Battling The Night Away

In Peninsular Spanish, to experience “una noche Toledana” means to pass a sleepless night. I’ve never slept particularly well, and moving to Toledo, where the expression was coined, hasn’t exactly helped matters. There are a number of reasons why this city isn’t the most restful in the wee hours: the infernal summer heat, kids bouncing around till 2am (even on a school night), rubbish collections at ungodly hours, the never-ending building renovations. But these are not the only armaments Toledo has in store for torturing its insomniac residents.

Take Sunday night, which was a particularly frazzling one for me, even by Toledanian standards. And for a very Toledanian reason.

I’d dozed off while reading in bed, and came round again just after 1am. So, I put my book away and reached for the light switch, when I noticed a black shadow swoop across the ceiling.

Great. A bloody bat. It had come in through the lounge window and found its way into my bedroom. Toledo is full of bats. At nightfall, they rise over the city roofs like great big storm clouds. This place is a veritable Gotham City (the medieval version). The nocturnal creatures dwell in the hundreds of abandoned buildings, and they are probably the only reason why we’re not up to our ankles in cockroaches (although there are still plenty!).

I’m fond of bats, but not so much when they are hurtling through my bed chamber. I’ve had visits from the odd stray one before, and normally, they enter and leave the flat in the blink of an eye. To facilitate the hapless intruder’s escape, I opened the bedroom window as wide as it would go.

Unfortunately, this bat’s sonar seemed to be malfunctioning. It kept circling round the room like one of these toy aeroplanes that are attached to the centre of the ceiling with a string. It came dangerously close to crashing into my head a few times, so I left the room and peered at the infiltrator from the lounge.

If it would only fuck off through the window or flit back into the lounge, in which case I could just shut the door, and it would eventually dash back out the same way it had come in. I was certainly not going to share my bedroom with a short-circuiting bat!

OK... so it can home in on a miniscule insect in mid-flight, catch and devour it, but it can't make out a great big wide-open window?!?

OK… so it can home in on a miniscule insect in mid-flight, seize and devour it, but it can’t make out a great big wide-open window?!?

After fifteen minutes of this, the bat had finally vanished. Good. I shut the window and went back to bed. Once more I fumbled for the light switch, when the blasted black flutterer was suddenly back in orbit. After taking a little breather in my dressing room, it had gone full-on kamikaze. I let out my girliest shriek and flung open the window (I should perhaps mention that I was completely starkers, it’s too hot to sleep with clothes on), and bolted out of the bedroom.

That moron of a bat continued on its merry loops. Sigh. What to do? Unlike birds, you can’t catch these things, they are way too fast. A bird you can chase, you can tire it out, you can trap it in a towel once it goes to ground. Maybe I could manoeuvre psycho bat towards the window by shooing it gently with a large folded cardboard box?

I was forced to abort the attempt after about five seconds. It only served to make the pesky little critter even more frantic. Not sure what freaked it out more, the flapping of the box or that of my middle-aged-lady boobs.

Maybe she could teach me how to flap elegantly...?

Maybe she could teach me how to flap more elegantly…?

Eventually, it must have been around 2.30am, the wretched creature found the exit, and I collapsed onto my bed.

But my in-flight entertainment wasn’t quite over.

Just as I was about to glide into Morpheus’s arms, I heard it. That unmistakeable high-pitched buzz emitted by the most vexatious insect in the entire world. A freakin’ mozzie!

Well, what did I expect, after having the windows open and the lights on? So, I dragged myself off the woodpile yet again. To my relief, I spotted the little sucker sitting on the wall almost instantly. And I eradicated it. With evil chemicals. It felt good.

And yet, I would not find peace that night. When I finally did manage to get to sleep, I was plagued by a horrendous nightmare about somehow having ended up back in Peterborough, a soulless East Anglian commuter town, where I had once vegetated, enveloped in a grey cloud of drizzle, for an entire decade… the memory of which shall haunt me for infinitely longer than any of those connected to bats or mosquitoes.

Thai Food And A Dirty Selfie

On Friday, my friend Maria and I sacrificed yet another perfectly good working day on the altar of freelance rebellion. We went AWOL in Madrid, which entailed some glorious food, a thought-provoking exhibition of photographs taken in 1960’s Barcelona by the legendary Eugeni Forcano, and a peruse of the latest scriptures laid out in The Temple (aka Casa Del Libro, a massive bookshop).

Let’s ogle the food. (I could eat it all over again right now…!) Maria chose a Thai restaurant called Thaidy, where we had a great three-course lunch for a mere €12.50 each.

Thai green curry and basil & chili beef

The basil and chilli beef was seriously hot – but that’s what we asked for, and we loved it! The green curry had just a tad too much salt, but it was still enjoyable.

