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July 2008

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1st July 2008

I see whilst I have not been watching that crude slid quietly over the $140 a barrel over the last couple of days. It didn't even make headlines on any of the pages I have been watching. Well, I have to admit I helped it on the way a little today. So what is the betting on $200 a barrel by Christmas? And what is your take on the price that crude has to get to before either a) the US nukes someone, b) the US collapses into civil chaos, or c) the US takes the rest of the world down and we all collapse into civil chaos. Hmmm - interesting thought!

Both alarms set to five in the morning! Drag myself out by about half past. To the shop while the coffee cooks. I do allow myself the luxury of a quick check of the e-mails and a scan of the doom-and-gloom while I am consuming the coffee. Oh, by the way, I have stopped buying milk. They only sell it in litres, and I end up with 0.75l of cream cheese/yoghurt/botulism/whatever within about twelve hours, depending upon which particular breed of bug has inhabited the milk. Instead I have started buying "tejszin" (somewhere between single and double cream). It lasts two days, for two brews each day, and if you happen to like white coffee, as I do, there is nothing quite like a formidable espresso with a drop of cream in it :) I digress.

It was a misty moisty morning this morning (Steeleye Span, I believe, but I was not aclothed all in leather). And the dew was dense underfoot and dripping with abandon from any overhead foliage. It being soft underfoot and reasonably cool I took the mattock to the undergrowth again. Now, unfortunately I had made the mistook of actually locking it in the outhouse (which is in the process of falling down). That means that the wood dried out. Unbelievable how much wood shrinks and expands here - my home made spade handle will actually pull straight off if I leave the spade out in the sun for a day. Anyway, the consequence was that the mattock head kept falling off. I stuck it for an hour then got pee'd off with it, and went for a coffee and a smoke.

The sun had burned off the early morning mist by then (this is 8am) so I changed tack and strimmered the yard. Then I strimmered the dog, next doors cat, two hedgehogs and a gross and a half of snails. (Didn't really!)(You know ampersand hash three nine semicolon is still ****ing me off just as much - now ampersand q u o t semicolon just comes naturally under the fingers) Where was I? Ah, yes, so having strimmed yard/dog... I decided to carry on and do the bit of the boundary with No. 68. I did all of it except for about ten metres at the top - ran out of strimmer chord. Apart from the geological and financial aspects of using the strimmer, it's a bit of a moot point between it and the scythe. The scythe wins hands down in coarse grass and tussocks and anything thicker than a number four knitting needle. The strimmer (unfortunately) wins with fine grass and stuff growing close to the ground.

Shower, pub, bus, Körmend - dohany és kutyaeledel. Pub, blog, pub, blog. And this rather nicely written piece to round off the day.

Dire Straits - again.

2nd July 2008

The IEA have always tended towards the optimists camp. Not as much as CERA, but they are bought and paid for by the oil companies, so you really can't believe any of it. The IEA seem to be moving towards us Doomers Reported in the Wall Street Journal today. Also The Telegraph and The Guardian. Hmmmm! Telegraph, Guardian - do they speak the same language? Reminds me of the joke that was doing the rounds a number of years ago about the different papers "Readers of The Times rule the country. ...some stuff cut... Readers of the Daily Mail are the wives of the people that rule the country...some more stuff cut out...The readers of the Sun don't give a **** about who rules the country, so long as she has got big ***s".

Had a fire this morning. Nothing like starting the day off with a good blaze (apart from the fact that within a couple of hours you are melting from the heat anyway) on your birthday. In two hours I got rid of a small mountain of stuff that won't compost that I have cleared from the land. Lots more to come - must get pictures.

I notice that "Google" have buggered about with their search engine again - for the worse. I search daily (possibly several times a day) to bring you the impending collapse of Western ?Civilisation. Within the last couple of days the results of the advanced search have gone down from many thousands to round about ten. What pees me off is that their interface is so bad that you can easily get back results like: "Results 1 - 12 of 10 over the past 24 hours for "peak oil"". Now, if their squalid search engine returns ten results, then why does it say "Results 1 - 12". Alternatively, if their are [count] twelve results then why does it not just say "12 matching records displayed" I would kick arse of any student of mine that produced that. I know what it's like. You build a site and an SQL query, and it returns whatever. Programmers should handle the whatever - it is basic, in any language. Sorry - went off on one!

Did the laundry as a special birthday treat :( But, after lunch I raided the hidden raspberry canes. Ended up with almost an Avoirdupois Pound (lb) of raspberries. So I made some "dzsem". That is magyarul, and it is pronounced 'jam'.

Had a quiet celebratory drink with a few of the locals in the pub in the evening. And that was my birthday!

3rd July 2008

Zsemle (breakfast roll) and home made raspberry jam for breakfast - now what could be nicer than that?

Crude oil now at topside of $143 - hmmmm! I spent the first part of the morning clearing what I scythed down on Tuesday. Then I scythed some more down, and cleared that too. The compost heaps (still four) had compacted down to about two thirds of their original height. The dog now has a new name - "Pickle". There are two reasons for this. Firstly she wouldn't answer to "Dog" or "Kutya" and she will answer to "Pickle", and secondly she is always in a pickle. I know I have potatoes - "Pickle" hid herself amongst the potato plants, obviously had a bit of a scratch and the next thing I knew was that she was running about with a potato in her mouth!

Towards the end of the afternoon I took a bike ride over to Nádasd and bought a hayfork of my own (must return the one to the old boy next door), and a metal rake. The wooden one is fine for just rolling up the scythed down stuff, but no good at all for the ground lying stuff (last years? the last two years?). I needed something that I can give a bit of stick.

Early evening I took the strimmer to the patch between the camping lawn and the veg. garden. That patch has now been scythed down twice, and the strimmer made short work of it - easy going. Except for the blasted tree stumps that is, and the fact that the ground is not very even. Winter and early spring job - out the tree stumps and level it out a bit. Most of it will go to fallow anyway - I intend to use about a sixth of it and then leave part of what was cultivated this year to start a new fallow patch. Another job for autumn/early winter is to prune back hard and re-post and rewire the vines. They will need completely retraining. I am reckoning on keeping about eight vines - must sort out the wine-making facilities!

Came home early to listen on Skype to "The Magic Flutes" and "Windbreaks" bands, that I used to conduct/play in, on Skype. It's their summer concert tomorrow (4th July) - 7.30pm, St. George's Church, Haviland Road, Boscombe. Speaking of the camping lawn here is a picture:
The Camping Lawn
The green stuff is grass (with miscellaneous assorted weeds). The stuff with posts against the outhouse roof is paradicsom (tomatoes). As you can see, Pickle takes a lively interest in the camping lawn.

4th July 2008

Cloudy and spitting and spotting with rain first off. I assembled the tools that I had bought the previous day. Most of the serious gardening tools here come that way - the handle separate from the business end. Lots of people 'grow their own' handles. The fork that I borrowed from next door is like that - quite obviously a handle that was put to use for the job. I must say that whatever it is that they grow it is far lighter than the beech handle that came with my new one, and seemingly just as strong.

Just at the moment I have fallen into a sort of a routine to try and get the land part of the property under control. The borders with the adjacent properties, whilst not weed free, are sufficiently clear that a weekly bash up and down with the strimmer will keep all under control. Mornings is scything down the tall stuff, working steadily up the plot, and clear up immediately. My compost heaps are getting seriously big! Afternoons are housework, or woodwork, or Internet stuff (like this), or a trip to town if really necessary. Early evening I annoy the neighbours to let them know I am working by bashing away with the strimmer. This evening I must have done about four hundred square metres in just over half an hour. I still have it to clear up though.

