Saturday, 14 April 2012

We all Jump in a Pond

On Thursday morning an unusual escort turned up in the form of yet another Lazlo on his sweet little 3 year old (!) Shagya mare rather unfortunately but memorably named Pipot.

Shaven headed and bearded, booted and spurred, Lazlo sat down to breakfast at the Lovaglas Club armed with a little hatchet, apparently for cutting branches to make a tent.

After riding for a couple of hours, things looked up considerably when we reached a row of cellars where he ordered local red wine in an unlabelled bottle which we consumed in at a table in the sun outside.

Just as well since not soon after we reached a pond which apparently we were expected to jump into - Dallam eventually obliged with a lead from the master, shown below exiting said pool.

Lazlo drinks from his hat. I did not follow suit.

And I was also treated to a coffee and a meal in a Hungarian version of a greasy spoon. Thanks Lazlo for a great afternoon!

He delivered me safely to our next hosts, who run an extremely comfortable and well equipped guest house, particularly suited to those of an equestrian bent. It is very close to the main road to Budapest but very secluded and quiet - much recommended for equestrian or non- equestrian holidays
Link to their website to follow.....

Another fantastic evening in Hungary!

No Brakes

Up early on Wednesday 4th to face the media again, first a local journalist and then another Hungarian TV channel. See for the results!
While I bathed in media attention Tamas and Mike were struggling with the lorry brakes....

....and Clara and co and me left them to it while set off across country pursued by TV crew...

Dora tries her own style of photography on the move...

,,,, and we arrive in Soskut to yet more media - this time a rather dashing young man from Duna TV.....

See the results with barking (my husband's description) old woman at

We took full advantage of the meals on offer at the Riding club at Soskut where Dallam, Mike and I were stabled overnight .....

Here is Clara with a seriously naughty pudding, and I have to admit I fell to temptation as well.

Mike turned up with the mended lorry shortly before midnight. Tamas had given up a day of work to help sort it out - that is the Hungarians for you. Many many thanks for all the help.

Crossing the Danube

Tuesday April 3rd. The day we crossed the Danube.
Erica accompanied me through Ocsa on her little chestnut arabian mare...
...and then I rode along a quiet canal for miles.....

The first TV company were waiting for us on the east side of the Danube, and Dallam and I obediently trotted up and down, posed for the camera, and I gave the first of many interviews.

We are filmed leaving on the ferry....
Dallam with a rather pained expression on the little ferry across the Danube - it had room just for us, the lorry and a van.......

Arriving on the other side to yet more media attention.... Tamas our host acts as interpreter.....

His wife Clara met us with a little cohort of riders including her young daughter, and we rode to their smallholding which they run as a rescue centre for animals.

A happy evening in Szazaloma Batta with Dora (left) Clara and Tamas (right) and daughter.

The hand brake on the lorry has been playing up but on inspection it transpired that the rear brakes were kaput. The fabulous Tamas had a mechanic on the job that evening, and I went to sleep in the farmhouse with the sound of hammering in the distance as they attempted to remove the rear wheels.

Is that a hill I see before me?......

... yes, and we have finally crossed the Great Hungarian Plain!

On April Ist we reached Gomba, where Dallam was stabled at very impressive Fetti Lovarda of the Toth family
They run a company supplying clothing and equipment to among other customers the Hungarian military. Hence this rather dubious character skulking in a corner of their on site shop ....... fact a camouflage outfit

...not to mention the Yeti below modelling winter wear ....

And we were put up in a most luxurious local hotel
though Mike was a bit miffed that he was too late to take advantage of the thermal spa facilities.

The following day Dallam and I set off for Ocsa via a complicated network of tracks through the woods. Amazingly we did not get lost and arrived safely at the stables of our next host Aneka.

Dorothy Magyar had arranged for Dallam to be reshod here by her excellent farrier Andreas. Not only did he do a superb job, but he did it for free as a sponsorship!

Mike and I with staff members Erica and Lica, with whom Mike spent a jovial evening in the barn drinking palinka - the elderly woman in the party retired early to her nest in the luton....

In Heaven at Hell Farm

For two days Dallam and I braved the blasts of a stiff cold headwind, and on Friday 30th March rode into the Pest district, as in Budapest. The wind is evident in the photo below, and you can see I had to remove the Cutana hat brim from my Charles Owen riding helmet and tie it to my saddle to stop it being whisked away across the expanses of the Great Hungarian Plain.

Our next hosts were Karol and Mariann at the inexpicably named Polkotanya, or Hell Farm, where we enjoyed heavenly hospitality at their lovely old renovated schoolhouse set in open farmland - where did the children come from?

Yet another groaning table - Mariann and Karol to the left, centre is the bewhiskered Bela ( Mariann's father and Mike's drinking buddy), to the right Esti who came to interpret, and Mike.

In the house porch with one of their sizeable menagerie which included horses, dogs, racoons, turtles, emus, a fox, a deer, a lama and a wallaby, not to mention run of the mill guineas pigs, rabbits and goats.

Traffic police in Tapiogyorgy.

Setting off across the plains from Polkotanya on Sunday April Ist. Happy birthday to April Fool Gethin (my son).

