Tuesday, 31 October 2017

World Savings Day.

Banks give back...

One can't be under any illusion that banks are altruistic. We give them our money, get a small percentage of interest while they reuse our money to lend to the next customer at much higher interest rates. Well, not a bad business idea when you also get each customer to pay for every use they make of the facilities.

As customers we don't ask for much and just being given a little trinket ( a few years ago it was a Stanley knife ) or a pair of Vienna sausages ( a pair of Frankfurters as they are called in Austria ) makes all the difference. Today is World Savings Day and at our local branch a tent has been put up with many tables inside.

Today, every loyal client is treated to a pair of sausages and a beer. Driving past our local bank almost proved impossible as cars were parked all over the verge. As far as I know the offer of free food is all day long but then the savvy folks of our village don't want to take a chance that there'll be a, eh, run on the bank and thus the tent was packed from early on.

Who can still remember their first little savings piggy? Mine was given to me many years ago at one of these Savings events and at that age it was the best thing since sliced bread. Of course nowadays the banks don't want one to save as the system rather wants to enslave us in the quicksand of borrowing.

Once started, it isn't that easy to get out. Smartphones have aided to the ease with which we can shop. What in the past took a trip to the bank to draw cash with enough time to reconsider the need of yet another decorative item, now only takes two mindless clicks...

I owe, I owe, off to work I go...

As for the small gift from our bank, it does make a difference and it does create a sense of loyalty. Well done and thank you Raiffeisenbank, for treating us as people and not mere entries in a ledger...


Monday, 30 October 2017

Reliving History By Proxy.

The story of Diana.

A bit of a poser for me and a reminder of time flitting by. I have just come home after helping two Matric students with their English. A summary of a newspaper article was on the agenda. The story of Diana. Princess Diana that is because it has dawned on me that only few people make the associtation.

The story told was part of my life. Her wedding, marriage and funeral were woven into my life as time markers ( I still remember where I watched the wedding and where I was when her death was announced ), as most of us couldn't get enough of Diana. Magazines with her on the cover were the most coveted, books about her were treasured and the Princess Di hairdo was the most copied of all. It was a modern fairy tale for us and hardly anyone could fathom that she might be unhappy after having married her prince charming.

The two girls clearly weren't atop the intricate history of the British royal family and most of the events mentioned in the article that were replaying in my mind as if they happened yesterday were unknown to them. The wedding. Oh what a wedding it was. Our school allowed us to watch the whole wedding but I didn't mention it to the girls as they would have thought me over the hill, having attended school in 1981. Goodness me, a dinosaur.

There are so many amazing and interesting facets to this family from the name change, to the Queen Mum enjoying her daily gin & Dubonnet to the fact that Catherine has been brave enough to wear her mother in law's engagement ring. Now that I think of it, I should have mentioned the Austrian connection with Princess Michael of Kent, to make it more relevant.

History can be lived along side it although one doesn't know at the time and it can also be gleaned from history books. Whichever way, it lends colour, depth and hopefully understanding to how times unfold and how we can best learn from them.


Sunday, 29 October 2017

What To Do With Unwanted Halloween Loot?

Pumpkins, costumes and treats.

The shops make sure you don't forget about this upcoming event because they want you to spend money again on frivolous costumes and masks. Why can't we keep the same look for a number of years? Once a witch always a witch... Does anyone still remember what cloak of disguise was donned the year before?

The kids in our village do enjoy Halloween and the spoils that come their way. A few years ago I was privy to a conversation among a group of local boys ( ages of 7-11 ) discussing the amount of money they had collected the year before and how they meticulously planed their route for that year. They knew which houses were more lucrative for them to trick or treat...

Ever since we've been here Bob and I have stocked up on huge bags of Mars bars, Bounties, Smarties and chocolates because we didn't want to be caught out without anything to offer the Trick or Treat'ers. Suffice to say that by the 2nd of November of each consecutive year the two of us were hyper beyond measure from a sugar overload. How does one say no to an open packet of mini-mars bars?

The other day while we were at Tesco's in Hungary we saw a few young parents buying super sized pumpkins with their offspring excitedly hopping from one leg to the other in anticipation. Carving a scary face out of a pumpkin must be a highlight for any kid and a bit of a nightmare for their parents. Imagine cutting too much and having to redo a carving on another pumpkin?

Halloween is a sort of precursor to Christmas, cold weather and hot Glühwein. The start of winter hibernation, reading books and living life in the slow lane. A recharge indeed and a time to reconnect with the important parts of life...family.


Saturday, 28 October 2017

A Merry Pharmacist Makes Her Customers Smile.

A giggle a day keeps the doctor away.

Today saw the start of this year's alpine skiing season and with that in mind I was already back from Kohfidisch Spar at half past nine. Bob's not feeling that well ( a touch of man flu ) and professed his wish for a nice beef curry for supper and as they say, His wish is my command.

