I own a small house and woodland on the edge of the Őrség national park in Hungary. My house is on the edge of a lovely little village with rolling hills, woodlands and streams with water clean enough to drink. The village is full of wonderful characters who I shall get to know far better as my understanding of the Hungarian language grows and we have the opportunity to get fantastic produce with zero food miles.
Last weekend was saw lots of sunshine and a little rain in Őrség, the perfect opportunity to plant trees in the garden. We bought some from a nearby nursery and as we set about planting them some of the villagers stopped to talk. The first was a large round gent who was so deaf that it was impossible to have a two way conversation, the next two arrived together and pointed and chuckled at the first, saying “ah, we see you have pissed yourself again!”… and he had, but didn’t notice. He also couldn’t understand what they were saying because he was too deaf and too busy laughing and joking in his own quiet world. The lovely gents advised us that we could buy trees from a gardener in our village and they were right. 500Ft (about £1.30) per ½ metre tree!
The tree seller was also a great character. He invited us in to his house to finalise the sale with pálinka (50% home brewed gin) and to show us his oil paintings which, he explained, were inspired by an uncle’s visit to Kenya. Our inspiration is the beautiful and idyllic Őrség but our host, who had lived here all his life, found inspiration in Africa!
Another day and a visit to another neighbour. This time, to explain our plans for redeveloping our house and chance discovery that they sell pumpkin oil and honey. The oil is produced from pumpkins 20 metres from the house, the honey comes from their bees which are a 1 km walk along a woodland track. 1 Kg of Acacia honey cost 1,800Ft (about £5), which is less than 1/3 of the UK price of £18.40 (at the time of writing)! And, of course, the deal was finalised with yet more pálinka!
Life is good when you can get the best quality organic honey and oil with zero food miles. We’re looking forward to an abundance of fruit in the Summer… but what will be next?