Wednesday, 31 January 2018

The Bargain Hunter....

This 50% off shopper was in her element.

It often tickles me no end when I realize how transient a fully bought trolley of groceries is. Bob and I went grocery shopping on Saturday and when we saw our loot we imagined weeks of eating, snacking and drinking. Famous last words as today, the echo started its rounds within our little fridge.

Time to test our transient groceries theory once more and with that in mind I drove to Kohfidisch. Naturally we could stretch our larder for a few more days were it not for Bob's lunch, which needs to be a bit healthy, varied, interesting and enough.

Wednesday is usually associated with pensioner's day and many specials are on offer. Vegetables, our favourite, are extremely reasonable and also throughout the store certain products have the 50% off sticker on them. As I shopped after four o'clock, many more items were being marked down. Divine. Two birds with one stone...nothing gets wasted and we save money.

At the bread counter I was dithering as I usually do because to plan meals ahead can be a bit tricky especially as I change my mind and menu with each subsequent isle. The kind lady behind the counter saw me looking at a loaf of bread and frankly, it was too expensive. As I put it down she said:

" If you want this bread, I am about to mark it 50% off. "

Great, bread bought. Today's fresh bread by the way. Not forgetting my honey, I perused the offerings of the beer isle and yes, a six pack at half price.

Some people are embarrassed by taking such overtly priced items but I feel quite happy to buy them due to the money being saved and a few less items thrown away by supermarkets. Ironically enough, the purported sell by date is a fallacy as most items still have a week or so in them.

As a consumer I tend to shop and support supermarkets who do mark down their wares as soon as they skirt the wrong side of a sell by date and there is nothing nicer than to see that little line on the till slip which shows me how much money was saved by buying specials...


Tuesday, 30 January 2018

A Mellow Tuesday In Eisenberg.

Honestly, I can't believe it is only January.

At the moment it is a pleasant fifteen-ish degrees ( only driving the car gives me clarity to a degree ), the sun is beaming happy rays, the sky is an absurd blue and despite all that, January isn't over yet. January in a Northern hemisphere village.

Earlier, about mid-morning, I walked down the road to visit one of the older villagers but she was out. Again. Yesterday afternoon while I went on a similar excursion, she wasn't at home either...what is going on? Her social calendar seems fuller than mine. Never mind, I'll try again tomorrow. Third time lucky.

Everyone is taking advantage of these cloned spring conditions with trees being pruned or even chopped ( the grinding of the chainsaw carries across fields, dams and forests ), washing being hung outside at least in our yard and the vineyards teeming with activity. Which is where I am headed in a moment.

A few hours of pruning vines with mum is on the cards and also a chance to bask in the sunshine. It felt strange walking earlier in the morning as I kept on brimming with spring elan while listening to the birds cheerfully tweeting at the same time noticing some buds budding ahead of schedule.

A little bit alarming despite the allure of an early spring as a cold spell could dupe us out of complacency with its powers to freeze those new buds. Let's hold thumbs that farmers are blessed with perfect weather conditions for their vines, crops or livestock.

Bob brought home an old wine barrel yesterday and merely seeing it there against the garage's pillar cheers me up no end as it reminds me of how fortunate we are to live in the midst of one of Austria's most beautiful wine regions...


Monday, 29 January 2018

Welcome Home Committee.

Feeding the troops takes longer than one thinks.

Our new-ish edition to our feline zoo. For about half a year now this feral tomcat has decided to adopt us or rather the divine morsels of nibbles left about.
During the day this is his station of choice. It offers him a clear view of our front door and the feeding bowl and I hope that the left over soil keeps him warm...
Bob's not a fan of this cat mainly because he doesn't like Tigger's food being eaten. The funny thing is that Bob has doubled up on the food for our ferals so that nobody goes hungry.
One can't say that he's starving...a nice healthy cat. I was rather surprised that he let me get within a meter of him before he retreated into the barn.
Our other darling, Tigger, is enjoying her lair with contentment. A bit of a hopscotch of colours and textures but our main aim was to keep her warm and cozy. The grey cat has got her eye on this lair and that might be the reason Tigger hardly ever leaves it...


Sunday, 28 January 2018

Taking Comfort In Our Habits.

A change was afoot.

Having habits gives life a structure or some might consider it as more of a stricture. Habits tend to make us predictable but is that such a bad thing? Bad habits are another topic all together but as I own one or two, less said the better.

Sundays usually translates to a nice long walk on the upper Weinberg mainly due to there being less traffic. Today being Sunday, I looked forward to my long walk even though I had to get ready with as little noise as possible.

Not even the coffee machine was switched on as Bob had worked the late shift ( he made sure fresh wine and spritzer glasses were on hand ) at the annual Eisenberg Fireman's ball and had only crawled into bed at four in the morning. Oh yes, he deserved his rest. Of course Mausi didn't see the point of him sleeping in and tried her might to scratch noisily on the doorpost.

Eventually I was on my way but seeing the heavy fog on the hill I changed course and walked my normal weekday route in reverse. Not me, the route! Not many were astir at eight in the morning due to the aforementioned ball although I did see a few cars heading for the tearoom for fresh rolls and newspapers.

