March 31, 2012

best buy ever (in Dutch)

As we live in a agricultural environment, with many sun hours and fantastic soil, it's logical that I started to grow my own.
Own what ?
Well, almost everything I think of and we like to eat.
Still not growing my grapes to make my own wine, but time given that will come too.

Beans, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, melons, strawberries, herbs, and a lot more, as everything grows like hell and tastes like heaven !

Not experienced in growing my own (at all), of course I started to check the internet first, and one moment had the luck to find this encyclopedia called Groente & Fruit encyclopedie(Vegetables and Fruit).
It's written by two fantastic Belgian experts, who love to share their experience too !!!
Thanks to those two friendly writers (Luc Dedeene and Guy de Kinder) I recently harvested my very first so called witlof (chicory), a vegetable rather unknown in Dalmatia, but very popular in at least Holland and Belgium (and elsewhere ??).
Either cooked, in a salad, from the oven with cheese and ham, or fresh leaves stuffed with smoked salmon or blue cheese, with a large variety of recipes it's possible to create a delicious vegetable companion to your dinner. 

I started to seed them last year, next took out the carrots after winter, cut the leaves of and put the carrots in some soil in a (it must be) dark box.
As it was the first time, I checked regularly, but today, after two weeks, I have my very first own witlof !!!!

The encyclopedia helps with with a lot of information, so today I made a plan to grow some more fruits, specially figs, as those are as common here as cars in the city or fish in the sea.
And as with cars and fish, the variety of types is amazing.

Two tips I would like to give you:
numero uno: get yourself some growing information.
numero duo: start, whatever small, to grow something yourself, but dó start !!!

You can't imagine how rewarding it is to grow something yourself, and no doubt it will taste better than anything from some store or shop.

All you need is a bit of sunlight, some soil in a pot (or bigger), some seeds or plants, and you'll eat your own parsley, strawberries or garlic.

Or if your lucky like us, your own chicory, figs, melons, cherries, tomatoes, onions, salad and a lot more.
But than you'll have to move to Dalmatia, not a bad idea at all, even for sun loving lazy seaside tourists :-).
So, go for it, or come and get it overhere.

Even after you harvested your "witloof", don't (DON'T) put those carrots in the garbage or compost, but try a second time in some fresh soil under a dark cover.
No, you won'' t grow quality witloof crops again, but after some time you'll see small leaves grow out of it, still a delight to add to a salad or dish.

ps 2.
Since I see a lot of visitors to this page (great !!!), anybody who wants to mail me, look at the header of my blog (daar staat m'n mailadres, met uiteraard X=@).
Aan iedereen die dit leest: kóóp dat boek, en begin met eigen teelt, desnoods op uw balkon in een potje of een, twee, drie !!!!
En onthoud: begin simpel, hóu het simpel, maar vooral: BEGIN, want het is écht leuk en écht lekker !

March 28, 2012

"crvenkrpica", lucky you, if you see this in the wild

You sometimes have to have a little luck, which I did'nt have this time by the way.
It was our friend Robert who had the luck to see this beautifull specimen, called crvenkrpica.
Robert runs Malimlin, a friendly tourist service, where every customer gets the very best service.
(Just enter the word "malimlin" to see their various offer).

Recently he organised a so called geocache, a fast growing activity that takes people out into the wild,
to follow a trace he has created, leading along a lot of splendid spots, ending at..........
No, I would be a bad sport if I gave away where it guides you to, but trust me, he knows what he is doing.
Be sure that this walk will show you why our Zagora is so damned special !

It's the unexpected that amazes me all the time when stepping into our surrounding nature.

So this time Robert had the luck, ánd his camera, to picture a rare snake called crvenkrpica.
If you have a problem pronouncing this almost impossible name, try "tservenkurpitsa".
It helps, like many words in Croatian, to slowly "eat" a word bit by bit.

On the picture a section of the snake, not because I don't want to show it all, but as this part is so beautifull.
It perfectly blends with it's surroundings, still the colours are splendid.
And don't be afraid, it's not a dangerous snake.

