Tuesday, 30 April 2013

What Happened To Common Sense ?

Good old fashion common sense.

A few years back I attended a hairstylists conference. One speaker gave some sage advice:
" If someone asks you how business is, just say it is " unbelievable "...it could mean unbelievably good or bad ! "

Hands up, those of you who have shouted their disapproval at the poor newsreader on T.V. ? He really can't hear us, but that hasn't stopped us. Often the only way to describe what is going on all around us, is as " unbelievable ".

Take the Bee issue. Everyone and their grandmother knows that Bees are an essential link in nature's chain. We all need to eat and therefore the bees are to my mind untouchable. Bees must be cherished and taken care of.

If we are aware of harmful agents against our precious bees, common sense would make it a non debatable issue ! But it seems not...Personally I would love to see half the ' decision ' makers of anything made up of the ' common sense ' brigade. Maybe a few grannies with their knitting, a couple of kids and a lot of full-time homemakers. ( P/S: For now the bees have won. )

Across the ocean, another issue sort of defies common sense ( eh, to my mind at least ). Micheal Jackson's family's quest for a ridicules large sum of money has started. Tragedy happens to all of us and we learn to carry on with life. Everyone's tragedy involves a loss of income, but hardly anyone thinks of suing someone over it. Unbelievable and by the way, isn't that what Life Insurance is for ?

Even in prosperous America, there are a lot of extremely poor folk who just try and survive each day. To see a court case proceeding, where someone already rich beyond imagination is trying to get more so, is just a very sad reflection on society. Common sense, where are you ?

Where will it all end ? What about starting a court of ' Common Sense ', one that decides whether a case is worthy to take further...


Monday, 29 April 2013

A Whiff Is All It Takes.

A smell can unlock memories.

Do you find yourself transported back in time ( as they say ) by something as simple as a smell or taste ? Gosh, our individual little time travel sessions. For just a few seconds we do tend to loose track of our surroundings and hop ( mentally ) into a distant memory !

Out of all those different smells that we are bombarded with daily, a few have that ability to make us vividly recall a pleasant memory, feeling or even taste. Isn't that just great ?

How about these ? :

  • Walking past a freshly mowed meadow, garden or lawn.
  • Cutting open the foil on a new packet of Filter Coffee.
  • Hanging washing on the line.
  • Using plain old ordinary soap or standing next to someone who did.
  • Sitting in a new car.
  • Walking past a field that has been fertilized with cow manure.
  • Standing next to a horse or going into a stable.
  • Being in the kitchen, half an hour after putting cake, cookies or bread in the oven.
  • Diving into a swimming pool.
  • Grilling a piece of steak on the B.B.Q.

A few of these instances surely resonated with you, but we each have our own unique experiences. Yet, wouldn't it be interesting to know a few others. I am wondering how many there could be.

How long do you think we could grow this list ? Will we get a hundred, a thousand or even more items on our list ? Why don't we try and find out !

Please leave a little comment with your addition to the list or just " Like / Share / Google+ or ReTweet " it, if yours are the same as mine...


Sunday, 28 April 2013

School Uniform Should Be Universal !

Or at least a strict dress code...

The other morning we were in a neighbouring town rather early. In fact it was before eight in the morning. On the way to where we had to be, was a High School and rather a big one. Well, let's just say, that we were in for a rude awakening !

Both Bob and I went through our school career dressed in uniforms. Our schools had an extremely strict uniform code and it was enforced / policed or just adhered to. The only time one would see girls in shorts ( they usually came halfway down your thighs ) was during sports.

Driving past the High School the other morning, we couldn't believe our eyes. If it wasn't for the fact that there was an abundance of teenagers, we would have been forgiven in thinking that we had entered a ' professional ' area.

We saw teenage girls dressed in extremely short shorts, tight T-shirts, loads of make-up and with cigarette's dangling from their hands. What, when, where and how do girls dress like that and what where they thinking ?

In fact, if I had a teenage son going to this school, I would be complaining like mad. When the hormones kick in, the little boy you think you know is swapped into a stranger of sorts. Someone who on top of everything else, also constantly thinks of girls.

That's the way it is and has always been. Nothing wrong there. But imagine how his average school day is, when there are scantily clad girls all around him ? Do you think he will focus that much on the teacher and learn anything ?

Somehow it only seems to be the girls who dress to show of their ( there is no other way to put it ) wares. You hardly ever see teenage boys attending school in tight Speedo's and a cut off above-the-naval T-shirt, or do you ?

In fact, should a boy be brave ( or stupid ) enough to go to school like this, the girls would definitely take a look at his ...., but then laugh at him and make jokes about him behind his back. Girls, do you think that the boys will judge you differently ?

Of course I sound extremely Puritan, but I am just telling it as I see it. It makes me wonder whether parents realize how little their daughters' are wearing at school ? Maybe, for all I know, the girls change on the way to school.

One of the best things about a school uniform is that it teaches you from a young age, not to judge people by their outer appearance, but by their inner one...


Saturday, 27 April 2013

Are You Growing Your Own Vegetables ?

The new trend...

A lot of us do have gardens attached to our homes. Gardens of all descriptions: rustic, charming, beautiful, romantic and the dreaded overgrown ! Well, a few of life's hints ( recessions & astronomical price of vegetables ) have created this new trend.

Growing up, I used to associate a vegetable garden with grey hair and pinafore dressed Biddy to go along with it. Gosh, you as well ? But now, growing your own vegetables is touted by all the young culinary greats of today and it is rather fun. ( Who straight away thought of Jamie Oliver ? )

The mind boggles to think that so many gardens are in effect standing idle and are shockingly under-utilized ! Apart from having solar panels on your roof ( to lighten the electric grid's load ) why don't you plant cabbages, tomatoes and carrots to at least lighten the load on your wallet ?

