Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Where to start?

Well, this is going to be a long one but I want to begin by stating that I was "warned off" writing this post and so stopped writing my blog as I was being attacked from several different quarters at the time for speaking the truth and I didn't feel strong enough to put it all online - knowing the backlash that will follow.
Cara Lomax, a woman who moved from Bulgaria to Hungary claimed that should I post what she and her husband - with some involvement from her father - tried to do to me, that it would be unprofessional. I have mulled this over for longer than I should have and I keep coming back to the same point, this is not a professional blog, this is my private blog where I post about my experiences, "warts and all".
Having somebody lie and try to destroy your business for reasons which will become apparent, is in my opinion, a personal event in my life and one that I should have no hesitation in blogging about.

There is a another story I'll blog about, this time a Brit landlord who scammed several people before running of and leaving a mess for others to clean up.

Needless to say, some things are changing in Hungary and not for the better. It was one of the reasons we chose Hungary over Bulgaria, the fakes and fly by nights were few and far between. Nowadays, they seem to be one too many!
That said, I still love Hungary, more than I ever thought it possible to love another country and it is definitely where I am meant to be and if that means I occasionally have to cope with the backlash from those opposed to honesty and transparency then so be it.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Snakes in the grass....

Where to begin? The previous post has been removed as I really have no axe to grind in this case, it was simply to show that there are always two sides to be heard and that ganging up on somebody, should never be tolerated.

Back to the snakes in the grass....

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Merry Xmas and BÚÉK from Hungary

Due to neglecting my blog, I had hoped to update before the New Year however, there was so much to do and only now do I find myself with time to write a quick post. Much has happened in the past six months and the coming year will undoubtedly see many changes as Lecito will be starting sixth form. 
As so much has happened since I last posted, the quickest way to catch up is probably a photo blog, not sure that they will be in order though hopefully they will give you a taste of our ongoing Hungarian experience.

Prepping for curry night

Finally found a big enough pot for the base sauce!

The new Zander sales point at Tesco. Definitely an improvement on the instore tank
crammed full of fish who would occasionally try to escape the cramped conditions
and land with a thud on the tiled floor - not nice to experience and extremely cruel to the fish.

Just had to include this photo of a pineapple plant found in our local Obi store .

Quaint wine cellar built into the hillside in Lendeva, Slovenia.

Sprint and her fencing teacher at the Xmas party. Curry pasties were a hit which
delighted me as usually Hungarians tend not to enjoy Indian cuisine.

Part of the Autumn harvest, chillis made a wonderfully hot chilli ketchup and apples are
frozen for crumbles and pies to see us through the cold winter nights.
Sprint with friends of ours including Richard, one of the most interesting people I have
encountered. He is also an unbelievably generous chap who bought Sprint the quad bike
in the photos below.

Nicole and Sprint having fun with the quad.

Even gran had a go!!

In the one week I received  numerous boxes and bags of clothes from British expats,
for days the house looked like a laundry or Oxfam shop!

All of the clothes were distributed to needy families in the village and  we were duly repaid,
by some, in the form of mushrooms, veg and chestnuts.
The boys in Zagreb at the Xmas market - they are growing up so quickly!

Nicole photographing her favourite subject... Food. Mini donut balls with chocolate sauce
and icing sugar, apparently traditional Croatian fare and totally delicious.

Kerecseny, the new, New Forest!

Our village is now home to an array of free roaming animals - don't ask!
Quite a lovely sight waking to horses, donkeys and cows wandering
in the field below us and on occasion, venturing into the garden.
Interestingly, the mayor has also created a number of fields planted with
fruit trees and ploughed , ready to plant veg for what seems to be a village
co-operative. Sounds like a good idea and hope it works out.

Finally, the square in Nagykanisza was opened and it is a credit to the
town. The sculptures, bandstand and fountain are a wonderful addition to
this fairly unknown town.

Xmas dinner, sushi starter.... the girls insisted I make it!

