakfast. He had a jar of a cabbage dish which we had spoken about in the pub and which he had made yesterday evening. It was clearly a Hungarian dish as he had called it by a Hungarian name when we spoke about it. I tried it later. Mmmmm - delicious. I have written before about the Hungarian creativity with something as simple as the cabbage.

All was normal except that I had a right struggle with the kitched stove. The firewood that I had in was ex-outhouse roof and was just too damp. Even with the stove wide open the wood would just smoulder for a while and then go out.

Before I went to the pub I doctored the dogs with the stuff that Helmut had brought from Austria yesterday. It proved that a five millilitre syringeful squirted on each end of each dog was exactly the right amount. To jump ahead a couple of days it was plain that it was not working. I investigated further. I found it on the Internet. It turned out that I should not have squirted it on the dogs but instead onto an absorbent collar from where it would be slowly released onto the dog. Oh hell! Had I poisoned the dogs? I investigated even further. It turned out that the stuff was a mixture of two flower oils in a glycerine base and the scent of them was supposed to be unattractive to fleas who were then supposed to go away. Well, I had not poisoned the dogs, it had not worked but by heck the dogs smelled nice for a few days.

All normal after that. In the afternoon I topped up the kitchen firewood with a load of smaller, drier pieces of ex-outhouse roof. All the other early evening stuff happened as usual and that was that.

5th December 2012

It was a nothing sort of a day really so there only a couple of brief bits to mention. The first was the morning pub break. John turned up for cigarettes but as I was there decided to be social and have a beer. I was expecting a UPS delivery and had done my usual stunt of a sign on the gate. Their tracking system is top notch. When they are notified of a package to be picked up it goes on their system and an e-mail is generated for the recipient which gives a link to a web page with the details. Even at that stage their system is such that the item is already allocated a delivery date and that is quite plain on the web page (once you have sorted out the Hungarian). That's it. You know about a week in advance when to expect the package and that date is when it arrives. John and I were having a smoke out the back in the sunshine. From there we could not see the road. Láciká (son of Láci who was looking after the pub for the morning) showed Mr. UPS where I was, I signed and that was that.

The normal Posta did not arrive today until it was dark. About half past four, long after I had done the evening pigeon and goat stuff.

6th December 2012

All normal morning, lunchtime and afternoon. I caught the bus to Nádasd in the afternoon to go to Bödő. It was pleasant enough in the middle of the day and I suppose that I could have cycled but I knew that by the time I would be coming back it would be getting quite cold quite quickly. Speaking of it getting cold I noticed a thing on the way there. I had already noticed it when Helmut took me to Körmend but not commented on it. On neither the Halogy nor the Daraboshegy roads had snow fences been put up this year. Well either they knew something about the winter that the rest of us do not or they do not have the funds to pay for the snow fences being erected.

I bought my stuff in Bödő. Angle grinder disks, gas for the blowlamp, threaded rod and nuts and washers, and yet more carabiners. I went over the road to wait for the bus back which would not be many minutes. The bus came. It was not a driver that I knew. He gave me a dose of looking at when I got on and just went to sit down. I said the one word "Nyugdíjas" to him and he seemed happy enough with that. There was a hoo-haa at the next stop by Nádasd templom. They had changed the system again. The teaming droves of school and kindergarten children all had to show a pass to get on the bus. Mr. bus driver was a bit of a jobsworth. Not only did he insist on seeing every pass but he also made every one of them take off their back pack before allowing them to pass inside the bus. The children were clearly unused to it and there was much rummaging about and a considerable passage of time before they were all on board. One young man of Halogy, known to me, clearly had no pass and no money. He was not getting past the driver. I was in the seat immediately behind the driver. Young man turned to me for help and borrowed the bus fare back to Halogy. He said he would let me have it back. Still waiting as I write.

This evening was the evening for Szent Mikulás and Krampus to go abroad on the streets of Halogy to respectively treat and terrify the children.

It turned into an interesting evening in the pub. Hobo was in one of his darker moods, having a go at everything and anything and everybody and anybody. Fortunately I was not on the receiving end for once. Helmut spoke to me and bemoaned the fact that he knew that Hobo had had absolutely nothing to eat all day. They had been working together. Helmut had bought Hobo a sandwich at lunchtime but Hobo had not eaten it. Butor Lajos got involved as he was sat at the table. Helmut spoke of the fact that apart from Hobo's breakfast of coffee, rum and a beer they had both had exactly the same to drink today. Helmut, Lajos and I had a discussion about what we drank and ate in the course of a day, perforce in Hungarian for Lajos' benefit. It turned out that all three of us had about the same to eat and drink during the course of a day. Hobo had the same amount to drink but nothing to eat. We all three tried to get through to Hobo that he must eat during the day. Hobo, in his black mood, was having none of it. He finished his beer and prepared to leave saying that he was not happy. Helmut's immediate repost was that neither was he happy. Storm. Teacup. All be forgotten by tomorrow.

