I recieved a few rather good photos from my visitors from last weekend and thought I should share some of them.
Andrej sets off on his snow board after a little push from the beast behind!
Maroosh took this great shot of the snow game paraphenailia left behind as everyone went inside to warm up.
The next morning we dug out the cars and headed off…
That’s me slowly pushing through the snow in first gear all the way down the hill, trying to stay on our narrow road. Photo courtesy of Maroosha.
Me driving cautiously along the main road towards my early morning hospital appointment in Karlovac captured on camera by friends following behind.
These two are from yesterday when the sun was out and it was quite warm and very bright with all that white!
This snow is now icy enough on top to stand on it, unless you’re as heavy as I am! but the cats are whizzing across it! Lets hope the trees both protected by stockades and not so survive.
And here is a Spot the Cats picture for those who enjoy looking for pussies.
Both furries are in this picture, enjoying the warmth of the sun surrounded by snow!
Hey folks, there’s not much to report as I’ve been down with a cold – flu – covid (?) for the last month. Can’t talk for long without my throat getting irritated. Can’t go out and do much physically without getting exhausted. Used up much of my food stocks trying not to go in to town. It’s raining so the cats are fed up too! So much for the security of rural isolation!!
Yes I have failed to keep this blog up to date of late. I spend too much time in front of the computer doing all the other things I need to do and my eyes often ache having done so. Hence when it comes to the blog I tell myself I’ll do it tomorrow when my eyes are fresh and guess what… I don’t! Anyway here we go again with a bunch of snap shots from the last weeks. I was away for a week visiting my Dad who’s getting a bit old n frail. Passing through London was weird, I felt a weird mix of being a stranger in a place I used to know like the back of my hand! Twas good to check a couple of great vegan restaurants with old friends and eat copious amounts of Gregs sausage rolls! Now I’m back and trying to keep my room warm. Enough waffle, on with the pictures….
Beware Nancy is watching you!
All you need is a nicely pre dug hole in the ground, some compost, a trowel or spade, a new tree and if ya feeling soft something to rest your knees on so they don’t get cold n damp.
Innit beautiful? My Sugar Maple tree kept some gorgeous colours as the rest of the flora went dark and dead looking, besides the grass that revelled in the rainy onslaught and grew greener than ever.
Sid often comes to inspect what I am up to in the garden. Here he is checking out the replanting of some chestnut trees.
We scrounged some furniture from a neighbour of Sanja’s in Belgrade. With the fireplace ablaze the felines gave the pair of chairs their blessing and promptly settled down and went to sleep.
Sanja got her magnificent konk skewered and a ring inserted. As a consequence she had to bathe said protuberance is an anti septic salt solution for a week or two. She found the perfect sized mug from my collection and gave her nose a bath.
Sid n Nancy came to inspect the tree planting around the wisteria bench, Nancy got the right idea for a bench but Sid just had to keep standing!
I like this one, the picture not the bloke!
What is it about cats and boxes? Sid spent ages investigating the possibilities of this banana box and it wasn’t even on its base!
Lined up and ready to plant a selection of trees and bushes I bought from the Karlovac flea market and got from friends who are starting out in the plant business. See their website! www.bifurcaria.net. Nancy gave them all a thorough sniffing but eaaly liked this one! So much so that I thonk she might have weakend the stem in her ardour because it broke whilst I was planting it. We’ll have to see whether or not Nancy’s tree blooms in the spring or not.
This dark looking picture is of the last defence fence I constructed before heading for the UK. It surriounds on eof the new trees I just planted and will hopefully keep the rabbits and deer off untill its big enough to weather their attention. I stopped work because the light was fading and wielding the machete in the dark is risky!
For those of you wondering if my fear of deer is a tad too much the above was found within 10 meters of the house this morning. Deer poop, clear as day. How do I train Sid to scare them off? Pain black stripes on his side?
Not long after I first turned veggie back in the 1980’s my familly went on our usual trip to my mum’s sisters for a Christmas meal, I think it was probably on Boxing day. I don’t remember much of these occasions but this time my aunty Anne had made the effort to source on of the few ready made meat alternatives available back then. It was, she showed me the can afterwards, Granose peanut loaf. I liked it alot but pretty much always considered it too expensive to buy for myself. I’ve had a can sitting around in my kitchens for years awaiting a special occasion. Maybe Aunty Ann payig me a return visit! Anyway I noticed the can had begun to rust at both ends, its sell by date was over a decade ago! But after a bit of judicious excising of mouldy bits and a good fry they tasted great! with a bit of mash and my signature broccoli and mushroom dish.
