Paul StJohn Mackintosh

Writing * Poetry * Dark Fiction * Weird * Fantastic * Horror * Fantasy * Science Fiction * Literature

Category: Hungarian journal

Moving house … again

Our former landlord, who was a jerk as well as a builder of shabby and flimsy houses, found a buyer for our old place and asked us to move out – only two months after we moved in. Luckily, a friend here put us in touch with a local estate agent who found us a cheaper, better place higher up the wall of the same valley in Piliscsaba. So here we are with a much better view. Perhaps eviction is the best thing after all sometimes …

This is the view from our new house:

An interlude in Miskolc

Last week we spent a few days with my wife’s aunt in Miskolc, Hungary’s fourth largest city, two hours from Budapest by train in the north-east of the country. It’s a city that has a reputation of being something of a rundown Communist-era industrial centre, but that doesn’t do its historic old quarter justice by any means. The old city is a gem of Austro-Hungarian civic comity, all plaster, wrought iron and cobbles. It’s also scrupulously well-maintained. (Just shut your eyes on the journey in from the station.)


Piliscsaba flag

Beloved by patriotic Piliscsabans!


Baseless Visions in Piliscsaba

Just participated in the Visions of Baseless Fabric Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, at the wacky Piliscsaba campus of Pazmany Peter Catholic University (see below), presenting on G.K. Chesterton. Two days of Wells, Lovecraft, Gaiman, Todorov and sheer fun. Who could ask for more?!

It’s a pretty appropriate venue too, because the main building, the Stephaneum, really does look like it’s in process of being devoured by a Lovecraftian tentacled monstrosity …


And this is what I come home to

The blue hills of Pilis


On Bajcsy-Zsilinszky utca at 7am

After an exhausting delayed late-night flight from Luton Airport …


Full moon and full sun

These past few nights, we’ve seen the most amazing full moons, rising low over the hills to the south, ivory, amber yellow, and on one memorable night as we took the taxi to the Auchan hypermarket at Solymar, red, appearing down between the trees of the woods, brooding, immense. We debated whether we’d ever seen such big, bright moons in Hong Kong: more silver, certainly, as they paved foil roads over the sea below the mountains of Lantau, but never so large as in Hungary. The moon shines in through the unshuttered man-high bedroom window as I fall asleep at night, and over my bed, sliding through the sheer white drapes like a woman half seen through veils.
Then yesterday, as we came back from Auchan around 8pm, we drove straight into a huge sunset, with the sun projecting great strakes, sunspokes, Catherine wheels from behind the clouds, before finally emerging, right down on the horizon at the head of the road, golden and gigantic, as we drove straight into its face.


On hearing the first cuckoo in spring

Yesterday, we heard the first cuckoo in spring. In Hong Kong, there were no cuckoos, and no real spring either. But here, in the long shadows and slanting sunbeams of evening, l heard the woody, two-tone note as l lay back in the grass with Diana beside me. And from the thickets at the western head of the valley, where the sun was going down, came the cough of a pheasant.
A little later, l opened the front door at the top of the steps up to the main floor, to see the most marvelous red sunset, with scalloped cloudscapes hanging upside down above the horizon, like peaky drifts of pink meringue. A jet contrail etched a brighter silver line behind the clouds as it caught the full glare of the sun, now set below our skyline. And over the other side of the house, above the eastern hillcrests, the gathering clouds were purple.


The Pilis Hills

The Pilis Hills are deep blue. Colours in the dry Hungarian air are already stronger and more intense than in England, and the high rolling wooded crests of the Pilis Hills shine a dark glossy shade under the strong southerly sun, above the lighter dales and valleys with their grassy meadows, rambling villages and bright fields of yellow rape, against a flawless sapphire sky. Occasionally, a landslip or quarry reveals a bright blaze of yellow-white where the underlying limestone is exposed, but the landscape overall is more mellow and rounded than the classical karst topography, with no stark cliffs or limestone pavements, though the hills are honeycombed with caves.
The Pilis Hills are supposed to be sacred. So says Wikipedia. I’m not clear yet why, but their deep color, shades of Marian blue, seems to be due to the thick shadows under the trees, so refreshing when driving with the sun’s glare beating off the tarmac. They do have a cloistered, awestruck air as they hang over the landscape, brooding and meditative.


Landing in a ditch

On my first night here, l stumbled in the dark and fell backwards into a ditch, catching my chest on a protruding rock or drain that gave me a nasty aching bruise and possible hairline cracked rib, right over my heart. We arrived late in the evening, on a starry spring night chilled by an unexpected cold snap, in my wife’s German father’s little van with Hubertus written on the side, and he had stopped on the cement drive spanning the verge outside our new house. I opened the side door and stepped out without thinking, straight into the ditch.
We’ve just moved to Piliscsaba, a large village or small town in the Pilis Hills about 25 km west of Budapest. Csaba is one of the legendary forebears of the Hungarian nation, but Piliscsaba owes much of its present character to the German senior management of Budapest’s first municipal gasworks, who were settled here in the 19th century. The older northern parts of town are full of large, rambling houses, some of them the most delightful architectural curiosities. But we moved into a newer area, Piliscsaba Garancs-teto, of newer houses in magnificent countryside and, as it turned out, entirely without transport.
This journal is going to be a touch retrospective until we get more established. Many of the first entries will be recaps written days later. Even Paradise takes some settling in at first.