Friday, 31 August 2012

What to cook when an exceptional chef comes to stay ?

Slight panic at the thought of cooking for a Chef.

Since we moved here, we count the time, in increments of friends and family visiting. It's sounds something like this,
" It's only 5 weeks until .... arrives " or
" can you believe that my folks left here 8 weeks ago ".

It gives us something nice to look forward to and now, in five weeks time, Bob's cousin and her family are coming to visit us. We are so, so excited and can hardly wait to show them our beautiful Burgenland and actually just to be with them and catch up on stuff. Only one tiny problem. Her son ( he is coming as well ) is an exceptionally experienced chef, who is participating in the Olympic Cooking competition. I mean, wow, what an achievement.

The other night, I woke up in a cold sweat, thinking, no worrying...What do I cook for him ? None of my usual pasta and tomatoes, or my medley of vegetables ( more of a mush, really ) will do. They'll be here long enough, that I will have to produce something warm at some of the time. Having seen lots of cooking shows, he will most likely look at our kitchen and declare it unsafe or something similar. Our kitchen is right slap bang in the middle of our house, so hiding while cooking is definitely not an option !

There are some places we can go out to eat, but not enough.
Having known the chef before he became one, I know that he is not fussy as such, but if you create such beautiful meals for a living, no, actually as a vocation, eating food will always be important to him. I will just have to cook as usual, and hope he does not hate it too much. As a plan B, I have decided to rope in his mum, and let her cook for us ( she doesn't know it yet ) !

Let me know if you have any suggestions on what to cook ?


Thursday, 30 August 2012

What to Feed Chickens.

Chickens love wilted salad leaves !

The nice thing about living in the countryside, is that we get to do so many " Green " things. How often do we hear about the urgency of saving our planet, yet we don't quite know what we could do as individuals. At least for me it was like this.

Well, yesterday I discovered another way to do my bit. In the past, I would throw things into the bin, just like that. Lettuce that was maybe a bit discolored or wilted, bread that was not as fresh, being some of them. Now that our neighbour keeps chickens, I go over there and feed those things to them.

At first I was a bit worried, not knowing how much to give them, that I might have overfed them and that they would come down with a bout of " Stomach Upset ". So I popped over to them every few minutes to check on their health status. When they heard me at the gate ( I must admit that I made cute chicken clucking sounds ) their little feet could not run fast enought to get to me.

Embolded, I tossed a whole lot into the yard, and they almost knocked each other out, trying to be the one who got it all !
But before I realized that they were fine with my offerings, Bob pulled a fast one on me.

As I had not asked Werner, if it is okay for me to feed his chickens, I was extremelly worried that I had maybe done more harm than good. So Bob says, " Werner will know it was you."
" How would he know ? " came my nervous reply.
" Did you not see the security camera he has installed in the tree ? " Panicked, I raced to the window to see, only to hear Bob's hale and hearty laughter in the background...
" Only joking, there is no camera. But wouldn't it have been nice to hear your clucking noises on tape ! "


Clucking works...

Where is my food ?

Will dance for food !

A little kiss, perhaps ?

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Closed Shutters do work.

Air conditioning the old fashioned way.

Most days, if you drive around the various villages, some would remind you of a ghost town. One house after the other, has all its window shutters closed.

Passing by them, I often used to wonder what could have happened, to get so many empty homes. For me, closed shutters meant that the owners are away and the house is empty. I even pictured all the furniture inside covered by those voluminous white sheets.
But on the other hand, I thought how wonderfully cheap it would be to buy here ( seeing that most seemed empty )

Well the mystery was cleared pretty early on for me. As a lot of the houses here were built a long time ago, they mostly have walls about 60cm thick. The old guys knew what they were doing, as these walls are its own air condition system. This helps keep the cool in in summer and the heat in in winter.

The traditional way is this :
In summer, every morning and evening you open all windows for about one hour. Obviously you need to do it just after sun-up and sun-down. The rest of the day you close all windows and shutters, all the time.
In winter you do the same, but only open all windows for about 15 minutes morning and evening. Longer would turn you into an icicle. Some homes even keep the shutters closed during the day to keep the heating costs down.

Coming from South-Africa, where the windows are always open, it was a bit of a challenge for me to remember the window procedure. In the beginning, I used to leave the windows open in the hot summer, thinking it would cool us down. But since I started to do it the Burgenland way, our house is a comfortable cool temperature, even when we have 30 degrees and above outside.

We wanted to recreate the light feel that we were used to, and thus we have no shutters on our windows, but only unlined curtains. Even though it cost us a few degrees in coolness, I wouldn't change our light feel for the darker shut-in version.


Tuesday, 28 August 2012


Taking a different road.

They say that you should not do everything in the same manner, day in and day out. Being a Gemini, that resonates strongly with me, as I could easily do the same things again and again ! So this morning, at literally the crack of dawn, I took a left instead of a right when I went for my walk.

It is funny, but walking when it is still dark, I always assume that no one would really see what I am wearing. Colors mismatched, old tatty shirt and bright glow in the dark safty vest and hair sticking out in every direction. Of course, every car that passes me shined a spotlight on me
( small village and everyone knows me...lots of entertaining conversations for them ).

About five minutes into my walk, I realised how brave I was. The road curves past the local church and thus also past its graveyard. Now picture this windy road, while it was still dark with just a sliver of orange in the horizon, with a church on the right and the graveyard on the left. A few of the horror films that I had seen, raced through my mind.

