Ooh Shiny: What summer means to me, the Sunflower fields

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What summer really means to me : Sunflower fields!

Ohhhh Sunflowers! 

William Blake – 
“Ah Sunflower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the sun,
Seeking after that sweet golden clime,
Where the traveller’s journey is done.
Where the youth pined away with desire,
And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,
Arise from their graves, and aspire,
Where my Sunflower wishes to go!

I have never seen sunflowers in my life for I think more than 8 years and seeing them once again brings back summer memories. Back then in my home country,  I saw them quite often but not in Kuwait. Yes, I saw some bulbs in flower shops, but not really the same wild sunflower fields that I knew.

The last few weeks here in Bavaria have been pretty toasty weather. Great time to stay outdoors, more water fun, and when its sunny, the sight of summer flowers can be refreshing. Fields of  blooming sunflower is what summer means to me here in Germany! These golden-yellow shiny beauties are my favorite summer flowers and here in the southern part where we are rewarded with more sunshine, they grew beautifully wild in many fields. I’m telling you, it’s such a beautiful sight. They are a complete distraction when we cycle along the countryside. I don’t know with you but the sight of them makes me happy, makes me somehow excited. Something about them  gives sunshine to my soul.

Standing in front of them, while you can hear the  sounds of nature, crisp winds,  buzzing of the bees, swaying of the golden glow of strong, fresh sunflowers against the blue sky is to die for. I love the peace and serenity it brings. So simple, so raw, a pure nature’s delight. They are the brightest replica image of the sun. They simply brings warmth!

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Sunflower fields in Bavaria on a bright sunny day

For me summer is no summer without the bright, shiny , golden sunflower fields! Remember how I shared with you how I bursts out in excitement when I saw the tulip fields in Keukenhof, and gazing at those gazillions of multi-colored tulips?

Or my delight when we visited the Rapeseeds? almost as golden-yellow of goodness as the hundreds of sunflowers looking up through the sun. I actually cycled for many times going through the same fields, I can’t get enough  of them. I need to indulge in them before Fall comes and turn these fields into grey, empty and dullness of hibernating earth.

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Summer goodness

I guess this summer we explored so many fields, not only of summer blooms, but also of many different crops. Just beside every sunflower fields we drowned into the acres of sweet corns too. I noticed by now the certain crops that grow in each season. This sunflower fields is the same Rape seed fields that we’ve been ogling for months last Springtime!

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My sunshine

You can see that my daughter was quite enamored of the big yellow sunflower. But hey, she is just as crazy as the wasps who flutters around it! She’s bent on chasing them! Brought her in many sunflower fields many times and she knows how to bring the sunshine home.

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Cycling with my most favorite travel Buddy along the Sunflower fields

A bike ride with this Little One makes it even more special and I can’t complain for anything. Visiting sunflower fields on hot,summer months gives us that holiday feeling for an ordinary day .Here in Bavaria, we have plentiful of these and you can pick them up by yourself and self-pay. The flower fields also have so many different kinds of lilies, and other summer flowers.

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Wandering in the sunflower fields

Sunflowers become one of my painting inspiration. Their image is left in my mind so I decided to paint and make some cards out of it, of course, I didn’t forget to get some bulbs to brighten up our living room.Wild sunflowers are often photographed with their tall stalks and bright petals stretched towards the sun. This interesting behavior, known as phototropism, inspired a motif that has appeared in many ancient works.

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Flower art therapy

Though they are a crop planted with a purpose, their bright colours spread an instant happiness and positive energies. They look pretty, they give us healthy seeds to eat and oil for our cars.  Sunflowers are the ultimate sign of summer and I love their simplicity and versatility.

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Some of the cards I’ve made  inspired by sunflower

Do you also have a sunflower story? I think for a flower that reflects so many of the sun’s positive characteristics, it isn’t surprising that people enjoy basking in the sunflower’s warming glow so much, just like I do.

How about you? How are you spending your summer?

What’s your favorite summer flower?

This post is inspired by this weeks’ photo Challenge |Ooh, Shiny!

The Heat is ON in Bavaria

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32 degrees today! What Summer feels in Bavaria

This is the real thing now, the heat is ON in Bavaria !

What Summer fun are you engaging now?

Nevermind  the plague of Wasps and bee season, summertime is finally here and in Bavaria, in my old little city, everyone is just feeling ecstatic of the fine summer breeze, or rather, toasty winds since we have 32 degrees now!