The aim is to get to the stage where the equivalent of one day a week with the strimmer, and maybe one or one-and-a-half days of clearing up will keep the plot under control. An afternoon or morning for going into Körmend makes three days. That leaves four days for some proper gardening and the possibility of getting out and about for a few hours on the push bike.

Had a belated extra birthday celebration in the pub - had one or three St. Hubertus's bought me by regulars that either were not there or didn't know. Medicinal, don't you know. Oh, and I see that crude topped $145 a barrel.

Philip Jones Brass Ensemble - "Pictures at an Exhibition". This is the Elgar Howarth arrangement for the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble. Yes, that really is his name. The brass band arrangement is fiendishly demanding! I recall one of our players saying something along the lines of "but the soprano cornet can't play that high". Well, that one did.

5th July 2008

Not a huge amount to report today. More of the same drudgery. I still enjoy using the scythe though.

I was carrying on with the clearup operation, when I heard the dog bark - amazing, she can bark! The next door neighbour was at the fence. I went over and she gave me a small handful of fruit. Nothing that I have ever seen before. Very nice, and I can only describe them as tasting like peach or nectarine, but very small average size only about twenty millimetres diameter, not much bigger than a cherry. Obviously of the same family as they have a stone much the same size as a cherry stone.

After lunch I stood and pigged my way through some more raspberries. There are loads more to come too - I might get another pot or two of raspberry jam yet. I met the neighbour again in the afternoon. She had collected some unripe walnuts ('dio') and told me that she was going to make a drink out of them. I did a Google search later, and sure enough - Green Walnut Liqueur. Might just have to have a bash at that. There are a fair number of windfalls and it would be good not to waste them all. It is a very similar process to making sloe gin (if you know how to do that), and the timescale is the same - ready for Christmas :)

I was about to leave the house to go to the pub when I noticed that one of the shrubs by the front gate has burst into flower. It is not anything I recognize, so here it is:
Shrub by the front gate in flower. I have no idea - resident botanical expert?? Shrub in Flower

6th July 2008

Well, I found out what the fruit was. It is a local variety - very small - of plum.

Just the same as yesterday, apart from the fact that I did two lots of baking. So here are some pictures and comments:
Me with New Hayfork Just scythed down three rows right across the plot, and about to start the clearup operation afterwards. Immediately at the back of that shows how much it has grown since 17th May, when it was last scythed down. Mind you, he didn't go in at ground level like I have - he went in at about five or six inches.
This is the middle one of the four remaining compost heaps, and once again it has grown to over my head height. Compost Heap Regrows
Frog Yet another new species of frog (to me!). It might look a bit like the tree frogs but it is about twice the size, and by the 'eck can it hop - about five feet at a time (for our younger readers that is about one-and-a-half metres). It was quite placid until it decided to hop, I actually got within a couple of inches of it to remove cut down grass, etc. to get this shot.
Quite late in the day This discussion on the Richard Dawkins forum. Lots of interesting comments!

7th July 2008

A bit of doom and gloom in the Vancouver Sun this morning.

I noticed something a bit cute yesterday. When I went to the shop I noticed the dog so something funny. So today I armed myself with the camera and just pretended to go to the shop:
There is a section of one board missing below the bottom metal support of the gate. The gap must be about six inches high and maybe five wide - but she gets her head through! The Face in the Gate
Once again it promised to be another very hot day, so out early. The mixture as before. I was also getting into some very tough going, with lots of stumps of shrubs/weeds that were too tough/big to scyth through. I managed four rows across the garden and cleared it up before it simply got too hot to work (for me anyway). I am within sight of the objective of being able to control the plot using the strimmer. One more day will see me up to the area where the fire was, which is now verdant, and about a foot high.

Made another jar of raspberry jam after lunch - I said there were plenty more to come on the canes :) There is a nice bit in Seymour telling me how to deal with raspberry canes!

About five to nine, in the pub, and all hell breaks loose. It went suddenly black outside, and people started hurrying and scurrying about. Everyone (including me) downed it and went home. I happened to have the brolly with me. A good job too - first we had the rain, and then another HUGE thunderstorm. I even asked Pickle if she wanted to come in the hallway, but she didn't.

8th July 2008

This discussion of a very bleak picture from Shell regarding global warming. Peak Oil and Global Warming - the evil twins! Now whilst some of this may not affect me, it will most definitely affect my grandchildren, and most probably also my children. Also The Times has this report about the possible effects of a tanker drivers strike. I find the phrase "in case the infrastructure of the country breaks down" particularly chilling. It casts a reflection of how fragile our supposed "civilisation" really is!

Hibiscus syriacus - Rose of Sharon. The one next but one to it is now also in flower.
As you can see, this is a purple one - it appears to be Hibiscus moscheutos - Mallow Rose. Hibiscus in magyarul is "hibiszkusz" - pronounced hibiskoos (the emphasis is always on the first syllable in Hungarian. Hibiscus in Flower
Raining again, so I did a bit more on one of the outstanding woodworking projects - the sawing bench. And a fine agricultural piece of work it will be when finished. Half a day should see it done. I'll have to wait for more rain. Hmmmm - I thought it was only supported to rain six times in the summer!

I had made arrangements the previous evening to get into Körmend using the village bus. The arrangement was to meet it at the Faluhaz at 1pm. I was there at five to - no bus. 1pm, no bus. I contented myself with reading (with the help of the szotar) a notice outside the Faluhaz. Apparently the maximum fine for not keeping the plot tidy (by that they mean allowing rubbish to accumulate) is 150,000Ft, which is a hell of a lot of money locally - about five hundred pounds, which is two months wages for many people. Quarter past one, and still no village bus, so I knocked it on the head. I still had a bit of food at home, the dog has plenty of food, and I had enough baccy to last over a day easily.

I pondered getting the bike out. I even got as far as getting it out and pumping up the back tyre (for some reason it has started slowly deflating - I suspect the patch I put on it is parting company in the heat). The decision whether to cycle or not was made for me - it started raining again! So I got the brolly out and went for a beer instead.

Went home and did the blog update for yesterday. I had finished and uploaded it, and was contemplating knocking off another hour of work outside, when my workman appeared. We spent an hour chatting and playing with the dog. At the end of the hour it turned out that he had only come round for some tools he had left here. So that hour of work never got done. Fed the dog, fed me, shower, change, pub, home bed.

9th July 2008

Had a real grafting day today. Up before six, and out scything before seven in the morning. I was set on getting the remaining patch scythed down. And I did. Five rows right the way across the plot and about half as much again by the side of my 'wilderness'area. Apart from a couple of quick drinks (water) breaks I kept at it until it was done. There was no way that I was clearing it up though.

Peaches off my own tree for lunch :) And that is all there was. I suppose I could have looked for more raspberries, but didn't bother. The strength of the Pound (or rather lack thereof) is causing me concern. The value of my savings and income have diminished by eighteen percent since I arrived here. Looks like I may need to get self-sufficient sooner than I envisaged! Having said which, if it all goes pear shaped, if I sell the house it has appreciated by thirty one percent in Sterling since I bought it even if I only get what I paid for it. Roundabouts and swings!

It was Hobsons Choice in the afternoon - Körmend, Tescos, and that meant the bike. Fortunately it was still not too hot - it only got up to about twenty seven, which is quite comfortable compared to the thirty threes and the odd thirty four that we have had. I bought all that I wanted, including bread flour and a garden hose. I need about three times as much hose, but it will have to wait. They have an interesting way of categorising the flours by type and number. For instance, cake flour is BL55 (the BL is buzaliszt - wheat flour), and there are apparently two grades of bread flour BL80 and BL112. I'm fascinated what the numbers represent.

