Recipes

Christmas Cake

Ingredients (for 2 cakes)
– 700 gramms of candied fruit (apricots, cherries, cranberries, ginger)
– 350 gramms of currants (or raisins)
– 1 tin (ca 200 g) of pineapple chunks (without the juice), chop into small pieces
– 150 gramms of chopped almonds pieces (gehackte)
– 300 gramms of wholemeal spelt flour (Vollkorndinkel)
– 150 gramms of ground almonds
– 250 gramms of soft baking margarine
– 5 large eggs /(whisked)
– baking powder
– 100 gramms of brown sugar or beet syrup (Rübensirup)
– juice of 2 lemons
– lemon zest (finely grated peel of 2 lemons

for decoration:
– 100 gramms of whole almonds
– candied cherries

Method
1. Chop or cut the dried fruit into small pieces and place them in a large bowl. Pour a bottle of cheap whiskey (or sherry) into this bowl of dried fruit, press the fruit down (e.g. with a plate) under the surface, and leave for ca 12 hours to soak.

2. Drain the liquid from the dried fruit with a strainer. In a large bowl sieve the spelt flour and the baking powder, mix these and then add the dried fruit. Add the almond pieces, pineapple, margarine, eggs, sugar, lemon juice and zest. Mix thoroughly into a smooth mixture. If too wet, add some more flour and ground almonds.

3 Grease 2 cake tins, round or oblong (like for bread), and line the base and sides with a double layer of greaseproof or baking paper.

4. Boiled the whole almonds for 5 minutes, take off the skins and cut into halves. Cut the candied cherries into halves.

5. Pour in the cake mixture into the prepared cake tins till ca 1 cm from the top. Level the surface and decorate the top with the halves of almonds and cherries.

6. Make sure the cakes are fully covered with baking paper and fix the paper on top and at the sides to protect the cakes from direct heat.

7. Bake in the middle of the oven at 150 degrees for 2 hours. Check with a skewer that the cake mixture is baked through.

8. Leave to cool in the tin for about 30 minutes, then turn out and cool completely on a wire rack. When cool, the cake can be stored in an airtight tin or box for a few weeks.

Note: This Christmas Cake recipe is also used in Britain for birthday cakes!

English class, Maria am Wasser

13.03.19
Done in class:
– discussion on Brexit
– text (on the next Brexit steps) from the BBC website: see www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics
– textbook „Great“, page 33 and CD track number 36
– page 34: sections 3a-c, 4a-d
– page 149: grammar notes §6
– page 149: (end of page) fill in the gaps using the passive

06.03.2018
Done in class:
– discussion on Brexit
– brain storming: what do you associate with India?
– page 33: exercises nos. 1a, 1b, 2
– Vocabulary – to postpone, Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, lent, to starve, credo, credit, (in)credible = (un)believable, Ceylon tea, partition, rug, carpet, longevity (look up: Valter Longo), relief, spice, herb, tea plantation,

30.01.19
Done in class:
– CD 1/28, 1/29 transcript on page 175.
– page 25: exercises nos. 4a, 4b, 5
– page 26: exercises nos. 6a, 6b
– homework: Homestudy pages 27-29
– Vocabulary – verbs: cook, bake, boil, fry, roast, deep-fry, grill, barbecue, smoke, steam, dry, poach, parboil, scramble, microwave, mix, weigh, peel, pour, stir, shape, cut, knead, add, crack open, measure, slice, sprinkle,
– vocabulary – nouns: pot, pan, scales, bowl, spoon, knife, fork, mixer, oven, cooker, smoker, jug, rolling pin, tin, apron, oven gloves, spatula, caraway, parsley, rapeseed, quince

23.01.19
Done in class:
– CD 1/27, transcript on page 175.
– page 24: Bush Tucker, exercises nos. 2a, 2b, 2c
– page 25: exercises nos. 3a, 3b, 4a
– page 25: exercises
– Vocabulary:
sauce, stew, damper, raw, to dip, skinny-dipping, naked bathing, vinegar, poached eggs, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, dough, to knead

16.01.19
Done in class:
– Brexit discussion
– page 24
– CD 1/27, text on pages 174-175
– Vocabulary:
to parboil, corkscrew, screwtop, car boot, embarrassing, sour, wishful thinking, general election, by-election, outcome, „the writing is on the wall“, to count, heat wave, parsnips, rhubarb, flesh, pale, ripe, pod, pea, beans, auburn, spherical, conical, square, rectangular, triangular, pointed, round, oval,

12.12.18
Done in class:
– vocabulary from last week
– game „Who am I?“
– pages 22-23, exercises 2a till 4b
– dialogue transcripts on page 174, 2A G’day, mate!
– new vocabulary: give a clue, Oceania, currency, purse, wallet, marsupial, pouch, coaster, a set of 7, dear (expensive), spectacles, to work out in the gym, sweater, available, jug, jar, tin (can), Marmite/Vegemite, yeast, gift (present), brim, midge, amber, necklace, sap

05.12.18
Done in class:
– vocabulary from last week
– discussion and explanation of Australian jokes (see last week’s entry)
– text on Brexit Brexit situation 05.12.18
– discussion on Brexit in light of the coming vote next Monday in the British parliament
– continued discussion based on the game of „Heads and Tails“ – see worksheet from last week
– new vocabulary: screw top, corkscrew, bottle opener, tin/can opener, to be thin on the ground, mammal, May God bless you, the plague, a constituent, a constituency, abortion, to backfire a lightbulb, a flatmate, to have a lead (1. Leine 2. Führung)

28.11.18
Done in class:
– in pairs, discussions on what they did on 21.11.18
– „Great B1“ page 16 – listening practice 5 (transcript on page 174)
– page 16, exercises 6-7 (key on page 166)
– unit 2 „Down under“, page 21 (for answers, see File 2 page 135)
– game „Heads and Tails“ – worksheet Heads or Tails
– vocabulary from today: to hide, hide and seek, conscience, currency, deer, freelance, cookies, biscuits, eat-ate-eaten, musical (adj.), sporty (adj.), advantage, to bless, pig/sow – pork, cow/bull – beef, calf – veal, sheep/lamb – mutton/lamb, hen/cock – chicken, marsupila, pouch,

Jokes about Australia
1. What do you call a lazy baby kangaroo?
(A pouch potato!)
2. What kind of music do kangaroos listen to?
(Hip Hop)
3. Why did the wombat cross the road?
(To see its flat mate)
4. Why isn’t the Australian national football team allowed to own a dog?
(Because they can’t hold on to a lead.)
5. Why wasn’t Jesus born in Australia?
(He couldn’t find 3 wise men or a virgin.)
6. How many Australian men does it take to change a light bulb?
(None. It’s a woman’s job.)
7. A devout Australian cowboy lost his favorite Bible while he was mending fences out on the range. Three weeks later, a kangaroo walked up to him carrying the Bible in its mouth. The cowboy couldn’t believe his eyes. He took the precious book out of the kangaroos mouth, raised his eyes heavenward and exclaimed, „It’s a miracle!“ „Not really,“ said the kangaroo. „Your name is written inside the cover.“
8. A Kiwi and an Aussie went fishing one afternoon and decided to have a couple of cold beers. After a while the Aussie says to the Kiwi, „If I was to sneak over to your house and made wild passionate love to your wife while you were at work, and she got pregnant and had a baby, would that make us related?“ The Kiwi after a great deal of thought, says, „Well, I don’t know about related, but it sure would make us even.“

07.11.18
Done in class:
– vocabulary from last week
– page 14, exercise 5a – listening text 1/2 (transcript on page 174)
– page 14, exercises 6a & 6c, comparing yourself to the person closest to you
– page 14, exercise 7 – listening text 1/3 (transcript on page 174)
– page 14, Global English – listening text 1/3
– page 18, Survival English – dialogues 1-8 listening texts 1/6 – 1/13

Homework
– Finish all the exercises in Homestudy (pages 15-16) and the Quiz (page 17)
– Print out and complete this crossword which includes words from unit one and from our lessons so far:

crossword unit 1

31.10.2018
Done in class:
– discussion of winemaking (with Klaus‘ help!)
– song by The Albion Band. If you google „youtube The Albion Band Along The Pilgrim’s Way), you will find the song.

