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January 2013

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1st January 2013

Well, Mrs. Pigeon No. 2 surprised me today. Not only was she looking after the squab but she had also presented me with an egg. I was not up early - half past eight - which was not surprising considering. After I had done the pigeons and goats I topped up with firewood and that was about all that I did do today apart from the normal repeat visits to the livestock.

I wandered up to the pub at about eleven just as the faithful were leaving the templom. The street resounded to the reciprocated calls of "Boldog Új Évet Kivanok". The pub was the same. I played my part. I had my normal alma fröccs. When I did go for a beer it came over the bar from Laci gratis. I broke the rules today and had another.

Back home I had lunch, etc. and then did some blog updating. After that I set about rather a strange one. Composing an e-mail in Hungarian to DPD the parcel people here in Hungary. The story was that some family members had clubbed together and bought some matching items. One of the family members had parcelled it all up and posted it via Interparcel in the UK. They got a tracking reference which was forwarded to me. After over a week the parcel was still showing as sitting on the outskirts of Birmingham. Oldbury if I recall correctly. The family member contacted Interparcel and was rewarded with the information that the tracking from the UK into Hungary was broken and that DPD had attempted delivery on 20th December. They had come up with a completely different tracking reference. I followed that from my end via first the DPD Europe site. I came up with a DPD Group Reference for the parcel but no more. I finally tracked it down using the DPD Hungarian site, with much help from Google Translate. Hence the e-mail to DPD. When I read the Hungarian translation some of it was quite plainly not what I wanted to be saying. I had to edit that myself by hand in the actual e-mail text. I finished off by excusing the bad Hungarian - blaming Google Translate. And off it went. I jump ahead, but only until tomorrow. When I booted the computer at lunch time I had had a reply from DPD - bilingual Hungarian and English saying that they would chase it up. DPD went up another knotch in my estimation.

I made and baked bread. I would need some for later and it would save me buying in the shop tomorrow. The kitchen got quite warm.

Pub in the evening but not for long. They were closed a few minutes after eight. I put the early return home to good use and did more blog updating. And with that I will wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year or Boldog Új Évet Kivanok (again).

2nd January 2013

The weather was grim: just above freezing, grey and damp cold. I enjoyed my breakfast though. Five slices of my own bread toasted. I have no idea why it should but it has a taste all of its own, almost nutty.

The outside work the whole day was just all the routine stuff for this time of year and the weather was sufficient to dampen any enthusiasm for venturing further afield on the estate.

I took my blood pressure during the morning. It was high. I was not surprised as over the Christmas/New Year period I had managed to run myself short of the tablets I am taking. I had sort of expected the doctor to be at the faluház the Friday between the two holidays. I had asked Tibi the village bus driver if he would be there, and no, if I wanted to see him I would have to go to Nádasd. Too complicated. I rationed myself to a tablet every other day instead of every day as I am supposed to take them to eke them out.

Hobó turned up in the afternoon to do a very rapid firewood top up for me. He left to go to the pub. No sooner had he left than he was back. Pickle had followed him up the street trailing half her chain behind her. I secured the dogs in house and investigated. The swivel between the two halves of her chain had come apart. Ah, the standard of Hungarian goods strikes again. It had not been that long since I bought it. The bit that actually swivels had come out of the eye in the other half. I persuaded it back in and fixed it by belting the eye more closed with the hammer. With it fixed so that I could secure Pickle on my return I followed Hobó up to the pub, where I had to pay for the beer that he had. John turned up. I bought him one as well. John got a round in and in the realisation that I had to do goats and pigeons I had to lid the glass with a beer mat and go and do just that. I let the dogs out briefly at home and fed the goats and watered and locked in the pigeons. That done I changed out of wellies, resecured the dogs and returned to my beer. Somewhat of a session followed.

Back home, light the tile stove a bit sharpish, feed the dogs and kick them out for a while then feed myself.

3rd January 2013

Very quick highlights (lowlights) of the day. All was normal. The weather was not too cold. I was snotting, coughing and sniffing all day. The lowlight of the day was in the evening when I went to lock in the pigeons. I topped up their water as I always need to do at this time of day when the temperatures are not too low and not too high. They obviously drink mostly after they have eaten at lunch time. If the weather is really cold I have to do the water three times a day, squeazing out a solid ice cube from their water container before topping it up. Sometimes I have to bash it against the wall to get the ice out. Well, we had a little bit of sub-zero and sometimes there was a film of ice on their water, but nothing that even a pigeon could not peck through.

I counted them in, as I always do, and came up one short. I soon identified which bird was missing. Damn, blast, bugger and bollox. It was the young hen bird with feathers on her feet. I knew that she was a hen bird because only over the last few days she had paired up with one of the spare cock birds - the one that I call White Bloomers because of his white underbody and legs. I checked all around for her but she was nowhere to be found, neither inside nor out. None too happy I went and fed the goats. I had a pretty good idea where that hen bird had gone, but not for the blog.

In a black mood I ate and went to the pub.

4th January 2013

First of all an apology for a long overdue update. For the best part of a week I have had only intermittent power supply to the house, but more on that later. Some of the following entries will be brief to the point of terseness.

It did not start well. When I went to do pigeons and goats I found a dead bird on the pigeon house floor. It was the squab which Mrs. Pigeon No. 2 had adopted. It had clearly fluttered its way to the floor in the early hours of dawn and had its throat ripped out by a rat. Not nice, but I tell it as it is. I thought that I had prevented ingress of rats but obviously not. The loss of another pigeon led me to seriusly question the pigeon endeavour. I started last year with seven and after a whole year I was now back down to seven. The two legged rats had certainly not helped.