I cycled home, and I confess I went the 'easy' way through Daraboshegy. It is one kilometer further but avoids the killer hill just before Halogy - couldn't face it today.

Fed the dog, fed myself and decided to give the tomatoes and camping lawn a spray with the new hose. Of course Pickle got involved and got wet. When we got back on the yard, before I put the hose away (I don't want it chewing) we discovered a new game. I would send out a quick squirt, Pickle would get wet and she would gallop away around the yard, but she always kept coming back for more :)

10th July 2008

I was out early this morning - 6:50am - to clear up all the debris from yesterdays scything down. Never even had chance to look for any bad news. It's interesting - Google have changed their search engine once again, and I am back to getting thousands of results. You know, for a long while I have been using the advanced search for "Peak Oil" and requesting only those results updated or created in the last twenty four hours. Since I became a Peak Oil Doomer, I have seen the number of pages returned by that search rise from a couple of thousand to, now, sometimes well over twenty thousand pages. Something is happening!

I cleared all yesterdays debris up by about half past eleven, which was good going. I am within an ace of the objective of being able to keep it under control with maybe one, one and a half days with the strimmer and a similar amount of time clearing up. If it would stop raining, the stuff would not grow and I would have a lot of time on my hands, but then again it would be too hot to do more than two or three hours a day.

After lunch, I raided the raspberry canes again - yum! I also acted on the advice of the neighbours regarding the spuds. There were a few potato plants that were a bit knocked about and attempting to lie down - partly through the intense rainfall of thunderstorms but also, to a degree, due to the attentions of Pickle. The neighbour said dig them. So I did. It being time to put the slow cooker on with real meat (my once a week, getting to be once a fortnight, treat) I also grabbed a small handfull of bokor beans and some spinach. Here it all is:
Food Fit for a King! As you can see, apart from the meat, lentils, garlic, onion and dried beans my entire meal has come out of my own garden :)
And delicious it was!

Between putting the food to cook, and actually getting round to eating it (which was much later) I decided to pop out for a quick one. The back tyre on the bike had been losing pressure for a number of days, and I had put it down to the previous puncture repair lifting in the heat - the deflation was so gradual. Not tonight! The tyre was most definitely flat. Blast! Had to walk to the pub, and when I got home had to check out why it was flat. It was actually another puncture - a thorn again.

Watered the garden, and the dog, showered, changed and back to the pub for a couple.

When I got home, I ate my delicious produce (some of it anyway - there was enough for three meals). I decided to watch the film "The End of Suburbia" I watched some of it, but I must have dozed off in the middle of it - very tired.

11th July 2008

It promised to be another hot sunny day, with temperatures once again climbing into the thirties in the afternoon. I cleared up lots of small piles of rubbish that have been accumulating all over the place (it will get worse before it gets better). Everywhere I go there are not only tree stumps (must be over a hundred!) but also previous years' dead vegetation, logs half buried and lots of remains of fires - small lengths of sticks that did not burn. I must have found about ten lots so far. All was carted down to my central place for having a fire.

I was towards the top of the plot, and it was time to take a water break, so I set off back towards the house, calling Pickle, who I had not seen for a couple of minutes. I was about half way down and turned to see where she was. Sure enough, like my little shadow, there she was about two yards behind me. Unfortunately next door's fence was between me and her! She had managed to find the small gap in the fence at the top of the property. I had to walk back up the plot, calling her, to the point where the gap in the fence was. Would she come back through? Would she buggery!! She was having a whale of a time, sniffing their trees and peeing on their grass. It took me a good ten minutes to coax her back to the gap, and then it was a scuff of the neck job to get her back through. I expressed my displeasure!

I had found quite a number of bits of wood big enough to be cut up as firewood. After a couple of trips carrying odd bits down to the yard, I decided on a new tactic. These are not huge bits of wood - maybe three inches diameter and two to three feet long maximum. I decided that the best way to deal with them (there were about a dozen or so by now) was to hurl them all as far as I could. I generally managed to get them within about a four or five metre area. Of course, this is when Pickle decides that she does like retrieving after all, and having hurled some of them they were duely carried back to me by the dog. D'oh!

After lunch I concentrated on some inside jobs. I sorted out the cherry wine (which is smelling decidedly winey) and made another lot of ginger beer. I dunno - it must evaporate! I also baked shortbread and actual bread.

I had just eaten, and was sitting outside in the shade with the dog, when the English contingent turned up. Just to check I was OK, more of a social call than anything. I got lots of useful information from them, such as the fact that if you want your rubbish taken away you have to buy the wheelie bin. You stick it out the front every other Monday and the rubbish company empties it. I don't know what happens about paying them. I'll just buy one, stick it out and see what happens. There was some talk about what needs doing to the house and they ended up looking at some bits inside. I don't think they were overly impressed with the state of the place - I'm not!

In the pub that evening I got talking to a young man who is a newcomer in the village who has quite a bit of English. The talk was about dogs, as he has been seen with a Hungarian Vizsla - the first one I have seen since I have been here. Turns out he was looking after it for a mate.

12th July 2008

I had a lie-in this morning. I didn't get up until 6:50am!!

Decided to have a go at one of the outstanding woodworking projects - the log sawing bench. Spent most of the day sawing and chiselling, but it was very hot - well into the thirties again, so my work was interspersed with the odd trip to the pub. Here's a picture from the day:
As you can see, Pickle is once again really enthusiastic about the whole project! Pickle
Once I get the sawing bench finished, I'll post pictures - only about another hour of work to do!

Nothing else to report really. Except that I have been invited out to Sunday lunch tomorrow, which is nice!

13th July 2008

The Oil Drum today - worth reading the comments! (Not all three hundred - just the top few!)

A rather domestic morning. I managed to run myself out of clean working clothes, so a bit of washing was Hobson's Choice!. I had also clothed ready to go out to lunch, so I didn't get involved in a lot outside.

At the appointed time I wandered up to the pub. We had a couple of beers whilst watching the Moto GP. The local boy (well Hungarian anyway), Gabor Talmacsi, did well and came in third in the 125cc class. We watched the 250ccs as well, then it was time for lunch. It was an absolutely typical Hungarian meal. One tends to think of goulash as being the stereotypical Hungarian meal, but, certainly in these parts, a pörköltet (stew - usually pork) accompanied by uborkasálata (cucumber salad) is equally common. And delicious too, accompanied by a drop of beer and a swift one of homemade palinka (schnapps). They apparently do not have the hang-ups about distillation of spirits here that there are in the UK. You just get on and do it.

I had a tour of their gardens - quite extensive and well-maintained. What I am aiming for, in fact. I notice that they all spread their produce out widely, which allows for easy access and weeding. My little plot I suppose is based on the lack of availability of land that I am used to back in the UK. I will know for next year! I was quite pleasantly surprised by the extent to which I was able to indulge in small-talk of every day stuff and be understood and understand (mostly). We also visited the next door neighbour who has a huge plot and a fine house (and a fine pond!). He is in the process of building another house on the plot too. I can only describe it as 'quirky'. I could see it struggling with planning permission in the UK! The dog where I was visiting caused great hilarity by getting in amongst the chickens and raiding the nest boxes for eggs. He only found one, but came running out and ate it, raw, on the lawn. A regular performance apparently.

Visit over, I headed homeward (via the pub, of course). It darkened and started to spot with rain so I headed on home. Sure enough, within ten minutes we were having yet another thunderstorm and downpour. Not normal for the time of year, I found out.