Imagine the new genre of ( well needed ) dinner Conversations that it would create:

  • " You know, just yesterday our seeded cabbages sprouted."
  • " Oh you must let me in on the secret. Mine is stubbornly staying underground "
  • " What you are still growing carrots ? That is so last season ! "
  • " You know since he planted his vegetables, I hardly get to see him. Somehow, I almost preferred him sitting in front of the TV clutching the remote control in one hand and a beer in the other !"

Growing things in your own garden is surprisingly therapeutic and an instant stress reliever. Digging in the soil and feeling the odd worm ( of course here it could also be a snake, as they don't get that large ) slither across your fingers is one of those times you will be in the moment.

Growing your own vegetables is a task that takes a bit of effort, ingenuity and of course patience. But once you've eaten a vegetable that you cajoled, pampered and grew yourself, it makes it all worthwhile and extremely satisfying. Try it !

Amazon.com:Starting a New Garden (VOL. 1): How to Transform Your Yard and Patio Into Beds and Container Gardens (Growing Organic Vegetables at Home)
Amazon.de/at:The New Self-Sufficient Gardener: The complete illustrated guide to planning, growing, storing and preserving your own garden produce

Bob has been busy with his seedlings. He cleverly re-used empty joghurt cups for it.

The wooden 'tray ' is another one of Bob's inventions...

We have our own wishing-well in the garden and next to it is where Bob wants to plant. Still a bit of work to be done to it.


Friday, 26 April 2013

The Envelope With The Clear Window.

Now and again it can bring good tidings.

" Great Scot " is the only way to describe this letter we got today. It left both Bob and I speechless and in awe. Even though it had that much loathed clear window on the front cover
( you know that one that clues you in on the fact that someone wants a bit of your money ), it had a pleasant surprise.

No, we didn't win anything. Anyway, I read somewhere that if you win big in the Austrian Lotto, their staff come to your house in nondescript cars and more than likely dressed casually in Lederhosen ( Bob and Albert love to wear theirs, so they really would blend in ) ! They are aware that you don't want to tip off your Neighbours.

Look, we have one village shop, which could have a " Have you heard " signboard over its door. It would spread like wildfire if we were to win more than a thousand euros.
" Dearest Bob, I am sure that all and sundry would know when we win in the Lotto, because you are set on getting a Aston Martin convertible !" Great choice for farm roads, though !

Anyway, back to that letter. It's better to just tear it open rather than dilly dallying about. Like ripping off a plaster. This one had our Phone and Internet provider's logo stamped on the outside. Ah, the bill dreaded by teenagers and parents alike !

But once I started to unfold the page, it was as if the sun shone a bit brighter. Firstly no money wanted and secondly they were writing to inform us of a broadband upgrade. Can you believe it, they sent us a fair warning that on a certain day and a certain time our Internet would be disrupted.

How cool is this ? We get a written notice of a three hour interruption to our broadband line. They even apologized for any inconvenience caused. Wow, A1, I love you !

From now on, we could almost be like a Formula 1 car cruising on the Internet highway...


Thursday, 25 April 2013

Agatha Christie Knew...

The slow lane also gets you there.

Part of the charm of living in a small Village is the pace of it. Gentle, slow and steady. In fact, dare I say it, it could almost resemble the life inside an Agatha Christie novel...a Miss Marple to be precise.

Not because there are any nefarious characters about, but because in ' Miss Marple's ' world, there is this gentle routine to life. A routine that somehow is grounding and gives you time to take notice of life happening around you.

Who hasn't pictured a similar lifestyle while reading her novels ? ( If you haven't read any here is a link below ) You know, things such as gardening, planting a vegetable garden, pottering around your yard, baking bread / cakes / and or biscuits, knitting and most importantly having the time to mingle with friends and family.

Who else gets the feeling that unless we're constantly busy, doing things and hurrying from one place to the next, there must be something wrong with us ? Who started to define success and fulfillment in those terms ? I tend to think that the pace of life depicted in those Agatha Christie novels, although extremely fictional, might be what a lot of us need.

When you get an opportunity to move off the fast lane and into the slow lane, it resets your whole inner compass. Obviously it's not for everybody but when you are off that fast lane, it kind of feels like you have come home.

Remember the scene in ' Independence Day ' where Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum are inside the alien craft and at the last minute it gets magnetically drawn to its landing dock, even though its been absent for years. Well, to some extent when we get close to our ' docking ' station in life, the last few meters we get drawn in like magnets !

Just like driving on the highway, moving over to the slow lane still gets you where you need to be....only slower !


Wednesday, 24 April 2013

My Snapshots Of Burgenland (1)

What happens when you love to take photos.

You know, when it comes to taking photos, Bob is now my most reverent supporter. In the beginning he would raise an eyebrow and sigh loudly enough to show his impatience. ( Men, don't you know that when you start your sighing, we women tend to do more of what irritated you...)

Admittedly, I have been known to whip out my camera for just about anything since starting this blog. Luckily so, because it made me realize how beauty can be seen in anything, everywhere and all the time.

Here are a few photos taken in the last two weeks.

Don't you just love the splendor of spring ?

Bob posed under the cherry tree, to show you its ( or Bob's ) size.

Bob saw this herd while driving, stopped and told me jump out and to take a photo. He was kind enough to warn me of the electric fence !

The white horse. Just down the road from us, and I think it is getting a bit fed up with being
' papped ' by me all the time !

Wherever you look, you see lovely wildflowers. Even between the vines. Just stunning.

I just love Daisies.


I use a Panasonic camera. Similar models to it:
Amazon.com:Panasonic Lumix SZ1 16.1 MP Digital Camera with 10x Optical Zoom (Black)
Amazon.de:Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ1EG-S Digitalkamera (16 Megapixel, 10-fach opt. Zoom, 7 cm (2,9 Zoll) Display, bildstabilisiert) silber

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Kids, The Fountain Of Truth.

A painter's outfit.

Have you ever painted your own walls ? You know, wielding the roller or paint brush up, down and across your walls. Somehow it always looks easier than it really is.

