tger greenhaddock: April 2007

Monday, April 30, 2007

Exceptional Weather

The weather has been exceptional this spring breaking many records. In the UK it has been the hottest April on record, and here in Marburg we haven’t had any rain in almost 6 weeks. This of course has been great weather for grilling and going to the lake. Last Sunday the thermometer in Marburg broke through the 30C mark which for April I believe is a tad too much.

Our lawn is looking a bit brown in places and the ground is rock hard. On the up side many plants are growing really well, and I have planted out my first 4 tomato plants which had out grown the cold frame. If the weather turns a bit colder they should be ok as they originate from Russia. I am also growing a variety of aubergine that comes from the Ukraine – apparently they glow in the dark (only kidding!)

Fruit is setting on the blueberry and blackcurrant bushes, but unfortunately the gooseberry bush has been attacked again by sawfly caterpillars which tend to decimate the foliage. So everyday I have to pick off the offending blighters. In the next few weeks I intend to plant out my sweet peppers. I am growing 3 varieties this year including a chocolate coloured one.

What would be nice now is a little bit of rain as the Germany is becoming very dry and many areas are at risk from forest fires. Unfortunately there is no rain forecast for our area for at least a further 10 days. Our rain water tank is currently empty as well, so we are now using grey water from the kitchen to help water the plants in the flower beds. Perhaps I should learn how to do a rain dance.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

A bird in the hand

This a clip of the Juniorette with a bunch of parrots at Gatorland on our last family holiday to Florida earlier this year. Lots of other people had bird feed as well but for some reason the parrots seemed to flock to her.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

The wrong Indian

A while ago Mrs H booked us on a Volkshochschule (night school) class about Indian culture and herbal remedies. As I enjoy a good curry and use spices from the sub continent in cooking I thought a 4 hour lecture on Indian culture and herbs would be pretty interesting for me.

So last Thursday before the class began I was joking with Mrs H about how I used to add curry power to almost everything I ever cooked including fried eggs. I was even talking about cricket and how India hadn't done so well at the recent World Cup. Imagine my surprise then, when the lecturers entered the room and neither of them looked remotely related to Mr Gandi. When I saw the man had a pony tail, the penny started to drop, when he announced he was from the Cree nation I finally twigged it. I had the wrong Indian. I explained this to Mrs H who finally realised why I had been talking about curries all the time. She knew all along that this was about Native North American culture and not about bum burning vindaloos.

As it turned out the lecture was really interesting and John 'Blackbird' Summers spoke English which was a real bonus for me. The woman lecturer did translation when needed and presented the herbal side of things which was also very interesting. So all in all it wasn't the evening I expected, but in a way it was better, and I certainly learnt a lot.

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Friday, April 20, 2007


For the last couple of days the Juniorette has been away on a school trip to the Edersee. This is her first time to stay at a youth hostel and she was really looking forward to the trip. Of course with the Juniorette away the parents get to play. So we went out to a local Italian to eat and then went to the late showing at the Cinema. We decided to watch 300 as it was showing in English. It was a great movie about the Spartans in early Greece, and in particular 300 Spartan heroes that faced the savage hordes of the Persian empire. It was filmed very well, and once you got past the limbs and heads being chopped off, the story was rather good. A lot of the battle seems were filmed in slow motion (in the style of The Matrix), but the acting, the mood of the film and the storyline shone through and the violence seemed secondary. In retrospect the brutality of some of the scenes was needed. Combat is brutal, and in those days battle was done face to face and downright bloody. I suspect this film isn’t for everyone, but I would recommend seeing it as its general message of sacrifice to save those you love is a valid one.

On a less violent note, I trained with the Alte Herren (old Men) football team earlier this week at the same club that the Juniorette plays for. We played for 90 minutes and it was a lot of fun but my legs did feel it and I realise I still need to do a lot more to get into shape. Now over 48 hours later and my knees and ankles are giving me grief. Nothing serious, just strain injuries that will clear up in a few more days. But this hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm as when my shift work allows I will train with them again.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Wir sind Werder Bremen

On Sunday the Haddock family travelled up to Dortmund to watch Werder Bremen play in a critical Bundesliga clash with Borussia Dortmund. Werder are fighting to win the championship whilst Dortmund are battling against relegation. The weather was fantastic, sunny and hot, with temperatures reaching over 30°C in parts of the Ruhrpott. The game was a sell out, with 81,000 fans in attendance at the Signal Iduna Park stadium. This ground is the largest in Germany and must be one of the largest in Europe. Even so it is not one of my favourite stadiums as views of the complete pitch are restricted in some seating areas.

