Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 305

12 | 13 || 2014 : Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | Jun | Jul | Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec ||   Page : Previous | Next

Martinshof Story - Happiness - Awareness - Black Forest walks - Camino - Dolmen Tour - Travel

Most Recent - Next - Previous - Page 1 - Photos - Maps & Articles - MP3s - Jazclass

Friday 1 - Sunday 10 August, 2014 (diary)

Mango trees in full bloom We have had the fullest bloom of the Mango trees in years this year. A huge contrast with last year when there was only very little. So the chances are that we will get a large crop of fruit this year. I may just catch a few of them after I return from Europe late October.

I am still very busy with our bridge club, getting everything organized before I leave on August 21.
Over the past few months we have let bridge players from other clubs in as visitors, but it just does not work.
Their attitude, even their very presence put our members off, and the great social atmosphere we have in our club immediately suffers. Thesevisitors are like sand in the oil of an engine. So we have made a firm decision : players from other clubs are barred without exception. Our club will naturally grow in size through the conduit of Beginners courses. Everybody in our club is now happy again.

Sitting on the deck of the Trailer Boat Club last Wednesday evening, watching the lights in the harbour, I had the warmest feeling. This place is where I really feel happy, and I already are looking forward to arriving back here, "home", after my trip to Europe. Most members in our bridge club travel extensively overseas, but all are very happy to come home again.
I feel it is important for me, especially at my age, to travel to other places, just to refresh my emotions and mind set, but here is where I feel I belong.

Over the decades I slowly gravitated towards warmer climates. Now having lived in the tropics for a total of almost 20 years I believe that eventually I just had to end up here. A vague inner urge gradually brought me here, a force that has been with me from when I was a small boy living in Holland.
Us Caucasians just do not mnaturally belong in a tropical environment, and that, for me, is part of the real attraction. Also the remoteness of Darwin from other places in Australia gives it a real outback feel which I love. My son Jeroen, who has lived here for almost 25 years, feels the same way I am sure.

These past three months my website has been moved to another server location. I was over my limit of 500MB on my previous spot, but now I have 4 times that space, 2GB (for the same price), so plenty of room to upload my travel photos this year.
My web address is supposed to be redirected to my new location, but despite my repeated prodding of the IT people that still has not happened yet. As a result most visitors are still on my old site, which of course, as far as my Blog, Bridge results etc. are concerned, is well out of date.

Most Recent - Next - Previous - Page 1 - Photos - Maps & Articles - MP3s - Jazclass

Monday 11 - Wednesday 20 August, 2014 (diary)

Bridge at Historic Burnett House I completed my final bridge project before going overseas this Sunday with a great afternoon of Bridge & High Tea at Historic Burnett House. We had 28 bridge club members attending the event with all calling it a great success. We will include this again for sure in our social program for 2015.

Ben Carson (a possible Republican Nominee for the USA Presidential election in 2016), recently stated :
"The Democratic society is designed for well-informed and educated people. When they become less informed the Democratic system becomes vulnerable."

Paul Kelly (Editor at large for The Australian Newspaper), put it this way :
"Any nation that has lost the art of collective self-improvement has stepped on the escalator of decline. Australia is on that escalator."

The fear that the rise of the masses would have a detrimental effect on Western society, as documented by John Carey in his book The Intellectuals and the Masses, has become reality.

The problem is worldwide, but Australia in particular is in a very poor situation at present. Voting is compulsory in this country. This means that all those who have no interest in politics (except where it affects their hip pockets) are ill-informed, yet these are the very swinging voters that decide who will govern the country.

"Public opinion" is fed by the shallow, often untruthful social media and by left-biassed reporting on TV (ABC) and in Newspapers (Fairfax).
The Australian Newspaper, only read by the more affluent, is the only source providing quality commentary based on truth and facts.

Protest marches too, about single issue causes, of which most of the participants know very little about, are pushing Democratic Governments down the escalator of decline.

On top of that : the same (socialist and Green) politicians who gave us 6 years of the worst Government in living memory are now shaping up to be the worst opposition this country has ever seen.
Highly respected experienced Labour politicians left the party at the last election. What is left is a bunch of incompetents with 19th century mind sets, placing self-interest far above the good of this country.

Fortunately Australia now has a strong and competent leader in Tony Abbott, supported by a team including several outstanding Ministers. Hopefully they will eventually be able to turn this country around on a positive course.

