A bountiful summer indeed.
Not saying that they are all like it, but I can pretty well imagine that the mere fact that it's something to do with emitting our online presence we use many props to make us shine.
When isn't it a case of making oneself look better than we are? Gosh, only through a dare do women concede to putting a make-up free face online otherwise it's a constant round of postings showing a life that is just so perfect and pretty!
Yes, the online business is many things, rarely though the whole truth and nothing but it. We all want to look good and if we are angry we want the world at large to sidle over to our point of view, and we don't hesitate to use a few props along the way.
Nowadays most hotels, B&B's and restaurants are at the mercy of being critiqued online, without really getting the chance to correct wrongs, improve food or drill staff. Reading reviews ( honestly, I hardly ever do ) can be a bit misleading and who's to say that a competitor has invented a fictitious stay gone wrong? Suddenly, a real case of fake news indeed.
Take the time to read the reply written by a hotel manager in Ireland, after he stumbled across a bad review from one of his hotel guests.
" Do not come to Doolin if Wi-Fi is more important to you than human interaction, you will be disappointed. "
Bob of course is worried that for the rest of his life his internal clock will ring for him before dawn or rather pre-pre-dawn, but it is merely for the summer and as soon as the days are getting shorter, our wake-up time will be following the first light. Today being Saturday, he thought we'd sleep in but we both woke up at half past three.
No, don't feel bad for us because it is a fantastic time to greet the day ahead. Everything is quiet, the sky is still cloaked with the remnants of night and apart from a buck defending his territory complete with his dears and the odd late-stayer at Stubit' s ( Buschenschank last night ) the stillness is immense and clear of all the noisy clutter a day brings.
Mausi as per usual fits in brilliantly with anything we do and has changed her sleeping patterns as well by starting to chase imaginary bugs at four in in the morning. Her perch on the open window only gets into prime time viewing territory after five.
This morning I sat on our front door step, sipping a strong cup of tea and taking note of our wonderful life. A blackbird was contemplating me and the speed with which I could reach it but only for a moment before I got put into the non-threatening category. It flew onto the lawn in front of me, pecked for a worm and then went on to have a mini fight with its mate.
For some reason I thought those two blackbirds had put on a skit for Mausi as she was uttering little cat cries distorted by her shivering in excitement at the show on hand. Gosh, those two birds chirped, flew in a twin spitfire spiral and pushed each other over the lawn all within centimeters of the open window which had our cat perched in it. But out of her line of sight, they were best friends again possibly congratulating each other at having driven Mausi mad.
A few hours into our blissful morning the sounds of a typical Saturday can be heard and felt. Life is a tad slower than on a weekday but busy nonetheless. Bob and I are driving to Oberwart today for a round of shopping and the funny thing is that even though we are ready and dressed, it is far too early as the shops only open at nine...
Most of the time I can set my watch to his rounds. Usually just after 1 pm and almost psychically I can predict whether it is a hand delivered letter or a drop in our postbox. Could be the squeaking of our gate and letter box...
Each area has a permanent postman who gets to know his charges rather well. When ours sees us in the faraway Metropolis of Oberwart he gives us a wave, even in civvies. Don't blame him as yellow doesn't suit everyone.
Certainly, he'd be au courant with most of everyone's goings on. In this case he does have to judge a book by its covers. Irritatingly enough, most embarrassing pieces of mail are marked for further humiliation with a bold stamp of affairs. Ah well, postmen know all.
Anyway, this morning I went with my parents to go and clean a few Kellerstöckls and as we drove back to our house ( well, I sat in the back seat very reminiscent of my teenage years ) I noticed the yellow postal cab already down the road. Gosh, he was frightfully early and after I'd been dropped off by my parents I automatically checked the postbox and was rewarded with a newspaper, a couple of coupons and a - While you were out there was a registered letter for you and you can collect it at the local shop at your convenience. -
Always exciting to get special mail but to get it I would have to go to the shop. Fleetingly I thought of driving down the road to catch the postman but before I could, there was a knock at the door. When I opened it, there was our postman:
" Oh, how nice! Sorry I missed you the first time but I was out with my parents." " Yes, I saw all of you driving passed just know and thought I'd try again to save you the bother of going to the shop. "
Two things, no actually three things; Wow, how nice, wow, we live in a town where everyone knows our car ( even those once removed ) and lastly, Mausi was well behaved and didn't bolt out the door as I was thanking our postman.
Again, village life at its best...
It was a little piece left to do or rather to chop into shape and apart from two totally different sized shears ( hedge shears and gardening scissors ) I had to wheel the ever so useful wheelbarrow to my post at the top of our garden. The sun was thankfully hidden by the height of our hedge and for most of the hour I could work shrouded in shade. A new house is being built down the road and every time I stepped back to check on the evenness of my cutting I had to keep an eye out for cement trucks and their ilk.
