Monday, 30 September 2013

Will Your Ideal Day Change When You Strike It Rich?

A month or year in from winning the Lotto, how would this day look?

Oh, those daydreams we've all had. You know, where we have imagined how our lives would drastically change once our gravy train rolls in. But I think that would just be in the first few weeks and once the dust settles on the new lifestyle, maybe our priorities would too.

Yes, you would drive a fancy car, maybe live somewhere more upmarket and go on safari whenever the urge takes you. But the feeling of contentment in our life comes from other sources:

  • Savouring that first sip of freshly brewed coffee when you wake up.
  • Reading a great novel.
  • Spending the day with your loved ones.
  • Visiting friends and family.
  • Planting flowers or vegetables in your garden and seeing them grow.
  • Baking a cake or bread and having it turn out scrumptious.
  • Watching a good movie.
  • Spending the day on your couch reading a book you can't put down.
  • Spending a Sunday on your couch and watching a box-set of your favourite T.V. series. You know, from the first one to the last episode...
  • Knitting a jersey.

Even writing this, I can see that most of us already are rich beyond our wildest dreams. Maybe not yet in the material sense, but how many of us live our perfect & ideal life, without even realizing it...


Sunday, 29 September 2013

Put 1 Less Item On Trash Island(s) Today.

It is easier not to think about it, isn't it?

Deep down we all know that our habits have contributed to these islands. It is easy enough to blame the manufacturers, but we give them a big sign of approval, when we buy their wrapping.

As you start to ponder this epidemic of plastic, you realize that only a very committed person can do without using plastics. For example, go shopping at your supermarket and you'll soon notice that the produce does not lack for wrapping. In fact, some items are jolly difficult to unwrap!

Murphy's Law, the one time that plastics should be used, they sometimes are not. Such as when the staff in the fresh food departments handle your food. ( Often they wear the plastic gloves, yet use the same gloved hand to accept your money...)

There are a few small changes you could ( and maybe already do ) implement each day:

  • Support your local butcher and baker. They don't need to transport the produce wrapped in lots of plastic clothing. Buy Local
  • If you can, choose the item with the least wrapping.
  • Unless you bring bags for your groceries, just put the loose items into your car. It works just as well as having plastic bags, that you toss away once you get home. Bob and I use our laundry basket to carry the groceries from the car to the kitchen.
  • Even if your town does not support the recycling of rubbish/ trash, do your own recycling. Separate the plastics and drive them to the nearest recycling center. You will be surprised at how much plastic you use on a daily basis.

We all moan about the change in our climate on all levels. Yet, how many of us are being pro-active and live our lives in a better way? If all of us just do 1 thing day, it would make a huge dent in this awful problem. At least I think so...


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Saturday, 28 September 2013

Pressing The Grapes: Part 2 Of The Journey To Make Wine In Burgenland.

Could this have been the way wine was made centuries ago?

Even though it is hard physical work to press the grapes, it is a very grounding affair. Apart from the Rebler, the first stage of wine making could have been done this way centuries ago.

First of all, in Part 1, I did promise to reveal the " powerful & handsome " presser. Okay, when I took this picture, he did try and look as if he could do it with his little times he couldn't move the lever even with two powerful arms!! We had to get as much out as possible...down to the last drops of grape juice.
You can see the white grapes rendering their bounty.
Just to show you how the press works. We had to refill it and to do this, you need to undo all the wooden pieces. Those pieces help to press down on the grape mass. All natural wood.
Bob takes one side panel off, so that we could empty the press.
Don't you just want to eat a piece of this?. As most of the juices have been squeezed out, the grapes have formed into this disc like mass. Believe me I ate lots as we took it out. These left over grapes get used to make Schnapps / Grappa. Nothing gets wasted...
Here I am surrounded by grapes in all shapes and forms. The press re-filling station.
We took a bit of a break and basked in the scenery.
Isn't this just the best view? Vines as far as you can see. Even on cloudy days it is nice to sit on this veranda and overlook the vineyards.
It is available for holiday letting. Have a look and maybe you could spend a day/ few days/ week or more in and among the vineyards tasting the local wines and customs.

Maybe even taste the wine we made!


Friday, 27 September 2013

An Old-Fashioned Wine Press, Great Grapes & A Good Vigneron Make Stunning Wines. ( Part 1)

Wine comes from grapes and unbelievably, Milk comes from cows...

Nowadays, we all just go to the shops and buy whatever we fancy. There are whispers about, that some of the youth from today, imagine that milk gets made in the supermarket. In fact, some would argue against milk coming from a cow!

