So where's the snow?

Muddling through in Austria; God, life and a small black dog


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Garden time; Cow bells and early summer

Now the Ice man has taken himself off, its like summer is advancing rapidly.  The dandelions have turned to heads and the air is filled with them, along with willow seeds.  The Margarita daisies -(probably the wrong name) are coming into flower with great drifts of white. Yet it’ll be  two or three more weeks until the flowers start showing their heads up in the Alms. 

We’re now getting lots of drizzle, so I’ve put out all the geraniums and the terrace flowers.  It looks complete chaos until I get them sorted out, but they’re all getting a good watering!  The Peas have got their sticks and the courgettes are showing the odd head, I’ll have to plant my indoor reserves if they don’t get a move on!  The carrots are showing and the occasional parsnip – I wonder if we’ll beat last years astonishing crop!  The brussels and the kohl Rabi are slowly recovering from the frost.  The garden centre where Dave works, lost all of their tomatoes.  Before the frost they lost 300 due to a virus and afterwards all had to be chucked.  It’s still manic there, with people queuing up to buy veggie plugs and geraniums, I just wonder where all these people went before, the centre only opened three years ago.  We’ve bought one more cucumber plant, and have clipped the damage off the old ones, hopefully they may recover, they’ve got fruit on.

BUT most of all, the cows are going up to the alms, the tractors with the open top trailers are heading uphill with the cows sniffing and sticking their noses over the top.  Some cows are turned out here in the valley, ready kitted with their bells, heavenly music. I must be daft, this I love but a windchime, I can’t stand!  Not everyone here likes the bells, someone I know stuff their neighbour’s cow’s bell full with  loo paper to stop them dinging in the early morning and waking them up – and these are local people not incomers!!!!!


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Marmalade

Cooking I enjoy when I have guests, but normally I like to chuck something in the oven and eat – lazy I know!  But what I do like is jam making, maybe stemming from my year in Switzerland where we made many lovely varieties.  These were eaten with Zupfe sweet bread on a Sunday morning with hot chocolate – amazing!  Since we’ve been here I’ve been experimenting and as marmalade here is only a sweet jam rather than the sharp English stuff, I’ve created my own recipe, but maybe someone else does this too. Equal quantities fruit and sugar. Jam in German and French is marmalade, which causes some confusion, so how did we get to Jam in English?

Recipe

3 kilos oranges

2 kilos sugar

500g 3:1 gelling sugar or another kilo ordinary

Water enough to cover the fruit

Wash fruit and put entire in saucepan, cover with water and cook on a low heat until soft – anything between 1 and 1 1/2 hours.

Remove fruit and leave to cool a bit.  Leave water reducing on heat.  When fruit cool, chop,removing pips, then put in blender with a little of the water and reduce to a pulp.  When all done, return to pan with sugar and reduce further – till water about half original level – or just chuck half water away before hand but you lose flavour.  Bring to boil, and hard boil until set.  Sometimes it does take a while, but I don’t worry as I prefer a softer set.  The finished product to some eyes may look grainy but I think this just improves it!


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Birthday Reflections

1969, me on Buttons for my first riding lesson, Headbourne Worthy stables

Oh, where did it come from – 51!  I’m not old, though my kids insist I am.  When I look at characters in Elizabeth Goudge novels, who are often  about this age, they are already acting old, not me! I feel much as I did when I was 18, except calmer and without the angst.  I wouldn’t want to be back there again.  Maybe the best time was the 40s, with a career and kids growing up and at last some financial security.  Now I’m a bit lost. I don’t want any career, I’m happier to lead a quiet life with riding ,gardening,walking and blogging.  But at times I do miss the company of the girls from the Fortune Centre. Maybe I’m simply at peace with myself at last…

Birthdays past.  I can remember childhood birthdays, the best being when I must have been between 8 nd 10, and I’d have maybe  two or three pounds, and I’d go into Smiths in Winchester and buy every pony book I could lay my hands on! I still have some of them now. 

My 18th was at Prices College in Fareham, and I met up with the gang  for  a now  legal drink, but also had a party at my Swiss boyfriend, Ruedi’s house.  Don’t think he quite realised what was going to happen. It was a bring a bottle and there was loads of music, couples slipping up to his spare room, gate crashers, people chucking up – a good time was had by all! Seem to remember getting lots of birthday snogs, wonder what he thought of that!!!

Then birthdays went down hill. When I was in Switzerland, I didn’t get a pressy , nor the special cake because we were all so busy with spraying the cherry trees.  The new girl a month earlier had got loads. I was homesick and upset. My 21st at  Seale Hayne was a disappointment, I’d booked a hall for a party and handed it over to the year  group to use as I was so depressed and unhappy. It seemed to set a trend for the next few years when a birthday never lived up to the mildest expectations. When the kids came along and we were skint, their birthdays took precedent.

The worst came when my mother died and the funeral was actually on my birthday.  I came down with flu the same day, which I didn’t shake off for months.  The next year I refused to celebrate it, and it was actually quite a relief to go into work knowing it was the day but I had no expectations to be disappointed.

The year we left England I wanted no pressies as we were just about to leave and so it was filled with the excitement of the new start. Then when we came here, they improved.  All the greetings on Facebook were a great bonus in the first year. The next year we were Langlaufing and had a great day falling over in the snow in the sunshine. The next year was my 50th and the kids were here and we had a meal at the local pub and friends came to tea.  Lovely day.  This year was quieter, but a peaceful one with no sense of dismay as of old.