The Albion Band
The Albion Band was a British folk rock band and generally considered one of the most important bands in the genre and it has contained or been associated with a large number of major English folk performers in its long history. The one constant in the band’s history was the band leader Ashley Hutchings, founding member of arguably the two other pre-eminent English folk rock groupings Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span.

The Pilgrims‘ Way
The Pilgrims‘ Way is the historical route (192 kilomtres) taken by pilgrims from Winchester to thr shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury in Kent, who was was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his murder in 1170. He engaged in conflict with Henry II, King of England, over the rights and privileges of the Church and was murdered by followers of the king in Canterbury Cathedral. His shrine at Canterbury became the most important in the country and it drew pilgrims from far and wide. Winchester, had an important cathedral and many travellers arrived through the nearby seaports on the south coast. This was the route taken by Henry II on his pilgrimage of atonement for the death of Bishop Thomas from France To Canterbury in July 1174.

Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England and forms part of a World Heritage Site. It is the cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Church of England and symbolic leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Founded in 597, the cathedral was completely rebuilt between 1070 and 1077.

Along the Pilgrims’ Way
The pilgrim’s heart is lifted up, as he spurs his horse along,
He will contemplate his destiny, And pass the time in song.

And its many the long and winding path, He’s travelled on this day
On his pilgrimage to Canterbury, Along the Pilgrims’ way.
On his pilgrimage to Canterbury, Along the Pilgrims’ way.

He has quenched his thirst at the Tabard Inn, And blessed his journey’s start,
And showers sweet have bathed his feet, Likewise refreshed his heart.
And there’s many a friend at journey’s end, He’ll be glad to greet this day,
On his pilgrimage to Canterbury, Along the Pilgrims’ way.
On his pilgrimage to Canterbury, Along the Pilgrims’ way.

The motorcycle comes to rest, And the rider mops his brow
He will photograph the land around, For the fields are golden now.
Still lovely is this part of Kent, On a hot midsummer’s day
And he’ll think about the ones who went, Along the Pilgrims’ way.
And he’ll think about the ones who went, Along the Pilgrims’ way.

24.10.2018
Done in class:
– we practised the vocabulary from 17.10.2018
– we discussed pages 145 (use of ‚-ing‘ forms) and 146 (making comparisons)
– we read pages 12-13

New Vocabulary:
spoilsport; to lead-led-led; triplets/quadruplets; bust-up; curly-curlier; tantrum; sibling; nightmare; introverted; to add; gender neutral; narrow; joy; to socialise; brother-in-law; good-better-best; bad-worse-worst; more outgoing than,

Possessive Adjective/Pronoun
It’s my book. It’s mine.
It’s your book. It’s yours.
It’s his book. It’s his.
It’s her book. It’s hers.
It’s our book. It’s ours.
It’s their book. It’s theirs.

Pronouns: Subject/Object
I know you.
You know me.
He knows her.
She knows him.
We know them.
They know us.

Exercise: Add the missing word in each gap:
1. This bread is terrible – it must the ___________ bread I’ve ever eaten!
2. Please give me my pen back – it’s ___________, not ____________ !
3. Lizzy’s hair is curly, but Mary’s is even ____________ .
4. I’ve lost my car keys – have you seen ___________ ?
5. Look! That’s Suzie, I think. Yes, I’m sure it’s __________ .
6. That book can’t be ours. I think it belongs to the Jones. Yes, it’s definitely _________ .
7. My sister is more outgoing __________ me.
8. Elizabeth’s younger brother is ______ tall as _________.
9. My twin sister isn’t _________ good at running as me.
10. The man wearing the blue cardigan is younger ______________ us.

Homework – prepare for the next lesson:
– page 147, read and complete
– describe your brother (or your sister or your cousin), and compare this person with you.

17.10.2018
Done in class:
– vocabulary from last week
– new vocabulary on physical appearances (clothes, body etc)
– Book „Great! B1“ page 10: 3a, 3b, 3c, 3d
page 11: 5a, 5b, 5c

New Vocabulary:
General clothes: waistcoat, checked/striped/dotted shirt, cardigan, blouse, ,
Winter clothes: woolly hat, fur hat, overcaot, boots, scarf, gloves, long johns
Summer clothes: shorts, hot pants, sandals, flip-flops, T-shirt, bathing costume, bikini, trunks
Underwear: socks, stockings, tights/panty-hose, leggings, vest, pants
Hair: straight, curly, permed, bald, thinning/thin on top, pony-tail, fringe, wig, dark-brown, auburn, blonde
weight/shape: tall, short, curvaceous, slim, slender, overweight, petite, of average height
Other words: zip, button, velcro, nude bathing, skinny-dipping, time-consuming, height, width, length

Homework:
1. What do the following abbreviations stand for?
– PC
– R & D
– OAP

2. Better safe than sorry!
– Nowadays we say
________________, not „old age pensioner“
________________, not „handicapped“
________________, not „thin“
________________, not „(Red) Indian“
________________, not „Paddy“

3. Listen to the CD dialogue 1/1 (page 11) and fill in the gaps of 4b.
4. Read the text 1b on page 12. Underline any new words.

See you next week!

10.10.2018
Done in class:
– sheet entitled „English Course 2018-2019, Maria am Wasser, Hosterwitz“
– introductions
– Great! B1, page 9, sections 1a, 1b, 1c

Vocabulary:
doctor’s surgery, sneakers, cul de sac, to make a contribution, components, common, sculptor/sculptress, advanced Course, to exploit, heir, challenge, parish, century, pensioner, handicapped

crossword-10.10.18

Homework:
– what vocabulary do you know to describe physical appearance?
i.e. winter clothes, summer clothes, underwear, hair, shape, age etc

 

Next week:
– Grammar, page 145
– Great! B1: pages 9, 10, 11, 233
– characteristics of people
– comparing people

English Course 2018-2019, Maria am Wasser, Hosterwitz
Costs
1. Please give me €10 per person in cash for my personal costs (materials, books, wine, etc)
2. This year we are collecting money to buy an organ for our partner church in Brenna, Poland. You can find the details about this action on our church website (https://maria-am-wasser.de/info/orgel-fuer-brenna). The cost of a restored organ is 50-55,000 euros, and the current total we have so far is ca 39,000 euros. Transfer your donation to the church (price guide: last year € 70,00; VHS = € 3,60/45 minutes = € 151,20), “Englischkurs”, Ev.-Luth. Kirchgemeinde Hosterwitz, LKG Sachsen – Bank für Kirche und Diakonie eG, IBAN: DE24 3506 0190 1623 500019, BIC: GENODED1DKD. Of course, you will receive a donation receipt.
3. Wine list: A small study published last week in the Journal of Psychopharmacology shows that a small amount of alcohol can help people speak a foreign language better! (http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0269881117735687)

Provisional dates
October 2018: 10.10.18 17.10.18 24.10.18 31.10.18
November 2018: 07.11.18 14.11.18 28.11.18
December 2018: 05.12.18 12.12.18 19.12.18
January 2019: 09.01.19 16.01.19 23.01.19 30.01.19
February 2019: No classes, but if interested “English – Sounds good! Ways to better Pronunciation“, VHS Dresden, 25.02.-01.03.19, course number: 18H338109
March 2019: (06.03.19?) 13.03.19 20.03.19 27.03.19
April 2019: 03.04.19 10.04.19 17.04.19

Keith’s Website – Teaching and Travel Blog (keithhollingsworth.de)
My plan is to upload
(1) any hand-outs I give you in class
(2) extra vocabulary from our classes
(3) extra materials
(4) important messages