I went to the doctor for the blood pressure pills. Hate taking them but necessary. Speaking of which that takes me back some fifty five years to when I had to go for interview as to whether or not I could gain acceptance for a place in my alma mater - Nottingham High School. I recall that I was pulled up during the interview on my spelling of necessary. Well, I could not spell it then either. But I can now.

I went to the pub. It happened that Hobó was just leaving the shop when he saw the DPD van at my house. I had not expected a delivery so did not have any sign out as to my whereabouts. Hobó told the driver that I would be in the pub (they ought to have that on their computer by now) and I had a much battered parcel delivered to me there. There was a copy of an e-mail from DPD head office taped to the top. I translated it later (thanks Google). It said in so many words "Ay up! You got this parcel? If so get it delivered. Let me know if you not have it." It was delivered. Hobó helped me by tying it up with some string from the pub and marching it home for me. It was what I expected. There was an item missing it turned out. I am still awaiting events on that.

Nothing worth writing about happened after that.

5th January 2013

I was not on top form. The catarrh or whatever it is had reared up again and I was coughing and spluttering just as soon as I awoke. Hobó turned up and got me in a big load of firewood - enough for best part of three days. I did just the livestock stuff.

Hobo turned up again in the afternoon and set to work to cut a length from the chimney pipe that had to be taken down from the pigeon house roof. He had a use for it somewhere. I had him get me down a tarpaulin load of the old straw to go in the goat styes. I did that at the same time as their evening feed.

Veggie this evening - onion soup. I had noticed that several of the onions were beginning to sprout and decided to use them up. I did some blog updating and then went to the pub.

6th January 2013

It was nasty weather. Not far above zero and with a steady cold rain. Horrid. It always feels much colder than a day of minus eight or ten but bright and clear with the sun out. I did the shop, lit the stove and had breakfast. I was just finishing my coffee when Helmut turned up with Hobó in tow, prearranged.

Today was the day for trimming Rudy's feet. Arrangements had been made with a vet from Körmend - not my normal one - to come and sedate Rudy. He was supposed to be there at nine. He had not showed up by ten past so Hobó used my phone to find out when he would be there. He would not be able to make it until round ten. Helmut and Hobó decamped for a while, presumably to the pub, and I carried on with the daily round.

We reconvened a few minutes before ten and went to the goat house. Helmut was there to assist in subduing Rudy so that vet would be able to sedate him. He had a little trial of strength with Rudy over the gate between the two halves of the goathouse to see how strong he was. I shot the bolt to the gate and Helmut slipped in, rapidly casting Rudy half way to the floor. I followed and finished the job off by pulling his legs out from under him. Hobó used a couple of lengths of rope borrowed from Tibi to tie his front legs together and his back legs together. There was still no sign of vet. Helmut sat on the floor, still keeping hold of Rudy's horns but cradling his head in his lap. Rudy clearly knew he was beat and lay there quite docile. Helmut suggested that I just get on with the hoof trimming so I did. We had Rudy on his side, his head just in the sty and the rest of him in the corridor. It was quite restricted to work there and of course his hoofs were big and tough to trim. I suppose it took me about a quarter of an hour. There was still no sign of the vet. Job done we slipped back behind the gate releasing Rudy as we went. There were no dramas or crises. I have to say that Helmut certainly had a way with him. Apart from when he was first cast Rudy never bleated once. Helmut told me that his late mother used to keep sheep and he had had to do similar things with tups. The cherry on the top was that Hobó rang the vet again and he was only just about to set off from Körmend. We cancelled the callout.

A celebratory beer or two was called for so that is where we went. I paid.

Back home I resurrected the kitchen stove fire and then went to feed pigeons and goats. Rudy was none the worse for his experience of the morn and tucked into his hay with gusto.

I had more veggie soup for lunch and then some blog updating. Later in the afternoon I set to bake bread. I went for my normal pub break whilst it was proving. John was there we had a couple then I went home to do the livestock and finish off the baking.

End of the day meal was a great doorstep off the still warm loaf with a lashing of margarine on it - nothing else needed. Pub in the evening, of course. There you go - a brief and terse blog entry.

7th January 2013

The weather was better this morning and before I even opened the shutters to behold what sort of day it was I felt better in myself too. The catarrh had quite suddenly decided to go away. I did not need bread of course, having baked quite late on yesterday. Sadly I finished off the last of my one and only jar of strawberry jam which I neglected to mention as being amongst my Christmas/New Year treats. It was, as ever, an early summer product of what came over the fence from the old lady.

The usual stuff and domestics took up the morning until pub time. Hobó had been passing and poked his nose over the fence on his way to the shop. I was about to depart for the pub anyway. He went to the shop, I cycled to the pub. I had no sooner got my alma fröccs when Mr. GLS Parcels turned up with a package for me. I had been expecting it but had had no tracking information. By good luck Hobó had seen him pull up outside the house and told him he would find me in the pub. I knew what I expected to be in the package and it was confirmed when I went to pick it up. The contents, without the packaging, weighed six kilogrammes. Hobó joined me in the pub after a while. My guess was that he had had a beer outside the shop.

We went our ways at closing time. The package sat nicely on the bike carrier. The weight that it was it was not about to fall off. It was heavy enough to affect the handling of the bike. Back home and all the normal stuff except that in the pigeon house it was not quite normal. I forgot to mention that Mrs. Pigeon No. 3 had also presented me with a clutch of eggs. This lunchtime one of the eggs had been thrown out of the nest. It lay broken on the floor a couple of feet from beneath the edge of the nesting box. Oh well.