When I was close to home, I noticed a dog and his owner in the far distance. It could only have been Ignatius due to the small size and his habit of zig-zagging his line constantly across his owner's path. By now he knows who I am and has forfeited his nagging bark but this morning his owner couldn't quite place me.

As I had changed my habitual walk, she mistook me for a local artist whose route I must have taken...a pair of glasses would do her the world of good because I have an idea which artist she mistook me for and by golly gosh, he normally dons those tight runner's leggings and has grey hair.


Saturday, 27 January 2018

Thank Goodness Bob Went To The Army.

New skills acquired and kept.

As much as Bob must have hated it at the time, now he reminisces rather fondly of the time straight out of school and home when times suddenly turned tough. Yes, the army and all its drills and skills aren't what many school leavers would expect.

Not to put Bob on the spot or put spots on him, it was quite a while ago that he had this toughening up experience. From a cozy home to sharing a dorm, having to make one's bed and running miles with a full kit on one's back would be a shock to anyone's system.

I love Bob telling me of the time when he volunteered to be the Michelin man in order to get an extra portion of milk and cigarettes. You know, the padded man who runs ( actually waddles is more like it ) while dogs are chasing him...even dogs need to be trained somehow.

There are doubtless many skills my husband learnt and trained for but for me the best is his superior knowledge of how to remove creases from garments. Yes, he learnt to iron clothes because he had to. Army style ironing is much different from Biggi style ironing. Creases are perpendicular, creases are exact and more importantly, creases are there!

Not wanting to be a terrible wife, I leave the ironing platform to Bob and even as I write, he is standing happily behind me at the ironing board, enjoying himself. I think it is the symmetry that he likes and I wouldn't be surprised to hear him ask for more stuff to iron, or at least I am hoping that he will...


Friday, 26 January 2018

Our Chance To Influence.

Fasching is on its way.

About once a year local parents do the rounds and collect offerings for the lucky draw at the annual children's Fasching. Children being the operative word as teenagers don't enjoy it as much as they once did or rather they feel that a cool demeanor is the order of the day. Musical chairs is much more fun when very young, as is dressing up for it.

Last night a set of parents came past to drop off the leaflet and ask for prizes. Giving money is more for grown-up parties so one has to make an effort to buy something appropriate for the young kids.

A lot of sweets will be on the lucky prizes list, but Bob and I prefer to give books. Yes, books to read and hopefully devour. Wasn't it the one book that got most of us readers hooked? The trick is to find the right one.

Murphy's law might mean that last year's prizes from us are gathering dust on a shelf with the recipient wondering what he or she did wrong to deserve a book instead of toys or sweets...but maybe the book found the right person.

As Bob and I love reading so much, we take every chance and opportunity to enslave a young child to a life long love of reading.
At times I fear that I've turned into one of those irritating older ' aunts ' who tends to preach about reading as if it was the best thing since sliced bread, which of course it is...


Thursday, 25 January 2018

A Bit Of Nature.

The pulchritude of Eisenberg...

I marched up the circular forest route behind our house and it doesn't matter what time of day or what season it is, this hunter's lodge makes an impression.

My little sunshine right outside our front door. It was amazing to see how he kept still until my camera was in place. A bit of a puffed out chest and why not, seeing how gorgeous he is.
It was difficult to get the real magnitude of this tree in a photo. The history it must have been an observer or even corroborator of...
The mystical forest lane...
A spot of colour. It doesn't matter how dull and grey it seems to be, there is always a bright side to it once you take the time to look further.


Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Forget About Sudoku, Family Trees Are Much Harder To Follow.

A brain teaser for sure.

Small villages and areas do mean that everyone's connected not Mafia style but family style... Throw in a few names that would give Smith, Jones and Brown a run for their money, and suddenly, Sudoku is the easier option.

There is a certain charm about small village conversations which are peppered with hints and explanations of the people conversed about.

" You know that Susan Smith? Her aunt is a Jones of the 2nd Ave Jones and her Grandfather was a Smith married to Jones's sister, a Brown from Deutsch Schützen. "
Yip, having a schnapps is out of the question because its effect tends to break off any tendrils of a family tree. One has to be at the top of one's game to keep up because pretty soon a Smith, Jones or Brown might be of the 3rd Ave lot. Oh yes, then the faint outline of a connection needs serious thinking. Sudoko indeed.

Personally, I often get caught up in the third generation, the mention of second cousins and the fact that everyone seems to be named after a parent, although I do prefer old fashioned names over the modern ones.

Give me strong names of yesteryear even if only a handful got circled about because that modern trend of naming a child after flowers, cities and god knows what, is rather a clash when prefixed to an old family name. Blue Ivy Smith / Audi Brown / Bond Smith or imagine and Eisenberg Jones?

Names aside, there is a certain charm about so many family connections, strong or faint, because it means that people look out for each other, have each other's back and most importantly, fill a big hall at weddings...


Tuesday, 23 January 2018

That Awkward Moment When You Not Sure If You Know Someone!

Supermarket stalking...

Doesn't it usually happen at the supermarket while pondering and eventually weighing vegetables? By the by, here we weigh our own vegetables and pack our groceries too. None of this luxury of having it done for you. Had some rather embarrassing moments when we first arrived where the cashier had to disappear for minutes on end to weigh our vegetables which made us ever so popular with the queue behind.

