Visitors made welcome and unwelcome!

Sanja is our first official guest! Some friends popped by for a night and we played pool and cutthroat late in to the night. Our killer cat has been hard at work. Zagreb has a new all vegan bakery. See photos below!

What to do when you notice your stock of raw cashews has a bug or two in? Wash them thoroughly and then roast them in the oven with a variety of different flavourings is one option!
Our first official visitor settles quickly in to life at Barabrith
Possibly an Possum? now an ex possum thanx to our deadly feline hunter Matchka, who it must be pointed out is not much bigger than this little creature, was!
A good pool session was played out till 2am the other night, my idea of heaven!
Simple Green (one of the best vegan places in Zagreb) has opened Simple Bake an all vegan bakery, like their restauant its good and inexpensive… hurrah!
I have been using the sewing machine a fair bit of late, firstly sewing up some sporty shorts that had fallen apart. Then turning my attention to the mosquito door net that was falling apart and finally to resizing a new anti flying bug door net for my bedroom door so Sanja can have a view of the garden as she swings in her hammock. Yes indeed! I quite like this pre shave selfie, ….sew happy!
Whiskerless at last! I was brutally bullied by my Belgrade girl until I gave in and she removed my moustache. I feel weakened!

Belgrade for vegans

This post had to wait for me to finish Altai and I’m fighting the urge not to finish reading the Wu Ming book about Thomas Muntzer right now, both great books.

Belgrade or Beograd as the locals call it is the capital city of a country -Serbia in a region – the Balkans-  that strongly identifies itself as having a meat eating culture, bare that in mind when I get excited about the smallest of vegan discoveries. Sometimes I am reminded of what it was like being vegan in the 1980’s  U.K.! And no the new era of awareness of the effects of meat and dairy farming on climate change and the end of the world as we know it has not permeated the public consciousness over here or they just don’t care!

Having said that there are some vegan delights to be found if you know where to look. Also there is that other factor that harks back to the days when there were very few vegan restaurants anywhere and if those that did exist were often run my religious nutters! Great food terrible leaflets! Serbia has its own Orthodox Christian church just as crazy as the catholic one but fiercely different from it – supposedly! The one thing they do do differently is “Posno” food! On fridays they do not eat anything that contains meat or dairy, they do eat honey and some aquatic animals. It being a church dominated country you can get Posno food all over the place. I was told that some processed cheese that is  considered “posno” actually has  asmall percentage – considered insignificant- of milk in it, so you might want to check. But I have had several Posno pizzas with thick chewy vegan cheese on that was pretty good for the price!

As you may know I do reviews for Happy Cow, so you can see all my Belgrade ones here and of course all the other places, reviews and info too.

I will through up a bunch of photos and describe the food available and give suitable links.

Part of the amazing selection of sugar free vegan cakes (raw) at Zdrawo Slatko. This used to be in the basement of the Millenium centre in the very centre of Belgrdae but now is based at the food market Palilulska Pijaca. The cakes are all great whilst the raspberry cake makes Sanja swoon just at the thought of going back for another!
There are not so many vegan options for those who like to sit out on the streets and wallow in Balkan street cafe culture. That tends to mean putting up with loads of smokers! But the FitBar in the Nušićeva little road which is mainly pedestrianised is a good opportunity to do so! There are not loads of vegan options but they are clearly marked and the staff certainly knew what vegan meant. The food was good but not exciting. FitBar has two other outlets that I’ve not tried yet!
A small Lebanese place with four clearly marked vegan options. Three of which are “snacks” the fourth with falalfel and houmous I have not tried. Simple thin pitta bread with an enticing selection of herbs and spices on them this was an interesting and affordable find!
Our “snacK’ next time I’m in BG, I’ll try the rest!