Back home and in view of what I wrote about the Austrian flea stuff I went on-line and did a search for FrontLine in Hungary. By pure good luck I found a, what I would call, cataloguing site ( here in Hungary. I am not normally a fan of them but this one worked well. I scrolled down and found what I was looking for - FrontLine for large dogs. I clicked on the link and it took me straight to the relevant page of a party called Vet-Plus Állatgyógyászati Patika. I added two to my basket and with a little help from Google translate worked my way through the ordering process. One of the ones that always catches me out is the box for the post code (zip). It is in a perfectly logical place to a Hungarian but not to a Brit (and others) - immediately following the boxes for name. The other one is selecting the payment method. For me, here it is always cash on delivery to the delivery agent. It was quite a nice site. There were four tabs across the top of the screen that clearly indicated what stage of the ordering process you had reached. For that to be easily comprehensible by someone of my limited magyarul quite impressed me. I completed the process. The final tab was, in so many words, thank you we have received your order. And so they had, for within a couple of minutes I had received an automated e-mail response which, once I had changed the character set to ISO-8859-2 to get rid of all the question marks, I clearly understood. And so to bed.

7th December 2012

It was cold this morning but clear and bright. I don't know just how cold because I did not check the thermometer on the kitchen windowsill. The dogs alerted me as I was finishing breakfast to Helmut's unexpected arrival. I went out to find out why he had appeared. He presented me with an outer chimney inspection hole plate in good condition. It had been lying about where he and Hobo had been working and he had obtained permission to remove it. It was actually very welcome as I was short of one for the inspection hole in the house loft for the tile stove chimney. I wrote long, long ago about having to make one myself for the inspection hole at the bottom of the kitchen chimney. I reported then that they had proved impossible to buy and that all that Bödő had as a replacement/substitute was an expensive double doored sheet steel thing. It would save me making one but there are further complications of which more later.

I did the pigeons and goats, then returned to the house. I went to boot up the computer. No electricity! There had been when I breakfasted. Although it was a clear day I had been up early enough to need a light in the kitchen whilst I did breakfast. First port of call was as usual the meter cupboard to see if the earth leakage switch had tripped. It hadn't. Mmmm - village problem then, not a house problem. Blast! I needed to get on the computer and do some stuff for the UK. I returned to the kitchen and plugged the light back in. Of course it did not come on but at least when it did it would alert me to the resumption of power supply to the house. I got on with some domestics.

The power came back on somewhat over an hour later. I went and got on with my computery stuff until it was beer o'clock. The rest of the day was all the normal stuff. Goats/pigeons/firewood... I will not bore you with it.

8th December 2012

Very brief highlights. We had had snow. Not too much thankfully but a good covering. It continued snowing on and off all day. Always just a gentle drifting down of flakes. Mrs. Pigeon No. 1 had presented me with a new baby pigeon freshly hatched. Jumping ahead just a little because I know that I will forget to say, sadly the other egg did not hatch. I left it four or five days until it was quite obvious that it was not going to hatch and then removed it. It contained a fully developed chick, quite dead, that had simply failed to hatch. Darwin at work.

Hobo had said that he would come and do some stuff but in view of the conditions I was not at all surprised when he did not show up.

Everything else during the day was all the usual stuff except for having to shake the snow off the maize stalks to feed the goats. That was cold and unpleasant work.

The day became not normal in the evening. Today was one of the days when I did not go to the pub. It was the skittles banquet and prize giving and mere mortals like John and I were excluded from the pub. I had been sneaked in a couple of years ago under the pretext of having my village photographer hat on. They did not require my services last year, nor this.

It did not bother me. I used the time to good effect to do more of the computer stuff for the UK and made good inroads into it before I called it a day. I watched a DVD after that and then to bed.

9th December 2012

It was a bit nippy when I let the dogs out. I checked the thermometer on my travels. Minus eight. Mmmmm - I had not expected that. I was fairly sure that the Norwegian weather forecast site had not forecast it either. Back in the house to light the stove and get the coffee on and I discovered that I had no water to the house. Frozen up - again. I certainly had not expected that at this time of year. The last times it had happened were when it was seriously cold with temperatures into the high teens of minuses. Oh well, I had water in the kettle so coffee was not a problem.

I swept through the house. Mopping was out of the question. At the end of the morning I cycled up to the pub as usual. Today it was in glorious warm sunshine. It soon got round the pub that I had no water again. Jóli rustled me up a food parcel to take home which was kind. I really needed to get into Hobo's ribs. I had been banging on for weeks about getting the drain-down tap replaced in the manhole. When the young man had replaced the water feed to the house with the plastic pipe under the yard all that time ago he had had to dispose of the one that was there as it was fitted in iron pipe and would not fit the new plastic one.

Happily, when I returned home I had the water back. The thermometer outside was saying eighteen Celsius in the warm sunshine and it had obviously been enough to warm that side of the building up and thaw out the supply.

All was normal after that except that in the evening I decided to go with local knowledge obtained from more than one person which is to prevent the water supply from freezing leave a tap dripping. So I did. I found a clean bucket, put it in the kitchen sink and left the tap dripping into it.

10th December 2012

Short again today. It was another cold morning - equally as cold as yesterday - but at least I had water, so the local knowledge seems to work. I now think I know exactly what the problem is with the water system and it is a pretty fundamental flaw in the way the water gets to the house. The tap that supplies the yard sticks out of the bathroom wall. It is impossible to lag adequately. It is also, I suspect, the first takeoff after the join from the supply pipe under the yard to the house supply. The result is that the tap freezes, the freezing spreads back to the pipes to all the house taps and hey-presto no water anywhere in the house. It is completely and absolutely the wrong technology for here. Looking around, all the other houses have standpipes, usually situated close by the water manhole, and the pipe obviously is taken off the main supply deep underground. That way it does not matter if the standpipe freezes absolutely solid. The freezing is never going to spread deep enough to affect the main supply.

