Sunday, 27 July 2008


And that doesn't just sum up today's weather.

Courtesy of modern technology, I was able to watch the film of the same name on BBC3 last night. I must admit that this movie, produced in 1995 and starring both Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, has to be my favourite film of all time.

Saturday, 26 July 2008


Hieber's Frische Center is a very local supermarket. In fact, there are actually only 10 Hieber stores, all of which are located down in this, the most southwesterly corner of Germany. I never bothered to shop there, however, despite its very good reputation. Other supermarkets were always nearer.

Today, though, I cycled across town to the Weil store at the end of the afternoon to get a few "extras". What struck me first was the range and freshness of the fruit and veg on offer. Most "bog standard" German supermarkets tend to neglect this freshness aspect. Any British expats reading this would probably agree with me that people are spoilt by the selection and quality of supermarkets in the UK. Nevertheless, what you don't expect are swarms of fruit flies buzzing around piles of bruised, sweaty and sometimes rotten tomatoes costing EUR 1.49 per kilo - a common occurrence at the supermarket across the road from where I live here in Weil. What a refreshing change it was today then to see pristine tomatoes, succulent strawberries, healthy-looking onions and a mind-boggling selection of potatoes. Hecky Nora, this sounds like a plug.

In the end, I bought more than I was intending to get, but I suppose it'll all keep. Places like that lure you into purchasing stuff you wouldn't normally consume. Like buying chili peppers. I hardly ever purchase chili peppers, but they were red and fiery and... well, I just couldn't resist. Oh, and a bottle of 2005 Weiler Schlipf Spätburgunder "CS" from Weingut Schneider.

Oh, and I heard some time ago that the Lörrach store has a system where people who are single and "on the look out" can take yellow baskets instead of the normal-coloured ones to signify their, ahem, status. How to find love in the supermarket aisles... I should give it a try one of these days.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Another shopping arcade?

I present to you the Rhein-Arcaden. MFI, an Essen-based company specialising in shopping centre developments, presented this model to Weil's movers and shakers on Tuesday evening. This construction would supposedly replace the current Kaufring and also stretch as far as the Bahnhofstraße. It looks huuuge, but it's shape is also quite elegant. The final stop for the extended tram line from Basel would be incorporated into the building. This sounds like quite an ingenious idea. MFI say they would like the town to decide by November whether they want this new shopping centre. Construction on the project would then commence in autumn 2009, with completion scheduled for late 2011.

For the town authorities, this opens up a whole can of worms, of course. Firstly, you have the question of whether a town such as Weil actually needs such a complex. Second, is the project at all viable? Will it attract enough custom from outlying areas in Basel and Alsace? If it does, how will Weil cope with the extra traffic? Won't it rob the town's small businesses of their custom? On the basis of the model presented, it also looks as if the front of Hotel Leopoldshöhe will be hemmed in by a glassy shopping centre facade. What will the hotel's management think of that? More to the point, the Rebhus restaurant situated opposite would even have to be razed to the ground to make way for the diggers. Questions, questions, questions...

Personally, the main problem I see is the extra congestion on the roads this centre would generate. Don't get me wrong, this looks quites an exciting project. It could potentially revitalise Weil and give the town the focal point it has so far lacked. However, I anticipate a lot of gnashing and grinding of teeth among Weil's decision-makers before the project even gets close to the implementation stage.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

This and that

Have just returned to Weil after spending a week at home in England with my parents. It was a lazy few days, but sometimes it's nice to just relax. The weather wasn't exactly brilliant - with high winds, prolonged showers and rather parky temperatures - but, let's face it, summer on the Lancashire coast wouldn't be the same without it. The weather began to perk up at the weekend, and was favourable enough for us to have a very enjoyable barbecue with family and friends in our back garden during the course of the Sunday. This has become somewhat of an annual event and has been nicknamed Bombero by my Dad, which is named after El Bombero, the Spanish red wine that he traditionally serves to our guests. At 15% alc., it's not for the faint hearted. Anyway, the sun finally shone that afternoon, and one or two of us were slightly jaded by the evening, thanks to that and the combination of home-brewed bitter and potent wine. A great time was had by all though.

Now it's back to the grind here in Weil. I finally left the flat yesterday evening, when I took the bus to the old part of town and walked up to the vineyards. In a repeat of my effort 12 months ago, I took some pics of the sunset.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Evening stroll

I ventured out last night for a brisk walk on my own, down to the old Landesgartenschau (garden show) grounds via Laguna and back. I needed to stretch the old legs, although I think I may have picked up mild shin splints. It might have had something to do with running to catch the train on Saturday. I don't think it's too serious, but I'd better keep an eye on it.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Bastille Day

The day when France has a day off, but no one's striking. Thanks to our French friends, it's also the day when Weil's Eiscafes (ice cream parlours) rake in the money.

Sunday, 13 July 2008


Bit of a delayed reaction, this, but I don't think I've seen better sport than what I saw last Sunday evening when Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer fought it out on Centre Court for the Wimbledon title. What a match.

Thursday, 10 July 2008


Last Saturday evening, I treated myself to a break from translating and ventured out to the Bläserfest on the Rathausplatz in the Weil. This was the fifth year this event was taking place, and this time it was bigger and better than all the other previous years. Not only had the town organised the usual stage with seating and beer and drinks stands on the main square in front of the civic hall, but they had also invited around a dozen local wineries and wine cooperatives to set their own respective "mini-bars" there.

What's more, there were two other minor stages outside the Insel supermarket and on the side of Hauptstraße not far from my own abode. This latter venue was well within earshot on the Friday night, basically featuring successive local brass bands. I had to work most of that day, but the music was much more soothing than the Europop that is set to blare out from there this coming Saturday on Kindertag.

Anyway, a lot of credit goes to the organisers of the event. No admission was charged - thanks to the subsidies from certain local sponsors. The ambiance on Saturday night was very pleasant, refined and relaxed. The theme of the evening was Cuban music. This helped to attract a slightly younger audience than one would otherwise have expected at a brass music event - but none of those Fasnacht hoi polloi.
After the joys of Euro 2008 - sorry UEFA EURO 2008™ - I thought I might experience withdrawal pangs, but the translation work has been coming thick and fast these past two weeks, so I've had little time to dwell.

But now I would like to allow myself just one more postscript.

First, the quality of the football during the tournament was very good, except when Greece was playing. I wouldn't go as far as saying that it was the best tournament ever. I remember Euro 2000 was also praised to high heaven. Perhaps we'll have a better idea of how good it really was when we look back on it in a few years' time.

Second, I suppose Turkey's performance has to go down as the main surprise. I quite warmed to them in the end, and they were a touch unlucky against Germany.

Third, here's a short list of players who particularly caught my eye or surprised me:
Arda Turan (Turkey) - electrifying whenever the manager let him play
Ümit Korkmaz (Austria) - ditto
Hamit Altintop (Turkey) - played at right back early on, then as the second striker in the second half versus the Czechs, then in midfield against the Germans.
Yuri Zhirkov (Russia)

Actually, that's just four players, but I don't mean players that whose good performances weren't necessarily a surprise, e.g. Arshavin, Villa, Xavi, Sneijder, Modric.

Actually, Lukas Podolski was also a surprise, in that he spent the whole of the 2007/2008 season on the bench at Bayern, yet then goes an scares the life out of defenders like Carvalho and Bosingwa. Same applies to Schweinsteiger to a certain extent, I suppose.