tger greenhaddock: May 2006

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Better red than dead

It has become apparent over the last few days that the disease that affected my lawn last summer (which subsequently spread to the lawns of my neighbours) has returned. It is called Red Thread and it loves cool and wet conditions, which coincidently is exactly the type of weather that Germany has been experiencing for most of the month of May. It has also returned to a neighbour’s lawn. We had hoped that the cold winter would have killed off the fungal infection, but we were wrong. The fungus left bare patches last summer which have only just to regrow this year.

The original infection came from the turf that I laid a couple of seasons ago. Our only real course of action now is to improve drainage, cut the grass very short and fertilise the hell out of the lawn and pray for warmer drier weather. Fungicides are available for Red Thread but there are not recommended for home use. I don’t know why but I suspect it’s a safety thing.

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Easy meat

As almost everyone on the planet should be aware of by now the Soccer World Cup 2006 kicks off here in Germany in under 2 weeks. In preparation Germany took on the mighty Luxemburg yesterday and beat them 7-0. The three Werder Bremen players in the squad played well, with Klose and Frings getting on the score sheet. The result was no surprise, and in the following week Germany will face Japan and Columbia in friendly games. These teams should provide stiffer opposition.

In the women’s game FCC Frankfurt beat Potsdam in the UEFA Cup final. The Juniorette found this quite exciting as she will hopefully be attending a 5 day soccer school for girls held by FCC Frankfurt in the autumn.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ascension Day

Today is Fathers day in Germany, where it is a public holiday called Christi Himmelfahrt (that always makes me smile), and of course in English, today is Ascension day, the day on which Ascension Island was discovered. As you may know from a previous post I spent 3.5 years of my life living and working on that island. So to all the Expats and St. Helenians living and working on the island ‘Happy Ascension Day’. Have a good day and have a beer for me!

Mrs H and the Juniorette have gone to Phantasialand today near Köln. I was supposed to go as well but after finishing my last set of night shifts yesterday I was too tired to get out of bed at 05:30am today. So instead I have slept late and will spend the rest of the day not doing anything in particular, whilst the Haddock girls will be whizzing along on rollercoasters and having fun. I must be getting old as a day of total relaxation seems quite appealing to me.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Still going strong

It's now over a month since the Juniorette started 'teaching' the first class of her English course. The course is still going strong, I am not sure how much her 6 friends on the course are learning, but they seem to be having a lot of fun. So far the Juniorette has incorporated songs, games and DVD's into the lessons. She says that it has to be fun else her students would lose interest, and quite right she is as well. When the weather is good the class goes for walks or to the local playground. When its raining it's held inside, and I have to keep out of the way. It's not good for the teachers father to correct the teacher infront of her pupils.

Since the Juniorette had the idea to start an English course, several other kids in the area have started courses ranging from learning to climb trees and learning to speak French. Quite frankly I'm not sure which is the more valuable skill, but I guess nobody escaped a lion by talking French to it!

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Saturday, May 20, 2006

I like big butts

I like big butts and I cannot lie!.....Honestly, I really do like big water butts, and currently my 200L water butt (see picy) is full to the brim. I would have liked a bigger one, but it wouldn't fit in the car. This is really an overflow butt which I fill up when our underground 4500L water tank is full. Its been raining a lot here the last couple of days and has been very windy. This has played havoc with the Gooseberry & Blackcurrant bushes resulting in branches of new growth being ripped off. Most of the tomato, sweet peppers, aubergine and chilli plants that I planted out earlier on the week are looking a bit sorry for themselves as well. Some leaves have been ripped off and the ground is looking pretty waterlogged. At least the survivors will be pretty hardy.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Celtic Tiger

Last night the Haddock Family went to the Frankfurt Festhalle to see the Celtic Tiger show from Michael Flatley. Getting to the Festhalle on time was a bit tricky as there were traffic jams on all roads near the concert hall. In the end we just parked up in a side street and made our way on foot. We made it there just in time, and surprisingly our seats were not as bad as we thought. Mrs H spotted her sisters who were sat across from us and we met up with them during the break.

The show was really good, but there was not as much Irish dancing as I thought there would be. The Juniorette really enjoyed it, even if she did end up staying up very late on a school night. The basic theme of the show was the struggle of the Irish. How they had a bad time from the English, then the mass emigration to the USA, and then how much they have contributed to America. Mrs H noted how old Mr Flatley now seemed, and how he made sure that were no other dancers in the show that could outshine him. Personally I thought he had a tremendous stage presence, and when he was in his prime he must have really been a sight to see.

Overall it was a very enjoyable show, and has really cemented the Juniorette’s desire to learn Irish dancing. On the way out from the Halle she was constantly practicing her Irish dance moves, which drew a lot of smiles from passer-by’s.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

World Cup Tickets

We had a very pleasant surprise yesterday. We had a mail from FIFA informing us that we have tickets for the World Cup game France v Togo in Köln. We are happier than pigs in shit. We thought we had been overlooked. It may not be an England or a Germany game, but France are a class team and have Thierry Henry as there top attacking player. When in form I consider him to be the best striker on the planet.

The Juniorette is supporting Togo because Togo is a little country and the obvious underdog. She may have course been affected by the English generic rivalry with the French. I am personally hoping for a goal fest.

