Friday, 31 October 2014

Halloween In Eisenberg...

Trick or treat, anyone?

My mum had warned us that on Halloween we are to expect a lot of knocks on our door as most of the village kids do the rounds. Dressed for success indeed. Costumes as far as the eye can see and some gorier than others. But, I got the distinct parental advice to make sure and buy enough sweets.

As one does, one follows parental advice...and not just the once! The last two Halloweens, Bob and I had put out all the stops. We especially went and got a selection of sweets. Both of us relived our childhood and overloaded the trolley with the sweets we would have loved. Mini Mars bars, Bounties, Gummi Bears etc. Of course the kids of today aren't stupid, as they accept cash as well. Never mind the usual;

" Cash or card "
that you hear in shops everywhere, no, here it should be
" Sweets or cash "
I only know because afterwards the various mothers tell me that the kids are always proud of the wad of dosh they collect over Halloween. Let me tell you, that they at times collect oodles of money and they try and improve on the amount every year. In fact they are rather genius as the various groups that go out to knock on doors make sure to have a little brother or sister along for the cuteness factor. Cute pays.

Our collection of villages lend themselves ideally for Halloween. The kids ( or the one day a year you can call them real Monsters ) can roam about without any danger. Well, the only danger they face is the often repeated face pinch of elderly ladies.

" Oh, aren't you cute! "
often goes with a pinched cheek. Believe me, the village kids tell each other where to stand just out of arm's reach...

To be honest, Bob and I have not had the trick or treat crowd at our door. Two years in a row we were left with a mountain of sweets. This year we are going to buy sweets that we like...dark chocolate ( 80 % ) which of course will keep the loop intact. Nobody under the age of 30 likes dark chocolate. The warning will sweep through Kindergarden and school...

" Careful at Bob and Biggi's house. They give you chocolate that has gone off! "

Setting the scene for Halloween. A ghostly stage indeed.
Trick or treat anyone?


Thursday, 30 October 2014

Drinking Wine Is The Easy Part.

October is wine harvesting time and full of activities.

Don't you just love traditions? I do. There is something soothing to know that certain things are done at the same time, year after year. It gives me a sense of permanence which is one of the most sought after commodities for an emi & immigrant. Or to put it simply, putting down roots.

We are into our fourth year in Burgenland ( or as I like to think of it, wine mecca ) and the mystery of how to make wine is making space for knowledge of how to make wine. Bob and I have mastered the lower rungs of the wine making ladder.

Such as the tedious cleaning ritual after every chore associated with making wine, which Team BiggiBob have mastered rather well. Working with a powerful water hose is second nature to us. Well maybe not so much as both of us tend to look like drowned rats afterwards.

Oh, don't feel sorry for me. It is such a privilege to have access to the inner workings of a vineyard. Before any bottle of wine gets filled, a great sequence of events takes place.

The amazing wine made in our area is almost as nature intended it to be. No added flavours needed except maybe a wooden barrel. When you drink our local wine, headaches never happen. That heavy limb feeling the day after a long dinner party...not here!

The Eisenberg hills have a mineral rich soil and a lot of the grapes have this heavenly mixture of minerals as their nourishment. One or two vineyards are joining the organic culture and as nice as our wine already is...the future vintages will taste even more divine.

Here are a few photos taken of the various stages of making wine. They are not in sequence and taken over the last three years.

This is at the end of harvesting day. The freshly picked bunches of grapes get de-stemmed but often little stems get through the goal post. Never mind, Biggi is here to pick them out. Standing at that angle for an hour is worth it when you get to taste the end result. Less stems, better flavour.
Filtering the wine is done a few month down the road. But what a great colour...
The de-stemming machine needs an attentive attendant. Those blades turning could take your fingers off!
Bob at work pressing the grapes...
My Mum & Bob manning the press!
The pressed result. Not yet wine but not grape juice either. I love this deep red colour.
Life in a wine making area is great fun. Everyone loves to talk, drink and tell you about their wine experience. Three cheers for Burgenland and its many interesting facets.