There were only two items of note for the rest of the day. One was that Hobo turned up and I had him fork down for me from the outhouse ex-loft a goodly tarpaulin load of goat bedding. I really do not fancy going up the remains of the wooden ladder. It really is fit only for firewood and high on my list of priorites is to get a good quality aluminium double extender ladder. The Hungarians would continue to patch up the wooden one until it finally let go in a big way and dumped someone on their back in the yard.

The only other thing of note was that Helmut was absolutely insistent on taking my bike back to Csákánydoroszló to sort out the bottom bracket. He had even come equipped with a spare bike to get me home. Not more than three quarters of an hour after he left he was on the phone to Hobo to tell him that the bike was fixed and he would bring it around in the morning. Oh well, saved me a job then.

11th December 2012

True to his word Helmut returned my bike whilst I was having breakfast. Hobo was with him and they were off together for a days work. He left his bike with me as he said that there would be no room for it in the van.

All was normal after that. The sole highlight of the day was getting the tarpaulin load of old straw into the pig sties. I definitely wanted it in today as the forecast was for a cold night. The fun part was always getting the half destined for where Rudy is into the actual sty. I definitely did not want to be in there with him. The technique is to put the half for the other sty in first. Then the rest goes over the gate in the corridor and after that I lean over the gate with hay fork and as quickly as possible flick it into the sty in a heap. I does not matter about it being in a heap. The goats rummage about and distribute it anyway.

That was it for the day. Pub in the evening.

12th December 2012

Once again I had remembered to do the dripping tap thing. In spite of minus eight outside I had water in the house. None of the water goes to waste. It can go in dogs, goats or pigeons and any left over can help rinse out washing.

All was normal - shop/breakfast/pigeons/goats with nothing special to report. Pub at the end of the morning. They had shut up shop for lunchtime and I went to cycle home. I spotted the meat van a few doors down. I cycled down to him but he had shut up shop and was about to drive to the pub. I retraced my wheeltracks the few metres back to the pub where he set up shop again. His arrival in the village has become very hitty-missy. When I first started using him you could guarantee a time slot of around nine forty five, to ten in the morning. Now, it could be any time from then until noon as today. As I have already written, sometimes he does not turn up at all which is just annoying. I bought a fairish lump of pork - more than I wanted but the smallest he had - and some meaty bones for dog treats.

I cycled home with the meat and before letting the dogs out sealed it in a well knotted carrier bag and hung it on a nail in the wall of the workshop outhouse. In the present conditions it would pass perfectly well for a makeshift fridge. In fact jumping ahead to when I actually wanted to use the meat it was lightly frozen. It made it very easy to slice and dice.

After that it was all normal again. I went for the usual afternoon beer break. It became one of those days when more beer appeared on the table at the time I needed to get home and do the goats and pigeons. I lidded the beer, went home and did what I needed to do, then returned. More beer appeared from an unexpected source.

I finally got home a couple of hours later than I intended. I managed some blog updating and then another good session of the stuff that I was doing for the UK. I had to boot into Windose for that so I watched a DVD. I went to bed somewhat later than intended.

13th December 2012

After last evening's exertions in front of the computer I was up late. Late enough that after the shop I did the goats and pigeons before anything else. There was no water in the house again. Somebody had forgotten to leave the tap dripping. Well, I needed water for the goats. I took the blowlamp to the bit of pipe exposed that feeds the yard tap. The tap itself was frozen solid. A small amount of brickwork had previously been removed in a previous attemp to resolve another problem. The gaps left allowed me to direct the heat along the pipe to inside the wall. After a moment I tried the tap. It turned. I got a dribble from the tap. It turned into a trickle and then a steady stream. I filled the goat bucket and went to distribute it to the goats. When I returned inside the house there was water to all the taps which tended to confirm what I wrote earlier about that outside tap being the root cause of the winter problems.

I concentrated my efforts after that on getting the computer job for the UK finished.

14th December 2012

It was minus eight outside again but I had done the tap dripping trick and I had water. I went to the shop, hatless as usual. It was a mistake. There was a biting wind from somewhere cold and the wind chill factor made it feel much worse than minus eight. Home, and get the kitchen stove lit sharpish. It was still not getting that cold physically in the kitchen overnight. Maybe down to about twelve. Once the stove is lit the kitchen warms up rapidly.

After that once again all the usual stuff with me keeping out of the cold as far as possible. Exercise for the day was getting the firewood in. Although it is exercise the chopping and sawing of wood are two of the worst jobs that I do in relation to the knee. Too much standing in one place and I had particularly noticed that this year wielding the big axe caused me a lot of knee pain. That did surprise me as I had not considered it hithertofore as an especially knee intensive activity.

Linux (unusually) let me down. I had some photos to copy to me pendrive from recent village events. Linux saw the pendrive and allowed me to create the directories into which to copy the photos. Would it copy them? Would it heck. It said that it had copied them but when I checked all I had was empty directories. I did not have time to investigate so in frustration I had to do it in Windows. It remains uninvestigated as I write.

Hurka and potato wedges for main meal of the day and then off to the pub.

