Steps, Twitch, a Mega moth and of course the cats.

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 ;ate 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!

Laters.

A little catch up and lots of cat!

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!

Evening time is when I venture out.

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….

Another late night post.

Its 2am, my brain is enjoying the cool night time temperature but I really should get out of this nocturnal habit or I’m never gonna get to do scything in the early morning before the sun does its worst. So I’ll be brief, here are hopefully some self explanantory photos from the last fortnight. Enjoy.

This started out as a picture of the rather wonderful succulants growing in the ‘log pot’ but then the furry feline exhibitionists moved in on the shot and it quickly turned into cat porn instead. So rather like the parliamentary porn Tory MP I’m trying to say this was by accident and I really wanted to look at flowers!
Remember these bird boxes I installed a couple of years ago and left a screwdriver in one for a year so it was uninhabitable! Then it was taken over by hornets! Well at last my little feathered friends have seen fit to accept my offer of hospitalty. They are at least 4 or 5 metres above ground and I often see Sid wistfully looking up at them!
This shot of my Evening Primrose flower was taken aptly in the evening and is a tad dark but I like the detail on the flower head and the dramatic difference tween the open and closed flowers.
We were in town on official business the other day and our friend Blaž who knows how to snap a decent portrait did his best with these two muppets. Nice one Blaz, thanx for trying, you did your best, given the material you had to work with its pretty (wrong word) impressive.
For those wondering what happened to the secod coming, well Jesus is back, wearing glasses and is now a Pool God! Amen or should that be Ahem! The white robe has been in my clothes pile since I was at University and cohabited with an Iraqi student who presented this to me in an attempt to bribe me to stop playing my music so loud I think! Anyway Ive only worn it a couple of times but the incessant heat here has driven me to desperate measures and so here I am impersonating Jesus in order to stay cool!!! And TBH these things work, there is a lovely airy feeling inside – except for when Nancy decides to join me underneath my robe whenever I sit down – and I do feel cooler temperature wise! The wierd looking creature holding the other pool cue is my niece known as Twitch.
My sisters kids brought me some presents including a set of Scrabble cards, its a card game based on Scrabble but significantly different and quite fun even when playing with these three losers. Sanja shared her Club Mate stock with them and it seemed to prove a hit.
These flowers are crazy with long long stalks and super bright huge heads bit like the creature in the background.
Not sure what these are but they are situated on the south west corner of the gazebo and are a delightful purple colour.
This is a rare sighting of a usually wild animal doing a domestic chore, unusual behaviour for this feline that usually acts as an apex predator only unfettered by lowly household tasks that are left to the lower species!
I rarely use the west door exit to my room and so its not surprising that some creepy crawlies had got used to it being a quiet zone suitable for webs etc. Sanja prefers to use the exit but got a bit of a fright when she almost walked into this beauty one evening. That white spot is the moon!
With the aid of Sanja‘s mobile phone torch the spiders web is illuminated.
Sanja the spectre brings the hose out to the arboretum where the trees are in dire need of watering.
Sid manages to look even more cute than usual by sleeping with his paws pressed together, ahhhh!
Nancy finds that learning Croatian from a text book sends her to sleep almost as quick as it does for me!
Sanja has one of those moments when all coordination goes out of the window as she struggles to exit the front seat of the car.
There are various little critters that share my room, some much less welcome than others, this geezer has been hanging around my desk for a week or so now, I dread to think what she is eating! Interestingly she seems unphased by my presence or movements.
Often when doing the evening watering I am accompanied by Sid and later Nancy. Its the time of the day they like to get attention and also to play, often running around like nutters. On this occasion Sid decide to claw at a wooden post an d then climb it! The top was too small for all his four paws to fit on but he made a good job of doing a balancing cat act!
This plum tree has not been looked after. It should have been pruned so the branches were stronger and less dense. As it is with all the fruit on the branches it has split the main branch and is now hanging all the way to the ground. The tigers love to explore under it and here you can see unusually Nancy leading an expedition through the long grass.
Several branches of plums came off the old trees in the recent storms. The leaves have quickly died and gone brown but the green plums have turned purple as they shrivel!
Twice whilst eating my salad outside I have had these butterflies come ever so close apparently completely unafraid of me. Maybe the word has got around the non human world that this is a vegan household and they now feel safe to do crazy things like land on ones hand!

cheerio!