All else was normal and I went and fed myself. Hobó turned up and topped me up with firewood. I did some computery stuff and some blog updating. That was it.

8th January 2013

It started snowing as I went over to the shop. It was only light but it carried on all day. By evening it had turned to very cold rain. Nevertheless I was determined that I needed to get to Nádasd and equally determined that it was not to be a bus trip in the afternoon. I did all the normal stuff, got the bike out and secured dogs within.

My only concession to the weather was to wear the heavy winter motorcycling gloves. I set off. It was still snowing but it was not settling and did not really even dampen my clothes. I found it quite invigorating and enjoyable. I did have a problem with the bike. I went the direct route which meant a couple of stiff but short climbs. I have always had to drop the gearing on the front chainwheel from the big one to the middle one. Today it refused to change back to the big one when I got back on the level after both climbs. I stopped both times and changed it by hand. Something to be sorted.

In Nádasd I went to Posta and got cash and then cycled back down to Bödő. They had most of what I wanted except for a couple of items. Epoxy resin glue was one. I cannot remember what the other was. It does surprise me. With the huge range of stuff that they do stock, their selection of adhesives is quite poor.

Still invigorated I cycle back to the village. I had the same gear problem having climbed the shortish but steep hill that levels out quite near the Halogy football field. I could not be bothered to stop and fix it but freewheeled all the way down into the village as far as the pub.

I touched base with Hobó in there. I had work for him this afternoon if he had nothing else doing.

Home. Routine. Mrs. Pigeon No. 3 had hurtled her other egg on the floor. It was unbroken but cold. In vain hopes I put it back in the nesting box. It was vain hopes. It was on the floor again by the end of the day. You know, it is a puzzle to me if hen pigeons know from a very early stage that their eggs are not going to come to anything, and if so how do they know?

Hobó turned up early afternoon to do a long overdue job for me. Linseed oiling the beautiful little table that Lajos had made for me to stand by the stove and of which I posted a picture. The missing ingredient had been white spirit with which to thin the linseed oil for the first coat. I think that I had had the linseed oil on stock since year one. He enjoyed his work in the warmth of the kitchen with stove still lit. I did some blog updating. Pub after that.

Nothing out of the ordinary after that. Yet another short, terse entry.

9th January 2013

It was raining lightly and just above zero when I went to the shop. Horrid conditions that continued all day. I find it more chilling than when there is a good hard frost. All the usual stuff happened. Hobó turned up and gave Lajos' table a second coat of linseed oil. We went to the pub after that.

My experiences of linseed oil date back to my teen years. Cricket bats. We had one in the family and I ended up with it. No idea what happened to it. It disappeared during my nomadic existence and domestic turmoils. The only other time that I used it was when I bought a brand new house. The bottoms of the external door frames were quite good hardwood. I used to linseed oil them as well. My sketchy knowledge of the finer points of Hungarian prevents me from knowing whether there are two varieties here as there are in the UK - boiled and unboiled. I cannot be bothered to look up the difference.

John was in the pub in the afternoon. Somehow the conversation got around to the hours of daylight. I think that I commented that I now had an extra fifteen or twenty minutes in which to do the pigeons and goats. I also commented on the fact that the mornings were not much brighter yet. It turned out that John did not know that sunrise and sunset are not symetrical around the winter solstice. I knew, but not by how much. I looked it up. Latest sunset was round about 13th December and latest sunrise was round about 30th December. Hands up if you did not know that.

10th January 2013

The weather continued as yesterday. Hobó turned up and put another coat of linseed oil on the table. All else was the usual stuff.

11th January 2013

The weather was still the same. Apart from that it was just a normal day.

12th January 2013

I spent much of my time trying to get a bit caught up with the blog. Otherwise it was just the normal round of livestock, house fires and pub. Hobó did turn up and top me up with firewood. I also wandered the few doors down to the chicken meat place. I had not told them in advance and they only had frozen. I settled for a bag of three complete chicken breasts. It was quite a lump of meat.

13th January 2013

The weather was better. It was a Sunday. Loads of housework, although you would not know it if you visited.

Once again it was the usual looking after the livestock. I had a fair bit of computer work to do - not blog.

I forgot to mention a conversation that I had with butor Lajos out in the smoking area the evening that he, Helmut and I had had a go at Hobó about his eating habits. Lajos took me quite by surprise. He is well into organic stuff. He got on about apples. He much prefers the apples from his own trees, spots grubs and all, to the perfect apples that you would see and buy in the supermarket. No chemicals, he said. I have to say that I agree.

The chicken had partially thawed. I divided it in half and cycled down to John's where I presented him with the one half as freezer rent. He does keep a little bit in his freezer for me.

I made somewhat of a departure for meal. Having all the chicken on hand I decided on a spicy chicken pizza for main meal of the day. I had all the ingredients to hand. I also made it just big enough for the one meal. The method for the spicy chicken was simply thus: enough chicken to top the pizza into a saucapan with water and a little salt and just the merest forkful of the stuff that comes in a jar that has to substitute for chilli powder. It worked!

14th January 2013

There had been a considerable fall of snow overnight. My clock/radio/alarm had failed and I had scrambled out of bed without a clue as to what the time was. It turned out to be half past four in the morning! Whatever, I was up and dressed. I had to wait some time before I could go to the shop but at least I had a merry blaze going in the kitchen stove. As I went to the shop I cleared my way using my home made snow scraper. It was hard going. I was definitely not at my best.

