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February 2013

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1st February 2013

I was up and about early. As it happened it was good weather - bright and clear. I was up early enough to light the stove before going to the shop. Breakfast, which was swift as the stove was already hot. After that the usual livestock stuff but quite quickly.

Today was the day for going to see the doctor for the blood pressure tablets. I arrived there a few minutes before nine which is the nominal closing time for the surgery. As I arrived, Tibi the village factotem drove off in the village bus with a couple of the old girls on board. There was nobody in the waiting room. I knew the doctor was there as his car was still outside. I did a bit of coughing and sneezing, not all of it involuntary amd eventually the doctor appeared and bade me to come in. Unusually he was on his own. He set about issuing me with a repeat prescription, taking my word for the fact that my BP had been 135/82 yesterday which was a little white lie - I had not checked it yesterday, but the figures were from the day before yesterday and were true. After a bit of faffing about (I will let you look that one up) he finally got computer and printer to cooperate and gave me the script. Bugger! Did that mean that I could not get it to Tibi?

I went back home to do domestics. Hobó called round but only for a minute to tell me that he would not be doing the work for me that he had said he would do. He sat and had a cigarette and yarned for a while,thus stopping me doing any more domestics, about which I was not sorry and by then it was beer o'clock anyway. I locked dogs within and cycled up to the pub. Cunning ploy by Hobó to get a beer bought for him?

The aforementioned Tibi turned up at his usual time towards the end of the village milk round. I had had the forethought to take the doctor's script with me in the hopes of catching him. I asked him if he had been for the presciptions yet. No. This afternoon. He was quite happy to take mine and put it with the others. That was a small relief.

A little snippet about Tibi, the mayor and the milk round. It happens daily, including Sundays. The cows don't mind. They get milked weekdays, Sundays, highdays and holidays, just like my goats when they are in milk. All the recipents have these three layered plastic things that the hang on the gate. It is obviously a communal exchange thing as the empty one is taken away and replaced by the one with the milk in. Unless everyone has two, of course, but that would fall over in the event of someone not wanting milk, as in that event they simply do not hang out the container. Like when I was a child in the UK and milk was actually delivered in returnable glass bottles and the milkman called every day with his horse and milk cart, later to be superceded by the electric milk float. I seem to recall that the lead/acid battery life on those milk floats was about twelve years. But I digress, and digress again. The short and sharp point of the story is that Tibi calls in the pub as he passes on the milk round. From time to time the village mayor will do the milk round if Tibi is not available. He also calls in the pub, but only when he has finished the milk round. Which makes perfect sense, as Tibi lives up the hill out of the village right next door to Hobó - much to the chagrin of both of them - and the mayor lives in a house on a plot shared with his parents right opposite the faluház and next door to John.

Brief mode. All normal after that and I got the firewood in. I enjoyed the exercise. Cauliflower cheese in the evening. Mmmmm! Roux! Not my most favouritest thing to do. It lasted me three days. Pub in the evening.

2nd February 2013

It was a horrid day - not much above freezing and raining. Give me a day when it is minus ten and clear blue skies, or even a steady fall of snow any time. Hobó and Pitu were supposed to turn up to do some more salvaging of the latest outhouse roof catastrophe. It did not happen, of course, and I cannot blame them. I would not have done it either in such conditions. Feeding the goats was not much fun.

Some normal stuff - domestics - during the morning. Then a beer in the pub. The skittlers were in and the pub did not shut at twelve. Helmut and Silvia turned up and another beer came my way.

When I went home, as usual I went to feed the pigeons first. I was a bird short, which was unusual at that time of day. The one that I call "One White Tail Feather" except that that is not strictly true, as he (definitely a cock bird) has one and a half white tail feathers. He was nowhere to be seen. Bugger! Not another bird gone? I went and fed the goats. I spotted him returning to the pigeon house as I returned to the yard. I locked them in.

Not a lot else got done apart from the usual looking after of livestock.

In the pub in the evening Hobó was going on about the clearing up of the outhouse roof diaster being a two man job. He went round the usual suspects but they all had other work lined up. In the end I settled for Miki just to get the job underway.

Towards the end of the evening it was getting onto last knockings. I asked Jóli if I might have another quick beer. I was treated to a bit of magyar humor. Jóli made a charicature of running to the beer fridge and back. There you go - a quick beer. Made me chuckle.

3rd February 2013

The weather was good this morning. Hobó and Miki had arranged to start work at nine, and to my amazement both turned up on time. Nine CET, not nine Magyarország time. They got stuck in, the first thing being to move the massive great wall timber that had come down. Hobó went on the roof salvaging good tiles and chucking broken roof timbers down as he went. Miki set to going through the fallen debris, stacking good roof slates where I wanted them, wheelbarrowing away broken ones and stacking fallen bricks in another place. I set about normal Sunday job of housework.

They put in a good mornings work and at half past eleven I took them up to the pub and bought the drinks. Hobó told me that part of the gable end wall would have to come down otherwise it would likely fall into the cellar if there was a high wind. Having looked at it I was not surprised. The top metre or so was unbuttressed and the bricks were laid on edge, not flat. Typical! More wall for less bricks. Built down to a price, not up to a quality. Neighbour Tibi has some very disparaging things to say about communist era stuff. I am not surprised.

Home and pigeons and goats. I made a pleasant discovery in the pigeon house. Mrs. Pigeon No. 3 had quite clearly chosen a new mate - the one that I call White Bloomers. His undercarriage is all white and above he is grey with white stripes on wings and tail. They were very lovey-dovey together on the nest box.

I had lunch and then stoked up the stove to bake the bread that I had started in the morning and left proving. Hobó and Miki surprised me again by coming back promptly at the agreed time of one. Blimey! Hobó punctual twice in one day. What was going on?

They did all the clearing of the roof debris that was going to get done today and then between them socked me right up with firewood. Back to the pub after that to buy them a drink and pay them.

Home and livestock again and then I made do with a sandwich made from my still-warm freshly baked loaf instead of cooking. Back to the pub in the evening but they closed before eight and it was still before eight when I got home.

