Cycling Bavaria with the boyfriend

Cycling Bavaria, in Germany with the boyfriend. The lowest point went something like this:

“I’m tired!”

“No don’t stop!

“But I’m tired…”

“You can stop when we get to the top of this hill. You have to deserve your rests.”

“I can’t see the top! That’s it I’m taking a break.”

“Baby! No!”

“Erm, there’s no need to shout. You’re scaring the birds…”

Usually my super fit boyfriend, Mario, goes on these epic cycle tours with his father. The two men love to pump iron on their bikes puffing up steep hills and speeding down again. A 45km ride in one morning is nothing to them. They go by the theory that, you work hard and then you can really enjoy your achievement with a massive German beer in the countryside somehwhere.

So when Mario suggested we head out to one of his favourte spots in Bavaria, he made the typical man mistake of forgetting who he was with.

A cycle ride to me is a slow amble on the straight and exciting descents down hills until I find a pretty spot for a picnic or a bite to eat. I stop to photograph the landscapes, stare at the flowers and sunbathe. I like to pet horses, baa at sheep and investigate abandoned little huts in the woods.

You can see where I’m going with this…

Day one of our cycle tour, we did it his way. I was trussed up in about three pairs of padded underwear as well as all the cycle gear and multiple layers of clothes to keep me warm and thus, I sweating like a sinner in church. The sun was on hiatus leaving behind a greyish landscape, so this was not the romantic wanderlust journey I had imagined. In fact I was pretty pissed off. It wasn’t fun. He was gunning along like he was in a race and he wouldn’t allow us to slow down because that would mean we had failed the war against our inner-selves or some kind of crap like that. The picnic was a baked snack shared on a bench and I was starting to see that the Kindle, I had packed for that moment where he snoozed in the sun and I read Jodi Picoult, was going to remain firmly at the bottom of my rucksac. Fuck.

You see girls this is the point in your relationship where you have to pull away from being his ‘mate’ and remind him that you are a ‘lady’ or a ‘girl’ or whatever. I’m a feminist, as in a belive in equality, but I am no fool. I know there is a difference between men and women and in this case, the way we enjoy things is poles aparts.

This video is what happened on day two when we decided not to go on a cycle tour but to just explore the area on bicycles, but what really happened was we took Bikewald Spessart route 2 around Frammersbach. We did it slowly, we parked up at nice spots to chillout and enjoy the view. We felt warm and fuzzy, rather than out of breath and, yes, we still deserved a beer afterwards.

 

The ulitmate tip in budget dining in Germany

Germany can be an expensive place to eat out in, especially Frankfurt, which is multicultural bussiness city with high-priced restaurants and wine bars.

I love to head off the beaten track into the nearby Rheingau region where local wine producers open their doors to the public to offer their wine and hearty meals for rock bottom prices.

Wine taverns or straußvirtschafts are where it’s at! ……Check out my video where I visit one in Wicker and give you all the details you need to find one when you’re next in the area of Hessen. 🙂 Enjoy! You can also head to my Youtube channel click here to see more travel videos.

 

Must-do in Germany: Buying wine and liqueur at the fruit farm :)

Hey guys.

I have been trying out video productions of my adventures!

I thought you might like to see a German fruit farm. It’s called an obsthof and it’s a really great way to experience German culture and local specialities on your travels because the obsthof sells not only local fruit but also products, such as schnapps, liqueur, sparkling wine, wine, juice and jams.

I went to this one in Hessen. It’s called Osthof Am Berg but if you Google obsthof and your location I am sure you will be able to find the nearest one to you.

Enjoy!

If you think ‘mmm that wasn’t so bad, I’d like to see more’ check out my YouTube channel. Click here

 

 

Snow picnics and frolics – embrace the winter in Germany

First of all I feel I must apologise for not having an awesome picture of a snow picnic! 🙁

You see guys, it happened like this. We were on our way to the zoo – we were stuck for something to do and thought, why not – but there was a traffic jam on the highway into Frankfurt so we got off at the B8 to Königstein in search for a place to stop for coffee.

We went towards Große Feldberg, which is the highest of the Taunus Mountains at 878m, and as we drove higher up into the mountain we noticed the snow get thicker on the ground until 15 minutes later we were surrounded by this magical winter wonderland!

Mario in the snow

We took a walk. The snow was the deepest I (who has never done a ski season) had ever experienced. It was up to my shins. Awesome. The animals had to wait. Frolicking in the snow became the flavour of the day. I even made a video. Check it out 🙂

deep snow

view from the feldberg

top of feldberg

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A snow picnic spot…or what?!

Nostalgia cooking: awesome homemade German dumplings

bread pieces

parsley

This post is really special because my friend Dagmar has decided to let me tell you all the secrets to her amazing cooking. Dagmar is a talent in the kitchen. She is what I call a slow cook because she relishes creating the kind of dishes that can take days or even weeks to prepare. The creations in her kitchen are nothing short of mini adventures.

parsley choppingDagmar has been friends with my boyfriend, Mario, for many years. Her husband, Hans Peter, and her have practically adopted him as their own. They spoil him rotten with the finest foods. It’s like family and between them food is love.