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A very inviting Lake where we had picnic and splash. This is just one of our pit-stop from our cycling en-route (35kms) .

Have you seen summer flowers yet? They are blooming, giving us perfect backdrop for outdoors. From our garden to the nearby parks, summer flowers can be so exotic just like the Echinops Ritro!

I came to Germany last Summer, and I’m telling you, this season is probably the best season to enjoy Bavaria. To make the most of beautiful nature, lots of sun and water fun is essential. This week we have temperatures ranging from 18~32 degrees C . With this we have all the reason to spend time outside given the favors of so many holidays. Staying in when the weather  is perfect as this  is  definitely a S-I-N. Generally, Germans, or the typical Bavarians, adore the sun. Soaking up under the sunshine until the last ray of the sun until 9 o’clock at night. You can see them  sunbathing in the banks of the river Danube, lying in the grass in the parks, or just right in their balconies.

With the kick-off of the festival season, the Spring Pfingstenvolkfest,  Die Welt is bunt, Bürgerfest, and strawberry season, it feels like summer arrived early since we have a very sunny spring. I have written countless times that from the moment the day breaks, people here are out, (including US!) and ready to explore— and yes, with their dogs, clad in outdoor clothing, in their bicycles, with their walking sticks, off to the lake, and drinking beer in the bier garten promptly at 10 a.m on weekends!

So here I wanna share with you some of the fascinating things  about ‘Summer Feels ‘ here in our region. Whether you are just visiting tourist or a local, sure thing that you don’t wanna miss out on these activities!

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We do BBQ like the German way!

Grillsaison ( or Grilling season)

Summer is not complete without BBQ and Germans really take their grilling to the highest level! You know its summer when you breathe in the smell of BBQ in almost every house on a fine weekend. Since we have 9pm sunsets, this is a perfect way to bond. Be it in an open park, garden or in the tiny balconies of apartments, German take their grilling time seriously. Months before summer starts, we are flooded with different kinds of grill paraphernalia, from the garden tents, lounging seats, and yes, ‘the meat and wurst‘. About 70% of Germans have BBQ every  weekend and its typical to see a grill machine in every garden. Pack a picnic, a mat and  head to the lake, throw a piece of sausages ( wurst) and meat cuts into the charcoal grill and drink beer. This spells the perfect “Gemutlichkeit “or what the Dutch called “Gezelligheid” .

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The Grillsaison has finally begun!

Poppy fields  and wild flowers everywhere!

When summer time comes, in between wheat fields and every single empty space is filled with this fragile reddish-orange wild Poppy flowers. When I run and cycle, I can’t help but to stop and just be amazed by how  these simple wild bulbs can change the whole neighborhood and the way I feel. Sure, Tulips are my favorite flowers , but then there’s something about a field covered in Summer poppy blooms. It looks so calm, peaceful and so pretty!

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Close up encounter with red Poppy flowers last week when I was cycling.

 Eis Eis Baby! 

Who doesn’t like Ice Cream?

Ice cream parlors and shops are finally open here since late Spring. On warm, sunny days, there’s even a huge line outside. You really need to sweat out first before you enjoy their wide selection of Eis ( ice cream). My daughter is crazy about the richly flavored popsicles and ice pops which comes out in watermelon, kaktus, and yogurt ice cream. One is not enough, eating ice cream is definitely a threat we always enjoy during summer especially after we are all sweaty from cycling around.

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Eis Eis Baby!

Make sure to eat “spaghetti eis”: We promise it’s only a stupid name. This concoction is really just a strawberry ice cream sundae with vanilla “noodles” and strawberry sauce with white chocolate flakes standing in for the cheese. Guten Appetit!

Sunbathing in a make-believe beach!

This is the photo of the Donaustrand, a place made to look like a beach beside the river. It is the platform located in front of the river Danube and facing the New Castle. During summer, this place is a magnet for Germans and all outdoor lovers to enjoy a relaxing time, especially during sunset. This is a place a for  open-air concerts and the ” Live Orchestra Nights” where you can enjoy live music, drinking with friends, and lounging in recliners and sunbathing like you are in the beach .This is such a cozy place.

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A shot I took while lounging in the Donaustrand and enjoying sunset drinks.