To inform you, this is a rare snake, more common is the poskok (nose horned viper) which is dangerous to young and old, not lethal however to grown up healthy people (but look for medical help anyway).
In fact there are three venomous snakes here, all to be treated with respect, which of course goes for everything you happen to see.

But don't let that keep you from discovering our nature, as every encounter is worth it, and that goes for plants, fruits, herbs, birds, animals, reptiles, and of course all of the nature they live in overhere.
Thanks Robert, and have lots of visitors to Malimlin, great for them, good for you.
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March 25, 2012

all together now..........

So in the USA (and everywhere else National Geographic is on the system) they have a guy called "the dog whisperer".
Whoooaaaaa, he only handles one dog at a time, while I manage five cats without even blinking an eye.
And remember, cats are the most stubborn animals next to donkeys.
So dog whisperer, eat you heart out, as one dog is nothing compared to five hairballs.

I never was a catperson, but times change (a bit).
We used to have the best ever dog in the whole world, so why bother about those hairballs called cats.
The dog died of age, years ago now, so since there are cats here, we have them too.

Sometimes even a bit to many, but that may be because we feed them (and well).
Not all, heaven no, but as you can see on the picture we take care of five, and that's more than enough to keep the snakes away.
If I wouldn't be the gatekeeper of cats heaven, I might think of moving to another place in the universe.

And yes, once in a while we see a snake, but relax, either the cats or the smell of my dirty body keeps them far away, so I am pleasantly surprised when I see one once a year at most.
Five cats, one snake, that's a lost match for the snake, mouse or rat (only the rattus fruticus, but also rare).

The cats do not all have names, only the oldest and her daughter have names (Sporky and Mali), the others must live without, and still are on my "to do list", meaning they have to be moved to somewhere else.

Ahhhhhhh, you mean you kick them out ?
Yes, it's either kill them after they are born or feed and educate them till they are self supporting enough.
Overhere it's not uncommon a hunter shoots a couple away when there are too many around, but I don't have a gun, and I guess I am slightly more humane or at least a bit less brutal.

All of them cats have their own way of living around the house, most of them strolling around in nature (hunting snakes ?), only the albino white one stays very close, and accompanies us day and night when we're sitting outside.

Pleasant company I might say, but hey.....I am not a cat person !
(Pussycat, pussy, hey pussy, come on pussy, sit next to me and tell me some pussy story).
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March 21, 2012

some things never change

Another picture from a friendly contact in Holland.
(Click to enlarge and enjoy it's details).
He took it in 1968 when visiting our country as a tourist.
And however in black and white and almost fourty years ago,
trust me, it's all still there !
Where ?

In the Zagora my dear reader, in the hinterland !!!!!
I wrote it before, the Dalmatinski Zagora is where you MUST go,
at least once.
It's perfectly ok with me that you enjoy the Adriatic beaches, and it's great you at least visit Trogir .
A fantastic historic small town (under UNESCO protection) without cars,
but of course you want to get it all.
All ?

So next you visit Split, Dubrovnik, Krk waterfalls and go for a fish picknick or a rafting day on the Cetina, and perhaps you go up Biokovo Mountain, but still, still, still you did'nt féél !!!!!!
Feel what ?

The Zagora my best reader, the Hinterland !!!
As there you step back a bit in time, and you'll find nothing special.
So why go there, if nothing is special ?
Because that's so special !

Because there you find the very best people, living in humble houses in small villages, but they live a good life and any visitor is more than welcome as a guest.
Don't be surprised they start talking to you, than offer you a drink and something to eat to it, and as all drinks and food are home made and full of (sunny) taste, you'll have a great experience.
If not the greatest experience of all holiday you spend here.

However I am not a guide, nor in any (tourist) business,
I'll gladly help you to find your way into the the Zagora.
As there is always somebody who wants to guide you into their world.
Ain't gonna cost you a fortune;
if you're pleasant company they are as well.
(And if I cant find one, ok, than I'll show you around a bit).