Best laid plans do have a habit of coming undone and so it was, but thanks to the A1's technology of re-run at command, it wasn't a problem because I could see the race later on. I needed to drive via Strem to the hospital in Güssing to drop something off and I was glad to be able to help out. A quick wave goodbye to Bob & Mausi, and my chariot and I headed for Güssing. The weather was nice and the roads not too busy which made the drive a piece of cake.

Having dropped the various things off at the hospital I headed back home but quickly went to the Güssing pharmacy. Saturday morning seems to be prime time and surprisingly ( or not? ) the shop was mainly full of female customers. A young mother with her little toddler was in front of me and I couldn't help but overhear her request.

" My husband has tooth ache and he needs something to help with the pain. "

" Okay, how bad is the pain ? "
There was this sudden silence, the young mother glanced at her toddler clearly still remembering the pain of childbirth and started to tell the pharmacist, who started to laugh out loud:
" Oh yes, say no more. We all know about our husbands in pain!!!! "
Well, now I feel bad for it but I couldn't help laughing and neither could any other woman within hearing range. Goodness me, we are cruel towards our men...as it happens, Bob is an angel when he's sick and takes whichever concoction I mix for him ( this morning it was cumin & black pepper ) without any complaints. I hate to say it, but I think I might be a touch more theatrical whilst sick...


Friday, 27 October 2017

Bye Bye Blue Sky.

The winds of change are never expected.

A few hours ago the sky looked rather promising and clear with the sun peaking out from under certain bits. Well, just in the last hour a dark and dingy looking cloud cover has decided to park itself over us. Gosh, it's only lunchtime.

One would almost think that yesterday was a figment of our imagination. It was a picture perfect day which happened to coincide with a public holiday. End of October and temperatures in the mid twenties accompanied by sunshine is a treat indeed. Bob and I went over yonder where there wasn't a public holiday to purchase some groceries and on our drive there we saw what seemed like a lot of Eisenbergers out for a walk.

As you know the grass still has its roots firmly anchored and has kept its greenish tint which made the drive around the back roads of Hungary almost seem romantic. Trees clad in autumn's suit lining the many twists and turns of a delightfully patchy rural road. A pothole here and there had me behave in a most unromantic way:

" Schatzi, watch out for the potholes. "
and I never learn, do I? Men don't like to be told how to drive and come to think of it, we women don't like it either....

The two of us were thrilled beyond measure at discovering a new route to Szombathely, a much shorter route with far less traffic. Bob, with determination went to the deli counter at the supermarket and ordered himself two strings of real spicy Hungarian sausages safe in the knowledge that I am not so fond of them while I indulged in their local bread assortments. A couple of freshly baked bread rolls and a huge loaf of white bread.

Good food and someone to share it with might just be another secret to happiness and a great way to spend a public holiday.


Thursday, 26 October 2017

It's Hard Not To Be Well Known In A Small Place.

Well known by proxy, that is...

Only sometimes when I take a moment to reflect does it stun me to realize that all the villagers in our village would comfortably fit into the whole of Beacon Hill, the block of flats Bob and I had lived in back in sunny South Africa. Although even there we didn't know everyone, not even by sight. The usual suspects were those who shared our floor, lift or work routine.

Same here of course. Even now we haven't met or even seen everyone because just like anywhere else, people like to live their own lives. Late yesterday afternoon I went along to visit some housebound Eisenbergers for the first time and they couldn't have been nicer and more hospitable.

It was a short surprise visit, yet a lot of interesting life history was told. Honestly, there is nothing more fascinating than listening to the life's events of Eisenbergers. Remember, the Iron Curtain was mere meters away and many families were separated when it came down.

About an hour later their son and daughter-in-law arrived and I said my goodbyes but not before exchanging proper greetings and hello's...

" Oh, I know your parents. They live opposite the...and I see them Nordic walking every morning. "
he said and proceeded to tell me chapter and verse. How he knew they were my parents is a mystery unless he saw the likeness of mum and I.

Small village life being as it is, he told me of other common acquaintances and isn't that what makes life so special? As Einstein said, happiness is found within the context of a simple and humble life.


Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The Sun Came Out To Play.

A walk along the fields of my dreams.

The fields are being turned and walking past them this morning was pure bliss. The browns had a glittering side to them and one felt like playing in the dirt.
A fallow field is a rare treat.
Even combined harvesters leave a trail...
Hard to believe that in two months time it will be Christmas. The bottom end of Eisenberg along the Hungarian border. Simply stunning.
On the way back to the top end of Eisenberg ( makes us sound like a Metropolis ) we saw these two turtle doves or rather a pair of crows kissing and cuddling.
The pond is settling in for the winter. A carp was leaping in and out of the water and creating the most perfect ripples on the pond.
Life, shouldn't we enjoy it more by doing less?


Tuesday, 24 October 2017

A Compliment A Day, Keeps The Doctor At Bay.

Little things make the world of difference...

Today being Tuesday I had the pleasure of driving an elderly couple to the doctor's. He is going to be in his nineties soon and will get a personalized visit from our mayor complete with a photo and framed certificate for the wall. These visits are highly sought after and those framed photos often hold pride of place. Quite a few villagers have shown me theirs the first time I popped in for a cup of coffee. Eighty seems to be the magic number when the official visits start and a big wall space is vital from then on.

