Monday, 30 November 2015

The Many Ways To Describe A Bender.

More than a century old but oh so eloquent!

The book by Melvyn Bragg is a treasure trove of information and knowledge. Oh, and huge fun. Here are some lines from Benjamin Franklin's 1737 Drinker's Dictionary.

Ben Franklin's Wit and Wisdom

1. ' He's casting up his accounts '
2. ' He sees the bears '
3. ' He's dizzy as a goose '
4. ' He's been too free with Sir Richard '
5. ' He's like a rat in trouble '
6. ' He's loose in the hilts '
7. ' His head is full of bees '
8. ' He's double tongued '
9. ' He's oiled '
10. ' He sees two moons '
11. ' He clips the King's English '
12. ' He's had a cup too much '
13. ' He knows not the way home '

The Adventure of English. The Biography of a Language (Sceptre)

I would love to know your favourite expressions..just leave me the number.


Sunday, 29 November 2015

Just 10% Regionality Could Provide Us With Financial Longevity.

Are we shopping away our rosy retirement future?

There was an interesting news segment about the positive impact of shopping at home. It caught my attention because in a way we are all guilty of not doing it but could easily change our shopping habits.

Read article here ( in German )

Especially in Europe, the average European counts on their country to provide a pension, schooling, medical and a good life. At the moment, the lucky baby boomers are reaping the benefit of this system but, how about the Millennials, will they get a pension one day in the future?

Just like with medical aid, a pension system only works if there are enough people paying in.

But let's get back to basics. Thirty years ago ( or so ), almost everyone bought not far from where they lived. Groceries, clothing, appliances etc. Granted, not all of it was made @home, but the majority was. Which resulted in local people having a job. If not in the manufacturing of it, than in the supporting jobs that came with it.

Growing up in a small town in Bavaria, it was as natural as breathing air, that our family would buy bread at the local baker's, meat at the local butcher's etc. That was just how it was done. Fast forward to now, and most ( of us ) shop either online or in huge warehouses. Hypermarkets are temptingly cheap, but most of their wares come from half way across the world.

Some of the things we buy from foreign climes can only be made or grown there, but many things we buy can easily be made in our backyard.

If most of what we consume is made abroad, than in a way we are rather arrogant to still demand all those social benefits that living in Europe entails.

This study is rather easy on our psyche, because it just asks us to buy at least 10 % worth's of goods and services in our own backyard. Regional, and that is not too difficult.

  • Instead of taking 3-4 holidays abroad, take one of them in your own backyard. Luckily with us, Burgenland is a smorgasboard of divine holiday destinations.
  • Even the supermarket giants are now stocking products made in our region. Take potatoes, a staple which I love and that can be had for next to nothing! Yet, for a few Euros more, you can buy a bag of delicious home grown potatoes. Regional tastes better because there aren't so many chemicals used to keep them fresh longer and also, by buying regional, we are keeping jobs at home.
  • Shopping online, is of course easy and addictive, but have you ever wondered what happens to all those staff members of the many shops that had to close down because of the online shopping habit?

We are an integrated commercial world, and that is good. But I think that at the moment we are shopping mostly from the East and one just needs to peep at the Balance of payment to see that the trading is imbalanced. None of us can only shop regionally, but trying for that 10%, is extremely doable for most of us...

As an added bonus ( and I think the most important bit ) buying regionally helps save our climate more than anything else can...


Saturday, 28 November 2015

A Slice Of Burgenland.

As picturesque as any Grand Master would have liked...

The photo is a tad on the hazy side and that is just what makes it so amazingly romantic and at the same time a bit antique.
The golden drops from the birch above. In esoteric circles, one way to get rid of negativity is to imagine a divine shower from above raining onto you...this in a way captures the moment for me.
I love seeing the golden straw between the rows of vines. I was walking down the Adixl lane in our village, when this wonderful colour combination offered itself.
Someone asked what makes Burgenland so special, and I think this image is a part of it. The gentle meandering roads leading into villages abundant with nice people.
The wind had fluttered these yellow leaves in all directions. It almost looks a if the tree's bloomers have lifted!
Two solid tree trunks kind of make this tree more human...with the green leaves strategically placed...
The David of Eisenberg?


Friday, 27 November 2015

A Season Fit For A Hearty Soup.

A meaty broth.

Even a novice kitchen dweller can rustle up a pot of soup. Note, not a cup of soup that just needs hot water, but a real soup with real vegetables and or meat.

