Monday, 31 March 2014

The Beauty Of Attending Any Meeting, Function Or Do In A Wine Producing Village.

Eisenberg puts on a great local theater performance.

It is great fun and highly entertaining to attend the annual local theater production. Again it was a comedy play and so entertaining to watch. The three acts flew by in no time, which is always a good sign. A sign that the play was and is a hit. Hats off to the cast because they put so much personal time and effort into this play. The secret ingredient that makes it so watchable and a great show. Well done.

Back in South Africa, when we used to go to a local play, or dare I say committee meeting etc, there would be the obligatory wine and coffee on offer. Coffee was a bit of a generous description and the wine more often than not was Vintage Le Box. Maybe that was deliberate, because let's face it, you couldn't drink too many glasses of it.

Using the old excuse of having to drive and being happy with a glass of water was a standard. Well, imagine my surprise when the penny dropped about the wine served at functions and meetings here in our villages...

It's is the local wine. Local wine that is winning awards and accolades all over. Take last night for example. The club organizing the play was serving wine. In fact when you got to the counter, there they were. They being the various bottles from the local vintners. The good stuff. No plonk here. No box in sight. Only great wine at minimal prices.

My Dad told me yesterday that Austrian wine was the thing to serve at high end society functions in New York City. Wow, fabulous & about time too! The next big step will be when the wine lovers of the world discover the stunning wines of our area...i.e, differentiate our wine paradise here in Südburgenland from Austria. ( Of course there are plenty of other areas in Burgenland and Austria that produce delectable & award winning wines, but guess what, I am biased towards our area. )

America has California, South Africa has the Cape and France has Burgundy. Austria has Südburgenland as one of the wine areas of note. Don't just take my word for it, try one of our local wines. Either straight from the source or order them online. Here is a link to the local co-op of Wine Estates.


Sunday, 30 March 2014

The No-Make-Up Selfie: Have You Noticed It Too?

Most women look so much younger!

Make-up...we either use too much, not enough or the wrong kind it seems. It always looks so easy, flawless and self explanatory in the ads. We all forget that the ads feature glamourous models who have no flaws and when we get to see the ad, they have been air brushed vigorously!

For those of you who don't know about this latest craze sweeping the virtual world and I know my parents don't do Facebook, here is the crux of it: Your friends dare you to post a picture of yourself sans make-up. Bare and all. The true you. The idea is to create awareness for cancer ( I am not sure how that works, but it must somehow ). In the last week or so, our message streams on Facebook got overwhelmed with pictures of our friends posting a selfie au natural...

By the way, a Selfie is a self portrait taken with your Smartphone and posted straight away into your virtual social circle. Like anything else that is new, it gets overdone. Celebrities do it, politicians do it and now everyone else,it seems is doing it...provided you have a Smartphone.

But back to the no make-up selfies. The most curious thing jumps to mind ( and to eye ) and I wonder whether you have also noticed it? Most women look so much younger. Oh yes, without make-up they look on average 5-10 years younger. In some cases I had to look twice because I mistook a woman for her daughter.

Are we doing ourselves any favours, wearing make-up? Is make-up not there to help us look younger ( the over 30's of course )? To enhance a certain feature or hide a not so nice one. A most, unwelcome thought occurred to me...

Remember when we were young, there were always a few women who still did make-up the way it was fashionable when they were teens. In my age category it was the bright blue eye shadow all over the lid accompanied by generous lashings of mascara. It might have been the " in " look in the 70's but hardly made for the 80's. Not that these women noticed. In fact they thought they looked cool. Here is the thing, are we in the same boat now...imagining we are with-it yet we are resembling the blue eye shadow brigade?

Well, those selfies are doing us a favour because they show us our true beauty. Yes, all the nominated selfie lot are fine just as nature made them. Of course, I am hoping they didn't use a fancy App to Photoshop or airbrush themselves!

Have you noticed it young your friends look without make-up?


Saturday, 29 March 2014

A Tree Is A Tree Is A Tree, Or Is It?

The foliage of trees guarantee to make Spring a success.

Each and every year, trees put on the same performance with the same costumes and make-up. You could almost set your clock by them. What we tend to forget each year, is the sheer beauty and brightness of a tree during Spring. Absolutely stunning and amazing what nature creates and perpetuates.

Last year it was almost as breathtaking in the vividness of the yellow. The whiteness of the cherry blossoms frame the yellow of the shrub.
To be perfectly frank, I can't get enough of this yellow. When I see it, the day brightens instantly.
Isn't nature perfect? Walking is not only good for the body...
A classic reminder to explore the vineyards...A nice Welschriesling perhaps?
An interesting tree indeed!
Appropriately enough, it is outside The Ratschen... I often wonder who put up the bottles?


Friday, 28 March 2014

Feinschmecker Wine Awards 2014: Christoph Wachter Is The Newcomer Of The Year!

Wow, yet another world class winemaker in our neighbourhood.

This proves it: Living in this spot in Südburgenland is like winning the Trifacta.

  1. The best winemakers & wines voted by the experts.
  2. The most scenic, stunning and soul resonating surroundings.
  3. The most friendly people.

Christoph Wachter is still in his 20's but gosh, he is creating wines that win awards and ignite the wine connoisseurs with renewed enthusiasm and sheer joy in drinking a glass of wine. It's funny to see him around the village or driving jauntily in the vineyards and at the same time know that he is a winemaker of note.

As you can see from this video clip, he loves making wine. Gosh, when I saw this clip, I couldn't wait to taste this and his future wines. He is still young and has so many vintages ahead of him. Tasting and of course drinking his wines will be something to look forward to each year. His family has a Buschenschank above his wine cellar and at various times in the year one can sit there, drink his delicious wines, eat the traditional local food and soak in the stunning scenery. Oh yes, his cellar is in the midst of the vineyards.

There are a handful of young winemakers in our village who are creating an amazing buzz and impression in the wine world. Winning awards is a by - product on the way to achieving vintages that they like. Wine is their calling and it its what makes our area so fabulous.

When Bob and I moved here, a Gemeinde ( district ) made up of 5 little villages with about 1100 people, most of our friends and dare I say family thought we were slightly mad. From the start of our life here, both of us loved this Gemeinde and the life it let us have. Pure gold. Pure paradise.

Well, little did anyone know, that Bob and I were moving to Wine Lover's Paradise.

Again, congratulations to Christoph. Fantastic achievment.
This makes it official: You need to pencil us into your holiday schedule or at least for a long weekend. P/S: Did I mention that we are only two hours drive time away from Vienna Airport? Here is a link to our Gemeinde website where you will find all the local accommodations etc.


Thursday, 27 March 2014

Wine Tastings: Extreme Fun For Us & Vital For Any Winemaker.

Anther facet of producing great wine.

Oh, you thought you could just quaff your glass of wine without giving it another thought? Well, yes but don't forget all the little bits that make your glass of wine so very 'quaffable'.

Wine tasting or lets face it, tasting the wine can have many distortions. What you eat before you have a sip is the main factor for you mistaking a top drawer wine for a glass of plonk. Or if you eat at all. When you do go out for a nice evening at a wine tasting ( singles galore ) the chances of you brushing your teeth are very good. At least we hope so. But here's the problem.

How do you get the taste of toothpaste out of your mouth and taste buds. Some toothpastes are leaning towards a licorice taste that frankly takes a lot of eating to get rid of. How many divine wines tasted were ( are ) misjudged just because of that darn minty / licorice taste masking the taste buds.

