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September 2008

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1st September 2008

My visitors decided to go to Lake Balaton today - I still haven't been there. The "Balaton Season" is actually officially over, but there will still be lots to see and do. I could have gone with them, but with so much work to do, and the dog to think about (she's not really old enough to be left for a whole day yet) I cried off.

Whilst I was sitting in my favourite spot I spotted this:
Swallows gathering on the wires. Swallows Gathering on the Wires.
Sure sign that autumn is nearly upon us, even though we are only just into September!

I tackled the really, really bad area. I had to go into the wall two bricks deep. Worrying! Picture:
Large Hole in Wall. It's a big hole, but the wall still didn't fall down. I think that considering there was nothing here but a fragile honeycomb of earth with no structural strength, if it was going to fall down it would have already.
My visitors finally returned, somewhat late having got a bit lost on the way home. We decided to eat out, and rather than go all the way into Körmend we sought local advice on an eating place nearer to home. We ended up at a place called Kati Bistro in the village (with the utterly unpronouncable name) of Csákánydoroszló. It came as a pleasant surprise that the waitress had a fair amount of English, which is more than can be said about any of the places in Körmend at which I have eaten. They also had more of a selection for my vegetarian visitor!

2nd September 2008

A geologist speaks about Peak Oil.

A busy day, with my visitors plunging headlong into the gardening that I had been seriously neglecting. The strimmer was in action most of the day, lots of tomatoes collected and much general tidying up done. I carried on with the house repairs.
I started repairs to the corner of the wall where the house entrance is. Wall Corner.
My helper turned up part way through the morning, and we ended up being invited out to lunch, which was nice. A time was arranged for us to meet him in the pub, then go for lunch.

My visitors and I set out for the pub, only to find Pickle obediently (NOT) trotting up the street behind us! I eventually got her home, and, sad to say, she spent the next few hours in an outhouse so she couldn't escape again! I finally got to the pub about five minutes before we were due to leave for lunch. Still had a beer though, then we had another, so we were well late! One thing about the Hungarian cuisine is that much of it can be prepared in advance and just hotted up again for serving. We did set out for our lunch appointment about half an hour late, and were delayed even further by visits to look at goats, pigs and ducks, and also to see the mother and father of Pickle. Mother is pregnant again!! More little Pickles in the village.

We had a very pleasant lunch (with a drop of palinka), and lots of chat between visitors and hosts aided where possible by me or alternatively the trusty szotar. We ended up having to cut the visit off, as one of my visitors was expecting a phone call from the UK at my house.

About half an hour after we got back my helper appeared, so we opened a beer each. He had only drunk half of it when he upped and disappeared, only to return in about fifteen minutes with a piece of glass to replace my broken one. The cost had been negotiated as a bottle of beer and a palinka - works for me!!

Next thing, he disappeared with the broken scythe, to reappear with it welded up within half an hour. That price for that was a couple of pohár (half) of beer. That works for me too! A flurry of gardening activity followed, in the middle of which my next door neighbour arrived with his scythe. He dragged me up the garden indicating my wilderness patch. Fortunately, this time I had the szotar with me and was able to explain that it was "vadon" (wilderness) - strange English idea. The penny finally dropped with him - "Ok, OK!" So he set to and whacked down some of the surrounding grass.

Overall, a good day was had by all. One of the comments from my visitors was that they simply could not believe the climate, and the hospitality of the village.

3rd September 2008

My visitors returned to the UK today, leaving about ten o'clock. It turned out that it took approximately the same length of time to fly from Graz to Stanstead as it did to motor from Stanstead to Bournemouth. I'm pleased I'm well out of that. I won't go on about sustainability when Peak Oil really does kick in, but I could!

Pickle gets very moody and strange when people leave! It was the same with my last lot of visitors; even worse this time. She really does love people - shame she has only got me, although I do make sure to have a playtime with her two or three times a day at least. I just have to get her out of the habit of trying to escape from the yard!

Amongst all the other continuing stuff I found a tray that will hold the spuds, washed and sterilised it (using sodium hypochlorite solution, which is the active ingredient in household bleach, but here they sell it as such "hypo" at about a fifth of the cost of proprietory products like Domestos). The spuds were transferred to the tray, and the tray to the cellar. Was a bit of a struggle - I reckon there must be minimum forty pounds weight of spuds from that one row that is dug!

I still have a load of stuff to cook, and not enough time to cook it, let alone update the blog...

4th September 2008

A Clifford Wirth article. Cliff tends to respond to any Peak Oil naysayers with some fairly strong (if predictable) stuff!

The four exterior windows from the kitchen are finally stripped of all the old paint and are ready for sanding down and priming - donkey work, they were in such a bad state although the wood is good. I still have the frame to finish off.

I had a wander up the garden to try and find a reel if fine garden wire that I had dropped on my travels with the strimmer. On the way I had a look at one of the apple trees. It is still laden with many fine, rich red apples. Must do a raid on it sometime soon. I had one for ten-ses - delicious. There will be enough for lashings of pie filling and a big batch of cider. Must soon think about a cobbled up fruit press!

The dog is still playing up and trying to escape every time I leave her out and go out either on foot, or by push bike. I managed to extend the fence where she escapes by another six inches, with wires this way and that - it seems to have worked!

Keeping it short - that's it for today.

5th September 2008

Short and sweet today. Laid bricks, made bricks and went to town for some ?essentials. Bought small jars (being on my own I really don't like to jar stuff up in litres, as I know it will go off before I can use it all), dohany, and some decorating stuff.

6th September 2008

For no reason at all I got up quite late - 8am. I decided that I was going to pretty well have a day off! Having decided that, there was a hail from the front fence - the old lady in No. 72. Pickle had managed to find yet another hole in the fence, and was next door again. Bugger! I went and rescued her. The problem is two fold: in the first place the old lady's daughter feeds her titbits through the fence, and secondly there are often grandchildren (possibly great grandchildren) there and Pickle loves children. I haven't seen her eat a whole one yet though! Later in the day in also found the old lady's son and his children making a fuss of her over the fence - no wonder she tries to get through there. Just unfortunate that the old lady herself doesn't like dogs.

On the way back to mine with the dog I noticed that the tree that leans over the front fence had dropped fruit all over the verge outside. We have had a couple of very breezy days and they were obviously windfalls, but looked OK. I fixed the hole in the fence from my side, and the old lady fixed it from hers - hopefully that will keep Pickle at bay for a while!

