Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Have You Noticed How Big The School Bags Have Become?

I am in awe of, or rather alarmed at how much the modern scholar needs to learn.

Did we ever have to learn so much, back in the day or rather back in the 20th Century. Once a week I help a local lad with his English homework. I enjoy it but I must say that it is a lot of knowledge he has to absorb.

Well, knowledge not so much as it is more a case of learning it by rote. Who knew that there were so many differing rules regarding the English language. Unfortunately when you study English as a second language, you need to know every inch of writing in the rule book of the English Language.

But really, wouldn't it be more beneficial if each term the pupils have to read a novel for part of their homework. Yes, a novel that interests them and once they get a taste of the lost art of reading, the language and the correct structuring of sentences would become second nature. Isn't that the way we learned English as children?

But that is just the subject of English. When I sit at his kitchen table with English books covering most of it, I can't help but notice how full his school bag still is. I have a pretty good idea that once we have finished the English portion of homework, he needs to plough through a mountain of other homework. No wonder most kids don't like school.

What obscure facts and figures are the kids being taught nowadays? More importantly, will they use this knowledge once they enter the real world! Honestly, once they launch into society, Google is going to be the font of all knowledge anyway.

When those students who have just started high school now, finish their schooling you can bet your bottom dollar that their smartphone will be all they need to get by in life. A computer in hand. A computer with so much more capacity and ability than the one they carry now.

Look, I don't know if the curriculum has adjusted to our new world reality. Like them or not, computers play a part in our daily life. In fact often the biggest part.

Who still uses maps for orientation and who still does sums by heart
or with a pen & paper?

Now and again we drive past the local school bus as the kids get home from school. For some kids the school bag almost looks bigger then they are. But what all the school bags have in common is that they are and look darn heavy. Schlepping all your school paraphernalia does that. I can imagine a lot of sore backs in the future...


Monday, 29 September 2014

The Story Of Eisenberg's Passionate Men: Part 2

Our wine walk had us feel like we were floating in mid air!

Our next major pit stop was our local look-out tower. Just as well that we started off our walk a bit late, as a tour bus was just herding its passengers aboard. Oh yes, someone else has discovered us...
Dietmar, standing on the left was showing us where to go.
Wow...describes this view well, don't you think? To be honest, the view alone had most of us excited and snapping pictures. But when two different vintners shared their wine, it was perfect and most of us felt as if we were floating over the vineyards.
Walter & Elisabet Stubits's wines and Herbert & Martina Weber's wines were tasted. Very very nice indeed.

Both their Blaufränkisch D.A.C. Reserve went down a treat and the burst of berry flavour on the taste buds mingled with a velvety smoothness, was fantastic. How fitting to sample them suspended over the Eisenberg vineyards.

Nice look out point, don't you think? When everyone got their wine glass and had it filled with the delicious samples, they tended to hover there. The first bit of motion that I felt had me move back towards the walk way. Who knows what the weight limit is...
Helmut, Connie & Mario enjoying the day out. Nice photo.
Mario, Helmut & Bob holding the fort.
It was lucky that Dietmar had his tractor there, because I would have walked the wrong way home. How marvelous it was to meander through the various vineyards. A few grapes were snatched off for a quick taste!
Our village seen from a different angle. How fortunate are we to be able to live in it? Paradise.
Kellerstöckel / Cottages to rent in our area.
Happy walkers. Bear in mind that most of us had had a few wines to taste by now. As an added bonus, the vintners refused to take back half filled bottles and I must say that it wasn't hard for them to find takers. Such high quality wine and free as well, was too much to resist.
Sadly this was our last pit stop. The cooler box was raided and just about everyone had spritzers: Half wine, half soda water. Not my taste as I prefer my wine pure with water on the side.

It is a tradition in our area to mostly drink Spritzers but I think that it is a big waste. The wines in our area ( and the wines we tasted on our walk ) are of such great quality, that it seems a sin to mix them with soda or sparkling water.

I can't tell you how wonderful this adventure / wine walk was. Mingling with everyone and having chats along the way ( a bit more difficult up a hill though ) was priceless and what it is all about. Meeting friends, making new ones and all the while tasting the wonderful wines of our area.


Sunday, 28 September 2014

My Encounter With Passionate Men In Our Eisenberg Vineyards.

Eisenberg Weinberg was the place to be yesterday...

It isn't often that you get to meet up with men who are passionate and enthusiastic about their work. Or should I call it a hobby that they are fortunate enough to make a living from and share their vintages with others. Who else could it be in the Eisenberg vineyards but the Vintners themselves.

The Eisenberg Vintners Association had put together a wine walk to celebrate Weinlese ( Grape Harvest ). It was the 3rd year that it's been held and it was the first one that Bob and I have attended. Most definitely not our last...A 6km walk up, through and down the vineyards of Eisenberg, with enough pit stops in between to quench any thirsts.