I spent a fair whack of my time with Dad in hospital with him. During the last visit we ended up in a little room on our own for what seemed like hours. I suggested we reocord some of his memorable “funny faces”. This one is titled ‘Meeting Uncle Fester’.
Scarlet obliged with a tourist photo of me and Tower Bridge. I needed a walk after considerable over eating at the Unity Vegan joint in Spitafields and so I escorted her back to London Bridge before hopping on a 149 to Hackney.
Obviously one can buy chips or french fries all over the world but it rare that they remind you of “proper” UK chippy chips slavvered (!) in salt n vinegar. I’d been day dreaming about my reunification with a bag of such delights and finally got some in Ilminster. My sister popped down to the local chippy whilst I fried up three new types of vegan sausages I’d never seen before! She even got a pickled onion!
Sid appears to be never happier than when he is stretched out next to or on me, flexing his claws, eyes half closed and purring like a dinosaur (!).
I made a Barbrith cake as a thank you present for the neighbours feeding the cats whilst i was away. This was one of a few Bara Brith mini cakes I baked with the excess mix. Not bad even if I say so myself.
My work rate in the garden came to an abrupt halt when the snow came down. It stayed cold enough for it to remain on the ground for about a week.
I was sleeping in the kitchen with the working fireplace and two very happy cats (they don’t usually get to sleep on my bed with me in it). One morning I woke up early and thought wow it really light out there! I opened the door to let the cats out and discovered everything had turned bright white! This was the felines first experience of snow. Sid just ran across it, Nancy pawed it gingerly. Then they both decided to poo in the workshop when I wasn’t looking rather than risk getting their bits cold out in the snow.
So there you go, I’m back!
As promised Spot the Cat and Spot the Bug will now be on this blog rather than Telegram. And here is a special one which will be explained by my next blog post due in a day or two.
My 2012 Imac finally went black and effectively stayed that way. I spent a long time agonising about what I could afford to do and eventually opted for a refurbished 2015 Imac shipped from the UK through a EU company, which so far is a joy to use. Long may it remain so!
So these photos are from the last month and I apologise for the lack of text but I think the pictures speak for themselves. Enjoy.
We are the best of mates me and Nancy, brothers almost!
I have dug about 15 holes ready for the next batch of trees and bushes which I hope to purchase in the next two weeks.
This rice was going cheap because of its date, otherwise it’d have been a bit too expensive for my shopping trolley, but its really rather tasty. The tofu chunks were long fried with spices and then a dash of tommy ketchup thrown in….. wonderful!
The leftover rice from the night before fried with damp cashews, garlic, lemon and melted cheese. I mean overkill perhaps but twas gorgeous. The saucy thing included potatos dug straight from the garden, old but still good.
Sid will sleep just about anywhere but nothing is quite so comfortable as I am to a cat in search of a centrally heated cushion with whiskers.
The mornings have become misty and damp and these sometimes illuminate the amazing spider web structures within the tall grass.
My little raspberry bushes have not produced much in the way of fruit yet but just look at the richness of this colour, wonderful!
This fluffy little critter was crawling slowly along when I noticed it . When I got close it curled up into this intmidating circle and so I backed off and searched for lunch elsewhere.
Sid has taken to accompanying me on my recent daily trips down to cut fence posts from the woods. It’s a bit out of his usual territory (I think) and he tends to wowl a lot but obvioulsy finds the thrill of exploring greater than his fear of the unknown.
Sid follows me down the winding path, through bramble alley, over the red gate – or in his case under it! – and into the woods!
There’s a bunch of different mushrooms popping up all over the place at the moment but these are by far the whitest I’ve ever seen! So white indeed that the camera has trouble registering their detail.
One can just imagine a little pixie , wood nymph or somesuch hopping off these and hiding as I approach! (Maybe I shouldn’t have eaten that other little mushroom!)
I don’t remember what these flowers are called but I planted them back in April and they finally came out this month and quite a splash they make too!
Aww how cute is that?, brothers greeting each other with a little kiss! Although that might once again be optomistic human projection on to a sinister “clear off bitch” quietly hissed through gritted teeth!
This is the river in Karlovac that runs alongside where the flea market and out door festivals are held. As you can see it tends to flood and this bit has flood defences, good thing too!
The Friday after the flood!
Spot the Bug! Hidden in this photo is a well camoflaged Preying Mantis. Can you find him? No prizes other than a minor sense of glory and confirmation that your eyes are still functioning well.
These beauties are popping up all over the wild field and stand out brightly amongst the more sobre autumnal colours. I wonder what they are called? These ones are just inside the fence surrounding my Indian Banana plant.
