In bed where else?

On the morning that our young punky visitor only just made it out of bed before midday Matchcka our pot bellied little cat took to the kids bed to have her kids. We expected her to find a spot in the barn, or under a sofa, somewhere safe and private. But Matchka once again proved to have a mind of her own and trod a different path. And yes she did go out with Marko and Ena for their morning walk half way down the field and back this morning as she does most mornings! This evening though she settled down in the folds of a thick warm red and black blanket and gave birth to four little black and white kittens.

Matchka prepares a spot in the middle of Marko and Sunnis bed to treat us to the “miracle of life”!! Exhibitionism of the worst kind I call it!

Marko and I gently slid the blanket from the centre of the bed to the side so Marko has some space to sleep tonight. Sunni is gonna be so jealous!

The thing from Eraserhead emerges from Matchkas fur.

I think it took about two hours of almost constant licking and heavy rapid breathing for all four to appear. Wierdly the first one to emerge burrowed its way straight into a fold of the blanket and has not been properly seen since! The others came out and immediately searched for Matchka’s nipples and then fed like their lives depended on it, which I guess they may!

Two little black and white pink at this stage) kittens squirm there way towards a teat treat.
Matchka looks ready to sleep but was in fact snoring as greedy little kittens have their fill from her.
Can you spot all four? Theres Scaredy Cat, Eraserhead, and then Feeder 1 and Feeder 2!!

After number four slid out Matchka looked totally knackered.

A seriously worn out Matchka wonders how to make sure she never has to go through this again!

Like a bug on a wire

Focusing on a bug with an Ipad aint so easy.

There I was putting out the laundry to dry on what proved to be another bright sunny day and I spotted this little D shaped bug crawling along the line. Of course when I returned with by camera the little bugger (ha ha see what I did with that!) refused to return to the dramtic D shape position but still s/he continued to crawl slowly along the line. Me thinks it was a wrong turn for said bug this “twig” won’t give up much sustenance and there’s a long way to go to the end!

Not sure which ways/he\s going now, I think “it” turned around!

Fat Cats and Peasants.

For those of you enviously believing that I am now living in a vegan Big Rock Candy Mountain should take note. I was out this morning cutting the grass with a scythe whilst a certain fat cat prowled around my kitchen eating whatever she could find!

Spot Suncica the peasant toiling in the upper garden under the spring sun.
I’m hoping the little light green growth in the middle of this picture is my transported Oak tree, but I migt be wrong 🙁
Here comes the end for you, you bad blade of grass!
Not much of a Grim Reaper this smiling peasant engaged in sharpening his scythe with a wet stone.
Sharpening my big tool. No points for the first person to suggest I should use it on my hair (or head!)

It was a good feeling (not for my dodgy foot or my back) but for my spirit (!) cutting the grass and weeds with just the power of my body. For a day I did not partake in the carmaggedon of life. I doubt I will be able to do all the gardens without using the petrol motor strimmer but I’ll try…..

And the fat cat is…..

Poor old “Matchka the Pregnant Kitten” is finding even the simplest step a lot more effort nowadays.
A silhouette of our silly pet who now has a barrel for a belly!

Ebay and K7’s

I’ve been put to work by the Sto Citas crew. They realised my potential as a “data input assisitant” (thanx Jello!) and also their apparent inability to do anything online quickly. So now I am uploading the odds and sods that they discover at the Hrelic flea market whilst looking for books. These include everything from almost complete sets of the works of De Sade in French to a 1940’s Zagreb East Railway  Station ticket date stamp. Interested in one?

Just look at these goodies in our ebay shop!

If so feel free to browse our ebay shop under the name of Marko_Sokram. But before you submit any derisory offers for our Yugoslavian Airline ashtray  or whatever gem takes your fancy remember it is ‘yours truly’ spending hours taking photos, researching the history and making up bullshit to describe these valuable items.

Our star ebay item the De Sade collection on the ipad ebay app!
Its quite amazing what ends up at the Zagreb flea market, this american book about Malcolm Mclaren is one I have never seen before.

Whilst spending my time online I am now entertained by my old analogue tapes. My boxes of tapes were almost the last things to be brought over from the wooden house workshop. Now they are neatly stacked next my HiFi awaiting shelving.

Cassette tapes or K7 as the French used to say in boxes awaiting shelving.