I did the usual livestock stuff and set out for the pub on foot which was a tribulation in itself. I got just a little way past the templom when one of the pub regulars, braver than I, cycled past in the direction of the shop and told me that the pub was shut. I about turned and retraced my steps. Hobó was outide the shop with a bottle of beer. I got one for myself anyway. It is kind of reassuring that in spite of the weather the little pub outside the shop endures.

Home to do the livestock and have lunch. After that, blog. Hobó turned up and got the firewood in for me. He managed to finish in nice time for us to wander up to the pub and catch Inspector Rex on the telly. It is a slightly different guise. It is now on M1 TV - Magyar Egy, probably equivalent to Beeb One except that they have adverts. The other difference was that there were no advertisement breaks during the programme. They showed it as a single episode from beginning to end.

Back home and pigeons and goats done for the night. Then a little cooking and eating of something and back to the pub. They were shut by eight. Home and more blog updating. Chancing life and limb I had walked there and walked home.

A thing that I have long meant to mention. I have for long had the tendency to mentally soliloquise particularly during my morning or afternoon visits to the pub. Mulling over what I am doing here. A phrase that I vaguely knew from somewhere would pop into my head - something about the rhythm of a different drummer. Today I finally managed to think to look it up. This is the actual quotation which took a little finding and is only very vaguely similar to what I had in my head. On a whim I followed a link which took me to this Wiki entry about Henry David Thoreau. I was astonished by what I read. I had somewhere in my mind that I knew the name Thoreau - probably half a century ago from my alma mater. He was, in the nineteenth century, so much about what I am doing here as to be a bit spooky. I was equally astonished a few days later when I followed a link in an e-mail from the Simplicity Institute to a report by one of their founders to find that right at the top of his paper (he calls it an essay) was another quote from Thoreau.

15th January 2013

For some reason I was much better in myself this morning. The catarrh or whatever it is seemed to have cleared itself up overnight. There had been a change in the weather. It was cold but much brighter and clearer.

After all the snow, and with the temperatures sub-zero it was quite hard enough work getting out maize stalks from around the big walnut tree for goat breakfast.

Back to the house for a warm and a rest. Normal domestics followed.

All day I had an electricity problem. It kept going off. Sometimes the earth trip switches had tripped and I had to punch them back in. Sometimes the earth trip switches were in but there was no electricity to the house and then it would inexplicably come back on. I was baffled. More on this to come - much more.

I had a new little friend at the pub. One of the pub cats, little more than a kitten. Whenever I went out for a smoke it would be there rubbing around my wellies. As I write, it will now let me pick it up and it will perch on my knee, whether I stroke it or not.

It was all normal after that until the evening. When I went to give the pigeons their water and lock them up for the night I was short another pigeon. I managed to identify which one it was. Mr. Pigeon No. 1 who had been shacked up with Mrs. Pigeon No. 2 and between them were now sitting a clutch of eggs. Oh no! What did that poor hen bird do to deserve to lose another husband?

Not happy I went about the rest of the day.

16th January 2013

It was all normal until shortly before that time when I would have been thinking about going to the pub. Hobó arrived and told me to get the dogs in. Next thing there was a tractor and trailer reversing up the yard. A trailer load of little - well, some not so little - Christmas trees. Goat food! Hobó told me to stay put. Their was another load coming. I did. Another trailer load appeared in about fifteen minutes. They came from the man that lives next door to the shop the other side from me. For a long time I had thought him indifferent to me. Well, maybe not. Or maybe not indifferent to the goats. I don't know which. They went off and Hobó closed the big gates. I let the dogs out for a few minutes letting Hobó know that I would follow him up to the pub. The dogs did what they do. Pickle inspected the new arrival in the yard with interest. Blackie barked at it a couple of times and then did what male dogs do. Cocked a leg. There would be a branch that that goats will not eat, then.

I got the dogs back in and belatedly prepared to cycle up to the pub. I got as far as the bike when Mr. White Van Man pulled up. I was expecting the parcel but did not know when it would arrive. Fortunately I had enough in pocket to pay the CoD on it. Younger readers, look it up - it is still the system of choice here in Hungary.

I tucked the parcel behind the gatepost and cycled up to the pub for a very rapid and very late beer. Back home it was into early lunchtime stuff. Feed the pigeons and the goats. As usual I went to the pigeons first. As I went around the corner to open up the pigeon house my heart soared. I had not let them out today, and there waiting to get in for food was Mr. Pigeon No. 1 on the landing table outside. He hopped aside as I opened up the flap for him. I stepped aside and he was in like a rat up a rhododenron. I closed the flap and went inside and fed them, well pleased. Where he had managed to roost overnight I had not the slightest idea.

Hobó turned up and got the firewood in. He went off to the pub and I followed him but via Toni's for eggs. All day I had had the same problem wth the electrics - either the earth trips were tripped or the light was on to the meter which meant that there was power to the house but no power in the house. What was worrying was that the meter was turning and not slowly either which meant there was a fair drain somewhere. I had no idea where. Certainly not in the house. When I had had my afternoon beer and came home to do the livestock Hobo and another young man of the village came along. They had a good tinker around in the meter box but to no avail. They admitted defeat and left. I left the electricity off, had a quick bite to eat and followed them.

When I returned on a whim I reset the switches. I had left the hallway light switch in the on position and to my surprise it came on. The meter was still showing the big power drain. I started on doing some blog updating but it did not last long. With a click the computer turned off and the big room light went off. I lit the candle, found the torch and went out to investigate.The earth trips had not tripped and the meter was still showing the power drain. I killed it all, went back in and finished off my nightcap with a book to read with the aid of torch and candle. Early bed.