We met up with fellow Werder fans and family members Mr Blue and Boyblue before the game (Boyblue seen in photo) and then took our seats for the game. The atmosphere was fantastic, the Bremen away fans were in fine voice and I had a sore throat by the end of the game from shouting and singing too much. Werder took the lead through Miroslav Klose and doubled it shortly after with a curling free kick from Diego which was wonderful to watch. The game ended 2-0 with Werder fully deserving to win. They had a few wobbly moments in defence, but then they always do. One downer was that Tom Borowski (Juniorettes favourite player) re-injured his knee and won’t be able to play for a while.

It was a really good day out and excellent that Bremen won. A couple of years ago I had to work in Dortmund for 6 months which meant I had to spend a lot of time away from Mrs H and the Juniorette which put a considerable strain on us all. So I considered our visit back to Dortmund on Sunday with Werder winning like a little bit of payback.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Blooming marvelous

Spring is here in a big way. Temperatures are very warm here for the time of year, with Marburg expected to reach 28°C this weekend. This has of course had a dramatic effect in the garden with both our Mirabella (see photo’s) and Victoria plum trees in full blossom. Last evening we had our first grill of the season. It was good to be back out on the patio setting fire to things, and the food wasn’t bad either!

The new flower bed that I started a few weeks ago is almost half finished and we have added the first plants – Hibiscus, Lupins, Rittersporn, Pfingstrosen & Sonnenhut. Most of these plants were chosen in respect for their attractiveness for bees and butterflies. The next part of the bed will involve roses which should save me a fortune at the florists (slight exaggeration!). My Tomato plants for this year have now been transferred to the cold frame where they will harden off for a couple off weeks before being planted into the ground.

We have Mason bees under our roof tiles again which I am happy about. These do not swarm or cause problems. They are very important for the environment as they are active a lot earlier than normal honey bees. By June /July their life cycle is over until next year. One oddity of this warm spring is that the Swallows and House Martins seem to be a couple of weeks late this year.

The Juniorette is happy with the warm weather as we have set up a goal in the garden so she can play a little footy with me. This week she is currently attending another football school (mixed) in Marburg with a lot of her friends from the team that she plays for.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Football School

Last week the Juniorette attended Football school with the 1.FFC Frankfurt Women’s Football club. They are the top Women’s team in Germany and are the current holders of the UEFA Cup. She attended the same training school last October and really enjoyed it. The school is now run by Louise Hanson (FFC Frankfurt and Danish International) and provides a very professional environment for girls to improve their skills of the game. Other trainers included Karolin Thomas and Petra Wimbersky who both also play for the Frauen Bundesliga team.

The Juniorette had a great time and had a lot of fun. She managed to pick up a bronze medallion in the training assessments, which was a little disappointing for her as she was hoping for silver. But her team did win the end of training tournament so she did collect an award for that, of which she is very proud. On the final day I played in the Kids & Parents match which was a lot fun but very hard on my legs and lungs.

The Juniorette really wants to go the 1.FFC Frankfurt School again in the summer, so we have already registered her, as several of the kids attending this time had already done so. In fact we noticed this time that there were more girls attending from further away. One girl and her family had driven from East Germany and were living in a mobile home in the car park. I guess this is a measure of how good this training camp is. In the future, if the demand is there, they may offer an overnight accommodation facility, which of course the Juniorette is totally up for.

Picture above shows the Juniorette (foreground) during a dribbling exercise, and the one below is the group photo. Ten points to the person that can spot the Juniorette!

As normal, click pictures to enlarge.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

The true meaning of Easter

Found the above over at Maryannaville™ and found it very funny indeed.
A very Happy Easter to everyone, no matter what your religion or beliefs!

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