15th December 2012

The thermometer said that it was warmer than yesterday but it was a horrid grey day. What attested to the fact that it was warmer was that it was damp cold. Very cold. Give me a nice clear morning at minus ten with all the moisture frozen out of the atmosphere any day. My catarrh was playing up. All normal until I went to open up the pigeons and check their water. As usual I counted them up before they went out. I had a nice surprise. Mrs. Pigeon No. 2 was obviously sitting. Stupid time of the year to be laying eggs and sitting, but there you go. I had to goad her lightly until she attacked me. The big surprise was that she was sitting not one egg but two. I had not noticed yesterday.

Clothes washing and blog. Then to the pub, coughing, sniffing and dripping snot. More detail than you need.

In spite of the crap weather there was a steady thaw of snow all day. It did not help much. It became slushy and muddy underfoot and more and more damp in the air.

I got a load of firewood in in the afternoon and apart from pub in the evening that was the day. Except to write a little about Christmas external decorations. That is to say Christmas lights in or on houses that can be seen from outside. The majority of houses have none. All those that have them are quite understated. Always monochrome in subdued colours varying from a very symbolic seven light representation of a tree and to the odd string of lights on the outside of the house. Except one house. Granted they are monochrome and not in your face but they have a string of the LED ones outside around one corner of the house. They twinkle. That is to say that they light up on and off rapidly in semi-pseudo patterns. I must be getting old for it grates on me. At least we have none of the idiocy here in the village of the sort of people that have to have two extra power supplies to the house to power the Chistmas lights. It exists elsewhere in Hungary but not here. I shared a photo last year on Facebook that was an illuminated Santa standing on the guttering of a house with a string of LEDS - how shall we say - from his private parts down to the ground. One of my daughters actually replied "I hope that's not your house". Tempting, but no. Film quote anybody?

16th December 2012

It was not until I had opened up the pigeons and given them fresh water and fed and watered the goats and was returning to the yard that I noticed that the large and heavy chimney pipe that Hobo had predicted would take three people to get down was no longer there. At the time I never thought to look for it. I assumed that it was probably lying on the loft floor. I had not the first idea of how or by whom it had been removed. There had been no catastrophes inside the pigeon house so at least I knew that it had not gone through the pigeon house roof. I went back and checked a short while later and to my surprise I found it lying by the outside garden close to the fence between me and Tibi. I surveyed the pigeon house roof. Apart from three or four bricks lying on the outhouse roof I could see no further damage. There were a couple of roof tiles with bits missing but they could well have been already damaged.

The usual for a Sunday morning followed - housework, but little enough of that. I also went for my customary end of morning pub break.

Also as usual I went to feed the pigeons and goats first when I returned home. I made a sad discovery in the pigeon house. I noticed as soon as I entered. It quite coloured the rest of my day. Mrs. Pigeon No. 1, my first (and best) breeding hen bird was lying in the nest box quite dead. The chick was not being sat and was quite agitated. I fed the rest and removed her to dispose of her, very sad. I carried on and fed the goats.

Mrs. Pigeon No. 1 was dead and gone. Nothing I could do about that. My main concern was for the chick so over lunch I did some Internet research. I had already read something about fostering squabs but could not remember the details. I found some stuff but it did not help with the current situation. Next I searched for whether a cock bird would bring up a chick on his own. I found no help on that either. Several sites referred to hen birds bringing up chicks on their own but I could not find anything about cock birds ditto. I found another page, unfortunately not bookmarked, full of fascinating information about pigeons. In World War Two and the immediate post-war years pigeons were awarded a number of Dickin Medals that well outnumbered all other species combined. Also, pigeons are one of only six known species that recognize themselves in a mirror. I think that I already said that they may be only birds but they are not stupid.

All I did in the afternoon was getting the firewood in and checking on the pigeons. I was gratified to find that every time I checked, daddy bird was sitting the chick. In the course of the next few days after this I answered my own question about whether a cock bird would bring up a chick. The answer was clearly in the affirmative as it progressed from being a helpless little thing with its eyes only recently opened to greeting me with "cheep-cheep" whenever I approached the nest box. There is more to come on this story. Much more, but I will save that for later.

That was it. Pub in the evening.

17th December 2012

I was not at my best. Cough, splutter, snot, snot. Hobo turned up to work. I got enlisted to help. Hobo was removing the remaining good tiles from the third outhouse and I collected and stacked them. Ditto the remaining small roof timbers which Hobo hurled into the yard. That went on all day, with Hobo and I fitting in the necessary pub breaks and me fitting in whatever else I had to do around it. I got all the necessary done, but still managed to spend far too much time in the pub.

18th December 2012

I was the same as yesterday. In fact the whole day was a repeat of yesterday except that I not only had Hobo working but Gyuri also. At least that freed me up to do some of my stuff such as clothes washing. The rest of the good tiles came down from the outhouse roof as did the rest of the smaller timbers. At beer o'clock we went to the pub. I paid of course.

We went our separate ways at closing time. Me to do goats and pigeons and then lunch, them just to lunch. They promised to return at one. They did return at one. Well, at least one o'clock Hobo time. No! I am being unfair. It was well before that. It was only half past one.

