Retired from teaching 2016, Paul retired from being at the university of newcastle in 2017, we have started Flaire Consulting and travel round the world.
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  • Day7

    12:06:17

    June 12, 2017 in Austria ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    We went off after breakfast to see if we could find some hoopoes. We went down some lanes near the town and eventually found where we thought they might be. We parked up and were scanning the area when we were hailed by a park ranger who was quick to point out that we were not allowed to be in the park at that point as it was just for cyclists.. there was a fine of five hundred euros. We quickly turned round and headed out and instead went to look for bee eaters which were on the way to a place called wallern (spelled from memory).
    This was much more successful as we not only found their nesting cliffs but they shared them with some jackdaws who were most entertaining to watch. We took lots of pictures and then set off to go to Hungary along the iron curtain trail. We got a bit lost but eventually took a cycle path (no wardens around, nor cyclists) to the river separating the two at a bridge. We saw some cuckoos. It was so peaceful there. After that we went back to civilisation for lunch and had deep fried breadcrumbed cheese! It was particularly unpleasant and gave us indigestion. It was made even worse as it was masquerading as salad on the menu and it was mainly hefty calories.
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  • Day6

    11.06.17

    June 11, 2017 in Austria ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    We got up early despite the vastly indulgent evening and set off to do some birdwatching around the marina and the area nearby. We parked our car and wandered about. It was lovely and quiet and we had some good sightings of the usual suspects round a lake. There were many birds a long way away, and some nice sightings of ducks and ducklings and geese and goslings. We then went to St martins spa to meet up with the seewinkel guide to be given a private bird watching tour. We had a very acceptable lunch and relaxed until two when our tour began. Our guide was called Ronald and he took us in a brand new discovery jeep to various points to see the birds. Highlights were a male great bustard still with breeding plumage strutting his stuff around a meadow whilst the female played hard to get, both to him and our binoculars.
    We saw grey partridge and pheasants.
    The Pygmy cormorant was a first for us as well
    The inevitable stork and western marsh harriers were in evidence everywhere. Also buzzards and kestrel were plentiful. We spotted a pied avocet on the wing and many northern lapwing.
    There were Eurasian curlew in the field where the bustards were and we also saw the common cuckoo.
    Another highlight was the long eared owl chick.
    The Eurasian sky lark was everywhere and we more unusual western yellow wagtail as well as the common white wagtail. We saw some other common birds, stonechat, great reed warbler, common chiffchaff, red backed shrike, carrion crow, Eurasian tree sparrow,common chaffinch, corn bunting, yellow hammer, and icterine warbler.
    We had supper at the summer kitchen and then joined the dinner guests having the special meal at the hotel. It ended with a discussion about politics.
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  • Day5

    10.06.17

    June 10, 2017 in Austria ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    We went for a long walk looking for birds. We found a rare red footed falcon and saw lots of red backed shrikes. It was hot and sunny and we walked for miles along the paths near to where we were staying, eventually returning to the hotel. We saw some fantastic white donkeys that resembled unicorns as they were so pure in colour.
    on our return we had a tour of the vineyard and learned lots of useful hints on how to look after our vine. Such as only allowing one out of the three bunches on each stem to grow to be grapes and that the vines benefit from being properly trained along the wires, a metre of vine in depth gives you the best yield. They are susceptible to frost so need protecting during the flowering period.
    We had drinks in the vineyard as the sun was setting and canapés delivered by Marie who is Angela's mum. Willi the wine maker has made wine for prince Charles and for his grandchildren Prince George and princess
    Charlotte. He was very proud and deservedly so.
    We retuned to the hotel and went down into the cellar, there were two other couples with us and we had a fantastic meal. This was cooked by Iain and it was his birthday. Every course (and there were many) was accompanied by a suitable wine. We had three deserts and three desert wines and then schnapps. We were so full and so mellow by the end of the evening. Iain is an extremely talented chef and his father in law is an extremely talented wine maker.
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  • Day5

    090617

    June 10, 2017 in Austria ⋅ 🌧 17 °C

    Had a bit of a todo picking up the car at 7:30. Although we had a voucher the car hire in vienna (Europcar) did not find the money we had already paid. Eventually they did and then we had a frantic dash back to the hotel to pick up the bags and then onward to the vet school. Paul ran his workshop all day while I purchased lots of blister plasters and then went for lunch and a sit by the beach. At 4 we drove here wein and land haus Willi Opitz for the next few days we are chilling here. It is run by a young family, Iain and Angela Ashcroft and their two children Sophie and Daniel. They have a lovely black cat called Nelson. We were on our own here last night and had another Austrian speciality rump steak and onions in a little place called bartholomews in the square.Read more

