My Gardening

Join Me in My Ever Developing Hungarian Garden – July

July has arrived in Hungary along with soaring temperatures and thirsty plants. Watering is a twice a day affair otherwise the poor plants suffer from dehydration. We had talked about dripper system for the vegetable plot this year but it never materialised.

The wheelbarrow is a favourite spot for this bird…always on the look-out for our dog Haley!

At the front of our house we have giant sunflowers creating a beautiful display and an eager feeding ground for these friendly finches. Lifting the blinds in the morning this is what I see, a great way to start my day. I do believe these are greenfinches?

We have regular butterflies and a multitude of other insects visiting the garden. The cricket sat for ages on the garden chair and the butterfly lazily sunned itself whilst I took photos.

The first of our second generation peppers began to flower late June progressing onto larger specimens early July. These are of the spicy variety and when harvested will be preserved in jars. All our peppers were given a layer of cow manure at the beginning of the season, I’m hoping for great results.

When we moved to Hungary we inherited a well, fully functional if you have a pump, the water is way down. This is our third summer here and have encouraged the plants surrounding the well to grow randomly. This beautiful yellow plant is a blast of colour to brighten this corner. I have no idea of it’s name but it makes FABULOUS dried flower arrangements.

Inheriting a garden is always exciting, each year something else pops up that you had no idea was there. This year the “Well Garden” has acquired a young walnut tree that we did not plant but want to encourage it to grow, it’s doing very well at the moment. The tree at the front is a prolific flowering pink and white Hibiscus….it will be flowering very soon. Over the well is rampant forsythia, stunning flowers in the spring. It will need tidying up before the winter.

We had a very sturdy loft ladder made of very solid wood and wanted to incorporate it into the well garden somehow. Due to a “lost in translation moment” with our Hungarian gardener he took it upon himself to chop out the steps. Not what we wanted….oh dear! We rescued a few steps and will keep adding plants to fill the gaps. It will come to life next year…the gardener has been forgiven. 😀

“The Well Garden”

We live in sunflower country and most gardens have at least a few adorning their gardens, we are no exception. This spectacularly tall sunflower display is ALL self seeded from last year, travelling from the front of the house, I suspect the wind and the birds helped this process. Haley our dog sitting regally like she owned the place!!

Miss Haley Husky, in HER garden.💜

There are 2 sorts of cherries on the trees here in Hungary, sour and sweet. We prefer the sweet ones to eat straight off the tree or you can collect them and make jams if you have any remaining….we didn’t!

We have 2 sweetcorn patches, the first one the corn is already visible and should be ready for cropping probably next week. We planted another bed about 4 weeks later for continuous corn throughout the summer months. Our favourite way to eat them is straight from the plant and onto the BBQ! Delicious!

Not everything has been successful in our garden and we nearly lost our watermelons…or should I say they just did not grow, we were going to pull them out but suddenly the other day these yellow flowers appeared….could this be the start of a watermelon? I will keep you updated.


The tomatoes all over the garden are doing amazingly well, they guzzle water constantly and there are flowers everywhere. Won’t be long before we have a bumper crop. For the first time this year we experimented with crushed egg shells, adding them to the hole before planting the seedlings, to see if it improved the tomatoes growth and production. So far so good. It is supposed to add extra calcium where needed, I have heard mixed reactions about this method. Best that we try it first before making a judgement.


Our raised bed full of peppers is coming on very well and you can see in the buckets on the ground, potatoes. We tried to grow potatoes previously but they were all attacked by a beetle and we lost the lot. This year we are trying the recycling bucket method.

Other experiments we are trying this year. From seed, tomatoes raised in hollowed egg shells, then transferred to the ground….after crushing the shells gently around them before planting them out. The other tall plant is from seed, a pomegranate. I have already prepared the ground ready for planting and will go in the ground this evening.

This is a third year rose, bought in Hungary and thriving well. It had a bout of greenfly early on but now clear. Underneath the rose is our marigold bed. I planted 6 varieties of marigold in the hope of plenty of colour. We are getting there, the smaller ones have flowered now just waiting for the larger ones to explode, should be any day now.

I love petunias and was fortunate to have been given a few last year from a neighbour. She warned me they would self seed everywhere and have a second wave of flowering later in the year. She was right, I hope they do the same this year, they are so cheerful.

This is the front of the house, looking onto the road. As you see the sunflowers are healthy and strong but unfortunately for poor Haley block her important view of the street. It was a good look out for her passing doggie friends!


