Monday, 30 June 2014

I Washed A Million Knives & Forks, And I loved It.

Our fire brigade had it's annual Frühschoppen yesterday.

Look, it pays to have a good dish washing liquid and some kindly soul organized a bottle of the finest organic type ( clearly a former holder of my station ). Bob and most of the team had a specific station assigned and I bravely ( or stupidly ) volunteered for the grunge work. How bad could it possibly be, I thought...

The fire chief put me as a floater into the coffee & cake corner. Little did I know, that it was also the only other corner apart from the bar-corner that had an industrial sized washing up station. Note: Washing up station, not a dishwasher! At first it was easy work. A fork here and a knife there with a odd coffee cup in between. I should have known why they call it the calm before the storm.

Luckily, there were at least three other volunteers at this station. One brought the dirty things, one dried and one re-wrapped the cutlery for the next use. All the while two other team members of
" Coffee & Beyond " made and served coffee. When I think of it now, the day went smoothly without any hiccups or territorial issues!

The whole day, my sink saw action. At times major action. Washing a fork & knife ( if you say it quickly it sounds different!!! ) is not as easy as wiping a plate and naturally I wanted to do a good job. Imagine if I got a negative review on my fork cleaning skills! Quelle horreur...

At one of the calm & under control moments, a moment with maybe ten sets of cutlery in my sink, the fire chief came towards us with a box of something while grinning from ear to ear. Immediately I thought that we were getting something to eat / drink or a present. Oh no, it was a box filled with delectable used cutlery and he dumped all there was inside it into the sink. Even my soap suds & clean hot water got a bit of a shock. The soap suds disappeared in horror and all of a sudden all I could see was a mountain full of dirty fork & knives. Not floating about, but building a tower of sorts.

Honestly, my back ached from being a tad too tall for this sink, my fingers had numerous stab encounters with a few prongs ( thank goodness the knives proved that adage correct. You know, that one about never getting a sharp knife when you eat out ) and the mountain of cutlery seemed to be never ending....but I loved being a part of this " Coffee & Beyond " team. Before you feel bad for my day of washing dishes, there were far harder stations in the hall: the waiters, servers, the kitchen, bar staff and the team providing the clean glasses ( Bob & Johannes ). Not a mean feat, when it was so hot and the beer and wine were the clear favourites.

When the last Schnitzel and roast pork had been sold, our station slowly got ahead of our workload and the sink empty & clean. We ladies dropped our forks ( not quite the pitch-forks ), took off our aprons and marched to the bar station, demanding a glass of wine and cheekily took a spare bottle with us to sit outside under a shady tree. After the first few sips of this fabulous wine
( made by one lady in our team ) we forgot any and all of the hard work and just had a great time unwinding, chatting and laughing. It was a privilege for me to have been included in the day. I can't wait for next year's event and hopefully I will remember to take some rubber gloves along...

All day I was thinking that this week we will only eat with our fingers at home! But then I remembered:

Bob does the dishes and I do the cooking...


Sunday, 29 June 2014

Another Sunday Full Of Sunshine.

Summer, Sun & No Surf...

Our neighbour dropped off a few organic apricots, and as one is bound to do: When life gives you apricots, make apricot jam.
Our area seems to be Stork-Central...literally and I dare say, the village does boast rather a lot of babies...
A new set of neighbours. Of course they couldn't be bothered to neigh hallo to me!
The purple guardians of our gate. Proud and beautiful indeed.
Walking next to the pond, I couldn't resist. Isn't this a wonderful image of reflection?
Different angle. Every morning I walk past this spot. In winter I am tempted to slide across it's frozen cover ( it does blink and entice me to test the icy cover ) and in summer I at times would love to throw a little stone just to see a ripple effect. The fish in there are rather big, so swimming is not a temptation for me...
A few minutes in the vineyard last Thursday.
The vines stand proud with the village in the background. Wine is the Raison d' Etre after all...


