Hand Painted Clothing by me…

clotheslogo

I have now released my first collection of hand painted clothing. The aim, however, is to paint items on order. It’s all part of the self-sufficient lifestyle.

Please check out my website for more details – Hand Painted Clothing

It would be great to get some feedback.

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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….

Common Shrew trailcam IR

Common Shrew trailcam IR

Here’s another species to add to my attic menagerie, and one I wasn’t expecting to find – the Common Shrew (Sorex araneus). I’ve found them frozen to death in my kitchen during winter before but I’ve no idea how it got into the attic.

I’ve had several encounters of the painful variety with these little beasts in the past. Being insectivores rather than herbivores, they bite. They may be tiny but every time I’ve tried to pick one up I’ve ended up with a bloody finger. I once found a very sad sight – a dead mother shrew with a horde of tiny bald, pink babies still trying to suckle her. I can’t even begin to describe how miniscule they were.

Motorbike camping trip

Motorbike camping trip

Each year we visit the remotest village, Lesnica, in Slovakia as it’s where my wife’s father’s family is from. Whilst there we usually visit graves, visit her father’s log cabin home and compound where her uncle now resides, and then check on our little plot of land on a hillside just outside the village. This year we decided to go on Feisty and take the bare minimum camping equipment with us.

The weather switched between extremes – 35 degrees centigrade plus meant leather jackets, helmets, kevlar jeans and boots were a nightmare to wear, and then torrential rain and storm made the road all slick. Try as we might, we just couldn’t find one part of our land level enough to erect a tent – it’s a steep hillside which will need excavating if we ever get around to building a cabin on it, so we ended up camping near the Red Monastery, Cerveny Klastor, at the best campsite in Slovakia, Goralsky Dvor. I’m not a fan of paid, public campsites as I prefer my privacy in the bush but it was nice to have a bit of luxury and level ground for once. The amount of thought and effort that have gone into that place is astounding – they even have an onsite chainsaw carver who continually adds to the decor of the place.

Feisty is definitely not the best choice for long distances and the seat makes my arse hurt. I really need to get a new king and queen seat made for her.

Spring flowers

Spring flowers

The first wild flowers have begun growing in the garden following Winter. Sadly, no snowdrops or crocuses or daffodils yet, but several little blue and purple ones (along with dandelions, daisies and buttercups).

Today we switched on the water and, thankfully, no pipe or tap had burst during the cold months. Now Spring has started there are many jobs about the house and garden which need attending to – this is always an expensive and labour intensive time.

Riding the Eclipse

Riding the Eclipse

What a day! The Spring Equinox, a Supermoon and a solar eclipse… none of them compare to finally getting Feisty, my motorbike, back on the road after a long winter. Three days this week we’ve spent messing around with batteries, finally I ordered a new one and then discovered we had to fill it with sulphuric acid and then charge it overnight. We changed the front brake and air filter and cleaned the spark plug as it was black and wet. Under a darkened crescent sun, Feisty finally roared back into life.

It’s still well below zero here at night and the cars are frozen in the mornings, and the day time temperature isn’t exactly balmy, but blue skies after months of grey called…

I took Feisty out to the village to check the house and then, on the way back, stopped for half a litre of draught Kofola at a traditional socialist krcma, a village bar. A couple of years back I came close to taking this exact same bar in rent, and had even negotiated the buy-out price for the former lessee. Thankfully, I backed out at the last minute or I’d now be spending every single day and night in a remote village, serving the locals. A little shop came with the property and I just couldn’t imagine selling chunks of bread or cartons of milk day after day, especially as most would go out on credit as no one there has any money.

Instead, I drank my drink and watched the stream gurgle past, then mounted Feisty and rode off. Not quite the Best Bar in America but it’ll do for me….