For any winemaker worth his salt, it should be vital to have the best available taste bud cleansers at hand. Gosh, if I were show casing my wines I would hand out neutral crackers at the door and keep them supplied all evening long. Any overly spicy or taste bud cloaking foods would not be served or available. Chewing gums or peppermints will have to be spat out. Extreme wine, I would just like to sell the perfect taste.

Fashion designers show their wares on models so why should winemakers / wine designers not show their vintage on a neutral palate platform? Smoking is also a bit of an iffy. Aren't smokers notorious for needing extra salt on and in their food? Smoking hinders / cloaks the taste buds too, doesn't it? ( I would love to know whether the top winemakers in the world smoke or not? My money is on " not "...)

Years ago Bob and I went to Waterford Wine Estate in the Cape Wine Area. Funny, they are the only estate I remember vividly. Each of their wines to be tasted, came accompanied with its own piece of chocolate.

Not a supermarket chocolate but one specifically made for each individual wine. Chocolate made with spices to enhance or rather reveal the true flavour of their wines. It worked and I can still remember the sensation of having the various taste buds cajoled and caressed with the perfect combination of chocolate and wine. Of course Bob remembers the waitress more. She wore a short skirt...and if I know my husband, he'll probably remember her name too!


Wednesday, 26 March 2014

2 Tomcats Stage A High Noon Affair In Our Yard.

Proof that our feral cat is a female after all?

At first I thought our Tigger wasn't happy with her food. All I heard was exaggerated miaowing outside the front door. Intrigued and secretly pleased that she would finally use social skills, I opened the door.

Well, no sign of Tigger but I did see two well known neighbourhood scoundrels, slinking through our front gate and making a racket of note. Upon my baby-toned enquiry of what in the world was going on, they stopped for a second to give me a glare but then moved on. They were spoiling for a fight. A fight of note by the sounds of it. Geez-a-lou, I had never heard anything like it.

Murphy's law, the phone rang as I was calling out to Bob:

" Quick, come and see this! "
. Then, I had to multi-task: Concentrating on the phone call while at the same time keeping a beady eye out for the duelists and appraising Bob of the situation with hand signals.

Just before I ended the call, I saw Bob running after the duo at high speed, chasing them with a bucket of water. Brave or stupid? These two tomcats were at each others throats and formed a perfect circle as they careened down the yard. The howling they gave out was just plain awful. The only thing left for me to do, was to run for the camera...

I managed to get in on the action at the finish but I had to hold back Bob and his tray of water. In a way it was rather comical because the two would do their standoff and when I did my cat-language impersonation, they both turned towards me and gave me a look that could only be interpreted as... ' what on earth? '.

This was my first Tomcat fight and I don't know what the usual outcome is. In this fight, the black & white coloured cat ( aptly named Chechov ) seemed to win. No blood shed, only egos bruised. Curiously, the whole time they were going for it, old Tigger was hiding in her hidey hole watching the action. Five minutes after the two suitors had cleared off, she ambled out of her domain and carried on eating her dinner. Typical female. Two men fighting over her and she acknowledges neither...

This week has been a week of cats for us. On Tuesday we went to cat-sit or rather feed a friends bevy of cats. All feral but much more friendly than our bunch. Yesterday, before we had our own in-house cat fight, we encountered another cat. It was outside our English class and this cat was so cute and cuddly. Isn't it the best when they press their body into the side of your leg? Rather a change!


What a stand-off, what an earsplitting noise! Chechov is on the right.
Our old wagon wheel really makes it a High Noon Affair.
Bob trying to get them to stop!
Here is the nice cat from earlier in the afternoon. Bob's only carrying our chair, because all the chairs at the class are being seconded to the local theater!
How cute is this cat waiting for us to put her food out? Tuesday's affair.
One was a bit hesitant about us.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Sitting In A Comfy Kitchen While Watching Someone Else Make Lunch...

A simple lunch is prepared.

Visiting an elderly couple yesterday I sat on a kitchen chair and watched the wife make a simple lunch. A proper lunch. Not a lunch from a box, take away or fast food establishment. Well, good luck finding those here because the nearest Fast Food chain is a 25 km drive away. For us, the mighty Hamburger & Fries are more of a treat.

Anyway, I chatted to her in the kitchen while watching her make lunch. Potatoes, soup and flour dumplings. Dumplings made by hand. With eggs laid by the faithful chickens roaming the yard. Their happy " cackcackcack " formed a nice background noise.

The dough for the dumplings had to have the right consistency as it needed to be grated into tiny dough crumbs. Too loose and it wouldn't grate, to hard and it would taste more floury than needed. She used an ordinary salad grater. You know the hand-powered one!

Almost all of our kitchens are fully equipped with the latest electronic cooking devices & gadgets. I bet if you had to make a list of what you own in your kitchen cupboards and drawers, you wouldn't know the half of it. Or you have several of the same. In your fully equipped kitchen, do you also only use a favourite knife, spoon and bowl. Does anyone ever pull out all those cumbersome to clean utensils?

I find it is rather ironic if not stupid, to ask for all the mod - cons for your kitchen when you send out your wedding-gift list. Stupid, because you won't know how to use the half of it, and ironic because you won't use most of it. Who doesn't still hoard a wedding gift fully wrapped in a cupboard?

She must have made this soup a thousand times because while we were talking the dough misbehaved. She knew every nuance of this dough and how to get it workable by heart. For me it was a soothing and comfortable hour. When the dough was too soft, no problem and no stress. Just add a bit more flour. It kind of made me think of how we ( possibly me ) get our knickers in a knot if life doesn't work out the way we want it to.

As children we all want to grow up and change the world. We think up huge plans on how to do it. Plans that get interrupted by normal life. Instead of being disappointed in the ordinary life, maybe that is the ideal that we are all searching for. You know, the ordinary. Like making a simple yet delicious soup for lunch for example.

Instead of tearing our hair out at our problems, perhaps we should add a bit more " flour " or less. Watching this lady make her lunch and correct it almost with her eyes closed, made me wonder. Have we got it all wrong? Have we gone overboard on the Cosmo articles and Oprah shows? Life is simple. Life works. Life needs adjustment now and again. That is all...


Monday, 24 March 2014

Re-discovering Lendl's Backstube / Bakery By Chance.

Sunday morning excursions and meandering.

My Mum and I were out driving early yesterday. In fact we were coming back from Güssing. In a way, I suppose early is a relative term but here in the country 10 am on a Sunday is considered a tad to early to be careering around. That is unless you are on your way to Church. On the whole I think it might not be such a bad idea to use Sundays to relax and recharge.

Anyway, being up that early put visions of procuring a nice piece of cake into my mind. Where on earth do they come from...!! On our way home, I thought it might be fun to stop at Cafe Crustulum in Eberau but alas remembered in time that they only open in the afternoon on Sundays. Perhaps they should reconsider that option during the season, as they have the most picturesque and scenic deck upon which to breakfast, have coffee & cake or just contemplate the pure enjoyment of their scrumptious ice cream creations.

Then my Mum remembered Lendl's Backstube in Bildein. It was on the way ( taking a back road ) and we almost did a WooHoo, when we saw that they were open. In fact, we were there the minute they did at 10 am. They might have thought of us as cake addicts getting another sugar fix. I don't mind, because I love cakes.

We had been to Lendl's a few times before getting some well deserved ice cream on a sweltering Summers day or a hot cup of coffee when Autumn is on approach. They had the usual cake selections plus a few pieces that I had never seen in any of the other shops. Good, good, good. Between us we bought four pieces which might have been in connection with our eyes being bigger than our stomachs.

