Benches and border destruction.

The snow has gone and the day time temperature has reached the dizzying heights of 17degreesC! So we have done a bit of outdoor work. Removing the wire fence that divided our field, erecting a couple of benches and wallowing in the gloriious mud that is the “pool project”!

This little bench made of two uncut wood blocks and a bit of 2 by 8!
The view down the hill from the best vantage point of our estate.
Sanja wrapped in what looks suspiciously like another piece of my “vintage” (ie something I bought back in the day) punk rock vegan clothing, with Ena up to her usual over friendly tricks again
Bench legs, boots n legs and a bit of thigh!
Sanja takes a moment to herself. For those who don’t know and maybe wondering, Slime was a german punk band that I fell in love with long ago, hence their logo on my jacket. Sanja likes them too!
Sanja the pole destroyer in action. One border that she could not just ignore but actually eradicate with glee, if only we could do the same to nation state borders!
As post by post falls and the wire is would up in a ball the lower field joins the upper field to become “the field”.
Sanja turns the physical labour in to a sport, which is funny seeing as both concepts are totally foriegn to her!
Thats me thats is! That rugby top has been with me for about 20 years. I found it on a rail of new stripey rugby shirts in the old Hackney Wick flea market one Sunday. It cost about 2 quid and when I got home I realised I was an idiot for not having bought all the red and black ones they had. Sure enough the next weekend there were plenty other colour variations left but not one of our beloved revolutionary red and black!
Nope its not an impromtu Tai Chi break or practising defending myself from Sanja after I make another of my hilarious “jokes” at her expense. Nope there is in fact a wire fence buried in to the brambles that I am pulling out, use a bit of magnification you might be able to see it!
Sanja wields her rusty scythe with devastating effects of the brambles that used to line the field fence.
Sanja attempts “coy” whilst leaning on her as yet unused spade and our second bench that looks out over the lower bit of the field.
The second bench, stands next to a little oak tree and overlooks the very bottom of the field. out of sight fromthe house it will be a good spot to hide or read or both!
Sanja tried her best at moving the mud around at the “pool project”. The stream is still running fast and furious thanx to the snow.
“Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood” … the Barabrith hippo at work.

Snow fun

I think these are all self explanatory all though a couple may be a bit bewildering! The snow that gave us this exceitement all but disappeared when it started to come down again and now we are looking out at another picture postcard winter view but without the coca cola truck! At the end are three video links, you might need to click them or might think better of it.

A cautious practise run in the upper field.
Wierdly one of the two sledges I got down out of the wooden house attic just refused to work so we were down to one run at a time and sharing…!
The worst thing about sledging for Sanja is having to bring the sledge back up the hill and then give it to someone else to enjoy…..
The term “top heavy” comes to mind even on this gentlw practice slope.
yeah that “top heavy” factor kept kicking in and turning me over but not before I felt like a rocket man on snow!
She wouldn’t usually wave like that but it’s something I’m trying to develop as a theme.

Kiki a gogo

Now thats the way to do it! With grace, style and elegance and if not then at least with a big smile, one leg in the air and a yelp!

2up going down

This was a bit ambitious as far as covering a long distance was concerned but like much of our fun together it was an intense and noisy ride however quick.


Showing off only gets you in trouble in the end…. see! To be fair though it was actually reall warm out there the sun was blazing down and I guess reflecting back up off the snow too!

Does too much sun and snow make you crazy as well as blind? Or was this just the ultimate showing off to my poor Sanja who it seems to me feels cold 98% of the time whenever outdoors, either way there is surely no excuse.

Back at Barabrith, wiv moja ‘bird’!

We made it back across the hallowed EU border, Sanja coughed up for a PCR test and I promised that we had no alcohol of fags on board and that was it, waved through. A relief for us, you never know what they might do to you at such border crossings but my relief is always tempered by my sense of guilt that the knowledge of what happens to refugees at such crossings is always infinitely worse.

The car came back from Belgrade with a layer Belgrade polution nicely covering its outer shell. A sobering indication of what is now clogging up my bronchioles having spent a week or more there.

So a quick reccy of the kitchen brought the joyous news that all my mugs had stayed on their shelves despite the big earthquake only 75km away a few weeks ago and the numerous smaller ones that followed it.

It was damn cold the first night and my desire to not use the wood burning stove heater anymore soon gave way to my desire to remain unfrozen. Sanja was refusing to come out from under the two layers of duvets covering our bed! Lots of emails, ebay and etsy for me to catch up on meant Sanja had to drag me outside for a walk.

