tger greenhaddock: August 2005

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

It's a hard life

I didn't go to work yesterday. Mrs Haddock normally works from home, but she has to attend her office occasionally, and yesterday was one of those days, so I had to stay at home and look after the Juniorette who doesn't start school until next week.

In Germany you are allowed to have a certain amount of time off work to look after your child. Unfortunately from the people I have talked to, nobody seems to know the exact am mount of days that you are allowed to do this. Normally the Juniorette would have stayed with friends for the day, but yesterday was one one of those days when nobody had time, so I made the ultimate sacrifice and didn't go to work. Sometimes life is hard.

Just lately this Blog was getting a lot of Spam comments from aliases such as Gren Miller. Many thanks to Lyn at Motormouth who contacted me and informed me how to block the offending IP address that was generating the Spam.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


The Juniorette returned home yesterday along with her grandparents who came visiting for the day. We lunched at a local Italian restaurant that was under new ownership, and very nice it was indeed. Later in the afternoon we went for walk through the woods. My father-in-law is very knowledgeable about wild mushrooms and he spotted some Bay Bolete (Xerocomus badius) which we picked. I must admit I was surprised to learn they were edible, because they looked a bit iffy.

Later we fried them with onions, herbs, mince and peas and they tasted really quite good. I did take the precaution of informing one of our neighbours to check the fungi pictures on my PC if we didn't survive.

Now I have had my first taste of foraging (excuse the pun), I am quite keen to learn more. But rather than learning from a book, and maybe getting it wrong, I'll learn from my father-in-law and try and keep my family alive

Saturday, August 27, 2005

When the cats away.....

Or rather, when the mouse is away, the cats will play. The Juniorette has gone to the Oldenwald for a couple of days to visit her grandparents. So Mrs Haddock and I decided to have a night out on Thursday. We went to a very exclusive restaurant just outside Marburg. Infact it was so exclusive we were the only people there. It did mean of course that we had very good service, and the food was very good. Mrs Haddock was driving so only had a Little sip of wine, which meant I had to drink the rest of the bottle. It was a happy meal.

Later we stopped off at our local watering hole, which is within walking distance of home, for a couple of beers. The owner decided to give his customers a shot of schnapps on the house. I hate schnapps but to refuse is to be impolite, and that I am not.
Thus yesterday was a bit of a nothing day in terms of getting any of the jobs around the house or garden done, but I perked up a bit later in the day to cook a chilli. I used one of the red chilli's from the garden. They are awesome. I managed to persuade Mrs. Haddock to eat a bit raw. Her face went red, she had tears in her eyes......and I was in trouble.

Come back home mouse. The cats can't handle the playtime anymore

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Undersea Creatures

I saw a stupid thing today. I saw a car reverse around a roundabout because it had over shot it's intended exit....DOH!....that's why they are called roundabouts, because they are circular and you go round them, and after 360 degrees of turn you will be right back where you started. I guess it's all to do with the rich tapestry of life.....or something like that.

Above is a picture of a Cuttlefish (Sepia Officinalis). The Juniorette and I saw a couple of these whilst snorkeling during our recent holiday to Crete. These aliens of the sea are fantastic creatures, they are very intelligent and can change colour rapidly. It is believed that they can communicate with each other using the rapidly changing coloured patterns that they exhibit when in communal groups.

In German the cuttlefish is known as the Sepia, but most people I have spoken to have never heard of or seen a Cuttlefish/Sepia. It is closely related to the Octopus and Squid.

Well at least Mrs. Haddock will now know what we are taking about when the Juniorette and I recount our snorkeling adventures............and there ends the lesson for today.

Only another 6 hours of this night shift do.........zzzzz

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Zucchini or Courgettes

The last few weeks we have been eating a lot of Zucchini (courgettes for the French & English). We have been growing a yellow variety which I find has more taste than the normal green variety.

The colder spell we have had in August stopped more flowers and fruit forming, but in the last few days the plants have started to flourish again (as shown below) so we will be eating more Zucchini very shortly.

Obsessive gardener has a current blog article with a good recipe for making Zucchini fritters, so Mrs Haddock will try out making these in the next few weeks. I'll let you know the outcome.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Nun on the run

I travel a lot on the trains in Germany, mainly from Marburg to Frankfurt where I work. Compared to British Rail the Deutsche Bahn are fantastic, both in punctuality and price, but one thing that really annoys me is the manners of fellow travellers.

