On Wednesday 24th March we reached Mateszalka to rendezvous with the Hungarian press in the centre of town. I was interviewed for TV, and Dallam and I were filmed and photographed engaging in a variety of activities - walking through town, me having a coffee with Dallam tied to convenient tree, Dallam accepting apple from shopkeeper etc - he behaved with aplomb throughout.
We were also approached by a delightful local riding school proprietor who has become our new Hungarian 'fixer' - the wonderful Bernadette Miko, or Betti to her friends. She has taken it upon herself to organise our entire accommodation across Hungary as it appears it is to be a triumphal progress!
I had already arranged to stay overnight at the astables of Dr Ungvari where little Zorbee the Kazakh stallion is still quarantined, but on Thursday morning I rode over to Betti's stables, as she was going to accompany me part of the way to Napkor, near Nireghaza. Here she is on her horse Harry Potter .... ....and she was able to guide me on a lovely route through the fields. About halfway she turned me over to the 'Hussars' - three Hungarian riders who essentially dress up in Hussar costumes for special occasions, although disappointingly not on this one - Chubur Snr and Jnr (the latter known as Chubby!) and Miklos (Miki) on the Hungarian horses. They were on a form of equestrian pub crawl which seemed to involve a mad gallop through the Hungarian countryside interspersed with knocking back beers at any convenient watering holes. I had prevailed upon Betti to warn them that my horse was not fit and to keep the pace down, but they could not resist the occasional spanking trot through the forest.
We rode most of the way along an old pilgimage route via the important Catholic and Orthodox city of Mariapocs - I say 'city' as although it is actually a very small and otherwise inconsequential rural town, city status was conferred on ti after a recent papal visit!
The three musketeers or rather hussars in front of the Orthodox church in Mariapocs ....
L to R - Chubur Snr on his Kisberi horse, Chubby on his part Kisberi, Miki on Noniusz horse.
Below - stopping for a convivial lunch at a hunting lodge in the forest - do not be fooled by all the soft drinks - a bottle of wine soon appeared from somewhere. L to R as above but without horses. .......and they delivered me safe and relatively sober to our Napkor host Bela, who fed us large quantities of Hungarian sausages and Mangalitsa pork washed down with palinka. Palinka is a Hungarian spirit which makes a frequent appearance, drunk in shots to be downed in one by the big boys and girls, though I can only manage to sip it primly.
Mangalitsa are an astonishing looking woolly traditional Hungarian pig which seems to be the in thing to keep in Hungary these days.