30 April 2009

How quick is this...

This cartoon appeared today in the Courier Mail, the Queensland Newspaper inferring to the Swine Flu situation.

For our overseas bloggers, We, in Queensland refer to southern states visitors as 'Mexicans', you know the song...  South of the boarder, down Mexico Way

27 April 2009

More drawings of Riggisberg

A couple more sketches from our ancestral village Riggisberg in the canton Bern in Switzerland. I sketched them from photos published in the History Book 'Riggisberg-Rüti'

The Village Church with the Stokhorn range
in the background

Käserei (Cheesery) ca. 1940
Eisenhandlung (Iron Monger) ca. 1940

I'm having great fun practicing what my daughter Carol-Ann taught me when she visited us from London with her husband David over the Christmas break....

More to follow soon....

23 April 2009

Our old house in RiggisbergSwitzerland

Last Christmas, when our daughter Carol-Ann and her husband David visited from England, we spent a few days with them on the Sunshine Coast. Carol got us to pencil draw things, so now I've tried to put what she taught me into practice. Here is a picture of our old house in Riggisberg in Switzerland. (See second last post for pictures)

My first attempt at pencil drawing

The shop was the local barber shop run by my uncle, standing in front with my father and grand father.

16 April 2009

The village of Riggisberg in Switzerland

An e-mail friend of mine, who lives in Riggisberg, a farming village near Bern in Switzerland, where my father was born and grew up, recently mentioned to me that they have published a book about the history of Riggisberg and she mentioned that my uncle was in it complete with photograph. Naturally I was interested and found out where the book is published, sent away for it and it arrived. 

So let me tell you a little about our ancestral village of Riggisberg. 

Areal view of Riggisberg

Riggisberg is a typical farming village in the canton Bern and the ancestral place of the Böhlen clan. The population in 2005 was 420. 

On the 1st July 1943, during world war II, parts of Riggisberg were accidentally bombed by the Americans who were flying south to Italy for bombing sorties. The plane got into difficulties and they had to jettison weight so they decided to drop the bombs. It was night time and the houses were blacked out as they are in war time, so the pilot couldn't quite establish where to drop the bombs. As luck would have it, most of the bombs dropped either north or south of the village and only one house in the centre copped one of the fire bombs. No one got killed.

Marianne a distant cousin-in-law from Konolfingen sent me the following article that appeared in the Secondary School History:

The most exciting event at that time, was the dropping of bombs on July 1st 1943. It was school excursion time. On the day before, the pupils pestered the teacher to leave early. However the teacher, Mr Weibel declined, stating that it was not favourable, a Storm was brewing and it could rain cats and dogs. It didn't rain cats and dogs, but 230 fire sticks and bombs, the biggest a 500kg bomb which exploded in Moosmatt, about 500m south of the school. Many houses on the southern side of the village suffered damage though the air pressure. The high school lost 94 window panes and doors. Next morning, the pupils would have liked to go and investigate the ruins and the bomb crater but for two hours, they had to remove glass and wood debris before they were dismissed.

The 'Chorberhüsi' (basket house) in the village burnt down

The main street (The barber shop left) ca. 1940

My grandfather, had a grocery shop in the village which was later converted into a barber shop when my uncle Hermann, a barber by trade took over the building. In the book, he is described as a funny man, frequently joking with his customers. On one occasion, while he was on the telephone to a lady friend, he was supposed to have told her 'I'm sorry, but you smell of garlic!' To which she replied 'It can't be me, I haven't eaten anything like that at all!'

The house where my dad grew up -
above the barber shop - ca. 1940

The family home which was first a grocery store.
In front, Granddad, my dad and Hermann with
their sister Rosa in the window of the 1st floor
ca. 1928

Uncle Hermann, barber and comedian

Uncle Herman was also an accomplished singer and musician. He built his own alphorns in his workshop. Both him and my dad were amateur actors, frequently appearing in local productions.

Unfortunately Hermann suffered a fatal heart attack in his 40s when I was in primary school. He was half-way through making me an alphorn when he passed away. I could only look at it on the day of his funeral. It was never finished.

15 April 2009

New TV Antenna

Diane and I have different TV preferences, so sometime our programs clash. We live in an area where TV reception is pretty crummy so we, (I, I guess) decided it was time to go digital. So this morning Michael from the Antenna people came and checked our reception and installed a brand new digital antenna. So now we can watch one channel and record another. The question remains: Who's program are we going to watch and who's are we going to record?

Michael on the roof checking the signals

He has a special gadget to measure where the best reception is.

Our new digital antenna

Will it make both of us happy?

Probably not during a football (soccer) match!

