Monday, September 18, 2017

Sept 18th

On a whim I write, several weeks of excuses to not to do so, but now finally it is all quiet once again. The moody skylines return, one big turn in temperature still to come to shock all the green leaves which are nervously hanging on. The mushroom traffic in their reliable old Skoda's have been returning but fields around haven't provided the feast which was available last year. Instead the crocuses have sprouted if not trampled on by deer or Jaffa's paws. Jozef's old Combine Harvester still sits happily nestled on the tree-line of the meadow, abandoned after a second cut last month. A trust with us to keep an eye on it we presume, but we don't know for how long. And now time is only dictated by the daylight and the hens and not by who is arriving. That time is slowly running shorter, especially as the distracting neighbourly gossip rants pick up back to the pre-summer levels. Plenty to say or at least for me to listen to. 
The 3 w's of wood, warmth and winter and then some hopeful, incredible breakthrough in my language skills. I don't tire of this just yet, even with those slog months to come. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Summer food

Nosy mushroom pickers gobbling up every woodland growth edible to man and deer. Heat and storms traditionally bring the flock from the town and nearby to forage and then digest. But there is still our place to pass, to almost stop and stare. Like zoo animals we stare back too. We have considered opening up an english tearoom so that they can stop and stare a bit longer. But then we never have been the entrepreneur type to wish to do such a thing. 
Lots of plum droppings this year as the trees decide to yield fruit in excessive quantity. Envious eyes already from one neighbour with his distilling alcohol kit. Drunken wasps binge on the fallen if they are not picked up of the ground soon enough. Much to the annoyance to Jaffa as he tries to snap at every available buzz, their erratic flying is even more un-predictable.
Down another bird in the henhouse. One of the battered ones succumbs to an illness which we are none wise to. The others are fit and well despite the heat. An excess of treats from leftovers as the summer guests fill our compost bin. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017


I was still getting over the shock of seeing two familiar faces in the Coop supermarket preparing to meet 30+ eager autograph-hunting school kids. Adverts of them are splattered around the store all the time promoting all things good about processed meat and cheese of folk-land Slovakia.
On this occasion it looked like it was promoting orange helium filled balloons from what I could understand. One of them with an uncanny resemblance to Jean-Paul Gaultier in pictures. But in the flesh was just an unfortunate actor preparing to be stormed by an army of 6-10 year olds on a sleepy hot Thursday afternoon. Something new for the muttering grandma's to whisper as they have their change scrutinised at the tills.
We are not the delirious type to worry about who we might see. And a week later a well known Slovak tv presenter came to stay. Not that we would have known having never owned a television from all our time here. But a picture and article in the gossip rags left behind by Jana's mum gave us the evidence and not a word must be said about her mystery man who had made the booking and was her partner in tow that night.
In the end we are all the same, like garlic bulbs.   

Saturday, June 3, 2017


A couple of weeks back the cobwebs were dusted off the trusted scythe. The relentless growth of the grass had made the mower redundant. Not since that first summer when all we had mechanically was a Flymo had I attempted to cut the two acres with just a blade and an aching left shoulder. Not for the faint-hearted but a necessary back up to cutting if I didn't want another ruined and scrapheap-bound grass cutter. 
I'm certainly no expert at this folly. My method would be scorned or laughed at by the old folk round here. I tear the grass instead of slice through poor technique or use of a blunted blade or a combination of both. Maybe I'm showing off to myself in belief that I can do it having never done so or needed to. Or is it a rebellion from my father's perfectly manicured lawns from childhood. I have produced though an adequate carpet of grass cuttings/hay for insulation of the thirsty vegetable garden. 
With the sun beating down this week, seedlings have gone from teenagers to young adults. And the worries of Jaffa's trampling paws on our well worked soils become less of a threat.
It's hot and still now, jokes about tipi erections as they go up ready for a steady flow of passing-by folk through these parts. 
We argue when is the best time to visit, now has a strong case with the abundance of herbs and wild flowers uncut in the surrounding meadows and hundreds of deafening birdsongs.
Though within a few weeks everything will change. The noise from combines and tractors as they come strolling in to flatten the fields. No place for the slicing or tearing scythe by then.   

