Wednesday 30 December 2009

Cool Discoveries!

We have made some interesting discoveries whilst living here in Hungary and in no particular order, here they are ...
  • The Mars hill podcast series on the beatitudes, this has been amazing!
  • Szalona - Hungarians live on pork! Even in the vegetarian meals! Szalona is a very fat bacon which sometimes has no meat in it but it is smoked! The traditional way of cooking Szalona is to use an open fire and cooking a large chunk on a stick over the flames. you drip the melting fat onto a piece of bread and eat! DIY pork dripping! Very nice, very tasty. very good with beer and very bad for you. Its is also a great bacon substitute when cooking the full English breakfast. Its rather good in cooking as you can cook every thing in the melted pig fat rather then adding oil!!

  • Adam and Joe! This is a bbc6 radio show which goes out on Saturday morning and the music is terrible play-listed junk! However, the best bits from the show (sans music) are compiled into a podcast and you have the ramblings of two 40 year old Englishmen which is extremely fun! Think 95% blue peter, 5% naughtiness!
  • Samm (Sammcheese) and Andy (Vancheese) regularly twitter about random stuff and please check out our feeds - they do get posted as well to Facebook and Andy's feed are conglomerated at
  • After much battling, it looks like we have a working sky box - we can't get the BBC/ITV/Channel 4 programs but we feel connected to the world!
  • Turo Rudi's! These are the best healthy chocolate option that ever existed, they are chocolate coated cottage cheese with some kind of jam in the middle, the are delicious :)
  • Turo Gomboc, these are cottage cheese balls, covered in naturaul yoghurt, bread cumbs and powdered sugar, YUMMY we get there at the local milk bar in Szeged, Boci a MUST try!
  • Mensa meals. These are fantastic depending on where you buy them. They are basically like school dinners but better. You get soup, a main meal and sometimes a pudding of some description all of roughly 600 forints! Excellent if you are going to be out late and won't have time to cook dinner in the evening these have been a life save for Andy and I at times. The only downside is that the veggies and fruit are a bit on the slim side.
  • Pickled Veg. We have now truly graduatated to the lifestyle of Hungary! We have to have our pickled oninons, cabbage and gerkins for lunch or it just doesn't qualify

Snow and gone!

Whilst the UK suffered under millimetres of snow, We had about half a meter of snow appear whilst we were helping at a friend's CHRISTmas nativity event (right on the other side of Szeged to us on roads that are not gritted very often etc.) reaching out to the local children in his community and their families in his back garden in a gigantic tent with no heating!

Despite the Arctic conditions, the event was a hit with 50 people, singing songs in English and Hungarian followed by the best homemade donuts EVER washed down with mulled wine or tea. For once, the people of Hungary drove slowly (Hungarians are well renowed for their formula 1 style driving unfortunately without any of the skill) - the home journey took an hour instead of twenty minutes. Fortunatley that very morning we thought we'd better get our act together and put the winter tyres on, so we were really pleased we had when the snow started to chuck down. We ended the evening hanging out a friend's house whilst waiting for friends from America to arrive from Budapest which normally takes 2 1/2 hours by train it tool them 5 hours because of the bad weather.

Unfortunately, we did not have a “white” CHRISTmas as the weather went from being -11 to being plus 13 in a week so on CHRISTmas eve it was like spring! We had a really fun CHRISTmas, a friend Matt who teaches English in Budapest stayed with us and we had fun cooking food (goose and turkey) and spending time with other friends from all over the world. A bit shattered now though as started going to bed at 2/3 in the morning :)

Church stuff.

Church move.
At the beginning of our move last year we started attending the church that I went to when I lived here, it was good to have a base. However, it just did not seem to sit right and we felt that it not the place that we are suppose to be so we started looking around for somewhere else that God might want us to be. We hopped around for a bit and have now begun settling in with a penetcostal group here in Szeged. We have connected with a few of the people there which is good to feel a connection somewhere and the encouragement from others and support to branch out and do stuff with them and also have them be involved with any future plans we have. Andy has already been asked to share something as part of a talk at the end of January. I got involved with the Children's work and the girl's group which I have really been enjoying. As with everywhere you go, nothing is perfect but this where we feel we should be for the time being. This move has helped in making us feel more settled and at home spiritually.

