Thursday, 31 July 2014

Rain, Rain & So Much More Rain!

Our firemen saved the day.

Within the space of about two hours, the heavens opened up and dumped a load of rain on us. It just kept coming down. At the start of the downpour I was driving home and it was the most frightening thing. It felt as if I had my own personal bucket of rain being throw over the car as I was inching along.

When I got home, Bob and I unplugged all the electrical stuff and stood at the window watching. A few minutes in we heard the faint klaxon call of the firehouse's siren. Our windows are triple glazed to keep the cold out and it seems the sound also! Bob waited about 5 minutes and then hot-footed it across the yard into our car. Running or even walking wasn't easy.

Bob was gone for over two hours and I rightly figured that they had to pump out cellars etc. Our fire brigade is super, they pull together and help wherever it is needed. Even the modern cell phone isn't as useful as the fire siren. Like the pied piper, it calls all the members to come out. Bob was in shorts and t-shirt when he got to the station. His commander told him to suit up and Bob said:

" I don't have any other clothes! "
" Bob, just go inside and have a look! "
which Bob did and he told me that he was so so chuffed to see his name over a cubby hole in the station. Every fireman has his call out uniform ( the one for fire etc ) hanging there with the boots underneath, just like in the movies. Bob has moved up and got his own now. Well done, Bob.

Even some of the firemen from the neighbouring villages came along to help us out. The community spirit in our area is unbelievable. It is so amazing, especially when you realize that everyone is a volunteer. Kindness and caring still do exist and our area stands at the front of the row.

The roads and lanes were flooded last night, and a lot of cellars too. In the scheme of things it is a small thing to happen, unless it happens to be your cellar...


This is taken from our bedroom window. The power of nature is very frightening.
A few minutes later. The new river keeps growing.
Taken from our bathroom window. The lane became a mini river for a while.
Just yesterday I posted a few photos from there showing a wonderful new day beginning...

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Mornings Are Fresh New Starts To New Days.

Mornings open up new possibilities.

Funny how light plays a role in seeing a morning come alive. A different angle of it, makes you see a flower afresh. Or fall in love with your garden anew...Greeting an early morning ( or rather a sunrise ) is a way of settling nerves, grounding ourselves and taking note of what is important in our lives. Oh, and did I mention that coffee tastes so much better when you sip it while watching a morning shake off the remnants of darkness?

The view out of our back bathroom. I love seeing the mist rising from the ground, and the sun sharpening the wonderful colours. Greens get greener, or at least are about to.
A few minutes later at the front of our house. A mere few meters makes a big difference. The sky was in that in between stage; pink turning into vivid blue. This bird made a surprise appearance. Usually the roof is littered with the neighbourhood birds sitting in a row. Not quietly, but chirping and tweeting their news and opinions to each other. Lovely to listen to. The blackbirds are of course the most musical of the lot.
Even when a scorcher of a day is announced, the grass has dew on it. It looks like a lot of little diamonds clinging to the various blades of grass. Just beautiful.
How do you like our recycled bathtub? When we first chiseled it out of the bathroom, we plonked it outside in the yard. After a while it migrated to its current place and Bob had the clever idea of planting things in it. The first year it was strawberries, the second year it was cucumbers and now we have pumpkin and tomatoes and the odd unwanted stinging nettle in it. I know, pumpkins are clearly going to turn out mini-pumpkins in such a small environment but when I see the yellow flowers and how they bloom, I don't want to break up the party...

And our money tree outside the front door is growing...


Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Buying Wine: Price, Taste Or Label?

Buying wine used to be easier...

Those of us who like to talk about wine also like to drink it. Not just the precious sips at a fancy meal or a toast at a birthday or wedding but we wine lovers like to imbibe daily. For no reason other than that it is nice to have a glass.

Recently I read somewhere that the French consider wine a food group and not an alcoholic beverage and once you look at wine in this way it is even more enjoyable. Less guilt but that shouldn't last long, as the health recommendations change more often than the various season during a year. Meat good, meat bad. Fat good, fat bad. Wine good, wine bad...was it always like this?

The other day I got a bottle of wine as a present. I was invited for coffee by a lovely lady up the road. When it was time to go, she gave a bottle of wine to me. Her son makes wine and she likes to drink wine ( just a bit, not a lot ). She still apologized to me because the bottle was without a label. She knows what it is so saving a label makes sense. ( A label does cost about 50 cents per bottle ) Oh, I was chuffed to bits.

About two days later I got the chance to open it and it was smooth, velvety, deep red and simply nice. As one does after a glass of wine, I thought of a witty Tweet. As there are always pictures of open wine bottles in my social stream, I thought I would join the fun...but my bottle was different as it had no label. No, a bottle without label produces no interest. Yes, labels seem to matter. How often are there aged bottles of wine on display. When you look at it you already start to wonder how good it really tastes and if it has joined its ugly cousin...vinegar?