When we got to sample the cakes at home, we were pleasantly surprised. They were delectable, delicious and oh so moreish. To be honest, if it didn't mean driving 15 km there I may have gone back for some more. That is the one advantage of living in a big city, you can pop around to your bakeries at will...

Lendl's is well established in Bildein, which is another fabulous Burgenland village not far from us. During August, this village hosts a Music festival of note. It is a three day affair with national and international bands performing and fans can camp in the area. It could be likened to a mini Woodstock or a Splashy Fen...This one in Bildein is called Picture On.

Now I have another sight - seeing place up my sleeve when friends and family come to visit. Europe and of course, Austria are pictured in most minds as a place where it is the done thing to sit and have Coffee & Cake. Maybe that is why I am so fond of frequenting the local coffee shops?


Sunday, 23 March 2014

The Chimney Sweep Returns For His Spring Inspection.

Or Chimney-cop is policing his terrain.

Another one of the unique yet highly interesting little facts of life about living in the Northern Hemisphere. One has actual chimneys. Four times per year, this chimney sweep / cop calls on us. Look, I call him chimney cop because, gosh darn it he does look like one of those action heroes in those blockbuster movies I tend to favour.

Bob always rolls his eyes in disdain, mixed with a hint of boredom yet, when it is time for the chimney sweep to call on us, Bob cancels all other activities. He clearly doesn't see my point of interest but is hesitant to leave me alone with the sweep. Oh, last year when my friend and her husband came for a visit, my description of our chimney cop, found me with an ally. Not her husband of course. He stood behind Bob with his opinion and that peculiar way of rolling their eyes.

My friend tried to get me to have an unscheduled appointment with the chimney cop. She was dying to have a look at that superhero of the attic. It is whispered that touching a chimney sweep brings only good luck. Only on the sleeve of course! Alas I couldn't organize an ad-hoc sweep out. She had to take my word for it.

Our chimney sweep could be mistaken for a SWAT team member if it wasn't for the fact that he has a steel chimney brush hanging off his belt instead of a bang - bang. But, he is streaked in soot and wears those Bear Grylls like pants and has the physique of a SWAT member. It just dawned on me why that is. He needs to go into attics and such spaces.

The poor dear should get danger pay in our house. Getting into the attic involves a climb up a wooden ladder & through a narrow opening in the wall. All fours are necessary to crawl in. Yes, I tried it once and somehow managed to let Bob do the crawling from there on out. There is also the chance with an encounter with a peeved Tigger, whose main domain is in the attic. Eh, Bob did volunteer and thought I was too fragile to handle the crawl. Who am I to disillusion my husband!

The other day, I was visiting someone in the village and we somehow talked about the chimney sweep coming to town. She told me that they know or rather can smell whether we air our homes or not! It needs to be aired vigourously twice a day for at least 20 minutes. All windows and doors open, regardless of snow, ice or Arctic conditions. Through trial & error I have learned to air our house when Bob's either asleep or not in. For Bob, the warmth is precious and he hates to part with even a breath of it...

Anyway, I knew what time the chimney cop would call on us and gave our house a tidy up. Mainly where I knew he would work and also a two hour airing session. Goodness, I don't want to be talked about as the place that has an aroma...


Look who is guarding her space? When the sweep came, I did move those yellow bales. Tigger just hid somewhere...

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Rather Arrogant, How We Assume That We Are Better Than The Generation(s) Before!

Who started that trend?

Instead of learning from our parents and even further back along our family trees, we arrogantly assume that we know more, better and the right way to do stuff. It's too scary and not to mention sad, to contemplate how much precious knowledge has been lost through the ages because of each generation's superior airs and assumptions.

Watching a program about the conceptualizing and building of the first pyramids, put any thought of arrogance out on the scrap heap. Over 4000 years ago and they achieved such wondrous and really amazing architecture. A time before all the modern aides we all can't function without. You know, even imagining life in the middle ages is often a mind - twister, so thinking a further 3500 years back is indescribable.

Yet, when we do think of those times and people who lived then, all that should come to our mind is a resounding " Bravo ", followed by a quick
" Thank God I didn't live then! "

Almost like the Supermodels of the 1980's who didn't put a toe out of bed without the obligatory fee of 10 000 dollars for the day, we don't start any building or renovations without a jack hammer, power drill, digger and automated rubbish disposer ( often that turns out to be a spouse...I mean the disposer, of course )

The mere fact that those fabulous pyramids were built and have mostly lasted through the millennia, proves that we have much to learn. If you have ever lifted a bag of dry cement out of a car into the wheelbarrow, you will understand what a feat it must have been to shimmy, cajole & apportion millions of tailor chiseled stones to form the shape of the pyramids. By the way, each of the stones weighed a ton or two! Without tractors, automated pulleys or cranes. Oh yes, let's drop our arrogance tout de suite.

Remember, they didn't have the advantage of an aerial overview. No walkie talkies or smartphones to organize a precise placement. No ' Deep heat ' or ' Emugel ' to rub away the pain at night. No hot shower at the end of a hard day, never mind a tot of whiskey or a glass of wine. No end in sight in the first few years of building either. Imagine putting one heavy stone slab in its proper place and knowing there were thousands still to be put!

We have automated our life so much that we have lost the art of making things. I am not suggesting that we pull up heavy stones by hand, but it wouldn't hurt us to use a few less power tools around the house. It might give us a new found appreciation and maybe chisel our bodies to reveal our original waistlines...


Friday, 21 March 2014

Oh, Spring Is Sprung & Dare I Say It Makes Me Feel Young.

Happiness is everywhere.

It must be the extra tweets the birds are belting out. Oh, yes it is officially Spring. Yesterday was an amazing day and wherever I looked it seems that happiness abounded. Real world & the virtual one.

Bob and I happened to find ourselves in Oberwart to return a library book. We had ten minutes to while away before they opened for the afternoon. Luckily for us, they are situated in town which is littered with coffee shops that sell oodles of ice cream.

When in Rome and all that, saw us sitting on a bench outside the shop, savouring our ice creams. Such a simple thing, sitting and eating ice cream whilst watching the world pass by. Oh, divine. We saw Mums taking their young - uns to get ice cream. Those young kids were so excited about the prospect and almost danced, hopped and skipped to the parlour.

One kid had obviously chosen an exotic combination ( maybe so that no one would try and finish it for him. Yes, Mothers do tend to do that! ) As they passed our bench, all we heard was,

" Are you sure that was a good choice? Chocolate and sour lemon? "
" Oh Mum, you don't understand. "
Clever boy, because his Mum wasn't going to eat his ice cream...

The weather played along perfectly and it was so warm that a load of washing dried on the line in about 2 hours. Yes, we had up to 23 degrees. Don't get me wrong, I adore Winter and all that goes with it: Staying indoors and curling up with a book on the couch. Walking in the snow. The festive season and all those yummy Christmas biscuits. Yet, it was a welcome relief to be caressed by the sunshine. It was a relief to only wear a light jacket and to sport normal hair...not hat hair!

Happy Spring Everyone...Or Happy Autumn for those on the other side of the world.

Frank Sinatra always comes to my mind with the words: Spring is Sprung. Here he is a recording of him in Las Vegas in 1966: You Make Me Feel So Young (Live At The Sands Hotel And Casino/1966)


Aren't those the best? Daisies making themselves seen among the brilliant green lawn.
Looks all warm & fuzzy.
Tulips outside our house. They were planted years ago by the previous owner yet they are still here. Magic.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Isn't it about time that we get a woman soccer commentator?