4th February 2013

It was not bad weather, but not as good as yesterday. Somewhat overcast. Yesterday was glorious and for the first time of the year I felt the beginnings of the return of some warmth in the sunshine. I carried on with all the usual stuff. Hobó had said that he would come and do some more work but he never showed up. I did washing and some more tidying up in the kitchen.

Posta turned up and I got cash. The post rounds had changed again. It was a new young chap - very pleasant and no communication problems. Deliveries were much earlier, somewhere between half past ten and quarter to eleven usually.

I was on the way to the pub on the bike when Miki flagged me down. To my astonishment he pressed two thousand forints into my hand. It was repayment for some earlier "loans" that I had made to him. I nearly fell off the bike! Bit of a scrounger is Miki and lives more hand to mouth than even Hobó does. Odd times he will pop round, do a bit of unasked for work and then wants money. I always give him a bit of small change out of the pocket - about enough to buy a fröccs - and normally have to write it off. Heart of gold though in all other respects.

I carried on to the pub. I had no idea why but for all my problems I felt particularly happy today. There had been some by-play going on in the pub and at closing time as I cycled home I was actually chuckling about it.

The goats got a load of Christmas tree greenery as a supplement to their hay. I had lunch - goat cheese sandwich matured since about September. By heck it was strong! Early afternoon I did a load of computer stuff and then went out to top up on firewood. Aforementioned Miki spotted me carting a basket in and came in the yard to see if he could help. I told him no and sent him away. I was enjoying the exercise of getting it in.

An afternoon beer in the pub and then home for the normal end of day stuff. I had a home made chicken soup in the slow cooker so that was main meal of the day.

Pub in the evening of course. I don't know whether it was the slightly warmer weather, the steady thaw of the snow or the lengthening days but it was almost like a party atmosphere in there.

Back home it was clear that there had been one of the momentary losses of power that happen from time to time - nothing to do with the house. The computer was back on a login screen and the modem had failed to reboot and was showing an orange LED in the one indicating power. It was connected to nothing other than Ethernet. I tried just rebooting it and it came up the same. Switch it off and leave it a few minutes. That worked.

5th February 2013

Hobó and Miki turned up to do more work on the outhouse roof just as I was finishing breakfast. They set about it. I finished breakfast and dealt with the livestock. I went back and did more housework and then some stuff around the yard. Last off in the morning at my request Hobó removed the pole that had carried the wires from house to outhouses. He also removed the wires from the house end. Miki finally finished clearing the debris. Time to buy them a drink.

Back home and I went to feed the pigeons to find that Mrs. Pigeon No. 3 had presented me with an egg which she was proceeding not to sit. To jump ahead just a little she continued not to sit it until she laid the second of the clutch either two or three days later. But by heck her and the new Mr. Pigeon No. 3 have been sitting those eggs very tight since. The not sitting the egg thing did not bother. In my pigeon perambulations on the Internet I gleaned the information that you can remove eggs from the nest, put them in the fridge for up to a week and then return them for a bird to sit and they will only then start incubating. It explains how eggs that have been laid two or three days apart will hatch within hours of one another.

Hobó and Miki returned. When he removed the electricity pole he had notice that the roof beam to which it was adjacent was utterly rotten. It had been cobbled up. The cobbling up was rotten too. I had been warned about it in the very early days of my being here. The wretched things go through the roof internally to where the walls are, underneath. That means that they replace a roof tile. There is a galvanized collar through which the pole slides. It is intended to replace a roof tile. They leak, I was told. They all do. It was for that reason that I had Hobó take down the telly aerial one. Same problem. Also same old, same old. Why do they do it? Because it is easier and cheaper to secure the poles internally to the roof beams and wall timbers than it is to secure them externally to the wall. The only exception here at my place is the main E-on mains feed from the road to the buildings. It is secured to the outside wall.

Anyway, it took Hobó with assistance from Miki the best part of the afternoon to rip out the offending roof beam, replace it with a good one from the western side of the collapsed bit and make good the roof. At least I still have a (for now) sound roof over the workshop.

End of the afternoon, repeat of the day before yesterday. In the pub later butor Lajos brought me in a bag of sausages. Not the usual black pudding type sausages (hurka) but real meat sausages (kolbász). Made by him and smoked, so they would keep a while. All was well until I got home and realised that I had left the carrier bag on the ice cream freezer top. No good going back now - they would be locked up and in darkness. It transpired that all was well anyway. Hobó had spotted them and removed them to a little storage shed built onto the outside of the skittle alley. On a night like this that would be as good as being in the fridge.

6th February 2013

It snowed again. It settled where there was lying snow but it did not settle on the road or anywhere that had been well walked. Nobody turned up for work. I was not surprised. I did some housework and booted up the computer and did some Internet stuff.

Miki turned up looking for a little work. I set him on to drag the Chistmas trees that were now goat food off the yard and stack them by the fence next to the goat house. You know, I don't think I ever mentioned that in my trawlings of the Internet I can only find three references to species that will eat Christmas trees. Goats will, and enjoy them. Deer will as well. The third species did surprise me. Elephants! One has to admire the alimentary capabilites of any species that can eat, enjoy and digest Christmas trees. The elephants thing is also surprising considering that they are not ruminants.

Hobó turned up and got a load of firewood in.

Mrs. Pigeon No. 3 was most definitely sitting. She would not even let me see how many eggs there were.

When I returned from the pub in the evening I ended up doing a load of e-mail work. Some connected with a possible Ebay purchase, some that was techie stuff.

7th February 20y13

Dropping behind again, so short and sharp. The weather was very pleasant this morning. Could do with a few more days like it. After shopping and the rest of the usual stuff I had a wander down to the faluház where, unusually, there was one of the little markets on from nine until eleven. It was not the usual people. Many of the goods were the same but also many different from the other lot. I bought a few bits and pieces including some sensible sized tea towels and also a pair of plain black fur lined shoes. The last time I went up to the cemetery to an interment my black Clarks city veldt shoes died in a big way which left me without any what I would call dressy shoes. I bought them on spec - size 42, never even trying them on. Two thousand nine hundred and ninety forints, they have proved to be surprisingly comfortable. And warm!

When I returned home I did some housework and clothes washing. Then off to the pub. All normal when I returned.

