Friday, 31 July 2015

A Vampire & A Werewolf Fighting Over The Love Of A Gal Can Only Mean Twilight.

A love story reaching across generations.

A few years ago, I was in that magical landscape of a novel, a place where reality ceases to exist and your imagination is fired up and endless. Twilight is one of those epic love stories that touches your soul despite the presence of vampires and werewolves. In fact, these make it great.

While I was in the grip of Twilight fever, I had donned rose tinted glasses and was seeing this fictional story superimposed on my reality. Rather fun, I tell you. Naturally, I am a team Edward groupie and still picture him behind every Volvo I see on the road. One of the best things I did, was to read the novel before seeing the movie.

Fast forward to now, and as I told you, our niece has entered the Twilight world ( goodbye Monster High ). She got introduced to it while she was here on holiday and I wasn't sure whether she would like or love this novel...

I sort of had a clue when she watched the first movie twice while with us and then it got cemented yesterday. How wonderful is it, that she has tried to introduce her Nanna to the finer details of Edward and Jacob via Skype. ( I think a six pack was mentioned and compared ). A definite sign and I think another family member will head to the bookstore to pick up a copy.

Bob too, is engrossed in the saga and it seems that his brother is about to read the novels too. Isn't it nice to have a set of novels that are liked by various age groups? The secret to this is perhaps that when it boils down to it, Twilight is a love story through and through.

Unlike the need nowadays to bare it all, this story upholds gentlemanly behaviour and chasteness. Despite the at times gory actions of Edward and Jacob, there is a feeling of being cosseted and cared for by their love.

As strange as it would seem, a novel featuring vampires and werewolves might just become a yardstick for teenage gals...a return to old fashioned morals should definitely keep the Dads happy!

Twilight Saga 5 Book Set (White Cover)


Thursday, 30 July 2015

Remember When We Just Wanted To Grow Up & Have An Ordinary Job?

A butcher, baker or a ...

Most boys wanted to be either a policeman or a fireman in any case. For the girls it was slightly easier in that we either wanted to ride horses for a living or marry a prince! Tall order indeed.

Only when we were halfway through our school years, did we perhaps change our employment allegiance towards better jobs such as a trade, working for the government or maybe teaching. But we were proud of these choices and what is more, so were our parents.

The odd lot who were blessed with enough brain power to make it to the hallowed halls of university, were admired but not so much envied. Good for them, was the general consensus and of course they did miss out on a lot of everyday adventures and fun we had.

Fast forward to now, and everyone wants to go to university, and those who don't want to go, get pushed in by parental decree and sadly with pressure being applied for some from Kindergarten onwards... Not for the excitement of learning select academic marvels, but mostly for the ability to afterwards be able to earn a lot of money. Money seems to be the catch phrase of the moment. Money and what it can provide for one.

Don't get me wrong, I admire those who've gone on to study and perhaps conquer their chosen world but that doesn't mean that there is anything missing in normal life, if one hasn't done the same.

The pressure on kids these days to create a career that will provide them oodles of dosh, is the main thread in this tapestry of consumerism. Think about it...why is the need for oodles of money so great? Well, advertisers shows us that only when we own a luxury home, go on exotic vacations and drive the latest vehicle ( while of course holding a smartphone ), will we be happy and more importantly get our Soul Mate.

Isn't it about time that as a society we return to the ideal of yesteryear?

  • Having a home, an ordinary home, is ample enough.
  • Having a job that fulfills you is wonderful.
  • Having enough time in the day to spend with your family is vital.
  • Living a life without the latest gadgets, fashion and luxuries makes you the same decent human being as those who have all the mod cons.

The secret to being happy with the ordinary and not always wanting what everyone else has, is that even on a normal job you can live a great life and more likely than not, without the stressful spectre of having huge financial debts to pay off.


Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Who Remembers Watching TV Without A Remote Control?

Oh, the good old times....

As you might have gathered, our remote control has given up the ghost and new batteries will only be purchased today. Which effectively means that the last few days, either Bob or I had to get up off the comfy couch and do the deed of adjusting the volume.

Admittedly, when I first had a look at our TV close up ( and it is to my mind a fancy new one with only 4 years on its back ), I got a fright as there were no buttons to be seen. How on earth would we change the channels? Shew, luckily Bob knew that they are hidden on the side of it. Yes, go and have look at yours? Flat screen mounted on your wall...good luck!

As per usual, we do things the proper way and of course our receiver has also given up the ghost. Or at least partially. The overseas English language news channels kept on screening but anything else get cuts to shreds as normally only done by a vicious storm somewhere. No Signal. Yikes, so annoying.

We ranted and raved at the world for a day or two and I blame this on our addiction to watching television. My SOKO and Das Perfekte Dinner went out the window. We had small mercies though and with the proverbial luck of the Irish, we were able to watch the whole of the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday. Thankfully, because it was the best of the season...

After a few days of no remote, we have adjusted. Wow, amazingly we now have more time to read, which we do. If for some reason a program gets through the receiver, we actually watch it in its entirety. No flitting between the various programs.

Cunningly I have now and again waited until Bob was on his way to the kitchen etc, to plead with him to adjust the volume. In the good old days of the 1980's most of us didn't have a remote control. In fact, most of us were the remote control!

" Quickly go and switch to TV1, but don't stand in front of the screen! "

That reminds me of an even more annoying time in TV history: The bunny ears. Who didn't have to jump up repeatedly during a progamme and stand fiddling with those iconic bunny ears?

As I am writing this, I have had an insight that is extremely sobering:

  • Those who are still under the age of 30, might not know that bunny ears equate to a movable aerial on top of the box...
  • and even worse, most of those under 25, don't watch television on a TV anymore as they are enslaved by their tablet or Smartphone.


Tuesday, 28 July 2015

The Honesty System & The Old Fashioned Handshake Are Still The Best.

Don't laugh, that's how it was done for a long long time.

I am sure it is practised more than I know, but at the moment I have just had the experience here in Südburgenland. Mostly in the local Buschenschanks, honesty stands above anything else.

Going out for a nice evening at a Buschenschank is always fun and entails copious wine and vittles. Copious when compared to normal restaurants because a glass of wine costs on average 1,50 - 2,50 Euros. Unheard of in the restaurant business! Don't forget, this is not your ordinary plonk either but the real McCoy as only vintners are allowed to hold a Buschenschank.

