Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Latest stuff from Menorca

We are back and both been very ill with bronchitis since coming back. Brian picked up something in Germany (New Year?) and it has taken the wind out of his sails. And I thought I would miss out but not such luck, since last Saturday, I have come down with it and to make matters worse the builders have been in two weeks with one more week to go.
Seems like the cold turned into bronchitis for both of us and we have taken to bed for most of the day. The builders watch in amazement as I appear from the study (my bed) upstairs and Brian from the larder (his bed) downstairs to go and heat something up or wash in a bathroom that works.
We are having our huge bedroom made into two and at the time of writing, coughing and spluttering - the walls are being plastered and the ceiling has been lowered (we are in the loft). Our downstairs bathroom has a super duper shower in it now and look lovely.

We were really looking forward to our time back here in Menorca but so far, since coming back have hardly been out. We rely on our little shop opposite and eat little. I have lost kilos and Brian the same but don't worry I have made loads of soup and eaten our dumplings bought back from Germany.

We have made no plans yet this year to go anywhere so once we are back to normal and beds bought, curtains put up, dust washed away we will put our heads together and find out where we want to go. We do have a family in Scotland interested in an exchange for three weeks in August but nothing promised yet, I have to see their photos first.

The other plan is to run a workshop here over the summer at weekends for fiction writing. Me being the tutor. We now have room for six adults and it would be good to put a weekend on offer and see if anyone applies. Keep it cheap I say to start. (We would have to sleep in the larder...)

As for the novel - I am afraid until builders, bangs and coughs go I cannot go there at all.

The weather here is super and it is a real shame we can't be out and about, walking into town, eating tapas, but I haven't stepped out for a week and Brian only goes into town if he really needs something.

But after a super year last year we must expect some downs I suppose but looking at my stars today I am told it is all changing tomorrow... So watch this space.

I am told by our friends in Kingaroy - Queensland is under water, not that area but more north. It does seem strange to us after all that water catching but I hope everything is good there.

If we haven't sent birthday cards to friends I am sorry but we will be in contact soon.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Isabella and Tabitha

Doesn't Tabitha look like Damien? So serious... funny? Well she doesn't think so. Lovely snaps. Thanks Damien and Becky.

Isabella and Tabitha

Damien has just sent me these pics of Isabella and Tabitha. I haven't seen Tabitha since end of October and she has grown so much. Kiss kiss. Cuddle cuddle.

Wallabies up on the Bunyas.

Shane took this photo for me, or it could have been Gaylene. Anyway, thanks a bunch for this. We watched it all and my camera just wouldn't pick it up at that distance. Nice one.

Week old calf

Terry lifting week old calf out the car. They will nourish it and bring it on. Hope it is OK now, Becky didn't say.
In November Gaylene's mum (61) fell off her horse on her own property. Becky has just said she is now out of intensive care but they are still unsure of how much brain damage has been done. The last time I phoned, back in Dec, she was still unable to speak or move much. I will find out more and keep you all informed. Gaylene's dad died a year ago and all this has knocked Gaylene for six. Wish I could give her a hug.

Shane with his bird

Lovely pic of Shane - he looks a real cowboy doesn't he? Shame about the bird.

Posing at the RSL Club

Sunday morning at 9am posing before our breakfast with Gaylene and Shane. They invited us there to join them. Never eaten so much in my life.

Breakfast before we leave - honest!

Full Ozzie breakfast including mince! Before we walk. I don't believe it... After we go back to Shane's and Gaylene's to pick up the picnic. And where are we going to put that? No wonder I look as big as a bus in Oz. Lost weight now though.

View from top of Bunyas

Why was I the only one wearing a silly hat, wish I had one like theirs.

Stuck in the middle with you...

Group photo half way round. Brian just loved these roots, but I mustn't say that word, it has a different meaning in OZ...

Who's a pretty bird then?

Gaylene posing with her eyes shut. Lovely picture of the bird, don't you agree?

See, I did do it. I can walk.

No puffing or huffing. I don't know why I didn't even have a wheeze but I didn't. The air in Oz agrees with me, I'm going back asap.

In the roots

Good snap of us in the roots of this tree. Brian loved this walk, I put up with it - not too bad though, was I?

