Chatting on the Verandah

“Chatting on the Verandah” Part 4

Expat Life, Early Retirement, Good Conversations

One of the things that I appreciate most about being retired and living in a different country is that my husband and I are really able to talk to each other. Sounds a little silly to say but throughout our married life talking took a back seat…I mean really talking, chatting, having conversations, laughing, reminiscing, planning for our future, there was always something else that took priority. Now is our time to talk and I love it. I am sharing with you today conversations we have had on our verandah here in our adopted home – Hungary.

7 topics that sparked our conversations on the verandah


We grew lavender in the UK but not as successfully as here. I have some lavender in our garden but nothing large scale. Roaming around the countryside at this time of year you can often see the vivid purple fields of lavender, usually open to the public to pick your own.

Our village has a new lavender field that is thriving well. The village were discussing what to do with it…how to market it, where to market it. I know there is a refining facility in the next village but what happens from there I don’t know. There was talk of a small cafe in the village selling products made from lavender. I use lavender, as a sleep aid and have made fizzing bath bombs using lavender essential oil in the past. I am very interested to follow the village progress. I took a couple of pictures of the developing fields.


It’s been a very long time since I changed a nappy! How we came to be talking about nappies is that we had been on the hunt for some muslin nappies for curing meat. Our farmer delivered a nice slab of beef to us and we are going through the stages of curing it. The meat has been salted several times, now it’s waiting for the fenugreek (Indian spice) to be added for its final stage. We needed a muslin square or nappy which fortunately we found at our local market. The stall holder kindly showed me several designs (written in Hungarian), I just smiled, we both laughed when she realised I did not understand the wording. Too hard to explain what we wanted it for!

Eric has previously lived in USA and was not familiar with using terry nappies, he only knew Huggies disposable nappies and informed me they were more popular in America than Pampers. In the UK it was the other way round when I finally converted to disposables. My first 2 children had terry nappies, as this was what my mother had advised me to use. By baby 3 I had had enough of washing endless terry nappies, so changed to Pampers disposable… the best in my opinion.

I love to hear about how Eric grew up in Lebanon and had an interesting conversation about his childhood memories. I asked what his mother did for nappies and washing them. Once a week was wash day. The fire was lit with wood and the water was heated up. He told me the house used to fill with smoke on wash day. That water showered the whole family using a jug and bar of soap. The nappies went into a special barrel and soaked first, then bleached then boiled over a fire. Rinsed and hung on the washing line. I compared my own experiences which were very different and privileged. We had running hot water from a tap and bathed when we wanted. Washing was done automatically in a twin tub and my mother hung the nappies on the line. Wash day was always Monday. How different our mothers worked in their respective countries.

Lydia’s Goats

Goats are hot topic on the verandah at the moment. We have discovered that we can buy different varieties of goats cheese quite easily here in Hungary…one of my favourites. In the UK I paid high prices for not a lot of cheese. The last lot we bought was from Tamási Market, one was smoked, one with added oregano and the last one plain, they were all delicious. If you want to know more about Tamási market I have written a post all about it here Tamási Market

Image by Pam Carter from Pixabay

Our son, Raphael loves animals and was thrilled to be able to go and see our neighbours goats and their newborn kids. Lydia has several goats and is also our Hungarian interpreter, she has been super valuable to us whilst we have been here. Eric and I chatted about Raphael’s increased confidence now we have lived here some time. He had never wanted to get involved in village life before so we both agreed that integrating with Lydia’s goats was a great start! He was too shy to try his Hungarian and worried he would get it wrong, he need not have worried. I was a bit like that when we first came to Hungary but you have to “take the bull by the horns” as the saying goes and just do it! He has been back again to see Lydia and his new friends and learnt a mountain about goats.

We chatted about having 2 of our own but I don’t think it’s practical with an active husky in the house. She would relentlessly attempt to pursue them until she managed to catch one….. then who know what would happen!