At the moment you might be picturing our little " hamlet " and thinking how many people could there possibly be at the'd be surprised how hectically busy they are for the few weeks that they are open. A restaurant can only dream of these numbers. Often you don't find a seat and have to wait and sharing a table is the norm but coincedently a wonderful way to meet new people.

I don't want to slate restaurants in other parts of the world, but here in our Burgenland, only two or possibly three waiters are serving the whole place and speedily too ( up to 100 people easily ).

But now for the good part: As a customer it is your duty, or rather privilege to remember what you ordered when it comes to sorting out the bill. The waiters don't keep a tally although, they might secretly do so and just want to find out who is honest and who is not!!!!

Last night was a perfect example. Bob and I were settling our bill and as of course the Stubits's wine is so nice, we had more than a glass. Coupled with the fact that we both walked there, we tasted a few of their wines. As our waitress took out her writing block and waited for us to peel off what we had had, she must have misunderstood, because she forgot to add 4 glasses of wine.

Eagle eyed that we are, we pointed it out to her and she thanked us while adding the extra items. Honestly, if I know that I haven't paid for something, I feel awful and will make a point of sorting it out...

Don't you find, that if the other person expects you to be and behave with honesty, you automatically step up to the plate? Might be worth a thought, although if we all step up to the plate of integrity and honesty, where would that leave the lawyers of the world...

Here is a link to all the various Buschenschanks in our Gemeinde.


Monday, 27 July 2015

Eisenberg, Have Another Look! Austria & Burgenland At Its Best.

Just some aspects I find divine.

On Saturday the Kurier Newspaper chose our Eisenberg as one of the top 30 most beautiful places in Austria. As you can imagine, I am as proud as can be and wrote about it yesterday. Here are some photos of my Eisenberg!

Just so you know the authenticity...this photo shows the Eisenberg Weinberg with Eisenberg on the left and Hungary on the right.
At times winter can be like a fairy tale. Walking around Eisenberg, we discover one great aspect after the other. Running, walking or riding horses would be fun there.
Vines, vines and more vines...the essence of our area is of course the delightful Nectar of the Gods.
Only fitting that we now and again taste wine up in the clouds...a wine walk organized by our vintner's club. ...quite livable, isn't it?
You are wondering why I put a photo of a donkey here...but for me, that is the beauty of Eisenberg and our area of Südburgenland. Coming back from my walk, I at first heard the braying of a donkey and when I took a closer look, here he was, just behind a barn in our street. It couldn't happen in a big city, could it?
We are surrounded by forests as far as the eye can see and walking in it is romantic...of the beaten path, you better bring along some breadcrumbs though.
I happened upon this tractor club one Sunday morning at the top of the Eisenberg ( outside the Grenzlandkeller ). Isn't it marvelous to do a bike run, but slower? On top of the tractor, one has the ability to really imbibe and enjoy the slower passing scenery. Sometime soon, I'd like to be able to ride on a tractor!
Eisenberg is peeping out behind this street sign. Apart from being a wine lover's paradise, cyclists are also welcome and can pedal as much as they want and often only a handful of cars might pass them...
October amid the Eisenberg vineyards has so many beautiful aspects. The harvesting of grapes and the stunning variety of autumn hue that an October brings.

The cottage in the foreground is one many different holiday cottages / Kellerstöckl ) available to rent for a weekend or weeks on end...


Sunday, 26 July 2015

Eisenberg Has Just Been Chosen As One Of The 30 Most Beautiful Places In Austria.

The secrets is finally out that we live in paradise...

Personally, I can't get enough of our little village and its surrounds and even after four years of living here, I still give a silent ( sometimes audible ) thanks to the man above for letting me live here. I can't help it, it is just so wonderful.

When we announced that we were to move to a tiny village in Burgenland and let me tell you, that no one I know had an inkling where or what it was, eyebrows were raised and private comments were uttered. Granted, in Eisenberg we don't have car showrooms, supermarkets, bank(s), shops or fancy restaurants. Good golly me, we don't even have traffic lights and come to think of it the nearest one is about 25 km away!

But as it turns out, we don't need all of these things right under our noses. Should we have the urge to see one or all of the big city sights, we can hop into our car ( or even a bus for that matter, which drives as far as Vienna a few times per day ) and have a few hours of it or until our vat of lights, noise and stress is full. You know, the nicest bit about going to a big town or city once a week, is knowing that we can escape home to Eisenberg and its tranquility.

As the writer for the Kurier found out herself, we live in surroundings that are just too breathtaking. A wine area of such beauty and luckily bounty too, that not much else is desired. Yet our area has cycling routes to even tire out a seasoned cyclist, walking paths to delight any ambler, walker or nordic walking addict not to mention a newly added canoe route.

Walking in and among nature is not only good for the soul but interesting and exciting because often a buck or hare will appear out of the woods. Being able to walk alone ( in Pietermaritzburg it was a bit too dangerous ) and at any time of the day is a treat and I take full advantage of it.

Eisenberg is beautiful in each and every season. Walking most days, I get to witness the changing plumage of trees en route even when they are bare in winter they have a eloquence despite it.

We are a hop and a skip away from Hungary, where nature just carries on being divine. Driving on the other side of our Eisenberg into Hungary is a continuation of picture perfect blue skies and green fields adjacent to the golden rolls of straw that this time of the year brings. The hills framing these spectacular sight are filled to bursting with vines... the Old Masters would have delighted in putting up their easels.

Our village is a wine producing one and going out to the various Buschenschanks is such fun and of course delightful to be able to sample the wine of vintners who are winning awards and are causing the wine glitterati to sit up in a pleasant surprise.

Eisenberg welcomes tourists and there are many nice places to stay, even cozy & romantic Kellerstöckls ( cottages ) in the vineyards. Just this week, there is the added bonus of hiring a fully stocked picnic basket and sitting under a shady tree to do justice to it...

Could life get any better? Eisenberg, one of the 30 most beautiful places in Austria!!!!

Here is a link to our Gemeinde / District / Paradise...


Saturday, 25 July 2015

Reading Twilight While Shopping Makes A Lamb Out Of Bob.

