Fog-Drenched Wild Ponies of the New Forest!

Fog-Drenched Wild Ponies of the New Forest!

 A few weeks back on our way to the Isle of Wight with friends, we drove through the New Forest.  Unwittingly, unsuspectingly!

The rain lashed down furiously that morning as we passed the wild ponies that have come to be characteristic of the Hampshire woodlands; standing as silent sentinels watching the passage of time and traveller through the millennia. And I’m a dreamer, a hungry, insatiable one who’s constantly in search of the new, untouched and unblemished experiences that I haven’t tasted yet; and one who also has the pleasure and privelege of raising a daughter who is in that sense similar.

Driving through this beautiful, yet daunting geography on that grey and tidal day, I began to view Rahel’s small and chiseled face in Picasso’s reductive terms  –  her heartshaped face with its aquiline nose; her strong almond eyes condescending on her thin, small mouth now filled with emotion. In my mind’s eye, I’ve come to view that scene as one from a pastoral landscape, with the characters and their idealized desire for the unity of man and nature, a restoration with the Divine – a hairsbreadth’s distance, an abysmal divide!  I believe that being there made me feel that all we were or are is nothing more than a group of dust covered vagrants, passing through bare, intermediate landscapes! Maybe that’s what being confronted with the magnitude of nature does to us… so this morning, armed with coffee, camera and just one lens, I went back to capture a little of something we might never see the same way in more clement weather!

Here are these ancient steeds of the south photographed on a desperately foggy, damp,  5˚ C day!

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wild ponies, wild horses, new forest, hampshire, travel, monochrome, black and white

Swash_ornament

wild ponies, wild horses, new forest, hampshire, travel, monochrome, black and white

Swash_ornament

wild ponies, wild horses, new forest, hampshire, travel, monochrome, black and white

  Swash_ornament

wild ponies, wild horses, new forest, hampshire, travel, monochrome, black and white

  Swash_ornament

wild ponies, wild horses, new forest, hampshire, travel, monochrome, black and white

Swash_ornament

wild ponies, wild horses, new forest, hampshire, travel, monochrome, black and white

Swash_ornament

wild ponies, wild horses, new forest, hampshire, travel, monochrome, black and white

Swash_ornament

wild ponies, wild horses, new forest, hampshire, travel, monochrome, black and white

Swash_ornament

wild ponies, wild horses, new forest, hampshire, travel, monochrome, black and white

Swash_ornament

wild ponies, wild horses, new forest, hampshire, travel, monochrome, black and white

*This is my attempt at capturing a family moment, and I dedicate these ten photographs to  my Rahel…for being a fellow dreamer and a believer in the delicate beauty of wild horses!

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www.intrepidmisadventurer.com

You can find me, my stories and my images on a somewhat more regular basis over at my Instagram account :)

A Glass Half-Empty ‘and’ a Glass Half-Full!

A Glass Half-Empty ‘and’ a Glass Half-Full!

So, I’ve been missing in action for a bit and if I ask myself where I’ve been or what I’ve been upto — it’s a regular sort of reply in my head! I’ve been here and there, doing this and that, some nice things, some relatively unglamorous.  But when you move and people from your ‘past life’ ask you how things are, I’ve recently realised that it’s very difficult to answer honestly. Like, dead honestly! The truth really is a glass half-full just about as it’s half-empty and maybe all the ‘count-your-blessing’-type conversations we’ve ever had, have originated from this very predicament; the need to see the half-full in the half-empty.