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

A Picture Perfect Wednesday In Burgenland.

Finding the spots of beauty and colour among the browns of Autumn.

A rose and only the rose can look so powerful and nice. This rose shrub was the only spot of bright colour in this garden. Somehow it has the perfect setting, planting itself in such a way as to showcase the blue skies and vineyards behind it.
This is obviously man made, but it reminded me of an ice cream cone when I first saw it. Isn't it amazing how all four plants have grown in unison and with such precision?
This cosmos was such a nice surprise when I walked passed it. How cheerful and splendid in colour. The greens beneath it are like fans at a concert with arms swaying to the music of their idol...A flower to brighten your day. Just perfect.
You know, I walk passed this birch tree almost everyday and each time it enthralls me with its beauty. At times it shows more white or rather more green which then makes the white bark more obvious. A nice cheerful serenade along my walk.
Same birch tree set in context. This row of trees must have been planted decades ago with great foresight.
While we were cleaning one of the Kellerstöckls, I stumbled across this bunch of daisies at the entrance of the wine cellar. Even though it was cold, a cold enhanced by a biting wind, it found the sunlight and stretched towards it. At least that is how it looked to me.
Lavender is a soothing plant. Medicinal, beautiful and full of aroma. Lavender also keeps its head up during most of the year and hibernating for the other part.
Here, the lavender is planted in front of a romantic & cozy Kellerstöckl and the wooden frame fits it perfectly.


Tuesday, 28 October 2014

What Would Your Ideal School Be Like?

The schoolyard of Biggi's school might be a tad empty perhaps..

Here are some of my ideas for a school:

  • First and foremost, classes will be small. Not more than 10 children. Teachers are to be revered in my school and not overworked and stretched to the limit. A happy teacher equals a happy teaching environment.
  • All homework done ( at great effort and energy of and to the student ) gets checked and corrected by teachers. Gosh, in my day it was always corrected and looked at but it seems that it doesn't happen so often nowadays. Rather an own goal for teachers as they don't realize a recurring mistake.
  • Those that battle with spelling will get extra help instead of just critical red pen strokes. Dyslexic students will be accommodated and told how special they are. Dyslexic people are often far more intelligent then we think.
  • No test result will be announced aloud in front of the class. Oh, of course it is brilliant if you get an A, but what about those who have failed? Students need to be encouraged and not discouraged.
  • Fifteen minutes of every hour must be spent away from the chair. Sitting for so long makes you sleepy and unable to focus.
  • All Smartphones, cellphones and tablets will be forbidden during class.
  • Sport is mandatory even if it is just walking circles around the football field. As nice as the invention of the Internet is, it has made a lot of teenagers lazy and immobile. They spend hours slouched in front of a computer.
  • If those violent video games can't be discouraged ( and let me tell you that even though the popular computer games have an 18 age restriction, a lot of kids under the age of 18 have and play them ), there will be a weekly mandatory lesson for everyone in order to explain that those games are neither real nor relate to real life.
  • Life management classes will be held. How to deal with criticism, conflict, rejection and accept someone else's opinion with respect.
  • Debating clubs will be encouraged.
  • Healthy lunches will be free of charge and neither candy, chips nor cool drinks will be available in the school.
  • Manners will be reinforced, taught or both:
    Greeting people, respecting your elders, opening doors for others, offering your seat to older people, saying please & thank you and no swearing.
  • How to handle money. How to save and invest money. How to work with your money. How to live within your means.

How would you organize your school...?


Monday, 27 October 2014

This Hot Soup Reveals A Whole Lot More Than Flavour!

Saturday night's comedy skit?

Isn't it true that usually the small things shout out the loudest facts? Even now rehashing the event in my mind, I am not sure if I was part of a candid camera skit.