I took Hobo in the ground floor from where they were going to be working and indicated a horrendous problem that I had only noticed that day. There had been since day one when I lived here, and thus by inference an unknown number of years before that, a softwood prop with what I would call a piece of six by one and a half that spanned two of the roof beams and was clearly aimed at holding them up. The roof beam above the prop was rotten to the extent that it threatened to simply disintegrate both sides of the prop. I did not want them working above it if it did. Hobo said they would fix it. Well, yes but another story.

They went back to work and, I have to say with a considerable degree of care not to damage the pigeon house roof, took down the rotten remains of the main supporting timbers and some now superfluous brickwork. By the end of the afternoon all was down and a bloody great hole had appeared in the outhouse ceiling/floor (depending whether you were standing down here or up there) adjacent the area of the rotten beam I had pointed out to Hobo. It was a repeat of the end of the morning. Pub, beer, pay.

All was normal after that.

19th December 2012

All a normal start. Hobó and Gyuri turned up for work. They set about clearing up the final remains of the disintegration of the third outhouse roof. I found out why the big hole in the floor had appeared. Loads of brick ends, broken tiles and the debris from the plasterwork of the collapsed inner ceiling above cascaded down onto the outhouse floor. I did more clothes washing. I still had two pairs of work jeans and two work pullovers on the line. It had rained overnight. They were wet again. Somewhere in the middle I went to the shop and bought a beer for each of us.

I had noticed that the roof over the goat house yard that Hobó had lovingly rebuilt was threatening to collapse again. Hobó inspected, and he and Gyuri went to fix. Pub after that, where I paid of course. John was in the pub, patiently waiting for the meat van. It still had not appeared by closing time. We all went our separate ways.

I went home and did the usual. Hobó and Gyuri reappeared and more debris was removed from above. There was by now a huge pile in the outhouse. They set about removing it, wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow. When they finished it was getting on in the afternoon anyway. They set off for the pub and I told them that I would pay for the beers. I did the evening work with goats and pigeons a bit early and followed them. I paid for the beers, had one myself and paid them for their efforts of the day. I had the one and went home to eat and get the tile stove lit.

Pub in the evening as usual. During the evening, for no particular reason I included butor Lajos in a round. Hobo bit the dust early. To my surprise Lajos bought me one back. That was a first. Later in the evening the other Lajos bought me a small Hubertus.

20th December 2012

It was pretty much a repeat of yesterday with me getting on with my stuff as best I could and Hobo and Gyuri finishing off the last bits of sorting out the third outhouse. That included installing two extra damn great posts to support the beam that was almost rotted in two in the middle. There were a lot of interruptions to what I was trying to get done of the type of "What do you want us to do about this? ...".

Hobo and Gyuri finished off by making good the pigeon house roof where it joins the ex-outhouse wall and then sheeting down the loft floor. They finished quite early which suited me as I wanted to get up the village for eggs. I was cycling up there when Erzsi the faluház lady stopped me. She was doing some tidying up around the monument adjacent the bus stop. She said something about dogs and a problem. She asked if I was going to the pub. I said that I would be on my way back. She said that Láci would speak to me. I went on for eggs somewhat baffled and perplexed. I could not think what the dogs could possibly have been up to to cause a problem. It had been some time since black dog escaped and he does not cause any bother anyway except to other dogs. Pickle had been over the front fence with half a chain still attached but I had had no reports of anything untoward.

Anyway, I went and got the eggs. As mentioned I went to the pub to pay for a Hobó and Gyuri beer and had one myself. All the latter half of the previous paragraph became clear when I went in the pub. Láci the husband of Erzsí was in there. It was he to whom she had referred, not Láci the landlord. In simple terms and with a few gestures he explained that they had had a power failure at home (next door to the pub) and he had to unload a freezerful of food. Did I want some for the dogs? Too right! He disappeared and reappeared within minutes. He called me outside and parked by the side of my bike was one of the big paint cans full to overflowing with bagged up stuff. I offered to buy him a drink but he would have none of it. Just waved it aside.

I finished my beer and set about going home. There was a problem. There was no way that I could get astride the bike whilst simultaneously having shopping bag with eggs on shoulder and holding the can of doggie goodies. Neither could I get astride the bike with eggs on shoulder and bend down sufficiently far to pick up the can. To compound it, the area immediately in front of the pub was blocked solid with the vehicles of those playing skittles. Yes, they play skittles morning, noon and night. I solved it by walking bike, eggs and can a few metres towards my house. There is a lay by for some metres each side of the pub. Either side of the pub but not in front are a couple of flower troughs of the same sort that there are outside the shop. With bike ready to go, me astride and eggs on shoulder it was easy to pick the can of dog goodies off the edge of one of the flower troughs. It also meant that I could see if any traffic was coming. I wobbled my way home. Most certainly not alcohol related.

At home I locked the can of goodies in the workshop outhouse before releasing the dogs. All normal after that - goats/pigeons/light the tile stove.

In the evening in the pub I had a conversation with Hobó about a thing that I had noticed several days ago. There were no chickens next door. What brought it to mind today was the fact that I had glanced over and noticed that the chicken house yard was no more. The actual chicken house was still there but the yard had gone. No fence, no posts, no gate. Well, I was pretty sure that Pickly dog had not gone on the rampage. Hobó confirmed it. The old lady had decided to be done with chickens and had had them slaughtered and distributed to her offspring for Christmas. I found that quite sad.