How am I? Let’s see…I love where I am geographically, Dorset’s pretty (a bit of an understatement–but I don’t want to appear delusional)! The people are kinder than anywhere I’ve been and we’ve been made to feel very at-home both in the community and at school. We really couldn’t have asked for much more! I live in a house that I’ve chosen, designed and decorated just the way I’d planned for years and I love it- I feel like I’m home every single time I come in and at 37, that’s comforting and I get to share it all with the people I love the most in the whole world! (There you go, that’s the depth of my zen-seeking mind! ;P)

As blissful and ‘ near perfect’ as the above scenario seems and I swear that it’s the whole and complete truth, there is also the feeling of the glass half-empty….the sense of being a square peg in a round hole that is this world! As I write this, I hear the churning and guzzling of the dishwasher, I have a cup of weak tea in front of me laced with what seems to have become a quiet kitchen obsession-vanilla paste and honey.  I hope that it will stop the whirring in my mind and the incessant list-making I’ve taken to since we moved and especially this week as my husband leaves to Chicago soon for a bit and I’m holding fort alone. I look out into the darkness of night that’s playing out to the soundtrack of bush crickets and and am aware of the children asleep upstairs – one in the guest room because she’s in one of those moods that’s about every parent’s nightmare, leaving me with a lingering feeling of having been a bad mother and caused tears at bedtime. Of essentially being the antithesis of every motherhood commercial and parenting advice guide! I know I will remember tonight – sound memory and emotion are inextricably intertwined and great moments of introspection often happen while faced with the me I love, but also mourn! Life, in the best of circumstances, is hard and emotional resolutions lie at the heart of even the most commonplace circumstances.

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A part of me questions why can’t we accept the glass half-empty conundrum, why do we need to quell it so…why are we always after that piece of cake, that online purchase, that absolute bone-marrow motivated ‘need’ to get over that slump of staring reality/disappointment/disillusionment squarely in the face? Like allowing ourselves to consider life disrobed from all it’s tinsel is in someway accepting the worst defeat, or potentially spiralling down into an abyss of no return. We aren’t perfect poeple and we clearly don’t inhabit a perfect world, so why should we be expected to exist in an unrealistic happy-bubble?

Oftentimes, I feel that so much of our self improvement is impeded by this incessant pursuit of happy-ness.  We’ve created social ecosystems to cater to this need of lives awash with our curated bliss, and perhaps that is part of the truth, but definitely far from any absolute! Aren’t the biggest changes borne out of reaching rock-bottoms? of being thrust against the wall and finding the way back? Hasn’t ‘necessity’ always been the mother of invention? Where does personal growth, re-evalution and honest re-assessments have a chance without the ability to see the possibility of something better? Think relationships, think finance — the two most volatile aspects of life as we know it! The glass half empty is sometimes a leveller- a realist’s perspective, it’s a chance to acknowledge that real problem solving is hardly something that swathes itself in mindless positivity and hedonism. So much of our modern maladies stems from the fact that our generation lacks the grit that our forebearers had and I, being no social expert, see the hand of complacent pleasure seeking in it!

I’m all for positive thinking and acknowledge firsthand the power of the mind! (I think my Instagram feed is testimony to my being very easily pleased), but of late, I find myself uneasy at being perceived ungrateful despite all that I’m blessed with, for feeling that gnaw of human emptiness, an existential angst or imperfection, call it what you may. The same feeling of the glass half empty in the face of unequivocal success, when celebrities holding their awards in hand, say it hasn’t hit them yet, and it probably never will! That lovely state of just being at peace or accepting that there are no limitless highs is what I call reality, and it’s very welcome in my life!

 

www.intrepidmisadventurer.com

 

If you’ve liked reading this, I’d also recommend : Retro-Chic and the Cult of Neo-Sobriety  and On Nouveau Peasantry & Elitist Simplicity!

On Nouveau Peasantry & Elitist Simplicity!

On Nouveau Peasantry & Elitist Simplicity!

Peasant blouses, boho skirts and handmade, vegetable-dyed leather that one meets in every single catalogue and website is a trend I warm toward! (Largely because the look covers a multitude of sins, and apart from a very fortunate handful, makes everyone look ridiculously shapeless. It also fosters belief that a large segment of the world couldn’t-care-less about what they put on! Yes, my naiveté is charming, indeed!) :-)

Conversing about this and the incomprehensible prices of ‘heirloom grains’ with my in-the-know, whole-foods loving friends, I recently got called an aspiring ‘New Peasant’ and was pointed to the Harper’s Bazaar quiz to check if I really had ‘the symptoms’! (Well, I do live in Dorset and buy way more Goats cheese than anyone above a size 0 legimitately should! ;P) But, all jokes aside, I have to admit that there is a latent, softly-emerging “Nouveau Peasant” that’s come to the fore as my nesting instincts have been test driven these past few months! (If you are a first time visitor, can I gently point in you in this direction for a catch up?!)