Book
„Great! B1“ (Klett Verlag: 978-3-12-501484-8) € 23,99 (Lehr- und Arbeitsbuch mit 2   Audio-CDs)
– Klett Augmented Media (dialogues and dictionary)
– 9 units: Part A Classroom Input; Part B Classroom Input; Part C Home Study; Part D Survival English
– “Xtra 1” (after unit 3); “Xtra 2” (after unit 6); “Xtra 3” (after unit 9): Recap/Progress Test/Magazine
– appendices: Files; Grammar; Keys; Transcripts; Unit Vocabulary ; A-Z Vocabulary ; Word Fields; Instructions

Grammar
https://www.ef.com/english-resources/english-grammar/
https://www.englisch-hilfen.de/inhalt_grammar.htm

Vocabulary
https://dict.leo.org/englisch-deutsch/
https://www.linguee.de/englisch-deutsch/uebersetzung/English+dictionary.html
https://www.thefreedictionary.com/

General English
https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en
http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish/

Learning Strategies
1. Language has 3 main components: (1) (2) (3)
2. We use language in 4 main skills: (1) (2) (3) (4)
3. Learning process: input → output/passive → active, → ; →
4. Concentrate on: 1. learning new vocabulary 2. listening as much as possible                                         3. writing your own texts

Our last week in Australia

Melbourne, city of culture and sport

Views of Melbourne from outside the theatres

We have had a wonderful last week in Melbourne. We had two theatre highlights in Melbourne’s fantastic theatres: firstly, a super performance of John Lennon’s life and songs in a concert entitled “Lennon through a glass onion”. The two singers (70 years old!) had the full house rocking and singing! Two days later we saw a performance by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra of “The Last Night of the Proms” (taken over from the Royal Albert Hall in London) – on the way in we were all given Australian flags to wave! What a great atmosphere!
Keith waving his Aussie flag!

We were very impressed by the Arts Centre, which has 3 gigantic (underground!) theatres, and next door is Hamer Hall, a huge, modern concert hall where the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra plays.

Leaving Melbourne
We arrived in January with the Australian Open Tennis Championship and as we leave, the Formula 1 race has just finished. The race takes place near the centre on normal roads around a big park (Albert Park, presumably named after Queen Victoria’s German husband).

The End
We are beginning to feel a bit sad – tomorrow we’re travelling home after 12 weeks away! On the other hand, we are both looking forward to being back in Dresden and there’s still lots more to tell (if you want to hear it!).

Keith

Some general observations

On the one hand, … . On the other hand …
So what can we say about Australia and the Australians after living here for 11 weeks?
Yes, people are extremely friendly and helpful. The waiters, shop assistants, fellow travellers, neighbours, policemen. One example sticks in my mind: when we were on the train to Wangaratta, a young Asian-looking woman came in, who was obviously upset, or unwell or both. She sat down and covered her face with her hands. The lady behind the food counter came out and sat down next to her to ask her if she could do something for her and when the lady shook her head she just went and got a bottle of water for her, gave it to her and put her hand on her shoulder. Later, the conductor came past and sat down beside her, just asking if he could do something and making sure she was alright. Would the conductor in Deutsche Bahn do that? The young woman calmed down later and seemed better.

There are a lot more signs here to educate or warn the public, for example to save water and avoid plastic: lots of drinking fountains everywhere and free water in eating places. ”Be smart, avoid plastic bottles.”
Flushing the toilet with this button will only use one third of the water. In the Zoo: „Use recycled paper, save the trees for the wild animals.“ Motorway slip road in big red letters: “WRONG WAY! GO BACK!”
In Victoria cars have priority so that the traffic can flow!

However, when shopping you still get everything packed in many plastic bags unless you say very clearly that you want to use your own bag. People constantly walk around with coffee-to-go in throwaway cups and every piece of food is wrapped in plastic or polystyrene. People buy an awful lot of takeaway food here! Most Australians are affluent and the economy is growing.

The way the Australians waste energy is a different matter again. Houses are badly insulated, and air-conditioning and heating goes literally through the window – the doors, the walls, the windows (single glazed!)the roof. And where are all the solar panels in this sunny place? We rarely saw any. In Bobby’s residential area of Melbourne, where land is expensive, new houses are two-storied. Otherwise nearly all houses here are bungalows. The cost of housing has rocketed in the last few years! Several Australians told us that their own children cannot afford to buy houses near the city.All houses are so-called frame houses – we have been calling them „stick-houses“! This is before …
… and this is after

Bike tour in the Victorian Alps

Cycling in Australia is a bit different – no touring!

Here we are on the old rail track to Beechworth – during our our 6 days of cycling we only met one couple doing a longer bike tour! Everyone else was doing one-day rides, mostly on racing bikes

Four days after returning from New Zealand we’re off again, this time on a bike trip. We were lucky to be able to borrow touring bikes for 12 weeks! Cycling here is a bit different because nobody goes on bike tours as we know them. This is understandable as the distances from place to place are so big and the population so small. Cycling here means either road racing (did you know that an Australian, Cadel Evans, won the Tour de France in 2011?) or mountain biking (this is what our son Bobby does – it’s a bit crazy as they hurtle down a mountainside at breakneck speed – Bobby once showed us film from a camera on his helmet – shocked the life out of us – we’ll never watch that again!). However, there are a few old rail tracks that have been converted into bike tracks. One is in a very pretty area, mostly going through the valley of The Victorian Alps from Wangarata to Bright. For the first 60 km we travelled through the bush: Eucalyptus trees, rolling hills with cows on yellow grass that has not seen any rain for two months, a lonely bungalow every few miles, even with some flowers in the garden. No Café, no pub for a whole day`s cycling. You have to make sure you have enough drinking water. Further into the “Alps” it became greener, there was fruit and wine growing. The whole route is not very long, about 115 km, so we decided to go to the end and back again on the same track. Typical scene along the Rail Track – mostly surrounded by eucalyptus trees

As last Monday was a public holiday, Labour Day (like our May 1st?), we met up with Bobby and family at an Airbnb near Bright (they had travelled by car, it is about 3 hours from Melbourne.) Our holiday house was totally clad with corrugated iron, as many older farm buildings are. We learned that the Australians find that very quaint, tasteful and romantic. Once you know that, you look at it with different eyes. In Bright there was a lively Festival. We had a river nearby, an open fire at night and wonderful starry, starry nights. The milky way and the southern cross were shining brightly over us.
See: https://www.railtrails.org.au/trail-descriptions/victoria?

This rather shabby-looking shack is, in fact, a comfortable Airbnb!

Visiting the festival in Bright is thirsty work!

The gold-mining town of Beechworth
Beechworth is a small town on our route to the mountains. Bobby had enthused about the town, mainly because of the famous brewery there but also because of its history (if you can call 200 years ago historical!), so we stayed in the same hotel on the way there and on the way back.
Gold-mining started in the mid-1850s – the very first miners found over 20 kilos of gold in a week! As you can imagine, the gold rush suddenly brought men and women from afar: the gold itself went on to Melbourne, which itself consequently became very rich. Two famous characters from Beechworth known by all Australians are Robert O’Hara Burke and Ned Kelly.
https://www.explorebeechworth.com.au/
Beechworth has retained its 19th century style – a bit like Arrowtown in NZ

The Burke and Wills expedition
Robert O’Hara Burke was the leader of an expedition to find a route from Melbourne to the north coast of Australia on the Indian Ocean. Burke had been police chief in Beechworth, and Wills was a surveyor – neither leader had any skills in bushcraft!
The expedition was sponsored by the Victorian government, which wanted to be the first to build a telegraph line to the north (then on to Indonesia and Europe). This then became a race as South Australia with its capital of Adelaide also tried to be the first state to find a route.
The expedition ended in disaster: they did manage to get near the Indian Ocean but were blocked by thick mangrove swamps. Their return journey was tragic with both Burke and Wills dying on the way back lost in the bush.
All Australians know this story and you can find Burke and Wills on postage stamps, city statues, street names etc.
http://www.kidcyber.com.au/burke-and-wills-1860/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burke_and_Wills_expedition

Ned Kelly
Ned Kelly is the best-known of all outlaws in Australia. He provokes a lot of controversy in Australia because many people consider him to have been badly treated by the authorities. Moreover, because he was of Irish descent, was anti-British and claimed to fight for the poor people, he had a lot of sympathisers. Today he is still regarded by some people as an Australian Robin Hood.
In 1871-74 Kelly was in Beechworth prison for stealing horses. Then, after his mother had been imprisoned, he formed an armed gang, raided banks and killed some policemen. The gang had primitive armoured suits and helmets (this is now the symbol of Kelly) and in a shoot-out with the police, Kelly was captured and then hanged in Melbourne gaol.
We did a Ned Kelly tour in Beechworth, visiting his cell in Beechworth gaol, as well as some of the houses associated with Kelly and learning about his life. Our guide was very entertaining and told us he had played the role of Kelly in one of the Ned Kelly films, of which there are several (by the way, Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones played Kelly in one film!). In Beechworth you can find one of the several Ned Kelly museums.
See: http://www.ironoutlaw.com/
The armour worn by Ned Kelly and his gang

New Zealand/Aotearoa (the land of the long white cloud) – continued!