Nobody showed up for work so in the afternoon I got the firewood in myself. I enjoyed (and needed) the exercise. The rest of the day was just the same old.

8th February 2013

Even shorter today. It was just a normal day, with the normal things happening at the normal times. Hobó did get the firewood in today.

9th February 2013

It was cold - just below freezing - and it snowed all day. Not a lot, but it just kept coming.

My day was normal - nothing worth writing about in an attempt to catch up. Thanks to Hobó yesterday I had plenty enough firewood in. The only departure from normal was that I let the kitchen stove go out before lunch and then cleaned it out again inside after lunch when it was cool enough to do so. I did the stove pipes as well. It is not hard work, but unpleasant, dirty work. I had a reason for doing it. Well, a couple of reasons. One was that it had started to smoke again and I had had problems getting it hot enough to bake bread and two was that I wanted to cook pizza. It is a consequence of burning nothing but ex-outhouse roof on it. In the spring there is no doubt that I will have to completely disconnect it, remove all the ironwork and drag it out in the yard to stand it on end and put a hosepipe on full pressure throughout. It is not of the quality of John's which has a removable tray under the oven to be able to get rid of ash and soot. There was nonesuch to be seen in Körmend when I bought mine.

Hobo was missing all day. I neither saw him in the village nor in the pub. The pizza was a success. Pub in the evening - still no Hobó.

10th February 2013

It was minus eight first off but a bright and shiny day. It was forecast not to continue. It didn't. By the end of the morning it began to cloud over and by evening we had yet more snow.

Nothing out of the ordinary happened. Sorry! Posta brought me a small package that I was execting from the UK. It continues to frustrate me somewhat that I remain unable to source simple, relatively cheap items here in Hungary. I draw a blank in the likely shops that I know and I would have to travel many kilometres to find an equivalent of Payless or B & Q here.

Morning beer break and then feed pigeons and goats. The goats got a small Christmas tree dragged in whole - one for the boys and one for the girls - as well as their hay ration.

Hobó turned up in the afternoon and got the firewood in. After that it was just the usual round.

11th February 2013

We had more snow. Not a lot and it was not that cold. I noticed a thing when I returned from the shop. There was a semi-elliptical area of the yard centred roughly on the house door that was free of snow. I pondered for a moment until the reason dawned upon me. Heat leakage from the house, mainly radiant heat I suspect. I had noticed another thing but did not comment on it. The snow tended to stay on my house roof quite a bit longer than some of the neighbours. Now, that could be down to my house being better insulated than theirs. But I very much doubt it. I think that the reason is that I am happy to operate my house at quite a bit lower temperature than they are theirs. In fact, if I go into a house or elsewhere and it is heated to twenty Celcius or above I feel quite uncomfortable. As I type, my office thermometer is telling me that it has reached the dizzying heights of thirteen and a half degrees. I am comfortable with that. If I recall correctly, I visited Carlisle castle in the Lake District of England many years ago and the temperature in there was about fifty four in old money, or about twelve in new. If it was minus ten in the winter that was positively balmy. If it was thirty plus in the summer that was refreshingly cool. Mind you - once again if I recall correctly - the walls were twelve feet thick. I have mentioned before the web pages of John Michael Greer (on my Links page) - can't be bothered to link them. If he gets chilly writing up his blog he puts on an extra sweater and types in fingerless gloves. Get used to it. Coming to an area where you live, and that right soon! It has been a long while since I did doom and gloom. There is today's lesson.

All normal. Hobó was missing. Nobody knew where he was. Nor me neither.

12th February 2013

We had more snow. Not that much but it just kept coming. There were no maize stalks for the goats. Snowed upon and frozen in and beyond my capabilities of moving. I did try. The goats were happy enough with hay and some cabbage - sadly bought in from the shop. Well, if the buggers would leave my garden alone they could have been eating home grown now. To be sorted this spring if the funds will run to it.

Posta delivered another package from the UK which I was expecting.

Pub, usual stuff, lunch. Hobó reappeared from wherever he had been all day yesterday and got the firewood in. That necessitated an afternoon trip to the pub to buy him a beer, of course. Somewhen during the day I was dragged out to look at some standing firewood. Seven acacia trees, still standing. We struck a deal. More on that later.

In the evening Hobó was the butt of much good natured banter in the pub. At one stage when he and I went out for a smoke he said that in one day of absence the whole of Iron County (Vas megye) knew about it and probably most of Budapest as well. I suspect that he might have been having an illicit liaison with a member of the opposite sex somewhere, but I did not pry.

13th February 2013

With the temperature bumping around zero we had more snow. Everything was normal after that all morning except that dealing with the goat food was not particularly pleasant.

After lunch Hobó turned up to get the firewood in. There was an immediate problem. Another upright had fallen out of the front fence and Blackie made good his escape. He did not go far, but he did not return to hand either. With Pickle on chain and the small gate open Hobó and I effected a quick and dirty repair to the fence. Hobó wedged the offending upright back in and I cut a couple of suitable lengths of ex-outhouse batton to go inside and out to reinforce the whole length of fence. I now understand why just my house and one other in the village still have what are quite obviously the original concrete fences. The concrete is rotten - concrete cancer.

Now, why is it that we humans had forgotten, or even worse failed to reimplement the Romans method of making concrete? Greed, I suspect - cheaper and more profitable to make modern concrete and if it falls apart in forty or fifty years not their problem. Hands in the air, and let me know if you did not know that much of the Roman Coliseum outer shell is made of concrete. It still stands after almost two thousand years.

Anyway, where was I? Black dog continued to roam the street, never going far way but refusing to heed blandishments (now, there is a word that I have never used on the blog before) or threats. Hobó and I ignored and set about the jury rigging of repairs to the fence. I had to use angle grinder to cut some lengths of my favourite threaded rod. I had hoped that the sound of it would entice Blackie to return but it didn't. Working in the freezing cold and without gloves - handling six millimetre threaded rod and corresponding ten millimetre nuts and washers is not a job to be done wearing gloves - we completed the repairs. We repaired to the warmth of the kitchen, leaving Pickle outside on chain and small yard gate open and the house door slightly ajar. Within a few seconds Blackie was amongst us. I collared him, Hobó went and closed the yard gate and Blackie got kicked back outside with Pickle. Hobó and I had a smoke and a warm and then the dogs were secured within house and Hobó and I retired to the pub for a beer. Not a stick of firewood was taken in. It did not matter, I had plenty.