Maybe there is a reason why ridiculously expensive wine only gets traded but hardly ever opened and drunk. Wouldn't you be disappointed if the wine that costs you a few thousand dollar, euro or yen, turns out to be of more use to make a salad dressing! By the way, how does one know that a bottle of 50 year old wine tastes good enough to warrant a small fortune?

Our area boasts a few big wine producers and many many smaller ones. They make enough for their own consumption and possibly a few bottles extra to sell. They are hobby vintners. Their wines are fabulous, have the right nose, note and composition to make a seasoned wine connoisseur sigh with pleasure. As each vintage is usually consumed and consumed with great joy, there isn't any left over for prosperity or future offspring to sample.

Our house used to belong to a local vintner. When we moved in, the cellar still had a few of his bottles complete with an appropriate amount of cobwebs and dust on them. The bottles were a bigger size than normal and last seen at least a decade ago. Yes, those bottles were old. When we opened them we didn't even have to taste it, as the whiff of acidity hit our nostrils straight on...

My label-less bottle of wine was in fact from a local winemaker who sells his wines all over the world. Oh, it was a fancy bottle of wine yet it seems label do make a wine more wanted and talked about. Sad but true.


Monday, 28 July 2014

The Hungarian Formula One 2014: Thrilling Edge Of Your Seat Stuff.

A feast for us spectators indeed.

Listening to and interpreting the pre-race interviews one might have mostly expected a tepid and uneventful race. A race with no major heart racing moments or a change in position. Even the safety-car driver ( a rather dishy man indeed ) was interviewed. Gosh, even he didn't see himself looping the track often, if at all.

Well...what a cracker of a race it turned out. It had all the elements to keep us glued to our seats in front of the TV. Loo breaks were non-existent, lest a moment was missed. In the first third of the race, the dishy safety car driver had to go to work 3 times! ( The various crashes were severe but luckily no one was injured ). You might well wonder why I would focus on the safety driver when the likes of Ricciardo, Vettel & Rosberg are around. Look they are young but the dishy safety driver is closer to my age...

We have had fantastic hot sunny weather for the week and suddenly just before the race the heavens opened up and dropped rain en masse. The game changer indeed. Somehow this Hungarian F1 had all the action and excitement rolled into one. From near misses a la Vettel
( gosh what a magic driver ) to internal spats between Hamiliton and Rosberg. He does complain a lot about all and sundry. At one stage the German commentator had enough and mumbled something to the effect of;

' I can't listen to any more of his complaints and moans. '

Bob and I are fortunate because the Hungaran F1 and the Austrian F1 are within a 2-3 hour driving distance from us. But honestly, even once we have the funds to get a ticket, I would still prefer to watch it on TV. Those tickets offer a spot of grass to stand on and we would only see that one angle of the race...every 3 minutes.

This year Vettel is not winning races. A lot of folk complain about it but I think it makes it much more exciting to watch Formula One again. Vettel, I'm sure, is ready to pounce to pole again. Like a panther he could spring at any moment. Having to fight your way to the front again, means driving with a dash more elan. Elan is what makes a race for us viewers. As much as I agree with the commentator regarding Hamiliton, I still have to say that he is a fabulous driver. He started second last and finished third. Plenty of elan there!

Lately they have made the race extremely safe, almost too safe to watch. Rules and regulations galore. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to see anyone injured, but be honest, a race without clashes is a tad bit boring, isn't it?


Sunday, 27 July 2014

Life Lesson #888: Follow The Sheep.

Animals are in the know...

Sheep are notoriously weather hardened animals. They are most often seen strutting it out in mountainous terrain, on manicured lawns or wherever they happen to be grazing. Water or rather rain makes no difference to them. Or does it?

A happy herd of sheep is often seen touring the various backyards or lawns that need trimming. There is an organic sheep farmer in one of the neighbouring villages and he and his wife do take their big herd of sheep all over the district. They follow the long grass and frankly it would make Bob's life much easier if they would visit our backyard for a week or two. It feels so nice and rural when you spot the sheep all over.

As seems usual behaviour for us, we were showing our visitors " Aloisia's " and all the nice creamy cake creations she sells. Our friends made the expected ( from us ) sounds of delight. Stumbling across such a nice coffee & cake emporium in the midst of rural Burgenland seems to do that. To be honest, I still get enthralled by Aloisia's even if I have been there more than eh...once!

After having a strong cup of coffee we left and were on the way to the next stage of grazing. Oh yes, eating out is a must in Burgenland too. Parking at Aloisia's is done at the back and next to a huge meadow. In fact,from there you can see as far as the snow capped mountains of the next province. Rural, pastoral and green. Soul food.

At first I didn't see them, but when I looked closely I saw a few sheep hiding under an old cart.
( No, they were not from the organic troop but possibly Aloisia's sheep to wow us confectionery tourists / enthusiasts ) Goodness, they were clever and not a single hoof was exposed to the elements. We had just had a downpour and these sheep wanted to be sheltered. The odd thunder strike could be heard as well and I think that is what had them cowering there.