Desperado – Antonio Banderas

Paul Baghdadlian – Armenian singer

We like to listen to music sometimes whilst chatting. Music that suits our mood. We had hot sunshine so selected Antonio Banderas with his flamenco style aggressive guitar playing. One of Eric’s favourite movies, the song sung in Spanish. I actually felt like I was on holiday…on my own verandah!

We also had many vocal renditions by Paul Baghdadlian as he was one of Eric’s old friends, songs sung in Armenian (Eric’s mother tongue) that I had little understanding of. It was pleasant though. Click the links above for a taster.

Mint Everywhere

Chocolate Mint

This year we have found ourselves with three different sorts of mint. A gift this year was chocolate mint and it REALLY does smell like chocolate. We had discussions about mint and it’s uses and if we really wanted to put chocolate mint in salads?!

We came up with the following ideas:

We shall dry plenty, and we use it in greek yoghurt salad dishes.

Use fresh in everyday salads – like our Tabbouleh

Use the fresh chocolate mint in homemade ice cream.

Steep the leaves in boiling water for a mint tea.

Add to cocktails and desserts for pretty decoration.

I am sure there are many other uses of this versatile herb. Let me know if you have any other ideas 😁

Finally, we decided to make new cuttings in pots and leave them growing on the verandah as I have heard mosquitoes don’t like the smell. I will try anything to deter those pesky insects.

BBQ – “Chilling and Grilling”

Golden Baked Potatoes

It was so lovely and warm outside we decided to do our BBQ preparations on the verandah. A mammoth task as on the menu was Tabbouleh – a Middle Eastern super fresh herb and bulgur salad, with parsley being the number one ingredient. This dish took a lot of time.. preparing the salad items to exacting measurements. Eric taught me exactly how to make this fabulous dish who in turn had been taught by his mother in Lebanon. Although he swore his version was better than his mothers’! I have taught my youngest daughter how to make Tabbouleh (she is in Spain) and also my friends in England. This dish is becoming truly multicultural. Most people adapt salads to their own individual tastes so it is bound to change slightly every time it’s passed on. Two other examples of how you can eat your Tabbouleh.

We talked a lot about food, Eric is an excellent chef and is always coming up with new ideas…..some great, some not so! I shall give him credit for his baked spuds! His experiment for the potatoes was an EXCELLENT idea although I am not sure how healthy it was! Between each large sliced potato was a slice of beef fat, the potato was then wrapped in foil and cooked. Once cooked it was removed from the foil and given a quick blitz on the BBQ until it was nice and golden. Mouthwateringly good – See the photo above.

Coronavirus in Hungary

We had serious discussions about the virus as we have done regularly. Thankfully the State of Emergency that existed in Hungary has been lifted as of this week. Our cases and deaths here are relatively low compared to other European countries and for that we are eternally thankful. We have had confirmation that no member of our village community had been infected, so far, let’s hope it stays that way.

Restrictions have been lifted around timed shopping (elderly only before 12.00 pm) meaning we can shop anytime now. Face masks are still obligatory in supermarkets and on public transport. Only one person in and out in the smaller shops. Restaurants are open, outside only and social distancing is still in force. We are still keeping our eye on the borders as our English friends are waiting to come over here. It does not look too promising at the moment with some countries not allowing British Nationals to enter, Hungary being one of them. The UK is a high risk country and it may be some time before that restriction is lifted.

This virus has taught us a few lessons over the last months. The main one is for us to appreciate what we have and appreciate every day on this earth. My other thoughts and appreciations go to ALL the frontline workers all over the world, they have done a grand job in extremely difficult circumstances. Stay safe everyone.💖

Just a bit of fun and an insight into what these 2 retired expats talk about whilst living in Hungary. There will be more “Verandah Conversations” very soon.

Are you a retired expat? What do you talk about with your nearest and dearest? 💞

What Was Said on The Verandah!

“Chatting on the Verandah” Part 3

7 of many things that started a discussion today….

Our morning verandah chats turn up some very interesting topics.


This is Belarus…our next door neighbours tractor!