Impatience & Hooting are suddenly history...

A few weeks ago our niece stayed with us and fell under the spell of Twilight and in fact in such a manner that you would have had to physically wave a hand in front of her face in order to get her attention. Bob was still laughing at that.

Well, all this talk of Twilight had him surreptitiously start on the first book of the series. I say surreptitiously as he only sheepishly showed me when he was half way through the book in under a day. Frankly, I would have noticed anyway because he developed the same traits as our niece...attention deficit or rather attention to wife's nagging deficit!

It's been a while since Bob has burned the midnight oil in our bedroom but now, he reads till early morning without a care in the world or for me, trying to sleep next to him.

The other day we did our weekly shopping. Normally Bob has just enough patience for my taking my time in D.M ( a shop that keeps cosmetic, health foods, hair care & skincare ). I can't help it, I just like looking at things in detail and reading labels ad nauseam. Well, I am lying as Bob's patience starts fading rather quickly ( after 10 min and I know this sounds utopian to other wives whose husbands get revved up after 2 min... ) resulting in his pacing up and down the isles uttering terse comments:

" Jeez, how much more can you look at! "
" For goodness sake, just hurry up, I am going to sit outside in the car and wait for you!! " times I have heard the odd hooter being applied, but as there were a few other women cruising and perusing the isles of D.M, the husbandly hint could have been for anyone of us, or none of us!

So now with Bob being so engrossed in the happenings in Forks, he was loathe to leave his book at home and just in case of a gap, took it along on our shopping trip. Wow, after a slightly longer visit in DM ( mainly because I didn't hear any hooting ) I went outside with a few made up excuses such as:

" Oh Bob, so sorry to keep you waiting, but the queue at the till was so long...!"
" Oh Bob, jeez, there was nobody at the till and I had to wait for ages to pay!"
My gosh, did I get a pleasant surprise...when I got to the car, Le Bob, was so engrossed in Twilight that I had to knock on the window in order for him to open the door for me.
" What, are you finished already? Gosh, that was quick! "

What a pity that there are only a four books in the series...

The Twilight Saga Collection Box Set: Twilight / New Moon / Eclipse / Breaking Dawn


Friday, 24 July 2015

Ordinary Days Are The Guardians Of Life's Nuggets Of Gold.

Every day becomes a treasure hunt.

We are so intent on going for the wow-factor and the extraordinary in life, that often the best things in life merely pass us by. The key to a happiness isn't found in a bigger house, a fancier car and a stunning wardrobe and somehow I tend to think that so many of us keep on buying more stuff in the hope that one of them has that elusive key to happiness attached to it.

Perhaps it is for some, but on the main the padlock to happiness irritatingly keeps on being locked for most of us. But imagine if all along we have been searching in the wrong place? Oh yes, movies and adverts keep on sending us on a wild goose chase and like blind mice we follow that advice.

I was fortunate enough to be allowed to drive a local villager to our district hospital to see a doctor there. He doesn't own a car and even eschews electricity at home. Yet, driving him anywhere is always a treat because he has great insights and stories of how life, in Eisenberg was back in the day. Daily life was much harder then but from what he tells me, everyone was much happier too.

While I waited for him at the hospital waiting room ( emergency area ) I had the opportunity to sit for a while and see what is often told to us but we never seem to take it in:

Our health is everything. The be - all and end - all!
...and guess what, being healthy doesn't relate to how big your house is! In fact, the bigger your house, the more stress you might actually have! Health has nothing do to with wealth and I think that is a big chunk of gold right there, or rather a big piece of that elusive key.

Bob and I drove through to Güssing later in the afternoon to shop for groceries. We chose Güssing because one of our villagers has moved to the retirement home there. Every now and then I like to pop in for a chat and to tell you the truth, it gives me such pleasure to see her eyes light up, when she sees that I haven't forgotten her.

On the way into the retirement home, there were a few elderly men in wheelchairs parked at the entrance. They were sitting there and looking out at the weather. Even though I just walked passed them, they gave me a cheerful greeting and a few words about the weather. Ordinary stuff.

But, driving back home, it made me realize how precious our lives really are. If you have the glitz and glamour in your life that is fine but if you haven't got it, that is fine too. This insane quest to only be happy once we have more stuff is robbing us of the real essence of life.

Living life each and every day is what it is about and not waiting until you:

  • have met your soulmate
  • got a bigger house
  • have children
  • have lost 10 kg.
  • or have lots of money in the bank.
Seeing these men sitting there and waiting perhaps for a rare visitor to cheer them up, it brought it home to me...they could have been rich, average or poor yet they are all in the same boat now.


Thursday, 23 July 2015

Bees Can't Get Enough Of Our Garden, Especially The Lavender Shrub.

A left alone garden does the trick of providing plenty of food for our bees.

A hovercraft couldn't have landed better. It is far from easy catching a bee in flight as they are so quick between meals. A fast food bee...
Honestly I don't know whether this is the same bee, as we have literally dozens buzzing merrily away. Believe me, I took a lot of photos in order to get this one. When you look through the lens of the camera, it isn't easy to spot such a small thing.
There are different types of bees in our lavender shrub. These ones seem slightly smaller and perhaps are of a lower standing in a bee hive?
I am sure that wherever this bees make their honey, it must have a fair amount of lavender flavour in it. They can spend all day in our lavender and the only time they hover off is when we water the lavender. But only for a second...
The bee looks full as a tick and is perhaps off home to salute its queen.


Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Eisenberg Is In The Midst Of A Heat Wave.

Tempers are starting to fray...

Who'd have thought that you can get these types of temperature outside of South Africa. Today we are due to be set upon by a sweltering 39 degrees. Well, at least that is what the weatherman has forecast and honestly, if he is out by a only a few degrees, it is still darn hot.

To add another layer of fun, the nights persist in staying around 20 degrees. At least it does feel a bit cooler and sleeping next to an open ( mosquito netted ) window makes it bearable.

Driving through our village yesterday made it appear like a ghost town. Everyone was hibernating indoors. Levers were shut, curtains were drawn and no one was visiting. One of our neighbours have built themselves a new, big swimming pool but I didn't hear a peep from there either. They did build their pool right in a sunny spot where there is not even a hint of shade.