I must say, that I almost turned around at one point. While looking into the graveyard, I saw different spots of colored lights here and there, on various graves ! It was getting to that twilight stage, where everything takes on a hazy outline. Bravely I carried on further and sneaked a look at one of the lights. It was a sort of flimmer with a bit of movement here and there. While I was checking this out, I was looking behind me, just in case someone or something was there !

Just then I realized what I was seeing...Shoo, it was a burning candle set in a red plastic container. As usual, my imagination had taken over the reigns...


Monday, 27 August 2012

How to get off the couch Gracefully...

Oh, the things I could do in my twenties...

We have a nice two-seater sleeper couch in our lounge placed perfectly in front of the TV. Most evenings, at six o'clock, I pull it out and make a cozy little bed-haven-TV-island. Nothing beats watching television while lounging comfortably.

Of course, there is one draw back. It is just off the floor, similar to a mattress. In my twenties, that would have posed no problem. Last night, Bob and I were in hysterics, imagining how gracefully and elegantly I would have gotten on and off the floor ( just picture a Gazelle ).

But now in my forties, getting off the floor gracefully, is rather a challenge and I dare say, that the youthful actions of my twenties won't return in that regard... In my defense, I do have a " bad " knee, so it is even more challenging. Somehow, I perfected my exit of the floor, by first getting on all fours, then slightly turning to my side and getting up backwards. Hands and feet are placed into funny positions accompanied by a series of grunts. Now and again I catch Bob having a giggle to himself.

It would not be so bad, if it was one or two " exits ", but no, often I will watch TV and suddenly wonder if I turned the stove off/on, switched off the light, locked the front door or even have a yearning for chocolate ! Most evenings, there are an average of 10 " getting-up's ". Obviously the lying down on it is also not that visibly stunning.

The one great thing is, that Bob is also in his forties, and you know what that means... he somehow does not look so agile, getting off the couch either. Oh, the joys of being married and having fun together !


It looks easier than it is...

Sunday, 26 August 2012

The results of our Jamming Session.

Part two...

Bob and I both ended up sterilizing the jars. Actually it was kind of easy and fun, and quickly done. We had two buckets full of peaches which I peeled, de-pitted and cut into little pieces while at the same time trying to guess how heavy they were. The recipe called for 3 parts fruit and 1 part special sugar. As I had no scale, it suddenly brought back memories of those silly mathematical problems ! If train A is ... and train B is ..., you get the idea.

Together we mashed, stirred, chatted, shouted and thoroughly enjoyed the whole process. Proudly we filled our first batch, and embolded we decided to do some more. We drove into the village and bought more special sugar and dropped past my mum at the same time. She was all agog about how our first jamming session went.
My mum is special, wonderful and also practical. Upon hearing that I guessed the weight, she quickly lent me here scale and a bit more advice.

Round two. Bob now was 100% into this, and even went to pick plums from the garden. Again we boiled the glass containers, peeled the peaches, cut the plums and repeated the whole cooking process. But this time I weighed the fruit and discovered a little oopsy ! The amount of cut peaches that I somehow worked out to be 750 grams, was in fact 1.2 kg. Our first batch had too little sugar.
Confessing to Bob ( remember he wanted to do it properly from the start ), I sweetened the news with " You know, if it does not set perfectly, we can use it with pancakes. " and straight away Bob replied with a grin " Or we can pour it over Vanilla Ice Cream ! "

All in all we did ten jars. Like any new parents we kept checking on them and found, when they had cooled sufficiently, that the second batch had set wonderfully and the first batch ensured that we would be eating Ice Cream throughout winter...! I am sure that I saw Bob doing a little victory dance. Oh, nothing beats the simple things in life !


It takes huge concentration to boil a jar...

Juggling pots...

Doesn't this just look peachy.

Bob spooning !

Wow, our second & successful batch.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Making Peach Jam the first time in Burgenland.

Part one ...

This summer only three of our peach trees are carrying fruit. Throughout the winter, Bob and I have loftily been making plans about starting to make our own stuff with the fruits we have. Jam and Chutney being top of the list.
Of course like most idealists, we are a bit lazy putting it into reality. Especially when it involves sterilizing all these glass jars that we have been collecting ( used ones ) !

Yesterday morning, one phone call turned us idealists into realists.
" Hallo Biggi, Chuter wants to know, if he could use your peaches to make Schnapps ? He has seen that you have lots, and wondered if you will use them? " my mum was obviously phoning from Chuter's place, and waited for an answer. Sometimes that is all that's needed.
" No Mama, we are using them ourselves to make jams...". No turning back now !

Bob immediately searched online for a suitable recipe. He likes to cross his T's and dot his I's and would only use a recipe where he was certain no mishap could occur..
Whereas I am the opposite. How hard can it be to make jam ? Sugar and fruit mainly. If it takes a few attempts that is okay. Practice makes perfect and in any way, Tigger our cat, will be happy with any mishaps ! Energized and enthusiastic, I went to the local shop to buy the sugar - it is a special type - and found an extremely easy recipe on the back of the packet. Bob of course is a bit suspicious of it, but as it only involves the fruit and sugar literally, we are trying that one.

First thing this morning will have to be the sterilizing of all the jars. As we are both so " keen " to do that job, we have decided to do rock, paper, scissors ! I will let you know tomorrow who won that little game, and how our " jamming " session went.


Peaches always look gorgeous hanging on the branches.

Still not decided who will wash and sterilize them...

Friday, 24 August 2012

Burgenland and its wonderful Villages.

Actually, Burgenland and its wonderful suburbs.