We got chatting about this ancient piece of farm machinery because she tends to leave a lingering smell of fuel in the air whenever she passes! This morning we could smell her from the verandah as she ambled past. She is also very noisy, a sign of an elderly but generally dependable tractor. This picture was taken when we first arrived in Hungary 3 years ago…. we were having our land flattened. The excited young lady in the tractor was our English friend from back home, she was holidaying with us and could not resist a pose! Eric and I decided Belarus was a female!

Jeffrey Epstein

Jeffrey Epstein

I have just finished watching the shocking Jeffrey Epstein documentary and felt it meritted discussion.

Our conclusions: The man was despicable! His money protected him until the end. His victims will never be free of him. Following Michael Jackson and Jimmy Saville all just SICK! I watched this on Netflix.

Something Calming…

Hungarian Chamomile is known as Matricaria Chamomilla and is very pretty with fields full of this daisy-like flower.

Image by Kerstin Riemer from Pixabay

Mentioning chamomile brought back many happy memories of Eric’s grandmother in Lebanon. He learnt, when he was young, many things from this wise knowledgeable woman. She taught him how to make healing potions to treat various illnesses using just plants and herbs. I have learnt a lot too, it’s fascinating. One of grandmothers’ potions was to steep crushed chamomile flowers in boiling water. Then added honey for cold/flu sufferers or butter for a bad chest/cough. I have never drank chamomile but I do know you can buy commercially made chamomile tea in supermarkets.

Sunflower Patch

A sunflower patch filled with 1.5 m tall flowers.

It will be positioned in a corner of the garden that needs disguising. This is my plan. We do already have an abundance of sunflowers growing around the garden, but they do tend to park themselves wherever they want! This photo from last year settled in the marigold plot and was a whopper. I have diligently cleared a good area for the sunflowers and will plant our current batch when they are ready. We talked about making the area “Haley Proof” (our dog) always a consideration when planning the garden.

Shopping during the virus

We have dealt with the lockdown restrictions pretty well in our little part of Hungary. The main difference from before, is that we have to be far more organised to only leave the house once a fortnight. Our plans were to go on Monday (tomorrow) but it is a bank holiday, everywhere is closed. I started a notebook leaving it out during the week for adding items to. It filled up pretty quickly, especially when our son spotted it!! I will take it with me shopping on Tuesday, so helpful for me as my memory is not great. It’s a long way to go back to the shop if you have forgotten something. We mainly shop at Lidl but occasionally Tesco. Aldi is also in Hungary but we have not tried it yet! Hungary have many bank holidays dotted throughout the year, there isn’t the mad food shopping sprees that usually precede bank holidays in UK.

Poker People

We are both “poker people”, meaning we enjoy a good competitive game of poker. We are both gamblers, and consider ourselves as competent, tactical players and of course, enjoy the thrill of winning.

Now over here in Hungary we have had to leave all our ‘live’ poker friends in England so as an alternative we have started playing online poker. The big advantage is it costs nothing and you play with points.

However, online poker is a totally different concept from playing face to face. Online, you are unable to read body language, which is a definite advantage when playing poker. Reading faces, body movements, general atmosphere…it’s all part of the game. Eric and I talked a lot about body language, it’s an interesting subject.

Music Today

We like a wide variety of music and just on impulse I put my phone on Youtube and played a song, it was the song Eric had been singing earlier, by The Wanted, we laughed a lot!! Music lifts our mood it also gets my imagination going. I had a vision of our verandah artistically covered in twinkling fairy lights all the way around, the music playing, dance floor perhaps??”I think it would look stunning?” alas….no reply from the main man! ….as an afterthought we have been playing music all day today.🎶

Are you a retired expat? What do you talk about with your nearest and dearest? 💞

Just a bit of fun and an insight into what these retired expats talk about whilst living in Hungary. There will be more “Verandah Conversations” very soon.

What Was Said on The Verandah!

“Chatting on the Verandah” Part 2

7 of many things that started a discussion today….

Our morning verandah chats turn up some very interesting topics.