 

This woman makes what I am reliably informed is the best Rakjia and also a mean Ajvar. The market is a mix of a flea market and fresh fruit and veg with this and a few other homemade food stalls in the far corner. She has a facebook page!
Smokvica has several outlets around Belgrade, all rather posh. We went to one that had only one vegan option – so we gor two!. We later realised their bigger place on Molerova is more vegan friendly. Still the tofu thai curry was not too hot so I was happy but this place was packed with hipster and monied types and I doubt I’ll ever go there again.
Hleb i kifle or Bread and Muffins is a chain of bakeries dotted all over Belgrade. They have a wonderful dark black visage with impossible weird writing on the outide. This makes the big bright vegan sticker in the middle of each window all the more wonderfull and visible. Tey have abunch of premade slads labelled as vegan but the real delight of this place is their mushroom pita or burek. For less than a quid one gets a warm tasty savoury pastry with either potato or mushroom inside. The photo shows a happy Jon with one of each coming out of the bakery on Kneza Mihaila the big pedestrianised street in the centre of town.
Kljuch Bakery is an interesting option for anyone with Serbo Croatian language skills. They have more vegan pita/burek options than anyone else but they foten need ordering in advance. Pictured here are three I got for breakast one morning. They include a spinach and leek pita and a mushroom one made with buckwheet flour. I look forward to trying their other offerings one day.
This Pita Bar is typical of many all over Belgrade. Most will have at least one vegan option, a potato pita and often a sweet one either apple or cherry depending on the time of the year. If you can’t find a good vegan place then anywhere that says Pita on the outside is probably worth checking out!
Lebovski is a bakery chain that does good artisan style bread and three vegan pita options.
These are the rather supierior Pitas available at Lebovski.
Zrno Ra is all vegan which is cool as they don’t speak any English! They specialise in making pastries and the like from buckwheat and spelt flour. Their stall is right next to the Zdrawo Slatko stall in the Palilulska Pijaca food market, a little vegan treasure trove!
Neven is a small friendly helathfood shop with a good range of vegan stuff including tofu, tempeh and seitan. Not all their products are well marked but the staff are friendly. Don’t buy the local vegan yoghurt that comes in a plastic bottle, its terrible! but then again thats the only one available anywhere in Belgrade!
We stumbled upon this place whilst looking for the Kljuch bakery, that is actually next door! Rice kings have several clearly marked vegan desserts. Very nice and not too expensive. They do lots of social media!
A Blueberry and chocolate rice dessert, yum yum!
Ozzy Nuts is a suprising little gem of a shop that does freshly made nut butters. Its almost next door to the 24 hour pizza place below!
The 24 hour pizza shop that has a posno / vegan pizza, thats cheap!
Wok Republic has a couple of places around the world and one of them in Belgrade almost directly opposite the 24 hour pizza place above!  The interior is all flashy Americana and a bit noisy for my taste but the food was pretty good.
The Savannah snack bar is a friendly little joint out in Novi Beograd run by a mother and daughter combo. Its a lovely little place to stop if you’re not in a rush and want to eat at an all vegan place which, Im assured, it will soon be! They do Beyond burgers and lots of potato waffles!
This is a seriously “well meaning, well being” place thats very small and friendly and it’s called Dumbir which means ginger. Most of the food is pre packed ready for a quick service. Its healthy and all vegan and some of it rather good.
The selection of goodies, smoothies and juices in the Dumbir counter.
Mayka is a veggie vegan place in the cafe quarter of central Belgrade. It is not cheap but two of the best meals I have had in the city were had at Mayka. Avoid the upstairs which is full of smokers. There is outdoor seating. Recommended is the “Belgrade Steak” featured in this photo which included a supremely succulent seitan steak in a tasty sauce. The fish and chips option pictured below was also an absolute joy aswell.

Mandala is the fanciest and most expensive hippy retaurant I’ve been to in Belgrade. The food is excellent, the service was also delightful. I would have liked a bit more food on my plate for that many dinar. I almost screamed when I smelt someone smoking inside the restaurant!!! This savoury pancake was a real treat…
… this dark luxurious dessert which was strongly recommended to us by the waitress and she was right! The combination of the sorbet and the super rich but not too sweet choclate was incredible.
This is a posno cheese pizza from a pizza takeaway place. It was big enough for the two of us and there was loads of fake cheese – hiding under the rocket! – these vegan options are often available in pizzerias in BG and relatively cheap.
Ćao Šećeru, or Bye Sugar is an all vegan cake shop that has some superb raw cakes. It’s friendly and has a few seats outside. Often rather busy in the evenings.  I’d love to go here everyday and persuade them to make some new varieties of cake.