Much as I adore Haley, our Husky, she is a major nuisance in the garden. Digging is her game and she is good at it. We have areas in the garden she is “allowed to dig” which generally works OK. However on this occasion my cordoned off new sunflower patch got the “Haley Digging” treatment and she managed to kill one of my 10 new plants. In the first picture you will also notice another suspicious hole…she was guarding it so I would not fill it in! Naughty girl!

My lovely Hibiscus just about to burst into flower in the “Well Garden”


This is the bottom third of our garden, the buildings you see on the left is the neighbours house. We have planted 8 walnut trees which will eventually give us our “Walnut Corner” and a great screen with the neighbours.

There are numerous bare patches on the “lawn”…that’s what I call it but Eric refers to this area as the side garden! The bare patches are when the garden was a building site with piles of concrete, rubble and stones everywhere. We removed the rubble and prepared the patches for grass seed, that was 10 days ago.

Now the new grass is popping through and will hopefully give a good green covering in the coming weeks. I am always hopeful 😁

Our neighbours wall… a fascinating place for “dog sniffing”! The house has been empty for the last 3 years and this half finished extension is housing some sort of animal that has been driving Haley crazy! It could be foxes as we have seen them in the garden or rabbits, cats, lizards or even mice. She spends hours sniffing and watching, crazy girl!!

Sat on our verandah I looked up and this is what I saw…a vibrant blue sky with puff balls of cotton wool clouds. Just gorgeous!🧡

Now as the evening approaches the sun goes to sleep and the moon gently comes out ready to do the whole cycle again tomorrow. Every day nature has something new to offer us it’s wonderful to be able to appreciate it here in our adopted country of Hungary.

Everyday Life in Hungary

20 Older Generation Habits that will make you Smile

Party is now “Dinner Party”

Lets PARTY meant very late nights, thick beery hangovers the next day and a mass of clearing up to do! As we got older our taste in entertainment changed. No longer did we feel the urge or the need to go out every night and have a blow out at the weekends. We discovered very civilised “dinner parties”. There was no need to shout and yell at each other like in the nightclubs but a chance to have a decent conversation with the aid of good food, good company and delicious wines.

Wearing a jacket even when it’s hot!

I feel the cold, more so than I did in my younger days. My hands and my feet get really so very cold. My solution, more layers, more movement. I also LOVE socks, I have many warm woolly ones, makes my feet nice and toasty, winters are painfully cold in Hungary.

Taking photos of people and things, not themselves

Guilty of this habit! Never have I been comfortable with “selfies”, I am not good at it and I would prefer to be on the other side of the lens.

Reading my Kindle instead of hardback books

In spite of convincing myself years ago that I would NEVER get a Kindle, I succumbed when we moved abroad. My hardback collection is still in England, I shall be reunited with it sometime in the future. I love being able to slip my Kindle into my handbag and take it out with me for an opportunistic read.

My handbag is a suitcase

Long gone are the days of only carrying a small clutch bag with only the essentials for a night out. Nowadays my large handbag, now renamed “Sue’s Suitcase” by my husband is full of emergency supplies like tissues, manicure set, glasses, phone, hard candy, cardigan etc etc …!! I am covered for every eventuality whilst we are out and about in Hungary. Husband and son always thank me for being organised when they require something from the said suitcase!

Discuss the weather

As youngsters, the weather did not influence our lives as much as it does now we are many years older. I remember vaguely my parents talking about the weather, it always seemed important to them. When I became an adult myself I have to admit to scrutinising the weather daily, through habit and necessity. When my children were small, we walked everywhere and living in England meant the weather was always unpredictable. We needed to be dressed appropriately for those frequent rainy days. Now living in a country with predictable weather it’s great, no more guessing.

Insist on a wall calendar

Image by Amber Avalona from Pixabay

I love a good wall calendar and have used them for many years. My youngest daughter suggested to me that I should be using an online planner, as it’s way more efficient. I didn’t really want to do that as I prefer to see everything in front of me, to me it’s more visualising and pleasing.

Drink a lot of tea

The older generation do seem to drink many cups of tea. I know people who seem to continually have the kettle on for their next cup of tea. I used to hear my parents inviting people around for “a cup of tea and a chat”. A very orderly affair sometimes with freshly baked buns for the chattering guests. Tea is readily available everywhere, quick to make and provides a satisfying refreshing drink. My personal favourite is Vanilla tea although I am also partial to an Earl Grey cup of Tea.

