Friday, July 27, 2012

The lambs travel business class

I am pleased to report that Cate once again has a notebook computer and an iPad thanks to some heroic efforts from Rozalin.

No the original ones did not turn up – they are gone forever – but Rozalin is good at foraging and getting replacements quickly for the very many things that Cate loses or breaks.

I could tell you about when she dropped her iPhone into the toilet but that would be indelicate. (It still works).  

When Cate does not have online communications with her far flung empire she is like a caged Lion. And being in the same place as her is like being in the lion’s cage.

Incidentally - Apple has released a new versions of its Mac software. It is called OS X Mountain Lion and does 200 new things.

I have looked at the list of new features and don’t understand most of them – I probably use about 10% of the features of my iMac and Mac Air – but will probably get the software because if you get out of date you find inevitably that things stop working properly.

And anyway Apple needs the money because sales of the iPhone had plummeted as people wait for the new one in October.

On Tuesday I made my very first Lamb Biryani. We don’t eat a lot of lamb because it is simply so expensive. The lamb I bought on Tuesday was €46 per kilo. Holy Toledo!

I think that there may be a lamb quota is Austria and the whole country is only allowed about a dozen each year. I have never seen sheep in Austria - perhaps they are imported from Australia - and travel business class on Austrian Airlines. 

I used a Bill Granger recipe and it was adequate but not exciting. There was something – as yet undefined – that was missing in order to give it some oomph. I will need to do more research. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Perhaps I am just a curmudgeon

I read The Times each day on my iPad.

It is now almost impossible to  wade through the Olympic stuff to get to anything else that happened in the world. They are – of course – entirely focused on the medals they will win – and they should win a whole bag – the host country always does.

The Times says it will be providing live Olympic coverage for 24 hours each day. 24 hours? The midnight to dawn coverage should be fascinating.

For every gold medal Royal Mail will be painting a red box gold in the home town of each gold medal winner. I mean – really! What do they do for the losers – paint the mail boxes black.

I am sure that in Australia it is not much better.

All Australia’s gold medalists are to get a cash bonus. I suppose that all the other competitors – who probably worked and tried just as hard but did not win – can go and stick their heads up a dead bear’s bum.

SKY has 24 Olympic channels. 24! We are not going to miss a scintilla of the events.  

The opening ceremony is costing £27 million and will probably last for four hours.

I remember Melbourne in 1956 – I think there were flags and balloons. The budget was probably less than $100.

I wonder if we are getting a teensy weensy bit carried away with it all.

Perhaps I am just a curmudgeon.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

One must have ready access to life's essentials

Sunset from our cabin 
I get wistfully homesick every time I visit Australia. There is no other place like it on the planet.

As I mentioned – we stayed on an Alpaca farm in the Hunter Valley – which is one of Australia’s major wine producing areas.

It was a wonderful place to stay – and apart from the astonishing racket made by the ducks and birds – was very peaceful indeed. (I am sure that Alpacas make a variety of noises – but they were silent during our visit). 

Each dusk and dawn a big mob of Wallabies came to feed and water themselves  on the property next door – an amazing sight to see for anyone other than an Australian – for whom it is very unsurprising indeed.

Every time we do this we think that we would like to live in the country – and that could well be where we end up. Although it is likely to be in a country town rather than in isolation on a farm.

After all – one must have ready access to a coffee shop and a Patisserie.

And we certainly wouldn’t be trying to grow things – including Alpacas. I have demonstrated quite clearly over many years that I should not be put in charge of God’s creatures or plants.

Monday, July 23, 2012

He takes some getting used to

Cate makes friend with some Alpacas

The most exciting thing that happened while we were on holidays was that Cate lost both her notebook computer and her iPad. We think she left these in the taxi in which the driver was berating us for taking his cab such a short distance.  

We were in a hurry to leave - so might have left them behind. We have – of course called the company – but I don’t think this particular driver would have turned them in.

This did not happen until the trip home but she was very distraught because she had lots of work that she had done in Australia and could not access it – and on the way home on the plane had to resort to watching movies.

Also she could not access emails and I thought for a while she may have to be sedated. Cate is not happy when she is not in touch with her world.

In theory she can access emails from her BlackBerry but this often does not work when she is outside Austria – and did not in Australia. Just one of those weird communications things.

The cats were very pleased to see us back and were interested to hear about the Henderson’s Exotic Short Cat called Pugsly. I have never seen a cat quite like Pugsly – and he takes some getting used to. 