Waiting out the danger. Hanging safely until better conditions came. They took it easy and waited until the perceived danger passed. No stress and it did look rather fun. Maybe we need to take a leaf out of their book. Danger waited out in comfort seems a much better idea to me. Rushing headfirst into danger is more apt for Hollywood movies and a few adrenalin junkies...


A nice thought, hiding out under there!

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Dogs Really Are Man's Best Friend.

An " Heuriger " with a difference

It was the last evening for family friends who were here for a visit and we celebrated by going to an Heuriger with a difference. ( An Heuriger is kind of like a Buschenschank, but open all year round ) It is at the edge of a forest not far from us. The owners have created an oasis of laws, complete with eccentric and mostly antique wooden equipment. Farming equipment from the days of yore that looks so romantic. An old tree trunk was polished and used as a bar table. Bob even counted the age-rings of it.

What they also have is a wonderful dog. A big black French sheep dog called Josi. Naturally, it was herding only Bob and I yesterday. Admittedly, at times either one of us could have conceivably be described as a silly sheep! Well, this delightful dog had us eating out of her ' hand '. In her case, her toy of choice was bitten through soccer ball that she hardly ever let out of her jaw.

When she had established the rules of her fetching game ( oh she was precise and only let go of the ball when Bob was standing at the right spot ) we were throwing, kicking and fetching this soccer ball. Ugh, the ball was getting more and more slippery with saliva the more we played. Bob in the end resorted to doing a few rather authentic soccer kicks.

The ground rules are being established and Josi clearly has Bob trained to her liking. Isn't the scenery nice? You can see the old tree trunk that is used as a bar table.
" Josi, drop the ball."
" Eh no, you grab it!"
Bob didn't stand a chance with this cute and delightful dog. Her character is so nice and gentle.
Just look at her ears flapping in the wind. Oh, both of them had so much fun doing this demonstration of Newton's Law...No one wanted to let go.
Isn't it just the best! Josie and Bob played for what seemed like hours but was only until the panting got too much....for both!
Who do you think is having more fun...?


Friday, 25 July 2014

Accents & Homemade Redcurrant Jam, What A Combo!

" Accentuating ones Accent "

Nobody wants to admit that they have an accent riding piggyback aboard their language. Yet those accents that we all do have make us special, unique and dare I say... unmistakable. Take yesterday evening for example: We could have been the setting of a bar joke...

A typical warm and sunny Burgenland evening outside next to the grill, complete with an:

  • Australian
  • Austrian
  • South African
  • American
  • German
As is only normal, the conversation turned towards accents.
Not that late in the evening either. Isn't there usually a time during any party where most of us do sound the know, when we try like blazes to pronounce our ' sssses ' clearly and with attempted dignity.
Or rather someone asking if they actually had one!...Eh, yeees indeed, a broad and instantly recognizable one too!

The South African and Australian accents do often get mixed up outside of either country. Mainly in the States. No, nothing similar there but what can you do. Some of us get put into the same box:

  • The Irish & the Scots
  • The Australians & the New Zealanders
  • The Austrians & the Germans
  • The Americans and the Canadians

How do we know what we sound like? There were the odd occasions when I left a message on the answering machine but truthfully, it's not so nice to hear yourself speak. Somehow I sound much cooler in my head.

Accents do make a difference how one is perceived. Private schools make their living by guaranteeing an accent-free diction at the end. Especially in the English language, the gold standard to aim for is the Eton, Oxford accented speech ( speaking as if you had a hot potato in your mouth )...Thousands are paid to achieve it. If you can't afford those lofty portals, there is always a career as a TV announcer / Newsreader...they get coached to have a neutral accent. They all sound the same, don't they?

As for our redcurrant jam, what a hit it was with everyone. We organized vanilla ice cream for dessert and what nicer topping than this redcurrant jam. Sweet and tart together! Pale white & vibrant red. The jar was almost empty at the end...clearly, redcurrant jam puts a nice Burgenland accent on vanilla ice cream!


Thursday, 24 July 2014

Taking A Chance On Life!

Saying yes instead of no...

How many of us are too scared of trying anything new? We worry about this and that and in the time it takes to conjure up all the various fictitious outcomes, time or rather life has passed us by. Time and tide waits for no one!

How often...:

  • are we too scared to try something different for fear of failure?
  • do we look back and are sorry we didn't start a new job, moved to a new place or started a new relationship?
  • do we worry about what other people will think.
    " Oh no, I can't do ...., because what would so and so say? "
  • do we stay in a job that we don't like because it has a monthly pay cheque attached to it? The last few years have been very tough economically worldwide. Isn't it ironic that in this time of recession, a lot of folks took the chance and started a business or moved to another place. More than likely, they asked themselves why the didn't do it sooner!
  • do we wait until all our ducks are in a row before we make a change?...Here is a thought:
    the ducks might never all be in a row...or you might be too old when they are!

Of course it is easier to sit on life's pavements ( sidelines ) instead of riding life's highway. Experiencing and living life often takes courage, brings the occasional hardships and the inevitable change, but anything worthwhile usually does.