Yesterday I had already had an encounter with a friend next to the potatoes and we had a nice long chat and exchange of news and it being a supermarket we kept bumping into each other at the oddest of moments...ah, we are what we buy... But, as I was considering the difficult task of deciding on which milk to buy I turned to stare into the distance to think it through when I saw a women at the fruit counter who sort of looked familiar.

Either my glasses were a year too old or the sunlight gave her a mistaken halo or it was the change of know that moment when you can't pretend not to have noticed but you can't stare for too long either? Honestly, I looked like a stalker trying to see if it was her or not. She somehow never turned ( so maybe she knew it was me...oh how the plot thickens ) so eventually I carried on shopping my way through the cheese isle.

As luck would have it, I dithered a tad longer than I should have because the lady in question was suddenly at my elbow. Now that I think of it, she ignored me until I turned and greeted her.

" Oh hi, I thought it was you. Your hair looks different so I didn't recognize you at first. "
Anyway, she didn't hover much longer than to grab her joghurt, exchange a cursory hello and then disappear into the cereal isle, which makes me wonder if I was being evaded all along and could have saved myself the bother of looking like an idiot.


Monday, 22 January 2018

Button Down The Hatches, Snow Is On The Way.

How flaky!

It was one of those deceptive winter days. Sunshine and blue skies made me a bit lenient in regard to outer clothing, especially after a walk and a hot shower one could fell trees and wear shorts, but was quite shocked to notice a minus two degrees on the chariot's dashboard. Ah, the mystery of fumble fingers was explained.

Mum gave me a lovely pair of cut-off-mittens ( don't know how else to describe those woolen props of another era ) which are fantastic to manoever steering wheels, cameras or keys. I like them because I don't need to constantly take off my gloves in order to take a photo although, some mornings the top of my fingers are numb to the world.

Bob told me just now that snow is on the way. A snowflake, a snow load or a snow in? The concept of snow still holds a touch of romance and nostalgia for me although, at times its halo is slipping. Is there anything better than waking up to a snow covered neighbourhood, seeing a roof turn white, a branch bend in a perfect arch and the pitter patter of bird's feet imprinted for as long as the thaw can be kept at bay?

The big thaw, which tends to happen on and off is the thorn in winter's side and the spoiler for many. When thaw makes a mingling of snow and mud certain, shoes outrageously dirty and cars grey and even at times invisible, the love of winter dwindles...but only a little bit.

One of the two permanent lodgers across the road. Often they put on a show purely for Mausi sitting in the window, almost getting whiplash trying to follow their antics. Luckily he posed for me this morning...


Sunday, 21 January 2018

Worcester Sauce, Worcester Sauce On The Wall...

Aren't you the funniest deed of all.

A Sunday morning, cold and lazy called for a nice fry-up of eggs on toast. Dishes freshly done, surfaces clean and plates filled with scrumptious eggs on toast.

Bob likes to soak his lot in Worcester sauce and a touch of tomato sauce. For some odd reason beyond my control I have been afflicted by a cleaning frenzy ( well, a little more than normal ) and before I could even think of eating my breakfast I wanted to clear the decks and put all the condiments away. Salt, pepper and of course Worcester sauce which really is just a fancy label for an ordinary fish sauce. At least that's what it tastes like to me.

No, it didn't take long for the malheur to occur...the bottle of sauce decided to vacate the shelf before even settling on it. It fell from the top shelf, with me standing there agog and too slow although watching with almost fascination while it created a graffiti within seconds. White walls no more. It was as if a painter had shaken his wet brush strongly along the wall, surfaces and appliances.

There was only one thing I could think of in this situation. I needed help.

" Oh no, Bob come quickly! "
When he eventually came, I had already started to wet a dishcloth and wiped it over the first few marks. It wiped a clear swath through the top dots and when Bob happened upon this scene, without me looking any worse for wear apart from annoyed, he did exactly the opposite of what I was hoping for.. .
" What did you do? Oh well, it's coming off nicely so you don't need me. "
and with that he went back to the lounge to leisurely continue his breakfast with a parting shot:
" You dropped it not me ! "

Marriage, how boring life would be without it...


Saturday, 20 January 2018

Nothing Says Saturday Afternoon More Than The Aroma Of Curry Wafting Through The House.

Traditions and comforts.

Bob drove to Deutsch Schützen to get more pellets and the ubiquitous milk, bread and butter with the wifely hint of having a look at the meat on offer.

Pot luck indeed. The village shop had some nice pieces of beef which in itself seems to be a rarity in Burgenland as pork is the meat of choice. Often a half and half mince can be bought but I haven't gotten used to pork mince yet. Healthier in any case to have a more sporadic consumption of meat.

My all time favourite curry meat, lamb or mutton, is even harder to come by. Well, from a shop that is. Most Burgenlander's aren't fond of lamb. There is an organic sheep farm not far from here but it would require a lot of planning ahead and freezer space. In time perhaps.

Over our years together we've settled on four in the afternoon being the best time to start the curry. Enough time for it to simmer merrily away and acquire the essence of it. A client once told me the secret ( well her's ) of making a fabulous curry and it is a can of diced tomatoes...