The motley crew assembled. The weather was overcast with a scattering of raindrops, and unfortunately a lot of people didn't make the effort. No one is made of sugar, are they? Anyway, as you can see, most of us had raincoats and rain gear at hand.
Dietmar Rabold ( another excellent Eisenberg Vintner ) was the pied piper for the afternoon atop his little tractor. He lead us the whole way up the hill. An easy mark to spot on the distant hills and a desirable mark to reach as he had water & wine in his trailer.
At times he got too far ahead of us. Phew, thank goodness for modern technology...he was lassoed in the hi tech way. A simple phone call placed to his cellphone, had him pull over in a hurry.
A half hour into our walk, the skies cleared a bit and the sun peaked through. Let me tell you, a lot of us were huffing and puffing up the hills. But a view like this is unbelievable and so worthwhile the walk.
For some reason, Bob and I were always the nearest to Dietmar and the supplies...?
This was our first organized pit stop, and what a pit stop it was. Wow. This was one of the men with a passion. Passionate about making fabulous wine.

Mathias Jalits is a vintner who produces unbelievable wines. He is so enthusiastic about how and with what he makes his wines that it was riveting to hear him explain his philosophy. But let me tell you, the proof is in the pudding.

Tasting two of his wines ( Pinot Noir & Eisenberg Blaufränkisch Reserve D.A.C. ) had all my taste buds sit up in a pleasant surprise. His wines were smooth as velvet and tasty as can be. You got to try them...

To be continued in part 2 tomorrow.


Saturday, 27 September 2014

Read This And Then Complain About Your Life!

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Count how many of the following you are able to do or have:

  • Waking up in your warm & comfy bed.
  • Going to the bathroom...yes, a room with indoor plumbing.
  • Making yourself a cup of coffee and drinking it while reading the paper or watching the news on TV.
  • Waking up your children and getting them ready for school.
  • Deciding what to make for breakfast. Having the luxury of choice.
  • Having a shower, having the choice of what to wear & heading off to work.
  • Calling your friends or family for a chat, and having them answer.
  • Being able to go shopping, see a movie or go out for dinner with friends.
  • Coming home to your house ( the one you left in the morning ) and spending time with your family.
  • Going to sleep in a bed and being able to fall asleep without worrying about your safety.

You know, even at this moment in time there are millions of refugees who dream of having a ( our ) normal life.

Just imagine:

  • Within minutes having to leave your home and maybe for ever. No time to pack everything. Just often the clothes on your back is all you have.
  • Hearing and having the sounds of conflict and war in your village / town / city / neighbourhood.
  • Having to wash your body with only a bucket of water, if that.
  • No indoor bathroom.
  • Being hungry and not knowing when you can get a bite to eat. Not a bite we'd imagine, but possibly a bowl of rice or a gruel.
  • Stressing because your children haven't got enough food to eat.
  • Just trying to stay alive and survive. A future that is hazy at best on your horizon.
  • With winter approaching, being cold all the time.

We don't realize how fortunate our life actually is. What we might consider normal at best, is what millions of people are yearning to have and experience.


Friday, 26 September 2014

Out & About In Two European Countries.

Is it Thursday today? Oh, let's visit Hungary.

I still get a kick out of a visit to Hungary. Another country, another way of life and another set of impressions. Those who know where we live, also know that we are a mere 2 Kilometers from the Hungarian border and 18 Kilometers from the next mega city.

You know, driving around and seeing the contrast of the " Haves " and " The Have-Not's " which is part of the new Hungary, makes it jolly hard to remember that a mere 25 odd years ago it was still a communist country...part of the eastern bloc! How quickly they have embraced the symbols of Western culture...Affluence is everywhere yet there are still parts that don't appear to be so.

Hungary is a country that as soon as you drive in it, you not only see the beauty but also feel it. Both Bob and I can conjour up images of a magnificent life past ( 18th & 19th Century ). Well, how we imagine it might have been. A life of carriages being driven across the landscape. A life of colour. A life of authenticity. One thing that I think everyone who visits Hungary notices, is how absolutely friendly and nice the Hungarians are. Let me tell you, that is not a given in Europe!

Bob and I had finished what we had to do in Hungary by late morning and made our way back home. Bob is great at finding the roads less travelled. Roads that are scenic to drive on. He is good at that. Even I still go " Ooh & Aah " when he takes a lesser know road.

A couple of years ago, Bob took some " 1st time visitors " to our beautiful Burgenland for a scenic drive. As they were his family, he pulled out all the stops and showed them our magnificent area. When they got back, he told me that unfortunately they weren't awed at all... Not a peep, ooh nor an aah. I suppose they are concrete jungle creatures after all.

Driving back through Rechnitz we decided to put my Dad's theory to work ( finding a great place to eat near a village church ). It was nice but I think next time we need to get a tad nearer to the church.

A novel idea. Painting a picture on the wall and framing it! Bob, sporting his Sprinkbok jersey.
I tried the Schweinsbraten & Knödel, which was very nice indeed.
Bob had the meaty dish. No, that isn't calamari but a Vienna ( pardon me, a Frankfurter ) cut up. Delicious pan of food he told me.
Funnily enough, in Austria a Vienna sausage is called a Frankfurter and in Germany ( and the rest of the world ) it reverts back to being a Vienna Sausage!
Driving into the outskirts of Schandorf, we saw the various pumpkin fields. These pumpkins will be harvested for their pips and the oil they provide. Yesterday was a rainy day, yet it is still a sight to behold.
A close up.