Saturday, 28 June 2014

How Do You Take Your Coffee, With Or Without Capsule?

Was it necessary to reinvent this particular wheel?

Yes, a cup of coffee made the capsule way does taste good and some in fact burst with exceptional coffee flavour & aroma. No question about it, but have you ever thought beyond this one cup of ' capsuled ' coffee?

Somehow I am still stuck between the 60's and the 80's in regard to coffee. The 60's method of making coffee reminds me of my Grandfather. He thought me the intricate details of making a pot of filter coffee sans filter machine ( oh yes, it can be done! ) and it makes me feel like a traditionalist. When I show off my 80's roots, it doesn't mean that I am in legwarmers, leotards and teased hair. No, just that I still make coffee each morning with a simple and rather old fashioned drip-filter machine.

They do still exist but one has to almost hunt for them in antique shops. Not quite but almost. At our local Eduscho / Tchibo store, they sell all types of capsule coffee machine along with a confusing array of different coloured capsule, but no humble filter coffee machine in sight.

Advertisers are clever and I have to take my hat off to them. They have managed to sell most of us the need to make a cup of coffee that cost us about 50 cents per cup, as opposed to a filter machine cup of coffee that costs about 10 cents or less a cup. ( By the way, why do you think that Coffee-Chains are so successful? A cup of coffee for 2-3 bucks...!) When you see it like this it doesn't look so bad, but consider how many cups of coffee your household drinks each day...

Each capsule gives one cup of coffee and afterwards this container is tossed out. A capsule has plastics and metals in it along with some sort of foil lid. That can't be so good for our environment. Consider how many millions if not billions of these capsules are used each year. More or less in the last decade we have reinvented a cup of coffee into something that causes even more harm to our environment. Stupidly I thought that their would be some environmental " Green " watchdog agency that would have vetoed this.

Sadly, only good old fashioned worry about our health might do the trick. What is being talked about ( but not yet proven ) is that drinking coffee made the capsule way might be more harmful to our health than good. Maybe living a simpler and simplified life is better after all....


Friday, 27 June 2014

Do You Remember The 1st Day Of The Summer School Holidays?

School, you only appreciate it after you've left it...

Many a car roof will be the bearer of an unbelievable amount of luggage. Many road maps will be bought or downloaded and many cooler boxes will be packed with sandwiches for the road trip. The annual family holiday to the sea-side, mountains or just a campground. The main thing is to have a holiday together.

This change of routine, even starting with packing the chariot for this annual trip, is a highlight in itself. All the frantic shouting that goes hand in hand with packing a " mobile household " into the family car is welcomed as it means the holiday traffic light is changing from amber to green. Many questions ( outrageous & stupid ) will be bantered back and forth between parents:

" Honey, where are my blue shorts / wheel spanner /
slops / sunglasses / passport / kids? "
" Wherever you placed them last, dear! "
The ideal answer...
" Do I have to do everything around here? Look for it yourself! "
A more realistic reply?

That feeling of going on holiday is the best when you are a kid. Even looking forward to building sand castles, meeting other kids and just not having to go to school. Of course, good luck to parents of teenagers and whisking them away from their staples: Internet, a separate room to be moody in and their friends is far from easy. Somehow, teenagers aren't as thrilled with building sand castles...go figure!

Not every family can or wants to go away on holiday but even staying at home has everyone glad for this break form a tiresome school routine...waking up to get your offspring ready for the school bus can't be much fun. Running around organizing lunch boxes, homework, and finding lost library books can make any Mum's life stressful. I have a sneaking suspicion that Mums have their own countdown to summer holidays and it possibly starts the 1st day of the school year!

The kids in our village are looking forward to spending afternoons at a local swimming bath
( a man-made nature lake ) complete with a few rounds at the tuck shop for ice cream cones, sweets and candies. Late night sessions on their Play-station, X-box or Wii will make them sleep late most mornings.