Look at us!

Look at Brian. Poor me still having kittens, thanks Shane for taking care of me. There is a small waterfall behind us and the rocks are really slippery. I hated it all.

Give me a hand.

They made me walk on wet pebbles by a stream and I had the frights. Shane to the rescue.

More from Australia

Gaylene has sent some more pics (via her daughter Becky) so here to bore you even more -
In the Bunya mountains ready for our walk.

Margaret, Brian, Christine and Shane.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Family gathering

Claire, Gerard, Elaine, Angela, Eddie and me in Claire's apartment. It is over two floors and huge and in a lovely country area. Elaine is a little cutie.
Gerard works with cranes and buildings, he also slaughters pigs, and on top of that he is in a band most weekends. Claire runs her own catering service with help from Gerard and the pork I reckon.

Sudliche Halde 30, Illertissen

We are outside the family home, just off to Claire and Gerard's house. They live about 40 minutes away with Sarah 10 and Elaine 5 as well as Gerard's son Daniel who I think is 13.

The blue sky isn't warming at all, it is about -3 today.

Nadine and Matthias

Having time to themselves and enjoying the evening. Thanks you two for choosing this place, it was such fun. Great night.

New Year - New Friends.

The couple with dark hair got married in Glasgow last year and they couldn't stop talking about Scotland, in English too. When it was 1am they bought us bubbly to welcome the New Year in in UK. Lovely people.

Midnight. Welcome 2008

We all went outside to watch the fireworks.
Matthias and Angela putting last year to rest and Nadine looking very festive while the bells chime the New Year in. It was -09c out there so we all went back in and huddled around our drinks.

Elvis is in the building

Lead singer of VOX now known as WOX is doing an Elvis and it was brilliant. Got us all up dancing and singing. Nearer to midnight now. Outside for fireworks and it is snowing and freezing out there.

Waiting for a New Year

Here we are waiting for the New Year, sitting properly and not too tipsy, yet!

New Year's Eve

Matthias and Nadine found a place for us (all six of us) to celebrate New Year and here we are with 150 other people in the middle of nowhere... It is a huge hall with four long tables full of people we don't know. Nadine does know the band and we are looking forward to having a bit of a jig.
We had a lovely buffet meal of suckling pig, turkey stuffed with broccoli and cheese, numerous
other choices and then the cheeses.

The photo is of Matthias and Brian and it does look like Brian is holding the beer. He isn't, it is Matthias - good shot eh?

Brian and Christine Christmas Day

We certainly look very happy and content at this table and it is just as good, if not better, than any other of our Christmases with John and Fia in Sweden. Lovely time. Thank you

Christmas Day meal with all the trimmings

John and Fia always have a traditional British Christmas meal on Christmas day. They invited friends from their dog walking to join us and they were really impressed with the food. The crackers went down or up well and we loved the home made Christmas Pudding from Borough Market. Hayley sent another one over, but they are freezing that for next year...

Our meal too about two hours to get through - very enjoyable it was too. Double click on the first picture to see the good food... yummy.

Happy opening her Christmas presents

Happy is a black labrador and is now two and a half years old. Last time we came she was just a puppy. She wanted to open her presents carefully and played with them all in turn. What a clever dog.
Brian and Alex wait their turn to open theirs.

Swedish Christmas Eve

Fia loves preparing for this meal and we have herrings, fish, ham, meatballs and so much more. It is so much I can't even think about what we are going to eat the next day.

After this meal, around four, after Donald Duck - don't ask - we open presents.

Dinner in Ostersund

John's first night at home and we go out to dinner. Alex and Ebba each side of him. Alex is now nearly seventeen and Ebba nearly thirteen - where does the time go?
John is wearing his birthday shirt, nice isn't it?

Swedish breakfast

Fia always brings almost everything out of the fridge for our breakfast. All those different tasting breads, cheeses and cold meats.
It is about 9.30am and still slightly dark outside, I am sure Brian is in bed, tucked up under the duvet, thinking it is the middle of the night.
You can see some snow out in the garden but as I said it is melting fast.

Christmas in Sweden

The tree went up soon after we arrived and Ebba decorated it very well. We found Ostersund not as cold as Germany and hardly any snow around. It was strange arriving into Stockholm with no snow on the ground. After our flight up to Ostersund we saw some and it was melting fast.