I went back and collected the windfall fruit I had seen, both from inside and outside the fence. Ended up with half a bucket-full - peaches, the small variety. As the shop was shut by this time, and I had no lemons I found a recipe on-line that just uses the peaches and sugar. Peel and stone the peaches. What a ball-ache, removing the skins of eighty or ninety little peaches! I was down to the last four when I managed (clumsily) to slice into the little finger on my left hand. Deep! There was instantly much blood so I rapidly indoors and washed my hands - stung like hell, them being covered with peach pulp. I staunched the blood and whacked a plaster on - that would have to do for now. The peaches went in the slow cooker, and I went to the pub, it being Belgian GP weekend, and the qualifying on TV.

Made jam when I got home - seven jars worth. Four of my new little jars, two ex-instant coffee jars and an ex-Dolmio tomato sauce jar. I made a concious decision now that any more fruit I get off the estate must be turned into alcohol - I think I have quite enough jam for one year.

It was in the thirties C this afternoon - forecast is even hotter tomorrow. So I stayed indoors and played a bit of catch-up with the blog :)

7th September 2008

I was up and about early - I suppose to make up subconsciously for my idleness yesterday. Little did I realise how the day would be. I just got on with what I had to do. Emptied and refilled the brick mould and laid some of the bricks. I was in the process of filling the mould and Pickle was galloping round the yard chasing her football. She was so into it that I was watching her. I saw and heard the precise moment when there was a telltale hiss. Pickle stopped, and looked at the ball in a guilty fashion. I had bought it in the hopes that she would not be able to get her teeth into it (literally) because of its size. Forlorn hope. Was funny to see her reaction though. The aftermath:
Pickle Kills the Football Pickle and dead football moments after she killed it.
No sooner had I snapped the picture than there was a hail from the fence of No. 72. It was the son and he passed over an ex-ice cream carton, saying something about búcsú. I had been hearing the word "búcsú" for a day or two, and had gone so far as to look it up on-line. It seemed to mean a parting, a farewell, or a send-off. I couldn't get a handle on it at all. By the way, it's pronounced "boochoo" with the double O's being very short. My thought was "Where do they get they idea that I am leaving?".

I had a lunch invite for noon, and was cutting it fine enough - I was in the act of getting changed - had my shoes off, when there was a hail from the yard. It was the neighbour from No. 68, with a stranger. Turned out he was a Hungarian Aussie. My neighbour had brought him round to see the restoration I am doing on the outside - I think it is turning into a talking point in the village. We chatted for a little while, and I explained that I was late going out to lunch.

Rapidly finished getting changed, and hurtled up the village on the bike. Lots of people about - LOTS of people about?? Invite was the usual place, but when I got there only his mother and step-dad were there. I got invited in to the kitchen where helper's mother had a HUGE floured board on the table and a rolling pin at least two-thirds of a metre long, toiling away over some sort of dough. For the first time of my several visits they had the wood burning cooking stove on in the kitchen. Bearing in mind it was about thirty three outside, the heat in the kitchen was tremendous - I was sweating buckets. A corner was made for me, a bowl placed in front, and a bloody great pot of soup (pork and vegetables) appeared. I was, as usual, forced to help myself until I had a large bowl almost overflowing. Hot chilli peppers were provided - you nip the end off with your fingers and sprinkle some of the seeds into the soup, then tear off some bits of the pepper and put that in as well. Now, bearing in mind the heat, I was sweating buckets, and the inevitable happened - I ran my hand over my soaking brow, and when the next lot of sweat errupted the transferred powerful agent of the chilli pepper went straight in my eye - ouch!

Another course of food appeared - as if I hadn't had enough! Again, my plate was overfilled. I struggled manfully with as much as I could manage, whilst watching the progress on the floured board. Roll, grate cheese, fold, turn, roll, grate cheese. Finally a neighbour appeared, changed into a house coat with little modesty (the changing, that is, not the house coat. Whenever did you see an immodest housecoat?) and the big finale happened. The dough was rolled out to about the size of a table tennis table (I exaggerate, of course, but only a bit), brushed with egg white, more cheese grated and cut into little rounds with a pastry cutter. Bish-bosh - into the oven, and by the time I took my leave I had another little food parcel with about ten of the resulting product. Once again "búcsú" cropped up.

END OF PART ONE Too tired to finish Sunday's blog - much more to come!
Now, where was I? Ah yes, so we set out to go to the pub, me with my doggie bag (joking, far too good for dogs!) to watch the F1. There were a lot of people in the pub, many more than usual. I met a Canadian Hungarian. I had seen him a couple of times, once at the bus stop when we boarded the bus together. He introduced himself in English "Are you the Englishman?". Watched the F1 - good result for Lewis (but not so good later - an absolute travesty!!), and prepared to go home. I was on the point of getting on the bike, when the landlady said to hold on a minute, so I did. She was back presently with a foil covered something that she put on the carrier of the bike, muttering as she did so "búcsú". On the way home there were many, many more cars and people about than I had ever seen in the village. What? All these people come to say goodbye to me? And as far as I know I'm not going anywhere! The old lady at No. 72 had four cars there and droves of children/grandchildren/great-grandchildren.

There was a village football match this afternoon, and, on a whim, I decided to see how far I could get Pickle on the lead. I put a few tempters in my pocket and set a personal deadline of the Templon (church) which is about fifty metres or so away. I decided that if it was too much of a struggle I would take her back home. Well, she took a little coaxing past each driveway - had to give it all a good sniffing, but after that it was (almost) plain sailing. We got all the way up the back road to where there the water tower is, with the football field just opposite. There was a mini-market there, selling tat, with lots of people. Pickle did baulk at that, so I skirted round the back of it, eventually via a couple of detours arriving at the football field. Now, in rural Hungary a dog on a lead is a curiosity. An Englishman's dog on a lead is a huge curiosity! I managed to walk her by the roadside, avoiding too many people, up and down the length of the pitch. By now I was desperate for a beer. Would she let me get to the bar window in the club house? Would she ***k! By another couple of detours I managed to wangle a position where I could catch the eye of the pub landlord's son, who was running the bar. By sign language I indicated a drink. He looked at the dog and held up a bottle of water. Vigorous shaking of the head and indicating me eventually persuaded him that it was me that needed the drink, and not Pickle! We met lots of people, both village people who I knew, and total strangers and the normal response was "Beautiful Dog". Of course I had to meet the inevitable arse-hole. I don't know what he said, but it had to be along the lines of "You shouldn't have that ****ing dog around here". Like I was going to let her run on the pitch and have a crap, or something? There's alway one! Even in Hungary!