Most Recent - Next - Previous - Page 1 - Photos - Maps & Articles - MP3s - Jazclass

Thursday 21 - Wednesday 27 August, 2014 (diary)

With Owner and staff from Hotel Zum Schwarzen Kreuz I had a smooth and uneventful flight to Germany. Having to wait about 12 hours in Singapore for my connection to Frankfurt, I decided to stay in the Ambassador Transit Hotel located within the Singapore Terminal.
For about US$ 64 you get a nice clean room with shower, toilet and flat screen TV for 6 hours. A good deal.
Singapore Airport is a delight. There are lots of eateries, Restaurants and Pubs, some with live music, a good place to relax.
The food here too is great, just as well as the meals you receive in-flight are rather tasteless, only designed to keep you alive and give you something to do during the flight.
So I had a Mee Rebus (noodle soup with boiled egg, cut in half, tiny lime, croutons), no idea what the soup was made of but it is delicious and I have it every time I am here (good stall in Terminal 1).
After my sleep and shower in the Ambassador I tried some of the Sushi on offer which was also great.

Ahr river along Walking trail 1, Altenahr Arriving at Frankfurt Airport I suddenly felt that I had flown from Heaven (Singapore) right into Hell.
Singapore Airport is a delight to stay with its colorful carpets throughout, rest areas with palm trees, tropical vegetation and ponds.
Frankfurt Airport, on the other hand, feels like the coldest uninviting place on earth. Stone floors throughout in dull gray or black, escalators going up and down, no friendly touch anywhere in sight. This is a place you want to get out off as soon as possible.

It is quite amazing really, as the Germans are so very serious and good at making their homes comfortable and looking good with numerous nick-nacks, plants, flowers, etc.
So I quickly got onto my train to Altenahr where Mr. Mannsteadt (the owner of Hotel Zum Schwarzen Kreuz) greeted me with a smile on his face, glad to see me again after 4 years. Once at the lovely hotel I felt really at home and happy again.
Although the weather was cool, the sun making only occasional appearances, it was generally dry and I was able to make a couple of morning walks along the magnificent Ahr river.

After three days in Altenahr I went on to Boppard, also a favorite spot of mine on the "Romantic Rhine".

Chefin Elisabeth with her Mainzer Handkäese mit Musiek

This time I had booked a room at the Hotel Baudobriga, instead of Hotel Rebstock where I had stayed previously a couple of times.
The Hotel is very comfortable with modern bathroom facilities, flat-screen TV and free Wifi.
The Hotel is part of Weingut Königshof and their wines are therefor a prominent feature of the Hotels attractions.

Glass-in-lead display window in the Baudobriga Breakfast room

A conversation I had with a fellow traveler on the train reminded me suddenly of the most original dish I have ever tasted in Germany. It is Mainzer Handkäse mit Muzik" : a small cheese floating in a bowl filled with oil, vinegar, kummel and onions. I had it some 30 years ago in a Pub in Mainz.

As Boppard is not far from Mainz I asked Frau Elisabeth, the Manager of Hotel Baudobriga, whether she knew of any restaurant in town that offered this dish.
"Oh," she replied "I will try to make that myself for you.". And she did. With a great smile on her face Frau Elisabeth presented me last night with her version of Handkäse mit Muzik.
And I must say it was absolutely delicious, not to speak of the wonderful gesture, which will forever be a part of my memories of Boppard.

Handkäse mit Musik recipe :
cheese (Mainzer handkäse or similar)
2 parts wine vinegar
1 part oil (olive or any other type)
finally chopped onions
pepper and salt
caraway seed (kummel)
1. Make a marinade of the above, excluding the kummel,
2. Then let the onions soak in the marinade for 10 minutes
3. Cut cheese in thick slices and place it in a bowl (or on a plate),
4. Then pour the marinade over it.
5. Let it soak in for a while,
6. Finally sprinkle the kummel over all of it.