 

Wood, simple living, rustic, new peasant

Wood, simple living, rustic, new peasant

Like endless culturally and geographically displaced 30 + year olds, the appeal of a more meaningful existence removed from the abject capitalism of the 80’s and 90’s appeals to me. The idea of a quieter, more pro-active life filled with pursuits deemed “authentic”, “real” and “meaningful” holds a certain inescapable charm.  Possibly echoing an entire generation that I’m part of, I’ve felt like a hamster on the wheel and toyed with the idea of a country home with the smells of freshly baking bread, rain kissed gardens and the pleasures of home-made chutneys/ jams devoured gratefully with a few friends that matter etc. etc…and if that makes me a new peasant, I’d gladly don the title! (After all, who wouldn’t want a slice of this careless perfection, often captured in scores of lifestyle mags with cool muted photos on matte film, untouched by the taint of reality?!)

The only fly in the ointment here is that the closer I look at these suburban aspirations available in a profusion of “Indie” channels, the more obvious the elitism of this ‘simplicity’ is! Often, carefully concealed in these frugal, made-from-scratch lifestyles of homesteading dreams and rustic hand-thrown salads is a subtext of discrimination and division. One can’t but see through the rhetoric of the ‘jam-jar revolution’ to know that it’s as much about the haves and have-nots as is a full-fledged designer dinner put together by high-profile planners and caterers. Aspiring to this new-peasant, fern-rich-simplicity is sadly a very middle-class ethos!

 

Wood, simple living, rustic, new peasant, tea, speciality, hipster

The more I think about this, the more I conclude that we’re drawn to the lure of a life of unmitigated good times for a reason; after all, no other generation stood the chance of seeing the advancements ours has, or felt more entitled to a better life! Our constant search for contentment is seen even in the mere reminiscence of a well baked croissant or a freshly brewed pot of your drink of choice! The story of our lives seems to have moved to the fine print and the magic lies solely in the details. The bigger picture is just too daunting to contemplate.

Life only seems to make sense when broken down into it’s rudimentary form of human connections. With this I agree….

What I find fault with is the story of people/collectives who project the lives you wish you could live, the cool elitism of their ‘artisan’ simplicity causing distinctions and exclusions in their thumbing their noses at anything mainstream. (Tut-tut anyone who uses regular plates or supermarket cutlery to photograph their authentic offerings!) A contradiction unambiguously jarring to the very premise of home-making and fellowshipping; connectedness and community! The fundamental backbone of a human collective, as it were!

Wood, simple living, rustic, new peasant, bread

Interesting that this profusion of baking , the “real” food and the “real” living and all our “cultivated” and “curated” beauty occurs quite conspicuously among those fairly well placed on the social ladder (quite unlike generations that precceeded us with their dreams of capitalism and a resultant land of ‘milk and honey’).  Is it all evidence that we yearn for a better world and seek to create a microcosm of it in our own lives, despite the fact that we are not quite the ‘struggling’?!

Living as we do in a world that stamps out honest, wholesome principles of relationships ie: intimacy and connectedness and plays into the ample hands of fabricated creativity-the answer barely lies in a ‘choreography’ of meaningfulness. Recognising that living simple shouldn’t cost so much, connecting with loved ones shouldn’t need a £1000 camera and every social media at the ready, is probably a good place to start!

