Swings and roundabouts, ups and downs…

This week has been a roller coaster for me. Last weekend I was transported it felt like almost back in time to a music festival in Slovakia, The FFUD Festival! Back in time because I used to go to many small festivals, do stalls and camp out but that seems like ages ago. Transported because I was picked up by an old Polish friend from the NNNW distribution that back in my “Marta days” I had many dealings with. It was great to hang out with Uszaty (Big Ears) – or Michal as his passport says- and get to know his partner and his 14 year old son who’s in to punk rock too! Many old memories were stirred. Part of the reason for going to the festival was that my old chums DOA from Vancouver were playing there. For the last 20 years or so they have pretty much always crashed at my place in London when passing through on tour so this was a different encounter for us and a good chance to catch up. Joey from DOA is a grandfather twice over and when he arrived on site I was happy to no longer feel like the oldest person there.

Uszaty and I endure severe heat for the cause of selling dodgy t-shirts to the punx!
The DOA boys get spoilt with booze and food at the FFUD festival.

I got a lift with a bunch of punks back to Vienna and stayed there doing one of my fave decadent things…. Vegan Tourism! It was amusing to me to be staying with a renowned vegan author and his vegan partner and find that they did not know of or hadn’t visited several vegan outlets in the city that I was keen to try out. It put a hole in my wallet but it was fun. Imagine how many Jon boxes were ticked by my ‘Tuesday morning cycle ride to an all vegan bakery’ !!! Veganista is a small chain of vegan ice cream parlours in Vienna offering fantastic flavours like Cherry Cherry Lady, Lavender, Basil, Cookies, Pineapple Crumble etc etc everyday new flavours and some were refined sugar free!  Marvellous!

Gerfried and I in Vienna with one of only seven horse rider statues in the world that only have two legs supporting the horse. Usually there is a bit of horses tail, a spear or lance touching the ground to add extra balance and stability to the design! Gerf knows these kind of things!
Tito lives with Gerf and Anna in Vienna, Gerf is a nervous little dog that is adored by Anna. He can be very cute.

Flix Bus brought me back to Zagreb and Croatia Bus thence on to Karlovac, there is little comparison tween the two! In Karlovac I met up with Vanja and we spent the subsequent 36 hours saying good bye in the best possible manor. She has finally realised that however good I am at building kitchen shelves and other domestic duties I am not the “right” one for her and its time she went looking for that being. It was a joy and relief after many weeks of not knowing what was going on to talk and spend time together and finally part on good loving terms. Still a bit of a downer though!

My VIP Vanja – sporting her new glasses – takes our last selfie together!

The kids left for the Island of Pasman and their annual summer holiday and I opted to stay here and chill out, hoping it will be cooler here than it is on the coast. I thought I had settled down to some serious P&Q and then today became a monumental day, a rite of passge, the fulfillment of a long held dream coming true.  Renata and Mira called to ask if I wanted them to hire a van and come and pick up the pool table that I put a deposit on several weeks ago but had as yet been unable to transport the 50 odd km back here. I said yes please! I cycled to Karlovac this morning, took the 7.50am train with my bike to the Zagreb station. There I had the joy of riding my own bike in Zagreb at last, but only for the 30 meters from the platform to the waiting van! Oh well next time.

Dining out in Barabrith.

My pool table is a vintage “English” style table that was bought by Maggie’s Croatian parents when she was little and they were living in Australia! They brought the table back with them and then moved 8 times around Croatia with it. Having lugged it in and out of a van today I know that this was no mean feat.  Maggie’s mother marshalled us and directed us and generally took charge of the removal operation in a formidable style that was quite awe inspiring. Back at Barabrith after a cautious drive, Mira, Renata and I failed to get the 200kg slate bed section through the front door, Damn that thing was difficult to lift! Luck was on our side though as Renata’s sister and family were at that moment driving through the area on their way home from the coast. A nineteen minute diversion brought them to Barabrith and enabled my table bed to be carried in to the lounge and on to its legs! A 40 year old dream realised, I have my own pool table at last, pool players welcome!

My life takes another step towards completion
Crazy guy gets super excited about a table with balls and a stick!

Our old dining table is now in the gazebo.

The gazebo dining now seats 10!


We ordered in 12 cubic meters of wood and it came in two loads on the back of a tipper truck. The pieces were too large for any of our stoves so we called in the wood cutter who came and sliced it all up in a remarkably short time n the blazing sun and I was grateful I do not have to chop it all up with an axe!