Thursday, 25 September 2014

Roses Are Red, Grapes Are Blue & Geese Seem To Have Fun Too!

Guess what I saw on my morning walk...

A lot of the individual rows of vines have roses planted at the front. Different coloured ones. It seems that in the olden days, the roses were planted as a sort of warning signal for the vintners. If the rose looked less than well, it stood to reason that the vines might be affected. Rather clever & beautiful too.
" One, two, three, four... "
" Quick, let's hide. "
" Go away, that is my hiding place. "
" Oh no, where should I hide? "
" ...nine, ten! "
" He's coming! "
When I came home from my walk yesterday morning, little Tigger was waiting for me. Yet, she looked surprised to see me and I tend to think that she was catching a few rays of sunshine! What a clever kitty.
At least you can see that we feed her very well. In fact my Mum says too well, because we have mice in our roof. Did I mention that the roof is Tigger's bedchamber? Oh, she is never hungry enough to catch a mouse or two...


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Autumn Seems To Have Arrived At A Gallop.

Thanksgiving is in order though.

Of course you'll get plenty of moaners. Those few who lament the end of summer and sunshine. They might as well enjoy the winter time as they can't have summer come around any sooner. Yes, the colder half of any year is not as bright or warm, but it has charm of its own.

Autumn quite rightly has been and always will be the most important season on the yearly calender. Autumn is the time to harvest. To reap what we have sowed, so to say. In centuries past, this was the season to stock up for the rest of the year.

Like most else in our busy lives, we tend to forget to give thanks to the event of harvest. Most of us just pop into our local supermarket and pick up what we want, whenever we like. Do we even know what vegetables or fruits are in season? Everything is available anytime.

As a child I remember that:

  • Walnuts, chestnuts & mandarins were only eaten just before Christmas. At the start of Advent.
  • Cherries were an early summer event and often we could pick them straight from someone's tree.
  • Mulberries and bramble berries could be picked in the forest and we could get leaves for the silk worms at the same time.

The next nine months before the start of summer will of course have challenges in them. Winter will make us shiver but then again it will make us cuddle up as well. Snow has an ethereal beauty and if you don't believe me, just try and book a vacation on the beautiful Austrian / German Alps during winter season. Everyone wants to be there to be an extra in the Winter wonderland playground.

You know regardless of how old we are, the minute the first seasonal snowflakes fall, we have our noses glued to the window in awe. There is nothing nicer than watching the lawn get blanketed in a layer of white.

Bob morphs into a young lad when the first snow of the season appears. Everything is wondrous but only for a while. Once the reality of shoveling snow hits him, his love affair with snow wanes. Of course I then pipe up from the sidelines of a warm window sill and shout:

" Schatzi, just think how big your biceps will get. Don't stop shoveling! "

In the next few weeks the leaves and vineyards will change colour and what a spectacular one it should be. I will post pictures for you and just to set the record straight...I also shovel snow off our driveway!


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

A Case Of Too Much Information Is Not Good!

Hands up if you've Googled at the first sign of a cough, wrinkle or extra kilo?

I had the most fabulous afternoon yesterday. We had an afternoon Tea, a la Burgenland. Coffee, homemade Beigl, wine & vittles. Nowadays it doesn't happen too often that I am the spring chicken at a party, but yesterday I was.

The hostess had just turned 90. She lives with one set of her children and they were away on holiday. Gosh, only one thing to do...as she had the place to herself, a party was arranged! Super. Spunky. Fun. Throughout the afternoon, her other children kept popping in to see if she needed help with the party. Another bonus of living in a small village!

Around the table were her great friends ( of a similar age or a tad younger ), one carer in her 60's and me. Honestly, being around that age group is the most relaxing, life enhancing experience one could have. Who else but the successful lottery winners of longevity should give us advice on life?

Haste, waste and too much are eschewed for a simpler lifestyle. Somehow they all agreed, that today's lifestyle of " bigger, better & more " is not always the best way to go.
Ironically the luxury of raising a family on one income ( ie. Mum staying at home ) could be done if the family were to adopt a motto of : " less is more, don't need to have the latest toy, don't need to have a bigger house / car /..."

Anyway, back to the afternoon and its party. As I was the designated driver I didn't have wine, but others did and how wrong could they be if they are already established members of the octogenarian club? As with most parties, the talk turned towards health or rather the lack of it.

At one stage a friend dropped by for a visit but she declined any food or drink save for a glass of water. Oh, she is part of the craze sweeping the dieting crowd. They eat what they like one day and nothing / nil / nada the next...ad infinitum. Yesterday was her day of not eating anything. When she told us that she has done this for 11 months and dropped 40 kgs we were awed.

