A shabby, rustic biergarten to celebrate Mother’s Day

Here is a fitting place for a mother who is passionate about gardens, hoards bric-a-bracs but doesn’t know what to do with them, can’t stand throwing away sentimental objects, is crazy about everything vintage, rustic, shabby chic.

The scenario: A simple, lovely lunch… in Germany….with my loving H… open-air dining…. perfect weather… friendly staff…open-air museum of everything.

This place gave me a rush of excitement today. I feasted my eyes on everything around me.  Every single square meter of the place has something of interest. My camera kept clicking away. I love it! What a better place to celebrate my being a mother!
































Springwatch 2016: 10th week


English rose

So lucky we are to have a beautiful garden around our rented house in Alsace.

English rose

Every other week, we wake up to a new set of flowers with their heavenly whiff of scents.


They come with striking colours that sing into your soul

Single-petal rose

So that even if you are not in the best of moods, the mere sight of them instantly puts you into a joyful frame of mind.

Climbing rose plant

i wish they remain fresh suspended in those branches..

Climbing rose plant

But that is a far-fetched dream


So I will just make them immortal through my camera


Poppy seed pod

that anytime I want to marvel at their beauty, their image will always be there. .

Note: the seeds could be drizzled on top of bread before baking, and they are the same seeds that contain opiates used in making opium)


with just a click of the mouse, on my photoarchives of beautiful memories…

Manila Vice – Art Exhibition in France

Two years ago, an art exhibition of Filipino artists was held at the Musée International des Arts Modestes in Sète, southern France. I got to know the event when I saw it being promoted by Telematin, a French morning show I watch everyday. Naturally, I got excited seeing my countrymen’s artworks shown on European TV as well getting exhibited on European soil so I thought I should share it with my Filipino readers all over the world.

Here are the images I took from the TV screen:


The Poster.


The French tv reporter wearing a Manila Vice t-shirt.


Works of 23 works of Filipino artists displayed were curated by Manuel Ocampo .


Ocampo, who has extensively exhibited his works in major art capitals around the world including Europe, Asia, and the United States, is on a personal mission to bring the Philippine art community on a par with its global counterparts.


Interview inside a jeepney which is part of the exhibition.




It includes a figure of Ex-President Corazon Aquino sitting on a chair. Notice that her feet are suspended on air…she was a small woman.


The Philippines is a country ruled by Politics and the Church


But despite a lot of problems, the Filipino is renowned for being an easy going person.


With poverty, crime and all the problems besetting them, all the Filipino can do is to pray that their life will someday get better.


Artificially-dyed chicks make brisk business in the Philippines because kids love to have them as toys, instead of pets.

Month in Photos: April 2016

I create this monthly photojournal for myself so I get reminded of the places we’ve been to, a monthly summary of what we’ve done as well as the beautiful, the fascinating, the insolite, the weird and the strange things we’ve seen which I will always enjoy browsing years later.  And for my loyal readers, it’s also a way of discovering some traditions, art, culture, food and habits of the Europeans we meet from day-to-day.

Thanks for browsing.

01_bowls01 April 2016
Restaurant near home, Alsace, France

You’d think that those stack of bowls are meant for the sink.  No, they are part of the decor of this restaurant where we went for dinner.  Good idea, actually!
02_IMG_209402 April 2016
Baden-Baden, Germany

Driving along Baden-Baden road, we noticed the ad of this van ahead of us.   As if the silly image of the doctor checking the loo with his stethoscope is not enough, they have to highlight the word CHRIST, which could be the surname of the company owner.  And read this:  I tried looking at their website for more information and guess what?  I was welcomed by the sound of a flushing loo.   Gross, hahaha!

03_IMG_219603 April 2016
Rastatt, Germany

So impressed by this attempt of the local government of Rastatt to disguise ugly street structures (such as this telephone box) by covering them with Art.  They could have been drawn by kids which makes it even more splendid!

