The month in photos: December 2015



01 December 2015
In the garden, Hungary
It’s a headache traipsing through muddy footpath and muddy holes plus the muddy paws that have to be wiped every time Charlie gets through the door.  I can’t do anything about it except create a story and scrap it.


02 December 2015
at Home in Hungary
I adore poached eggs.  It’s healthier and is a great way to enjoy the egg in its purest form but it’s quite complicated to make it.  I tried everything I saw on tv cooking demos and recipe books but to actually do it yourself is a different story.  But one day, a simple idea struck from out of the blue.  I re-discovered the virtue of my aluminum poaching pan buried in the pantry a long time ago.  I thought it was too laborious  cleaning it up,  not easy lifting the egg off it anyway as it sticks into the pan, plus the scare of aluminum’s negative effects on our health.   Glad I didn’t throw it.  Now it occupies pride of place in my kitchen cupboard, at least until I find similar that is non-aluminum.  How do I do it?  Just line each mold with baking paper, crack the egg, boil and voila, a perfect poach that lifts up in a breeze and practically no cleaning involved.


03 December 2015
at Home in Hungary
Woke up to a misty morning, looked out of the window, visibility almost 20%, a very atmospheric sight,  so I picked up my camera even before I turned on the coffeemaker!


04 December 2015
at Home in Hungary, morning walk
Walking Charlie this morning, I noticed one single apple hanging from a leafless tree.  October till November is when apples mature and fall into the ground if they are not harvested by man nor pecked by birds but this one seems to be holding on tight.


05 December 2015
at Home in Hungary, morning walk


06 December 2015
at Home in Hungary
The neighbourhood children surprised us with their singing of Christmas songs just outside the gate.  Luckily we have chocolates sitting in the pantry.


07 December 2015
Lenti, Hungary
The beauty of living in Hungary is that you can eat practically everyday for just centimes.  The problem is, there’s no English translation of the menu so you usually  end up eating something unpalatable..


08 December 2015
Bazekerettye, Hungary
We plan our walking trips so that Charlie and us don’t get bored walking the same spot everyday.  There’s always something to discover.


11 December 2015
at Home in Hungary
The first frost has come this winter.  Today, we leave for France, a slow two-day journey that will take us through Slovenia, Austria, Germany and finally France….

11 December 2015
On the road again
We just exited Austria but as soon as we entered Germany, a border police car came following us.  Random checks on borders have been intensified after the Paris attacks so we are not surprised.  We then followed the Police car for what seemed like ages and finally arrived at an obscure spot.  Just as soon as we stopped, I noticed the figures “1,050 kg” flashing on a neon screen above .  Wow, the van weighs over one ton!   Not surprising as it is packed with household effects to roughly furnish the new house we are renting in Alsace.  So all passports, driver’s license, car registration checked and verified, we were allowed to go but we had to ask them where’s the quickest way to get back to the motorway since they obviously diverted us to some maze of roads…


12 December 2015
Roppenheim, Alsace, France
Arrived in Alsace in the afternoon, bright enough to look around and scout for a restaurant.  This one has the Michelin label at the door so it looks expensive but amazingly, the road in front of it is packed with German-registered cars, not just ordinary cars but Porsche, Mercedes, Ferrari.. . The German border is just minutes drive away so this restaurant is perfectly placed!



13 December 2015
Alsace, France
Our first day in this house, our accommodation for the next several months while H takes on his new assignment.   Nope, it’s not the whole house, just the ground floor with a garden for Charlie. Lovely area with Germany so close hence everything looks gloriously Germanic even their Alsatian language and their looks, but thank goodness we are still eating French food!  It’s like living in two countries!

14 December 2015
Haguenau, Alsace, France
The new house is  empty so it’s like starting from a blank canvas.  We have to search for places to buy furniture and appliances.  This is Haguenau, one of those places, but they are closed as it is Monday.  We went exploring the Christmas market and yuletide decorations instead.

This dentist’s chair looks tempting to buy

15 December 2015
Marienthal, Alsace, France
Our first stop was the Depot-Vente near Haguenau hoping we could find tables, kitchen cupboards and furniture.  Depot-Vente or “consignment-stock” is very popular in France as one can buy items – vintage, antique and authentic –  at throwaway prices.  Most modern ones are Made in China anyway so we prefer buying our stuff here.




16 December 2015
Strasbourg, France
We drove past Strasbourg in search for a particular shop that sells reconditioned appliances.   Happy with our purchases, now we can cook (cooker and oven) and wash (washing machine).


17 December 2015
 Alsace, morning walk
There’s a lot of interesting walks around our village including this boardwalk over the river Zorn.



19 December 2015
Forest of Haguenau, France
We miss doing forest walks with Charlie so today, we are exploring a little bit of the Haguenau Forest.  This is the biggest undivided forest in France and the six biggest in the country.  It is also called “La Forêt Sainte” (Holy Forest) because in the Middle Ages, it attracted a lot of hermits.  Many convents and churches were built around especially between the 6th and the 13th centuries, hence giving its name “Holy Forest”.



20 December 2015
Weyersheim, France
Half-timbered houses make this village and all of Alsace look like it came out of a fairy tale book.  IMG_6143small23 December 2015
Strasbourg, France
We did a quick trip to the Christmas market in Strasbourg last week but I wanted to see more,  not only to take more photos but also to do  last minute Christmas shopping.  What I love about Christmas markets  are the charming handicrafts,  locally made and not imported from somewhere.



24 December 2015
Christmas Eve

25 December 2015
Rheinmuenster, Germany
It’s Christmas Day so as gift to ourselves, we decided to spend it in Germany!  Well,  the Fatherland is just “over the fence” or literally, just across the Rhine which is at our doorstep.  We were quite surprised that the place we went to,  Rheinmuenster,  still has traces of a Benedictine Abbey that existed from 817 until its closure in the 19th century and its Coat of Arms is still on display at one end of the village.  At a local bar, we tried their beer still bearing the monastery label, so refreshingly good despite cigarette smoke wafting through the air.  Smoking inside restaurants and bars are still permitted in Germany which is a shame because it spoils the enjoyment of nonsmokers like us.  We ended the visit by buying pizza for lunch…..hurray!


Narrow, deep and raging, the Rhine river travels 1,400 kms through six countries (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, France and the Netherlands) until it joins the North Sea.

26 December 2015
The Rhine Promenade
We did our traditional after-Christmas Day walk along the Rhine.  Fascinating!  You see Germany on one side and France on the other divided by Europe’s longest and most important river, the Rhine.   Here, the embankments on  both sides present a vibrant scene of people of all walks of life, taking walks with their dogs, families or friends, simply enjoying themselves.  There’s also the ferry (above right, with both the French and the German flags flying) which transports cars and people to and fro, every few minutes for a 2-minute journey.


27 December 2015
Baden-Baden, Germany
Still a holiday, Sunday, and desiring to see more of Germany, we drove to Baden-Baden, a city we’ve always wanted to see and the opportunity is here, only 40-minute drive away, plus the Christmas market is still on.  It ‘s fantastic! Beautifully presented and well-attended.  The city’s name translates to “Bath-Bath” because of the many thermal baths making it as Europe’s summer capital and spa destination.  We shall go back for the spa experience but in the meantime, we are marvelling at the resort-like atmosphere, the hilly landscape and the fashionable feel.  We are loving it already!


29 December 2015
at home in Alsace
Walking Charlie this frosty, misty morning, I find everything truly photogenic…

30 December 2015
at Home in Alsace
Charlie still hoping to receive more gifts from Santa.



31 December 2015
at Home in Alsace
Charlie arguing with the chef as to his animal rights.

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