21st December 2012

All was normal. A couple of (nameless) people turned up to do some chainsawing work. I do not have a problem with people turning up with fossil fueled tools to do some work. I pay for the labour. The fossil fuel thing is their problem. The dogs were locked inside anyway so at the end of the morning I left them to it and went to the pub for one. I met them going home for a coffee and a bite to eat as I cycled home.

At home, as usual feed the pigeons and the goats and then have lunch. Only it was not as usual. My OCD kicked in. The pigeon food was not as I had left it. It sits within a plastic box atop the gatepost adjacent the garden gate. It is lidded with a piece of roof tile the ridges of which conveniently sit either side of the box. It was not as I had left it. Neither was the door into the pigeon house. There are four door closures on the pigeon house door - a large one above and three down the side, all bent nails. They did well enough except that today they were all closed. Now, courtesy of OCD I never closed the bottom one. I went in and fed the pigeons. I counted them. I came up a nondescript grey pigeon short.

Unnamed workers returned and continued doing the chainsawing stuff. I was there all afternoon. They finished off and I went to the pub for a beer. Back home I went to feed the goats and lock the pigeons in only to discover that I was short another bird - a sitting cock as it happened - and I was also short one pigeon egg. As you can imagine I was not best pleased but I had no proof.

I related this later to Hobó in the pub. He then related it to one of the characters involved who said that it must have been the dogs. Yeah, right - so the dogs could get in the pigeon house and have it away with two pigeons and and an egg? Well, Pickle much as a preditor that she is never got within two metres of a pigeon. With no proof I paid characters a pittance for work and told them in no uncertain terms that there would be no more work. Stupidity of the highest order - kill the goose that lays the golden egg!

22nd December 2012

I had a problem with flash content on the Internet. It had been getting steadily worse. The first site that stopped playing it was the BBC. That was no big deal. I normally just wanted to read about whatever it was anyway. The next thing was Facebook which behaved very bizzarly. It had already stopped playing flash content direct from my home page but if I followed the link to the content in a new tab it would play. Now it had stopped doing even that. The final straw was that the one and only paid for site to which I belong had also stopped working. Right. Fix it. The first thing I did was to remove all traces of the flash player library file from my system. There were several. Next, follow the link to the Adobe download site. It quite correctly came back that I was running Linux, that my browser was Firefox and my system was x86_64 architecture. It gave a drop down list of three possible downloads - RPM, Yum and .tar.gz. I tried them all in turn. It did not work. None of them worked, and between each attempt I had to go back and do the file erasing stuff all over.

Tearing my hair out I went to the Linux forums for help. There were many people with the same problem and a plethora of possible solutions given. None of them worked for me. Eventually, quite by chance I found the solution on one of the forums in an answer that ran to a whole line and a half. Firefox for Linux is a thirty two bit application that runs on sixty four bit architecture. It will not work with the sixty four bit library file. Back to Adobe. Download the latest version of the thirty two bit library and install it, and it worked - everywhere. But would you not think that a company like Adobe should know that anyone running Firefox on Linux needs the thirty two bit version instead of their site listing the sixty four bit versions. What a load of walkers - and that is spelt slightly wrongly.

Sorry for the techie diversion non-techie people. To keep you (and the techies as well, hopefully) here are some long overdue pictures:
A Thing Of Beauty Now here is a thing of great beauty and utility. I already posted about the plastic saddle on the bike. Here is the replacement from Brooks, England. It cost a stupid amount in comparison to the purchase price of the bike here in 2008. I did not care. It was, of course, like sitting on a board the first time I rode it. It took some adjusting too to get it just right. I ended up having to use spirit level on the floor and then on the bike. As I write it has gone a very interesting shape due to the difference of musculature between left and right sides and hence the different protubence of the ischia.
And another thing of great beauty and utility. I had to bite the bullet and finally admit that the oak thing that I intended to go by the kitchen stove was just not going to happen. I had butor Lajos make me one. The day that he delivered it was the day that the small gate lock got broken. Another Thing Of Beauty
Snow When we had the snow - looking up the garden...
Ditto, looking back down the yard. Snow

23rd December 2012

Once again I was not good. It was the catarrh thing again. It just seems to have been particularly bad this year. All day I just kept the place warm and did the minimum of outside stuff that I could get away with.

After lunch Hobó turned up and did a job for me that I had been nagging him about for weeks. Two roof tiles on the main house roof were out of place. They had lost the little lug that holds them in place behind the batten and had begun to slide out. It did not take him long and he had found two more that needed replacing and had done those also.

There was one of a number of skittles banquets in the pub in the evening. Not the sort that causes the pub to be closed but they bar the pub front door and pull as many of the pub tables as are required into one long table at that end. It was a big crowd and they were spending well. Laci let it go on quite late. The regulars took full advantage and I got home a good bit later than normal.

24th December 2012

Christmas eve, with all that that entailed. Well, all that it entailed here anyway. It was, at home at least, business as usual for me. And, I suspect, for my next door but one neighbour to the east, John who has the cows. I think that we have a mutual respect for one another and he has certainly helped me out more than once with extra goat food. He is not a going to the pub chap and I have only rarely and briefly seen him at any of the village hall gigs.

I had told off, in the military sense, Hobó (anybody notice the change in the spelling - first one back gets a prize) to help me with a little something this morning. Something very important. A case of Kőbányai in the hallway. What could be more important than that at this time of year? Of course, when it landed two of the bottles disappeared immediately. He topped me up with firewood and went on his way.