Surprise Bikers

There is a protocol for booking and staying here at Barabrith which seems to be falling apart. Our last two groups of guests gave me 5 hours and 30mins warning by phone respectively before turning up at our gate! They were Germans too! What happened to that stereotype I wonder? Anyway yesterday Adrian and Leo turned up on huge beasts of bikes with more layers wrapped around them than I could ever countenance wearing in this weather no matter how safe it made me feel! But hey they are the ones on the motorbikes I am just a pedal pusher.

To my delight they were keen to play pool – my favourite kind of vegans- and they had drones with them and were willing to take some aerial pictures of Barabrith. Then to cap it all Adrian ends the day by posting a lovely review on Happy Cow of this place!

The funny thing is that my dear Sanja has started her midlife crisis with that familiar craving to own a big motorbike and talks of little else nowadays. So when two bikers turned up out of the blue and I got to discover lots of interesting biker info she was incandescent! Ho Ho!

A grated smoked tofu and mushroom with lots of garlic oil pizza. Just look at those wonderful colours! Tasted pretty good too!
Bikes the like of which Barabrith has not seen before!
Whilst in the process of setting up the pool table last night Sid decided to squeeze into the back of the darkest black cupboard where the pool balls are kept and hide!
A drone up close when not flying is not so intimidating!
A drone flying almost silently above you that suddenly drops to within a few metres of you and hovver at eye level, staring you in the face on the otherhand is quite scary!
The biker boys in realxed mode playing with considerably smaller and more agile toys, their drones (yes the each have one, they are brothers sharing such toys was never an option!)
This is the image I’ve been hoping for, for so long! A detailed aerial view of Barabrith. I’m super chuffed to have this and a few others courtesy of the biker boys and their drones. Now I can turn this into an annotated map showing what is planted where in my nascent arboretum.
Nancy cautiously – it being Nancy more like nervously – checks out the motorbikes wondering no doubt if she can can lie comfortably on them!
If you are wondering why on earth that bike is in the middle of the lawn apparently headin straight at me well its because bikes that size with so much luggage on them do not have small turning circles, unless of course you execute an on the spot 180degree wheel spin but I asked the bikers boys to kindly not do that and they acquiesced good naturedly!
Today after the bikers had left Barabrith returned to a sun drenched stupor and Sid said it all by just collapsing in the shade and waiting for it to cool down.

Much thanx to Adrain and Leo, they do Instagram (boo!) and YouTube (yeah!) which can be found here.  Adrian is also a Happy Cow reviewer! (Super yeah!)

After complaining about the heat we had a surprise storm this evening. It was super quick, super hard and caused Sid to scream at me to let him in insuch a pitch I have never heard from a cat before. There was some ferocious thunder and close lightning which caused my upstairs electric circuits to trip! Then 10 mins later it was all over! Pity I didn’t record that screech from Sid!

The third week of June

Barabrith has returned to its summer slumber. Too hot to do much during the day except hide inside or in the shade and wait for a lovely big cloud to come along and offer some comfort or even better some rain! In the meantime the rabbit damaged trees get watered every two days along with the tomatos and other veg.