Having managed to get a beer, and have a token look at the local team getting stuffed, enough was enough, so Pickle and I wended our way back down to the village. We had got as far as No. 68 when the was a hail, so I stopped and out came two more food parcels with the incantation of "búcsú". To my horror they also tipped a load of chicken bones over the gate, and before I could remonstrate Pickle devoured the lot. Now, everybody knows that dogs will choke on chicken bones, don't they? Well, not in Hungary they don't! I spent a little while on the Internet via Google, and I didn't find a single entry of a person saying their dog died through eating chicken bones - not one. Loads and loads of "You must not let your dog eat chicken bones", and a very few saying that their dog ate chicken bones all the time, to no ill effect. Urban myth?

I feasted on chicken and various sweetmeats from the various goody-bags, then went to the pub. It was all happening there - live music and dancing outside, many locals and strangers giving it large in the bar. I managed to find out that they would close at about two in the morning. Do they know how to party, or what? There was the inevitable young man who, having had too much pop, was taken outside by a responsible adult and told to go home, and the inevitable boyfriend/girlfriend bust-up. No fisticuffs though. I party-pooped and went home just after eleven. Plod was arriving as I left!

8th September 2008

In yesterday's blog, I mentioned two particular people from foreign parts. I deliberately distinguished between them, in a not-very-subtle way. An honorable mention for the first person to interpret my not-very-subtlety.

It was quiet in the village this morning. I suspect that there were a lot of people with very sore heads!! Business as usual for me! Routine - empty the brick mould, decide what brick configuration I need for the next bit of reconstruction, mix the earth mezhidrat and straw, pack the mould, lay up bricks into the prepared spaces. Pure drudgery, believe me. Sore thumbs!

In the afternoon I finally managed to get all the kitchen window paint stripping finished, and then spent three hours making the windows fit the frame. Some was done by planing the windows, some was done by walloping the hinges in the frame and some was done by walloping the hinges on the windows. But finally all four fit and close properly with their catches! Bear in mind that this is just the kitchen window and the ones I have made to fit are the exterior ones - there is a matching set inside! Also, there are two window frames in the main room - each has five interior and five exterior opening windows. Get the idea? Pictures:
From this... Window When I Saw the Property
Kitchen Window Now this!
I was a bit pushed at the end of the day, so I bunged three small-to-medium of my spuds in the oven for when I got home from the pub. As ever, eyes were bigger than belly - I managed two. Pickle had the other. Speaking of which, did I mention egg shells?

9th September 2008Updated

Quite short today. Much more of the same for me. Pictures later.

I actually made and cooked chips today. It is so many years that I really cannot remember the last time. A fine art, is cooking good chips! Get the oil/fat/lard just right and cook gently to ensure the potatoes are cooked throughout and then whack up the heat to put a bit of colour on the outside. When was the last time any of you sliced up potatoes, etc., etc. Out of a frozen bag doesn't count, and neither does the chippy or the staff canteen! I had egg and chips - good old end of the week standby. I got to thinking about food miles. Well the spuds came from about a hundred metres from my kitchen, and so did the eggs. So that's 0.2 of a kilometre. Doesn't get much more local than that. OK, I hear you say, what about the cooking oil? Hmmm, yes, olive oil! Some food miles involved there, but taking it to absurdum I could have gone half a kilometre just before the harvesters got there and nicked a load of ripe sunflower heads. About seven kilometres to Nádasd for a bit of serious ironmongery as part of a press - I have the timber. Of course the sunflower oil could be reused a number of times, until finally it ends up in my (converted to pseudo-bio diesel) strimmer. Just a thought.

Plod appeared in the pub towards the end of the evening - I made out something about "bolt" (shop). Wonder what that was all about. As I wandered home I could see the reflective markings of a police car at the end of the village. Hmmm - something going down!

Another good post at the end of the day from Richard Heinberg at the Post Carbon Institute.

10th September 2008

Well, I found out what last night's hoo-haa with plod was all about. There was very little beer, ciggies, or anything else of value in the shop this morning. Of course all the daily deliverables arrived - bread and such. And all the really important stuff that actually feeds people was intact. First time I have experienced what is considered a major crime in Hungary. The area is noted for its very low level of crime. They tend to be very security concious here, whereas I am not. I go to the pub and leave the windows open. I have been known to go to Körmend and leave the house unlocked. I suspect that the fact that I have a large, vicious dog may now help matters, in spite of the fact that she is not that large, and is of a lively but relatively gentle disposition. I also reckon that they would in no way be interested in the two things of value that I have - the camera and the laptop. Too difficult to dispose of for cash! Anyway, all through the day there was much stocktaking, and to-ing and fro-ing of various odd bods, some of whom were obviously plod, and some looked like SOCO.

I managed to collect a whole one gallon fermenter of peaches in about ten minutes from my trees in the yard:
A bucket of peaches destined to be turned into alcohol! Peaches
As for me, nothing special happened today otherwise - just more of the same! As a passing thought here is a completely unsolicited testimonial to Merrells Footwear. Not cheap, but the amount of stick they are standing is phenominal - including attacks by the dog!!

11th September 2008

There was a new lady in the shop this morning. She was actually there yesterday when all the stocktaking and stuff was going on. The regular lady was nowhere to be seen. I don't know if it is a temporary thing whilst the break-in gets sorted, or permanent, as in having the shop broken into ensures the sack. If the latter, it's a pity as she is a cheery lady and we had got to the stage of having a laugh about things. Not that the new one isn't OK - just seems a bit straight-laced in a Teutonic sort of way!

I was busily making bricks when a contact I was relying on turned up with the information that the firewood I wanted had been sold to someone else, and the load of sand couldn't be delivered because the driver was in hospital - great! Back to the drawing board on all that then. The big worry is the firewood - I know I have nowhere near enough for the winter. Must start making enquiries elsewhere.

I touched base with my helper, and as a result he turned up and put a coat of primer onto the kitchen windows and the frame. At least it's a start. He has also promised to organise me a load of sand, so that is one problem out of two solved. A good job too, as my meagre stock lying in the yard that Pickle discovered is rapidly diminishing.