Commuters like myself are generally very well behaved, it's the casual traveller that seem to lack manners, especially when trying to board a train. How difficult is it to realise that it works better to let people off the train first, before trying to barge your way through. Normally I say something or I accidentally elbow the offender in some fleshy region.......but today I was totally gobsmacked......the perpetrator was an Nun! - needless to say I kept my mouth shut, and kept my elbow to myself

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Boys night out

On Thursday a fellow work colleague and blogger Idlethoughts (IT) and I went out for a few beers in Marburg. We had a good time and the whole evening was rather amusing for one reason or another. On the way home (and in search of more beer), we stopped off at a club that I had never been to before - The Fun Park. The average age of the clientele was approx 19 years old, and the eldest person about 22, so you would have thought a couple of elderly codgers like IT and myself would have been well out of place; but strangely we weren't - I guess beer just makes us look younger

Caterpillars have been eating away at the leaves of my gooseberry bush, and some are now turning into chrysalis. I have never seen this time of caterpillar before, and I'm intrigued to find out which type of butterfly or moth they are from. Above is a photo of one of the little blighters.

UPDATE - 22/08/05 Finally identified the caterpillars as the larvae of the comma butterfly

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Pain in the Ass

Mrs Haddock & the Juniorette had a great day out yesterday at Fort Fun. Apparently it's nowhere as good as Phantasia Land with respect to rides, and was not as well kept in appearance either. In other words - Less like a US Disney Park.
The Juniorette had a bit of a moment with a Donkey. It bit her! - Mrs Haddock did not panic, she stayed calm, focused the camera, and took the shot, as any good mother concerned for the safety of her child would.

Today was mainly taken up with another visit to the Physio, mowing the rear lawn, and making some more paper brickettes. The weather has been nice today so we had a barbie this evening, and are just about to have a bottle of wine.
I forgot to mention, I hate donkeys, which is saying something, as I like most animals, but I was once chased by an aroused male donkey whilst cycling home from work on Ascension Island, it was a close thing......and that's a story for another time.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Terror Alert Levels

The AP and UPI newswires have reported that the French Government has announced that it has raised its terror alert level from 'Run' to 'Hide'. The only two higher levels in France are 'Surrender' and 'Collaborate'. The rise was precipitated by a recent fire, which destroyed France's White Flag factory, effectively disabling their military.

The Italians have increased their alert level from "Shout loudly and excitedly" to "Elaborate military posturing". Two more levels remain, "Ineffective combat operations" and "Change sides".

The Germans also increased their alert state from "disdainful arrogance" to "Dress-up in uniform and sing marching songs". They have two higher levels, "Invade a neighbour" and "Lose"

Finally the UK has gone from "Pretend nothing's happening" to "Make another cup of tea". Higher levels are "Remain resolutely cheerful" and "Win".

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Snakes alive

Yesterday the Juniorette and I went for a bike ride to the lakes at Burgeln. The lakes are rather nice as they are quite well hidden, and therefore offer quite a haven for wildlife. We saw Swans, Grebes, various ducks, lots of frogs and a snake. We only saw the last 30cm of its tail as it slithered off into the bushes, but it was a dark brown in colour and I guess it was hunting frogs as it was near the waters edge. As I now know, there are 6 native species of snakes in Germany, some poisonous, and some not, but to make identification really tricky they all seem to have colour variations ranging from light brown to almost black. But apparently the best way to tell if the snake is poisonous or not, is to get a good look at its eyes. If they have round pupils, then the snake is not poisonous. If they have slit pupils then it is poisonous - But how friggin close do you have to get to see the difference!

But like most animals, they are probably more scared of us than we are of them, unless that is if you upset them. The problem is actually knowing what upsets them. I faced a similar situation many years ago whilst diving off Ascension Island in the South Atlantic. It was my first Reef Shark encounter, which was very exciting, but unfortunately it became a bit too exciting as the shark swam agitatedly and became more aggressive. Yep, we had upset it, and it took us a while to realise what we had done. A couple of bleeding fish in the catch bag for the evening's barbeque had definitely upset it. We dropped the bag and proceeded to swim to the shore without Jaws in tow.

So next time we go to the lakes, we will keep a good look out for snakes. If we see one we will definitely try and look it in the eye, and figure out how not to upset it.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

All the fours - 44!.....Today is my Birthday, another year ticked off against the grim reaper. The Haddocks decided to celebrate at midnight last night rather than this morning as Mrs Haddock had to go to work today. The juniorette has plans for me today involving a long walk to try and spot some deer and a surprise cycle trip. Later as a family we will go to a local restaurant for a hearty German meal.

The photo is a little scary, and the birthday crown (made by the juniorette) had to hastily amended to read 44 vice 43. Snowpaint is a wonderful thing.