Anyway, they had completed their check-up and asked if I could please stop at the local shop. Not a problem at all and after I had double parked, I helped them alight from the car. His wife is still sprightly despite being in his age range, but I do assist him out of the front seat and have developed the habit of making sure his head doesn't connect with the car frame by holding my palm just above his head and every time I am reminded of the many cop series I've seen on television. Just the other day I was ferrying Bob about and I almost did the same to him...quelle blamage.

It was and still is blowing gales in our village and so I thought I'd wait inside the shop for them. Normally I don't go in as it tends to crowd folks while shopping, but due to this cold gale I stood inside the front door to wait for them and help with carrying the shopping bags.

Anyway, my elderly gentleman was waiting to pay for the groceries, when another man cued up behind him. Not such a young man as I guess he was somewhere in his late sixties and my gentleman being the friendly sort, he struck up a conversation with him:

" Good morning young man. How are things with you today? "
It was the funniest and nicest thing to see. This chap, who wouldn't have classified himself as young, literally started to beam from ear to ear, stand up straighter while his eyes redeveloped a sparkle. For today at least, he will feel years younger because, let's face it, it is the thought that counts after all...


Monday, 23 October 2017

The Paper Conspiracy.

Why, where and how come is it so prolific?

Burgenland is miles ahead of many other countries in regard to recycling and in fact it took Bob and I a very long time to come to grips with it. It is really not so easy to know what to place in which container, and what is organic waste.

The latter they call the Bio-Tonne / Organic-bin which I took to mean that it must contain all and sundry which normally resides on your compost heap...when I heard someone tell me that even cooked meat etc could go in there, I quickly checked if it wasn't April first. Imagine putting leftover cooked food in an organic bin?

Today, and thankfully so, was the paper collection day. Our bin was overflowing with squashed paper of all sorts-Newspaper, letters, pamphlets, cardboard boxes and the nefarious packaging paper. Why are companies so enraptured with wrapping everything to the nth degree? Surely a plastic ( bad as it is ) covering should suffice instead of still putting a layer of cardboard over a cereal box or a six pack of joghurt.

Where does it all go and don't tell me that recycling paper is a perfect equation because one mustn't forget the chemicals used to make any packaging look appealing and addictive to the likes of us. Where do those end up? Into our groundwater via many twists and turns perhaps? Wouldn't it be a nice compromise if any and all packaging had to be in black and white before phasing it out all together?

To be honest, I am very much at fault for purchasing all those wrapped products as it is difficult not to. I do try and shop in a reasonable manner but when I see the daily batch of waste paper collecting in our waste paper basket, I get cross with myself for being so irresponsible while at the same time wondering at the mountain of waste paper everyone of us billions of earthlings is collecting daily.


Sunday, 22 October 2017

To Hungary For Lunch And Back Again Within A Few Hours.

The best laid plans...

My elderly neighbour up the road, she who walks with two crutches every single day, said that today the weather would turn and indeed it did, starting with a batch of rain at midday accompanied by slightly colder air. Fair enough, winter is on its way.

Bob and I were helping my folks sort out all the wine pressing equipment, ferrying and carrying three big vats across Eisenberg when the four of us decided at the spur of the moment to have lunch in Hungary. Not just at any place but a restaurant that Bob and I had discovered a few months ago with my parents from America.

Bob offered to chauffeur us as into Hungary as it has a zero tolerance for alcohol ( Hungary is way ahead of the rest of the world in that regard ). The anticipation was building up in our car and we all were mentally salivating at the thought of the hearty lunch ahead.

The driveway up to the restaurant seemed romantic and nice only to end at the car park, a car park filled to the rafters. Lunch, was out of the question. The restaurant was packed and as much as we grumbled at our bad luck, we were pleased at the popularity of the place. Who likes to eat in an empty restaurant?

Nothing for it but to turn around and look for someplace else...Rechnitz was a mere smigeon further and I remembered seeing that Straka Wine Estate had a Buschenschank. Despite the rainy climes it was nice to slowly drive up into the Rechnitz Weinberg and take note of the delightful old Kellerstöckls along it.

The Buschenschank was full but we found a nice table in a comfortable room with a view of Rechnitz Weinberg. Nice. Bob and I have the most wonderful memories of this place because it had been the starting point of our Weinfrühling adventure. Twice we have sampled their wines and each time it was memorable. Today didn't disappoint at all. The Welschriesling was crisp, smooth while leaving a delicious note of gummibears on the palate while their Eisenberg DAC was smooth, spicy, tasty and bold whilst showing the velvety texture of an award winning wine...

Bob and I have eaten far too much and now are playing the nodding game, knowing that we have to stay awake until at least nine o'clock in order to see the American Grand Prix..


Saturday, 21 October 2017

A Busy Saturday In Eisenberg.

Never a dull day.

It was one of those spooky mornings where the fog was thick and unrelenting. A morning where it was impossible to tell which way the weather would turn. Alas, not a day to do laundry as we still haven't converted our bathroom into a laundrette with stuff hanging and drying everywhere...but that blissful state will be with us for the next few months until April.

