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Friday, December 26, 2008


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Season's Greetings!

May I wish all my visitors to my Blog the compliments of the season and very best wishes for the comin year.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Comedy TV

Last night, Channel 5 on UK TV had a three hour long programme devoted to TV’s Greatest Christmas Comedy Moments – I watched most of it and revelled in the rich pickings offered and I will probably watch again when the show repeats on Christmas Eve.
It showed a wonderful variety of writing and acting talent that brought back many chuckles and even belly laughs as I watched familiar and not so familiar shows. There were scenes from Only Fools and Horses, Dad's Army and The Office. Famous Christmas Special moments such as the Morecambe and Wise Show with the newsreader Angela Rippon dancing, Dawn French having too many Christmas dinners as she goes around her parishioners in her guise as the Vicar of Dibley, and from Only Fools and Horses the amazement of Del and Rodney when the sale of their forgotten Harrison watch is sells at auction for millions of pounds, changing their lives forever. OK, perhaps not a very highbrow show and quite predictabled, but one to remind one of the great depth of comedy talent that TV has brought us over many years. Old friends that I had met as guests at my parents’ home in Highgate appeared. Paul Eddington in The Good Life, Graham Crowden in Porridge as the Doctor at Slade Prison telling Fletcher that he’s malingering. Many more too that had me chuckling my way to bed last night. I will try to record the re-run of this programme on Christmas Eve.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

My World List! December 2008

Before my memory goes completely and as a reminder so that future plans may be made to visit other counties or of course to revisit old favourites, here is a life list of countries visited so far!

Falkland Islands
South Africa
South Georgia

AND Antarctica

British Columbia

New York
Washington DC
New Jersey

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Brunel and Bristol

This is an interesting audio-slide show from the BBC on the subject of Robert Howlett - remembered as the photographer of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and his achievements, many of which are evident around Bristol to this day.

Well worth a look!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Richard III

This little lead, hand-painted figure is one given to my late father on the set, while father was making the film Richard III with Lawrence Olivier back in 1955. Filming was done in Spain and so some scenes show typical Spanish skies and olive trees, rather than the green countryside of England around Bosworth Field. Nevertheless the film, recently digitally remastered on DVD is an epic of its genre and has wonderful performances from the cast. My father took the part of the Duke of Norfolk and this little model is of him in his court costume. Presumably the artist presented models to other actors in the cast, but I have no further information. I will try to add photos from the film but at this moment have not copied any to my computer.
Now obtained! My father on left - Lawrence Olivier on the right.

Monday, November 24, 2008

England Expects...

One of the most interesting books in my library is a copy of the International Code of Signals published for the use of ships at sea by the British Board of Trade in 1899. I don’t know when or if later editions were published but there was, presumably not much further use of flag messaging after the invention of radio and signalling by morse code.
“Every schoolboy knows” that before the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 Admiral Nelson sent a message to his fleet using flag hoists which read “
England expects that every man will do his duty”. My book has various sections, dealing with phrases, individual words, national flags, places around the world. The end papers contain fascinating advertisements of use to shipmasters such as “McInnes’s Anti-corrosive and Anti-fouling Compositions for Ships’ Bottoms. As used by Principal Companies at Home and Abroad. Contracts to the Admiralty. Sole Manufacturers: John McInnes & Son, 13 North Street, Liverpool. Another example: John Phillips & Co, 17 Anderston Quay, Glasgow, advertising cooking apparatus for use in steam ships.
Next time the Antiques Roadshow comes to Bristol I will try to take it for a valuation, hoping that it has increased from the fifteen shillings (£0.75) I originally paid for it, about 40 years ago!

From the three-letter codebook:-
KCQ – Crew have mutinied.
INP – I have been chased by disguised war vessel.
ETN – Do not approach the coast as it is mined!

