Going back to Canada

We are on our way back. After two amazing months here in Hungary, the working-holiday has come to its end. I’m both sad to be leaving Zsolt’s incredible family, anxious for the next set of scans, and massively excited for an upcoming opportunity I’ll tell you more about in September. So, let’s just say, I’m a big jumble of emotions. This is resulting in many naps today and a total lack of appetite. The packing needs to be finished, the room needs to be cleaned, and all I really want to do is sleep . . .

Sleep and share some pictures with you. :) This are from my instagram account.

As Zsolt says, it’s like we are starting all over again from scratch – for the third time. I would actually count it at four, considering England, but there you go. This time I have some wonderful things to look forward towards, as does Big Z, but it’s still hard. Leaving is always hard.


#NickArt #Pecs

A photo posted by Catherine (@catherinewrites) on

Not happy to be leaving #Balaton.

A photo posted by Catherine (@catherinewrites) on

A photo posted by Catherine (@catherinewrites) on

#Balaton in Hungary

A photo posted by Catherine (@catherinewrites) on

Digital age artist! And tea drinker, of course. ;)

A photo posted by Catherine (@catherinewrites) on

#Pecs #Hungary

A photo posted by Catherine (@catherinewrites) on

An effort of three generations to pick these peaches! :)

A photo posted by Catherine (@catherinewrites) on

Love that in Balaton, every bod is a bikini bod.

A photo posted by Catherine (@catherinewrites) on

Night train to Balaton Lake

It’s evening here in Balaton. After a sweaty day of sunshine and heat, we are clustered on the screened outdoor terrace trying to enjoy the hint of nighttime coolness. I have been reading Jane Eyre on my e-reader, and I think it’s effecting my writing. I’m feeling somewhat reflective.

Here is what is happening: there are massive spiders in the corner of this terrace – massive, as in, huge, as in, several centimeters wide. The terrace feels like a lit-up stage, with the rest of the world, including the nearby train line all in the darkness outside – almost as if they don’t even exist. Almost. Mosquitoes hum but can’t reach us. The standing fan whirs as it gently blows the air. My skin is sticky with sweat. Everyone is on their laptops, phones or tablets.

And, to boot, I’m enjoying a glass of wine. I think tonight will be quiet. The heat has done us all in. We couldn’t even bring ourselves to make dinner as planned. It was leftovers from the fridge instead.

Zsolt’s family’s cottage in Balaton is very, very close to the train line. In fact, the train tracks are just across the street from the cottage itself. So we are neighbours with the rumbling engines and their screaming carts.

And when I say screaming, I mean screaming. For minutes before their arrival, we can hear the rumble of approaching freight trains. The air carries a growling noise and by the time the trains are finally blasting by and shaking the little stone cottage, the sound of their wheels and carts and chains and power are erupting into my ears and skull and mind. I used to describe it as a waking nightmare where for a few seconds, the world sounds like chaos. Now I just cover my ears instead.

But not all trains are the same. Some sound aggressive, and that is all I can make of them from the bright terrace as I look out into the night beyond the screened wall. Others though, others trains are a slice of magic…

balaton lake

The train is coming, rumbling but not screaming. It’s not a freight this time; it’s a passenger train carrying the holiday crowd from Budapest to the local Lake Balaton stations for this hot weekend. It a slower train, but not slow. It’s a smaller train, but not small. What I love about the passenger trains of Budapest, particularly at night, is that while they can see us perfectly in our glowing terrace while they are driving by, I can also see them – the passengers – perfectly in their lit up cabins.

Many are standing with elbows resting on the window ledge and their heads out into the fresh air. They are watching the windows of the cottages, like I am watching the windows of their train. Others are sitting in their seats, some are walking through the aisle. I spot one couple kissing by the doors. And as the train passes, with only the windows glowing, it’s as though I’m witnessing many separate moments – separate cabins, different people, and because of the windows they are like flickers of channels on the television, glimpses of stories and lives.

I love watching trains for their passenger windows. The long and screaming freights are not to my taste; I’m still negotiating a fear that they will jump off the tracks and come roaring into this little Balaton village of Fonyod by the lake. But the passenger trains don’t scare me at all. Instead, they absorb me.