We met up again at my end of the morning one beer session in the pub. I knew that the pub would be closed the rest of the day and expected them to close at noon as usual. Only Laci didn't. He stayed open until one. I did not stay that long, but I grant that it was just a little later to go home, do the goat and pigeon stuff and have lunch. An afternoon in front of the computer followed that. The village was like a ghost town.

Pigeons and goats fed, watered and bedded down and I sat in the kitchen with the stove still going for an evening of solitude. Wrong! Hobó turned up. We sat and yarned in the warmth of the kitchen for pushing on two hours. We shared a wee drop of my first Christmas treat. I broached my half litre bottle of Nocino. He identified the walnuts - pretty obvious - and he identified the cinnamon. The cloves beat him though. Eventually he went his way home. I knew why he was reluctant to go home but go home he did.

I lit the tile stove from the remains of the kitchen stove fire and settled once again in front of the computer. Dogs were fed and given a good kicking (not really) and it was Booooiiiiig - time for bed said????

25th December 2012

Just another day at the ranch for me but I did have my second Christmas treat. I forewent my toast and jam at breakfast time and instead had Heinz Beanz on toast. The dogs were miffed. They didn't get a look in.

With one more exception it really was just a normal day the rest of the time. The pub was open the usual hours. The shop was closed of course but I do believe that the little shop in Daraboshegy opened for a couple of hours in the evening. Not that I needed anything. The exception was that instead of my normal Internet trawl at lunchtime I booted into Windows and had Skype sessions with some of my offspring and their offspring. I extended that using some software that allows me to hook into BBC iPlayer and watched the previous evening's broadcast of Carols from Kings. Superb. The whole thing appealed to my sense of quality. I particularly noticed in the shots of the choristers how often their eyes flicked up to watch the choirmaster. I have personal experience of trying to get young musicians particularly to do that.

We - John, Hobó and I - had been supposed to go over to Helmut's in the evening but he had had to put it off until tomorrow, so it was just a normal evening session in the pub.

26th December 2012

Once again it was just a normal day and I got on and did what I had to do. Goats and pigeons and top up with firewood.

Once the routine of the day was complete I abluted, changed and awaited my transport. It was supposed to be at six but was a bit later than that in Hungarian fashion. John, Hobó and I were chauffeured to Csákánydoroszló for the celebration that had been put off from yesterday. The celebration was more muted than last year, two of the celebrants having only recently lost husband/father. The food was the same pattern as last year. Cold platters of cooked meats, fish and various cheeses, accompanied by plenty of bread and various garnishes. I was not at my best. All I wanted to do was doze off. Helmut even went so far at one stage as to make me a hot Lemsip-type drink. We broke up at about eleven and were driven back to Halogy. John and Hobó came too, not repeating last year when they stayed up however late drinking and crashed out there. It was a very pleasant evening anyway, notwithstanding me not being on top form.

Back home I let the dogs out briefly and then back in for food. I also lit the tile stove. I was not about to get up tomorrow to a cold room. It is not a quick process, getting the tile stove lit. It takes about an hour. First light it. Then put some smallish stuff on and then some bigger stuff. That is allowed to blaze for a while to get some heat in the stove. Then more big stuff with the air supply partially resticted, and finally yet more bigger stuff and the air supply turned down to minimum. If you try and do that too quickly there is not enough heat in the stove and it just goes out.

I did some Internet stuff in the interim and then the dogs came in and somewhere round midnight I went to bed.

27th December 2012

I forgot to mention that yesterday was of course our name day (me and Hobó). I did my normal morning and afternoon visits and I did not put my hand in my pocket once. Nor did I in the evening either.

All was normal today. The shop was open. I did not get there that early but fortunately there was still bread. Breakfast, pigeons and goats. I did some clothes washing. All boring stuff.

I had a new debit card for one of my accounts here. It is not like in the UK where you get a new card and it just works. Here you have to activate the card to your account before it will work. I tried to do it myself from home. No network coverage. I tried again at the pub. This time I got an announcment in Hungarian of which I understood not a word. Oh well, maybe my bank call centre was not working today. I abandoned it for the day.

All normal at lunch time. I had the sign out for Posta and when he appeared I paid out a good hit at one go. I had little red and yellow things to pay for the Internet and the rubbish collection and also needed to top up the mobile phone. Fourteen thousand forints.

Hobó appeared and did the firewood for me - enough for two days.

I somehow ended up in the pub early, stayed late and managed more beer than I should have. Not good.

28th December 2012

When I got up, quite apart from the hangover, I did not feel well. As the day progressed it got steadily worse. I did the absolute minimum that I could get away with.

I still went for the usual pub breaks. During the first Hobó managed to help me get through to an English speaker at the bank and I got my new card activated but as I write I have still had no occasion to use it so a question mark remains as to whether it had been activated against the correct account. It will be a pain if not. A trip to the branch in Körmend. Last time I was asked for the account number. This time I was not but I did ensure to tell the chap on the phone which account.

The feeling of unwellness continued and increased. For evening meal I had a treat. Jacket potatoes topped with grated cheese and baked beans. Simple pleasures. I went to the pub as usual in the evening after that. Hobó was there but finished the beer that he had pleaded poverty and went home. I do not know why he did that. He knows fine well that I would always stand him a beer if necessary. I struggled myself though. I had just two beers all evening and that was an effort. Back home I was not long out of bed.

