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Thursday, 31 May 2012

A weekend in Sweden and beyond.

Last Saturday we drove just over an hour to Lubeck and took a ferry to southern Sweden. It was a huge ferry with 2 decks to load cars, lorries and Harley Davidsons (yes! there were a group of them). The journey took about 7 hours. During this time we played with the kids, watched movies, ate, read, slept. A very relaxing start to a long weekend.

Our base was Malmo. The guide book in Malmo suggested a playground tour! Perfect for our kids. After a huge breakfast we headed to our first stop.

Here is M on top of a butterfly.....

Now you can see the Alice in Wonderland structure that themed the whole play ground. It was fantastic. Then onto a playground featuring all metal sculptures that the kids could climb, balance and swing from. We then headed to a beautiful main park with an wooden play area that offered a spider shaped slide and a circular wooden path with little wooden shops along the route to play in. All very different and imaginative. It was then off to the beach to watch brave Swedes swimming in the sea that was 15 degrees C.

The next day we forked out the 43 Euro to drive one way across this amazing bridge. You can just see Copenhagen in the distance. Its called the Oresund Bridge with (2 dots above the O) or the Sound Bridge.

This is the middle section of the 8km long bridge. Then there is an artificial island which links it to a underwater tunnel of about 4km. There a wind farms on either side and you can watch the planes landing into Copenhagen...the reason for the tunnel section. We then headed north the visit the Hamlet castle.

This is the place where the Danish family became very rich - Kronborg. They controlled the sound between Denmark and Sweden and charged each boat passing a fee. They became more sophisticated over time and charged a percentage of the cargo and got first dibs on buying it.

 For those that tried to get away, there were cannons to stop their passage.

The castle became most famous as the place in which Hamlet is set. In fact there was a crazy Danish king after whom it is believed inspired Shakespeare to write the play. Each summer a theatre group comes to Kronberg and perform the play. You can also purchase Hamlet dolls from the castle shop...some child had the camera at this point.....

We danced our way through the grand ballroom with the most amazing wooden beamed ceiling.

We then ended up in a play room with large buckets of lego and lots of drawing equipment...the kids highlight of the castle tour.

In keeping with the weekend ferry theme we took another car ferry from Helsingor Denmark to Helsingborg in Sweden. The narrowest point between the 2 countries. Then it was a short drive back to Malmo and home the next day. Now is back to business as usual as the May long weekends are now over. Bring on the summer!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

How to make Kaiserschmarrn

An alternative title to this entry could be: "The way to your Austrians heart".

Anyone who has skied in Austria will know about this yummy broken up fluffy pancake usually served with plum sauce/compote. It can be accompanied with jam, icing sugar, apple or other fruit compote. It is often the main part of the meal in Austria. For example, entree = soup, main = kaiserschmarrn. A reason to love Austria....sweets for lunch!

Here is an Australian take on the recipe.

What you need:
4 eggs separated
200g flour
250ml milk
2 tablespoons of icing sugar
pinch of salt
(grated lemon rind - optional)
1 1/2 tablespoons of butter for cooking

In a jug or bowl mix the egg yolks, milk, flour, salt and lemon rind.
In another bowl beat the egg whites and icing sugar till you have fluffy peaks. Gently fold in the egg yolk mix into the egg white mix.

Heat the butter in a large frying pan. You should have a thin film of butter all over the pan. When its nice and warm and starting to bubble pour in the whole mix. Then I turn down the heat of my electric stove to medium. You want to get a brown crispy bottom (not burnt). Check regularly to see how the bottom is cooking. When it is crispy make an X through the mixture so its cut into quarters. Then you turn each quarter over to start cooking the other side. This is the trickiest part of the recipe!

The 3rd quarter is flipped!
After another minute you can put on your Japanese samurai warrior outfit and start chopping up the pancake into chunks. The outside of the chunks should be slightly crispy and the inside light and fluffy - well that's they way we like it. Serve and eat. Share with family or friends...only if you feel like it. Its a great alternative to cooking up multiple individual pancakes.

