Still blogging…

For those of you who think I’ve just disappeared after ceasing to maintain the carpathianadventure site, you can follow the adventure I call life at http://edwardotoole.com/blog/

I miss many of you and your comments so come over and pay me a visit!

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Creepy Forest Ghost Spot Creature

No idea what this is:

 

A strange object I captured on the trail cam in the forest (photo frames, not video). It appears to be about a foot long, vertical and consists of 5 small equidistant ‘spots’. Bizarrely, it’s in the same location that we had a tree come crashing down in front of us today – the tree broke halfway up its height for no reason.
The object seems to move forward and then go upwards. There’s no way it’s an insect as they’re not out yet due to the cold. In the first couple of photos it’s to the right of the camera.

Pension Poľská krčma,Horný Smokovec, Tatra Mountains, review

Pension Poľská krčma,Horný Smokovec, Tatra Mountains, review

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…

 

They can be found at

Poľská krčma

Horný Smokovec 17, 06201

Vysoké Tatry

Trip to the Tatra Mountains

Trip to the Tatra Mountains

We’ve just got back from a few days break away in the Tatra Mountains in North Central Slovakia. Thankfully, it wasn’t having the same weather as we have had for the last few months. The air was clear, cold and bright rather than damp, foggy and swampy – although we do have a lot more snow than there. It sort of felt like Spring.

We stayed at a friend’s Pension (another post will cover that) in the historic mountain ski resort of Stary Smokovec. On Saturday there was an international ice sculpting competition up the mountain at Hrebienok so we talk a wander up the muddy rock track to check it out (we came down on the road as it was way too slippy and dangerous to descend). My legs are still aching as I’m out of condition. The wind roared and really ripped my ears and face.

It was good to get away from where I live for a bit. The Tatra Mountains have many foreign visitors and the resorts are expensive so it was nice to see a change in cars and fashion. I like the bush but sometimes a bit of luxury is called for.

The photo of the bin with paw prints on it is from outside my friend’s pension. In October last year a mother bear and her two cubs (brown bears, called Grizzlies in the US) tore up the outside of the bar, including their leather furniture, so they now have a bear-proof bin. The sow was using the metal security as a back scratcher. Two policemen, who came to scare the bear away as it was clawing up the place, ended up being chased away instead. It’s a really dumb idea to approach a mother bear with cubs…. My friend says there are often bears wandering along the road outside their place at night and she will let me know when they start appearing again so I can go and photograph them – preferably from the safety of the balcony.

 

Here’s a video of what bears do to non-bear-proof rubbish container:

 

As for my Discovery, Vlochka, she has led me to believe that the Land Rover adventure thing is all about whether the car will start or not, or if it will actually get you the whole way home or break down. After she didn’t start yesterday (I was supposed to pick my wife and kids up from the wellness centre at Hotel Kontakt), I spent many hours with my friend’s partner trying to work out what the problem was. Alternator? Starter? Central locking? A short or loose connection? The air conditioning? The new radio? And then she started. I really need to take her to the nearest city to a Land Rover dealer for some proper diagnostics. At present, she’s just not what I’d call reliable. Immense fun when she is working but not exactly stable. She sort of reminds me of a spoilt, pretty gold-digger – If I’m going to ride her then I’m going to have to spend a lot of money on her first….

Art Exhibition in Svidnik, Slovakia

Art Exhibition in Svidnik, Slovakia

Yesterday was the opening party of my art exhibition in Svidnik. While I’ve had paintings exhibited more recently because of winning various competitions, this is the first solo exhibition I’ve held for 3 years.

I included a few of my older works (mostly nudes) but the main focus this year was my new abstract collection.

There was quite a good turn out and I was pleased that my brother and his girlfriend attended. Svidnik is a small town and doesn’t really have a large art community, so it’s nice when people make the effort to go out an turn up.

Hallowe’en and first frost

Hallowe’en and first frost

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…

Fanny Burgers

Fanny Burgers

When I’m feeling hungry, there’s nothing else that satisfies the craving other than juicy Fanny Burgers (the British and not the American kind…).

This is another classic example of a foreign (Slovak) product or company which somehow didn’t quite get the original connotations. In this case it’s because Slovaks learn to say the English ‘u’ as ‘a’.

Needless to say, I’m now a regular customer 🙂 However, finding hairs in the food takes on a completely different meaning…