17th January 2013

When I got up I poked my nose out into the meter box to see if I could get power back. Well, the LED on the meter was out so there was no point even resetting the earth trip switches. A few minutes work with the improvised snow shovel before I could even go to the shop. There had been another fair accumulation later on yesterday and continuing overnight. It was hard going. I went over to the shop. They had no power either. Ah! That would explain the meter cupboard then.

Home and get a merry blaze going, then all the usual stuff. Getting the maize stalks from around the walnut tree was a trial. I had to retread all my carefully trodden little pathways that now had about another eight inches of snow on them, plus the maize stalks had a good accumulation of snow on them that had to be shaken off.

A bit later I had to go to the shop for something and found that the power was back on. Not at my place it wasn't. The meter LED came on, the meter returned to its leakage round and I still had no power in the house. I turned it all off again and went to the pub in disgust.

Hobó was there. Of course I told him and he soon told everyone else in the pub. One of the regulars offered to help. Józsi who had bought the house where Frank, the Scottish Hungarian mentioned in the very early days of the blog had lived, and whom I have mentioned before on the blog. He went to get some tools. He was happy enough for me to complete my morning ritual and waited for me to finish.

I cycled on ahead in the snow and he followed on foot. I let the dogs out but secured Pickle to the well. When the barking announced Józsi's arrival I collared Blackie for a moment whilst he came in the gate. I released Blackie and he immediately launched at this unexpected intruder. It was not a problem. Józsi is a doggy person and has one himself. He just stopped walking up the path, held a hand out for black dog to sniff then after a few seconds went down to Blackie's level and gave him a fuss. All was well after that.

Józsi set about the electrics. I went about my business. Józsi worked for three hours in the freezing cold with the occasional cigarette break in the warmth of the kitchen. He did some stuff that is not for the blog but finally admitted defeat. It was beer o'clock anyway. He refused any payment. I bought him a beer in the pub.

Back home I rapidly did the pigeons and goats, heated some food on the kitchen stove which fortunately I had in the slow cooker and lit the tile stove. As darkness fell I went back to the pub. Back home I fed the dogs by candlelight and then read more of the book I had started reading, once again by torch and candle light, over a nightcap.

18th January 2013

Apart from still having no power it was just a normal start. I had done the livestock and was back in the house when a doggie commotion alerted me to an arrival at about ten in the morning. I looked out to find that Józsi had returned with another, older chap well known to me called believe it or not Laci. It is from him that I bought the big load of acacia firewood. He is another one of those pub regulars that pop in and out of the pub all day, have a swift kis fröccs and pop out again. He apparently knew about electrics.

I secured Pickle to the well and collared Blackie whist they came through the gate. It was an exact repeat of yesterday. Blackie growled his most ferocious growl that would explode a small child less than two metres away and went to investigate this new strange person. Laci is a doggie person also - hence the exact repeat. He has a little yappy dog that is very ferocious behind his gate and fence at home. I have to admit that during the time that I had to use the crutches after my fall in the snow I used to wind it up as I passed in both directions by plonking the crutches down within an inch of gate/fence as I passed. And I thought Pickle could go ballistic.

They persevered for a bit over an hour, once again in the freezing cold. It was still the same. I took them to the pub and bought the drinks. Whilst there, someone (I have no idea who) phoned up E-on, the power company.

To their credit they were there in less than an hour from when I returned from the pub. I secured dogs within and they came in the yard and checked it out. Less than five minutes and they declared it a house problem, not theirs.

Hobó turned up a bit later and got the firewood in. Cue another visit to the pub. The rest was another repeat of the last couple of days.

19th January 2013

No electricity. No notes. No idea! Shortest blog entry ever?

20th January 2013

Short and sweet. Still no electricity. Hobó had managed to get in touch with an electrician from Nádasd who turned up. It turned out to be the same bloke that reconnected the water when the boiler nearly blew up. He did manage to get the lights on. I indicated the current drain on the meter. He shrugged, charged me a thousand forints and left. Miserable sod!

The electricity was off again by the end of the afternoon. Repeat of the day before yesterday.

21st January 2013

I had no electricity all day and all night again. You know, if it were not for the Internet as a quick and easy means of keeping in touch with friends and family not having electricity would be just a minor and occasional inconvenience. Can you imagine that?

I did the normal stuff and determined to cycle to Bödő for some items. I could have waited until the afternoon and gone on the bus but it was a good enough day for cycling and I wanted to get it over with. I went as far as Posta and got cash as well. In Bödő I spotted a paraffin storm lamp and bought it. Paraffin? None. I cannot remember whether I mentioned that Hobó had found one in the loft in much need of some TLC. It needed a new wick. Wick? None. Mmmmm! A shop that will sell you a paraffin lamp but nothing to run it on and no wick. Oh well. They did have though household candles which was a good job as I was down to the last half inch of my last one at home. None in the Halogy shop for many months which I also find strange.

I have a cautionary tale about candles. It will probably ring true to most of those old enough to remember the three day week and the rolling blackouts caused by the miners' strike in the early 1970s. Ever since then wherever I have lived I have had a supply of candles with a box of matches on the top always where I could find them in the dark. I moved house many times. The matches and candles were never used. It was not until after the turn of the century that I had need of them. A scrap yard on the outskirts of Poole caught fire. It was sufficiently near and the heat was so intense that it brought down a pylon carrying one of the main (640 kilovolt?) feeds into the Christchurch/Bournemouth/Poole conurbation. Most of Bournemouth was without power. We still had power where I worked but the authorities warned that the rest could go down either as a knock on effect or a necessity to take it down to deal with the incident. We were sent home early. It was winter and the days were short. I caught the bus home. Home was without electricity. Home being nominally a one bedroomed flat in a block of flats there was emergency lighting in the public areas. Not so the flat. I entered, found the matches and candles and soon had enough light to at least knock together a snack. It was exactly the same then as now. What to do? Go to the pub. At least there the lights were on. They were on at home too by the time I returned. But the moral of the story for my younger readers is: always have candles and something to light them with and know where they are.

