Saturday, 31 May 2014

Are You Also Forgetful At Times?

That feeling like it is on the tip of your tongue.

  • Names; aren't they the hardest things to remember at times? How often are they on the tip of your tongue yet as you're still not too sure you mumble a name that might be the right one. Or you play it safe and stick with the " you ".
  • Glasses and wallets must have an innate sense of humour. Why else would they keep on hiding from us. There are not enough fingers on my hands to count the number of times I've mislaid them. At least I have never ever found my glasses on top of my head...not yet in any case!
  • Switching off appliances: First of all, why is it mainly the woman's responsibility? Bob never bothers about whether the coffee machine is switched off or the stove etc. Granted, I have at times left the stove on a bit too long ( after the food was cooked and eaten to be precise ) and thus have an urge to always double check. Going away for more than an hour, means I need to go and look at least twice to see if the stove and coffee machine are off.
  • Finding a t-shirt or pair of jeans that you know you have but gosh darn it, you can't find them. Do you also look through the cupboard, washing basket and the notorious washed-but-not-yet-ironed stack in search of it? Bob of course, the minute he is missing his favourite pants / undies / t-shirt, accuses me of having donated it because I don't like the item in question! Each time when I start to put old clothing into the donation pile, he starts to panic and looks through the bag just in case...
  • Grocery shopping shouldn't be that hard to do, yet there are usually a few things that I forget to buy. Vital things like the yeast to bake bread. Oh, I do make lists but lists need to be looked at...which I often forget to do!
  • Once or twice, we had to turn around while driving somewhere, in order for me to make sure I switched everything off or closed an opened window. The modern irons do come with an automatic off switch possibly because of people like me!
  • There are a few men out there, who also forget stuff...switching off the bathroom light / replacing the toilet paper / our anniversaries and when to bring us breakfast in bed.


Tefal FV4680 Dampfbügeleisen Ultragliss Türkisblau

Friday, 30 May 2014

A Mountain Bike Event In Our Village This Weekend Means Lots Of Lycra Clad Men.

Does nobody cycle in normal clothes anymore?

Granted, for the Tour de France every second counts and by all means, wear those tight & revealing lycra clothes but for anything else wear normal stuff. Not being a cyclist, I suppose I don't get the feeling that they must have, of freedom. The wind blowing against a tightly clad body must feel good. Oh well, why not, wear it...Yet, I only think it is fair to tell you men: It is not the most flattering outfit from a woman's perspective.

What an accomplishment though for our village to get this Mountain bike race. They come from far and wide to enter. Racing through a 61 km obstacle course among the vineyards must be fabulous. The local fire department is in charge of it and that means Schatzi is helping out as well.

He can't wait and already told me yesterday:

" Don't expect to see much of me this weekend. "
Upon my asking if I can go and stand with him along the roadside ( who wouldn't like to stand next to a beefy fireman? ) he let it be know that if I really wanted to, I could, but grudgingly. Oh, fair enough. I am rather partial to a weekend by myself. Cooking ( or not ) watching TV without flicking channels...Even though we are very happily married, the prospect of a semi-single weekend is not adverse to me.

Bob is helping with all the behind the scene stuff as well and I think I will just stand next to him when he is directing the riders. Bob loves being in the fire department and all the parties they have. It is also a way for him to only speak German. You know, when I am with him he has this habit of always letting me translate when things get difficult. That and perhaps the fact that I nag him about what he eats & drinks ( Remember, I only do the nagging wife act because of his diabetes. ) is a huge factor in him preferring to go by himself.

The weather fairy has been extremely kind towards the mountain bikers. Like a pig enjoys to roll in the mud, mountain bikers love to battle through a muddy terrain. We have had rain in the last two days and the mud should be enough to coat most of the riders with an array of muddy splatters. Designer dirt so to say. Nirvana for these guys.

Oh yes, exciting times ahead for us this weekend. Our area will be seen and traversed by a lot of newcomers and they will fall in love with it on the spot! If by any chance the scenery doesn't do the trick, there is always our secret weapon...

Our fabulous array of winemakers, vineyards and wines. Just to make sure that the mountain bikers and their entourage get to sample our wines, the local Vinothek has their open day. Free sampling of all the wines and a 10% discount when buying a case. Oh living in Burgenland is the best...


Thursday, 29 May 2014

How Good Is Your Mental Arithmetic Since You Left School?

A day trip to Hungary put me under pressure to do sums!

Our chariot has morphed into a teenager, one who let's you know when we don't give enough attention. Oh believe me, once we heard a knocking sound from the front of the car, we paid attention. Yesterday was our appointment to have it seen to at the nice dealership in Hungary. By the way, that is one of the wonderful points about living in Europe. You can shop in any country.

Phoning up to make the appointment was a bit torturous for me as I had to describe the problem. I tried to emulate the knocking sound and dare I say, I think I heard a giggle on the other end of the telephone. Granted now that I think of it, I did sound more like a chicken...Anyway, off we went.

It is a thirty minute drive but we still take books to read, because we always wait until our car's service is done. We imagined it to take about two hours. No problem as they have nice tables and chairs and a Nescafe vending coffee machine. But because they couldn't tell the problem without having a look, it turned out that they still needed to order parts from Budapest. Oh yes, our two hours would turn into almost eight.

At first we were preparing to wait it out at the garage. But then they offered us a courtesy / loaner car with minimal costs. Roughly 23 Euros with the proviso that we would do under 100 kilometers.

" Schatzi, let's take this car and just make the most of it. We are in a beautiful city so let's explore it a bit & possibly have a bite to eat.

Rather an adventure we thought. Bob made me read the odometer and memorize it. Of course it had to be an extremely odd number! The city of Szombathely is big and the streets are not laid out like Manhattan. Along with us not being able to speak Hungarian, we had a bit of a conundrum. If we were to get lost, would we manage to keep under the 100 km?