Well, the worlds favourite tipple comes from a grape and not only from the liquor store...

Being able to live at the source of wine and its production has opened our eyes to the effort involved and the love the vintners ( or vignerons ) have in creating their wine. Passion, hard work and zest for life make a pretty great wine.

Bob and I have been lucky to take part in all areas of wine-making, and I just thought you might enjoy seeing some parts of it.

The first step is always having clean equipment. Everything gets hosed down with a high pressure hose. These crates are used to transport the harvested grapes from the vineyard to the cellar.
This machine - the Rebler - or grape " de-stemmer ", saves a lot of time.
The red crates are filled with freshly picked bunches of grapes, get tossed into the Rebler and it de-stems the bunches and also crushes the grapes to extract the juice.
Stems on the right, grapes on the left!
These grapes will be put into the wine press so that all the juice can get extracted.
The press in action. Inside are the grapes and as you can see, there are wooden blocks on top of the grape mass, which get pressed down when the handle gets turned.

Come back tomorrow, for Part 2 and also to to find out the name of this powerful wine-presser!

Biggi Winemaking Equipment Kit w/ Better Bottle & Double Lever Corke / Obstpresse 40L

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Gold Can Be Found In The Strangest Of Places.

Life is an adventure and offers you nuggets of gold(en) wisdom daily.

Yesterday's blog was almost like a script written for the play for that day! Yes, life is fantastic. Bob and I were sitting at a car dealership awaiting our car to have the T.L.C. that it had been craving.

We were in for a long wait, at least 5 hours ( the clutch had problems ) and had equipped ourselves with books and sandwiches. Industrious, aren't we! ( Bob and I thought of it as more of an adventure ). About an hour into our wait, an elderly couple sat down next to us, to wait for their car.

It didn't take long, and we started to chat and that is what makes life so exciting and wonderful. This fabulous man, who I thought was in his 70's, turned out to be slightly older...88! That floored me, because he had great form and a twinkle in both eyes. Being friendly and humourous seemed part of his DNA.

I love to hear about other people's lives and tend to ask slightly leading questions. Most people, I find, are just so fascinating to learn about. ( If you look hard enough, everyone has a treasure buried inside ).

Well, this lovely gentleman gave me pure gold. This is a man who in his very youth had spent two years as a prisoner of war in Russia. One can only imagine what he must have gone through on a daily basis. Yet, this man was just a joy to sit next to.

We talked about this that and everything. Without any fanfare, he dropped his golden nugget of wisdom for me. He told me that those two years were only ' do-able ' because he had good friends with him and humour. In fact, he said: " if it wasn't for my humour, I don't think that I would have survived that time. "

The world seems too serious at times, and I have decided to use and acquire more humour to deal with it. Will you join me?


Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Change Your Perspective & Love Your Life!

Step back and have a look.

Have you also experienced a difference in temperature, even though the temperature is the same? Eight degrees in South Africa somehow felt a whole lot colder than eight degrees in Austria...

One might think that eight = eight, but it doesn't feel the same. Whereas here we might throw on a jacket when it is eight degrees outside, in South-Africa we would be huddled in several layers of jackets, scarves and gloves. When it got that cold, I somehow always wanted to find a reason to stay at home under the blankets.

So what makes this distinction? Oh yes, in Europe, everyone is geared for the cold and houses are more insulated and heated. Yet, outside is outside and really, what has changed? When you have endured and survived a winter of -20 degrees Celsius, your " barometer " seems to get reset.

Why shouldn't we do that for the other part of our life. Yes, if you look at your circumstances from the one perspective, there might be a whole lot that you imagine you are missing out on. But, if you step back and change your viewpoint, suddenly what looked like not enough from over more than enough over here!

Gratitude for what we have already is important for our happiness, yet that is an emotion that most of us tend to overlook. When you think about it, bigger is not always better!

Let's all step back and look again at our's rather a nice one, isn't it?


No words necessary!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Older Cars & Their Love-Affair With Mechanics...

Cars should be discouraged from this type of loyalty.

Our cars are carefree and unbound when they are young. Add a few years into the mix and suddenly they seem to love doing that expensive two-step with your mechanic. As soon as they are a decade old, they seem to want to go steady with him.

Last week our car ( I do appreciate it as it has been there for us ) had the first taste of the mechanic's loving touch. Bob and I shouldn't have expressed our joy when it came home, because this week it ' booked ' itself in for more T.L.C. Does it even know that we have to pay for this?