  • Day4

    090617

    June 9, 2017 in Austria ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    Election result day. It's a hung parliament. All very interesting as to how things will proceed. But definitely the hard brexit will be difficult to make happen.
    We collected our hire car, would have been ok in the time frame but it was complicated by the fact that it was a bit hectic due to the lack of any understanding that the prepaid voucher meant that we had paid for the car in advance.Read more

  • Day4

    080617

    June 9, 2017 in Austria ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    Well it's Election Day at home, and here it was shopping day for me. I learned how to use the U1 line as I was searching for a particular shop. Unfortunely the shop only sold huge sizes so I was disappointed but did walk 11 miles round Vienna. Seeing some brilliant sights.
    Met up with Paul and Yves and the work shop youngsters for a fascinating tour of the josephenium, the Kaiser who collect wax models for anatomy purposes was Kaiser Joseph, he traveled widely as he had a sister in France (Marie Antoinette) and a brother in Italy. The wax models were very beautiful as they were imported from Italy and had their flair for statues as a basis for the models. One was laid out like a Michael Angelo statue showing the lymph nodes. We then were shown the rise and fall of the automatic heart. We sat outside in a little bar called Ambulanz and enjoyed some more typical Austrian food and beer and wine. Got a taxi home.
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  • Day2

    060617 continued

    June 7, 2017 in Austria ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    We were taken by yves to the area where he lives. First we stopped at a Heurige overlooking the vineyards in a touristy village and had a glass of wine. Paul and I drank the mixed wine( Yves pointed out that this is not strictly speaking blended wine but was a blend of usually three types of grape grown next to each other in the vineyard, this means it is different every year). He told us that since the anti freeze in the wine scandal, Austria has much tighter laws about what can be put into wine and nowadays Austrian wine is some of the purest in the world. As it was now raining we jumped back into the car and drove to a quiet rural spot.
    We all emerged from the car looking dubiously at the clouds, but the rain had stopped and we followed Yves along a tiny country road where he stopped at a small double door in what looked like a tiny house. He ran up to the roof of the building via some stairs and rummaged in a secret spot for the key to the door. The giant key led into what looked like a hobbit hole. It was a primitive cellar for wine which had been dug out with simple farming tools centuries ago and had been used by one family to store their wine. Yves had bought the cellar when it became empty and now stored some Belgian beer in it and used the patioed roof area for summer picnics and barbecues. The cellar was cold and still had the slightly musty winy smell of oak barrels although there were none to be seen.
    Having admired his cellar, we continued to walk up the lane and there were many many more, some in a good state of repair and many deserted and abandoned. After this we drove to what at first appeared to be an abandoned village in the middle of fields of vineyards, this was an entirely different Kellergasse as the cellars appeared to be much larger even though the cobbled street looked barely wide enough for a horse and cart to drive along and there was almost a lawn occupying its centre ground.
    We walked up the first of the three tiny streets, stopping to marvel at the doors and glimpses of wine presses through the abandoned, often open, portals.
    After a few of these we encountered one that appeared to be fully operational and whilst marvelling at its contents we became aware that it was indeed used and the owner was just below us in the gloom of the far cellar. Yves greeted him and apologised for our nebby behaviour, but the man was not in the least perturbed and called us down to taste his wine.
    After introductions had been made, we all watched in fascination as he sucked a quantity of wine out of the barrel with a special long glass tube with a spherical top which held the wine to be tasted. He dished out glasses and we all tasted. The wine was the 2016 blend but he was somewhat vague as to its grape heritage. It was White wine and very cold without a hint of any yeasts and had a pleasant flavour. We of course, had to sample another glass and we were becoming quite jovial as all this wine was on a very empty stomach.
    We then said our goodbyes and made our way back to the village where Yves lives with his wife and dog. We enjoyed a very convivial evening and ate some traditional Austrian food.
    We took the train back to the hotel.
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  • Day2

    070617

    June 7, 2017 in Austria ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    We spent the morning walking off last nights hangover after all the wine. We walked along the north edge of the old Danube and then crossed to walk the southern edge, we walked 6 miles and enjoyed a melange coffee at the end of it. We then walked along to the vet school for lunch.Read more

  • Day1

    Vienna 060617

    June 6, 2017 in Austria ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    After a bumpy flight on take off and some slight delays we were met by Yves who took us via various bits of Vienna and a dodgy sat nav to our hotel the strand which is modern but apart from no air con is comfortable. We set off early this morning to have a coffee crawl round the various coffee cafes Vienna is famous for. First stop the cafecentral where we sat where sigmund Freud once sat and later we went to a pavement cafe. We got the metro in, very efficient, and then walked and metroed back. The parliament building was needing refurbishment and we noted that during this three year process there were to be portacabins for the parliamentary workers and both of us remarked that this would not be the case if it was the Houses of Parliament in the U.K. We walked across the old Danube and the new Danube and then to the veterinary school. Once I had walked back I had done 8.5 miles.Read more

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