Both of us in our own way have a liturgy of curry combinations floating through our minds the minute we get reacquainted with the aromas of a curry on the stove. Bob's picturing a nice portion of Bunny Chow, or curry pie whereas I picture the colours of sambals, chutney and bananas circling on my plate. Most of the above are figments of our imagination as the much loved Mrs Balls Chutney isn't available in our area. Just as well though, as we'd be smothering our cheese sandwiches in it...

Traditions are wonderful. They give a sense of belonging and togetherness, well at least for me. Living life with newly established roots makes it even more special to have traditions on hand every now and then.


Friday, 19 January 2018

Oh My, How Time Flies..

Rather startling to say the least.

Today being Friday, which in itself tells a lot about the speed of time because just the other day it was Monday, started off interesting to say the very least. As per usual Bob and I were purveying breakfast TV, a good way for Bob to acquire the language and he enjoys keeping abreast of what's been happening in Austria. Of course he notices every little change in hairstyle of the female presenters...

Anyway, at about a quarter to six they had their celebrity segment and I nearly fainted when I saw a photo of an elderly woman, sans make-up being caught leaving a house. Both of us were speechless to hear that it was Madonna, who is in her late fifties now. Wow, what a shocker. Where is the woman who made holey clothes, dark eye-makeup and funk hairstyles fashionable? It was a tad bit nasty to show her without make-up, but in the current news environment she could easily pull it off as fake news.

In fact, this new craze of fake anything can be quite useful when climbing the lofty heights of a scale. The amount of courage it takes to climb on is often not worth it and quite frankly, it only tells fake news!

I think it was a shock to us because we both remembered dancing at discos ( don't get a lot of those anymore ) to various hits of Madonna and frankly spending our youth alongside her meteoric rise to fame.

Yesterday the concept of time was broached again when one of my extra lesson's kids had to learn a story about Steven Spielberg whom he didn't have a clue about nor of Jaws, which I was embarrassed to admit to seeing back in the day! I don't know if he can conceptualize anyone other than his grandparents being around in 1977.

But, back to time...The new school year has started in South Africa and it felt odd to see children of friends and family, who were just born the other day, starting school already...

Time, treasured, measured but too often wished away.


Thursday, 18 January 2018

Many Models In My Neighbourhood.

Another reason why I never leave the house without my camera.

He started the ball rolling...I was taking some snaps of my egg providers ( I'll show you it at the end ) when this little fella made a beeline for me and my camera...
Of course he had his entourage of three feline ladies and they copied suit...gorgeous, isn't she?
" Hey, where are you going? " It was so cute to see them flocking about, choosing to pose for my camera. Wonderful temperament.
A real poser that one! The fact that twenty chickens were within a cat's whisker didn't interest them in the least.
The reason I stopped to take photos was this brood of chickens pecking merrily away. As their owner told me, they are my egg providers...
Our local alarm clock...there is something very therapeutic about watching a flock of chickens enjoying life. Rural life, rather nice...


Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Driving Examiners And Police Cars.

A model driver.

On the whole I am rather apt at keeping to the speed limits around our village and others. A slow fifty is fine for me and my foot automatically lifts of the gas pedal when village signs are in sight...imagine living next to a busy road and hearing cars squealing past all day long? Never mind the on the spot traffic fine when caught.

A morning's visit to Rechnitz was in store and on the last kilometer or so, a police car was suddenly behind me. Well, not after me but you know, behind me. It's as if someone had told me to sit up straighter, look more often in all the mirrors in between keeping an eye on the speedometer and of course a beady eye on the police van following me. There were cars behind them and even they didn't dare overtake them, which normally they would have done.

I am not sure but it wouldn't surprise me if all Austrian police cars are outfitted with an on board computer and that being the case, that they had already put my number plate through the machine. Why wouldn't they? I would if I was a police officer...outstanding fines etc. No, we don't have any.

A few kilometers seemed to take for ages and when I got into Rechnitz, still with them behind me and driving with exaggerated care, I wondered if they would pull me over for a routine licence check...not everything is thankfully about me! Just before I found a parking space they turned off and were gone the same way they'd appeared. Quick and unexpected.


Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Changing Linen With The Help Of My Friend.

Making my bed and not getting a chance to lie in it...

Today was the day to give the beds a new sparkle and I did it in a two tier movement. After breakfast I stripped all the bedding and out of sheer, it was out of timely pressure that I left the covering until the afternoon. You know, doing laundry, never mind those huge bed things, during winter isn't much fun nor artistic...damp linen hanging everywhere in the hope of a quick recovery from the wetness. Not easy.

About an hour ago I headed to the bedroom, chose the duvet sets and proceeded to shake out the sheet vigorously to give the creases a final wave goodbye. Well, sort of. Rather that than ironing for hours only to have worse ones appear.

Perhaps I hummed to myself or perhaps the Maus has supersonic hearing because the moment the sheet was up in the air the little princess was under it, luxuriating in it falling on top of her. As it was a fitted sheet, the plot thickened or should I say the bed when I started to allude to its name. She clawed on for dear life as for her it is a game. Her best game.

Having finally shoved her out of the fitted environment, she, clever boots, took a likening to the empty pillow cases. Head in, dash about and head out. Don't get me started on the shaking in place of the duvets. Delirium ensued...

If it wasn't for her absolute hate of the hoover apparatus, she'd be the perfect helper for me. If only for seeing her cheerful face while changing lines, washing the floor or neatening the throw on the couch. The other day I caught myself doing an extra stint of cleaning purely to entertain a bored Maus...


