Posted by: Valerie | January 29, 2011

Hungarian haggis and dangerous times

Monday: I’m sitting in Tim Horton’s tapping away on my laptop, Due to a scheduling glitch between appointments, I have a two hour hiatus of nothing to do. It’s not so easy to entertain oneself in Bancroft for two whole hours. Under different weather conditions a stroll to the top of the Eagle’s Nest cliff would be pleasant – rephrase that! – a drive to the top of the cliff and then a stroll would be more like the thing. It is a beautiful outlook. However it has warmed up to a balmy minus 24 without the windchill so here I am in TH with a magnificent view of the cliff from the bottom. Oftentimes ice climbers can be seen on the cliff with their colourful jackets and ropes. The Canadian Forces use this location for training. Someone did fall recently but landed only about 15 feet down and was subsequently rescued by other climbers.

Climbers on Eagle's Nest cliff

 Other options might include a quiet sit in the little riverside park but I would have to trudge through many feet of snow and then where would I sit? Nah – the coffee shop is the only sensible choice.

 Hey, it’s Rabbie Burns’ Nicht, the nicht. I believe some organization, such as the Elks or the Lions or those guys that wear Turkish fezzes, puts on a Burns Supper but when I investigated a couple of years ago, they were offering beef. It’s hard to imagine a bunch of locals addressing the haggis but the pipes would be no problem. There is always some ersatz Scotsman puffing away at a pibroch at the slightest opportunity.

Having not even attempted to find a haggis this year we are going to have a joint Scottish/Hungarian supper tonight. There is a Hungarian thing called a hurka which, although it is a different shape, seems amazingly similar to haggis and as there is one in the freezer we will have that with bashed neeps and tatties. And here is the surprise I have in store for Joe. I am going to read him the entire Tam O’Shanter which is after all a jolly tale. I will preface it by telling him that this will be more understandable for him than Hungarian is for me – by a long, long, shot! Joe may drink whatever is his pleasure but I will be toasting the glorious memory with a dram or two of The Glenlivet.

 Later: Supper is over – not as good as the real thing but not bad either and the whisky was very fine. Another one would be lovely but then I might get silly. Or fall asleep. Too soon. Joe didn’t get Tam O’Shantered.

 Much later: Saturday.

 I have been thinking a lot about my friend Janice who is presently in Cairo, stuck in a hotel watching the protests from her window. Of course I haven’t heard from her since the internet crack-down but somehow her son has been in contact and reports that she is fine. I do hope she has a lot to read because hanging around doing nothing is really not a Janice thing! Maybe they have a piano she can play at the hotel. Knowing her, she has probably got the other trapped guests together and has formed a choir! Concert will be take place next week.

 On a more serious note, another friend forwarded a link to the most astonishing set of images taken by press photographers right in the middle of the scrums in Cairo and Suez. There is an immediacy and an intimacy about these photographs that I have almost never felt before. I so much admire not only the photographs – many of them are brilliant – but also the courage and determination of the photographers. See

 Looking at the situation from the comfort of my living-room sofa, I can imagine myself in the past having the desire to march right into a situation such as the protests in Cairo but I was never directly presented with an opportunity. I have never lacked a foolhardy courage in difficult situations though. In fact, as a child, I would often walk right into confrontations that would inevitably lead to me getting punched in the face or some such indignation. I never backed down. Foolish? Brave? Probably both (mainly the former?), especially as there was little to be gained most of the time, except pride.

 I am very much a “now” person with a poor concept of the future. Planning beyond a week ahead is a struggle for me. Means that I don’t worry much about things to come. Maybe it has passed down through my genes but I believe that might also apply to my eldest son, Richard. Speak up if you disagree, Senior Son! When he was in his late teens/early twenties, Richard went travelling first to Europe and then across India alone and also went to the far-east. He was shelled on Mekong River and even went into Cambodia in the early 90s without a visa and woke up on a train with a Khymer rifle up his nose. I don’t think that was planned!

 As to my plans for the immediate future? Joe is making a Hungarian “porkőlt” (stew) with venison. The cat and and I will eat it happily. Monday we have to go to Peterborough for Joe to have a circulation test. This will probably mean driving back in the dark which neither of us cares for, as we are not keen on the prospect of hitting a bambi of our very own – or worse still one of the larger cousins, a moose. Looking further ahead, we can’t decide when to list the house (if our neighbour doesn’t buy it), or when to go on holiday, on whether Joe goes to Hungary alone and we take a joint holiday to the Maritimes later, whether to get another cat or adopt a Rottie that my sister wants us to take… Ah, me… But it will work out, you know! It will! I am confident.

Trudge, trudge...


  1. If you decide to come to the Maritimes, I hope you will plan to come and stay with me awhile in the valley.

    • Invitation accepted in advance! It would be wonderful to meet you at last!

  2. The food always sounds good in your house–oh to have a partner who likes to cook.!!

    • It is. however, comparatively rare – the cooking, I mean.

  3. I will solve your problem of where to holiday! Come to New Zealand!! :o)

    I work with a guy from Cairo, he was there over Christmas and wishes he was back there now. He says his friends and family are safe so far so that is a relief.

    I remember porkolt, I don’t eat red meat now but I do remember liking it!

    • That would be amazing! Wish it wasn’t such a long way. My Granny emigrated to NZ in the 80s and died there in Waiuku in the early 90s. I have heaps of cousins there somewhere. Perhaps I’ll see if I can track any of them down via FB.

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