Friday, December 30, 2016

Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!

Before Christmas I received an email from Heidi, Ryan's sister asking me to play Christmas elf and buy a restaurant gift certificate and bottle of wine for them. Okay! No problem, in fact, a pleasure. We go to La Chala the restaurant she chose and, before going wrote out the Spanish for gift certificate, well that didn't work well. Gift certificates aren't given here, I suspect, so they had no concept of what we wanted. I saw the waiter on his cell with the request in his hand and thought "oh, he's calling his boss", not. We are getting up to leave and Ryan and Angela with Louis show up. Waiter had called them! There goes the surprise! We all decided not to spoil it for Heidi so we didn't tell her. I also bought dog treats for Louis so he was included (from his Cousin Bentley, Heidi and family's dog).

Picture I sent Heidi to show her.
Bruce shopped for tools for his railway project, next day he decided two weren’t needed but others were so we went back to El Cortes tool department. Changed over, even got a credit, came home with new ones including a rather cheap drill. First drill he chose in the store had a broken handle on the case so we swapped for another. Get home to find NO drill in the box, must have been taken out for the demo, Dang, now we need to go back again to our friendly fellow in the tool department, Bruce is becoming a "regular" there.

Rant coming on, feel free to skip this. Shopping at Christmas always drives me crazy, no matter what country I’m in. I hate the over loud Christmas carol music, I dress for outside and get hot, it’s always crowded to the max. Here people find friends and group together taking up a sidewalk or store aisle to greet and chat, it’s not polite to ask them to move aside, even with a please attached. I remember a poster that had two buzzards in trees, caption said “Patience my ass, I just want to kill something” so while I don’t want to kill anything, the saying perfectly describes my impatience. As you know, I’m not a “shopper” at the best of times… off my mini rant now.

Had a manicure and pedicure with Lola again, she gave me a Christmas give-away which is hair spray which I unfortunately don’t use. Thinking of our closest women friends here and doubt they will use it either. But reading the warning label “do not smoke while using” reminded Bruce of when the Fire Department came to his University to do a fire demonstration. They used a lighter and hair spray and made a flame a metre long, so we’ll keep it as burglar defence - what? We do get silly, even without wine. About wine...

Found a lovely wine rack for twelve bottles, wood, lighter wood than most of the rest in the house. The one on display was a bit tippy so a clerk spent at least fifteen minutes hunting another up, wow! still tippy but bought anyway. 

Full now, not likely so after New Year's
While waiting another clerk who helped us with the Christmas decorations stopped by and asked how we were and if we needed help. This is good service and I’ve mentioned this before, the good service given to people, makes the wait for your turn much, much longer. I’ll generalize again, you’ve been warned, but clerks will endeavour to solve the problem until they cannot, they do not rush the process, just deal in the best way they can.
Entertainment for children out side El Cortes Ingles Department store
Being “the season” I’m hearing more from friends who read this blog. I heard from a friend in Madeira Park, (she has a great sense of humour), she is now working with an organization that will change the Coast dramatically. It is a marine science project with educational probabilities that could draw people from around the world. Extensive in planning and looks to be beautiful in production. Originally it was planned for Madeira Park but negotiations did not work out so now planned for further north at Irvines Landing. Now this is a project I would have volunteered for! the actual website for this project.

Pepe came over to fix our lighting in the kitchen and dining areas. He couldn’t get the kitchen to work, bulbs are difficult to find of the right voltage but even the least voltage didn’t work so he bought a new light. Turns out it was a problem with the switch! Oh well, new light is installed and works.

We enjoyed the company of Ryan and Angela Christmas Eve when we used the machine mentioned previous post. Made potatoes and onions in the fondue dish - yummy! Christmas Day they came back and Paula and Paul came - did an oil fondue with lots of goodies. It was very nice to entertain at Christmas again.

Remember we found Alonso, went back to his restaurant on a Wednesday but there was no one there we knew and we caught the slow time between breakfast and lunch, no service. Walked across the street to one called Taverna Alambique which was excellent!  We just can’t/won’t eat there when Alonso is working at his!

This week between Christmas and New Years is crazy busy in the streets of Sevilla! For me, not so much. Bruce is busy with his rail road project, building bridges see …

I think he is very creative and you will definitely read more on this project!

