Sunday, July 12, 2009

Catching up, sharing experiences and plans

The last two days have been lazy ones, staying up late chatting, sleeping in until after 10 in the morning. It hardly seems like it was almost six months ago that we left Steph (and Felix) just as they were moving into their new unit in Schwäbish Gmünd. When we had visited with them, the unit was still empty and there were plenty of discussions going on about where each of 'their' collective furniture would go. Getting here it is obvious that concensus was reached and the unit looks great now that they are well and truly settled in. And yes, they did work out where to put Felix's large screen TV! But it is his dishwasher that Steph loves the most! The unit is open and airy and large for a couple without being so large that it is too much work.

After a late brunch of fresh rolls, cold meats and jams with pots of coffee, Felix gathered his gear together to go and fence (as in the sport, not in the yard). This will be followed by a 'pig on a spit' barbeque with some mates from his university days and he will stay overnight, drink driving laws being what they are. And although we really, really like this young man who has taken our darling's heart, it will be wonderful to have some time alone with Steph.

It is fantastic to see her so happy. For a long time we wondered whether she would ever be this settled. But she and Felix make a great couple - very complementary, and he so obviously adores her - the only really important thing in our eyes (oh yes, and she, him, too!!)

We catch up on all the Mucz knews including getting the latest progress on Mutti who is now in a convalescent home following her surgery before she will come back to her own home. Later in the afternoon, Steph manages to get on to Olga by phone to find out when we can visit Mutti, and plans are made for us to visit her on Monday afternoon, and then join them for dinner.

Mid afternoon Steph and I head for the supermarket while Michael does some work on the blog (by now many of you will have realised that we are a couple of days behind), sharing his time with Benny and Artie (Goodman and Shaw that is)! I think he relished some alone time because even after we return, he is content to sit upstairs, headphones on and pretending to be oblivious to us downstairs! Mind you, he has down two loads of washing while we were gone - thanks dahling!

Its almost 5 pm and although we don't want 'lunch', we are peckish so I quickly make that camembert, walnut and toffee thing, we cut some bread and wash some fruit and we nibble. Later though (like 8 pm-ish) Steph and I decide that yes, we will do a stirfry for dinner. So out come the chicken breasts (we only need one in the end) and the fresh veges we bought today (heaps of different mushrooms, zucchini, capsicum, broccoli, carrot, fresh ginger and chili) with Steph's Asian pastes and fresh limes. Ahhh it was fantastic having some fresh asian tastes - very delicious!!!!!! Steph and I have hit the Gin bottle that I left here last time, don't think she had had any of it the whole time we were travelling - we remedy that Saturday night though! hic
The night sky is particularly nice - although those high clouds herald a forecast for rain tomorrow.

It's lateish to bed again - after 1 am, and 10 before we are up again. Olga has just phoned Steph to change plans and they will now come over for afternoon tea today. The day is overcast and has just started to rain - I really don't mind - a quiet couple of days will be bliss and the cooler weather is so nice after the heat of Bordeaux. I finally manage to get on to Gen on Skype after not being able to talk with her for most of the week with her being at Helens and us with less than perfect net connections. She tells me I have a letter that she will scan and email to me. Hmmm wonder what it is! We then manage to get on to Antony and my Mum as he and Amanda have arrived back in Newcastle to her on their journey north again. But the connection is really bad and the Skype signal keeps dropping out. Frustrating but we do get to have a bit of a conversation.

Breakfast is late and very relaxed with just Steph and Michael and me. In fact, we are still sitting there when Felix gets home at 1:00 pm and we make like we are just finishing lunch! (he he he). He has had a great day and night and brings fresh redcurrants from his parents' garden - they are sooo good!

And so we chat some more. About 3 pm I prepare a cheese and cracker plate for afternoon tea even though Steph says not to worry as Rudi and Olga will bring cake. They arrive just before 4 pm and are indeed carrying 'the box'. That box contained 12 slices of different rich tortes and German cheesecakes - they looked so wonderful (sorry, we forgot to take a photo!) and delicious that we have trouble deciding which ones to have. Mine was a very light cheesecake mix with a set strawberry topping with chunks of strawberries in it. Michael had a Black Forest one with cherries and chocolate cake and lots of cream. In the meantime, Felix polishes off most of the cheese platter - as he had not had any lunch! Didn't have the heart to tell him neither had we! Not that we wanted it!!

Rudi and Olga are looking very stressed and tired. In an effort to cut pollution and the number of unsafe vehicles on the road, the German government has introduced a scheme where they will make a €5,000 contribution towards the purchase price of a new vehicle so long as your 10+ year old car is crushed. So the motor dealers are busier than ever. In fact Rudi was telling us that last year they sold just over 200 cars in the year, and to date this year they have sold 360. But as with all government schemes the world over, there is a heap of paperwork that must be done for the dealers to claim the subsidy. They leave for a much needed holiday to Austria on Tuesday - and if they are in Saalbach for more than a week then maybe we can visit them there - no promises at this point though.

We chat about our trip and the sights we have seen to date. We were telling him about the 400+ old Renault 4 cars we saw in France in February, all the trucks travelling from Spain and into France carrying new Renaults and the countless trucks of all nationalities we had seen. In fact, just on the trip up to here from Switzerland, we saw our first trucks from Russia, Turkey and the Ukraine. I think we have seen them from all western and eastern European countries now.

I was telling Rudi about and demonstrating 'Kate' when all of a sudden I realise that there is no map of Turkey on her - EGADS. So as I sit here blogging, I am downloading the Turkey map - this is such an important part of out trip (Michael's no 1 priority) that there is no way I will want to be without it. He will be stressed enough making sure he is seeing everything he wants to without worrying about how to get there!

About 6 pm they leave for home. Felix has a newsletter to write for his fencing club, and Michael adjourns to the study with him to 'study potential routes' on the web. That leaves time for Steph and I to prepare dinner - a two course fish meal. The entree is fish parcels that are wrapped in shaved timber that you smoke in the oven, followed by a main meal of paper baked salmon fillets with lime, lemon, olive oil and herbs, potatoes cooked in stock, stir-fried mixed vegetables and a divine white wine cream sauce - it was good, even if I do say so myself! We washed it all down with a regional Rose. (Sorry, again no pics - don't even think about it if we are not in a restaurant!)

For afters, we open the box of Suisse chocolates and have 2 each - yep, we are ekeing them out, savouring every petite morsel. And Felix and I polish off the last of a sample bottle of Lagavulin 12 y.o. whisky - gee if I had known he was in to decent whisky I would have gladly bought him back a bottle!

It is now 10 pm and Felix must work tomorrow even though Steph has the day off to spend with us. So he heads up to bed, Steph too, Michael to his book and me to finish this episode.
Oh, and that letter? It is an invitation to my 30 year school reunion - you have to be kidding - it can't be 30 years since I finished high school - can it? I won't be there as it is on 31 October in Sydney. Around then we will either be finishing our tans on one of the Greek Islands, or already in Turkey - at least that is the loose plan at the moment.

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