This is my Sugar Maple tree that appears to have survived the rabbit attack back in early spring. Just look at the different colours of its leaves, magnificent!
This Preying Mantis is a bit easier to spot climbing up the outer wall of the house but see how its adapted its colours to blend in as best it can, wicked! Actually after a bit of googling the colour change maybe just a stage its going through rather than intentional camoflage! Still, cool innit!
Its all in the timing as the actress said to the bishop and in this case when you are about to take a picture of a flower in bloom and your cat is heading your way…… well why not wait and see if you can get them both in the pic!
There was a week recently when every evening the sunsets were just superb.
Who knew that ladybirds eat apples?
More good looking but probably dangerous mushrooms in my wild garden.
My compost bins needed attention. One was ready for emptying into bags ready for tree planting. Then the empty fences needed a serious upgrade and I decided to recycle some metal posts from an old gazebo , they work a treat. The other bin was topped off with a pile of grass and will now be left alone to rot down for a year or so.
Take a guess at what this is…. I’ll be impressedif you get close! This is a dessert concoction of a Croatia ‘pudding’ mix which is pretty much the same as custard powder but with more additives! Then there are slithers of banana added and crumbled walnuts. The walnuts are freshly collected from under the tree by my gate which was condemend by my neighbour as in need of cutting down – the tree not the gate ! – and I think is doing rather well! I did prune some dead branches off it and will try to cut some more in the spring.
Nope its not photo-shopped its still out there decorating the front fence!
These have got to be the tallest thistles I’ve ever seen probably 2.5m tall maybe a little more!
Why oh why has Sid taken to sleeping in the paper recycling bin? Maybe becuase he knows it makes a good photo? Today I went into the kitchen and noticed just his two ginger ears poking up out of the blue plastic, sadly I didn’t have a camera on me!
A plate of walnuts collected from the ground around my gate. They make quite a noise when I drive over them!
A couple of weeks ago I was a bit worried that my guests from southern Croatia might feel the cold so I lit the first fire of the year. I haven’t lit one since but winter is coming!
Old friends and a mother of one (a new friend!) came for a night. We were blessed with fine weather and they went around identifying all the plants I have planted and many I have not! The interesting thing was how much they appreciated the woods and water I have. They live on a Croatian island and have lots of figs, olives and sun but less firewood or sprng water. They took home loads of my apples and left behind a jar of homegrown grated aubergine in oil which is superb.
Raking the grass off the freshly ‘Makita’d’ path in preparation of guests arriving. That brown patch above my head is a giant anthill!
Ever wonder what a wooden block sees last thing before it is cut in two? Well now you know!
The furry fruit have lost their hair and become brightly coloured quince. Next year I will work out how to prepare them for eating.
I’m still digging up spuds planted in the spring. I know its a bit late and many have strated to sprout, but with a bit of deft knife work they are very roastable. Nancy came to see what I was up to.
When I find myself wondering why I’m stuck out here in a cultural dessert with no mates I remind myself of moments like this, breakfast with a view.
Sid casts a shadow. Is it his dark passenger come to life?
My fig trees have been behaving wierdly what with growing the dying then regrowing. But I did get to eat two gorgeous home grown figs this year for which I am very grateful.
Last year when the car was registered for the first time in my name I was issued with new number plates in green lettering! Why? “Because you are a stranger!” or rather because of Brexshit. At registration this year after a long long consultation and much reading and rereading of a wad of bureaucratic notes the same office decided I should switch back to black ones! I somehow feel less special now.
And here you are the first of the Spot the Cat games on this blog.
The first Spot the Cat on the Barabrith blog. This was taken today when Sid and Nancy joined me for a trip down the hill and in to the woods.
I’ve been busy, and tbh I find it hard to find the time to do this blog whilst my dear Sanja is around. But the evil forces of nationalism have seperated us once more and so here I am again! It’s late at night so I’ll post the photos and maybe add some more text tomorrow.
I’m not convinced that our lazy cats killed this beauty but Nancy decided to claim it anyway and tried to stash it behind a sofa in the kitchen. Our bird experts in Scotland suggest this maybe an Eurasian Golden Oriole, if you know better do tell….
We had visitors who wanted to help with practical things, my wooden staircase had become dangerously rotten, (my foot went through one plank) so they took on the refurbishing task. My fave kind of guests!
Maddie contemplates what the meaning of a staircase is without it’s stairs!
My west facing steps became stepless as the Dresden workforce pressed on with their chosen Barabrith holiday activity scheme.