Here is M's serving suggestion of the day: yogurt and 2 types of jam. We used our Austrian plates from Gmundner - this is one of their traditional designs they have been making for over 300 years.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

400th Anniversary

There are 2 major events in the Estebrugge calendar. The Schutzenfest and the Estebrugger Markt. The recent long weekend was a 4 day celebration of the local shooting guild's 400th anniversary. Tonight it culminates in a Ball in a very large tent down the road at the guilds practice range. Its like a local version of Octoberfest.

The days have been syncopated with bands marching here and there around the village. Guilds from other villages have joined the throng, so the place has been a buzz with people in top hat and tails or guild uniforms covered with medals and a hat with a feather in them.

Check out the guy in the middle just covered in medals. You don't want to be a deer around him!

Over at the tent one of the bands were entertaining the crowds.
M is now a professional dodgem car driver.

Apart from A LOT of beer, there were plenty of sweets to be had...Oh I get a sore tooth just looking at so much sugar.

A little someone enjoyed the little kids ride in blue fire truck.

On Saturday the children's parade was led by the local band. Here they are passing over "our" bridge. We see it open and close now many times a day as the boats come and go. You may have noticed that the band leader dyed a section of her hair to match the thats dedication.

All in all a good weekend. We had the usual 4 seasons in a day, but the weather held out for the most important parts!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Matching hand me down jackets

When you are the 2nd, 3rd or maybe 4th child in a family, the chances are very high that a lot of your  "younger years" wardrobe will be from an older sibling. We knew a family in Budapest whose oldest was a girl but the 2 younger boys were more often than not seen in flower leggins or pink jumpers. We hope to visit them in August, so will provide an update!

Luckily for these sweet girls, they have older sisters who both had the same pink jacket. Introducing the Estebrugger jacket twins!

This was one of their first play dates and the matching jackets ensured that their friendship was meant to be! That and a mutual affection for Hello Kitty ;-)

A dream garden in Estebrugger

On Mothers Day we were invited to a garden birthday party of a local lady. She and her family run a holiday stay in their huge old farm house. There are in fact 3 holiday apartments that they rent out. The roof is a reed roof and the house is surrounded by a large garden with lots of different corners to play, run and hide out. Perfect for fact there were about 30 kids at the party but you would not have known. Talking of kids they have 3 of their own plus these 2...

A great cubby house...with princess zone!

 And a very popular water to a tree with a swing.
More installments from our local magic garden when we visit again soon....

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The first outing of the season...

Here are the girls dressed for the inaugural canoe trip of 2012.
With a balmy 13.2 degrees Celsius, they headed up stream to Buxtehude in our canoe called Molly. Living on a tidal river, the Este, means that the windows of opportunity occur every 12 and a half hours or so. The Este river runs off the Elbe (big river going into/out off Hamburg). Buxtehude is about 5km away, so about 40mins paddling with our lot. 

The girls are both aboard and young "A" you may have noticed is methodically testing her whistle. Whilst  "M" in the following picture struggles with her canoe paddle, having forgotten which way to use it since last year! OK, she was trying to push out, but got it all a bit mixed up.

There they are, off on adventure....well actually for coffee and croissants in Buxtehude whilst waiting for the tide to turn then paddle back with the outgoing water. When its a few degrees warmer we will upgrade to an ice-cream stop. I am on car duty the first time to bring back anyone who does not want to paddle back or sit still in the canoe...any guesses who that could be?

The nutella croissant gave "M" enough energy to paddle home. But "A" decided to come in the car with me and "help" cook lunch. The others arrived home well overdue (they did some detouring) to a lunch that was all cooked....perfect timing on their part.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Frohe Osterm

Oh, nein! I hear the German speakers sigh. She spelt Ostern (Easter) wrong. Its Ostern NOT Osterm.

But Osterm is what the sign I bought at my local DIY shop had one it. Exhibit A.

In an attempt to decorate my house in "Easter style" as is the done thing in this neck of the woods, I quickly purchased something to hang in our window. M arrived home from school just as I had hung it up. I was proud to show off my small attempt at home decorating (not one of my strong points) when she pointed out the spelling mistake. Oh well, thats what you get for Euro1.90 and "Not made in Germany".

I persevered and kept the Easter decoration up. Sometimes it seems like I am just waiting for the "you have been dupped" team to jump out with a camera. The problem is that they would be jumping out several times a day. When I get over it I may reveal to you the Euro 6,000 mistake...but I am still recovering from that screw up!