Some parents make use of this hot weather and bundle their kids off to the local Badesee. But even that gets crammed full and shade is fought over. The mere thought of driving there in a car that is so hot that your t-shirt sticks to the seat, makes this not my idea of fun. If I wanted a hot car, I would get a Porsche!

Luckily I have a stack of books to read and in between when it gets too hot, I take an ice cold shower. That seems to help and if the only exertion is the trip to the kitchen, life is bearable.

Hopefully in a few days the heat wave will have subsided and we can get back to normal summer temperatures in the mid twenties and the freedom that it brings with it.

I have to say, that we are lucky indeed because while we languish comfortably inside our house, the local farmers are out harvesting all day long.

When it is so unbearably hot outside, it is unbelievable to think that in three months time we will have to layer up again and heat the house too.


Tuesday, 21 July 2015

A Little Cherup Sends Us A Message.

You know what they say about kids and dogs...they never lie.

A few weeks ago, our Danish family came to visit us for a few days. We had a great time and especially with their kids, our niece and nephew. We pulled out all the stops in order for them to have a good time and especially a good time without the dreaded Smartphone which somehow has morphed into an extra digit in their hands ( not just the kids, mind you ).

We had organized a visit to the chicken coop during frenzied feeding time and luckily that included the treat of both the kids being able to hold a baby rabbit and a baby chicken. Unfortunately our neighbourhood doesn't have any cows because that would have been the cherry on the cake. A farming holiday...

Look, the Internet was used a lot but not as much as it could have been. At one stage we even did a stint of playing Uno and little did they know that I have oodles of practice with the kids in our village. Aunt Biggi was not too shabby and won a hand or two. Card games are often forgotten these days and yet, when I was a child, playing cards was just the best. Canasta, Rummy or some such.

Maybe I remembered my thrill when it was summer and we were treated to a divine ice cream because that was on the menu that first afternoon. Bob and I had packed the kids into our car and went driving to Eberau for an ice cream. Of course both Bob and I had to have one too!

When their short holiday with us was over, they drove on to Croatia and it being the age of Facebook, we saw their photos of the wonderful holiday they were having there. Oops, I told Bob, that after that, our place in Eisenberg would pale in comparison. No beaches here.

When we spoke to them after they had got home yesterday, we jokingly told them that after their Croatian experience, we would be at the bottom of the list...

Well, on their last day of holidays, Brett asked his son if and what he had enjoyed the most.

" The best time was with Uncle Bob and Aunt Biggi."

For those of you old enough to remember that series Perfect Strangers - Bob and I did the dance of joy, a la Balky.


Monday, 20 July 2015

A Nice End To A Hot Summer Evening.

In the middle of our heat wave.

When it's so hot, venturing out during the day is only done when really necessary. Staying out of the boiling sun ( 38 degrees ) is vital and I for one have devoured three books already in as many days. As it is the tourist season, I did go out for a few hours each day to clean the holiday cottages. Hot as blazes but when you change your mindset it goes by in a flash and is even fun.

We had dinner plans last night. Doesn't that sound grand? Well, our friends had their last night here in Burgenland and we thought we'd have a last supper with them. When in Rome, do like the Romans and when in Burgenland do like the Burgenlanders...a Buschenschank of course.

Alas we had to drive there because it was about a 5 km round trip and if it weren't for the heat, we would have walked there. Walking is more fun, as you don't have the hassle of choosing the designated driver. With Bob and I, the choice seems easy, but...

The nicest thing happened on the way there. Driving down our road we saw a friend of ours. She had just returned from a weeks walk to Mariazell ( a shrine of sorts ). A whole bunch of friends do this annual walk and I think that they walk at least 30 km each day. Anyway, as we stopped to say hi, she told me that she had put in a good word for me...I was pleased as punch, that she had thought of me and also because a good word to the man above never hurts anyone.

Our Buschenschank of choice was in Eisenberg: Rennhofer. We were sitting on the veranda, sipping wine, looking out onto a vineyard and just having a good time. Our friends are from South Africa and each time they visit, they cannot believe how we all sit around without security fences, without burglar bars on windows and often without locking the car or even your house. It couldn't happen in S.A.

The Buschenschank was great and we discovered their house wine, which tasted good and more importantly was price at 1 Euro per glass. Have you ever...! ( by the way, in most Buschenschanks you keep a tally not your waitress ) It was wonderful sitting there and seeing the stuffy afternoon air being shafted over by the cooler breeze of the evening.

Our table had two bees that thought they were part of our party and kept on buzzing about our plates and heads. Gosh, they need to eat as well yet it was a bit annoying having a buzz not caused by wine.

When Bob and I got home a bit later, we congratulated ourselves for having chosen and having the guts to have made a change to our life. We love our life here and even though it has challenges, it was the best thing that we have ever done. Four years this month and loving every minute of it.


Sunday, 19 July 2015

Lavender Keeps The Bees Happy & Buzzing.

This swarm of bees adores our garden.

The delicate hovering act of a bee. Amazing to watch and see them flit about from one blossom to the next. Lovely.
Oh, the choice of blossoms is too much...where to land and pollinate?
The wings flap at such a speed that often you just notice a blur and a bit of wind. I must say, if I were a bee, I would also be attracted to the nice scent of lavender, not to mention the various shades of purple.
The gate is a mere adventure trip for our bees. Some fly over it and some try their luck flying through it...
A balancing act of nature...a feat that keeps us fed. Bees are the bee-all and end-all!


Saturday, 18 July 2015

A Jaded Princess Gets A New Throne.

Will she ever conduct her business on it, after yesterday?

Bob and Albert have laboured for weeks to get an outside area established. You know, one of those where it's fun to sit, watching the world go by while sipping ever so casually on a chilled glass of Grüner Veltliner. Don't be alarmed, I can also sip a glass of our local specialty inside our house...

It seems that while we can now sit and watch the cars drive by ( Friday evenings seem a real traffic jam with at least 10 cars passing by during the evening... ) our little princess, princess Tigger of Eisenberg, had watched Bob and Albert slave away to create this new bit of scenery.