I cycled home and did all the usual. Feeding the goats was equally as unpleasant.

Pub in the evening, of course. Manchester United were on the telly - a EUFA match I think. Not that bothered. The telly went off at half time anyway.

14th February 2013

It started off as a normal day, but that did not last long and it became a very odd day after that. I had got as far as my last slice of toast - the one with the jam on - and the coffee when there was a prolonged doggie commotion. I poked my head out to see a white car that I knew well - Sandor the musician. I went out the gate to find out why he was there. He asked me to go and look at trees. In particular some standing acacia trees which we had previously discussed as firewood. I demurred and said that I would need half an hour. I had not yet done the goats and pigeons.

It turned into a very short half an hour. I had only just got as far as far as putting the wellies on when he returned, this time with two others on board. They were both well known to me. Pitu, who lives opposite the pub and delivered the maize and maize stalks with tractor and trailer and Imre who often helps out my dear old lady next door neighbour and lives on his own right next door to the templom. I locked the house and, fending off black dog from investigating the car and against my better judgement, left the yard and got in the car. We drove up the village to where the standing firewood was.

We all four trudged through the snow to where the acacia trees were. I was well glad that I had the wellies on. It was over a foot (thirty centimetres for younger readers) of snow. Now, I had seen the trees before but only from the roadside. I suppose that we had to go maybe thirty metres to get up close. What you could not see from the roadside was that they were just a little way down a steep slope running down to the Raba flood plain. They were considerably longer than I expected and of considerably greater girth at the bottom of the trunks. Sandor instructed Pitu and Imre which trees to take down and then ran me home.

Very belatedly I dealt with the livestock. Fortunately there had been no doggie disasters and they were where I had left them. In the yard. I returned to house and stoked up the kitchen stove.

It was pushing on towards beer o'clock when a further doggie commotion alerted me to the return of Sandor with a bloody great trailer load of acacia at the back of his car. Ah! That presented a problem. Now, I do not have the obsession that the average villager here has about clearing snow. If it has snowed I clear a little path from the house door to the small front gate and then out to the road. The snow in the yard and in front of the big gates was equally as deep as that I encountered to look at the acacia wood.

The collected party set about clearing enough snow to get the big gates open. I went to help. My ineffectual efforts were more or less shooed off. I short order Sandor had car and trailer in the yard, through the snow. They are not scared of driving in the snow, you know. I had noticed the same thing with butor Lajos, and others. A forgotten skill in the UK, I fear. I will go off on one now. When I was a young man I taught myself to drive in snow in my first car, a little Morris Minor 1000, by the simple expedient of going out and doing it. Anywhere that there was no traffic, the local industrial estate on a Sunday, a deserted car park ditto. Some years later my ex-wife and I, with my two elder children decided to go and feed the wild birds at a local nature reserve. Where we lived, on the marshes there was a sprinkling of snow on the grass with the green tips showing through. We went the direct route - over the Lincolshire wolds. There was a lot of snow up there and drifts up to nearly a half a metre deep. I remembered my dear old Dad's advice which was basically to just bash the car through it but keep it moving at all costs. I did. It was clear that nobody had travelled this road before me. We went and fed the wild birds. The great tits would only feed from in front of the car windscreen but the marsh tits would feed from hand, which my daughters found a great delight. We returned home the way we came, which was more fun. I have more to tell about that particular stretch of road that involves a crashed police car, but that can wait for another time.

Pitu and Imre manhadled the wood out of the trailer. Imre is no spring chicken, well in his fifties I would say. Strong as an ox. He unloaded quite big bits with ease on his own. Quite sensibly, Sandor bottled out of reversing the trailer out of the yard. It was unhitched and Pitu and Imre manhandled it to the roadside. Sandor equally sensibly reversed his car out along the tracks he had made coming in. They would be back in twenty minutes with the rest. I glanced at the time. Nearly a quarter to twelve. I closed the big gates, made sure that the small gate was shut, let the dogs out momentarily in case of dire nature need and retrieved the bike from the house. Dogs went back in and I cycled as quickly as possible but as slowly as necessary to the pub for a much needed beer. It was a bit slithery slidey but unless conditions are very extreme I much prefer to ride the bike and take the chance of landing on my arse and elbow than having a fall like I did the other winter when on foot.

I went home again and dogs came out very briefly. A commotion announced the arrival of the second load of wood. Dogs went back in, and a repeat of the above happened. There was a degree of chewing of the fat, with me slightly chafing at the bit to go and do the livestock. Eventually, I was able to settle up and Sandor told me that Pitu and Imre would return about an hour later and chainsaw it all up.

I was able to let dogs out and once again belatedly feed the pigeons and goats. I managed to start on lunch myself.

Yet another doggie commotion announced the return of Pitu and Imre. With some difficulty, dogs and I ended up secured within house. They set about it. Hobó appeared and started wheeling barrow loads of kugli into the wood house. A while later Miki appeared and helped. Pitu and Imre finished off and departed. Hobó and Miki finished carting the wood into the wood house. Time for a beer.

Once again a quick one, and with daylight beginning to fade back home to rapidly lock the pigeons in and give them water and feed the goats.

I had something to eat, I know not what, and then pub in the evening. The bizarreness of the day was not quite complete. Imre had been in the pub. We all left as usual at kicking out time. He was walking home and as I went to cycle past him he flagged me down. I was invited into his house. Before we got into the house we both had to answer calls of nature into the great bank of snow from where he had cleared his path. We drilled our separate yellow holes and went inside. I shared a couple of beers with him and we chatted. There is more, but this is three evenings worth of typing and I am tired.

