Food

Harvesting Wild Blackberries

One of the better things about returning to the countryside, as the Ninja Turtle has found, is that time slows down enough for one to think differently. Sure, the city life in Lyon offered the duo plenty of exciting activities year-round, and one is constantly engaged, amused, stimulated… but perhaps that was the problem. It was very hard to disconnect, pull back and simply have some time for oneself.

In the quiet and calm of the campagne, far away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds and the commerce, the Ninja Turtle becomes much more pensive. And in her reflections, she begins to feel an immense sense of gratitude, despite her malady. There is, after all, a lot to be grateful for, despite everything.

Grateful for each moment she is alive.
Grateful for each person who’s come into her life.
Grateful for each experience that brings joy, or a lesson.
Grateful for each emotion and every new sensation.
Grateful for the hurt, the sorrow and the pain
Grateful that despite that, she still has much to gain.
Grateful for the kindness from strangers she receives
Grateful for the love friends and family give.
Grateful for existing in this messy world
Where life can sometimes be incomprehensible
Grateful for just being here today
Grateful for tomorrow, come what may.

There is so much richness in life, when one chooses to receive. The Ninja Turtle, in her leisurely strolls along the country road, recently chanced across wild blackberries growing in abundance, free for the picking and ripening at a deliciously alarming pace.

When GodzillaPin returned from his cycling trip a couple of days ago, the Ninja Turtle could not wait to bring him blackberry harvesting. OK, fine, she’ll admit it. After spending 2 hours harvesting blackberries alone the first time, and having the unfortunate experience of falling into the blackberry bramble (an experience which she will never wish upon anyone) when trying to reach for the higher branches, she knew she needed a helping hand from someone less vertically-challenged than herself.

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Enter GodzillaPin, 6’1.

Of course when the Ninja Turtle first proposed blackberry harvesting, GodzillaPin thought it was going to be a breeze. Little did he realise that battling the blackberry bush thorns and the stinging nettles that grow alongside, this was less of a leisurely pastime, and more of an extreme sport.

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After about an hour, the duo decided that they’d had enough (enough of being pricked, and enough blackberries to last a few days), so they hurried home excitedly to taste the fruits of their labour.

The Ninja Turtle had recently made a rich chocolate and beer streusel cake, and the acidity of the blackberries married well with the sweet dessert. They also tried the blackberries in a soy yogurt and fruit salad parfait.

They say that on the road to recovery from eating disorders, there are good days and bad days. That was a good day for the Ninja Turtle, and for that, she is grateful.

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Arts and Culture, Food, Travel

Journée du Patrimoine Luxembourg

What to do when it’s a cold, wet and grey Sunday? Well, one option is to curl up under the rug with a steaming mug of hot cocoa (or mulled wine) and a damn good book (or Netflix). However, one could arguably do this on any cold and rainy day. Instead, the duo decided to make the most of Luxembourg’s heritage day for a day trip across the border. Also, much as they love each other’s company, they also occasionally enjoy changing the dynamics with the presence of friends, so they invited their neighbour Mickey Mouse along.

First stop, a quick visit to a neo-Gothic house in Bettborn scheduled for restoration soon. It was the family home of the only grocery shop in the whole valley in the 20th century. Like most architecture in the area, it was built with sandstone from the region.

First stop, a quick visit to a neo-Gothic house in Bettborn scheduled for restoration soon. It was the family home of the only grocery shop in the whole valley in the 20th century. Like most architecture in the area, it was built with sandstone from the region.

After a lunch of hot chips with an obscene amount of mayonnaise and ketchup, it was off to the Château de Vianden.

After a lunch of hot chips with an obscene amount of mayonnaise and ketchup, it was off to the Château de Vianden. Built in the Romanesque style, its construction spanned a good three centuries (11th to 14th C.E), permitted to fall to ruins when it was sold off piece-by-piece in the 1800s by William I of the Low Countries; this really pissed the people off, so thankfully for visitors today, the castle was restored by his fellow countryman Prince Henry a few decades later.

