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.

Friday, February 24, 2017


Our television has arrived. Why have we not thought of having one before? 
Once lit, an endless glow of entertainment for all those empty evenings. What's more, it gives off something that we have not been too familiar with in recent months, warmth.
Who cares if it is ugly with the looks from a previous bad haircut generation, it works! 
No longer the embarrassment of having to ask any visitors that they can keep their coat on inside. And we are wearing at least one less jumper each now, what elation!
Now we can see where our handy work from the October slog in the forest ends. A silent pleasure watching the burning wood behind the screen. It even has a fancy lever for airflow, and magically the flame disappears or sparks back to life. No need to switch channels, or fighting over any remote. And it can be left on all day, slowly dispersing a soft heat which this place has not experienced before. A wonderful feeling to come back to from the bitter winds or rain of outdoors this week. 

In fact, it could be better than television. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A cup of sugar

A cup of sugar with a hint of coffee and hot water from the vending machine at Brno bus station. A half way stop for my travel to the gorgeous Prague, a sixteen hour round trip over two days for a one hour work meeting. Observing every spec of detail on the giant billboards that farmers have allowed in their fields as we approached each city peripheral. Anything to take my mind off how long this journey takes. 
But the horribly, dirty car fumed melting snow next to the motorway is a sign that the bottom depth of winter has left us. 
Once home, the sun shines and the garden shed construction re-starts. The final selection of crumbly lathes and rusty nails left here to make up this crafty bodge job. By the summer it will hopefully look as if it has always been here, lived in and intentionally rustic.
Our ice rink style road has now given in to pigs wallow, but that doesn't stop the arrival of our new heating stove. A bit late to take affect for this season but a welcome sight for the next cold spell. In fact the large ugly 1980's tv style screen it has will be a pleasure to watch as the wood burns happily. 
This winter has been tough and emotional with the cold. We only have three rooms for solitude. We can't complain when neighbours have less, but the twisted change of politics has given extra unnecessary anxiety even if it can feel thousands of miles away. We will soldier on and enjoy each task, each progressive step we take and carry on with plan A until we cannot. We know we are still lucky to have had this experience.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

COLDER world

And there you have it, even the man who sells wood burning stoves thinks it has been a bit colder. Although he is trying to sell us a stove, so you would expect him to say so really. The high of having his expertise available to fit the 'chosen one' in our kitchen before winter melts down, to the consequent phone call and free-fall after the announcement of a four week delay.
Winter is done by then. 
Waiting is nothing new to us though. I began counting down the colder days back in November, before winter was winter. It is actually quite a depressing trait to do when you start repeating the day's date or the day of the week. Suddenly a week until it is February becomes 6 days, which sounds longer! Or you group a few days together until it is Friday when our neighbour Jano is wandering past the window to catch the bus for his weekly shop. Then switching languages and repeating days into Slovak, even the sound of the words creates a psychologically longer week. Thankfully there is no leap year this time.
The abundance of fruit and pumpkins in the cellar remains, despite being slowly digested or processed. Progress is snail pace until the farcical Spring arrives. 

Friday, January 20, 2017


Frozen for weeks but accumulating in an anxious week of severity and extremely low temperature. All is snowy white and calmer now but for a time we couldn't escape the cold. Outside water froze within minutes, hen shit likewise. 
Waking in the morning to see little Harik shivering was painful to see. But he never wants to be inside, that's how he was brought up by his previous owner. 
Inside has not been much better. Our stoves chucking out heat but not to us it seems. Four jumpers on felt like none. Brisk walks outside, lips and noses felt like Vicks vapour rub had been luxuriously smudged on. 
The local town hangs onto the festive spirit as christmas continues in shop windows. But faces are droopy. The coolness in the air leaves a bitterness, though a shrug of shoulders to carry on regardless. What's new is only exaggerated gossip.     
A million miles away from the Dad's Army politics in the bigger world. But the eyes are still watching, as time passes each slow wintry week sinks away. Snowed down with only opinion and no action. Bring us something to warm to please.   

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Hen do

Our pampered hens could not face their fear of snow. The insults and swearing as I open the hen door that first morning after. Two hours later and not a single step outside. But this was to be there temporary moving out day anyway, to a warmer undercover spot as the first taste of a real winter begins to bite. For the next week they are sharing with some very bemused cats in the old henhouse quarters. Soon they are stealing from the cat bowls, who's in charge here? Now nearer the front door and within eye view, our every step outside and the demanding clucking starts. Our realisation as to why we had put their henhouse so far away in the first place.
The bleak conditions coming and a test for all nature to show its hardy survival skills. For us, four jumpers on top of thermals and that's inside the cottage. Just the sound of the burning stoves to remind us that we are warm enough. But working with our resources, namely autumn's apples at the moment, help to keep us occupied. Recipes of new jams and wine, maybe another attempt at cider without becoming vinegar this time. Plenty of time to try as the wind blows the snow back onto the cleared road and leaves us stranded for a few more days.