At odd intervals, I had to perform mental arithmetic. Under pressure indeed. It must be the computer that has made most of us lazy regarding adding and subtracting sums in our head. I used to be fast & accurate...yes, sadly used to be.

You know, it is almost embarrassing to mention it, but little subtractions need to be checked and rechecked. When I think of how we have one little kid in our English class, who absolutely loves doing arithmetic I hang my head in shame! When I now and again create a page of additions for him, I need to be on my toes when I tick his answer.

Look, at least I still use pen and paper to add sums. I couldn't imagine doing sums on the cell phone because apart from anything else, my fingers are much larger than the number buttons.

Bob and I did explore some parts of the city and its outlying villages yesterday. I have to say that everyone we met in Hungary was very friendly and helpful. Not to mention the beautiful countryside of Hungary. So, we had a nice little adventure and a good day...


Setting off in the morning. We were just crossing from Burgenland into Hungary.
The weather was a tad bit overcast.
In Szombathely center.
Bob suddenly shouted for me to quickly take a picture of this apartment building and as you can see, I had to be a contortionist to still capture it. But it has character.
These are my favourite kind of streets. Old and new mingling.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

This Proves It..I Love Clouds!

Clouds are just so darn stunning.

Do you think I should attend one of those meetings? If there actually is one for cloud - lovers like me. It drives Bob dilly when all of a sudden I pull out the camera and start to snap away. For me, one click is never enough and just in case I click many many times. Often I get an irritated

" My God, how many more pictures do you need to take. I can't take that clicking sound."
Personally I think he is more worried that I catch him unexpectedly...when he hasn't sucked in his stomach. Oops Schatzi, the secret is out but at least we don't Photoshop....

Yet, the other day when I took pictures of eh, clouds, he slowed the car down to a crawl and told me to take some extra shots. Oh yes, he'll go to those " Cloud addicts " classes with me.

On the way to this afternoon's class, this set me on course for another cloudy adventure.
Waiting for the kids to arrive I was privy to those beautiful clouds. The church is a perfect foil for them.
Please tell me that you can also see this heart shape? It may sound a bit corny, but I felt as if the heavens sent me a message of love.
On closer inspection, it looks like two lovers kissing.
Can you see the Superhero shape flitting in the clouds. Those slightly grey ones definitely look like a Superhero in mid-flight.
Very easy to guess this time, don't you think? ...a dog in mid-stride or possibly a race horse galloping.
A rather tame formation of clouds but still nice to behold.


Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Vicious And Angry Looking Clouds That Turn Docile Like Lambs.

Weather with more Bark than Bite?

Do you also experience strange weather in your part of the world? Please let me know.. Anyway, yesterday was another scorcher of a day. In fact the whole weekend had been similar and feeling tired and lazy was the order of the day. Perhaps the cold & crisp Grüner Veltliner helped this languid feeling along. Wow, summer has not even started and already we are sweltering and enjoying unlimited sunshine.

When we told our friends that we were immigrating to Burgenland, Austria, Europe, they mostly imagined us shivering all year through and living in the mountains, just like Heidi in the TV series! If only they knew that we have hot enough days to give South Africa a run for its money. Well, some days at least with the added bonus of low humidity. Sweating is very rare here.

After lunch, the clouds started forming at first into a nice cotton wool look and then they darkened. Bob was teaching kids and I was doing a spot of long overdue gardening. Planting a tomato plant, that I had received as a present. Somewhere during the weekend someone had mentioned that putting crushed egg shells beneath any new seedling / plant, makes them grow big and strong due to the calcium. ( I think I heard it at the ladies dinner and another reason to go for another! ) As luck would have it, we had an omlette for lunch and 4 eggshells available.

The beauty of separating your rubbish, or greening it, is that eggshells are easily found without digging through mountains of general yukki waste. When I had put the plant nicely to bed and given it a spot of water, the sky was vicious. Almost olive green. My cellphone had beeped with a text from the insurance company informing us about a possible hail storm. Oh, I flitted about and battened down the hatches. Computer off, TV off, windows closed and most importantly...Tigger fed.

But the weirdest thing was that even though the clouds looked, oh so damaging and full of rain we only had a few drops of rain and they blew themselves over. Unbelievably I still had to manually water our garden. Our weather is definitely not the same as it used to be.


Driving our nephew around on Saturday afternoon to show him the area. He wasn't disappointed. This is just a few kilometers from us. Divine, isn't it?
Clouds are the order of our hot days. You could almost feel the warm weather from these photos.
This photo goes to show how easy it is to enjoy the hot weather along with a glass of chilled wine while Grill Master Bob is sweating it out in West Ham United shirt and eh, hot - pants ( literally! ) Oh dear, men do have to work hard...
The skies darken. This was taken on Sunday but yesterday's were just the same...
Someone had rain, but not us!
Seriously, we had no rain even with these clouds...

Monday, 26 May 2014

What .A. Wedding...

Has the world gone mad?

Clearly somewhere this wedding - Kardashian & West - must be newsworthy and of importance. Gosh, even the news channels are reporting about it in their headlines. Really? Why?

It is not even her first wedding, nor her second. Oh yes, it is her third and possibly not her last. What has happened to our society's values if we celebrate and applaud such an outrageous spectacle? Surely they could have downsized a tad bit and donated half to starving and homeless people. And still the half left over would be overwhelming.

Kardashian has a memorable derriere and a reality show, but should this warrant such an elaborate affair? Maybe I am old fashioned but should she have married in anything resembling white on her third marriage? What did Liz Taylor wear on her multiple weddings?