You know, to make the match more interesting...

Yes, I watched the Borussia Dortmund and Zenit St.Petersburg soccer match last night. It was rather fun and I enjoyed the bumble bee coloured team. Their coach is rather watchable and has a sort of Wow factor about him. Seriously.

You see, that is why we need a woman commentator. There were hundreds of interesting and dare I say exciting facts that the regular commentator didn't pick up on. Why would he, he is a man after all.

  • First and foremost, a player named " Hulk " who, has the proportions of The Hulk? There should have been a little aside on whether he tries to live up to his name by working out more than the other team members.
  • At one stage, the camera panned in on a player ( blue socks ) taking a kick of sorts. Goodness me, what a massive calf. It almost looked as if he had stuffed a sock in his sock!
  • A woman commentator would have tried to distract us from the camera panning in on the eternal nose-clearing situations. " Quick, look away. " I mean, get a tissue...
  • You know, in the past the trainers tended to look as if they had stopped eh, training themselves. Often a spare tire would hang over their belts, hair would be unkempt and their clothes would comprise an old tracksuit. things have changed.
  • Most teams have amazing coaches. Take Bayern Munich... Good golly gosh, but he is a sight for sore eyes. Of course closely followed by the trainer from Borussia Dortmund. Doesn't he just ooze that " Je ne sais quoi " factor? Oh yes, there would be so much to commentate on. Oh dear, I almost forgot to mention the German National Team Coach...he could be a fashion model!
  • How about a little extra information about players: Are they married, engaged or single. Those are the stats that some of us would like to hear.
  • Who is their Figaro / Stylist / Barber ? Maybe we would like to send our man to the same place...

Yes, soccer matches are fun to watch but they would be even more fun, enticing and interesting with a woman commentator. Well, who knows...


Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The Penny Dropped But A Cow Is Still Needed!

1st taste of self-sufficiency.

Ask any bookworm about any subject and they will render an ( informed ) opinion and even go so far as to give you long winded instructions. Eh, I know, me too!

Having an orchard at hand bursting with delectable, plump and organic fruit it was only natural to make jam. Oh, and did we make jam. Our earth cellar is full and friends & acquaintances have had nice surprises for Birthdays and Christmas. To be honest, some of our jam creations ran the risk of having a bit of fungus on the rim where the lid sits. Only a few that is. The rest were perfect.

All through Autumn and Winter, Bob or I would brave the elements and our feral cat ( she lives above this earth cellar ) to replenish our need for jams. Oh, we made cherry, plum, apple, quince and blackberry. Simply delicious. The other day I discovered a different treasure in our cellar. For some reason I had forgotten that we had collected walnuts from our garden & a few others. Bags of them. By the way, if you were to buy them in the shop, 100 g of walnuts costs in the region of €5. My gosh, we are rich!

Anyway, coming back to the self - sufficiency bit: I was cracking open a few walnuts and realized we needed more bread. As I was weighing the flour, I got adventurous and added a handful of walnuts. Despite using the girl - scouts method of cracking open the walnuts ( an ordinary hammer and wooden board ) I luckily still possessed all my fingers. Please, you try it and see!

Anyone who bakes bread or has baked some before, knows the enticing power of a waft of bread baking in the oven. You know, if Bob and I didn't have to go to English class, we would have ripped the hot loaf of bread apart like a pack of hungry wolves. Is there anything better than homemade bread fresh from the oven? So fresh that cutting it won't do. Oh no, ripping is the only way. Before you know it half the loaf is history...

We were gone for two hours and the aroma greeting us was still enticing enough for us to head straight to the kitchen. Oh, I forgot my little trip to the earth cellar for a jar of plum jam to accompany the lashings of butter.

Set Einmachglas mit Deckel mit 6 St. 230ml Glas , Ersatzdeckel , Etiketten , Trichter und Holz Kochlöffel

The feeling of making your own bread and topping it with a generous dollop of your homemade jam is indescribable. In fact even if it were to taste iffy, it wouldn't matter a bit.

Ball Jar Heritage Collection Pint Jars with Lids and Bands, Set of 6

The only bit we could still master in the future is to make our own butter. Look, we have enough lawn and a stable to accommodate Miss Daisy the ( future ) cow, but I fear that Bob & I will more than likely engage in a bit of a daily tiff. You know, a tiff about who gets to clean Miss Daisy's stable...


Our walnut bread. By the way, we only use whole wheat flour.
It tastes even better with our homemade plum jam...

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Spring Makes A Triumphant Comeback!

Do you also love to see Spring marching in?

Often, the advent of the different seasons is taken notice of with a more or less blasé attitude. Oh, another year and blah blah blah...yet, isn't Spring the most important season of the lot?

During Winter everything ( even us ) lies dormant and in a hibernating mode. Trees are bare, grass is either brown, or hidden under snow and birds are either asleep somewhere or are sunning themselves on the beaches and plains of Africa. In fact, a whole lot have just returned and are enduring their bi-annual jet lag! Listen, they are tweeting and twitching everywhere at the moment.

Spring ensures that everything grows again. Be it flowers, grass, wheat, vines, fruits or vegetables. Yes, we need this season. Apart from everything else, it revives us from our Winter malaise and reminds us that not everything is in black & white.

Even though officially Spring is still waiting for Winter to clear off ( at least for another few days), it sure looks and feels like it has kicked Winter out the door.

Some trees get dressed in their uplifting robes earlier than others.
The blue of the sky is a perfect setting and backdrop for the yellow buds. Bravo, Nature!
Emerging from the forest at the back of our village. The forest is still clinging on to the last bit of bareness.
Nature's colour choice is always perfect.
The village church. Building churches on a hill makes sense because it will endure any flooding and also be seen from afar...reminding us to attend.
A typical village in Burgenland. Hills or rather vineyards in the distance and farms in the foreground. Agriculture & viticulture are the mainstays here.


Monday, 17 March 2014

Lara Gut Shows Her Mettle Along With Her Underpants!

Alpine skiing takes a break for the summer.

One could almost call yesterday a day of changing the guards. That is the sports guards. Rather a fitting viewing finale for us lounge lizards...watching two major sports on the same day. The start of the Formula 1 and the end of the alpine skiing season. Viewing kick-off was at 7 am.

The men's slalom run ended with a huge controversy almost made to order so that we wouldn't lose our enthusiasm for the new season. Gosh, everyone from the presenters to most of the skiers complained about the course setting ( 1st run ) undertaken by the Austrian trainer. Unfair advantage? Oh, I'd say - Yes. So much so that in fact I thought that Marcel Hirscher would maybe forgo the second run as a sort of fair sportsman's exhibition. Of course, that only happens in my imagination.

Who ordered this advantage to the 1st course setting? The trainer or the skier? I'll always be wondering. By the way, did you see how my favourite ( Felix Neureuther ) showed his fabulous gentleman fairness? Wow, what a guy. Can't wait for the next season to start.

The F1 on the other hand started with rather tepid enthusiasm. Surely by now the drivers and mechanics would have sorted out the new specs of their fast chariots? Exciting to watch...not so much, but maybe I am still on an adrenaline rush from seeing the downhill skiing etc on the telly. Tough to beat.

When you watch a lot of sport on TV you get to notice a general trend. It used to be the WAGS in English Soccer but now there are the girlfriends / wives in Skiing and of course F1. Can anyone tell me why most of the above are Models? Wouldn't it be refreshing to see a normal gal waiting for her man?