One big plus about Hungary is the amount of wildlife. I frequently see little bands of white bottomed deer scampering away across the ploughed fields, or a large hare lolloping through the grass.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Along the Tisza

On Tuesday 30th March the two Lazlos escorted me out of Tiszachege and across the Tisza river on a small ferry - an exciting new experience for Dallam.

Lazlo Papp mounting his horse on the other side..............

....he has trained it to kneel down for him! Although the saddles they use are just pads with stirrups attached and no girth.

I was met near Poroslo by Daniel, the son of our hosts for the night, and we rode back to their lovely home in a converted barn through the fields with terrier Denny.

Setting off the next morning - Daniel on a young horse - this was the only photo with us vaguely both in the frame! He escorted me down to the bund along the River Tisza, where I was presented with another goody bag, this time by the Poroslo tourist office......

It was a peaceful and scenic route for the next twenty kilometres down the Tisza - it soon widened out into the shallow Lake Tisza, which is the second largest lake in Hungary.

Waiting for me in Kiskore, Mike had approached someone for directions, asking "English?" . "That was a good guess" came the reply. It was Jeremy, a Brit managing a large Hungarian farming enterprise - and he was able to advise me that it was possible to continue along the bund for another twenty kilometres, which is what I did.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

OTTHON - a Hungarian Welcome

On Monday 29th March I left Viragoskut and rode off across the Hortobagy grasslands to Tiszachege. Mike texted me to warn me it might be a good idea to have my camera ready, and it soon became evident why, when the dashing cavaliers below turned up to escort me for the last few kilometres! The two Lazlos in their Hortobagy cowboy outfits complete with bells ringing merrily on the horses. The dark horse is a Noniusz, which is the traditional local Hortobagy breed.
We arrived to a fantastic reception party of palinka and pogi - the latter a delicious kind of small hot cheese bun - served up by host Lazlo Papp's girlfriend Tunde, also resplendent in traditional costume.
Me and the two Lazlos - my host Lazlo Papp on the right, and trainee Lazlo Rosza on the left.

Lazlo trying to encourage Dallam to grow? I hope not as he is a struggle for me to get on in any case. No - a novel way of cooling off his legs after exercise!

Dallam tied up in the barn, but in seventh heaven as he has been provided with a My Little Pony to keep him happy.

Cooking up the slambuc for supper - traditional Hortobagy cowboy fare of pasta and chili.

It seems to be perfectly normal here to sit around with a flask of wine on your head.

Lazlo (Papp) gives Hortobagy cowboy demonstrations, and we were treated to a private showing - this included getting your horse to lie down on its side and then stand on it while cracking a bull whip. Here I am taking part in the show.....
...and I did get to stand on a horse, but not crack the whip.

The jollities continued with Hungarian dancing and copious wine, and a brief interlude when Mike was carted off to the local surgery with a bitten hand after unwisely trying to mediate a dog fight.

Viragoskut Organics

March 28th. We have been staying near Hortabagy with Rosza Pieter on his farm Viragoskut Bio where he makes all sorts of organic products such as buffalo milk yoghurt, mangalitsa sausages, fruit juices, jams and so on.

Dallam was tied up in a big barn for two nights with the local Noniusz horses and Carpathian buffalo. It must have been quite unnerving for him considering he was a bit over awed by the sight of a couple of cows last week, but it was a baptism of fire that he seemed to survive.

On Saturday morning Peter took us out to see his farm in the Hortobagy national Park. This is an ancient area of steppeland and wetlands which is now a world Heritage Site. and we were very privileged to have the chance to access a privately farmed area of the Park. Peter has the largest swing wells in the area .......
....... and here is Mike working hard at drawing buckets of water. Apparently at one time this particular well watered about 10,000 cattle, but thankfully for Mike not when he was on shift.

Peter and son Andreas on their way to church in their Sunday best - in this case traditional Hortobagy costume. Peter is wearing the traditional Hortobagy herdsmans coat - the sleeves are sewn up to provide pockets for the odd salami sandwich or bottle of palinka.

And in the evening we were once again entertained to supper and a rendition of a Hortobagy ballad about the Hungarian outlaw Rosza Sandor (apparently no relation to our disappointment) from Peter on his zither, watched attentively by family and splendiferous aspidistra ...........

The two red capped bottles on the table are his 'calling cards' - his own home produced bottles of organic juice with contact details!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Hungarian hospitality

Early on Friday morning 26th March 'hussar' Lazlo turned up on cue with his impressive bay Kisberi mount to guide me to the centre of Nireghaza for another mediafest.

I was welcomed by an official in front of the Town Hall in Kossuth square, and presented with a goody bag containing among other things that essential item, a yoyo.

There followed more interviews, filming and photographs before I was whisked away into the Town Hall for coffee.

Next in the chain of outriders was Betti's friend Krisztina on her bike, who led me to a field on the edge of town to meet up with sea lion trainer Anna and Johny Depp lookalike David who were guiding me to the stables where Krisztina kept her horse. A lovely ride through fields and villages, even if we got slightly lost and had to ask the way....

Welcomed on arrival by Krisztina and boyfriend Zoltan with their dog Shamu...........

.......and stables owner Miklos and wife Kate entertained us to supper with yet more palinka and wine ....

Egysegere, or cheers in Hungarian! Lto R - Zoltan, Mike, Kate and Miklos toast to our success.

Hungarian hospitality is proving to be unrelenting!