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SWMBO’s ode to rural Lower Austria.

Daisy, Schleinbach

Daisy

My cousin lives in the last house at the edge of a village in Lower Austria. Her village is nestled in the heart of the Weinviertel, a wine-producing region characterized by rolling hills and small villages.  This part of the Weinviertel is only about 45 minutes north of downtown Vienna but feels light years away.

My cousin’s front gate with fields across the street

My cousin’s front gate with fields across the street

My cousin’s house

My cousin’s house (garage on the right)

My cousin and her husband were away during our visit and arranged to have their house ready for us when we arrived.  We spent three days visiting relatives and enjoying the surroundings.  My cousin is a florist by training and she has used her considerable experience and skills to create a botanical oasis in an already beautiful landscape.

Garden pump

Garden pump

Garden flowers

Garden flowers

Fahbio was smitten with the house and its surroundings, which reminded him of the Eastern Townships in Quebec.

View from house, early evening

View from house, early evening

My cousin is under 45 years old but she married young and her daughter also married young so she (the cousin) is already the grandmother of two!  Man, does that make me feel old!  Because, yes, she is a bit younger than me!!!  Lastborn was thrilled with all the little girl toys lying around.  Her favourites were the dollies.

Heirloom tomato plants

Heirloom tomato plants

Delicious homegrown tomatoes

Delicious homegrown tomatoes

Venice and Paris enjoyed playing with the neighbours’ kittens.  They begged and begged to get a cat when we get home and didn’t even freak out when they started finding dead mice in the garden, in front of the van and in one kitten’s mouth!

The lazy bone in Onlyboy noticed that the good thing about being on the road is that we normally don’t have to clean the house.  Every few days, we pack up and move on!  Not that we travel the world acting like Leona Helmsley but still, we haven’t washed floors, cleaned bogs or wiped baseboards in a long time.   Being in my cousin’s house on our own, we wanted to leave the house in pristine condition so she and her hubby could return from vacation and sink into a comfy couch to watch a movie.  We therefore had a full morning’s work to do.

Austria has giant snails.  Oddly, they don’t seem to eat them here.

Austria has giant snails. Oddly, they don’t seem to eat them here.

It sure was nice to have a real house to ourselves for a change.  The sad thing about that though was that we didn’t actually get to see my cousin and her husband.  Yet another reason to return.  Every place we go, we find compelling reasons why we need to come back :-)

Even the garage is beautiful

Even the garage is beautiful

Home-picked walnuts

Home-picked walnuts

The question is, what do you get your cousin and her family to thank them for giving us this beautiful respite?  We looked around a mall but I went a little ballistic and told Fahbio that I just couldn’t buy her a stupid embroidered pillow or a giant scented candle nestled in a glass flute, surrounded by polished pebbles.  Gag me with a spoon is the most fitting expression and yet another reason to bring back the eighties.

Then, in a blinding dash of inspiration, we checked the Zotter website.  Remember the amazing chocolate factory?  Well, they are one of the very few (only?!) companies in Austria to be with the program when it comes to online shopping/delivery.  Even better, you can design your own chocolate bar and have your gift delivered anywhere in Europe.  Bingo!

Gift shop, Zotter Chocolates

Gift shop, Zotter Chocolates

In closing, here is a poem that I copied from an old ceramic jug in Beatrix Potter’s house in Cumbria, England:

Let the wealthy and great, roll in splendor and slate, I envy them not I declare it; I eat my own lamb, my own chickens and ham, I sheer my own fleece and I wear it; I have lawns, I have bowers, I have fruit, I have flowers; The lark is my morning alarmer; So you jolly boys now, here God bless the plough; Long life and success to the farmer.