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

All a buzz about nothing

This last week with the wonderful spring weather that we have been having, Mrs H and I have spent a lot of time out in the garden. The Tomatoes and peas were planted out, and the various Paprikas’ (sweet peppers), Aubergines and Chilli plants were re-potted . The grass was cut and lots of little outstanding jobs were completed. In the heat of the afternoon sun we made a start on tiding up the cellar. This will be an ongoing process. Amongst all this we even found time for a visit to the gym. My losing weight plan is still on target. Aim your goals low enough and you’ll always reach them.

Earlier in the week we discovered that bees have made their home in our roof. I’ve found how they got in and the bees seem quite small and of a slight reddish colour. They seem quite harmless, but they don’t like it if you lift the roof tile and wiggle around a bamboo stick for a few seconds. Infact they did become quite pissed off. I decided to retreat and leave them to it.

A couple of days later the Juniorette came down stairs to inform me that she thought there was a Hornet upstairs. Indeed there was, and a queen at that ( if I looked closely I could actually see the crown). I tried taking photos but they were all a bit out of focus (see photo above). I guess Hornets are not known for their photogenic qualities. It tended to move around a bit, and when it took off the sound was something akin to a little helicopter in flight. When it seemed agitated I ushered it out of the window as I know these things can be a bit troublesome. A work mate of mine was hospitalised by a gang of Hornets a few years ago, and I didn’t fancy getting a royal stinging.

If my Mum reads this then 'Happy Mothers Day'. I'm not sure if its Mothers Day in the UK as well today (it hasn't been the same on other years in the UK), but it seems to be everywhere else.

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Friday, May 12, 2006

Paper Brickettes

This blog doesn’t get many hits from search engines, but the majority of the ones it does receive are for the search string Paper Brickettes. These are made from shredded newspaper which has been soaked, pressed into a brick shaped mould and then left to dry. The finished product can then be burnt in wood burning stoves. Interestingly enough these hits are normally from Australia & New Zealand. Perhaps you are not allowed to burn Eucalyptus trees in the antipedies?

I purchased my paper brickette maker (shown above) from CAT in the UK last year and I have been very impressed with the results. I made about 30 brickettes (see photo for an example) last year and I intend to make a lot more this year. They burn well for about an hour and have a give out a good even heat. Last year our chimney sweep saw the brickettes I had made and was very impressed. It's a form of recycling and helps keep down our heating costs.

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Monday, May 08, 2006

The Aquarium of Life

I realised the other day that I haven’t posted on the Haddock Aquarium of Death for quite a while. Well since I last reported, the causality list has risen steadily. Several restockings didn't seem to help the situation, and I realised things were getting bad when all the plants started to die. We checked the water ph weekly and everything seemed to be ok. We couldn't figure out where we were going wrong. Perhaps we were buying our fish from the Leonard Cohen shop of the fish world. We were at a loss. The only thing that seemed to thrive were the snails. So there was a bit of an ethnic cleansing incident, which resulted in the majority of the snail population being deported to the compost bin. This was the tanks darkest hour.

Then a miraculous thing happened. Mrs H bought some Guppies. I was never too keen on these fish as they seemed to be a bit too girly for my liking - too much flapping around and stuff. Well, I take it all back. These little fish brought a breath of fresh air into the tank (and I know that doesn't sound right!). Since their introduction no other fish have died, infact Guppies are the underwater equivalent of rabbits.......and now there are babies.......we now have the Aquarium of Life!

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Friday, May 05, 2006

A swift half

On Wednesday Mrs H and I had a relaxing day. It was a nice warm sunny day and we decided to take it easy. We had lots of jobs to do around the house and garden, but we decided to have a day off. We spent the morning and early afternoon at the gym, followed by the sauna. The gym was very hard work, but the relaxing in the sauna afterwards was very enjoyable. After the heat of the saunas it is really nice to lie on the loungers out on the sun terrace and watch the swifts who have now returned for summer. For me the real feeling of summer is seeing and hearing the swifts chasing each other around a bright blue sky.

In the early evening we had our first BBQ of the season. We had some bio beef streaks, which were truly outstanding, bratwurst, kebabs and morel mushrooms. I just barbied the mushrooms straight until they were crunchy. They were gorgeous. The Juniorette has found a new trick. She shouts to our neighbours saying that she is really thirsty and wants to drink a beer. Then she necks a lot Mrs H’s non-alcoholic beer. We obviously informed our neighbours that it wasn’t normal beer. We don’t want the social workers calling round! - Hopefully the Juniorette will repeat this trick the next time my mum comes over to stay, as the look on her face will be priceless!

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006


After working over the holiday weekend I finally have a few days off. Today we visited a local garden centre and purchased a couple of Blueberry bushes to compliment the one we planted last year. We bought two different varieties, Hardy Blue and Goldtraube. This is supposed to help increase the fruit yield. We also bought various herbs, which we planted a special herb pot (this type of pot can also be used for growing strawberries).

I picked over 300g of the Morel mushrooms earlier today, and after soaking them in water to clean them, I sautéed them with a mix of herbs. I must admit they tasted rather nice and the texture when being chewed reminded me of broccoli. I didn’t pick all the mushrooms today, and I guess 300g worth was not exactly a test portion. I am happy to report that I didn’t suffer from any hallucinations, so over the next few days I will gather some more and let the Mrs H and the Juniorette try them.

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