Basically, you could just throw a whole lot of cut up stuff into a big soup pot, add plenty of water, salt and pepper and let it stew for a few hours. Easy enough. Add in a hand held blender and even the look of it is divine. Blend the chunks right out of your soup.

My dad taught us how to make a real meaty soup and it is both of our favourite. Friday is usually the day to make it, as the local shop has a nice piece of beef fresh from the butcher's and surprisingly cheap. We merely fry up onions, toss in the meat to brown it slightly, add plenty of water and a soup vegetable mix:

Not a stock cube, but that rather strange arrangement offered in the vegetable section: Carrots, celery, parsnips, turnips and a leek.

When you make your own soup, you learn to be patient. A meaty broth can't be hurried. The meat needs to be so tender that when even a hint of spoon comes near, it just crumbles off the bone in surrender before it.

Often cooking is seen to be too complicated for novices, but soups are a good place to start. You really can't go wrong and if you do, it isn't the end of the world either.

Blend, season and add cream.

A lot of homes in our village have two stoves in their kitchens. An electrical stove and an old fashioned wooden stove. Like a sort of Aga stove. Very cozy and romantic. It is lit first thing in the morning ( it uses wood ) and is used the whole day long making the kitchen the place to hang out in winter. Warm and cozy with the added benefit that you can have pots of soups simmering all day without even using a amp of electricity.


Thursday, 26 November 2015

Is Elvis Alive?

Wow, the king of blues has a doppelganger.

A voice to give you goosebumps for sure... A voice that takes you back instantly to those special moments when an Elvis song hovered in the background, while the canvas of your life was being filled with the brushstrokes of colourful experiences. Some of us discovered Elvis through our parents' adoration of him and others just heard his songs and were smitten.

I came across a link about this kid ( he is only 18 after all ) performing an Elvis song. Well, I am awed at his rendition of an Elvis classic.

The music of the 50's and 60's wasn't yet electrified by techno sounds. No, the only one electrifying the audience was the artist himself. And it seems that almost 40 years after The King's death, a doppelganger of voice and looks has popped up. Just in time too.

I listened to his singing and it had that special quality and feeling that doesn't come around often. Bravo to this young man for embracing a style of music not ( yet ) favoured by his peers...Not to call the music of that era wholesome, but compared to the music of now, it is. Let me know, if you also felt as if the king was alive. This David Thibault is just the bee's knees...


Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Christmas Is A Month Away.

It seemed like it would take a month of Sundays to get to Christmas but now, the galloping time has shortened it to just one of them. As I am sitting here, the haze of the festive season is in the air or rather the roof across our yard is covered in a dusting of white frost.

As much as we look forward to Christmas, it has a tendency to sneak up on us. The yardstick of each year is not so much our personal measure of maturity but more the feast at Christmas.

" We'll see you on Christmas. "
has almost become our mantra of family meetings and naturally a measure of time. At times a mumbled grumble is stage whispered into a spouse's ear, but despite it, everyone loves the family affairs. Food to eat at your heart's content and obviously at your stretch pant's leisure. Only a fool wears tight clothing at Christmas...

The call up to deplete your savings is issued daily on either radio or television. Oh yes, the one drawback of this season is the abundance of presents given. Alas, often the present is more about the giver than the receiver. Unless you are still in short pants, there isn't much left that you might want.

And even the short-pants brigade has too much of everything. A savings account would be a better idea.

The universal gift that has stood the test of centuries and is still the favourite all around, happens to be

Money,Cash, Caboodle, Bucks, Dosh.

Most of us have a secret stash of presents that are hidden in a cupboard. Prudently you might have put a little tag with the name of the giver on it, and when they come to visit, you can haul out the present and pretend to use it. I know, that sounds awfully harsh and cold, but most of us are entangled in the polite strictures of our childhood.

As mercenary as a Wedding List sounds, it might not be such a bad idea to start a Christmas list:

  • " Bring that lovely cake you make. "
  • " Make enough time so that we can spend a whole weekend together as a family."
  • " Just bring yourself, and perhaps a salad."
  • " Don't forget to bring the Monopoly game with you. Remember the hours of fun and laughter we had last Christmas? "


Tuesday, 24 November 2015

For The Love Of Books & Reading.

The victorious pen...

A lot of people in Paris are snapping up a book. A book that is overcoming the ' sword ' with sangfroid. Hemingway's -A Moveable Feast - is reminding Parisians of living life in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.

Reading is being discovered again. Reading with the crinkling of pages or reading in bed and having the book fall atop of you once slumber has arrived. It might sound very simplistic, but if more people would take up reading again instead of imbibing short tidbits of questionable correctness via the virtual town crier perhaps the energy will lift and turn decidedly positive.