I opened up the top box and to my delight found a row of my old compilation tapes. First I listened to my Noise of 1994 tape that was a genuine blast from the past. Then I noticed the ‘Pat’s Tape’ which is a great mix of punk rock and musical oddities with sound clips edited in between tracks. the funny thing is I can’t work out if this one is a tape I made for Pat (and kept a copy) or if it’s a tape he made for me. There are a fair number of Snuff tracks on it so I suspect it was created by him for me!

My tape deck goes in to action.

Pat and I met as cycle courier comrades back in 1990 slaving for the yuppies in the media business dressed up in Cyclone courier gear.  Don’t get me started on those days ….! There is another tape titled ‘Pats tape for Jon’ so I guess the provenace of that one is in no doubt! Thanx again Pat, they rock!

A few of my compilation tapes, a thing of joy from the past, alive and kicking chez moi!

Shorting my sirts

This morning was spent mostly asleep thanx to my valiant late night blogging work till the early hours. After a quick toast based breakfast I got down to the task of sorting out the five boxes of shirts and mugs that have been stacked next to the freezer in our ante room between the dining room and the bathroom. There is a damp patch on the wall nearby and I feared the worse for the lower boxes. Two hours of carefull inspection and sorting into relevant piles, those to be washed and those to migrate straight to my room I was left with three boxes of mugs and two and half boxes of shirts!!

Taking over the dining table to sort out my shirts that have been sitting in the ante room.
A box of shirt wrapped mugs to unwrap, two stacks of clean shirts, one small stack of long sleeved shirts and a partly full box of mugs.
Shirts that needed washing drying on temporary lines slung up between my bedrooms’ beams.
More shirts drying on the clothes rack in my room.

I’m now wondering wether or not to copy Vanja’s sock storage system with my t-shirts. She so neatly folds her clothes that she can then stack them in boxes and draws standing side by side. It’s quite remarkable to a dedicated “mess” person like myself but I love that you can see the edge of each item of clothing and extract them without having to lift up the whole pile. Can I maintain such a high level of sartorial storage commitment? Hmmm decisions decisons ….!

The boxes of shirts that do not need washing stacked and waiting to be shelved but how?

I listened to a most amusing Radio 4 Woman’s Hour programme all about the Archers women folk whilst doing this task. It involved the participation of several women who had attended a recent academic conference on the subject and the author of a new book “Gender, Sex and Gossip in Ambridge: Women in the Archers”, I feel that might make a good birthday present come July! That topic was followed by one of chemical pollution in our everyday lives which was also fascinating, tis a shame Jane Garvey has such a bad habit of throwing in such liberal platitudes whenever something truly challenging comes up about her/our lives. I wonder if her kids are on the Student Climate Change marches? Still better her than the ‘Dame’ I guess.

Berliners, Belgians and a Bookfair

The last week included the Zagreb Anarchist Bookfair which meant all four of the Barabrith residents (not inc. Matchka the cat) spending  Friday and Saturday night squished in to one room of our Zagreb flat. How on earth poor Ena (the dog) managed to sleep with the rest of us snoring like camels I don’t know!

Friday rains forced the bookfair inside where the lighting was “interesting”.
An illicit photograph of friends and comrades from the bookfair in Medika on the sunny Saturday afternoon. Spot the beautiful Active Distribution sticker donation piggy bank, not seen outside of Croatia.

Before that auspicous occasion we welcomed an old friend of mine whom I always think of as from Amsterdam but is now resident in Berlin. Grrt came with Masha whom I had begun to believe was in fact just part of Grrt’s over active imagination or perhaps a desperate dream having heard much of her for many years but never having actually seen her! Turns out the little Russian is real, and I mean ‘little’ in no way disparagingly ‘cos I know she’ll Kung Fu my butt into the next county if she believed so next time we meet!

Monumental fighters?

So off we went to our fave local anti fascist toursit hot spots without the benefit of any local guides. The Partisan hospital complex hidden in the woods was especially interesting at this time of the year because with the tree canopy not yet in effect the sun lit up the buildings better than I have ever seen before.

The old 2nd World War Partisan hospital that was a museum and is now abandoned meets the sun.
Masha attempts to decifer the Croatian text of the imaginatively designed memorial to the Partisans gifted by the Russian state.
Grrt loses the race to get to the Partisan printing headquarters first.

It was also intersting to see one of the buildings has had its roof rebuilt. This is a good sign of care in a place that otherwise feels abandoned and left to rot by whatever authorities or caretakers it is meant to have.  As ever when visiting this fascinating place we grumbled about what a travesty it is that such a place of interest can be so carelessly forgotten. Hey ho we are in Croatia!

