tger greenhaddock: March 2007

Saturday, March 31, 2007

It's all Zulu to me

Last week I was ill for a couple of days. I was feeling generally lousy with a mild fever, but after a couple of days of Zulu juice I was feeling a lot better. During the winter months I take an Echincea supplement to help boost my immune system and it seems to work a treat as I succumb to less colds and minor ills. However I only take Echincea during the winter months, so Mrs H bought me some Umckaloabo drops which helps boosts your immune system with respect to viruses and bacteria, especially when connected with the lungs. It seemed to work and it is really from the Zulus.

It is made from the roots of Perlargonium reniforme plant (a type of Geranium) from South Africa. It is used by traditional healers (which doctors are those – silly joke), to treat a variety of illnesses and is sold in Germany under the name Umckaloabo. It was originally brought to Europe early last century by an Englishman named Stevens. At the time the Lancet medical journal was scathing in its report on the new wonder remedy. But even so over a hundred years later and it works for me, maybe it’s the placebo effect, but who cares if I fell better.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

You are what you eat

As the saying goes "You are what you eat", and over the last few years I have been eating a lot healthier then in the past. I eat more fresh vegetables, less meat and have moderated my alcohol consumption somewhat. Combined with more physical activity this has resulted in me probably being fitter now than I was 10 years ago.

In recent days we have changed the food that we feed to our cats. Last year we stopped feeding them tinned cat food and only fed them dry cat food. This was basically because our tomcat was becoming a lardass, and we found that on the dry food he started to lose a bit of weight. We feed them fresh meat as well when we were having some for our meals. Then a few weeks ago we found out from two separate sources that well known brand cat foods (both wet and dry) are loaded with sugars, which can make cats fat and give them diabetes in later life. So we have now switched to a dry brand that does not have these added sugars, but of course it is a lot more expensive.

The food industry over the years has been adding increasing levels of sugars to the food we consume, so doing to little kitty should come as no surprise. I try not to eat processed foods myself, so it’s only reasonable that we treat our cats the same, plus as an added benefit, without the sugar kick perhaps our tomcat won’t be quite so mental and will stop taking chunks out of our girl cat (shown above).

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Becoming greener

In the next couple of weeks Marburg is going to decide whether it should be made compulsory for all new buildings (including private homes) constructed in the Marburg area to have solar panel included on the roof. I think this is a tremendous idea and hope they decide in favour of it. It is still under discussion whether both types of solar panel (PV for electric and absorption for heating water) will be compulsory. Personally I hope they make both compulsory. I do regret not having solar fitted when we had the house built, but finances became tight and some extras we had to do without. But if it had been compulsory we would have found the money somehow.

On our housing estate it was compulsory to have an under ground rain water tank attached to the gutters of the house. Out tank holds 4500 litres of rain water when full and is plumbed to supply our toilets, washing machine and outside tap for watering the garden. I think this is a great idea as during heavy rains the tanks fill up first before the run off enters the rainwater sewer. In our estate the rainwater sewer is separate from the toilet sewer. The rainwater sewer then goes to a filtered reed bed and the overflow from there goes to the river Lahn. This system slows down the rainwater reaching the river thus helping to prevent flooding. It also of course helps lower our water bill and helps conserve water.

Marburg is quite a green town really. A lot of the buses run on natural gas or bio diesel. Also a lot of buildings and houses have solar fitted already. There are 3 wind turbines and they are planning to build more.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Different strokes

It's been a busy week since I last blogged. The new cabinets for the office arrived and had to be built. Thankfully this task is now complete as building furniture drives me mad. In the garden I have started to dig out a new flower bed, but there is still a lot to do. I have also planted the tomato and sweet pepper seeds in the propagator. This year I am growing three varieties of tomato and three varieties of sweet pepper.

Last weekend we went to a family gathering in Calw to celebrate the 80th birthday of an Aunty from Mrs H. It was an enjoyable occasion and the Juniorette and Mrs H performed a little sketch (as seen above). Later whilst talking to Aunty we discovered she was a very keen swimmer in her youth and she was thrilled to hear that the Juniorette also has a love of the sport. Of course in her day the swimming award levels weren’t named the same as they are now. One was called der Totenkopf (deaths head). I guess things were a bit different during the war.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

The weekend that was

On Saturday we took the Juniorette to Mathematikum in Giessen. It’s a science/maths museum for kids and the Juniorette loved it. We visited a similar museum last year in the Black Forest, but we thought this one was much better. The journey home was hit by the curse of Deutche Bahn. The trains were late due to an accident and the info given out by DB was, as usual, very poor. We had to change platforms several times before finally boarding a train. On the upside the Juniorette found all the commotion quite exciting.

Yesterday was a glorious spring day. With blue sky and warm sunshine it was the perfect day for a gentle stroll in the countryside. Mrs H, the Juniorette and I managed to see 5 species of butterfly on our walk – Red Admiral, Peacock, Tortoiseshell, Cabbage White & Zitronenfalter. Our tomcat Mickey claimed his first victim of a new season. He likes to catch and eat bumble bees and butterflies. Today there is one more buzzer in bumble bee heaven.

In the top Bundesliga game this weekend Werder Bremen held Bayern Munich to a 1-1 draw. Bayern supporter friends of ours came to watch the game on TV at our place. It was good fun, although I must admit Werder were lucky to go home with a draw.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Swimming update

The Juniorette has attended her first two swimming training sessions and absolutely loves it. Each session is 90 mins long and she is mainly concentrating on her breaststroke and backtroke. She is very excited and proud to be finally learning how to do turns. She is swimming 25m lanes and has made friends with a blind girl who is a few years older than her.

Above is a clip of the Juniorette with Minnie Mouse on our Florida trip at the start of the year

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Daylight in Your Eyes

The work in the garden has started in ernest this week to get it ready for spring. All the pruning was finished and a large amount of weeding was done as well. It was good getting back out into the garden again. I saw a couple of bumble bees and a lone ladybird. As soon as the ground dries out a bit, I have to dig out another flower bed. This will mainly be for roses and various perennials that attract bees and hover flies.

We were able to see the Lunar eclipse in Marburg last night through the gaps in the cloud cover. Apparently it’s the first one since October 2004. In case you missed the one last night there is one on August 28th this year (Daytime), and another on February 21st next year as well.

Above is a photo (taken in 2006) of the Juniorette and Lucy from the band No Angels. The band have recently reformed and are releasing a new single later this month, They were the first band formed from the casting show Popstars in 2001 and rapidly became the most successful Girl-Band in Germany. Their first single "Daylight In Your Eyes" became the most successful single ever in Germany.

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