12th September 2008

I was busy doing the same old usual stuff - routine - make bricks, chop out a bit of wall, lay bricks, when helper appeared. I didn't really have anything for him to do, so he pottered about a bit. By this time it was late morning - beer o'clock! So we went to the pub. I had been there no longer than five minutes when the news came round that Pickle was loose in the village. Of course I necked the beer and legged it (on the bike) home. Sure enough, no Pickle. I grabbed her lead at set off on the bike to search the village. I only got as far as next doors when he stopped me and told me she had cleared my (raised!) fence, and promptly cleared his gate! I set off again on the bike and did a complete circuit of the village, calling Pickle. No dog! On the way past the pub I came across helper who told me that Pickle had found her way to the pub, but had legged it over their back fence into a wooded area behind. I did another complete circuit of the village - still no dog!. On this pass helper joined me, and we did yet another circuit of the village. At one point I went one way and he went another. I happened to see the daughter of the breeders. "Don't worry" she said "she'll find her way home." I arrived home again - still no Pickle. I was about to embark on another circuit when helper appeared indicating to go back in the yard. I did so, and as soon as I got in the yard I could see Pickle wandering down the garden. It turned out that helper had found her by the top fence to the property and had "helped" her over!! I was seriously glad to see her safely returned - she has no traffic sense and could easily have been hit by a car!

Of course, all this derailed my plans to go to Körmend for paint and stuff on the one o'clock bus. I had a look at the timetable and decided I could still make the shopping run if I went on the five to three bus, although it meant staying in town until the half past five bus home. Pickle remained at home, locked in the house with the windows closed (she is quite capable of getting out of the open windows - I know as she already has!).

I called in the pub for a quick one to be greeted with the news that apparently Pickle's breeder was somewhat less than pleased and had threatened to get in his car and come to mine and take her back, which I thought a bit extreme as the reaction of the daughter indicated that it is not unknown for dogs to go walkabout. It was only later that I found out the reason for his displeasure. There are, apparently, people in the village who will shoot a wandering dog dead! Nice!

Anyway, when I went to the pub in the evening, expecting a confrontation there was none, and by this stage it was a bit of a joke at my expense. I can stand that.

13th September 2008

Quite a productive day today! I have moved on to the next section of wall, the bit up to the door return being more or less complete. I had a good look at it. It seemed to be a brick laid on its face backed with a slab of cement about three inched thick - ouch. Exploring, I found there was a void behind it all anyway, so structurally it was doing no good whatever. I attacked it with the hammer, and to my relief a) the wall didn't fall down and b) what I thought was a slab of cement was in fact bricks laid with a mortar facing on the end. Not even strong mortar either, so I was able to remove enough for the next step with relative ease. I had bricks ready made for this bit as I didn't want to leave it unsupported any longer than necessary, even though it was effectively unsupported anyway. Of interest, there is an outbuilding made of earth in Daraboshegy that has no rendering on it whatever. It has holes in it where birds nest. It is still standing!

In preparation for paint stripping, all the ten outer windows to the front of the house have been removed. Of the ten inner windows there are two that actually close and fasten, another one closes with a struggle but the catch is solid! I decided to remove the glass from all ten to make the paint stripping with the blowlamp easier. I will be able to get at those areas where using a blowlamp would not be possible (well, advisable!) with the glass in situ. I only had one minor catastrophe - I managed to crack a little corner off one pane. Another already had the corner cracked off, and one has a tiny hole chipped right through. All jobs for a little epoxy resin, I think.

I also made myself a little nail punch (out of a nail). I cut it flat, then drilled a small concave in the end, rounded it off to a punch-like profile and hardened it. I haven't tempered steel in a very long time either.

I had a good bash at the brewing situation in the afternoon. Racked off the cherry wine, added the sugar to the new batch of peach wine and strained the cider/perry off the pulp. The first lot I strained was quite clear, so I had a little taster. Rocket fuel! Strong and rough - bit like me. I was stuck for yeast for the peach wine, when I had a brainwave. The grapes ferment via the yeast bloom on them when you crush them, so a small handful went into the peach wine. We'll see if it works! I actually (briefly) got into the garden too :) I collected all the fallen walnuts and an odd peach (it was an ordinary peach, but I only collected the one), and I mowed the camping lawn with the toy mower. The grass was about six inches long but it made short work of it - good little machine! Picture to end the day:
Autumn Produce Autumn Produce.

14th September 2008

The financial news coming out of America is not good. All symptomatic of the deep doodoo the world is spiraling into. Also a brief video explanation of the status of Peak Oil.

A bad day here, weather-wise. The temperature has dropped from the upper twenties/low thirties of last week to twelve today and forecast eleven tomorrow. Big shock to the system. Makes even more worrying the fact that I haven't managed to get hold of firewood supplies yet! It was raining too when I got up, but remained stubbornly overcast with always the threat of more rain to come. Somewhat scuppered my plans for the day. I did manage to make two lots of bricks and do some preparation work of the kitchen wall. I may be repeating myself, but making the earth bricks is about the most tedious thing I do. The bricks are very heavy, even when dry, so the choices are to use the brickmould at ground level right by where I mix the constituents which is hard going on the back, or alternatively raise the brick mould to a height at which the work would be easier, but then have to raise every ounce of the mix to that height. Hard work, whichever!

I timed the work to perfection. Packed the brick mould, quick wash, ensured Pickle safely indoors, and a quick dash to the pub on the bike, to get there about thirty seconds before the start of the F1 from Italy. It was raining there too. I didn't see the qualifying, so I have no idea what that was all about. Whilst there it came on to rain again, so I went home and did general computery stuff for the rest of the afternoon.

I had just changed to go to the pub when there was a bit of a commotion in the yard. Pickle was barking madly at something, so I went to investigate. Magic! Pickle had found a hedgehog:
Pickle and hedgehog. I think I wrote somewhere on the blog - if not, in my diary, that I hoped she would come face to face with one! Pickle and Hedgehog
Good girl that she is, I told her to come away, and she did. I got to the pub about ten past eight, and they closed at 8:25. Winter is acoming!

15th September 2008

The Government's response to the e-petition on Peak Oil. Whoever wrote it really needs to do some homework!! Not good.

In view of the fact that all the extenal set of lounge windows are removed for painting, coupled with the abrupt change in the weather, I decided to make all the interior set of lounge windows fit and close properly. I spent all morning with the blowlamp removing the paint from the areas that need to be worked on. Remove the paint, clean the hinges, clean the catches - all very tedious and time consuming! By lunchtime I had had enough, so decided to go over to Nádasd for some supplies. I went on the bus. Mistake! 200Ft for three point something kilometres. Only 50Ft cheaper than going into town!.