This last alpine season, the American skier ( Bode Miller ) always had his new wife in tow. In fact, as soon as he crossed the finish line, there his wife Morgan was giving him a hug / kiss or both. Eh, rather often it was a case of T.M.I. or G.A.R. ( too much information / get a room ).

Well, this weekend we saw another case of T.M.I. & G.A.R. on the circuit. Marcel has a girlfriend and surprise surprise, she is a model as well; complete with the obligatory dark sunglasses teemed with a bored expression. What is happening and why are the cameras always panning to these girlfriends / wives?

At least Bob had a little surprise ( actually his eyes were like saucers ) earlier in the week when a cameraman zoomed in on Lara Gut getting changed - of course, this has also gone viral according to Bob. By the way Lara, this was definitely a case of Too Much Information. There are changing rooms you know...but at least Bob will watch every race next season!


Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Simple Step-Counter / Pedometer Seems To Do The Trick.

Have you got one already?

You get ' Dancing with wolves ' and you get ' Bob & Biggi walking with pedometers '.
Gosh,why didn't we get one earlier because I have to say, they are like the proverbial sliced bread. A great invention but only if you wear clothes...

Eagle - eyed Bob spotted the pedometers hanging on the shop shelf at Tchibo and was instantly taken. Just as twins dress alike, we both had to get one and had our first day yesterday to try them out. As you might know, it is recommended to get to 10 000 steps a day. It is whispered that if you reach that number on a daily basis, weight and some health problems get given the boot.

Clipping mine on my belt from early morning, I was rather pleasantly surprised to already have done 800 or so steps before I headed outside. Who knew that housework pays off? Gosh, I can just picture Bob and I fighting over who gets to do the hoovering and some such...

As I told you this week, we have been working in the vineyards and the work there was not finished. All those pruned discards ( twigs of all sizes ) had to be picked up from the ground and carried to the trailer which was then driven to the local tree cuttings dump. My Mum had made herself a little contraption of sorts, to save herself going up and down the vineyard too often.

Of course, because I wore my pedometer, I refused to use this little contraption and opted to walk up and down ( carrying those pesky twigs ) ad infinitum. Every 5 minutes or so I eagerly checked my status and was pleased as punch when the steps kept adding up. By mid-afternoon I had reached my 10 000 steps and when all the twigs were collected it tallied to 15 000 steps. Yeah.

Bob forgot to take his pedometer and was a little bit put out, but because he was doing the driving and loading & unloading, he didn't get as much walking opportunity. When we got home though, he donned his walking gear and headed out. On his return he was so chuffed with himself that he almost danced into the house. Doing an extra hill had pushed his step count up no end.

Oh yes, this step counter does the trick and if it is true that the weight will stay off at 10 000 per day, then I will gladly find the chores to get that number.


Saturday, 15 March 2014

Do You Sometimes Jump Off Your Treadmill To Enjoy The Simple Things Life Has To Offer?

There is more to life than getting a new ' anything '!

Who hasn't been on this stupid treadmill. A treadmill that we have put ourselves on willingly. Always having more, better & plenty ensures our constant trot on this treadmill.

" I owe, I owe, off to work I go ! "

Do we even think about the actual price tag of anything?

Apart from the monetary price tag, there should be a price tag that reads:

Birgit, this new device will cost you 2 years extra on your daily treadmill adventure. Enjoy.
Oh, wouldn't that be refreshing.

What are the moments in time, that give us a soul-buzz? Guess what, most of them don't cost anything. Free, nada, zero. The only hard part is to recognize them and appreciate them for what they are because these moments are what makes our life special and extremely livable...

  • Sitting with a freshly brewed cup of coffee on your veranda and watching a stunning sunrise accompanied by an orchestra of birds.
  • Your husband giving you a compliment or saying " I love our life together. " out of the blue.
  • Playing a board game with your kids and being with them for an hour or two without any smartphone interference.
  • Going for a long walk and breathing in nature.
  • Emerald green meadows and azure blue skies after a rather murky Winter.
  • Going for a walk with your dog.
  • Reading a good book and as banal as it sounds, having the time to read it.
  • Not having debt to pay back...because you are happy with those simple & free moments. Good golly gosh, imagine getting a pay-cheque where you don't need to apportion most of it to pay back a loan for something you bought long ago. ( Good blog on this subject by Mr Money Mustache.)
  • Giving back to nature / society and life.

The other day a friend of mine phoned me. She is extremely successful on her career ladder and still busy in reaching the next few rungs. Her life is a constant rush of daily commute ( a few hours at least ), leaving early in the morning, hardly seeing her husband and stress galore. Look, she likes this lifestyle. But when she asked me what exciting stuff was happening in my life, it made me pause for a second.

Could or should I tell her about how our feral cat is getting tamer and likes to watch me hang the washing on the line or how Spring is being delightful and what fun it is spending the day in the vineyards? I did the obligatory " Oh, this and that. "... only afterwards did the penny drop for me:
I love my life and am so happy living it.


Friday, 14 March 2014

Men Beware, This Is What Happens If You Don't Replace An Empty Toilet Roll.

Whoever uses the last few sheets, should really put a new roll out!

It seems that even this is too much trouble for most men ( a case of Mum having always done it for them? ) and yet, I tend to think that if they lived on their own, they would be much more jacked up! The least they could do is to put the empty roll on top of the closed toilet lid. You know, to warn the next user...

Anyway, Bob got his toilet-paper karma indeed.

He usually does his walk at about 4 pm and as he was walking out the door, I remembered that we were extremely low on loo - paper. So low that we might not survive the night nor morning!

" Wait, Bob, please can you buy a roll of toilet paper at the tearoom? "
To give him credit, he didn't mind but only asked me to fetch him a plastic bag so that he could hide his purchase in it.

Bob is a typical man and buying loo paper is not on his list of favourites. Especially because I only want the 2/ply or 3/ply type. Buying toilet paper involves a vigourous reading of labels as the 4/ply kind tends to block the loo in no time. Oh, I just recalled Bob's brother's account of how they used loo paper during their army days...but I think that might be a bit risque to write!

As is Bob's habit when he comes back from his walk, he knocks on the door so I can let him in. The sight that met me, had me burst out laughing. In fact I told him to wait while I got the camera. Bob, who went out with a plastic bag, to hide the toilet roll, was standing in front of me with a ten pack of toilet paper...and an embarrassed look.

" They only had the big packet!!! This was so embarrassing. At least two cars hooted at me and waved while having a good laugh at the same time. "
Oh, the shop doesn't sell singles and there poor Bob had to traverse our neighbourhood roads with a big & unmissable huge packet of loo paper.

This put him in a tight spot: He wanted to get home as fast as possible because he was extremely embarrassed, but if he suddenly started to run with his purchase...everyone would wonder if he had the ' trots ' too!

Life is great here in our Burgenland and never a dull day indeed...


Poor Bob!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Blue Skies, Sunshine Galore & A Day Of Toiling The Vineyard!

Those spring days after Winter are most welcome.

The vines need tending to no matter what. Well, if it is really cold or frosty then there is nothing to be done but wait for warmer days. We have had such a great run of sunshine and azure blue skies lately, that the vineyards are alive & kicking with everyone tending to their rows.