Didn't we all start our painter's journey as teenagers by putting our stamp of " I am different to you / I am not like you " on one of their bedroom walls. Depending how much we wanted to irritate our parents, the colours would range from plain pink right through to a dark turbulent black !

Of course when we finally took that yearned for first step out of home, painting the walls of our new abode morphed from a rebellious act into one of necessity. Ironic, how we only find what a cushy life we had as kids, once we have to feather our own nest ! Maybe that's why there is this resurgence of " Hotel Mama "...

Anyway, painting walls apart from being jolly backbreaking work, is also extremely messy. It doesn't matter how carefully you place that roller because it is nine times out of ten surrounded by an entourage of a fine mist of paint that views us as its desired destination.

Yesterday, proudly sporting my painter's outfit, I was waiting for Bob to finish a task at the Village office. A bunch of our ' English ' kids bounced passed me. Bounced is the right word, because they were like puppies, hopping from one place to the next and talking excitedly to each other. They waved gaily and greeted me in English, making me feel proud.

The main pup, Maxi, is known for talking almost non-stop and flitting from one topic to another at incredible speed. Yet, all I got from him, was that he was glad school was over, because it was
" boring "...Stupid question, because who of us found school exciting ?

One of the slightly older boys, stood, turned while at the same time taking one look at my outfit. He preceded to raise his eyebrows while having a smile on his face. A smile that meant; ' good grief, what was she thinking ? '

A pair of my old jeans, an old jersey and an over sized pair of Wellies had been designated as my outfit for painting. Secretly I thought that I had achieved a look that said " painter-chic ". Delusional, as it turns out !

Please, please let me not be one of those " Mutton dressed as Lamb types "...The scary things is that once you are, no one has the guts to tell you that you are a Mutton in disguise !!!

It definitely was one of those moments, where you can't wait to explain the ' where / when / how ' of something. In my case it was my outfit. But typically, before I could even say one word, the group of ' pups ' had moved on. From now on, I will most likely be described as the " mad painter "...


Monday, 22 April 2013

Walk and Talk, Burgenland Style.

Or rather meet and greet..

Yesterday morning, Sunday, we set off on our walk. Bob chose a new route and I followed brave as a lamb. Through the forest it was. Beautiful in itself, although I wouldn't walk there alone. Wild pig, foxes, hunters, etc. Of course Bob is scared of the same things and wouldn't that have been hilarious if we had encountered one of the above.

Isn't it funny, that if you choose your own route, even a long one, is no problem. Yet if someone else chooses the route, you find yourself mumbling questions such as :
" Are we there yet ? "..." Are you sure you know the way ? "

Emerging from the forest and heading along the road back home, we experienced that which makes living in a small place so precious. Everyone knows you or at least of you.

We have one shop open on Sunday morning and everyone piles in to get fresh bread rolls, the Sunday paper and a few odds and ends. On the way, when they passed us strutting along, we got a fair share of friendly waves which once or twice included the shrill sound of a hooter.

Walking on the path along the main road, we saw a tractor rumbling towards us. At first we thought of using the ditch to side step it. In the country, tractors rule ( just look at the size of their tyres ). But it slowed down to an idling standstill, the cubicle door swung open and a friendly face leaned out to have a chat with us.

It was a neighbour we had recently met, and he had just stopped to talk. Great. You know, when you stop to listen to the other person and then ask pertinent questions about them, a whole different level of conversation is reached. The good kind and the one we all sort of want.

Of course it's enticing to mainly talk about yourself and share your news, ( in fact I've done it and most likely will do it again ) but once you listen and keep the conversation about the other person, you can see them blossoming and emit a glow of happiness.

Simple living...what more do we need ?


Can't you just hear Bob say: " Trust me, I know the way !!!"

Sunday, 21 April 2013

" Earthing " Yourself...

Balancing on-line with off-line.

We should all get a life-manual, once we become connected. Connected to the Internet, that is ! The early days in the mid-nineties were still okay, but only because the loading speeds were that much slower. Gosh back then, most of us didn't even have cell-phones and ' smartphones ' were phones that... looked nice !

Back then we got our news from either the newspaper or the television. Can you imagine reading an online newspaper back then ? Just loading the headline would have taken forever judged in today's speed and understanding of time. Of course most newspapers then were still competing with the Internet.

Fast forward to now and you suddenly realize how easy and fast it is to be on the Internet. Information is had in seconds. How many of you have sat watching a program on TV while at the same time surfing online to get information about the actors in it, or even worse, looking up the story line ? Doing two things at the same time, is not easy.

This happens a lot in our house. Bob will go online to find out more about the actors etc. All fine and well, but then he asks me about what happened to the plot while he was busy surfing around ! Not nice...

We are well informed, because we can. But do we actually need to know all this information ?

Being connected in today's world is vital and is in some way connected to earning our living. I am the first one to put up my hand to say that the Internet helps me earn an income. In fact, not being connected is unthinkable and impossible in today's age !

But we need to learn to put more buffers onto our information download. A sort of grounding or earthing, to unload all the emotional sadness we tend to pick up each day while we are navigating the online landscape.

Going for a walk in nature ( without your smartphone ) is one way. The bonus is that is doesn't cost anything and it reminds us of little things, such as the beauty of wildflowers or how something as trivial as the smell of cut grass can evoke wonderful childhood memories.

How do you ground yourself ?


Amazon.com:The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
Amazon.de:The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less (P.S.)

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Do You Love To Read ?

Books, what an enrichment...

A few years back, I remember talking to a fellow reader about books. To this day I can hear her say: " If my husband and I are invited to a dinner party, we sneak around to see whether they have books on their shelves. We can't be friends with someone who doesn't love reading. " Perhaps a bit drastic, but at least she was honest.

A life without reading ? No, that would be unimaginable. How else would we know about different places, cultures, lifestyles and alternate universes ? Never mind the enourmous amount of pleasure you get from reading.