Thai Starter

The starters – fresh and tasty :)

Madrid Street

Dirty Selfie

Those doors are in desperate need of a good clean! As are my own windows at home… erm…

Fürstenfeld Abbey… and more CAKE!

Fürstenfeldbruck, where I was born when bushy beards and flouncy flares were in fashion all at the same time, has its small town charms, but it’s definitely not a tourist town. There’s nothing to see. Except for this: Fürstenfeld Abbey.

The story, served up in twitterian brevity: In 1256, some Bavarian Duke executed his wife for adultery. Then it turned out she didn’t do it. Oooops. Too late to fix it with flowers, so he built a massive monastery instead.

Usually, the portals to the Abbey’s church are shut, or they only let you in as far as the iron-wrought interior gates, but, much to my delight, this time, the church was open to all. As you’ll see, it’s really quite… overwhelming. There’s not a square inch that hasn’t got stucco/gold leaf/a fat angel clinging to it.

The BEST thing about this place, though, is the restaurant. The food is (and always has been) absolutely fabulous, and it’s very reasonably priced.

Fürstenfeld Abbey Church, ExteriorFürstenfeld Abbey 4Fürstenfeld Abbey 3Fürstenfeld Abbey 2OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFürstenfeld Abbey Wrought IronOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And this was my lunch:


Delicious veal rissoles smothered in pepper sauce with spätzle (tiny flour ‘dumplings’ that are kind of like pasta). It was really quite picante, and I loved every bite!


Zwetschgendatschi – very traditional and seasonal. The plums are quartered and arranged on a yeast dough base, which isn’t actually sweet, and which really brings out the flavour of the fruit.

If you’d like to see a handful of pictures of my birth town, click here. There’s ice cream! ;-)




Dachau Palace Gardens… and CAKE!

I’ve already prepared you in the last post that the objective of our family trip to Dachau a couple of weekends ago had less to do with enjoying the (unashamedly pretty) historic town, and everything to do with gluttony.

Dachau Palace, which overlooks the town, harbours a cracking café that attracts audiences from far and wide with the most delectable cakes imaginable.

First though, let’s take a quick stroll through the beautiful palace gardens, resplendent not only with magnificent flowers, but also laden with sumptuous fruit at this time of year.

View from the gardens
Palace and fountainPath with flowersPlant close-upOrchardRoseApple treesBunte BlumenPathPurple flowers

Wedding Cake

This wedding cake was being wheeled about when we arrived at the café. Afterwards, as we strolled through the town centre, we spotted a wedding party emerging from the local church. For all appearances, the groom was a local boy, and the bride Chinese. The cake, which is quite obviously theirs, seems to confirm this :)

Wedding Table

One of the ‘wedding tables’


Yellow Cake


Unfortunately, cakes never photograph well through the glass display counters, and these pics are the only ones that turned out (sort of) OK. There were so many more delicious creations… sigh.

Our Bavarian Town Quest Continues: Dachau

Dachau is a beautiful Bavarian town with cobbled streets and pretty houses. It’s only a 15 minute drive from my village along scenic country roads, and last Saturday afternoon, bro took me and our mum there for a little outing. I hadn’t been to Dachau in absolutely ages!


Dachau View

Dachau Haus 1

Dachau shop window

I love that window for being so typically Bavarian in a town that’s not particularly touristy. But the comma in that notice (“Free beer tomorrow”), which totally shouldn’t be there, irks me! I am a stickler…

Dachau Red HouseDachau - Virgin Mary

Beware of the dog

“Beware of the CONSCIENTIOUS dog”.


The fair was in town :)

The fair was in town :)

Dachau Fair

Now, the real reason for the Dachau trip was to get stuck into some good cake… more on that in the next post :)

Bavarian August Flowers

I have to admit it. Last year, I went a bit crazy with flower photos. This year, I tried really hard to contain myself. But now my resolve is crumbling… Bavaria is all lush and green and in full bloom this month, and now that I’m back in dry-as-a-crisp Toledo, I feel an overwhelming compulsion to drape some cheery blossoms over my blog…

Pink flowers


OK… not technically flowers… but pretty and fluffy :)

Pink flowers 2


 Phew, I feel a lot better already :)

Addictions, Great and Small

Let me present to you the vending machine facilities of my tiny Bavarian village:

Yes - a cigarette and a gumball machine :)

A cigarette dispenser and a gumball machine

I was so surprised to still find them there, side by side, after almost four decades(!). I’m especially tickled by the gumball machine – it’s seemingly the very same one I cranked my plastic rings and other choking hazards out of in the 70’s. Oh, happy childhood memories… Luckily, I never graduated to its sinister big brother ;-)