15th February 2013

Short, in an effort to start catching up. All was normal, with one highlight of the day - an interesting few minutes. Hobó was getting the firewood in. Miki turned up to see if he could help. The answer would have been no, but it just happened that I was getting a new bale of hay out for the goats. Miki took charge. I had him lob it over the garden gate, then we slipped through, fending off Blackie from having a wander. Miki carried the bale of hay over to where I wanted it, tight by the goat house. I looked in and saw immediately that there was a problem. A loop of electric cable had come away from the suspended ceiling and was hanging down to about Rudy's chest height. When he saw us he was going to come and investigate when the inevitable happened and he tried to get to us via putting his head through the loop. He tried to back out of it but the curvature and span of his horns caught the loop and just pulled it tighter. He went round in a circle, thereby putting a twist in the loop. He went round again. In the same direction. And again. Oh-oh! Something had to be done about it and quick. I enlisted Miki's help and we entered the goat house. Rudy was by now going nowhere very far. I had Miki hold him by the horns and I whipped out the trusty Leatherman™ and using the serated blade slashed through the cable as near to where it came out the wall as I could conveniently reach. With Miki still holding I untangled the cable from horns and yanked the whole damned lot out the ceiling uncluding the light fitting. Fortunately I also had goat goodies in my pocket and made sure that Rudy saw me put them in the manger before Miki released him. Of course he made a bee-line for them when released and Miki and I were able to beat a relatively leisurely, unmolested retreat. And that was the excitement of the day.

16th February 2013

Another short one. Nothing out of the ordinary happened all day on the farm, so I will not write about it. Nothing else fell down either!

In the pub before lunch there was much good natured banter going on. No idea why - maybe it is that spring is just around the corner. I was somewhat gratified that I was actually able to take part in some of it.

It was a different story in the evening. There arose a session of exactly the opposite. If I remember correctly it mainly involved three people. I will not say who but it quite took the gilt off the gingerbread of my quiet couple of evening beers.

17th February 2013

I was having breakfast when a doggie outburst alerted me to a visitor. The dogs were still inside sharing my toast. It was butor Lajos. We had done a deal on some of his home made kolbász (Hungarian sausages). I went out to him, leaving dogs in house. Stupid me did not think to lock dogs in house and by the time I had joined Lajos they were in the yard. In about another three seconds pickly dog was in the street. Whatever! She can clear the front fence with ease. Mind you, she is a long way second to one dog I had. He was a Weimaraner. He could retrieve a stick stuck into the bark of a stout tree about three metres from the ground. A six foot brick wall was absolutely no problem to him. He did share a characteristic with Blackie. He was a scrounger, a thief of anything edible. He once had a fair proportion of a Bolognese sauce off the cooker - whilst it was cooking!

Anyway, I digress. I paid Lajos and with bag of kolbász held above head height returned to house. Blackie obligingly followed. I put kolbász out of harms way, locked Blackie within, went and opened the little gate and retired to house to await the inevitable return of Pickle. It did not take long before she was at the house door. I let her in, secured both of them in house for a moment whilst I closed the little street gate, then kicked them both out again into the yard, Pickle on chain this time. I still hate it, but necessary.

I did all the normal stuff after that. Hobó turned up unexpectedly and got in yet another load of firewood. It turned out that, most unusually, the pub was shut for a couple of hours tail end of the morning. Firewood in - plenty of - we sat in the warmth of the kitchen, had a smoke and I supplied him with a beer. We chatted for quite a while about this and that. No housework was done.

Hobó left eventually to go home and eat. I resumed normal duties. A bit of sweeping round, and I stress the round, happened in the afternoon followed by a pub beer which was now reopened. The pub, that is, not the beer - it was freshly opened. I did a deal whilst there with a very pleasant young man of the village by the name of Dávid, who I think was the second person to approach me when I first arrived here. We conversed, haltingly then, with the use of my two little dictionaries. No such problem now. The deal was for a couple of handcart loads of barley and wheat straw for a couple of beers. It suited me. Either the goats would eat it, or lie down on it. In the event it proved to be the latter. Hobó offered to look at the straw and see if it was fit. My immediate thought was that Hobó should know that by now I can tell the difference between good straw and bad but I bit my tongue on that one. I cycled on home and Dávid promised to be down in about half an hour with the first load of straw.

He was, I had to secure dogs within, open up one of the big gates as his hand cart would not go through the small and rustle up a tarpaulin upon which to dump the straw. He promised to be back in ten minutes with the rest. He was that as well. He arrived with another load and tipped it with the first. We wrapped the tarpaulin over it and secured it with a suitable piece of oak. The price was to be two bottles of beer!

All the normal stuff and then pub in the evening. Hobó had bitten the dust for the day. Nowhere to be seen. Over the course of the evening I managed to pay Dávid his two bottles of beer. During a smoke break interval I spoke to butor Lajos about the brick construction in my house attic. I may have described it before. I cannot remember, so I will describe it again. It is a brick built box about a metre wide and a metre high and maybe a metre and a half long. It is built adjacent the kitchen chimney. It has nothing on the front, and nothing on the top so what is supposed to go there I have not the first idea and there is a load of what I can only call debris inside. Lajos confirmed my suspicions as to what it was used for. It is a chamber for cold smoking meat. As it happens I know about cold smoking and hot smoking. Hot smoking will give a smokey taste to the food but the food will not keep much longer than the fresh product. Cold smoking on the other hand is a long, slow process - about a week. But the smoked food will keep a long time. There was a young man of the village present and he clearly did not understand the differences that I just mentioned. Lajos explained it to him in Hungarian, gutteral and rapid, but I did get the drift of the conversation that there were few, if any, such cold smoking chambers still about. Hmmmm - maybe I sense a business opportunity. All I have to do is to find out how to make the thing work and what needs to go on the top and on the front. Lajos even discussed with me the best woods for using for smoking. Hereabouts, fruit tree wood.

We got kicked out quite early again and I went home to stoke up the tile stove and feed the dogs. The day was not quite complete. When I went to let the dogs in last thing Blackie was there but Pickle was not. I went to get the torch to investigate. By that Pickle was back, dragging the entire length of her chain into the house. She had managed to get the carabiner at the far end to unclip from her running wire. I despair of chains and carabiners, I honestly do!

I finished the day off with a Google Translate pidgin magyarul e-mail to DPD, the parcel people. I had managed to miss a delivery on Thursday due to all the excitement of wading through welly high snow to look at firewood. I had a reply on the morrow. Very short, but in English. "We will deliver your parcel tomorrow." And they did.