Fairly shattered by the end of the day - don't know why, I had a easy enough couple of days.

14th July 2008

I was in bed by 10:30pm. I was awoken somewhere between midnight and one o'clock in the morning by the arrival of a humungous thunderstorm. The rolls of thunder actually shook the house. I let the dog into the hallway and the storm just rolled on and on. Every time I was dozing off there would be a flash and a crash, or a rumble that shook the house again. It just didn't move. One flash and crash was within a second - what's that, three hundred metres? Too close for comfort. I must have been awakened at least five times during the night.

My alarms went off at five in the morning, and it was apparently still dark. The remnants of the thunderstorm could still be heard, fading into the distance but still not that far away. I did not rush to get up - well I had a brief interlude to answer a call and check on the dog. She was fine. It was still raining heavily when I went to the shop. Everyone was plodding about under umbrellas, including me. I managed to do mine a serious mis-service on the way home, so I now have a home brew umbrella repair to do on top of everything else!

Apart from the time when I went to the pub this evening, and the time that I left the pub, the weather has varied all day between raining and pissing down. I used the time to do some computery-type stuff. I have (had - I got rid of about a hundred) some seventeen hundred document scans to organise. Before I came here I scanned all paper records, apart from stuff I am legally obliged to keep.

Speaking of which, apart from a certain amount of very petty crime locally, it would seem that this is a most law abiding part of the world. In many ways, yes, but in others it is - errr, how can I put this? - abided by more in the breach than the observance. Crime which impinges on other people is very unusual, but observance of what I might term petty regulations restricting the individual hold very little sway.

I may have mentioned how money conscious they are, but I will illustrate a little further. The older generation would rather go to the 'khazi' in the yard (an outhouse built over a hole in the ground), than use a proper loo. Loos need flushing, and that costs money! Even in the pub the general rule is that if you go to the gents you have to switch the light on, and when you come out you switch it off again (so long as there is no one else in there, of course). Can you imagine that sort of energy discipline in England?

I missed the fact that on Friday crude went over $147 briefly. I see that it is bumping along about $145 today and this evening. I am a rich man. I may have precious little money, but I can go out onto my land, and if necessary the surrounding woodlands, and have my own fresh fruit and vegetables picked in their ripeness. I will never be a vegetarian - I like meat too much, but I can do without if necessary.

What would I miss, and I'm not talking people here - of course I miss my friends and family in the UK - what would I miss in the material world if it all goes **ts-up? Beer? Na! I can brew and if necessary could find a way to malt grain. Bananas? Hmmmm - a bit, but I think I have bought four since I have been here - too expensive. Cheese? Well, yes, I do miss a bit of good tasty English cheddar. Do you know this is the only country in the world where the cheese is shite. Walk into any grocery shop and ask for shite, and you will get cheese :) No, I think the one thing that I would really miss, believe it or not, is coffee - real, ground, strong, esspresso coffee.

Well, considering that all that happened today was that it rained, I think I have done well with today's blog.

15th July 2008

A good article by Tom Whipple, who I have to say writes well on the subject of Peak Oil.

I managed to complete a woodworking project today!! The log sawing bench is now in one piece and installed where it is to be used. It may need a bit of diagonal bracing but I can install that later if necessary. Pictures:
Rustic Log Sawing Bench As you can see, Pickle is absolutely overwhelmed with the quality of the workmanship!
Note the interesting use of 'folding wedges' in the construction. Note also that the whole thing didn't cost me a penny, apart from sweat and labour. It is all made of stuff that was just lying around, and I have areas unexplored yet - still! Rustic Log Sawing Bench

16th July 2008

Nothing worth reporting on the doom and gloom front, so I had a bonfire. I still didn't get any pictures! There will be many more. Bonfires, that is. I have barely started scratching the surface (quite literally), and there are many areas that are still covered in ground litter from who knows when. My snails certainly haven't kept pace with it. Heavy dews here, almost every day. Unusual, I suspect. Makes lighting a bonfire in the morning quite difficult. Now, why they don't allow bonfires in the evening, I have no idea. But the village rules are Wednesday and Saturday in the morning. I have seen it observed in the breach, rather than the observance, but I'm the off-comer, so I play it by the rules.

After that I almost finished the fence at the top of the property, and between me and the neighbour (where Pickle escaped to). I need another four pieces of wood. Pictures of another fine piece of engineering to follow.

I had to drill another hole in my jeans belt today. That's three inches I have lost off the waist!

After lunch (raspberries again, but they are definitely coming to an end - still, I have brambles yet to come!) I faced the cycle in to Körmend - kisspenz, dohany és kutyaeledel again. I didn't seem to be working hard, and I did stop off and price up a wheelie-bin (8,600Ft), but my elapsed time to the Raba bridge was twenty six minutes :)

Tescos was interesting. There was loads of stuff missing off the shelves - in particular there were two complete shelves of tomato sauce type stuff (puree, bolognaise sauce, etc., etc.) empty! Worrying! I did remember not to forget the dog food - ten kilogrammes!

Cycled home, and with about ten kilogrammes in the backpack and the dog food on the bike rack, it was a bit like wading through treacle. I did manage to cycle up the hill just before Halogy, but it was hard work. I went down the hill into the village as usual - completely forgetting the extra ten kilogrammes that was right over the back wheel - in spite of just having to haul it up the hill! The bike has those hybrid tyres on it - smooth in the middle and very chunky round the edges. Well, on the bend at the bottom of the hill I nearly threw it down the road. The back end was on the knobbly bits and decided to let go, so the back wheel tried to overtake the front one. Hmmmmm!!


17th July 2008

A good analysis from ASPO today. A piece on energy blackouts from Falls Church News, who are very much into the Peak Oil scene and have been reporting it for some time.

It was a warm, fine morning - not too hot. I started by finishing making the fence across the hole at the top of the land. Not very pretty, but I hope effective. Must get a picture! After that, I set to with the strimmer to do the bit that was in the fire - it's about eighteen inches high now (new money, for our younger readers, forty five centimeters). I managed two-and-a-half cuts across on a full tank of fuel. Hmmmmm - I think the strimmer is going to be reserved for the yard, and down the fences.

I had arranged to go and pay for the wheelie-bin at Bödő, so I went over there by cycle. I explained that someone from the village would pick it up by car - quite successful. Well, I got the message across. I bought a couple of buckets too whilst I was there. Two hundred and forty Forints each - about eighty pence.

The buckets are for the soap factory, and the first job I did when I got home was to render one of them useless as a bucket! Pictures:
Here is the bucket rendered useless as a bucket by drilling lots of holes in it. Seymour says use a barrel but I don't have that much wood ash yet :) Setting Up a Soap Factory - 1
Setting Up a Soap Factory - 2 Line the bottom with straw.
Fill with wood ash. Setting Up a Soap Factory - 3
Setting Up a Soap Factory - 4 Set up somewhere where it can't be Pickled. All you do then is to keep pouring a bit of water in every three or four hours on the first, third and fifth days. The resulting liquid that seeps through is lye.
I'll keep you updated on the soap thing. You never know, you might get some for your birthday, and Christmas, and your birthday, and Christmas, and your birthday, and Christmas...

Had quite a long chat with the young man again (the one without the Hungarian Vizsla). Turns out that he is a contractor harvesting grain. He is from Veszprém, which is some way to the east, just north of the eastern end of Lake Balaton. The talk got round to the strimmer. I said I far preferred to use the scythe. He agreed - far more efficient, if you know how to use one, and he said of strimmers "nasty, noisy, stinky, heavy things". I do agree!

Shostakovich. Symphony No. 7.