I am basically twiddling my thumbs which is getting both annoying and boring! I’m kicking my ass into “something” will let you know when I do…

Went to a new to us restaurant on the Alameda Thursday. It is called El Disparate (The Nonsense) ?? and is connected to the hostel The Corner House. Didn’t see the rooms in the hostel but it looks very nice. Food was good at the restaurant, Bruce had cheese cake, large piece with blackberry coulis on top and I had  patatas bravas, like wedge fries, which are done differently everywhere. These were crisp, well cooked and not greasy, sauce was a bit spicy, perfect really. I think many places microwave the food and to find a place with a real kitchen is a treat here. This place had a long open kitchen and the chef was feeding a spoonful of something to a waitress, or perhaps the owner to taste. Like I said, real kitchen! They don’t have many tapas though, mostly full meals for lunch anyway. Bathroom was clean, had soap, and lots of TP, and nice paper towels, another rarity. Most places do not have hand paper. Sunny day, coolish breeze and the Alameda is always a good place to people and dog watch.

That's all from us for now.

Cheers and again, Happy New Year! May the year 2017 be a good one for you! Bev, Bruce and Lexi Cat

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Merry Christmas!!!!!!!

This year's "tree" (card from Jay and Randy in Canada)

We decorated the flat with different red balls for Christmas, along the staircase and on the walls and in a glass bowl we like. 
Looked better before Lexi got at it - wow look how well these bounce!

That will likely be the extent of it but better than the year I used the laundry dryer as an unorthodox Christmas tree. 
We are having friends in this year and really for the first time since leaving Canada, this is good!

Our fridge has been residing in what we call the office, lofty name for a place to put a printer and paper and nothing else, storage room would be more appropriate for all the goods Bruce orders. Today we moved the fridge back into the kitchen, yeah! Took a bit of grunting and groaning, but done.

Pepe and his brother, the skateboarding guru, really, he has made a good business from it, stopped by Thursday. Pepe, the wonderful guy has offered to help again and we will need to stay in one of his apartments when the elevator is installed.

Bruce decided for the fondue we are having Christmas Eve that we needed small dishes to put sauces in, we figured sixteen dishes so price was a consideration here since we won’t likely use them a lot. After a few stores hunt we found them, two shapes but they will work for less than a Euro a piece in a store we’ve walked by many times but never entered.

Had a lovely coffee at a well rated coffee and bakery and enjoyed watching people walk by, we haven’t done that for a few days and missed it.

Lexi being either regal or silly, can't decide.

Met Ivan for lunch at Perro Viejo, translates as Old Dog, which is in an alley next to a school. Lunch time is 2 pm and when all the kids get out of school so there is a lot of foot traffic in that area and the noise of children recounting their exciting experiences at school to their parents. Food is, I would say Asian Fusion, Ivan and I liked our dishes, Bruce did not, his fish tasted fishy and that to us is a sign of not being the freshest, maybe it was, but scary to take a chance.

Bruce and I had an argument over the elevator. Arguments are pretty rare for us, so Ivan had to explain to him “the Spanish way” of construction and I agreed to lunch for that reason, and of course, to see Ivan again because he’s been incredibly busy. Bruce has been a renovator and knows what it takes to get the job done in Canada. Here it is different, I’ve seen people have hour long conversations over the smallest thing, and that will happen with this install between the constructor and the elevator installation people.

Bruce has decided to ship the totally unfinished project of a miniature train set from Canada to here. So in aid of that he wanted to visit a toy store on the other side of San Francisco plaza, nice to be in that more touristy area of town for a day. Toy store not so interesting to me but I crossed over to the Ines Rosales store I’ve heard, read about, this true Sevilliano product they have had for years but never really knew what it was about. Their main product is an olive oil fried disk with variations mostly sweet, but they have a savoury product, I bought the Rosemary and Thyme version, tasted the regular, original version in store. While I applaud the company and it’s history, can’t say their products are a favourite of mine.

So as I’ve said Ivan is now selling real estate, here is his website, he asked for input on a marketing campaign to English people and talking about business of any sort gets me interested so did my best to respond. He will take my suggestions with a grain of salt or try them out, up to him, honoured to be asked.

He dropped off a large aloe vera plant for us! It’s lovely and he thought ahead enough to the size of pot and amount of soil so that I could manage carrying it. When the elevator goes in (you’ll be reading that a lot, already have) it may live upstairs on the patio but for now it’s on our front porch. Nice to have greenery out there again. When we moved in there was a plant which I enjoyed but the former owner came and retrieved it one day which I thought was a little cheap until she explained it was a gift, okay then.