Anyway, it gave me an occasion to cycle to Höll and back. Oh yes, yesterday morning I swung onto our hand-me-down metal steed and was momentarily transported back to my childhood. Bob was out and so I thought, a bicycle is a bicycle. How difficult could it be?

Well, Bob had left it in a fast pedalling gear ( almost a comical look where my knees seemed to go at double speed ) and eh, I couldn't work out the different settings. I flipped the different levers into various positions and as the panic started to grip, I found one reasonable gear. Believe me, I stuck with it up & down the hills.

It is fortunate that we do live in the country because I could find my cycling legs with only the odd tractor passing me. Once I felt comfortable enough, I could take in the kaleidoscope of autumn colours still mingling with the departing summer one's. Oh, it was too divine for words.

Yet there was one fact that I find astounding. These bicycles have such a low handle bar, that one has to more or less watch the tar strips of the road, instead of seeing the scenery. Unless one wants a stiff neck!

Well, if I were to get a bike, it would be one of those old-fashioned Holland bicycles, with the pretty basket and the ability to cycle in a more comfortable position. Oh, and I would make sure the seat is bigger and more padded...these smaller ones are far from comfortable.


Monday, 23 September 2013

The " 3-D " Affect On An Ordinary Burgenland Nature Walk.

A camera is always part of the gear...

Sundays seem to be gentle for the animals as well. The leisurely pace must have permeated the air as Bob and I saw the most amazing trio on our walk. The 3-D's or rather: Mother Deer, Baby Deer #1 and Baby Deer #2.

Bob spotted them first and alerted me to take a picture. This bit was on a slope and naturally Bob was way ahead of me. Somehow I wondered whether they would pose and keep on posing for me, when they heard the camera click. Yet, they posed like the superstars of nature that they are. If I had had my glasses on, I would have seen that they didn't even blink an eye. In fact, they all turned their sweet heads in my direction.

This one must be the nosy parker! It took me a few minutes to take some shots and yet they stayed. At one time, Bob told me to hurry up, as he had heard the baying of Father Deer on the other side of the road....He didn't need to tell me twice, as somehow I could just about imagine an antlered Buck chasing me. Being a happily married woman, my time of " a young buck " chasing me are over!

The rest of the walk seemed rather tame in comparison, but was beautiful nonetheless. Yesterday was the first day of Autumn and the day behaved accordingly. You know, a crisp chill in the air yet a clear, blue and sunny sky.

Not to be outdone by the animals, this divinely purple-pink flower just asked to be photographed. By the way, there are hundreds of them in most of the meadows. Nature: Simple, Beautiful & Soul-Refreshing.


Sunday, 22 September 2013

True Happiness, What More Do We Need?

Quite often we need to see someone else act on / in it, to see it!

There was a wonderful story on the news circuit yesterday about a young manager of a Dairy Queen store ( Read the story in the Huffington Post ). Of course I read and watched the interview, and to be honest I had tears in my eyes.

When you see it on paper, it doesn't seem that special because what he did, should have been done in any case. But alas, more often than not, most of us don't. A sad reflection on our society at large. Maybe that explains the extreme importance paid to this particular story.

A young man who acted on his principles and showed courage and conviction beyond what we would have expected. An example to all of us. What struck me when they interviewed him, is that he sort of glowed with an inner happiness.

Living by the code of " treat others like you want to be treated " can do that. We all have had situations where we could ( and maybe have ) gone against what is right. Yes, at times it is jolly difficult to do the right thing.

But how satisfying when you do. When you don't worry about how others might see or judge you, that is a major step towards inner peace and happiness.

Just as in the world of business where the winner is often the one swimming upstream or going against the crowd, in the world of True Happiness, listening to your inner compass, doing what you know is the right while going against the crowd, leads to what I imagine is a state of True Happiness...

...There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy. By being happy we sow anonymous benefits upon the world...ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

The Novels of R.L. Stevenson (Complete Collection, 13 Novels) - Treasure Island, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Black Arrow, Kidnapped, ... of Ballantrae, The Wrong Box and others


Another beautiful sunrise. Nature, isn't she great...
Have a Happy Day!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

The World Over, There Is Always The One...

You know, the One who thinks breaking the rules is amusing.

At long last,on Thursday afternoon, the lane behind our house had its final work done to it. I would have preferred it to stay as it was, because it now looks rather new, odd and shiny. The smell of tar doesn't help its cause either.

For a few weeks, we have all been shaken up. Literally. Those steam rollers flattening the under layer of stones seemed like something out of a Sci-Fi movie. They look ginormous and cause the earth around it to shake like mad. Bone chilling and stomach curdling.