Dinners out
My wonderful family in Zagreb, we picked up Nicole from the airport then spent the day shopping.
A British chap, who I shall not name, donated money for the village children.
His generosity enabled us to buy and fill Xmas gift bags for every village child,
under the age of 13 - 40 in total!. We bought age appropriate gifts, stickers and sweets before
distributing them on Xmas eve. Bronya from the Balaton Brits also donated
a number of items of children's clothes which were shared amongst a number of families.
Several of the village children treated us to some Hungarian carols on Xmas eve.

Table for 9, the most I have had for Xmas dinner!

So there we have it, a quick round up of the past 6 months. During this time we have met some wonderful people who will soon be starting their own adventure in Hungary and we wish them all the best as they venture forth. Sadly, we have also met a couple of real snakes who, like others I have previously mentioned, don't give a jot about others but more on them in a later post. 
This New Year we really felt more a part of the village than ever before as during the fireworks, there were cheers and shouts of Happy New Year across the fields. On New Years day one of the children came round to recite a poem as a thank you for the firework display whilst another neighbour brought some red wine. 
2013 will be a difficult year for many in the village as due to the lay offs at Flextronic, some families have lost not one but two incomes.
Well that's all for now folks, hope 2013 is a good one for you and in the words of a friend - may you reap what you sowed!!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Busy month(s) in Hungary & abroad

Well it has been a busy month! Trips to the UK and Poland have brought about much reflection on the what, why and where of life but more on that and Poland in a later post.
The month has also been filled with renovating a very pretty little adobe cottage which is sat in an even prettier garden and orchard. The renovation hasn't been without surprises, some pleasant, some not so - rotten joists and floorboards due to decades of lying on damp earth, subsiding gable wall due to outside toilet and rats nesting at the base of the wall to discovering 30 feet of creeping figs and a thriving kiwi fruit vine. The transformation of the cottage is stunning and though it still needs time to "dry out" due to never having had guttering or proper drainage, if looked after correctly, it will provide an idyllic retreat fro a long time to come - photos to follow.

My trip to the UK was surprisingly uneventful! I drove to Budapest and deposited the car at Hispania Long term car parking, the parking works out at about 1,000ft/day and a free shuttle bus to the airport is provided. Apparently there are less expensive long term car parks in the area however, I was more than satisfied with the service and the owners couldn't have been more helpful.
Arriving in the UK, it was of course raining and cold but this was to be expected as friends and family had warned us to take our wellies jumpers - not that I listened, the only foot wear I took were my sandals, living in Hungary, I have come accustomed to sandals in the summer, boots in the winter and doubt if I even own a pair of shoes these days - how times have changed!!!
I digress. The reason for our visit was Nic's graduation and how proud was I? Unfortunately, only two tickets were available to each student so Sprint had to wait at Nic's apartment due to my mother claiming the second ticket - mother, I think, was even prouder than I as coming from a working class Irish/Scottish family, it wasn't long ago that her ancestors were peasant farmers living 13 to a one room house before fleeing to Scotland in the hope of a better life. On my mothers side, Nic is the first family member to have graduated from university so naturally, this was a momentous occasion for both mother and Nic.

Zandra Rhodes at the graduation ceremony
Nicole and friends

Adobe house - rotten joists and boards
Adobe house - kitchen
Adobe house - living room wall
Adobe house - exterior

Adobe house - renovated exterior
Adobe house - exterior renovated
Adobe house - renovated living room with new floors

Adobe house - new kitchen

Adobe house - renovated living room
Adobe house - new kitchen

Whilst in the UK, Sprint attended the men's sabre fencing final and was delighted when Hungary won gold. It was such a shame that more tickets weren't available as many of the fencers from her club wanted to go and I would have loved to have given her teachers a ticket but as most of you will know - tickets ended up like gold dust and very few people I know actually ended up with the tickets they wanted!