Most Recent - Next - Previous - Page 1 - Photos - Maps & Articles - MP3s - Jazclass

Thursday 28 August, 2014 (diary)

Bitterballen Thursday morning in Boppard I wake up to a blue sky and sunny day. After breakfast and saying my goodbye to Hotel Manager Elisabeth, I wander to the train station to start my rail journey to Holland.
After an uneventful, relaxed journey, effortlessly riding through the German and Dutch rail network requiring 3 transfers, I arrive in my town of birth, Zutphen at midday.
I leave my bag at the Hotel (my room is not ready yet) and head straight for the Market square, to fulfill my very first objective here : eating bitterballen.
I remember the Pub (also the local Beer Brewery) where I enjoyed them last time (2 years ago) and find out that their bitterballen are still very good.
In case you had as yet not perceived this, my priorities when visiting Europe are : eating, speaking the languages and visiting family (my sister Wivica) and some old friends.

Being able to speak Dutch and German is especially important to me, for it opens up different dimensions of my identity as a humn being, which in Australia rarely have the chance to get out.
Charlemagne put it so well : "To speak another language is to possess another soul." I feel that very strongly.

Just arrived in Australia, 1966 I am sitting here on the square, not 200 meters from the very place where I was born, and suddenly the thought strikes me : "How did I ever manage to escape from here ??".
To most (if not all) Australians, used to the wide open places, their freedom in every sense of the word, Europe, the countries and their peoples, appear small. And to me in Zutphen this is particularly so.
Now, in hindsight, our decision (my wife Antien's and mine) to migrate to Australia 50 years ago (in 1965), looks like an enormous step we had to take.
Yet at the time we hardly gave it a thought at all. We both wanted to expand our horizon, learn more, explore, grow. For us it was the most natural thing to do, even as we then envissionned never to be able (financially) to see our home country, family and friends ever again.
But this is exactly what sets us in Australia apart from those who stayed behind in Europe and other countries.
Allesandro del Pierro (the Italian soccer star who played for Sydney United the past 2 years) put it so eloquently : "Australia is not just another country, it is a different set of mind". This is what I immediately feel with literally every person I talk to here.

Most Recent - Next - Previous - Page 1 - Photos - Maps & Articles - MP3s - Jazclass

Friday 28 to Sunday 31 August, 2014 (diary)

Martinshof reunion These past two days I have managed to see all those I wanted to see here in Holland. Friday morning I had a cup of coffee and a pleasant chat with my old school friend Dick Matthes. I usually stay with him in Gorssel for a few days but unfortunately his wife is not well so we meet at my hotel instead.

As Dick leaves I am being picked up by Sandra, a former Martinshof employee, to go to our reunion lunch in the Bos Restaurant near Gorssel.
We have a small group this year, as three of our old timers are unable to come. However it is great to have Sandra and Diny with us for the first time since we started this regular Martinshof event.

With Harrie in De Brouwerij Bistro, 

Zutphen After our lunch (I had delicious mussels) Sandra drops me of at Betsy, the widow of my former father in law Jan Garvelink. Betsy is still quick on her feet and has sparking intelligent eyes, but a failing memory.

A keen equestrian, although now well in her 80s, she still has her horse (now around 25 years old), grazing outside in the field, of which she is incredibly fond.
I am pleased I managed to see her this time, the last time was 32 years ago.

Friday morning I catch up with Harrie, the former diamond setter of our family business Martinshof.
We talk extensively about the former business and Harrie's present work. He has set himself up as an independent diamond setter, working now only for the top jewelers in the country. Business is going well and he reached the point of having to be very selective of the work he takes on. He is after all one of the top setters in this country.

With  Gerrit and Benny in China Town Harrie also tells me that the Martinshof name has been purchased (from the bankrupted Aurum group) by the Siebel company, a group of 40 top jewelers in the country.
The name "Martinshof" still has the image of being the "Rolls Royce" of the wedding and eternity ring market, and Siebel supports this image with a quality product.

Finally this day I manage to catch up with two of my dearest friends from the past, Gerrit and Benny. We used to be regulars of Cafe Beuse and also keen billiard players there. Years ago the pub was sold and transformed into the China Town Restaurant at Quatre Bras a stone throw away from our former family home Martinshof, and it has become tradition now that every time I visit the area we share a meal there. We have a great time together. I even tried the frog legs, Chinese style which were on the menu and enjoyed them very much.
Gerrit invited me to his 80th birthday in 2 years time on June 27, 2016. And that is when we hope to meet again.

Comments - Most Recent - Next Page - Previous - Top - Page 1 - Photos - Maps & Articles - Jazclass

© 2014 Michael Furstner