Two love-birds on Marlborough Sound!

Kiwis, Koalas etc
I must have spent many hours in Australia looking in vain for Koalas in the tops of the eucalyptus trees, and now it’s the same with Kiwis! These little flightless birds with a long beak are only to be found in certain woods, I was later told – shame! We’re planning to take Mila to Melbourne Zoo next week, so maybe I’ll find some there!!
Two Koalas asleep in a tree – a mother and her baby whom we saw in a national park called Tower Hill

Wine
I forgot to tell you about our wine-tasting on South Island! In the north of the Island, the area known as Marlborough, there are good conditions for growing wine. However, wine-growing only started here in the 1970s. John, our host in Picton, explained that when he was young, there were mostly orchards of fruit trees growing here. As there was more money to be made in wine, the fruit tres were cut down and replaced by vines. John thought this could become a problem as the wine has become a monoculture and he wonders what happens when the plants fail because of disease etc?
Most of the Marlborough wine you see here seems to be either Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir. John himself only drinks Riesling from Marlborough as he thinks the quality is better and it is cheaper. John recommended visiting two wineries* – Wairau River and Johanneshof Cellars, which is owned by a German lady and her husband.
We first visited the main town of the Marlborough wine region, Blenheim, which was not very interesting, then went walking up the Wither Hills, from where you get a great view of thew whole region. From here you also see how the town is expanding – the New Zealanders obviously have lots of land so the individual plots are much bigger (ca 2,000 m2) than you see in Europe for new houses.
In the afternoon we visited the two vineyards: the first, Waira River, was like others we have visited in Australia – rather formal, posh and expensive (cheapest bottle 24 dollars). At the other winery, Johannes Cellars, we had a great conversation with the lady (in German) and she explained how their wine grows on the north slopes rather than the flat valley like most of the wines of this region. She showed us the prizes they had won (very impressive) and we told her about Pillnitz wine, especially about Klaus’ wine and Malgorzata’s sculptures (she wanted to goggle them straight away!). It was much more cosy and friendly here than the other place – see the photos below!
* They mostly say ‚winery‘ here. In fact, a vineyard refers to where the plants grow whereas a winery is where the wine is processed. Of course, this often the same place so take your pick!

Wellington
A visit to the „Beehive“, New Zealand‘s Parliament
Some of the best things happen spontaneously! After visiting Wellington cathedral, rebuilt in 1964 after an earthquake in a rather in a rather ugly concrete style (but with a glass entrance made by New Zealand-born artist John Hutton whose work is also in Coventry Cathedral), we dashed through the rain in the direction of the centre which took us past the Beehive. This is the name given to New Zealand’s parliament which looks a bit like a beehive and was, interestingly, designed by Sir Basil Spence, who designed Coventry Cathedral. We saw some people going in, and so we followed them, partly to escape the downpour. In the entrance we saw a tour advertised so we handed over our bags for scanning and joined in. What amazing luck! There were still a couple of places free for the next tour! The tour was super! The guide told us a lot about New Zealand politics: for example, unlike most democracies there is only one chamber in New Zealand. There is no “House of Lords” or “Bundesrat” – everything is decided by one chamber. The second chamber was abolished in 1950 as it was seen to be ineffective as it was mainly controlled by the government, and, as out guide told us, was regarded as expensive for such a small population. However, in order to strengthen ‘checks and balances’, they have a system of “public submissions”, whereby every citizen is encouraged to contact their local Member of Parliament and express their views on votes in Parliament. Our guide took us everywhere, including the main debating chamber (it was a Monday and the members of parliament do not meet on Mondays – lucky again!). Our guide took us into the basement of the building to show us the mechanisms which now protect the building. Wellington lies on a geological fault and so there is the constant danger of earthquakes. In the 1990s the New Zealand parliament decided to make the building earthquake-proof. It might seem incredible (it was to me!) but the walls of whole building were cut, jacked up and placed on shock-absorbers made of rubber, steel and lead.
PS:
(1) for a great website, see https://www.parliament.nz/en/visit-and-learn/
(2) for engineering enthusiasts, see https://www.parliament.nz/en/get-involved/features-pre-2016/document/00NZPHomeNews201109141/earthquake-resilience-of-parliament-buildings

The Rogue and Vagabond – the best pub in town!
The manager of our hostel recommended we go to “The Rogue and Vagabond” pub, which by great chance (lucky again!!) had a jazz band playing that night. The amazing culture of New Zealand craft beers was confirmed to us once more that evening! See: http://rogueandvagabond.co.nz/

Te Papa
Te Papa is The National Museum of New Zealand, beautifully situated by the harbour. By chance we had seen an advert for a presentation of songs and poetry at TE Papa on our first evening. There was an incredibly strong wind blowing (Wellington is well-known for being a very windy city!) so we had to fight our way there, but it was worth it! The Maori group presented a poetic legend (translated simultaneously into English via headphones), played traditional instruments and sang traditional songs (we were given the texts – of course, we could not sing along but we were impressed by the audience, most of whom could sing along – our neighbour told us New Zealanders learn them at school). Very entertaining and free!
The next day we spent 2-3 hours in the museum, looking mainly at the Maori and immigrant sections. The Maori part had a lot of videos with people describing some aspects of their culture, and there were a lot of artefacts such as living areas, boats etc.
Did you know that the Maori have a totally different background to the Aborigines of Australia? We were surprised to hear that the Maori came to New Zealand only in the 13th century, whereas the Aborigines arrived in Australia at least 40,000 years ago! Another big difference it seems: whereas the hundreds of Aborigine tribes seem to have lived more in harmony with each other, Maoris were more warlike – the tribes fought battles against each other, killing and enslaving their opponents and eating them, too.
https://www.newzealand.com/ie/feature/early-settlement/
https://maaori.com/people/maoriara.htm

Fault lines/Volcanos
New Zealand suffers from several major and minor fault lines which are caused by the constant stress from movement between the Pacific and Australian plates. On the North Island the Wellington Fault runs from north to south through the middle of the island where we have many volcanoes and hot springs. On the south island the Alpine Fault runs from the Marlborough area (known for its wine!) through the high mountains to the coast. Minor faults include the Christchurch Fault that devastated the city in 2010.

Half-way there but we can’t see anything – only fog!
“The Tongariro Crossing”
In reading about New Zealand we had read about a famous walk on the North Island which leads through a pass between volcanoes. The volcanoes in Tongariro National Park are part of the long line of volcanic and earthquake activity that extends around the Pacific Ocean as the Ring of Fire. This activity is caused by the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates pushing against each other, with the Pacific Plate being forced under the Australian Plate in the North Island.
In spite of the fact that doing the “Tongariro Crossing” is a very touristy thing to do (hundreds of people do this walk every day!), we decided we should do this, too. The walk is 19 kilometres long, goes up steep sides of the volcano and along the ridge of craters. It is supposed to give spectacular views! I say ‘supposed to’ because we walked in thick fog most of the day! The walking was good though exhausting and we did see some bits of the lakes below us. At the other side we were picked up by our shuttle and went back to our motel for a soak in a jacuzzi. See: www.tongarirocrossing.org.nz/
The view could be better!