Thursday we meet Ryan and Angela and walk to Bar Tino where Alonso works now. Remember the bar he used to work at closed and last year before we left he gave us his phone number. I thought it a bit strange since we don’t speak Spanish and he speaks no English, but Ryan phoned him and located him, we went with them to see him and say hi to our good friend. Today it was so good to see him! and Manolo the manager! Big hugs from him, kisses and mi amigo (Bruce) mi amiga (me), multiple times while there. The four of us were having a tapa and along come Paula and Paul! Their neighbourhood is about two blocks away so they join us for a new to them Tinto de Verano and talk about their four day trip to Rome they just returned from. Angela does a sneaky move and goes in to pay the bill, a trick I “taught” her since I’ve done it before. Alonso says to her, have you talked to Bev? She’s going to be really, really mad at you!!! That just shows how well he knows us.

Ryan and Angela, bought a combo raclette and fondue pot set
Bruce had decided to do a fondue for Christmas Eve day when Ryan and Angela are coming to celebrate with us. So they did the research and it arrived. We all decided it needed to be tested ahead of time ;) so they came for a late lunch on Saturday. We grilled many types of cheese they had brought, jamon, chorizo, had raw veggies on the side, and Angela kept saying “I’m so Excited!!!!!” Clapping her hands. 

Rocio had been in to clean and discovered the main light in the kitchen had burned out, we had a spare, so engaged Ryan to install, being the tallest person in the house. But it didn’t work so now we have only the light over the stove argh!!!! 

Anyway that didn’t stop us having a wonderful lunch/dinner party. Angela did the dishes with me holding a flashlight, lovely, or not.

Sunday we met up with Paula and Paul for a long awaited tour of the Art Market, Museo Plaza. It’s been rained out the last few weeks so it was nice to be able to go. They enjoyed it and we spoke to several artists, as we do and met a new fellow who is named Anthony but goes by Tono? Think I’ve got that right. Anyway he works with teenagers and had trained in England, excellent English and entertaining fellow. 

Natalia was there, she did the commissioned painting for us and was telling us she has less time to paint due to her very active four year old. 

We went to La Chala for lunch and carried on the conversation, hard to walk and talk and look at art at the same time, rubbing your belly and chewing gum kind of thing, so sitting down and actually conversing was good.

Christmas lighting strung across our street (and all streets in Sevilla)

Detail, beautiful I think!

Merry Christmas from us to you and your families!!

Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Lunch Party, Elevator and Picnic

These fellows were at the local next door to us, discovered after I heard the music and singing. You just never know what you'll see on a street in Sevilla and that's just great!

Another rainy Sunday, no art market so we meet Paula and Paul at the Antiquarium, Roman ruins, under Las Setas, Metropol Parasol, but first coffee and a tostada, of course.

Cloudy view from the Metropol Parasol 

Ryan and Angela meet us there and everyone gets to talking, having just met, and not really paying attention to the ruins so we leave and meet Ivan at the place we had breakfast.
Carved piece of ruin, can you see the smiling face in it?

Decisions, decisions, where to have lunch with seven people, Ryan and Angela take over since they probably know more restaurants than the local Sevilliano Ivan does. Ivan lives in a lovely neighbourhood a bit outside the city. We end up at Catalina.  We get to sit under an awning, very much needed due to continual down pouring of rain and enjoy a rather unique meal of good food, everyone’s dish was rated top notch and our waitress was engaging and funny. With the good company and stellar food it was a wonderful afternoon.

Big, good news!!!!! We received our permit from City Hall to install the elevator in the flat. When will it happen? Not sure yet, this first week of December and there are two holidays in it, Tuesday is Constitution Day, Thursday is Immaculate Conception Day, then Christmas in twenty days. Work will take about ten days so I honestly doubt this will happen before the holidays. Update, bad news: It will take a lot longer, as much as a month! So our choices are to move out for the entire month or live with people coming in and out to do their work, ugh!

Sunny day, shops not open due to Constitution Day, so I packed a picnic of egg salad sandwiches and Schweppes lemonade and we had a picnic in the Museo Plaza.

Jugglers in the plaza, or should I say attempted...
Shawn and Peter walked by so stopped to talk for a minute, they were on their way to a newly opened bar in Triana, for research, of course, 

There were some artists out, they’ve lost the last two Sundays, after all, with the rain.

So that's been our week, dodging raindrops and enjoying the sunshine when it finally appeared.

Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Prado Exhibition and Furnace Installation

This fellow and the next are advertisements for a men's clothing shop

One night we watched a movie with Helen Mirren in it, who I think is a very good actress, it was called The Hundred Foot Journey, I liked it a lot.