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

You Can't Fool A Farmer About The Weather.

Farmers don't just know the lay of the land!

Do you remember those old black & white movies about schooners, sailboats and pirates? It might have been the Bounty or some such. But I still recall a scene where one of the sailors needs to empty a bucket of waste into the ocean. Being young, it took me a while to understand why he first licked his finger and held it up in the air. He needed to see where the wind was blowing from as having the contents of this bucket blown back at him would have been simply yuck.

Farmers use sophisticated weather forecast just to make sure, but they know even before they look at the weather channel. It may be a finger stuck in the air or a twitching in their little finger or a cow mooing differently. But farmers the world over know.

Before Bob and I moved here, we came here to visit my parents. Our room was in front of the house, facing the street and thus the neigbours. Holidays are exciting anyway, but Bob and I got an extra dose of it. In the middle of the night, we both woke up. There was a loud humming sound in the air and as we looked out our window from our bed we saw huge round lights that hovered about 3 meters in the air.

We instantly recalled all the Sci-Fi movies we had ever seen and thought aliens had come to get us. At least for a second. Bob being brave rushed to the window to have a closer look. Men are funny that way and I suppose very brave...or eh, stupid! After a minute the penny dropped and he started to laugh. Yes, it was the neighbour, a farmer, taking his combine harvester ( huge beasts of machinery ) out to do its work. The ' alien ' lights, were just its brights... Oh well, now we knew!

On Monday evening another combine harvester cut a swath through the wheat field next to our house. The farmer started at sundown and luckily we knew why there were two huge round lights hovering about in the field. I was still wondering why they would work so late into the night and got my answer the next morning, on Tuesday. Our hot and sunny weather had gone elsewhere for a while. Yes, the afternoon brought heavy and continuous rain with it.

When I went for my walk yesterday morning, I saw how quick on their feet our farmers are. All the wheat fields along my route had changed. In fact, they really looked nice. When I rounded one corner I stumbled across a view, that could have been a setting for Claude Monet.
Just too beautiful, don't you think?

As I told you, the hot sunshine with the azure blue sky had disappeared for the day, but I still adore this view.
Such symmetry. As if these round balls of straw are standing to attention...( not sure if I can all it a hay-bale, as it is straw, isn't it? )
Perfectly rounded into a huge ball.
Can you see the raven perching on the bale of straw?
Here is a quick reminder what the wheat looked like before it was harvested. Also a picture of beauty...


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

You Reap What You Sow.

At least some of it!

Growing up and living in a city the adage of you reap what you sow was abstract and mostly applied to behaviour that wasn't up to scratch. Fair enough, it is true after all.

Well, now that we have our own little " Kitchen - garden " ( locally most refer to it as
a ' Küchelgarten ' ) we are literally reaping what we have sowed. A mini - gardener's delight. Calling it a kitchen - garden is apt. We do grow food in it and I made sure it was right outside our front door and only a few meters from our kitchen. My theory was that if I don't see it every day, I would forget to tend and water it!

There were times when I did forget the laborious task of watering our garden. We don't have an outside tap and unless nature has been kind with a lot of rain, it means lugging the jerrycan into the shower to fill four or five times. A few plants didn't survive, but some did. Seeing growth spurts of homegrown vegetables is nice. It sounds silly, but I do feel proud of this.

Our garden is fairly visible to neighbours & passers by, which puts some pressure on us to keep it nice...As luck would have it, the vegetables that didn't get a growth spurt of any sort are in plain sight of anybody. The vegetables that grew into abundance are hidden behind the fence. At times I do feel like putting a sign up stating that we do have vegetables that survived life with us!

Bob and I have been deciding for days when we should harvest the first one. Yesterday was the day. As the lawns in our garden seem to be turbo charged, Bob was yet again having a workout behind the mower. That marvelous smell of freshly cut grass was permeating everywhere and it instantly set a scene of in-the-moment-happiness. The freshly cut grass smell was only trumped by a sharp looking lawn...and the fact that we had grown our own bounty, supper was on us.

Our star performer. From the top it looks like a bunch of elephant's ears flapping in the wind, but underneath is a busy greenhouse made by nature.
The stem of each leaf has tiny needles and even parting the ' elephants' ears ' involves nerves or rather hands of steel.
Gosh, look at the size of it!
Isn't that a wonderful environment to grow up in? Nature is so amazing: it has created a natural shade cover for the vegetables to thrive. Wow. If you look closely, you can see our front door peeking through in the top left hand side of the photo.


Monday, 21 July 2014

Herzlich Willkommen, Welcome Home.

Friends like these are so hard to find.

Any village has sub-layers or rather clubs and cliques. Take our village's theater group; they practice long and late hours to give us great entertainment. Their plays are legendary and oh so very funny. Bob and I have seen two so far. Yes, one huge play gets put on per year and people come from far and wide to see it.

