Monday, 24 September 2007

YouTube time

I've managed to waste countless hours on this recently, just browsing from (mainly) music video to music video. This song and this song are my two current favourites.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Excursion to Rheinfelden

I'm currently having a long weekend at home, taking Friday and Monday off. Yesterday (Friday), I decided to have a wander round Rheinfelden - i.e. both the Swiss and German towns of the same name, separated by the Rhine. Situated just 15km from Basle, Swiss Rheinfelden is the much prettier of the two towns, while Badisch Rheinfelden has a nondescript pedestrian precinct but nothing much else. On the other hand, the German town has "Eiscafes" galore, something you simply never come across in Swiss towns. For the unacquainted, an Eiscafe is a cross between a cafe and an ice cream parlour and is usually run by the families of Italian immigrants. What with the weather befitting an Indian summer, I thought, what better way to finish off the afternoon than to sit outside Eiscafe Dolomiti with a small bowl of Stracciatella plus a Hefeweizen to wash it down? I don't normally frequent Eiscafes, but at that particular moment, I remembered what exceedingly good fortune it is to live in a country where they exist.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

This is my song of the day, after listening to it on the radio at the barber's this morning. Couldn't get it out my head all day.

Wiiwegli in reverse

Despite my dodgy left knee, I decided to go on a fairly substantial walk today. I had the day off so I wanted to relax a bit in the sun. Took the train for free to Eimeldingen (which is two stops north of Weil) using my Regiolight-Jahreskarte. Then walked through the village and into the flat expanse of fields beyond in the direction of Fischingen. I passed through maize fields before reaching a field full of horses. I think they are competition horses (show jumping, maybe), judging from what I've seen when I've cycled past the owner's "ranch" on a number of occasions. Other than these equine specimens, there was hardly a soul to be seen - though not surprisingly, it being a working day.

Fischingen is a lovely village and probably the place I'd choose to live if I ever wanted to settle down in the countryside here.

Anyway, I ventured on through and then up into the vineyards where I joined the official Markgräfler Wiiwegli which I'd negotiated successfully 11 months ago. I decided to go in the reverse direction back to Weil, via Binzen, Ötlingen and the Tüllinger Höhe. It took three and a half hours in all, and I was rather knackered and hot when I got back, but it was thoroughly enjoyable. Here are the photos, including one of some new and notoriously colourful blots on the landscape, sorry, houses, in Binzen.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Went to the Altwiler Stroßefescht last weekend after all. First of all with KH, a colleague of mine, after work on Friday, and then on Sunday when I met up with Adrian, Sumudhu and their three-month old baby boy Nathaniel. The atmosphere at the fest was quite friendly and relaxed.

In other news, the vineyards above Weil are closed to the public now because of the harvest. Incidentally, I've been browsing recently through a lot of wine tasting notes and blogs written by journalists who write about wine for a living. I've always loved to do something similar, though doing so would mean a total career change - and potentially earning tuppence during the early stages. I've been considering it seriously on and off for the past few years, and I even did a WSET intermediate wine certificate in German almost two years ago. However, I would first have to be more proactive in my free time before I could even start seriously considering such a change of course.

I've always thought of writing a book about wine. Maybe I could write one in my free time?!

Sunday, 9 September 2007


Thanks to modern technology, I can now receive all the BBC and ITV channels from the UK here on my telly. This is a godsend, as I can now settle down to Football Focus presented by the amiable but bland Manish "Maniche" Bhasin on late-Saturday lunchtimes, and then get bored senseless by Alan Shearer's incisive brand of football punditry on Match of the Day later on that day. What more can you ask for?

Aside from the fact that BBC football commentary and punditry is a joke, why do all the pundits wear the same attire?! Research has shown that friends tend to wear the same type of clothes as each other, and this theory is emphatically proven on the BBC, with Lineker, Hansen, Wright, Lawrensen, Peacock, Dixon, Keown etc. all wearing a suit and an open shirt. MotD is definitely a tie-free zone. Thanks to these clowns (sartorially misguided northern Europeans trying look like Gianluca Vialli), everyone on BBC Sport and throughout UK television tries to look the same. It's the same on Sky at the cricket. Why?! Did they all lose their cravattes? Call me old-fashioned, but....


Another bugbear of mine is the style of news presentation in the UK. All the main news programmes on both BBC and ITV have two presenters doing what Moira Stuart and Michael Buerk used to do quite proficiently on their own. Not only that, but every other news piece starts roughly like this: "The Prime Minster was wrong in sending troops to Iraq - that's the view of a confidential report by....." Then the BBC or ITV "analyst" is invited on the programme to "explain" what's going on for the benefit of all the brain-dead out there. It's just wrong, wrong, wrong, WRONG!!

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Quite an autumnal nip in the air today: the temperature only got as high as 15C.

Was a fairly quiet day. Not sure whether things will work out for the fest next weekend. To borrow a well-known idiom, I need to start pulling my finger out.