One of the Mums from the English class, has suggested a overnight ( English ) camping expedition for her boys in our backyard. Bob's rather keen to put up tents and tell scary stories while roasting marshmallows over the camp fire. In fact, he has an ideal vision which of course I dispelled for him rather quickly:

" You know Bob, to make it a realistic outdoor experience for the boys, you'll have to use the long drop in our garden... "


Thursday, 26 June 2014

Wheat, So Vital & Beautiful, How Could You Not Like It?

The basics of life...

Luckily I got there just in time. The wheat slasher is doing the rounds. No, not some escapee from an asylum but an escapee from a barn. The farmers are starting to harvest the wheat. It is just at its most beautiful and attractive, but we need to use the wheat for more than its looks.

As I was transferring the photos it occurred to me that this wheat is vital for us all. This colourful bit of canvas is the main ingredient for cakes, breads and so much more. We should really go back to the old ritual of giving thanks for the harvest. When did we learn to take it all for granted? We want bread...we go to the nearest shop.

One of the ladies I go and have coffee with, told me how during the War ( the second one ) the only food they had to eat was what they grew and reared themselves. They planted a field of wheat
( and obviously much more ) and this harvest would get them through the Winter. In fact, once the wheat was harvested by hand,as only some had a horse to help with the harvesting, they had to take it five kilometers to the mill. Once it was milled, they would put the sacks of flour ( or rather wealth ) in the attic where they had wooden containers. This would get the through the winter. Makes you think, doesn't it?

The other day, I stumbled across a reminder:

If you ate today, thank a farmer.
You know, when you see it as stark as this, it takes a few minutes to get the whole punchline. No, even the supermarkets would be empty without farmers. Without farmers, we aren't, pure and simple. Farming should be the most revered and well paid profession there is.
Farmers & Teachers should earn more can fill in this space!

Let me come back to my photos. Wheat in all its different guises. I hope you'll enjoy it.

The stage is set.
Nice, isn't it? A perfect combo...
Nature almost seems gift wrapped.
Intricate, delicate and bountiful. This is will make our food.
The two sides fighting over the beauty in the middle.
The last scene after the harvester has done its rounds.....


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

A Bite, A Goal & A Need For Contact Lenses!

A New World Order in Soccer perhaps?

You know, I could never understand the euphoria of the mega Football Clubs winning a match, league or tournament. On the one hand it was great soccer being played ( mostly ) but on the other hand there was this niggling thought in the back of my mind:

They are only winning because they have the biggest purse....

Whose fault is it that clubs purchase talent as opposed to nurturing young sprigs into talented club players? Are we so driven by results that we forget about the sheer enjoyment of a soccer match where relatively unknowns score goals? Yes, some of you already are thinking how naive I am; let's face it, worldwide, money rules above all else and we abet this in a way because we cheer for the clubs and pay to watch them.

These mega clubs with mega purses and a bevy of soccer stars competing in a league, is the same as those fun races at school, where some of us had to hop on one leg while others could use two. A foregone conclusion!

Do you also feel it? There is a change afoot in the status quo of international soccer. This World Cup in Brazil is highlighting a problem....the Big Stars aren't performing as expected. Maybe they only do so well when they have other Superstar team mates to help them score the goals. Some almost looks like lost lambs on the pitch, not sure what to do without a ball to kick while others were amazing, ie .Arjen Robben. Wherever you looked, he was in the mix making opportunities for his team. Nice.

No one will forget the match played last night. The nail biting, shoulder biting one. The Italy - Uruguay one. Italy having to pack their bags to fly home is small fry. Having a repeat biter showing his fangs on the International stage is the clear winner of headlines and dare I say coffee break discussions ( albeit the new reality of coffee break discussions is everyone sitting having a cup of coffee while typing up a tweet or posting on Facebook...very sad.).