A view of the Petra Gora monument taht is usually obstructed by brambles and vegetation.

Then it was off to Petra Gora where I found it easier to walk around this similarly abandoned ‘national treasure’ due to the brambles and weeds not having overgrown the ‘gardens’ yet this year!

The view from the top of the Petra Gora monument is worth seeing twice!

Grrt and Masha left us at the beginning of the bookfair weekend only to be replaced at the end of it by Goldilocks and Innes and their dogs! The dogs included a huge hound that they had just adopted.

A big but sad looking dog

This bear like beast is in fact a fragile creature mentally and really deserves the name ‘Tim id’. I hope they manage to create an enviroment that he feels more comfortable and confident in.

No one not even the dogs will pose for a photo!
The big dog was not meant to be off his lead but for a few brief moments he broke free and ran through the wheat field looking more like a lion in the African savanna.

I spent too much time on my feet and carrying boxes, during the last week and my poor foot was swollen most nights. Now I am on a stricter regime of resting it, dipping it in hot then cold water and generally trying to keep it happy. That said today I decided I could no longer wait to see how my t-shirt collection was fairing in the workshop. Most of my t-shirts were used as wrapping for my mug collection and stacked carefully in approximately seventeen banana boxes. Progress towards my new mug display shelves has been non-existent and I began to wonder if the damp in the workshop might be affecting my precious t-shirts. It was! 🙁 So today I unpacked about half of my mugs, put three loads of shirts through  the washing machine and brought the rest up into my warm and dry room.

Three down and nine to go of the t-shirt wrapped mug boxes in our damp workshop.

The mugs are now carefully stacked in the banana boxes without wrapping!! It makes me anxious just thinking of their precarious situation but at least they won’t be susceptible to mould. One day btw I will start mug and t-shirt collection blogs, I know, I know, you can’t wait….

Only 17 boxes of t-shirt wrapped boxes to sort out!
Boxes from left to right; Unwrapped reboxed mugs, mugs still wrapped in shirts, t-shirts to be transfered to my room.

It has rained for three days solid, feels like home! – my old one!- but its good for the plants, our estate has gone a gorgeous mix of greens.

The view from my western steps over the upper garden and the top of the wheat field.

Today was a made memorable by Sunni making her first “pie” of the year. It was meant to be a humble apple pie but ended up with kiwi, banana, strawberries and currants in it as well! It was truly wonderful fresh and warm fromthe oven but doubtless it will have settled by tomorrow and become even better!  Oh goody!

Settling back in..

Friday is Karlovac’s flea market day so Marko and I headed in to town to try our luck there before going to pick up my Croatian residency card from the main police station. It turned out to be a good idea as Marko found a guy selling a couple of guitars and a dangubica (aka a tambura). This is a small four string ukulele style Balkan instrument that we heard our neighbour Stonky used to play till his was lost during the war. It was probably one of the most expensive things Marko has bought from a flea market but he didn’t hesitate as new they sell for 5 times as much.

The pig ignores Marko and the present he is giving Stonky
Straight from the flea market to Stonky, lets hope he doesn’t keep us up at night with his Balkan thrash folk noise!
I’m legit! well I have a Croatian residence card which should make the cops happier when they stop us (in their search for refugees hiding in the back of our van!)

Talking of cops did you notice that pig above! It’s pretty big! One of Nada and Stonky’s little dogs often barks at it in anger and today we heard Nada shouting at said dog that it was crazy to do so!  After taking the photo below the pig wandered up to me and tried eating my shoes!

The tree sways back and forth as this huge animal uses it as a scratching stick.
This is Marko’s latest cashew based vegan soft cheese, its very good.

Not a tribute to the Pac Man computer game this is infact my recently recovered favourite kitchen knife and Marko’s marvelous soft cheese. It is soft but sliceable with a subtle spicy flavour.

Our first proper lunch out in the gazebo of 2019 was today.

Talking of food, today’s lunch (wild chard -foraged by Sunni, and potato with baked tempeh prepared by Marko) was eaten out in the sun under the gazebo. So hopefully I got some vitamin D as well.

The “plumbers” left the digger with us and its a serious temptation to use it for late night digging!

My extended Saturday morning lie in was disturbed at 8ish by the arrival of the “plumbers”. Not the Woda crew who fucked up my boiler installation and left our mains water running in to the spring water but a new crew called in to find out where our leak is. Whilst I was away detective Marko discovered the water meter keeps turning even when all our water taps and utilities are turned off! A bit of a waste of the worlds resources one might say and its ‘costing me money’!! When told me about this development over the phone I didn’t envisage the resulting scenes above and below but that damn leak is well hidden.