Bob and I are helping in the vineyard today and we have organized a little field-pack:
A rucksack ( more of a handbag disguised as rucksack ) packed with vittles, sunscreen, tissues and communication devices! More than likely Bob will don his trusty shorts because this sunshine reminds him of South Africa but there is still that crisp cold wind now and again. So Bob, maybe not the shorts!

Being in the vineyards is fun and quite social. Now and again you can see the other pruners up above or below your plot and a nice little chat is often had. Not too long, as everyone wants to firstly finish the work and secondly carry on their divine solitude. Working outside in a vineyard is like that. You are so focused on the task at hand that you forget any and all problems.

Fortunately the rows we are tending to are on an even bit of the hill with only the side bits on a sharp incline. You do get some vineyards that are on a very steep hill indeed. Steep enough, that even a tractor might not make it up or down. Working on those vines will get you fit in no time.

Of course, the grapes harvested from those very steep inclines must surely be more sweet as they do get much more sunshine.

I was looking at a book of the history of Vienna ( gosh, starting from the 1100's ) and when I got to about 1900, there was a picture of one of the vineyards of Vienna. It showed a worker tending to it and apart form the black & white colour, it could have been a carbon copy of a vineyard of today. We tend to forget that growing and making wine goes back to very ancient times. Wine was the nectar of the Gods ( and for them ) after all...


I have posted this picture before, but I just wanted to show you the steepness of this hill. Photo taken in November 2011.

A calendar of our area...

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Be Honest, Do You Really Care About The Effort That Goes Into Making The Things You Use?

Why should you bother?

Bother you should, because once you realize how much effort, work and time go into making most things you might be a bit more appreciative. After all, we are collectively know as the
" Throw-away " society. Don't like it? Oh, let's just toss it out.

You know, now that I get to help in the wine making process, I pale at the thought of how often I would toss out a quarter bottle of left over wine. Wine that should have been drunk when it was opened and not merely poured down the sink because its berry flavour had lessened.

If you only knew the amount of back breaking work that is involved in making a or any bottle of wine, you would be humbled. Our generation is so used to just going to the shop to purchase whatever we want. No questions asked as long as we have the money.

At school it should be mandatory to attend a class of:

How & Where...most of what you consume is made. .
  • Maybe help feed, clean the cow - poo daily & milk a cow.
  • In fact, help in the process of making hay. Forking the cut grass onto a pile. Making the hay bales. Stacking the hay bales. Using the hay bales to feed the cows. Suddenly a liter of milk or a pound of butter takes on a whole new meaning...
  • Growing cotton. Picking cotton. Spinning cotton. Making cloth from cotton. Sewing a shirt from cotton.
  • Planting a tree. Pruning a tree. Looking after a tree. Felling a tree. Cutting planks from the tree. Making furniture from the planks. That might prove to be a big Aha moment for anybody.
  • Helping a winemaker. Planting the vines. Pruning the vines. Bending the vines onto the wire. Picking the grapes. De-stemming the grapes. Watching the grape juice turn into wine ( year or two ). Filtering a barrel of wine. Cleaning the empty bottles to be used. Filling the bottles. Labeling the bottles. Storing the bottles. Finally, tasting the contents of that bottle.

Somehow we have all lost the gist of life. Yes, we have an easier life than our parents or grandparents had. Yes, we have everything we need ten times over. Yes, most of us just go out and buy whatever we want or feel like. But let's be honest...We don't have that inner happiness of having produced something / made something / grown something.


Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Can You Remember Your 1st Pair Of Really Snazzy Shoes?

A pair so fabulous you had to sleep with them on?

It must be around the grand age of six that we cross this particular rite of passage. A new pair of shoes. Not just any shoe, but the snazziest and trendiest at the time.

Even at that age, it was a battle of will between Mother & you over which shoe to buy. A case of durability over style. Boring and yukky at that age. We wanted a style that we thought was the Bee's Knees. Mothers tended to look for shoes that helped a possible bad posture / instep and would outlast vigourous wear. What did we know then anyway. All that counted was to be noticed and admired in kindergarten the next day.

Can you remember having to try on the rather nerdy shoes first. Parents can be so cruel at times. Imagine getting shoes that don't blink, shine or overpower your friends? When we did get one of those snazzy lot, most of us couldn't sleep. Did you also paraded around the living room and did you also sleep with our new best shoes on your feet? Or at least next to your pillow?

Even our outfit that 1st day of showing off was chosen to highlight the new shoes. Wearing shorts / short pants / or skirts just to ensure they get noticed? Oh, those were the days, where we still found joy in the normal mundane stuff.

One of the boys arrived for our English class yesterday sporting a new pair of shoes. Good golly, you couldn't miss them and just in case we had missed his new footwear, he made sure to sit with his feet predominantly displayed at the table. To give him credit, he didn't plonk them on the table.

Oh, he was so chuffed with his new shoes. They still had brilliant form and colour which, I have to mention is not often guaranteed with boys. Puddles, fields and some such tend to be huge attractions.

" Oh, let me see your new shoes."
was the one question, that brought a huge proud smile onto his face. He was beaming from ear to ear for almost the entire hour. Isn't great when the ordinary things still make a difference to children.


Monday, 10 March 2014

Dear Bruce, Please Move Over Because Til Is In Town!

Die Hard & Tatort!

Bruce Willis or should I rather say John Mcclane has been a part of my pretend reality for a decade or two. Gosh, I hate to say it, but I saw the first Die Hard movie when it was newly launched. Oh, and I loved the movie and the other lot in the series.

Well, up to the 4th one that is. Bob could tell you how often I have taken out the video ( back in the day when the DVD was only a twinkle in the stars ) of Die Hard & Die Harder. Of course he wouldn't because he watched them with me!
In fact, I was a bit cross when the young kid behind the counter would say in a loud and slightly questioning voice:

" Eh, Ma'am, you have taken out this video 8 times already! Do you really want to see it again? "
Oh, the youth haven't got a clue. But you can see that I was a Bruce Willis and John McClane fan of the first magnitude.

The other day, I happened to get a chance to see the 5th in the series, and I have to say,

"Bruce, what happened? "
This might be the first time that I will watch a Die Hard Movie only once and it feels strange and not so nice because after all, the Die Hard series have accompanied me through a lot of thick & thin situations.

Last night the second in the Tatort murder series featuring Til Schweiger as a detective was shown. OH My God. Move over Bruce. Jeez-a-lou, Til is amazing. He plays this character with finesse, conviction and authenticity. Yes, just like Die Hard, the bullets keep flying and the bodies keep piling up. Overall, the action, actors & plot kept Bob and I on the edge of our seats.

The first Til Schweiger Tatort movie was such a hit in our house, that when I told Bob last night that the second one was about to air, he was as happy about it as I...

Til Schweiger is 50 although he looks like 35. He obviously works out, but so does Bruce. Til is one of the most successful actors, directors & producers in Germany and his movies keep on breaking the box office records...Mark my words, Til will be an example for men hitting the 40's because Til at 50 is simply amazing.


Tatort: Willkommen in Hamburg [Blu-ray]
Tatort: Kopfgeld [Blu-ray]

Sunday, 9 March 2014

When The World Gets A Tad Bit Bad, I Take Comfort In A Favourite Novel.

Dealing with the new realities of our lives.

As much as we all like to watch the news and events shaping our era, time or year, it can also be extremely daunting. Nations fighting among themselves, perhaps a bad outcome over a territory and weather that is downright frightening. A whole bag of stuff that gets thrown into our path of reality on a daily basis.

Those are the times when reading a book takes on such a special significance. Books have that unique ability to take us on an instant journey away from the current moment. A good book can make us a part of the scene, time and century it is set in.