Just send me an email at the address in the header of this blog,
and I'll help you out.
But don't tell éverbody, as it must remain a secret well protected.
So you (and me) can experience Dalmacija in all colours between black and white !

Thanks again Rinus, for a perfect picture !

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March 20, 2012

the occasion makes the occasion

Senj 1968

Once in a while an unexpected pleasant occasion occurs, worth sharing.
I had some (minor) problems using an update of Picasa, my photo tool to create this blog.
The update introduced some new buttons, but also seemed to have erased another.
This erased button however was my MAJOR button, called "blog this".

When having a problem with my computer, I first walk away from it, to have a smoke and a coffee, giving me time to think about it, followed by walking onto our land, as there I realise there is more under God's sky than bloody computershit.

Still, I had to solve this thing, so walking back to my pc I decided to pray for some help, or at least post a question on one of those many forums (fora !) about using pc's without stress.
Whooaaaaahhhhhh, pc's without stress, ha ha ha.

Still all those brilliant developers of hard- and software first create a thing you can't live without, next they change it (they call that upgrades) and after that they create forums (fora !), helpdesks, and more upgrades, trying to kill you in a digital way by helping you out (and deeper in).
Computers and I will never be friends, unless they stay the way they are for ever and ever.

This time however, somebody called Digidorus (what's in a name), answered my cry for help, and easily sent me to the section where I could recover my VIB (Very Important Button).
It helped, he helped, maybe even my prayers helped for once.

And after thanking my kind clever contact will all my heart, he sent me a picture from the days he was visiting Croatia, in those days still part of former Yugoslavia.
(Yes, there have always been many tourists visiting this country).

Here's the picture, in black and white, taken by him at the harbour of Senj in 1968.
When taking a closer look, you'll discover nothing has changed over time, only the color and the cars.
Everything stayed unspoiled, but that's Croatia as it is, was and will be!
(Yes all you nerds, some things are perfect, so why change them.)

Puno hvala, thanks a lot Rinus !

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March 19, 2012

a bit croatian language, ali polako, sve polako !

It's not very likely your gonna need the word PUNICA, but still the story is funny.
On daily basis I try to add a bit to my Croatian communication.
Being a Dutchman the language is horrible, and as far as I know only the Dutch, the Flamish and South Africans understand Dutch, reason why I write my blog in English.
To me a Slavic language is/was like abracadabra, but slowly it shows its secrets.

The very best (and first) word I learned was "polako", meaning take it easy, or slowly, slowly.
And still I love this word, as it perfectly explaines the Dalmatian mentality.
Do NOT however conclude Dalmatians are lazy, far from that !!!!
They love the good life, but they work very hard to do so.

Lucky me, I can speak and write in English, with German as second best, and if needed some French.
And lucky me again, my mother in law is from Split, and lived most her working yars in Holland,
so she frequently puts some new knowledge between my ears.
Also my wife, neighbours and friends help me a bit when I stumble through the words I use.

Already I manage to go shopping, and a (very) basic conversation is possible nowasdays.
Some of our neighbours, especially the youngsters, speak English, but it's a lot more fun when one can communicate with people around, as that is like the cherry on the cake !
Hvala Bogu (thank God) I maybe slightly less young/older, but still not stupid (or worse).

I won't however bother you to long with different words, as if you want to learn basic Croatian, there are various options to be found on the internet.

A couple of funny examples however, I like to share with you.
Brod (bróód) for instance, means boat, but sounds like bread in Dutch.
Kruh (kroeg) means bread, but sounds identical  to pub in my native language.

Well, recently, my mother in law teached me the word Punica, meaning mother in law, and Hvala Bogu it does not have a similar word with a different meaning in Dutch.
Funny enough however, Punica in Holland is a fruit juice, so another word added to my "hard disk".
Ánd never forgotten, because Inga is the very best Punica in the whole universe !!!

Pozdravi iz Svinisce.