The Barabrith houses taken with a steady panorama shot on a bright sunny day last week. I even moved the step ladders out of the way to get a better shot of the wooden house! But eagle eyed observers will notice a slight distortion and a snippet of a finger intruding into the top right corner…. tut tut … what an amateur!
One of the many things on my ‘to do list’ for some time has been the renovation of some wooden furniture that has been left outside once too often. I have moved my DIY zone to the relative shady area under the big pear tree on the east side of the house. This is the mess I made – above –  which was worth it for the result below…. I think and they should last a while now!
Now all I need to do is train the cats to sit down and eat from the table and youtube fame will be mine!
Those following this sorry arse excuse for a blog will know that I am preparing for an all out war with the potato plant eating bug anytime soon. So, yesterday evening, it was with some surprise that I discovered this lot all over many of the plants, apparently engaged in an stinky bug orgy! The brown marmorated stink bug appears to be having a ball in my potato patch!
My cabbages !? look nice and fresh after an evening watering.
There aren’t a lot of raspberries yet, but these beauties make me think that there’s a future with the bushes that can produce these.
I thought gooseberries were green but it seems they can be a rich red colour too!
My littlest transplanted tree, a future mighty oak tree, is doing well in it’s new spot in the middle of the clover patch. Yeah, yeah, it was just an excuse for a selfie, but hey I gotta show off my plaits somehow ain’t I?
For those of you fellow foodies, or just those who know my passion for ‘stuffing my face’ as Jen so eloquently puts it, wondering how I survive without a decent vegan cafe within 80km of Barabrith. Well, I indulge in homemade piggery! This mid afternoon meal last week consisted of; a double hot dog in a slanac -salty bread- with avocado and Ajvar, accompanied by a mushroom and sietan fry up and a potato, radish and various other veg salad covered in Lidl’s finest vegan salad sauce. It wasnt at all bad!
Nancy was in one of his “frit” modes, jumping at everything and seemingly scared  even of little ol me! I snapped this as he came nervously off the wooden house veranada giving me the “eye” as he did so!
The evil beasties Sid n Nancy have reduced the local moth population considerably but as yet have not done much about their naturally assigned role of rodent control! Last week I read an article in the Guardian suggesting that cats should be kept in at night in order to protect the wild bird populations of the UK. I thought it over and decided that it was unlikely that either of them was making it across central Europe and the Channel each night and back in time for breakfast so I gave them a pass. It was with some suprise then that on two subsequent mornings in a row I found small dead furry things on the carpet in the beasts lair. On the second day there was also this little critter clinging onto the door frame for dear life and keeping very still. I realised then that the beasties have indeed been killing bats, maybe not English ones but still, very naughty! I put a heavy box around the liitle bat so the furry fiends claws could not reach him and left him to recover in his own time. When I went to tuck the feline freaks in to bed at night he had escaped their den and has hopefully learned to fly higher!
Another of those sunsets that make life worth living.    For Sanja

Long overdue photos of recent goings on!

I have tried to keep this blog up to date, but I failed! We have had guests, family ones and genuine paying ones! I drove my Dad and niece to Belgrade and the grass grew like mad whist I was there, I think it thought it could overwhelm me when I returned, but I am still scything however hopelessly given the forces pitted against me.

My Dad is 85 odd years old , my niece a mere 19. I thought they might make good travelling companions and I was vindicated in this. They travelled all over Europe by train and were royally entertained by some of my friends in various cities, much thanx to them for that. Unfortunately by the time they reached Croatia my Dad had some swollen foot trouble and so the pace slowed down considerably thereafter.

Photos in no particular order …… enjoy them before someone complains and insists I delete their unflattering image!