How come when I see an image like this I immediately think “that’d be a good jigsaw”!!

Now the big pile of handy size wooden logs needs stacking away in our wood shed. We delayed this for a few days after the rain storm soaked it but now its pretty dry and so I spent an hour or so this morning dripping with sweat as I threw and then stacked a load of wood. I probably should have seperated the different types of wood _especially the fresh bits of the plum tree we cut down but I liked the look of this image and so carried on…..

Looks like well have enough wood to survive the winter. Its 34 degrees today so thinking about heating during the winter feels a bit wierd!
We have quite a few sunflowers doing well in the er.. sun!
Sunni loves to pick these beautiful edible flowers and fill them with a sweet fruity mix. These ones were a real treat.


Concrete knees

The path to true happiness is shopping and buying power tools comes pretty high up the list (not quite as high as buying a pool table) but buying a bright orange concrete mixer is a rare treat indeed!

The first stages of the pathway to a new pathway.
The view from my room looking down at Marko and Stonky constructing the wooden frame for the cement to fill out.
The concrete should fill up this wooden frame.

This we did in order to finish off repairing the path that around the house DIY style. This we have been doing with the inevitable supervision from the Stonky The Supervisor (our neighbour).

We may have slightly over estimated the amount of sand wed need, but hey maybe we can start on a swimming pool!! But just look at that big shiny orange machine!
Our first concrete mix courtesy of Stonky Building Services. Please note the shiny new metal bucket that is part of our new fire fighting equipment.

We have got as far as the fine layer of concrete on top, next we need to make an adjustment to stop the two small spots where water pools, then we can paint it and repaint the rest of the pathway all red!  The concrete mixer was washed down and stored away in the barn for next time.

Matchka and daughter coming to help with smoothing out the concrete. “Daughter” is back temporarily as her family are on holiday. The two of them have been either sleeping or play fighting non stop… families eh!
We keep dousing the concrete with water so it doesn’t over heat too quickly. Next step will be cleaning, prepping and painting.

Today we had a “fire inspection” for the wooden house which we passed! The B&B business creeps slowly closer!

Catching up

I’ve been busy and rather down of late which is not a good combination for inspiring writing of a blog that anyone else might want to read! So a quick pictorial catch up on the latest news from Barabrith follows:

We have been chasing the goal of bureaucratic legitimacy as regards our future “renting out rooms” business. This resulted in being passed from one office to another, round and around paying forpieces of paper to be photocopied and signed over and over. We had an “unofficial” inspection from four members of the Karlovac Council tourist people! For that we tidied up all the rooms and crossed our fingers. The result was we were told we’d have to now get another inspection for the fire regulations… and so it goes on.
I finally got a chance to go and visit “Maggie” who’s mother was selling a “vintage” pool table. It looked kind of special in the Njuskalo (the Croatian Ebay) advert. Turns out the table has travelled with the family for 30 years or more and travelled from Australia to Croatia! It’s a beauty, an old school English table with curved pocket entrances and a solid slate bed. I checked one could sit comfortably underneath it, as this will unfortunately have to double as a dining table once safely covered. It will cost me nigh on £2 grand in total but one of my long term dreams is now in sight of realisation. I hope to pick the table up in a couple of weeks time.
After the “Tourist Office” inspection we were told we also need an electrical inspection. This was done quickly by an electrican we were recommended to but given we had to pay about £90 for it that may be not so suprising.
Our neighbours wheat crop that has been growing on our land was finally ready for harvesting and so this mechanical beast rolled through our yard and onto the field.
Stonky – our neighbour – drives his tractor up ready to collect the freshly cut wheat. Thankfully the combine did no damage to our trees or bushes this time.
The combine leads the parade back out of our gate with one of the neighbours annoying dogs leading up the rear.
The concrete pathway around the front of our house was severly messed up when we dug it up trying to locate the water leak. Now having bought, sand, cement and a bright orange conceete mixer and with the weather not wet it was time to fix it! This involved digging out the soil and rubble then stamping down and leveling off the rocks -hard core- before we build a frame and then cover it all with fresh homemade licquid concrete!
The one good thing about working on the path around this side of the house is that it is in shade almost all day long. Sadly I couldnt get the right digging angle without slipping in to the sun every now and then.
Whilst driving around the outermost suburbs of Zagreb in search of my pool table I discovered this monument. I thought it looked impressive despite being stuck out in the middle of nowhere! I brought Marko and Sunni back to see it a wek later. Turns out it was built to secifically commemorate the Roma victims of fascism which is a rarity according to Marko.