The cacophony of street makers congregated outside our house on Thursday in a grand finale. Surely they must have been relieved this job was over. The lane is rather tricky to access and I admit that I was floored, awed and speechless in admiration when I saw these mega trucks ( fully loaded ) reverse up the lane, with just a casual glance in the rear view mirror. Gosh, luckily only Bob is witness to my ( 5 ) attempts to reverse out of our driveway..

When we came home it was impossible to get into our driveway. There must have been street-making-hardware to the tune of millions parked right there. If only we knew how to drive these buggers! Somehow I doubt that I would even know how to drive them ' forward ' never mind in reverse!

The chief street maker or engineer, when I asked him if the torture was over, told me " Yes, but it shouldn't be driven on for a few days. " Fair enough, but he obviously didn't understand Local Curiosity. Yet they put a rope around it that sharply reminded me of a C.S.I. crime scene episode.

Don't ask me why, but both Bob and I woke up at 4am on Friday. As Bob was visiting his pit-stop, he heard a car careering up the supposedly off-limits newly tarred lane. Idiots. Whoever it was, was really gunning it, because I heard the car as well. When we had a look outside a bit later, we saw the imprint of a set of tyres and also that the ropes had been broken and were on the floor.

As I said, there is always the One, who thinks he is special / funny / or clever. Of course to the rest of us, he will always be the idiot...


Dear Readers, I just want to say Thank You for Liking / Sharing / Re-Tweeting / Google +'ing or Commenting. I really appreciate it more than you think. Sharing is Caring.

The rope has seen better days...
Our back-loo window. Can you see how close we are to the lane?

Friday, 20 September 2013

A Gap Year Back To Abundant Simplicity.

Let your kids catch a glimpse of a simple, yet abundant lifestyle that they can easily achieve.

Most of us carry this heavy rucksack around with us. It is our own fault, because we fill it with a selection of heavy duty items that make our life one of constant stress & worry.

Here are what I consider rucksack fillers:

  • Buying a house that costs too much. A house that makes our friends and neighbourhood think we have ' arrived ', but also a house where we can't afford to stock the fridge, so to say.
  • Upgrading your car every few years in the mistaken belief that it saves you money on repairs, or that your car is an indication of your self worth! Have you ever wondered why you are still paying off a car even though you are almost retired?
  • Living a lifestyle that you cannot afford if you were to pay for it in cash. Credit card lifestyles can be achieved by everyone, but the true beauty of abundant simplicity is living your life without borrowed dosh.
  • Trying to impress the " Jones's " with just about, clothes, cars, holidays and the list is endless.
  • Having too much stuff. If, right now you were to take a mental trip inside your house and what you have, can you honestly say that you have used & worn it all? Or that you remember everything in it? Oh yes, I have also bought something, only to discover the same thing in the back of a cupboard...

Seeing these things at the start of your adult life, can be daunting and stressful. Don't kids often choose careers for their ability to provide this above and slightly unreal lifestyle, as opposed to a career that makes them happy to get up and go to work each and every day.

Everyone should get a glimpse of a simpler life and experience the concept of " Less is More ". Simplicity is often mistakenly equated with being poor. The true beauty of simplicity means having a life that you are in control of, and not the bank. Abundant Simplicity.

Here is a fabulous website to scour on this subject...Mr Money Mustache.

Dear Readers, I just want to say Thank You for Liking / Sharing / Re-Tweeting / Google +'ing. I really appreciate it more than you think. Sharing is Caring.


Thursday, 19 September 2013

Married Couples Make The Perfect Comic Duo.

Of course only the seasoned ones, not those fresh off the honeymoon trails!

Once a couple has passed the let's say, 5 year mark, they should get an automatic entry ticket for the comedy circuit as a supporting act. Add a few years to the mix and they should make the main act!

There is such perfect symmetry used by most couples. Even when they are having a mini tiff, the choreography is perfect not to mention the timing. As an audience it is fascinating and dare I say funny to watch, because you instantly recognize yourself in one of the roles.

When you look under the hood, so to speak, you find out that each spouse uses their cues correctly. The starting sequence of irritating each other, gets played with finesse and an acute sense of knowing where the side of humour and anger lies...perfect timing.

Be honest, you also know most of your spouses ' buttons '...the ones that set them off on either a tangent or an instant ' Vesuvial ' eruption. And here is the important bit: you at times use it with glee, stealth and precision!