04_IMG_221904 April 2016
Neighbourhood,  Alsace, France

Among the emblems of Alsace which I see widely displayed are the images of stork,  grapes,  heart and cake mold (used for baking their favorite kougelhopf).  But to see cake molds, and I mean half a dozen of them, adorning the fence of a neighbour’s house, I thought it is just over the top!

05_IMG_160205 April 2016
Neighbourhood cemetery, Alsace, France

A glass-encrusted gravestone.  He/she must have been a diamond collector or simply, once a lover of the good things in life.06_horse06 April 2016
Neighbourhood, Alsace, France

Very Alsatian  and very German (parts of Alsace used to be part of Germany), metal signs deck many facades of  shops and establishments, even houses such as in the photo above.  They often display images relating to the business,  e.g.  stork if the hotel’s name is Stork Hotel.   It started in medieval times when most people didn’t know how to read so the image helps them to identify a place or its purpose, e.g. pair of scissors for a hairdresser.

The house above is neither a shop nor an establishment so the horse sign is probably just a decoration.

07 April 2016
At home,  Alsace, France

At the strike of 7pm every  working day, Charlie would look out of the window waiting for Papa to arrive.   As soon as he sees the car and Papa opens the gate, he would go berserk jumping towards the door, demanding that I open it for him, and when I do,  he would go galloping like a horse, licking Papa from head to foot, including his bag as if asking, “Where’s my pasalubong (goodies)?”

08 April 2016
Home garden, Alsace, France

My favorite Spring flower is coming out – the tulips, yey!

09 April 2016
Baiersbronn, Black Forest Germany

Easter Sunday is over but Easter eggs are still left hanging on trees which is great as it brings colour to an otherwise grey and leafless Winter.

10 April 2016
Freistatt, Germany (near the French border)

There’s no stopping Spring!  The signs are there!

11 April 2016
Alsace, France

In the middle of the vast agricultural fields near home is a track road where joggers, cyclists, dog-walkers and trickle of cars go through each day.  We’ve walked Charlie along that road few times but  could only go as far as it gives the impression of unending emptiness.    Today, H is determined to find out what lies at the end of the road so we hopped into the van  and drove farther and farther.

There was nothing there except fields that seems to go on forever, and then this spectacular sight of yellow rapeseed field appeared before us.  That made our day!

12 April 2016
Neighbourhood park,  Alsace, France

Finally, the signs are up in the forest park where we walk Charlie everyday.  Of all the many descriptions written in them such as why a dead tree is left to rot in the forest, or the type of deers roaming around, or the name of a tree and how old it is, that sign above is what I dread the most.  Who needs mosquitoes anyway?  (I know you will say it’s what frogs and lizards feed from, but surely, there are other insects they could eat…)

13 April 2016
Road to Achern, Black Forest, Germany

This tiny hut along the motorway to Achern is so cute but what is that written on its roof?  Curious,  I looked it up on the net and found that it’s a German weathervane manufacturing company.  Here are samples of its products taken from their website.



14 April  2016
Neighbourhood park, Alsace, France

Could this be the weed that paved the way for the invention of the  Velcro?  Find the whole story  here: http://www.livescience.com/34572-velcro.html

15 April  2016
Neighbourhood park, Alsace, France

The base of this oak tree looks like the foot of an ostrich.

16 April  2016
Achern, Black Forest, Germany

This Asian Buffet restaurant next to  where we park the car is a lucky find.  For 7,80 euros, one can have an unlimited trip to the buffet table until he drops.  The food is delicious that we made it  the place for our Saturday lunch dates.17_Rheinau
17 April 2016
Freistett, Germany (near the French border)

Looks like there’s a tournament going on in the lake.  Half a dozen men with their  fishing hooks but no audience, which is great so they can fish in peace and I could take shots without any one blocking the view.