London Olympics 2012

Hamley's toy shop London

Medal ceremony London Olympics 2012

The rest of the summer has been spent visiting village festivals, water parks and trying to landscape the garden as well as attempting to prevent the raised beds dry out as the summer has been in the high 30's with no or little rain for the past two months. Sadly, much of the sunflower and corn crops have been lost due to the drought, added to the lost fruit crops due to the late frost in May, this has been a pretty devastating year for local farmers. It must be especially difficult for those Hungarians who rely on their crops to provide a small income or sustain them through the winter months.

Balatonfured waterpark

Balatonfured - Not sure if this was a warning!!

Gelse festival

Gelse festival

Last but not least - Lecito received his IGCSE results, A* in History and Chemistry, A for Biology and Physics. We are both delighted but I am also feeling slightly guilty in that he was only a couple of marks off A* in Biology which was the exam he had on the morning we got lost and arrived late :-( Next week it's nose to the grind stone again as we start all over again for next years exams.

In the next post I will update on all things garden related - including the gallons of elderberry syrup I have stored for the winter - after being so ill last winter, there is noway am I risking running out!!!

Monday, June 4, 2012

IGCSE exams, museums and a Jubilee party - all without leaving Hungary

What a busy few weeks and no, it wasn't drama free but then it wouldn't be me if it was....

Most of my time has been taken up with studying for Lecito's IGCSE exams. Having decided to take the three sciences and history, a year early, we had a lot of cramming to do. The nearest exam centre was the British International school in Budapest and with seven separate papers to sit, that meant five return trips with a two night stay for the final three papers which were on consecutive days.
The drama came on the first day. Not having GPS, I carefully printed out our route, driving instructions and blown up google maps of the city centre. We left on time, miraculously nothing was forgotten and we made good time to Budors. With one and a half hours to travel the final 10 or so miles, we stopped to pick up a drink at Tesco and were quickly on our way again. Asking Lecito to read me the directions from the route planner, we discovered that the last pages (which included the directions and maps of the city centre) had not printed and instead of step by step directions to our destination, the paper was spattered with a scattering of random lines which were clearly not going to take us anywhere.
As such, when we came to the first junction - right for Margit Hid - it was a toss up and unfortunately we chose not to turn off which was the start of a whole new journey. Quickly realising we had made the wrong decision, we tried to correct ourselves and after 15 minutes, amazingly, we appeared to be back on track, driving along the side of the Danube. Being forced, by the one way system, to hang a left, we soon found ourselves having to make another right or left gamble - doesn't help when somebody is sitting up your backside and  angrily tooting their horn urging you to get out their way - and that was when we made the fatal decision to turn left, entering a one way - no u turn - lane straight across the bridge to Pest.
Panic hadn't yet set in as we still had nearly an hour before the exam and the school was only a few miles away - albeit on the other side of the river. In theory, it was simple, turn left as soon as possible, drive back over the bridge and go right instead of left. In practise, it was a nightmare! Could we find a left hand turn? The only sign, falsely claiming knowledge of such a turn, had an arrow which indicated you should go up, down, left, right and round about before eventually landing on the opposite side of the road. Before we knew it, we had went past the train station and were heading out of town. Watching the minutes tick by, panic set in  with about 25 minutes to the exam and still no idea how to get back to a bridge. We asked pedestrians for directions and twice we were directed to turn left only to discover it was one way and not our way. Desperation started to kick in and with ten minutes to the exam, Lecito had to restrain me from accosting a police car in front of us to demand a personal escort to the school. Sensing the river getting closer, several red lights were shot and like a mirage in the Sahara, a bridge appeared before us - thankfully though, the bridge was real and soon we were transported back to the Buda side of the Danube.  An illegal u turn was closely followed by driving the wrong way down a one way lane - by now the exam had started and all reason had been left in Pest. Finally, five minutes after the start of the exam, we arrived in the school's car park. Naturally, it wasn't that easy (it's us, what do you expect). We had parked in the bottom car park and the entrance was at the top car park which was separated by a large security gate (later we discovered there was another entrance!) which only opened on the approach of a vehicle leaving the top car park. Spotting the school's minibus heading in the direction of the gate, we started to run believing this was our only chance of gaining entrance to the school. Having successfully slipped through the gate, gaining access to the inner sanctums of the school, we carried on running up the hill - now hills and me do not go together - my hip protested and my lungs were cursing me for the years of smoking they had endured - thus, I arrived panting, stressed and barley able to speak. We're... pant pant pant... here for ... pant pant.... the.... pant pant....exam...pant pant. Lecito was quickly whisked away to the exam room and I was given a cup of tea to calm my nerves.
Thankfully, the rest of exams went without a hitch due to our very generous friends Pam and Glyn who donated us their old GPS, I couldn't have done without it and will be eternally grateful to them. Thanks also goes to the staff at the British school, they were absolutely wonderful, helpful and accommodating and were we in a position to pay for our children's education, I would have no hesitation in sending them there.