Play Bingo

Image by Tomppa Koponen from Pixabay

Bingo is ALWAYS associated with the older generation. I am surprised by this as in my hometown in England there were Bingo Halls filled with bingo players of all ages. Holidaying abroad in all-inclusive resorts often have bingo sessions to help entertain the guests. There is online Bingo that I have experimented with and believe me it can become quite addictive. I soon lost interest when the summer months arrived.

The comfortable look

I followed fashion trends when I was younger through the 70’s and 80’s changing with the latest fads enjoying having what I considered to be reasonable “fashion sense”. As I have got older my style and how I wear things is very different. I deserve to be comfortable and relaxed in the clothes I wear now. For so many years through my working life, I would don a smart business suit and wear make-up and jewellery every day. Now I still like to look smart but my look is either long floaty dresses or shorts and teeshirts through the summer months. Winter is for leggings and wollies!

Love receiving mail in the mailbox

I do so love to receive mail in my mailbox. Am I old fashioned to enjoy the thought and effort gone into a letter sent to me? Post nowadays is either bills or circulars. Most of my communications are done through email. Thoroughly impersonal but quick and reliable.

Wear slippers

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

Slippers are fabulous, they keep my feet warm and clean. The theory is that my floors should be cleaner too but when my husband and son don’t wear slippers… we have words!

Wear a dressing gown….

On a cold winters day when I know we are not expecting visitors during the day, I slip my long super warm dressing gown on…I have convinced myself that it’s a housecoat!

Have a Landline Telephone

We have ALWAYS had a landline telephone and I could not understand why so many other people just managed on mobile phones. It took me a long time to finally part with the landline and rely solely on mobile technology. Looking back we were wasting money having both means of communication. Now our mobile phones are peaceful, not full of nuisance marketing calls like we had in England and I have learnt everything I need to know how to operate my android phone efficiently.

Taking a Siesta

Image by anisenior from Pixabay

The advantage of being older is that you can nap when the mood takes you. It is now acceptable to fall asleep in front of the TV or with a magazine laid open on your chest. My husband takes full advantage of this privilege regularly.


We are certainly not ‘cruise’ people, but we do know people who have had fantastic luxurious cruises in their later years and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Everything is laid on for guests with plenty of varied lively entertainment. Unfortunately, I suffer from sea-sickness quite badly so have never had the desire to go cruising.


‘Crosswords are for oldies,’ I used to say about my mother-in-law. Every day without fail she would do the daily newspaper crossword. Nobody was allowed to fill any of the clues in and her aim was to complete it within the day. Not many people nowadays buy newspapers as computer technology has replaced them. News is available through numerous different outlets online making the humble large page newspaper a dying breed. I discovered crosswords by chance whilst waiting for a flight to visit my daughter. I picked up a book of crosswords and took the plunge, and started crosswording I am now hooked!! I discovered jigsaws only last year and completed my first 1000 piece puzzle over the long winter.

Youtube beats any Encyclopedia

Technology has enhanced our lives tremendously. When I was a youngster and had a question, I was directed to the family collection of Encyclopedia Britannica. Dust covered heavy books full of interesting facts filled our bookshelves at home usually providing the answer. It is so much easier now with huge capacity search engines to help you discover ANYTHING. My husband is particularly hooked on Youtube and has been entertained for many hours on topics he is interested in.

Get up early

We don’t have to get up early but we do. No longer is it a necessity to get up at a specific time. We are retired and do not have jobs to go too. We are free to lie in if we want too. Rural life in Hungary usually starts at 6.30 am with everyone up and about before it gets too hot in the summer months. I love first thing in the morning sitting on our verandah enjoying a cup of tea and the early morning chattering of the birds. We also go to bed reasonably early too, we have no time constraints.

We are not ‘old’

How old is old? When I was a child I thought my parents were old. When I was in my 20’s, 40 sounded ancient! I am now nearing my 60’s and don’t feel like that number. Age is a number that doesn’t have to be scary. As we age our life experiences change to suit that phase in our lives. With age comes experience and knowledge which we hopefully can pass onto to future generations. Who knows what the world will have to offer our grandchildren. No doubt they are looking at their grandparents now and thinking how old fashioned we are!

Let me know if you know of any other differences between the older generation and the youngsters of today. I am sure I have missed loads.

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? 💞