There are a couple of analogies to that story. One is that in the rolling blackouts of the 1970s when it was our turn to have no power the local pubs where much busier than usual. Makeshift lighting prevailed and there was always an atmoshphere of bonhomie. The other was that the bus on the way home had to negotiate a particularly horrid junction known as Cemetery Junction, bounded on two sides as it was by the borough cemetery. It is a multiple lane crossroads in every direction but one and at peak times there was always much congestion and long delays. I expected it to be chaos with the traffic lights out. Not so. We sailed through in a very few seconds. I commented about it to the driver. He told me that it had been like that all day since the lights went out. With no lights the drivers were being courteous and commonsensical. Makes you think.

Where was I? I digressed somewhat. All normal after that - livestock and lunch. I wandered round to Tibi and Marika in the afternoon to see if Tibi had any paraffin. As usual I was invited in and fed pálinka and cake. Tibi had no paraffin. I asked if the gazdabolt in Csákánydoroszló might have any. Marika made a phone call. In the meantime Tibi launched into what I can only descibe as a tirade about the dogs. It was about me having the dogs in the house. From what I gathered he was threatening to put the law on me. Something about the dogs not being sterile, in the sense of completely absent of bacteria. Yeah, right! I happen to hold strong views about that. I saw long ago - before I moved here - a report on the BBC webite that investigated childhood asthma. One of the strong conclusions was based on the fact that those children that lived in too clean conditions were far more prone to asthma. The report also highlighted that asthma was very rare in farm children. What are farm children exposed to at a very early age? Lots of sh*t and muck of various kinds.

It did bother me and unsettle me for some days. I spent time on the Internet trying to find out if I was inadvertently transgressing. I found nothing. After all Budapest is one of the doggie capitals of Europe. Where do they live? In the flats. I have seen many Hungarian TV programmes and adverts with dogs in the house (and on the bed). I grant that here in the village it is not normal but it is my way and an Englishman's way.

Bless him, tirade over and Marika having established that they did have paraffin at the gazdabolt in Csákánydoroszló he got his car out and drove over there and fectched me some. Not cheap! Nine hundred forints a litre.

I was able to linger at home a little later in the evening before I went to the pub, and to read in a degree of comfort when I returned home.

22nd January 2013

I was finishing breakfast when Hobó turned up with another electrician. I believe than he had come from Csákánydoroszló. The dogs were out. Hobó secured Pickle to the well and I, with some difficulty in the snow, secured black dog in the outhouse which he did not much like. That was in case Mr. Electrician had to go within house. God forbid.

It was clear from the start that this one actually knew what he was doing. In a very short time he identified the problem of the supply to the house as being at the back of a particular fuse. He unscrewed it and remade the connections at the back. The light came on within the house. Next he identified where the current drain was and remedied it by the simple expedient of pulling the fuses. The fuses were not at all as I expected. In the meter cupboard on the right immediately above the three earth trip switches were three fuses. I had thought in my naivety that the switches related to the fuses. Not so. The little fuse, top left of the board related to the leftmost of the earth trip switches and was the supply to the house. I know nor care not to where the others relate. They were now all dead and the meter had stopped its incessant circling at a ridiculous speed with nothing switched on. He packed his stuff up. How much? A thousand forints - the same as the miserable old sod from Nádasd had charged me and solved precicely nothing. I attempted to press fifteen hundred forints on him but he would have none of it. No. The price was a thousand forints. About three quid. Six or seven kilometres here, maybe twenty minutes work and six or seven kilometres back. I ask you. Cost in the UK?

As I write, to jump ahead a couple of days, the power went off the next day and the day after. Both times I fixed it myself by loosening the house supple fuse and screwing it back in hard. Both times the lights came back on. They have not gone out since.

Apart from the livestock and pub visits I had to spend the rest of the day catching up with e-mails and other such Internet related activity.

23rd January 2013

It snowed. I got the washing in.

24th January 2013

All was normal - looking after the livestock etc. No idea why, but I did a load of housework. On a Thursday?

After the interruptions to power supply I set about trying to do some blog catching up.

It snowed on and off all day but did not account to much. Hobó turned up in the afternoon and did me another huge firewood top-up.

Pub in the evening. A pretty unspectacular day.

25th January 2013

It was a pleasant day, but much colder. Minus eight first thing. It had been forecast and I had left the kitchen tap dripping into a goat water bucket. I still had water, so local lore obviously works.

Getting the maize stalks for the goats was unpleasant again what with it being so cold and another fresh covering of snow yesterday. It was a day of the thumbs being painful when I returned to the house. I declared a two coffee morning and put the coffee back on again whilst I warmed up. I did a load more blog updating over the coffee.

Normal end of the morning and up to the pub. Hobó was there complaining about the cold but looking for work. I told him that I had a little good work for him. He promised to turn up in the afternoon.

