Category Archives: Natural Environment

On This Day – A Black Forest Festival

The festival of Fasnacht is a carnival in Alemannic folklore that takes place in the few days before Lent in Southern Germany, Switzerland and Alsace. The Alemanni were German tribes who lived in this part of Europe nearly two thousand years ago and this area remains characterised by a form of German with a distinct dialogue called Alemannic.

The celebration literally means ‘Fasting Eve’ as it originally referred to the day before the fasting season of Lent. The schools are all closed for this festival and all over the Black Forest there are six days of parties and making merry.

Read The Full Story Here…

Postcards From France

More memories, this time from Family Holidays in Northern France (1978-2017)…


On This Day – Entertaining Grandchildren

In February 2017 my Grandchildren came to stay for a few days at school half term holiday.

I took them to the Yorkshire seaside town of Hornsea.

I live close to the sea myself, near the resort town of Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire but although it is a popular holiday resort it has to be said that it is just a muddy estuary where the sea is barely visible for long periods of the day.

By contrast, Hornsea ia a real North Sea coast town with a raging sea, barnacled groynes, pounding surf, churning water and a pebble beach clattering away as it was constantly rearranged by the tidal surge.

Read The Full Story Here…

Memory Post – Chislehurst Avenue

We lived at Chislehurst Avenue for just over a year. Dad built a new rockery, I made friends with John and Michael Sparks who lived opposite, had my fifth birthday and started going to school at the Ravenhurst Primary where my first teacher was Miss Bird. Dad continued to cycle fifteen miles each way to work in the town of Hinckley.

There was a photograph by the front door of course, this time with my grandparents who were visiting from London and as you can see I have moved up a bike size.  It is quite possible that my Mum took this particular picture because she has always had a tendency to cut feet off a picture…

Read The Full Story Here…

Hardly a Beast – Only a Dusting

Despite the dire warnings of blizzards and snow drifts by the alarmist right wing press we received only a delicate and rather attractive dusting.

A blast from the Past…

A few hours before the Great Storm of October 1987 BBC Weather Forecaster Michael Fish famously said during a forecast: “Earlier on today, apparently, a woman rang the BBC and said she heard there was a hurricane on the way. Well, if you’re watching, don’t worry, there isn’t!”.

The storm was the worst to hit South East England for three hundred years, causing records amount of damage and killing nineteen people.

Michael Fish has gone down in UK broadcasting history.

In reaction to the controversy, the term “the Michael Fish effect” has become famous, whereby British weathermen are now inclined to predict a worst-case scenario in order to avoid being caught out and blamed.

In the garden this morning…

… Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

The last really bad Winter that I can (almost) remember was 1962/3 when I was eight and a half years old.

You can read about it Here…

Casa Batlló in Barcelona

I continue to be inspired by blogging Pal Jo and her excellent sequence of posts about Barcelona and Antoni Gaudi in particular.  Thanks Jo.

The Gaudi attractions can be frustrating to photograph because of the crowds and Casa Batlló is no exception so I gave up after a while and concentrated on detail where people couldn’t get in the way…

Blizzard in The Black Forest

 

January 2010 in The Black Forest in Germany…

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

Black Forest Gateau – Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte

The station at Triberg was a little way out of town so we caught a bus with lots of other people into a busy main street full of activity but whatever was going on must have just finished because within only a few minutes Triberg was just as quiet as Villingen.

With more snow today we thought we might visit the waterfall again and climb higher this time but more snow was a problem and the paths were closed even lower down than two days previously so we walked along footpaths under pine trees that would occasionally give up their covering of snow in a dramatic little avalanche that fell on us as we walked along the snow covered trails.

On account of the blizzard the cuckoo clock house was closed and so were most of the other souvenir shops. The Black Forest Museum was open but didn’t look very thrilling and certainly not worth €5 each entrance fee. So we did what we had really come here to do and found the Café Schäfer, which since 1867 is Triberg’s oldest patisserie, for a slice of authentic Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte or Black Forest gateau.

Not only does the Café Schäfer serve Black Forest Gateau but it claims to have invented it. There are alternative conflicting claims about the origin but we were in Triberg in the Black Forest so I am sticking with this one.

The café is where the owner is the son of the apprentice of the chef who first invented the famous cake in 1915 and who continues today to bake to the original recipe and just to prove it there is a photograph of the recipe hanging on the wall.

Waiting for it to be served I was reminded now about dining out in England in the 1970s. There was a chain of steakhouses called the Berni Inn and if you were out to impress this was the place to take a girlfriend on a first date or later on, if the date worked out to any sort of anniversary. If you ever dined at a Berni Inn then for sure you will remember the most popular combination on the menu – Prawn Cocktail, Steak Garni and Black Forest Gateau.

A Berni Inn Black Forest Gateau almost certainly came out of the freezer but here they were clearly freshly baked.

Typically, Black Forest gateau consists of several layers of chocolate sponge cake sandwiched with whipped cream and cherries. It is decorated with additional whipped cream, maraschino cherries, and chocolate shavings. This all sounds rather straight forward to me but the most important ingredient is kirschwasser, a clear spirit made from sour cherries and in German law any dessert called Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte must have kirschwasser.

I am not especially fond of cake but I have to say that it was delicious and lived up completely to expectations, full of dark chocolate sponge layers, juicy morello cherries soaked in the liquor, chocolate shavings that melted in the mouth and lashings of dreamy fresh cream which was quite magnificent and nothing like the grotesque Sarah Lee frozen variety of 1970s bourgeois dinner parties when trying to recreate a Berni Inn feast in our own dining rooms.

After the cake and with the town closed we walked back through the snow bound streets to the station and caught the train back to Offenburg.

On This Day – Train Ride In The Black Forest

About ten years ago we got into the habit of going annually to Germany, specifically to the Black Forest in search of snow. On February 2nd 2010 we were staying in a lovely hotel in the town of Offenburg…

On the evening before the train ride the restaurant was especially busy and we had to share a table with a German couple from Friedrichshafen in a side room just off the main dining area.  Because they were so busy the service was slow which meant that we drank more wine than usual and after the German couple had left us to ourselves I started to poke around the bric-a-brac and the ornaments and then foolishly started to fiddle with an impressive large cuckoo clock hanging on the wall behind the table.

Immediately I wished I hadn’t touched those cone things that drive the mechanism because it unexpectedly whirred into life and out popped the cuckoo which unfortunately turned out to be a rather loud cuckoo.  And then as the chain headed non stop towards the floor it popped out several more times, each time announcing itself with its little song that just seemed to get louder and louder.  The doors were banging, the birds were tweeting, the chains were rattling and I wondered if to stop it I might have to throttle it.

This impromptu and unscheduled entertainment seemed to amuse the people on the bus tour who were giggling and laughing and I just wanted the thing to get back in its box and shut up.  There was no such luck and the clock went through twenty-four movements in under two minutes and believe me that is an awful lot of cuckoos.  Then just as I was giving up all hope the thing  thankfully finally exhausted itself and it stopped and with me red faced with embarrassment we slipped out of the restaurant and went back to our room before I could get up to any more mischief.

Read the Full Story Here…

Monday Washing Lines

 

Welcome to my latest theme. Monday Washing Lines.

This was a very windy day in Alghero in Sardinia…

…the next morning, the night after the cyclone,  when we opened the shutters of the room and looked out into the storm battered streets Alghero looked rather damp, drenched, soggy and windswept, forlorn and feeling rather sorry for itself…

It is a Challenge, do feel free to join in…