It has gone back to being too hot for me to be outside so I’ve been packing new Active books into boxes ready for shipping to London. I fixed a large fan that we found in a rubbish pile so now I can lie in my hammock and feel a serious breeze blowing through the string.



Its all going swimmingly!

Its been rather hot of late, any of unfortunate enough to have talked with me on the dog n bone will be familiar with my moaning about the sun and how I’ve been hiding inside snuggled up to my little fan. Not so last weekend when we were visited by a Zagrebian friend -Sunch- who had never been to the Petra Gora monument before and so off we went.  Our secondary mission was to record the positions and condition of the local Partisan, anti fascist war memorials.

Our nearest partisan monument is rather overgrown at the moment!
We bumped into this monument when I noticed it as we went round a corner! With its flaming top and engraced pictures its a real beauty. We will be creating a list of these monuments to visit when ita.
A close up of the anti-fascist monument at Podgorje Gvozd

We stopped off at a couple we “found” on the way and failed to find the one we went looking for which alledgedly is a stone round table and bench in the woods not far from here, but where exactly! We will return either with our elderly neighbour who has been there in the past or wait till winter when the undergrowth has receeded. We adventurously drove up to Petra Gora monument by a small road we hadn’t done before that gradually crumbled into a track before our eyes. Sunch, our guest, was suitably impressed by the crazy architecture and the 360 view from its top over the surrounding forests.

The view from the top of Petra Gora on a blue sky day! A day for wearing a hat!

We heading down the main road towards the hunting lodge that does fruit filled pancakes with icecream (not vegan) that the unconscientous say are very good. The road down twists and turns through the woods with plenty of streams running alongside . As we descended the road began to be more and more covered with debris and stones, that became logs and rocks before eventually the road had crumbled and caved in. After some discussion, I drove across the damage and then slowly down the rest of the destroyed road. The storm we had two weeks ago was obviously a lot worse there than it was for us!

This is road has been like this for at least two weeks!

A change of plan saw us leaving the Partisan hospital and printers for Sunch’s next visit and instead we headed for Barilović castle which is next to the river Kupa! Turned out the Castle is closed whilst it is being renovated or maybe waiting for the next civil war to destroy it completely! Either way the castle is only 10 minutes drive from the “beach” on the Kupa at Donji Velemerić , our local swiming spot! I’d had enough of the heat and driving around in it and decided I’d swim from the castle down river and meet the others at the beach. after an hour of swimming in at times rather too shallow for comfort water I began to wonder how much further it could be! I saw a gazillion dragon flies up close, a couple of suprised riverside barbecuers in the middle of nowhere, a load of small brown fish that seemed to be attacking me! and a stupid heron that kept seeing me and flying on ahead of me for 50 metres again and again! But most startling was the signs of recent flooding with trees, logs and debris lodged high up on the bank and in trees along the way some so high twas hard to believe they hadn’t been put there by some prankster!

Leaving in the shadow of the bridge by Barilović Castle with the hope of a swift swim, going with the current -there wasn’t much of one, down to the next bridge. After 4.5 km inc four weirs, lots of psycho fish. masses of reeds, and unexpectedly shallow patches I made it, wonderfully refreshed, cooled and knackered! Thats me in the middle with the rather too independent looking legs!

We had more visitors today in the form of council inspectors come to check the facilities we willbe offering to paying guests! More on that soon, but suffice to say we are nearing the end of a long bureacratic road and so Barabrith B&B will soon be advertised on Happy Cow.



Here are some self explanatory photos that should update you on the things I’m up to and where I have go to with various things. The Bed and Breakfast project is now awaiting a visit form some tourist office types who will doubtless want us to fill in some more paperwork and then pay £6 to have copies made and kept on file!