There is another cake place that must be mentioned, though I seem to have deleted all my photos from there! Poslasticarnica Suma make their own cakes, many vegan and without sugar. I’m told they also do some very fine wine! It is situated just at the top of the “bohemian” quarter that gets featured on all the adverts for Belgrade, but don’t let that put you off!

more to come!

 

 

 

A quickie before the next biggie

The Vegan Belgrade post will take a lot of screentime so here’s a quick catch up on my life at Barabrith.

This is what the wooden house looks like when the sun is shining on it but a storm is coming!
Some evenings we are blessed with some spectacular sunsets coming up the valley.
I dont like Chucho much, it’s not “ours” though it desperately wants to be! but it barks a lot at night most of which I am convinced is unnecessary and keeps me awake. This pose or sleeping position snuggled up against one of our steps is however even I must concede rather cute!
A friend stopped the night and was very good guest. Not only did he deign to lose at pool he helped cut down brambles and even tried his hand at the scythe!
My dastardly plan of infusing myself into the Croatian way of life – so they are less likely to chuck me out when Brexit fucks things up for us escapees – took a leap forward this week when I switched my driving licence. It’s a ten year one so hopefully I can stay that long at least!
This was the view from the bridge over the Korana at the local “beach” this morning. I expected it to be busy, it was later on! I spent the day reading the LRB, swimming and unintentionally getting sunburnt!
Today was a good day, the local postie decided they had enough piled up to make it worth coming out to us and I got two letters and two packages both with highly anticipated books in. Marta sent me Hilary Mantel’s last chapter of the Thomas Cromwell trilogy and Rowan from Verso sent me the latest Wu Ming books inc Altai the follow on to their amazing book “Q”.  Many thanx to both!! Oh goodie hardbacks with big text, where’s my hammock!

Belgrade (not in Croatia)

So I had decided to limit the scope of this blog to the events and lives surrounding Barabrith. But having spent almost a month away in Belgrade and realising that many of you who are considering coming to visit us here may be interested in the capital city of the former Yugoslavia, I decided to make an exception! My recent visit to Belgrade was a little different due to the Covid 19 restrictions so we did a lot less visiting  museums,  theatre and such like. Still below are a bunch of photographs from Belgrade with my usual witty comments and inane insights…..