Constant hot water – anyone for a cup of tea?

“Wai-O-Tapu Wonderland” – hot springs everywhere!!
Our next stop was to be in Rotorua, well-known for hot springs. In fact, the whole area in the middle of the North Island has areas of hot springs and geysers – as you drive along the main highways, you see steam rising out of some of the meadows and woods! The areas where many hot springs appear on the surface are often commercialised and you have to pay to go in. We saw the sign to “Wonderland” and spontaneously decided to drive in. Luckily, there weren’t masses of people there and the entry fee of 35 dollars per person was worth it – we had a great time walking around the various springs, all of which have amusing names. In spite of missing the daily 10am eruption of the main geyser, “Lady Knox Geyser“, we really enjoyed this visit.Irmi must be angry with her husband again – she has got steam coming out of her ears!
Yummie – pea soup is my favourite!

Rotorua is also famous for Maori villages and culture. However, we
were told at our motel that you cannot visit the villages, and that there is no museum as such: you can only go to an evening performance with a typical Maori dinner for 140 dollars per person! It all seemed very commercial and expensive, so we decided to go to the “Polynesian Spa” instead. a wise decision! This was a great experience: the spa lies directly next to the lake and consists of 7-8 pools of different temperatures (35 – 42 degrees) all heated by the geothermic springs hot springs (mixed with cold water to reduce the temperature!). The guide books warn about masses of Chinese visitors but again we were lucky – at least half the bathers visitors were Chinese but it was not at all full.
See: https://www.waiotapu.co.nz/ https://www.polynesianspa.co.nz/

Chinese
We often heard and read about tensions between Australians/New Zealanders and Chinese. We had sometimes heard and read (e.g. on Trip Advisor) comments about the many Chinese tourists, how loud and badly behaved they are (but we did not experience bad behaviour). On the South Island we were surprised about the huge numbers of Chinese – we later learnt that many Chinese travel on holiday for the Chinese New Year at this time. At the Polynesian Spa at least 50% of the guests were Chinese (we assume they weren’t Japanese or Korean!).
We were also told by Australians and New Zealanders that large numbers of rich Chinese have bought houses and flats in the main cities of Australia and New Zealand and that this has resulted in big increases in house prices. The New Zealand government, we read, is now considering a new law to ban the purchase of property in New Zealand by foreigners.
Australia earns big sums of money from Chinese students – indeed, we were told that the universities had expanded to has allowed large numbers of Chinese students. Many then receive visas and manage to find work and stay in the country. Well, we do not have any statistics but this is what people here say to us in conversation. However, when we take our granddaughter to the local playgrounds, most of the families are Chinese. When we went to the local shopping mall called Chadstone, which apart from being the biggest shopping mall in the southern hemisphere mostly consists of the most expensive shops (Givenchy, Prada, etc), at least 60% of customers were Chinese-looking. We felt as if we were in Hong Kong! It is also well known that shopping is a favourite pastime among Chinese.


Maori sailed in such boats from Polynesia

Hamilton
On our last day in New Zealand we were due to fly to Melbourne from Auckland at 6pm, so we knew we did not have enough time to drive into Auckland and visit the city. We were also keen to learn a bit more about Maori culture and we had the bright idea of going to the culture museum “Waikato Museum” in Hamilton, which is on the way to Auckland. This museum was a great hit! Firstly, it was in a lovely position by the Waikato River where we could enjoy a coffee in beautiful surroundings, and secondly it contained lots of information and artefacts. By great chance we met a lady Maori who told us a few interesting things. She had heard Irmi and I say we’d like to read more about Maori daily life and she came over and introduced herself. She told us about her own family, that her mother was half Scottish, but she regarded herself as Maori even if she is only part Maori, and that this is how all Maoris think of themselves. Maybe this is a political attitude to keep the numbers up, but she seemed totally convinced that she, her children and ten grandchildren were all 100% Maori! When we parted, she gave us the Maori greetings, which consists of two people pressing nose and forehead together in silence for about one minute!! What happens if you have 20 guests?! See: http://waikatomuseum.co.nz/
Run for your life!

The end of our New Zealand adventure – back to Melbourne
We had an evening flight of 3.5 hours from Auckland to Melbourne, which was 10 degrees warmer! Unlike the flight to New Zealand with cheap Jetstar (like Ryanair), we flew back on an Airbus A380 with Emirates, so we had full dinner service and TV monitor. Our son picked us up at the airport, so we had a very comfortable journey home!

New Zealand – North Island

Crossing Cook Strait to the North Island
After one very pleasant week in Picton, we had a booking for the Interislander Ferry to the North Island. Our host John, who also has a sailing boat, told us that crossing Cook Strait was often difficult due to the strong currents, rocks and crosswinds – „Just look at the number of shipwrecks there“ he said! Consequently, when we heard that the weather forecast was going to be stormy, Irmi, who gets seasick in a rowing boat on Dresden park lake („Carolasee“), was rather worried – well, she had been violently sick for 6 hours on crossing the English Channel a few months ago. Anyway, Irmi, due to a lucky break in the weather and some modern chemicals, survived the crossing.
This crossing must be one of the most dramatic in the world! Firstly, the ferry takes over an hour to sail through the Queen Charlotte Sound with its wonderful setting of mountains, forests and coves. After crossing the strait the ship turns into the beautiful, natural harbour of Wellington – this is very impressive with skyscrapers and lovely colonial houses on the hillsides. I spent nearly the whole journey on the deck looking for dolphins and whales, but they flatly refused to show themselves (it has been the same with koalas in Australia)!
Ferry leaving the mouth of Queen Charlotte Sound – what scenery!

Just coming into Wellington Harbour

Wellington, capital city of New Zealand
The capital was moved from Auckland to Wellington in 1865. Situated at the southern tip of the North Island, Wellington enjoys a more central position and it was very difficult for members of parliament to travel to Auckland, which lies in the north of the North Island. Auckland, with 1.5 million inhabitants, is still over 3 times bigger than Wellington (400,000 inhabitants). The city is named after the Duke of Wellington, who is famous for (1) defeating Napolean’s army (together with a Prussian army under von Blücher) at the battle of Waterloo, Belgium, in 1815, and (2) inventing rubber boots for his army in muddy fields – today most British people call these „wellies“.

Our hostel „The Dwellington“
When looking for accommodation in Wellington, we found the city hotels and Airbnbs expensive. Because of the low price and amusing name, our attention was drawn to a hostel called „The Dwellington“ (a blended name from Wellington and the verb „to dwell“, a synonym of to live). We had often stayed in youth hostels but never in a plain „hostel“ and when our friend Helen Lauer (a New Zealander who helped us prepare our journey with lots of useful tips) warned us about hostels (her son had brought home bedbugs from a hostel in Berlin), I had reservations. Irmi, however, insisted on this hostel, so it was booked for 2 nights. Well, we had a pleasant surprise! „The Dwellington“ is situated between the Chinese and the American embassies, so we had no problems with security! It is a typical, grand colonial building made of wood with large bedrooms. The only (small) disadvantage is that you have to share bathrooms. In the mornings we grey nomads shared the big kitchen with all the 20-year-olds on work and travel visas!

New Zealand – South Island: Week 2 (just the two of us in Picton)

Family reunion (short and sweet!) in Christchurch
By incredible coincidence my brother Alan and his wife Fiona, together with two of Fiona’s sisters, were visiting New Zealand at the same time! We agreed to meet for the couple of hours in Christchurch when our paths were to cross. However, we were late getting there and when we did arrive, we could not find their motel. Bobby saved the day by taking a taxi, returning with them and then we then had about 1 hour together!
In the 2 hours we were in Christchurch we could see the result of the devastation by the earthquake (of 6.3 magnitude) in 2011 when 185 people were killed. The destroyed houses and blocks have mostly been removed and so now a lot of empty areas and gaps between houses remain – it looks a very sad sight.

