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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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…..
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!
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 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.
Today we had a “fire inspection” for the wooden house which we passed! The B&B business creeps slowly closer!
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:
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 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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
The ride home at 2am was a cool quiet joy, my Cannondale sped along and my dodgy foot didn’t complain at all!
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.
A day later the beans were given the same treatment!
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.
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!
The question is will I manage to do it again, soon?