This morning took me to Hannersdorf for some extra lessons and driving there was not for the faint of heart. A triple whammy...thick fog, forest road with deer ahoof and fast oncoming traffic but I made it there safe and sound. After my lessons it was back to Eisenberg because today we were pressing the red wine. Three big vats of red wine maische, as this vintage is a fabulous and abundant one. Can't wait to drink it next year because honestly, the mere aromas wafting up at me were as divinely red wine-ish as one can get. 2018 will be a merry year!

The pressing had started just after nine and I couldn't get there before eleven. A change of shoes, a change of thought and on with the pressing. Pressing wine is a lot of work which essentially means heavy lifting and heavy twisting but it is so worthwhile as it usually is a family affair, a time to catch up, a time to laugh and a time to reminisce about my uncle who was part of our wine activities but who now is watching us ( and perhaps laughing at our antics ) from a celestial chair with a glass of wine in hand.

It is a privilege to be able to help make wine even if it is a lot of hard work. Everyone can appreciate a good glass of wine, but very few get a glimpse behind the scenes and a true understanding of how precious a bottle of wine really is...


Friday, 20 October 2017

Some Use It For Halloween, Some Only For Soups.

La pumpkin takes over.

Maybe it's because of the inclement cold weather or because of the bright colour, but for some odd reason I am in love with pumpkin soup. In fact, anything pumpkin is perfect.

All around our area one can see pumpkins growing but those are reared for the delicious pumpkin seed oil. The shops have a variety of pumpkins ranging from the bright orange hokkaido to the pale yellow of a butternut. All are well suited for soups.

Most of my generation is used to opening a packet and popping it into the microwave to heat up. Be it a stew, soup or even cake. Does anyone still use a microwave despite the health risks that are bound with using it? Oddly enough some even make scrambled eggs in it...! Ehem, the last time I've used a microwave was in the late 90's I think...

Recently, I've discovered that making soups is rather easy, in fact simple and all that it takes is a bit of patience. The vegetables have to be cooked and pumpkin does take a bit longer than zucchini. Of course my soups are homemade and not restaurant affairs and I often do a pot luck of sorts as long as there is an onion to start it off. I normally fry these and then throw in the roughly cut vegetables together with water and salt.

Eating a sturdy and thick soup is the best. Once a generous dash of cream, sour cream or butter ( preferably all three ) are melting into the soup, each spoonful transforms into candy for the soul.

Cold winter's days do almost make it necessary to make a pot of beef soup, the real sort with bones, meat and plenty of time. Once the meat falls apart on the spoon, you know you've made a great soup and the three hours it takes to make it are well worth it...


Thursday, 19 October 2017

The Last Few Days Of Colourful Autumn.

The stage is set.

The last of the grapes..a colourful adieu of the vines.
These last few mornings have been nice and misty, setting the stage for a most spectacular exit of autumn.
The forest has a few more weeks of leaves left before the tree trunks take center stage.
A bunch of grapes left for deer and perhaps a hare...
How marvelous and industrious a spider can be...they make a new web each night. Stunning isn't it?
Strange to think that in just over two months, Christmas is upon us. Time, where does it go?


Wednesday, 18 October 2017

An Unexpected Helping Hand.

Village living at its best.

Mum asked me to help them with the Schnapps. Gosh no, not to drink it but to help roll the heavy containers of Maische onto the trailer. One could call Maische the pre-schnapps as it still has to be burned and distilled. Each weighs at least sixty kilograms and with a few steps
( the real sort ) along the way, it was going to demand our combined might and effort.

The three of us, Albert, mum and I had the first barrel halfway out of the cellar on one of those delivery trolleys with wheels one tends to use for beer barrels. Didn't we look a pretty sight? Mum slight as a willow pulling the trolley and the rest of us trying to push it. Well, we had to pause on the verge waiting for an approaching tractor and when I recognized Martin, I waved in greeting and then put my head down again trying to balance the barrel.

Bear in mind, that he is a wine farmer and has been harvesting for over a month now, which surely meant he was on the brink of exhaustion, or so I thought. He slowed down and obviously saw the three of us struggle with the barrel, and shouted:

" Do you guys need any help ? "
Within the blink of an eye, we rendered a jubilant and unanimous ' yes '. He pulled over to the side, parked his tractor and straight away took over the heavy work. Even though he's only a few years younger than I, he had the first barrel on the trailer in no time and I felt a bit awful when I told him; " Eh, sorry Martin, there are three more to get out of the cellar! "

He didn't mind at all and helped us with a smile and more strength than the three of us had together...

Today was one of those moments in life, where an act of human kindness made the world of difference to us and confirmed my deep felt belief that people are intrinsically good. You know, he could have merely waved a friendly greeting and carried on driving but he stopped to lend us a helping hand.

Eisenberg, a place where good people live...


Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Pets, What Would We Do Without Them?

My week of surprises.