We are what we think and focus on, and at the moment we are focusing on the wrong things. Reading a book on any topic, occupies our time in a far more nicer way and might even point our thoughts onto a better field of possibilities, outcomes and happiness.

Collectively we have been robbed of a good chunk of our spare time. Time we could have spent with family, time we could have used to go for a walk, time we could have used to relax and read a book. It isn't just the modern teenager who is guilty of having a Smartphone glued to their hand but it has spread across all ages and generations.

Once you've spent a small fortune on a Smartphone, of course you want to get your money's worth. But at what cost?

Imagine, if for the next six months, your life could be Smartphone free. No instant connectivity. No constant temptation to see what friends are eating, visiting or complaining about. Imagine the amount of free time that would suddenly be available to you...

Yes, on the one hand technology has simplified our lives but on the other hand, it has made our lives stressful, hectic, overstimulated and with just plain simply...Too Much Information.

If you can, read a book ( even if it is just the Google of my generation...a dictionary ) join a book club or find a way to be hour a day might just change your outlook on life!


Monday, 23 November 2015

Finally, The Air Has A Whiff Of Snow About.

A crispness that is accompanied by a special smell.

As much as we grumble about the specifics of dealing with snow after it has graced our presence for more than a few days, that first day the white marvels tumble onto the ground, has everyone in awe and agog.

As a sign of the times, nothing is left private and yesterday the photos were tumbling over each other, the photos with the first snow of the season.

Alas, we are still sans snow even though the weather report hinted about it. But, there is definitely a smell of snow in the air. How to describe it? Well, on the one hand you can feel a bitter cold wind that gets into our bones and on other hand, the air smells different. Perhaps, because it is close to freezing or perhaps I was imagining it.

As small as Austria is ( compared for example to South Africa ), each region can have vastly different weather patterns. Some parts of Austria are inundated with snow, while we, here in Südburgenland are comparatively tropical in temperature.

For most of my walk yesterday morning, a grayness hovered over everything. That indecisive gray hue that nature provides before it commits itself to either very warm or very cold. But, towards the end of my walk, I stumbled across a vibrant and a rather exotic array of colour dangling from a narrow branch.

A colour combination that is too divine...
Can you see the grayness hovering behind it? But, what a wonderful display of nature. Nature at its best, even though it was a cold and gray day...


Sunday, 22 November 2015

" I'll Have A Can Of Mouse, Bird Or Mole Please."

Bob hits the nail on its head...

Isn't it funny how life works? Once you focus your attention on a certain area, you get to meet others of the same frame of mind. As you can have guessed, Le Bob and I are now in the kitten business. Yesterday afternoon, we went to visit friends who are also afflicted with the same gorgeous addition to their lives... cats.

Anyway, there we were shooting the breeze and for some reason the topic of food came up and not to be too blunt, the resulting emissions were discussed as well.

As newly initiated cat owners, we are finding our feet one footstep at a time and have just mastered the art of sorting out the #2 business. Along the way, we have discovered that if you feed the kitten a better quality type of food, the odorous parcels are not so ghastly to the olfactory organ. Simple really!

The most surprising thing is that our little Maus is as regular as clockwork. Twice a day, same time. In fact when she had the odd occasion of not being on time, we started to worry...

When Bob met our kitten for the first time this week, I straight away made sure that he would share in the emission removal aspect...rather cunningly too:

" You know Bob, if you really want the kitten to bond properly with you, she needs to see you remove her #2's and praise her for doing it. Don't let her see you gag!!! "
Well, Bob is now fully integrated into the business of raising a kitten and I am proud that he has rolled up his sleeves and pitched right in...sharing is caring after all!

While we were talking cats yesterday, we listed the merits of the various cat foods one can buy. Suddenly, Bob said something so simple and yet highly profound:

" Why don't they sell cat food made with mice or birds? That is what they eat in nature. Have you ever heard of a cat eating Beef, Salmon or Venison? "

Cats are natural Banting Dieters after our kitten still lives inside and goes to the toilet in her little cat loo, we will make sure she gets a good balanced meal and hopefully we get rewarded with an aroma more reminiscent of roses...


Saturday, 21 November 2015

Another Facet To That Gem Called Eisenberg.

A walk along the forest.