March 10, 2012

when Omis was Almissa

Long, long ago, long before cars were invented, there was a small town called Almissa.
Not very famous, nor important, however, its pirates were !!!!
Still every year in summer a pirate festival takes place, with even a ships battle on the Cetina.

Omis, as its name is today, still is situated on the same spot,
and the old dirt road nowadays is a regular road, towards a bridge that connects the two sides of the river.

The old city walls have mostly dispeared, and the waterfall far in the back only shows after heavy rainfall.
Of course Omis has grown, with at the painter's point of view a big shopping centre with the name Studenac.

Biggest problem today is the heavy traffic, through the center of the town.
However there is a modern highway a bit inland, connecting Zagreb, Split, to (almost) Dubrovnik,
a lot of the traffic still  uses the old "Magistrale", the coastal road.

For people who like to see the Adriatic and its islands, it's a fantastic road for sure.
Problem however is that most truck traffic also uses the same good old Magistrale, together with a flood of summer traffic of people who like to look at the sea, standing still in a traffic jam for "ever".

If you drive this road, still worth the views, DO be aware, that almost every ten meters a car may leave or enter the same road, so keep your foot close to the brake at ALL times.
You would'nt be the first (nor the last) to finish your holidays "slightly" different, with a "slightly different" car.
So please be careful, especially after an occasional summer rain, as than it feels like driving on ice !!!

The Magistrale, this coastal road, goes through the centre of Omis over what's called Fosal.
A beautiful street, with old trees left and right of it, and lots of shops where tourists can buy their souvenirs.
(Sorry, but most of it is plain shit in my opinion, not worth the money spent, better used to have a drink or a pizza in countles many small friendly restaurants.
(I could tell you to go to the beach called Brzet, where our favorite place Zvizdan serves your pizza or grilled fish in the shade of the pine trees, less than five meters from the sea, but I won't !!!!)Some secrets are better kept secret, so forget I ever told you please.

Currently work is in progress to build a tunnel, connected to a new viaduct or bridge,
bringing passing traffic around the centre of town, and believe me,
that will be like coming from hell to heaven !!!

Still a lot has to be done, huge sums of money are involved, and as we all know, there is a crisis going on,
in which it seems all investors have died.

Let's hope the global economic situation changes for the better as soon as possible,
so this project can be finished, bringing the centre of Omis back to those days of Almissa.
Not returning to those horse days, as when all people come on horseback we'll have a lot of shit again :-)
If you want to see a lot of horses, better go to the Alka of Sinj, or the large wild horse group around Livno.

Still, it's a romantic picture I thought nice enough to show to you.
(If you want to see more..........................................mail me at: see header of my blog).
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March 09, 2012

happy 10th birthday IZOR webcam

A little while ago IZOR, the Croatian scientific institute for oceanographic and fisherie studies, celebrated the 10th. birthday of its fantastic dynamic webcam.

Being an absolute fan of the institutes webcam and its also very informative website, I decided to dedicate this item to those scientists that do a fantastic job in every aspect, especially this webcam.

For many years I very frequently visited their website, as still living in Holland than, it was the regular start of my working day, gathering data to get going again in the good old rat race.
What was the weather over there, how was the temperature, and sometimes, when a ship was passing, heading for Split's harbor, I followed that for a little while, before starting my daily activities.

Not only I checked the webcam, when I had the time for it I also learned a bit more about their scientific work, discovering new species, controlling water quality, even publishing the price of fish.

Living in Croatia nowadays, I can easily check weather, temperature, even the price of fish, simple by going out, to the fish market for instance.
Still, over the years this webcam kept me connected to what was to be my new homeland.
And to tell you a tiny very personal detail, it not only helped me start my working day again and again and again, it also sort of kept me dreaming of a day to come, the day I could say "enough is enough", as I slowly started to truly hate my job.
(The profession was great, two mergers, from Dutch to European to multinational American, were horrible).

So here I am now, in Croatia, every moment I wish able to check the blue of the Adriatic myself.
The 10th. birthday therefor, of the dynamic webcam IZOR, overlooking the bay of Kastela is well worth three cheers, so hip hip hip hurrah that fantastic webcam of IZOR !!!