Not quite a week I suppose but close enough. Walking back home after an extra lesson yesterday evening, I was deep in my thoughts until I heard an odd squeaking sound behind me. Nothing nefarious of course as I do live in the safe haven of Burgenland, but a squeak that did need further investigation.

With exaggerated slowness I turned and was almost bowled over. A black Labrador puppy ( well, she's almost grown ) was at loose ends with herself and footloose when she must have espied or heard me walk past her place. There she was, hurtling into me for a cuddle with her most prized possessions securely held between her fangs. Yes, the squeaky rubber duck & a sodden yellow tennis ball had to come along for me to play with.

Honestly, it broke my heart to think of this little cuteness following strangers ( she's seen me once or twice ) hoping for some game time. If I could, I would have taken her home with me right there and then. Seeing the many cars coming home from work, I tried to reign her back home which was a success until she stumbled upon an open gate and a resting dog behind it...yours truly was forgotten.

About an hour ago, whilst the Maus and I were resting on the couch, an incident occurred that has slightly shaken me up. From a supposed sleep on my legs, our cute little cat took a flying leap onto the floor, under the couch only to reemerge a second later with a real live mouse between her fangs. No squeaky toy there, oh no, only the real thing will do for our cat!!!

Honestly, I don't think that I've ever jumped off our couch so quickly and I don't know why because the last affair de mouse was handled by the boss and expertly so... Bob, he who has knowledge of how to handle these contretemps. From having seconded Bob, ( actually not really as I had spent most of that time atop the couch ) I realized that she'd play with this mouse for a while which posed the danger of it running for cover somewhere such as our cupboard, bed or even couch.

Tearing off a big piece of bounty ( god knows why as it was a generic one which we all know doesn't hold muster or mice ) I hastened in pursuit of an ecstatic Mausi who ran into the bedroom. Oh my gosh, I wish you could have heard her growling at me. Only this morning she was cuddling on my chest and now she was with mouse between her teeth uttering the most awful sounds at her mummy.

Naturally I should have let her have her fun and collected the exhausted animal once she'd tired of it, but...she was running to the lounge with me in hot pursuit when it happened. She dropped the ball or rather the speedy mouse, which after a detour up the curtain decided to drop on the floor and disappear under the floor boards. Gosh, they just need a tiny bit of space.

Well, as we speak, Mausi quite rightly is giving me sullen looks and a real mouse is back in our house...it's only Tuesday today and I do wonder what the next few days will bring?


Monday, 16 October 2017

The Leaves Of Change.

A sign of the times...

Everywhere the markers of approaching winter are bedazzling us with their beauty, making us forget about what they portend.
The magic is revealed with a few rays of sunshine.
The rusty vine...
Having spiraled to the ground in an adhoc kind of way, they end up waiting for rakes to sweep them away...
A bench that looks awfully inviting especially with the colourful stage in front of it.
No, not leaves, but certainly a sign of the times. The lines of exchange are being put into the ground around Eisenberg. I think that these are fiber optic lines which means that we'll soon be on the cutting edge of technology.


Sunday, 15 October 2017

A Quiet Sunday Morning In Eisenberg.

Slowly the village awakes.

The best time of any Sunday is the early morning. Hardly a soul's astir and it is a real treat to go for a walk in such solitude. Well, not quite as there are some like minded people about.

After eight, despite sounding like an after dinner treat, sees life returning after a Saturday night. Walking along the street I can't help but hear the water swirling its merry way down the drain. Seriously, walking past those man-hole covers outside each house, one can hear either the flushing of a lavatory, the constant tingling of a shower or the gurgling of the washing machine's cycle.

Today I saw a man setting off to ride his bicycle but not before I had safely gone past his house. Did he think I would break in or something? Yikes, and to top it all he did a round of spitting and ugly gurgling as only a smoker can do at the start of any exercise. Far from attractive and doesn't he realize how sound carries on a clear day?

A bit further along the top of Eisenberg I heard the swish of our approaching security car ( yes, can you believe it? ) a swish that only an electric car could make...I know who my money would be on in case of a car chase!!!

The kaleidoscopic coat most vines are sporting at the moment is breathtakingly beautiful and if one had a storage tank for happiness and contentment, today would have filled this tank to excess. If only people would realize how magical, healing and relaxing a walk can be, they would cease to think of me as the mad walker and start to do the same.

Good morning from Eisenberg.


Saturday, 14 October 2017

When Are We Ever Enough For Ourselves?

A pervasive attitude.

I was given a treasure of sorts to read. A local autobiography of a man who died in 1957. Not just any man but a man who was a mayor at one time and had made sure our main road into Eisenberg was being built, although the main part of his story was of his time as a prisoner of war during the first world war. I daren't say fascination stuff because it must have been sheer hell but he survived.

One of his sons died because of the next world war and that was the name I had stopped to have a look at this morning on my way passed the local war memorial. The plaque is there with names of the fallen and it saddens me every time I read it.

Shouldn't any leader of a country who is able to declare a conflict have been given a taste of life in and around a war? Perhaps a few weeks in a current war zone might cure the verbal trigger finger.