That wonderful ( and sometimes elusive ) page in a novel, where it transports you to another place and time. The page where the story gets hold of you, ' hook line and sinker '. From that place forward, good luck to anyone who wants to rouse your attention...

Can you remember those times, where you couldn't wait to get home from school or work, just so you could dive back into the story ? I vaguely remember trying to fake an upset stomach in order to stay home from school and read. Of course my all-knowing mother never fell for this !

Sadly, a lot of children these days ( seriously, I am not as old as I sound ) have never read a book for the sheer pleasure of it. With most of their lives being lived online, rather a lot of them don't see the point of actually reading a book !

There are so many instances in our lives, where reading can navigate us through a turbulent time. Who hasn't been helped over a breakup with a good book. Depending on the type of breakup, the book was either a good Murder Mystery or a Romance with possibilities !

When I buy a book it has to have at least 200 pages and the writing must be small...otherwise the story would be over before it started. How about you?


Friday, 19 April 2013

Storks Love Our Village.

Or do we love the Storks' village ?

Even before we moved here, we had been told about the storks in the village. In fact, there was a house for sale in the village, which I tended to call the ' Stork House '

This ' Stork House ' had ( and still has ) the typical charm of the old Burgenland farms and was priced so low, it seemed a steal, yet it wasn't to be. Just as well, as I can imagine that their daily little routines and habits, performed on a roof could be rather noisy.

Our cat Tigger, who is much smaller than a stork, has made our attic her own little fiefdom and at times it sounds as if she is practicing for her Disco-debut ! As we adore Tigger, we have forgiven her for her noisy habits. Just imagine though, if we had Tigger and a stork ?

As for that other stork factor, it must have some merit. Our village has quite a lot of babies, toddlers and kids. In such a small village, this is something to boast about ( and no, everyone does have a television... ).

Most days when you drive anywhere around our area, there is a stork preening, prancing, balancing, parenting or just pretending to be a look-out...A real treasure to behold.

Aren't they brave to build their nest on top of the chimney ?

The roof tends to change colour in certain places !
Here is a link to a local holiday let, in case you want to see for yourself...


Thursday, 18 April 2013

Living In A Small Village.

A blissful simple life.

Take an average day : When we go about our everyday business, more likely than not we run into someone we know and stop for a chat. Living in a small village affords us the time and luxury to have those precious interactions.

Aren't those impromptu chats the backbone of a good life. We all want to be part of something and feel like we belong. That sense of belonging into a societal structure, is most likely one of the reasons why the Social Media is growing so vast. They make us feel part of something. A global village.

I am extremely fortunate and get to have both. A real village and a global one.

Well, yesterday, Bob and I were walking to our parked car, when we heard a car approaching with a vigorous blast of its hooter. When I was still living in a big city, a blast of a hooter signaled either danger or impatience. Impatience that was at times mingled with questionable hand gestures !

Having lived here for almost two years now, I knew that a blast of a hooter could only mean one of two things...:

  • Wait, I want to talk to you...
  • Hi, how are you...

As I said, a wonderful, blissful and simple life.


Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Children's View Of The Food Pyramid.

Children tell it like it is !

In Tuesday's English Conversation group, we have a future artist. He may be only five now, but he paints like no other five year old. Each time he sits and ponders what he might draw and then proceeds to draw it with ingenuity, determination and talent.

He already has a loyal follower. His best friend ( she too is a wise five year old ) usually tries to copy his themes. It is heart warming to watch how at times he helps her or other times corrects some of her lines. Now and again he paints a picture for me to keep. Naturally, I make him sign it there and then !

Yesterday he chose to draw the food pyramid. You know, the different layers of what is healthy to eat, what should be eaten less often and on the apex the no-no's. Oh yes, it was a strange topic, but I think it was taught this week by the kindergarten teacher. If they had only told me at that age, I might have had less fillings !

While he was drawing it ( with his faithful shadow copying him ), I asked him about the various placement of food items. Straight off he told me with a wagging of his finger, that ice-cream and chips, which he had rightly squeezed onto the top layer, are a ' NO-NO '.

Yet the two of them proceeded to have a heated discussion over where to draw yoghurt in their respective food pyramids ! Eventually they settled on plain yoghurt being the thing to have...Great kids, aren't they ?

Looking at the food pyramid, I noticed that he had drawn a bottle on the middle layer. When I asked him about it, he told me: " This is a bottle of wine ". You must remember, that we live in the midst of a wine growing area, with almost everyone ( including his Dad ) producing wine.

One of the older girls ( seven years old yet wise beyond her years ), had been listening. She quickly leaned over to him and told him that he was wrong. It always amazes me how it seems that they pay no attention, yet they hear everything.

" Wine must be on the bottom layer ". When he asked " why ", he got a great answer from her :
" Grapes are a fruit and fruit must be eaten every day. Silly, wine is made from grapes ! " ...Children tell it like it is !


Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Thank Goodness For Spring.

It's finally here for real !

The last few weeks have been so unlike the norm. Cold, rainy and so little sunshine. Well, that has certainly changed and not a minute too soon. Bob, when he saw yesterdays sunshine immediately sported a pair of shorts and T-shirt. A bit overenthusiastic but why not !

I must say, driving around and seeing the tree branches responding to the sunshine and warmth, is eye catching. There are brightly coloured buds on the tips of the branches and some eager trees have come out in full...all abloom and incredibly pretty.

There is a B&B right next to us, and they have been fully booked. I only know this, because last month, Bob had a bee in his bonnet, and proceeded to cut the hedge right down. Privacy is not an issue anymore...our garden is your garden !

Look its not as if I suntan in tiny bikinis, but just pottering around our garden is now a communal affair. In a way, it is rather refreshing as we get a chance to chat more with people !

This weekend the B&B was booked out by a group of friends, all over sixty in age but with pep of note ! They came back from a Buschenschank ( an older blog post about us at a Buschenschank ) lunch and it was fun to watch. If it wasn't for Bob and his shears, we would have missed it.

