Today I witnessed a bizarre scene in the proximity of some container bins. A discarded doll was apparently being guarded by a feral cat, which hissed at passersby. Whether the cat had claimed the doll as a potential food source or something more sympathetic, I couldn’t tell.
Somehow I got lost along the way. This year will be about rediscovering that old path from which I took untold deviations. A healthier, purer, more natural path.
While there is a taste of Spring in the air, and the snow melt run-off from the hills is creating new land-borne streams (especially, unfortunately, at the back of my garage), there is still a lot of snow about and last week saw night time temperature below minus 10.
I really dislike the period between the end of Winter and full blown Spring. Everything is dead and manky and mud covers all. Winter’s gone on long enough this year and I really want warmer days and greenery. My Jack Russell, on the other hand, loves the snow.
My friend Martin, a whizz at all things mechanical, has just bought an old Czechoslovak three wheeled Velorex to reconstruct. His last project was a vintage tractor. Once the Velorex is rebuilt with a new canvas frame it will look funky, plus massively increase in value, as only 15000 were ever produced. A seriously retro bit of kit.
Today was stunning. In the village there is still lots of snow yet there’s a bright blue sky and the temperature was 18 degrees centigrade. The kids threw snowballs with the dog and then we went on a walk on the abandoned road through the hills. There were many animals out, particularly Roe and Red Deer. This group of Red Deer hinds obviously didn’t get the memo on shape and silhouette….
Since I’ve been living in Slovakia, a little over 16 years now, I’ve seen some major changes. I’ve watched entire historical aspects of living culture vanish in the onslaught of globalisation.
I took this photo a year ago. It’s of an uninhabited neighbouring property and shows how the barn on the side of the house was hand crafted from hewn wood. This barn no longer exists. One storm too many and too little attention paid to it saw it come crashing down on itself. Just before winter the inheritors of the property came and removed the final beams and logs, leaving an aching chasm where once had been artisanship and daily toil.
So many of the buildings in my area will suffer the same fate and will ultimately be levelled in order for their land to be replanted with mortgage-ridden McMansions. Just a generation or two earlier and the houses and outbuildings were built by hand by the owners and a group of volunteers from the village paid in drink and food.
Last night saw a change to my usual reclusive lifestyle. I spent the evening in the city of Presov at a reception for the British Ambassador to Slovakia, His Excellency Andrew Garth. The first part of the evening was a small reception for some local business leaders at the historic Prelika distillery. Ironically, I was invited by a Danish friend, Soren. After a tour of the complex there was a tasting session but I couldn’t drink thanks to the hour-long drive through a blizzard on pitted, snow and truck filled roads to get there and back – the way back was a nightmare. Hardcore scary.
Following the distillery bit, we moved on to Harley’s steak house where Simon, the organiser of the event, had reserved the entire upper floor for a small party of ex-pats. I finally managed to eat some decent steak, and I got to meet some interesting characters. I enjoyed speaking to the Ambassadors’ wife and the poet, James Sutherland-Smith, who knew some of my former college contacts from back in the day. And Jonathon.
Perhaps I should get out and socialize more? It was a lot more relaxed than I’d expected and I actually enjoyed it after I’d overcome my shyness. Tempted as I was, I didn’t bring any Ferrero Roche…
I wish the Ambassador the best of luck in promoting British interests out here in Slovakia.