But not awed enough to stop eating today or the next. Anyway, she was saying how important drinking enough water was and we discussed what water we all drank. The trend for soda water is high in our village but I only like tap water. And a few other ladies agreed with me.

This is where it got interesting. The carer, told us that she had read on the Internet the various merits of water and what we shouldn't drink. Well, as most of her audience were of an enviable age and successfully so, they just looked at her with raised eyebrows...They were not going to change!

Have you ever been at a party where the remedy of anything was talked about. If there are 10 party guests, you will more than likely get 10 different remedies and opinions. That is just how we all are. Imagine, going online to read about your perceived illness...it is as if you are at a party with millions of guests, getting millions of different opinions. Not good at all.

Bear a thought for our doctors...each time we go there, we are ready to challenge their diagnosis with the odd opinions garnered at a mega party on the Internet...!


Monday, 22 September 2014

Another Fabulous Monday.

Some thoughts: new, old or forgotten.

" The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. "
Albert Einstein.
" We count our miseries carefully, and accept our blessings without much thought. "
Chinese Proverb
" A cloudy day is no match for a sunny disposition. "
William Arthur Ward
" The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings. "
Eric Hoffer
" If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes have a taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. "
Anne Dudley Bradstreet ( 1612-1672 )
" The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now. "
Chinese Proverb
" People say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing. That's why we recommend it daily. " Zig Ziglar
" Fall seven times and stand up eight. "
Japanese Proverb
" Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck. "
Dalai Lama
" There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing and be nothing. "


Amazon.com:Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success: Discovering Your Gift and the Way to Life's Riches

Amazon.de/at:Die 7 Geheimnisse der Schildkröte: Den Alltag entschleunigen, das Leben entdecken

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Connecting The Dots Along My Walk.

It felt good to put on my detecting hat!

I don't know about you, but I tend to recognize just about every sound along my morning walk. A rustling in the forest has long ago been assigned to the odd field mouse and the barking of a dog is actually the mating call of a buck. Moving here from a city jungle, it took me a while to see the forest for the trees and not the dangers contained within. Not every rustling sound has a nefarious activity attached to it.

Hearing the odd car buzzing up behind me has been a piece of cake for me to recognize the owner. How could I not when some drive their chariot as if it only had the one gear and others almost drive at stalling speed in order to not frighten me. A few locals set their watch by me and gosh darn it, they know the minute I take a lazy day.

" Don't you walk anymore? "
" Do you only drive this way to see me walk? "

For a long time the Gemeinde ( district ) has been working on a new water tower for us. Unfortunately, these have to be on the highest point in the landscape and where it is also the prettiest. What at first was an ugly building on the hill, has morphed into a disguised sort of hill with a viewing platform on top. Well, at least it gives a view and we do need the water.

After the third car came speeding past me along the forest road, and cars with different engine pitches and number plates, the penny dropped for me. The opening ceremony of this water tower was happening. Why they chose to do it so early in the day, is a mystery to me but with great foresight I changed direction. Imagine sweating & huffing past the dignitaries...

Like so often in life, when we change direction something good happens. I ran into an acquaintance from down the road who had also taken flight from her usual route when she realized why the vineyards & forests were alive with cars. And you know what, we had a nice chat and those are priceless.

Oh, and as she and her husband make great wine, I managed to organize myself a few liters of their Hauswein. I tend to think that the Hauswein is often a better option because it doesn't have any fancy footnote attached and you can drink it at your leisure and eh, often! Hauswein, Vin de Maison, Vino della casa or Vino de la casa mostly comes in liters and is more reasonably priced too.

The rest of my walk was almost an adventure for me. As small as our area is, I haven't seen all of it yet...

The church of Deutsch-Schützen standing tall in the distance.
Amazingly, this photo was taken from the same spot, same time. All I did was move the camera to the left. Only Deutsch-Schützen was misty. The top area of this photo is showing part of Hungary. Don't you just love the colours?


Saturday, 20 September 2014

The Grape Harvesting Has Begun & It's White Grapes First.

Getting the timing right is an art form.

We started late in the morning as the fog had to lift and grapes should only be picked once they have warmed up. Bob and I were waiting for our call up and when it came, we sprung into action. We are pro's by now...well not pro's, but this was our 4th picking season and what was a mystery the first few times has become a familiar and easier row of tasks to understand.

The actual picking of the grapes almost seems like the easy bit. Yet when you are standing there picking, the rows of vines seem never ending...But before you set one foot into the vineyard, all the bits and pieces used need to be washed ( only clean yet high pressured water, no detergent of any sort ) and collected. In fact, washing stuff is a continuous bit of work when it comes to making wine.

Except for a few big wine farmers in our area, most vineyards are managed by the owners. Usually Mum & Dad and often the children will take leave from wherever to help with the harvesting. Burgenlander's are incredibly hard workers and have the most amazing family bonds. Some wine farmers only do their wine as a hobby while having a full time job. Yet, don't be fooled. They produce a few thousand bottles nevertheless.

