Refreshed and ready


I have been quiet for a while, I know, so please forgive the blank space and posts gathering dust. The reason for my silence is quite simple: summer holidays.

I have had two weeks of fun and frolics with the family by the largest lake in Central Europe, Balaton. Where? I hear some of you ask (all Hungarians excepted as it is a pilgrimage most of them make at least once a year). Balaton is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in Central Europe as far as I am concerned and here’s why.

The majestic church in Tihany above Balaton

The majestic church in Tihany above Balaton

Balaton is large body of fresh water, bounded by vine covered hills to the north and fertile plains to the south. No jet skis, no crass, polluting speedboats, lots of sails, sun and grassy lake shore. Picturesque towns and villages like the one in the picture above, Tihany, with its majestic church on the clifftop surveying the water. Lots of cycling tracks and activities for all the family to enjoy. Nature trails, caves in the hillsides, woods, camping, water parks, and generally an outdoorsy holiday destination.

What does it say?

What does it say to you?

It was a refreshing break from the monotony of Budapest and teaching – an understatement if ever there was one. I sat and looked at the sky a lot and even saw some writing in the clouds (I would love to hear what you think it says); thought about my book, which I wrote 300 pages of and then scrapped it and restarted from scratch (more on that in later posts); I thought about life and what happiness means, about books that I have read this year and those that are left to consume, about work and my students and how I can be a better teacher; about the smile on my son’s face when he went down a water slide and about the small things in life that make us content.

Csarda (traditional Hungarian restaurant) in Tihany

Csarda (traditional Hungarian restaurant) in Tihany

I love the pace of life there, almost Mediterranean, climate definitely Mediterranean as all the grape connoisseurs will confirm,  and water cleaner than the Mediterranean (for all non-Europeans reading this, we tend to judge seas by the Med probably because it reminds us of childhood holidays). The balmy evenings were spent enjoying a drink and a meal sitting out in the open air, walks on the lakeshore with swans gracefully begging for bread (they make it look almost regal), cygnets now bigger and stronger and losing their grey earnestly following suit and learning how to please the eye while taking something from you (think Royal families Europe-wide).

The sound of cicadas in the evening and operatic birdsong in the morning. Orchards laden with plums and peaches, vines getting heavy with the grape to be harvested from the end of July right up to the late September and October harvests. Apples, so many that even pavements were littered with them. Cool shade under towering pines, their scent offering wafts of refreshment in the heat of the day. The smell of freshly mown grass from the neighbour’s lawn. Little marinas with small sail boats, their masts gently swaying in the breeze. I tried to find fault in many things but couldn’t and arrived home content… A word that describes a state of being that we often ignore in our misguided yearning for his elder brother, happ(y)iness.

The heavenly grape, Figula Winery

The heavenly grape, Figula Winery

As I said, a perfect holiday destination with an unexpected result: actually returning home feeling the weight of the world not lifted, but almost a pleasure to bear. I hope you are enjoying your summer as much as I am!

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13 comments

  1. Your description really sucked me in – especially the part about the dawn/dusk sounds. As I was reading the end about how you came back refreshed, but not totally care free and I was still in “take life easy, lake mode”, I got to the bottom where a Windows phone ad was waiting. OH, THE IRONY! Also, can I make a suggestion? I’ve started doing this when I blog lately – dumb down the vocab and usage. I used to teach 8th grade English, I think back and recall how they wrote and think “would they (the 8th graders) understand this?”

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    1. Thanks for the advice! I am sorry about the ads… I don’t know why they come up. As far as the dumbing down, I disagree. I speak like that on a daily basis and the stuff I love to read is probably harder in terms of language, Borges, Rushdie, Barnes, McEwan so it’s just a reflection of my influences. Plus, not having ever taught 8th grade (how old are they in 8th as I come from an English system?) I cannot make the link, if you get what I mean. But, thank you again for a meaningful and helpful comment and I am so happy you liked the post!

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      1. 8th grade = 13 & 14. Vocabulary and usage/sentence structure best described as “emergent”. It’s not that an 8th grader wouldn’t understand your writing; they would just take a long time to process it and end up having to read it several times

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      2. Oh my god, I have to apologise, I just saw your reply to my comment. Well, formally now, sorry for the late reply and thanks for the 8th grade explanation. Why I should write for 8th graders not to have to reread is a bit confusing? I like using vocabulary that I read and learned when I was in school. I like that I can use venal and verbiage in one sentence. Likewise laconic and lucid. It probably stems from having too many classical English teachers from 8th grade to university and beyond. They played with words incessantly and we had to guess and learn and I think I might have picked up, what is arguably, a good habit. So to all 8th graders I say: go forth and diversify your language, use the thesaurus and dictionary and see if you can’t work magic into whatever you are saying and writing. After all that’s what it’s all about right?

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      3. Agreed. It seems to me that you are less interested in connecting with a wide audience and more set on reaching a more select audience – I respect that, no need to compromise your high level words/usage. Btw, I just replied to your reply, I should be the one apologizing. On that note, apologies for my delayed re-reply.

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      4. No worries.

        Actually, that in itself is an interesting statement. I have often wondered whether I should write for popularity and I guess all bloggers feel the need to connect and more connections equate to more success in terms of reaching people. But think of this: are all the books/articles you enjoyed ones that were easy to read? Going back to your (important) point about 14 year olds… we were reading Swift, Orwell and Golding at that age, not to mention our Kennedy’s Latin Primer and the usual Jonson and Shakespeare. I don’t know what is the prescribed reading these days, but my son who is 15 is doing the same. Thanks again for the comments and I do really appreciate an honest critique! 🙂

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      5. Hahaaaaaaaaa! I think it’s mostly down to my dad sending me to a posh school and then making sure he got at least some value for money! Trust me, most government run schools in the UK aren’t much better, I mean come on, we had more time in my day, no social media, no porn on demand, and Lady Chatterley’s Lover used to be the most stolen book in the library! It’s not their fault… 😉

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      6. Sorry, hit the send button on accident – …and Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”. To answer your question, personally, I always prefer challenges (readings in this case) above me. I get a feeling of accomplishment and I feel that I’ve learned more better :P. Thing is, I’m the exception over here. It’s all about finding the easiest way to do something – even if you end up trying so hard that it would’ve been easier to do it the hard way; this is especially true among the kids. I know I sound like a cynic, but I’ve been in education for 7 years and I’m just calling it like I see it.

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      7. I agree with you wholeheartedly… You are right, there can be no excuse for it. I was jesting, reading anything, especially something that makes one think and cogitate is how we gain an understanding of not only ourselves, but the thoughts of others. So hats off to you and you are by no means a cynic! Just someone who thinks with his head.

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  2. Your description really sucked me in – especially the part about the dawn/dusk sounds. As I was reading the end about how you came back refreshed, but not totally care free and I was still in “take life easy, lake mode”, I got to the bottom where a Windows phone ad was waiting. OH,
    THE IRONY! Also, can I make a suggestion? I’ve started doing this when I blog lately – dumb down the vocab and usage. I used to teach 8th grade English, I think back and recall how they wrote and think “would they (the 8th graders) understand this?

    Like

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