29th December 2012

I did not sleep at all well. I felt bloated and uncomfortable. I suppose that it was about two in the morning when I dozed off. It did not last long. At about three I was awoken by violent stomach cramps. I just managed to get up and get to a suitable receptacle and vomited quite fiercely. I went to the kitchen and rinsed my mouth out with plain cold water then went back to bed taking receptacle with me and placing it nearby just in case. There was no recurrence and I went off into an uneasy sleep.

By first thing in the morning it was plain that the problem had passed further along the digestive tract. I need not go further - you know what I mean. It had been many years since I was afflicted thus. I used to suffer it from time to time when in my twenties living in a certain place in Lincolnshire. I followed the advice of my doctor at that time. Eat nothing and drink just tap water. No treatment, no meds. And so it was. Water for breakfast, water for elevenses and water for lunch. Clearly, something that I disagreed with ate me. Something quite heart warming happened shortly after noon. Hobó appeared, depatched by Laci the landlord to find out why I had not made my customary appearance. I found that quite comforting, and somewhat typical of life here in Halogy. I had had a good drinking buddy back in my local in the UK. He got barred from the pub twice because he stank. The first time it turned out that he had been living in a cardboard box. Social services took him on and rehoused him in a brand new flat. Alas, he did not change his ways. He got barred from the pub again - same reason. It was since I moved here that I found out that he had died. Alone, and basically from self-neglect. It was, apparently, some time before they discovered his body. I confess that that was a thing I had worried about, living as I do in a land that is not my motherland. Hobó's visit dispelled that worry. It was comforting to know that I might peg out one night but it would be very likely less than twenty four hours before someone came looking. Not comforting to me you understand. They would likely be horrified at the conditions in which I live. But at least if I was brown bread somebody would deal with the dogs, pigeons and goats. I guess that at that stage I would not care much. Morbid! Move on.

I did what was necessary all day but staying as close to the house as I could. By mid-afternoon I ventured to the pub where I had but a soda water. Ditto the evening.

30th December 2012

My stomach was still feeling the after effects of yesterday - quite sore from the cramps and vomiting. There was no more and the other problem had gone as well. I was still quite circumspect about what I had all day. All the usual things went on, but that was about all I did during the day.

I did my usual trips to the pub, sticking to the soda water thing until last off when I ventured to try a single bottle of beer to see how it would sit. As it happened it was fine. Back home I let the dogs out for a few moments whilst I organised myself, let them back in and fed them, kicked them out for a while when they finished eating and settled to do a bit of blog updating over one more bottle of beer at home.

31st December 2012

The electricity supply to the house was a total pain today. The clock radio alarm woke me. I upped and dressed and then over to the shop. By the time I returned to the house the power was off. The earth trip switch had tripped. I had to punch the button seven or eight times to get it to stay untripped. It tripped again as I was having breakfast. I went out and punched the button in again.

I did the normal routine of letting out pigeons and checking their water and then went and fed the goats and gave them fresh water. The power was off again by the time I returned to the house. Punch the button in again. It happened some five or six times over the course of the morning and early afternoon. It continues to baffle me. It is utterly random and anyone who has had anything to do with either household or automotive electricity will know what I mean by the nightmare of an intermittent fault. As I write it has not happened again. It makes me quite understand the chap that John told me about (a Hungarian) who imported everthing from the UK - cables, the lot - and rewired his house here himself to British standards.

All continued as normal, except for me having to keep popping out and punching the earth trip switch back in. As I write, it has not happened again. As I said - random.

Well, it was New Year's Eve. I will round up the year by saying that for me the year had been crap. Goats, blight and drought had decimated the gardening between them. Mobility problems had plagued me all year and the outhouse roof had fallen down. Mmmm! No need to say more.

The Szilvester celebrations took place in the village hall as usual in the evening. It was the usual party. Part way through the evening I popped home to let the dogs out briefly and make up the tile stove. Dogs were fed and then let out again for a while and then I secured them in house and returned to the celebrations. I managed, in my absence, to miss the selling of the raffle tickets. Thus, later, I returned home prizeless - but still with the money in pocket. Both John and I commented that it was somewhat poorly attended. Several families that we would have expected to be there in force were absent. My suggestion was that there was no money in the village. John agreed. At midnight Himnusz was played and sung. I heard Hobó attempting to sing it. It was not a pretty sight for the ears. In a departure from previous years the fireworks were let off after that instead of marking the beginning of the evening. Helmut was in charge. No idea whether he paid for that out of his own pocket.

John and I shared a drop of fine malt whisky, and I finally landed home at closer to three in the morning than two.

I round the year off for you with a heart warming little tale. I wrote about certain two legged rats having it away with two of my pigeons and an egg. Well, at that time Mrs. Pigeon No. 2 had been sitting two eggs. Sadly, and clearly upset about the loss of yet another husband she had abandoned the other egg. I also wrote about Mr. Pigeon No. 1 bringing up the one chick on his own. It had become increasingly clear over the last few days that Mrs. Pigeon No. 2 had adopted the chick and was helping to rear it. I had found Mrs. Pigeon No. 2, Mr. Pigeon No. 1 and the chick all cuddled up together in the nest box. And with that I will wish you all a Happy New Year, or BÚÉK if you are reading in Hungarian.  


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