As a reward or possibly the carrot dangling in front during those long days of rehearsals, a trip is planned. A fun trip and mainly with the actors and behind the scenes crowd. This year, they flew to Berlin for a short week of sightseeing and fun.

Yesterday was one of those Sunday that are extremely hot and sweltering. Bob, his fire - chief and a few others went along to a Frühschoppen in Kulm ( The posse was rather slim as most were in Berlin ) and I unfortunately couldn't go as I was working. At about 5 pm, Bob called to ask whether I would like to come to his fire - chiefs house to have a sun-downer. Oh, why not...when I got there, Bob and two other firemen were sitting cool as cucumbers in a pool sipping a Punitgamer. The life of Riley indeed.

I took a seat with the wives in the shade, but funnily enough, the chairs were in a row facing the pool. Almost like a jury. Bob told me afterwards that he was rather embarrassed to come out of the pool as firstly he was in his undies and secondly we all sat watching in avid fascination. Bob, not really, we were just daydreaming! But coming back to the undies story: It just goes to show, that Mothers' are always right....wear good and clean underwear everyday as you never know!

The Berliners' were returning on a bus from Vienna that was estimated to pass through Eisenberg at about 8 pm. The friends who didn't go, missed the others rather a lot so they decided to form a welcome banner and stand at the side of the road. A proper Welcome home!

When the news trickled through, that the bus was going to be arriving after nine, I didn't have the stamina to wait it out. The cat needed feeding as well and she was quite cross and showed her dislike of such a late meal time by hiding away. Bob came home an hour later, as he also was too tired.

The others, stayed up and formed the welcome committee even though they all have to be at work early today. Going away on any holiday is great, but coming home to friends and family is even better. Yesterday, the strenght and depth of friendship were proven yet again. Friends who take the time to do something special for you, are like diamonds in the sand...extremely rare and precious.


Sunday, 20 July 2014

Warming The Bench Is Not Just For Substitutes...

A bench becomes the Pied Piper of the neighbourhood.

It was one of those scorching days that should only be had on the edge of the equator, but for some reason we have been experiencing days of 35 and above. Hot, sunny and marvelous for the tourist business. This is why I had to venture outside at about five yesterday afternoon.

I was waiting to check in a guest in the Weinberg region of our village. As guests tend to do, this one was very nice but a slight bit vague regarding his arrival time. ( You know, that is not a problem except if it is too late in the evening I would have to waylay my tipple of choice...a glass of wine. No drinking & driving for me! ) Looking on the positive side of things, I decided to get there earlier and combine it with a bit of attention for the thirsty flowers and to do a final visual check of the apartment.

It was half past five when I deemed everything to look perfect, flowers nursed and chocolate on the pillows. With my handy little rucksack over my shoulder ( you won't believe how much stuff I need to cart about ) I went to sit on the bench at the front edge of the garden. The bench is still on the lawn, but the pavement is right there with the road only a skip away. Divine. Bench with a view. A view to watch traffic in our village.

My rucksack had my Nora Roberts book ( I know, I know, intellectual slumming...but oh so readable ) in its depth and before I could log it out, I had company. The neighbours came out in droves to sit and chat with me on the bench. Well droves is a bit of a relative term. There were two neighbours but as the village is small, droves seems apt. The one neighbour even took out her personal mobile stroller, pushed it over the lawn to come and chat.

Look, as a bench warmer you get to shoot the breeze, talk about what to make for dinner or where to go for one. At times you might get a meatier fare of tidbits regarding people you know. Yes, a bit of gossip but let's face it, we all do it knowingly and unknowingly. We discuss Aunt Fanny's card playing abilities and Cousin Susan's cooking skills. Gosh, even the Pope might do it!

The bench was very comfortable and sitting there talking to friends while watch other friends drive past, was nice. In fact, this bench-warming business beats watching TV and dare I say being online in front of our computer. The bench is the social media platform of yesteryear. The bench lets you connect and find out things. It helps you make friends. It helps you meet new friends. This bench makes life and living fun.

Bench warming should be a subject at school. Don't laugh, but I tend to think that if from a young age we learn how to just chat with others, the world would be an easier place for us to navigate. The art of conversation is vital in avoiding any sort of conflict. Learning to converse only online, doesn't count.

Benches don't need to be just that. You can jazz them up and put a cooler box next to it. After a bit of vino, the ' veritas ' part of village gossip might be rather interesting!

Biggi®, Gartenbank aus massivem Eukalyptusholz (mit integriertem, einklappbarem Tisch) (#101909) Basics All-Weather Hardwood 3-Seater Bench

Saturday, 19 July 2014

A Bunch Of Flowers For You, With Love From Burgenland.

We all need a bit of cheering up, now and again.

