Wednesday, November 25, 2015

November chore

Cracking nuts, debris strewn all round the bedroom floor. Our only room with evening heat, the flickering lightbulb is becoming more of an annoyance. As I sit near the window a small draft sends a shiver to my left shoulder. Crackly wood in the fire gives us false hope that we are warm enough. Winter came a few days ago. 
A yelp as Jana hammers her finger and the fortunate nut escapes to a far corner of the room. Not for the first time this month a bit of anguish and a few foul words are expressed.
Beautiful sunrises are only eclipsed by even better sunsets. Ground is now freezing and glittering into the moonlight, it is time for the land to relax. This is the time when some of our summer guests would be asking "so what you going to do now..?" This morning I was stumped for a few seconds, what can I do now? Wood is mostly cut for what we need, internet has gone slow and tea is in the pot, so what next? Fortunately my finger tips were not too frozen to have a go at cleaning and fixing stuff, tidy a few what-nots, rack up the apple wine (which means a quick sip and a bit more!) and generally keep myself occupied until Harik was after a walk. A quick survey of the woodland and a few more possible tipi pine poles are found. A deja vu of last winter's work look's like approaching.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


Plastic colourful flowers are compared and handled sensitively by all the regular craggy faces in the town. It is that time of the year again for all to remember who is not here anymore. Even the 'Martin Skrtel' lookalikes are not afraid to show their softer side and take a fake bunch of alyssums to a distant relative's half sister's last resting place.
Bizarrely we were told by a neighbour where the best deals were to buy some 'made in China' creations to lay in the cemetery even though we have no family connections in our town's resting place. Sarcastically how thoughtful. But then it could be read as to how important the time of year is to family and friends and is presumed for everybody. We were thankful for the advice instead.
It is also that time when serious looking head-shotted political hopefuls are plastered on every car park's billboard. Each year there is more of an edge of casualness to these pictures. We lost the jacket and tie a year ago, this time another button is undone on the shirt, but still the smile is lost. Only a smugness has come to replace stiffness that existed before. Small words and big egos, what is their connection to who is walking below? Like the 1st of November, some traditions won't change here.  
Sleep well Dad.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Gentle reminder

Walnuts lying in crates which scatter the kitchen floor waiting for their turn to dry above the warm stove. Fighting for space are my clothes after another wash from all the clinging mud in the woodland. Another seasonal slash with the chainsaw in the trees which has perfectly timed to follow the worst deluge of rain this year. A slimy surface and boots clogged with twice their weight in mud. An annual chore to collect our wood supply but now that the sun shines and the full Autumn colour illuminates around, I feel very fortunate to be here. Not least two days previous when I had slipped and landed on a protruding small tree stump whilst holding an 'on' chainsaw. Shaken and winded, my composure slightly bruised. Maybe I was getting too cocky or there was an invincibility thought about the work I was doing. I needed that reminder that anything good can change in a split second.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Summer of 15

A ridiculously steamy hot summer with the occasional stormy interlude has finally come to an end. There was very little let up in the hosting of many gorgerous people who had come to stay at our little corner of Slovakia. Different reasons revealed as to why they are either passing through or taking a few more days in Havran. We didn't care, just their company here was nice enough to escape our solitude. 
All ages, lots of nationalities and all kinds of stories and conversation shared. Lighting campfires and either contemplating the meaning of life or quietly watching the ambers burn down. Downside, no time to write any drivel on here. 
And now the temperatures have dropped and the leaves on the trees begin to age, we have the Autumnal prospect of laborious duties to be prepared for our hibernation back indoors. And as on cue, the beginning of September from 7am marked the return of the whirling sounds of echoing chainsaws. Our excited neighbour with his newly refurbished table-saw has eagerly been anticipating this moment all summer. Thankfully I might be strategically away when he starts up his new horrifyingly sharp blade and can work later in the season at my more casual pace with my orange Stihl saw (which still frightens me enough anyway). 
A garden revamp before the first frosts, with vegetable plots cleared and composted or manured. Smoke in the hills as neighbours clear and burn their cuttings.
In fact it is about now to take note on what went well and what can work better for the new year. We don't want to change too much but just enough to be able to keep going if that makes any sense.
It was so sad to take down our two tipi's for safe-keeping until next May. A whole season of acquaintances and friends made, patience required for 8 months before we can make anymore.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Chickened out

I wasn't prepared, simple as that. We let all the best birds get away (meaning sold) from the backs of lorries at the few farmers markets that we attended back in Spring. Mysterious and unmarked vehicles with bartering farmers, it was an interesting spectacle that brought out a lot of population of our town. Not many events over the calendar year actually do this, which shows the importance still of having a backyard or garden full of chicken and rabbit droppings. 
And now, an abandoned enclosure with untested fox-proof fencing will remain vacant for another 12 months. Thickening nettles beginning to take over and encroach into the stilted wood shack that would have housed five feathered creatures. Spiders and insects instead enjoy the place they probably see as an undisturbed palace. 
Everytime there is a guest arrival at the cottage an excusable explanation is required for what that overgrown area of the garden was supposed to represent. No squawking hens, only silence or the occasional patter of paws as one of our inquisitive cats enters the compound. 
Finishing touches will be added to the area when it is cut back in the autumn. It's just a shame that something that seems so simple to look after and is the ultimate livestock necessity for so-called "self-sufficient life" has to wait a little bit longer. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Blooming Springtime

I'm beginning not to cope. The start of May when Havran Cottage's gate is open once is looming closer. I'm tripping over holes that I have excavated and expected to have filled again by now. With no sign of rain, transplanted grass needing constant watering from 40 metres of hosepipe cumbersomely being pulled to different areas of the garden. Trips to the woodlands at dusk without any neighbourly eyes watching (all glued to the primetime 7pm news channels) to pick cut branches to form decorative wattle fences. The garden thankfully has Jana working full time to yield our annual needs. One less thing to worry about maybe but adding the imminent arrival of hens* to our compound has created my own full time employment of hammering their home together. Screws would have been easier than nails, but a stuttering drill has put away that thought. I don't think there has been an occasion since we have lived here that everything has worked properly at the same time. 
At least this year an investment in a semi-decent lawn mower has eased the possibility of last year's muscle pains with it's self-propelling rear wheels. Grass cutting has suddenly become boring.
Gravel is staring back in a pile outside our gate. More building material, this has to stop. Enough is enough, as my camera gathers dust. It needs to start clicking soon for me to relax again. 

*Initially we waited for chicks from our local farmer, but I wasn't ready with the henhouse. Then we have waited for a farmer's market, but then I wasn't ready with the henhouse. Then another market, I wasn't ready still. Now we are waiting for the last market on the calendar, if I am ready with the henhouse...

Sunday, April 26, 2015

To kill a ladybird

The awakening of our mixed ladybird collection to the bathroom window ledges, desperate for escapism to the outside world. But most don't make it when a finger presses gently to disable their little bodies. A dustpan and brush clears any evidence. 
This all might sound a little bit cruel, but then there is no sentiment when you are cleaning all their little dirt marks on the glass of the windows.