The 3rd Cricket Test at Old Trafford starts today. A wonderful birthday present would be if the Australian team came down with a violent attack of dysentery, whilst in the field........I doubt if my Birthday wish will be granted, but one can only live and hope!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The builders are coming

This is what I came home to yesterday morning after night shift. The building materials for the car parking spaces and the front path has arrived. Only one set of stones was wrong - the wrong type was delivered. This should be rectified in the next couple of days.
So the material is here, but we do not yet know when the builders will be. In theory it should be next week, but experience has taught us that it will probably be the week after, or the week after that, or the...........

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Rainy Days

The weather here this last week in Marburg has been most unseasonal. Showers every day (some very heavy) and somewhat on the cool side, especially in the mornings. This has slowed the garden down a little but the Toms are still coming on strong, as shown below.

We picked the largest of the Yellow peppers, and are now waiting for the smaller ones (shown below) to grow up to eating size. Yesterday we picked the first of the Aubergines, which Mrs Haddock cooked with Zuchinni and fish with a cheese topping. Delicious.

A consequence of all of the rain of the last week is that our rain water tank is now 85% full, which is approx 4000 litres, and that is a fair bit of water. This water is used for the washing machine, flushing the toilets and to water the garden. A control pump in the cellar pumps water from the tank to the toilets and washing machine. It also switches the feed to mains water when the water level in the tank drops below 10%.

I hope in the future that these type of rain harvesting systems will become more popular across Europe. It certainly decreases the ammount of mains water we consume, which is ultimately good for the enviroment, and with a lot of Southeren Europe in drought conditions for the past year or so, it makes sense for all concerned.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Testing times

England beat Australia by a mere 2 runs in a nail biting 4th day in the second test at Edgbaston. It was the narrowest of wins for England, in terms of runs, in their test history, and by all accounts, it was one of the most incident filled, and exciting test matches of all time.

England team celebrate the taking of the final Australian wicket

(© Getty Images)

The 3rd test starts on Thursday at Old Trafford, Manchester. It looks like it's going to be the closest Ashes series in years.

Friday, August 05, 2005

End of an era

Today was the Juniorette's last day of Kindergarten. After almost 4 years she will soon be a school kid, and she is ready for it. She will be 7 years old next month, she's growing up fast........ time is flying. I thought she might be upset, but no, she accepts that Kindergarten is over and her school time has begun - a cool attitude. I think it probably affected myself and Mrs Haddock more.

Today is also the 2nd day of the 2nd Test of the Ashes Series. Which to many won't mean a thing, but to a few it means Cricket at its highest form - England v Australia.

Marcus Trescothick of England in fine form

(© Getty Images)

England my have lost the first test, but after day two in the second, now have the upper hand over the Aussies. The game may of course see-saw over the couple of days, and already Shane Warne (the master of spin bowling) produced a wonder ball to dismiss Andrew Strauss in England's 2nd Innings. Day three awaits.

Click here for Scorecard

Thursday, August 04, 2005

A quicker chicken

Last night I finally got round to ordering DSL (Broadband Internet). My ISDN connection just doesn't seem up to the job anymore. This was highlighted especially when I tried to use Google Earth, as it was so slow. Google Earth I find fascinating and could play with this program for hours. One of my favourite subjects at school was Geography and I excelled at it, but dropped it in favour of one of the sciences, as I deemed that would be a better qualification. So I took Chemistry, which I hated.

DSL wise, I decided on signing up with Freenet, on the basis that their site was the easiest to understand, and simple to use. Besides their current advertising campaign feature talking chickens........and Hmmm, I love chicken......Roast, BBQ, Stir fry......Lecker!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Mr. Potter and stuff

I have just finished reading two Harry Potter books. The latest one, Half blood Prince, and the first book, The Philosopher's Stone. I have been reading the first one for the Juniorettes bed time story. She's seen the first two films and now has really enjoyed the first book. The second book awaits. I really enjoyed the latest book. I know some people have slated it, but I really liked it. Horses for courses I believe.

Last couple of days I have had physio again for my Sciatic nerve, but also for my right forearm which picked up a painful niggle whilst carrying heavy baggage at the Crete airport last week.......but why did I have to damage my drinking arm??......anyways it didn't stop me doing some more of the job I hate to do - Wallpapering. Mrs Haddock is pleased. She now believes that the hallway and stairwell will be finally finished this century.

Lots of little jobs have been done in the garden which is now flourishing. Everything is now ripe for harvesting. We have had lots of Zuchinni, Bell Peppers, Peas, Lettuce, Chilli's, Strawberries and Tomato's. The blueberries look ripe now as well.