And what fabulous wines we do make here in Burgenland!
Recently our friends from South Africa brought us a few bottles of South African wine. Those wines tasted extremely nice yet the next morning a headache ensued. No, not from over imbibing either. I do know that as a fact because while our friends were here we took them to the annual wine tasting ( Weinkost Deutsch Schützen ) and

if in Rome do like the Romans. They tasted a whole lot of wine. The next morning there was no sight of a headache or heavy limbs. Our local wines taste divine and are definitely quaffable...

Harvest days are always great fun. Often friends, family or visitors volunteer to help out.
Don't be fooled: Even though it is jolly hard work, it is an honour and treat to have a bit-part in the wine making process. Everyone knows how to drink a glass of wine but not many can say that they helped in making that glass of making wine....

Albert and Bob load the trailer with the equipment.
Setting off. All these crates and buckets had the high pressure water treatment form Bob...
A friend and her dog are here to help. What a cute dog he is...he kept on inspecting our work performance and did the odd stint of snoozing in the shade...
He posed perfectly for me and even though Bob's seems to be talking to him, he sat beautifully for the camera.
At one stage I was alone in the vineyard and waiting for everyone to come back from their various chores. Thought I would try my hand at a selfie and one that shows the stunning part of Burgenland we live in.


Friday, 19 September 2014

A Last Flowery Show Of Summer Perhaps?

A few more sleeps and Autumn is here!

We have been rather inundated with rain and more rain in the last few weeks, that seeing the sun so vivid and enhancing yesterday, had me whip out my camera. When you see the stunning array of colours, you almost forget that next week it is Autumn.
As per usual, I tend to take a lot of photos of the same image. But as I was organizing them, I understood a very important point...a lot of us forget to see the details.
Chasing bigger and better makes us neglect the wonderfulness under our very noses. Be it wealth, health or happiness!
Same subject but slightly different view of it. When you look at the details you can't help but be cheered up by the little purple flower on the mid-to-lower left...
The yellows make their mark in the midst of the pinks and whites. As often as I get to see the brilliant blue Burgenland sky ( on average we do have 300 days of sunshine per year ) it still makes me feel divine when I see it put the finishing touches of brilliance into any flower arrangement and display!
A lone rose on a rosebush a mere 10 meters further on. Isn't it sheer perfection of Mother Nature to know what colours to assign to its various subjects? Awesome, awe-inspiring...


Thursday, 18 September 2014

" You Speak Pidgin Too? "

This art of communication leaves a lot to be desired.

The moment you hear yourself using it, is a cringe worthy one. Quite frankly I tend to use it too. How awful, yet I can't help myself. Whoever taught us to use our language in a pared down pidgin variety?

Of course pidgin English is a great example and a lot of folk used it back in South Africa to converse with non English speakers. Stupid really, because how else does one learn the language.

We were in Hungary yesterday and I am ashamed to confess that the German I spoke had a touch of pidgin about it. I know I tend to pare down the language and speak slower yet there was no stopping me. Another cringe worthy moment that even elicited a shin kick from Bob so that I would stop it!

Isn't it arrogant of us to assume that the other person is a simpleton merely because they aren't fluent in our own language?

With Bob still learning German ( and he is getting better by the day ) or rather Austrian, no make that Eisenberg-ish, he is often spoken to in pidgin German / Austrian or Eisenbergish...gosh, even he sometimes notices it!

For Bob it is rather difficult as each village has their own accent. Even the tourists from Vienna, Oberwart or the next village over, will moan that they cannot understand the local dialect. Imagine how Bob is faring...

Even certain items have different names in Burgenland. Take the humble potato and its three different names:

Grumpian, Erdapfel, Kartoffel
Warm or hot weather gets sometimes described as:
warm, heiss, hoas

the last one is pronounced the same way as the English word horse and you can imagine that Bob for a while thought the locals were talking about a horse at the same time as sweating up a storm...

Another feature of this language called " Pidgin " ( whatever the base language is ) is that we tend to over pronounce each word. Gosh, sometimes we accompany this with a pinch of spittle and large arm movements.

Let me know if you have ever conversed in Pidgin...


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Men Are Still Boys At Heart, Whatever Their Age!

Some even naughty...

The other night at a party was quite informative on this subject. We were discussing the merits of living in the country and the fact that we could all be potential mini farmers. It is funny how most of us are talking about this return to the life of yore. All the upheaval in parts of the world has brought it about.

A lot of the men here might have jobs in the big city that don't at all resemble what their parents did, but the itch to farm is in their blood.

The weekend farmer
Naturally they remember the hard work that being a farmer entails but then they earn enough to buy a couple of toys for themselves....a high tech tractor ( with power steering, WiFi & aircon...mini-fridge? ) and so forth turns a spot of ploughing into a nice escape from domesticity and a nagging wife. Bob would love that too!

The subject of keeping pigs came up. It must be fun to rear them and aren't they notorious for eating left-over food, but who would kill this pig? Well, that's when I was blindsided with mental images of the pig slaughtering business. Men do take delight in painting a detailed colourful picture of any squeamish business. It gives them a thrill to see us shudder ( at least I did ).