Sometimes I wave, and sometimes I feel too grown up to wave. But in any case, I always watch. I always smile. I’m always glad for those glimpse of stories as the train hurries by.

And that is Balaton at the night, as we are here on the terrace, feeling rested and warm and waiting to cool.

The end.

This morning in the kitchen. . .

This morning Laszlo came into the kitchen still wearing his striped pyjamas. In he hops to grab something from the counter, then out he goes right back into the living room. If I didn’t know that today was special, this would have been a clear sign that something was up. It’s nearly 9 AM.

“Did your dad just get up?” I ask my husband.

“Did Dad just get up?” he asks his mother, Anna.

“He’s been up since 5 AM running around the house,” she replies, “fixing the garage, taking a shower, shaving and getting tidy. He’s just too excited to change his clothes.”

I made my banana mixed with nut butter breakfast and sat down at the table with Anna and Zsolt. The topic of Zsolt’s cousin’s recent engagement comes up. We all heard about it through Facebook, with pictures off the ‘will you marry me’ spelled out in candles included. It looks like it was a very sweet proposal. I guess they’re now engaged! It’s wonderful, but also bizarre to think she’s at the age of marriage. In my mind, everyone stays much, much younger than me. But apparently I’m getting older, and a new generation is getting married.

Laszlo appears in the doorway, but this time he doesn’t come into the kitchen. I wonder if he noticed that I noticed he’s still in his pyjamas. He begins talking to Zsolt, and I watch him through the yellow glass-panel kitchen door. His hands are moving quickly, but not widely.

“He’s won five dollars in the lottery,” explains Zsolt.

“So that’s a good sign for a good day,” I reply. But of course that’s not why he’s so excited. His pyjama-wearing, running about excited because today is the day he will pick up his new car. This is a car that’s been discussed for many years now, and they’ve finally been able to go forward with the purchase. After two weeks of delays in the car being delivered – today is THE DAY.

AND he’s just won five dollars in the lottery. Never mind that he also spends five dollars a week on lottery tickets. :)

Laszlo keeps talking.

“He needs to go into our bedroom to get some paperwork,” explains Zsolt.

The room is a mess. I’ve literally only started tidying it that very morning, but then abandoned the effort for some breakfast. The mess I’m most concerned about is my pile of underwear where the laundry hamper should be, which also happens to be right by the paperwork.

“Okay,” I say. Because you know, the man needs his paperwork.

Laszlo disappears.

Anna and Zsolt begin to stretch and yawn at the same time. It’s absolutely adorable. They’re slowly raising their arms about their heads and yawning it out. I like how much Zsolt and his parents enjoy each others company. Subconscious imitation is a strong form of flattery and interest. So, this is darn tooting cute, and I reckon a showcase of love.

“Should we give them an engagement card?” I ask Zsolt.

“Should we give them an engagement card?” he asks his mother.

“It’s not needed,” replies Anna. “Engagements are for the close family. When I was a girl, people would gather each side of the family for the engagement – but just the closest family – and there would be a dinner between the two group. Then, at that dinner the guy would give the girl a ring, and they would be officially engaged.”

(She says something to this measure. Zsolt is our translater between Hungarian and English. These “” are approximate, but close enough.)

Zsotl and I definitely didn’t do this. We were engaged on the Isle of Wright in England, and our families were on different sides of the world. But still, it was memorable.

Suddenly our conversation around proposals stops as we hear Zsolt’s father on the phone in the other room.

Oh no.



Anna is ready to jump out of her chair, but Zsolt manages to keep her still.

We listen.


The car is delayed.

And so ends the morning of excitement, romance, and pyjamas. Next time I see Laszlo, as he comes into the kitchen to explain the phone call, he’s wearing his normal clothes. We will have to wait once again, it seems. But hey, the car is coming. And it might be here this afternoon. Here’s hoping the lottery ticket really was a sign of a lucky day. If nothing else, we are all together here as a family in Pecs, Hungary. While I can’t actually bring that up in the middle of the ‘car isn’t here’ disappointment – it is nevertheless true, and it is also a very lovely thing.

The end. For now.


Here’s an update :)

Laszlo Car and Zsolt