18th February 2013

I was in a lot of pain with the knee this morning. I limped slowly over to the shop. I got to the front of the queue and whilst the shop lady was totting up my stuff I winced and rubbed the knee. She asked me was the problem was. I told her what the problem was, in terms that I could explain and that she could understand. She did understand. She dropped a most unwelcome bombshell. There is a five year waiting list for prosthetic surgery here in Hungary. Hmmmm!

I limped my way home, lit the stove, had breakfast and pondered. Before I became a retired person it would not have been treated under the terms of EHIC anyway as that is supposed to cover emergency treatment only. It left me in a quandary and in my mind threw into doubt the continuance of my whole project here. I hit on a solution later, but that is for another day. For today I did minimum. Limp out to the pigeons and goats and back indoors. I could not even have a cycle ride up to the pub. Closed all day - private pig killing. I had known that the pig killing was happening, and had poked my head over the sty door yesterday for a last look at the pig. Huge sow! Hobó reckoned two hundred and fifty kilogrammes. Only a few days previously Helmut had had his hand over the fence, scratching it between the ears. Mmmmm! I would not have done that. If you see a person in a rural community like this who is minus a finger it is about a fifty-fifty chance that it was either pig or circular saw. A while ago, after a particulary rough day with Rudy - I cannot remember whether I mentioned it or not, I did an Internet search for how many people had been killed by goats. I could find but a single reference. An idiot Yank, who in spite of posted warning signs persisted upon his course and met his fate at the horns of the wild goat about whom the signs had been posted. Contrast that with the number of farmers/farm hands that are killed every year by pigs! Not only that, but if the pigs manage to kill you and it is not discovered they are also quite happy to eat you.

Hobó turned up about eleven - normal going to the pub time. I thought he would scrounge one of my beers, but no. He had a cigarette, never even sat down, and went away again.

I did as much blog updating as I could all day. In the afternoon I did a little business with John regarding Lajos' sausages and apart from limping back out to do pigeons and goats that was that.

19th February 2013

Short and sweet. The knee was still playing up. A repeat of yesterday except that the pub was open. I mentioned that I was expecting a DPD delivery. It did not turn up. The only two times I left the place was to the pub and I had a sign on the gate both times. Their tracking website definitely said "Out for delivery". It was. A quarter to six in the evening. The electricity supply was flakey all day. I had no means of determining if it was a house or a village problem.

20th February 2013

We had a little snow at the start of the day but the weather improved as the day went on. I did some washing and got it out to dry. I went for the normal end of morning beer. When I did the goats they got two complete, small Christmas trees donated by Miki as their lunchtime treat along with the hay ration - one for the boys and one for the girls.

I checked my bank accounts over lunch and was not best pleased to find that I had only got three hundred and twenty one forints on the pound for the last cash that I had drawn on my UK debit card. Definitely outside of my comfort zone.

I was not at my best in the afternoon. The catarrh thing was kicking in again. Not much work got done.

Hobó turned up and did some work piling up scrap, later to be taken away and weighed in for cash. We have a fifty-fifty arrangement on that. He does the work, and organises the taking away of it when the price is right and we split the proceeds. Makes a bit of beer money for us. We did the afternoon pub visit after that, of course.

Evening meal was one of Lajos' white puddings, mashed spuds and peas with the nearest thing I have been able to find here to Oxo gravy. It is actually beef flavouring tablets for soup, but dissolving a couple of them in a little boiling water makes an acceptable substitute.

I mentioned DPD delivering a parcel quite late yesterday. I will tell you what it was. Three tubs of Caprivite. I will let you look it up, but as a clue I will say fifteen grammes per goat per feed. It was an Ebay purchase. I had to contact the seller regarding shipping to Hungary. I had long known about it but could never afford it before. I had a reply from the seller, Bruce by name, to my enquiry within half an hour. It prompted another query from me to him, also replied to within half an hour. And another. I pondered upon it overnight. On the morrow I took the plunge and ordered it up, following his instructions as to how to do it via Ebay and PayPal. Within thirty minutes I had a PayPal request for payment. Within five minutes I had paid it. About an hour later Bruce sent me an e-mail to say that it had been despatched via DPD. I have to say, one of the best, most communicative and helpful sellers that I have encountered on Ebay. Now, you might be wondering where this particular rambling is leading. I will tell you. It occured to me that I had not had a reply to an enquiry about a totally unrelated product made on their web site about four evenings ago. I fired off an e-mail to them, non-abusive and the main content of which was "The courtesy of a reply would have been nice" and telling them that they were not the sort of business with whom I was interested in doing business. I had a reply the next day by e-mail. The subject line said "Attitude". Well, yes! The writer did have the goodness to quote me a ridiculous price for the product, and an even more ridiculous price for the postage. They remain a company with whom I am not interested in doing business. Name and shame - Fortafix!

John was in the pub in the evening. It was a skittles evening. We did not leave early.

21st February 2013

I found a broken pigeon egg in Mrs. Pigeon No. 3's nest when I did the morning rounds. There was no evidence of a baby pigeon ever developing in it. Oh well, Darwin at work.

All was normal after that. Hobó and Miki were supposed to turn up to deal with more outhouse debris. It was a Did Not Happen sort of a day. Whatever! Nincs munka, nincs pénz. I got my own firewood in. I quite enjoyed the exercise, but in terms of pain in the knee, from worst to less worse is: swinging the big axe, sawing smaller firewood and woodworking in the outhouse. I can only guess that the big axe thing is something to do with a sudden and quite violent twisting of lower back, hips and knees on the downward stoke when endeavouring to hit a kugli with force.

Daraboshehyi Józsi was in the pub when I went for the morning beer. I had always thought that he was Nádasti Józsi but Hobó at some time put me straight on that one. His association with Nádasd is only that he goes there when seeking a certain type of consorting with the opposite sex. My morning beer became two when he bought me one.

I did the normal rounds back home and settled down to lunch. The exchange rate was still not good. One of these fine days I must describe my Internet trawl at lunchtime in detail, but not now.