We were travelling the back road from Daraboshegy to Nádasd when a huge stag stumbled out of the woods only about fifty metres in front of the bus. It was obviously in great distress, was favouring one of its fore legs and was uncoordinated with its hind legs. From our side we could not see any obvious injury, but it caused great consternation amongst the people on the bus. I personally wonder if it had been the victim of inept marksmanship by a hunter. They normally flee away with great rapidity, but this one made it to the field just opposite the wood and then just staggered about.

I killed two birds with one stone in Nádasd. I had had my community charge bill that morning (delivered by hand). No point in messing about, so I went to the office in Nádasd not really knowing how to go about paying it. The lady found another lady who took me into an office, and hand wrote a Posta paying in slip. Now I did know what to do with that, so from there it was only a short walk to the Post Office, where I paid a full years worth of community charge - two thousand two hundred Forints (about seven quid - for a year). No wonder the village has no money!

From there it was a short stroll to Bödő, where I bought gas for the blowlamp, sandpaper, threaded rod nuts and washers for another little (necessary) project, and yet another fermenting bin. Had a beer whilst waiting for the bus back to Halogy, then back home to finish making the windows fit.

By the end of the day, all the windows bar one close and fasten. In fact one closes and fastens so well it won't open again. Ah well, another little job for tomorrow!

Pub in the evening, and I think I have managed to reorganise firewood. A good job too, as I have had to light the stove two evenings in a row now.

16th September 2008

The whole world is decending into financial chaos, well the Good Ol' US of A anyway, but who knows who else they will take down. Nothing worth reporting on the Peak Oil Doom & Gloom front.

Still very unseasonably cold here. I put my thermometer on the outside kitchen window sill, and it got down to about eleven centigrade (or Celcius, if you prefer). I say about, because it's a photographic thermometer, for taking the temperature of developer and stuff, and it only goes down to fifteen C. By the way, did you know the derivation of the Fahrenheit temperature system? No? Thought not. Quite extraordinary really. Ninety six is the normal temperature of the human body. He got that wrong by a degree or so. Zero is the lowest temperature achievable by a freezing salt (ammonium chloride)/water mixture. Odd! Did you know that ℉ has its own Unicode representation? U+2109! The Unicode Consortium discourage this use though, preferring °F.

Laid more bricks, then made the last window in the main room fit and close. I also made the one that closed but wouldn't open open, and sorted one that closed but it was a fight. They are not all perfect yet, but they are a bloody sight better than they were. At least I can sit here and type without an icy blast down the back of my neck!

It was doggy vaccination day here in the village today. I had been told, not asked, told, that it would be in the Faluhaz between two and three in the afternoon. My helper had told me also, and had offered to guide me through the process. We had arranged to meet at two thirty, so sure enough he arrived at two fifteen. I put Pickle on the lead and we set off - in the opposite direction to the Faluhaz! We ended up just by the bus stop past the pub, by the path that leads to the cemetery. Some of the way Pickle had to be encouraged past likely smelly spots, and the rest of the way had to be held in check quite firmly! It was doggy chaos. Dogs of all shapes and sizes, some muzzled, some carried (quite big ones too!), some placid, some not. Of course, all the dogs that had already been 'done' lined their fences and added to the cacophony of barks and yelps. Pickle held quite a conversation with a nice pair of Hungarian Vizslas that I had never even seen before. The vet gave her the necessary vaccination and I don't think she even noticed. Very quick and assured. A quick conversation took place between vet and helper, and he gave her another shot, equally as efficient. Bugger me, Pickle is "on the pill" - nincs pici Picklek most! Helper took Pickle home, while I queued to pay - fifteen quid for both shots - expensive dog! Last I saw of Pickle she was trotting obediently to heel with helper. By the time I had paid helper was back, telling me he had left Pickle at home tied up on her lead. So we went for a beer once I had paid. We went home after that, and sure enough, there was Pickle's lead and collar exactly where he had tied her up. Pickle was on the doorstep :)

Richard Heinberg again this evening.

17th September 2008

I forgot to mention barna yesterday. Throughout the whole episode of the doggy thing my helper kept talking about "barna". Now "barna" is the varnish stuff they put on woodwork, and I just couldn't make the connection between the vet visiting and varnishing woodwork. I did finally figure it out. "Barna" in Hungarian is a colour - brown. The vet's name is Brown, which is ironic as that is my mother's maiden name, and appears on every single piece of documentation I have been involved with here.

Not a very productive day, so not really worth talking about, except that my reconstruction work has started to attract the attention of the locals. One came round today, walked straight in the gate and Pickle went ballistic - she doesn't like him! He looked at the rebuild of the wall with some admiration, and actually offered to help with the rendering once it's done. Communication was difficult. He is the only one I have met with a speech impediment, but understanding Hungarian is difficult enough without dealing with a stutter.

18th September 2008

Well, it's six months to the day since I left the UK! Regrets? I've had a few, but then again too few to mention! Far too busy here to mope on things, and by and large I have a good reception in the village - I think they are intrigued by the "Mad Englishman".

The weather continues to be unseasonably cold. It was this time last year that I was in Hungary buying the property, and there were times when I had to seek shelter from the sun. The temperature would have been in the upper twenties. Not so this year. The wind remains stubbornly in the north. An isothermal chart of Central Europe shows an anticyclone centred over Russia, with a huge plunge of cold air to the south and west, with Hungary firmly fixed at the very bottom of it. Temperatures somewhat lower than the UK. All the fronts coming in from the Atlantic are being funnelled down the western edge of the anticyclone, so instead of passing well to the north of us, we are getting them one after the other. Cloudy, cold and with always the threat of rain. Here endeth the lesson in meteorology!

Nothing to report - work continues, despite the cold! Having to light the stove daily and keep doors and windows closed. Having said that, by lighting the stove once daily in the early evening the house continues to be remarkably cosy.

19th September 2008

I continued to work along the kitchen wall. I have to confess that I didn't have a clue of the horrors that awaited once I removed the cement rendering. As I go along, it is getting worse - not better. Thank goodness the front wall has not been treated thus. I think I will be able to get away with dressing the surface with the same mix I use for making the bricks, and repairing the nasty cracks that there are. Still, nothing fell down yet!