As if in anticipation of the inevitable restrictions that Sanja is going to order me to impose on the cats to stop them wondering past our fence and on to the road, Sid shows just how easy it is for him to get over the fence. Ho hum, purrr!
This was the chair whose cloth seat and back rest had disintegrated after being left out in the elements once too often. A sanding down, a repaint, a new set of cloth sewed to fit and Sid approves of our revamped chair.
There are quite alot of potato plants growing happily in the garden. The question is when will the damn bug start eating them and will I be able to stop it?
Taking it easy, relaxing, enjoying rest and recuperation are things we humans are not very good at (unless your name is Sanja nd you have a predisposistion to being horizontal rather than upright.) Here Sid shows my Dad how to stretch out and doze.
My Dad is rarely happier than when he is in a museum or some such educational gallery and is able to sit down and read all the info and explanations that most people ignore.
This is a picture of a photo in an exhibition of of cave photographs. This is from the Tounj cave we have visited a few times and stood at that very spot but without the benefit of all those lights!
My niece Imogen shows off her not needing a stick to stay balanced, Dad rightly ignores her…. the brat!
Dads walking ability was severely hampered by his swollen foot so he didn’t get very far from the Barabrith houses but he was cajouled into trying out the new bench in the middle of the old clover patch.
Our guard cats were rather suspicious of the slow moving large creature with the stick and kept their beady eyes on him at all times.
Some idiot suggested a day trip to the seaside and knew that the mention of a Roman Ampitheatre would be a deal clincher with the old man. So I drove them to Pula and back in a day, thankfully we had a good time.
and they had ice cream! Pula is crap for vegetarains and vegans, almost everywhere vegan friendly that was worth visiting last year is now closed!
After doing Pula I drove them to the old fort site where I hoped it wouldnt be busy, it was empty! A good thing too as Imogen and my bright white skin tones were quite blinding! Great to go for a swim in the sea with no-one else around.
Our neighbours guard dogs were out on the road when we got back one day and the big beast scared poor Imogen to death with his ferocious behaviour.        Not
Dad is not really a pet person and decidedly at a loss as to how to deal with cats, often to the point of awkward unfriendliness. Sid was not having any of that.
I was looking for a suitable spomenik to visit to break our drive to Belgrade and discovered the Stone Flower of Jasenovac. This place is incredible, the flower is powerful and in a well maintained park and the free museum is seriously impressive as well as being heavy and depressing. A bit like Hiroshima and Auschwitz one really should visit such places if one can.
The stone flower is a fantastic piece of memorial art that does not deserve to be denigrated by smart arse trick photography but despite that, and the two Imps, I rather like this picture
You really have to see it from all the angles, inside and out, to get a feel of the multiude of images it inspires in ones mind and for that you need to visit it. (You got the message yet?)
After we exited the museum we all felt rather shell shocked. Dad and Imogen sat down on the bench in silence for some time till I noticed a photo opportunity and Dad got up to pose for it!
Three monkeys enjoy a simple picnic, leftover pizza, in the grounds of the Jasenovac museum. Lets call them, Goofy, Grumpy and Gormless going from left to right!
Eagle eyed blog readers will recognise this super sized spomenik from previous blog posts. This time we had the full might of the sun illuminating the concrete structure.