Here is a colourful maps of the Balkans for those of you like me wondering where the hell I am!              (Barabrith is pretty much where the C of Croatia is on the map above)
A tourist friendly map of Belgrade. My “digs” in Belgrade are very close to the Ice Bar right in the centre. Note the big blue lines, they are the Sava and Danube rivers that “meet” in Belgrade under the watchful gaze of the city fortress.
Some of the Danube has a large promenade alongside it on the city side of the river.
Cycling around Belgrade is great as long as you stay off the roads, those are only for the hardened bike courier types. (Driving standards here are low). There are quite alot of bike paths in Novi Beograd – New Belgrade – and up and down the riverside. The pavements are quite wide and most cyclists use them all the time without upset from pedestrians. Just make sure your bike doesnt have two flat tyres like this one.
Here is Sanja riding across the Zemunski Put bridge with the new “Belgrade Waterfront” development in the background.
And here she is again this time riding past some “art” in Hajd Park and yes that is the Serby way of saying Hyde Park!
An empty plinth demands a statuesque pose! Yes I messed with the contrast on this one, call it art!
This is the entrance to Hajd Park
Adjacent to Hajd park is the Museum of Jugoslavija. This unfortuntely was closed and has been for sometime apparently. But the Garden of Flowers where Mt Tito is buried is always open so that respectful visitors can see the great mans tomb, statues, relay baton collection and funeral photographs.
Titomb
Propping up the old folk! Here I do my bit to ensure these old geezers don’t catch corona virus or fall over entirely.
The Garden of Flowers that surrounds Titos “museoleum” is quite pretty and features a bunch of statues donated by the different states of Yugoslavia and its biggest Trade Unions.
When life feels like a pathway to nowhere and you want to just want to tear down the wall! Or maybe this is a rare bit of surrealist art snuck in to the Garden of Flowers?
Belgrade designers, politicians and the like sure do like a fountain or two. Unfortunatley they dont seem to have the resources to maintain them much of the time. This is the view towards town from the Museum of Jugoslavija.
This fountain is a whopper! and at night it lights up! Quite spectacular. It is part of a large round about that has been recently relandscaped.
The roundabout encompasses the site of an old commies grave. Quite what he would make of the new bank building behind is anybodys guess!
This “antiquarian” bookshop is a real gem and a probably also a health risk. Belgrade has a wonderful number of bookshops most of them serrving the local language only but the second hand and antiquarian ones have lots of English language titles.
Serbia is probably the only state of the former Yugoslavia that would proudly display an old Jugoslavijan sign on top of abuilding in the town center like this.
They local authorities are not averse to reminding us  of where we are and that we should love it! Thankfully when they write things in difficult local languages they are easy to ignore! Unless you’re called Sanja and you live there and your “mate” is embarrassing the fuck out of you by taking such pictures. Te he he 🙂
There is a penchant, or was, for building big buildings in Belgrade. This is The Palace of Serbia!! There is a You tube video all about it here!
This is one of the biggest Orthodox churches anywhere!
This interesting brickwork chuch is just across from Sanja”s flat.
Right next to Sanja’s (or in this case in between Sanjas!) is the National Assembly of Serbia building. It looks a bit bent because it is and because this is a panoramic photo!
The National asembly building is the place where all political and protest demonstrations seem to end up outside. The road is often closed despite being a main route and often quite a small crowd! It doesn’t seem to matter what the demo is about they always seem to have Serbian flags!!
This big phalic symbol is in fact the “eternal flame of Yugoslavia” which presumably went out back in the 1990s.
This scarily big advert for the Serbian military adorns a building next to one that was bombed by NATO forces and never repaired or replaced.
This memorial statue and garden commemorates the children killed by the NATO bombing in Belgrade 1999.
Keeping on theme, Serbian cemmetries are an interesting mixture of Serbian Orthodox Chuch, muslim, and communist graves. This rather showy one is for a local football hero.
Still on theme, Belgrade has many murals painted by Belgrade Patizan football team supporters of their famous supporters. Here I discover that Joe is dead! Below are two others of local celebrity supporters.

This an amusing piece of street art is apparenting very old and has been refreshed. It is just off the main pedestrian road – Kneza Mihaila – in the centre of town.
At one end of this road is one of these bakeries with impossible cyrillic names but very helpful big vegan stickers in their windows! This is rare in Serbia. They do salads and wonderful mushroom and also potato pita or burek as others call them!
At the other end of the road is the Kalemegdan Park which houses the fortress, a load of busts, statues and tourist nick nack stalls. To get to the park one must cross a main road and tram track. This tram is a new looking one, some look seriously ancient.
Every tourist guide of BG has the fortress as its number one place to visit. It’s a big complex and remarkably much of it has not yet been excavated. Here Sanja lurks in an archway of the outer wall. Much of the walls are lit up at night but inside some area remain amusingly dark!
Dotted all over central Belgrade are pop corn vendors. Not strategically placed outside cinemas, they are everywhere and they are popular! I have seen queues of locals waiting to get fresh popocorn! Different eh! This one is by the sports centre on the banks of the Danube.
Dotted along much of the river banks are floating nightclubs and restaurants.
The banks of the rivers also have quite a lot of park facilities some new some old. This one on the Danube heading towards Zemun features fancy new science and musical parks, this big kid -sorry I mean musical genius- couldn’t resist.
The Milennium Tower overlooks the district of Zemun and in the distance you can see Belgrade and the confluence of the two great rivers.
The view over Zemun from the tower above.
Many of the citys parks and paths no matter how small have statues, busts and even better works of art in them! What is this one about I wonder?
This giant watermelon doesn’t look too fresh but I had to try it anyway. Like much of Belgrade it has seen better days! This one is in the Park Suma Zvezdara.
This is a pretty bit of the Topčider Park close to the “diplomatic quarter” where the big embassy buildings are mostly situated.
The Jevremovac Botanical Garden is very central and though quite small it does offer a lovely respite from the city. Here one can see some outdoor cacti growing.
These plants are in the greenhouse of the Botanical gardens. These ones look like they are on the bottom of the sea floor!
These orchids are also in the Botanical greenhouse.
The Botanical gardens cost about £4 to enter so they are relatively quiet, or at least they were when we were there! We spent a couple of pleasant hours playing chess and eating a picnic.
The most famous Serbian, other than war criminals and tennis players,  is NikolaTesla, you know, the scientist! This terrible photograph is of the museum dedicated to his work and discoveries.
Belgrade has quite a few interesting buildings dotted around the place. This one is the SKC, Student Cultural Centre where I’m told in the old Yugo days Western punk bands used to play.
“Western City Gate, also known as the Genex Tower, is a 36-storey skyscraper in Belgrade, Serbia, which was designed in 1977 by Mihajlo Mitrović in the brutalist style” says Wikipedia. It used to have  acafe on the top but like the BT tower one in London it is no more.
Every now and then a bit of architecture suprises and pleases the passerby.
Every now and then a bit of architecture suprises and pleases the passerby. *2
In the “bohemian” area of town its not difficult to come across buildings side by side that are in very different states of repair.
If thats not enough for you to do in Belgrade – or indeed too much – one can always stay at home and make your own Scrabble board.
or indeed just watch your funny looking cats do funny things….