Look we all were little girls once who dreamed of marrying Prince Charming and driving to church in a horse drawn carriage. But when we hit out teens, that fantasy was relegated to the fairy tale book it sprung from. How do parents reconcile their daughters to the fact that alas, they cannot have a wedding such as this Kardashian one...I see stormy fights ahead and dare I say parents taking on huge amounts of debt for their darling's wedding.

Maybe, just maybe, if we stop putting so much emphasis and money on the actual wedding day and rather put the emphasis and effort into daily married life, then quite possibly the divorce rate might drop a tad bit!

That artificial and unrealistic euphoria leading up to and of course including the wedding day will come crashing down with the reality of sharing a household. Cleaning floors, picking up clothes, cooking dinners and having to pay back a mountain of wedding debt.

Leading up to a fancy wedding, all grooms resemble Prince Charming & all brides are Fairy Princesses. Once you start your life together, you realize that:

  • someone doesn't like to do household chores and will fight tooth & nail to not do it.
  • your friends and family won't always buy you expensive presents.
  • Wives won't be perfectly coiffed and made up on a daily basis. In fact, they might never fit into their wedding dress again. Oh yes, all that glitz & glamour was for the relatives and photo albums. Food will be eaten again and waistlines will expand.

Coming back to this outrageous Kardashian affair: Flying so many people to so many different venues / countries is poking a nose at climate change. Carbon footprint is clearly a foreign word to them....


Sunday, 25 May 2014

Are You Also Wowed By History?

Do you also imagine who lived, walked and had fun somewhere back in time?

Living in Burgenland, which means the land of the fortresses, you get to stumble across a Burg / fortress more often than not. It is fantastic when family and friends come to visit as everyone loves visiting a Burg or a castle. Our visitors from South Africa or America enjoy it even more as they don't have any castles in their countries. At least not any that are over 300 years old.

Bob and I are becoming experts at showing off our various Burgs. Yesterday we went to Lockenhaus . A great example of a Gothic castle. It even formed a part in the Knights Templar history, complete with a Round Table. We were a bit short of time, so we just did a stroll around the garden ring at the bottom of the castle. ( I know it is a fortress, but castle sounds more divine, so please allow me to call it that ).

Apart from the rubbish bins and the odd sign of " Try this at your own risk " ( which of course Bob ignored and you'll see a pic of it later ) it could have looked as it did all those years ago when the real owners walked this path. Well, in those days the princesses or countesses perambulated slowly around the grounds.

Looking back at those times from our perspective, we wonder how they could have managed without fast food, Smart Phone, a television and gosh without a flushable loo, but we forget that when they lived there, they were modern for that era. The ladies might have strolled in order to catch a glimpse of a beau. They might have played ' Hide & Seek ' from their governesses or just admired nature.

At intervals around the castle, there are seating alcoves that were built or chiseled into the wall. It boggles the mind to think of a real life princess or countess having sat there and wondered about her life. Yes, these places simply ooze history, past and dare I say violence. Oh yes, they all have a torture chamber complete with Iron Maiden and heavy metal to hurt you. ( Eh, no, the irony is not lost on me...a Frank Sinatra fan ).

Honestly, I won't go into those torture chambers because the walls almost feel as if they are plastered with all the pain inflicted over the years of use. No, I would rather see the dining rooms, round tables and libraries.

Another bonus of living in Burgenland, is the abundance of history, beautiful scenery and of course oh-so-moreish coffee shops. Lockenhaus, the village, has great example of this....and we did it justice.


The wall around the castle.
The guillotine set in the recess...some sort of entertainment in those times?
Didn't I tell you that Bob ignored the signs? His acting class in High School payed off...
The garden path circling the castle complete with a knight without shining armour...

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Mad About Wildflowers, Wheat & Rural Pastures.

Right in the middle of the vineyards.

Each morning when I go for my walk, I pass this particular garden. Renate, who is the perfect example of a Green-Fingered-Natural, creates the most astounding and breathtaking garden. This one patch of " Wild Flowers " is my favourite and cheers me up each and every time, when they are in bloom.

Here is a collection of views. The whole stretch is about 5 meters or thereabouts.
A happy blend.
Each angle is better than the next. Don't you just love the colour?
Perfectly placed and perfectly suited.
Dreamy red-orange.
It's amazing how they all grow to the perfect length, so that they all come to the fore.
Brilliant, I love it...
A little daisy heaven...
The chapel, wheat fields & poppies...
The wheat field looks so enticing and soft. At times I want to throw myself on it and feel its cushioning effect. If there is one...


Friday, 23 May 2014

Teenager's, Smart Phones & Dale Carnegie.

Do you think that Smart Phones steal our social skills.

We had our end of year dinner last night. End of a season of weekly gym lessons. Ladies only might I say. Partly because there are some weird stretches but mainly for the chatty gossip between repetitions. Although, when the exercise is strenuous, the room falls silent. Our exercise teacher wouldn't be out of place training the military...enough said!

As one of the gals said last night, we are so fortunate to have a Top Restaurant...The Ratschen within walking distance and another one a few kilometers away. Last night was silver service and it was darn nice. Their menu is classy enough not to be out of place in any Metropolis yet I still had a Wiener Schnitzel...a favourite since childhood. Yummy.

Across from our table, was a young couple having dinner. She looked like she could have been a model ( thin, enhanced blonde hair & and 10 inch heels ) and he could have been a rock star on a break ( skinny jeans, tight t-shirt, Lord Byron hairstyle & All Star trainers ). At a guess, she must have been in her early 20's and he a maybe 30. Our dinner lasted for about 3 hours and I was watching the progress of their meal. I couldn't help it, as they were right in my line of vision.

Here was this beautiful young couple and guess what; they didn't talk to each other at all, bar a few words every 10 minutes or so. Had they had a tiff, I wondered but no, she looked too bored for that and she ate all her food. When we gals have a fight, we don't eat calmly, or do we? If Bob and I have a tiff, the cutlery punctuates my feelings with great gusto. Oh yes, Schatzi & I do row...