Inside the castle, there was an exposition of Salvador Dali's works on display at the moment. This exhibition runs till the end of 2014.

Inside the castle, there was an exposition of Salvador Dali’s works on display at the moment. This exhibition runs till the end of 2014.

Quite by surprise, there was also a symphony orchestra in the Festsaal (feasting hall). Free concert!

Quite by surprise, there was also a symphony orchestra in the Festsaal (feasting hall). Free concert!

Luxembourg is interesting. Its history, its language, its culture, everything is fascinating.

Firstly, what is it? A country? A state? No… it’s the Duchy of Luxembourg. It was a part of the Holy Roman Empire, but at different points in history, it fell on different sides of dividing state lines, claimed by everyone from the French to the Belgians to the Dutch to the Germans…

This may explain the language Luxembourgois (or Luxembourgish, if you will): Wikipedia has a fancy explanation, but according to us it’s 70% German, 15% French, 10% Dutch, and we swear, 5% non-existent words made up as they go along.

Is it a democracy? Do people get to vote? Is it an plutocracy of several big banks (of which Luxembourg has plenty?) Do the evil corporates run this highly-functioning, wealthy state? Is it anarchy? Does society simply function this well without anyone at the reins? Who knows? Every Luxembourgois(e) we’ve met seems like the ideal citizen who self-polices and driven by moral instincts stronger than the average person… No, Luxembourg’s governance is actually a feudal monarchy. Not even kidding.

OK, so now all that stuff’s out the way, here’s a piece of present-day living heritage from Luxembourg.

GodzillaPin and Mickey Mouse talking to M.Thessy.

GodzillaPin and Mickey Mouse talking to M.Thessy.

M. Thessy Klein is quite a specimen. There are those of us whose closest efforts of caring for the environment takes us to re-using shopping bags, carpooling, taking shorter showers, or if we’re really proactive, creating a compost heap and choosing to buy/build A-rating houses. This isn’t to belittle small efforts. Every action counts. But there’s those of us like that, and then there is M. Thessy.

M. Thessy, you see, drives around a truck making home delivery of fresh produce straight from his plot of land.

M. Klein, you see, drives around a truck making home delivery of fresh produce straight from his plot of land. The thing is, he’s not a farmer by profession. This guy earns his bread and butter by working in a cemetery.

No, M. Thessy does this as a hobby. Seriously. Here's a man, with his wife, investing time, effort and money into growing organic produce, then delivering it to their clients' doorsteps.

No, M. Klein does this as a hobby. Seriously. Here’s a man, with his wife, investing time, effort and money into growing organic produce, then, with his daughter, delivering it to their clients’ doorsteps.

What's more, when there's a surplus, he gives away the produce happily, rather than letting it spoil. See the radishes in GodzillaPin's hand? M. Thessy gave it to them, saying they'd have to be consumed in a day or two anyway and he most likely wouldn't sell it.

What’s more, when there’s a surplus, he gives away the produce happily, rather than letting it spoil. See the radishes in GodzillaPin’s hand? M. Klein gave it to them, saying they’d have to be consumed in a day or two anyway and he most likely wouldn’t sell it. The inside of the produce truck is just like a local grocer’s, but on wheels!

We’d like to argue that M. Klein is a piece of living Luxembourg heritage because it is men like him who change the world. Here is a man with a simple vision of feeding the community good, healthy organic produce, grown by himself and his family, delivered to the people’s doorstep, and occasionally, given away for free. Someone, give this man an award for lowering the morbidity rate and extending the average lifespan of the people of Luxembourg.

For those who live in Luxembourg and are interested, here are some details. The Ninja Turtle and GodzillaPin were, as usual, not paid for this piece of write-up, although we will disclaim that we were given a bag of radishes. That said, the radishes were offered to us BEFORE we decided to blog about M. Klein’s cool truck. So, please keep a good thing going, as we need more world-changing initiatives like this!

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