The last two days….

Yesterday was Sanja’s birthday so we gorged on food and the Soprano’s and rounded the day off with Hannah Gadsby! The day before began with a coating of snow all over the place but it soon melted away. The temperature has however dropped.

The mornng after we planted the first crop of the year…… it snowed! Still it melted away within a few hours so maybe our baby onions will survive!
Bright blue sky and snow on the big apple tree.
Heading off on a little walk in the woods above our “village” I was struck by how few bad selfies I’ve subjected you to of late. Not long after Sanja saw some wild dear on the spot so I guess I’m not as frightening as I thought/look!
With most of the snow gone from the trees it was a suprise to see this lot holding out, resting on a small but thick canopy of leaves, despite the sun.
Sanja chooses the path we take through the woods.
With the agility of a mountain goat and the energy of a teenager on steroids Sanja climbs up for a better view!

Then yesterday we headed off south in to our woods….

Snow drops or Grandma’s tears as they call them around here are abundant in the woods now
A rotting log with some colourful fungi brings a touch of colour variation to the forest floor.
Some rather delicate blueish/purple flowers popping their heads out through the woods floor covering of dry brown leaves.
Bit like a mini orchid these ones!
“If you go down in the woods today you,re in for a big surprise” comes to mind!
Undoubtedly the most common flower in the woods at the moment are these pale yellow things!
Undoubtedly the prettiest flower in the woods yesterday was the birthday girl herself!
Bushwhacked after our trek through the woods birthday girl stretches out on the lower bench.
Yesterday – IWD – we were the Red jacket Brigade!

Netfix comes to town!

We wondered who had taken over our fave local tourist spot for most of 2019 and now we know! The Petrova Gora monument building is now world famous as it features in the Netflix series Tribes of Europa. The historical parallels are ironic if not amusing!

Reading this introduction to the Tribes of Europa series, you have to wonder if the premise for this apocalyptic sci fi adventure story is not in someway inspired by the story of Yugoslavia where much of it was shot!
Ah now there’s a shot of Petrova Gora that I can only dream of taking, unless I get a drone for my birthday!! The star of the show is just visible in the “window” of the top of the left section in the middles of the building!
The Petrova Gora war memorial is invaded by an army again!
When the film crew took over the building they cleaned it up and then redecorated it. All the graphitti, stickers etc were removed from the walls and floors up to the 5th floor above which they didn’t film any higher I guess. They repainted everything with a green mould effect to look like a couple of decades of neglect had set in, which it already had at Petrova Gora!
This room is on the ground floor of the building and the bizarre looking table feature was created by and taken away by the film unit. The lower walls of the “windows” were however built by them with polystyrene covered with hardboard and decorated with “decay” effects. Those new walls are still in situ.
This door is my fave bit of the programmes “left behinds” I have taken gloomy photos of it in the past and put them up on this blog but here it is in all its TV, electrified glory. The amusing thing is that it goes nowhere in reality but with TV trickery we are led to believe that it leads to a whole other room, a big one with a cage in the middle.
Here is the basement again but this time done up as a prison to house the everso dangerous “Crow” captive. This is in fact the same room as the one above., preumably they shot these scenes first then destroyed the “cage” and made it the HQ of the Crimson crew!
This shot of the basement is taken from the stairs leading down to it which are always pitch black when we visit and forget to bring torches. The broken columns in the centre wereleft behind by the film crew and indeed are just visible in the gloom from the outer door that is to the right of this picture at the back of the truck.

Sanja and I only got as far as episode three and gave up. The story is really cliched and simple, I guess it’s aimed at teenagers. I will watch the rest at some point just to see how much more of the monument is featured, so far it is by far the most exciting part of the show.

A few pix

Been spending quite  a bit of time, on-line, teaching folk how to speak proppa! Also Sanja and I signed up for the full 8 season popular business studies class at the Soprano academy. we normally manage three or four “lessons” an evening. For me it’s  a refresher course but for Sanja it’s her first time in New Jersey! Here are a few pictures of the times we’re not on the sofa or in front of our screens!

Now be honest doesn,t Dennis look positively innocent compared to the menacing minx sitting cross legged?
A pose I suppose! Nothing,s more important than adopting the correct stance when taking ones tea break, dontcha know?
You may well wonder, what on earth is he up to? As I do myself embarrasingly often! however this “project” featured in the previous photo as well is the bastardisation of what is probably a genuine art when practiced by some. I am attempting to build little fences around young saplings using the masses of excess of boring little spruce trees we have. They may not keep the greedy deer at bay but they are fun to construct!
B and B now stands for breakfast on the bench!
I did think of asking you to “Spot the Ball” on this one but perhaps itd be more appropriate to ask for the best “caption” to go with it? No points for the winner, and no points means… no prizes!
This picture is instructive not just because it shows a happy Sanja about to tuck in to her breakfast or because she is proudly modelling her brand new kinky boots! Nope this picture shows how easy it is to screw up an otherwise good picture by “alledged” photogographer getting his stupid shadow in the frame… DOH!
A piece a joy. This was the first time we used the refurbished wooden table that had been left to rot and die. It’s great to be back in the gazebo again too!
Having spent the last two decades rather spoilt for vegan choices and often the first amongst my friends to see and try new products as they came on to the market it is a weird throwback to get all excited again when your local supermarket starts a new vegan line. But in this animal unfriendly culture called Croatia I got quite moist at the news of three frozen vegan pizzas being available from Lidl! They are pretty good too!
Some of us were born with an indian all you can eat buffet silver fork in their mouth. Others have no excuse for looking like that!
Other than under a thick duvet I think this spot is now Sanjas favourite place at Barabrith. She eats every she can on it and spends large chunks of the day reading their too.
Breakfast in the sun on the bench is becoming a regular event for this pair of goons.
Yesterday evening we did the first planting of the season. It might be a bit early but if the gamble pays off we’ll have our onions again soon!

A day in Rijeka

We were invited for lunch ‘chez Kev’ in Rijeka and Kev being a bit of a clever dude when it comes to the vegan cuisine… off we went! I failed to take photos of the food but trust me, it was good!

Our guide and chef sits in the sun on the harbour wall at a safe distance from the sensory overload that is Sanja.
Along the Rijeka harbour wall there were several of these little plaques with quotaions from various seafareres from all over that had passed through the port in the last hundred years or so.
Sanja carefully surveys the Rijeka harbour before taking another snap of the industrial view across the water. Maybe she was fantasising that the big concrete tubes might hold equally big Pringle crisps within!
Take your time and remember this is a safety sign in the Balkans.
A rusty wreck floats slowly past an similarly rusty wreck on the harbour wall taking photos.
Sanja the slob tries to appear cool whilst surveying the view from the end of the slob zone of Rijeka harbour wall.
A pair of rowers pass by the end of the harbour wall and through the reflection of the setting sun.

Flowers and ice in the woods

We went for a walk yesterday….

There are very little signs of the snow and ice that covered the estate last week left. This little patch by the brook in the cool shelter of the trees is the last outpost and very pretty at that!
Our little brook is doing a good job of producing some wonderful ice sculptures.
What can you see in the ice? A shark stalking a rabbit? A smiley ice comet! No prizes for the best “vision” submitted by Feb 25th.
and here?
The first vivid colours of spring to appear in the woods, besides Sanjas jumper.
My little flower walks on down the track past some little yellow flowers.
This is what “our” wooods look like when they have been logged. Needless to say we will not be doing this to our couple of hectares.
Sanja finds it rather too hot having Dennis the Menace hiding down her pants!

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.