ICF is an International Chrisitan Fellowship mainly made up of students from high school through to the medical University to teachers here at the Szeged University. It is a motley crew of fun people coming togehter to eat and share life together. The group has been around in Szeged for a couple of years but some of the “founding” members have moved on to do other exciting stuff elsewhere in Hungary or abroad, so there is still a core who know each other pretty well with new people enriching the group. We changed venue to meeting at Erik and Sara's flat which has really helped to facilitate more of an intimate and friendship building environment with people meeting up outside of ICF and I know that I have grown in my frienships with people might not have otherwise done. So as we go into a new academic term we are really very excited about continuing on getting to know each other better and Jesus, we hope to draw in more new people and reach those who would not otherwise have the space to know Jesus in a new and creative way.

Andy and I love having people over, playing games, staying just generally looking after people we love it. We have already had a few people stay with us on our farm and is has given us a real glimpse (a taster) of what we would love to see happen with the farm. We both lived in a community house whilst in Bristol and even though it had its highs and lows. Since we have left we have both said how much we miss the sharing in lives of other people. So, as space permits and money we will continue to have people come and stay with us. Ultimately, when we have the possibility to invest into and renovate the farm we would like to have people live with us.

Joint Youth Unity Meetings.
Recently over the last two months or so there has been a movement amongst the youth leaders of various churches here in Szeged to meet together to plan to do a monthy or bi-monthly joint youth event. It came out of the realisation that we know very little of what each other is doing and that if there was more communication and sharing hopefully there would be ways to work together. We have had one joint youth event so far with many more (I hope) in the future. Andy and I are hosting a get-to-know-each-other-fun-evening at our farm (this links in with the above vision) with the hope of people chilling and enjoying each others company and friendship. So watch this space and see what comes of it.

Farm Life.

Farm wise, this has been a mixed year for us. Animal wise, We lost a piggy(escaped through the fence) and one of the sheep was getting weaker and weaker and recently(December) the poor thing just died. A very sad day :( .The poor sheep was cremated Darth Vader style ably assisted by petrol. We also lost our cat who walked into the dog compound. We are looking to expand our animals next spring with Chickens, rabbits, pigs and a barn cat. So hopefully, this time next year we should have lots of fresh meat and eggs and maybe some smoked hams in the pantry. The one thing which Hungary lacks is decent affordable cheese and Andy has been recently taken with the idea of making cheese. We are NOT getting cows to milk but we might try to make some nice cheese in exile!

The farm itself is quite amazing, we've found fruit trees (apples, Cherry, pear, apricots , mulberry) all growing organically without much help. However, the farm hasn't been well maintained for the last few years, and we are slowly putting things back together. this seems a long and daunting challenge but I am thinking we are slowly getting there. The Vegetable patch has a few trees growing in! We are hoping to plant pumpkins, peppers, butternut squash, sweet potatoes. We also are hoping to get some raspberries/blackberries established in the orchard as well as a few more trees.

For some reason, one corner of the garden is literally filled with rubbish. Andy has removed over 200 glass bottles from this area and there is still more! We have filled a garage with scrap metal excavated and we are only touching the surface! The interior and exterior fences are also not in good shape, so Andy with his cool American friend Matt, have been slowly lining the existing fence with pig wire and it seems to be holding well. The fence situation is always improved by old trees blowing over in the wind and taking out large sections! The stihl chainsaw has been used extensively and we have a nice pile of wood for heating the house and the kitchen. We hope to get a new external fence in the spring and then plant thorns close to the fence so eventually we will have a thorny hedgerow which should keep our dogs in and other animals out. Talking of other animals, we regularly have deer walk past our garden, these are beautiful animals which are so graceful and delicate. Andy will in the next year, hopefully join the local hunting club and then we can have fresh Bambi!

Out kitchen is unfortunately falling apart as the building is made from mud bricks, covered with mud and straw. This traditional method of building is rather easy for mice to burrow into and the building is just crumbling away. This is forcing our hand to act soon as we might not have a safe kitchen in 2011! There is a 220kg wood burning aga lovingly moved from the UK which we use when it is cold to heat the kitchen and for cooking. We will attempt to cook our CHRISTmas goose in there too. Agas are wonderful things except they use a lot of fuel, which isn't problematic when you can grow your own. On the wall in the kitchen, is a beautiful orange stain from making pumpkin wine! We didn't have enough grapes to make proper wine so we bought a large cheap pumpkin and using an Internet recipe are attempting to make pumpkin wine!

These setbacks are bit demoralising and Andy has found these problems wearing, it does seem that we are just fixing but not moving forward. We are hoping that next year we will see some fruits from our labours

1 year of dogs!

Carmen and Kincso(German Shepherd and Beagle) are coming up to being 1 year old in January. They are doing well and full of energy and life.

Carmen is no longer a bundle of fluff but a small dog who runs so gracefully in our field. She can be a bit of a bully with the other dogs but she is definitely the leader and majestic one.