Bob and I were at a lovely function and at about 10 pm, hot soup was served and just in time as the alcohol had been flowing freely. No, we didn't have any soup, but I only became aware of this soup as a young chap at our table got a bowl for himself. It had a yummy aroma and you could see that it was still hot by the tendrils of steam curling off the rim of the bowl.

As they say, that is when the fun started.

" This soup is so hot, I can't eat it! "
Well, I thought to myself, wait a minute and then eat it! Bob was asking me something and when I turned back to the soup-chap, my eyes nearly popped out of my head.

The woman sitting next to him ( about his mum's age ) had taken the bowl from him and started to stir the spoon vigorously while also blowing into the bowl in order to cool it down...and no, I am not making this up! The young chap ( early 20's ) sat there smiling and letting her carry on but taking a tester every now and then to see if it had cooled to his liking. Good God.

The man sitting opposite me raised his eyebrows and of course yours truly couldn't keep her comment to herself. Believe me I tried valiantly to keep silent and my outburst of

" My gosh, you will never find a wife! "
had the same effect as if I had thrown a bowl of cold water over him. The band had chosen that second to stop singing and my comment might as well have been said through a microphone as it was as loud as could be. They all stopped talking and looked at me...
" Where on earth will he find a wife to blow on his soup? "
at least had the older lot nodding their heads, but I have a sneaky suspicion that I was far from popular!

When I think of this now, I can be extremely thankful that my mother-in-law only let Bob get away with throwing his dirty socks, undies & clothes where he happened to take them off. Gee whiz, I got off lightly with that one. Imagine if I had to cool Bob's food down manually too? That would turn into a case of the missing wife...Yes Bob, just letting you know!


Sunday, 26 October 2014

The Charm Of A Stormy Day In Burgenland.

Warning: This might entice you to grab a book and read...

It is so nice to be able to see and feel the clear distinction between the various seasons.
Well, The four seasons of course and each of them have their own charm, beauty and breathtaking spectacles. History does have a few different entries for the Four Seasons:

  • starting with the piece by Vivaldi
  • the 1960's band of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
  • The Four Seasons Hotel conglomerate.
  • and of course the lovely weather seasons.

The change over between Summer and Autumn is luckily not always so smooth and we often get a couple of Summery curtain calls. Gosh, even last week we were running around in short sleeves and shorts and quenching our thirst with a chilled Welsch Riesling...

Even early in the morning ( it was 8 am ) the clouds had cast their magical spell. The wind was howling and setting the scene. Perhaps for " Wuthering Heights " or
" Dr Zhivago " ?
Isn't the sliver of royal blue mountain protruding through at the bottom rather stunning? When I saw this, I was enthralled and possibly enchanted. Yes, even a stormy Autumn is magical.
Lately, I keep on mistaking Eisenberg on the Pinka for Eisenberg by the sea....This road leads to a slew of fabulous wine farms.
The sun did stay hidden for that morning but chose to make cast its rays on us later in the afternoon.
I know that Bob thinks that once you've seen one bird you've seen them all...but I like to see them in midair. They were just showing off for me and the my camera!
The croak of the raven across the wind swept plain was chilling enough ...


Saturday, 25 October 2014

Did My Husband Discover My Stash Of Self-Help Books?

Joel Osteen, Louise Hay or Wayne Dyer perhaps?

Those of you, who are married or in a long term relationship will know what I mean. It is not a case of married snobbery but if you are just stepping out together, the gloves aren't off yet or rather each has their best foot forward.

Gosh, it makes marriage sound a trifle real ( or surreal? ) but that is what makes it fun. Being able to be yourself without having to put your public veneer on at all times.

We were driving in town yesterday and I was almost ( not quite ) speechless when I heard Bob's reply after I had dropped one of those wifely helpful hints about his driving. Normally, oh okay sometimes I prudently hold my tongue and just grip the door handle, as no one likes a helpful passenger!