Eric and I are a ‘young’ retired couple living in Hungary enjoying each others company and chatting together for many hours. We are so relaxed here and really appreciate being able to take our time and not always be conscious of the time!

Taking time to talk to each other is an excellent tool to strengthen our marriage.

We’ve run out of onions!!

We eat a lot of onions and usually I have no problem keeping our kitchen well stocked. Unfortunately we had run clean out so I had to go searching in the veggie plot for any stray last years onions. I found a few and cleared the ground. On the verandah lack of onions got us talking about growing our own in a more productive way, so now we have decided to grow them in pots. Eric had seen a youtube video about growing masses of them altogether in a huge tub. This would be great for us and I would love to hang a string in our kitchen, always to hand. We talked about hanging techniques and plaiting. I even watched this video on the technique of onion plaiting!

Good News..

These last few days has seen Hungary have some bans lifted, due to the Covid19 virus. You can now go for a meal in an ‘indoor’ restaurant and some holiday attractions are opening, the summer season is nearly here. Some neighbouring country borders are opening, I guess most of the others will follow very soon. Social distancing is still compulsory. We shall never forget this pandemic, it will be in future history books.

Blowing and Haley Husky

Haley is shedding her fur. Most huskies blow their undercoat twice a year. Our time is now. we are prepared for hair everywhere, that’s part of owning a husky. If you want to read more about huskies and all you need to know before considering buying one go here:

Shedding her thick fur of winter

We talked a lot on the verandah about Haley today… the naughty girl! I have been nurturing a strawberry, the first this year, from our strawberry patch. I’m busy picking strawberries and thinking about the juicy one I’m going to photograph. I stop to photo it and return my camera to the table then resume my strawberry picking. Haley comes galloping up behind me and quick as a flash grabs my precious strawberry in her teeth and pulled it off! I am stunned and shouted loudly but with no effect! How could she take my strawberry, and she had the cheek to take the best one! Fortunately when she had lost interest she left it in the grass for me to retrieve and scrub well. She had not eaten it! I have never heard of a dog pinching strawberries before! This is going to be a problem.

The precious strawberry before the “theft”!

Congratulations on your birth…

Flattered…I’m not sure. Eric had family news. My son’s name is Raphael, not a common name in the UK but in the Middle East it is. Eric’s nephew’s wife has given birth to a baby boy in Lebanon and called him Raphael. I am happy they like our choice of name so much, really I am. Our Raphael is mighty chuffed, having a relative named after him. But… their surnames are the same too! I can see confusion in the future!

Mr Cummings was mentioned.

Chief Adviser to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings drove 270 miles from London to his parents’ farm in late March, while most Britons were following the government’s rule to “stay home”. Seems a touch unfair to the all the people following the rules, and to top it all the police said they were not going to prosecute him, this has angered the British public, understandably. We are thankful to be living in a different country with different rules but I still worry about the UK situation, I have my family there.

What was that movie called?

Today on our verandah… both of us were feeling nostalgic. Quoting lines from children’s movies, watched years ago with our then young son….singing the songs….laughing a lot, shocked that our memories were so good. I think the new birth in the family made us start pleasantly reminiscing. The conclusion:

Our top 3 movies:

Do you remember these movies?




Wacky Hungarian Weather

Our first flowering rose of the year

Its nearly the end of May, Eric and I had mentioned a few times that it seemed cooler than this time last year. It’s very similar at the moment to England’s April Showers – only in May! Today we have had rain, sun, wind, thunder, cloud, several times and in different orders! The English are obsessed with the weather, its a topic of easy conversation, it’s a ‘get you talking’ topic. I have to admit to looking at the weather forecast twice a day for the gardening outlook and personal purposes. I always want the sun to shine during the day and to rain at night to feed the hungry plants. Hungary is very green because of its abundance of rain. After the rains the air smells so clean and fresh, it’s always nice to sit on the verandah if its raining.

Are you a retired expat? What do you talk about with your nearest and dearest? 💞

Just a bit of fun and an insight into what these retired expats talk about whilst living in Hungary. There will be more “Verandah Conversations” very soon.