I moved to Germany to be with Mario, following a crazy decision making process completely driven by love. I had left my life in Thailand behind and there I was in a new country, with a new man, a new home and a new family circle.

onions

bread veg mixTo be honest I was a little nervous about meeting Dagmar. She must have been wondering who was this woman who has stolen Mario’s heart (he had spent the most part of the year traveling backwards and forwards to Asia). If it was me, I would have been expecting to meet a drop dead gorgeous shining star.

milk

eggsDagmar invited us over to her home for a dinner. A message came asking whether I wanted traditional German food or something Asian. My thoughts were ‘when in Rome’ so I opted for a German menu and Dagmar came up with a selection of authentic eats. One of those was knoedel (a German dumpling).

There is something about dumplings that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside and when I tasted Dagmar’s knoedel I was instantly transported to my childhood. The soft yet firm texture accompanied by gravy is my ultimate comfort food. It puts you at ease and I needed it. My nerves were saved by knoedel.

We have since spent many a wonderful evening together and now, I too get spoilt rotten.

Yesterday Dagmar wanted to show me how to make knoedel – I am always talking about how it’s my favourite German food of all time.

ballingEvery culture seems to have a version of a dumpling in their cuisine. In England they are made from dough, the Chinese steam them and fill them with pork and in Jamaica dumplings are fried.

The knoedel I love is a Bavarian invention that uses dried up bread as its main ingredient.

Our other ingredients included five onions, three bunches of parsley, a litre of milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg and two vegetable stock cubes.

smooth balls

The time consuming part of preparing knoedel comes from the collecting the pieces of bread and drying them. You can use any bread rolls- white, brown, wholewheat or seeded. Cut them up and keep them in a basket or bowl for five days to a week. Make sure you don’t use plastic otherwise the bread will sweat and cause problems.

We used a huge bowl because Dagmar had collected so many bread rolls. About 20. We diced five onions and fried them and chopped up three bunches of fresh parsley. Dagmar said that you can be experimental with other fresh herbs to adapt the flavours. She suggested beer’s garlic or thyme. We sprinkled the mixture over the bread pieces.

We then seasoned a litre of milk with a couple of tablespoons of salt, a few teaspoons of pepper, a vegetable stock cube and we grated a quarter of a nutmeg into it. This mixture was brought to the boil and then poured over the bread to give it a good soaking. We put a towel over it and left it to cool to a touchable temperature.

After that we added seven eggs and then squigded the mixture together. The egg binds the bread together so that you can roll it into balls.

The technique here is important because if you don’t do it right the dumplings will fall apart when you boil them.

The way to do it is squeeze the mixture together into a ball and roll it a few times. Then wet your hands and smooth the surface of the ball seal in the shape.

boling

Next comes the cooking part. Fill a pot with water and add a vegetable stock cube for extra flavour. When the water is boiling it’s time to add the dumpling balls. The water will stop boiling once the balls are in the pan and if it doesn’t turn down the heat slightly.

The balls will expand and float. Turn them so all sides have contact with the  water. They should be ready in 10 minutes.

dumplings in pots

The great thing about knoedel is it goes with any meat dish. During the winter I love knoedel with lots of gravy or with a stew.

We made 30 dumplings and froze most of them for quick and convenient meals in the future.

finish plate

 

Adventure at home: photography

Getting up in the morning is an ordinary part of my day and my routine. I don’t even think about it after I’ve done it but today, as I crawled out from under my duvet at 6.30am, I was thinking about Vivian Maier’s street photography and Tracey Emin’s bed. I unthinkingly picked up my camera and went on a mini adventure in the one place I thought adventures impossible. Home.

bedbw

bathroom befunky

annieface

Annie the cat finds me as soon as I leave the bedroom. She usually wants me to watch her eat her food. I used to think she wanted feeding but would always find her bowl full. She’d look at me, meow and then start eating and I would stand there wondering ‘why did you bring me here when you have food?’

annie1 befunky

Every morning Annie follows me around the apartment while I tidy up.

She’s very naughty when Mario isn’t home. This is when she relishes getting up on the furniture.

annie chrom bw befunky

annie bw4twice bfunky

Annie loves my work station and we have a constant battle over who gets to drink my water.

annie bw1

annieonworktablebw

nescafechromandbw4

coffeesleepinganniebw4

Everything is still at 6.45am. Inside, the lights are on because it’s dark outside. It’s the best time to write, research, photograph and think. I feel like the first person in the office because the neighbourhood streets are deserted.

chest bw2crop

workspace bw befunky

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morningsky

The lake by the house is so sad looking on this autumn morning.

lake befunky

A woman walked her dog with a glow stick around its neck so it didn’t get lost in the dim dawn light.

doggyinkfybw

doorbw2

Fin.