Isn't it refreshing to know, that we ladies will never change. Give us a glass or two of wine, and we will bond together and still carry on like we did in our teenage years. Giggling, chirping and exchanging pertinent information about our husbands ! By the way, why do we always assume that nobody can hear us ?

The men had obviously been the dedicated drivers. With years of experience in their wives ways, the response ranged from sighs, a shake of a head, to an expectant twinkle in an eye !
" Nudge nudge. Wink wink, say no more "


Stunning isn't it ?

Monday, 15 April 2013

Cyclists, Can You Tell Them Apart ?

Lycra and Spandex everywhere...

It used to be that the roads were paved with gold, but recently the roads seemed to be covered with cyclists. One almost needs a gold nugget to get into that particular sport. Eh, you don't see old-fashioned chopper bicycles ahead of you...or those fabulous bicycles of the 1950's, the black ones with a basket in the front.

Look, sport is good, healthy and fun. The same goes for cycling. What can be a bit irksome though, is the problem of recognizing anyone on a bicycle. Good grief, they all look the same. Mostly its a backside covered in Lycra and calves filled with what looks like an apple !

Individuality has long flown the coop it seems. In the past the done thing was to cycle in whatever we wore at that moment. Often the left trouser leg was ' wash-pegged '. Ample and effective. But now it's fashionable to be encased in spandex...

At first the novice-cyclists would use the old cobweb covered bicycle in the garage. Then they get hooked, and in the process fit and before you can blink an eye, they have morphed into the modern cyclist.

All that training makes them lean almost to the point of being skinny. I know they say that those Spandex / Lycra outfits help wind resistance, but for the unsuspecting spectator ( usually in a car, overtaking on the road ) the view this shows can range from admiration via comical to embarrassment...nothing is left to the imagination there, I tell you !

Add a helmet, wrap-around sunglasses, determined ( yet slightly haggard ) expression and the disguise is complete. For me, it is almost impossible to put a name to the face of any cyclist.

Hopefully others are in the same boat as me, otherwise I need to get myself a new pair of glasses...


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Sunday, 14 April 2013

Photos, Nature & Burgenland.

Nature is stunning.

Since starting this blog, my camera and I are inseparable ! At times I feel like a paparazzi, but other times I am so glad of the camera, because those snapshots are great future reminders of people, nature and beauty.

This stunning pheasant was preening next to the road between the Eisenberg's and we pulled over to snap a picture or twenty !

Of course now we know why he preened & pranced: a female was near, never mind the cat in the background...

Is he trying to show off his athletic ability, or is he slouching away from her ?

This was taken on a different stretch of road. The deer was rather tame and trusting.

Wildflowers in our garden.

Man at Work...note I am keeping a safe distance !

These pictures are just a few moments on any given day, but moments that add the spice to turn a bland day into a vibrant one...


Saturday, 13 April 2013

How It Feels To Be Un-Followed On Twitter.

A newbie Twit's experience...

" Good grief, get a grip " I told myself, when I suddenly realized that I was short of a Twit..a Twitter follower, that is !

In the real world, being followed or even following someone is not good nor nice and can be even scary. Getting used to the mirror image of the Twitter world takes some adjustment.

The first few weeks after you sign up as a little blue fledgling of a birdie who learns to perch on the many different branches of the " Twitter landscape ", are exciting, fascinating, interesting, educational and of course a huge lot of fun.

Just like a child waking up on Christmas morning, there is this daily rush of excitement when you check if you have any more Twitter followers. Just to be honest, on most days I check numerous times as the day unfolds.

When there is a new follower ( is this how ladies felt centuries ago when their ' Dance cards ' were filled ? ) I let out a little ' woo-hoo '. My husband at times gives me one of those looks that could mean many things, but I rightly interpret it as; " is this really the woman I married ? ".

The other morning I noticed that someone had un-followed me. It must be some right of passage for us beginners, because I don't know if the ' wise old birds ' with a gazillion followers, would notice the disappearance of a few. But I certainly noticed !

Immediately I thought that I had done something wrong. Maybe I had written a bad comment or perhaps too many ? To be honest, it felt like a young romance suddenly ended. Who can forget those painful moments in primary / junior school, when your boyfriend sent his friend to tell you that he didn't like you anymore...

When I had more time to consider this un-following event, I realized that just like in the real world, the virtual world also has individuality. We don't like everyone we meet in life and the same goes for the virtual world. All is well.


Amazon.com:How To Tweet, The Basics: Dos and Don'ts for Newbies (Using Twitter)
Amazon.de:Social Media Marketing - Strategien für Twitter, Facebook & Co

Friday, 12 April 2013

Memories Of Our Grandparents.

And their nuggets of wisdom.

At a very young age, being around our Grandparents is just the best. They usually give in to any and all requests, give us sweets until we are past the point of no return from " hyperdom " and seem to handle our mini-tantrums with great aplomb !

Parents themselves, love the freedom of dropping off their bundles of joy at their own parents.
So far so good. But, when we get a bit older, suddenly as children we tend to think it is rather
" uncool " to be with our Grandparents.

Usually comments such as;" Do I really have to stay here ? " fall on deaf parental ears..Parents could pose as pin-ups for the ' selective awareness' group . How else could you explain the unmovable expressions when confronted with silly demands, questions or ear piercing screaming tantrums, which apparently are only audible to innocent stander-by's ?

Now, being in my forties, wonderful memories of my Grandfather flash into my mind at odd moments. He, having been of the old school, eschewed anything ' too modern ' in the kitchen, and thus made filter coffee the manual way. Any time I stayed at my Grandparents house, he would apprentice me in this task.

At the time I could not understand why he didn't just use the percolator ( that a well meaning Uncle of mine had given as a present ) standing in the corner. Well, now I am eternally grateful for this time together with my ' Opa '.

A while ago our percolator was out of action and I fell back on the manual percolating method. Oh yes, coffee can be brewed like that !!!