Cars idled passed, some drivers stopped to praise my effort and some had a quick glance at my work. Thankfully they only got a glimpse although they might drive that route again to see the result. Called a village drive-bye and even Bob and I have done one or two. One lady walked passed on crutches ( in fact she walks a few kilometers everyday with them and should put paid to any and all excuse we keep coming up with to do some exercise ) and stopped to have a few words with me.
The weather, health and neighbours were top of the list and in fact the only items on the list despite world events being fascinating but those three topics are more interesting when living in a village. Happenstance encounters are where I garner a lot of village tidbits.
At one stage a stranger's car ( we all know who drives which car ) parked outside our neighbour and it turned out to be a handyman clocking in for the day. His ladders and tools gave him away. Naturally I couldn't help overhearing his conversation on arrival and noticed he spoke with a Swiss twang while he told the lady with her crutches on her way to visit her friend, that he was a man for everything.
A sort of 007 of the builder's trade, how marvelous. Without hesitation I approached him to ask for his number. He must be a godsend to elderly ladies living on their own who have difficulty with mowing the lawn, painting the house, fixing a drainpipe or eating a whole cake on their own.
I did have a little chuckle to myself as only a few minutes into his work, my neighbour came outside and asked him if he wanted anything to eat or drink...reminded me a lot of those delightful Agatha Christie novels. Rural life, a blissful life.
Since the start of May, Bob and I have a routine of getting up at a quarter to four weekdays in order for Bob to get to work. Nothing wrong with that during summer and in any case, we adjusted our timetable accordingly. The dinner countdown ( pre-dinner glass of wine etc ) starts an hour earlier.
Despite finding the extra time during the day nice and often thinking of how much more one can achieve with it, we do enjoy Saturdays and Sundays, days we can sleep in...or should it be could sleep in?
In preparation for sleeping late on those mornings ( seven or eight'ish ) we live it up on the evenings before and watch the eight o'clock movie until it's finished! Even our dinners are pushed back just because it's weekend. Well, last weekend yours truly was in deep trouble because I had forgotten to switch off the alarm clock and Sunday morning saw us awake at 3.45 am. As you can imagine I was not Bob's favourite gal...
As one learns from mistakes I now religiously attend to setting the alarm clock but, we forgot about our industrious little Mausi. Cats, are the best instinctive timekeepers. Feeding times are imprinted on their brain and it seems that now, rising times are as well.
Only this last Saturday at 3.50, our princess couldn't handle the snores coming from the bed and with ease jumped up next to Bob's pillow and proceeded to purr and nudge his head until he was awake. He grumbled for a bit but honestly, there's not much Mausi can do that he wouldn't forgive...
...well, truthfully when she repeated the above early wake up call yesterday morning, Bob was a tad bit cross, cross enough to shut her out the bedroom last night which resulted in her sulking and not looking at him all morning. Of course, he chose the wrong day as we had to get up at a quarter to four in any case. Let's see what next weekend will bring...
" In a few minutes tea was brought. Very delicate was the china, very old the plate, very thin the bread-and-butter, and very small the lumps of sugar. Sugar was evidently Mrs Jamieson's favourite economy. "Cranford
" All sorts of thoughts cross one's mind - it depends on whether one gives them harbour and encouragement. " 'Wives and Daughters'... Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell ( 1810-1865 )
" But I was right. I think that must be an hereditary quality, for my father says he's scarcely ever wrong. "'Cranford'...Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell ( 1810-1865 )
" In the first place, Cranford is in possession of the Amazons; all the holders of houses, above a certain rent, are women. If a married couple come to settle in the town, somehow the gentleman disappears; he is either fairly frightened to death by being the only man in the Cranford evening parties, or he is accounted for by being with his regiment, his ship, or closely engaged in business all the week in the great neighbouring commercial town of Drumble, distant only twenty miles on a railroad. In short, whatever does become of the gentlemen, they are not at Cranford. "'Cranford'...Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell ( 1810-1865 )
" My next visit to Cranford was in the summer. There had been neither birth, deaths, nor marriages since I was there last. Everybody lived in the same house, and wore pretty nearly the same well-preserved old-fashioned clothes. The greatest event was, that the Miss Jenkynses had purchased a new carpet for the drawing-room. Oh, the busy work Miss Matty and I had in chasing the sunbeams, as they fell in an afternoon right down on this carpet through the blindless window! We spread newspapers over the places, and sat down to our book or our work; and lo! in a quarter of an hour the sun had moved, and was blazing aaway on a fresh spot; and down again we went on our knees to alter the position of the newspapers. We were very busy, too, one whole morning, before Miss Jenkyns gave her party, in following her directions, and in cutting out and stitching together pieces of newspapers so as to form little paths to every chair set for the expected visitors, lest their shoes might dirty or defile the purity of the carpet. Do you make paper paths for every guest to walk upon in London? "'Cranford'...Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell ( 1810-1865 )
Both Bob and I drink a sort of protein health drink every day. Bob to replenish his energy after a long day in the vineyards and I to help keep facial gravity at bay. This powder ( hemp, the lesser cousin of... ) is green and fluffy with a tendency to stick to the edge of the glass...and surprisingly gives oodles of oompf.