“The central monument at the spomenik complex at Kosmaj Mountain, Serbia commemorates the Partisan regiment from the Kosmaj area and Sava region (Posavina) and honors those who died during the National Liberation War (WWII).”
https://www.spomenikdatabase.org/kosmaj
It took a couple of practice runs but eventually Sanja got the hang of Imogen and I’s panoramic trick shot game and hey presto two of them, twice!!
Like a painting by the grand masters of old this image tells a greek like story of family tragedy as the evil youth (!) plot and then enact their treacherous slaying of their  (grand) father !! Note the weeping lass standing helplessly by unable to carry out her part of the dreadful deed.
No such reservations in this photo as the yound pugilist protagonist punches her poor old uncle right in the gob!
What I did to deserve this kind of response I’ll never know! But never doubt the power of sisterhood!
The museum of Yugoslavia in Belgrade is still being refurbished! it has been for a couple of years now, so don’t trust the websites that say it is open! The Tito memorial garden and mausoleum are open and worth visiting even though my Dad wasn’t too impressed.
We went up to the old tower over looking Zemun and the rivers of Belgrade , the Danube and Sava. Imogen was feeling camera shy, Dad never so!
We were out watering the rabbit damaged trees one evening and suddenly heard Sid wowling nearby, looking round we were surprised to see him perched atop two narrow tree defence posts. I guess he wanted to get a good view from above the tall grass, maybe I should build him a little cat hide for surveying his estate!
The latest batch of peanut butters was made without the blender overheating even once. I would tell you what flavours they are but unfortunately my assistant decided to use the local lingo and I can’t remember what they are. Maybe you can guess what they are….. no prizes!
A couple of our young cherry trees are producing fruit, cherries to be exact! And they taste good as Sanja demonstrates.
A cherry sucker! Couldn’t be fresher! Straight down the hole!
Breakfast in the gazebo with Nancy engaging in another meaningful conversation with me.
There are bright red tasty wild strawberries all over the estate, literally masses of them! I guess the recent rains have brought them out.
There I was innocently listening to my little Ipod and scything the pathway grass down to acceptable levels when Sid came along and demanded attention, a right cat in the works!
Sid once again decided to interrupt my gardening. I was attempting to give the head heavy rose some string support but Sid had other ideas! And no he didn’t actually eat the rose petals but he did swipe a load off the rose with his vicious claws.
We ran out of cat food one evening, they were not impressed! I snuck out sharpish in the morning so they couldn’t rip me to pieces for their breakfast. In a pathetic attempt to mollify the moggies I bought the biggest pack of expensive cat food I could, Nancy does look like he may have forgiven me! Sid just wanted feeding.
Not sure if I’ve ever seen mulberrys growing wild in the UK, but last year there were none on our tree. Now they are all over and super sweet and tasty if a little funny looking, bit like me!
There are times when I wonder what I am doing in this screwed up country a long way from Hackney. But then the sun goes down and the sky goes a rich bluey purple and I am content. The fallen tree features silhouetted in this photo, just right of centre. I have decided to leave it alone as the leaves are still green almost two months later, perhaps it will survive in its new horizontal position.
The potato circle with a transplanted apple tree sapling in the middle is coming up well this year so far and is even visible on google maps!