Monday, 3 September 2007

2007 vintage

The harvest has already commenced. Went on a walk in the sun yesterday afternoon to the vineyards and back. Despite the wet summer, the grapes seem to be doing relatively well, with some of the early ripeners already looking ready to pick. The extremely sunny April we had caused the grape buds to flower early, meaning that the vegetation period, in turn, began unusually early. However, it would be premature to make any hard and fast predictions as regards the vintage, as a wash-out over the coming weeks could cause rot to set in. Nevertheless, the vintage is already looking like one of the earliest on record. Harvests starting in August - another symptom of climate change? The grapes in the picture opposite are "Roter Gutedel", a local speciality which, despite the name, is the source of simple white wines for everyday consumption. My Swiss uncle ordered this at the Römischer Hof in Blansingen at Easter 2004 mistakenly thinking it was a red wine.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Zämme luschtig sii

Which is not easy to translate but, given the context, roughly means something like "Make merry together". The road signs have gone up again for the annual fest on Hinterdorfstraße next weekend. Frankly, it looks like an invitation to get hammered on cheap fizz.
Be that as it may, it's worth spending an evening there with friends. We (myself and two friends from Weil - Adrian and Sumudhu) normally go and sit outside the bar run by the people from Weil's twin town Trebbin, as the service is friendly and it's a bit more quiet. However, my friends became parents a couple of months ago and probably won't be that keen this time round. If I knew more people in Weil, this wouldn't be a problem.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

I wasn't going to post this

but nah, I've changed my mind. Just watched this on youtube. It's a song (if you can call it that) that reminds me of a great year I spent when was aged 20/21 in Germersheim, Germany in 1996/97. Apologies to some people who may find that the style of music isn't quite their cup of tea. The video is also stupid but, hey, this is my blog.

[Edit: here's another one, another one, plus another one, and a fourth one that remind me of that era.]


So, I'm back after the summer recess. Well, if truth be told, it wasn't a recess, but just a conscious time-out from writing my blog.

Anyway, time for some more of the usual - this time a synopsis of Basel Cricket Club's trip to Luxembourg to play the Optimists CC in two matches on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th August respectively.

Owing to "visa issues" preventing the Indians in our side from crossing the border into the EU, the party that left on a mini-bus hired at the airport on Friday late afternoon was severely depleted. We comprised four English (Simon, Richard, John and myself), two South Africans (Jacques and Anthony) and a Trinidadian (Mike). Nelson, a Dutchman and friend of Mike's and the South Africans, would later join us in Luxembourg. The arrangement was for the eight of us to be complemented on the field of play by some of the Luxembourgois. Poor old Nelson hadn't ever seen a cricket ball up close in his life so any role he would play would be fishing back leg-side wides and dabbles at deep fine leg with a combination of his baseball knowledge and improvisation. However, this didn't stop us from nicknaming him "Deepak Chanderpaul" so as to strike fear into the opposition.

After a rather heavy Friday night in Luxembourg City, we all got lifts to the ground late on Saturday morning in three cars owned by the Optimists players. The pitch was situated in a lovely area on the edge of the wealthy-looking village of Walferdange, around 6 km north of the city. Play started at 1pm, with Basel put into bat. After a top-order collapse, Jacques the South African steered the ship with a decent knock. Before losing his wicket for 48, he was joined at the crease by yours truly, batting at no. 7. I proceeded to make 18 - my best ever innings! During my time out in the middle, I was accompanied by three batsmen: Jacques, an Optimist player whose name escapes me, plus another Optimist player called Chris (though Jacques christened him "Christelle" because of his ample blond locks). Christelle went on to make a big score, while I contented myself with ones and twos and playing the support role with some brisk running between the wickets. After what felt like a good hour at the crease, I was knackered and eventually played a tired shot straight into the hands of cover. Oh well.

Basel were bowled out for 165 some time before the end of the allotted 35 overs.

Optimists began confidently and made a much better fist of batting steadily than we had. They reached our total with some overs to spare for the loss of around 7. I didn't bowl.

After showering and changing in the "pavillion" - a plush clubhouse catering for tennis, football and cricket - we were invited by the Optimists team to join them for curry served outside in the clubhouse garden. Made by some of the club's Indians, it must have been one of the best curries we'd all had for a long time.

That evening when we got back to the city, we decided to venture out to the annual Schueberfouer, one of the largest fun fairs in the whole of Benelux. The following is a scan of the front of the official flyer:

With the fair not closing until 3am on the Saturday, we still had plenty of time to kill despite arriving at the fair grounds at around 11.30. We went on a couple of rides, and more sturdy of bowel even went on the most terrifying ride: like a giant mallet swaying up and down and over...

We stayed at the fair till around 2am and then decided to head off elsewhere in search of night life. We ended up in "The Tube", a bar room like a small cellar shaped like - you've guessed it - the London Tube. There was a DJ there spinning the tunes (or whatever you say nowadays) . "Der DJ hat gut aufgelegt", as you'd say in Germany. At some time after 3, we were thrown out as it was closing time. We subsequently tried to get into two night clubs after two taxi rides round the city, but with John aged 17 it was always going to be a losing battle. At 4am most of us (but not all of us) called it a day.

For the Sunday game we'd arranged that the match would begin at 12 noon so as to give us time get back to Basle at the end of the day. I must have got 5 hours of sleep in the end, which wasn't a bad effort. Had breakfast just before 10 and we all set off for Walferdange just after 11 - this time in the mini-bus.

To summarise a day's cricket in a few lines, Basel won this time by 6 runs in a real cliffhanger of a finish. Optimists were seemingly coasting to our total of 195 in 35 overs, but we managed to skittle them out just before the finishing line.

After all taking what can be termed a "shower in a can" (good old deodorant), we boarded the mini-bus and headed home. Overall, it had been a great weekend, and we were really grateful to the Optimists team who had been the perfect hosts. We'd also acquainted ourselves thoroughly with Bofferding.