It was rather funny hearing the German commentator during and after the incident. He once or twice said that ' the biter / Der Beisser " was in control of the ball. A minute later he must have been tasked in his earpiece, because he used his full name after that...

The only thing I want to add to this " Draculian " affair, is that normally toddlers do it to get attention and he should have been given a funky tooth guard like rugby players wear.

Leading up to the departure of Italy from the World Cup 2014, were a lot of blundering obvious misses. How on earth can such seasoned, professional and mega rich players miss a goal by such distances. Not once, but often. Did they want to lose, or should they have their eyesight tested? The kids in our village wouldn't have missed some of these goal opportunities...


Tuesday, 24 June 2014

A Rainbow, A Stork & Corn...

A textbook rainbow and more.

Just for you, here are a collection of moments in nature that are too beautiful not to share. I hope your Tuesday will be a nice one.

Last Friday evening, in front of our house. The late afternoon sun just caught the passing thunderstorm and gave us a beautiful double rainbow. How striking are the colours. I almost wanted to run outside to look for this much advertised and promised pot of gold!
Make a wish.
My ' cloud ' attraction strikes again. The perfectly positioned cloud at the end of the vine.
A wild collage, yet the height and colours are in perfect harmony.
A green bouquet for you. This corn can only taste fantastic once its harvested. A perfect deep and fresh green.
A slice of rural jungle...complete with field mouse ( unseen somewhere ) and bees, who could only be heard by me...the buzz was constant yet happy.
Summer has just arrived and yet this looks rather autumn like...
This stork meandered across the road in front of us. A bit of a dawdler...


Monday, 23 June 2014

A Greasy Fry-Up On A Sunday Morning!

A breakfast of Champions or just plain yummy?

You know, it doesn't matter what time I have to leave home in the mornings; I will eat breakfast first. Not a fry-up every time but oat porridge at least. Don't think me mad, but if I have to leave at 6 am, I'll have breakfast at 5.45 am. Those odd folk who don't eat anything until 11 am are a mystery to me and dare I say, they can get very grumpy...

Since Bob and I have been an item, we more or less have had a fancy fry-up on Sundays. We used to go to the local Mall and have breakfast there. Almost like an adventure and about a year or two into this adventure, we persuaded Bob's parents to go with us. At first they couldn't understand the allure of eating breakfast anywhere but at home, but very soon after, we had made mall breakfasters out of them. Even without us there, they still go and I think that is great.

What is this allure of eating out? Take this breakfast habit we had. When we went to a coffee shop, all the usual distractions of a modern couple ( Internet, books, bed...complete with TV ) weren't there and voila, an old fashioned conversation.

This going for a fry-up has so many aspects to it. Take for example the whole staging of these Sunday mornings: the aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafting through the corridors of the mall and beckoning us towards its source, the smell of toast in the toaster and of course the eggs frying merrily away. Simply marvelous. As a bonus, you could watch the supporting actors ( other breakfasters ) and their breakfast habits.

A greasy fry-up must have been an English invention back in the day, because it seems that only the former colonies are used to this kind of breakfast. It came as a slight disappointment to Bob and I to realize that hardly anyone serves a fry-up where we are. Breakfast here ( & in Germany ) consists of bread rolls / rye bread and jam. Sometimes they serve cold meats too.

Yesterday morning somehow saw us sitting in Badersdorf, at Aloisia's . My golly gosh, how did we end up there? ( all those delectable cakes perhaps? ) The sun was shining, the birds were tweeting nonstop and we sat at a table marveling at how nice our life is together. When I had a look at the menu, I couldn't believe it....Aloisia's was serving breakfast and among the choices was a 75 % fry-up;
( two fried eggs, a rasher of bacon and plain rye bread along with a cucumber and tomato slice ).

We both would have loved to see proper toast on the picture and possibly fried mushrooms, baked beans and relish, but hey, even the semi fry-up is a win. When I looked at the price, I had to double check with the waitress. Can you believe, all this including a cup of freshly brewed coffee is only euro 4,50?