A side to Eisenberg that many Eisenberger's don't see very often. A walk is needed to get a glimpse of it from this angle.
The valley often resembles an ocean when the mist is still clinging to its sides.
Even the smallest of villages in our county, has a prominent church. Or rather a church in a prominent place such that everyone sees and gets reminded...
A view of our village that most know. In fact, what you see are the wine suburbs or vineyards. The place where the delectable Blaufränkisch grapes are ripened. The gradient of the hills makes for some interesting bit of harvesting...
The vines are taking a break over winter, but still manage to bring joy to people.
This has a touch of William Tell about it...apples are the other fruit that we have lots of.
" An apple & a glass of wine a day might keep the doctor away..."


Friday, 20 November 2015

An Encounter With A Scoundrel's Dictionary.

Slang used in the 18th Century...

Languages are fascinating to say the least and none more so than English. At least that is the case for me. To imagine the conversations going on a few hundred years ago and of course the relevant modern words of the time being banded about is just so very intriguing. A friend of mine sent me several books and one of them is the Scoundrel's Dictionary.

A History of Cant and Slang Dictionaries: Volume 1: 1567-1784

Anyway, I thought I would write a few of these scoundrel's expressions of the 18th Century. Their slang.

Barrel Fever
...he died of the barrel fever; he killed himself by drinking.
Batchelor's Fare
...Bread and cheese and kisses.
...A nickname given to the citizens of London, or persons born within the sound of Bow Bell, derived from the following story;-A citizen of London being in the country, and hearing a horse neigh, exclaimed, Lord! how that horse laughs! A bystander informed him that the noise was called neighing. The next morning, when the cock crowed, the citizen, to show he had not forgotten what was told him, cried out, Do you hear how the cock neighs?
Curtain Lecture
...A woman who scolds her husband when in bed, is said to read him a curtain lecture.
...A simple credulous fellow, easily cheated.
Lawful Blanket
...A wife.
Live Stock
...Lice or fleas.
Marriage Music
...The squalling and crying of children.
Nit Squeeger, I.E. Squeezer
...A hair-dresser.
Scandal Broth


Thursday, 19 November 2015

Morning Has Broken, And In A Breathtaking Way.

Early birds catch the proverbial worm and the celestial sunrise...

Our house has windows affording a glimpse into three different directions and thus three slightly changing images of a sunrise. A colour kaleidoscope.
Didn't I tell you? Orange hues on the front of our house and mauve ones out the back. Somehow I can't decide which is more awesome.
This is taken out of our front bedroom window and as I was taking it, an elderly neighbour walked passed on her daily round. With a crutch under each arm!
...and she is grateful for every day she can go for a walk...

This image made me think of romance, history and a carefree world. One could almost say that this is looked at through rose-tinted glasses!
A beautiful sunrise indeed. The almost bare branch of a shrub gives the sunrise more depth, don't you think?
Finally, a mauve ending to a stunning sunrise. The blues were taking over and a minute after this photo was taken, the sunrise had changed into morning.
What a beautiful start to the day and one that makes me glad to be an early bird...


Wednesday, 18 November 2015

When Bob Met " Maus "...

Warning: Kitten in each photo, a cute kitten!

Our kitten, christened Happy but re-named Maus by us met Bob for the first time yesterday. Yes, Bob's back from visiting his family. We both weren't sure how ( if ) soon she would take to him, but, Bob has won another fan!
By the way, that is Bob pulling another mouse on a string. Non stop kitten entertainment in our house...

As tired as Bob was from travelling for 24 hours, he took the time to play with our Maus. It didn't take long, for the two of them to play with great enthusiasm. Frankly, I am not so sure who enjoyed it more!
I wouldn't be surprised if she has sore muscles today.
An hour after meeting her " Dad " , she was jumping all over him in the quest to get to the red moving feather. You should have heard the gurgling and laughter coming from the couch.
Bob has such patience and loves playing with our little Maus. Even though she is my little shadow, the minute Bob leaves the room, she runs to see where he is going. Too cute.


Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Wasting So Much Time On WANTS When The NEEDS Are Enough.

All real happiness comes from the simple things in life, doesn't it?

Somewhere down the road of life, most of us have been brain washed with the belief that our life only has meaning if we are:

  • Rich
  • Thin
  • Beautiful
  • With our soulmate.
  • Clever
  • Surrounded by expensive stuff that others don't have.
Oh, the list is endless. But aren't we all missing the point? What holds meaning in your life? What makes you smile a heartfelt smile? What makes your day better? What makes you feel good?
  • Being with family.
  • Having enough to eat.
  • Being healthy.
  • Having someone to share the everyday-ness of life.
  • A pet being ecstatic when you come home.
  • Seeing the beauty of nature.
  • Having friends that care about you and not your possessions.
  • Reading a book.
  • Going for a walk.