I made a batch of bricks, and then went to Körmend on a festek & dohany shopping trip. I had just made my first purchase. Castor oil - for the farming boots, nothing wrong with my digestive system! They looked a bit askance of me in the shop when I kept going up the bottle sizes to the largest. It is dispensed, not prepacked. I was walking back through the town when my Hungarian mobile rang. That's a bit unusual in itself, as only two people in Hungary have the number. It was helper,something about sand. I was expecting hime to organise it and on of the reasons for going to town was to top up on cash to pay for it. We arranged to meet in the pub later when I returned. I bought a couple of extra items I spotted on my travels, one being an ordinary-type scrubbing brush, and one being a triangular file for sharpening the big two man log saw I discovered in the garage loft. It is sadly mistreated and needs a good sharpen and set. It's a year or two since I did that as well. The last time I did it, it was a weeny little tenon saw. Different kettle of fish this time!

As arranged, I met up in the pub, and ascertained that the sand had in fact been delivered, and helper needed to get back with the cash. I told him the rest of the cash was at home, so I walked on home and he followed shortly after. Sure enough, there were truck marks all over the verge and in the yard, and a bloody great heap of sand! A wonderful six months birthday treat for Pickle:
Pickle and Sand Pickle at first views the heap of sand with suspicion...
...and having overcome her suspicion goes mountaineering! Pickle and Sand
The Norwegian guy turned up later on and we had a good discussion over the fence as to how the repairs were going.

The weather had been a bit better today, so, not having to light the stove, I bit the bullet and set about doing the required minor repairs to the fire brick lining and tiles. Strange stuff, the cement mixture. It's a very granular powder that you mix with water glass (sodium silicate). The water glass is marked up with the corrosive sign, so I wore rubber gloves. It proved impossible to locate and pack the cement into where it needed to go wearing the gloves, so I cast caution to the wind and used my bare hands. Stung a little bit, but at least I got the job done. Gave the hands a good wash and a good dose of Atrixo (the local version) afterwards. Seems OK - my fingers haven't dropped off!

It turns out that the scrubbing brush I bought is just the job for brushing Pickle - she is moulting, dog hair everywhere, and it makes a far better job of brushing her coat clean than the old one, which is falling to bits!

Managed to end the day by having a bit too much beer - ooops!

The financial world of America continues to crumble!

20th September 2008

I had a day off from the building works today. For one thing the weather was lousy - cold and drizzly, and for another I had a hangover! Instead, I tackled some long overdue domestic work. I had managed to get to the shop after they sold out of bread, so I had to grab some yeast instead, and baked some. Did one lot of washing, still have another to do. I have got in the habit of washing the working jeans separately - they are always so full of dust and grit, all they do is spread it amongst the other washing. Swept up the lounge. Later in the day I had a look at the walnut situation. I collected a bucketful in a very few minutes! What to do with them? Fortunately I found this recipe for Persian walnut cookies - sounds delicious!

The rest of the time today I did, well basically, nothing. It's six months to the day since I moved into the cottage!

21st September 2008

For any of you who happened to see this BBC article have no fears - I have not heard of any plans to storm the Faluhaz yet!!

Laid bricks. Again! Daily routine. After that I had a go at undoing the mayhem that Pickle had caused with the sand heap. She loves to dig, and of course a nice new soft heap of sand provides the perfect foil for her creativity. Instead of it having a footprint of, say, ten square metres it now has a footprint of probably thirty square metres, nice and thinly spread at the periphery! I managed to spend some time with a quick blog update, and then went back to the wall repairs. It was time to take down the next area of cement rendering so that I could work back bottom up to the existing repairs. There was a bit that was seriously worrying me. I had given it a good clout with the hammer, and all that happened was that earth dropped off the wall anything up to two feet away. For my younger readers that is just over sixty centimeters. By the way, did you know that the British building industry, when forced to go metric many years ago adopted thirty centimeters as its unit of measurement. Why? Because it is only about a quarter of an inch difference from a foot which was one of the prime units of measurement before the enforced metrication! Anyway, this stubborn bit of wall resisted my efforts until suddenly it started moving. A huge piece, all in one lump! I thought to myself "Oh-oh!!". At this stage it was already loose, so there was nothing for it but to drag it out:
Hole Left by Removing Cement Infill It left this bloody great hole. I measured the lump that came out afterwards, and it went thirty centimeters into the wall - that's just over half the wall thickness - not good!
I managed to clean out the hole, pack the worst of the damage directly with my earth brick mix, and get one whole earth brick into the damage. Still have to get another one in there yet though. All very time consuming, and I seriously hope I don't run up against anything quite as bad elsewhere along the wall!.

I have managed to find the most tedious job yet since I have been here! Removing the husks from walnuts! Horrible job, for which, unless you want black fingers, you have to wear gloves. Walnuts contain a strong dyeing agent - not black actually but very dark brown. One of the more permanent natural dyes. I collected over one hundred and sixty today! Was counting, but got distracted by the neighbours at No. 72 saying hello.

This and this via Matt Savinar late in the day. You know, I reckon the good ol' US of A is effectively bankrupt. Who next?

22nd September 2008

Another sign on the BBC this morning of the monumental financial struggle going down in the States! And Matt Simmons speaks out in a new interview.

Well, it's definitely autumn! The pub has gone back to closing at nine o'clock, the swallows have left - I didn't see them go, they just aren't here any more - and the children have gone back to school and kindergarten. Nights are getting chilly, and we are still stuck in the northerly airstream that is keeping the days cold as well. Nonetheless, now warmed up by the summer, and lighting the stove daily, the cottage remains cosy, in spite of having only one layer of glazing.

I laid bricks, working up to a complete repair of the bloody great hole in the wall. It still didn't fall down, to my amazement. I am almost at the stage of having to go and dig for earth. Until now I have simply been recycling what has fallen off the house, but I have removed such big bits of brick, concrete and cement that I no longer have the raw materials from which to make the earth bricks.

My helper turned up in response to a previous request, and we set off by bicycle to Daraboshegy in search of firewood - you remember that I was let down. We went to the wood yard that I have seen many times, as I cycled past it or went on the bus. I thought it was just a wood yard. Wrong! It's actually a wooden flooring production unit The Hungarians call any sort of wooden floor "parketa" which obviously comes from parquetry, but to me parquetry is small blocks of wood, typically in a herringbone pattern. They had two types of firewood there, but not much to choose between them. I ordered five pallets of it, to be deivered on Wednesday (early!). That's ten cubic metres - twice the amount of wood, and for less money. However, it is smaller pieces, not logs, but all hardwood. I have a fair amount of wood lying about that will turn into logs anyway, so it will be a case of just using the logs last off at night, when the stove is closed right down so that it just burns steadily into the wee small hours and the stove is still nice and hot in the morning.