Walking around so many of Burgenlands little villages, has shown me two things. First, everyone is so friendly and trusting. There I am, looking rather " odd " , trying to keep the sun at bay ( cap etc ) and marching all over the neighbourhoods. Hardly anyone worries or cares that a stranger is passing by with flyers in her hand. In fact, when I see villagers they come to the fence and take the flyer from me and thank me as well !

Secondly, I wish you could see the how stunning most of these villages are. The gardens of most houses are almost always a showpiece. Each one different, yet beautiful at the same time. The lawns are well manicured, the trees have all had their appropriate haircut and the pathways offer themselves to be walked upon. Simply breathtaking at times.

A lot of these Burgenland villages have a romantic and fairytale feel and layout. Streets and lanes are curvey and interesting, sometimes even leading to a dead end. The church is mostly in the middle, with the church tower visible from miles away. They themselves are possibly a few hundred years old. Whenever I walk passed an old church, I try to imagine all its history. All the birth, weddings and funerals that took place through the ages.

What gives these villages its charming character is that a lot of these house and farms are old and sturdy. Walls of the old style are mostly 60cm thick, inside as well ( our house has these thick walls, and it keeps the warmth in winter and is cool in summer ). Typical Burgenland architecture. The different colours are soothing to look at, except for the odd few psychedelic ones. Original Burgenland house colors are a pale yellow with dark green window shutters.

Both Bob and I have received a little " nudge " in our backsides. Seeing how house and garden proud everyone is here, has made us determined to get our garden into a proud neighbourhood feature. A lot of our villagers drive past or walk past our house periodically, to see if and what we are doing ! It will take some time, seeing that our house stood empty for four years...and we are both not blessed with a green thumb !


The wonderful Badersdorf. This is only part of it as I did not want to walk around with flyers and camera...

The Village called Rust is definitly worth a visit.

This is a nice example of a Burgenland home with the nice colouring.

Not a village, but I wanted to show you one view from the vineyards of Deutsch-Schuetzen.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Outhouse...

The most important room in any Household...

It is something we take for granted every day. We go into the smallest room in our home and sit down. Often we either read there, count the wall tiles, look out the window, hope the kids won't come in, grab the air-freshener or just strike a match. Yes, I mean the toilet ! It is mostly comfortable, warm in winter and cool in summer. When we have finished what we went in there for, we just push a button, and technology sorts out the rest.

But it was not always like this. Driving around our area, I see a lot of outside Toilets. The aptly called " Outhouse " or " Longdrop "
Nature Calls: The History, Lore, and Charm of Outhouses.
It is always within sight of the main house yet a fair distance away, possibly for any drifting aromas. Some look rather fetching and some plain and uninviting. Just like the modern toilets.

Have you ever wondered what it must have been like ( and I am sure that millions of people still only have an outside toilet ) to do a simple thing, such as going to the loo ?
Putting on your shoes, going outside and then sitting on a wooden bench that has a whole in the middle. At night time you would have needed a candle for light. Possibly a bucket of water too. As most were long-drops ( ie. a deep hole in the ground ) the smell must have been overpowering. No lingering in there !

My uncle told me a while ago, that when they were young, their house in town, had a Longdrop toilet ( the last room on the outside of the house ) and that in winter fun and games ensued. Apparently, when it was freezing any offerings to said toilet, would freeze. Sometimes a pile of frozen eh ' stuff ' would grow upwards.... So they had to first boil water and pour it down the hole, to melt...!

Just thinking of the easy life we have, makes me extremely grateful everytime I go to the loo. I also wonder if and how I would have coped with a Longdrop ? Next time you visit your " little " room, just pause and consider the alternative.


Room with a view

As I was taking this picture, a deer wondered behind it...

Have a look at the ventilation on top of the door !

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Shooting the Breeze...

Nice way to spend the day.

Walking around the little village of Miedlingsdorf somehow reminded me about Italy. The Italy that I have seen in movies, colourful and romantic. As we have been doing most mornings, we drove to a village in a 20km radius from us, to hand out Bob's business flyers. It does seem silly in this day of Internet, but it has proven more successful than online. In a small village, the daily check on one's postbox is always an exciting excursion and holds the treasure trove of information, that is needed to be connected and informed of everyone's goings on. I love it too !

Bob and I usually divide the village up and we each do one side. Yesterday was the hottest day imaginable but we did the rounds. As I was dropping a flyer in a postbox, I heard a shout from across the street, " Hallo, can we also have one and see what you are doing ? " Slightly startled I turned to look. There in front of a typical Burgenland style house, sat two old men on a bench, watching my progress. Walking across to them, I told them what I was doing and handed them a flyer. Pleased they took it to read. " I will most likely see you when I walk back along your side of the street. Bye, until later. "

It was such a nice thing to see. There were these two old guys, most likely friends since childhood, sitting and chatting about all and sundry. Walking away from them I could still hear them nattering. Most likely about the flyer and everything on it.

When I came past them on the way back they asked me, " Isn't it too hot to hand your flyers out ? "
" Oh yes, it is hot as blazes, but it has to be done. Business comes first." To which they sagely nodded their heads and one said " That is for sure. Have a nice day."

It struck me then, that these two guys had somehow stumbled on the essence of life, one that we are all chasing furiously. They were sitting there and just enjoying each moment. They were living in the " elusive " moment and loving every bit of it...


Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Aging and what gives us away !

Not what you think.

There are so many aspects to growing older. Some are superficial and some have a bit more substance. A few of us know the feeling of discovering another laughter line. That at least shows that we had fun and can laugh.