18th July 2008

This about gas prices and this about Al Gore, climate change and fossil fuels, both from the BBC front page this morning. Also interesting is the fact that The University of Oregon has a unit on Peak Oil.

I had an encounter of definitely the unusual kind first thing this morning. I was sitting on the porch step with my first coffee and the dog. I saw a guy who had obviously been to the shop, walking along the opposite pavement. Actually, the only pavement. He glanced over and saw me, and immediately started crossing the road towards my gate. I went towards the gate to meet him. After the compulsory exchange of "Jó reggelt!" He addressed me in perfect English. "Are you the Englishman that is writing a blog about life in Halogy?" Gob smacked, or what? I had no idea there was anyone within miles of here knew about the blog. Well, they do now. Turned out that he is Norwegian, with a local connection. We had a very interesting few minutes of conversation, ranging over quite a few topics, including the fact that the Forint is apparently the strongest currency in Europe right now. I wouldn't know - I only check it against the Pound. He was going back to Norway on Saturday, so I'll have to check for Norwegian IP addresses in the site logs. Austrian IPs too, apparently.

I was starting to clear the areas behind the garage, and round the walnut tree. Here are some 'before' pictures:
Scene Behind Garage What a mess. The only worthwhile thing in it is the raspberry canes!
Behind all this lot is the camping lawn. Scene Around the Walnut Tree
I cut down, trimmed and stacked away the trunks of three big conifers before I knocked it on the head. Four or five more to do, but it happens that the biggest ones were the most accessible. Figures really.

I checked on the bokor beans after that. One or two were past their best - decidedly stringy, so, not being able to use the amount of good fresh ones there were, I decided to pick them and salt them down for the winter. That's another thing I've never done before. Instructions in Seymour. Wash them, slice them, then into a jar. Layer of salt, layer of beans, etc. No liquid. The salt becomes brine through the juices of the beans. I intend to get some vine prunings too. I know what can be done with vine leaves.

After lunch it was a quick trip by bus into Körmend. I noticed that when we crossed the Raba there were enormous quantities of debris floating downstream - the result of the other night's thunderstorm. Then back to a bit more gentle clearing of the debris areas at home.

19th July 2008

I woke up to a damp misty morning, with Sir Winston's "black dog upon my back". Or is it Sir Winston's? No particular reason, just one of those days.

Nonetheless, I set out to do a job which had to be done before I could get on, on the land. That was to fix the fences with each adjoining property to stop Pickle exploring. Bless her, she is just a young dog, doing what young dogs do. I locked her in the yard while I went to do the work. Having fixed the fence across the top, I can no longer pull the stunt of taking the bike and cycling up to the top of the property. If she can't get out, I can't get in. She had a right moan when I locked her in, and about two minutes later there was such a screaming and yelping that I rushed back to the yard, expecting her to have done herself a serious mischief trying to get out of the yard. Instead of the blood and disembowelment that the sounds she was making presaged she was, basically, just going ballistic about being left behind. I told her to shut up and went back to work. All was quiet. Too quiet. And it was a few moments before I noticed her Pickling around only a few yards away. Checking back at the yard, she had actually broken one of the boards on the gate and got through. The inevitable happened, as I was only part way through mending the fence. Next thing she was in No.68. I coaxed her back to the gap, but it became a battle of wills and then a physical battle to get her back the right side of the fence. Ended up being scruff of the neck which she was not too keen on.

The neighbours appeared a little while later, and when they saw me mending the fence, they indicated their concern that it was their dog getting through to my place. I put them right in my best pidgin magyarul. I solved the problem of where she was getting through by quietly watching as we moved up the fence. Every time I saw her head go through I stopped her with a firm "No", and mended it. Must have used about twenty pieces of wood (it's a makeshift paling fence). I got to the end of that, where the chainlink began again, and it was time for a break. No dog! Called and called - still no dog. The chilling realisation dawned that I knew where I would find her. Sure enough, there she was in the garden of No. 72. This time when I coaxed her back, she got a good whack! Fortunately where she got through is where the chickens are not allowed, otherwise there could have been a fair bit of mayhem. I set to and made a section of (sort of) chain link, reinforced with four steel rods that would go about half a metre into the ground. Then installed it.

My mood lightened with the achievements of the morning.

After lunch, and a swift one, I returned to clearing the area around the walnut tree. By half past four I had a fairly substantial pile of conifer branches, which will make a lovely bonfire once dried out a bit, and one tree left to deal with. So I went for another swift one :) I tackled the last conifer when I got back - a fairly big one. It was quite a hot afternoon by now, but wherever I was working I noticed that I was always in the shade of the walnut tree. It was only once the area was clear that the colossal spread of the walnut became apparent. Picture:
Walnut Tree Area Cleared I measured it. The maximum spread of foliage from the trunk is seven metres, minimum four, average I would say about five-and-a-half. The camping lawn can now clearly be seen, and there is just as much shade as there was before.
I went to make food, and was, well not exactly interrupted, but nosey about the mowing noises coming from the front, so I poked my nose out. Neighbour was mowing and then strimmed my grass verge, which is nice :)

Rick Wakeman.

20th July 2008Updated

It's a long read, but this speech by Roscoe Bartlett in the House of Representatives is worth the effort. A (mainly) lone voice crying in the wilderness of modern politics! Also, finally, at least some governments figures are admitting the seriousness of the situation. I would urge ALL OF YOU to download and READ the PDF report pointed to by this page!. I have. It has turned out to be a busy morning on the doom and gloom front. Next is this article from The Mail Online. And finally for now the BBC is showing a drama(?) this week on BBC2 from Wednesday to Friday about Peak Oil. Mentioned in the Dail Mail article. Wish I could see it here, but the BBC i-Player still blocks foreign IPs. Oh, and I nearly missed this article from AlJazeera. An unlikely source for me.

Four months to the day since I cycled into the village! My Hungarian still isn't up to much, but I have enough to get by every day in the village. I have the feeling that I am no longer an object of curiosity - I am an object of discussion. But then again so is everyone else in the village. I read somewhere before I came here that Hungarians love a lively discussion. About anything! I do believe that if someone was heard to fart at breakfast time, by lunchtime the whole village would know.

It being Sunday I set the day aside from serious work on the land. I started by making a batch of green walnut liqueur. Easy. Very similar process to sloe gin. Have you tried sloe gin? You should. And it is so easy once you have found the sloes (fruit of the blackthorn bush). There are lots in Hungary, but I haven't found any locally yet, but I would not expect to notice them until the fruit was ripe - well into September in the UK, probably late August here. Where was I? Ah, yes! Green walnut liqueur - a dozen green walnuts, a bottle of spirits, some sugar and herb-type stuff to make your recipe individual. Wear gloves unless you want seriously stained hands. Crush the walnuts - I used the end of a marble rolling pin. Chuck the result into a jar, add the sugar, spirit and whatever other herbage you have chosen. Seal and stand in a sunny spot. Give it a bit of a shake once a day - voila. A description I read says that it will look like fresh sump oil after a couple of days. Allow to stew - the longer the better, then strain off and allow the crap to settle out before bottling, but it should be ready by Christmas.

Made bread, then settled down to catch up on a serious amount of Internet-type stuff. Didn't get anywhere near enough of it done! Got called away to watch F1 in the pub. Good result for Lewis! I thought when they didn't pit him under the safety car that they had made a tactical blunder, but he just had so much performance under his belt that it was no problem.