Every now and again, we get a wake-up call to what really holds meaning in our lives. We've seen how quickly and randomly life can be lost and perhaps it is time for humanity to return to simpler values. The values of happiness and contentment that comes from understanding that our Needs being met is ample and life is perfectly alright if our Wants aren't...


Monday, 16 November 2015

Some Eye-Catching Autumn Moments In Burgenland.

An Autumn meander through nature in Südburgenland.

Most of the forest is in its bare and dull phase, yet now and again one stumbles over such a beautiful yellow ribbon in front of a tree. Stunning and eye-catching.
Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Oak Old Tree

The romantic pond at the bottom of our street. A pond to ponder about the joys of life...
Yes, it is a mere tree, but how amazing the colour of its foliage. The blue skies and vineyards in the back transforms it into an awesome tree.
Every now and again, you can see a tough vine. It so far hasn't bowed down to the elements of nature nor the seasonal changes. A nice greeting along my walk.
A golden oasis to make you stop and have a look. Some Autumn colour schemes couldn't have been better arrayed by any of the Old Masters...


Sunday, 15 November 2015

Highlights In My Parent's Kitchen...

Oh, culinary as well!

My mum, apart from being a mum is also a fabulous hairstylist. There are still legions of her fans back in South Africa but now, I am fortunate that she is my stylist. Even though I have worked a whole lifetime in a Hair Salon, I don't tend to fuss too much with my hair.

Every so often, I get the parental summons into the kitchen.

" We have got to do your haircolour. It is a bit dull. Let's do highlights and a cut. "
Who am I to complain? Yesterday afternoon, I arrived for my appointment at my Salon, which coincidentally happens to be in my parent's kitchen and my chair was sans mirror. A plain Jane kitchen chair.

Not having a mirror to espy every tiny move a hairstylist makes, is rather a relief and a blessing. The colour is only revealed once the hair has been blowdried in the bathroom, and the only way to know how much of a trim you are getting, is by seeing the odd cut pieces sail past your face onward to the floor. Never enough to panic and most hairstylists learn early on to flick the evidence behind the chair out of eyesight!

Wouldn't stylists the world over be glad to have a no mirror policy during the appointment? Those seemingly casual comments often made...

" Should you be cutting the sides so short? "
" Are you sure this colour will suit me? "
" Don't cut too much more, will you? "
" You know, last time your boss did it differently. Are you sure you know what you're doing? " have an impact. Quite frankly, if your stylist wasn't 100% sure before these comments, after them, he or she would definitely be beset by doubts and a quick trip to the staff kitchen for reassurance. A whispered comment to a colleague happens more often than clients realize.

That quick excuse to get you a cup of coffee etc can often be a whispered aside to a colleague:

" Do me a favour. Just casually go past my client and have a look if you think the colour is done? "

Back to my kitchen appointment and some funny highlights...the Aga stove is always on the go and often it feels as if the temperature is in the 30's. Despite this, my hair takes forever to yield to the bleach's bidding and I often have to move my chair in front of the stove to speed up my highlights. When my stylist mentioned

" There's too much peroxide with the colour and let's hope it works. "
I had a few mental images flash about, but so far I have only had wonderful experiences at Salon Mum, and after all, hair grows and it is Winter after all!


Saturday, 14 November 2015

A Mere Tree In Burgenland Has So Much Beauty And Grace.

Nature Is The Best Tonic And Free of Charge.

As usual, I came upon this beautiful tree with its even more stunning array of foliage towards the end of my walk. This lovely tree is at the side of the road into Eisenberg.
Yes, it is a similar photo, yet each one has a magnetism of its own. All the various schools of thoughts in regards to being happy, revolve around appreciating the small's your chance.
That hint of mustard or pale yellow is shown off to perfection against the Burgenland blue sky and the grey of the tree. Divine.
A part of nature that almost invites one to daydream and imprint a happier picture onto our minds.
Where is your daydreaming taking you to? Often, especially in today's times, we need to see gentler and happier images. For me, these images of this one tree are a pleasure to behold and absorb.


Friday, 13 November 2015

My Little Shadow Does Things...

Intelligent, trainable and oh so hungry.

Every time that Happy has used her loo, I have done a stint of making sure it is devoid of offensive odors afterwards. As our kitten likes to cover her track and with great enthusiasm, the tiles around her loo tend to be covered in stony sand-bits. Nothing that I can't sort out with my dustpan.