A shrub on the side of the road. Most people merely drive past it and as they are so intent on where they are going, that they miss out on it.
I was standing on the pavement, looking up and taking the photos. Let me tell you, I garnered a lot of strange looks and some that seemed more like :
" Oh here goes the crazy lady again..."
Bob and I planted this window box with two pots which we bought at Hofer. They were the cheapest, but are really the most stunning of all our pot plants ( eh, potted plants, not " pot-plants "... ). Bob unearthed an old & unused bench in our barn on which we've put this window box. It gives me a little jolt of happiness every time I see it.
What a life for this lady bird bug. Smug as a bug takes on a new meaning...All along the forest and the vineyards, these white flowers ( could they be medicinal? ) are happily watching the world go by.
The blue sun worshipper holding court. I call it the blue sunflower as it turns according to where the sun is shining. I picked a bunch of wild flowers to put inside a vase, and wouldn't you know it, the blue faded a few hours in. It was a dirty grey within the space of hours.
This is a photo I posted in May. Oh yes, a re-print... but I just love this one and even have it framed. It is a beautiful bunch of flowers from Burgenland after all...
I know, this is not a bunch of flowers or a beautiful flower. As I mentioned yesterday, we picked a bunch of red currants. My mum and I made a batch of red currant jam. The colour was too fabulous not to show you. The finished jam has rather a lot of tartness mingling with the sweetness...ideal to accompany a big bowl of vanilla ice cream or a generous wedge of camembert...


Friday, 18 July 2014

How A Quick Visit Came To Fruition

Village life at its best.

It must have been about five in the afternoon when I decided to set out to go and visit an elderly lady down the road, or rather lane. Her age is indescribable as it could be in the 60's as well as in the 70's. In the days of yesteryear she is what would be called a spinster. But maybe spinsters do live a longer life as they don't have to be at the beck and call of a husband....

Now and again I do visit her and we have a great chat together. In summer and autumn it takes place in her garden. Winter sees us sitting in her kitchen. Oh, she loves and lives for her garden. Winters spent sitting inside are torturous for her. She has a huge garden and she mostly tends to it herself ( the back garden or what should be termed the back 9, gets mowed by her cousin who has one of those luxurious mobile lawn-mobiles ).

She has a nicely sized vegetable garden, complete with carrots, potatoes, celeriac, onions and so much more. That in itself is a full time occupation. In her garden everything is neat and tidy. In our village, most of the older generation still heat with a wood oven which means a lot of physical work.
( Maybe that's why us youngsters tend to have the easier heating options! ) As small as she is, she cuts, or rather axes her own firewood for the winter. It is all neatly stacked in her yard. If you have ever hacked a piece of wood into pieces, you will know how strong one needs to be. Wood to last through winter means a lot of swinging that axe!

When I went to her house yesterday, she was chatting with a neighbour and the conversation hovered around the pesky snails that were eating their way around most gardens. Somehow we came to the conclusion that it might be nature's way to restore a balance of sorts. Regardless of why, most of the vegetable gardeners have chosen to forgo planting lettuce.

As we were walking to the back of her garden ( which she still mows with an ordinary lawn mower. I put a link below ) I spotted a whole row of red currant bushes. Bushes just bursting with a vibrant red colour and heaving with the weight of an abundance of red currants.

" Oh, you must make the most divine jam with those? "
but it turns out that she doesn't like red currants and as none of her friends or family care to pick them, usually the birds do.

Ooh, I spotted an opportunity and grabbed it with both hands. When I asked her if I could pick them, she was only to pleased to have someone make use of them. After she fetched a plastic bag for me, I set to work but all the while we had a great conversation about this and that. At one point a big grey cloud decided to empty a rain shower on top of us. She kindly rushed in to fetch an umbrella for me despite my assurances that it didn't worry me. Our house is a mere 500 meters up the road.

While she was inside looking for an umbrella, my fabulous husband ( a.k.a. Schatzi ) phoned to ask whether he should fire up the chariot to come and fetch me. Spotting an opportunity to get a fellow red currant picker on board, I said yes. Wouldn't you know it, it took him only a minute to arrive!!!

Men are notorious for waiting in cars for their wives, so I waved & gestured for him to come into the garden. He did and met this nice lady. When I showed him her back garden and the nice red currant bushes, he was hooked and picking. Seeing her garden has given Schatzi and I some new ideas and hopefully we will put them into practice soon.

Today we will make this red currant jam. The fruit is rather tart, but I can just imagine eating a spoonful of it with a piece of brie whilst sipping a nice glass of Eisenberg Blaufränkisch...


Thursday, 17 July 2014

A Walk Through Nature To Start The Day Off Gently.

Constantly in awe of nature's perfection.

The day started off perfectly and it doesn't surprise me that our corner of paradise was included in the 99 most beautiful places in Austria. Oh yes, our Eisenberg. Wine seems almost a supporting act to the main star...nature. I hope you will enjoy these photos from my morning walk.