10 April 2009

St Beatus Caves in Switzerland

 On the eastern side of the lake of Thun, near the famous tourist town of Interlaken in Switzerland, nestled into the massive Niederhorn Mountain is a cave system of which the first kilometer is open to the public during the summer months, on guided tours.

Legend has it that in the middle-ages an English or Irish Monk was sent to the region to teach the pagan inhabitants about Christianity. The monk was known by the roman name of St Beatus. He heard that there was an evil dragon living in the cave. St Beatus was not afraid to confront the dragon. He showed the dragon his holy cross. Enraged by the sight, the dragon ran down the mountain into the lake and was never seen again.

Today there are about 15km of the cave system surveyed, with the first kilometer well lit and open on guided tours during the summer months.

The cave entrance is high above the lake

The water that runs through the cave exits in a waterfall

The view over the lake is magnificent 

The presumed grave of St Beatus

The stalactites and stalagmites are fabulous 

Internal lakes are plentiful 

In the early 1960s I was a member of the Swiss Speleological Society and took part in a couple of expeditions during the winter months into the caves beyond the public access area. In summer, there is too much water running through the cave which makes access through some of the narrow openings impassable.  

Me (foreground) during an exploration trip in the 60s

Surveying the cave system 

07 April 2009

Possums visit us

Last night, while watching telly, we heard this commotion on top of the roof. It sounded like an army carrying out maneuvers up there, so we went investigating. Of course as soon as we stepped onto the balcony, one of the visitors jumped into a nearby tree and the other was hiding on top of the TV antenna. 

Visitor Number 1

His mate jumped into the tree next to the house

Visitor Number 2

It is extremely hard to photograph moving objects in the night so I apologise for the 'out-of-centre' pictures.

05 April 2009


In Australia water is a precious commodity. Especially so in South-east Queensland. In July 07 our combined dam levels were below 20% and there was talk that Brisbane could totally run out of water. As a consequence, the government adopted drastic measures by building a de-salination plant and  building pipelines to recycling plants. Of course very strict restrictions of water use were put in place. People were no longer able to water their gardens or wash their cars.

But the last few months have saved us, with increasing rainfall every few weeks. Slowly the water levels in the dams increased and today the levels are 47.75% and rising. For the last week it has been raining, sometimes very heavily and more rain is forecast. The predictions are that by Monday the dam levels will exceed 50% which means water restrictions will be relaxed and we'll be able to once again water our gardens and wash our cars.

Of course this rainfall has come at a cost. The small town of Kin Kin, 45 km north-east of Noosa on the Sunshine Coast copped a lot. One person drowned and property damage is extensive.

Here are some pictures from the Courier Mail.

The local hotel took the brunt of the deluge

Water is gushing in through the open windows

Roads are damaged

Is this guy trying to fish his car out of the river?

Parking spot with car-wash facility

01 April 2009

Visiting my School Mate in the bush

This post is by request of Roland, another school mate still living in Thun, Switzerland:

In the 50s when I started primary school, in Steffisburg, Switzerland, I met Martin for the first time as we entered the class room of Grade 1 and stayed friends with him until Grade 4 when I moved with my family to the neighbouring town of Thun. I lost contact with Martin until high school when all three of us joined the same marching band. Martin and Roland were drummers and I joined the trumpet section. During our school days, all three of us were pretty close friends, often getting into mischief especially on band excursions.

After school I completely lost contact with Martin until my mother pointed out an article that appeared in the local newspaper showing a picture of Martin who had emigrated to Queensland Australia and was working as a pastry chef at Lennons, then the top hotel in Brisbane. The article mentioned that Martin had produced Swiss pastries for the President of the United States Lyndon B. Johnson, who was visiting Brisbane and staying at Lennons Hotel.

When I arrived in Australia in 1967, we met up again and have met from time to time until about five years ago, after we both retired, when we really renewed our friendship. We now meet monthly for lunch somewhere, either in his town of Beaudesert or near here at Springwood.

Well Roland has requested some pictures, so Diane and I went out bush today to have lunch with Martin and his wife Judy. After lunch, while the girls chatted (and blogged), Martin took me down to his model railway project he is working on where we had fun of our own.

Martin and Judy live at Kooralbyn,
about 70 Minutes drive from us.

They're home is overlooking the valley

They have a lovely garden and fish pond

The boys enjoying a beer in the gazebo

The Swiss chef is preparing lunch

Lovely Swiss 'Kalbsbratwürste'

In his den, Martin is building a super model railway
system which he hopes to complete in the
near future

Of course there has to be a SBB Re460 engine

The faithful Re4/4 Swiss loc pulling the train

Martin assembles a vintage steam loc with modern