The most wonderful thing happened. As I was following in my ' Opa's ' footsteps making a pot of coffee, great memories of him flooded my mind. In fact I could even picture the clothes he wore when he made coffee and also the little tips he passed on to me.

Memories are a fantastic way to keep us connected to our heritage. When memories are created, we often don't know they are and at times don't see the point of them. But when they pop into your mind at odd moments, it tends to give you a feeling of warmth and connection.

How do you remember your Grandparents ?.


Amazon.de:Hario Kaffeefilter / Coffee Dripper V60 02 aus Keramik, weiß für 1 - 4 Tassen
Amazon.com:Plastic Filter Cone #2 Medium Coffee Maker Black or Red

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Typical Village Living.

Just another day of small village life.

To drum up more business for Bob ( he is a Computer Technician ) we often do the rounds of some neighbouring villages. We have discovered that the most effective way to advertise, is to drop off flyers. Bizarrely, in this age of Internet, putting a flyer in a postbox, has yielded the best results.

It might be because Bob only gets called in when the computer is broken and at that stage they are " off the grid ". Handing out flyers has so many benefits;a great workout, great reconnaissance of any village and a chance to meet new people.

Even though we are in a rural setting with ' old-fashioned ' advertising, our internet speeds are fantastic. No sign of being in the sticks in this regard ! It's easy to forget that Vienna is only a two hour drive away. Driving from one end of any mayor city to the other could take longer than for us to hop in the car and drive to Vienna.

So anyway, yesterday morning we did our flyer drop amid sunshine and warmth. Each of us gets assigned a part of the village and then we meet in the middle. We have done this even in rain, snow and extreme heat.

Ten houses in, a cyclist stopped to talk to me. It was one of the mothers from our English group. As happens when two women meet, we started to chat, chat and chat some more. We covered all the basis points from family to health to praising the small village lifestyle.

In fact we talked so long, that Bob had to do my route as well. To an ex-city gal, the amazing thing was that the whole time we were chatting on the side of the main road ( main village road ),only one other vehicle passed us...another bicycle !

Some of you reading this might wonder how we manage boredom ? Well, frankly, since I have been here, boredom has never been an issue. At times the days unfold in a carbon copy of the one before, but more often than not, interesting stuff happens.

Just before we set off yesterday our Neighbour had called us over to his yard and showed us his new chickens. The old ones ( unfortunately for them ) were part of nature's cycle and landed up as the fox's lunch.

The chickens now reside, yes that is the right word, in a covered enclosure. Fifteen chickens and as Bob said " one lucky rooster ". This Neighbour is so kind to his chickens, that he has built them an enclosure that I am sure many chickens the world over only dream about...aah, Village living !


Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Cash or Credit Card ?

Were our parents right all along ?

When you say it quickly; " Will you pay with Cash or Credit Card ", it almost sounds like the ever present " Chicken or Fish " uttered by most stewards on a plane...and sadly most of us aren't bothered either way because we don't think there is much of a difference !

Those of you who are over thirty, will most likely have grown up with your parent's mantra of
" only buy something, if you can pay for it in cash ". Oh right, who knew that this advice
( along with all the other ) was the one to follow ?

Yet, buying only what we can afford does make a difference. Imagine how we could ride out these waves of economic challenges ( not only in Europe ) differently if we had no debt ! That's right, nothing to pay off each month before buying food etc. Life would be a whole lot easier.

Personally, I feel that, with the Central Banks almost giving away zero interest money, it is just amazing, how much one has to pay back on credit card debt. The actual debt itself is a drop in the ocean compared to fees, interest, insurance etc...it doesn't seem very fair, does it ?

I read somewhere ( I won't post a link, because this is something important you need to chat about with your Bank or Financial Adviser ) that if you have a bond / mortgage on your house, paying the monthly re-payment sum rather in bi-weekly payments, you end up saving a few years worth of interest payments. It doesn't hurt to ask.

Have you ever tried going a day, week or dare I say a month without buying on credit ? No, it is not easy, yet strangely liberating when you give it a try and somehow manage it. By the way, a debit card would save you from hauling cash around.

In the past it almost felt like it was ' In ' to live a lifestyle funded by others. The new trend on the horizon might be a Lifestyle, one that we pay for with ' Real ' money.


Amazon.de:How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt: With No Pain and Big Gains
Amazon.com: Suze Orman's Action Plan: New Rules for New Times

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Stereotypes...Yours Too ?

Gosh, how did we get them ?

True or False...

  • Blondes have more fun.
  • Blondes are challenged on the intellectual front.
  • Redheads are fiery.
  • Bavarians only wear Lederhosen and Dirndl.
  • Americans love Fast-Food.
  • Austrians live in the mountains close to ' Heidi '.
  • Wearing Birkenstocks makes you a ' tree-hugger '.
  • Men are better at parallel parking.
  • Women are better drivers.

Have you got any to add ? Let me know, I would love to hear from you.


Monday, 8 April 2013

A Monday Morning With A Blue Sky, Yippee !

Parts of Europe will heave a sigh of relief.

For one thing, these last few weeks, the Weatherman has not been as good as he should be. Bob delights in reading the weather prediction for the week, and then being a ' slight ' bit derogatory towards the poor Weatherman when he happens to get it wrong !

Anyway, today the sky is bright and blue as far as you can see and it bodes well for the day and week. Normally the weather doesn't bother me too much, but when it is freezing, raining or snowing for weeks on end, it makes doing the laundry rather an adventure.

We don't have a tumble dryer by choice. Coming from Africa, that modern contraption was rather unnecessary..a few hours on the washing line and before you could say; " Bob's your uncle and Fanny's your aunt " it was dry.

During the summer here in Burgenland, hanging washing outside on the line works like a charm. Winter has proven to be a bit of a ' poser '.

We've got a little clothes dryer stand and it's taken up residence in the bathroom. Luckily we don't get too many visitors as undergarments ( his & hers ) are for some unexplained reason always prominently displayed ! Oh well, I am sure we are not the only one with this problem. Regardless it does the trick, albeit a bit slower.