At one stage Bob and I went to the local quarry to get a ton of stones and from her little hiding hole, Tigger must have watched with cat glee while Master Bob unloaded wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of various little stones. I can just imagine a cat thought flitting through her mind:

" Finally they are doing something for me and building me a place to while the time away waiting for food. "

Some finishing touches must still be done, but it is divine and ever so comfortable. Complete with recycled pig troughs which were in one of the barns and are now being used as flower beds. All around the sitting area is a moat of tiny pebbles for anchorage and also to give it pizzazz.

Well, did we get a note of pizzazz yesterday. Bob was out working somewhere and I took a quick break out on this deck. My feeling of contentment with the world got a slight shake because all of a sudden the strongest whiff of a not-so-pleasant aroma accosted my nostrils. Good grief, what had she eaten?

On closer inspection, I realized that our Tigger had decided to make our deck into her own personalized throne and had left a little cat sausage lying prominently on the outer ring of pebbles. Either she was lazy or she didn't bury it on purpose. Let's face it, she was staking her claim or marking her territory!

When Bob came back, I did the only thing I could:

" Bob, come and have a look what your cat has done."
and even before he got close enough to see it, the wall of smell hit him straight on. Bravely he did the deed and took the offending bit away. But now we had a conundrum. Cats are creatures of habit and our princess Tigger even more than most. As we can't sit there all day watching out for her in case she ambles by with a newspaper in hand, we had to come up with a plan.

My Mum kindly offered us some mothballs to put there, but no offence, I would rather smell Tigger's offerings than a mothball's pungent aroma. As animals are not so overly fond of pungent smells, Bob and I tried a new idea. We have so much lavender growing outside our front door and we broke off some twigs to lay them on the pebbles. It actually looks rather pretty and contrast nicely with the grey hue of the pebbles.

So far so good. No smelly cat poo yet. Of course if that doesn't do the trick, Bob and Albert will have to create a smaller version of our deck, and right outside Tigger's lair too.


Friday, 17 July 2015

A Tale Of Woe, Bob And His Mosquito Foe.

A David & Goliath story if ever there was one...

There is of course a downside to having a house rather close to a pond. Oh, when it's the season to be outside, the pesky buzz of mosquitoes or as they are called here, Gelsen, is omnipresent.

With the recent spat of hot weather ( in the mid to upper 30's ) it is necessary to air your house once in the morning and once in the evening. It's the only way to cool the house down. Opening doors or windows during the day, is for amateurs and brave ones.

We have a lot of windows but only a few are blessed with a mosquito netting. Opening these windows is a breeze! The ones without netting are a free invite to let the enemy into our house. Compared to our mouse invasion during autumn, the mosquito pest is small fry. For me at least but it appears, that Bob emits an attractive scent for the little buzzers.

Lying in bed last night, luckily reading as we have a netted window in there, it didn't take long for Bob to start sprouting forth words that even a sailor would raise an eyebrow to. For some reason, the mozzies didn't take a liking to me and while my beloved was being attacked next to me, I could blithely read on in peace. The only buzz I got was from my Georgette Heyer novel.


" Jeez, can't you hear them? "
" Are you being attacked too? "
only made me say the wrong thing. Mentioning that he should lie still and let the mozzies only do a fly-by, just made him more irate.

When I next happened to glance up from my novel, I saw that Bob had lit a candle. No, not for romantic reasons but one of those candles that promise to disperse insects...well, they saw us coming, because a very harassed Bob tossed and turned all night trying to catch a mosquito in the act and also because he worried that the candle might burn more than its wick.

Bob has got all day today to devise a plan of counter action. Somehow I fear that I might have to sleep next to a very stinky, you know, the scent of anti-mosquito spray is far from nice!

Who would have thought that such a tiny thing and its buzzing sound could strike fear into a grown man...


Thursday, 16 July 2015

Take - Away Burgenland Style.

Food needn't be frozen, packaged and full of chemicals.

At the moment, one can't help but stumble over a pumpkin which ever way one walks. Gosh, they practically jump into your arms. This beauty, being guarded by the tell tale orange flower, is on the verge of a road in the vineyards. If it wasn't so big and obvious, I would have carried one home.
These will be for the grown ups and who doesn't like the taste of them in liquid form? Give it a couple of month and these grapes will be plump with flavour...
The maize is vying for attention among the grapes and pumpkins. Even in this photo, you can see how elegant the leaves of a maize plant are and they do remind me of a ballerina's gracefulness. Maize, is there anything nicer than eating one with lashings of butter and salt....
Parents, don't show this to your kids. Just in case you don't know what vegetable this is a Brussels sprout plant. Oh yes, isn't it divine the way each miniture cabbage is lounging on a sprig, waiting to be collected?
As I said, take away is extremely easy here in Burgenland. All you have to do, is go outside and pick at your leisure...Well, at least pick from your own crop.
The heavens gave their blessing over the vineyards of Deutsch Schützen this morning. Cheers.


Wednesday, 15 July 2015

A Trip To Graz Had Us Thrown At The Foot Of The Altar Of Consumerism: Ikea

Casinos and Ikea surely have the same Architects...

We were accompanying friends to Graz and they wanted to have a first look at this citadel of cheap furniture. Honestly,I think if we'd been on our own, Bob and I wouldn't have gone!

As it was way past lunch time, I insisted that we stopped to graze in their food court first. Ambling hours on end while hungry is not the thing to do... for me at least. The food court was rather fun but not so easy to traverse or understand but reasonably priced none the less.

Bob had warned us all, that once you enter at the entrance of Ikea, there is only one exit. One exit that you only reach by passing all and sundry that is on offer. An exciting prospect beforehand, but rather tedious once you've entered the maze.

It is a maze and after a fortifying luncheon, we split up and had an hour to while away. Bob and I started off being contraire and going against the flow. Just in case one gets lost, they have glued arrows on the floor, showing you the way. We went the opposite way but regardless, we had to walk for miles.

Even though I know that Ikea helps further the cause of our throw away consumerism society, it was nice to see the various displays. Yet, on closer inspection, the stuff wasn't made to last. Why should it be when they want you to buy new things each and every year.

Ikea is ace at making one want stuff. They do have brilliant displays of how a room or flat can be thrown together. Bob and I picked our way through this maze and had nothing to declare once we eventually reached the exit. Getting to the exit must have taken two kilometers of walking. Seriously.