And please, for the love of life, let’s bring potato chips and cheese puffs back to the party –the people serving Quinoa on Nori mostly look miserable for a reason! ;P

 

Wood, simple living, rustic, new peasant, chorizo, wine

 

If you liked this, you might also like:

Retro-Chic and the Cult of Neo-Sobriety!

and

Unfinished Business!

www.intrepidmisadventurer.com

The Opportunities of Change…

The Opportunities of Change…

It always throws me off when people I meet after years say to me that I haven’t changed a bit. “Really?”, I ask disbelievingly as my hand instinctively rises to touch the newly forming lines around my 37 year-old-eyes! In my mind, I assume I’m virtually unrecongnizable from the person I was when I knew them. Surely, you can’t have an unaltered personality when you’ve moved around as often as I’ve done and had a whole new geographical and emotional landscape every few years! To live amongst different people who expect different things from you (I’m not implying that I’ve had to become what people expect of me, heaven knows that might make life a lot easier though if I could :P) but, some can handle you with all your potency, and some you’ve got to make a bit of an effort with. You go with the flow, and as unobtrusively as water that cuts through rock, you find you’ve forged a whole new identity for yourself.

I’ve always viewed change as a good thing “theoretically”, albeit my first meetings with it are often met with much kicking and screaming – but it’s nothing I’ve resisted extendedly! Change is inevitable, change is the essence of a universe which is in motion; and to try to impose stillness on life is an act of abject futility :) I realise that, despite a degree of being change-averse that if not for change, there wouldn’t be women’s rights, or freedom of expression, an end to apartheid or the hope of things ever getting better than the current, rather abyssmal state of affairs we find our world in!

I’ve already entered the vortex of the next change-cycle in my life. We move to Dorset, a beautiful place near the sea…a place that gets the most sunshine in all of England :) I’ve been there for 4 hours-that’s it, and looked at homes our real estate agent had lined up for us. I know nothing about it apart from what an arbitrary page on the internet has to say! My children seem less than enthusiastic about a new school (again), and as I try to sound excited and brimming with hope about new friends, the seaside…I feel that at 7.5 and 6, they can see through me a bit and sense the guarded apprehension within! My youngest recently asked me if I’ll make new friends too, after all, I don’t go to school and I work from home. I assure her I will…I’ve always done! :) Some of my strongest friendships have been the result of us moving around.

I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that I’ve become a creature of habit-I have my routines that play out everyday in similar, unaltered rhythms. The children leave for school, I clear up the post-breakfast disarray. I play some music and make myself a coffee the way I like it. I reply to emails, I look into work that I need to get cracking on. I break for lunch. I go out or cook, I meet someone…I’m back for the children – homework, extra-curriculars, dinner, bath, stories, sleep. Time with the husband, a movie maybe! :)

Summer holidays have a way to disrupt all routine, and apart from finding constant activity/amusement for the girls, this time around, there are calls to be made, furniture to be bought; and a decison to be made about which of the 15 different mattresses that promise an uninterrupted, Utopian sleep experience is right for you! (The overkill of choice –fodder for a whole different post!)

 change, rhythms of life, relocating, meaning, accepting change, duck on water

Oddly, I recall from my very ecclectic reading sources that universally, people who are termed ‘happy’ and ‘lucky’ are those who have a great need to break or a least challenge the status quo!  (In my opinion, if you’ve managed to reach somewhere that has a Latin term defining it, don’t mess with it-stay right there! ;P )  I look at such people with unabashed reverence – even more so those who’ve managed to reach the other extreme of the bell-curve, the backpackers, homesteaders and forest foragers who live off the land (the real ones, not the ones in Hipster mags who ‘forage’ on the weekends dressed in hemp and bamboo and then return promptly to their investment banking desks adorned with hyacinths and cactii!) There do exist those who feel that by rolling their dice on life continually, they increase the chances of hitting the jackpot! Moral of the story – change is good, change is positive and to deny life it’s metamorphosis is to potentially deny it it’s hope!