So, today the sun is blessing us with a visit and there will be furious activities all over. Outside, washing lines will boast an array of linen, gardens will be dug in with great gusto and dogs will delight in having free reign of their gardens ! Almost like a hive of ants emerging...
Oh, isn't life fabulous !

How do you manage doing your laundry in a northern winter ?


Bob is hanging washing on our line. It is a picture from last summer though.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Shoes, More Than A Fashion Statement.

Who knows the exact number of shoes they own ?

Don't ask me why, when or how I got to watch a rerun of " Little House on the Prairie ". It will most likely be the only episode I will see, but it carried a message worthy of taking note !

It all hinged on a pair of shoes. Or rather the fact that the three girls were growing out of theirs and couldn't afford new ones. Shoes in those time were not just the fashion items we use them as, but they had a function.

Those shoes carried you to school ( this generation really did walk miles to get there ), helped you carry out your chores and kept your feet from freezing in winter. One pair ! A pair that wasn't padded, springy, cushioned etc...it was a plain sole with leather attached.

Oh, I know that Hollywood uses a lot of ' Schmalz and possibly Kitsch ' for the most part, but would we even watch stuff if they didn't ? To the director of yesteryear..I got the message.

Most of us have stopped to value things. Take shoes for example. How many of you ( and me ):

  • Have more than one, two or....pair(s) of shoes ?
  • Buy shoes to match a particular outfit ?
  • Don't quite know the number of shoes you own ?
  • Throw them into the back of your cupboard ?
  • Mend broken shoes rather than throw them out ?
  • Have the luxury of warm shoes for winter ?

In our modern economic times, it is almost expected of us to buy shoes ( and things ) all the time. Continued buying of goods and services brings us employment, after all.

But that shouldn't stop us from being aware of and dare I say grateful for what we have.
Here is a thought: You can only wear one pair of shoes at a time...


Saturday, 6 April 2013

The Joy Of A Cup Of Tea.

It's even nicer if you brew it from scratch.

Usually I just throw the odd choice of tea bag into a mug before scalding it with boiling water. Black tea, not the various fruit combinations that seem to be more popular in Europe.

When we first moved here to Burgenland, I discovered a quirky little Tea shop in Oberwart, our nearest big town. It is the kind of shop that you can't help but be enticed with its selection. There must be at least 50 different types of tea. The loose sort that brings to my mind Agatha Christie novels. Drinking tea always seemed so special in those books !

I vaguely remember my early days in South Africa and joining a rambling club for a long walk
( if you read yesterday's blog, you may start to wonder at my various activities ). All I recall is trekking somewhere for hours on an extremely hot day and when it was time for a break, the most peculiar sight came before my still fresh European eyes...

A few of the ' main ' ramblers opened their rucksack and took out all the things to make tea. From a gas burner to teabags, milk and sugar. Really, hot tea after an exhausting and sweaty walk ? They say it cools you down ! Personally I was not so sure...

South Africa having been a former British Colony, drinking tea is part and parcel of everyday life. By the way, if you haven't tried it, you don't know what you are missing. That one particular treat is a companion in so many of life's instances. Even good old fashioned gossip wouldn't be the same without a cup of tea at hand !

Drinking tea has grown on me and there is nothing nicer than sitting down to have the first hot sip. Life's cares seem to somehow melt away. The enjoyment of tea moves up another notch when it is brewed the old fashioned way. What would life be without these little rituals ?


Amazon.com:Davidson's Tea Bulk, English Breakfast, 16-Ounce Bag
Amazon.de:Twinings Earl Grey Tee lose Dose 500 g

Friday, 5 April 2013

Harmonious Twitter !

Who Knew That Birds Could Be So Entertaining ?

" Good Grief, birdwatching ! "... I used to think that anyone listening out for, or watching birds, must either be on pension or possibly a student of Nature. Memories of older family members pulling out a book on birds comes to mind...and having to feign an interest when there was no escape.

If you close your eyes right now, I am sure that you can picture a typical birdwatcher...Wellies, green or brown trousers, cap and most importantly a pair of binoculars dangling from their neck ! Am I right ?

Well, now I seem to have migrated to this genre of hobby. Granted, I am still a newbee with just my normal casual attire, yet I have to admit that the last few days have seen me sporting my Wellies. Only because it has been so muddy everywhere. Gosh, I hope that is the only reason.

We've had a run of unseasonably cold and dreary weather in the last two weeks. As the sun chose to hide away, most of our gorgeous country side tended to be bathed in an array of grey.

Yesterday morning as I was standing next to our car waiting for Bob, I heard the most wonderful thing...Birds communicating or should I say, twittering ? Standing there, becoming aware of my environment, I was privy to the most fantastic arrangement of music.

Trying to count them was impossible but their collective twittering was worthy of a concert. Instantly the ' grey ' around me was forgotten and I was reminded of how beautiful nature can be.
Yes, it seems that I am now a birdwatcher !

Again, I get reminded that it is the little things that make life more colourful and worthwhile
( at least for me ). The trick is to become aware of them, as they have been there forever.

" We are members of a vast cosmic orchestra in which each living instrument is essential to the complementary and harmonious playing of the whole. "...J.Allen Boone.


Amazon.com:Bushnell H2O Waterproof/Fogproof Roof Prism Binocular, 8 x 42-mm, Black
Amazon.uk:binoculars Visionay DX 10x25 CAMO - great for bird watching etc

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Finding Someone To Date Grows More Difficult.

Dating was so much easier a generation ago.

Who hasn't heard stories from their Mum's or Gran's, telling you how many suitors they had. Gosh they even had to choose who to marry. No scarcity of men there !

Doesn't it seem more difficult now to find that special someone. You know, the one you want to
" steal horses with ". Dating sites on the Internet are growing exponentially, almost supporting that fact. They have at times become the first port of call and not the shameful last resort that they once were.