We have a leak but where is it?

The plumbers will return on Monday to continue their excavations of our concrete pathway around the house. 🙁 We have visitors arriving Tuesday!!!

Can you spot the tiger in the grass above?

Some things at Barabrith are just as they were when I left, the blue sky, the fresh air, the dogs barking and the kitten playing in the sun! But no the kitten is no more, sure she still pretends to be a tiger in the long grass but she is in fact part of the global catastrophy that I call ‘blind reproduction’ in other words she’s pregnant! The little trollope is only six months old! Anyone want a kitten?

Not so well camoflaged, Matchka stalks through the young wheat field.

Meanwhile out in the Upper Garden the trees and bushes are blossoming and Sunni is out planting more vegetables.

One of the fruit trees I moved ended up at a bit of an angle, but it survives!
Ena helps inspect one of the new fruit bushes in the upper garden.

I left the pots on the ground with some soil in so we’d remember what plant is what. Sunni says she is gonna name them with the tetra pack tags soon.

A blueberry bush planted in the autummn has survived the winter.
Sunni sows seeds in the spring sun.
Sunni out planting chard in the upper garden (she hates being photographed!)

My foot was rather swollen after Fridays day out in town so I stayed away from doing too much today. I did however give my windows their first clean and installed the window catches on the two middle windows that controversially open outwards! Windows in the Balkans and much of Europe do not open outwards unlike inthe UK where most do! I have no idea why this is so but I had to argue that yes that is what I wanted!! I was told that the windows would get broken by the wind and then it was I realised that a fortune could be made by importing window casements (catches) from the UK to these backward window opening areas! I had to have these catches sent over from the Isle of Brexit because they just don’t sell them over here!!! Go figure!

My middle windows wide open.
My 2018 birthday present window catches are finally installed!

I spent a few hours today resting in my hammock enjoying the warm air drifting through my windows. My dodgy foot raised high up as my podiatrist instructed and tonight I shall repeat the alternate immersion of my poor foot in hot and then cold water at five minute intervals to help reduce the swelling. Can’t wait…..

I’m back at Bara’

Yes here I am back on the Barabrith estate a million miles of difference from the Nightingale Estate!

A rather hairy me in my new shirt hand delivered from Gdl Mexico. Its the first t-shirt I have that is certainly too wide for me, its an XXXL but I like it 🙂

And here I am in my brand new genuine Guadalajara, Mexico shirt hand delivered by a friend of my old friends the Jaramillo family who sent me two shirts and two fancy pens! Muchas gracias!

So it was with some trepidation that I slid open the gate yesterday and stepped back on to “our land”. What would “the kids” (my affectionate term for Marko and Sunny, when they are not around) have done to the house and garden? How much damage had the cat caused? Visions of chaos and bad taste decisions we thankfully quickly dispelled. I had a good nights sleep back in my bed and now with only the one duvet and no heating.

The next morning, today, I managed to get up and downstairs just before midday. I made breakfast for Marko (his second of the morning) and myself which included the revival of my savoury porridge recipe that I’ve not made for a long time. Marko approved so it must be pretty good! Watch out future guests tomato porridge will be on the menu.

Then we set off on a tour of the gardens. See that space above, where Ena is standing we intend to build a greenhouse there. The little apricot coloured house we hope to turn into a sauna…. one day.

“The Kids” have been busy in the vegetable garden. One thing we learnt last year was that none of us could remember all that we had planted and where it was. So this year we are employing the almost indestructable insides of rice milk tetra packs to mark what is planted and its all bilingual (which maybe my comrades ever so just (and unusually) subtle attempt to suggest its about time I learnt some of the local fiendishly difficult language)

Bi lingual veg markers
Lettuce plants known over here as Salad
This garlic was planted last autumn and is now coming up nicely.
The very beginnings of our extensive onion crop start to sprout.
Ena gazes lovingly at me through the Siberian lemon bush .

We have a steep bank that bridges the height difference between the lower vegetable garden and the clover patch. We’ve planted various bushes along it and put grass seed down in the hope that we can defend the space from the brambles that covered it before. Whilst I was away a rather pretty Siberian Lemon tree (above) was added to this collection.

Potato bales

Marko does like to experiment with things and the above straw bales are one of his latest. Deep inside these two bales are little potatos in pockets of compost. The idea is that when a spud is ready you can take it out and leave the others to carry on growing rather than having to dig them all up at the same time and hope they are all mature. We shall see what happens…..!

