Category Archives: Summer

Fruit in my wardrobe

ImageOne of the best things about summer in Austria is the abundance of yummy fruit. Melons, kiwi-fruit, berries and my new favourite, saturn peaches. As the seasons change, I enjoy picking fruit that mirrors the weather and my mood. The bright citrus colours in summer fruit stalls inevitably make their way into my wardrobe because someone informs the fashion gods about the amazingness of neon. There has never been a colour trend I’ve enjoyed more than this. Small doses are key however, as I am not a teenager, impossibly cool or of small proportions. Like happiness, just a little goes a long way. 

To avoid looking like a bumble-bee, traffic-cone or police-car, I team my vibrant wardrobe choices with muted earthy tones or white. A pair of white jeans (I found for all of €1 in a fleamarket and then bleached) were a step up from my usual khaki shorts and helped me wear my citrus to work without shocking anyone. I am happy to report that fruity tones are now accepted in some of the most conservative working environments known to man.

Take the often misunderstood kiwi-fruit, for example. Wearable? Oh yes. This hairy fruit with a hidden brilliance was my inspiration when choosing a dress for a wedding. I skipped on the hairiness and angled for the simple sophistication of the intense clover-green. This couldn’t have been more fitting for a celebration in Ireland.  As someone who owns too many black clothes, I would never have imagined saying that done right, bright colours have a way of making anything special. Playfully chic.

Some might argue that crazy neons just don’t work with their skin-tone or personality or some other unique thing so here’s a solution, pick a different fruit! Switch red for peach and white for cream like a saturn peach does and watch the delectable outfit unfold. If you’re not sure how bright you can go, look at the humble plum. Deep blue-violet-grey on the outside and muted brown-red-yellow on the inside, what’s not to love! Keep it simple, accessorise with delicious colours to warm up and you’ll be well on your way to getting some fruit in your wardrobe.

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The North Sea

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I love the sea. Having spent most of my childhood breathing in salty air, it is strange to now live in a country with no coast. Our recent family reunion was therefore extra-special for being by the sea despite it being a distinctly British holiday. I know Britain does not normally conjure up images of sunny sands and cocktails with umbrellas but it just doesn’t need to. In all its overcast glory, the British coastline has the ability to make you feel relaxed and happy even if you are fully clothed.

On our first day in North Yorkshire, we ventured into Whitby, a beautiful, old, ship-building town that once waved goodbye to Captain James Cook long before Australia’s sunny shores were discovered. The drizzly, grey weather did not stop me enjoying the colourful quay, the serenity of the ancient harbour and the feeling of the wind whipping my hair around my face. Ok, maybe I didn’t enjoy the whipping but for nostalgia’s sake, I thought I did momentarily.

Standing by the lighthouse on one of the weathered entrance piers, I realised that I was looking out at the North Sea, a new sea for me. Just across the way were Denmark and Germany! I then remembered that the only times I catch a whiff of anything like my childhood now is when I pass a Nordsee restaurant. I then imagined the long drive the fish must have had to get to Vienna and instantly wanted to find a fish’n’chip shop to top up on my fresh fish quota. Nothing like the greasy spoons we find inland, Whitby’s offerings were clean, comfortable and with good service to boot. I think the smile must have come across the Atlantic but it was still a nice surprise. Perhaps the same can cross the North Sea and trek inland to me.

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The End of the Line

One sunny weekend, my husband and I decided to take a tram to the end of the line to see what we could see. We get out and are greeted by an imposing castle gate. Slightly deterred I fish out my phone. My map app tells me there is a vast green space mere metres away so we march on hoping we aren’t trespassing.

We soon see signs of plebeian activity. Unrelated children running amok, an assortment of grandparents sitting around, dog-walkers with little black bags and then the most comforting, runners of various shapes and sizes galloping past.

We walk on happily and take in the summery beauty all around us. Spotting signs that politely ask you to stay on the marked paths, “or else”, we start wondering why you would have paths through tempting meadows in the first place. We soon find out that this park is actually the grounds of a stately home that has been opened up for the public to enjoy and is home to a variety of woodland creatures. Happy not to disturb them, I take to stopping at annoyingly regular intervals to pick up a seed pod, look at a stone, point at a worm, etc. My husband rolls his eyes at the city-kid.