And should you be in a position somewhere on the globe, feeling sad about having to dream in stead of experience Dalmatia, keep dreaming, click on the webcam and you'll feel a bit better !!!

Dreams do come true, and I know that's a fact.

rebuilding history.......with cherries

Today many people overhere plant new olive trees, and of course these trees already used to be here for a very long time.
The oil produced from these trees mainly serves personal needs, like many other fruits and vegetables,
and of course grapes to make a bucket (or container) of wine to keep the glasses filled.
The old Romans knew it, one good reason to build Salona and Spalatum.

Much of the agricultural activity today still is done to stuff the private stocks for much of the year.
And those good old Romans took their share in those days.

But....this area used to be famous not only for its olive oil, but also its cherries, with hundreds of trees allover the land.
Harvesting those cherries not only served private needs, but provided the jam- and juice-industry with high quality cherries.
Truckloads of them were driven to large factories to be used in quality food products.

Times changed, trees disappeared or died of plagues, wildfires and lack of attention, but mainly because people were moving to the coastal area where industrial jobs were loudly shouting for workers.
Cement, metals, gasses, chemicals, oil and steel,  the common "dirty" stuff modern times need and produce.
Today however, most of this industrial activity has died out, resulting in high unemployment rates, if not active in the seasonal tourist industry and all it's spin off.

Times today are changing again however, as yesterday night I was scrolling the internet and discovered an initiative that truly made me feel happy.
As in the area of Sestanovac, a small town not far to ours and connected to the main highway crossing all Croatia from north to (almost) south at Dubrovnik, some intelligent people started a huge project to rebuild history.

By planting an enormous amount of those famous Maraska cherries that used to grow here !
With modern techniques and knowledge a very large plantation has already been realised, reproducing the best of history.

It all started with the vision of one person, who motivated a group of specialists on as well economic, agricultural and biological aspects.

In the near future the harvesting will start, resulting in a FULLY ORGANIC high quality product.
That's what makes me happy, rebuilding the future......with cherries !

See for all juicy details on this website , if you happen to be looking for a truly green investment with only positive aspects, or just because you want to see how they produce 100% organic cherries.

Organic being the magic word today, is what we call DOMACI, as people here still produce their own food, and that means GOOD FOOD !!!

You can taste it, you can smell it, from a fresh egg to a sun kissed tomato, and yes, from those cherries too !
As this is not "stock market"  driven, nor "first the profit-than the quality", this is how it was and should be.

Think for a moment about why you eat what you eat.
Indeed !!!!!!!!

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March 08, 2012

the value of freedom

Yesterday I received a couple of pictures from a friend in Holland.
They showed a prison in Austria, as human and modern as can be, with friendly places to sit, a workout place, and a well organised outdoor space to walk a bit.

Still it was a prison, where every move has to be approved, and all doors have a firm key.
It all looked spic and span, but one thing was easily forgotten.
It was a prison !

I was thinking a bit about it all, and concluded that whatever the circumstances, nothing beats freedom.
The picture here shows what freedom means, taken somewhere I do not even remember, but who cares, as the Croatian Zagora (the hinterland) has trillions of spots like this one.

An open landscape, some snow on Dinara far away, small red dots of some houses between the green, and water, the absolute essence to live, either for animals, plants or humans.

Nothing beats the feeling you get when you get going overhere, as this truly is a magnificant country.
And still there is the Adriatic coast, with its hundreds of islands, big and small, timeless little villages, historic towns, and thousands of secluded places to enjoy swimming in the clearest water.

The choise is yours, having a lazy sunny beach holiday or exploring all gorgious spots Dalmatia has to offer.
You're free to choose, as the Croatian/Dalmatian "menu" is endless.

Feel free, it's the very best this country has to offer.