This wild bunch of daisies grows next to the corn. Almost like the corn-keepers or some such. The bunch is not perfect, but so attractive in its simplicity. Yet, I have to say that it tends to shine like a white beacon from afar.
To me, this is the waterfall of sunshine giving ample energy to this bunch of crazy daisies....Early birds don't just catch the worm, but also sunshine in abundance.
" Little fella, I am not so sure who got more of a scare!"
As I turned from the daisies there he was. My camera was still in swing but alas by the second click this little rabbit had done a runner...
The road less taken...turning up this little path surely is akin to letting your soul recharge and your cares slip away. By the by, this is a popular spot for anglers. A little damn is on the left...
There is a field of white. Not flowers but maybe a herb of sorts? Anyway, this is a closeup from the bottom.
View from the top. The wind was gusting a little bit and seeing movement through this white field was so beautiful. Hidden in this field were a lot of bees. When you walk past it, the air is abuzz with them. Happy bees everywhere. Good.
This would be the perfect spot to picnic, put up an easel, or take a blanket and read your favourite book!
A perfect morning in Eisenberg.


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Do You Eat, Play With Or Photograph Your Food In Restaurants?

The Smartphone revolution has amazing side effects.

Do you remember those good old times when an evening out at a Restaurant was enjoyed sans brick / cell / Smartphone? Well, even in the times of the brick-phone ( incidentally, we all thought it was the coolest thing out back in the early 1990's ) it was firstly too heavy to cart around in a smart purse and secondly the thought of taking pictures with it was still decades away...

Times spent eating out were great. Full focus on the company, food and ambiance. If you did want to tell your friends about it the next day, you painted the scence with your wordsmith qualities. You know what, we saw the worded picture.

The other day a report was doing the rounds on the social media circuit. Yes, I know it is ironic to read about it on there. A restaurant in New York City was trying to figure out why their customers complained of extremely slow service, despite there being enough staff in all sections of the restaurant. Fortunately they had security footage of a decade before and thus the consulting company was able to compare then and now.

Good golly gosh, it is no wonder service seemed slow:

  • A decade ago, nobody had a Smartphone but now, most customers do.
  • Customers whipped out their Smartphone to take a few pictures of the menu etc, before they even perused the menu.
  • Not surprisingly, they took numerous pictures of each plate of food, making sure the lighting was great. When eventually the picture was uploaded through their Smartphone to wow ( or bore ) their social network friends, guess what...oh yes, the food was not hot anymore. What a cheek, some even sent it back to be reheated.
  • The waiter was frequently asked to take a picture of the patrons. Not once but a few times until it looked good enough to upload...
  • Here is a link for details of the report.

We don't own a Smartphone yet but the way technology is heading, one needs to have one eventually. More than likely, the first week we have one, will be spent taking pictures of everything and everybody that crosses our path, but I hope that after the first week this craze would have settled down.

Here is a scary thought: Taking so many pictures on Smartphones and using these picture to communicate your actions will make us loose our diction and ability to read.
That adage of

A picture is worth a thousand words
was clearly coined in the dark ages before Internet & Smartphones.

Let's try and get our words back...proper words not abbreviations or phonetic sounding words.


P/S: Yes, I am aware that this makes me sound old or at least middle aged....

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Names, Horses & Authentic Living.

" Seeing a man about a horse..."

Do you do this too? Remembering names is not the easiest thing in the world. Who hasn't mumbled some sort of name hoping it was the right one or rather skirted the issue by re-assigning a new name to them... " you " ? My little trick is to associate features with people:

  • " Oh, Bob the man with the black car was there. "
  • " The man who always rides a gazillion times up the hill on his bicycle. "
  • " The man riding his lawnmower sporting Ray Bans. "

Bob had a job with a new client yesterday and it was the man with two horses. That is how I think of him, as for the last few years he and his wife often ride around the area on two wonderful steeds. Never having enough time to chit chat whilst the horses are impatiently trying to take the bit between their teeth, names were never mentioned. They probably think of me as ' the woman who walks all year round ' ...

Yesterday, he brought a computer to our house for Bob to sort out, I met him officially and when Bob had finished we were invited for a cup of coffee at his house. I knew they were weekend villagers ( it sounds silly, but a lot of people work elsewhere during the week and therefore are known as weekend villagers to me ). They live in a cute authentic Burgenland cottage and at times when I walk past their home, I hear the horses neighing in their paddock. Romantic indeed.

Fences and hedges are a two fold thing: you can't see in and you can't see out...Privacy indeed. Yesterday after a few years of walking passed, I got a glimpse of the other side of the hedge. A little bit of Burgenland paradise. Oh yes, they have created an authentic, rural oasis of relaxation. A text book image of a place to unwind, relax and enjoy life. Stress & hurry are left at the gate and only donned again on the way back to the city.

Burgenlanders, born or transplanted, love life. Life not defined by how much you have ( of course there are plenty of wealthy people here ), what you look like or who you know. Not at all. Life in Burgenland is akin to living as authentic and real as can be. There are tough times as well as good times, but Burgenlanders enjoy every day to the fullest. They live and breathe that lifestyle that eludes so many. A good life, a happy life and a life not defined by possessions.

Last Saturday we were invited along to a Buschenschank ( At Rennhofer's and it was very nice ) in our village. There were about ten of us and we had the best time. While I sat enjoying the evening, I realized why our area is so special. Most of the villagers have grown up together. Gone to Kindergarten, school and through life together. That forms unbreakable bonds of friendship. Genuine friendship and great people.