The lady who looks after this memorial and its lovely flowers was sweeping up leaves and we got talking about life and how it is at times unpredictably long and at other times just the opposite. Yet, how many of us keep on saying to ourselves:

  • I'll have fun when I'm older.
  • I'll have fun when I've lost five kilograms.
  • I'll have fun when I've saved a lot of money.
  • I'll have fun when I've met the right man.

Living a long life is a blessing, a gift and not a given. We know it but we don't live by it...let's cut those mental restraints and have some fun. The man whose life I have just read about might have done many things, but I am sure that he treasured every minute of life as he had seen firsthand how quickly a life can cease.


Friday, 13 October 2017

An Adoring Fan.

Happily laying at my feet.

They say dogs are some of the best judges of character and I am happy to say that today I've been vetted quite a few times. It began as I set off for my walk and ran across the most delightful puppy being taken for a walk. The minute it saw me, it pulled with all its little might to come and sniff me out.

Waiting until I got the owner's okay, I went ahead and cuddled, stroked and coochy-cooed like mad because this little pup was just so cute. Not so little in size considering it is ten weeks old and almost three times the size of our cat. Well, seconds after having jumped up at me, it lay down at my feet, belly up, gazing adorably into my eyes. Of course I am under no illusion that I might be the only one...but I was heard to murmur that I would gladly take it home.

Feng Shui is right. It says that what happens first thing in the day, will perpetuate all day. Not much further along my walk, I ran across the next dog and its owner. A little cuddle, a little chat and off I went on my merry way with only a few chickens and chicks coming my way for the rest of the walk.

Mid morning saw me visiting a lady who keeps another set of dogs and you guessed it, yours truly had the time of her life playing with both of her dogs. As much as I love our cat, dogs are special in a different way. Their eyes say it all and when they give you their undying attention and loyalty, even going so far as fetching a most revered and favoured toy to drop it at your feet, the heart melts within seconds.

The ultimate in my canine fan club is of course dear Johnny, a lovely Labrador. Now and again I join his owner and him for a walk but often months go by without meeting up. Yesterday as I turned the last corner toward Eisenberg I heard my name called out in the distance. I stopped, turned and saw a waving arm and an excited dog running toward me. Johnny is getting on in years but he nonetheless ran like a youngster, back feet overtaking front feet and it didn't take him long to barrel into me and yap away like mad, telling me all the in's and out's of his life...


Thursday, 12 October 2017

Sometimes A Flower Is More Than Enough.

Nature at its best.

Towards the end of my walk I stopped at the War Memorial to see the list of names, as I had just finished a local biography set in the time frame of those two dreadful wars. There aren't many flowers in that enclosure but those that are there are powerful beyond words.
...out of the shadows...
Simple, elegant and very eloquent...
Not a flower but our new feral lodger. He loves to squeeze into tight places and while the day away until supper time. He is getting much more friendly day by day...not surprising considering the meals Bob and I dish up.
Outside a local cellar entrance a tapestry of leaves give it more import and elegance.
The various layers that encompass my little paradise. If only you could imbibe all that goes with it...a buzzing bee, a passing tractor, a harvester traversing the field, the echo of a dog barking in the distance and an abundance of crisp clean air.


Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Height Adds Amazing Dimensions.

Eisenberg from a lofty angle.

The blues were as blue as one could get, the vines as colourful as autumn states and the air crisp yet delightfully warmed by the sunshine emerging. Beautiful.
This morning saw us scale the lofty heights of Mount Olympus or rather the upper echelon of Eisenberg. Now I know why it's so sought after....killer views.
It was once again one of those magical mornings, a morning where giving thanks was the on the cards.
Our gentle rolling vineyards shrouded in morning mist.
Rather like a painting, seeing it covered in nebulous air.
A perfect little place to while the days away...a haven to read, relax and learn to enjoy life and all its delights.


Tuesday, 10 October 2017

A Glimpse Of Life.

Chickens, vineyards and more.

This morning while I was waiting to start a bit of work, I couldn't help but notice the beauty of the day. Even though a chilliness is spreading its unwelcome cloak, seeing the colours of autumn makes it worthwhile. Doesn't it look pretty as a picture?
The other morning the sun was dueling with a layer of clouds and victoriously won in the end.
A mere roof but not so. Some of the foliage has turned a bright siren red and it makes it such a treat to stumble across it. A plain roof moonlights as a canvas.
Chickens roaming the road...or rather this little chick and its friend have found a gap in the fence. Quite often I see them delving for worms on the side of the road.
Another chicken but this one's behind a fence. Apples seem to be a welcome snack.
Eisenberg dressed in its best robe...breathtakingly beautiful.


Monday, 9 October 2017

Our Pro Food-baller.

Another feline first...

If only it were as easy for us or actually as hard for us, we'd all be slim and trim. As you are well aware of, our Mausi is the best catered for cat and we can't be blamed for fickle tastes now, can we?

At first we wanted her to have a new toy which in itself is a most difficult task to accomplish. The more expensive it is the less she likes it. Give her a rubber ball or a walnut ( honestly, she jumps onto the windowsill and kicks a walnut loose from the bowl and onto the floor to play with ) and she's happy as a kitten. Bob and I should have never stepped foot inside those pet-shop-emporiums. Temptation on every isle. Temptation for humans that is as each toy is more cute than the next.