Home to do the pigeons and goats and have lunch myself. The goats had a treat today. Cabbage. Sadly bought in from the shop. They are huge cabbages that they sell in the shop. This one was pushing on three kilogrammes and was by no means the biggest in there. The goats had half of it divided into four so that I could apportion it fairly. The advantage of cabbage is that I can break it up and hurtle it about so that they all get some, otherwise Suzy will bully Vicky off it and Rudy will bully the wether off it. The disadvantage is that I have to do that with bare hands and the cabbage surfaces are damp. Instant cold hands in this weather.

Hobó did turn up in the afternoon, but a bit later than expected. He had been called upon to do some snow shovelling for an old lady neighbour. Ah! Community, that is what it is all about. There has been a settlement here since the twelve hundreds. Maybe before - that is the earliest records.

As expected, Hobó was well pleased with the work I had for him. Give Lajos' little table another coat of linseed oil in the blessed warmth of the kitchen. I did some blog updating. I had had a moan about what a pain in the thumbs it was getting the maize stalks to the goats. When I returned to the kitchen the table was done and Hobó was nowhere to be seen. I thought that he might have gone to make free with the yard. Well, it was a long pee. He returned a while later. It turned out that he had been out to the garden and dragged several bunches of maize stalks to close by the goat house for me. We adjourned to the pub.

The rest of the day was just the usual stuff.

26th January 2013

It was colder again this morning - minus twelve before I went to the shop. It had been forecast to be colder than that. I had taken the precaution of leaving the kitchen tap dripping into a goat water bucket. Two birds killed with one stone. I still had water to the house and the goat water was ready to go. Again.

It was promising to be a really bright, crisp morning when I went to the shop. It actually felt warmer than those morning when it hovers around zero. At the temperature that it was, all the moisture was frozen out of the air. I forgot to mention but I think it was yesterday that the normal shop lady had returned to duty.

All was normal except that I lingered in the goat house to do Vicky's hoofs. I did hers because I put some extra goodies in the tray on the goat table and she was the one that obligingly put her head through the trap and I fastened her in. It did not take long. She is as obliging as Suzy in that respect.

I did some housework and blog updating after that. I made a golden discovery during the blog updating. My ethernet network connection went down. I unplugged it at the modem and plugged it into a different port, give the connection at the back of the computer a wiggle and it came back up. I went to a box of odds and ends that I keep and looked to see if I had a spare cable. None that I could find, but right at the bottom of the box I made the discovery. A little tin of Vaseline, barely touched. It had to date back years to my tuba playing days. The reason that it was a golden discovery is that at this time of year the ends of my thumbs suffer terribly from dry skin which then cracks and make a sore. Not the fingers, just the thumbs. Hand cream had not helped. I started there and then using the Vaseline just around the ends of the thumbs. It has helped enormously.

Pub, livestock, lunch. Hobó had said he would turn up about two and get the firewood in.It didn't happen. At about a quarter past I went and got it myself. It is no big deal, chopping the ex-roof beams of the ex-outhouse roof and sawing up some of the smaller stuff. I enjoy and need the exercise. True to form, Hobó turned up just as I was carting the last basket load into the kitchen. It was by then afternoon beer o'clock. I turned him round, secured dogs and followed him up to the pub. Cunning ploy for me to buy him a beer maybe?

He did do a little telephoning job for me whilst we were at the pub. I had come across a couple of numbers for suppliers with hay. Hobó contacted one of them on my phone and organised for me to buy and have delivered thirty thirty kilogramme bales of hay. It would be delivered Monday or Tuesday. It was not cheap! I have to say that Hobó had somewhat let me down on that one. I had been on to him since November because I knew that for whatever reasons I did not have enough. He kept assuring me that a chap in Daraboshegy had loads of bails of hay. By the time I finally got through to Hobó said chap had sold all the hay. To add insult to injury when we went back into the pub the Laci that had come and chain sawn all the acacia wood on the yard told us that he could have got it for less than half the price. Oh well, live and learn. If I buy in next year I will spread my net a little further.

Home, goats and pigeons, eat, light the tile stove and back to the pub.

27th January 2013

I finally had to admit that my clock/radio/alarm had died. It had been playing up for some little while coinciding with the problems with the electricity supply to the house. I had put it down to the latter but since the restoration of the power to the house it had continued to be problematical, failed to wake me on several occasions and this morning was not even flashing 12:00 at me. Time to give up on it. I unplugged it for the last time.

Fortunately nature had woken me at a reasonable time and it being a Sunday I did not have to dash to the shop before they sold out of bread. I arose and set about the day. About two thirds of the way through Hobó appeared all of a stitherum. I bet that will send a few away to the on-line dictionaries! The hay was being delivered today at nine. It was about a quarter to. Miki turned up a few moments later, having been enlisted by Hobó to help.

Nothing happened. A bit after nine I went about my business of pigeons and goats. Hobó and Miki made good use of the time by getting me more firewood in. There was still no hay. Hobó made a phone call from my phone. They had a vehicle problem. They would be there about eleven. Hobó and Miki adjourned to the pub. I resumed some domestics.

Sod's law prevailed and they turned up a bit before eleven. No sign of Hobó or Miki. I secured dogs within and indicated where I wanted the hay. The bales came in and were stacked sufficiently far from the big front gates that if they had to stay there a little while black dog could not use them to climb on and launch over the gates. I had just started to talk money with the three blokes that delivered when Hobó appeared. It was more than I bargained for. More than they had quoted. To cut a long story short I paid them. They hung about and Hobó spoke to them. The cheeky bstds had the nerve to come back and say that they had not charged me VAT on it. There were only the two of us, and the three of them. I dug in my pocket and came up short. Hobó, good bloke that he is told me to put some beer money back in my pocket, went out and gave them the rest and told them that that was all they were getting. They went away.