Monday, 14 July 2014

A Bit Of Green On A Monday Morning.

Especially the Monday after Germany's World Cup win.

Oh my, what a final. In a way I am glad that it turned out to be such a late ( and lone ) winning goal even though it had most of us on the edge of our seats, beds or jumping from one leg to the other. Yes, at times it could have gone Argentina's way and for a second there I did have a bad feeling, but thankfully Mario Götze took care of that.

You know, if the final would have been a walk - over ( such as the unforgettable 7-1 ) the win wouldn't have been so fabulous. Again, WOW, what a team, what a trainer, what a tournament.

Back to my idea of a green start to the day. When I go walking with my camera, I point and click at portraits of nature that catch my eye. Often I don't have a look for a day or two at the pictures on the chip card and when I do, it surprises me again. At the moment everything seems to have a bit of a green glow. For the plants and vegetables, this green unfortunately signals the start of a decline...ending with harvesting. Ouch for the plant!

Regal & proud. The maize, nutritious and ever present.
The little " Lady Bug " resting on the green hills of a maize leaf. A content scene of nature, even supported by a blue sky.
Looking at this, I could get lost in my thoughts for hours. A soothing green canvas, creating endless possibilities for a mind to go off on a tangent....
It rained a river yesterday afternoon and I tried to catch a droplet or two. Alas I am not that quick with the button. But I think you can get a sense of moisture in, on & all around this vine foliage.
This is one of my favourite views on my daily walk. It also happens to be at the top of the last hill on my route. You have seen this view in all season and even in its green phase, it looks enticing.


Sunday, 13 July 2014

A Quote A Day Is Nothing To Sneeze At.

A little sentence or paragraph can make a big difference.

" Seize the day, and put as little trust as you can in tomorrow. "
Horace ( 65-8 B C ) Odes 25-24 BC
" Whenever a man's friends begin to compliment him about looking young,
he may be sure that they think he is growing old. "

Washington Irving Bracebridge Hall, ' Batchelors' 1882
" A man, Sir, should keep his friendship in constant repair. "
Samuel Johnson ( 1709-1784 )
" One is never so happy or so unhappy as one thinks. "
La Rochefoucauld ( 1613-1680 ) Maxims
" Method actors give you an photograph. Real actors give you an oil painting. "
Charles Laughton ( 1899-1962 ) in Playboy 1962
" I like to write when I feel spiteful: it's like having a good sneeze. "
D H Lawrence ( 1885-1930 ) letter to Lady Cynthia Asquith Nov 1913
" A man who does not lose his reason over certain things has none to lose. "
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing ( 1792-1781 ) Emilia Galotti
" If you are possessed by an idea, you find it expressed everywhere,
you even smell it. "

Thomas Mann ( 1875-1955 ) Death in Venice 1913
" No married man's ever made up his mind till he's heard what his wife has got to say about it. "
Somerset Maugham ( 1874-1965 ) Lady Frederick
" It is a public scandal that gives offence, and it is no sin to sin in secret."
Moliére ( pen name of Jean-Baptiste Poquelin 1622-1673 ) Tartuffe 1664


Saturday, 12 July 2014

The Stork House Lives Up To Its Name.

The " Von-Storks " make a home for themselves.

We all know the story of storks and their magic, so be warned that you will see a few storks in this blog today. As they say in advertising:

Storks have been proven to bring children to your doorstep. By looking at these stork pictures, you run the risk of not needing your husband! Side effects do occur and please seek your nearest fairy tale for advice..

Seeing storks parade around our village does remind me of fairy tales and magical stories. These birds are quite large or should I say, large enough to carry a bundle of joy with their beaks. Our village should be renamed Storkville, as these birds are all over the place; in the fields, picking up morsels behind the harvester, crossing the roads or as in this case, on top of a chimney stack. For some reason, they do love this particular roof in the village. In fact, everyone knows this house by its nickname: Storkhouse

Directions usually involve it:

" Just go along the main street until you get to Storkhouse, then turn right..."
Before Bob and I moved here, my parents were rather keen on us moving into Storkhouse as it was up for sale. Was that for its close proximity to them or because they wanted to take turns babysitting?

The other afternoon, we fetched my parents and they were running a bit late. Or were we early for a change? Nevertheless, it didn't matter because I had espied the Von-Storks bedding down for the evening. It was so delightful seeing this family affair, that I stood in the middle of the road and snapped away. Even Schatzi was encouraging and kept the traffic away from me. It was rush-hour and three cars drove past. Goodness, did I get some strange looks!

A picture to give you a sense of The Von-Stork Residence.
Could this be Mother Stork flapping the wee ones into order? Or might it be Father Stork going out for a worm at his local field?
Well, it seems what is good for the goose is good for the gander...
" If you wing it, so will I "
A bit of yoga before settling in? Clearly no one is going out tonight...