Along the way, there were many displays with running televisions, and rather a lot of bothered and deviant men were sitting and watching TV. That might explain the prolific number of women shopping on their own.

To be honest, some things looked nice and enticing, though the odds that everyone has the same is as big as the odds that once you enter a Casino, finding an exit entails loosing money along the way.


Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Greece, A Storm In A Tea Cup Compared To Global Warming.

It won't help us to say: " If only we'd listened..."

The world has been hanging on with bated breath onto every minute detail and act of this current Greek Saga. The bail out is a new catch phrase that previously was only used by rich parents, lending a hand to their errant children.

Fear of what might happen if Greece were to be cut loose, is foremost in everyone's mind. What would happen to the Eurozone or even further afield, the rest of the world. The big money flitting about silently in the various markets of the world, is of course knitted into their fabrics and thus a Grexit would make a difference to the owners of this big money.

Being an avid reader of suspense novels and the odd conspiracy magazines, I wouldn't be surprised if there existed a club of ultra wealthy, that met every now and again to make sure the rest of us toe the line and make more money for them.

Anyway, it seems that the Grexit has morphed into a Greentry and the reporters of the world can focus on other plights.

It has been mumbled by those in the know, that 2015 is the year, or rather the last year, that we can rewind our stupidity and start to save our planet. Yet, nobody seems to care. Compared with the destruction of our planet through our collective laziness and selfishness, the Grexit is small fry ( maybe not the the Greek people, but I only mean in comparison ).

I am beginning to suspect that perhaps, the various news channels of the world are possibly funded by big business and industry. When whole forests are used up to print everything but the most urgent cause of all of us, the old suspicion antenna is awake.

Saving our planet in such a way that we can grow old in moderate comfort is what should be foremost in anyone's thoughts. Yet, saving our planet would most certainly mean a return to a different lifestyle and that popular ( yet rather senseless ) consumerism lifestyle would be history...

The irony of all our collective stupidity in regard to Global Warming is that a lot of us aren't happy, despite consuming as if there is no tomorrow...


Monday, 13 July 2015

A Mellow Monday Morning And A Few Gentle Scenes Of Nature.

At the water's edge...

An air of mystique for sure. A perfect perch to contemplate a dreamy future.
A ripple effect of calmness. Life lived in the slow lane is the prize that most people are rushing through life to obtain.
These marvels of nature are abundant in our area, yet most drive or walk straight past them without giving them even a glance of appreciation.
A happy bunch of wildflowers were vying for my attention. How could I not stop to take these photos? We have a little dam over the road from our house and every now and again it beckons me with some glorious moments of natural beauty.
The wild daisies of Eisenberg...
I have a feeling, that when one sits on these perches of tranquility, life has a habit of falling into place and problems seems to shrink in importance...


Sunday, 12 July 2015

" Oh No, This Isn't For Me. I'm Buying It For Someone Else! "

My stash of Georgette Heyer & Barbara Cartland is growing.

The love of reading doesn't just entail reading award winning literature but reading that which makes you feel good. As a teenager I discovered Georgette Heyer and of course the grand dame of romantic novels ( before Nora Roberts came along ) Barbara Cartland.

These romantic novels are easy to read and very predictable with the one common thread: they paint a life without the hue of swearing, fighting and everyday woes. In the case of Miss Heyer, an old fashioned way of life is penned. I sort of like that.

Anyway, whenever we get visitors from South Africa, our parents and friends send along care parcels. My beloved puts Bovril & Biltong on his wish list and yours truly asks for novels by the above authors. The second hand bookshops in South Africa are overflowing with novels by both authors. The English colonial influence.

Bob's wishlist is easy to fulfill but mine tends to involve the eternal catchphrase of:

" Oh, they aren't for me. I am just looking for someone else. " coupled with the thought of: ' Goodness, I hope I won't run into anyone who knows me.'
When did my genre of books morph into the stuff you buy and is put into a brown paper bag item?

These Old Shades (Alastair-Audley Book 1) (English Edition)

Years ago, I was invited along to dinner by a friend. A dinner where most guests were equipped with a degree, a degree that they must have had strapped to their backs, because they dropped said degree at the drop of a hat! Anyway, the discussion evolved towards reading and in between bragging about who was reading a more intelligent book, I did the unthinkable and conversation stopping deed:

" Oh, I love reading Georgette Heyer and the occasional Barbara Cartland! "
The sound of the infamous pin dropping on the floor was paradoxically deafening in its silence. Plenty of eyebrows were raised and smirks hidden behind suddenly raised hands...

Yesterday, Bob got his Bovril and I got a huge bag of delightful literature. We are both happy and what was more perplexing was that Bob was looking at all the books too. Could it be that he to, has become a fan of trashy literature!

Reading, is there anything better?


Saturday, 11 July 2015

Kids Make The Best Negotiators.

Tenacity is the main ingredient.

  • They never take NO for an answer. Never!
  • They remember every word you utter, especially if it can be used in their favour.
  • Common sense and reason are not of importance to them, and they blithely negotiate over your attempt.
  • They get stuck in the groove and keep at it, over and over again, knowing that you get tired first.
  • They add a liberal dose of tears when they sense a granite wall of parental opposition and thus melt it away.
  • All of a sudden, they pull a rabbit out from their sleeves and throw back a string of words you mentioned a while ago, and thus get their way.
  • They promise to do all the chores you hate their room for ever on, never ever eating sweets again after this one last time and of course once you give them what they want, they will never argue with you again.
  • They divide and conquer with amazing ingenuity...they can use pleading, crying, looking cute as buttons and door slamming all in one argument.
  • They get to make new rules over existing rules and can amend those rules at any time, leaving the adult bewildered to what rule was in place when it all started.
  • They do their homework and know when the opposition is weak and the Supermarket checkout, while visiting friends, late at night and of course in front of their most fervent supporters - Grandparents.
  • They know when to retreat for a break and with a new unlimited energy, start their negotiation again the next morning while at the same time not forgetting a thing or rather negation weary phrase you mumbled...


Friday, 10 July 2015

A Sleepover In Our House.

We finally gave in.