Monday, 15 January 2018

Small Town Postal.

Delivery of a different kind.

About a week ago we had ordered something and have been huddled around our postbox awaiting for it ever since. At first we attributed a superhuman persona to the Austrian Postal Service and were almost cross when our parcel didn't arrive within hours, but then reason prevailed and with it a dose of patience.

Patience of a sort...last week I was working with mum albeit still in Eisenberg when I heard ( yes, you hear them before you see them ) the post van pull up outside. Don't ask me why, but wherever I am, he recognizes me.

" Hi, have you got a parcel for me? We are expecting one. "

" Eh no, sorry, nothing ! "
The weekend intervened and I'd almost forgotten it when out of the blue this morning the nicest and oddest ( compared to other places ) thing happened. I was walking back from a bout of work, on foot because of the icy conditions and being rather scared to park the car sans handbrake, and as it was a tad bit chilly, I was wrapped in coats, gloves and scarves. Focusing mainly on my footing, I did however notice the yellow flash out of the corner of my eye.

He was performing the postal dance of stop-starting on the road ahead of me and when he saw me ( about a hundred meters off ) he waved and shouted;

" I've got a parcel for you "
wow, divine. My feet sped up and as I got to the van, he already had the parcel in his hand. Brilliant. Luckily it wasn't heavy otherwhise he'd have driven it home for me. He was chuffed that I was chuffed and after giving my squiggle on the electronic notepad, he was off.

For me, it made all the difference that he knew me, that he remembered that I wanted a parcel and that he stopped to give it to me...wouldn't happen anywhere else in the world... Burgenland, fantastic and fabulous.


Sunday, 14 January 2018

Woke Up To Snow.

A nice surprise indeed.

It is winter after all yet the last few weeks I thought it had moved on. Some of the buds were making a comeback, birds were rather confused as to when or where to head off to and the prospect of spring had planted itself on the forefront of our minds.

Snow fell all morning with a salvo of extremely larger flakes and that made the constant look outside easier. Checking to see if it was still snowing was better interpreted with this display of large flakes. Thankfully they have stopped and as there is a drip drip of melting happening outside on our roof, it portends warmer times ahead. Being snowed in wouldn't have been so great as there is a distinct lack of snack material about.

What is it about a cold day that makes us hungry from the minute we open our eyes? Biscuits morph into culinary sirens, bread doesn't last past breakfast and any hidden contraband tends to become the spoils of a treasure hunt. Funny how fast a marriage vow is forgotten...share and share alike means nothing when faced with a small treat.

Throughout the morning my mind spun circles and created fictional cakes of all types and sizes...only the certainty of it being devoured in one sitting held me back. Even now as I sit at the kitchen table a handful of bananas are in my line of sight. Making a banana bread now though, could be safe as it would coincide with supper and a slice or two might suffice.

In fact it might be a jolly good idea as Bob can take the leftovers to work and give his colleagues a taste of South African baking...that is if it turns out well!


Saturday, 13 January 2018

Thomas Bernhard, Discovering A New Author.

For the love of reading...

Admittedly, I am not so fond of reading in German but after this sojourn into eminent Austrian literature things might change. As with anything worthwhile I came to read my first Thomas Bernhard book the round about way.

A friend and I were discussing the various merits of authors and books when she happened to mention him. Mention him with reverence akin to homage. My appetite was piqued. Who might inspire so much praise and the more she told me of his character the more keen I became to meet him through one of his books.

An author of controversy, a playwright who had had a protest outside the theater due to the sharpness of his wit flowing effortlessly from his pen resulting in some rather uncomfortable introspection. He died almost thirty years ago but had decreed for none of his plays to be performed in Austria.

After hearing of him on Monday, I went to visit another friend on Wednesday, a friend who also loves to read, and told her about my next literary excursion.

" Oh wait, I think I have one of his books somewhere. "
and just like that I was lent a book of Thomas Bernhard.

An autobiography of the adventures and misadventures met around each literary price received. Absolutely divine to read, wonderful to get a feel of his acerbic wit and description of the various characters that one encounters in life.

Thomas Bernhard ( 1931-1989 )...Meine Preise (suhrkamp taschenbuch)


Friday, 12 January 2018

Friday Already?

January, halfway through...

The weather has been unseasonally warm these last ten days although, this morning a bit of a chill descended. Bob made it worse by mentioning that he'd heard next week's temperature would skirt the minus 9 degrees. Yikes, a cold winter after all? As long as there's no ice on the roads I don't mind that much.

Today's walk turned into a typical village adventure, almost picture book perfect. At the beginning of it I met a friend walking to the hairdresser and we had a nice chat and discussion about tomorrow's mammoth nature walk being organized by our village committee. Let's see who meanders along...knowing that there is the usual 19th hole halfway through will attract rather a lot of ramblers.

Most of the time we get our eggs from the farm down the road but as I don't like to disturb them when they eating, sleeping or relaxing it does pose a conundrum when to call on them. Just in case I took some money with me and as luck would have it I saw their car in the driveway. They were home. Great.

Along my whole route today I planned on having eggs for breakfast, that is if I could get any. Should I fry them, boil them or scramble them? It is such a treat to see those green shelled eggs and today's batch were larger than normal. What happened to the hens...too much food or just feeling happy?