In the meantime Miki had reappeared. Whatever, apart from a little beer money in the pocket they had cleaned me out. Seen off big time. Miki identified them as cigany. Hobó insisted the hay had to go under cover. He and Miki set about it. I was by now not well pleased and in need of a beer. Or two. It had proved to be very expensive hay.

Belately we got to the pub. I managed two very swift ones before I went home. Life, for the moment, resumed its normal course. Pigeons, goats, lunch.

In the afternoon, skint, I secured dogs within and set off on the bike to the cash machine in Csákánydoroszló. The road there showed the evidence of the recent heavy snow falls. I stayed on the black bits. If a car came along and had to get on the white bits that was their problem not mine. Apparently it made teletext on one of the Hungarian channels to say that Halogy was cut off a couple of days previously. I had had an e-mail from one of my corresponents who saw it to check that I was alright. I was unaware that it had even happened. I my reply I mentioned that since then the beer delivery had got to the pub and the bread had got to the shop, so everything must be alright.

I got home without incident. In fact I hardly saw a car. The dogs went out for a while and I stoked up the kitchen stove again. Then it was off to the pub for a well earned afternoon beer after a fourteen kilometre cycle ride with a very brief pause in the middle.

John turned up. It turned into a session. I went home, did some pastoral duties and slammed some fire into the tile stove more in hope than in anger then returned to the pub. We left quite late. I was right about the tile stove. It was out. It had however managed to generate a fair amount of heat before it had decided to go out. Twenty seconds with the blowlamp and I had a merry blaze going.

28th January 2013

Very brief. After the excitements of yesterday it was a very normal day. I did all the usual stuff and Hobó turned up and did some work for me. I cannot even remember what.

29th January 2013

I was still trying to catch up after the Sunday episode. It turned into a morning of washing up, washing, sweeping and sundry other jobs. I went for my normal end of morning pub break. All the normal regulars were in there at their regular times.

Home, and the usual stuff again. Feed the pigeons and goats and feed me. After lunch I had a look at the rat trap that Hobó had brought down from the attic. I cannot remember if I mentioned that. It was crude - crude in the extreme. It needed much work. With squabs in the nest it was a high priority item. In true Hungarian fashion I decided not today, tomorrow. The same with the wether's hoofs - tomorrow.

Hobó got the firewood in in the afternoon. I had had the forethought to get a lemon in from the shop. It turned into pancake day on farm Welsh. I had milk that needed using up, eggs, flour, sugar and a nice little blaze in the kitchen stove. How healthy is that? Protein, carbohydrate and just a little fat, in this case sunflower oil, and plenty of vitamin C.

Tile stove was lit and then pub in the evening. It was raining when I left. Cold, wet rain it was too. I made best speed home.

30th January 2013

It was not the best day ever. After all the usual shop/breakfast stuff I went to do the livestock. Also as usual I went to the pigeons first. Mrs. Pigeon No. 2 was off the nest and there was a dead squab in there. I disposed of it. The other was still alive.

I did the wether's hoofs when I fed the goats and with a bit of subterfuge managed to get him back in with Rudy where he belonged. He had been in with the girls far too long, and bullied them unmercifully. It is what goats do, you know. It is what humans do too, but in a far more subtle manner.

Pub for a beer at the end of the morning then home to do the usual. The second squab was dead in the nest. I disposed of it also. It was quite clear that for whatever reason they had been abandoned. I have no idea why. Nature - harsh and cruel. We cocoon ourselves in our veneer of civilisation but it is in us too.

I did some Internet stuff over lunch and then got the firewood in in the absence of Hobó. It was good. I needed the exercise.

Beer o'clock in the afternoon and I secured dogs within. I got as far as getting the bike out of the gate when I noticed the feathers. All up and down the road were lots of white feathers. I stopped, put the bike on its stand and went back in the yard to the pigeon house. All the pigeons were within except one. The all white husband of Mrs. Pigeon No. 3. Nowhere to be seen. Neither was he evermore afterwards. It was undoubtedly the work of a passing, speeding vehicle. I never did find his body what with him being white and everywhere still covered in snow. Not best pleased I resumed my journey to the pub.

31st January 2013

I had realised last night upon my return from the pub that something was not quite right. In the cold and darkness I did not investigate further. I found out this morning. This was the sight that greated me when I let the dogs out:
Another Outhouse Roof The whole of the roof on the north end of the building had catastrophically collapsed. Most of the eastern side of it was in the yard behind the well, including the huge wooden beam that had sat atop the wall. Well, thank the gods that it happened when it did.
and just to make light of it here is one of Blackie enjoying the snow. Blackie in the Snow
Whatever! A minor inconvenience in the greater scheme of things. A quick inspection revealed that a fair amount of the wall on the east side would have to be rebuilt. There was "shook" damage down to the level of between the outhouse door and the windowsill. It had been in my plans to remove the window and brick that entire wall up anyway. Fortunately it is in my skill-set that I share with that greatest of Englishmen - Winston Churchill. I can lay bricks. Not fast, but good. Very theraputic is brick laying when done as a hobby. Way back in the 1970s I built a brick seven metre by three garage at a new house that we had bought. Sometime between today and as I write I went onto Google Earth. It still stands.

All the normal stuff had to happen. Shop/breakfast/livestock. By the time I went for end of morning pub break the whole village knew about my latest disaster.

Hobó came down in the afternoon and inspected. It would be more of the same. Remove the debris and salvage what could be salvaged.  


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