March 03, 2012

STOP for a moment

Before I continue, I want to stop for a moment.
Writing my little daily stories about our life in our hidden valley, I regularly check the statistics Google gladly shows about the viewers of my blog.
Those Google people may think I am gonna get a dollar out of adding "sense", but no, that's not my intention, so to me those statistics are just a pleasant way to see if anybody is interested in my little "nothings" about living in Croatia.

And much to my surprise people from around the world are somehow reading my short stories.
Russia, America, Belgium, Holland, China and many more, with of course Croatia, and I guess many of my readers even are Croatians living far away.
As many Croatians in the past have gone far away from their beloved homeland, as options for a proper job and a better future were hardly available over here (and still are).

Whatever the reason to visit my blog, thanks for your attention, and I hope you enjoy reading some of it (not in perfect English, but I do my best to keep things understandable, and there is more English spoken around the world than my native Dutch :-)
I truly hope you get interested in Dalmatia's treasures, making you eager to visit this country.
With almost a 100 % certainty you'll fall in love with it's easy going way of life (like we did), making you an ambassador for it to friends around you.

Next item will tell a little story again, trying to show you that Croatia/Dalmatia is much MORE THAN just BEAUTIFUL, with a fantastic Adriatic coast, but a lot more than only that.

And what about you, my dear reader by coincidence or choice ?
Did you ever visit Croatia, was it only once or more, where do you live and how are you ?
As looking at those statistics I keep thinking "who are all those people from all over the world".

My recent pages I finished with a small question/ suggestion, and as I didn't add the option to comment to my blog pages, I invited you to mail me, see the header, or for once look here, as it's: (in which X=@).
You don't have to send me money (we're fine, thank you), and I won't offer you cheap Rolexes, Viagra or such.
I am just bloody curious who you are, since you got to know me/us and our life a bit in our hidden treasure.

To finish, today temperature rose to a very friendly and sunny 20 C, not bad for the first days of march.
(Tomorrow however it will be clouded, perhaps some rain, and a (small) drop of temperature).
Never a dull moment however for sure !!!!

March 01, 2012

getting in shape for summer


(Click to enlarge).

At last the snow has gone, and whoops it's spring all of a sudden.
With a friendly temperature of around 18 degrees Celcius, life looks pleasant again, as here most of life's pleasures are enjoyed outside.
All our neighbours are preparing their grapes for the growing season, and on and around their land they clean up and burn dead wood before the birds start to build nests.

Walking around in T-shirt again is truly a pleasure are the short but(unpresedented)fierce winter.
And hurray for me, it was the first time again to do some finishing preparations of the little roof I fell of three months ago (breaking six ribs).
No smashing this time, no shocking lack of air, no sweating close to fainting, still slightly unsecure, but all went well.
(Once you truly hurt yourselve, your system stores the signal and reminds you of how it felt and what to do/don't to prevent from experiencing the same sort of damage again).

Tomorrow two good friends come over to help me finishing it all, so finally that roof is ready, with under it storage and working space to weld, saw, screw and glue either wood or steel.
Never a dull moment since we live here, making a table or cubbord, or a small trailer for my 50 CC "motorbike".

No I never was and never will be like the bear on the picture, fysical work to me is as normal as eating, but work outs, training, fitness and jogging mean nothing to me.
Ok, I am slightly overweight, and yes my docter tells me to take care of my cholesterol, and yes I smoke and drink, but I feel fine, and going up a mountain is no problem, as long as I let my "diesel" get warm without overheating it.

So, with great respect for all who have a body of an atlete and run quicker than the cars in a traffic jam, who don't smoke and only drink water with a drop of lemon in it, neighter one of us can look into the future, and it's better to live happy than to die looking great.
As a matter of fact, I think I even look better than my furry friend on the picture, and for sure I sleep nice and warm every night, after a small glass of local rakija and some home dried figs.

Seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven.......the bear keeps lifting, and I am going to sleep in my warm cozy bed.
He may even win a gold medal or the bear olympics, I already feel a winner, living here in this magnificant country.

(Comments or critics, mail me at: see header of these blogpages in which X = @ of course).
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