Buying eggs is never just that. Buying eggs from a farmer means having a nice conversation about this that and the state of the world. On my way out he mentioned that two large orders had come in this morning and I had come at the right time to pick up my 20 eggs.

" Gosh, you'll have to speak to your hens to lay some more. "

" Actually I need to have a word with the rooster! "

Ask a silly question....!


Thursday, 11 January 2018

A Bit Of Happiness Is Always A Good Thing.

Some quotes.

"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. "
Marcel Proust
" Whoever is happy will make others happy too. "
Anne Frank
" A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin;
what else does man need to be happy? "

Albert Einstein
" A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy dare live. "
Bertrand Russell
" When my cats aren't happy, I am not happy. Not because I care about their mood but because I know they're just sitting there thinking up ways to get even. "
Percy Bysshe Shelley
" Happiness is when what you think, what you say
and what you do are in harmony. "

Mahatma Ghandi
" Marriage is the most natural state of man, and...the state in which you will find solid happiness. "
Benjamin Franklin
" Happiness is like those palaces in fairy tales whose gates are guarded by dragons; we must fight in order to conquer it. "
Alexandre Dumas
" Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it. "
Fyodor Dostoevsky


Wednesday, 10 January 2018

A Tidbit A Day Keeps Boredom At Bay.

Linguistic hoops...

Aren't we all glad to learn a bit more about the people in or around our life? Even if they don't know that we know? Ah, the gist of small village living.

If you think about it, the social networks are merely an updated version of village news, the village is of course far larger but the same feeling applies.

One can go straight to the cauldron but even then it might have been rehashed and elongated to add a bit of lustre. Any place where many gather in a small place usually is bound to be abundant with tidbits. Waiting to collect medicine, to have your hair cut or to pay for groceries spring to mind.

Well, sometimes the people one least expects to be interested in learning more about their fellow villagers, actually do...a little birdie told me about a funny story only set in summer. Summer, when the windows are open...

If you live in a city, this might be foreign to you but once you've spent time in a small village you even do it yourself. Conversations with neighbours are often had across yards, over streets but always with operatic zest.

The other day I heard about a person enjoying a summer's tale while standing at the open window behind a billowing curtain...naturally, there had to be a fly in the ointment. If you haven't grown up in the village, then the local dialect is extremely difficult to understand.

Each village has their own peculiar expressions and pronunciation even when only ten kilometers apart never mind a hundred kilometers such as Vienna. A few years ago they shot an Austrian thriller, Landeskrimi, close to Schandorf which is not more than fifteen kilometers from us. In one scene the main characters, a couple of cops from Vienna, were lost in the village and stopped to ask two elderly ladies who were sitting on a bench, for directions.

They were happy to oblige but when one saw the look on the cops face, it was clear that they hadn't cracked the code of that local dialect and were heard upon driving away:

" Did you understand anything they said? "
" Eh, no. What language were they speaking. "
. Naturally, Bob and I found it funny ( because it often happens to us ) and a good caricature of village life.


Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Dogs And Horses..

A good start to the week.

The other day I was walking alongside the Deutsch-Schützen forest when my former nemesis and his mistress came towards me. As small as he is ( could be a shoulder bag accessory ) he couldn't resist giving me a sample of his tenor whenever I dared to walk past him. Well, now he couldn't even be bothered to give me even the slightest grumble. In fact far from it, he came and curved himself around my leg. Shoo, what a relief because you know what they say about dogs and their instincts.

Late yesterday afternoon I had just finished feeding the outside family which seems to have increased to three feral darlings and went to our gate in order to check for any postal missives. Nobody had thought of us and as I turned to go back inside I saw a big shape in the distance. Having left my glasses inside I couldn't be sure if I had seen a cow, horse or a mirage.

Squinting into the distance I chose to wait for whatever it was to come closer. It did and turned out to be the neighbourhood horses, three Haflingers, who were being taken for a walk. A walk in the canine fashion with the young sprig being egged along by his mother, aunt and owner. I only know because I asked their owner who wasn't against a short chat with me. Nice and a good way to meet people. What an ice breaker, taking your horses for a walk...

There we were, three horses and two ladies in the middle of the road outside our house and only when Bob, who'd just come back from work, reminded me that far from being a rural road, locals do like to take the corner as if they were at Spielberg, did we disband. Gosh, is there anything nicer than giving a horse a pat on the neck, a brush of their mane or a daring stroke of their close to a sharp set of yellowed gnashes.

This morning again, as I came back from my walk I ran into another neighbour ( aren't we a healthy bunch? ) taking his dog for a stroll. A cute dog, still in late infancy and dead set against listening to any parental strictures or rules despite having attended canine behavioural lessons. All he wanted to do was jump up and be cuddled by yours truly...his master laid down the law for both of us when he quickly told me:

" He's not allowed to jump up. "

Oh well, teenagers need structure but perhaps my numerous canine encounters are nudging us closer to rescuing a dog from the pound.

A photo taken of two of the Haflingers last July.


Monday, 8 January 2018

The Humble Potato.

The best staple to have in any kitchen.

Mondays are funny days really. Firstly after a few days of grazing on everything residing in the fridge, it seems rather empty and secondly, our village shop takes a well deserved afternoon off. If one hasn't shopped before lunchtime, necessity becomes the mother of invention.