This morning when I finished my walk and was doing my stretches, I happened to glance at my arms, with my head hanging down. Yikes, not such a nice sight. Where did my smooth skin go ? In vain, I tried moving the arm and flexing the muscle, in case it was just a distorted view, but no, it was real...Okay, that was the superficial !

Somehow, now that we ( Bob and I ) are in our forties, we do tend to judge everything by our yardstick. With comical results. I ( being four years older, but not quite a cougar ) was a teen during the late disco and early eighties pop scene, with the result that I imagine most youngsters today should do what I did then. Dance with the distinct John Travolta arm move, that is....But seriously, if youngsters don't conform to my image of what they should do and be, I sort of start mumbling," In my day, this would not have been allowed or have been done ". There it is, a sure fire sign that I am now a member the older generation.

A while ago, Bob and I were at a local Buschenschank and enjoying the vibe. We were sitting with the hosts mum, and at some time the granddaughter sat next to Bob, and chatted with us. She is a very nice young lady, who lives and works in Vienna. Therefore, she is very on trend in here clothes, style and music. While she was telling Bob about some festival she is going to, Bob told her he was also planning to go to it, and that he went to a lot of festivals in the nineties.

For Bob, he felt like he was young and with it, knowing all about the current music scene. But I could see, watching her face that she considered Bob to be of an older generation, and possible wondering what he would be like at the festival !!!
Haven't we all been to a Disco or Nightclub and watched a person of the older generation, trying to dance to our generations' songs...


Monday, 20 August 2012

Gratitude and Abundance !

Wonderful Tomatoes.

Last week Werner, our neighbour, gave us some of his homegrown tomatoes and ten eggs from his hens. We were pleased as punch, and made a nice salad and had enough left for homemade pizza. Life in the country is ingenious.

Bob and I, do tend to have phases for things. At the moment we love having pancakes for lunch, and even if I say so myself, they are getting more even in diameter, yet the flipping still needs a spatula. It might have been the imagination, but with our new stash of eggs, they tasted even better...
Of course the one fly in the ointment is that those lovely egg-laying hens also have a rooster in tow. Bob is mad every morning ( at the crack of dawn, literally ) when said rooster crows his ladies ( and Bob ) awake. As Bob is not such a good morning person, I often fear for the rooster's life. Let's hope my soothing line " Just now you won't hear him anymore. People live near highways and become immune to the noise after a while " will work.

The other evening I got home after having helped out my mum, to see Bob sitting in front of our house. He was having a glass of wine and grinning from ear to ear.
" I saw Werner next door and went over to say Thank You for the tomatoes and eggs. "
" Oh that was nice of you. Did you tell him how nice they tasted ? "
" I did, and you won't believe it but he told me to get a container and gave us more tomatoes."
Wow, now we were both grinning from ear to ear !

Being grateful does lead to abundance. Werner gave Bob almost twice the amount of tomatoes. The simple life here in Burgenland is teaching us the most wonderful lessons about living life and enjoying it.


We were so happy getting these tomatoes. The chillies are hotter than they look !

Sunday, 19 August 2012

The Everyday-ness of Marriage !

A scenic drive along a Burgenland road, slightly less romantic.

Bob and I are approaching our ninth year together, married for four. You know you are with the right person, when time just races on and you suddenly start counting years together, rather than days or month ! Moving to Burgenland has actually forged an even greater bond between us. Bob is one in a million !

In the beginning, on our first few dates, he used to run and open the car door for me. Gosh, there is nothing as charming as when a beau is chivalrous and cherishes you. I did say in the beginning, didn't I ? At some early stage, this changed to a normality of living together. Now Bob sits in the car, with the engine running and waits for me to open the gate and shut it too ( even in the coldest of winter ).
On the odd occasion he has been know to hoot, should I dilly dally around getting ready. Men don't often understand how much we have to check on, before we can lock the front door: Bathroom tidy, dirty ( Bob's, surely mine are actually in the hamper ?! ) underpants on the floor, stove switched off, windows closed and of course putting the butter back into the fridge, just to mention a few. We don't have children, but I could imagine the added pressure of getting them dressed and ready while Dad is waiting and hooting!

Yesterday we were driving along a scenic, romantic Burgenland road, when I happend to glance at Bob and saw him scratching, what I can only describe as his ' nether regions '. Upon my enquiring, slightly distasteful glance, he said : " You can't imagine how difficult it is to scratch your .... while driving along a curving road. "
" Would it be easier, if the road was straight ? " came my amazed response. Oh my, how far the romance has fallen. In the past, he would now and again hold my hand while driving and sneak adoring glances in my direction. Those were the days, and they are a faint and distant memory. Of course he still cherishes me, but in a different manner.

Just to be fair, there must be several ( lots ) of things that I stopped doing after the initial courtship. I think this is what they call love and not ' honeymoon infatuation ' and in spite of my grumbles, I wouldn't change back.

Does this happen to anyone else, or am I the only one ?


Saturday, 18 August 2012

Bob's second Birthday celebration in Burgenland.

Simple is Special...

As you know, we are starting out in a new beautiful country from scratch, and that does also clip our financial wings for the moment. So, when Bob's Birthday rolled on there was no going out for a candle lit dinner, big party or purchasing of presents. But don't feel sad for us, because this is all part of the adventure of emigrating and starting a new life. Each step up we take is going to be thrilling and exciting !

