Cakes & Ale

‘So........!’ Many people have been asking. ‘What was it like?’
What was it like? Well, to be truthful, I don’t really know what it was like. There doesn’t seem to be an ‘it’……more of a they, or them, and they were all different. Should I at this point cite the curate’s egg?
“Oh it was great”. I say. Then immediately picture myself pedalling for mile after mile with rain and snot running down my face; wishing I were anywhere else but here. Or:
“It was agony!” And then I see myself sitting in a sunlit square in Regensburg or Passau; Whoofing down chunks of cake the size of Herman Goering’s suitcase, whilst whipped cream sticks to my nose and tee-shirt.
What I do know is that I’m glad to be home. I’ve been back for a week now, though it only seems like a couple of days and you know............. I don’t really like cake; I'm more of a Wiesbier kind of bloke.
I’m catching up with everything that has gone on here since I left – they’ve knocked the petrol station down in order to build a petrol station and the local florist, who sells plastic flowers, is closing down – well they last so long don't they! The council have blocked off most of the roads in the city to facilitate the building of a supermarket that no-one wants and there was a letter waiting for me on my desk from a local councillor, offering me the opportunity to contribute a ‘minimum of £50’ towards printing some leaflets to say the city is still open for business…….I should coco!
So the pace of life here is marginally quicker than that of rural Austria, which raced towards the 21st century, pulled over for a fag in 1958 and then forgot which direction it was heading in. And talking of fags: boy can they smoke over there! Neither Germany nor Austria have introduced the smoking restrictions we have here, which came as a surprise; usually the rest of Europe strides confidently ahead and we follow on, kicking stones, dragging our feet in the dust and sulking, but for once we’re ahead of the game. It really does feel odd, sitting in a restaurant with people sucking away at the Marlborough full strength all around you; and I thought the days of coming home from the pub reeking of smoke were long gone but no; these delights are alive and coughing on the banks of the Rhine and Danube.


Hunter home from the hill.

Home at last and though I went to some lovely places - particularly Vienna - it feels great. The house seems strange to me and I have to walk into all the rooms to look and familiarise myself with them again. Everything is refreshed and new. I can even see my paintings with a fresh eye. Whilst I was away I don't think I gave the house or the gallery a moments thought so it's only tentatively that familiar things present themselves to me.

Friends on the other hand have been far from tentative and it has been a great joy to see everyone again; particularly those who flew out to Vienna to see me......So here they all are: Nick, Jenny, Chris, Lucy, Jane and Neil. We're all hoping to have a proper get together soon with Jenny and Phil, but I think they're lost somewhere in France, following instructions from the Sat-nav so we may, or may not, see them before next Whitsuntide.

And most missed of all of course.........t'missusNot forgetting Frantz, who kindly gave me a lift home from the station in Leeds. Thanks mate.