Heating installation starts at 08:30 on a Thursday, so far they’ve filled the flat with a compressor, ladders, the units themselves and gone for coffee I think and probably a tostada. Now three fellows are working on it. I can only hope they finish today! More holes are being made in our ceiling… I do hate construction in the house. We’ll move out when they install the elevator for sure. We are very lucky we can put Lexi in the bed and she’s happy there, away from open doors and people. 

Cat burrito

They take less than an hour to have lunch, unusual, and come back to finish. They work well together and joke together, but not at the expense of the job. We now have heat, nine hours later, quite a big job!

Met up with Paula and Paul, a couple that we were email introduced to by bloggers Ali and Andy, now living in Berlin, used to live in Freiburg. Paula and Paul have arrived in Sevilla and, not having been here before, gleaned some local knowledge from us. We enjoyed their company on a rainy Sunday afternoon. The art market was closed due to the rain so they’ll come back another Sunday to see it with us. Since I don’t really “do” social media, which is how many people meet others in a city, it is nice to meet people through others.

Went up to the Setas (Metropol Parasol) that giant wooden structure downtown I’ve mentioned before. Had a nice sushi lunch and were able for the first time in days to comfortably sit outside. Lots of dogs walked or cavorted through. Walked through the food market which I think is larger now than last year, do not buy celery in this market it looks like it’s been towed behind a car! Other veggies looked good though, there are a couple of bakeries, few fish and meat stalls. As always, love markets! But this time we had making chicken stock/soup in mind and didn’t see all the needed ingredients so we ended back at El Cortes.

Black Friday happens here too, I think it has almost gone world wide, and it lasts all week. There are many more than usual shoppers out, discounts are high, which makes me think I should stock up on wine now for Christmas.

Our modus operandi has been crushed a bit, lots of rain this last week and it’s not pleasant to sit outside, rather we’ve been home more than usual. Dash through the rain drops to shop for food and that’s about it, boring! But I have read the Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast have had almost two full months of rain so I shouldn’t complain! That’s why I decided to cook, at least do something more creative. I hope the smells are driving our neighbours crazy, as theirs do to us.

I did stock up on wine, saved a bunch of Euros but they failed to deliver two bottles. So after a careful count, again, and again, I phoned. Next day they called back and indeed, they found them and will deliver today, decent service really.
Bruce gets a massage once a week for an hour so because I think it best to  leave and therefore not make any noise I usually do. 

Painted rolling door on a shop depicting the next picture

The real thing, Museo De Bellas Artes
There is an exhibit on at the Museo De Bellas Artes which is half a block from our place, you’ve heard me talk of it before, same plaza the Sunday art show is in. It is a collection of paintings and art objects from the museum Prado. I love the banners they have advertising it, never been to the Prado in Madrid so went to this exhibit. 

Love the lacy detail! See the second page of the brochure (second link) for better detail.
Entrance is free for EU citizens, took my Irish passport, but even so, entrance is cheap at 1.50 Euro.
I really enjoyed it! The painted detail of the costumes is fantastic and the exhibit is called “The Objects Speak” so it focuses on dress and surroundings. As for the time, many are portrait paintings of people who could afford to commission one so they are “dressed to the nines”, not a good representative of the common people I think, but certainly lovely costumes.

All for now, Cheers, Bx2 & Burrito Lexi

Monday, November 14, 2016

Freiburg to Sevilla and First Week

As said, fall is here. My parents were fanatical about cleaning up the fallen leaves, raked, blew, and kept the yard tidy at all times this time of year. I found the perfect card for them one time, picturing a fellow, rake in hand, trying to get the last leaf off the tree, you get the picture. I just looked outside to find a fellow shaking a tree to get more leaves off it, had to hoot with laughter, so familiar! He’s the caretaker I think for the grounds so it’s practical, but just made me laugh.

Statue at the airport hotel in Frankfurt
We train to Frankfurt, November 2, comfortable journey after getting settled which, if busy, sometimes takes a few minutes. Stay overnight at the airport hotel, dinner there, they make good chicken wings. November 3 and head to the airport. We go to the Special Services desk due to Bruce’s chair. He gets to take the chair to the gate this time and they “park” us in a lounge with coffee, tea, juice and snacks. To board we are escorted to a VIP entrance/exit and are scanned, body scanning by a woman, a bit embarrassing but suppose that’s her job and she doesn’t think much of it. (no clothing removed but felt up and down thoroughly). She did the same to the next couple who were from Texas so we weren't targeted. Rode around the airport in a bus for what seemed like kilometres, with planes crossing our path, calculated but a bit scary, with those monoliths coming at us!  We saw the airport from the tarmac, very interesting, very busy. Loading they put Bruce in another chair, manual and wheeled him onto the plane. All of this procedure is new to us. It never seems to be the same when we fly through Frankfurt! Keeps us guessing I suppose. Flight is three hours and I get to sit next to a very, very large man, not fat, just hefty, but polite. Felt like a sardine and plotted how to avoid that in the future. 