Intrigued with this gal, I noticed that as soon as he got up to go somewhere, she whipped out her Smart Phone and checked for messages. More likely than not, he did the same while he presumably went for a cigarette outside. My golly gosh, this gal looked so bored with life or rather disinterested in life and dare I say with him too. Not honeymooners yet she had the rings on the right finger!

The more I thought about this, I realized that maybe, just maybe she didn't know how to hold a conversation. How to have the rudiments of a conversation and how to hang out with another person sans Smart Phone! Gosh, I could be all wrong and they are just a miss match or siblings. Yet, regardless, one needs to know how to hold a conversation. No if, when or but about it.

Surely asking the other person about their day isn't that difficult? Or discussing the ills of the world? All schools should have a conversation class and everyone should attend before they get a school leavers certificate. Kind of like a Dale Carnegie course. Those are wonderful as they teach you how to Have a conversation among other life skills.

Tell me, do you think that in 20 years time people will even speak any more, apart from the:

" Can I borrow your charger. My phone's battery is low...


Thursday, 22 May 2014

It's Best To Have A Sturdy Pair Of Trainers When Living In The Countryside.

Walking, the sport everyone can do.

You know, when you get to the age of 40, it is best to stop running and rather start walking. Running does put a lot of strain on the old legs and your face. Running makes your cheeks flap up & down and surely that isn't too great for your skin? Serious women runners older than 30 do have a hollow cheek look...

Walking is nicer because you get to be able to chat, enjoy the scenery and get from A - B without looking like a drowned rat. We tend to forget that 50 or so years ago, most people didn't have a car. Some had bicycles but the main mode of transport was on foot. Kids walked to school and maybe, just maybe, some of those exaggerated stories our parents told us were true. You know the ones:

" When I was small I had to walk 10 km to school. In the snow and barefoot! "
Did they tell us this story to get us up in time to catch our school bus or to let us know how bone lazy we were? Oh dear, have started to tell tall stories like these as well?
" When I was young, we didn't have a smart phone young lady. We had to use an old fashioned telephone. One with a twist dial that took some power to turn. "
Honestly, I have done that already...

Walking home from visiting friends yesterday afternoon ( in the next village and about 4 km away ) was so nice. As I met other walkers or gardeners ( the sun was shining and all you could hear was the buzzing sound of many lawnmowers around the village ) I got a chance to speak with some of them. Shooting the breeze as they say. Everyone stops and chats.

This is the way our grandparents got news about their friends and neighbours. Instead of texting on a phone, they walked and talked. A conversation face to face which sadly is becoming a thing of the past. Maybe we should push the younger lot into a pair of trainers that do more than show their fashion style. Get them to start walking, talking and enjoying nature.

Oh, I know this sounds like Utopia. Getting teenagers off their behinds is far from easy. But imagine, if you could...


Wednesday, 21 May 2014

A Picture, 1000 Words & So Forth...

Finding beauty in unexpected places.

We might walk past it a thousand times without noticing until maybe the sunlight is right, or you happen to pause for a second or the colours are just too splendid not to take notice. Once we become aware of the simple beauty of nature, plants especially, you start to see them differently. In fact, it helps one to be more careful towards nature.

Can you also see the dew drops on the various petals? Isn't it stunning?
Same flower, different angle. Somehow everyone will notice it in a different light. That individuality makes life so interesting and exciting.
Stumbling upon our first strawberries of the season was an unexpected pleasure. Although the life of these few strawberries was cut short after discovery. Bob sneaked one and I the other...
Wow, isn't this lavender bush divine? Imagine how overwhelmingly eye catching it will be when the petals sport their purple dress! Just outside our front door, guarding the vegetable garden and us.
The full view: parsley, thyme, sage, rosemary & the lavender.
A real gooseberry! Soon Bob & I can make gooseberry jam...if we don't eat them first.


Tuesday, 20 May 2014

" Oh No, A Wild Pig Has Been In Your Vegetable Garden! "

An ordinary Monday to ease into the week.

We don't have the proverbial 8 to 5 work but have little different jobs and avenues of income. It is nerve - wracking at times ( no 8 to 5 pay cheque ) but also much more preferable to before. Each day has a wonderful feel to it. Yesterday, this ordinary Monday, started out with a bit of a laugh.

My Mum had come to fetch me in order to help her send some digital photos. She was a few minutes early and had occasion to look around the garden. Never a good idea with a perfectionist and a Mum. She tends to see all the nooks & crannies that I studiously choose to ignore.

" Biggi, my gosh, you have had a wild pig roaming in your garden. Look at how your vegetable garden has been trampled in. "
" Eh no Mum. That was not a wild pig. It was me trying to get stuff planted!
A Monday started off with laughter, gales of it, is the best. My Mum had the grace to be embarrassed for about a second before she also giggled at the thought of mistaking me for a wild pig!!!

While I went with my Mum, Bob started to mow our lawn. The last 10 days have been rainy ones. Constant drizzle and interspersed with downpours. The grass received a growth spurt of note and cheekily waved its overgrown greenery at Bob. With this gauntlet thrown before him, Bob had no choice but to whizz around the yard with the lawnmower.

He uses an ordinary push lawnmower. Both of our immediate neighbours have the Rolls Royce of lawnmowers. The one drove past Bob on it ( yes, it is the motorized lazy chair affair ) and gave a wave along with a laugh. Needless to say, they are both retired....Boys and their toys is apt at any age.

Schatzi chose to be attired in true South African style: shorts and t-shirt along with gumboots. Tres chique! I must say, that hearing the burr of the lawnmower is akin to hearing the whirl of a tumble dryer. Very very soothing to the soul. At one time I thought I would go and cheer him along his many twists and turns on the lawn. Just in time to see the one neighbour on his lawn-mobile.