Thursday, May 4, 2017

management apology

It is with deep regret that we have to report a mis-management of kilo proportion. The unfortunate demise of one of our hens has been put down to a combination of neglect and broken down safety requirements. 
The culprit has been severely dealt with (no 'walkies' for a few days) but the management feel they were most in the wrong and will in future follow new procedures to prevent any further incident like this happening again. Of course we are humbly sorry and although our freezer is a little bit fuller we do not want both the ordeal and aftermath to be repeated. 
We do respect the trauma that this may have caused to the remaining brood in the henhouse and the mis-trust which obviously has developed between ourselves and them. This we hope will heal over time with more feed and treats available, as well as a new locking system on the enclosure's gate (still to be approved but likely to involve a nail, a couple of bits of wood, a screw and a washer). Hasten to add that any additional funding required will be taken out of the management's own pocket of change.
New training methods have started with the perpetrator which are already having a rehabilitating affect. This will continue throughout the summer under extra surveillance with new commands and additional granules in pockets for good behaviour.
It has been a very unsavoury episode which the management now understands was totally un-acceptable and caused a great deal of stress all round. With hindsight the extended lower fencing was not a good idea.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Sleeping vegetable seeds

The local supermarket's stock of vegetable and flower seeds are back in, as traditional as chocolate at Easter. Familiarity as normal in our sleepy town. 
The death-board ticking off the last few casualties of last winter, regularly checked by the locals for their gossip. 
Our local army shop depot (doesn't every town have one?!) has finally aquired new stock including two jeeps! Much chin-scratching as to what we could do with one.
The new cafe is a disappointment. A sterile interior with a futile attempt to be modern. We of course the only custom this Wednesday morning and only because of my insistence to go somewhere warm rather than waiting at the bus stop. A perfect opportunity to exploit the Slovak market in cafe culture but fallen like a lump. Small talk from Jana only re-iterates the "glorious past" from the owner, and now the doom and gloom and blame. Whilst the unfinished toilets remain so, the interior's light fitting stays as a hanging wire. The empty cake and ice cream containers another reminder of that "glorious past".
The standard 80's radio station blaring, a circulating cycle of dross that used to be ironic when we arrived and nostalgic but now is annoying on every bus trip or shop visit. 
The guy still pissing by the fence and the widowed grandma brigade remain dressed in their fashionable blacks. 
The steroid-pumped son of the paint and cosmetic shop owners has still not dared to find his destination beyond his father's business. Gloomy passers-by breaking conversations to stare intently as I wave and drive. 
This part of the country has a 'Slexit' feel, a time-warp and a break from what it should want to be. The lack of inspiration is a visual disappointment. 
I do hope in the future if we are here or not that it isn't just the calendar that has moved on.
I need home again and the end of our reclusiveness from guests. Roll on May (not Theresa) and welcome our Worldly friends back. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Errr, marrow is off today.

As the last marrow and pumpkin begins to resemble a fruitcake look with all it's yellow, red and black mouldy spots, it is time to clear the cellar's content.
Nearly 30 of these have carried us through the darker months and now a slightly tiring reluctance to take the last few for processing. 
Chopping the tops and bottoms, the mush begins to ooze. But after slicing the hard skin (and some of my own), there are edible glimpses of the former vegetable. 
Compost loves this stuff, the bad stuff that is. Already rotting, your fingers poke through it like butter. Some of the better looking gung goes to the hens to finish off, the rest for the heap to gobble. 
The seeds have their own destiny. Separated as a collective, and buried into any useful space in the garden. The fittest will hopefully survive and reproduce and surprise us where we planted them. 
And then what's left from, is a meal or two if you are lucky. A few fat chunks, chopped and roasted with olive oil and herbs. It certainly isn't pretty to do this with leftovers of last Autumn's harvest, but at this time of year between eating and growing, a few cents are saved.