Oh I know, that could be the intro for a comic routine and at times the inside of our car could be an Improv Comedy stage! Anyway, first I mentioned that he was going too fast in the car park at Obi. Normally a sarcastic / miffed / cross reply would be instantaneous but yesterday I got a

" Oh, thank you. I hadn't noticed. "
fair enough, maybe he was daydreaming about lunch and hadn't heard my wifely helpful hint....

A little while later, while driving through a village he was a tad bit over the 50 kmh limit and I prudently pointed it out to him.

" Bob, slow down. You are driving too fast. "
" Oh thank you Biggi. I hadn't notice so let me slow down a bit. "
Oh, what has happened to Bob?

The final clue was when someone cut in front of him. Whereas normally there would be a string of expletives rolling off his tongue, all he said was:

" Oh never mind, I am sure he had to be somewhere sooner..."
Pleasantly surprised and intrigued, I demanded to know whether he had been sneaking Joel Osteen into the loo ( his best reading spot ) and he adroitly lobbed back his answer...
" Oh no, I haven't been reading anything like that. After all the years of being with you, it has finally sunk in."
Ouch, that could be taken two ways...


Friday, 24 October 2014

Warmth In Winter Is Not Always A Given.

The first cold front before Winter is giving us a hint of what might come...

Bob and I usually wait until icicles form on our noses before we put our oven to use. No, not quite as bad as that, but also not like a lot of our friends here. Gosh, anything below 15 degrees will have them rush to start their heaters.

As you know, we came from South Africa, a place where it does get freezing in Winter but for only a few times during a 3 month segment, so hardly anyone has an oven. Getting an oven for a few occasions per year was silly. We improvised with loads of blankets, socks, jerseys and what one would call Passion Killers but these did the trick. In fact, it was rather romantic and dare I say cozy.

Well, fast forward to Burgenland, and there are a few things I have noticed:

  1. The ovens get fired up long before it hits freezing.
  2. People run around in t-shirts and shorts in their homes which they heat constantly...
  3. In fact during Winter I put on a lot of layers, because I know when I visit somewhere it will be hot as blazes and it is necessary to de-robe. In fact, sometimes I sweat because it is so hot. ( Stuffy too as nobody wants to let the heat out.. )

Here is a thought...put on socks and a jersey inside your home and you will cut your heating costs a bit. Anyway, each to his own. Yesterday it was bitterly cold and the wind was howling non stop. Yuckie indeed but again rather romantic. Tim Burton could have used our area as a perfect setting for one of his interesting stories.

As we have had a leak in the roof, we both decided to put on the oven to help dry out that spot a bit. Gosh, I must say that it felt rather nice to be warm and cozy. Don't worry, we do heat throughout the cold season but we do it more carefully to save a buck and help the environment.

Driving home yesterday afternoon, they mentioned on the news that the conflict in Syria was entering its 4th year and that a huge amount of people are basically homeless. Imagine, not having a home and only if you are lucky, sleeping in a tent. Being out in the cold without extra layers of clothing or bedding is just plain awful. This shouldn't be happening in our times.

Our village and so far most other villages that I have seen in Burgenland as well, have a big container where we can donate our old clothing or blankets. What is collected gets put to good use and might help keep a few more people warm in winter.

Just about everyone of us has stuff in our cupboards that we never wear, use or look at. Let's take that and donate it to someone. They will be ever so grateful and warm.


Thursday, 23 October 2014

Nature Rears Her Not So Nice Side.

Floods in Burg again.

After the stint of fabulous weather we have had, one tends to forget that a spate of bad weather could be around the corner. With this modern technology we are usually a step ahead. Yes, the dreaded sms arrived from the insurance company.

Rain and heavy loads of it predicted. Well, somehow they needn't have bothered as we saw the sheets of rain belt down almost non stop. Followed by a thunderstorm of note that seemed to hover right on top of us and had me running to unplug the television and computer. Gosh, Bob and I were lying in bed counting the seconds between lightning and one does in bed!