After that I didn't feel like a lot of work, so I had a wander round the estate, having a look at what I still have to come, other than the stuff I have grown:
Grapes. I must have close to three figures of bunches of grapes. Need to get a serious fermentation bin! Grapes
Apples One lot of apples.
Chestnuts. Chestnuts
More Apples Another lot of apples. This tree is in very poor condition, and I'll take advice on whether to try and save it or lose it altogether. Makes nice turnery wood!
Pears. This is apart from what is on the huge pear tree in the yard. Pears
Still More Apples Yet another lot of apples.
Apricots. Lots of them (lots of trees - there are half a dozen in the yard, plus more on the land. Apricots
Blackberries Blackberries.
Oh, and for good measure here is the new fence. What a splendid piece of workmanship ;) The New Fence
Tavener - and I forgot to mention the plum tree in the front garden!

21st July 2008

BBC this morning.

Raining, cold and dreary when I got up - what happened to the Hungarian summer? As I was making breakfast including the inevitable espresso, I got to thinking about how far down the road of petro-chemical dependence we are. My clothing - Primark's finest! - was predominantly cotton. Which is fine, except it also all comes from China, which is not. All those big cargo ships burn oil, as do the trucks that take the goods from the docks to a warehouse, then from warehouse to the store. The processing of the cotton in China is probably dependent on coal, but that is another discussion. I put my trainers on to go to the shop. They're gone - virtually 100% synthetics - made from oil! What to use instead? Well, I suppose clogs, with either woven or leather straps. (I have seen clogs being worn in Hungary.) Into my coffee goes a little pot of kavétejszin (coffee cream). It comes in ten little pots, sealed with foil, attached in a strip and made of plastic. Oil again! The whole thing is in what I would call a cellophane (but it's not) wrapper. Oil again, and not needed.

The rain had eased afer breakfast, but it was too wet to do much on the land. I returned to a job started weeks ago - that of fixing the other roller shutter on the front windows. It has been closed all that time. It went much better than I had hoped for, and in about an hour and a half it was up and running again. Just by watching how it was done! After that I put the scythe around the yard - fifteen minutes, but it doesn't make that good a job.

The dog managed to disgrace herself by sneaking into the kitchen and stealing my lunch. Must fix the door so it closes. That was going to be a winter job. It will have to be brought forward!

I improvised a lunch by making my own crisps - delicious they were too, with just a light sprinkling of sea salt.

After lunch I cleared debris from the land until I had had enough - then I went to the pub :) I must have crossed paths with my workman, as when I returned he was busily painting the whole of the fence white. Pickle was lending a hand. You can see how you can't stay mad at her for long. You can also see why I called her Pickle:
Pickle Gets Involved with the Painting Pickle took an active part in the painting of the fence.

22nd July 2008

I don't know why, but the dog was determined this morning that I should be out of bed by 5am :( She was absolutely full of it, bouncing about all over the place. It worked. I got up.

The result was that I was out with the scythe by seven o'clock. It was quite cool, in fact cool enough that I thought about putting on an extra layer. I soon got warmed up, and put in a solid two hour stint. This is the same patch, the patch that was involved in the fire, that I took the strimmer to the other day. I proved the point about productivity. The bit I strimmered was three-and-a-half metres right across the plot. In two hours with the scythe I had done about fourteen metres, most of it all the way across. It included some pretty tough going, lots of stumps of shrubs. Had a break, then went back for another hour. By the end of that, my body was objecting. The stumpy bits are not like the normal relaxing swing of the scythe. To try and get through them as near the ground as possible it is necessary to go in with a fair amount of whack, and I was getting some muscle pain under the left shoulderblade as a result.

After lunch, I went to Körmend for bits and pieces, still thinking about reliance on oil. Of course the bus uses diesel fuel, but it is in the bits we take for granted where our dependence is shown. Seating fabric, tyres of synthetic rubber probably with man-made fibre radial bracing, plastic coverings of electrical wiring! I was still thinking about it when I went to the gardening shop. So instead of plastic plant pots I bought terracotta ones. With luck and care they will see me out. The terracotta army has been around since about 200 B.C.
Sweet little terracotta plantpots. Shown with an everyday object for size comparison.This is not the smallest size they do, either. This is a 50mm one. They also do 30mm ones. Terracotta Plant Pot
When I got home, the workman was putting the finishing touches to the fence:
Pickle Gets Involved with the Painting Once again, Pickle got involved with the painting (look at her nose).
Went to the pub early, as a local football team from Szombathely were entertaining Arsenal at home (not that I am a football fanatic, you understand). Ended up as a one-all draw. The Hungarians are a big tough bunch, and several times when the Arsenal players went in quite hard they just got bounced. I would say (not being an expert) that the Szombathely players' individual ball skills are equally as good as those of the Arsenal players, and what they lack in team skills they make up for in toughness.

I'll post some pictures of the fence when we get some nice weather to show it off.

23rd July 2008

Yesterday's L.A. Times.

Ghastly day. Pissing down, cold (relatively) and blowing a hoolie. For the first time I appreciate the insulating properies of the clay house. Once I had shut all the windows (well, as much as they do shut!) it immediately felt warm in the house. I think that the fact that I have doors and windows open whenever possible is allowing the interior of the house to dry out. When I arrived it had effectively been closed up for four years, and you could literally feel wetness when you touched a wall. That's a need to sort out by winter job!

Indoor day, then. I decided that I was long overdue for backing up my entire computer system (a laptop, or as they would say hereabouts "loptawp"). I booted into that Micro$oft thing and copied a load of files to my external drive - took me a while to find which USB connector it is, I've got about nine hanging around - some of them serve two devices :) All fine. Rebooted into Linux, disconnected Ethernet, and logged in as root (YES, I KNOW!! - but sudo still stops me from copying some stuff starting with a dot). All fine, all backed up so I logged out of root and logged back in as me. Only to find that my profile was shot to pieces! Not the first time either. Took me an hour to put it back together. Typical fristance was that my mail client (Thunderbird) would not launch links from e-mails. Etc., etc.

After that I potted on a load of brassicas into my new, sweet little plant pots, than went back into the house to discover that Pickle had sneaked in and ate the bread - hmmmmm!. I improvised a lunch without bread. Then I popped to the pub for a quick one, only to return and find that my precious, organised brassicas had been Pickled. What is it with that dog and plant pots? So she was in disgrace twice! Oh, and the wind and rain buggered my umbrella repair!

I met a baby hedgehog on the way home from the pub. Quite interesting - it didn't show any fear, just stopped and stood and looked at me. I spoke to it, but I don't think it understood English as it turned away and trotted off wherever it was going.

24th July 2008

Weather is still dreadful.

I had collected a load of windfall plums, all unripe but with a wonderful bloom on them. There have been a lot of windfalls this year - not normal weather. Mmmm - what to do with unripe plums. Internet fixed that! "Unripe plum preserve" recipe. That'll do. Effectively, it's plum jam. So that's what I made. I'm sure the lady in the shop wonders what the heck I do with all the sugar I buy. When I left Boscombe I handed over to a housemate a big coffee jar full of sugar, plus an unopened bag of sugar (no idea where that came from - I didn't buy it). I had had the coffee jar of sugar for four years. The only time it was used was when a particular mate came round, and we had coffee (which wasn't very often as we usually headed for the pub for a beer). Well, I suppose that about eighty percent of what I buy now is converted into ethanol, fifteen percent goes into preserves and the remaining five percent baking. That seems like a nice healthy statistical breakdown to me :)

Speaking of which, I baked shortbread and bread too - in that order. All of which took me to lunchtime.