Tree House Hotel
After returning the Britz van and saying goodbye to Bobby, Sidsel and Mila (they had to return to Melbourne), we picked up our hire car and drove north to the Tree House Hotel in Cheviot. This was quite an experience! A very dynamic couple had built a house, mostly by themselves, with great imagination. They are in the middle of building guest rooms in a treehouse in a huge tree – luckily for us, they were not finished, so we could stay in a normal room in their house!

A week in Picton
After travelling around for a week in the confined space of a camper van, we had decided to spend a week in one place. On the Airbnb website we chose a friendly-looking flat in Picton, a small harbour town at the north end of the South Island where the ferries to the North Island leave. At first we were a little bit shocked by the run-down, shabby state of the flat but it was cosy, spacious and mostly clean. Our host John, however, was a very friendly pensioner who spoke amazingly good German as he had worked in Germany and had even had a German wife in his first life (that’s the best way to learn a language!). John gave us good tips on walks, wine-tasting etc and we had some deep discussions on society and politics. John’s garden was wild and overgrown but this also gave the house and entrance an exotic feeling!

In spite of Picton being quite small, we found enough to do there – good walks, a museum, an aquarium, a cinema and some nice shops – and especially there was lovely waterfront and marina with the channel surrounded by mountains.

Captain Cook and Marlborough Sounds

The very north of the South Island includes a complex collection of peninsulars and islands called Marlborough Sounds. The main channel, Queen Charlotte Sound, is the ferry route. These parts are quite isolated – there are a few holiday homes and the access is mostly only by boat. We took a boat trip of 90 minutes to get to Ship Cove, the point where captain Cook first landed in New Zealand in his ship „The Endeavour“ in 1777.

From Ship Cove starts one of the best known hiking paths in New Zealand, the Queen Charlotte Track. After arriving in Ship Cove, we then had a fabulous walk along this track by the coast to Furneaux Lodge at Endeavour Inlet. There is a romantic hotel here with a great bar and a lovely lawn reaching down to the water. A wedding, in the open on the grass before the sea, was just starting as we arrived. This was – beautiful New Zealand beer and entertainment! And luckily, the boat picking us up was late!

Craft Beer
You might already know that a beer revolution has been going on (in Germany too) called „craft beer“. These kinds of beer usually have a more fruity taste. Australia, and especially New Zealand, are well-known for growing aromatic, fruity hops and in the last decade hundreds of new, small breweries have started up – it’s a real cult here, it seems!
The New Zealanders mostly drink rather hoppy IPA (Indian Pale Ale) beers which are much stronger in taste than traditional German beer. They mostly buy beer in smaller bottles (33 ml) and it’s expensive: in shops 3-4 dollars (2-3 euros) per bottle and in bars about 7-10 dollars (= 4-6 euros), so you need to sip it and savour the taste!!
These beers also have amusing names like „Yeastie Boys“, Panhead Supercharger“, „Dirty Boots“, „Sauvignon Bomb“. In Arrowtown I made the mistake of asking the barman about a beer flavour, and he then went into great detail about the flavours of his different beers using the kind of flowery language which I only knew from descriptions of wine and whiskey. You can find some nice examples on this website: www.brb.co.nz

New Zealand – South Island: Week 1 (with Bobby, Sidsel and Mila)

Landing in Queenstown
Landing in Queenstown was unexpectedly dramatic! We took an early morning flight from Melbourne to Queenstown, which lies in the mountains in the south of the south island. The flight-path for landing is between the mountains – as you approach the runway, you see mountainsides on both sides of the plane! We were told that this is one of the most difficult landings in the world for pilots (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rhkbia1dMcI). Anyway, we made it!

Immigration Control
Entry into New Zealand is very strict, maybe more so than into Australia – no foodstuff whatsoever (no sandwiches, no chocolates, no fruit etc) – as you walk towards the inspection area, you see rubbish bins and big signs with „Fines up to 100,000 dollars and 5 years in prison“ and „You have been warned!“. I still had half a packet of cough pastilles, which I quickly threw into a bin, just to be on the safe side! Then came the dogs (Beagles), sniffing around our clothes and bags. We had to take our shoes off and, when inspecting Irmi’s shoes with a magnifying glass, the customs officer exclaimed triumphantly, „There is a grass seed under your lace!“ I thought she would go to prison but thankfully that was not necessary! Fortunately, we survived all the inspections and felt very relieved to be allowed into the country!

Arrowtown and the Gold Rush
We picked up our Britz camper van for 6 people and made our way to Arrowtown, just 20 kilometres from Queenstown. This is where the Gold Rush in New Zealand started. The town today looks a bit like a wild west town as we know them from cowboy films. It has a pretty setting next to the Arrow River. After the first Gold diggers left, a lot of Chinese golddiggers arrived. They were obviously treated quite badly and shunned by the locals so they built their huts outside the town. Today you can still see several of these huts and placards explaining the history of the Chinese in Arrowtown. Mostly, they seem to have led sad lives – young married men who never saw their families again and often succumbed to opium to numb the homesickness and the cold.

Queenstown
During our 3 days in Arrowtown we spent one whole day in Queenstown. What we had not realized was that Queenstown is one of the main centres of mountain biking in the world. Indeed, in summer the town is full of MTB enthusiasts from the northern hemisphere, so you meet lots of Americans and Europeans here. The centre of town was full of young people in the many restaurants and bars next to the lake. We learned later from my brother and his wife, who by great coincidence, were staying in Queenstown at nearly the same time, that all accommodation was booked out. Because my brother had not booked accommodation, they had to pay 840 dollars (= ca 525 euros) for one night in a holiday flat!
The cable cars are specially equipped for taking bikes to the tops – Bobby had booked a bike and half-day pass, so we saw him a couple of times as he waited for the gondola or sped down the hill. We took the gondola to a mid station and then went Walking up Ben Lomond (names here are often taken from England or Scotland!) Sidsel bravely carried Mila and we had a good hike. Liuckily, we had glorious weather.

Geography and population
From the airplane you realize how mountainous this country is. Unlike in the European Alps, you see many areas with no towns or villages in the valleys. Looking at the map of New Zealand, you can see that half the country is uninhabitable and many parts of the mountains are almost impossible to get get to!
It might surprise you to learn (it did me!) that New Zealand has a poulation of only 4.7 million and the land has a population density of 18 people per square kilometre (Germany 229). This explains why there are not many main roads here, and you can drive on main roads for many minutes without seeing another car!

Tourism and foreigners
Our first impression: there are more Chinese here than New Zealanders!! Everywhere we went (tourist areas, of course) there were hundreds, if not thousands of Chinese. However, we learned that last week was Chinese New Year, so this might go some way to explaining this phenomenon. We have read that New Zealand gains a lot of income from Chinese toursists. We also read that the government here wants to introduce a new law which would forbid foreigners who do not reside in New Zealand from buying property as investments here. This seems to be a particular problem in Auckland and Wellington where there are many empty flats owned by Chinese.
Consequently, the house prices in New Zealand have risen considerably (e.g. by 18% in Wellington in 2017!).

Milford Sound
Milford Sound is a famous waterway leading to the open sea South Fjordland National Park and which is accessible.The long drive there along winding roads was worth it! The cruise was truly magnificent and certainly lived up to the brochure’s description: „a stunning natural attraction with a magical combination of mountain peaks, ink-dark waters and superb dramatic forest-clad cliffs“.

Mount Cook
Our next adventure was to drive to the highest mountain of New Zealand, Mount Cook, which is 3,724 metres high. In Mount Cook National Park there are 14 peaks over 3,000 metres. This is where Sir Edmund Hilary, maybe the most famous New Zealander, practised before his ascent of Mount Everest in 1953. Near the foot of Mount Cook is a very simple government campsite which cannot be booked in advance. As it is a question of first come, first served, we were worried we might not get a place. Again, after a long, fast drive (well done, Bobby!) through beautiful valleys and a lot of strong wind (we saw one van turned over!), we managed to find a good spot for the van. We decided to do the Hooker Valley Track, a 10-kilometer hike to a glacial lake where you have a great view of Mount Cook. It was a difficult walk in very strong gales over high,swinging bridges, looking down on a wild, cascading river.