Bob actually surprised me by saying, " I like this life we have. We don't have to many choices and that makes us enjoy the moment more. " I was stressing a bit about his Birthday, but I should have known what a great guy I married. The whole day I took over his usual chores, but I made sure he knew that it was only for the Birthday...

To have an old-fashioned Birthday, one without all the modern trimmings is a fantastic reminder about what is actually important. All day, Bob was Skyped, phoned, emailed and written to on Facebook ( of course, Facebook is a lifesaver by reminding one of Birthdays ). He was chuffed to bits that so many people thought of him.

A few days before his Birthday, my mum had asked him to pick some of our apples for her. On his special day, my mum brought him a homemade apple cake, an Hungarian paprika sausage and a ' padded ' card. Bob was thrilled with his bounty.
His favourite treat is this sausage from Hungary. My Mum now and again gets one for him when they shop there. The sausage must be made with more fat than meat, I'm sure. It is meant to be sliced thinly and eaten with bread, but my Bob made his own rule... he already starts to eat it in the car, and from the passenger seat, it looks as if he is eating a banana. Yes, Bob takes bites of it and finishes the whole sausage in minutes.

My mum reminds Bob that it must last at least 2 weeks, but she kind of knows that it will be gone sooner.

Bob had a great day and it is nice to just enjoy the day without all the extra pressure. Of course next year, we will have a big party or even go away for a weekend. ( But not to Hungary, as Bob would just be in the butcheries all day long ! )


The cake was half eaten, before I could take this picture ! Of course that meant that the sausage was still intact...

Friday, 17 August 2012

Crowning Glory...

Is it really that important ?

It always amazes me, how concerned men are with the sudden reappearance of their hair scalp. Seemingly mild and docile men get hysterical and paranoid about their disappearing hairline.
Just in my house, Bob gets very stubborn about me publishing any photo where the back of his head is depicted. I think he does not want anyone to spot the little bare circle of scalp on top of his head....which I think is rather cute and sexy !

Yesterday, Bob and his brother Brett where Skyping each other, and at some point the conversation got very interesting !
" Brett, Albert cut my hair yesterday and told me that I would never go bald. He say's I have a Widow's Peak, and that bare bit on the back of my head is just because I sleep on it."
While he was telling Brett this, he bent forward, towards the screen, and showed him his Widow's Peak in intricate detail ( Now I have to be a bit biased and say that Bob is more endowed on top, then Brett ).Ever since I have known them, they have been comparing their hairlines. It must be the thing to do among brothers !? I suppose we girls do compare wrinkles and girth, ad nauseam...

At first Brett thought that Bob was joking, but then I saw them both comparing, with their heads almost touching the screens, the front end of their fringes. As can only happen between brothers, Bob pointed out out with obvious glee ( also a touch of na na na na !! ) that Brett did not have a widow's peak. Brett than changed the subject, seemingly not bothered about the ' hair issue '. But as they were finishing off, I heard Brett ask : " Bob, how do you spell that again ? Widow's what ? "

I for one, don't worry at all if men have hair or not. In some cases they actually look more sexy. But regardless, I am more interested in what is underneath the hair !


Thursday, 16 August 2012

What a wonderful Neighbour.

Great Bounty !

Yesterday morning, Bob and I set off to do a round of handing out our business flyers, and also to do some grocery shopping. We are like generals, planing out our route so it coincides with a Hofer, Lidl or Spar. ( we are on the ball...? )

We had to go to the bank in our village first, to check on something, and as I tried to go in, it was locked. Perplexed I looked at their opening schedule ( it is not open all the time ) and it said open. Luckily a man was drawing money from the ATM, and I asked him why they are closed.
" It's a public holiday today ". Oops, we did not know ! Here, in our area, one should not do visible work ( ie. that the Neighbours would see, so theoretically one could still do housework, if one felt the urge to... ) on a religious holiday.

Our plans having changed, we were driving back home when we realized that the milk would definitely not last till the next day. We knew that only the local Grocery might be open on a public holiday. But as they are more expensive on such occasions, we kept to just milk, Joghurt and a half-priced chocolate. Essentials only !

As we parked in our driveway, Werner, our neighbour with the chickens, came over to say :
" Biggi, do you need any tomatoes ? I've got some extra from the garden. " It did not even take me a second to reply.." Yes, Werner, that would be nice."
He asked me to fetch him a container, which I promptly did. He said he would bring them over just now. Thanking him, I dashed back into the house to do a quick and fast tidy up.

I need not have bothered, because he just went to our gate with his offerings. Can you believe it, he also gave us 10 freshly laid eggs and a whole lot of tomatoes. How wonderful and nice is that.

It is extra special, because Werner told me that the local Fox had gotten hold of four of his hens. How awful, but I know that that is how nature works. The hens kept on flying over his fence on walkabouts and thus sealed their own fate. Enquiring whether the Cockerel had survived, he told me that he is to heavy ( and possibly lazy ) to fly over the fence.


What a bounty !

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Doppelganger here in Burgenland ?

Could we all have a double / doppel...

Since moving here last year, we have explored our new surroundings, near and far. We are like kids in a candy store, wanting to try all and buy it too. Through the years, I have heard about people who emigrate and how horrible their first few years are. We have passed the first year and so far we only had a small bout of homesickness. Of course we miss family and friends a lot, but we both revel in our new life. A nice idiom would be of two pigs rolling on their backs in the mud, kicking up their trotters and oinking in joy.