Monika and Sissi refuse to believe that Pugsly is in fact a cat – and I must admit – at first glance……

But he is quite lovely and affectionate when you get the hang of him -  and only defecates on their bed when it is absolutely necessary.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Normal service will resume shortly

Brisbane from our apartment

We had a bonzer holiday in Australia.

We started off in Brisbane where Cate’s mother was in hospital - so we visited her each day and then just mooched about.

Cate was happy with the accommodation I had booked!

Then we went to the Hunter Valley near Sydney to stay at an Alpaca farm with a whole bunch of relatives. Cate made friends with some Alpacas but we couldn’t take any with us.

Then we stayed with the Hendersons in the Hunter Valley and so flew from Newcastle to Brisbane to catch our flight home.

I had allowed oodles of time between flights but we were late leaving Newcastle and then were put in a holding pattern over Brisbane so by the time we landed had to go like the clappers to get to the International terminal to catch our flight.

One would normally take the shuttle bus to go from the domestic terminal to the international terminal but we were running very late indeed so we took a taxi. The taxi driver was so incensed by this that he berated us for the entire 5 minute journey.

We only just made the flight and had an uneventful trip home. Except that Australia is a long way away. The epic trip home took us 35 hours door to door.

We had very little in the way of internet connections during the trip. I suppose I could have blogged – but I decided to take a break.

But I missed you all terribly and it’s good to be back.

Normal service will resume shortly.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Thank you Spain

Stadtpark 22 June

For some reason I had imagined that Australians were more jingoistic - in respect of sport – than other countries.

Whenever the Olympics or international events were held – in which Australia was represented – we always got nauseating coverage of every Australian contestant  - and bugger all information about anything else.

But my experience since being in Austria – and watching British TV – is that they are just as bad - if not worse.

At the end of events they will – for example – interview British athlete Nancy Nudge - who came 12th in the Hop, Flop and Drop – and may not even tell us who won.

All we are getting on SKY Sports at the moment is endless talk about the British athletes and their prospects for the games.  I think they start soon - and I am not looking forward to it at all. But I guess most countries are the same – unfortunately.

However – a piece of good news. The Italians were soundly thrashed by the Spanish in the final of Euro 2012.

I hate the Italian Football Team.

I hate them because they cheat – a lot. In the 2006 World Cup Australia nearly made it to the Quarter Finals and in the game against Italy held them to a draw. In the last minute of play an Italian player took a dive to get a penalty and Italy won the game. The Italian Cheating Diving Team then won the World Cup.

My research since then has shown that the Italians are probably the worst cheats in world football - but that their fans expect them to cheat - because winning is the only thing that counts. The statistics from that World Cup show that they were awarded the most number of fouls (i.e. they dived more than anyone else).

Anyway – whenever there is an international competition I now have to put a curse on Italy. I know this is tedious but someone has to do it.

This time I was feeling particularly vindictive so I let them get to the final – so as to maximize the hurt and humiliation.

I apologize to those Italians whom I know and love but – you brought it on yourselves.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

At least there were no dickwits

Paphos Mosaics
She went to the airport in Peoria but because of storms in the Washington area her plane did not arrive - so she had to go back to the hotel. They were not particularly surprised to see her - and gave her her old room back. 

There is a golf championship being played at the Congressional course in Maryland and I was watching it last night and saw the enormous amount of storm damage that had been done to the course during the previous evening.

There were so many trees damaged and uprooted that the officials  they did not allow spectators onto the course – so the golfers played without an audience – probably the first time this has ever happened. It was eerie not having any spectator noise but at least we did not have dickwits shouting 'garn the hole' after every shot. 

It is ferociously hot here at the moment but the air conditioning is holding up so it is a  quite manageable 26° in the apartment.

The cats are not very sensible in the heat. They can always find the warmest spot in cold weather but during summer – no matter how hot it is – they can’t work out that the bathroom floors are the coolest places in the apartment. 

Our next adventure is home leave and we depart for Australia on Friday. First stop is Brisbane to see Cate’s family and of course her mother in hospital.

We have only a brief overnight stay in Sydney because we are meeting my clan – all of them – on an Alpaca farm in the Hunter Valley. Not that there are that many of us – just three brothers and our families.

This is such an auspicious occasion that even Molly is coming home from Paris for the event.