For me, this form of time travel usually takes me back a century or two. To be precise, I love reading fiction set in the 19th and 20th century. A time before electricity or Internet or modern stuff. Imagine how civilized it must have been, if the way to pick and settle a fight was by lightly slapping your glove over the other man's cheek and fixing a time for a duel...

Oh, I know there was " pinking " in alarming proportions and if a gun was used, then even more of it. The novels of Georgette Heyer are usually set in those times. Times where duels were fought, and marriages were formed by parents, a glance or two dances danced with the same partner. Almost an easy time? Well, I would like to think that Bob would have called someone out for a duel over me! Even picturing Bob in the outfit of a 19th century Gent is well worth it...

My other favourite literary place to escape to is the delectable and wonderful world that Agatha Christie has penned. It is fictional world that has a soothing backdrop of Tea & Scones, Tea-time, knitting, country estates and dashing gents. Oh, and it has a few intriguing and unusual murders in each of her novels.

Apparently Agatha Christie is the third best selling author of all times, after William Shakespeare and The Bible. So if you haven't read any of her books, please try one. If you have the opportunity to get a proper scone or make one yourself, it is a nice treat to accompany the pure pleasure of reading her books...


Saturday, 8 March 2014

Pruning Of The Vines Or Meditation In Stunning Surroundings?

Grounding your soul...

Pruning the vines is jolly hard work. It requires decision making, strength and foresight. The way you prune today, determines the quality of grapes and therefore the quality of your wine. Pruning willy - nilly is hardly an option.

It seems that Winter has waved its final goodbye ( let's hope so ),and the vineyards are alive. The various pruners are out and about. Each morning when I walk in and among the vineyards it is the strangest thing. Often I don't see the pruners but I hear the sound that the wire string makes as the old vine is being pulled off of it. Good gracious, it is amazing how the vines have their tendrils around the various wires. It's a case of pulling vigorously or using the pruning shears and often its easier to pull.

Bob and I are in our third year of being allowed to help. Bob is more comfortable with his pruning shears, but I still take a while to figure out where to prune each vine. There are often numerous shoots and branches from it, and it is a case of choosing 2 - 3 twigs that will then be the host of the new lot of grapes. Snipping off the wrong one, might be a loss of 5 bottles of least that's what I think!

Most of the local women are such aces at pruning. Of course they have been in the vineyards from a young age and it is second nature for them. When you ask anybody, nine times out of ten they will say that they love to spend time pruning the vines. It is a meditation of sorts for them. No kids, no cooking, no nagging husband, no worries. Just the vines, stunning surroundings, fresh air and you!

Pruning is one of the steps that if done correctly,will help make a wine of note. Growing grapes for quality and not quantity! Taking my time will hopefully bear fruit...


Bob is in his element and very decisive...
My Mum contemplating the prefect cut!
Stunning scenery that is the trademark of our beautiful part of Burgenland. Imagine what it will look like in the midst of Summer...

Friday, 7 March 2014

A Bully Cuts In-line & I Show A Stiff Upper Lip!

A silent protest of sorts.

The layout of most modern Cell / Telephone shops might be award winning but hardly useful. Unless we want to deal with a nebulous machine there is no other choice but to go to the brick & mortar-shop. A shop with real people...although at times you get to doubt how real they are, because for some reason they don't greet or make eye-contact while you wait.

Yesterday, I deemed it important enough to go to this shop. As I stood at the entrance, my practiced eye ( remember I worked a Reception for yonks and know what is potting ) noticed three customers being handled. Three staff and three customer, meant a wait. Never mind, I stood at the entrance. Nice and in the center, ready to move at a moments notice to the appropriate counter.

Out of the blue, another customer walked straight past me. In a manner similar to a weasel he hurriedly sniffed at every counter ( trying to ascertain how far along they were ), inspected his options and with head slightly forward, plonked himself behind a customer being served. His wife two steps behind had the grace to peep up at me and display a bit of guilt. But other then that it was a more of a gleeful glance. Believe me, I was giving out mean looks in vast amounts!

Frankly that man apart from his weasel like moves looked a tad bit thuggish. Shaved bald head, attitude and rather stocky in nature. Not someone I wanted to challenge. It was either put up or shut up and I am not inclined to have pugilistic responses, verbal or otherwise.

Anyway, Bob had been wiggling his toes outside on a bench. After about 10 minutes he came in to inquire what was taking so long. Only a waiting husband can give credence to such a obvious question. Darn it, I made the mistake of telling Bob about the weasel.

" So go over there and tell him off? "
" Eh Bob, have you had a look at this man? Anyway, why don't you go and tell him to wait his turn? "

After a further long wait, a wait with a proverbial stiff upper lip, we couldn't wait anymore and cut our losses. We decided to choose another day. Can you believe it, I stood there for about 20 minutes and not more than a meter from the first staff member, and the whole time, he never made eye contact or anything resembling a greeting. Customer service at its best!!!

They should maybe look into getting a number system. As you walk in, take a number and then wait to be called...
Oh and also bring back that old fashioned notion & idea:

The customer is King and the least you could do is greet them.


Thursday, 6 March 2014

Could Bob Be Setting A Trend?

The fittest troupe in the district?

Bob, the latest recruit of the local fire brigade, has just had a weekend of fun and camaraderie. Team building of a sort. Gosh, as you know he thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact you could say that he thrived in it and bonded with all his fellow firemen.

The local fire brigade are volunteers. They all have time intensive daytime jobs. They have families and want to spend time with them. They have homes to maintain and as one would say, wood to chop. They don't have a lot of spare time and often that spare time is used for relaxing.

Bob has started his exercise regime in earnest again after falling off the ' path ' lately. A warning word from his doctor has done the trick and Bob goes for a long & vigourous walk most days. Murphy's Law, he has met up with his boss ( local fire chief ) twice this week while out on his walk.

Bob has been noticed.

" Bob, do you do this every day? "
" I try for at least 5 times a week!"
When Bob told me this yesterday, he was extremely chuffed. I, on the other hand envisaged a whole new reality.

A reality, where the whole volunteer fire department goes on daily power walks or runs. A sort of elite unit of our village. With cunning, the longer training runs would be organized on weekends at the crack of dawn. A starting time that would make sure the lads are in bed early!

Imagine having a volunteer fire brigade that is the envy of all the other villages. What might their wives say to this? Husbands, that suddenly are fit, healthy and with perhaps a six-pack might not be such a bad idea...a sort of bonus to having a man in uniform already!


Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Bragging, It Shouldn't Be Done, But It's Such Fun!

Speeding shouldn't be done either, but...

We are armchair enthusiasts. Of what you might wonder? Oh, of just about any sport that is being shown on TV. Maybe not all and sundry. I draw the line at Darts and Snooker which infamously Bob doesn't ! Personally I don't see the magic of throwing a little dart at a round target or trying to hit different coloured balls. Where is the exercise and what do you firm up?

Bob and I have had a long winter of alpine adventures. We stopped short of pretending to stand on skis while the races where shown on TV. Both of us have our favourites and show a ruthless competitive streak at times.

" Your guy is a weakling. He never does the Downhill race! My gal shows no fear & downhills like a champion."
Bob's Skier ( Anna ) is so far trumping my Skier. In fact, his star garnered a few medals recently! Naturally, we would have done & know everything much better. As I said, armchair enthusiasts.