To end of this gentle Monday, Bob tried his hand at being a plumber...he cleaned the drain of our basin. Knowing how smelly this would be, I told him to have all his tools ready before hand. There was to be no,

" Biggi, quickly fetch me this, that and the next thing "
as men are prone to do ( or maybe just Bob? )...I couldn't resist a picture though, when I heard all his responses to the smells escaping the open pipe. All in a day's work.


Schatzi in his stride...
Nice & neat.
Schatzi trying his hand at being a plumber. With success I might add.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Compliments Are Easily Given & Mean The World To People.

A seating arrangement causes much joy.

Saturday evening was our choir's Spring Concert and a great one too. The chairs were put out and as gets done the world over, the front rows were reserved for the elderly and dignitaries...often that coincides, doesn't it. There was a volunteer / usher who made sure that the right seats were taken!

Gosh, I'll let you in on a little secret: The younger lot wouldn't sit in the front rows in any case. Sitting in the front row is far from cool except if you are at a Pop-Concert. By younger lot, I include Bob and myself. In fact, if I had to tell Bob that we would sit in the front row, he would have had a fit. Albeit a fit in public, which would be a terse aside ( talking out the side of his mouth in a cross stage-whispered tone )

" I am not sitting in the front with the oldies! Don't make me sit there! "
...or something to that effect at least.

My volunteer position was at the entrance which was at the back of the hall. The audience was made up in layers. The teens & tweens were languishing in the back looking trendy, looking at their smartphone and pretending not to enjoy the concert. Then the rows of chairs were taken by the young, definitely on the other side of young, middle aged, young at heart & of course the infamous rows reserved for the elderly.

So even without an usher, the front rows would have been used by its intended audience. But, having this enthusiastic usher there brought a huge smile to one lady at least. In fact she told me about it afterwards with great pride, glee and laughter. Her husband and she were making their way to some chairs in the front area ( yes, they wouldn't have looked out of place in the front row ) and as they were getting to them, the usher uttered the infamous & pleasing sentence:

" No, no, you two can't sit in the front row. Those are reserved for the elderly. You can sit in the next row! "
Oh, those words made their day. It was a compliment of note to them. In fact the lady was on such a high because of it that she couldn't wait to tell me about it later. With great pleasure and I could see that she was tickled pink.

A compliment, even an unintentional one, makes all the difference. A compliment given takes a few seconds but it stays with the receiver for ever...Don't stop complimenting.


Sunday, 18 May 2014

The Bonus Of Having Any Function In A Wine Growing Area.

The common thread behind every function: Fabulous wines!

Last night was the Spring Concert that our local choir puts on every year. Gosh another year gone at the speed of sound it seems. As usual the concert was well attended and the community was generous. For the second year in a row, they asked me to be at the entrance and help people with their donations. Yes, the concert ticket is a " Freie Spende " or " Give as much as you want ". Just the fact that they asked me to be a volunteer, made me feel part of the community and chuffed to bits.

Fantastic performance of the choir, great community. Afterwards, the choir members had organized a wine & snack table to raise funds. Might I add, that the tables were groaning under the weight of pastries, cakes, Salzstangl, pies and on and on. Of course that was just the snack table. The wine " table " so to speak was another story all together.

Most of the top vintners in our area had given a few bottles / cases as a donation. Oh yes, wine of note was flowing all night. If I tell you the price of a glass, you'll pale in envy. Euro 1,50 per glass. But here comes the best part: the volunteers behind the table were over generous with their pouring.

We are all so used to " Achtl " or 1/8th of a bottle of wine. By the way, those in the know say that 1/8th of a bottle of wine ( an Achtl ) per day is good for you. Well...not too sure if it is 1/8th of a liter bottle or 1/8th of a 750 ml bottle! Last night the volunteers were extremely generous and it looked like 1/4th of a bottle. In fact, a few let us pour the wine ourselves. You can be rest assured that this wine lovers heart hummed in glee...for a few minutes only.

Bob and I didn't communicate well before the event. As I had finished my volunteer duty and was ready to sample this delectable wine smorgasbord, it turned out that I needed to be the designated driver. Drat, Bob had got there before me and had a head start of a glass or two.

I did get to sample a stunning crisp white wine and then my Mum and I shared two glasses of red. Well, she had a bit more than me as she just had to walk 500 meters to reach home. The red was full bodied, smooth, berry flavoured and oh so moreish. Alas not for me.

If you love wine, than any function ( choir, church bazaar, Christmas bazaar, School play, Kindergarten play, Birthdays...) is worth attending. No box wine here and thank Goodness for that....


Saturday, 17 May 2014

Blonde, Eh, Biggi Blonde!

Naturally blonde indeed.

Those of you who know me, also know that I worked in the Hairdressing industry for a long time. One of the givens of working in a Salon is that your hair will often be different. Different because a new colour had to be tried out on anything but a customer, or an apprentice needed to be let loose for the first time. Sacrificial lamb and so forth...

Bob, a.k.a. Schatzi only realized a few years into our relationship, that my hair was not naturally this blonde. Gosh, I used to come home with very blonde streaks and much shorter hair without him noticing. Men, that is a big NO - NO! It doesn't matter how good or bad it looks, you need to notice when we have our hair done. ( Isn't that right, Harry? )

Over the years I have lost count on the number of ladies who mentioned that their husbands didn't notice a fresh hairdo. Boyfriends somehow were a bit better at it. Maybe because they weren't sure about our affections? Sometimes I wondered if I shouldn't start a secret SMS service to the husbands. You know, such as:

" Your wife had her hair done today. Please take note and mention the lighter shade of blonde. "

Schatzi came to my work one day and noticed me sitting with a million foils in my hair. Oh, the game was up and he knew that my hair didn't grow in a two tone colouring. To be honest, I found his hair - innocence rather cute. This reminds me of my grandparents. My grandmother always had a rich & dark brown hair colour all her life. Of course in her later years it was helped along by her hairdresser. My grandfather didn't know and kept on boasting how his wife didn't have any grey hair. Even having had eight children....Bless him, he was so proud of this fact.

