2020 Grateful 30: Found in Translation

Ever since the local librarian Mrs Byrne turned a blind eye to me signing up my parents as members of the village library and then choosing books for them, mar dhea,* I’ve been an avid reader. I wonder if she knows what a huge influence our collaboration has had on my life.

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2020 Grateful 31: Kisrabló

There’s a battle of wills going on in our house. Occasionally it involves roaring and shouting followed by a couple of days of sulking or overt disdain. And then things get back to normal. Read more

2020 Grateful 32: A COVID fashion

I’m getting a great kick out of how the simple face mask has quickly become a fashion accessory. The other day, I saw a young lad in camo trousers with a matching camo mask. An elderly néni in a plain grey slack and shirt had accessorised with a bright orange pattern scarf and matching mask. At the supermarket checkout, the lady on the till was having a right laugh at something the young one ahead of me had written on her mask. I wasn’t quick enough to see it. Yes, face masks are the jewellery of the future. Read more

2020 Grateful 33: Harry’s Bar

It seems like yesterday that I was sitting in Harry’s Bar in Venice sipping a ridiculously expensive Bellini and tipping a nod to the good Lord for giving me the wherewithal to pay the eye-popping bill. And today, in a rural village in Hungary, I heard the sad, sad, news. Read more

My great realisation

I saw a vapour trail in the sky last week. A rarity these days. The white streak across the blue sky reminded me of a series of paintings by Budapest-based Scottish artist Jim Urquhart. Minus the buildings of course. His paintings have buildings. I was perfecting what the Japanese call boketto – the art of gazing vacantly into the distance without thinking. All I could see were trees. All I could hear were birds. All I wanted to do was be on that plane. Read more

2020 Grateful 34: A different view

It’s been a while, thank God, since I’ve felt the black cloud of depression, the sort that that requires doctors and medication. My heart goes out to those who are battling the beast during this pandemic or living with those who are. It can’t be easy. Sure, I have days that start and finish in nothingness with nothing much of note happening in between. Those are the days I have to remind myself to be grateful that I woke up at all and that what I woke to could be a helluva lot worse. I have nothing to complain about.  Nothing. At. All. Read more

scones cooling on a wire rack

2020 Grateful 35: Saturday morning smells

My mother has a bit of a reputation about the village. No doubt still considered a blow-in by those who were born to the place, she’s actively involved in all sorts. And of the many words used to describe her, active is high on the list. I don’t know where she gets her energy from – I missed that gene. Read more

2020 Grateful 36: All about the orange juice

I’m beside myself with an enthusiasm I lost sight of about six weeks ago when the great stay-at-home started here in Hungary. Last night I sat through two hours of 11 incredible performances that wrung me dry. I feel a little like a teatowel that’s been lobbed around a washing machine on a slow spin. Read more

2020 Grateful 37: Birdsong

Meet Maryjane. For at least the last 12 or so years, she’s lived in a yurt in a field in France with her family. Instead of spending her life being ‘told what, when and how to learn, followed by years of employment being told what to do, just for the privilege of having somewhere to live and enough to eat’, Maryjane left England, moved to France, built a yurt and chose to live with nature. Read more

2020 Grateful 38: Bale bunnies in Zalavár

A couple of villages over sits the village of Zalavár. Zala is the name of the Hungarian county we live in and vár is Hungarian for castle. Back in the day, many centuries ago, Zalavár was a metropolis, boasting a monastery, a convent, a brewery, and a castle of course. Today, it’s one of a string of villages that loop around the lesser-known Hungarian lake, the Kis-Balaton. Read more