Sanja drags me out for a walk “to get some fresh air” she says but i think she just wanted an excuse to wear my Subhumans hat again, she loves it sooooo much! Small samples of snow remain dotted around, sadly not sufficient for snowballing.
Ena shows Sanja just how happy she is to see her again, or at least I think that’s what she’s doing!
The little brook at the bottom of our hill is flowing nicely with freshly melted snow water.

We set up Sanja’s laptop with my projector and watched a few things on her Netflix account. Our eyes still firmly “squared” from all the “TV” gawping we did in Belgrade it felt a bit like taking methadone to come off heroin. Pretend it’s a City was however  a suprising joy to watch. Whilst having one of our potentially dangerously divisive discussions about what to watch next I remembered having just listened to Radio 4’s Soul Music programme all about  David Bowie’s Life on Mars song! Sanja is nothing if not a anglophile when it comes to “telly” and so I dug out some old discs with Life on Mars avi’s downloaded on to them. To my suprise they have played nicely in the DVD player and so that last few nights we have been transported back to Machester, 1973 courtesy of the BBC drama and Sanja is learning all kinds of language that I hope she doesn’t repeat when we get to play scrabble with my fathers friends!!

Amongst the mail waiting for me on the kitchen table was a copy of the new One Way Ticket to Cubesville from the venerable zinester Richard Cubesville! Sanja was engrossed by it for most of the next afternoon, needing only a flask of hot spicy apple juice to keep her going.

Then it snowed, properly and we got to finally have  a proper snow ball fight!

The western view early this morning.
A panaromic view of the non view down the hill! Snow and fog combine to blanket out the world!
“I am just going outside and may be some time.” she said ….
Soon this gate will be redundant, as we take away the fence it is part of, but I think I will leave it in place anyway.
By way of an explanation for this tortured visage and indeed tis torturous to behold; the subject was still recovering fom a direct hit to her – well protected – head from a prfectly aimed snow ball that flew a good 15 meters before striking said bonce!
This pretty picture hides the viscious truth that the bushes below are a spiky no go zone unless you are wearing all over body armour!
One of us has been scoring bulls eyes with snow balls and t’other keeps missing, I’ll let you guess which.
Painting this gate red was a stroke of artistic genius!
“Yeah its just like ice cream, go on try some” I said, not for one moment believing she would…….
Its quite fascinating how different a view is during different seasons. The area immediately on the other side of the red gate is usually impassably blocked by 7 foot high brambles and other undergrowth.
You can see why we get on…. another example of Sanja doing what I would do without any prompting!
Ok, who can guess what this is? Winners will be announced in the next post.
For those of you, like me, who can’t get enough…


Bg makes Zg smell good!

Never one to make unfair jokey comments at other peoples expense!

This is my second time in Belgrade during the corona crisis and so there are a lot less activities going on here. Those that are I am not allowed to partake of thanks to my zealous “carer” Sanja who worries about my fragile constitution’s ability to cope with  a Covid attack! So we have completed two jigsaws, binged on Netflix And downloads till our eyes became oblong, played Boggle and spent a lot of time in bed.

So here are some random images from the last few days.

Excruciating on the old eyeballs! I ended up using a magnifying plats to help me with this!
Finally completed one of our new jigsaw puzzles.
These puzzles , oh what fun, the genius who thought up the idea of doing a puzzle with an image that is not the actual one on the box but associated with it… just wait til I get my hands on him or her!
The face of joy and contentment as Sanja realises the daft nature of the 1000 piece puzzle design we have just completed
Much amusement can be found watching cats chase each other or little objects around the flat. This dozy creature provides entertainment by doing such laid back things as staring for inordinate lengths of time at nothing and getting himself entangled in such things as a pair of my underpants!

This post was written whilst I was in BG but I failed to press the “publish” button and so it has languished unread and uncared for till now…..