Well, Sunday's might have to be re-planned in our household and maybe we can persuade my parents and or friends to come along with us on a Sunday morning Adventure to Aloisia's...


Sunday, 22 June 2014

Spielberg & Formula 1 Put " Normal " Austria On The World Map.

There is more to Austria than the Alps, Heidi and snow covered mountains.

Outside of Europe, a lot of people don't know the real beauty of Austria. Yes, the Alps and skiing are great but the gentle rolling hills complete with undulating fields are even better. Austria is not just a collection of mountains complete with holiday chalets.

No, not everyone wears Lederhosen...all the time, ( only Schatzi of course and should anyone be able to tell me how to get rid of a mouldy leather smell, please do tell me... p/s: the real McCoy Lederhosen should not be washed, ever! ) and a hat plumed with a goat's whiskers.

Burgenland, the province of Austria we live in is as hip as the next place. Only at functions do some pull out the Lederhosen and Dirndl from the back of their cupboards and wear them proudly. Traditions are traditions after all. Texan's wear stetsons, Japanese wear Kimonos, Germans wear Birkenstocks with socks and Bavarians eat Weisswurscht at the Oktoberfest.

Austrians live life and more importantly, enjoy it. Our province, Burgenland has in the past been thought of as the " poor relation " to the rest of Austria. But now that is changing and the rest of Austria is awakening to the possibility of visiting or even living in this slice of paradise. One bonus point is of course that life is very affordable here.

If you put your ear to the ground or rather put your finger on the social media circuit, you will realize that the secret is out: Burgenland makes unbelievably stunning wines that has the worlds wine critics agog and wanting more. What we sip without giving it much thought during a function or two ( and pay only about 1-2 Euros per glass ), would make Sommeliers weak at the knees while tasting it, never mind the ecstatic descriptions of it. For us it is normal and part of the backdrop.

Burgenland is beautiful and happens to be right next door to Steiermark, the province where the Spielberg Formula 1 is held today. In fact, from our house it would be about 2 hours drive to the race track. I have a feeling that once the World sits up and notices how stunning, scenic and nice this part of Austria is, more people will come and visit. Waking up in a vineyard, sipping wine while watching the sunset, cycling the rural lanes and just unwinding from a hectic lifestyle would make any holiday perfect...

While I was out walking yesterday, a very fast looking & fancy Mercedes drove past me on the road. Thinking about it in regard to the Formula 1 race, it may just have been someone connected to the race. It was spluttering along at 50km/h so surely it couldn't have been a racing driver or the safety car, or could it have been?


Saturday, 21 June 2014

Soccer Madness Has Taken Over.

The World Cup 2014 will be one to remember, I think.

Somehow the recent upsets of the Titans / Big Shots / Millionaires of soccer not making that much of a difference, ( ie. countries that everyone had tagged for the semi finals, are not even past the first round of matches ) has made this tournament come alive for us spectators.

Far from favourites, suddenly upsetting the apple cart and winning matches is a treat to behold. Watching these modern day " gladiators " battling it out is fun. Granted, some of them are prone to do a bit too much acting the closer they are to loosing a match. A mere opposing finger tip touching them is their cue for a wonderful impression of a worm wreathing about on the floor.

By the by, do the " thespian " players think we are that gullible? One minute they are agonizing on the floor and the next they are going for it full guns ahead! Highly suspicious...

Isn't a World Cup tournament a sort of Shopping Mall for the various clubs and trainers? They are all out looking to spend oodles of money. Just like in a mall they'll have the discount shops and the luxury ones. Talent will get discovered and I imagine laziness uncovered...

Have you also noticed how at times the important stars, those that do earn unbelievable amounts of money, seem not so eager any more? Let's face it, if you had 10 / 20 or more million in the bank ( and know that there is more on the way ) would you still give it your all? Are these soccer stars reflecting the malaise of society? Overindulged, bored and wanting for little.