I had a phone call, which was interesting, as I am usually forwarned when someone is going to ring my phone (land line). It went along the lines of: Me "Hallo". The other end "some hungarian". Me "I'm English, I only understand a little Hungarian". The other end "some more hungarian". Me "I don't understand". Much muttering at the other end and discussion. The other end "Monday (plus some hungarian)". Me "What, on Monday?". The other end "some hungarian...Deliver". Light dawned. Me "Igen, jó, Gazdaboltol? (Yes, good, from Gazdabolt?)". The other end "Nem tudok (I don't know)". Me "Ah, OK. Hetfo? (Ah, Ok, Monday?)". The other end "Igen (yes)". Me "Köszönöm (Thank you)". As it happens, I tried to buy an item on-line a couple of days ago, and got lost in a maze of red book, green book, neither, and never found a payment option. Looks like they are going to deliver it anyway. Haven't the foggiest what happens about payment.

I did a bit of clearing up the debris from chopping down the conifers. Pickle helped by digging. I really must train her to dig in the right places, like all around tree stumps.

I actually managed to do a bit of work on the kutyafalka (kennel). I used the jigsaw (Tesco Value!) for the first time. Jigsaw is OK - pity that the blade they supply is made of putty!! Never mind - I got the front and back of the inside made (it's gonna be a super-dooper two skinned double insulated job - might even live in there myself in the winter if the dog won't use it).

25th July 2008Updated

Had lots of stuff to do today. I still needed to clear the debris from that last big hit of scything at the top of the land, but I started with the trimmings from the sawn down conifers. Managed to clear the ones from by No. 68. Still needed to do the other side. Never got round to that, or the debris at the top. Rained off - again! It stopped for a few minutes so I had a quick whack around the yard and the camping lawn with the scythe. Whilst I was doing the camping lawn I noticed some tomato plants needing attention, so I attended to them. And got a bit wet - raining again.

I got to thinking about all the many, many jobs involved with bringing a semi-derelict property back to life, and then I started to categorise them: The list is far from complete, and at the moment I am scratching the surface, but the whole point of what I am doing here is not only to provide a safe haven for any of my immediate family that might feel the need of it WTSHTF, but also to explore how far down the route of self-sufficiency I can go myself.

I was going to Bödő for a couple of things, but I got rained off that too.

I saw on the Hungarian news that the Tisza Lakes area is suffering devastating flooding. That was one of the areas I considered visiting to buy property. I'm pleased I didn't! We may be on fairly flat land here, and we may have torrential downpours but I have seen no evidence of flooding in this area.

Cut my hair instead. Used the haircutting clippers bought in Tescos weeks ago. Took best part of an hour and a half. Excuse pun, but those clippers just don't cut it!

I met up with my workman friend in the pub, and he was with an Austrian family. I was invited to join them, and it turns out the the Austrians bought property in Hungary from the same party that I did. Theirs is in a tiny village about forty kilometers away.

26th July 2008

The shop had no bread flour, so I ended up buying half a loaf. They will do that here - sell half a loaf. Grab a loaf off the shelf (bare hands) and whack the sharp knife through it - hey presto two half loaves. The person in front of me bought a couple of what I would call Danish Pastries - something of that sort. The shop lady juggled one into the tray of Zemle. She just picked it out and put it in the bag. The customer didn't object. Same in the pub - if he runs short of glasses he will grab a dirty one, give it a rinse out and put it in front of you wet. I can imagine the PHIs (Public Health Inspectors) in the UK having a fit with their leg up. I find the cavalier attitude refreshing, and to my knowledge they haven't killed anybody yet!

It was a nice day - sunny, breezy, not too hot. I had a quick whack with the scythe around a couple of areas where the nettles are trying to take over again, then struck up the infernal machine and strimmed all up both neighbours fences. Speaking of which - Steve's Handy Gardening Hints NO. 5 Try to avoid using a strimmer on dog shit - it's a thoroughly unpleasant experience!

I did the trip to Bödő that was rained off yesterday. I had a shipping order for them - a wee 2mm drill bit, and a jigsaw blade. I had to buy a pack of five blades, but good ones - made of steel, not putty! Total - less than £3.

Of course I popped in the local on the way home. The landlord's son, who quite often serves on a Saturday, slipped me a bottle of beer - don't know why, but very acceptable. A load of walkers appeared. Serious walkers with Para sized back packs. Fourteen or fifteen of them. They got sent to the outdoor tables round the back, and the landlady rustled up some grub for them, then off they went. Next thing, the landlady put a plate in front of me with three little sweetmeats on it. Quite unlike anything I have ever had before. Like two circles of a cross between cake and pastry, separated with what looked (and tasted) like a blob of jam, and with some sort of nut concoction top and bottom. Extremely nice. No idea what that was all about!

For whatever reason, when I got home I ended up on Google Earth. Yippee, it has been updated. Instead of the whole village being a blur, you can now make out individual plots, and (just about) houses. As near as I can get to my front door I'm at 46°58'14.02"N 16°33'36.56"E. Thought you might like to know that. I have three images of the village selected to appear in Google Earth via Panoramio, but they haven't appeared as little blue dots yet!

I was persuaded by my son to use the Halogy Coat of Arms from my banner as my 'favicon.ico'. Hope you all noticed :)

I did a bit of work on the kennel - then got rained off AGAIN. So I priced up meszhidrat - hydrated lime for lime rendering. About £10 for a 50kg bag that should do 16 sq.m. So I reckon that £100 would do the whole of the clay part of the house, plus sand of course. I found an excellent site on the subject at The Building Lime Company in the UK. I had a very quick response from them on a technical query I sent. Thanks, Ian!

Never managed to get to Daraboshegy falunap - ah well, next year!

27th July 2008dsc_3410.jpg

An excellent presentation from James Kunstler. Quite long at 19 minutes and aimed at American suburbia, but there are lessons for all the developed countries. Also Dr. Al Bartlett presentation (rather badly sliced) is available. It really is a must see - it should be compulsory viewing for all adults and all secondary school children in every country in the world. I reckon that we are at about two minutes to twelve!!

The dog stole the bread last night! Bitch! I also knew I needed cash, so it being a Sunday I knew I had to cycle to Körmend. Now, the map and Google Earth both show a possible back way into Körmend - a few hundred metres from the Raba. Ah, well, give it a try. Best part of an hour later I was back home. Wet, sweaty, exhausted having managed seven kilometers, three and a half to the 'give it up' point, and three and a half back. Managed an average speed of ten KPH. - a gentle jog. Yeah, right! Just before I turned round I could actually see the bridge over the drainage ditch to where I wanted to be. I could see the bloody track! Five yards away! But there were two more drainage ditches between me and the bridge! They say every silver lining has a cloud - well I found one right there - blackthorn bushes. And you all know what the fruit of the blackthorn is? (Answers on a postcard) And you all know what you can do with the fruit of the blackthorn. (Same postcard, or a separate one). Or e-mail, but a postcard would be nice - much more tangible. You know, I've got twenty seven gigabytes of stored e-mails. But a postcard from the Cayman Islands would top that :) (Someone in Canada will give you the address!)

I just spent thirty seconds trying to delete a full stop until I realised it is a random piece of something on my screen! Where was I? Ah, yes - so I still had to go to Körmend. And a hard cycle ride it was. Knackered, head winds both ways (how does that work?) (don't answer, being an ex sailor I know). Bank, cash - fine. Where the ******* **** is anywhere open. I knew Tescos was shut they open 22/6. The Co-op was shut. Head the other way. Glory be, Lidl's is open. And what is more they were seriously busy. Including me they must have had six customers in the time I was in there. Utterly unsustainable, which is a shame, because the stuff they did have was very good. Not a single brand I recognize, but good looking produce. They had Bratwörst that actually looked like proper sausages (v. expensive!). Bought the bits I needed - eggs (10), couple of bottles of beer, a loaf (dog stole the last one), cheese substitute, crisps (150g - cheese and onion) - eleven hundred Forints, less than £4!