Thank you Sanja without whom most of that would not have been possible,  up next my guide to vegan Belgrade!

The Belgrade borders came down!

The border restrictions on my being able to cross in to Serbia were removed, so off I went to see my beloved Sanja.  I’m still here three weeks later but will be heading home soon. There will then be a special Belgrade report and normal service will return thereafter!

 

Today I rode the road in to Karlovac and back and went to a church in Tusilovic.

I went to see the guy in the office that helps people running tourist businesses in this area. He’s super helpful with all kinds of advice. I took the days mail to the main post office in Karlovac only to discover that the box to go to Ireland can’t be sent because they have a mail blockade on post from here. It makes no sense!  I had to bring the damn thing back! On the ride back I bumped into a snake, said hello to a stork and I investigated the ruined church in Tusilovic. For the photographers amongst you, yes these pictures are less sharp than usual as they were taken with one of my old Sony Erricson C510 pre-‘smart phone’ era mobile phones and not my Ipad that I normally use.

Storks are funny birds to look at and no more so than when they stand in their huge nests that are perched atop lamp posts and electricty posts. They are considered to be bringers of good luck although seeing as this is one of those ridiculous religious based manias that says we must breed breed breed I would say they are a sign of short sighted selfishness and foolishness! Whatever, that is why this telegraph pole has a special structure on the top to encorage storks to build their nests there. This stork refused to stand up and take a bow for my photo but if you look closely you can see his/her bright orange beak.
I almost cycled over this poor geezer. But seeing as s/he is an ex-snake that has ceased to be I guess it wouldn’t have mattered much. I’ve not seen a live snake here as long as this beauty which I guess is maybe a good thing for me but not the snakes!
Just to give you an idea of the size of this poor snake.
Given the messed up history of the Balkans and the area of Korun who knows what might have happened to this church and why but I quite like the result.
Not a bad spot for a picnic! Finding information about this church is difficult but “we” think it was destroyed in WWII, too bad.
A window that was. How the hell is that arch still supporting that weight? And how do aeroplanes fly?
There is no escape from the Jon selfie when you look at these blog posts!

The view from the road of the church ruins in Tusilovic. Just down the road from us!
I think thats more than enough pictures of a ruined church… no hold on, that doesn’t sound right! Well anyway this one has my beautiful Cannodale bike in it so I’ll slip this one in too!

Closing the barn door.

I spent the last two days making some shelves in the barn. During the night in between I could not sleep and found myself watching the 1995 six part docuentary series The Death of Yugoslavia. It’s pretty harrowing and makes the bullet holes in the buildings we pass on the way to the supermarket rather resonant!

Below are photos of the shelf construction and a few inevitable silly selfies one has come to expect from yours truly.