 During our three day stay, for the final exams, we managed to fit in a quick visit to the Hungarian outdoor museum in the town of Szentendre - the rest of our free time was spent trawling the town centre to Treehugger Dans and The Red Bus book shops, where Lecito was like a kid in a sweetshop.
The museum is definitely worth a visit and plans are already being made to spend a day there during the summer. The museum comprises of historical houses from most regions of Hungary as well as workshops, a tannery, windmill, water mill and wine press. Sadly, we only managed to see the tannery, a smallholding and  two thatched farmhouses. - as well as some Roman ruins that paled somewhat in comparison to the Roman excavations a few miles down the road.
Apparently, on Sundays, they hold workshops including indigo dying and pottery making. There is ample car parking on the site - 700ft, entrance fees are 1200 ft for an adult and I think, 700ft for a child.

Small holding

Living area of small holding

Hungarian cattle

Ancient wine press

The tannery with wooden slatted upper floor - for drying the hides?
Traditional farmhouse

Wonderful antique painted furniture

Work room in the farmhouse above

This was amazing, behind an arched hallway, there was a bread oven on either side but no chimneys. The smoke is drawn up through a hole in the roof.
Great Market in Budapest

On our return to the countryside, I barley had time to gather my thoughts before it was time to turn my attentions to the Brits jubilee party. Hosted by Bronya & Brian, there was to be a fancy hat competition as well as a cake competition. Originally, I hadn't planned on entering the cake competition as there are some wonderful bakers amongst the club members but realising the party was the same day as the twins birthday and that I would be making them a birthday cake anyway, we decided to give it a Jubilee theme. It actually turned out  better than I had anticipated though it didn't travel well and arrived a bit worse for wear. The "Queens Breakfast" hat looked really good having been made by Sprint out of salt dough and a print out of The Telegraph from the day of the Queens coronation.
We were genuinely stunned and delighted to win both prizes and it was a really good day with everybody enjoying themselves.

Over the next couple of weeks, I hope to update the property blog as there are a couple of properties in our village which the owners need to sell urgently. The owners, knowing I sometimes help British people find properties, have asked for help before they are repossessed. One owner recently lost her husband and can no longer afford the small loan they took out to extend and renovate the house, I wish I could magic up a buyer for her but sadly it doesn't work that way....

Final update, the village shop now has wooden tables and benches outside - I'm sure it had nothing to do with the comment I wrote on google maps! Old habit's die hard though and the regulars still seem to prefer sitting on their tree stumps outside the entrance to the shop - though I have noticed the benches being used more frequently.

That's it for now, I'm going to de stress and spend some time in the garden - oh, I forgot to mention the late frost.... Last month, we suffered an overnight frost, only seemed to affect the villages in the hills. Potatoes and paprikas, as well as some trees were badly affected and many lost a large portion of their crops. It's been a bad year for late frosts with the village losing all the marigolds that normally brighten the verges throughout the summer - not good when many villagers rely on the crops to sustain them through the winter!

 Picture of a szarvasbogár - stag beetle, found in the garden by the children, it was huge!