What I have noticed about this particular World Cup and not really seen at others, is the large amount of players sporting tattoos. Are they trying to out match one another while at the same time have one up on the guy that started the craze; one David Beckham?

Yesterday's match between France & Switzerland was a cracker of a game. Wow, edge of your seat kind of stuff. A spectators heaven. This is what we want to see. A team pulling on the same rope and finding the net again and again.

On a personal note, Bob kicked a soccer ball about while waiting for our class to start. He was showing off and pretending to look as light as a feather on his feet while at the same time flicking the ball forward.

" Schatzi, you are like Messi....only spelled with a Y. "
at least I can still get Bob to laugh with real abandon...


Friday, 20 June 2014

A Day In The Company Of Nature.

Surprisingly refreshing.

These are parts of nature that I find so soothing, pretty and amazing. They are nothing special at first, but when you take a closer look, they can whisk you away to that part of your imagination that's made for day dreaming. A gentle nature gives us back our dreams and fancies. At least I tend to think though.

Most of us look for inner inspiration while out shopping, wearing our income with as many outer labels as possible and driving around in our pensions ( always upgrading your car ensures that your retirement is a bit further down the road ). Yet all along, the key to our inner happiness has been right in front of us: a blade of grass, a beautiful flower and wheat fields being massaged by gusts of wind.

A summer moment in a photo.
The wheat fields are changing colour and are a most heartwarming shade of yellow crossing into orange. The green creeper puts a full stop under the photo.
If that isn't a dream catcher, then...! A perfect spot to have a picnic blanket complete with a glass of white wine and a loved one. Imagine watching the sun set with this frame?
A perfectly placed lookout. It does look a bit like an old fashioned public loo, but no, it isn't a longdrop...
A simple walk does look enticing. Imbibing nature's colour spectrum washes a lot of cares away.
I finally managed to get some birds on film. There were so many fluttering in and about this tree and with cunning I got this picture. The birds almost look like flying saucers...
To end off, here is a bunch of flowers for you. Have a happy day...


Thursday, 19 June 2014

Wow, How Exciting, A Young Buck And I In The Vineyards...

A morning of fun.

Isn't it amazing how most days something exciting happens. That, of course is the reason I am never without my trusty camera. Take yesterday for example. My mum and I went off to clean a Holiday Kellerstöckl and along the way she mentioned that one of the neighbours was looking after a young buck.

Wow, meeting a young buck up close can normally only be done in a zoo. I see buck(s) ( apart from the odd penny on the floor ) often on my walks but only fleetingly and in the distance.

This little buck is about three weeks old and was rescued in the middle of the night. He was found lying in the road and had obviously been abandoned by his mother and family. Stefan was phoned and he has been taking care of this little bundle for about a month now. He has built him a little enclosure complete with a nice sleeping nest. To be honest, when I saw how cute this little guy was, I would have let it sleep inside the house with me. His legs are still wobbly and he bolts around like an unsure teenager.

Stefan is so good with this little fella. He bottle feeds him 5 times a day and even gets up for the 3am feed. Frankly, I think Stefan is experiencing what any new mum goes through. Sheer exhaustion. These little one need attention the whole time and the buck is no different.

When we got there mid morning, the baby buck was whiling the time away until his next bottle. Stefan told us that they had been for a long walk in the forest and the little one showed signs of teenage laziness; he plonked himself down and refused to go further. ( I tried that when I was younger... )
Being in Stefan's arms is simply the best...
" Excuse me, but my nose is itchy. "
Isn't he just so cute and cuddly? He was curious about what I was doing with the camera in my hand.
Like any other teenager, he needs constant entertainment. Stefan kick the soccer ball to him and it did look as if he enjoyed it and tried to block it off with his hooves. No, he can not predict the winner of the World Cup!!!
He has the run of the yard. I know he looks a bit skinny, but I tend to think that it is normal.
Wow, that was so special, being able to stroke the young buck. Just fabulous.
Yep, like a baby. Feeding time.
Even I could tell that he had had enough of me taking pictures and watching him eat. But, I will try and visit him often, as his pen is on my route...


