Tuesday, June 10, 2014

mixing colours

With manly chainsaws still buzzing in the woodlands I'm left to finish off a dark shade of pink paint in our vintage trailer. The 10 metre stack of wood, which has been outside our gate since last Autumn, is a constant reminder that I still have to fire the Stihl engine to clear ours before the meadow grass completely camouflages it.
But trailer painting is the current occupation, with all shades of the spectrum mixed and constantly debated on what combines with what. And now that we have a near completion on the inside, the time is right to finally display rustic bits and pieces that we have collected and have been gathering dust in our outbuilding since we first moved here. A huge task to pull everything out and everytime we do so it looks like the day when we first arrived here with stuff sprayed out on the grass in front of our gate. 
Rain has now gone away and the sun has risen the summer temperature to what we are used to. Predictably the mower decides to splutter instead of run as soon as the grass feels dry. Fortunately only a spark plug issue again, but they should be lasting longer than this?! A day of cutting awaits before attacking the jungle surrounding half the vegetable garden. Then a long June evening to be spent painting the exterior of the trailer, paint colour still to be confimed!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Grass, rain, sun, grass, rain, sun...

Market time once again. Despite hands in pockets, trade is brisk with farming animals up for grabs from the boots of cars. Bewildered rabbits, sheep, chickens, ducklings, pigs and goats are on display for the innocent onlooker to be persuaded by what they see in their eyes, "take me".
But once again, like last year, we are not yet swayed to purchase any to increase the Havran Cottage animal community. 
At least not until next year, particularly now that we have a grandmother cat and two new kittens and mother residing in the old hen house. Where would the chickens go?
After the rain and sun the grass grows rapidly once again but as the mower bruises through each blade more popping and heavy heaving engine noise can be heard until it wants to and finally give up. Having no engineering or repair skills this is a worry. Petrol and oil tanks have some left in, no problem there. Then I remember about the spark plug on the front, maybe that's it. I need to take it out to be able to go to a shop in the town to purchase a new one. New problem, no spanner to fit to take it out with. Our neighbour should have one, he has every tool, nevermind that they are all from a different generation ago. Unfortunately when he sees my mower he is very disappointed. Disappointed at me that is, for he knows how to look after his machinery. Because when a light stops working on his kettle he knows how to make it light up again. 
I am in envy but slightly embarrassed at my lack of knowledge. He cleans out two years of gunk in the air filter and sandpapers the spark plug after instantly having the right size spanner head to release it. I am hoping he won't turn the mower over to see how blunt the blades are. Too late, he knows I would not have sharpened them. More ammunition for him to growl and raise the blood vessels on his face. 
I was actually right about the spark plug, that was the issue with it not working. But I do know a little more about looking after a lawn mower now and should be able to cut effortlessly next week when all the good weather finally arrives. Or maybe we should have bought some sheep at the market instead.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Bedroom blues

As an old school style photographer I never really learn't photoshop. Nor was I ever an artist in the painting sense. But even any miserable attempt was needed to provide an impression of how the interior of the trailer bedroom was going to look. Lurid colours spilled out onto the computer screen, maybe we should keep to a safe magnolia colour! Fortunately Jana has a better eye for detail and could see the potential beyond my child's artwork and rest assured I felt better. In fact I am quite excited to get painting again on it, not least because we have to get it finished before the summer rolls in with more hosting of guests. At the moment the desired paint pots are on a waiting list in the local paint and perfume drug store (a really traditional shop for all the family!). Brushstroke splashes have been put on hold until next week's shop delivery. But the promise of warm weather to come which will only aide the paints drying time, the sketchy coloured impression we currently have will hopefully become a reality, but a more subtle reality!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


A week can last a long time, in Havran I swear it lasts longer. 
Sleepily I write amongst the overnight herd at Stansted Airport awaiting FR2314's early morning departure back to my other civilisation. Switching languages in my head (hahaha, not as if my Slovak ear is anywhere near proficient and my learning worded textbooks remained closed once again on a journey; I need kicking!), preparing my return. Bag packed with another back-dated country living magazine to provide some fantasy for the cottage and another retro board game, not that we get bored. 
Can't wait to be back, back into the escapism with no frills. The dogs get confused the first few days when I am away, the cats less so. But me more so as I recognise less and less from the country I used to live in. That's not necessarily a negative thing, just it reflects on how long a week can last.    

Friday, April 11, 2014


The full blooming trees spookily glisten under the moonlit cool and clear night sky. Over on the hillside above Havran Cottage a wheelbarrow squeaks along the bumpy surface with a bucket full of mid-size stones which will eventually complete a drainage path surface. It may look like further criminal damage to our local landscape but clearing the rocks from the surrounding fields can only help the farmer when he comes to cut the meadow grass in the summer. And all the secrecy with our night fall trips? Neighbours like to gossip and gossip they would do if they see us searching for stones. "Mad englishman, surely he could buy a load".
But our criminal adventure must continue. The price of stone is high and our area is awash with them. We must continue with our quiet evening trips.  

Friday, March 14, 2014


Sour sucking cider-making, sticky and now processed!
When I was young I have to confess I stole a few penny priced sweets off a counter from our village shop. Egged on by a friend, the habit lasted for a few months. My sweet-tooth has lasted a lot longer.
A few days ago I became an accomplice to another unforgiving crime, pulling down a helpless tree for no other concern than to stop the branches coming into contact with any high-sided vehicles. That is what our chainsaw trigger happy neighbour said anyway. 
When I was asked to hop a ride on his tractor to help move a tree I was expecting a fallen one that we had permission to cut. When we reached our destination there was no such thing, only a favourite young oak tree which our cats enjoyed to climb to chase the birds. Before I had time to think, the chainsaw was in full flow ripping through the base. 
By this point the tree had no point of return and instead of resting my hands on my head in disbelief I was being sworn at to help make sure the tree fell in the opposite direction of the road. My finger-printed evidence was now left on the bark. My poor language skills could not hide the anger inside me at this un-provoked act of vandalism to the natural surroundings. I walked off dis-gruntled. 
To add to the shame, the broken tree became our issue as shockingly our neighbour did not want the wood. Dusting off my chainsaw, a different me came back and sliced the tree down to manageable pieces for both Jana and I to drag back to the cottage later under the cover of a moonlit night sky and out of sight of the Forester's eyes. My sweetshop skills had not deserted me.  

Monday, March 3, 2014


Two weeks has seen rapid change here. The woodshed transformation into a space twice it's original size is not far away from completion to cater for our summer guests needs. A 'tardis-sized' shower room now stands waiting for it's fittings and our old original roofless barn has been carefully semi-demolised and made into a safe space to disappear to. More channel digging through hardcore stone pieces to enable a water pipe to reach it's destination taps in the woodshed and shower room. And more time spent within the company of builders to achieve all of this. Two knackered souls with empty pockets are left to finish and smooth off all these installations before the fast approaching opening in May. No interruptions please!