Bob and I couldn't say no last night, when our nephew pleaded with us to let him sleep in our bed. There is more than enough space but as uncle & aunt, we're not used to sleepovers. Isn't it funny, how the young and cute have the best and most irresistible arguments for whatever they desire? Who can say no to an angelic little cherub?

His argument that clinched the deal, was that he would love to wake up next to uncle Bob. Well, his parents didn't even hesitate and before we could change our mind, the duvet ( together with pillow & special blanket ) was moved through the house to our bedroom. Moved a la youngens style...dragged on the floor!

Bob did of course read him a bedtime Dr. Seuss story from a book that must have been hidden in the duvet. Bob read and read, that I was almost a goner and when after almost having read half the book, he told Sam that he would read no more:

" Well, I didn't want you to read so much. You just never stopped. "
Well, needless to say, both Bob and I didn't sleep too soundly, because we thought that if we snored the little cherub would awaken. As I said earlier, we've never had a sleepover because otherwise we'd have known that even a herd of elephants running past the window, wouldn't waken this child.

As for the main reason he wanted to sleep in our bed: Both of us are early risers and have been up for an hour already with our little sleepover guest still counting sheep.


Thursday, 9 July 2015

We Have Morphed Into The Twilight Zone.

All that's missing is a grey Volvo parked outside our house...

It was about five years ago that I got first pulled into the beautiful and rainy surrounds of Forks. It took me months to come back down to earth and Pietermaritzburg. I couldn't help it, those awesome books by Stephenie Meyer are just so good that words fail to describe them properly. Oh yes, I am an official Twilight fan.

Twilight Saga 5 Book Set (White Cover)

My niece started to read the first part of the saga when she arrived here ( I have the full set ) and even though I tried my hardest to convey to her how wonderful a book and love story it is, I wasn't too sure if she would feel the same.

I think it was on the second evening, that she suddenly came to me and told me that she had just watched the Twilight movie...and loved it. Good grief, at first I asked the stupid question that only an older ( elderly ) person could ask:

" How did you watch the movie? You didn't go to the cinema. "
Honestly, it still take some getting used to this new streaming generation. Whereas we had to either go to the movies or to a video shop, she just had to do a few clicks and just like Dorothy clicked her red heels together, a movie was waiting on the tablet to transport her to a different world.

Naturally, she favours Edward too. How can she not when he looks so dishy. That hair is even better and I have again suggested to Bob that perhaps he might grow out his hair a la Edward!!! Instead of a laugh, I got a dirty look.

Yesterday afternoon, it was raining and as we all sat around wondering what to do, we hit on the clever idea of watching the Twilight movie on the telly in the old fashioned way, via a DVD. I had seen the movie a few times already, but the love story gets to me every time and it was nice to see my niece hanging onto every word of the movie. At times she even shooshed her Dad when he made a silly comment about Edward...

Even though the movie is set in Vampire land, the underlying love story is perfect. Old-fashioned courting, values and a feeling that he will cherish and put you first always and forever. I couldn't think of a nicer way to introduce a teenager to the world of dating.

Of course she knows that Vampires aren't real ( or are they....) but she now has a great standard to compare any future boyfriend to. Oh, and it would be a bonus point for him if he were to drive a grey Volvo with the same elan as Edward!

P/S: If I ever manage to get Bob to sport an Edward Do, I will post a photo tout-de-suite.


Wednesday, 8 July 2015

ClubRead, The Best Club To Be A Member Of.

A club that becomes more elite due to scarcity of members...

A mere twenty years ago, everyone and their aunt Mavis read. Be it newspapers, magazines or books. Reading was the thing to do in your spare time. Well not for everyone but for most. Even reading newspapers was the main vehicle to get an update of life across.

An interesting side effect of reading is that it does develop the old grey cells a bit quicker and fits them out with plenty of might. Reading for pleasure from a young age even helped in traversing the choppy waters of schooling as if one was fitted out with a rowing boat. Some effort was needed but on the whole, the passage through school life was a breeze.

Bob and I are mad, well mad about reading and there is nothing better than for us to laze a Sunday away on a couch reading our favourite novels alternating who makes the cups of ( very necessary stage props ) tea.

What we've begun to realize is that the art of reading is sadly a dying art. The special feeling of going into a bookshop and firstly choosing and perusing whats on offer is second to none, only topped by the knowledge that when you get home, a new adventure awaits between the pages of a new book.

The new generation of youngsters, unfortunately are only prone to read a few muddled up words on their mobile and alas are loosing the ability to keep focused on more than maybe two pages of text.

Well, imagine how wonderfully surprised we were, when our niece who is here for a few days
( with her family of course ) let slip the fact that she has read all the Harry Potter books in English ( a second language to her as she is Danish ) not once but a few times. Oh, and she only got them a few months ago! Wow, a reader. A new club member. Did I mention that she is twelve years old?

She has discovered one of the major magic keys to happiness and contentment. The ability to occupy oneself without having to be entertained. A reader can sit in a quiet corner and after opening the covers of a book, be oblivious to anything but the story being told...

Having a conversation with her is fabulous because she has an inquiring mind, she has logic and has a beautiful command of the English language and without thinking will throw in a heavy weight word or two. Oh, and she knows what it means.

Parents whose kids read, are extremely fortunate...even on holiday, a kid who reads only needs a book and a place to read it, to be happy. Happy and content.


Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Tempting Young Kids Away From Their Technological Extensions.

Finding that unique selling point to make the youth of today forget to swipe.

Our young niece and nephew have come to visit for a few days. Oh, yes, their parents too. They've only been here once, four years ago and now that they are a grown up eight and twelve, it wasn't a guaranteed thing that they would like our rural lifestyle.

Of course, we are connected in the modern sense of the word and not the old fashioned Italian one. We have Internet with the much sought after fiber optic cable and only now did the penny drop for me when I realized that the reason the kids were so happy in their bedroom, was that they were streaming a movie. I didn't even know we had the ability!

The day they arrived, I started my selling strategy and threw out little teasers.

" Kids, at 6 o'clock I have a surprise for you. "
" No, I won't tell you what it is. I told you it's a surprise, but you're going to love it! "
After a few hours, they were more than ready to go with Bob and I to see this exciting surprise. It was within walking distance ( as it turned out, walking distance for me and the rather unfit contingent kept on asking how much further they would have to walk ) and luckily we reached it before they boycotted the walk, which believe me, was not too far fetched!