Fast forward to now, and I still have my colour enhanced ( of course now it should be called covered because of those pesky grey strands ). Instead of having it done in a Salon, I have it done in a kitchen. My Mum's kitchen to be precise and by my Mum. Before you start to worry you need to know that my parents are the best hairstylists under the sun and loads of customers back in South Africa would swap places with me asap.

Yesterday, I had my colour done and my Mum single handed did a full head of foils on me in under 30 min flat. The kitchen stove was burning as it was cold, Radio Burgenland was in the background and I was sitting next to the kitchen table. Cozy. Nice. Fantastic actually. The warmth of the oven sped up the colour processing and before I knew it, I had my hair rinsed in the bathroom sink and cut too. All without seeing a mirror, I might add. Any woman knows how scary it is to sit in a hairdressers chair without a mirror to see every move of the scissors or paintbrush!

Bob had to fetch me. The weather was too foul to walk home. You should have seen my Schatzi. He was so pleased with himself because he knew now that I had my hair done.

" Boo, your hair looks great. "

Oh, I just love our live here in Burgenland.


Friday, 16 May 2014

Tell Me, Was Nutella Also Part Of Your Childhood?

Nutella has just turned 50; where does the time go?

When I was little, it must have been the newest craze and my Mum made sure we had some too. Growing up I remember how nice it was to have this lovely dark chocolate & nut flavoured goo on our bread. Yummy. From what my Mum told me a while ago, she left out the bread and only had spoonfuls of it!

It's funny how certain foods can transport you right back to the days of Kindergarten, glaringly obvious tooth gaps and sandpits. Even writing about Nutella now, I can taste it. The decadence of putting a blanket of butter on the bread first ( only the best surface would do ). If it is spread too thin, you might as well not have any. There had to be those little crests of brown on the bread. A sign of plenty!

For some reason, Germany ( still ) consumes almost the most of this spread, although now that they are opening Nutella - Bars / Coffee shops in America, this might change soon. Let's assume that nobody knew how addictive and bad it was for you. Nutritionally speaking. Even the local bakery sold fresh bread rolls that could be adorned with a filling of it. Oh my, memories come flooding back of when I was about 7 and buying those delectable rolls for 50 Pfennig. The bakeries were inventive because they also did a bread roll with a marshmallow & chocolate concoction between it. No wonder I have fillings...

Nutella wasn't as well known in South Africa and rather expensive to boot, so when we finally moved here to Austria, we had quite a few jars of it. With butter of course. The bread to have it with was a bit of a problem as I couldn't find the right one. Eventually I did the same as my Mum used to do...only have it with a spoon and nothing else.

Bob thought he had gone to heaven and ate it with great gusto. At some stage ( before we knew about his diabetes & no surprise after all ) I got to hiding the jar, if I wanted any left for breakfast. Of course once I had a bit of Nutella, it was enough. As a child this sweetness was fabulous but as an adult it is a tad too sweet.

Bob told me that he remembers his best friend's Mum always buying a jar of it. He was in heaven when he could have a sleepover at his friends place because he knew he would be able to have a few slices of toasts with those delectable chocolate & hazelnut crests for breakfast...

Anyway, Happy Birthday Nutella...


Thursday, 15 May 2014

Handing Out Flyers To Promote Bob's Computer Repair Business.

You couldn't get a better way to explore the area.

The two of us plan it like a military exercise. Before we set off, Bob decides on the village and the time of departure. For my part, I make sure I have enough sunscreen on and dress for the weather. Yesterday it was blowing gales and it was not fun clutching a whole wad of flyers with the gusts trying to blow them out of my hand...

Yes, in today's world it seems rather odd to use flyers to promote our business. In the beginning we tried the social media, newspaper ads & the Internet route. But we have had the most response from flyers. Apart from a bit of walking, it is the cheapest way in any case. When we stopped to think about it, we realized that the people who need Bob to come and fix any computer problems are not the ones who hang out in social media sites or are too internet savvy. Thankfully there are many many folk like this otherwise Bob wouldn't have much work!

I think we all do it. When we get something of interest in the post we keep it. Be it an opening to a new restaurant, a new plumber or in our case a Computer Repair Man. We put this bit of paper in a drawer. The drawer next to the phone. Not so? Even though I have an expert right in my home, when the computer acts up ( as they usually do at the most inappropriate times ) I panic and break out in cold sweat until I remember Bob. No need to pull out a flyer!

Anyway, we walked around the village of Harmish yesterday morning. What a picturesque & idyllic place. Rather off the beaten track and small. Even smaller than our village. We encountered a few ladies doing gardening and gave a cheerful wave. Bob, was greeted by a trio of dogs barking their lungs out. Three neighbours, three barking dogs. Just in case the last one was daydreaming, the first one's volley of barks got him onboard as well.

Amazingly this little village boast a Restaurant of note. It has a renowned chef ( 2 Hauben ) and is written about all over ( Newspapers & magazines ). Unfortunatley it was closed when we were there, but just looking around it's deck was nice. Well worth going back for a visit soon...

Marching around villages and handing out flyers lets you have little glimpses of personalities. After doing a few thousand post box drops, you start imagining the professions of the owners. Yesterday in Kofidisch ( another village on Bob's plan ) we saw an old barn from a distance. The barn was the same size as ours but there the comparison stopped. Most of the roof was replaced by glass windows and we could see the wooden beams underneath. Wow, curious ( nosy ) I walked a bit to see the barn in full.

