Typically Tyrollean style and hospitality

After the warmest weekend of the year it feels a little odd to be sharing this post from my trip to Germany in January when there was snow on the ground, but I'm going to anyway as if you believe the forecast today's going to be ten degrees cooler than the weekend, but hopefully it won't drop so much that we'll have any of the white stuff. 

Usually I'm not a fan, but I think that's because we just don't know how to deal with it. In Germany, and Austria, as you'd expect it's dealt with without a fuss. And that's admirable. 

Today I'm sharing pictures from the hotel we stayed in, although in honesty, like many hotel rooms I didn't spend much time in it. I wasn't surprised to see the duvets folded and pillows karate chopped (that's what it looks like anyway) as I remembered this from our trip to Bavaria, a couple of years before. It still made me smile though.

pillows tyrol style in my austrian hotel room

After a flight delay and a long day at the Viking factory, I had twenty minutes in the hotel room before meeting for dinner. But it made quite an impression. I was impressed with the coffee machine, but didn't have enough time to work out how to use it sadly.

the coffee machine in the hotel room which stumped
espresso cups but I couldn't make head nor tail of the instructions

After a quick selfie in the bathroom and a change of clothes I headed back to reception to meet the rest of the party for our dinner at Fortress Kufstein, which I'd spotted out of my hotel window just a few moments before.

as you know I can't resist a bathroom, especially a hotel bathroom
A lovely - and typically large hotel sink in Austria
a basket of bath robes

It wasn't until gone midnight that I got back to the room, completely full after a great meal, including some local specialities, and after a nightcap in the bar. It's as well that MOH called me as I realised then I'd set my alarm for the morning an hour out, whoops.

In the room I was very taken with the open wardrobe - and the light that came one every time you walked past it, now that was useful and saved having to scrabble around for the bathroom light switch.  The room was hot though - I find hotel rooms often are, but this was super hot. In the twenty minutes I'd had in the room earlier I couldn't find a thermostat, nor a valve on the radiators so even with the temperature at minus ten, there was only one thing for it. And that was to open the window. I slept with the window open all night, something that I don't even manage at home, but I'm pretty sure the heating has been racked up to combat the minus temperatures. But I was melting...

a hanging rail with a difference, the inbuilt light lit up as you approached

From my room I got a great view of the Fortress in Kufstein, which is where we ate earlier than evening. And the view was just as great in the early daylight hours too.  The food was so good, and so plentiful that I opted to skip breakfast the next morning as I was simply just not hungry. And knowing there was a typical Bavarian lunch ahead of us in Munich, I wanted to be sure to leave enough room for that (and this was a great move on my part as I discovered later - phew!).

The view out of the window at night towards the Fortress at Kufstein
Looking out of the hotel bedroom towards the Fortress in Kufstein in the early morning

Looking in the alternative direction there were the alps and yet more snow. The air just felt clean, and the temperatures felt nowhere near like I'd expected them to feel, which I was grateful for. And sometimes the overactive thyroid - and always being hot - comes in useful! 

Looking out of the hotel window towards the alps
Looking more closely at the snow in January in Austria

Before we left the hotel I had a wander around to check out their decor. This was the bar which I'd spent some time in the previous night hugging my schnapps. I'd seen the candles, but not necessarily the gin bottle - that's a lot of wax isn't it?

some candles on the bar in the austrian hotel
Comfy sofas and an oversized clock in one part of the hotel bar

The big clock worked well, but I was less sure about the cushions on the sofa. I think I prefer how we space them along, rather than piling them out like this, what do you think?  But open shelved units speak in any language, and I'd happily have this one (and its contents) as well as they leather oyster-like chair in front of it.

I'm rather partial to an open storage unit and the contents of this one in the hotel bar appealed somewhat

And it's only now that I look again at the photo above that I've spotted some more dripped wax, I kind of like it but have never managed to get candles to go like that.  It's got quite a ghostly feel to it doesn't it?


* While this post isn't in collaboration with Viking or Stihl, it was only possible because of the UK press trip arranged by them. 

Framed by the arches

This is one of my favourite photos from my trip to Munich in January on the Viking and Stihl UK press trip. It's taken in the Hofgarten, where the snow was on the ground and the sky was blue, bluer than it looks in this picture. As I approached the central pavilion I became aware of the view, and how special it looked.

A symmetrical image taken looking through the arches of the central pavilion in Munich's Hofgarten

Beautiful isn't it?  And not bad for an iPhone photo either.


* While this post isn't in collaboration with Viking or Stihl, it was only possible because of the UK press trip arranged by them. 

iMow, smart gardening of the future?

Now the weather's warming up no doubt you're starting to think about cutting your grass, or like us you might even have cut your grass already.  When I say us, that's the Royal us as in our household grass cutting is MOH's domain, and it's a serious job. Or it seems to be anyway.

It reminded me though of the demonstration on the press trip to Stihl and Viking in January, where we saw their robotic mower, iMow. Bright green in colour, we also learnt it's also bright by nature.

But first, why would you iMow?

Viking told us it was time saving, the lawn is always cut, it's good for the grass as it's cut from all sides, it's ergonomical, environmentally friendly, there's no grass to dispose of and could even be a status symbol.  It's a pretty nifty mover too.

If I'm honest I'm not convinced. I can see the advantages of it, but think the practicalities of retro-fitting the system into older-style houses could be tricky, but not impossible to do. I think that for some people, cutting the grass is a pastime, and not necessarily a chore. I suspect for many though it's a chore, but then the price point might dissuade some. And for those that are keen on their lawns, like their gadgets and have disposable income then they're likely to want stripes in their lawn, which the iMow can't deliver.

Take our garden for example, we don't have power outside, but that's fixable. We'd need somewhere to house it near the power source - that's slightly harder to resolve and we'd need to make some changes, but not impossible. It needs perimeter wires installed, so it knows where to stop mowing which is part of the installation so no problem there.

The big sticking point for my garden is that it wouldn't cut to the edge of our circles, as for safety reasons the blade doesn't reach to the edge of the plastic housing. So for it to work in our garden, we'd need to add hard edging to the edges of our circles, perhaps edging them with brick, so the mower could go to the edge of those and cut to the edge of the grass. So for us, it doesn't work, especially as we're part-way through adding edging already.  Clearly if we were just starting the edging project, and we were set on an iMow we'd plan accordingly.

I think it's more practical and actually more useful in new build houses or developments with communal gardens that need regular maintenance. The robotic mower could be trained and set to work, and it'll generate its own mowing schedule. I also think there's more developments to come in this area, and that's likely to bring the price down, and therefore make it much more attractive to people who consider mowing the grass a chore.

It is very clever though.  And, if you've delegated grass cutting to the iMow, then you'll need to find something else to do, perhaps these might help...

While the iMow is in charge of cutting the grass, you'll need to find something else to do

Some people even name theirs

You can set hours for when it can work, so it's not working while you want to enjoy your garden. It has an inbuilt rain sensor, so when it rains it heads back to its shelter - and that's to protect the grass, rather than the machine. It remembers how much it's done, so if it's sent back to its shelter either because of the weather, or because it's used its hours up that day, it goes back to where it left off when it's able to work again. And the battery charging is clever too, if it's behind in its workload the battery charges more quickly; if it's ahead of itself it charges at a more leisurely pace. 

And so it's easy to see why people treat them as pets, and give them names.

So, could you iMow?


*This is a collaborative post with Stihl and Viking whose factory I visited as part of the UK press trip, but as always all views and opinions are my own.  

PS: If traditional lawnmowers are more your thing, then my post about the Stihl lawnmowers might be for you, especially if you're considering buying a new one.