Using a jigsaw to cut wood is not terribly dangerous but if you get it wrong things can go badly very quick and you end up losing your head.
A rare and wonderful sighting of Sanja engaged in hard graft and doing it in her own unique contortionist style! The wood we bought for the steps was I was told “impregnated” but subsequently it turned out that was only against bugs and so we needed to waterproof it.
Maddie and Phil, the Dresden duo, in action working out the measurements for drilling the holes for the new steps.
The dedicated pair worked late into the night to get enough steps done that we could climb them the next morning. They ended up working by the light of torches and headlamps!! Much appreciated craziness.
It didn’t take long for Nancy to show her approval of the new steps.
and then the next day they do this…..
The Dresden duo put their considerable combined strength in to chopping up our pile of logs! And move even higher up the scale of “greatest guests” ranking once again!
Anyone thnking that Sid only shows me such affection should note , he’s not choosy!
Thanks to the collapse of the big apple tree branch and all the plum tree branches that split under the weight of their fruit we now have a lot of kindlings stored neatly in boxes ready to light our stoves without the need of firelighters. Here is I, chief kindling creater, breaker of twigs, snapper of small branches……
Sanja takes a wheel barrow of combustable garden waste down to the bonfire which one day we will light! What a gal!
This is a box of plums we picked and only managed to eat a few of. It might make a good jigsaw puzzle image.
Sanja takes the Makita cordless electric strimmer for a spin and declares it to be “cool”. The large fallen branch behind her has been stripped of its branches and moved out of the way. I am wondering what to do with it.
Niece Twitch (she used to be called Imogen but I’ve renamed her) came for a long weekend (it always feels long when she’s around) and played some pool. They brought me a packet of Marmite covered cashews and they are probably the tastiest thing to ever come out of a packet! So however long the minutes seem when Twitch is around, she’s always welcome back at Barabrith (as long as she brings Marmite covered nuts!). Family is what it’s all about, innit?
This is a spot on the Meznica (The Mrežnica is a river in Karlovac County, Croatia. It is 63 kilometres long and its basin covers an area of 64 square kilometres. Mrežnica is considered special due to its large number of waterfalls, totalling 93). Twitch described it as her “new favourite place” , (though she’s been stuck in Bishops Stortford most of her life, so don’t assign too much weight to the comment). It is a lovely spot with water falls, clear water and loadsa fish. I was lying in practically the same spot as these two 15 minutes before and for 10 minutes I let the little fish nibble me and swim over me in a wondorous communion with nature. It was one of the most moving experiences I have had for a long time staring into the eyes of little fish as the took mini bites out of me!
Captured on camera my wild and rebellious niece sneaks past the sign saying “Danger do not enter” as she enters the Petrova Gora monument.
Twitch as you might remember is my favourite “panorama photo partner” and here she is with Lucas pulling off a good one at the Partizan Hospital. I like the way the long exposure a panorama photo needs has created a weird fairy like lighting effect.
This mega moth was flying around the house a week ago but when Sanja tried to capture it on pixels it flew away. This time it sat around completely oblivious to our presence.
Just in case you doubted the size of this moth here is my thumb and fingers to judge it by.
Nancy is a weird and wonderful cat, usually asleep on a sofa, often too spooked to stand still for long but occasionally as docile and cute as a baby panda! Just look at those paw positions!
I never get tired of taking photos of these kind of sunsets. I hope you don’t get tired of looking at them!
We were away for a few days by the sea, the cats survived and so did our tress to my great relief. Now it’s the season of going down to the river for a swim at night to return the body to a cool temperature and relax. Sadly no photos of me bathing but there are plenty of cat pix!
Sanja is not the most willing labourer but she is getting quite adept with the hosepipe which is good news as the current climate means that our young trees still need watering every few days. Here she decides to give the new bench a watering too!
Could Nancy have chose a better cushion to crash out on in one of her trademark weird positions? Probbaly not!
Its not easy for Nancy to relax. She’s always fidgety and easily spooked. Not surprising given the prison conditions and notorious gaoler she had to endure for the first three years of her life. So getting in to the hammock and staying there as it was gently rocked was an act of courge, bless his little white sox.
Whilst we were restacking some packages Nancy came in to inspect our workrate and lie down in the most unhelpful but somehow appropriate place she could find. Its all about me!
This creepy crawlie was hanging out under a piece of wood in the workshop and was discovered when we did some sorting out in there this week. He was pretty quick on his multiple little legs when he wanted to be. About 10 cm long and with a purpleish hue.