Land and we have help getting luggage and then they do the usual with Bruce’s chair. The “unusual” luggage gets it’s own spot to emerge, but this spot is on a platform and they have to lift the chair to the platform and lift it off. The chair weighs 120 kgs, not a light article, takes about four people to get it up and down. Staff are patient and good to us. We go looking for the taxi outfitted to handle a chair, it isn’t there, it has been ordered but is about 45 minutes late. Now this is the third time we’ve been abandoned at the Sevilla airport in the last three years! I’m now naming it the “abandon Bev and Bruce at the airport” airport. It is rather a dumpy place too but does have a few orange trees next to the parking lot which are always a welcome sight.  

Arrive at the flat and there is Ivan! Good thing too because I would have not found the ramp to get Bruce and chair in, he re-purposed it to keep water from coming in our leaky windows upstairs. Brief visit, he helps get us in with suitcases and the goes off to a meeting. We’re home at last! Yippee! Flat is clean thanks to Ivan and Rocio our lovely cleaning lady. How good it is to be here, and it’s warm!

The lift/elevator we ordered has NOT been installed, ordered before we left but there were modifications in-between. Application for modification wasn’t accepted here until mid August, takes three months after to get the permission paperwork. Lift fellow, Ivan told me, had doubts about it fitting so had the contractor put a hole in the kitchen floor, and ceiling and remove the cupboards upstairs. He had this done without warning to Ivan so Rocio had to come in and clean up the dust. Now our fridge is in the mini-office and we are living in a bit of a construction zone. Neighbours weren’t happy either because we are still waiting on permission from City Hall, and as the saying goes, you cannot rush City Hall, so very true here.

Went to have a shower in the morning and we’d forgotten to turn the gas on to heat the water. Found out it takes some time for hot water to reach the bathroom, almost two hours really. Well it’s fixed now, a very good thing to have hot water for sure! Update, not fixed, cold showers for the next five days until we get a gas expert in to fix, Brrrrrrrrr……

It’s been a bit of a cluster-fuck (excuse the language) this time. Read the email I sent to our partners in reply to the question “All Set?” Four days after arrival.

No not all set, but working hard on it, following are the issues and Pepe has been here to call his contacts to help us fix, Ryan has also helped.
- No HOT water is the biggest, pilot light works but no hot water. Gas people coming tomorrow
- No heat, although not really needed, but want it working for when we do, heating person coming tomorrow
- Couldn't unlock my cell phone, Ryan took me to the store, result, new number, it works now.
- Bedroom closet door fell off, three screws are broken and will have to be re-bored to fix, Pepe is phoning a carpenter for us for that and because the sun has caused the wood to warp upstairs to the patio, rain comes in, for that too.

So while I expected to move in with no issues, we certainly have had them. But as of today they are on the way to being fixed so that's good.

Next day and the gas expert comes, puts in a new heater membrane, apparently needed every seven years. It hadn’t been serviced for a long time, now done!
Heating fellow came next. It’s either a 300 Euro part he’s not sure he can find, or a new furnace, went with the new furnace, to be installed next week.

Now the toilet tank leaks… Will this ever end? I have a theory that they must have used a jack hammer to take up the floor and it shook up all the appliances.

Ryan, Angela and Pepe have been a big help to us to settle in with some of these issues so we’ve seen a lot of them over the last ten days which is lovely! They are family to us.
Having said all that, it is lovely to be back in this city. Yes, the kitchen floor is torn up, boards cover it; fridge is in the office. But we get to look at our art choices on the walls with pleasure and enjoy them. Lexi is back in love with the staircase.

My Lexi how you have changed! This is Cora, Pepe's dog, tired after waiting for Pepe while he helped us!
Our favourite "old man bar" a local's place, where we met Alonso has changed hands and gone upmarket. We have yet to try it but will. Did and it’s okay, nothing we had was special. Had Ryan and Angela call Alonso since he must have had an inclination prior to our leaving and gave us his phone number. Haven't actually found him yet but will.
People here think it's cold, since last week it was very much warmer, but for us, it's still shirt sleeves weather. Rained a couple of times the first days we were here but sunny now. 

