Monday, December 21, 2009

The Ducks gave Cate the cold shoulder

You will be delighted to learn that I got my new scarves on Saturday – three of them in fact. We wandered into Steffl in Kärntnerstrasse and saw a whole bunch of them – and they were on sale. I don’t understand that because hasn’t winter just started? But there is a lot of Christmassy stuff on sale as well – and the crowds seem to be down on last year.

Anyway I selected two delicious scarves and proudly showed them to Cate. She patted me on the arm, said ‘they’re lovely darling’, put them back on the pile and then chose some others which she thought would be better – and she would know – I wear only jeans and black T-Shirts so am no judge of anything useful.

For many years now I have not been allowed to go clothes shopping unaccompanied as I will most certainly buy something entirely unsuitable. On the very rare occasions I do buy something solo I always keep the receipt and tell the sales assistant that I will be back the next day for a refund after my wife has seen it – at which they laugh loudly at the time – but not so loudly when I appear again.

Anyway – Cate was so delighted with her two choices that she bought another. Two are very long and woolly and one is a bit less woolly – but I am well pleased with them all.

One of them is by Hugo Boss (I just don’t know where he gets the time) so I could wear it with my underpants – not that I wear my Hugo Boss underpants – what man is going to wear underpants that cost €29 – I mean – what if something happened to them – I would never forgive myself.

I don’t quite know what the future does hold for my Hugo Boss underpants – I could have them bronzed – or framed like they do these days with football jerseys.

On Saturday night we walked down to the Christkindlmarkt at the Rathaus to show Margaret how we live in Europe while she is sweltering in Australia, fighting bushfires, beating off poisonous snakes and sinking cold beers.

Margaret had to walk very gingerly as she does not have any walking boots and instead has a pair of Australian RM Williams boots which look terrific and are good for walking around in paddocks - but are absolutely useless for walking in snow. So she walked like she had an Igel in her knickers and it took us ages to get there - but was well worth the trip.

As I was wrapped up in one of my new scarves – and was kitted out with proper walking boots – I was entirely and deliciously comfortable and fairly oblivious to anything around me.

Margaret had an Erdbeer Punsch and was not as enthusiastic about as we had hoped she would be – but it is an acquired taste so we did not expect too much.

Afterwards we walked to Café Central and Cate ate a Duck. I reminded her of this as we walked back through Stadtpark and the Ducks fell silent as we approached.

They can tell you know. On the occasions I have eaten Duck before walking through Stadtpark I have definitely been given the cold shoulder (or whatever it is that Ducks have where their shoulders would be if they had them).

We discovered that the Restaurant next door to us in Am Heumarkt, the StadtPark Bräu takes Sodexho vouchers. These are the vouchers that Cate gets each day to buy her lunch but as she lives on coffee, mineral water and Balistos she gets to save most of her vouchers and we have to find restaurants that take them.

Balistos are good because while that have no nutritional value they send a shot of sugar straight to where it is needed most. An unfortunate side effect is that each Balisto contains about a million calories.

In StadtPark Bräu we had quite the largest Wiener Schnitzels we had ever seen and Cate and I argued about whether pork or veal is used for the ‘traditional’ Wiener Schnitzel. She said Pork and I am sure she is right because they are very fond of Schweinfleisch here – although I do prefer Kalb.

Sissi just loves the snow and as soon as the Terrace door is opened she is out there like a shot burrowing into the mounds of snow that have been collected into large piles (drifts?) by the wind. She would stay there for a hours so we have to use various subterfuges to entice her back into the apartment before we all freeze to death.

I decided that as I am getting close to being able to edit moving pictures I would take some video of Sissi playing in the snow. So I set up the camera and then opened the door to the small Terrace – where there were quite large snow piles. She dived into these and was having a wonderful time when she realised that this was the Terrace without the net. By an amazing feat of athleticism I managed to prevent an escape onto the snow roofs of Wien. Last time she did that she ended up in the Tierschutzhaus – but at least now she is tagged and collared.

And we have found a pair of boots for Margaret and she is now as sure-footed as a Mountain Goat and is leaping and bounding all over Vienna.


  1. The real "Wiener Schnitzel" is made with veal,
    if made with pork, it has to be specified on the menu.
    Or so they say.

    Happy meanderings! :-)

  2. In the rural setting of my birthplace, my brother was an amateur roughrider and an avid reader of the Hoofs and Horns magazine. He would have worn R M Williams underpants or bush pyjamas if such products had existed. (Today, they probably do, along with R M Williams tuxedos, cocktail gowns and suchlike.) Once upon a time, elastic-sided R M Williams boots were no doubt ideal clodhoppers for more rugged territory than rodeo grounds and the tiled floors of Aussie pubs. But their quality slowly dropped, for reasons I ignore. My last pair gave up the ghost in Jerusalem, back in the 1990s. The heat, the stony streets and the dense spiritual atmosphere of the Holy City were a little too much for the soul-stitching. OK, don't be finicky about spelling. I agree that most boots have soles. In Jerusalem, however, it's normal that they should be transubstantiated—or something like that—into souls. In any case, when the soles/souls of my Aussie boots started to flap in the breeze (due to the Holy Spirit moving constantly through the air), I was humiliated by having to rush into the nearest store in the New City and invest in a pair of biblical sandals, made in Taiwan. After throwing the broken boots into a trash can, I wondered if I had been lazy and wasteful. Maybe I should have made an attempt to lash them to my feet with wire. In that inspired way, my trip to the Holy Land would have culminated in my invention of Bogan Boots.

  3. I had to look up Balistos as I wasn't familiar with them (somehow I manage to ignore the confectionery aisle at Billa, though not for lack of interest). I see that they're a European thing, and wryly noted (courtesy of Wikipedia) a reference to "Ballaststoffe" - from which the name is derived. They sound utterly addictive, but unfortunately would go straight to my behind (and not in a flattering way). I have enough problems in that department given my alarming consumption of mince pies this week; although the question of which cam first - the mega-pack of 18 from Bobbys or my feral appetite - is a philosophical chicken and egg conundrum perhaps best left unpondered.

  4. It's funny how ducks, and birds in general, have that extra sense. When I go for a normal walk they treat me like anyone else. But when I have a string of bird rings in my bag (even if disguised as a packed lunch) they are off like a shot.

    I trust Margaret brought you a consignment of Cherryripes from Down Under!!

  5. Dear Badger,

    Happy New Year! I hope you're enjoying St. Petersburg.

    Having mentioned Balistos in my previous comment, I just wanted to let you know that I am now completely addicted. I kept an eye out for them in the Billa, and as they happen to be a Vorteilsangebot at the moment they weren't hard to spot. I quickly found my Vorteilscard, and thus began my descent down the slippery slope... I hope to exercise some self-restraint before my backside balloons to the size of a small country!