A quiet blow for my leaves

Brrrr... It's a tad on the cold side right now isn't it? I know I was tempting fate by anticipating wind this weekend, but I didn't necessarily need, or want, the cold weather to accompany it. But at least it was dry. And the skies were blue. But still it was cold.  My two concrete hares in the garden looked as if they were quite enjoying their blanket of leaves, but we were keen to get the leaves off of the slate.

Hares and a blanket of leaves

There was also a pile of leaves gathering along the fence, and while the euphorbias (and weeds) are valiantly doing there best to grow through the leaves, I'm not sure they're doing the patio much good.  That really eaten and and almost lacy set of leaves belong to a weed, with no doubt a huge tap root. I'm not sure what's eating it, but it's having a pretty good go isn't it?

Leaves accumulating in corners of our garden

But first, leaf duties

Wellies on, gloves on, blower at the ready and I was set. I was expecting my new Stihl BGA 56 Blower to be quiet, but I wasn't expecting quite so much power from this lightweight and relatively small garden tool.
Getting to grips with the Stihl leaf blower

My plan was to blow the leaves into orderly piles, and that generally worked, but the grass also got a bit of a blow and it gave the impression that it was clinging on for dear life.  All the grass stayed in place, of course, but it was noticeably moved. 

Neatly and quietly choralled into a pile

Once the leaves were in piles, they were quickly bagged and set aside to do their thing, and provide fantastic leaf mould in a year or two.  Where this blower will come in handy will be retrieving leaves from our flower beds, as you can see from the photo below I've been giving the leaves fair warning!

A new and welcome tool in our garden - the Stihl BG56 leafblower

It was still chilly though out there - the joys of having a north facing garden - even though we were wrapped up and with glimpses of sun there were only short bursts of work. We've still leaves to collect - mostly in the flowerbeds now.  If the snow takes hold as the forecasters would have us believe, they might have another week's grace.

Leaves? What leaves!

But parts of the garden are looking much less leaf covered, and smarter for it too. We know there's little chance of us capturing every single leaf in the garden, so it'll be a bit of an ongoing project. But one that's a whole lot more fun - and productive - than doing it by hand!

* This is a collaborative post, but all views and opinions are my own.

All this chilly weather and talk of snow...

Well apart from actually being on the cold side it's got me thinking back to my visit to Kufstein in Austria in January last year with Stihl, where from my hotel room I could see our destination for dinner that evening, the Fortress at Kufstein.  When we arrived in Munich there was snow on the ground, but as we headed by coach over the border into Austria, the snow increased, and in Kufstein in was full on snow.


We'd seen great views from the Stihl factory windows and the snow laden trees on the autobahn and then there was the news that we were walking, along the snowy pavements to dinner at the Fortress.  My first thoughts, as ever, when snow is concerned was for my shoes. But actually the snow was different to the snow we have here, it was much drier, and even though there was much more of it, it wasn't as bad as I expected

It made for a pretty backdrop too, and in the courtyard of the Fortress where we gathered for warm mulled wine to listen to the band, I took some time to look around.

A lantern at the Fortress at Kufstein

As we approached the Fortress from ground level this was the view, stunning isn't it - and how clear is that sky? There were two ways up, the stairs or by lift. 

Looking up At the Fortress at Kufstein

I opted for the lift and captured this view looking over Kufstein on the way. I did later walk down, as after a generous meal a walk was much needed.

In the lift At the fortress looking down at Kufstein

As you can see there was quite a bit of snow, and much more than we ever expect to see in London. In some places there were just piles of snow where pavements and walkways had been cleared.  I guess there's nowhere else to put it?!

there was quite a bit of snow on our route to the fortress at Kufstein
Still more snow, but different to the snow we get in the UK

The trees were still up with their decorations on and a heavy dusting of snow. But it wasn't all bad, as you can see in the photo below, more mulled wine was just arriving.  Just to keep us warm...

It was pretty though (the Fortress at Kufstein)

I've already shared the pretty snow-laden trees alongside the autobahn and in the courtyard there was more of the same, and they were just as pretty.

snow covered trees At the Fortress at Kufstein

The lanterns were also a hit with me, the plants echoing the detailed design on their top. 

The mulled wine At the Fortress at Kufstein was most welcome though

It was a great evening, in a very picturesque setting with more snow than I think I've seen for a long time. But also, perhaps the start, of me being less freaked out by snow, and definitely in admiration for countries that not only cope, but continue to function with the weather.  Perhaps we're the same with rain, we're definitely not on the same level regarding snow.

So while we may see snow in London this winter, I hope I'm right when I say it won't be anything like on this scale...

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.