Here are a few points that I think remove us from meeting potential ' Dates ':

  1. The Social Media channels have become the " Town Square " where everyone mingles, in Cyberspace.
  2. It's a global workplace nowadays...hardly anyone is fortunate enough to live where they grew up, close to family.
  3. Workouts have gone from outdoors into our living rooms.
  4. Collectively we have forgotten how to have an old-fashioned face to face social interaction or conversation.
  5. More and more of us now work from home.
  6. Books are downloaded or ordered online, instead of going to the bookstore or library.

Long ago, each one of these activities that we now do through a computer, was a place where we met new people and made friends.

As to that last point, in my single days, the Bookstore was my personal Panacea for everything. When I felt sad or even lonely, buying a novel gave me something to look forward to. You know, sitting on the couch starting a new adventure, with chocolates close at hand.

The Bookstore also was the place to meet people who had the same hobbies as you-reading. If only people knew how easy it is to start a conversation with fellow readers. Discussing various books and their merits would ( and could ) often lead to phone numbers being exchanged !

The Internet is a great invention and I certainly use it liberally, in fact very much so. Yet, the ease of living a life mostly through and with Internet, has made us loose the ability to meet and interact with people, in " the flesh " as they say.


Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Getting To The Bottom Of Your Laundry Hamper !

Surprisingly not so easy to achieve.

How on earth does it always fill up faster than you can empty it ? With just the two of us, it's a household challenge of note ! I can just about imagine the multiple treasures that could lurk at the bottom of a hamper serving a family of four.

The laundry hamper also known as the holiday home ( or in my case, hiding place ) of mismatched socks and long forgotten clothes.

Like any good wife, I took matters into my own hands in regard to a questionable pair of camo pants owned by my spouse. A pair that got its designer rips & holes the old fashioned way...through wear and tear.

You know, a pair so old and worn, that it sadly leaves not much to the imagination and should possibly only be worn in the house !

Oh, I know I poke fun at my husband. Naturally I have stashed a pair of extremely questionable
( style and everything else ) jeans in the depths of my cupboard that gets hauled out now and again...just to see if I can get any part or even my whole leg into them. Better and more realistic than a scale.

Most women possess a pair of ' yesteryear ' jeans also know by the code name " our thin jeans " ! Men, if you take a look into the back of your lady's cupboard, you'll find them...

Coming back to Bob's pants, I had in fact hidden them in the laundry hamper so long ago, that even I didn't remember hiding them...only for Bob to suddenly upturn the hamper and shout out :
" Oh my God, I have been looking for these all over."

When you are married you learn to think on your feet; " Well, who put all those other clothes on top of it ? Anyway, didn't you tell me to throw them out ? " . If you are single, those are the nuggets of fun awaiting you when you enter the hallowed portals of marriage !

Some of you might think there are hints of subterfuge about it. But, as you will find out for yourself, your man never seems to believe you when you say : " Schatzi, those pants look so special on you, that only my eyes should feast on them. ".

Amazon.com:Rubbermaid 4D06 Configurations 23-Inch Foldable Laundry Hamper, Natural
Amazon.de :Wenko 3440112100 Wäschesammler Duo - 2 Wäsche-Kammern, Polyester, Aluminium, 59 x 57 x 38 cm, beige


Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Virgin Atlantic's Successful April Fool's.

A glass bottomed plane, really ?

Even expecting most things to be an April Fool's joke, it was pretty difficult to distinguish the real from the pretend. Obviously some were glaringly stupid, some glaringly hurtful to others and only a elite few found the balance between.

One of the best one's for me was from Virgin Atlantic. When I first saw the headline from Richard Branson saying that Virgin Atlantic was considering getting a glass bottomed plane, I carried on reading. He is after all the man of odd-ball ideas. Ideas that he tries and at times succeeds in. That is until logic kicked in with a bang.

A glass bottomed plane ? Can you picture it ? Yet there could be a chance it might happen, as is the way of outlandish thoughts and ideas ! Here are a few implications if it does:

  • High heels won't be allowed.
  • The long winded check-in proceedure will now also include a " dress code " check...
  • Skirts are banished or if allowed, underwear inspections will be held.
  • Bloomers in... Thongs / G-String out...No further explaination needed.
  • Cleaning crews will go on strike...have you ever noticed how much dirt and rubbish travellers leave behind when they get off the plane which, by the way they wouldn't do at home ! You know how irksome it is to clean your windows, never mind a glass floor.
  • Unless you have nerves of steel, you won't be allowed to board - imagine seeing the plane's landing proceedure beneath your seat ?

On the whole, yesterday was great fun. The whole world ' lightened up ' and that can only be a good thing. We should denote each first of the month as a " Fool's " day !


Monday, 1 April 2013

April Fools, 1st Of April...Again ?

Have you been caught out, yet again ?

We all look forward to it, imagining all kinds of tricks we could surprise our loved ones with and yet how often do we get caught ourselves. Ah, what comes around goes around. It's not as if it was a big secret. All over the media there are hints and even props for sale, to aid and abet you !

Luckily the Easter weekend put a damper on all those April Fools tricks conceived by your colleagues. Is there some form of etiquette about fooling your fellow workers the day
before or after ? Going to work tomorrow might be a lot of fun for some and slightly worrying for others !

Newspapers that are worth their salt, will print the ' red herring ' usually on the front page. Of course nowadays the stories in Newspapers are at times so outrageously silly, that it gets harder and harder to spot the true April Fools story ! ( Reading the Huffington Post should be fun as they always do everything with pizzaz and style ).

My mum has been caught out for as long as I can remember.
A horrified scream of " Oh ..., a dog / cat / mouse poohed in the kitchen ", gets her out of bed every year and in record time too. Well done Albert.

Bob got me very nicely earlier. He went to pour himself coffee in the kitchen and let out a high-pitched scream..." Oh my God, there is a big rat in the kitchen " !
Seriously, I only fell for it because he screamed like a girl ! Aah Bob, don't forget that April Fools lasts for 12 hours. He, He, He.