It can only be the " angelic " lot out there, who don't push those tiny buttons when the other irritates you a tad bit, or when you just want to have a bit of fun.

It can be a small thing such as:

  • Hiding a dirty plate from your spouse, when he does the dishes. Why does this qualify? Well, Bob has to have all his dirty dishes lined up at the sink before he starts and he knows each and everyone. No, not by name...I hope!
    With military precision he knows when one has gone missing!
  • Making your spouse aware when a car is at least 500 meters away / indicator is needed / a robot might turn red or when to slow down!
  • Using a metal cup and scraping the last bit out with noisy abandon, while the other is trying to watch TV.
  • Taking an extra minute or ten, when the other is already sitting in the car waiting to go. Each honk of the hooter adds an extra minute of dawdling...

Just in case you might think that I don't appreciate marriage ( I love it by the way ), let me say that the good matches have what it takes to be comedic. So, if you make each other laugh or dare I say someone else, count your blessings, as you have a good marriage...


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Good Teachers Should Be Paid Much More Money!

Who teaches us to get along with others?

When you have two kids fighting in that special way they do ( you know, when the lungs are at top performance or where they use any and all limbs ) it is often easier to give in or just to put them in different rooms or classes. But does that teach them anything?

Can you remember who showed you the way out of a situation where you didn't like someone? Don't we all start already in the sandpit to stamp our little feet and demand everyone to dance to our tune?

But, as is often the case, other's have their own tune to dance along to and quite frankly they are not interested in waltzing with you. Respecting the difference should be the outcome, but more often than not it is a case of " I don't like her / him because they don't do as I say! ".

At what age should we know that just because a person has different looks / beliefs / wealth / humour is not a reason to dislike them. This sounds like a ' no-brainer ', but surprisingly it still happens. One has to just watch the News.

We all learn Maths, Languages, History etc for years on end. But the most important subject of how to get along, despite our differences is taught to us by good ( sadly not all ) teachers.

Teaching is a profession that is underrated. Teachers should be revered and given much more respect and dare I say, Salary. Just take a minute to consider the importance of teachers. They spend a lot of time with our children in their formative years.

Parents often have to work very hard to support their family. When they come home in the evenings, they are busy tending to the household and hopefully recharging their batteries for the next day. Even doing homework with your children takes a lot of effort.

So that is why I think that teachers are so vital to society. They cement the foundation of our future. Remember, a kid is a kid now, but soon they might be our Lawyers / Politicians / Doctors / Police....

Three cheers for teachers.


Tuesday, 17 September 2013

My Husband, The Budding Comedian...

As a non-drinker at any party, I might as well wave a red flag in front of a bull!

About 5 years ago I stopped drinking alcohol to be a bit more healthy and ready to start a family. No, I didn't have a problem with it, but I just wanted to stop for a while.

Maybe it is because some are envious of my ability to not have alcohol or maybe just to be contraire, I get offered much more alcohol than anyone else at parties. Believe me, I will drink again in the near future and then the days of this designated driver are over. Oh dear, I can hear the sighs of disappointment already!

A few years ago while still living in South Africa, Bob and I attended a wake of one of his relations. That side of the family had never been introduced to me and I wanted to make a good impression. The hostess ( Bob's cousin ) was being kind, and offered me something to drink.

" Thank you, I'll just have a glass of water. " got me the usual response,
" No, you can't just have water. Have a beer or a glass of wine. Here, I'll pour you one. "
As she was the widow, I just kept on saying that water would be fine, and stubbornly, she kept on trying to make me have a glass of alcohol.

All this was taking place in the kitchen, where everyone was hanging out. It was like a tennis match, with ' water ' and ' wine ' being lobbed back and forth. When the audience was full of family and friends I didn't know yet, Bob ( my husband and until then, my hero ) came marching in.

He spotted my dilemma ( remember he had seen this happening plenty of times ), and sangfroid and with a deep loud voice dropped this now legendary comment:
" Oh, don't give her any alcohol, she is a recovering alcoholic. "

Cool as a cucumber he carried on walking through...well, you could have heard a pin drop. All the murderous looks I sent towards his retreating back slid off him like butter from a hot piece of toast. Ironically I could feel everybody's eyes trained on me!

The silence was only broken by embarrassed comments of " Oh dear " and a glass of water being hastily given to me. All my explanations of why I didn't drink alcohol were listened to out of politeness, but whether they sunk in is still up to the jury.

Let's just say, that when we went to a function with that branch of the family, whispers were heard and without asking for it, glasses of non-alcoholic drinks were offered tout de suite...