Our trusty roof has a slight bit missing and that small gap gives us a rendering of water inside our home. Oh yes, our chimney has a leak. But, Bob has temporarily sorted it out with spit and polish or rather glue, slate and a prayer.

As our area has had more rainfall than usual ( or ever ), the ground is still saturated with water and only a few inches might have dried out with the week of sunshine. But for some areas the floods are here again.

Burg or rather one part of it at the bottom of the hill is flooded again. And not in small measures either. I tend to think that they have built a row of holiday houses ( at the lake's edge ) on a flood plane. Since we have been here, this stretch of land has been flooded a few times.

Driving passed the Badesee Burg ( Lake ), which sadly has morphed in size. Just awful.
You can see the holiday houses surrounded by water.
The tennis court and parking lot.
How terrible for the local farmers. A whole crop wasted. With global warming starting to take effect, the future is glaringly obvious. Nature's bounty might not be so prolific.
Bob asked me to take a photo of this stream. Gosh, I didn't realize there was one before. You could never see it because it was so low. Look now and it is a torrent.
I do hope that those that are flooded will be sorted out soon and not loose too much...


Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Women Get Better With Age...

If Hollywood dictates the absurd, then I am afraid, Hollywood needs the boot.

Writing this, I am wondering if I too am guilty of only favouring movies that depict the young spring chickens ( or the half mature chickens carved into a youthful look ). This morning I saw a photo of the " new " Renee Zellweger and at first I thought, gosh no, that's not her!

What on earth made this actress, who by the way has a legion of fans from her Bridget Jones Diaries, change her look so drastically. Wasn't her not so perfect look stunning in itself?

It seems to me that living and working in Hollywood might be a tough job for any self confidence. Being perceived as over the hill at 40, is clearly a sign to " get out of Dodge "...Ironically, most young girls dream of making a career in Hollywood, but at what costs?

We women get better with age:

  • We have lived at least a decade or more after finishing school and thus have an interesting repertoire of conversation, ideas and funny happenings.
  • Those lines around our eyes and mouth should tell you in no uncertain terms, that we have humour. We laugh. We enjoy life.
  • We are ( hopefully ) past that silly stage of keeping up appearances for others and are happy with our lot.
  • Those extra curves that we acquired show that we eat out at restaurants without that annoying sentence:
    " Oh, I'll have the salad, but without dressing! "
    Really why bother going out to dinner in the first place, if all you do is change the menu and frankly, those women must be the most detested customer for any chef...
  • Those of us who wouldn't dream of having a scalpel near us, are as we are. We don't scare people with an unmovable mask. Some of those spritzed celebrities are rather frightening because their face is void of emotions. You don't know if they are happy or sad or cross or dangerous...
  • We women over 40 are full of character and can hold a conversation, argument or household.

Obviously there are big lobby groups at play when it comes to Hollywood. Hollywood movies are the vehicle for advertisers. All those potions we put on our skin make someone a lot of dosh. Enough dosh to keep up the perception that love, life and money only happens if you look young, are thin and have no wrinkles.

Maybe it is time for us to demand movies where real women have the luck of finding romance. Let's face it, didn't you also love:

To a certain degree, we all try to stay youthful. Maybe we dress fashionably ( but hopefully we don't come across as mutton dressed as lamb ) but with elan, we exercise to keep fit and eat mostly healthy to ensure a long life. But plastic surgery is not what we do.

" Three cheers to us real women!!! "


Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Birds, Vineyards & Kellerstoeckels.

With such great sunshine I can't help it but to take more photos.