Greetings from AEQC (Bristol)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The New President

I stayed up late last night watching the BBC's coverage of the US Presidential Election. Gripping stuff! Once it was a forgone conclusion that Barrack Obama was winning the race, I eventually went to bed. I now find that he has secured a landslide victory and general congratulation from most quarters. What a task confronts him though! Moving to see the joyful tears of Jesse Jackson, the excitement of young America of all colours, even the support and graciousness of those he defeated. Interesting times! Good luck America!
One more thought! - I will greatly miss the memorable gaffes and faux-pas of George W who was so worryingly ignorant about so much of the world.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Allt y Rhiw


Update on the old homestead.
Mr & Mrs Whitthread, who bought my parent's property at auction three years ago have decided to sell it again. I gather that despite all the impr improvements to the home, that they are, sadly, planning to divorce and sell the house. The above link has all the details. It originally went on the market at £750,000 but I see that the price is now reduced to £695k. I am sure someone will snap it up before long.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Wheelbarrow Graveyard

In September I booked myself onto a couse at a school of painting run by a cousin of mine who has been gaining a name for himself as a Welsh painter, sculptor and printmaker. He runs the courses from his old watermill on the banks of the River Banwy in Mid-Wales, in the old county of Montgomeryshire. Accommodation was in the cottage next to the mill, and three other students and I assembled for lessons and practical sessions which were enjoyed immednsly. David is very knowledgeable and was encouraging even going so far as to praise some of my efforts.

Down the gap between the old mill and one of the studios there is a patch of rough ground which fascinated me. In it, there are various bits of timber, roof slates pots, a mannequin's leg and other random discarded items, but most intriguing was the number of deceased wheelbarrows. Not just one or two but four or five in various stages of decay or overgrowth. There are three in the above photo but behind me there were more. I thought of the Time Team archaeologists in centuries to come, digging down to find so many of these strange objects in one place, and thought of sketching the yard myself but in the event only took photos. A few metres away from the graveyard was a pond and here many waterboatmen, curious litte insects that skim accross the surface of the water among the duckweed! Another photo opportunity!

I have returned!!

Though I have been regularly checking for my e-mails by using the public access PCs at the local library in Filton, at long last and with the diligent help of Ibi during her recent visit, I am now back "Up and running" with a new Dell Inspiron laptop and good internet connection. I have been away from the blog too long and my typing, never good anyway, needs more practice. Please forgive any typos! I will publish more later and I would like to thank all my recent visitors who have looked for me here over the last three months but have found nothing new to look at. I'll do my best and try to have a few words and interesting pictures added on a regular basis. More later....

Friday, August 29, 2008

Quick Mesage!

My PC is sick! A virus is suspected, anyway I'm here in the local Library so I'm still mnore or less in contact with the world until my PC shop has sorted out the bugs. Back soon I hope!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Return of the Humpback

Good News for once from Nora Schultz in today's issue of New Scientist, though the comment from Thilo Maack of Greenpeace expecting Japan to call for a resumption of whaling operation is sad.

Four decades after their hunting was banned in 1966, the humpback whale seems to have finally swum clear of the danger zone.
On the newest compilation of the
Red List of Threatened Species, humpbacks are no longer classed as "vulnerable" but have made the leap into the "least concern" category, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature announced on Tuesday. The reclassification is sure to encourage pro-whaling countries to lift the ban on commercial humpback whaling.
Randall Reeves, chair of the Cetacean Specialist Group of the
IUCN Species Survival Commission, who led the assessment, says that the humpbacks' recovery is down to the ban on whaling.
"It's pretty clear-cut. Of all the large whales, humpbacks are maybe the best at responding to the availability of food and breeding habitat, so as long as you leave them alone, they have a strong capacity to bounce back."
Safe to hunt?
Greenpeace campaigner Thilo Maack says he fully expects Japan to call for a resumption of commercial whaling.
"But we must not forget that even if numbers have improved, they are still miles away from what they used to be before whaling started. Commercial hunting should definitely not be allowed."
Reeves says he hopes that the good news "will not be used to reverse the humpbacks' recovery. But if there was a concrete proposal for very precautionary, sustainable whaling on the table, then we have to talk about it."
The IUCN estimate that there are now at least 40,000 mature humpback whales, up from a total population of less than 1500 before the ban was introduced, but still significantly below the estimated 240,000 humpbacks in the pre-whaling days.
Disappearing dolphins
Along with the humpback whale, the
Southern right whale has also made it into the "least concern" category. But the future does not look as rosy for many small cetaceans, which continue to be taken in large numbers as fisheries by-catch.
"It is frightening how quickly and quietly some dolphins and porpoises are disappearing," says Reeves. "There is no blood and gore and no whaling ships. They are just quietly dying entangled in fishing nets."