Thats all for now, bye bye.

 

First guests of the year, more tree news and cat poses.

Twas a busy week what with getting things ship shape for guests and then some unexpected stormy weather. The pictures tell the story…

As you can see I have an extremely good crop of dandelions and talking of big cats here a black prowler makes his way stealthily through the long grass.
The latest batch of my peanut butter specials fresh out of the blender. Yummy! My recent guests heartily approved of the garlic one.
Lidl are selling their Almond milk at 50percent off this week, I stocked up!
It’s all very well being top of the food chain and having more little grey cells than the rest of the worlds animals but boy what I wouldn’t give to be able to stretch out like that and relax so easily!
Nancy takes the weird and wonderful positions and poses that cats can do to a new level of wierdness!
Some things as just ‘sent’ to test us aren’t they? I was wondering around my nascent arboretum one evening last week when to my horror I discovered some beast had been attacjing the bark of several of my trees. I assumed it was deer and so built a bunch of fences around the most important or at risk young trees I have. I researched what to do about the wounds and it seems the latest thinking on the matter is to clean away the dead bark and leave the wounds to dry and heal as best they can. I am not happy it looks like two of my best trees planted last year have been irreparably damaged.
My newly planted Medlar tree got emergency deer protection as it sits at the bottom of the old ‘clover patch’ barely visible from the house and so presumably easy picking for the beasts of the forest. The plan is to add many more sticks interwoven between the string and stuck into the ground.
Taking a well earned break after building multiple deer fences and watering a few new tree transplants.
A gratuitous bit of sunset thrown in to remind me of why I live out here. Not a building to be seen on the horizon.
After much online consultation and discussions with folk in shops it seems that the most likley culprits for my tree attacks is not deer but rabbits! DOH! So different tactics are called for. Two of the better DIY stores in Karlovac had nothing but a very expensive version of chicken wire so I demured and wondered about butchering flexible piping etc. Then I found these – and a friendly English speaking shop worker – at Bubic garden supplies! These things are cheap as chips and fit snugly around the young tree stem and do not taste good to greedy rabbits. So they have been installed along with the new fences and another coat of the lime white paint which I am relaibly told also doesn’t taste good to rabbits… lets hope my trees are safe now!
Much to my delight the two cyclists , Sam and Miriam who stayed over the weekend were keen to play pool and snooker. They even taught me another version of ‘Killer” pool style. Good times.
It not being wood cutting season anymore our guests are now put to work cutting the grass as best they can! Please note these activities are technically voluntary, we just use witchcraft to get such chores done “voluntarily”
Taking a rest from cycling Sam uses the rest to tackle a long shot at snooker.
I offered to take the Munich cyclists to see the local sights and that of course includes Petrova Gora. Unfortunately the only tarmac road accessing the monument has been closed due to the road being unpassable (heard that before). So we took the poor car “off road” and up some tracks to get to the monument which was unsurprisingly empty with no on else around at all.
The Partizan hospital and the Petriva Gora woods have new pathway signs all over them, some really in the middle of nowhere! But more interesting still is that the hospital in the woods now has a visitors book you can sign – helpfully all in Croatian – but its not rocket science! Hopefully this means someone is interested in how many people visit the place, so now you know put your paw print in the book hidden in the red box tat says Knjiga – book – on it!
Sam turned out to be very adept at spotting bugs and the like whilst out in the woods. He spotted a total of three Fire Salamanders! They are easy to spot with their black and yellow shiny skin and funny cumbersome walk but whatever you do DO NOT touch them they will mess you up!
The Croatian woods are all green after the recent rain. One can see how well the hospital was hidden in such conditions.
This little creature may have a lot of legs but seeing as it was starting to climb up a tree several times taller than your average house its gonna need all of them! Well spotted Sam!
This is the newly roofed old Partizan Print House. See back to last years blogs to see what a wreck it was. There is a new wooden floor inside so no more scratching around on the floor to find letter set printing souvenirs! I wonder what will be next in these renovations!
The first Fire Salamander we saw was trying to hide under the print house.
The third and most agile of the three Fire Salamanders we saw at the Partizan Hospital.
These intrepid pedalers are on their way from Munich to Athens by bike! Pretty damn impressive I’d say, It was nice to offer them a few days rest and recuperation.
Tis a nice way to start a days cycling going down hill for the first kilometer!
Its all the rage nowadays, funny looking men, with plaits, half naked and carrying large metal weapons! Ok so this example might not quite have the awe inspiring physique of a “Skarsgardesque” Northman but remember it was Obelix that the Romans feared most!

Plant update the car and of course a cat!

I’ve discovered a pair of flower sellers in the Karlovac open air market that speak English. Unfortunately they don’t sell vegetable seedlings but thye did advise me to wait a coupl more weeks before investing in any tomato or pumkin plants, cool! Similarly I discovered a geezer at the flea market who sells flowers, shrubs and trees speaks the language of Marlowe – that one was for you Dad! –  pretty good too! I was tempted by this dude cos he was wearing a Rage Against the Machine shirt and trousers just like mine which is not the usual attire for market vendors in Croatia. I was so enamoured in fact that I spent (£30) way above my plant quota for the day on just three plants!

Still lets get the obligatory cat picture out of the way first and then there is a pictorial resume of almost all the newly planted things.