Shaun from Ghent came to visit us for a day! He didn’t expect Sevilla to be so big and busy. Took him and Angela and Ryan to lunch at all our favourite Al Aljibe. Lively group of us and we closed it down late afternoon. 

I look so short, because I am!
Back to our place for more chatting and then Angela and Ryan took Shaun out for dinner. We all really enjoyed his company, he is a lively, intelligent person with a good sense of humour.
Sunday and we browse the art market at the Museo as usual, say hi to one and all there and then went to El Corte Ingles for lunch with a view. Called “The Gourmet Experience”, it is quite touristy, has several small restaurant bars to choose from and a gourmet food section on the fifth and top floor of the building. 

What a view! Even on a cloudy day.
We had Mexican food with a Corona beer. Can’t remember the last time I had a Corona so it tasted great! This place is expensive without super quality but a nice change once in a while.  


All for now! Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat

Monday, October 24, 2016

It's Fall in Freiburg

Cool little car
With this on the back panel!
I pulled out my Canada Goose parka I haven’t worn in some time. The zipper on the pocket of my favourite coat broke today. I’ve been looking for a replacement for months since it has become faded but I want the same coat, “stamping of feet” and sadly SunIce doesn’t make it anymore. Knowing the heavier coat I left in Sevilla is also wearing out, (before it’s time, in my opinion, it is a designer made coat and therefore cost the bomb, Bruce bought it for me in Switzerland but it hasn’t stood the time well). So here comes the parka to bridge the gap. Hung it up and then decided to take off all the labels that shout Canada Goose, put it on the kitchen chair and Lexi found it. Ohhhhh, thank you Mom, such a cushy bed, hours later and she hasn’t left. Well she has to pee sometime… and she popped up to have a bite to eat and immediately ran back to the coat. I guess I get to share it with her, not a bad thing really.

Went to Bad Krozingen to Corfu, Greek place for lunch with Christoph. We had bigger plans but both he and I are not too energetic due to our colds, so just lunch it was. The town was open for shopping today, unusual on a Sunday but apparently they do it more often there than Freiburg. Raining so all the outdoor booths were a bit soggy, well, those not under tarp roofs. Looked like all the stores just extended their retail space to the sidewalks, we didn’t walk around much but might be a good thing to do on a less soggy day. 

Snow has fallen in Feldburg which is a ski destination not far from here in the mountains. Christoph said it is the earliest ever reported and temps here in Freiburg have fallen about 10 degrees Celsius in the last day or so. It’s Cold Outside! My sister in Alberta will be saying “you don’t know the meaning of the word!” And she’s right, and I’m a wimp.

As you know we live in the tram turm, or turning radius for the tram, it travels completely around our building. The architect, who lives in this building built it. Apparently our neighbours complained about the screeching of the trams, worse than usual I guess. The architect complained to VAG, the transit people for Freiburg and guess what their response was? Well trams are going to be trams and make sounds on curves… i.e. NADA, you built there, you live there, your neighbours bought there, and now you complain? Quite ironic I think, the people at VAG are probably laughing at us. 

Sunday, Christoph is still sick with this cold and I’m not much better either so we postpone an outing with him. Bruce and I take the big bike to Shalimar for lunch, along the trail to the Mundenhof. Being fall many of the trees are bright red right now, beautiful!

Lunch was good, as always, and we drive back through the green space in the middle of our little burg. The pond has dried up, as have the streams but the vegetation is lovely. There are many trees with small red berries on it, the leaves in various stages of turning red.

These are mini's, good way to get my veggies.
Home and I walk into the ensuite bathroom to find a lot of ladybugs (also called ladybirds) on the ceiling and walls, I’d left the window open a crack and they flew in. We get the small ladder, a spatula and start getting them out the now open window, shoo! Bruce is up the ladder and I’m hanging onto him for dear life as he twists around to get them off their high perches. I actually like ladybugs, but any bug in a quantity of a dozen or more isn’t a good thing. I think they all made it out alive, I hope so. Next question I have no answer to, why are they there? We are three floors up, no plants, nothing visible to eat…

Well Done!
We’re out another day, daily occurrence, come back to Bruce’s plastic keyboard cover in pieces on the floor, looks like the brat, aka Lexi, had a really good time with it! Well that’s okay, they are cheap, but one has to go to a MAC store to get them, natch.