Early evening, and a quick now daily ritual of collecting the walnuts. One hundred and thirty today! I am a compulsive counter. I count anything, just for the hell of counting. Does anyone else do that? I know my dad did too.
Pickle stands guard over the walnuts. Given half a chance she will eat them. Cracks the shells and has the nut out in a jiffy! Pickle Stands Guard over the Walnuts

23rd September 2008

Life continues, and for me it's the same old, same old. Make bricks, lay bricks, do some other stuff, go to the pub! I'm only going to the pub twice a day at the moment. Once from 6:30am until noon, and once from 1:00pm until they kick out at 9:00pm. Joking, of course!

I am having to choose with certain areas of the wall between chopping it out and putting in an earth brick, or ramming it directly with my earth brick mixture. Most of what I am doing now is taking me beyond five inches into the wall, so that is the choice I have to make. I was thinking about expertise. I guess that if my wall is still solid and sound in ten years time, I might consider myself an expert. If it falls down in the winter, then I got it wrong. (I can't have got it so far wrong as whoever rendered it with cement!) But then again we all know the definition of an expert, don't we? Ex, meaning has been, and spert (spurt) meaning a drip under pressure.

The regular post lady is back, and I got the cash for the firewood off her rather than go into town. Can't remember the last time I went to Tescos! I did a walnut collection about lunch time - a hundred and sixty today. Speaking of which, my son shares the ?affliction of compulsive counting, which is strange, as my dad did too. Anyone else? I count the number of complete crank revolutions when I am cycling, mainly when it is stressful (i.e. uphill, heavily laden). Obviously I count the constituents of earth mix, or lime mortar. But I find myself counting how many times I turn it over, before adding the water. And so on!

I managed to strip the paint off window No. 10, using the blowlamp. When we removed the windows from the front of the cottage, I had the foresight to number them, and write the number on the glass with permanent marker. Numbers one to six are the bottom set, and seven to ten the top set. I also had the foresight to carve the equivalent numbers into the wood of the windows using Roman numerals - they are so much easier to carve, so I know which piece of glass goes where. Now I'm getting boring!

Went to the pub about five o'clock. I have no idea why, but there was a particular air of bonhomie and joviality in there. Much shaking of hands and loud talking. I managed to get two beers in exchange for a British fifty pence piece and a twenty pence piece - well not doing me much good here! Went home, had a quick bite, showered, and went back to the pub. Nothing new there then. Our Canadian-Hungarian visitor leaves tomorrow. By the way, nobody did devine my thoughts on the Hungarian-Australian/Canadian-Hungarian difference! During the evening I found out my firewood wouldn't be delivered tomorrow, but on Friday. Oh-oh! Problem?

24th September 2008

The walnut season is obviously coming to a climax - I collected three hundred and nine today!

25th September 2008

I had a productive morning today, although I didn't get round to making bricks. The big hole in the wall where the huge lump of concrete,brick and cement came out is fixed, thank goodness. I had to fix it partly by ramming earth brick mix directly into the hole at the back of it. A lot disappeared, it just kept going in! I didn't manage to push any tiles off the inside of the kitchen though! There must be a lot of hidden insect damage in that part - very porous. I console myself with the thought that it has to be better now than it was before!

I took the blowlamp to a second one of the front windows - No. 9 (or IX, if you look at the wood). I also gave the window I had already done a dose of the caustic soda mixture. This works very well, as any remnants of paint left by the blowlamp seem to be denatured and in a short while can be scrubbed off with wire wool. That's one out of ten that is ready to be made to fit, sanded down and painted.

I did a walnut patrol just before lunch time, as it was coming on to rain and I didn't want them lying on the ground wet. Hmmm - coming on to rain - yes, it turned into a thunderstorm. I managed to collect a hundred and six before knocking it on the head as it was just getting too bad to be out in.

Afternoon, with the continuing rain curtailing the outdoor activities, I did a quick dash into Körmend for a few bits. I allowed myself just enough time at this end to pop to the pub for a quick one, only to find it locked, closed :( Ah well, sit in the bus shelter for a few minutes until the bus arrived. Managed a bit of small talk with a chap I don't know whilst we waited for the bus. The quick dash bit came in Körmend, as I caught the 2:55 bus from the village, which got in to Körmend at 3:15, leaving just ten minutes to go into and out of two shops and catch the 3:25 bus home, otherwise wait two hours. I managed that, but failed in one of my objectives, which was to get eggs. None in the supermarket, none in the village for a couple of days. I suppose I could have waited for the later bus, and had a wander to Tescos, but it was still persisting it down. Made the 3:25 bus with about thirty seconds to spare, and when I got back to the village the pub was now open, so I got my beer in the end.

Went home and did some indoor stuff, like washing up. And updating the blog.

Back to the pub in the evening, and they have a TV program - current affairs - called "View Point". In spite of my still limited linguistic capabilities, I managed to glean that one report was about energy prices, in particular the effect on the elderly. Another was obviously a backwards look at the Treaty of Trianon - the plight of ethnic minorities within Hungary, and equally the plight of Hungarians who are now ethnic minorities in the areas ceded by Hungary under the Treaty. They still smart under the loss of so much territory, and everywhere you go there are reminders of how Hungary used to be, extending right down to the Aegean. The third report was very graphic, and concerned the dangers of motorcycling (dear to my heart). It actually showed the instant a rider died, as recorded on the camera on his bike. Head on at very high speed with another biker!

26th September 2008

I was up at five thirty, as I was expecting the firewood to arrive any time between six and eight. It was cloudy, with a cold, biting, fretful, gusty wind - not a particularly nice day. I carried on working on the wall. A progress update picture:
Wall Repair Progress Not my neatest bricklaying ever, but the locals seem to admire my handiwork.
Towards the end of the morning, with no firewood in sight, I decided to check on the walnut situation. I said about the wind. The ground was littered with walnuts. They were plopping down nearly as fast as I could pick them up! Part way through there was a hail from the front. It was the wood man to say that the firewood would be here in an hour, maybe two. Good-oh! I went back to the walnuts. I collected six hundred before I stopped:
This is what six hundred walnuts looks like! Ooops, 599 - Pickle just stole one! Bucketful of Walnuts
Basketful of Walnuts I have had to upgrade the walnut operation to version 1.0.1! For info, the basket is twenty inches inside diameter at the top, and eleven inches deep. It is now quite heavy. I may even try pressing some for the culinary and artistic use that walnut oil has.
Shortly after lunch the firewood arrived:
This is what ten cubic metres of firewood looks like! Tuzifa
Reinforcements arrived, and within a couple of hours there it all was in store:
Firewood Store That was not all of it. There were four big barrow loads that I put in my other wood store!
Not only did I have, quite literally, a shedload of firewood, but also my helper had negotiated a discount on my behalf. Same old thing - it's who you know, not what you know. The twelve thousand Forints saved will buy a lot of beer, or a lot of labour. In context, I got best part of an afternoon's work out of the extra pair of hands for the princely sum of five hundred Forints plus one spritzer and one palinka! Just over two quid. Obviously, for this particular exchange of currency we had retired to the pub for a well-earned drink or two.