So I’ll take life up on it’s ‘circumstance’ for me and go forward to build that home that I’ve dreamt of – my colour scheme, my design palette! I’ll learn new maps and find new spaces as a new accent filters its chords into my vocabulary. I’ll be the new mum at the school gate, watch my children in new uniforms at school and at ballet and know for them that this time, it’s here to stay! Mountains alter, oceans grow and shrink and the universe softly stretches on…nature’s time runs parallel to ours. And through our own individual tangos – life’s embraces and improvisations, we all still remain connected; unchanged at our core – one big ball of irretrievably tangled yarn! x

Sewn – The Feeling

www.intrepidmisadventurer.com

You might find resonances of what I’ve been saying in some of my recent posts : “A Walk in the Clouds!” – Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland!  and Retro-Chic and the Cult of Neo-Sobriety!

 

 

 

 

“A Walk in the Clouds!” – Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland!

“A Walk in the Clouds!” – Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland!

My earliest association with Austria would have to be The Sound of Music, so in my imagination it’s always been Fräulein Maria and  “♫ The Hills are alive….♫” and you know what – they really are! ;)
Being loved changes your eyes, and your eyes change the way you experience the world! That sentiment underscores every last experience we’ve had on our family road-trip across four countries – Germany (ok, just Munich and a few highway towns) Austria, Leichstentstein and Switzerland.
As I write this post, I’m filled with emotion, experience and a restlessness that seems to have followed me my entire life. The sort that I know won’t die down given time! The need to find home, to nest, to find my “space” has been at the heart of my every creative act as I’ve tried to appreciate the magnificence of being alive! Maybe it stems from the fact that I’ve lost a lot in my life, and I’ve lost it young… I was 17 when I tragically lost my parents and since then, I’ve stopped taking life for granted. I believe that our daily lives are worth celebrating, that there is indeed beauty and a sense of wonder that goes deeper than the clichés that shroud their discovery. (And no-I don’t mean going through life in a state of some unfounded, giddy euphoria!)

There was a strange intimidation as I came face to face with mountains that are millions of years old, of lakes that date back to prehistoric times – an overarching sentiment that populates every spiritual belief system; a sense of being face-to-face with something far greater and immeasurably more vast than yourself, glimpsing the essence of reality and being overwhelmed by it. For that brief spell, the ‘fret of life’ seemed lost! I realise that I’m neither the first nor the last to feel this way, to realise or revel in the fact that there is a harmony in everything – that I, like them are in part sulphur and selenium, manganese and magnesium!  That if anything, I am but one tiny stitch linking all those eons to now! I thought a thousand thoughts as I approached the silence of the mountains, bathed in the lightness of misty clouds and carrying a thousand dreams that’ll stay with me, somewhere deep where my meanings are!
I once asked my mother what she might’ve done if she had a chance at another life, (mind you, this was a conversation we had post “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey!”) “Travel the world”, she said! To a teenager, that just seemed ‘meh’, but as an adult, it brings me a quiet joy that in many ways, I’ve lived a little bit of her dreams for her with her grandchildren!
I’ve been reminded this is a travel post, not philosophy, so “let’s start at the very beginning…” (If you don’t like clichés from The Sound of Music, you’re clearly in the wrong place ;))
We started Austria off at Salzburg, which is a lovely little city with some seriously gorgeous Baroque architecture. I didn’t get a good vantage point to photograph it so decided against using my camera whilst we had a look around, I thought my images took away rather than added to what was on offer there. (I nerd out on stuff like that and felt similarly in beautiful Vienna, it’s too busy to be able to photograph there…)

Salzburg is Mozart’s birthplace so if you’re a fan, there’s endless opportnity to delve deeper into him! We took the opportunity to go up to Hallstatt, to the Salt Mines that date back to 4500BcE and explore the villages of the Salzkammergut region.

47.5558° N, 13.6467° E

Hallstatt, Austria

 

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

Cable cars taking us 1700 feet up to the prehistoric salt mines in Hallstatt!

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

A pic going up ;)

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

Hallstatt Lake from an 1700 feet elevation

 

The village of Hallstatt, phtographed from an elevation of 1,700 feet!