Oh my gosh, this barn must belong to an architect, because when I saw how it was being renovated, I was in love with the design. Sliding barn doors with metal frames blended the modern world with the old fashioned. That is how I want our barn to be one day. Maybe some day I'll pluck up the courage to ask for a tour of the inside of the barn.


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

A Friend Gave Me 4 Tomato " Babies ".

Tell me, do you ever listen to advice about when to plant?

These 4 tomato plants had been nursed inside her house from a mere seed to a healthy looking green shoot. Oh yes, you could definitely see the distinctive tomato features. She had at least 100 of these tomato shoots and I wouldn't be at all surprised if she had given them names. Or at least talked to them often. Prince Charles isn't the only one, you know. Eh, I've done it too.

The week I got them ( last week ) the sun was belting out its summer tunes with high abandon and no one would have thought that a cold spell was in the wings. Never mind the rain. Advice of keeping these babies under cover and wait with planting them seemed a bit dilly to me. I held out 3 days and then thought,

" If I don't do it now, I'll never do it! "

Fair enough, at least I did a spot of gardening on Saturday afternoon. While I was at it, I planted a few left over packets of seed from last season. Let's hope the seeds still function. Mind you, it might not matter much. On Saturday after I had planted them, I remembered to water them extremely well. Naturally, nature has a great sense of humour. Not even an hour later, the heavens opened up.

Not just a little bit mind you but for the whole night. Coupled with all of the rain we have had this week, it is a fair assumption that the seedlings have either drowned or been swept away. Awful. Imagine if they start to cross pollinate each other. I might get a bean & pumpkin vegetable. The tomatoes might make it, because I planted them in a pot outside the front door.

Why in a pot? Well, this friend told me that tomatoes outside the front door keep the flies at bay. In fact because we do have an abundance of these pesky flies, I wouldn't mind planting a whole row of potted tomatoes outside the front door. Almost like an avenue. Wouldn't that look interesting and newsworthy for our neighbours!

Weeds on the other hand, are a hardy bunch and survive almost anything. Bad weather, snow, ice and floods mean nothing to a weed. It takes it in its weedy stride and gives us an extra bit of work. Who hasn't pulled out weed after weed, time after time? And as I look out my kitchen window, I can see a prolific amount of weeds waiting for me...


Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The Rain In Sp..Oh Burgenland!

When it rains, it pours.

These few rainy days we are having right now, must be part of the 65 days per year with no sunshine. Our part of paradise does have on average about 300 days of sunshine per year. The streets might be paved with piles of pristine white snow, but the sun will still be shining. Yes, that still counts.

Rain to me is a good thing. When you have lived on the African continent, you learn to appreciate water or rather the lack of it. Water restrictions are not fun at all. Lack of water is horrid for farming too and costly as they somehow need to get water onto the crops. A rainy day saves the farmers oodles of irrigation money. So, rain is fabulous.

The skies opened up on Sunday night in spectacular fashion and yesterday morning as we were driving past Burg, we saw how much it had actually rained. Sadly, some parts were flooded again. Ironically just outside the swimming lake. Building on flood planes seems to be done all over and in time people will learn to respect nature a tad bit more.

Living in Austria or rather Burgenland with its long history, it is amazing to see how absolutely brilliant most people were back in the middle ages. Almost all the old villages were built on a hill. Water or foes were kept at bay. Clever. In fact, modern man could learn a thing or two from the town planing of the olden days.

When the rain pelted us on Sunday evening, I remembered that I needed to close windows at a friends place. About a 5 km round trip so I had to take the car. Bob heroically offered to drive me. Great. He had his favourite leisure pants ( those with holes and stretchy elastic ) on and didn't see the point of changing as he did not plan to get out the car at all. Fair enough, I was wearing our only working ( don't we all have those useless non-working ones in our cupboards? ) raincoat in any case.

One of Bob's favourite Buschenschanks is right next door to where we had to go and it was open. I couldn't resist teasing him:

" Bob, come let's go and have supper there. "
" Yes..oh no, I can't go like this! "...

Bob obviously didn't listen to the parental advice: Never wear your old holey leisure pants outside the house...!


Taken while driving. This is just one day of rain with more having fallen over night.
At the bottom of Burg.
The sky over our home did look rather ominous. Nature in its many guises.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Making A Cake And Having An Ahaa Moment.

The French know how to live a great life.

This obscene obsession with being thin is rather outrageous. Most of us women, deep down want to obtain a size " tiny " and will lap up everything the advertisers tell us. Who put this image into our subconscious? You know, the one where only The Thin will have a great life? Most of us know that being thin is not all there is to life, but gosh darn it we do try.

Anyway, on Saturday I went to a nearby Supermarket to get the ingredients for the cake I had planned to make for Mum. As I was meandering my way around the isles, I pictured the cake I was going to make. It came with cream. Loads of cream in my imagination. Standing in front of the dairy fridge, I had put a tub of cream into the trolley and considered getting another one. But that would mean a lot of fat, I thought. Never mind that, I reached for the low - fat bottle of cream next to it.

Being a seasoned TV watcher, I too had seen those ads with the skinny people and that low - fat cream. On the brink of clapping myself on the shoulder for being health conscious, I took a quick glance at the label and nearly had an heart attack. Cream should only have cream in it, but this low - fat version, had a long list of ingredients listed. Some with definite chemical slants. No, no, no...this bottle went straight back onto the shelf.

Our obsession with being slender has been fanned all along by this low - fat, fat - free industry. We can all recall how much fun a gal who eats the fat - free version of anything has. The ads are prolific enough.

What if we have been doing the wrong thing all along? Instead of being healthy, we have been giving our bodies ample supplies of chemicals and hidden flavourants.