And you know, just like in that iconic movie Crocodile Dundee and his unforgettable line

" That's not a knife...That's a knife "
the stories of how they helped their father slaughter pigs grew in stature and goriness. As the one guy was telling me a particular ' interesting ' pig-story his eyes shone with memories of being a boy on the farm. Even though Bob grew up in the city, he made sure to contribute a particular yukky story of when he was in forestry. It was so yukky, that I think he won in the stakes of the pig-slaughtering stories...

Yes, it might not be the in thing to talk about slaughtering pigs, but I think if you know where your food comes from, you show more respect for it. Obviously being a vegetarian is the best option for animals, but if you do eat meat, then just popping into your local supermarket and buying a pre-packed sliced ham removes you from the reality of it.

How often have you throw away sliced ham because you forgot it was there?


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Where Did All The Fat Go?

Never mind the flavour...

While visiting friends yesterday we were discussing the merits of fat. Of course like all good topics we came to it via a round about way. With all the current upheaval in the world, we realized that in our village we could be self-sufficient. Or at least partly so.

Most of us have big backyards ( our homes were farms in the days gone by ) and Bob and I could keep cows and chickens and while our friends could keep pigs. Yes, we were edging in on the fat debate. Nowadays, pigs are too slender. There is not enough belly fat on them and curing ham or such delicacies is far from easy.

During the last World War, having a few pigs made you a wealthy person. A pig could keep the hunger at bay during lean spells. In German a pig is often called a Lucky Pig ( Glücksschwein ) and now I know why.

Too fat or not too fat...where did this craze of not eating fat start? Even the pigs reared nowadays are almost fat-less! Take people today and see where they manage to consume fat?:

  • Most drink low fat or fat free milk. Just seeing movies scenes of people ordering at Starbucks with all those finicky orders of non-fat latte ( why bother? ), soy fat free milk, half-fat latte...oh just get over it and order a plain coffee & milk!
  • Yoghurts are a mean tasting fat free affair and if they only would know how much hidden rubbish is in the fat free variety in order to add flavour that they took out along with the fat!
  • Most people eschew butter as if it is a drug. Only now and again do they break down and have a smidgen, which they repent by jumping on their treadmills etc.
  • Meat with fat on it is trimmed down oh so quickly and salads are often ordered without dressing because they fear a touch of oil...
  • Anything extra is all available in the fat free variety and most fall for it.

Well, here is my opinion not based on any scientific facts but on my common sense. This diet craze of fat free everything has made some stay slender but let's be honest, no fat equals dry leathery skin! Yes, the dreaded wrinkles. A woman in her 40's who has viewed fat as the enemy during her 20's & 30's has a different skin than a woman who didn't. We can't all go to the plastic surgeon and have fat injections. So much easier doing it fun and pleasant way... Eating fat.

The irony is that everybody needs fat in their diet to stay healthy. Fat keeps everything running smoothly and unless you eat junk food ( which is the true enemy ) your body will stay in shape.

Apart from anything else, there is nothing better than:

  • ...having a freshly baked piece of bread with lashings of butter on it.
  • ...using cream instead of milk in your coffee.
  • ...eating a double cream plain yoghurt with a drop of honey. A joghurt so thick that your spoon can stand up in it.
  • ...a few scoops ( definitely more than 2 ) of properly made full cream ice cream.
  • ...eating the crackling on top of the roast pork. Proper crackling that makes loud crunching noises when you eat it. No sneaking there. Everyone knows who has the crackling...


Amazon.com:The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet

Monday, 15 September 2014

Things That Go Bump In The Night.

Nightly entertainment.

Thankfully Bob and I can tell the difference between a gnawing sound and a whistling windy one. The bumping could be from either. A ghost or a martin. Our cat Tigger is out of the running as gnawing isn't quite her thing. I'll have to talk to her about her laziness in defending her attic though.

Last night, with the TV blaring and Bob breathing almost louder in his TV slumber, I could hear the scratching and gnawing noise in the ceiling. No, I know it wasn't a ghost but it might as well have been, because we never see who or whatever is up there during the day. Tigger now and again perches in the attic opening during the day.

When the little bugger ( no, not Tigger ) in the attic did a stint over the kitchen ceiling, Bob woke up from the TV slumber land and straight away headed for the big stick he has standing in the kitchen. A stick for banging on the ceiling. Bob is prepared like a boy scout! As anyone who is roused from a deep sleep, Bob was grumpy to say the least and vigorously knocked the stick onto our ceiling. Small wonder it didn't drop down and thank heavens we don't have upstairs neighbours.

Bear in mind it was after midnight and when Bob lay down on the couch again, there was a minute's silence and then a renewed bit of ceiling noise, as well as more snoring from Bob. It almost seemed like the martin / mouse / animal did it with a spiteful grin. Gosh it was noisy. This morning Bob ( he is the master of the castle after all ) will have to brave the lion's den and crawl up there. Because I am usually holding the ladder and shouting the odd advice of:

" Look for droppings. Can you see anything ? "
which to tell you the truth, doesn't go over well, I can't capture it on film...