Monday, 16 September 2013

Wow, My 500th Blog Piece. Dear Readers, Thanks A Million!

Photos do more justice to our stunning part of Burgenland, than words can.

The photos weren't planned, but when Bob and I took a different walking route yesterday, I couldn't help but record our impressions with a few clicks.

You know, Hungary is only about a kilometer away from us and it is rather thrilling to walk near the old border. Bob ( without whom I couldn't imagine living here ) is striding ahead but managed a quick pose. To his right, at the treeline, Hungary starts.
When you see these divine and romantic country lanes, you can't help but walk, run or cycle. Even in late summer it is soothing, calming and lets your imagination run wild. What these lanes have witnessed through the centuries...
Wherever you walk, there is a bench to enjoy the spectacular scenery. When you come to visit, picture yourself with a glass of wine in your hand while watching a sunset ( or a cup of coffee while watching the sunrise ).
Goodness, I married a strong man!
This view reminded me of the movie " Sissi " and I sometimes wonder whether they shot the movie in this part of Burgenland / Hungary? A horse wouldn't be amiss in this setting, and ...
...would you believe it, we saw a white horse & rider up ahead. Trying to get a good shot, I almost speed walked. We were fortunate, in that they were just ambling along and we could get a few good shots. Isn't this a great combination?
Close to our house, there is a romantic old property for sale. Each and every time I drive or walk past it, I can imagine how fabulously this summer cottage would look when it is done up.
Doesn't this just scream: " Grand Designs " ...followed by " Buy Me " .

Dear readers, I just want to thank you so much for always taking the time to read my missives. Even I know, that like anything else in life, they are at times good, bad or average. Of course, Bob has been with me from day one, reading and correcting as he sees fit, each and every blog piece before I press publish. Thank you Schatzi!


Sunday, 15 September 2013

It's Refreshing To (Sometimes) Go Back To Basics.

The simpler it is the more grounding for us.

Yesterday evening Bob disappeared into the room that we affectionately call Loo With A View. Luckily I had stopped the DVD to wait for his return, because I could just about hear his excited shout of; " Quickly look out the window at the beautiful sunset ".

Being sharp on the uptake & self preservation, I rushed to a window in a different room. The view that met me, made me run back to fetch my camera.

Nature is so powerful and eloquent in its simplicity. The varying shades of red and orange, kind of find the key through the armour we all wear. You know that armour which stops us from appreciating the simpler things.
This morning, nature was on my side and showed me the counterpart to the sunset. Soul food indeed!
When I turned around, I discovered the eye-popping red of some of the peach tree's leaves. Amazing early Autumn.
A few steps further and I almost felt as if the sky was beckoning me to take a picture. Unbelievably, it resembles a Stairway to Heaven.
Once you look for the basics in nature or life, you see it everywhere. The shades of blue covered with dew, as we go into our front door gives me a feeling of joy every time. ( My aunt gave us this plant. Thank you, Angelika. )
A lonely strawberry among a sea of green is also nice and refreshing to see.

Being aware of and focusing on the basics in life, make it all so much easier and more worthwhile.


Saturday, 14 September 2013

Remember The Good Old Days Of The Humble Cell Phone?

The good old days where you had spare time!

Let's be honest. When most of us got our first cell phone, we did 3 things:

  1. We used it for making and receiving ( emergency ) calls.
  2. Texting friends at the oddest hours and the elite few did it in predictive mode. Gosh, until I learned to text in predictive, I was so jealous of those who could!
  3. We showed off like crazy to all and sundry that we had a cell phone. Of course back then it didn't fit into the tiny jeans pockets. It wasn't called a brick for nothing. It was so bulky and heavy that it would have pulled our pants down...

Hard to think that this was only about the mid 90's. Even then, when the odd few were predicting a form of smartphone, it was thought to be a pie in the sky. A mini computer as your phone, we mostly didn't see the need. Yet, somehow the smart people at those smartphone companies made sure that we felt the need for it!

When I first heard talk of watching TV through a smartphone, I thought; ' That is crazy, what on earth can you see on such a small screen? '. What do I know? It seems that just about everyone is doing it now.

A friend of mine stated an interesting deed on Facebook. She ( bravely ) deleted most of her Apps from her smartphone. She realized how these Apps were making her loose out on precious real-life moments.

When you go anywhere, even here in our little village, the smartphone is omnipresent. At times it's in its docking station ( pants / shirt pocket ) but more often than not, it is being used. Be honest, when you see a car drive past with a family in it, are all heads up? No, there are always one or two looking down at the smartphone.