On our way back to the tram, I drag my willing husband to the petting zoo. I join in the squeals of the children who happen to be the majority at the fence and point excitedly at the animals. The goat kids hop about awkwardly, the pygmy pigs snort around their pen and the insects buzz around their mansion. So much to see and do so I decide we should bring our niece here when my sister visits.

Fast-forward a month, my sister, my niece and I go to the end of the line again to see the animals. Unfortunately, there was a fire that spread across the petting zoo, killing several animals. Massive fail. While my sister and I were busy thinking sad thoughts, my niece was occupying herself with some stones she found. She doesn’t even know there are animals missing when she doesn’t see one. City-kid.

 

 

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Pop-ups Enabled

A scene from ‘Komm, süßer Tod’: ‘Come, sweet Death’

Vienna offers a never-ending supply of interesting adventures. With a sobriety that becomes this former imperial city, Vienna entertains, amazes and confuses me daily. For starters, I have never felt less groomed than a dog before moving here. I find this hilarious. Walking through a park, using the underground or at the theatre, there is no place a Viennese person considers it inappropriate to shout at a complete stranger, showing extreme irritation over a seemingly trivial thing. Truly amazing. It only follows that the Viennese taste in film should be equally inexplicable. Austrians, I’m told, have a morbid sense of humour which is perfectly encapsulated in the indie films by Josef Hader.

I once read Komm, süßer Tod for an Austrian-German class so when a friend of mine invited me to go see the film at a pop-up ‘heuriger’ recently, I decided it was time to actually understand the plot. A heuriger is usually a restaurant managed by a local farmer or vintner, set in leafy surroundings, selling homegrown produce and authentic Austrian cuisine. In an attempt at being ‘alternative’, a selection of freshly made Austrian delights along with an inflatable cinema screen and a few picnic tables, were dropped into an old ballroom hidden on a forgotten street. The people who attended this unusual showing were clearly rebels from a typically conservative art-scene, buying fruity beers from the pop-up bar and chatting seriously about the brilliance of Hader.

I think about 20 minutes had passed when the Austrians in our group suggested we move to a quieter corner because they couldn’t understand the dialogue. Not entirely sure whether they withdrew for my sake or genuinely because they could not understand the Viennese dialect but I gratefully joined the exodus to the garden. In true Austrian fashion, the beer garden was closed before the rest of the venue so we made our way into another spacious room. Perhaps we were keeping the neighbours awake with our alternative event which featured no music, laughing or loud noises. Being linguistically challenged and therefore, unusually quiet, I busied myself with taking in the atmosphere. The peeling paint, the ornate plasterwork on the ceilings, the scale of the rooms and imagining what might have happened in this once beautiful space. I am sure it was positively amazing.

 

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The Blue Danube

Can you believe this is in Vienna? The Danube takes up a good chunk of this sleepy capital, sedately gliding past the modern ‘skyscraper’ section, nudist zones and extensive parks.

Before the multi-storey revolution happened however, the Danube decided to leave the perimeter of the city and make a run for it. Tamed back into submission soon after, any bird can see that the water now forms a distinct D. In the pregnant part this D is a slower, cleaner, blue-er version of the famed Danube. Sufficiently slow to play some competitive kayak-polo/hockey.

Safe enough for a 10 year old to take an inflatable raft out with absolutely no skill or fitness whatsoever, this lazy arm of the river and its daredevils or lack thereof, provided much comfort to my over-anxious swimming persona.

I have been trying to learn how to swim for a while now. I’ve had enough lessons to put my teacher off teaching for the rest of his life and still manage to lurch backwards every third stroke. After I managed to tear my extremely attractive bright yellow silicone swim cap earlier this summer, I decided the only way to swim was to take to the water like a true Viennese woman. Head up, or more importantly, hair up and out of the water. This is a skill I have yet to master without getting a massive crick in my neck.

If I ever tire of trying to swim, there are other ways to enjoy this natural gem within the city-limits. Armed with paddles, I could bat away at floating reeds without wondering if they were snakes encircling my legs or fish nibbling at my toes. A slime-free boarding experience wouldn’t go amiss either. The mossy sludge by the banks just as you lower yourself into the water helps you to appreciate the cold, steel step-ladders of over-chlorinated swimming pools. Then again, where would I be without the delicious thrill of doing something that slightly scares me.

Afterall, every struggle has its rewards. I ponder this as I watch the sun go down over the water, content, sunburnt and with the love of my life and a picnic.

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