The village of Hallstatt, phtographed from an elevation of 1,700 feet!

 

The village of Hallstatt, phtographed from an elevation of 1,700 feet!

The village of Hallstatt, phtographed from an elevation of 1,700 feet!

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

Water pools inside the oldest salt caves in the world. Dating back to 4500 BCE.

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

Rayna and a pillar of calcified salt!

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

The villages of the Salzkammergut

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

The villages of the Salzkammergut

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

The villages of the Salzkammergut

The one thing I regret not being able to see in Salzburg is a performance of  “The Magic Flute” at The Salzburg Marionette Theatre. They were also performing Alice in Wonderland, but sadly, no shows on the two days we spent there. I know that I’ll return to that part of the world and this will definitely be a part of the agenda for then.
Following that we went up to the Austrian Lake District which is easily and really quite awesomely accessible via some seriously cool cable cars! :)

47.3997° N, 10.9167° E

Ehrwald, Austria

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

Going up to Ehrwald, Austria’s Lake District!

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

Apres Ski Lounge at Ehrwald.

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

The Alm Ehrwalder was a lovely restaurant that stocked authentic beers from the region and locally produced fare – some apparently sourced from the fields up there! It was idyllic- cows grazing unfettered, the sound of the alpine breeze rifling through the thin metal of carefully crafted cowbells. The stuff of dreams, really…

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

Almsee, this lake was ours for all the time we were there…unbelievable beauty, no picture can do the experience any justice!

One of my most breathtaking moments was walking up to the lakes of Almsee and Seebensee. The clean, clear mountain air, the smell of the tress, the hum of crickets and the stillness of the very blue waters is something that I can’t describe in words. These pictures are but dim shadows of the reality of that pristine beauty! It’s the kind of beauty that blindsides you from every conditioning!  I stood there, far away from my family with tears in my eyes, not being an ‘adult’, not being ‘in-control’, not feeling like I had it ‘all together’. I stood there thinking “this cannot be real, this cannot be happening to us…this couldn’t really be as beautiful as it is!” We were alone here…just us, we owned this space, we paddled here, my children fed and quacked at these ducks. I watched them from the opposite side of the lake, watched them purposefully walk out to kill snails and bugs and drag them mercilessly back to the waters to their young. I took in the noiselessness of that violence. The method. The beauty of the recurrent routines of nature!

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

Seebensee

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

Almsee

 47.3833° N, 10.8928° E

Biberwier, Austria

We stayed at the very traditional Gästehaus Panorama in Tiroler Zugspitzarena, run by the lovely Renate and Sepp Schönherr. I cannot recommend this place enough! Not only was Renate the most hospitable she could be, she went out of her way to ensure that we were comfortable and that our stay in Biberwier, Tirol was nothing short of extraordinary! We had a language barrier despite which she understood that we didn’t wish to see the tourist-intensive spots in the valley. I wanted to have an authentic Austrian experience, I wanted to go where locals go, eat what they eat! I was bored of the tourist menus which had a couple of sausages and a few local ales. I wanted the real deal…the “Jägermeister” fare (that’s master hunter, by the way!;)) Renate asked me if I was ready for horse, rabbit, venison, wild boar? We didn’t need language to confirm that I was game (excuse the pun, sometimes I just can’t help myself ;)), so she promised to arrange with her friends who ran an apres ski lodge for locals, no tourists went there for it was deep within the woodlands. We couldn’t drive up there, she’d have to arrange for us to be picked up and dropped off. I must admit I felt a bit apprehensive at the entire proposition- all a bit too Brothers Grimm, to be honest, replete with woodland trickeries…but you had to meet Renate to know you were in good, authentic Austrian hands. ;) So we dressed up, got our cameras in form, counted our Euros (mind you, we weren’t told what we could expect in terms of a bill and it was cash only), and we waited. The air thick with anticipation and a degree of apprehension. An acute awareness of the varying shades of brown the 4 out of the 5 of us were ;P The drive was long and through some harsh terrain. Light from a setting sun filtering into our 4×4 as we went higher and higher into the Tirol mountains until we reached a clearing that we honestly wouldn’t have made on our own.