It doesn't matter where they are, even in the midst of anything beautiful and worthwhile, they heed the call of " nature " and look at their inbox. Oh yes, time you can't get back.

Before the advent of Apps, however did we navigate our way through life successfully? In fact, the lure of Apps makes us forget how to manage our own life and precious moments of our time are used to look at the smartphone instead of smelling the roses...


Friday, 13 September 2013

Our Week Without A Car Is Rather Nice.

The usual becomes the unusual.

Having a car goes hand in hand with driving it. This sounds rather logical and simple, but when you consider it you will see how apt it is. Don't you also just go for a drive or do a particular thing, just because you have a car in the driveway?

Advertisers always discuss the Needs & Wants of their target audience. Well, Bob and I are quickly finding out the difference. When you have to walk to a shop and carry everything you buy by hand you instantly separate the Need from the Want. Without even having minor discussions about what to buy!

Yesterday we had to sort out ( ie. clean ) a holiday cottage. Normally we would hop into the car and zoot off. But, this time we put on our walking shoes, a raincoat and a backpack. It took us half an hour to get there but we had fun and most important, we had time to just chat.

Driving on the other hand often has us eh, " chatting " about whose music we'll listen to / which road to ( not ) take / that the other drivers can't hear your comments so no point in voicing them!
Walking with your spouse clearly seems a better option at times.

The more we simplify our lifestyle, the bigger the increments of pressure that lift off our shoulders. I am not naive and do know that we all need transport apart from our feet, but making one day a week / month a car-free one might not be such a bad idea. How would you feel about trying it?


Bob in stride.
While walking, we saw our village from a different angle.
This walk is brilliant for walkers, runners or cyclists.
The village church.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Essence Of Our Village Life Are Its Villagers.

Our visitors from South Africa caught a glimpse of it.

We were waiting for visitors on Sunday. As it was their first time in Burgenland and I knew they didn't speak German, I started to wonder whether they had gotten lost. It was already 7pm and there was no sign of them. Yet, knowing they had the address of their holiday cottage, I went to leave the key and a note.

I am almost too scared to say it, but we were again at a local Buschenschank ( it seems that this is where we hang out continuously ) with my parents and some friends when my Mum's phone rang. After a second, she handed it to me. It was Bruni, telling me that she had our guests with her, and that they were a little lost.

Bruni has a " Heuriger " - Restaurant - as you come into the village and her " Kümmelbraten Brot " is legendary

" Biggi, they just showed me a piece of paper with your first name on it, and I thought it must be you." How right she was. " Bruni, thanks so much. Please tell them to wait, I will be there in 5 minutes." That is the beauty of a small village. Everything is reachable in the proverbial 5 min.

When I got to her Restaurant, I could see my visitors. Their car was parked on the side of the road, and a man got out the car when he saw me stop. I was extremely relieved that they had found the place. As can only happen in a movie script, it turned out that I knew his wife from when we lived in South Africa. It is a small world indeed.

They are the most happy and friendly people and they also couldn't wait to tell me what they had seen while waiting for me.
" Birgit, can you believe it, we were sitting in the car when we saw an elderly man leave the Restaurant, walk down the steps and hop onto a lawn mower. A lawn mower that he used as his transport! " In between laughing fits, they described the scene to a tee.

He is a local ' legend ' who always motors about on his mobile lawn mower. That's an image they will never forget and I am pretty sure that this will be told to a few of their friends... But of course the thing that impressed them the most was how Bruni was so friendly and went out of her way to help them.

Well, they got a crash course of why our village is so special and I think they are converts already. As Arnie would say: " I'll Be Back..."


Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Can We Make Cars Optional ( Opt-In ) For Our Lifestyle?

Walking distance takes on a new meaning.

Our treasured chariot, a Peugoet that has almost reached teenage-hood, has been summoned to have a few things done to it. Summoned by the C.O.R. people that is. Everyone knows that teenagers can be a bit temperamental, and our car is right on trend.

We are a car-less couple at the moment. It sounds rather terrifying but it is nice and liberating. We are fortunate that we won't starve as there is a village shop within walking distance. In fact, walking to the grocery shop is the best thing as you can only buy as much as you can carry. Natural savings plan.

Yesterday we trotted off to our English lessons and it helped clear our heads in the process. Look, it is very close and frankly I don't know why we even take our car in the first place. I suppose old habits die hard.