The other night, I could sense ( !!! ) that she was using her throne, but she spent an awfully long time doing that covering up act. At first I only heard her clawing in what I thought was the litter tray. I turned quietly to have a look ( no one likes to be watched while on the throne ) and to my surprise, there she was, outside the litter tray, using her cute little paws to gather up the odd stray bit of cat litter.

Oh dear, my heart melted. There she was copying my action with her own version of a dustpan, the way she had seen Mummy do. More importantly, how clever? After only 10 days of living together, she is already cleaning up after herself....a deed that many a wife is still idealistically expecting of her husband, several years down the road of marriage. ( Eh, no, of course not you Bob! )

We have settled into a lovely routine and so far, the bed has stayed kitten free. Naturally, I can't vouch for when I am in a deep dream state, but when I go to sleep and when I wake up, she is sleeping on her own little couch. Nice.

As you may well know, we actually did get a cat because we have an affinity for mice in the winter. For some reason, they love our four walls, but I have to say, since Happy has been in residence, nary a mouse has ventured into our house.

Happy did a beautiful job on a pretend mouse. Well, I don't want to sound too gruesome, but yesterday morning, I went into the lounge and saw tufts of stuffing lying all over. Oh, what now? It turns out, that our little bundle of joy has finally managed to get the better of her play mouse. An unhappy ending for that one but a promising future for a mouse-free zone...


A scene from the grey zone...sniffing her bounty?
As you can see, the mouse is missing her head and I don't even want to think where it is hidden...
Happy 1 mouse 0

Thursday, 12 November 2015

All About A Chapel.

Another Burgenland Jewel...

Whenever I walk within sight of this chapel, I am in awe at the beautiful setting chosen to build it. Much history and many life stories have passed by it and if only walls could talk...
One can meander for miles and never loose sight of the chapel. The proverbial beacon of hope and solace.
Not to be left out, the big sister ( or should it be big brother? ) is not far away. The Deutsch Schützen church seems to be casting a protective net over its villagers. A celestial guardian...
About 500 meters from the chapel is this romantic retreat. Yes, it is run down, but you must admit it has romantic potential. Forest on one side, rows of vines around it and a view of Deutsch Schützen in front of it.
A sweeping path leading up to the chapel. Walking on this path takes one back to a life before tar and fast vehicles. Now and again a tractor might motor past, but otherwise the serenity of this rural picture is complete...


Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Comparing Apples And Hamburgers.

The sign of time...

Bob's parents sent him a ticket to go home for a visit, which he is doing at the moment. In fact he is loving it and who wouldn't, being the sole recipient of parental attention and love? Those special trips to see family are vital when one emigrates and how fabulous that he is able to do so at the moment.

Even as we speak, Bob is eating all his childhood's favourite foods. His mum is baking and cooking up a storm! Super. Bob deserves it and perhaps he'll bring back a morsel or two.

Anyway through a medium called Madam Oracle, no, only Skype, I am au fait at the latest goings on of Bob. Also vica verca as Bob has been talking kitten with our little one. As on any holiday, it is fun all the way except for one little fact. Well, rather a big one...the rate of inflation in South Africa.

It is ghastly, should be forbidden to convert your currency when you are on holiday anywhere, as it robs you of any enjoyment.

" Can you believe how much this cup of coffee cost me? "
When in Rome, do as the Romans. Yet, with Bob it is a bit different because he isn't converting so much as comparing to what he remembers from 4 years ago.

Only yesterday he told me how shocked he was at the price of a hamburger at his quiz. He made me guess a few times, but even I was aghast. R 120 for a hamburger and chips. Plain, not gourmet! When Bob left four years ago, it cost in the region of R 80.

Similarly he was stunned to see the price of Jeans...over R 1000 had him quickly put the jeans back on the rack...

Look, not everyone eats out but this is just one example of how the prices have gone up in South Africa. Just to see what the average salaries are, I looked some up. Teaching rewards an average of R 18 000 while Secretarial gives about R 11 000.

If you are reading this in foreign climes, just a reminder that in S.A. you have to pay oodles for schooling, health care, security, cars, electricity and housing. With the prices going up rather smartly, it can not be very easy having a normal, stress free life.

Luckily, the weather is always sunny there and having B.B.Q's ( braai's ) is a fun way to socialize and Bob has been doing a lot of it ( and loving it too ). But, it can't be easy for the average South African making ends meet.


Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Me & My Shadow...

Never far away!