When we do our forays into our surroundings ( quite often to the shops 25 kms away ) we see the most astonishing things.
Walking down the mall, possibly savouring an ice cream cone, I would see a familiar person walk past me and I would mouth a greeting automatically, garnering me the odd look, especially if it is a man. In the second that it takes me to realize that I don't know this person, Bob would look at me and say " does she / he not look like so and so ? ".

Yes, we have entered into the " Doppelganger Universe ". It almost seems like someone is staging their walk past us, because they just keep on coming. At the mall, at Restaurants, at Tourist spots and even in Denmark ( where we went holiday ). Their features are just so similar, that it is uncanny. It gets to the point, where I ask myself : ' Do I know this person from South-Africa or from here, in Burgenland ? '

Now and again I sort of go up to them, in case they recognize me and thus drop out of the doppelgangers into the originals category. ( People have been known to take Holidays ) But just my little sojourn into the Twilight zone of Doppelgangers, has convinced me, that we are all somehow connected and that what we do to others we actually are doing to ourselves...or else the stresses have caught up with me, and I am seeing things.


Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Learning German.

A different way to learn German

My husband Bob did not speak a lot of German, when we moved here last year. Well he did now and again throw in the odd word, but on the whole he was a beginner. Somehow it was my mistake, as I could have spoken to him in German all along. It is a funny thing, speaking to a loved one and what language we use.

For example, my mum is fluent in both German and English, yet for me to speak English with her is so strange to me, that I can't do it. How we started off to converse with someone, determines the way we continue, at least for me. ( I would love to get some feedback, if the same applies to you. )

In Germany and Austria, there are a lot of different dialects of the same language. Some dialects are difficult to decipher and in the country side they are more broad. Music to the ears, but extremely hard to learn. My feeling was that Bob should learn a neutral German, so that he can in a way be understood by all and vice verca.

One of the best means is to watch a lot of TV. My personal favorite is the crime series Tatort, which we can see almost daily. By now Bob also likes it, and Sunday night he actually
'shhooshed ' me, when I asked him something during the movie, as he was so into the story ! There are also a lot of breakfast TV shows and cunningly I chose the one with a lot of pretty looking women, and thus have hooked Bob on watching it daily. Yet another source of learning. In fact he often tells me what Karen ( his favourite presenter on Sat 1 Breakfast TV ) was saying, doing and wearing...

Bob is a very reserved guy and in meeting people, silence is always golden to him, which sometimes gets interpreted into ' he doesn't speak the language '.
Yet like most of us who are shy, let him get comfortable or have a beer or two, and Bob will start conversing in such good grammatically correct German, that he leaves them speechless !

I know it has been extremely hard for Bob to go to a new country and learn its language, but I am so proud of how far he has come, and with such aplomb.
What a guy...My Guy !


Look at how animated he his...

Monday, 13 August 2012

Adventure walk through the Burgenland Forests.

Or rather Safari Burgenland Style.

Each morning when I go for a walk, my route takes me through a bit of forest and mostly besides it. Spectacular scenery, as you can imagine. But not just a static scenery. There is often movement of sorts followed by loud rustling of the leaves. In summer it is light and it does not bother me, but it is getting more darker as the season progresses and I do need a ' Be brave ' self talk at times !

Usually halfway up the hill through the forest, a majestic looking deer senses me and dashes in panic across the path, just in front of me. What a sight. I can see every muscle working. More often than not, having devoured the Twilight books, I look around me to see whether Edward is in hot pursuit...One never knows. But I do hear the occasional rifle shot from the hunters or possibly a poacher. From next week I will start to wear reflective neon colours, lest I get mistaken for a 'Dear '...

Without fail, each time I walk, rabbits ( the size of a dachshund ) jump in front of me, or rather run away from me.The other day, very early so it was still dim, I thought I saw a nice Ginger cat sitting on the side of the road next to the vines.
" Here Kitty, Kitty..." was my attempt to not scare it off. But suddenly it did dash across the road in front of me.
' Gosh ', I thought, ' what a big cat.'...until I saw its tail. It was long, very bushy and had white stripes at places... A Fox !

That somehow took my adventure walk onto another level. One, where I am contemplating using a walking / defence stick !


Sunday, 12 August 2012

Liking Facebook.

Could you imagine life without Facebook ?

If you read different papers or watch TV ( I like reading the Huffington ), you begin to get a feel of a slightly negative feeling permeating about Facebook.
But I think, that a lot of people are just jumping on the bandwagon.

Sure, using it does tend to sometimes waste our time, but so do other things. For me it is a wonderful thing. How else would I keep up with friends and family around the world ? Granted, some things I see posted are a tad bit risque / boring / mean, but most things are interresting.

Before Facebook, we had to email or phone to connect with people. But life being as it is, we never get around to this. Now it is so much easier. You get to see what goes on in friends lifes '.

For Bob and I it has been a lifesaver. Sometimes when we were a bit sad about moving or missing friends and family, we could connect and be part of them with Facebook.

In its way, it has re-socialized a lot of people. Sometimes we moan about it, but I could not imagine not having or using it. Could you ?


Saturday, 11 August 2012

Backyard Farming...

Growing vegetables... our new pastime !

Around about March this year, we demarcated a vegetable patch in the front of our garden. My thinking was, that it needs to be as close to us as possible and always in our line of sight so that I won't forget the watering. So far so good.
About two weeks before that we bought some pumpkin seeds and planted them habdash around the garden. With dejection we noticed no movement there, and none since !