Kincso (Treasure) is the trouble-maker, She is allways looking to escape and whenever she is left in a room, she bayes very loudly whilst bouncing up and down. It is some sight to see a beagle appear through a window at regular intervals. Everytime we let the dogs out to play, Kincso runs to the fence and checks every (yes, every) fence panel for weakness in an attempt to escape. Andy has chased down the drive after her shouting “BELLY” in various stages of dress to stop her from getting to the road and when she hears the “BELLY” command, she obediently stop and flops over offering her belly to be rubbed in a truly cute way.

The baby of the doggy family is 6 month old Crunchie, who is a 31.5 kg horse of a Rottweiler. She is very beautiful but she thinks 100% with her belly! Watch your fingers if you offer her a treat! On the farm, she is very quiet and hardly speaks, but if there is another animal about, she rumbles like thunder and barks! This is extremely terrifying. She recently made her first trip to the vet for a poorly eye and was angelic until she detected another animal! Fun ahead as when she sits, she sits and doesn't move!

Samm has done wonders with the dogs and has been taking Carmen to dog school for training, She is quite remarkable with them and has even trained the beagle to sit for her food! An achievement!

Andy's 30th Birthday

We threw a big party for Andy's 30th birthday on the farm and cooked a large bogrács (cauldron) of food for our friends who came! For the weekend, we were joined by Chris and Alex Jarred, my good old school friend. We celebrated the death of youth and the onset of old age and suitable grumpiness. Below are some photographs of Chris and I relishing our old age together :)
The weather was great and not too hot, less then 30C! People were very extremely generous with birthday presents and my wife came up top-trumps with a inflatable hot tube!!! Some of my work collegues came along and thanks to Csaba the camp fire kept us warm as we laughed, chatted and ate marshmallows. However, even though I was the Birthday boy another little guy stole the show somewhat!


I (Samm) moved jobs from Budapest (where I was working for an NGO for 5/6 months) to Szeged in June and started teaching at the Law School in the Comparative Law Institute. They have an “American Legal Expert's Training” and I get to teach undergraduate law (tort, property, drafting, case law analysis etc) to undergraduate and postgraduate students.

It has been fun but challenging in some ways in that I have to teach in blocks, so 5-6 hours in one go which is a bit weird for me as I am used to seminars being 45 or the longest 90 minutes. This has meant that I have had to really think about what info and how to structure the seminar etc. The other big difference is that the students are not at all used (or so it seems) to an interactive format! This meant that at the beginning of the term they were very quiet, just writing things down and only talking if they were asked a direct question as the term has progressed they have got better at it but I do feel as if though they are very much outside of their comfort zone. I now appreciate how frustrating and demoralizing it must have been sometimes for my own tutors in our tutorials when it was obvious no one had done the reading or very little, its such a waste of everyone's time!

Anyhow, I look forward to the next term I am also learning on the job how to teach better and how to convey complicated terms and ideas. I hope that I will continue to develop good relationships with the students. I have a possibility of teaching something that I am (more) interested in next year so that would be very exciting, just have to think about what I would like to focus on.

I have also had the fantastic and fun opportunity to do some human rights writing (and got published!) in the form of a booklet which is a user-friendly guide to a declaration. I have also being working on a guidebook around issues such as access, advocacy, adolescents etc and how to engage and make “rights” meaningful to them. So that has been fun, don't know where it will lead but have been learning lots.

Apart from the teaching I am also undertaking a PhD. I have felt very daunted by this prospect and the first three months I feel like I have not had enough head space to even think about it as I was learning the subjects that I was teaching and getting to grips with that! However, towards the end of November I got some time to think and write down some thoughts so I am starting to feel a little better about the situation now. I have a few article and conference paper deadlines on the horizon which will mean that I will have to start getting somethings down on paper. The other big problem is the library facilities here, not many of the legal text books are in English let alone touch on/cover the areas that I am interested in and the online journals are not really subscribed to unless they are in German etc. So, I have come up against somewhat of a brick wall in that respect. So come January I think that I will be trawling around the library somemore to see what is on offer.

Regional TV.
I had 5 minutes of fame on the local television here in Szeged! The report was about Szeged University and the different programmes on offer. I turned up as usual to the department to be told that I was going to be interviewed (they had mentioned something the day before but I wasn't sure if they were really going to interview me) in Hungarian, in about 5 minutes! The reason being was that they wanted to talk to the different “lektor's” (this means the foreign speaking teachers) and get their perspective, what do they teach, the pro's and con's of the legal systems etc. riveting stuff , eh?

Andy Continues as usual.
Andy has had his contract renewed for another 6 months (until June), we will have to wait and see what happens about that. We do feel at peace about the whole situation and are just excited to see what happens for him next here in Szeged.