As we love our little Tigger, this whole ceiling affair puts us in a tight spot. As Tigger has a part-time bedroom up there ( and for all I know joins the activities with great aplomb or at least has an eye on them ) we can not put traps up there.

Maybe Bob and I should go and do some undercover sleuthing up there...do a sleep over in the attic?

Having an old house is charming, unpredictable and exciting to say the least. This heavy rain we have been having has uncovered a weak spot in our roof and chimney and rain has made an appearance inside. We will sort it out somehow, but I am recalled of a scene in the movie:

Under the Tuscan Sun
where she had a whole row of pots standing in the room, to catch the rain. Yes, we are on trend. No, no pots so far...


Sunday, 14 September 2014

Growing Up In The Rural Villages Of Burgenland Is A Treat.

A childhood in a Burgenland village is like winning in the Lotto of life.

Yes, a big city has its merits but you cannot beat growing up in the country. Foundations are made that are unshakeable. Even when the children do go on as adults to live in the big cities, they are a breed apart. Growing up with a rural background does that for you.

Bob and I were invited to a 50th Birthday party last night. We are still rather new in the area but it was a treat for me to see how connected most of the people there were. No, not connected with Internet or Mafia! They have those invisible yet rock solid strings of friendship and a life shared together.

They had stories to tell of being young together. Stories of sneaking out to go to a party together. Stories of spending holidays together. What was common to all those stories was that feeling of being there for each other and being there for the major ( or minor ) stages of each other's lives. That alone in today's obsession with working everywhere but home, is priceless.

I realized yesterday that there is a reason for keeping old photographs. Proper ones not the digital type. They might be a bit grainy compared to their digital cousins, but they are jolly good fun to take a peak at. When you are 50, photos depicting your roaring 20's are great reminders of the fun had. Last night, most walls had a sprinkling of those permanent reminders of youth.

What struck me straight away, is that the friends on these grainy photos were mostly the same friends there last night. Thirty years on and they are still there. The pinnacle of friendships. Oh, some looked nothing like they do now. Some hair has waved goodbye, some waistlines have expanded and of course hairstyles that were trendy then are no longer so. Oh, I am pretty sure that through the years they have had tiffs like the rest of us, but that is part of a great friendship.

Their are new generations of youngsters growing up in our village. A lot of the friends there last night, did go to Vienna or other big cities to experience a life outside of a village. Mostly to study and get better jobs. But when they started their families most moved back to our village to raise their kids.

I'm sure they want their kids to experience that same easygoing childhood they had. Granted, the number of small children here is not what it used to be but the community is working on that...
....yes, that way too but also in another way.

Most villages give you a settling bonus. If you move into our village permanently, the village gives you a lump of money to sweeten the deal.

As if that would be necessary!


Saturday, 13 September 2014

Dear Time, Do You Have To Move So Fast?

Where does the time go...

Living so close to nature and also in a small community, I tend to use different markers of time. There is the overall big time such as when my parents ( I have a set of six: parents, step-parents & parents-in-law ) tell us that they will be coming for a visit. They told us last year, and it seemed such a long time away. Bob usually counts down the days from three months out. As you might have guessed, their visit is over and they left yesterday.

There are some smaller measures of time slipping past as well. There is a part-time resident who spends half the year in Florida and half here. Oh yes, the word Florida gave it away....he is a pensioner and a jolly nice guy too. May is his time of arrival and now he is almost going back. Another block of time gone.

The main one is of course the Seasons that nature provides. In Europe we still get a distinct four seasons which is rather nice. At the moment Autumn is on approach, way ahead of schedule. The leaves are turning amber and the weather is a touch more cooler.

As to the weather, it is quite funny how the insurance companies send out text messages if there is an imminent spot of bad weather.

" There is a high chance of massive rain starting at 12 pm on Thursday and ending at 3.47 pm on Saturday."
and you know what, they are usually spot on. Rather spooky. Of course their text is about the only one I receive on my cell phone. Times have changed because in my single days, my fingers used to fly over the tricky buttons of my cell phone with the desired effect of getting almost instant beeps back!

In our local village shop, you can measure the passing time by what fresh vegetables they have on offer. Yes, we get local produce and not many imports. In Summer there are more salads and as Winter approaches, the hardy vegetables are available. Yesterday I saw a fresh bulb of celery, which is delicious in whatever from you cook it.

My car is usually parked right outside and unless you bring a basket, it is a case of carrying your purchases in your arms. As I bought two cartons of milk, a cabbage, cheese and a paper, the celery was dangling because I was holding it by the leafy stem. As most of us know each other
( or at least about each other ) it is rare to simply get into your car and drive off. No, often we shoot the breeze with whoever is parked outside. Nice.

Yesterday, our friend from Florida was chatting with an elderly gent outside. I went over to say hello but didn't stay long because the other guy, when he saw my celery dangling, gleefully informed me that,

" Celery soup is good for s** !"
well, that was me gone in a flash. Certainly not wasting my time there listening to what else he would mention...