 

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains, beer

Enter Renate’s friend Frau Marie, from the Waldhaus! Bear skins on the wall, heads of what must’ve been yesterday’s dinner waiting to be stuffed/embalmed/Idon’tknowwhat –the entire spread ;) I kid you not, she was the most hospitable and warm person I’ve ever met. We were there on personal recommendation and were her guests!  The guesthouse had a  few Germans, who again contrary to popular (and unwarranted) perception, were kind enough to translate some of the menu for us, chatted amiably and made very sure that the children had every freedom to be just that-children! I was a proud mama that day because my girls were immaculately behaved. I blame the bear skins on the wall…subliminal cues, I’m sure! ;) Frau Marie made sure we ate well, and ate what the locals made at home! She invited me to come look how she made things if I fancied…We spent hours here, chatting with the locals, eating, drinking, letting the children get involved with children on the next table who now live in the Netherlands . It felt like home!

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains, lonely planet, apres ski

Marie at the bar….

This is what we had :

Top row : Jaegerschnitzel with Spaetzle. (This one is with wild boar). Apfelstrudel with Vanillesauce.

Middle row : Trio Knödelteller (Speck, Leber, Kaseknödel) on a bed of Sauerkraut. Apparently, the leber (liver) was horse! Topfenstrudel with Vanillesauce.

Bottom row : Schweinebraten with Knödel and Sauerkraut. Salted Pretzel and an Alcoholfri Beer for me ;)

We heartily recommend it all! It was sublime…

austfood

47.1410° N, 9.5210° E

Liechtenstein

Just before we entered Switzerland, we thought we’d have a look at Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein and some surrounding villages. The villages had a very similar feel to Switzerland (given that you step into Liechtenstein just as you step out! Wish I had come up with that clever sentence, but tsk…it’s a local saying!) Vaduz had a distinct postmodern air to it. Known as their prized “Städtle” – a tiny town, we thought this might be the one-stop destination for everything from modern art and historical collections to outdoor cafés, restaurants and boutiques. I wouldn’t plan on stopping here a long while, but it’s nice for a little fly-by, and to stock up on a few “city things” you might need. There’s a lot of cultural stuff on offer, we went during the Vaduz Film Festival and had Ilo, Ilo playing on the day of our visit. The entire area is mostly pedestrianised and closed to cars…great for when you have children who need to run about and stretch their legs.

leich

The very distinctly postmodern Vaduz, Leichtenstein

 

 47.1833° N, 9.2833° E

Alt St. Johann Switzerland

Switzerland is beautiful–Fact! But when you do it after being in the encompassing mountains of Austria, it feels just a bit underwhelming! Who would’ve thought?! ;) Nonetheless, there were several fabulous things we did that made it very, very special!

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

IMG_4421-2_bat

For starters, we had an amazing holiday home – all wood and extremely modern! Kitted out with a sauna, a fabulous garden with vines wrapped around trees and gazebos and a fully equipped stable with three ponies. The bathroom had no doors – took me about a day to just get used to that, though it was a point of great hilarity for the children, especially when one of us needed to bathe! ;) A nice bean-to-cup machine and a fully stocked refrigerator gave it a very homely feel. Esther, who owned it was more of a friend that ‘landlady’, so much so that the highlight of the children’s morning was meeting Esther! She’d show them around the stables where they could feed the horses and play…something that sat very well indeed with Rahel! It made the holiday really, really special…

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

Rahel and Balios, our preferred pony  during our stay in St.. Gallen!

Horse, rider, swiss, mountains

A big thank you to Esther and her babies….