This year is drawing to an end and the blog has remained rather empty and naked for too long so with the benefit of hindsight and the promise to do better next year, here are some of the events of the year which should have been blogged but weren't.

Thursday 5 November 2009

Pumpkin wine III - The transfer

The Wine is transfered from the bucket to the airlock demijohns - The Wine tastes STRONG!

Monday 2 November 2009

Pumpkin Wine II - the Activation

Have now added Yeast to the pumpkin mixture. The Bucket of yellow-orange liquid has been relocated to the warmest room in the house. We are waiting for the yeast to do its magic- I'm too excited, I can't wait.

Sunday 1 November 2009

Pumpkin Wine I - the Prep

Today I start my adventures in Wine brewing - Pumpkin Wine. I'm roughly following this recipe but with minor modifications and it should produce ~ 18 L of wine!


I've 3kilos of Pumpkin so I've scaled the recipe accordingly and I'm boiling the pumpkin till its soft,mashing then adding the sugar moving to the fermentation bucket adding pectine and leaving overnight

Hope it goes well

Friday 24 July 2009

Maintenance II

The trees are down - Will post video and link to Laci's blog. He is the master tree feller and fellow. With a swish of the chainsaw, three trees fell with minimal damage(15 titles, no fence damage and we are all in 1 piece). The chainsaw stopped oiling the blade(common fault :( ) so we had to stop. Lunch was a nice steak and kidney stew accompanied with cold beer in the fridge whilst immersed in a pool!

However, we look to have a bit of storm damage in recent weeks to the dry stores and the animal houses so we need to get our plans in gear for redevelopment.

Satellite Tv is coming on the 24th August!

Monday 20 July 2009

Maintenance Mode

The appearance of a stray dog in our garden has been a wake-up call for us to do some hardcore maintenance on the farm.The work has started with repairing the inner fence partition and install fly-screen windows. The inner fence has been secured by chickenwire tied to the remainder of the wooden fence. The hard work was mildly frustrating as the stray dog is still around (i think) but who cares when my birthday hammock works!

Still to go:
  1. Getting a metal gate to the pigsty and then get a piggywiggy
  2. Getting the aga flue to the chimney Brest cemented in before winter, The aga should heat the kitchen and we should be able to cook on/in too.
  3. Tree felling with Laci (Forest ranger to the stars) - We've 3 dead big tree which could take out the kitchen and/or a new fence. Chainsaw-tastic
  4. Outer perimeter fence installation- The puppies are growing fast and need more space
  5. Orchard tree trimming/planting - Time to remove the dead branches and shape the trees for better fruit in the new years
  6. Setup up the veggie patch- we need to relocate some trees, fix the fence to keep dogs out and plant suitable winter veg
  7. Weeding - We've a batch of nasty weeds which are full of a glue like substance. Hopefully piggywiggy will eat them all
  8. Fix the potato store!
So we've a quiet summer/autumn lined up!

Monday 6 July 2009


Today has been a hard day...returned home to find piggywiggy has escaped (after one day) and after 1 hour search, there was no sign of her! She has gone....
Then after tea, it took about 30mins to herd the sheep into the pen.
The evening's entertainment was trying to clean the rayburn so that we can put it all back together, I stopped when I smashed the dustpan and brush!

Today has been too frustrating, sad, long and tiring on all planes. I just want to give up!


Sunday 28 June 2009

Bloggers Block

I think I've been suffering bloggers block. I'm not constipated or suffering from a terrible internet disease but I am just being uninspired to write at the moment. You know, 95% of the internet is full of people moaning or writing boring stuff (I don't know anyone who twitts about his daily food intake) and I guess I don't want to add to the noise on the internet. Well instead of wiating for a masterpiece to fall from the sky, I'm branching out and attempt to break through this period of dull creativity so please be warned, writings/playing/thoughts maybe awful but hopefull there will be diamonds amongst the coal!

And to start with I'm enjoying looking at my grape vines slowly ripinening. This autumn we will be attempt a grape homebrew wine


p.s do people actually read/care/comment/enjoy the blogging?

Tuesday 17 March 2009

Famous Andy!

I'm famous! or the google english translations is here

Thursday 8 January 2009

New Car

Here is the new cheesemobile. Its lean, green and clean!

Tuesday 6 January 2009


It would be a great thing to talk to you lovely readers and catch up with all that going in your world. So, Drop us an email with your SKYPE (or other VOIP name/number), check out our calendar for a space and We'll pencil in an time slot. This could work or it could be a disaster.

Please don't post personal information here