Tuesday, December 30, 2014

festive feast

Christmas time, a time to eat lots of white sugary cakes.
Our on-off affair with our neighbour is back to a friendly truce. Any back-chatting allegations are put aside for a festive feast at his. A midday invite for the 24th, traditionally a day of fasting any heavy foods until the evening. 
He lives and cooks alone most days so it is our charitable goodwill and of course hunger  to try what he might be preparing for his evening meal.
Dress code is fairly informal in the bellowing furnace of his kitchen. As expected camouflaged baggy trousers and a holely string vest is our host's attire. 
Our stomachs were looking forward to trying his self-acclaimed sauerkraut soup. I've come very fond of this christmas time starter over the years and thankfully wasn't disappointed with our neighbours treat. Seconds were in order as he had re-heated so much of it on the stove for us which we were happy to oblige.
Of course owing to tradition we weren't expecting anything else. But our neighbour likes to show that he is a more than capable cook and without much hesitation the fridge door was swung open and not before long three scoops of heavily mayonnaised potato salad, a chunk of ham, a red sausage and a 'meal on its own sized' piece of fish is piled onto a plate in front of me. 
There goes tradition, there goes any need to eat anything later, there goes 5 shots and two beers to help moisten my palette and clear most of what was on my plate. 
And it would only be seen as impolite not to tuck in as he watches you with his proud grin. He had been cooking since the day before and had eaten before we had arrived (a sort of brunch I guess..). The irony of hearing Bob Geldof's 1980's mates sing the Band Aid song on the radio didn't pass us by. 
Why so much food? Well even if it is supposedly a one-off christmas meal our neighbour would always save and cook for as many days as possible. 
We can on certain days be fortunate to have him as a neighbour.

Snow finally came, but only days later like everywhere. It brought a bit of normality back to this time of year. With freezing temperatures all the time, moaning cats and the constant persistence of who causes more smoke when starting the stove fire in the mornings it's nice to have winter back.


Friday, December 5, 2014


The prediction of heavy snowfall for the first week of December has fallen flat. A mushy sludge from the week before our only evidence of any white stuff this winter so far.
Our neighbour has his quadruple wood supply now sawn and ready for his sauna  temperature kitchen in preparation for a cold spell which isn't on the forecast horizon yet. But the twirling engine sounds from chainsaws around here has ceased, the woodlands can finally relax and sleep for the next few months.      
Here at the cottage the kitchen area is undergoing a makeover from it's mis-match, still looking like we have just moved in appearance, to something more permanent looking. We are still finding belongings which had been stuffed away in an outbuilding since our move here more than three years ago which belong in our kitchen environment. Either we haven't missed them or we have been too busy to miss them. But not everything will be wanted, and therefore this Winter a big sale is required to down-size what has been bought, brought, or inherited. In a country that prefers new items to old, it is not easy to always find an interest though. 
Toilet production is in full flow. My 'C' grade in craft and woodworking skills is being fully tested with the frame construction of a second outside loo. As with any of my projects here I am copying. This will not be an original design but one that matches our current outdoor facility. That one has stood the test of time and transportation across our garden on two wheelbarrows, so I am quite happy to stick by it's design. The wood being used to make it is, ahem cough...., fallen pine taken from around us. Actually we do have permission from our forester to grab what we want but only with a wink and nudge to help clear the woodland floor after a year's felling in the area. In other words tidy up what mess they've left behind.
In fact I have found a new passion, stripping! Or really should I say bark removal. The pleasure has kept me working into the darker hours shaving each piece, and like magic real wood appears for building with! Having visited many dilapidated outside conveniences in Slovakia maybe I should start a business making new ones.