About an hour after drinking mine yesterday afternoon, I got up to go to the bathroom and as I glanced in the mirror I noticed that half my nose was covered in green hemp. Realistically, after over a decade together it is a bit much to expect Bob to look at me most of the time....or he looked and didn't tell me?
Often, in social settings it can be a bit tricky and require muchos tact to mention an out of place food item. Even before you mention a piece of spinach, an obvious new nasal resident or a skirt stuck on the wrong side of a pantyhose, you know the other person will flame up in embarrassment. Who wouldn't?
Admittedly, there have been times where I, instead of mentioning any aesthetic mishap, merely averted my eyes from the offending particle and continued a conversation hoping that nobody new would come along and let the cat out of the bag. Never mind that once the person would look in the mirror they'd know...but a few times I've been brave and upfront.
The other non verbal hint would be to rub one's nose, pick one's teeth or pointedly look at the bottom of one's shoes to drop a hint. Sometimes a nose is just itchy and it becomes rather comical when the person we're talking to immediately assumes that you are dropping clues and takes out a tissue just in case...Aren't we all a funny lot?
Helping an elderly couple to change a debit order payment to an invoice being sent, is what started my adventures with a helpline. Easy as pie I thought. How hard could it be other than phoning the company in question and asking them to change the payment method.
High tech for me is using the touch button system 1 for this, 2 for that and often I forget the number coding after the first few and have to start again. What I didn't imagine in my wildest dreams was having to use my voice to get put onto the correct department. Futuristic indeed, as I've never had the pleasure of listening to any other voice giving direction in the car except Bob's so a mechanical soprano was new to me.
Filled with courage I said ( and I thought I enunciated clearly but perhaps with too much of a Bavarian intonation ) :
" Invoice "to which a female voice replied;
" You want to close your account? "Suffice it to say that I tried that route three more times with always the same result and I am not sure if ' she ' got exasperated with me or whether I touched a magic button, but all of a sudden a voice rehashed the menu corresponding to the buttons to be pressed.
As you might have gathered I am not fond of all those newfangled technological advances but with a population skewed towards the over 60's, companies should look into using old fashioned face to face or rather person to person communication. Not everyone has instant email on hand, scanning equipment, a clear voice or even the will to spend hours on the phone awaiting one's turn in the queue only to be bumped to the end of the line due to a misshaped vowel...
In my opinion and even Bob laughs at it ( and me for my naivete ), the future of little villages is set. Already one can notice how empty houses are being snapped up and not only by wealthy retirees.
Life in a city for the younger lot is of course all that's looked for but soon enough, many will realize how much effort it takes to fund a city lifestyle. Be it the stop at a coffee emporium ( when a perfectly good coffee can be had cheaply at home ), the lures planted by clothing companies in shop windows, concerts or restaurants.
All that costs money and apart from a minority of big earners, working seems to only cover the essentials and even those are outrageously expensive. Case in point, the high rentals and the low availability of living space.
Everyone keeps saying that there are no jobs in a village and perhaps for the moment they are right, but villages aren't that for away from the city environs for commuting. Of course what most forget is that technology is changing and developing so quickly, that soon all one needs to work is a fast internet connection. And, many clever mayors of small villages are putting in fiber optic cables.
It used to be that a profession learnt after school was a profession for life. No longer does that hold true. How many of us have switched course a few years in, out of necessity or just because?
A lot of the younger generation are realizing that downsizing to a life in a village has many benefits the uppermost being a gentler pace of life. Working endless hours to fund a city lifestyle isn't good for health, relationships or kids. A childhood spent in a village is utopia for kids and ironically might form a strength of character that is needed to live a happy life anywhere.
The only sad fact that is already happening when folks move here, is that they eschew the delightfully charming ( farm ) houses of yesteryear and build modern ones, but at least they are moving here.
Don't forget, this is only my opinion...
Somehow I never know if it was hands or feet but regardless it felt like the masseuse was walking on my back and legs. Yes, Bob and I went to Bozsok to have a Thai massage.
Brilliant when those niggling little aches and pains of shoulder and neck creep up. From the voices I heard beyond my curtain ( I think they have 10 stations ) none belonged to the under 40's. Fair enough, one has to reach a certain age to realize that not the clothing but the body underneath is worth keeping in shape.
Being a fashionable sycophant in our twenties and thirties is par for the course but hardly good for our bodies. Tight jeans and high heels just to mention a few. Ah, what a relief to be an individual.
We had to drive through Rechnitz to reach Bozsok and the route there is unbelievably stunning. Hardly any houses with hills covered in golden wheat fields as far as the eye can see. After our hour's treat we headed back home and since we were already in the vicinity of the new ice cream parlour - Heiling, it would have been stupid to not pay a visit.
They have a shop on the village square and it took me down memory lane, sitting there devouring ice cream while watching the world drive, walk or cycle past. One of those inexpensive ways to unburden a stressful week. Life doesn't get much better than to sit and actually enjoy life...not many do.