Snakes, spiders and other delightful animals

We have all heard stories of dangerous animals in Australia – it’s true!! We have only been here for 4 weeks and have already experienced some dangerous animals and heard of dangerous situations.

Spiders
In her first year in Australia our daughter-in-law was bitten in the house by a little white spider called a whitetail (lampona cylindrata and lampona murina – the Latin names sound much more harmless!). Luckily, she recognised the danger and drove quickly to the hospital where she was given an antidote to the poison.
Outside our son’s front door, in a corner above the door, was sitting for several days a huntsman spider (sometimes known as a giant crab spider) – as we keep our shoes there, we have been sure to check the spider has not crept inside! They are not life-threatening but a bite is painful and causes heart palpitations! Last week we found a huntsman spider in the bathroom – our son was concerned because we had opened the window to let the steam out – don’t do that – the spiders will come in!! And when camping in the Grampians we found a huntsman spider in our tent!!
On returning from our trip to Adelaide we stayed 2 nights in a caravan park in Port Fairy. This is a lovely fishing port and holiday resort on the Great Ocean Road between Melbourne and Adelaide. One morning we found a spider by the toilet window – I took some toilet paper and quickly killed it by squeezing it hard in the paper and flushing it down the toilet (very rapidly in one movement!). Afterwards we looked it up on the Internet – Irmi is sure it was a funnel-web spider (very poisonous) and I was suddenly the hero!

First Camping Trip

10 days ago we set off in a hired car on our first little adventure. Our plan was to spend 3 days camping in the Grampian mountains (300 kilometres), then visit our friends Ingeborg and Andrew in Adelaide (475 kilometres), go camping with them and then make our way back to Bobby’s in Melbourne.

Driving through the country –
Driving in the city is rather similar but once you leave the city things change dramatically! The motorway from Melbourne to Adelaide has only one single lane in each direction, but it does have an overtaking section of maybe one kilometre that returns every 10 kilometres! Much of the time we were driving on an empty motorway! Australia is, of course, very thinly populated (25 million inhabitants and 3 people per square kilometre), and 90% of Australians live in big coastal cities. Consequently, few people travel by car between the cities – nearly everyone flies if they need to travel large distances.

Stay awake!
Imagine you are the only car driving along a straight road for hundreds of kilometres at 110 kph (the maximum speed limit!): the scenery is the same on both sides (eucalyptus trees, gigantic fields of burnt grass) and it is nearly 40 degrees outside! After a couple of hours of driving and looking for koalas in the tree tops and kangaroos in the fields, the eyelids get heavier and heavier!! Australian motorways have lots of clever signs advising you to have break, take a nap etc.

Camping in the Grampians National Park
The campsites in the national parks are quite wild and are unmanned, so you have to book them online. I stupidly booked a place without really looking to see where it was! When we arrived at Halls Gap, the main town in the Grampians, we went directly to the information centre to get a map, find out where the campsite was and get some general information on the walks. When we were told our campsite was 30 minutes down a long, unsealed road and it was just possible to get there in a 2-wheel drive vehicle, we already had a feeling of foreboding. We set off and, sure enough, it was a terribly rough winding track down a deserted valley with the campsite at the bottom. The campsite had no other campers, no trees, no walking routes, no mobile phone signal, no nothing!! Luckily, an Aborigine ranger came by in a van and advised us to change camps by ringing the park’s central office – if we drove back up to a look-out point on the main road, we should have a signal, he said. It was 4.15 pm and the park office was to close at 5 o’ clock (as does everything in Australia, it seems!), so we sped back up the hill as fast as the terrain would allow, and then had one single bar of signal on my mobile! Luck was on our side – the lady in the office was very helpful and at 4.55 we had a new booking on a campsite near MacKenzie Falls, a popular tourist spot. Our site was great – under trees, some other campers around and walking trails, too!

Heatwave in Australia!
Have you experienced over 40 degrees in the shade? On our first day we walked to the MacKenzie Falls, quite dramatic waterfalls and a pretty river with pools and lots of rocks. There were ‘No Swimming’ notices everywhere but that didn’t stop Irmi! (Actually, we were told that someone had drowned there 4 weeks earlier). Well, we managed the walk to Zumstein (7 kilometres there and back) but it was tough in that scorching heat! The heatwave continued and 4 days later we were camping in Deep Creek National Park (opposite Kangaroo Island, near Adelaide) with our friends Ingeborg, Andrew and Eli. On one walk Andrew nearly collapsed from the heat – his wife poured cold water from a stream over his head – boy, did he scream becuase of the temperature difference (I would have done so, too)!

Australia Day – unfair to Aborigines?
We arrived in Adelaide on Australia Day. On this day, 26 January 1788, British ships arrived at Port Jackson and the flag of Great Britain was raised in Sydney Cove. At that time the whole of Australia was inhabited by hundreds of Aborigine nations who, after being there for 40,000 years, were decimated and generally treated very badly by the British colonists. The Aborigine people today call this day ‘Invasion Day’ and demand a change of date to celebrate the national holiday. There is a lot of debate in the media with the Green party being especially vocal in support of the Aborigine standpoint, but our impression is that most whites don’t care.
In the evening Ingeborg took us into the centre of Adelaide to the Australia Day celebrations consisting of concerts and a huge fireworks display.

Foreplay

Dramatis Personae
HER = long-suffering wife, multi-talented and young at heart BUT always sensible and very conscientious
HIM = restless husband, can be impatient and annoying BUT not always sensible and conscientious

April 2017:
HIM: How about celebrating my retirement at Bobby’s?
HER: What, a party in Melbourne?
HIM: No, not just a party. Let’s spend the winter there!
HER: Oh, yeah, Bobby will love that – 3 months of you telling him to go to church!
HIM: No, only 81 days – I’ve worked it out. You see, if we …….
HER: No way! I love the winter in Germany.
HIM: Yes, but we could support the family – cook meals, clean the house, do the gardening, change Mila’s nappies, …
HER: Sounds like a great holiday! And what will you do while I’m doing all those things? Write a blog?

May 2017:
HIM: You know my idea about visiting Bobby and Sidsel next winter?
HER: Not that again!
HIM: Well, Bobby thinks it’s a good idea.
HER: And your daughter-in-law? Does she fancy having you around for weeks on end?
HIM: She loves the idea.
HER: She doesn’t know you properly.
HIM: OK, OK, I get the message.

June 2017:
HIM: Bobby’s just sent a message – when are we going to visit them?
HER: You don’t give up, do you?
HIM: Come on! You know you want to go, too!
HER: Maybe, but I’d miss the snow and the skiing, and you’d miss the mulled wine.
HIM: Yes, but winters are a thing of the past anyway. Climate change and all that.
HER: And how will flying to the other side of the world help the climate?
HIM: Touché. Well, we’ll just pay into Atmosfair.
HER: That’ll cost us a bomb.
HIM: It’ll just be a bigger bomb then. We’ll save on Christmas – no tree, no presents and no whiskey.
HER: You must be joking!
HIM: OK, a half bottle of whiskey, then.
HER: That’s better – I’ll think about it.

One week later:
HIM: I’ve been to the travel agent’s. Maria’s given us a quote – four thousand euros for flights, including 5 days in Abu Dhabi on the way there.
HER: Abu Dhabi?
HIM: Yes, Maria says all women get a free burka from the airline on arrival. And there’s an indoor skirun on the edge of the City.
HER: Skiing? In the desert?
HIM: Don’t worry – you can take off the burka whilst you ski.
HER: Oh, very generous! You can stick your burka up ……
HIM: Calm down – it’s just a joke! What about Bangkok – we missed the ancient capital last time.
HER: Oh, I’d like to go there. Let’s book it! How many days did you say?
HIM: Eighty-one.