These doors are pointless as far as we can tell. They can’t open more than a few centimetres because of the fence on the other side  and they are opposite two doors just as big that open on to our “yard”. So they are ripe for redundancy! The space is a good spot for some shelving so we can start sorting out the stuff in the barn and bring in some of the non perishables from the workshop space in the wooden house.
A bit of product placement for my drill. These shelves were built with wood salvaged from the roofing work we had done last year and some bits left over from the gazebo construction. I had an initial plan but I ended up building them pretty much as I went along! I favour screws over nails when it comes to construction and with this job that meant a lot of drill use. I’ve burnt my way through a few power drills over the years but this one is by far the best. It was probably quite expensive but then it was a present from Vanja who has a very generous streak, I made quite a few shelves for her with help from this drill and it’s still going strong.
These last few weeks I’ve been experiencing that wierd audio effect when ones ears block and unblock at random. This means one moment I have extreme clarity of sound and the next reduced volume. In the past I have tried hippy solutions like ear candles with no success so this time I tried something more hardcore.
Doing the drill dance!

It’s a tad annoying how quickly shelves can get filled up and the thought of needing to build more creeps in!

 

A back route and a fire

The other day Marko drove us back from the local post office by a back route to see how easy it was to avoid the police check points. When I mentioned that my cycle ride to and fro to Krnjak was a bit hairier than usual due to the increase in big trucks on the main road Sanja suggested I should find a safer back route. So today I cycled back via a route similar to Marko’s but a little shorter, unfortunately it involves a couple of hills that are not on the main road route and two dogs that chased me. It is however rather pretty as the photos below and above show.

The track above is the last bit of the route that takes you down the hill from Donji Budački to the main road and past a very large white labrador that came tearing out of a garden and strangely ran just ahead of me barking madly! It comes out on the opposite side of the main road from our road.

We had a bonfire the other night for some old pre Mayday reason that I can’t recollect. It was a made up of a big pile of twisted branches and twigs that we could not do much with, well that was our excuse for a good dose of pyromania!

 

Vegetable time!

It finally rained properly last night so maybe our vegetables and fruit trees will survive after all! The first three photos are from the lower veg garden, managed by Sunni and Marko

Sunni and Marko’s super organised and productive veg garden is now producing all our salad greens fresh to the table!
Tomato plants in the lower vegetable garden!
The lower veg garden.

The following five photos are from the upper vegetable garden in the future orchard area as managed by yours truly!

My garlic plants seem to being doing well.
My little onion jungle. No matter how often I weed between the onions those little weeds keep coming back up!
These are cherry tomato plants in one of my “veg graves”.
Two of the sweet potato plants I have planted in one of my “veg graves”!
These prickly damn things are really easy to grow! I don’t have to lift a finger these just pop up all over the place! The only good thing about them is that they are pretty easy to pull out.

and on another note….

Its not everyday that Matchka, Ena and our “wanna be” other dog all fit so neatly in the frame.

Books shelves are done, or are they?

Its been rather sunny outside of late, with no rain. So every other night I water the veg patch and the fruit trees and bushes.  During the day I’ve been staying in doing “book” related things!

Matchka came stalking up the garden from the lower field this morning whilst I was having my brekfast in the gazebo. She gave me her customary headbut and then plonked herself down to survey her fieldmouse hunting grounds, only looking round when asked to say “cheese”!
The lacquer now dry, the shelves are pushed in to position and ready to be filled. I have no intention of putting them in a “proper” order. I think physical size and maybe vague “topics” will be the order for now. I just hope thats enough shelf space!
This is almost as satisfying as the sorting and storage of all my cassette tapes!
Whilst unpacking the boxes of books that have remained shut since March 2018 I found this piece of packaging around a particular valuable book. It is one of my oldest shirts, threadbare, worn to bits and full of sweet memories of great times spent at Damned gigs 30 or so years ago! One day my t-shirt collection will be photographed and put up for sale unless the vegan tourism business here at Barabrith takes off with a bang!
Wow all the books that have sat downstairs in the corner of the dining room fitted quite neatly on the shelves. Yipee I was expecting to have to make another “island” shelf.
The elation of finishing my book shelves and getting all the books from downstairs to fit on them died a sudden cruel death when I turned round and remembered that there are two banana boxes and at least one more box of books on the other side of the room waiting to be unpacked! Damn! Drat! and double drat!