Don't be afraid, this isn't the intro to Hitchcock's The Birds but a picture of the bird-lounge at Eisenberg central. A well deserved rest before the trip, I expect...
These two chose the telephone line...and I am fairly certain that one said to the other:
" Stop chirping me already. I don't want to speak or look at you. "

Practicing landing and take off is part of the big trip South!
I have to say, that this image has many interpretations to it. But truthfully, I just liked nature's frame leading up to this shot. That it frames Eisenberg's church again, is one of those things...

Nature does provide the perfect photo material. Even though the corn looks rather dried out, the majestic oak tree and its green foliage, provides shade for the hunter's lookout.
An oasis of tranquility amid the vineyards of Eisenberg. This little place in paradise is available to hire. Hofzimmer...take a look and book your time out!


Monday, 20 October 2014

A Cultural Visit To A Burg In Burgenland Is A Must.

If not from the past, then from where....?

It really is a treat to be able to wander around the rooms and halls of a castle or Burg ( fortress ). We are so intent on getting more modern and more technological that we forget the treasures and dare I say inventiveness of the past. Burg Güssing has almost a millennium on its clock and that alone should make us go to see it...and not just the tourists, locals too!

One of many dining rooms. Isn't it magnificent? Building such intricate wall & ceiling structures back in a time where everything was carted by horses or people. Of course it has been renovated, but the underlying shape has endured. Genius. The table seats 17 and one can see the positions that various heads of the family have sat at over the last 800 odd years.
The walls in this room are covered with paintings of the various Heads of The Family ( not sure if it was a Lord, Count, Prince or Duke ). Amazingly to me, they all favoured each other through the various centuries. The earliest there was form the 11th century.
Just look at those wonderful ceilings. How clever to have done those in a time where there were no cranes, trains, tractors....!
Bob spotted this: a chronicle of events in 1289. Oh yes, they had Weinlese / Grape harvest. Wine was in our area almost a Millennium ago. How amazing is that!
The ladies must have taken their afternoon tea there. Oh if only these walls could tell a story...
A typical bed Bob to add spice to it:
" I couldn't sleep with pictures of my parents, in-laws and grandparents looking down on the bed! "

This huge window ( it couldn't have been a door, as there is a vertical drop of many many meters ) is fabulous. A picture frame in itself.
Life in this kitchen can only have been hard. No running water, no electricity and long ways to carry the food. But manage they must have and more than likely thought that their kitchen was tres modern compared to a century further back. Yes, it is all in the perspective!
Some of the original untouched outer walls.
It shouldn't only be the schools who take kids to visit these treasures of history. Everyone should go at least once a year to view one of the many castles and Fortresses around here. Children will be enriched by realizing that there was a life before the Smartphone and Computer.


Here are the opening times for Burg Güssing

Sunday, 19 October 2014

A Picturesque Sunday In Burgenland.

Breathtaking, warm and oh so moreish...

If this view is not enough to tempt even the most
" let's rather stay in bed lot " to venture forth, then I don't know. These morning impressions are the best and maybe in the next few days I will see more villagers out & about.
Yet again one can see that all roads lead, if not to Rome, then at least to a church...
When you look at this photo, the urge to keep poultry is rather strong. A few chickens or a few geese in our yard wouldn't be so bad! Mind you, the geese would out - quack the neighbour's dog!
The lane to inner happiness perhaps?
The autumn colour spectrum is too dazzling for words. Soothing too, especially the red morphing into orange.
A vineyard by the sea it seems. Amazing how the fog has changed our perception. I could imagine a little sailboat hurtling along.
Oh, that could almost be a flash back to times past. Times when the ocean / lake was predominant. Wow, it does feel like a fisherman's cottage by the sea. Fish & wine, what more could one want?
This was taken a mere 200 meters down the hill. Still in the Deutsch Schützen vineyards. These type of Kellerstöckl are usually for rent. Wouldn't that make a nice holiday spot? Beats the beach hands down!
Lastly, but not least here is the usual weekend occupation of a typical angler enthusiast. This pond is in front of our house ( no, the one mirrored in the water is not ours ) and this image is seen often by us...