2020 Grateful 5: Visitors

Eating in is the new eating out. And when you’re starved for choice when it comes to home delivery, you make do with creating your own in-house restaurant. I quite like choosing where to ‘go’ for dinner, especially when we have visitors. Mexican, Moroccan, Indian, and Thai have all be done repeatedly over the last three weekends so it’s solid Hungarian tonight, now that we have a weekend to ourselves.

One of the joys of having visitors is that it gets me out of the house. Left to my own devices I’d most likely not stir apart from taking my daily constitutional. But when people have travelled to see us, it’s only good manners to take them somewhere. The plus side of this is that we get to revisit old favourites like the vineyards of Zalaszabar and we get to try out new places. Tapolca, for instance, was a recent discovery.

What I particularly like though, is seeing people’s reaction when they see what we call our back yard. I never get tired of it.


Kanyavárisziget is a lovely spot unfamiliar to many Hungarians, although given the massive tourism push the Kis-Balaton region is experiencing, soon the world and her mother will have been to visit. I have to time my visits carefully. Early morning on a cold frosty day is best. Then it’s me and the fishermen and the mad ice patterns on the bridge. On sunny days during the summer, the place is overrun. I should be grateful that the village is benefitting from the revenue from the newly installed parking machines and the massive upsurge in visitor numbers, but selfishly, I’d prefer to have the place to myself.

Winter is my season. The cleanliness of the cold, the brisk air, the foggy mornings, the cold, hard ground. The biting cold keeps lots of people at home and I get to enjoy the space and the silence. I’m a tad concerned, too, though, that I’m becoming increasingly anti-social. This doesn’t bode well for the post-COVID world.

Vague stirrings of lines from Thomas Hardy’s The Darkling Thrush came to mind. I searched for the poem:

I leant upon a coppice gate
      When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
      The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
      Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
      Had sought their household fires.
The land’s sharp features seemed to be
      The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
      The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
      Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
      Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
      Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
      Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
      His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
      And I was unaware.
I can identify with that aged thrush, though frail, gaunt, and small I’m certainly not. But I get where he’s coming from. This is when I feel most alive. Gone is the sluggishness of summer. I’ve safely crossed the autumnal bridge and made it home to winter. Bring it on, I say. Bring it on.

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