Wednesday, 18 June 2014

The Art Of Staying Awake For The World Cup Soccer Matches Tends To Elude Me.

Surely there must be a trick of sorts?

Isn't it typical. As a partial insomniac I've slept through most of the World Cup matches bar one: Germany vs Portugal. But oh, what a cracker of a match it was to watch. Why can't most of the matches be at around six o'clock and this good?

If the matches are exciting then of course staying awake is easier. Maybe a foul here and there to start off with, or a speedy goal such as the Americans performed, helps the matter. We have got to have a reason to stay glued to the match. The Belgium vs Algeria performance yesterday was a yawn fest until half time, and then we got a glimpse of why they say that the Belgians are whispered to be among the secret contenders to win!? Well, they almost stayed extremely secret.

Wherever the tournament is held, someone is having to burn the midnight oil. We have been lucky so far with having decent viewing times in past World Cups. Let's hope that the good matches in this one, are shown at earlier times.

During half time, the presenters ( mostly old - soccer stars ) go through a bit by bit explanation complete with arrows on screen. Bob things it is tedious but I assume they need to warrant such a huge salary to the TV station. Little crumbs of insider knowledge do tend to be banded about. Did you know that the height ( or lack of ) the Belgium player helped score the 2 goals? Now that will be impressive knowledge for moi to drop among a round of guys...

Even though Bob and I slept through the opening ceremony and only hopped aboard the World Cup " Train " through Germany's prolific goal scoring, we now do try and make the effort to watch the matches. The early one's aren't the problem. The semi-late one ( 9 o'clock ) means at least one of us is asleep. The midnight performances will be lost to us and unfortunately I only read about the thrilling finale of John Brooks scoring the late goal to win the match for USA. That must have been a great game to watch and I think they will be playing Portugal soon.

This is a match I will try and stay awake for. Naturally I would cheer for the USA, but I know that eventually Germany will go through in this group. Talking of Portugal, does the Superstar know that it is very obvious that he has his eyebrows enhanced by a beautician? Don't let me get started on Bob's comments regarding the Superstars perfectly oiled crowning glory! His moves are impressive though.

The world cup fever seems to have caught up with us and it is safe to assume that we will be watching all the early matches in full. ( Goodness gracious, I even googled Thomas Müller yesterday and was shocked to find out that he is only 24 years old!!! ) Is there anyone else who is amazed at how quickly the time has passed between the last world cup in South Africa and this one in Brazil? Where have the last four years gone to?


Tuesday, 17 June 2014

All Things Nice, Lavender & Spice.

Dear World, please calm down!

There seems to be a lot more unhappiness, conflict and hatred in the World right now. Where have we all ( collectively ) gone wrong? Life is something to be treasured and adored. Who or what will stop this madness in so many places? We all think with horror and disgust at what happened during the World War 2, and yet hundreds and thousands have been killed in recent fighting in Syria, Iraq and so many more places. Millions more live in conditions that you shouldn't wish on your worst enemy.

It is time to spread peace and tranquility. One by one we can make a difference especially in the era of Social Media. We are inundated by bad news, killings and greed. It is just as easy to Share something good than it is to Share something bad. I do wonder whether greed itself is not the instigator of a lot of these conflicts around the globe.

It might be laughable to you, but I strongly believe that even a moment where we look at, hear or read something nice, might help us move into a different direction. It might remind us that we don't have to participate or accept conflict of any sort. In the 90's there was this campaign to stop youngsters taking drugs.

