Everyday Life in Hungary

What Does an Expat Like Me Do All Day?

I am a young retiree but don’t actually feel I am retired. I have not been in paid employment for the last 13 years, I am sure I am not alone when I say I work harder at home than I ever did in all my years of paid employment. My roles have generally been the same over my retirement years, I still keep house, shop, cook, clean, do laundry, dig the garden, be wife, be mother, be nurse and lots of other general things but I still find time to be me. My time to do what I WANT to do, it’s important for me to set aside a portion of each day to self indulge. My passions are photography, journalling, photography and writing, these hobbies I practise daily. I also find time to read, craft and cook. Sometimes I think the busier I am the more I can cram in. I set myself mental goals each morning as I sit and have my first cup of tea. I don’t stress too much if I don’t achieve everything, there’s always tomorrow!

Since the Coronavirus has taken hold, our lives in Hungary are not a lot different from the way they were before. We are isolated in a rural village and have to drive everywhere anyway. We have always shopped in bulk and make good use of the farm in the village for milk, cheeses and meats. I must admit to doing more meal planning and writing long lists to ensure we don’t have to leave the house unnecessarily. We are shopping for 2 weeks at a time at present and luckily have enough freezer space to eat plentifully as and when we want. Ironically the situation has made us think seriously about growing more of our own food. As a family we eat a ton of fruit and veg and growing them ourselves will not only be cheaper and cleaner but will give us that total satisfaction of eating our own produce.

I thought it would be interesting to record what I actually do during my days of retirement. Maybe you have days like mine or you have different daily routines, things you HAVE to do on a regular basis and sadly restricts your time for you to do anything else.

My Typical Day

  • I usually wake early when it gets light, around 6.30 am at the moment, turn on my phone and check my sleep tracker. I am sort of obsessive about this and manage mostly to sleep for more than 8 hours.
  • I make hot drinks for Eric and I, either Earl Grey or Vanilla tea for me and milky coffee for Eric. Time to sit in front of my PC for usually an hour or so, checking emails, reading the news and checking social media.
  • Next job is to let Haley our dog out of her kennel. She is an outdoor dog but does spend time inside too. She is always boisterous and energetic first thing, charging around the garden and speed sniffing all her usual spots. I get a love from her when she has finished checking the perimeters of our garden!
  • Time to decide on what to have for our meals, this usually entails removing meat from the freezer (for us and the dog) and vaguely planning side dishes and desserts. Our son has funny meal times and different tastes so I usually plan for him too. It’s a relief when the meals are sorted out.
  • Breakfast and then mundane jobs like emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming floors, laundry in. I am fortunate and have a laundry room so can wash and dry all year round, not like in England where we had a constant mountain of washing drying inside the house.
  • Today we were given (as sometimes happens) by the village gardener, some odd looking, unfamiliar bulbs….I tried to find out what they were but Eric could not remember what he had said. They needed to be in the ground right away so that was my first gardening job of the day. Goodness knows what will pop up.
  • We had collected some cow manure from the local farm the last time we got milk. Muck spreading was on my mental agenda of jobs to do so that was my next task. The fruit trees in our orchard were treated with this stinky treat. We have apple, almond, cherry and peach trees. Unfortunately there was insufficient for the 6 walnut trees we planted last year. Another visit to the farmer will be needed.
  • undefined The men (Eric and Raphael) decided it would be a good idea to have a bonfire and burn the mountain of dried weeds that had accumulating in one area of the vegetable plot. They burnt very well but gave off billowing smoke. Thankfully there are no restriction about having bonfires here as there are in England.
  • I spread out all the seeds outside on the table that we had accumulated in our seed box. Some were 2 years old and had come from England, some were bought here and obviously with instructions in Hungarian and various seeds we had collected and packeted. Eric and I discussed at length and decided what to plant where and managed to decipher the Hungarian seed packets with the help of Google translate.
  • undefined Time to get physical, in the gardening sense! I wanted 4 veggie plots and had one left to do to accomplish this. The ground was hard as we have had no rain for a while, it had to be done so set to work with energetic enthusiasm. Haley managed to be a helpful hindrance, jumping all over the new veggie plots, I spent a lot of time shooing her off! By the time I had finished my enthusiasm had died and I needed to sit down. I was super proud of my 2 hour digging and weeding spell though.
  • The plan for our meal was BBQed beef, marinated in spicy chillies served with sumac, red onion salad and baked potatoes. Eric is ALWAYS the outdoor BBQ chef which is wonderful to eat food prepared by someone else. We all ate around 3pm, working in the garden made us all super hungry.
  • undefined By mistake I had bought several bags of what I thought was bread flour when in fact it was actually all purpose flour. The men decided I needed to make something delicious! I sat at my PC and researched some traditional Hungarian bakes. I came across a Hungarian braided sweet bread (as in bread that is sweet), a brioche style bread traditionally eaten at Easter in Hungary. Since we are nearly at Easter I gave it a go. It was a resounding success. One to put in my recipe journal.
  • Back to mundane tasks, filling the dishwasher, clearing the kitchen, feeding Haley then putting her in her kennel for the night. Eric watered the garden (his daily task) whilst I sat down to my PC.
  • This is ‘Me’ time, everyone is fed, the household chores have been done so time for some blogging, reading, uploading and editing photographs and checking the news and social media.
  • Eric is usually in front of the television and Raphael is in his room gaming with his friends.
  • The last couple of hours of the evening are usually spent with Eric, chatting chilling or watching television before going to bed.
  • The last things I do before before going to bed is to check my step counter, I’m regularly reaching my 4000 steps a day goal, today it was 5358! I also check the weather forecast for the next day….I never lose my English habits! Lastly I read my Kindle for as long as it takes me to start yawning, it does not take long these days!

So that is one of my typical days, I am never bored and seem to be always on the go. Life in Hungary is generally thought to be slower than in England but I come to the evening every night and wonder where has the day gone? Tomorrow is a new day and another mental list of jobs are forming in my mind. More gardening, more cooking, more jobs but all with my lovely family around me, I am glad we are retired.

I would be interested to learn how other Expats spend their days. Maybe you can inspire me with your ideas, what you do in your free time, how you are entertaining yourself in this period of ‘lockdown’? I am always up for trying new things and learning new skills.

By Sue

I am an English Ex-Pat living in Hungary with my wonderful husband and gaming-mad teenage son. You can find me frequently writing, reading and taking photographs. We live in a beautiful small rural village surrounded by forests and lakes always appreciating the beauty around us. Life is good.

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