The 13 emotional stages of learning to snowboard

Okay so everyone and their neighbour has tried skiing or snowboarding at least once in their life but I’m of the ilk that runs and hides at the mere mention of cold weather or, dare I say it, snow.

Since moving to Germany I’ve been gung ho about getting into the culture and one of the major pasttimes when winter draws in on mainland Europe is skiing and snowboarding so I bit the bullet and, armed with The Snowboard Academy’s YouTube video and my gorgeousexpertsnowboarder boyfriend Mario, I hit the Allrounder Mountain Resort and ski hall, in Neuss, with gusto.

snowboarding

The whole experience was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster so I thought I’d tell you about the 13 stages I went through.

ShockOMG that’s a pretty big investment into potentially breaking my neck!

So you need a board, boots, helmet, googles, gloves, pants, trousers and a jacket. If you buy it all you’re looking at a 2,000-euro hit on your bank account before you even go anywhere. This is why in my 35 years on this planet I’ve avoided the slopes. In the end I borrowed the hardware from Mario and bought a full set of clothes for 45 euros in the Aldi supermarket sale! In fact I’m so shocked at the discovery that Aldi does snow gear I’m posting a link.

Guilt – “You’re not taking this seriously enough.”

So apperently I couldn’t just start learning straight away. Mario devised an exercise routine of daily 35-minute jogs, and a four-times-a-week weight training routine to strengthen my legs, abs and back. He’s hardcore when it comes to fitness so I made the executive decision to cut it all by half and do what exercises I could remember. When I proudly reported back my progress the injured look on his face made me up my cardio by two additional morning jogs and squeeze in another weights workout.

Doubt – I was rubbish at skateboarding and rollerblading…

I was the kid who bugged my parents for months until they got me a Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles skateboard, which I rode once, fell over and then decided that using my sister’s expensive make-up to make myself look like a clown was much safer. The skateboard now rests in the discarded toy graveyard with the inline skates, icecream maker and science set.

Arrogance – It’s just sliding down a hill on a plank!

The YouTube video made it look so easy! The cute male instructor told his student to do something and the student simply did it. Didn’t fall, didn’t cry and didn’t thump the snow in frustration. I, on the other hand, spent most of the time on my arse, holding back my tears and trying not to freak out.

Suspicion – so this isn’t a joke?

snowboarding pants

One of my pals told me that her husband stuffed his pants with a jumper, on his second day of learning, because his bum hurt so much after falling on it so many times. I thought I’d pre-empt this world of pain and created some self-made protection padding by stuffing a wooly scarf down my pants. Mario laughed a lot. Wait a minute…

Shock – why did you just push me?!

We were hanging out in the livingroom talking about the snowboarding stance when a friend told me to stand in front of her and then she pushed me! Following that she announced that the leg I put forward to steady myself was my front foot for riding. I ride with my left leg at the front.

Panic – something is going to break!

snowboarding grin

Look at my smile..so fake! I was strapped into my boots so tight I couldn’t move my legs below the knees. How was I supposed to move around? My feet were pointing off to the left and I was facing forward so my back hurt too. I was convinced I couldn’t cope in this position for more than 10 minutes.

Shame – I’m the old git who can’t do it.

I was feeling fine on the learning slope with all the other newbies until this five-year-old girl came for her lesson and started doing slalom runs down the slope. I, on the otherhand, was mastering the technique of getting up. From my back I dug the heel side of the board into the snow, bent my knees and tried to push myself up with my hands. I couldn’t master it and just lay there like an upturned beetle. Mario had to haul me up after every time I fell – I’m a lucky girl 😉

Disbelief – how the hell does anyone do this!

I had to learn to brake first, which meant knees bent, back straight, heels down and toes up. Not forgetting arms out and head up. This is a ridiculously awkward position when you’re feet are pointing slightly to the left and bound to a board and I know about awkward positions. I do yoga.

Pure and utter fear – I’m never letting go of you!

The bigger we are the harder we fall so I gripped onto Mario in the same way a cat would if you tried to give it a bath. It took a while to calm down and do anything without holding his hand. In fact, I write this post with aching hands because I was holding on to him so hard for so long.

Acceptance – I’m going to fall. A lot.

Once I fell a few times I got used to the idea of spending most the day landing on my bum (thank goodness for the DIY padding) and after that I felt more confident.

Enlightenment – and then it happened!

With the board perpendicular to the slope, I had to slide forward and brake and then repeat all the way down. All I could manage was slide forward and fall until my fourth descent when something clicked and when I did the brake stance, I actually stopped. My body and brain were finally working together!

Determination – I’m not giving up.

I could brake so my next step was to concentrate on moving. Sliding to the right or left meant putting my weight on the desired direction and pointing that way with the corresponding arm while braking slightly to control my speed. I did this over and over again and after four hours of trying to snowboard I got it. So after lesson one I could stand, brake and go forwards down the slope.

After lesson two I’ll hit the real slopes.