There is a new trend afoot, because more and more people are moving back into the inner city. Or rather close to their work so that if they want to they can use a bicycle, walk or use public transport. Cars are then optional. The dream of a house in the suburbs with that white picket fence is changing to one of a nice flat with all its convenience. End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream Is Moving

Once you start walking instead of driving, or you use some form of public transport, it feels good. A few less exhaust fumes in the air...


We came across this carriage a while ago. Now that is a cool way to go for a drive.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Over 40 and A Long Party Weekend...?

How old were you when you noticed you couldn't party all night?

Bob and I just had a great weekend with friends and that meant nice long evenings where we sat and chatted till the cows came home. Either at a Buschenschank, a local function or at our kitchen table.

Each night was fabulous and fun but the tiredness crept in early for me.( Bear in mind that I don't even drink alcohol ). Day two saw me sporting my sunglasses more than was appropriate. Did I have red, tired and puffy eyes in my twenties? Hopefully not.

Do you think that some of the following points might be more " age appropriate " or do you still have unlimited stamina in your 40's...

  • Taking power naps throughout the day and making sure each power nap lasts over two hours.
  • Taking loads of vitamins. We all know that any diets or healthy eating goes out the window when we are in a pack of friends. It's almost as if we are on a mission to eat as much ' forbidden ' stuff ( in our 40's that list gets longer by the day ) as we can find!
  • Spending the day at a local Spa ( unfortunately for this last weekend, we only remembered too late that our area is surrounded by world class Spa's. ).
  • Making sure that each day's excursion starts very early. That way everyone would want to go to bed earlier. In theory at least!

Of course there is another option. One that makes it seem as if you have oodles of energy and that the age is not an issue for you. The minute you know about an upcoming weekend of excess, you start getting your body fit for it....either by a health kick or by practicing late nights ahead of time!


Monday, 9 September 2013

A Teetotaller Really Is The Fly On The Wall!

For a teetotaller, parties do have a different slant.

Often it only takes a second to see those interesting happenings. A casual caress that shouldn't be, someone walking as if he was fighting his way across a ship in a storm or a suddenly brave guy attempting to chat up someone.

Sometimes the only form of entertainment for the designated driver is to look around and watch the people and that is when the fun starts!

If you take the time, you can almost second guess the lines of social dialogue being exchanged. The best seats in the house, are the ones close to the bar area. That's the natural habitat for all singles.

Watching the mating dance, which frankly never changes ( and I admit that I have danced it in the past ), makes an evening of not drinking rather enjoyable. I don't know if the men are braver than normal because they are in a group, or if it can be put down to the added alcohol. Regardless, as soon as a pretty gal walks in front of them, a chain reaction occurs:

  1. There is always the one guy stating the obvious: " Wow, check out the hottie at 6 / 9 / or 12 o'clock ".
  2. The heads pop up.
  3. The backs straighten up.
  4. The stomachs get sucked in.
  5. The hair styles get adjusted.
  6. And lastly, large sips get taken.

Women also have their tricks, but they do seem a bit more subtle.

  1. A pause in their stride to check a non-existent text message.
  2. Having an unlit cigarette in your hand and searching for a lighter ( for as long as it takes to be noticed ). By the way, this is almost a gift to men as it makes the chat-up much easier.
  3. A slight stumble near enough for an gallant arm to give steady support.

At most parties there are several sub-plots on the go at any and all times. Being one of the non-drinkers, is like an entry ticket to view them all...


Sunday, 8 September 2013

It's Huge Fun When Friends Come & Visit Us.

There is always something else to discover.

Bob and I anticipated this week with great excitement and Bob was even counting down the days. Having friends come to stay is just so special and we treasure it. Secretly we are also chuffed that they like it enough to visit more than once.

In fact, now that I think of it, a few of our friends have only needed the first visit to realize that they wanted to come again. Oh yes, our piece of Burgenland has strong magnets attached to it. Now we only need to work on a few family members to visit us more often.

The day before they arrived, the sky was just a treat to behold. Rays of sunshine peeped out behind the cloud.
I even made a plum cake for their arrival. Can you see how abundant our trees are? The cake had just finished baking as they arrived and the aroma of freshly baked cake filled the house. A winner.
Our first evening at a Buschenschank in Winten. Our friends, Angela & Justin enjoying the local wine.
We took them to Köszeg-Hungary for ice cream. In this town you can almost feel the history of yesteryear jumping off the page.
We stumbled upon a film set and couldn't resist taking a photo.
Great costumes.
We ended off the evening at the Weinkost / Wine Tasting. Everyone had a great time and enjoyed tasting all the different wines on offer. The yearly " Weinkost " is worth an entry into your social calendar...