Just say NO to drugs.
well, I think we need to start a new one.
Just say YES for peace...
Life is simple. Life is nice. Life is precious.


Lavender and its soothing influence.
Lavender and bees. Bees are so vital to us. Their buzzing is twofold; pollinating foods and putting a nice sound about.
Isn't life beautiful? When you ' get ' the simple things, the rest will sort itself out...

Monday, 16 June 2014

A Few Chicks, Cherries & Great Neighbours.

Picking cherries with a difference.

Yeah, it is cherry season and it seems that everyone in our village has a tree or two in their yards. The farmer who owned this smallholding before us, planted many other fruit trees but not cherry. I must say, it isn't the easiest fruit to pick except from the low lying branches. Of course,as Nature has it, all the delectable cherries are normally just out of arm's reach and a long ladder is needed. Last week I saw a kilo of cherries being sold at Lidl ( a discounter ) for Euro 6,99...oh yes, every backyard in our village has a wealth tree! More of a saving tree, as no one really picks the fruit.

The word got around that Bob and I love to jam. As Schatzi has slightly opposing music tastes to mine, we only do real jamming. You know; plum jam, peach jam and of course cherry jam. If only you know how easy it is to make jam you'd never buy another tin / jar again. This last week, three neighbours have kindly offered us the full use of their cherries. Great. Nice. Yummy. Even just wanting a bit of fruit only means going across the road and picking some of the tree.

Our immeadite neighbour has fabulous cherries ( hardly any worms ) and picking them comes along with a bit of entertainment. His cherry trees are where he keeps his chickens. He is the one who has created a sort of Disneyland for his chickens. They are a happy lot and often we can hear their " chicky-chats " across the road. Sometimes we get some of their eggs too. The proper organic free range type...

Anyway, I went on my own to pick a kilo & a half of cherries ( amount for one batch ) as Bob was toiling the vineyards. Naturally I took along my camera and decided to at first sit among the chickens to get a few shots in. When you have picked a few cherries, you know that your hands will be sticky and sweet. Not good for the camera. Just as well Bob wasn't there, because I took a lot of pictures. A whole lot, which I only realized when I loaded them onto the computer. But it was worth it.

I only wanted to get a few nice " chicken " shots so that I could give our neighbour a framed picture, as he loves his chickens and I want to thank him for always being so generous. When I saw some of the shots, they were to precious, funny and nice not to show you...

These chicks like to pose...
To be honest, I got a little bit scared when she came towards me.
Oh this is classic! I put it on Twitter yesterday and asked:
" Did you have a tad bit too much wine as well? "....and of course I got a response.
" My leg hurts, have you got your pic now? "
Gosh, what a colourful and nice plumage.


Sunday, 15 June 2014

Quack Quack & All That...

A glimpse of the Duck family.

Who doesn't remember reading the adventures of the Duck family. Huey, Dewey and Louie visiting their uncle. To this day I can vividly recall that one picture of uncle Scrooge McDuck taking a bath in his pool filled with money. Or was it full of gold? Anyway, a duck in a bathing costume is most amusing to a youngster. Just to be clear, I loved reading those comics. In fact I used to devour them. So there.

One of our friends has made her garden into a kids paradise complete with duck pond and, what a fantastic duck pond. We were there on Friday afternoon and luckily I had my camera at hand. Even her children helped me get a few interesting shots...

The family assembled and floating about. Isn't it a divine duck pond?
" Make sure you clean under your arms properly. I'll check later. "
" Do hurry up, Dewey. Stop waddling about! "
" Take your time kids. Chew your food before swallowing. "
A family outing to get the kids some exercise . A game of hide & seek might do the trick...
" Quick. Hurry up already, otherwise they'll find us! "
" Don, where do you think they are dear? "
" Gosh, I can barely see you through all that grass. Give us a Quack ...!"
" Ha, ha kids, we found you! "

Biggi Disney's Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: "The Son of the Sun" - Don Rosa Library