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

How I longed to actually go sight-seeing on this! ;P

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

Outside our holiday home in Switzerland

47.0333° N, 9.4333° E

Sargans, Switzerland

We actually managed to go up to Alt St. Johann, the highest village in Switzerland and enjoyed some great Swiss food up there…lovely locals at the restaurant who told us about what we should try, I think I’m a fan of the Swiss röschti forever after that! And when they talk about Frische fruit up there, take them up on it ;) Fruit never tasted so good! I felt like a rabid “locavore” after that…

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

Another nice place to go is the Bahnhöfli Golfplatz in St. Gallen. Great food, and a lovely ambience…plus, if golf is your thing, that’s where you want to be! :)

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

A flowerless home will always seem lacking after this :) Fresh delivery of flowers to the hotel! The horse is off grazing in the Swiss Valleys till it’s time to leave. It’s amazing how beautifully slow life moves up here-none of that city rush…I feel soul nourished sitting back, watching this scene!

switzerland, flowers, travel

switzerland, flowers

 

47.0000° N, 9.5000° E

The Grand Resort

Wahlkreis of Sarganserland

St. Gallen Switzerland

This was my respite….I didn’t go into the  SPA, but sat in the Cafe and read, well, visually scanned through some stunning German magazines! As much as I’ve enjoyed being with the children, I needed some time to recharge my creativity and get some me-time. The children and my husband absolutely loved the thermal waters and treatments, and could not get enough of it. Even the children had the most amazing time! ;) A little tip, go after 7.30 Pm, it’s virtually half price!

The lovely staff brought me coffees on the house as I chatted with the owner about what in his opinion was Switzerland’s unique offering pitted against it’s neighbours. It was an enlightening chat that gave me a peek into the Swiss mind – I don’t usually get to talk about anti- immigration, nationalism and an abject aversion to losing one’s cultural identity. I had to appreciate the honesty and that it was “business, not personal!” Despite the very intense conversation, he did make sure that I was made to feel very at home at the spa ;)

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains, tamina therme, grand resort

Tamina Therme, Grand Resort. Bad Ragaz

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains, tamina therme, grand resort, spa

Tamina Therme, Grand Resort. Bad Ragaz

Tamina Therme, Grand Resort. Bad Ragaz

Tamina Therme, Grand Resort. Bad Ragaz

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains, tamina therme, spa

 

 52.1667° N, 1.0000° E

Suffolk, East England.

United Kingdom

And back! I took this pic driving home from Stansted Airport. Back to the familiar sights of airport cafeteria pies and tea, to familiar voices and signs in a language I understand! Home is where we say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ unwittingly and apologize for things we know we haven’t done! ;) Home is where we queue…religiously! :) My bed feels strange, and there seems to be that all-familiar longing that coils itself around my thoughts again ; a restlessness that the water and the mountains filled all these days! So until the next time I’m off chasing some spangled chimera- I will always be haunted by thoughts of a mist-drenched elsewhere!

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

Suffolk Farms!

I would especially like to thank Elisabeth from Lebe Leiber Langsam (live and love slowly, from what I understand) for the vast input I’ve had from her on Austria! Elisabeth is Austrian who now lives with her husband and twin sons in Denmark! She writes honestly about family life, meaningful living and the creative process – subjects that completely resonate with me so I highly recommend that you check out her blog. I have such a crush on her writing! ;)

I’d also like to thank Emma from A Bavarian Sojourn for her fab restaurant reccos in Munich and Sabine from _housefrau, who describes herself as a German living in Australia (on a mountain behind the sea) and blogs at Meet The Local, for being my German muse. ;) Sabine takes lovely photographs and has a keen interest in meaningful community living! Thank you Daniel Simm, for the meticulous planning, and all-around great company! Dan is a part of our family, my photography guru and go-to tech geek… I owe so much of this blog to him! You can find his version of the holiday on his blog  Daniel Simm. :) xxx

And finally, because nothing is complete in my life without some music, here is our Mountain Playlist! This will for a while transport me to our rental car on the wrong side of the road, winding through mountain roads. :)  If you’re of similar mind, you might enjoy a tune or two! xx

www.intrepidmisadventurer.com

 

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