Hanging out your clean laundry outside

There is nothing like the smell of clean laundry, hung out to soak up the fresh air. Hang out your sheets before the drying racks take over your apartment for the winter.We have a huge space in the garden and I just love how the sun do wonders on the sheets! I love this since it really saves time from tedious long cycles of drying. Natural is always better!

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Skinny dipping in some lake

Skinny dipping and baring it All !

Oh yes, Germans are very liberal and no-nonsense people when it comes to nudity. In some lakes, there are areas which are particularly allotted for “nudist”. Here, people are no hang-ups in baring it all and soaking up the sun from dawn to dusk.Germans think nothing of stripping to sunbathe. They do it on beaches, by lakes, and in heavily frequented urban parks. It’s very common to see unclothed people on regular park lawns or topless on balconies. Germany is one of the few places in the world where naturism occurs not just in secluded areas, but in the heart of major cities. German-style public nudity, known as Freikörperkultur (or “free body culture,” and usually shortened to FKK), dates back to the 19th century; it’s not just an activity, but a culture intended to reshape behavior.

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Pack a picnic and your mat and head on to the secluded fresh lakes!

For some people who are not into this and for families with children, there are lots of areas in the lakes for them to swim.We love to discover lakes where my daughter loves to play and here, they are just plentiful!

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Running through the Lake with this view.

Fitness everyday

In summer, I see a lot more people getting active and staying fit. People do things “manually” and live more. They love to do things by themselves. Mowing the lawn, tidying up their garden, people here loves to do things—no maids or house helpers! People run and cycle no matter what the time and temperature. They walk more and use the car less as much as possible. With abundant jogging areas, nature can be best enjoyed while getting fit. Germans adore the  “pig”and heavy pork-lovers, but even if they sit in the Biergarten everyday and eat sausages, seems that they don’t get fat! Everyone looks so impeccably fit.

Summer Cocktail Drinks

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PROST!!!

It is very typical to see bunch of people hanging around in the lake, or in the park enjoying a nice picnic and sharing summer cocktails. Of course, the beer is always the easiest way to create a cozy gathering but cool drinks and smoothies are always something pretty special. When it comes to picnics, Germans can be proud of their lifestyle!

What about you, what do you love to do during summer?

There are more on this post so I think I will make a post #2! Stay tuned.

Strawberry Fields forever

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Long wait is over, Summer is finally here!

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Fresh strawberry bunches sold in the erdbeeren Punck-Bayern, Unserherren Fields, Germany

Did you know that Strawberries are the first fruit to ripen each Spring?

We can’t even get over with the ‘Spargelzeit’ (White Asparagus season) yet and now here comes the season of one of my favorite summer fruit : Strawberries  ( or Erdbeeren)! Since we had a sunny Spring, strawberries came earlier here in Bavaria. In Germany, it is very easy to distinguish what time of the year it is, just look at the seasonal fruits displayed in the shops and you’ll know. Strawberries and Raspberries are flooding the grocery shops, as cheap as 2.99 Euros for 500 grams! Last time, I bought a bunch of strawberries for only 1.99 Euros!

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A walk in the strawberry fields with a Toddler
So last Sunday, we decided to spend quality family time on a sunny Ruhetag by visiting the Strawberry fields and pick strawberries by ourselves. It was our first time to go in the fields so we are all excited!  I am so thrilled by this idea since I wanted to explore the strawberry fields here in Bavaria and for my daughter to pick strawberries by herself. All over Bavaria, from the start of Strawberry season,  there are so many fields are open, for locals and hungry-pickers to enjoy!  These yummy goodness fresh- tasting strawberries can be harvested over six or seven weeks. In the second week of May strawberries grown in tunnels in the open field reach the market, followed by strawberries grown under plastic by mid-May. And the season reaches its peak with regular open-field strawberries from the beginning of June. In July the greenhouses are prepared for the next season that can be harvested from the end of September to Christmas.

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On Repeat : Tasting , Eating, Playing 

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The best strawberries in town, fresh from the fields
We checked out the site of the strawberry Fields in Bayern and we discovered that there are so many nearby fields that are opened for public picking. There are also remnants of the White asparagus being sold in the stalls, but a wide supply of  raspberries, honey, Bio-eggs, and ice cream  are also available for purchase in the same fields. It was such a lovely experience and the weather is just right to pick them.Families with small children ran around the fields, old people with their buckets, picking with smiles on their faces, eating and just enjoying the early summer sunshine. What a delightful way to spend a Sunday morning!