I’ve almost cleared all the tall weeds from the upper garden and to my delight both the little oak trees I transplanted are doing well.
These are some boxes of things that have to be sorted and found homes including my old hifi, video machine, old G5, hifi cables, computer cables, pamphlets and so on..
More boxes to be sorted include my photograph albums, lamps, sewing machine, pamphlets and all kinds in nick nacks! It’s an interesting contemplative affair going through my stuff that sometimes dates back almost 40 years!
These boxes are of the stuff I have been listing for sale on ebay, theres over 120 items there now! Everything from dodgy German Hip Hop mags to rubber Donald Duck figurines from the 1960s!
I’m really enjoying listening to my tape collection especially the compilation tapes (I think I’ve said this before!) but soon I’ll have to take them all out and put them back in alphabetical order, won’t I! because that’s what one does, innit?
Here is the sea shell mobile I made for Vanja, it  always reminded me of how beautiful she looked swimming through the bright clear Croatian sea, I guess it still does.
Today was a nice day with a breeze strong enough, for the first time, to make it worth opening the Western and Northern doors and the cool air making its way through the whole room and keeping me cool.
The view outta my North facing door on to the minimalist balcony. Still it lets the breeze in! Spot the snake draft excluder on the floor made by yours truly at the tender age of 9 or 10!!!!
The big empty square in the woods on the other side of the valley is the bit we don’t own and have so far failed to persuade the owners to sell even after they cut down and sold all the timber last year. This kind of fucks up my ideas for the woods buit there’s plenty else to do for the moment.
Wood is the name of the construction game in my space. There are many more shelves to build and wood to be lacquered!
These tools are not meant to be stored in my room and I promise myself daily to take them back to the tool room… soon!
My dart board is up and ready, my darts have arrived and now I gotta put in some practice, that score of 21 was familiarly disapointing!
My hammock is now my favourite place in the whole wide world!

The pool table project (probably the most important one I am doing) is still live, just taking its sweet time!


There’s no cinema near us which is not suprising given we live in the coutryside but even Karlovac doesn’t have a cinema. Well it does – Kino Edison – but it closed down decades ago and now a fine historic building sits doing nothing in the central park.  Well I guess it’s waiting for European funding to turn it into an arts centre but who knows….! There is an organistaion called kino.hr and they put on films during the summer months (or whenever!). Last night I made my way to the Karlovac castle known as Stari Grad Dubovac where a midnight showing of X-Men Dark Phoenix was shown. The castle is not big and is just right for an atmospheric venue to show films in. There were about 25 other folk there but thankfully they all sat at the back so I was happily alone and undistracted a couple of rows from the front bang in the middle! The projectionist must be a bit of an old punk, for the 20 odd minutes before the film we were entertained by a range of songs from The Toy Dolls to Motorhead and even the latest Laibach Sound of`Music track – most amuising given the setting.  I finished off a bar of raw date and fig choclate I had found in a supermarket in Zagreb and so despite the film being only so so it was a good night.  These photos are not mine or from last night!

See that guy in orange at the front with his feet on the well, that’s where I was last night!
The entrance to Stari Grad Dubovac
Would be a good place to show Macbeth or the last but one episode of GOT!

The ride home at 2am was a cool quiet joy, my Cannondale sped along and my dodgy foot didn’t complain at all!

Produce and Survive

This years veg crop has been hard hit by the extreme fluctuations in weather. But we have harvested the peas, shelled, bagged and frozen them besides the ones we ate in a sauce with rice that very day.

The first of four baskets of peas to be processed!
Nice green peas with only a few worms, and only little ones!

A day later the beans were given the same treatment!

A bean fresh from the upper garden.
They just look like big peas!

On another note Laibach came to Zagreb and despite only finding out about it 5 hours before the gig was due to start we rearranged the weekend a travel plans and I got to see them do their new Sound of Music set. It’s not their best stuff but twas good to see them play even if it was in the underground carpark of the Museum of Modern Art! I bumped into old friends on the way out and ended up staying the night at their place in Zagreb, all in all the night was a good distraction from the heat and other misery.

Laibach only played one “hit” all night and it was Sympathy for the Devil can’t think what they were implying with that image!

Finally I did it!

It’s an iconic image and a beautifully simple tool. But it’s actually quite tricky to master, I am still learning but for sure it’s a lot easier to do in a cool temperature!

This morning, my good intention to get up early in the morning before the sun has a chance to ruin the day with it’s cancerous rays of burning heat and do some gardening finally happened! I was up at 5am and out with my scythe by 5.15am. I spent two hours chopping or maybe swishing away (scything) at the long grass and the plethora of weeds that has grown up around the house and over in the upper garden. By 7.30am it was getting too hot and I retired to my bed feeling like my days work was done!

There is no intent to create a golf course or croquet lawn but just a manageable bit of grass and its accompanying weeds in between the fruit bushes and trees.
The weeds in the back garden had got to the one metre height that makes grass cutting quite hard work but hey whos fault is it that that they got that high, hey?

The question is will I manage to do it again, soon?