Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The attack of the Killer Igels is coming!

I was riding along the Donaukanal near Winterhafen and came upon a large brown horse blocking the path. I say large – it looked large but I was on a bicycle – perhaps it was just a normal sized horse.

It was standing still in the middle of the path. There was no way around it. On the back of the horse sat a woman – who was talking on a Handy. Both horse and rider were aware of my existence but were unconcerned – and unmoved.

I imagine the woman was having a conversation along the lines of

‘yes, I’m on the horse’

‘on the Donaukanal near Winterhafen’

‘oh she’s fine – enjoying the day out – aren’t you darling’ (pats horse)

‘about an hour or so’

‘what sort of milk do you want – I will have to go to the Billa at Simmering - you can take horses in there’

'OK I'll just let Dobbin defecate on the bike path some more and then come home'

Clearly there was nothing for it but to tackle the task so I approached cautiously.

I had in mind that you don’t go behind horses. Someone told me that. It might have been Roy Rogers. I had a small part (uncredited) in one of his last films, ‘South of Caliente’ and he used to tell me things about horses. (I was very young at the time - I played the part of Munzie - a small dim child - perfect role for me really).

I think he said if you walk behind a horse that you don’t know it may kick you and – depending where it got you – there were varying degrees of incapacitation involved.

He told me that a wrangler named Larry Larsen had been kicked by a horse when he was making a movie in Monument Valley in the 30s and was in a coma for days - and was never the full quid again. Ended his days as a Republican Senator in Nevada.

It was in fact Roy who first aroused my interest in quilting. He didn’t do Koalas of course and for him it was almost exclusively horses and Indians. He was fascinated by the headdresses – although these were bloody hard to do - have you ever tried to do a feather?

Of course in those days movies were not about sitting around waiting for the set up like they are now. It was all jump on a horse, ride, shoot somebody, have a drink in a bar, sing a song, jump on a horse, ride etc.

Bearing Roy’s advice in mind I headed for the front of the horse – wondering whether Roy had ever mentioned horses biting and what sort of damage they could do – quite a bit I imagine – they have startling teeth – some of them would give Julia Roberts a run for her money.

The rider glared at me balefully as she carried on her conversation - but the horse showed no interest. For a moment I wished I was the horse. I would have thrown the rider off and booted her across to the other side of the Donaukanal.

I sort of eased my way under her head – admiring her magnificent teeth (the horse not the rider) and scuttled off without further incident.

Winter came early yesterday. While I was riding Sissi found a roll of paper towels and turned them into snow. Very picturesque it was – I am going to get her to decorate the Christmas tree.

Not content with tearing the remaining Hedge tree to pieces Sissi now sleeps in it. This is bizarre behaviour indeed.

I regret to advise that Toni Sailer has died. Toni was Austria’s best ever skier and one of the greatest of all time. I watched a documentary about him fairly recently. Read about him here

You will note that (after further coaching from Merisi) my links are opening on new pages. This is a great leap forward in the evolution of the Blog.

I hope to have it perfected before the last reader leaves.

Just before Winter – a new horror has emerged in the wilds of Austria. Hordes of killer wasps are sweeping across the country stinging their victims to death and devouring small children.

As reported by the Austrian Times:

“An Upper Austrian chef was hospitalised after a wasp stung him in the mouth.

The 33-year-old failed to see the wasp fly into his drink as he swigged away at a restaurant yesterday (Mon) in Gmunden, Upper Austria.

He soon started to complain of feeling sick and emergency services called in by the restaurant’s owner took him to hospital with a suspected allergic reaction to the sting.

Experts say wasp stings can be fatal if people are stung in the mouth or throat and swelling causes them to suffocate or if the victims develop extreme allergic reactions.

Only last week a 70-year-old Upper Austrian man died three days after he was stung on the lip by a wasp and a 77-year-old Styrian woman died of a heart attack two weeks ago after she was stung by wasps. Doctors said pensioner Rosi Hofbauer from Langenwang in Mürzzuschlag district died from an allergic reaction when she was stung on the back of her head and neck.

And a 45-year-old woman from Traun, Upper Austria, died three weeks ago of circulatory failure caused by an allergic reaction to a wasp sting one week before.

Also early this month, Upper Austrian Social Democratic (SPÖ) councillor Josef Nigl, 60, died after he was attacked by hundreds of wasps when he disturbed their nest as he cut down trees with a friend in Schlägl in Rohrbach district.

What next? The attack of the Killer Igels?

Perhaps Austria is not so safe after all.


  1. My earliest memory is of getting kicked in the head by a horse. I must have been very young because I didn't even have a vocabulary yet. My mom had put me in the yard, but the pinto across the way was more interesting. I remember seeing stars, then waking up and going back home. Couldn't even tell my mom what had happened.

    I suppose this explains everything.

    Cute picture! You have to admit it.

  2. Given a choice between being kicked by a horse or stung by a bee .... I think I'd rather go to the opera and listen to Anna Netrebko (however much it may hurt my wallet!).