When we got all the soil and manure for the vegetable patch ( fetching it from the community site involving plenty of shovelling ) we excitedly bought a few packets of seeds relevant to the spring planting season. As complete gardening novices we just followed the pictures on the back of the packet ( having a few heated discussions in the process ) and crossed our fingers.
Gosh, everyday we ran outside to see if anything was happening. The day we saw the first sprout coming through, we jumped about like children, gleefully happy.

Bolstered by this success, we filled an old bath tub with stones and manure and my Mum gave us a cucumber plant. In the beginning it just looked like a bath filled with mud, but bit by bit some runners appeared, then big leaves, and now it is a real feature. The added bonus is that we have had a few cucumbers already. Wow, what a nice taste sensation. Homegrown and no pesticide. How much better could life get...

The funny thing is, that the manure we fetched from our village, was obviously put there by the local farmers, from their stables and fields. When Harry was here, he discovered a tomato plant in our vegetable patch. A nice little freebee, that makes a nice salad addition.


Our little Bathtub...

Homegrown always tastes better.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Fixer Upper...

Doing up a really old and rundown Farm

If anyone had told us beforehand, what was heading towards us, would we have done it ? Gosh, we were such twinkly eyed novices. Our excitement was unherded, because we had never had our own house. Where others saw ruin, hard work and headaches, we only saw the potential. ( Those home makeover programs that we loved watching, only made me see the glorious result in my minds eye..)

Yes, it did not look great, but it was our project. People in the know, where most likely having a little laugh at the various stages of rebuilding, being aware of the work involved.
I tell you what, this type of work was just jolly hard. Digging, shoveling, carrying, worrying, chiselling and hammering take it out of you. For months it took about an hour after waking up, for me to straighten out my hands without pain. But each week we would see a bit of progress and our chest would swell a bit. As an added bonus, all this physical work made us ( for a short time only ) loose weight and firm up !

We did have odd moments were we dreamed of having moved to a new ( no work needed ) house, but thankfully, those did not happen to often.
Both of us have learned and grown so much in the process. I always say, that hard work does not kill you but makes you stronger....

By the way, I would do it all again.


My man at work.

Halfway through, and each bit of sand dug out by us one shovel at a time...

We chuffed with the results.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

My hundredth blog entry !

One of the main reasons I moved here to Burgenland.

We only live about 2 kilometers from the Hungarian border. Even though Hungary is part of the E.U. they have kept their own currency ( Forint ). That could possible be the reason why everything is so much cheaper there. Groceries, Labour, Medical etc.
A lot of Austrians go shopping in Hungary. Of course the language is a bit of problem, but if you know what you want, it is fine.

My parents took their car to be repaired in Hungary, and asked me to follow them and drive them home. It sounds like a huge excursion, but it was about a 20 kilometer trip. I love driving around and exploring my new surroundings. Everywhere I go is just so beautiful. Especially now in summer, with all those stunning greens interspersed with colourful yellows, beiges and whites. A feast for the eyes !

Hungary was an Eastern Bloc member until fairly recently, and it is so interesting to see the difference in houses and roads, as you enter into it. It somehow seems as if we are travelling back in time. Yet in between the old homes, newer and more modern homes are sprouting up.
They say that Burgenland used to be at the end of Europe, but now we are at the heart of it.

For me, yesterday was again very special. For years I lived on the other side of the world and not near my family. Just being able to do a little thing, such as fetching them from an errand, is precious to me. When you have to live without family, you then learn to appreciate and treasure them...


Just took this while waiting in Hungary.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Invention Burgenland style...

Trying something new !

As I told you yesterday, Bob did not sleep well in our front bedroom. But as I like that room, I asked him to try it a few more nights, before we move again to the other one. Which he has agreed to doing. Of course on top of not having slept last night, he also got bitten by mosquitoes. ( Maybe Bob is my personal mosquito saviour, as they don't bite me...)

When we were in the Supermarket yesterday, Bob disappeared down the toiletry isle to look for a mosquito repellent. Of course those things are so expensive, and as we are on a strict budget, not for us.
" You know, Bob, I read somewhere that vinegar rubbed on your skin repels insects. " I quite possibly mixed it up with another use, but Bob decided to try it.

We were watching a movie last night, when Bob did his usual and left for bed early. " See you just now, Schatzi, " and I got involved with the movie again.
All over sudden, a strange smell permeated the air, almost making me sick. " Bob what are you doing ? "
" I just rubbed vinegar all over me, can you smell it too ?"

My husband never does anything in half measures. He'd found the cheap cleaning vinegar and put it pure all over his relevant bits. It should have been diluted. When I told him that the house smells like a Fish & Chip shop, he replied: " Gosh, you should smell it here in the bedroom ! "
Wondering how he could sleep like that, I decided to stay the night in the lounge watching TV....


Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Drinking Coffee on our " Stoep "

Early morning pleasures...

Now that our visitors have left, we've moved back into our front bedroom. Bob was actually hesitant, as he slept so well in the back bedroom and had a few memories of sleepless nights in front one. But we tried it last night as it is so much nicer.
Of course, true to form, Bob could not sleep and now and again I became aware of his grumbles and slightly angry sighs ! On the other hand, I slept rather well until our new neighbour, The Rooster, did his morning ritual. At first I thought that Justin had forgotten his cell phone, as the Rooster just kept on crowing at equal intervals. It was still dim outside, but when I stumbled to look at the watch, I saw that he was spot on with his timing....5am.

Without thinking ( otherwise reason would set in and I would snuggle back into bed ) I got dressed and set off for my morning walk. There is just something so grounding and soothing for me, seeing the day awakening. Granted, it does take me a while to be fully awake, but just listening to the birds chirping or hearing the rustle of a mouse in the leaves, makes it stunningly worthwhile.