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Small Tortoiseshell

Kettlewell, Yorkshire -September 2006

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Antarctic Photo of the Day

Photo taken 22 November 2005 - Click to enlarge.

St Andrew's Bay - South Georgia

King Penguins with sleeping Elephant Seal in the background

Monday, July 07, 2008

Welcome boys!

Tibi, Norbi and Peti together with Ibi their English teacher, came to stay with me for five days. They flew into Bristol from Budapest on Monday 24th June. All were just about squeezed into my small flat and we all enjoyed (I hope) a packed itinerary of visits. On the first full day we visited Brandon Hill and its Grey Squirells. Expressing a desire to see a major football stadium, we failed to get into Bristol City's stadium as preparations were being made there for a concert by Bon Jovi but we had a look at the Suspension Bridge and Clifton before returning home. The football crazy boys were more satisfied the next day when we all took a coach to Birmingham, where we did manage to include a trip to Aston Villa's Doug Ellis Stadium and also experienced the Imax film about the prehistoric dinosaur T. Rex. We also visited Weston Super Mare where the boys visited the Aquarium and managed to get down to to the sandy beach for a few minuted with their toes in the Atlantic Ocean.

On Saturday we walked to Parkway Statiom and got the train to London where we "did" the major tourist sights: Westminster, Parliament, Buckingham Palace, St James Park, changing the guards at Horsegaurds Parade, Trafalgar Square and the London Eye. I was sad to see them go last Monday, they had been great company.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Eskimo Curlew

The Eskimo Curlew – Numenius Borealis (Museum specimen)

The curlew and its distinctive call has always had special fascination for me. It was one of the sounds that I remember from a very early age, first hearing the wonderful plaintive call echoing around the Welsh hills, then seeing them flying between nearby feeding grounds. These were the European Curlew Numenius arquata the largest of European wading birds. However since reading “The Last of the Curlews” by Fred Bodsworth (London 1964) which is a sad and moving tale of the inevitable extinction of the Eskimo Curlew, I have regularly "Googled" for possible news of the species.
The following link is from the excellent Depasrtment of Ornitology at Cornell University in New York State: -
In the nineteenth century this Curlew was a common sight on migration between its summer breeding grounds in the tundra of Canada’s North West Territories and the pampas of Argentina. Between 1870 and 1890, unrestricted hunting rapidly reduced populations of these curlew. Considered very good to eat, the birds were killed by thousands of market hunters, just as the Passenger Pigeon had been years earlier. The curlew's lack of fear and habit of traveling in large flocks made it an easy target. Since reading their story and suspected demise, I have kept an eye open for news of the species, in the forlorn hope that perhaps a few might still survive; it seems not, but I found this from The Guardian newspaper from 2005:
In 1962 another rapidly declining North American species, the Eskimo curlew, was seen in Texas. In the four decades since, several other sightings have been claimed, but none has totally convinced the authorities whose job it is to pass judgment on records of rare birds.
With any species like these, on the brink of annihilation, there is a point at which we must finally admit that it has become extinct. Yet, it is human nature to hang on to the slim hope that a lost population may somehow, somewhere, survive.
So perhaps even now a flock of Eskimo curlews is migrating unseen across the crowded North American airspace, on the epic journey from their South American winter quarters to breed in the wilds of Alaska. With the resurrection of the ivory-billed woodpecker, this may not be quite as farfetched as it seems.
A close relative of the Eskimo curlew is now considered to be Europe's rarest bird. Once common, the slender-billed curlew underwent a rapid decline during the 20th century, and by the 1990s could only reliably be seen at a single site in northern Morocco. Gradually numbers there fell, until finally none remained.
But in May 1998, in a remarkable turn of events, a small curlew resembling this species was found at Druridge Bay in Northumberland, England. Though photographed and even captured briefly on video, the identification was doubted by some sceptics, who simply could not believe that such a rare bird could turn up in Britain.
Away from the well-watched regions of Europe and North America, it is much more likely that birds long considered extinct may yet be rediscovered. The last known Spix's macaw disappeared from its native forest in north-eastern Brazil some time towards the end of the last millennium.
But some species simply refuse to lie down and die. BirdLife recently revealed a possible sighting of the legendary pink-headed duck, the first since before the Second World War, in the remote region of northern Burma. Frustratingly, the bird was seen for just three minutes; and none of the observers had a camera to hand — making it yet another in the long line of "ones that got away." Which brings us to the $64,000 question. Is there any chance — however remote — that any of the three best known extinct birds in history could still be alive, awaiting rediscovery? In ascending order of notoriety, they are the passenger pigeon, whose flocks once darkened the skies over North America; the great auk, the last British example of which was killed by islanders who thought it was a witch; and finally the dodo, which fell victim to hungry sailors and the even hungrier dogs, cats and rats they brought with them.
Were any of these birds to be found again, it would be front-page news all over the world. Sadly, there is about as much chance of this happening as of Elvis being found alive. But then again, we can always dream ...
- Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Cook-out by the Körös