I gave SId n Nancy a treat cos theyd been adorable and for the first few minutes they tucked in like ravenous kids in a Dickensian orphangage side by side without rancour. Then Sid swiped Nancy out of the way and scoffed the lot whilst Nance lay down and pretended not to care.
Simple tasks can be quite theraputic, and even engrossing. Sanja appears to have fallen into a watering trance or maybe shes just zoned out as the kids used to say! Please note the piles of grass, mulching around the trees that I hoped would help keep them moist whilst we were away for a few days.
Our recents guests from Dresden were offered rakja or tea as a greeting beverage and chose to drink beer instead, did I mention they are German? They went on to help with many fixing things tasks that I have been putting off doing and they also played pool so pretty damn good guests I’d say!
We have thousands of these purple beauties and are wondering what to do with them all. Many of the old plum trees branches have broken with the weight of the fruit in the stormy winds.
Today was the first day I got a proper chance to play with my new tool! Weather wise it chopped and changed as if we were in England, with rain, sun, clouds, a breeze, threatening storm clouds and then sweaty humid heat. So out I went with suitable protection and tried out my double battery powered Makita D handled strimmer. It was a joy, though I did feel a bit guilty doing it in sight of my scythe. Even on the fastest speed its quiet enough that I could still hear the music in my headphones and no diesel fumes! The batteries only last 40 mins or so but thats time enough to do a lot of path clearing and then take a break and come back to it when they have recharged. Thanx to Dad for buying this for me for my birthday!
Crooked selfies rule! Attention strimmers at the ready! I’m not looking for Makita sponsorship, really, but I wouldn’t say no to one of their chainsaws!
Here be a random selection of images from the last few days. I had a day dream the other day about sussing out how to enable these photos to pop up to full size when you hovver over them but it was just a day dream…. for now!
I’m not eating much these days, not becuase of the not so subtle comments from my beloved about being rotund but because the heat saps my appetite and my energy to cook! But tonight I cracked open some pizza dough and made a green bean pizza with meat balls and a Ajva flavoured tomato sauce. Twas a corker! Ate it outside in the twilight, but only finished half of it (as pictured) so the rest is ready for tomorrow!
Work on my arboretum map progresses slowly with some of the trees and bushes planted a couple of years ago proving tricky to identify. This tree looks like an overgrown bush, its big about 2m tall and very healthy looking but it has precisely one fruit on it and Im not sure what it is! Helpful suggestions welcome!
The other night I was working away at my desk. I often change positions and sit in odd ways to try to stop my back seizing up. Suddenly I felt something on my foot and looked down to find this -not so little- (bug grasshopper -or cricket?) resting on my upturned foot! Strange creature!
In a recurring theme of answers to “What do you eat out there?” here is another Jon meal pic. Heavily reliant on Lidl I’m afriad the tofu is fried and the green beans (yes again!) tossed in to the pan for the last minute along with some Ajvar and garlic, came out pretty good with a left over rice salad to go with it. Washed down with some oat milk this is my main and only meal of the day besides breakfast. So why am I not shedding kilos by the week?
Another day another sunset.
Looking as relaxed as Nancy ever does the speaker she has adopted as her favourite spot in the kitchen is blasting out bad rock music from my latest ebay Rock Compilation purchase and yet she is happy as Larry if a little twisted!
Sid came to offer his advice on how to construct the base for the canopy stand, and very helpful he was too.
Sid checks out what the big pink beast is doing in his garden and approves of the canopy construction because this sun is getting to be a bit too much for a fur covered creature innit!
The big parasol has been rotting away in the attic since we moved in and so I decided it was time to make Malcolms bench the bench of choice for those not wishing to experience sunburn. A bit of tricky sewing – triple layes of canvas – and some squat style carpentry to fashion a stable base to sit the parasol’s pole in and hey presto Dad’s bench has an optional canopy! This is the bench far enough away from the house that you can pretend not to hear people calling you to do chores and get away with it but close enough to make coming in for a fresh cuppa not too much of a drag.
These are the first handfull of cherry tomatoes fresh from the garden, and super sweet and juicy they are too! So good in fact that I felt confident enough to give the neighbours a bowl full too, that amused them, but on returningnthe bowl the next day they indicated they too thought them very tasty! Mega community points scored (by my standards!)
This evening I was making the most of the two hour window of relative coolness that the evening provides and racking up the cut grass on the path through the clover field. Sid had been in the gazebo when last seen but then suddenly there he was lying in front of me apparently oblivious to the pile of dead flora rolling towards him! What could he possibly want? Oh yeah it’s evening attention time, yowl, yowl, miaow miaow, yeah yeah ok ok….