*Short trips are awesome. I’ve always been a quit-my-job-and-travel-until-my-money-runs-out kind of person but living on The Continent (an anachronism I know, but it nevertheless (or therefore?) amuses me) has awakened me to the pleasures of three-day jaunts.
*In extremely rural mountain villages in valleys in the Bregenzerwald there are people whose houses were built in the shade (Schattasitta in dialect or Schattenseite in high German) and those whose houses stood in the light of the sun (Sunnasitta or Sonnenseite). Both are prejudiced against the others and ne’er the twain shall meet!
*How to dress for the weather. Previously, a mixture of vanity and obliviousness to the importance of layering meant I’d wear impractical get-ups and spend the entire day complaining of cold. Now I know this: down is my friend. Also, living for nearly two years in a ski area and still being a beginner probably means I should let go of any Olympic hopes.
*Having no-speed limit on the (German) autobahn results in some spectacularly frightening crash scenes – I’ve been sickened by seeing several cars completely upturned by the force of the impact. Conversely, in the sticks of Austria, a 40 km/ph speed limit seems to mean 20 km/ph. Also, driving behind tractors sucks.
*People from the internet are almost always just how you imagine them when you meet them in real life. I wish I could pack up all the London and Berlin bloggers (and the Denver one) I met and take them home in my suitcase. Or at least just have some sort of wormhole interface through which we could visit and post food.
*It’s perfectly fine to leave your horse’s droppings on dappled paths through the woods, but definitely not your dog’s. Not sure why, because piles of horse manure are way bigger and attract more flies. My technique: close my mouth and screw up my eyes as I go past – you know what happened to the old lady who swallowed a fly, doncha?
*The meaning of g’hörig (ker-rig). Vorarlbergers use it as an adjective for anything that is, broadly, the way it ought to be: well-trimmed hedges and things that are otherwise proper and conform to expectations. It’s extremely g’hörig for the lawn never to be any more than 2 cm long. Even if the (constant) noise of the lawnmower drives your neighbour to drink.
*The importance of sticking to something. Being in general a project-focused person, I tend to throw myself into something until it’s done and call it a day. Blogging has taught me how enjoyable it is to see the fruits of your labours when you work at doing something bit by bit.
*Pending further investigation, Spring might be the new black! I’ve always been a summer person but the delights of Spring in Austria might have turned me. The slew of new (to me) greens that accompanies it helps.
*Making elderflower syrup is a total cinch. A five year old could do it. If you have one (a five year old, I mean) see if you can get them to make it while you put your feet up. Actually, no don’t – I just remembered boiling water and kids don’t mix well but if you can find an elderflower tree about, try it – you won’t be sorry.
What have you learned recently m’dears?
3 unwaxed lemons
15 large or 20 small elderflower heads
40 grams citric acid
1.2 litres boiling water
1 kg sugar
In a large bowl, pour the boiling water over the sugar and citric acid and dissolve.
Zest the lemons into the bowl and slice them, adding those too.
Shake the flower heads and cut the stem completely off and stir into the bowl, if there are a few tiny bugs don’t worry, they’ll be strained off.
Cover with plastic wrap or a cloth and steep at room temperature for 36 hours, stirring once or twice a day.
Strain through a clean cloth into a bottle and refrigerate and use within a month – or you can use sterilised bottles and seal them and keep them much longer.
Enjoy with water in a 1: 5 ratio, or to taste and in Hugo cocktails.