Ahead of schedule, Autumn is approaching. The grapes aren't even harvested yet!
Even in the drizzle, Deutsch-Schüzen looks great.
Unfortunately the corn is taking the worst brunt from the bouts of rain we have been having. Seeing a leave change its hue is one of those wonderful specters of nature.


Friday, 12 September 2014

Aren't Memories Interesting?

How do you recall your memories?

Isn't it amazing how the pearls of wisdom and good sense get dropped into a conversation rather casually. Should you be busy getting a glass of wine or visiting the lav, you might miss them. They seem gentle enough, but once you ponder on them they take on a life of their own and you wonder why you have never thought about them before.

Memories....how do you remember them and more importantly in what sequence.

Are your memories in order of time or in order of importance to you? Yes, isn't it amazing and now that you think of it, the things at the top of your memory list aren't necessarily in chronological order.

One would imagine that our memories would go from year dot to now. Well, year dot is a bit overdone but I can remember being bathed in the sink. Obviously as a baby but that is all I remember of that time.

Life seems full of little pit stops that stick in our minds. A road map of the good and I suppose of the bad times as well. Sometimes our memories are linked to certain events.

  • The Charles & Diana Wedding.
  • When Princess Diana died.
  • Our own wedding / first date / divorce.
  • The wedding of William & Kate.

Most of us can picture what we did on those dates. We can recall who we were with on that day and where we were. Yet, how often do we forget where our keys are? In our house the search for keys,caps and wallets happens so often that we joke about it but with a hint of fear mixed into it. What or rather who will we forget next?

Talking about a memory, even if it is decades old, is as if it happened yesterday. Isn't it amazing how we can recall every little detail? Yet some decades don't register at all in our memory. School for me was rather a blur and yet others still relive those glory days.

Then you get the memory that keeps on growing 'unnaturally ' in your mind. Who hasn't embellished an argument or slight a hundred fold in your mind? Those memories should be put into the delete folder!

Well, hopefully we will all get the chance to make many more memories because they are proof that we have lived life. Even if it is in our own way, style and form...


Thursday, 11 September 2014

Yesterday We Discovered A Marvel Called Pinkafeld...

...and not a day too soon.

Why is it that we tend to ignore the things that are right under our very noses? Single women forget to look at the guy next door, families want to go to far flung holiday destinations and don't even look at their own country and of course the obvious one that happiness is within us and not in someone / someplace else.

Even back in South Africa, the local attractions, such as the Natal Midlands were often eschewed and only considered when visitors arrived. As most sporting events such as the weekly rugby matches were shown on TV on weekends, a lot of couples only got as far as their lounge. Yours truly also. Very sad indeed.

The four of us-The four Eat-a-teers, planned a last day of venturing forth into our beautiful surroundings. Bob had to go to the computer parts shop in Oberwart and my Dad got his newspapers at the same time. ( Gosh, can you believe it, he reads 3 whole newspapers daily. How amazing is that! ).

While we were waiting for Bob in the car, we changed our general area of destination from Hartberg to Pinkafeld. I thought as it was only an extra 11 kilometers from Oberwart and in Burgenland, it would be nice to see. Altogether it is a mere 40 kms from us in Eisenberg. Off we drove and what a pleasant surprise awaited us.

Pinkafeld might not have a Colosseum, National Museums, Cathederals and the like, but it has plenty of old world charm. The city center has still the old layout and standing there, I could picture a life lived there a hundred years before. Pinkafeld is utterly enchanting. They still have shops. Yes, shops like a Butchery, Seamstress, Shoe shop, Bakeries and restaurants galore.

We are so used to the huge shopping malls that we forget the pleasure of shopping in original shops. One of a kind shops. As convenient as a mall is, there is no more individuality. What you buy there, is hardly unique as all the major chains have a gazillion branches all over. We as consumers are herded like sheep by advertisers and conglomerates so it is darn nice to stumble across the high street of Pinkafeld.

Of course, we found a great place to eat as well. Naturally near the local church. All four of us liked it so much, that we took turns to fight over who saw it first. The jury is still out! Walking into the restaurant -Gasthaus Szemes - you could instantly feel that it was the right place. We were early ( eh, before noon but don't tell anyone ) and there was only one other person eating. Just as well we came early because within the space of 20 minutes the restaurant had filled up to capacity.

The biggest and most wonderful surprise was that the kitchen mostly used local and regional ingredients, listing them on the menu. There were about five meals on the menu that were totally organic. Then they showed which meal could be had by a Vegetarian and Vegan! Wow. But their normal menu was littered with delectable dishes. The choice was hard, but as it is so close to us, Bob and I can order more variations another time....

A bit overcast yesterday, but still a nice view.
My old man and the restaurant...
A bit of a reverse selfie perhaps?
My Krautstrudel was amazing. Sorry the lighting isn't perfect, but I didn't want to appear too touristy!!!
This square in front of the Rathaus made me think of yesteryear and taking the waters.
Who wouldn't like to venture into this lane advertising Vino?