Anyone with a modicum of Balkan history knowledge will know that there have been a fair few battles fought in this area over the years.  We all know how history is written by the victor but what is interesting here is how history or the “appreciation “ of it changes depending on who is in power. Yugoslavia – that was the communist state that no longer exists , for those of you who have not been paying attention – was very proud of its role in defeating the fascists in WW2. (Let’s not get sidetracked by the Croatian fascist regime that fought alongside the Nazis , or the oppression carried out by the commies for now.) Tito, aka Mr Yugoslavia, was a partisan fighter and so it’s not surprising that his regime dotted the country with memorials to fallen partisans and other victims of fascism. These memorials, called Spomeniks, are not though like the boring Cenotaph type structures one see’s in the U.K.. many are wildly imaginative or just plain weird. There is a website all about them and it has long been my intention to visit as many of the more dramatic ones as possible. The current regimes ruling the former Yugoslavia appear to have little time for these monuments to resistance and many are in a terrible state of neglect. So  yesterday Sanja and I drove out of Belgrade to see what is left of some of the “Serbian” ones!

This little beauty represents the torture and oppression that the fascists heaped upon their victims. It sits just outside the town of Pančevo on the outskirts of Belgrade.
“The monument here at the Jabuka spomenik complex (named “Stratište”), situated along the Tamiš River, commemorates the roughly 10,000 Serb, Jewish and Roma victims who were executed at this spot during World War II, between 1941 and 1945.“
The inscription is a bit … it may have lost something in translation … well see what you think…. “Star at the beginning, star at the end of our red furrow”.
To give you an idea of the size, I couldn’t reach the metal bits even when standing on tip toes!
This wacky design is probably the best maintained Spom’ I have seen although the mini amphitheatre at the back of the complex appears to be being ignored. The design is that of the earth being ploughed to commemorate the farmers of the area who alongside the Jews, partisans and Roma were executed at this site. There are cameras, lights, fresh wreaths and neatly cut grass at the front of this monument so somebody must care about this one for some reason.
“This monument in Zrenjanin commemorates the beginning of the uprising in Vojvodina against Axis occupation by Partisan rebels which occurred in this area on June of 1941.” So says the Spomenik website and goes on to give lurid details of the Nazi atrocities in the area as well as information of the design and symbolism – its a plough- of this sadly neglected monument.
This spikey spomenik is sadly neglected and now surrounded by rubbish and dodgy looking dwellings not to mention the poseur punx leaning on the partisan popularity for personal profit!
Oh no more self aggrandisement on the backs of the executed partisans….. a long period of introspection and humbleness should be prescribed.
Here is the text from the Spomenik website about this awesome memorial…..
“The Black Ćuprija on the Tisa River:
Roughly 15km west from the center of Zrenjanin, near the town of Žabalj, is a monument which honors local Žabalj victims of the Novi Sad Raid who were killed near this location by the Hungarian fascist Honvédség forces during January of 1942. During this raid, over 660 residents of the town of Žabalj were murdered, with over 250 of those being women and children. Many victims were executed by firing squad, but some were also thrown into the frozen waters of the Tisa River. This monument, created in 1962 by Serbian sculptor Jovan Soldatović [profile page] and titled Black Ćuprija (Crna Ćuprija), is composed of three bronze figures standing roughly 9m tall (Slides 1 – 5). These naked figures are depicted as thin and gaunt, with grotesque holes covering their bodies, perhaps as a means to reflect the horrors committed upon the local people during the raid. In addition, this work also honors all victims from here in the Šajkaška region who perished during the war. In 1991, this site was proclaimed by the Serbian government to be a Cultural Monument of Great Importance.“
The beauty of these three is they look good from a distance and even more powerful close up.
Apologies to the sculptor, the victims commemorated and to you the viewer……. it’s a sickness, I can’t help it, the selfie craving is so strong…..
These characters are really very impressive despite now being stuck in a golf club, although given the state of repair of other their positioning might be a blessing in disguise!
What can one say…
The home page of the very informative though rather “clunky” Spomenik website.

Safe in Bg?

Just a quickie to let you know that I have forsaken the fresh air and comfortable living of Barabrith to be with Sanja in Belgrade., Serbia. Here Covid is rampant and the air pollution akin to the middle of the Blackwall tunnel at 5pm on a Friday. It however does not have earthquakes quite like Croatia does, we felt the thing, it was a weird wave like shake but it was minimal, Sanja actually thought it was me shaking the bed!  Today we went out to inspect one of the mega partisan monuments about an hours drive outside Belgrade. We got there just as the sun set.

Cold progress

There I was wittering on about frost one day and what happens the next? It goes and snows! Properly! Not nough to cause problems but enough to induce one to drive very carefully! Geez how old am I getting?