Any new toy gives the two of us more excitement than her majesty and I hate to admit it, but we kind of argue about who gives it to her first... Recently we purchased a round plastic ball with a spiral inside and an opening on the side. Yes, a food-ball. We fill it up with treats and these only emerge once the ball is vigorously kicked around.

It didn't take Mausi more than a minute to figure it out and when she feels like a snack between meals, she takes up a bit of food-ball. Bob has been working so much lately that he's never seen it happen and was amazed this weekend when Mausi gave it a kick until she heard the snack fall out. Gosh, I've never seen a more proud daddy.

Why can't we create such a device for us? Imagine having to kick a food-ball around in order to loosen a piece of chocolate, a crisp or a small sweet?

Getting ready to kick the food ball.
Almost like a ballerina...
There it is...the food ball.


Sunday, 8 October 2017

Another October Fest In The Village.

The senior citizens do have all the fun...

Honestly, I wasn't even aware of it had it not been for a phone call on Saturday.

" Would you be able to take and bring home my mum from the October Fest ? "
At first I showed reluctance as driving to Munich was a bit too far even for me but it turned out that she meant the October Fest organized for and by the Senior Citizen club of Deutsch Schützen. Oh course I was happy to oblige.

It was arranged for a quarter to eleven this morning and as I drove through Deutsch Schützen to pick up this delightful lady, I was amazed at the turnout in front of our local church. The village Who's Who was there ( I know the cars ! ) and I thought to myself that perhaps I have got the dates wrong. Shouldn't everyone have been at the October fest?

Oh well, obviously church held a bigger attraction. About fifteen minutes later I had my ' fare ' in the car. A lady and her carer.

" I'll fetch you later and even if you have a couple of ' Mass ' beer, I'll get you home. Just enjoy meeting up with your friends. "

" Oh gosh no, I couldn't...have to take my medication later on! "

All three of us were laughing at the thought of all this beer's affect when we drove past our local church. A hive of activity. The sermon was over and everyone streamed out of the church yard. Not all to their car, in fact, a whole lot of villagers set off on foot around the corner towards the local hall. Today's venue. Cars and buses were also on route and the whole thing promised to be a huge success.

As I sit here writing, I still have half an hour before I need to go and pick-up the two ladies, and I am rather curious to hear how it all panned out. Earlier on I gave my phone number to the carer in case they need to be picked up earlier, but my phone has been silent. Despite the noise brought on by hundreds chatting over the din of the band, they must be having a great time.


Saturday, 7 October 2017

My New Friend Chip, Model Extraordinaire.

Squirrel by night, poser by day.

As you know, the other morning I saw my friend, who I've started to call Chip playing with a friend, running up and down a tree trunk. Well, yesterday morning he seemed to be waiting for me. Isn't it amazing to see how delicate the paws are?
" Hey lady, how about a peanut? "
Tame, elegant and pretty.
It almost seems as if Chip is cheering someone along...
A classic pose indeed. One can't help but wonder at the size of its little talons as they are perfect to defy gravity.
My squirrel decided it had had enough of having photos taken. An exuberant hop and it was gone...


Friday, 6 October 2017

Wine, Jolly Hard Work.

Appreciating every last sip.

Somehow one could make a case for the white and uhudler harvest just having been a bracing warm up. A few hours of picking, a few kilometers walked and one trailer full of arm-lifts. Well, little did we know how the divine celestial climes have made a difference to the reds.

At short notice seven of us assembled for the ten a.m. start. The sun was making a comeback, the clouds had disappeared and the mood was jubilant in anticipation of this harvest.
Weinlese / wine harvest is always a jolly affair where friends and family meet up for the day.

Honestly, I thought we'd be done and picked by by two but the chief, mum, reminded me of the length of each row and moved the time marker closer to five...Guess what, mums are always right!

Apart from a few dud bunches of grapes, the harvest was a dream due to the abundance and quality of each bunch of red grapes. Our wine is handcrafted, which equates to each of us getting a pair of pruning scissors, two buckets, a shot of Schnapps for good luck and a few rows to harvest. Gosh, I've got to be honest and tell you that it was exhausting work, spending seven hours filling buckets and carrying them up and down the isles between each row of vines, but strangely satisfying as well.

There were so many picture perfect moments to capture with my camera but alas, my hands were sticky from handling the many hundred bunches of grapes. All of us took each filled bucket back to the waiting trailer and when that was filled, a few of us drove to the cellar to start the de-stemming process.

Oh yes, each crate had to be manually lifted off the trailer, carried to the Rebler and lifted up above our heads to be thrown into it. Each crate must have weighed 20 odd kilograms. The grapes had grown with such abundance and vibrancy that we did the trailer run four times. Not surprisingly, after the last run my arms were a tad bit sore.

Taking part in a harvest despite the hard work is a fantastic experience and even more so when one can do a harvest with family. Special moments, precious memories and not to forget, fabulous Blaufränkisch wine not too far in the future.