Cycled to Halogy, exhausted, hot, sweaty. Wearing the headband to stop the sweat dripping on my specs. Now, can someone explain this one? I have three headbands - two white, and one black. The knicker elastic is shot away in the white ones (different brands) but not in the black one. How does that work, then?

Cycled home (after calling in the pub to replenish body fluids, of course). Then had a battle of wills between me and the dog. She has four rugs/mats/carpets. One is the one she brought with her, one is the foot-wiping mat just inside the house, one is one I gave her from inside the house that is supposed to live outside on the doorstep, and the other one is supposed to be a rug in the house. I guess I dragged the 'house' ones back inside four or five times.

To top it off, she stole the bread again!! My fault - left the kitchen open. At least I managed to get a sandwich before she had the rest! She didn't get any dog food - just a raw egg. I think she ate the shell as well.

28th July 2008

Another thought provoking piece from Tom Whipple in the Falls Church News-Press.

Up reasonably early - in the shop by half past six. Today being Monday was the day that was the subject of the conversation on the phone a few days ago. I decided to press on with the dog kennel so that I could stay in the yard so as not to chance missing my delivery. Of course, no one turned up. Hmmm - for the first time I'm in a bit of difficulty as I just don't know the system here. I'll give it a day or two. Pictures:
The front/back/sides of the inner shell are in place. Dog Kennel
Dog Kennel And now the inner roof.
I started on the outer shell, using the jigsaw for the one piece that has a complex shape. All the others can be cut with the panel saw. Gave it up then, as by now it was half past five and I figured that no one was going to deliver at this time of day. I did put a note on the door just in case "In the pub" - where else?

When I got home I found Pickle in the act of eating (or trying to eat) a snake:
Pickle with snake. Dog With Snake
Dog With Snake Pickle with snake.
Well, that's nature for you. Speaking of which, Pickle likes beer :) When I'm sitting on the front step having a beer (which I only ever do when there is a 'y' in the day, in English) I pour a drop on the concrete step, and she laps it off. I'm gradually getting the whole step cleaned like that.

29th July 2008

This short report from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. Tom Whipple's 28th July roundup of news. Interesting what Barclays say. And A good TV interview with Chris Nelder. Wow, busy morning! There could have been more!

Did I tell you about finding a 1Ft coin? No? I hosed down what is left of the concrete path and then washed a load of moss off the yard (which is why the weeds were doing so well). It's a couple of days ago now - can't remember exactly, but the following day when I got up I espied this circular object just by the house steps. It turned out to be a one Forint coin. They are supposed to be lucky, so I'm keeping it safe.

I have a couple of MP3s to put on the site, but I don't have time right now. Otherwise a nothing sort of a day. Did I talk about yeast culture? Apparently in frontier times it was the responsibility of the eldest daughter to keep a known good yeast culture going. I kept one going for eighteen months - Saccharomyces cerevisiae - beer/wine yeast. I only lost it through moving to temporary accommodation - moving house, moving jobs (bad move as it happens).

30th July 2008

Energy prices again from the BBC Front Page.

It being Wednesday I had a fire. Managed to get a fair bit of the conifer debris burnt before I was driven off by the heat, both of the fire and the day. Summer is certainly back and we are experiencing a run of days where the temperature gets into the thirties. I forgot the camera once again - I'll try and remember for the next lot. It is fairly impressive to see next door's garden cloaked in the plumes of white smoke that drift across. The last two fires I have had, I haven't had to wet down as there have been heavy dews. Seems to be more regular than not - probably caused by the dampness of the ground due to all the rainfall we have had.

Had to do a bit of emergency repair work on a website that stopped working (not mine). You may have noticed a bit of a hiccough over the previous days - server problems in the States, now fixed.

I was just having a smoke on the doorstep, when I saw a white people mover type van slow down and then stop. It was the people who bred and sold me Pickle. She barked when she heard them coming towards the gate - good dog! But when I let them in she went potty - obviously remembers them. They were pleased by how she is coming along.

Strimmed the yard and cleared it up, with a trip to the pub between.

Another first today! I made Chelsea Buns - I've never done that before. Used up the rest of the yeast from the last lot of bread baking. Rather good they were too, in spite of being thrown together in a hurry! I have been thinking about some of the necessities of going completely self-sufficient. Well, I will never be completely self sufficient in that, whatever else, I will need a winter source of heat. Another acre of land would do it, but I don't have another acre of land. Possible in the future but not right now. Thinking about staples, the problem areas are flour, sugar and fat. I am looking at spelt (an early form of wheat, as used by the Romans) for flour, so that is a possible. Sugar, I suppose would have to be bees - honey. Not quite the same as refined sugar, but I really don't fancy the idea of growing and processing sugar beet. Fat is another issue - goats would be the obvious answer - milk, cheese, butter and meat. Definitely for the future though. I won't be in that ballpark for a year or two.

31st July 2008

Asia Times has a very interesting discussion (with global repercussions, I would think) of recent political developments in gas supplies! There, a bit of really cheerful news to start the day off!

I cleared up all the stuff that got scythed down last time, when I did rather too much and must have come close to pulling a muscle - it hurt for days! Then I did some computery type stuff to fix a problem. Pickle had more beer off the step. That's another patch clean!

I went to check the Posta, and there was one letter in the box. There was also a frog! I have to admit that I teased it a bit, and to my surprise it jumped onto my letter (which is what I was teasing it with). I walked up the yard with frog and letter:
Tree Frog on the Spokes of a Bicycle The tree frog decided to hop on to the spokes of my bike wheel.
Pickle took a close interest... Dog Takes a Close Interest
Dog Takes a Close Interest ...even when the frog hopped upwards out of reach...
...until finally settling on the handlebars. Tree Frog on a Bicycle
All rather amusing (you had to be there!) and no harm ensued to frog, dog, bike, letter or me :) The letter was from a Worthing address - rather anonymous, but I felt I should know it. I don't get many letters from Worthing, which is next to Goring-on-Sea, and it's boring in Goring. I opened the letter, and, glory be, it is a cheque from the UK taxman - not a big cheque, but every little helps.

On my rounds I noticed a lot more windfall apples, and the brambles will be ready to raid this weekend. Must get more sugar - essential ingredient in turning them both into either jam or alcohol.

I was writing yesterday's blog about three in the afternoon, when I saw white van man turn up. Only it wasn't white van man, it was white van lady, and very pleasant she was. Remember the odd phone call on the 24th.? I was seriously beginning to think that I might, for the first time, need help to resolve a situation, but, no, there were my goods delivered C.O.D., so I paid and took the goods. New toy! Kézifűnyiró! I'll leave you to try and figure that one out, but I'll post pictures in a day or two. And by the way, for our younger readers that weren't alive when there was no plastic money, C.O.D. equals "cash on delivery" you know you actually pay with what passes for money. Ah well, ten years down the line there will be no money and no plastic, unless you are very rich.

I decided to start on the external decorating bit, so I took the hammer to the surround of the kitchen window, of which about ninety percent has to come off (easy to tell - you tap the rendering and if it sounds hollow it is not actually attached to the house!). It is such a satisfying task, knocking seven shades of sh*t out of something which a good hammer. Unfortunately, it revealed some horrors, which I will tell you about (with pictures) tomorrow, so I showered and went to the pub!

Just to round off the day with a bit of gloom and doom, A Dutch report suggesting constraints around the corner. And that is July!


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