I am flying back to Bristol tonight and so last everning was my last with Ibi and family for a few weeks. As it is my birthday next week and by way of a little celebration, Ibi and Tünde, together with Tünde's friend Vera, we had a cook-out evening meal by the Körös river bank not far from Mezőberény. Ibi had bought a cauldron to hang over the fire and we had been given a bagful of wood by one of the boy's parents. The girls chopped wood while Ibi and I prepared food and soon a good fire was keeping mosquitos at bay and an excellent stew was on the boil!

A lovely Mezőberény orange birthday cake was also produced and eaten and a few glasses of wine consumed before returning home for a shower and an early night.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Canoe on the Kőrős

Another visit on Saturday to Szarvas. Ibi had happy memories of her student days paddling kayaks on the river here and had made enquieues as to the present facilities. We hired a Canadian style canoe and enjoyed the experience very much. I was certainly a very rusty canoeist, not having paddled my own canoe since my Outward Bound Mountain School at Eskdale in 1981! (photo below)

We saw much wildlife on the river, birds, insects, fish and freshwater turtles. A few photos are here.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Szarvasi Arborétum and Bodies Exhibition

Yesterday, Sunday was beautiful weather and we drove to the city of Szarvas, visited Tescos for supplies of food and drink then went over the river bridge to the Arbotertum. Photos - here. There were wonderful specimen trees from all over the world and some familiar trees laid out among well tended parkland with many birds including peacocks and meadows to enjoy the fresh air in beautiful surroundings. We almost got lost on the way back but eventually found the way back to the car park and the trusty Trabant. We had had a late picnic breakfast in the arboterum but followed this with a great lunch at the terrace restaurant by the river. We then returned home and I seem to have slept for many hours. Ibi has gone to school and Janos has gone to Budapest to take an exam. 5* Ibi took her exam on Saturday while I was visiting the Bodies exhibition. "Bodies" was well worth the entrance fee. It is an exhibition travelling the world with specialy disected and prepared real human bodies, respectfully displayed and labelled.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Once again I am back in the home of my dear Hungarian friends the Kalmans. I arriverd on Ryanair via Budapest on Wednesday night. All well here and I have amused myself on the first two mornings lying in my bed and trying to sort out the various participants in the dawn chorus coming through my window. Birdsong has been a conscious and recurring wake up call most of my life. Here the summer visitors have arrived and the swallows and house martins are feeding young under the eaves. Common once in Britain, but now increasingly rare, there are many House Sparrows busy with new families. Wood pigeons are giving their distinctive cooing which I remember from childhood sounded somethging like "Take two coos taffy! Heard too are the wingbeats of local White Storks that fly from thier lofty nests to ponds and streams to feed. The swallows and martins are constantly cheeping as they teurn with food for their young and I have heard, though not seen a local cuckoo as it overflies the house on the way to lay alien eggs in some poor Reedwarbler's nest I suspect. I am sure there will be more in my current bird list. Childhood memories of the Rookery in my grandfather's elm tree persist, but no rookery is closeby but I mayl add here others to the list as I identfy them.

Apropos of birdsong: - If you, dear reader have not yet read it, I thoroughly recommend Birdsong, a World War 1 novel by Sebasdtian Foulkes is one of the best novels of its genre in print today. ,

Thursday, April 24, 2008

No celebrations here!