The box Bruce's order of popcorn came in.
I ordered new insoles for my Wolky shoes. They are very comfortable but insoles are wearing out They are big, grey, clunky looking shoes but I can walk a long way in them and since that’s what we do, practicality over fashion wins. Anyway they are delivered by DPD couriers, (not to confuse with DHL, more common here). The best thing is the tracking system online for DPD, you can see where the truck is, you are told how many stops before yours and within a half hour what time it is expected to be delivered! This is good use of technology that has been around for a long time, GPS anyone?, but hardly any other courier company uses it! DHL comes a close second but the post offices are way behind in Freiburg and Sevilla anyway.

Sunday out with Christoph although his cold has come back with a vengeance. I had found a Thai restaurant, but he had a better one in the North section of Freiburg, we live in the West. Drove through neighbourhoods we’d never seen, very interesting and varied between poorer ones and rich ones. The restaurant is in Malterdingen and is called Chada Thai and it was great! Food, service, pricing, all good, a definite return to. It was raining but they have a large outdoor patio area for seating that would be lovely in better weather. Poor Christoph is really under the weather and I’m still not 100% yet either so we didn’t make a large outing of it but did see another part of Freiburg we hadn’t before so all good.

Outside Chada Thai, all begonias.
 Oh dear, the Donald has invaded Der Sonntag, the Sunday paper, can’t escape the guy, his behaviour is being analyzed by a professor here, can't tell you more, doesn't translate well.

All for now, Cheers Bx2 and Brat Cat

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Letter to the Citizens of United States of America

This is a version of a letter Bruce found on the web so bring your sense of humour to read it, also note the picture caption is citing the photographer, not the author of this spoof.

By Joel Rouse/ Ministry of Defence -, OGL 3,

To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II:

In light of your continuing failure to manage yourselves financially:  and also, in recent years, your tendency to elect incompetent Presidents:  and being therefore clearly unable to govern yourselves:  we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.  (Look up 'revocation' in a dictionary.)  

(If necessary, look up ‘dictionary’ in that big word thingy.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister will appoint a Governor for America without need for further elections.  Congress and the Senate will be disbanded immediately.  A questionnaire will be circulated sometime next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as ‘colour', ‘favour’, and ‘neighbour.'  Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix '-ize' will be replaced by the suffix ‘-ise.’  Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels.  (If necessary, look up ‘vocabulary' in a dictionary.)

Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ‘like’, 'you know’ and ‘rilly’ is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication.  There is no such thing as American English.  We will let Microsoft know on your behalf.  The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of '-ize.' 

3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.  Instead, Our birthday will be celebrated on a convenient Saturday in June, with strawberries and cream, not rockets.

4. You must learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent.  Guns should only be used for shooting grouse.  If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you're not ready to shoot grouse.

Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler.  (A permit will be required should you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.)

5. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side.  At the same time, you will go metric.  Roundabouts and metrification will help you understand the British sense of humour.  (For help, look up ’metric’ in a dictionary.)

6. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you insist on calling gasoline) of roughly US$10 per gallon.  Get used to it.

7. You will learn to make real chips.  Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps.  Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed with vinegar, not catsup.

The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all.  Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager.  New Zealand beer is also acceptable, as New Zealand is pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer.  American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

8. Hollywood will henceforth be required to cast English actors to play English characters.  Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.

9. You will cease playing American football.  There are only two proper kinds of football; 1) the game you call soccer, and 2) rugby. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).

Further, you will stop playing baseball.  It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America.  (Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable.)  You will learn cricket, and face the Australians until you understand the real meaning of ‘pitching’.

10. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.

11. An inland revenue agent from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the retrieval of all overdue taxes (from 1776).

12. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups and saucers (NOT mugs); and with cucumber sandwiches, biscuits (the word “cookies” is henceforth forbidden, as infantile) and/or cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) in season.

God Save the Queen!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Visit with Good Friends!

Ryan and Angela of came to visit us here in Freiburg! We know them from Sevilla. Yeah!  We had a Kir Royale to celebrate their arrival and had dinner. 

Happy People!

Saturday we went to the Munster Market, lovely sunny day and lots of people out to enjoy it. Divan, Turkish, for lunch where Ryan bravely killed a wasp that was really after my lunch. Went to Schlappen for a drink and noticed they have Tinto de Verano on the extensive drink menu. Since we drink those in Sevilla we decided to have one, Bruce was the smart one and ordered a beer. Well our drinks were so horrible we couldn’t drink them! We kicked ourselves for ordering a non-native drink and ordered beer and wine. 