There was no sign of snow when I drove in to town to drop Marko off at the station. A couple of hours later when I returned…
The top section of the road to Barabrith was untouched snow and driving up the hill caused the auto skid control to kick in a considerable amount!
The garage is a little on the short side for protecting the car from such weather. Something must be done!
Matchka – the cat- must have thought of climbing my stairs to her fave vantage point and then changed her mind.
The old apple and plum trees settle in for another winter.
I doubt the solar panels will be generating much power under that lot!
The apple tree that bore the fruit the latest now has snow hanging off it as well as a few hardy apples.

and then the almost obligatory selfie just for comic relief at the end of an otherwise not very entertaining post…

Thats not crap photography, well yes it is…. but the white out is not due to a failure of contrast or exposure. It all went white!

A short walk at the beginning of December.

I went out today and did “the circuit” down across my fields and up through the woods. Turn left at the top along the track that follows the ridge along to Slatko’s, where his dogs do the best to make you feel unwelcome, and then down through the woods to where the track meets the top of our road. A bit of fresh air and exercise for me pins.

One of the little fruit trees near the house had frost on it all day today.
Sun flowers that are not very sunny.
The Elderflower tree still has some leaves on it.
A tower of frosty twig.
This is one of my new tree saplings totally encased in frost. How is it possible that life can survive through these conditions and later grow and one day bear fruit?
The dark branches of the best tree in the village. Perfect for a tree house but growing about 3 metres outside my land!
The path to the red gate stays green amidst the frosted long grass of the lower field at 3 oclock in the afternoon.
Oak leaves with frosty edges on one of the little trees in the lower field.
There was no sign of frost in amongst the trees.
The track along the ridge of the valley heading towards Slatko’s.
Just how could that tree have fallen there and not smashed that roof? That corrugated roof stuff is not that tough. This is on the way back from Slatko’s to the village by the lower path.
Leaves underfoot in the woods just above the village. Its not a very clear shot but the colours are what I was interested in.

A short walk in the sun and a dam inspection

This morning I set off for a quick (ish) walk down around the lower field. The sun was out but it was nice and chilly. The dogs ran ahead of me.

Left to right, The gazebo, the house, the neighbours house behind the pear tree and then the smoking shed!!!
The rickety old fence that divides the upper and lower fields will probably be removed early next year.
One last leaf on one of the sapling sI moved to the lower field. Will it survive the winter or not?
Another last leaf clings on to a replanted sapling. This one protected by a stick stockade! Will it help it survive the coming cold?
Are these the late autumn or winter colours of the lower field and woods?
About the only bright colours left in the lower field is the rosehiop buds. Strange how just one branch of this bush retains all its leaves and the rest have gone.
Leaves from one of the little oak tress in tne lower field.
The little brook is merrily flowing along unaware of its impending change!
Ena inspects the dam works.
The dogs stayed on the old path back up the hill occasionally looking down at me with a bemused stare.
Paths to the left and paths to the right, what would the little people say?

And now back at my keyboard ready to do some tutoring or should that be tuttoring? maybe easier to just say teaching!…..ho hum!

Mist and murals

I’ve spent too much time inside on the computer of late. And now I’ve commited myself to doing some online English tutoring this situation can only get worse! Still when the stove is lit the room is warm and I have plenty to read.

Most mornings and sometimes most of the day has looked like this from my easterly exit! Today though we are being blessed with some afternoon sun!
The little Radonjia river is not so little again!
The last bit of bush gets scythed out of the way so all my pathways across the lower field are now linked up. And then in spring they will all start becoming overgrown within a week or so of the first sunny days and I will be dead on my feet trying to keep them clear…. oh what a bright future to behold.
The walls of Karlovac are occasionally decorated with fine murals, this is one of a local writer/ poet. “None of us knows what awaits him tomorrow, and happiness may be right there, next to you, not gone forever, not so far away” – Slavko Mihalić.  It looks out from the edge of a small housing estate very close to the centre of town.
Here’s another just across the road from t’other. This one was obviously done when the whole block was redecorated. I wonder who she is…? a quick google and translation tells me.. this is ” Croatian writer and teacher Dragojla Jarnević” presumably a local!?
More here for the keen…
This is what the next wall down the street looks like. I titled it “The Art of War” artist unknown (!?)  it shows the scars of bullets and grenades from a few decades ago as do so many old walls in Karlovac.
There is also lots of unofficial (I assume!) nationalist graffitti/murals often linked to football teams and rather scary! This one is within sight of the other two above.