We have plenty of flour, onions, raw potatoes, dried pasta and tinned fish in our cupboard but those don't necessarily translate to easy and quick fast food. Often I wish I could indulge in a yummy bacon & avo sandwich but one can dream, can't one?

Today is one of those strange weathered days. Above freezing but due to the heavy fog refusing to move along, it feels cold and dreary...a sturdy lunch was on the cards.

Pilchards on bread were almost on my plate when I happened to remember a bag of half finished potatoes whiling their fate away. Yes, a potato soup did sound good. Onions, garlic and three small grated potatoes covered in water, how easy is that. A dash of seasoning and after fifteen minutes I had the most delicious soup for lunch.

It is so easy to underestimate the humble potato. Versatile to say the least and tasty in any form. Even boiled with butter and salt or cut into strips to bake in the oven or as a soup.

We've become so used to eating ready made meals and fast foods that we've forgotten that food can actually be cooked from scratch and needn't take a long time. At the moment I am rather proud to have rescued this half packet of spuds as otherwise they would have been binned by the time I chose to rediscover them in the vegetable tray. Ah, a nice lunch and a good deed for the environment.


Sunday, 7 January 2018

A Headless Household.

Surprises around every corner, a la Cluedo.

Especially at night one gets the worst fright. Traversing a path to the bathroom might involve stepping on some toys. Turning on the light is out of the question, at least on the way there. What could there be after all?

Most nights, one feels it first. Something underfoot and not always pleasant either. A soft body of sorts and luckily so far only a copy of the real Mckoy. A toy mouse, one of a handful that her ladyship likes to drag around with her. Alas, some have been beheaded by her eagerness to show them about the house or dare I say, as a dress rehearsal.

Clearly these little toy mice give her reassurance and pleasure as she handles them like her security blanket. Oh well, she's allowed to do what she likes and eventually I'll get used to these horror moments during the night.

But, it doesn't stop there...only early this morning I went to get the milk out of our fridge when I stumbled upon another headless body in it. Don't feint, it wasn't a lively creature once upon a time and anyway, that would make Mausi a genius. No, this time St. Nicolas and Mr. Krampus were the object of affection. If one can call it that...These two have been making the vegetable crisper inside our fridge their permanent home for the last month or so, in all their now crisp chocolate stature.

No longer...somebody has sneakily pealed back the foil covering of St. Nic, taken the head off and to deflect the crime, has tried to fashion the foil back in place minus a head. Who could that be now?

Our house bears witness to the genius of The Bobster in regard to finding contrabands and devouring them without being caught...the one and only fact I am grateful for is the lack of real headless mice strewn about the bathroom, kitchen or dare I imagine, the bed.

...a very content cat...


Saturday, 6 January 2018

Impressions Of A Walk.

In the space of an hour mist and sunshine were had.

This majestic tree has been be-headed and still it reigns tall among its brethren...
The gentle mist was lifting and making the ambiance rather poetic.
The sun's powerful rays were dissipating the frost while at the same time bathing the whole of Deutsch Schützen in an air of mystery.
With distance gained, clarity went hand in hand. There was a mere two minutes difference between this and the previous photo.
A typical vineyard scene yet, still pretty every time.
I took this photo on Wednesday and thought you might like it as much as I. Was this the last ambassador of this cold winter?


Friday, 5 January 2018

Bob's The Kindest Of Men.

Kindness and manners make an exceptional combination.

Bob and I were doing a can run this afternoon, which involves taking empty cans and glass bottles to the appropriate containers behind the graveyard and on the way back we stopped at Kainz's. He went inside and I waited in the car.

After a rather long while he came out to tell me that we'd be giving an older lady a lift home. They had been chatting and she'd asked him whether he could run her home as her knee was giving her trouble. If she were English, she'd receive a personalized birthday telegram from The Queen in a decade. Despite her age, she still takes a shopping trolley and meanders to the local shop. Fabulous.

Anyway, as I was sitting and waiting, I heard them before I saw them. Bob, ever the gentleman, was chatting to her and gallantly holding her arm while wheeling her full trolley behind him. One can tell kindness by the little things. Helping an older person over a step, curb or into a car seat shows manners and kindness...

Look, the drive home took mere seconds but it was enough to have a chat. It always amazes me hwo the older generation hardly every miss a point, detail, tidbit or clue. Literally. This divine lady knew where Bob worked and that on Monday his three weeks of leave are up.

" Herr T..., when are you starting work again? "
" Mrs ...., on Monday we start in the vineyard. "
" Goodness me, those three weeks went fast. "
The funny thing is, that we mostly just nod and greet when driving past her but don't exchange a lot of conversation...which leads me to believe the the grapevine is far from rusty and could put google in the shade.


Thursday, 4 January 2018

A Touch Of Wayne's World Right Here In Burgenland.

Laughter, the best medicine.

We were contently driving along back to Eisenberg, Bob focusing on the road and I was dreaming up a storm, ideas and lunch. Thoughts hardly ever keep in check thankfully. Sitting in the co-driver's seat gives one ample opportunity to survey the passing countryside and now and again utter the odd nag or two. Nurture or nature... strangely enough, I've heard mum give a few hints and opinions while being the passenger.