I don't think that I ever mentioned what I call to myself my goat gloves. I bought them on a whim some months back in Bödő. I asked if they were leather, which they were, but not the suede sort of leather that falls apart in about four days. I never even tried them on when I got home. I had to hide them from the dogs who showed a definite interest in eating them. It was only with the onset of winter that I first donned them. It was also only then that I realised that they were (artificial) fleece lined. They have been invaluable throughout the winter.

Daraboshehyi Józsi was still in the pub come evening. I had a little bet with him about something, the loser to buy the beer. More later.

22nd February 2013

It snowed all day. I was happy, not about the snow but about the bet with Józsi. That would be a beer that he owed me. I had said that it would snow, he had said that it would not. There was enough snow that getting the maize stalks for the goats was unpleasant again. Snow down the wellies. Fortunately it was not too cold.

Hobó turned up to tell me that he would not be working today. I was not surprised and could not blame him in the conditions. I did nothing outdoors apart from the goats and pigeons, and precious little indoors. It was just not the day for it. I did do a couple of little handicraft jobs in the afternoon. One was to make a cover for the Brooks saddle. I had found a suitable sized piece of leather from my store, cut it very roughly to size and given it a couple of coats of my home made wax polish. I finished it off today by attaching a couple of pieces of elastic to keep it secured to saddle. It is as rough a piece of work as you are likely to see. It does the job. The other job was to slip stitch the neck band on my newer work jumper back, as I had spotted that it was coming undone.

In the pub in the evening Hobó was in one of his darker moods and was having a right go at everything and anybody. Fortunately, for some reason this evening that did not include me. Butor Lajos even left our table where he had been sitting and went and sat elsewhere, he got so fed up with it.

23rd February 2013

I was up bright and early - well before seven. The dogs had woken me up barking at something but I could not make out what. I found out when I opened the roller shutters. There had been a very considerable fall of snow overnight. A couple of the villagers with tractors and snow ploughs were clearing the road, which was what the dogs had barked at. It was without a doubt the biggest fall of snow that I had seen since coming here. Hobó reckoned twenty centimetres.

I had to clear a path out to the road before I could go to the shop. It took a little while but I was still in the shop before half past seven. There was no fresh bread in the shop. I got the last half a loaf, well stale and past its sell by date, but it would do for toast. There were quite a few in the queue behind me who were going to be disappointed. It only occured to me on the way home that quite plainly the bread from Csákánydoroszló had not got through because of the conditions. I later went back and bought more flour and yeast although she only had dried yeast in there. I was not going to go Sunday without bread.

Doing the goats was tough. I really did not enjoy it and I was exhausted by the time I got back to the house. I limited myself to doing the washing up and getting some washing in to soak. The cycle ride for the end of morning beer was a bit slippy slidey.

There was no more snow during the day and Hobó turned up to get me firewood in. I set about the bread making. The dried yeast took a bit of getting going so it took longer than normal to get the dough made. I should have bought two sachets. With dough proving and Hobó finished the firewood we went for a beer.

On my way home I was approaching the house when Tibi emerged from his driveway with tractor, Marika standing pillion behind him, and his trailer piled high with snow. They were off to tip it somewhere. It must have taken them most of the day to load it up. There was obviously some considerable weight of snow in there, as when Tibi changed up a gear the tractor seriously barked as he let the clutch in until it took hold of the load and resumed its normal beat.

I went inside, knocked the dough back down and kneaded it, set it in the baking tray to prove and stoked the kitchen stove up. Goats and pigeons were done early. Eventually the stove was up to temperature and the bread was proved about as much as it was going to be. I baked it. With it safely out of the way to cool the dogs came in and I went back to the pub. All was peace and light in there - no tantrums, nobody throwing the toys out of the pram.

Back home and the usual routine. Let the dogs out for a while whilst I organised myself, then let them back in and feed them. Kick them out for a while once they were finished eating and do some computery stuff - blog this evening. It came time to let the dogs in. Blackie came in. No Pickle. Torch, yard! No Pickle! Cursing, I returned to house and donned the thick work jacket, biker gloves and beanie. Blackie was secured within and I set out in search of Pickle. It was snowing quite heavily again, but damp, wet snow. It took me but a moment to detect the doggie footprints in the snow and begin to track them. Pickle was down by the faluház. I saw her and called her. To her credit she came. I collared her, but with conditions under foot and wearing the big biker gloves could not hold her. She made off towards the other end of the village. My patience snapped and it was a case of "Sod you dog!". I went home, cold and none too happy. Blackie remained confined within. The little yard gate remained open and after a while the inevitable happened and Pickle was at the door. Both dogs were secured within, I closed the gate, and that was that for the day.

24th February 2013

First of all, apologies for long overdue updates caused by a variety of circumstances that will become clear, so I will get on with it.

It was cold and raining- not a nice day. Goats/pigeons, all the usual stuff. Sunday. I did some clothes washing and swept around the house. I emphasise the around. It was a half hearted effort.

I cycled to the pub at the usual time to find it shut. I was about to get back on the bike and cycle home when Laci caught sight of me. He told me to go round the back and have a smoke and then he would be open. I had barely got the pipe lit when he summoned me in. Open for Business As Usual. There had clearly been some sort of family celebration that had involved closing the pub.

I capitalised Business As Usual for a reason. It is going away, and that right soon. The Eurozone is in disarray, Amerika is papering over the cracks. I always read what my four wise men - Greer/Heinberg/Kunstler/Orlov - have to write on the subject.

All was normal back home - pigeons/goats/lunch.

I had much work to do. The yard was in turmoil and the house in disarray. It did not get done. Whatever!

I did the pigeons and goats again in the evening, had a bite to eat and went back to the pub. I did a little business with butor Lajos out in the smoking area. He was going to Tescos. Did I want some fruit. Yes, please. He promised to get me bananas (which were noticable for their absence from the village shop, and which are also good for the blood pressure) and some mandarins. Good, helpful bloke is Lajos. He was the one that found me the goats after weeks of me winding on the Hobó about it.

25th February 2013

A daughter had a birthday today. I sent electronic greetings.

I found more rat holes in the pigeon house walls and floor that would need to be patched up with concrete/cement mortar.

We had a little more snow and then it turned to rain. Everything else was normal.