18 April 2016
Home  garden, Alsace, France

Last week, I bought some lettuce for our week’s supply of salad and when I was about to clean them, lo and behold,  I found the roots still intact and each bunch composed of three individual plants.  Instead of putting  them on the fridge, I searched for the trowel, split them apart and came out with six heads of lettuce plants.   Above is the photo taken one week after my planting spree!

20 April 2016
In the fields near home, Alsace, France

Photographing horses is fast becoming a passion, what with the horse farm just a stone’s throw from the house.

21 April 2016
Neighbourhood park, Alsace, France

The forest park where we take Charlie for walks is also an outdoor school for these pupils.  We see them here very often, trailing their teacher who patiently explains all creatures great and small in the forest floor.

22 April 2016
Home garden, Alsace, France

I always wanted to do watercolour painting but I have two left hands, glad there’s Photoshop to do the job.   Cool!


23 April 2016
At  home, Alsace, France

Let it be told, that the house we are renting now is pure bliss: wide open spaces, warm, bright, unlimited hot water, immense garden for Charlie to run around, ultra-nice landlords, quiet neighbours.  The only problem is:  the bathroom mirror is designed for towering tenants only!

24 April 2016
Kappelrodeck, Black Forest, Germany

Saw these children’s boots turned into plant pots in a school garden. although cute, they probably bought these boots new as they all look similar!

25 April 2016
In the fields, Alsace, France

On our way back home today, we saw this enormous farm equipment driving on the road.   It’s a pneumatic seeding planter, a 21st century version of the simple seed  drill  invented by Jethro Tull in 1701.  This machine will sow tens of thousands of seeds on vast expanses of fields in few hours!


26 April 2016
In the fields, Alsace, France

Using my zoom lens, I managed to get this “close” shot of the family of deers which frequent the fields around us.  So cute, hope they don’t run out of habitat and will forever stay around.

27 April 2016
In the fields, Alsace, France

A sheep and a dog (Charlie) getting too close and personal.

28 April 2016
In the field near home, Alsace, France

This region of Alsace and nearby Black Forest in Germany are home to the white stork and you see them everywhere – above lamp posts (where gigantic nests are built for them) or  pecking for worms on the fields or flying overhead.  For centuries, these birds have been a common sight that they became an emblem to Alsace.  In the Black Forest, images of stork are displayed infront of houses to announce the birth of a baby in the household.

The stork above is just one among many we see everytime we walk Charlie out of the house.  Shot was blurred so I (digitally) converted the image into watercolour.

29 April 2016
At home, Alsace, France

Charlie found a  baby nightingale today.  It was limping beneath the garden steps and we wondered if he bit the poor bird.  We took him out in the open so he can fly  but realized we’re dealing with a fledgling,  which means he probably just left the nest but still struggling to fly.   His left claw is twisted, poor bird.  All we could do was to put him out of harm’s way, outside the fence and away from Charlie, and hope his mother comes and take him away.30_IMG_4040b
30 April 2016
Offenhofen, Black Forest, Germany

For our Saturday out, we went exploring the town of Offenhofen in search of their famous waterfalls, the Edelfrauengrab-Wasserfälle, but we got lost, couldn’t find it, and ended up ambling in the forest.  We love trekking in the forest so no big deal, so much to discover beneath the towering pine trees like this white sap oozing out from some of them.   This is the resin used in making glue and not only that, if you find yourself lost in the forest, this sap comes very handy  as survival aids.


Nature Hiking in Waldulm, Black Forest

Nature Hiking has become our obsession. We are so obsessed with it that we dedicate half our weekend to serious hiking trips. We don’t mind a double-digit- kilometer itinerary nor an altitude of 700meters (which we did the other weekend) because the reward we get during and after the hike is simply out of this world. The stunning views, the amazing flora and fauna, the positive energy we get from communing with nature, the health benefits, the family bonding we do in a place (the forest) where material things are absent.

And where’s the best place to indulge in nature hiking than in the most beautiful region of Germany, the Black Forest.