Cherry trees

It’s not a very good picture but this view of our woods on the otherside of the valley shows fairly clearly the area we do not own in the middle that has been cut down. You can also see the white blossom on all the tall wild cherry trees.

Quince tree

Over in the newly named “Upper Garden” where we planted trees last year in spring and autumn the quince tree is producing bright green leaves.

Onions again

The Kids have planted a load of vegetables in the upper garden between the young trees and bushes. Here is a couple of lines on onions which is a good idea because we use a lot of onions!

Judas tree jinxed!

The Judas tree and another fancy ornamental bush we thought to decorate our entrance with are suffering the unwanted attention of the neighbours male dogs and their peeing habits. A protective fece is called for.


One of the mysteries of Croatia is why the fuck does bamboo cost so much? I mean in London you can buy a bag of small bamboo canes for garden or sexual abuse use for about £1.50. ver here each cane seems to cost about that amount which is doubly weird seeing as how most things cost less here. This is one reason why I smuggled some of my Dad’s altra aggressive self-propagating bamboo shoots over in my shoulder bad and planted them last autumn.  As you can see they don’t look too happy and maybe this explains why bamboo is more expensive over here!

Thanx for reading,  feedback by email or comments below is very welcome, cheerio, Jon

A footnote

Sorry for the recent blogging absence folks it will persist till I return to Barabrith in a few weeks time. I am currently recovering from a foot operation that means I can’t drive, cycle or walk without crutches and a big Velcro boot on my right foot.

Looking down at my feet.
My big black Velcro and plastic foot protecting boot on Shepherds Bush overground station.

The only upside of this situation is that I am back in the modern world of many vegan food options and I am trying out everything my limited mobility allows. I had a pretty full on schedule of meeting up with old and not so old comrades at different places but an attack of flu and the the operation cut may plans short. Now I await the return of  better mobility to continue the foodie fun.

Southend on a Sea’s seaside Saltwater cafe caters superbly to day tripper veggies and vegans
The best Italian vegan cuisine I have had the delight to sample is at Antonio’s in Hackney.
The three starter options at the Buffalo Bar pop up in Hackney went down a treat.

What happened to my foot you are wondering? Well many many months ago i accidentally kicked a box of books that some idiot had left on the floor in his bedroom! A few week or so later I was surprised the supposed bruise was still hurting. A month or so later I realised  I could no longer wear my steel toe cap boots to werk without the top of my right big toe rubbing against the cap. How did that happen? I thought the boot must have been squashed down and tried to reshape it to no avail. Eventually I ended up at a hospital talking to Podiatrists and having xrays. Turned out the trauma of the box kicking caused my joint to grow excess bone and to lose 80% of its movement and most of its cartilage. Doh.!

One week after the operation and inexplicably the nurses and podiatrist all described this swollen purpled mess as “pretty” and “looking good”!! Maybe the anaesthetic hadn’t entirely worn off?

A lot of procrastination and trying to work out when best to be laid up for a couple of weeks meant I delayed having my operation for almost a year. Now it’s done I’ve been told I need to keep my foot rested and safe from any further knocks for at least two months!! Double fuckin Doh!

A close up for the hard core, the yellowness is iodine not jaundice!

So I am currently staying with my Dad, playing scrabble and doing nothing much more physically strenuous  than that! I did get my sister to take me to a couple of vegan cafes (including Marta’s Green Door delight) but there’s not so many  in this area of the country as there are back in London.

I introduced my sister to the wonders of Super Singhs almost all vegan fast food joint by Heathrow airport and she loved it!
An excellent homemade seitan BLT and butternut squash soup from The Green Door at Rockaway Park, Templecloud near Bristol.

I probably won’t blog again till I’m back in Barabrith but we’ll see if this new urge to splurge my life out onto the Internet becomes too acute I may have to satiate the ego’s demands again!



Straw day and animals

Today we did some gardening. Laying down straw and a bit of bramble clearing. As with all things outdoors and many inside, Ena and Matchka got involved to varying degrees….

Sniffing the straw bales, cat style.
Our veg patch now resembles a flattened haystack (made of straw!)
Nothing happnes at Barabrith without Matchka getting involved.
The straw we got from a neighbour who has a whole barn full. The hope is that this covering will stifle the growth of weeds, keep the earth moist and soft.
Marko, Sunni and the straw shadow man lay down the weedkiller (we hope!)
Just look at that dog’s shadow.