Sid stares out of the studio flat window past the flowers at the strange creature reflected in the glass. Its not Sids best pose but I rather like the composition and the special effects / reflections that adorn him.
Ha! only a day later and I cant remember the name of the two flowers I was assured by the Karlovac market stall holder – Yes I found one who speaks good English – would develop in to a little bush and should reappear for a few years… This one’s situated outside Sanja’s studio to help inspire her creative juices when composing punk rock songs about pretty flowers and the like.
This pretty thing has been strategically placed on a spot that was dug up the pipe when we were looking for the water leak and the grass has refused to regrow there ever since. So lets see if this – forgtot the name – flower does any better!
Now this little beauty is called a “Diabalo” or something like that and of course I couldn’t resist. I was looking for plants with some colour and this has that for sure! It should end up as fair sized bush, but then again the guy who told me that didn’t know I was gonna need a mallet and spike to help create a decent sized hole in the stony ground for it, so we’ll see!
A long time ago I took a bunch of cuttings from a Privet hedge in the East of Zagreb. Last year I put a few out along my front border fence, two nights later the snow returned and all my little babes bought it! I had four left and they have remained inside on my window sill for another year till now when I am pretty damn confident that the winter is over. So here is the beginning of my Privet hedge that will one day prevent nosey neighbours from peeking in to our yard, ho ho!
This little may not look much as yet but its just settling in and one day will bloom into a Passion flower vine that will transform an otherwise boring wire fence. Oh yes it will!
Who says old paint pots arent worth keeping, eh? Just take a look at these beauties.
How to make one of your fave mugs live on…. and the same with a boring plastic food pot too…. These are on the kitchen window sill facing north so they might not fry in the midday sun as plants on the opposite side of the house tend to do in the summer.
This luscious looking lemon balm plant came from friends who have a very ecologically sound garden/estate growing in the commuter belt of Zagreb. I hope to get more plants from them in future as they indeed hope to begin to make some filthy lucre from selling them. This is positioned on the east side of the gazebo ready to be picked fresh and scrunched into a jug of cold spring water perhaps…
Looks like a weed dunnit? But this little plant once it has got past it’s puberty stage will potentially be of great benefit to our peace and tranquility. This is a young Evening Primrose plant and I’m really hoping that it may offer up that powerful E.P. oil soon! Like maybe before next month! Please!
This rose had been rather neglected and unpruned and I’m rather pleased that only a few weeks after being pruned it already looks healthier and if I’m lucky some of the cutting I took will sprout roots and be ready to plant in the autumn.
I’ve been debating what to do with the long grassy area onthe south side of the house and now I’ve decided it will not become an outdoor badminton court after all! Nope, there will be bushes here, including this one which I bought from the guy at the flea market this morning and so of course I can’t remember what it’s called but I do remember that the leaves change colour in a continuous cycle of green to red, exciting eh! And it will grow quite big if I let it, bit like my paunch!
Here at the beginning of a new path, one that winds its way through the old clover patch is a Japanese Quince courtesy of my green fingered friends in Brezovički near Zagreb. It might not look much yet but you should see what they told me it may grow to be….!
The Japanese Quince is only about 30 cm tall at the moment but as long as the dear leave it alone and I remember to water it it should end up as a 3 meter tall shrub with brightly coloured flowers! Come on!
More of the clover patch path with two replanted fruit trees visible, strategically planted along its way. There are loads of little fruit trees popping up from the roots of the established trees and I’m quite pleased that they seem fairly happy to be cut free from there parents and escape to far off places… sounds strangely familiar!
Is it an oak? Im not sure but there are a bunch of these little things under the canopy of the big oak so maybe. If its not I will brutally rip out the imposter and replace it with the real thing when I am sure of its veracity! I like oak trees.
So this dramtoc looking young tree is one of the most expensive I have ever bought. And yes I did haggle, but I only managed a paltry 20% discount. And I can’t remember what it is but I think its a loquat or Kumquat or maybe a Persimmon! I guess we’ll find out if the fruit grow and ripen, at present they are just little green balls. This beauty sits at the bottom of the clover patch path where the old lower field begins. It should be plenty big enough to be seen above the long grass but I gotta put a fence around it so the dear don’t ruin it.

and then there was that weird mist one morning when I was up unexpectedly early.

Early morning mist is common at this time of the year but this solid bank of fog was so densely packed in to the valley I thought it worth a picture.

and then there was the day I got all “organised” and serious about being a host.

It’s time to spring clean! Get those blankets out and aired, dust off the tables and chairs and do the rest of the boring – but necessary – side of having guests.

and then there’s the car. I used it way more this week than I usually do. One trip was aborted when my reason to go to Zagreb was cruelly cancelled just as my excitement at going to eat vegan burgers and watch Holywood films in a real cinema was reaching a fever pitch! But I had to visit Karlovac three times this week by car and not one bike ride as yet! Shameful!