Is being thin worth putting all these chemicals into our system? When did you last look at a label of anything fat - free? Be warned, it is quite a shocker! I pale at the thought of how many chemicals I have subjected my body to through all these years. It was too good to be true. Surely by now, we should all be thin and of course very well preserved!

If you want to be slender, do it the old fashioned way: eat less ( but eat the right foods ) and exercise more. Cook your own meals and learn to weed out the non - fat foods from your shopping trolley.

French women know how to live a good life. They eat real butter, drink wine and when they go out to a Restaurant, they eat whatever they ordered without the eternal:

"I'll have the salad, but hold the dressing. "

Oh, by the way, the best of all: eating real fat helps to keep your skin looking young... French Women Don't Get Fat französische Frauen nicht dick werden: Lebenslust macht schlank


Sunday, 11 May 2014

A Happy Mother's Day To All The Wonderful Mothers.

A breakfast in bed for every mother?

Every now and again, you see little quotes from Mums just wanting some peace and quiet for their special day. Those with the little ones, merely want to spend the day alone. You know, being able to read in the loo, have a shower and wash their hair, watch an entire TV program and read without interruption. Apparently, that is impossible with little children!

Any home wouldn't function without a Mum. They are those special people who are the glue that binds a family together. They are always there for us and make delicious food to boot. You know, when we are sick, there they are making our favourite soup. No one else can do that.

I remember a while ago, I was so sick with a cold, and Bob wanted to make me dinner. When he asked me what I wanted, I said I would like soup like my Mum makes it...whereupon he phoned her and got the recipe. ( Mama, yours tastes nicer, but don't tell Bob! ).

Mums know what to do, when to do it, and are always there for us. Isn't it a tad bit suspicious that they only get 1 day a year? Oh yes, if they had 2 days off, goodness knows what would we all do...?

A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us when troubles thicken around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavour by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness and cause piece to return to our hearts. Washington Irving ( 1783-1859 )

You know, I was going to post a few different quotes to relay how special a Mum is, but this one needs no further additions. Doesn't this just go to the heart of it all? Who do we run to when we are down, have problems and don't feel so good...oh yes, our Mums.

Happy Mother's Day to all, with lots of love from me.


Saturday, 10 May 2014

Easy Peasy And So Forth...

Oh and Bob turns into Super-Bob-The-Artist!

We drove to a neighbouring village for an English lesson yesterday. Great kids and all still in kindergarten. At the moment their repertoire is restricted to numbers (1-10 ), names of the major animals and of course the different colours - dark green and light green included. English, that is. But they are bright sparks indeed and understand a whole lot more then we might think.

We do take crayons and paper along to do a round of drawing. Always a good idea with the little ones. You do need an imagination of course, because what they say is " a picture of you ", sometimes looks nothing like it. In fact it is jolly hard to keep up your smile when the drawing resembles everything and anything but you.

Between Bob and I, he is the chosen one when it comes to drawing. It was so cute yesterday because the one kid especially wore a t-shirt with a picture of chimps in different guises. The minute he saw us, he beelined it to Bob and commanded him to draw the apes.

After a few minutes of drawing, he was a bit dejected:

" Biggi, please tell Bob that this looks nothing like
the monkey I wanted him to draw "
I tell you, Bob was in a bit of a pickle. Try as he might, his drawn monkeys didn't look like the requested ones. Throughout the hour, different requests were bandied about and one could see a lively imagination at work: A shark / fighterplane / shark eating a fish with a diver next to it / get the idea. Bob was stretched to his artistic limit....

We had three kids for the lesson, and I was doing a puzzle with the little girl at the next table. All of a sudden, I heard Bob utter:

" Easy Peasy "
( he was maybe drawing an orange? ) and wouldn't you know it, this turned into the preferred phrase of our afternoon. All three of them were throwing the " Easy Peasy " about like seasoned English speakers.

After we had explained what it meant to them, there was no stopping them. Everything was easy peasy, and at one stage when a piece of puzzle didn't fit, this bright little gal said to me:

" Nicht Easy Peasy "
If this was a Twitter report, I would end it with the hash tags #speechless and #proud!


Friday, 9 May 2014

Vines Crave Attention: Pruning Yet Again!

The many facets of the life of a vine.

Just like children, the grapevines need to be looked after all the time. Otherwise they become unruly. Vines & children alike. This week, Bob and I learned another facet of growing and making wine. More pruning. It is almost miraculous how quickly nature does its thing. A few weeks ago the grapevines were bare of greenery and now they tend to have branches overcrowded with greenery.

When you see those vines, they tend to look a little gnarled and misshapen. Yet, out of this trunk grow the new branches ( cordons ), that are the hosts for plant shoots. These plant shoots are the holy grail of wine making. They bear the grapes, nourish them and make sure they get enough sunlight and air. Pruning makes the quality of the grape better although it is rather heartbreaking when you have to discard a mini - bunch of grape - lets. Nevertheless, seeing these gnarled old vines host such an abundance of greenery and mini grapes is simply awesome.

I know that I make it seem an easy task, but alas it is far from it. As you stand in front of each vine, you need to decide how to prune it. Which shoots to pluck, which to keep for next years growth, and how much foliage to discard. A bit of ruthlessness is needed when the motto is Quality over Quantity. Admittedly, as I snapped off each mini - bunch I thought:

oh darn, here goes another bottle of wine...


My Mum showing us how to look after the grapevines. Isn't Burgenland fabulous? The sky is often a stunning and heartwarming blue and frames the green fields and vineyards to perfection.
Nature's perfection...
Oh yes, I did pruning. ( I was going to say that I pruned, but that could be misconstrued! )
Can you see the mini - grapes? Cute, aren't they...
Can you see how gnarled the stock or trunk looks? Out of these, the magic of wine starts to take shape. Before you know it, it is harvesting time and the results of this round of pruning can be tasted.