It's been over a week that my shadow has been developing. At first, she was too scared to do more than eat and go potty. But throughout this week, she has responded to my parcels of cuddling ( mostly enabled with the lure of a small cat sweet ) and is now a permanent shadow.

If I lie on my couch, she perches on the couch next door making sure that I am in her line of vision. Should I go to the bathroom, she awaits outside. Cooking in the kitchen, she has a favourite chair that she sits on, watching the culinary action going on. So cute and honestly it melts my heart.

It is amazing to get to witness the various emotions she has. No, cats aren't just cats. They are highly intelligent and entertaining. As any cat owner knows, when they use the potty inside for a number 2, a bit of recycling or rather mining for nuggets needs to be done. Smells, you know!!! Well, she is ever so embarrassed that I need to do this.

As for play time ( which alas, can at times be at 3 am ) she has created her own obstacle course in our lounge. She races at great speed over a few couches and yesterday she discovered a new we have throws on our second hand couches, she now slips underneath the bottom flap of the throw and runs around like the proverbial spook. For those not in the loop, it seems as if our couch has been requisitioned for the movie Aliens.

Over the course of this week, she has shown me that she loooves to be scratched on her tummy, stretching on my lap is her favourite ( naturally while I talk kitten with her and constantly stroke her fur ).

Did I mention that our kitten was a feral baby? She was found and brought to the pound, but nobody wanted to adopt her. She seemed too skittish, but then a wonderful young lady took her in to re-socialized her until Bob and I were lucky enough to get to adopt her. Best thing ever that this divine kitten chose us...

As for the heading, Me and my shadow, I did google it, to see if I shouldn't rather use the proper version of My shadow and I and to my delight, I found an original life performance of Old Blue Eyes a.k.a. Frank Sinatra performing with Sammy Davies Junior a classic by the same name. If you get a chance, look it up on YouTube. I did want to post it for you, but am not so sure about Copyrights.


Monday, 9 November 2015

The " KardBlock " Proves Our Unhealthy Obsession With Celebrities,

There is only so much one can see of celebrities.

Frankly, I would much rather see a few Royal Houses being called out of the shadows and back into existence. There seems to be this quest to know all about those celebrities who only look good because they hardly ever have to hoover carpets, wash their own dishes, do laundry and of course have an entourage of stylists buzzing around them, ensuring that not a hair is out of place. A bit of smoke & mirrors...

A young man in Britain has created an app that blocks out all and any news of the Kardashians and called it #KardBlock. Fantastic, isn't it?

The It crowd, that is idolized by magazines and social media, haven't really created anything of value? Done things by example, such as Buy less bling and rather do more worthwhile things.

Of course it doesn't say much about us, because we ( well not all ) are the ones buying the magazines, sharing their stories of excess and wanting to be like them, have what they have and be seen with the same handbag, shoes or dress that costs more than some people earn in a year.

Surely there is more to life?

On a much smaller scale, each of us has a sort of celebrity in our social media circle. Someone that we've perhaps met a few times, or maybe are related to or just added them on because of the glamour factor.

At times I find it a bit thoughtless when they post stories of their latest purchase ( nothing useful of course ), exotic holidays or fancy dinners. Often I wonder if they realize that there are people, friends or family in their social circles who can't have any of what they are showing off with.

Look, there is nothing wrong having fancy dinners, clothes or even exotic holidays, but don't brag about it online or offline It seems to me, that all this showing off is a statement of insecurity...

Imagine if you could have an app that,

  • #keepsitreal
  • #noneofthisbs
  • #nobraggingallowed
  • and of course my personal best would be:


Sunday, 8 November 2015

Some Observations About That Elixir Called Wine.

I enjoy quotes...

" In Italy, they add work and life onto food and wine. "
Robin Leach
" Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine,
so that I may wet my mind and say something clever. "

" Life is too short, and I am Italian.
I'd rather eat pasta and drink wine than be a size 0. "

Sophia Bush
" Nothing makes the future look so rosy
as to contemplate it through a glass of Chambertin. "

Napoleon Bonaparte
" Wine is the most healthful and hygienic of beverages. "
Louis Pasteur
" A bottle of wine begs to be shared; I have never met a miserly wine lover."
Clifton Fadiman
" The juice of the grape is the liquid quintessence of concentrated sunbeams. "
Thomas Love Peacock
" What's foreign one can't always keep quite clear of,
For good things, oft, are not so near;
A German can't endure the French to see or hear of,
Yet drinks their wines with hearty cheer. "

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust
" Men are like wine-some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age."
Pope John Paul II
" At times we ought to drink even to intoxication, not so as to drown,
but merely to dip ourselves in wine, for wine washes away troubles and dislodges them from the depths of the mind and acts as a remedy to sorrow as it does to some diseases.
The inventor of wine is called Liber, not from the license which he gives to our tongues but because he liberates the mind from the bondage of cares and emancipates it, animates it and renders it more daring in all that it attempts. "



Saturday, 7 November 2015

Revisiting Old Crime Scenes.