After a long hiatus, the Grand Prix season is finally on the near horizon. A few weeks to go. Bob and I have a set routine for all the races. Depending on the continent it is held on, we go for early or late walks and always end our walk with a pop-in at the local tearoom. They have fresh bread rolls ( from a real baker ) on Sundays. They do cost much more, but a treat is a treat.

When the race is ten minutes away, we have breakfasted and are ensconced on the couch and armchair. There is nothing better than watching a Formula 1 race on Telly. Except...

...Watching it live must be a kicker of note. Of course ear-plugs should be standard issue for all spectators. Moving to the heart of Europe ( yes, since 1989, Burgenland is in the middle ) has so many extra benefits. Can you believe it, this year there are two Formula 1 races held within a 90 min drive from us. Give or take. Isn't that just too marvelous. In case you are wondering which ones: The Hungarian GP & Austrian GP.

The other day I tweeted this little fact to a Formula 1 fan. It wasn't meant as a brag but more as a matter of fact. He was rather envious I think. But the real brag would have been that I live in the midst of a wine producing area. One could say that I could walk to most of the vineyards to buy a bottle of wine...Now that is fabulous and worthy of bragging about!


Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Should We Panic?

Why can't everyone get along?

We were all so happy with the Olympics in Sochi. It was spectacular and fun to watch. Yet, what has happened? Rumblings of discord are being heard and more worryingly mentions of a possible armed conflict. Yikes, that is rather scary. What will be the outcome of the Para-Olympics, or more importantly, will it take place at all?

As some of you might know, I tend to get a ' bee in my bonnet ' and am fond of going off on a tangent. Bob knows that some of my ideas range from good to eh, questionable...Last night while watching this geo - political happening on the News, I said to Bob:

" Schatzi, I think we must buy seeds as soon as possible. We need to plant lots of vegetables just in case there is a shortage! "
To which he replied:
" Don't be stupid. That's not going to happen."
He thought about this for a minute or two and then,
" But we can't plant it haphazardly like last year. We need to plan it carefully and do it properly! "

At the very least, this will get Bob and I to do a nice crop this season. Tomatoes, cabbage, turnip, chillies, green beans, carrots and potatoes. For the last year or so, Bob has been cultivating our own compost heap and with any luck, this year we can use our own compost. It will be interesting to see if it will have a lot of weeds inherent...

Last year, we got our compost from our village. The local farmers had dumped a lot of manure just on the outskirts. Manure that we could get for free. Oh, we did about 3 trailer loads of this manure. It was an experience for us ex-city folks to shovel it onto a trailer. Putting a heap of compost / manure onto a shovel is not so easy! The aromas were on the overpowering side, but after the first trailer we acclimatized and we were both rewarded with biceps of note. No wobbly arms for me.

This free manure came at a cost as does anything that is sprouted weeds galore. Not to be too blunt, but we could get a gist of where the cows had eaten. Oh yes, manure is a fancy word for cow - poo! Living in the country, I love it!


Monday, 3 March 2014

Monday Morning & A Few Quotes.

A good happy start to the week...

" 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.
" If only the whole world could feel the power of harmony. "Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ( 1756-1791 )
" Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. " Anais Nin Diary, June 1941
" No good opera plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible. " W H Auden on opera.
" To like and dislike the same things, that is indeed true friendship. "
Sallust ( 86-c. 34 BC. )
Bellum Catilinae.
" Those book-learned fools who miss the world. " John Drinkwater ( 1882-1937 ) From Generation to Generation.
" What is a rebel? A man who says no." Albert Camus ( 1913-1960 ) The Rebel 1952.
" If you aren't rich you should always look useful. " L F Celine ( 1884-1961 ) Journey to the End of the Night 1932.
" Comedy is the last refuge of the nonconformist mind. " Gilbert Seldes on comedy New Republic Dec 1954.
" Friends-those relatives that one makes for one's self. "
Eustache Deschamps ( 1346-1406 )


Sunday, 2 March 2014

The Fasching Troupe Marches Past Our House.

Music, laughter and fun galore.

Bob left at 9 am or rather Darth Vader did and his return might have taken light years! He had warned me that there was an After Party after the party, and not to expect him back too soon. It wasn't my place to remind him that his 20's were a very long while behind him. Sagely I nodded and said:

" I'll see you when I see you..."

My wifely advice of having a bowl of oats for breakfast, was rebuffed with a terse...

" You are not my mother! ".
( Well, fast forward to late afternoon: he was starving and slightly tipsy. No, he hadn't had breakfast apart from a banana. ) Naturally it'll be a while before I make any more suggestions to Bob...Ah, at least not for an hour or two!

It must have been about mid afternoon when I heard a knock on the door. It was Darth Vader running ahead to tell me that his troupes were only a household away.

" Quick, fetch a bottle of my Schnapps and some glasses. We are coming! "
and with those words he disappeared down the road.

This was the call-to-schnapps I had been waiting for all day. The quickness with which I got myself sorted even surprised me. I took the bottle of Schnapps along with a few tot glasses and plonked myself down on the bench outside our house. Jeez-a-lou, I could hear the rumpus they created at the neighbour up the road. Raucous laughter, shouting, joking and live music...

The forerunners from the parade.
They really made an effort and looked like proper Hippies. Well done.
The musicians followed and they were obviously used to herding in the troupes. They walked, the rest followed...
Darth Vader returns but somehow he swapped his light wand for a beer?
" Look its me! "
Posing with my movie star...


Saturday, 1 March 2014

Fasching, Bob And Darth Vader!

Bob is having such fun!

Ask any man Bob's age, what movie he loved as a child and more often than not it was
" STAR WARS "---the original! Sorry Bob, but I am not plaiting my hair to look like Princess Leia. No, no, no! Yet, I have heard that some wives are donning the tunic and plaiting their tresses.

Bob's other childhood fantasy of becoming a fireman has sort of materialized. As you know, he is the new recruit of the local volunteer fire brigade. It was such an honour when he got the call this year. He had put his feelers out from the day we arrived, but I think the locals sussed him out first! Bob is enjoying this new Fire Brigade - life and has taken to it like a duck to water.

Today is Fasching or carnival as we would call it in English. Fasching is a very big deal in Austria and I suppose Europe too. The shops are stocked up with costumes of all sorts. Young and old alike go crazy at this time of the year and there are parties galore for them to act out their fantasies.

The local kids had theirs already and I believe it was a smash hit. Dressing up as Cops & Robbers...who wouldn't love that! Each village and club ( Youth club / Keep our village beautiful / Fire Brigade / Pensioners ) host a Fasching event to earn much needed funds. A smorgasbord for the Fasching connoisseurs. The local papers are full of pictures of the most innovative costumes worn. The return of the " Village People " ...

Eisenberg's float is doing the rounds of our village this morning. It's the fire brigade float and all the members have to attend and participate. Dressed up of course. Three guesses at Bob's Costume? Oh yes, that dark mask has been scaring me for weeks now. He leaves it lying around the house and to be honest when I stumble across it unexpectedly it gives me rather a scare. At least by next week, it will be put away somewhere in the barn.

Bob has also taken to appearing with mask in the various Skype conversations we have with family and uttering " I am your Father "...Good Golly, they all knew straight away and are obviously Star Wars fans.

Bob will be leaving very soon to man the float and I will be a single woman for the day. Even though it is a bit fresh outside, Bob should stay warm. The float comes equipped with Schnapps. No one should freeze there! Oh, isn't the simpler life fantastic. Happy Fasching everyone!


The Bob!
Cool Dude!