Fia was at the airport to meet us with Alex and we went home where Brian fell on his bottom on getting out of the car. Very icy.

Matthias with Mum

When at home, Matthias comes down for his hot chocolate and a piece of cake. This is a look round his apartment on the first floor, he has done it up a treat, as they say, and it is very modern. He is going to do the attic apartment up next and there will be a bed for us in the summer, he says!

Matthias works at the same company as his dad and also works for a funeral company run by his best friend. He is a busy man.

Coffee house in Ulm

Having a breather in the coffee shop in Ulm - this is what we look like now! I will ask Eddie to send some pictures of us all taken thirty five years ago and we can compare them. We were so much slimmer and darker, except for Eddie's fair hair.

Old houses in Ulm

Wonderful houses in the small alley ways of Ulm. I did take some more pictures but they are slightly blurred... The city is on the river Danube in the German Bundesland of Baden-Wuttenberg. The city was founded 850 and was founded as a Free Imperial City. Albert Einstein was born in Ulm.
In the wars following the French Revolution, the city was alternately occupied by French and Austrian forces, with the former ones destroying the city fortifications. In 1803, it lost the status of Imperial City and was absorbed into Bavaria. During the campaign of 1805, Napoleon managed to trap the invading Austrian army of General Mack and forced it to surrender in the Battle of Ulm. In 1810, Ulm was incorporated into the Kingdom of Württemberg and lost its neighborhoods on the other bank of the Danube, which became to be known as Neu-Ulm (New Ulm).
In the mid-19th century, the city was designated a fortress of the German Confederation with huge military construction works directed primarily against the threat of a French invasion. The city became an important center of industrialization in Southern Germany in the second half of the 19th century, its built area now being extended beyond the medieval walls. The construction of the huge cathedral, which had been interrupted in the 16th century due to economic reasons, was resumed and eventually finished (184491) in a wave of German national enthusiasm for the Middle Ages.

View from the Münster towards Hirschstraße. Due to its almost complete destruction in 1944, this part of the city primarily consists of modern architecture.
Like all other German cities, Ulm came under the control of the National Socialists in 1933. From 1933 to 1935, a concentration camp primarily for political opponents of the regime was established on the Kuhberg, one of the hills surrounding Ulm. The Jews of Ulm, around 500 people, were first discriminated against and later persecuted; their synagogue was torn down after Kristallnacht in November 1938. During World War II, the city was heavily damaged by allied air raids. The most serious attack occurred on December 17, 1944, killing 707 inhabitants and leaving 25,000 homeless. At the end of the war, over 80% of the mediæval city centre, before the war one of the largest in Southern Germany, lay in ruins.

Back in Ulm

At the Christmas market in Ulm, both men look like they want a hot drink or a look around the cathedral, which we did next. Remarkable and awesome it was too.

We went to Germany on our way up to Sweden. Flying with Air Berlin we managed to fly direct (almost) and on time. We landed at Stuttgart and they live about an hour away in Illertissen. They live in a three storey family home and occupy the ground floor. It is a huge house and is on a lovely plot with a very big garden. Matthias, 32, their youngest child lives on the first floor with Nadine his partner. Eddie's brother lives in the loft at the moment...

Buying a desk for Elaine

We went to a local town, nearby to pick up a desk for Elaine. Angela and Eddie's granddaughter. Eberhard, his real name, parked five miles away - only joking - and here we are waiting for him to come with the car. It was -06c at the time...

For new people who don't know Angela or Eddie or even heard of them - Angela was my friend from 1972 and through her friendship met Brian. We got married the same year (1973) and both had daughters soon after. Hayley and Claire, Claire coming six months before Hayley. We have remained good friends ever since but since 1977 only seeing Angela when she returns to England to visit her family and of course the two holidays they spent with us in Cala'n Bosch.

Angela and Eddie with Brian in Ulm

We came here for a bit of Christmas shopping. The Christmas market was near to the cathedral and the day was cold and crisp. We enjoyed the walk around and then the lunch. After a quick dash into the shops we had coffee and cake and made our way home.

Lovely town, super buildings, wonderful friends.