Grammar: contractions
In speech and informal writing English Speakers very often contract or shorten verbs and the word ’not‘ by leaving out a syllable and, in writing, adding an apostrophe, e.g. could have = could’ve; does not = doesn’t.
You can practise this with the following exercises (NB: the solutions will be added soon!)

Exercise 1: What are the full forms of the contractions taken from the dialogues in the text ‘Foreplay’? The first one has been done for you.
1. Let’s spend the winter there! Let us
2. I’ve worked it out. __________
3. … while I’m doing all those things? __________
4. Bobby thinks it’s a good idea. __________
5. She doesn’t know you properly. __________
6. Bobby’s just sent a message –
7. Maybe, but I’d miss the snow and the skiing, and you’d miss the mulled wine. __________, __________
8. Well, we’ll just pay into Atmosfair. __________
9. That’ll cost us a bomb. __________
10. It’ll just be a bigger bomb then. __________
11. That’s better – I’ll think about it. __________, __________
12. And there’s an indoor skirun on the edge of the city. __________

Exercise 2: Find the contractions in the following sentences and write out the full forms.
1. You’d already seen the play, hadn’t you? You had, had you not*
2. He’d better speak to Catherine. __________
3. You’ll help us with the repairs, won’t you? __________, __________
4. John’s found a new job. __________
5. He’s moving to London next week, isn’t he? __________, __________
6. She’s moved to Manchester, hasn’t she? __________, __________
7. He can play the flute, can’t he? __________
8. It’d be a great step forward, I think. __________
9. He said he’d meet us tomorrow morning. __________
10. Mary’s never been to Brighton before. __________
11. There’ll be a lot of traffic today, won’t there. __________
12. Who’s got time to help Mrs Jones with her shopping? __________

* Such full forms as tag questions are not often used in modern, spoken English

First stop: Bangkok

Flight
Having survived the 10-hour flight (3 films, chicken curry, chicken sausages, numb legs) in one piece with 505 other sardines, spending an hour at the back of the immigration queue, and encountering a wall of humid 35 degrees at the exit, we were then able to enjoy the luxury of an air-conditioned taxi journey through the early morning rush hour into the centre of Bangkok. Nice hotel, surrounded by lively street vendors and mobile cook shops. Unbeknown to us, the hotel specialises in Muslim guests – imagine our disappointment at no naked bathing or late-night disco but at least we have a fridge in our room for our smuggled bottles of Singha*!

Exercise 1: Find the English words in the text above for:
1. Schlange (stehen) –
2. heil überleben –
3. Enttäuschung –
4. eingeschlafen –
5. schwül –
6. klimatisiert –
7. Hauptverkehrszeit –
8. ohne jmds. Wissen –
9. nackt –
10. umgeben von –
*Singha – Thai brand of beer

General
Bangkok is said to be a great introduction to the Asian way of life. Here you will find a captivating mixture of bustling street life, friendly people and fascinating history, and all in a relatively safe environment! Bangkok is especially famous for its street kitchens, temples and waterways. It’s an ideal stopover if you’re travelling to Australia or New Zealand. We came here 7 years ago for 3 days and, as we had really enjoyed the visit and did not manage to see all the main sights, we decided to come again, this time for 5 days. There’s masses to see and do and, moreover, it’s quite cheap!

Money
We exchanged 250 euros into Thai currency called Baht and in the end we had a difficult job trying to spend it – this amount easily lasted 5 days for all meals, drinks, entrance fees, taxis, ferries, some clothes, a pair of sandals etc!

Food and drink
The street kitchens are wonderful! As you walk along, you see lots of Thai people sitting and eating on tiny, primary school plastic seats on the pavement next to a mobile cooker. In the evenings some streets are transformed into food courts – the national dish of fried noodles with egg and prawns (‘pad thai’) here costs less than 2 euros, and the beer (600 ml) is also 2 euros!

Ayatthaya
Bangkok was only founded in 1768 after the previous capital, Ayutthaya, which lies approximately 50 kilometres north of Bangkok, had been invaded and destroyed by the Burmese army. After visiting the Royal Palace, royal temples, stupas (shaped like mounds and containing relics and ashes of important priests) we asked Artty, our guide, to stop in a typical street so that we could look around: by chance we came across a temple being renovated after floods. A lady was painstakingly restoring the intricately decorated window shutters – working full-time at one window a month!
Artty told us the very sad story of a Thai queen, Sunanda Kumariratana, (daughter of King Rama IV), and her daughter who both drowned when the royal boat capsized on the way to the Summer Palace. The many witnesses to the accident did not dare to touch the queen, because that was a capital offense — not even to save her life. The grief-stricken King then changed the law so that subject were allowed to touch royalty.

Seasons
Thailand does not have 4 seasons like in Germany but only has 3 Seasons. According to our guide, these are called:
(1) hot (2) hotter (3) hottest

Speaking English
The impression we had was that hardly anybody in Bangkok speaks English well enough to communicate anything more than the prices, so it’s definitely a good idea to book a guided tour. We have had some good guides but even their English is not easy to understand! Thais find it difficult to say consonants, but the context helps:
In front of massage parlour: “mada wa a massa?” = ”Madame, do you want a massage?”
In front of a tailor’s: “Sir lai a soo?” = „Sir, do you want a suit?” (or, in other contexts, “soup”!)
At a temple: “No poi fee a Buddha” = „Don’t point your feet at the Buddha!“

Wat
You find a splendid ‘wat’, a Buddhist temple, every 500 metres! The walled area around the wat make for great retreats from the street noise! Meditate in front of the buddha statue but make sure you don’t point your feet at him! Outside is the Bodhi tree, a type of fig tree under which Gautama Buddha first achieved spiritual enlightenment.

Chao Phraya river and the Klongs
Water, water everywhere!! We had great fun being squashed like sardines on overloaded Express Boats racing up and down the river (no TÜV)! The express boats and the tuc-tucs are an exciting way to get around the city! Just zip along the klongs, man-made canals that connect various sections of the main river – or take a longtail boat driven by huge open lorry engines and spot the monitor lizards and riverside houses on stilts.

Farangs
‘Farang’ is Thai for white European: we saw a lot of mixed marriages but not one older European woman with an older Thai man!

Exercise
Find the words from the texts above (from General) which match the definitions below – the lines correspond to the number of letters in the words – some of the letters are given:

1. Long sticks which hold up houses in areas which are often flooded. You can also walk on these to make you seem taller!
_ _ i _ _ s

2. These are the body remains of religious leaders after death and which are kept in a church or temple.
_ e _ _ c _

3. This is an adjective which describes a lively street with people rushing around.
b _ _ t _ _ _ g

4. This verb describes a boat or ship that sinks.
_ a _ s _ _ _

5. This word describes a positive mental state in which you gain wisdom and you see the truth.
_ n _ _ _ _ _ m _ _ _

6. A time of the year where the weather changes.
_ _ a s _ _

7. This verb (past form) describes having very little space, being pushed and pressed on all sides.
_ q _ _ _ _ e _

8. You find these in front of windows to keep out the sunlight.
_ h _ _ t _ _ s

9. This verb describes death by taking too much water into your lungs.
_ r _ _ n

10. This is the fruit of a Mediterranean tree – in northern Europe we usually eat them in the dried form.
_ i _

11. This describes a big vehicle used for transporting goods – Americans call this a truck.
_ o _ _ _

12. This is what you feel when someone close to you has died.
_ _ i e _

13. This adjective means very small:
_ i _ _

14. These animals look like crocodiles without the big teeth but a long tongue like a snake:
_ _ n _ _ o _ / l _ _ _ _ d

15. This adjective describes the one before:
_ r _ v _ _ _ _

16. This is a person who saw an event first hand and can give a testimony:
_ _ t _ _ _ s

17. This is clothing worn mostly by men – it describes two pieces that match each other, usually a jacket and trousers:
_ u _ _

18. This verb means to show the courage required to do something difficult:
_ _ _ e

19. This noun refers to the area around. It can also mean the natural world around us:
_ _ v _ _ o _ _ _ _ _

20. This noun describes the name of the money used by a country:
_ u _ _ e _ _ _