Thursday, 29 November 2007

In the morning chill

I decided to capture at bit of the early morning atmosphere in Switzerland's third largest city with my camera today. After alighting the no. 55 bus at Claraplatz, I walked to the Mittlere Brücke, took my gloves off and took a few pictures. The temperature was still below zero when I took the the photos - I think the resultant images convey this. The fourth photo was taken in the courtyard of Basle City Hall.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Schneider's Kirchenstück 2006

My friends give me my fair share of stick about this but I am a bit of wine anorak, especially when it comes to German wine. Or is that just my way of saying I'm a wine bore?!

Anyway, as a once-in-a-blue-moon treat I cracked open one of the bottles down in the cellar of Château Blogger and had some of it with my evening meal. It was a lovely wine, although I thought it was a bit reticent and needed more air - which is why I've saved a bit of it for this evening. Ideally, a white wine like this would benefit from decanting, but unless you're going to down the lot in one sitting, that's unpractical. I have a few more bottles left of this wine and I intend to lay these down for some time to come.

Apart from the wine itself, the label on the bottle caught the eye: simple and minimalist yet it has all the basic information you need about the wine you're about to drink (vineyard name, grape variety, wine region, village, year, winemaker). The label at the back which you can't see in the photograph should technically be the "front" label. It contains all the details a wine producer in Germany is legally obliged to disclose, such as the wine's official category - in this case a "QbA" or Qualitätswein - and the official certification number (or AP Nr.). By cunningly relegating such sundries to a mini-label at the "back" of the bottle, the wine producer is adhering to legal stipulations but can still produce an uncluttered, customer-friendly "front" label.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

I got terribly worked up yesterday morning about an article in the Basle edition of Switzerland's daily free paper "20 Minuten". The police chief of the Canton of Basel-Land had gone on the record to say that he hoped England would not make it to the finals as it would guarantee a peaceful tournament next summer. I can accept it if someone wants England to lose; it's a fact of life here on the "continent", although lots of Swiss do support England as if they were their second national team. But his opinion was seemingly based on nothing but the usual lazy prejudices that still get spouted around about English supporters in this part of the world. Grr.

As for the England football team itself, the less said the better. For my own selfish personal reasons, I'm deeply disappointed that England won't be taking part at Euro 2008 because the tournament is taking place in my own backyard, so to speak. Once I get over this disappointment, however, I hope that watching a major tournament as a neutral will be enjoyable in its own way. After all, there is a precedent: the 1994 World Cup in the USA - the last tournament England failed to qualify for - was one of my favourite World Cups. I still remember the buzz I felt of surreptitiously switching on the small telly upstairs at my parents' house at midnight to catch belters like Romania vs. Colombia and USA vs. Colombia.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

20 November

To commemorate my birthday, here's one of my most recent boring arty photos taken last Sunday.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Young lady on chair

As part of Weil am Rhein's tourism "push", someone decided it would be a good idea to send the fire brigade out to one of Weil's "tourist attractions" (a roundabout with a big chair in the middle) in order to help a pretty demoiselle up on to this piece of "art" and take a photo of her sitting there.


This is the photo.

I tell you, Weil am Rhein tourist information office should pay me for this.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Remembrance Sunday / 11.11 / Martinstag

Here in Germany, the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the year marks two specific occasions. Firstly, the beginning of the carnival season in the Rhineland and elsewhere - but predominantly in the cities of Cologne, Dusseldorf and Mainz. At 11.11 a.m. on 11 November, to be precise. According to the Alemannic tradition practiced here, the Fas(t)nacht season strictly shouldn't begin until Epiphany (6 Jan). Instead, 11 November marks St Martin's Day - the day on which the children go through the village holding lanterns and singing from house to house. Goose is traditionally on the menu on Martinstag.

In the UK, meanwhile, 11 November this year (or the first Sunday after 11 November) is, of course, Remembrance Sunday. The German equivalent thereof normally takes place slightly later.

Slightly ironic that, as I write, people in Cologne are dressed in costumes, singing and acting strangely, while back in London HRH Queen Elizabeth is laying a wreath at the Cenotaph. Andere Länder, andere Sitten, I suppose...

Sunday, 4 November 2007

A quiet November Sunday

Just what the doctor ordered, to be honest. After spending time at the autumn fair with friends in Basle on Saturday (we went on a variety of rides and also went up to the Bar Rouge at the top of the Messeturm), I wasn't intending much today apart from a walk in the fresh air to capture some autumnal hues with my camera.

Otherwise, I cleaned up and put away the table and chairs on my balcony, I discovered this nifty gadget for blocking advertising on websites, and I pondered on what might have been at "Ashburton Grove" 24 hours previously, where Man United sadly conceded late on to draw 2-2 and thus postpone moving into top spot in the Premier League.