I had pre-arranged with a local farmer to take the kids to see his prolific collection of chickens and rabbits and we had timed it so they could see the feeding of both. Something normal for us villagers but hopefully rather special for young city slickers.

Suddenly, at the gate, Bob and I started to panic in case they merely gave this adventure a yawn and a " can we go home now ". At first, there was a moment it could have happened, but suddenly the farmer pointed out baby chicks scattering about. Oh yes, the oohs & aah, how cute were tumbling out of them again and again. Of course I hadn't reckoned the savviness of our kind farmer. He is a veteran on grandchildren and knew how to wow a young audience.

We went to the rabbit enclosure and he quickly picked up a baby rabbit ( oh so cute ) and plopped it into the first child's hands.

" Just hold it properly and make sure you don't drop it! "

and before the other one's lip dropped to far in envy, he drew another two baby rabbits out of his cage. Bob was more than happy to hold a rabbit as well, and I'm not sure who was more excited, Bob or the kids...

Just for good measure, the farmer took us to see a batch of newly hatched chicks. So new, that the egg shells were still about and the young chickling wasn't even able to walk yet. Oh, that was just the best for our young city slickers.

We tracked back home on the long walk ( 500 meters ) and Bob and I only found out the true measure of how successful this venture was, when we got home.

They couldn't wait to tell their parents about holding a rabbit and a little chicklet. Mission accomplished. We gave them a taste of the simply divine rural lifestyle, and for an hour or so, they forget the technological side to their daily life.


Aren't these the cutest? At least I think so.
The rabbit elders look on.
Hook line and sinker...
Bob lends a helping hand.
Holding a little baby chicken, was another moment of awe.
You know, even I was awed by these newly hatched babies.


Monday, 6 July 2015

The Silver Foxes Are Everywhere.

Not a street without them.

Men have got it made...they are extremely fortunate in that for some reason they tend to look more handsome as they get older. Whereas we gals tend to bloom in our younger years, our men ripen into handsome silver foxes. A bit of inequality right there!

What might I mean by a silver fox? Oh, merely a man whose hair reflects the many silver threads in it. Very attractive indeed, but for some reason, a silver fox doesn't realize the power he has over us ladies. Some even go so far as to tint their crowning glory back to its natural colour.

Just imagine if George Clooney or Richard Gere had tinted their hair...

Firstly, if you have the need to tint your hair, only do so at a Salon, because they go on numerous courses to learn the art of mixing the perfect tint for your hair. Otherwise, it is just too obvious what you are up to. Secondly, just don't do it because if only you knew the attraction you hold over us in your various ( not fifty!!! ) shades of grey, you would go grey with pride.

With the introduction of Facebook into our lives, there is an upside: we can get a look at photos of our friends before they turned gray. Eisenberg too, has many men who have grown more and more handsome.

As I mentioned, the silver foxes are everywhere, and I bet you've got a couple in a neighbourhood near you! As for me, I have a silver fox at home. Yes, Bob has grey hair mingling with brown and it looks darn handsome. Of course, the irony is that Bob is lamenting his fate and even has moments where he wants to tint his hair...

...He can't see the attraction of having a silver fox look and at times I have to be honest and admit that I am tempted to let him go ahead and cover his grey...

Lately, far too many ladies have taken a second look at Bob, my silver fox.


Sunday, 5 July 2015

Bob Achieved His Silver Medal At The Landeswettbewerb For Volunteer Firefighters.

What a silver fox...

Bob, has all year wanted to earn this medal and yesterday was his day. I am so chuffed for him and also proud of him, because earning this Silver medal took a lot of effort.

All the various volunteer fire departments around Burgenland compete for fastest time and of course the medals earned. Last year he was awarded the Bronze and was already dreaming of a Silver back then.

Bob has truly earned his Silver medal. His team leader / trainer / boss has put him through his paces and Bob and his team had training weeks on end. Nothing wrong with getting fit!

To earn any of these highly sought after medals, one needs to know all the various positions in the team. The team of lifesafers. Yes, we all tend to forget that these championships are a way to keep the firemen ' tuned up '.

Those events they compete in, are in reality a display of how and what gets done, when they arrive at a fire. Once the fire engine arrives, they are the ones who know what to do and do quickly. Lives depend on them. Knowing how to get the water pumping safely through the fire hose is a skill not everyone can do.

The team that Bob competes with, makes it look so easy and effortless, but many many hours of training have been put in. Of course each village wants to hold the coveted trophy of being the fastest team in the country.

Bob, I have a feeling that it won't stop there. Your team is eager to snatch that trophy and I see many training evenings where Mario or Gerhard will make you sprint around the field in full gear.

Bob, not only achieved a Silver medal, but he did it in German ( well, Burgenlandisch really ) and I am so very proud of my husband.


Saturday, 4 July 2015

A Slice Of Burgenland Paradise.

Eisenberg and its hidden treasures.

The raison d'etre of life in Burgenland...stunning scenery and the divine wines.
Everyone has such an abundance of beautiful flowers in and around their houses, that walking about is a treasure trove of awesome images.
Some of the fields are covered in yellow spots. The pumpkin patch and as nice as the pumpkin flower is, the pumpkin seed oil is even better ( they do whisper that it makes men strong! )
A simple natural setting, yet to me this is the essence of life in the country. Idyllic.
Lovely, isn't it? Before it becomes processed, it is soul food.
The essentials of life: Bread & Wine in the making. What more does one need...?


Friday, 3 July 2015

Wheat & Wildflowers In Our Burgenland.

An early morning walk among the wheat fields in Eisenberg.

The sun hadn't quite woken up yet, but regardless, these purple beauties looked fetching nonetheless.
However one looks at them, the purple wildflowers are awesome. Even with a brown stalk behind them.
A dreamy affair. Looking at this gentle and soothing combination, will make you believe in dreaming again.
Yes, more of the same yet different. These purple flowers are mostly along the edge of various fields. Perhaps the farmers planted them for a reason or they regrouped themselves perfectly for the odd passer by...
Behind the curtain. Peek-a-boo where are you?
Last but not least, my favourite photo. Dreamy and reflective at the same time.