As our village is just that, a village, we tend to recognize most inhabitants if not by name, then by car. Going for an excursion to town invariably means meeting up with fellow villagers. Even today we met our neighbours in the dairy aisle and had a long chat even though we literally live ten meters apart. That's life, I guess.

Bob and my tastes in music can only be described as opposite and that's fine. Even though I don't have to pretend to like his music he now and again tries to inspire a spout of nagging by turning the volume up a couple of notches. What's good for the goose is good for the gander and I can only imagine his face when I turn up the volume to Old Blue Eyes.

Bob, on our way back had put on his CD which could easily be confused with a religious group; The Jesus and Mary Chain... and which wasn't bad to listen to but it didn't make me sing along or as in Bob's case, bob along...

Driving over the bridge in Hannersdorf I noticed a carer taking out an elderly woman and as we passed her, she smiled and waved vigorously at us.

" Oh Bob, who was that friendly woman? Do I know her? "
" What woman are you talking about? "
It was the funniest thing...Bob was so enjoying his music, singing along and doing the head nod that as we drove past this lady she mistook Bob's musical enjoyment for a greeting. Bob had the grace to look embarrassed by his rudeness and not before long we were laughing at the funny side of it.


Wednesday, 3 January 2018

A Touch Of Bowie.

Changing times, changing seasons.

It's the strangest thing really, trying to get a sense of the current weather. A week of temperatures in the teens are offset by frost, ice and rather cold air. Winter with a difference.

Wednesday, our community walking day seems to mostly have been a blink of an eye behind the previous one. A nice way to catch up and this morning we were walking and talking on thin ice. Despite this cold description it was divine to be two steps behind the warming sun and witness the road ahead melt back to a normal hue.

Bob's leave is close to being a memory in the rear view mirror but I can tell he's eager to get back to work. After today, even more so. A parcel arrived, his boots to outfox the iciness. Bob had scoured the whole of Ober and Unterwart in vein. It seems that most local men navigate life on a small footing as size 46 has yet to grace the shelves. We had to widen the bookends of online shopping to include boots. Couldn't be helped.

Gosh, Bob was chuffed to get the parcel and within minutes had assembled its contents. Or rather disassembled...his winter boots have an inlay. A shiny inlay, an inlay resembling a stage prop from Ziggy Stardust. You know, I think Bob was quite sad to hide the Bowie prop inside the boot but at least he had a chance to show off his new moon boots to Maus and I.

The festive season has come to an almost abrupt halt and the scaffold of routines is slowly picking us off the couches and making it easier to leave the wonderful week spanning Christmas and New Year behind for another year.


Who wouldn't want to go for a nice walk in these surrounds?

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Bob, Biltong And Sheepskin Soles.

A great way to start the new year.

Isn't it ironic what with the almost spring like temperatures we are having, that Bob is kitting himself out for extreme cold weather? Soon his leave will draw to a close and with it a new chapter in the vineyards will commence. Of course he's hardly a stranger to working in the vineyards but during January, is a new and welcome adventure for him.

One can't dress too cumbersomely as one still needs to be mobile and light footed. Well, that is where the sheepskin enters the fray...Albert has cut up a prized sheepskin with woolen fur into shoe soles for Bob. At first Bob looked a bit sceptical ( it had a touch of cave man about it ) but once he slipped it into his Merril shoe and christened it with his feet, he was in heaven. If he could he would have purred and it was sheer willpower to not wear them to bed!

It looks as though Bob's is ready for any cold coming his way. When I noticed how comfortable he was in his shoes I started a cunning train of thought. Any leftover cuttings would be marvelous for our Tigger's new mini house. A retro 70's style feline pad indeed and today as we got back from Rechnitz, a bag with some sheepskin was dangling on our door handle. Tigger will snore in great style tonight....

The one thing Bob misses about South Africa ( apart from family of course ) is Biltong. One could almost call it a national dish eaten at the oddest or most normal occasions...watching Rugby with friends, walking out the supermarket, mingled with fried eggs or avocado on a sandwich and after supper whilst lounging about.

Bob's brother had made him a Biltong making box and only recently it was put through its paces. Due to our cat having the run of the house, we had to ask my parents to help and keep the box at their place to avoid any depletion before completion.

You know, if we had a horse we wouldn't have needed this box...Bob informed me that back in the day the Afrikaaners used to put slices of raw meat under their saddle for days on end in order to cure it. Glad we aren't so horsey after all. Well, normally I am not a fan of Biltong but sorry for you my love, this batch you made tasted delicious and very moreish...


Monday, 1 January 2018

A Beautiful Sunrise To Kick Off The New Year.

A gentle walk through a slumbering village.

It looks colder than it was...frost was gracing the fields with the sun giving it more credence
There is nothing nicer than to greet the new year with a walk. Often a lonely walk as most sleep the morning away. Especially this morning.
It was so strange. Despite walking a circular route of about ten kilometers, the vibrancy of today's sunrise never paled.
Even the roads were quiet so that I could take photos from the oddest of places. Rather makes a difference not having to dodge cars.
After over an hour of walking, the sunrise was still keeping me company. A layer of quietness had descended over our valley and even the old dog who loves to bark at me felt that one or two yaps were more than sufficient to warn the neighbourhood...