26th February 2013

There was rain. Lots of rain. With the amount of snow lying there would be floods.

All was normal until lunch time. I was another pigeon short. My first home raised one that I continued to call "Cheep-cheep". The shop lady told me later that he (definitely a cock bird) had been hit by a car. He never found a mate, and mentally I had ofttimes threatened him with the pot. I was sorry that I hadn't now. What a waste.

Anyway, the gods taketh way and the gods giveth. Mrs. Pigeon No. 2 was now sitting one egg and one newly hatched chick.

Hobó turned up and I set him on to drag maize stalks out of their blanket of snow covering and get them nearer the goat house. He also got the firewood in. Without a doubt I was going to need more hay unless spring came very early.

Hobó had only just left and I was on my way to join him at the pub when I noticed another outhouse catastrophe. The entire loft floor of the cellar outhouse - the one where the roof collapsed - was now in the ground floor, it too having catastrophically collapsed. I cannot say that I was surprised considering the amount of snow on it that had then been soaked by the rain. I was still not happy about it though.

Butor Lajos dropped me off a gert bag of fruit early evening. He had the good sense to hand it over outside the gate. I settled up with him later in the pub.

27th February 2013

The weather was much improved, thankfully. All was normal here and I did boring stuff. Housework and washing work clothes out with lye. I managed to get it rinsed and out on the line.

The dog food man ("Kutyatap, kutyatap") was here today in a timely fashion, so I bought dog food. The dog food is a bit of a six of one and half a dozen of another situation. If he does arrive in a timely fashion I buy the dog food. If not then he has lost my trade this week and I am away to the pub, buying the dog food from Mr. Purina on the morrow. The reverse side of this particular coin is that the dogs definitely prefer Kutyatap, kutyatap to Purina in spite of it being a little more expensive. Maybe because it is a little more expensive. When I just had Pickle she was very picky about the Purina food. Not so now that I have Blackie. She knows that if she does not wind it down the neck he will have it.

Dog food obtained I went to the pub. All was normal upon my return home except that Mrs. Pigeon No. 2 was now sitting two baby squabs. Good-oh! That increased my pigeon stock from twelve to seven!

Hobó turned up and topped me up with firewood, which did not take long after his efforts of yesterday. After that he set about looking at yesterday's outhouse disaster. He tried the outhouse door. It was wedged solid shut from within. He got my little ladder and by degrees, lobbing dislodged bricks onto the heap of snow and debris on the yard he obtained ingress by the expedient of going over the top of the remains of the wall into the outhouse. Lumps of debris started to be hurled without. In the knowledge that he would want to knock off about three I constructed my plans accordingly, and having retired to the kitchen managed to start a pizza dough and sauce with nice timing. We went off for a beer.

I rolled the dough out into a pizza base and set it to rise again a little. I went over to the shop. It was a fine evening. The little pub outside the shop was in full swing. I confess that I joined them.

Back home it was deal with the livestock then cook and eat half the pizza. The rest could be for tomorrow.

In the evening, in the smoking area out the back of the pub I fell into conversation with butor Lajos. I was right about the floods. The Raba river had set a new height record.

There is a showing of the whole series of Peter Falk as Colombo on telly. Every weekday evening from seven until half past eight. Laci is obviously partial to it. I am not. I did not much like it when it was on British TV. I like it even less now. It bores me witless. As soon as it comes on I am inclined to nod off.

28th February 2013

The day dawned very bright but cold. As soon as the sun came up there was warmth in it and it showed the promise of a very pleasant afternoon.

All was normal for me at home - nothing worth writing about. Hobó turned up quite early to continue sorting out the outhouse loft floor disaster. Once again he disappeared within by going over the wall. I had no idea what he was doing inside but little came out. By end of morning beer o'clock he had the outhouse door open.

It was a warm enough morning for me to make a mixing of concrete (and broken glass) to repair the inside of the pigeon house once again. The broken glass was for a reason advised by Hobó. Whatever it is that attempts to get in, be it rats or other species, they will attempt to gnaw through where they gained entry before. Hobó imparted the knowledge that they will also gnaw the broken glass, get a load of ground glass splinters into their intestines and it would kill them from internal bleeding.

We went to the pub. I paid for the beers. Hobó declared that the outhouse clearing was a two man job. He set about the usual suspects and once again came up with Miki, everybody else being employed. We went our ways at closing time with Miki and Hobó promising to be there at one.

I went about the usual lunchtime stuff. To my amazement Hobó and Miki did turn up at one. I made sure via Hobó that Miki clearly understood what was needed of him. Bless, he has a heart of gold but a butterfly brain. If you tell him "Do this" he will be inclined to "do that" Anyway, they got on with it. Well, Miki, true to form, put the bricks where I wanted them but he did not stack them. They just went in a heap. I have to say that he did stack the intact roof tiles carefully. He soldiered his way through the huge, snow embedded pile between well and outhouse remains. Broken crap was wheelbarrowed to join the ever growing heap at the back of the outhouse. I do have plans for that heap. In the meantime Hobó continued to hurtle debris from within the outhouse. At the appointed time I stopped them and despatched them to the pub with instructions to get two beers (me and Hobó) and a fröccs (Miki) and I would pay when I got there. I secured dogs within and followed a few minutes later. I paid for the drinks and payed them. They had put a lot of work in this afternoon.

Back home it was usual early evening routine. Lock the pigeons in and top up their water. Feed the goats, feed me, change out of the wellies and whatever else I was going to change out of this evening. Then back to the pub.

Once again Hobó had Churchill's Black Dog upon his shoulder and he was having a go at everything and anybody. Fortunately, once again it did not include me. When I arrived home from the pub it was obvious that there was a problem. No electricity. I had gotten into the (bad) habit of leaving the hallway light on. It was out. Before I even entered the house I checked the meter cupboard. The LED on the meter was on, so there was power to the house. I did the usual trick of unscrewing the main fuse to the house and screwing it back in. Nothing happened. Bollox! I let the dogs out, found the wind up torch by the light of the street lighting and went and lit the paraffin lamp. I let the dogs back in and fed them by the light of the storm lantern. The dogs went out again, but not for long. I read some random book briefly, let them back in, and so to bed with February over.



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