The firewood itself is mainly inch and a quarter oak, sawn into pieces that will go straight into the stove. Little sawing for me this winter. And so long as I give them about a weeks notice I can have more any time! I rescued a number of good pieces from the pallets, including a couple of lengths of walnut. I have never worked with walnut, but it is supposed to be a delight. I have projects in mind for both oak and walnut, and also for a couple of lengths of beech that were there too!

27th September 2008

I had quite a lazy day today. Having said that, I did make bricks. In retrospect what I should have done was to make myself a brick press. OK, one at a time, but instead of all the arduous ramming and packing just stick some mix in, pull the lever then chuck some more in etc. until the mould is full. Speaking of which, I have designed (in my head) my pole lathe. I am going to check out the pile of timber that was the pallets that the firewood came on and see if there is enough of the right shapes and sizes.

I blowlamped the first frame at the front of the house and made window No. 10 fit. It needed a good whack to one of the hinges to be anywhere near. Even so, I am going to have to glue in a small fillet of wood to the frame, as at the moment you can see straight out of the closing edge of the window, so it will blow a gale through there as it stands.

Firefox shat itself big time today after an update that it automatically installed this morning. I have sent in innumerable crash reports and included my e-mail address for info/resolution. Heard not a thing back. Now, Konqueror is all well and good, but it's not a web browser as such, it's a file system browser that happens to be very good at other protocols. Very useful for downloading an entire site via File Transfer Protocol, and so on, but it doesn't have the bells and whistles that one expects these days such as tabbed browsing. I cast my mind around for an alternative. IE7? Don't be daft! So, Safari or Opera. I went for Opera, and I have to say I'm impressed. It has all the bells and whistles one would expect, the installation went with ease and the rendering of pages is very quick! Different, I have to say, but not displeasing. It also went away under instruction and imported my Firefox bookmarks faultlessly. I'm a fan!

I used the first of the load of tuzifa in the stove tonight. I'm impressed with that too. I thought that it being in pieces only one and a quarter inches thick it would burn away in no time. Far from it. I only had to use half a basket, whereas I would normally use an entire basketful in an evening. The stove heats up very quickly, but once you close down the air input the oak burns steadily for a long, long time. Speaking of which, I may have mentioned before, but did you know that an oak timbered roof will stand much longer in a fire than a steel one. The oak chars on the outside for quite a while, but once steel reaches a certain temperature it loses its strength very quickly. Maybe the World Trade Centre buildings should have been made of oak!

On the way home from the pub, quite a still evening, and there is something strangely comforting in the smell of wood smoke drifting around the village.

28th September 2008

Another Sunday, and up early as usual. I continue the habit I got into in the UK of having a lie-in on a Saturday rather than the normal Sunday. Which is unfortunate, as previously mentioned, because the village shop shuts early and if I'm short of anything that means a trip to town.

With a basic mental tick-list I sorted through the pile of discarded timber from the firewood pallets with the construction of a pole lathe in mind. Lots of waney edge (that's the bit with the bark still attached) and badly checked and cracked stuff that was immediately discarded. Chop it up for firewood. But eventually I fulfilled my mind's eye vision of a pole lathe construction all bar one piece. I'll sort that out later.

Tail end of the morning I collected the walnuts again. Only a hundred and fifteen. After that it was to the pub to watch the F1. Interesting race. I still haven't really got my head around how Alonso managed to win it. I must say that I think Ferrari have made a serious blunder in doing away with the lollipop man! That's twice in about three races they have had a serious cock-up releasing cars from their pit.

Late in the day I collected a bucketful of apples and had started on the chestnuts, when Pickle managed to get into No. 68's garden again. She got shut in the outhouse for two hours as a punishment when I eventually did manage to retrieve her!

Late on and a good Peak Oil article by Cliff Wirth. The report is long and detailed, but worth the read. And don't forget it is not the work of crackpots or doomsayers!

29th September 2008

till bricklaying, and still have about one and a half square metres of the dreaded cement rendering to rip off. I'm getting to the stage of actually having to go and dig earth to use for the bricks. In between I was still thinking about the various woodworking projects that I want to get on the go. One of these fine days I'll manage to finish the kennel - before it gets too cold. But Pickle has adapted fine to being equally a house dog to being outdoors.

Projects on the go, or in mind:
Collected walnuts at lunch time. Only two hundred and fifty two.

Back to the windows in the afternoon. Stripping paint and making the windows fit, again. At least I know that the donkey work of that is already done for the inner windows. Several of the outer ones had catches that simply didn't move - painted firmly in the open position. A bit of fierce blowlamp work sorted that out!

Helper arrived in the afternoon and lashed a bit of paint about, and after that we went to the pub. I didn't stay long. On the way home by seven thirty. I had just left the pub, and there was a kitten sitting in the middle of the road. I thought to myself that it shouldn't stay there as it would be bound to get squished. Deja-vu or what - a couple of hundred metres down the road, there was another kitten squished in the road. Sad!

30th September 2008

Nothing worth reporting for the morning!

Caught the one o'clock bus to town - a dog food and baccy run, and pay for my Internet connection, which by the way is about the same price as it is in the UK! By the time I got home it was a lovely, warm, sunny afternoon, so I decided in my infinite wisdom that my huge basketful of walnuts needed a little drying. I tipped them out on the yard in the sun - once spread out about three metres diameter of walnuts. Surprisingly Pickle left them alone! Helper turned up and did a bit more painting, includng a window that had not been made to fit, or rubbed down...

As the afternoon faded, I found myself in a scenario that I could not have envisaged in my wildest imagination a year ago. I was using the shovel to put the dried walnuts back in the basket. I ask you, shovelling walnuts!


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