Ryan found lemon soda so we enjoyed properly made ones at home, yummy!

Mundenhof - Sunday, we packed up a picnic lunch (chicken strips, carrot and cucumber spears with dip, egg salad and lovely bread they brought) we bought beers for beverages, walked around to see many cute animals. Angela wanted to take home a meercat and a monkey, hmm, wonder what Louis would think about that! Being Sunday and a sunny day the park was choc-o-block with children, some not so very happy ones too, noisy.

Shalimar - Indian food Monday for lunch and dinner! Shalimar has good food as I’ve mentioned before so since we can’t get good Indian in Sevilla we went. Bruce ordered a dish for take-home and we all ate it for dinner. In fact they did get a feed of it since they returned with friends the next night.

Harvest time!

 Kaiserstuhl - Tuesday I relied on my memory, always a dangerous thing, but we had a GPS in the car which helped to get us to Bahlingen for lunch at Gasthaus Zum Lamm. 

Farm Sculpture

Really well prepared German food with good service, the waitress had a sense of humour. Then we drove through the Kaiserstuhl to Breisach, for a coffee, in view of the castle we’ve all visited before so didn’t again. They enjoyed the drive through the grape farms, some of which had been harvested, some not. We saw many tractors with large vats of grapes but actually didn’t see anyone in the fields.

Grapes and raisins

Wednesday, sadly they left for Frankfurt after dropping by to say Bye for now, we’ll see them in Sevilla beginning of November.

It was a really lovely visit with two lovely, interesting, people who’s company we treasure. Weather held up, it was sunny, just as Angela asked me for, "with a cherry on top", guess that did the trick!

German Unification Day, Monday October 3rd is a holiday celebrating when the wall between East and West came down in Berlin. We went out with Christoph to Staufen for lunch at the Kornhaus. The whole village was out for a local race, seemed to be run by age group, small kids to adults, made parking a challenge but we worked around it and were able to get a seat at the restaurant. 

We had lunch in Staufen to facilitate a visit to a silver mine Bruce had looked up and thought it might be interesting. It is just outside Staufen but into the mountain a bit so the houses we saw are like those of the Schwarzwald, Black Forest, with the low hanging roofs, the town is M√ľnstertal. It was a beautiful fall day and the colours very vivid on the fields and flowers. There are fields of “pick for yourself” flowers, many along this route. The gladioli are beautiful right now, they were my Dad’s favourite flower. Sunflowers are beautiful too but not quite as “stately”. At the mine we ran out of time to explore it fully but Christoph appreciated the chance to see it for his future tours. 

Entry, as far as I went...

He currently takes them to a coal mine but says it has more difficult and uncomfortable access, he was impressed with this silver mine. While neither is a working mine now there are different processes to collect the coal or silver, no gases are used in silver mining which make it much less dangerous. 

Alternative use for the old cart, note the duck...

So how did people find where to start digging for silver 1000 years ago? They knew of plants that thrived on it and looked for those plants in the hillsides. The Romans were the first to dig here and then people were brought from Switzerland to dig, perhaps there is a lot of silver in the Alps or conditions were close to what they were used to.

Driving through rows of grapes and I said the blue netting used on some was to protect the grapes from birds. In fact it is also to protect from wild boars in this region and Alsace, France. They will suck on the grapes! Christoph talked to a woman in Alsace who said the boars are really quite smart. When one is killed in an area they won’t return there for a couple of weeks. They also know most hunting for them happens on weekends so they stay “home” on Saturday and Sunday! My only guess on that one is they can hear gunshots… There are signs on the highway that picture a wild boar hitting a car, boars are mostly nocturnal so a hazard at night. Bruce read a train hit one in Alsace recently.

My apologies for being tardy in writing lately. We had our lovely guests here, no excuse, then I had no pictures, then went out with Christoph, got pictures, the next day I contacted the worst cold I think I’ve ever had! Has a flu component which makes it very nasty. The last three days I’ve stuck to home and hope to be better soon. I am grateful it hit after Ryan and Angela's visit!

Bruce did the food shopping and in taking a basket, (we now have to pay two Euro for, returned when you return the basket) got a surprise to find a Samsung tablet in the bottom of the basket! He turned it into the cashier and someone is going to be very glad he did I'm sure. Of course it's not so much the device's value, the value is in what is stored on it. 

All for now, Cheers Bx2 and Lexi Cat