Yesterday April 23rd was St George's Day, though few people make any celebrations in the UK. He is patron saint not only of England but also of Aragon, Catalonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, Germany and Greece; and of Moscow, Istanbul, Genoa and Venice (second to Saint Mark). He's also patron saint of soldiers, archers, cavalry and chivalry, farmers and field workers, Scouts, riders and saddlers, and he helps those suffering from leprosy, plague and syphilis!.
However, Travellers Beware! Sadly in recent years, flying St George's flag in England often signals an unwholesome and unwelcome brand of patriotism. I would like to warn anyone travelling to England, that if the St George's flag is displayed on a building, the owners are likely to hold xenophobic views, and be unwelcoming to any but white English people, maybe evem member of the facist BNP, the British National Party. I am sad that many pubs in England display this flag and any non-white, even a non English person who enters may encounter an unwelcoming attitude even hostility. All very sad really, I should be proud to display my National Flag and in fact I am proud to display the Red, white and blue Union Flag but it seems that the St George's flag has been misappropriated by many people who hold racist views and are best avoided.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Soon it will be Barbecue weather!

Photo of the day! Taken at Ham Hill, Somerset, a few years ago!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Back Home

It's Sunday and I've had three days to recover from my most excellent second trip to Hungary. My knowledge of the Hungarian language has hardly improved, it really is a most impenetrable language! I can however do a fair vocal imitation of storks clattering their beaks together, which they do when greeting their partners!
So, many wonderful memories from this visit thanks to the wonderful family I stay with.
As forecast I have looked out of my window this morning to find a light dusting of snow - maybe 1cm, and it looks very cold outside. No doubt other areas of the UK will have had worse and the news will be full with wintry personal stories of accidents and traffic problems.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Storks around the Town

White Storks of Mezöberény

Some not in the best focus - will try for better next time :)

Monday, March 31, 2008

Brone Age by the Willows

Yesterday, Sunday was fine and warm, so up early to take advanzage of the Summer Time change of clocks, we took a picnic with us and drove to an important Bronze Age site not far from home. We had a delightful wander around the site though the museum part was still closed for the winter. There were many birds around among the willows and flowering hawthorn trees. I heard my first cuckoo of the year and Janos took many photos with my camera. The scenedry was great and even hot enough to bask in the sun for a while. While we were out, Tűmde won her latest handball match, so that was an improvement!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Eggs and Buda, Hot Water and Storks

As "every schoolboy" knows, Budapest, the capital city of Hungary is Pest on the right (East) bank of the River Danube and Buda is the name of the old city on the West bank where some wonderful old buildings and monuments remain and there are great views down to the river below. On Thursday we took the train from Mezöbereny, picking up the school group with Janós en route. I was moved and honoured to be given two splendid traditional Hungarian Easter Eggs made specially for me by two of the girls,(see above photo)
The object of the day's trip was to explore the old city and go to the National Military Museum. From the main station, we went by Metro to the old city and climed the steep hill to the museum where the children made a beeline for the shop, but all were so well behaved and seemed interested in the exhibits. There are many fine views from the ramparts of the old city and we saw many fine buildings including the Presidential Palace.
The children stayed on to climb Gelert's hill but I rejoined Ibolya who had been at her tutorial all day and we returned on an earlier train.
Today, Saturday, we have been to see Mezőbereny's own hot spring - a stand pipe near the town swimming pool where several people were filling containers with the water. I tried it and found the taste quite acceptable. Then we drove to the river to take more photos. We were pleaded to see several storks today and a rabbit hopped by two metres away from where we sat and had our picnic lunch. We also visited an interesting small museum at the local pumping station.
While we picniced, we were visited by a rabbit who hopped by us with little concern On the way back we took some photos of a typical small farm, chickens, turkeys, a tractor on a hillock, a dovecote, rickerty barns, a spavined horse, rusting machinery and a traditional water pump, that reminded me of my grandfather's photos from India taken before World War I!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

My Portrait!