For those of you, who love Coffee as much as I do, you will understand the contentment of that first cup of freshly brewed coffee after my walk. The fabulous weather is an added bonus, because I can just sit on our stoep and savour my coffee.

Oh, the simple life here in Burgenland....


Sitting and savouring my first cup of Coffee on our Stoep.

Monday, 6 August 2012

A weekend with friends.

The weather behaves !

Justin and Angela are traveling home today. This weekend has really flown, possibly due to the fact that we showed them a lot. In a way we are like little kids, showing off our place and not sure what to show them first...

The main thing was the weather and it behaved as if written into the script. Maybe a little bit too hot, as I saw them buy more sunscreen.
On Friday night we took them to a Buschenschank and they took to it like a ducks to water. We often heard:" This wine tastes so crisp and fruity " or " Oh gosh, this is so cheap. In London this would cost three times as much ", to which we cunningly replied " well, you'll just have to visit us more often !"

It goes without saying that I found a reason to drive through to Eberau to have some Ice cream with them. We have been so fortunate, having a lot of friends and family visiting. My favourite places
( such as the Ice cream place ) are taking notice. Lots of repeat business for them.

Somehow I have a feeling, that we converted another set of friends to our wonderful lifestyle, here in Burgenland. Next time someone " new " visits, I will write a subtext on the invite :
WARNING - this place gets under your skin and you won't want to leave !


For a change Bob is taking the picture...Justin, Angela and I.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Pictures of our part of Burgenland, Austria.

A few of the local places, here in our Burgenland.

I know, I say it all the time, but this here is such a nice place, our own little bit of paradise. For a change, I thought I would show you some pictures.
Let me know if you like them....


Eisenberg-Weinberg with a view of Hungary

We also have a big farming community.

Bob at the cross road...

Burgenland...Land of the Fortresses.

This makes getting up early worthwhile !

Winter magic.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Fun things to do in the morning...

Not what you think !

We have had enough rain coupled with hot days, that Bob says are perfect to find mushrooms. On top of it the moon was in the right phase and we thus decided to head over to the forest again.

Last time we drove with my parents and did an unforeseen sight seeing trip around the forest, which had me thinking that breadcrumbs would have been helpful.
But Bob knew exactly where do drive. Just walking in a forest is so calming, soothing and educational. For me two things are top of the list: watching my step in case of animal droppings, and tucking my pants into the socks ( a very trendy look ) in case of ants or ticks.

Bob and I went on different " turfs " and we each tried to be the first to find a mushroom. We were both lucky. There were so many different clusters of mushrooms. All together we picked roughly thirty. All you could hear in the forest were shouts of " Look how big this one is " or " Come and look here "
Gosh, something so simple and basic, gave us great pleasure.

Both of us are not yet familiar with the varying mushroom types. The dangerous ones are deceptively similar to the edible ones. That's why we headed over to my mum. She is so amazing with her knowledge. Like a proud cat bringing a mouse, we showed her our find. We were so excited and giddy with our big find. That lasted for about five minutes. It turns out that most of them were inedible mushrooms ! Slightly dejected we took them all back to the forest.

Oh, the agony and ecstasy of Mushroom picking....


First find.

I think the little one is edible ?

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Peculiar sight in Eisenberg !

How Funny.

We have a very organized, ecologically sound and strict rubbish collection system. Once a year we get issued a piece of paper, which tells us on what days the various bins get collected. We have to separate paper, plastics, glass and one bin is just for the left overs ( ie. stuff you can't slot in anywhere else ). Each type of bin is more or less fetched once every six weeks.

It has been very hot this summer so you can imagine the state of the " left overs " bin. Yesterday was it's day...only, we overslept so I did not go for my walk. This is how I usually know it is rubbish day,as all the neighbours have their bins out.
At about eight, while in the bathroom, I heard the distinctive sound of the rubbish truck stopping and loading. Oh darn !

" Gosh Bob, we are in for it now, we forgot to put the bin out. " Already my mind raced through the various scenarios: driving our rubbish to the dump, or taking it to a different village on their collection day or just having to have it in our yard for another month ! Yuk !

While contemplating the stupidity of having forgotten, I heard Bob opening our gate and wheeling out the bin. Going outside to tell him that it's to late, I saw my wonderful husband, in hastily thrown on clothes ( T-shirt inside out ) running down the road with the bin in tow...
He did a hundred meter dash in record time, and I had to take this picture on his way back.

Yes, he caught the truck...isn't he the best !


The victorious return.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Gym again.

At least we following our own advice !

As our house is an old farmhouse, it has many pleasant and one or two unpleasant surprises. Under the outbuilding used as a garage, there is a hollow space the size of a small swimmingpool, that used to keep all the slosh ( hopefully just urine ) from the animals. When it got full they would pump it out and dispose of it. Last year we had it emptied and it really was not the most pleasant aroma.

While we were building we drilled holes into the concrete to fill it up with a lot of the building rubble. Yesterday we finally closed off the five holes for good. It seemed such an easy task. Yet it took the three of us ( my mum helped us ) four hours. It was not worth getting a concrete mixing machine so we did everything with a wheelbarrow. Actually Bob did the major part of it.

As you can see from the pictures we followed some of our own " exercise " adice. I have renewed respect for all building workers. It is a constant physical onslaugth, and unlike us they do it all day long, day in and day out.
One added bonus in this physical activity is that we slept amazingly well...


Mum and Bob hard at work.

Our " Gym "...