Thursday, 5 October 2017

Two Squirrels And A Mighty Walnut.

Rural fun.

It was rainy day that saw me walk my usual path. Nothing astir except raindrops meeting the dried out foliage scattered all over the verges. After a while one gets used to rustling made by field mice, birds or the odd deer. On weekends I suspect that hunters make that crunching noise whilst walking to the comfort of their high perches. Not very sporting toward the deer, is it?

Anyway, a continuous rustling was happening on my left, in Bader's garden and suddenly I knew who the rascals were. Two cuter than cute squirrels were playing among the grass, and then outraced each other up on opposite sides of the same tree. Goodness me, they are fast little things. By the time I had my camera out and ready to click, they'd hopped and skipped down the tree and were busy cavorting among the pile of leaves again.

Patience is a virtue and organizing my glasses ( sadly I need to take them off to see what's in the camera's eye ) I pointed the camera towards the tree trunk. It didn't take long before they decided to race each other to the top once more...even more impressive is that one of them had a mighty walnut in its mouth the whole time. Wow, and now that I reflect on the walnut it makes me wonder whether there isn't a nest being made up this stately tree?

Well, they can feel the tentacles of winter approaching and are making sure to stock up for it and perhaps making their nest nice and comfy with heather, straw and of course the discarded shells of lunch...

Light footed and fast up this tree.
I think that is the other one running down this tree.
Could the squirrel be posing for me?


Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Minding And Finding The Gap.

A sneaky English affair.

The last few years before Matric are hectic to say the least. Each teacher likes to push his subject to the foreground and often inadvertently the boundaries of homework as well. The mind literally boggles. My mind at least...

In the 4th, 5th and 6th form, part of any exam is a Gap text. Approximately thirty lines of text, with a gap every now and then, with a choice of four possible fillers provided.

... It's something everybody knows about and nobody ( 0 )...does: having breakfast and knowing how important that is. (1)...ages doctors and nutritionists have been telling us how essential it is to start your day with a (2)...breakfast because that might energise you for the rest of the day. Fact is (3)..., that nine million Britons breakfast on nothing but a hot or cold drink...
0 .... A: originally B: surprisingly C: actually D: currently
1 ... A: since B: for C: many D: about
2 ... A: wealth B: wealthy C: health D: healthy
3 ... A: however B: well C: anyway D: consequently

For any fan of reading this type of exercise is a walk in the park but unfortunately, most of the kids I help with extra lessons are not fans of reading. In English or German. Sad. When they come across these types of exercises, they have to work everything out with the help of grammar and vocabulary learned throughout the years.

What to my mind seems even more sad, is the fact that they have never been in the grip of a thrilling novel. They have never gone on those wild and exciting mental adventures that are only to be found between the covers of a book.

Let's get kids reading again...


Tuesday, 3 October 2017

The Uhudler Gets Pressed.

A few hours in the cellar.

We only picked those grapes the other day and already this morning they started on their final step towards turning into delicious wine. Uhudler is a varietal mostly cultivated in our area and either you like or you don't. In light of the vast amount we pressed today, I might have to become a fan of it. You know, once it's nicely chilled, it is very pleasing to the palate especially on a warm summer's eve.

Alone the deep colour of the maische is divine. A mingling of reds and dark blues would make anyone think it is a red wine, were it not for the distinct Uhudler aroma wafting about.

There were five of us doing the pressing and our harvest was so abundant that we had to repeat the process four times. Once you get going the work goes quickly and before one can blink, the last drop is squeezed from the maische. Often the hardest part of pressing, filling or harvesting is the arduous and meticulous cleaning up before and afterwards.
When one makes wine, cleanliness is next to godliness. Water only of course, in order to preserve the wine's purity and authentic flavour.

In our family there's always a treat at the end of any wine making activity...a luncheon at a local Buschenschank and I have to be honest that halfway through today's pressing I was already visualizing my lunch. We settled on Eder's Buschenschank up on the Weinberg and it was nice to sit next to a roaring fireplace, with great company, nice food and dare I say it ( being lunch time ) nice wine.

At the moment I have two favourites meals at Buschenschanks and luckily I could combine them. A nice Kümmelbraten / Bratlfett Brot. Tasty, filling and rather addictive. Saturday will see us harvest the reds and golly gosh, I might just have the same again...

Life in Burgenland, what a treat.


Monday, 2 October 2017

A Typical Sunday Morning In Burgenland.

Isn't it marvelous to see that Autumn is here?

My usual walking companions were busy crossing the road up ahead. So divine to see these deer graze about their territory.
Another sight and side to Autumn...combine harvesters are all over.
Standing next to it is rather daunting...horsepower replacing manpower!
Seeing it from this angle makes one realize just how big this old tree across from it really is. A nice beacon on a misty day.
I wish I could capture the crispness of the air and the wholesomeness of the silence a Sunday morning brings. Makes getting up early worthwhile.
Shrouded and clouded in mist adds a certain romantic inflection to an already attractive rural scene.