I am TOLD this is good! It was drawn when we visited the Renaissance Festival at Gyula during my first Hungarian visit in February. What do you think? Please comment!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Another day, another Spa

Good Friday, Southern Hungary. Again combining a couple of work visits for Janos, Ibi and I went to the excellent spa at the town of Orosháza to the north of Szeged. A lovely morning tempted us to the outdoor pool where the thermal waters, jet sprays and people watching kept us amused and soaking in the tea coloured waters. After that we relaxed indoors and I was interviewed for a national Hungarian TV station - Did I like the spa? How do you like Hungary? - that sort of question! If I'm not edited out, maybe we can tape the interview to be shown next Monday - probably. It was my first ever interview wearing only swimming trunks!
We had brought a picnic lunch and after that we walked down to the lake.
As I write this evening we have returned from the school where we have watched a handball match involving Tűnde and her team up against a much stronger team from Bekescsaba. Her school played well and came away noit too displeased with the result which was I think 20 -30 or thereabouts.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Quiet Weekend

A very quiet day today. Yesterday was a lot more strenuous as Ibi and I took a bicycle ride and a picnic down to the river. My cycling skills were tested and it took some time for me to get used to the gears and the back-pedalling brake. I had to explain to Ibi that I had not ridden a bike with a back-pedalling brake bike since I was about 10 years old. However I only fell off once! The river was very full since our previous visit and we couldn't get as close as previously. We saw and heard several birds then returned for a soak in the barh.
Today Sunday, there was a chance to go and see where White Storks may have arrived but in the end we have had a quiet day at home.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Medical in Szeged

My lovely Hungarian family show great interest in my health and welfare. On this visit Ibolya had arranged for me to be checked out by one of the leading Hungarian specialists: Professor Tamas Forster at the University Hospital of the historic city of Szeged. Janos drove me in the Trabant and apart from visiting the hospital we had a very full and interesting day sightseeing, ending with a visit to the White Lake wildlife reserve as it was already getting quite dark. This was to observe the nightly event of hundreds of Demoiselle Cranes flying in to roost in the reed beds. Sadly they arrived after it had got almost too dark to see them but we certainly knew that they were arriving as we heard their distinctive calls.
At the hospital we waited for various tests to be done before Professor Forster saw me. He was very reassuring and Ibolya is now more satisfied with my state! She worries I think, that I might have another infarct while I am a long way from home and effectively her responsibility. Prof. Forster has recommended that I take Beta Blocker tablets to lower my BP and regulate the atrial fibrillation but otherwise has recommended a normal and active lifestyle. (Long may it continue!)
After the hospital visit we had an excellent lunch at a large Tesco store.
In the afternoon we walked around the city centre. There are many fine buildings, statues and monumdents, not least to comemmorate the Great Flood (photo above) that devastated the inner city in the 19th Century. Other photos from the day are here.

Monday, March 10, 2008

On Saturday 8th March we made a very early morning (0430) start for the railway station and to meet a party of children plus some parenets for a school trip to Hungary's Capital City Budapest. I had met most of the children on my previous visit and they seemed excited to see me again. I I seem to have acquired the name "Uncle John" - "John Bácsi" in Hungarian which sounds like John Bahji (as in Onion Bahji(!) since my last visit, and many of them tried out their few words of English on me, I am ashames that my few words of Hungarian are woefully lacking.

Arriving at Budapest Station around 0830, the children went off to visit the zoo with Janos while Ibi and I went on the metro to visdit the spectacular parliament buildings after briefly looking at the Danube which flows next to it. An excellent English speaking guide showed us round and pointed out meny interesting features and richly gilded interior. After that we went to a restaurant for an excellent lunch then vwaled back to the station to rejoin the school party. A great day and we have plans to go again soon, probably to one of the spas.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Off again!

Flying off from Bristol again tonight, Janos will be meeting me at Budapest Airport, then a train to Szolnok and then collect the car and drive to Mezobereny. A full month this time and so I hope to be there before the resident pair of storks arrive at their nest in the Tesco Car Park almost opposite the flat. We have plans this time to visit Budapest, go fishing, more birdwatching and various other activities. I'm back on 2nd April.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Return to Blighty!