Rather a pleasant surprise.

Bob very kindly reorganized our book shelves a few weeks ago. Did I mention that he organized not only the authors as one tends to do, but he has established territorial sections. Or should I say, that the book shelf over our main couch is the Nordic corner and the hidden away shelf has been made the British one.

I was strictly instructed to put the books back into their proper place once I've read them, but somehow it never works out that way...and not on purpose either. When Bob gets back, he will notice that there has been some diplomatic reading going on and Norway is now mingling with Scotland!

But it is very nice to meander down the country shelves in our house. Bob's even pandered to my love of the fictional but nevertheless wonderful England of yore and provided a space ( albeit a bit hidden ) for all of my Georgette Heyer novels.

We have the Scottish section within the British corner ( Bob, you might need to make space for our Agatha Christie collection ) and it has many Val McDermids and Ian Rankins. Tooth & Nail by Ian Rankin landed up in my hand and frankly hasn't been put down much either.

10 Great Rebus Novels (English Edition)

Honestly, I forgot how nice it is to read crime novels set in England and set before every character owns a smartphone. Why should that matter? Well, seeing the Inspector doing old fashioned leg work as opposed to the modern thumb work is nice. A blast from the past. A time when they had to use the phone booth or that ancient device called the Landline...

Don't get me wrong, this book is rather gruesome and horrific in the murder department, but Ian Rankin's character, Rebus especially, is just fabulous to get to meet and know. A great read for the onset of winter and the cherry on top is that the Scottish section has many more Ian Rankin books waiting to be revisited.


Friday, 6 November 2015

Say What You Will, But Kittens Are Very Clever.

A character developes and moulds..

In a small way, I do feel like one of those newly minted mothers, who tell all and sundry that their baby is the prettiest etc. even though it might only be so to her. Well, my kitten is rather...!

Tomorrow will be a week that this lovely bundle of joy has lived with us. Actually at the moment I am a single cat-mum as Bob is away, but as soon as he's back, the duties and fun will be shared.

Bob has no idea how fragrant a toilet offering from a little kitten can be ( and also how prolific ) and how ineffective the supposedly smell absorbing cat litter is. But at least she is toilet trained and uses her little tray frequently throughout the day and at three in the morning. As I can't close the doors ( in case she needs to use the litter tray ) the aroma of her toilet session is overpowering enough to wake one up.

Happy even though she is rather skittish still, does follow my every move even going as far as choosing the chair opposite my couch as her place to watch television. Or rather to watch me. Even if I just move an inch, her little head goes up. She is not so sure about dozing on the couch with me yet.

Her set of toys has increased vastly and she likes to play with them. Even when I am out, I notice her play activities the minute I get home. The two rugs in the lounge look so scrunched up and in odd places that I am pretty sure she uses them as surfboards.

Our bedroom is so far still off limit to her and as soon as she hears me opening the door, she tries to dash past me at great speed in order to get her nose in there and explore.

Both of us live for cuddling time and even though I have to bribe her with treats to come close, once she's on my lap, we cuddle, purr, knead and talk too each other for at least five minutes and often more. Life with this kitten is wonderful...

Life and the enjoyment of it is rather easy to do. Happy claiming her space.


Thursday, 5 November 2015

Just A Normal Walk In My Backyard.

The sheer joy of experiencing the different season.

The mist is rather common at this time of the year and cloaks the valley with such abundance that often the houses on the hillside, tend to resemble seaside properties...

The hidden charm of our beautiful wine region. A romantic's paradise.
As strange as it seems, I took this image on the same spot and the same time, but had only turned to my left. At times, it can be sunny on the one side and misty on the other...
A few mornings earlier, I had walked along the forest and had this spectacular view into Deutsch Schützen. This is Bob's favourite view and it is divine in each season...
Last but not least, this was taken yesterday morning on our walk towards Höll, but looking back towards the Deutsch Schützen chapel. Nature couldn't have provided a more fabulous frame. The green and yellow field of
" Oh, how divine!"
are mustard plants. Driving or walking around at this time of the year, where the fields are mostly bare and idle, it is a stunning surprise to get this view.