We just love this region, it has everything that Nature has to offer: forests, lakes, rivers, hills, green meadows, flowers, wild birds and other creatures, clean air, clean waterways, spring waters free for drinking.

Of course, we also give half the credit to the country, the Black Forest region and its people. Why? Because they make hiking so easy and so pleasant that you end up wanting to do more.

Here is a partial list why we are so addicted to hiking in the Black Forest:
1- Easy parking and its free
2- Easy hiking routes that have been carefully laid out, you only need to be fit to be able to ascend and descend on foot
3- Hiking paths are created in the middle of vineyards, orchards, near residential gardens, along fast flowing rivers, waterfalls
4- Drink stations along the way (water and schnapps or fruit flavoured liquors) for the thirsty hiker
5- Easy to follow signs posted in every corner
6- A wide choice of hiking itineraries available online
6- Hospitable people who are always ready to help and serve
7- Fairytale looking towns and villages with beautiful gardens to marvel at.

.. and so on and so forth.

Here’s the trek we made in Waldulm, a charming town beautifully spread out amongst vineyards, forests. orchards and lovely sceneries.


Our starting point is the Rathaus in the center of the town.

Just when we were parking the car next to the Rathaus (Town Hall) carpark that we saw this group of archery enthusiasts in the sport grounds.


The fact that there are arrows on the legs of that board only means this is their first day of training.


The town of Waldulm with the church of St Albin (1882)


A sculpture piece infront of the Rathaus showing grape harvest.


We see a lot of stork images like this displayed outside houses which means that there is a new baby in the household.


Germans love creating gardens, it’s their “green” living room, and nothing will stop them whether they have a garden area or not.


War memorial for both WW1 and WW2


Waldulm is a vineyard town as indicated in their insignia.


Off we start our hike.


Walked past vineyards and excited to see these grape buds!


The cherries are out, too. They should be ready for harvest in June.


Next to the vineyards are big houses with interesting outdoor decors.



A terrace to die for.




Hikers checking where are they in the map.






A golden fountain to quench Charlie’s thirst.


The rhododendrons are in bloom.


A wine barrel doorway





A lookout building above the vineyards


Relief sculpture showing the harvest of grapes.



The town of Waldulm, the St Albin church and its cemetery





Charlie is always sniffing for anything that moves and in the forest, there’s plenty of them e.g. deers, field rats, squirrels…and when he sees one, he goes berserk.




Drink stop. This spring water is sooo good!


Lovely to have a picnic here.



We continued the hike in the forest


Somehow, we lost the footpath, got carried away marvelling at the sights, we had no choice but to traverse the vineyard so we could re-join the road. The slope is so steep that I had to move inch-by-inch lest I  stumble.



Arrived at the Church of St Albin (1882)


Where the image of the Anunciation is painted above the portal


Visited the cemetery next to the church


Even graves are landscaped


This grave is adorned with the shape of the heart.


A very common tombstone cross is this one with the image of grapes.


On one grave, I noticed this silver box with a protruding metal, opened it and voila, a cleaning brush!


A WW2 soldier’s tomb




I am guessing that the veil belonged to Barbara who was a religious woman…


A private garden




Snowball flowers



Allium, from the Onion Family


A garden decor (yes, they don’t seem to throw anything)


Passed by the back of a garden shop where thousands of seedlings are kept along hikers’ way.


I must add to my list how the Black Forest region is still safe from human harm’s way. I mean, no problem about stealing. First, they have the honesty box where you buy produce and just drop the money on the box. This one, look how close I am to the plants and yet, i am expected to be honest enough not to put some on my pocket.


A fake window (nothing on the other side of the wall.




Azalea bud


Azalea from the Rhododendron family






Resting after a long hike, I noticed a stork in the park where my camera was lucky enough to follow his movement. In this photo, he saw us, probably got scared so he flew away.


He was flying


He landed on a grass where he found a worm.