I flew back to Bristol on Wednesday evening after a wonderful month with my Hungarian friends who looked after me so very well. Not long now before I am due to fly back there and enjoy the spring weather and maybe do some more birdwatching and fishing. Not much news from Bristol and am slowly reducing the pile of mail that awaited my return.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

School Trip to the Zoo

Janos invited me to join his children on a trip to the local town Bekescsaba to visit a travelling zoo exhibition. A curious display of small mammals, insects, plants, reptiles and Hungarian minerals were shown to us and one of the girls bought a hamster to take home. After the exnibition we went to a talk and slide show om the subject of the life and landscape of the Danube Delta on the Black Sea. The children are all keen to look after me and I was touched and ber able to join in their expedition and have several young ladies wanting to hold my hand. I must try hard to increace my Hungarian word and phrases which are sadly lacking at the moment.
My Photos

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Renaissance Fesival At Gyula!

Today we have been to Gyula for the annual Renaissance Festival. Very colourful, at times very noisy and under a snow laden sky. We took loads of photos and enjoyed the ambience of this medieval town. Numerous groups from all overr Hungary and Romania were represented and the costumes were great. We found a beautiful old fashioned cafe for a coffee before waiting on the roadside for the processions to begin. Old and young were colourfully dressed and eventually we found a great viewing spot right behind the judges tables. After that we had some lunch in the marquee then explored the Castle and were entertained with traditional music while I indulged in a glass of excellent mulled wine.
It was a cold day and by the time we got home to Mezőberény we had had about an inch of snow with what looks like more to come later! Link
I will place the link to my photos HERE, at the moment I am recharging the batteries in order to do this and must in future make sure that I carry spare charged batteries!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Hungarian Update

Awoke today to a misty morning with frost. Soon we will leave for a vist to see Janos's mother who lives over an hour's drive away and I am promised stuffed cabbage for lunch. Also a chance to see some wild deer nearby.

Mother looked after us well and after lunch we took a walk in the forest (P02) and though the deer were mostly elusive, there were plenty of signs of them as they are regularly fed with maize having beren put out for tem along the paths. We also encountered a flock of goats, and a brightly coloured cup-fungus! (P01)

After the walk we returned to the town for a stroll around the vast stables once owned by nobility and now a hotel. Here (P03) a scene of love in the stables.

All continuing well here, fantastic hospitality. Yesterday we walked from the flat to the new house Janos is building and I am encouraged to do this 2-3 km walk more often to get more exercise and fresh air. There is a plan for me to leave tokens at the building site every time I visit on my own as proof of my exercise regime!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Bustard Day!

An excellent half day excursion today to the Hungarian National Park that protects the Great Bustard and is home to several rare brees of cattle, pigs and sheep situated at Dévavanya, only a short drive from where I an staying. I went in the school minibus with a dozen nine year old children from Janos's class who were all very bright and welcoming though their English was about as good as my Hungarian but all told me their names and were interested in being introduced to this strange visitor from England.

We arrived at the park and were met by one of the guides who showed us around and explained the highlights. My photos tell the tale but also please see linkhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Bustard
and my photos which I will upload shortly.
Here are my photos

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I have arrived in Hungary to stay with my friends for a few days. I am very comfortably settled into Ibi's home in South Eastern Hungary, close to the border with Romania. The town has few older buildings that I've seen so far anyway and the countryside is generally flat. We have several plans to explore further afield over the next two weeks when time allows but it is now termtime and both Ibi and Janos work very hard, both as teachers at local schools. We arrived on Sunday night at Budapest Airport, then caught a train towards our destination. Getting off the train at Szolnok were we were met by Janos in his trusty East German built Trabant, the first I had ever seen! Driving then in the moonlit night through sleepy towns finally arriving at the apartment around 2am. Apart from a short walk to the local shops, yesterday was spent at home and in the evening I had conversations with two of Ibi's students - boys of 14 who had come to Ibi for extra English lessons. They were great and intrigued to converse with a "real" English person! Ibi's daughter Tunde, who had been at school all day finally arrived home and so I have now met all the family. In the evening we had a lovely hungarian sausage, with stuffed peppers and potatoes for dinner and discussed some of the things we plan to do over the next days. Budapest with some of Janos's students, a trip to a trypical Hungarian Spa and to a restaurant. Probably a visit to see some wildlife nearby. I hope to see Bustards.

Everyone is out at work now, so I am here at the PC catching up on emails and the blog. When Ibi gets home, about 2pm we will go into town again, I expect.