Over the weekend we stayed at my friend’s Pension (sort of like an inn) in the Tatra Mountains. It’s called, bizarrely, Poľská krčma, which means the Polish Bar. She and her partner have only had it for a few months (since December) and have done quite a bit of reconstruction on it. It’s in an ideal location, with the main road running between the two major ski resorts of Tatranska Lomnica and Stary Smokovec just outside, and a mountain right behind it (you can see the view from the toilet window in the photo).
Upstairs, they offer a few simple rooms at very affordable prices compared to the mega hotels, and the bar is open and light and friendly. Food-wise, they offer the basics such as a bowl of goulash or my friend’s specialty, zapekanka (a sliced baguette grilled with mushrooms and cheese). Alcohol-wise they stock, I think, the complete range of the local specialty Tatra Tea (a very strong herbal alcohol similar to Jagermeister) in various OBVs, along with Zlaty Bazant beer and international drinks.
I wish them both the best of luck and hope anyone reading my blog, when visiting the Tatra Mountains, will pop in for a visit. My friend is also the godmother to my younger boy so just tell her Edward sent you…
This week I realized an aim I’ve had for several years – to have a wood stove which cooks and heats. When we first bought the house it had one of the old, traditional brick and ceramic sit-on stoves, a giant contraption. Unfortunately, I tore it down and replaced it with a modern fireplace which heats part of the house via tubes.
We also have a ceramic and brick heating stove in another part of the house and a propane cooker in the kitchen. What i really wanted was something that both heated and cooked and kept its heat. This new stove is extremely, back-breakingly heavy as it’s made of cast iron, ceramic tiles and the interior is clay. We also had to have a new chimney made to use it due to new regulations. Hopefully, it doe sthe job as room temperature in my house at the moment is a balmy 6 degrees Centigrade and winter hasn’t even really started.
The days are shorter, the nights are longer and the first frost has arrived.
Yesterday was Hallowe’en and it was an odd day. In the morning, one of the pinned postcards on the cork board in the kitchen fell down and my wife decided to throw it in the bin. I told her it was an old one from my mother when she was on holiday in the former Yugoslavia. My wife pinned it up again. A few minutes later, the pin popped out and the postcard again fell on the floor. Perhaps my deceased mother decided to show her presence for Hallowe’en?
An hour or so later a car pulled up outside. It was an old couple (she was a former resident of the house, from the family from whom we’d bought it) and their middle aged son. They hadn’t seen the house in well over a decade and were surprised by how much we’d changed it. They then told us a bit more of the history of the place, which is always interesting. The house was occupied by the Germans in WW2 and the back garden (and field, hill and forest) were the front line between the Russians and the Germans in both WW1 and WW2. I gave up metal detecting here because of the sheer amount of ordinance buried in the surroundings. The old woman told us about the house before this one – an old wooden cabin with yard, high fence and compound, as was traditional here (only one building remains from that, dating back 150 years). Apparently, years back an American moved to my house and married a local woman. He later ‘disappeared’ and she was always suspected of having murdered him – perfect fodder for Hallowe’en! My region back then would have been utterly remote forested wilderness with only a dirt track leading to it and a handful of wooden compound homesteads. Why an American would have been here I’ve no idea. But synchronicity plays a hand again… Last year, at the Wilderness Gathering, I spoke with an old American man who was also lecturing, and he informed me that his father used to visit my area in the 1920s to go hunting, and used teams of local peasant men still in traditional clothing for ‘grand hunts’. If only i could get in contact with him, perhaps he knew the allegedly murdered American?
The house is haunted by a plethora of ghosts from different periods (as is the neighbour’s house, which is why no one will live there now). Just this morning while talking with another set of aged villagers, my wife’s family visiting for All Saints’ Day, about who was who back when, a large box came tumbling down in the dining room. We just ignore these little signs – we don’t bother them so they don’t bother us.
Last night was cold, dark and spooky. We made a pumpkin, watched a horror film and my younger boy made his own short horror film for the event (we usually tell each other ghost stories). Good fun was had by all. Just wish it wasn’t so cold…