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One of our handful picks, half were already eaten along the way!
Strawberries belong to the favorite fruit group in Germany; the 3.4 kilos of strawberries consumed per person last year are proof of that. They follow apples, bananas and sweet citrus fruits in the ranking of most successful fruit. And a representative survey showed that strawberries are a proud favorite of consumers between the ages of 10 to 25.

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Toddlers and Strawberries are always a perfect combo!

Stop and smell the strawberries! They are considered members of the rose family, they give off a sweet fragrance as they grow on bushes.

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Father and daughter bonding time!
We got more than 2 kgs. of fresh, juicy and super delicious strawberries and we headed home to have a Strawberry -coma weekend!

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Toddler life: Eating hay, rolling in the hay
You bet someone really had a great time in the strawberry fields. Going home covered in hay, smelled like grass and mouth-smothered with strawberries are a perfect way to end our trip! While cycling back home, I can’t help but to hum the song “Strawberry fields forever by the Beatles… ”

Will definitely check out the other fields next time so stay tuned for more of our Summer escapades!

What are your summer plans?

How do you enjoy the warm sunshine? Don’t be shy to share in the comments!

 

Wasps in Germany , Sweet menace in Summer

 

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Enjoying outdoors last Vater tag ( Father’s Day in Germany) in the Donaustrand, sans the Wasps!

It’s summertime again! ( feels like it already!)

The last few days, it  feels like summer already here in Bavaria. People are all over under the sun , engaging in any outdoor activity you can imagine. Swimming , doing Sports, devouring Eis ( ice cream) sunbathing in their balconies, grilling, children are playing without shirts all day in the playground, BBQ everywhere, cycling til they drop, walking their dogs, lounging in Beer gardens, crazy over running & Triathlons, and yes, sleeping under the sun!

With the long weekend holiday celebrating the Ascension Day  last May 25th, the same date as the ‘Vater tag'(Father’s Day)  here in Germany, we’ve got  the perfect mood and  weather for it. As I always share in most of my posts, Germans love to be outdoors the moment the sun is up. We are having a simmering 25-32 degrees C nowadays and I can tell you, this pool season is also a signal for the Wasp season . This is one thing that I observe to plague Germany, especially here in Bavaria when the temperatures gets warmer.

In summertime, the flowers are blooming and super radiant. Our little garden is already full of roses and colorful flowers, I love this season!  But if you think that Wasps only hover on any pretty flower, then you are mistaken.

 

Two years ago sometime in August, I first met the nasty crazy German wasps. On our trip going to Moselle and Trier, we had a stop over in one of the restaurant and we decided to eat outside since its very warm. My daughter wants to walk around and I already noticed so many critters flying.It’s hard to ignore them especially when they are literally hovering all over you.Also,it is very rare to find a restaurant in Germany that has an air conditioning. This is one of the times where I really missed the all year/all day AC we have back in Kuwait. When summer comes, it can really feel toasty here, added the annoyance you get from the flying wasps. Inside the restaurant, there are ornaments filled with wasps and bugs caught by the sticky fly swatter and nets.

How can you eat when in your sight is a giant plate-full of wasps, flies, and critters?

Wasps love to fly over your food and they can really sting badly. This is why I don’t want to mess up with them. As a kid, I had been stung by a bee and it’s something I  don’t wanna experience again, let alone watch them sticking to my Schnitzel, or to my curry sauce. I am very careful about this because I have a daughter who is crazy about critters, lady bugs and spiders. She thinks they are cute ‘toys’ and she is chasing them!

I know you might wonder, what’s the difference between Wasps and the normal bees?Though both wasps and bees are relatively harmless unless provoked, it is good to know the difference between the two.The German wasps – called yellowjackets – have a nastier sting than the common wasp and are currently at their angriest.

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Wasps are members of the family Vespidae, which includes yellow jackets and hornets. Wasps generally have two pairs of wings and are definitely not fuzzy. Only the females have stingers, but they can sting people repeatedly.German wasps are bigger than normal wasps but smaller than hornets, have three black spots on their face, and can sting repeatedly.

 

Bees are fuzzy pollen collectors that almost always die shortly after stinging people (because the stinger becomes embedded in the skin, which prevents multiple stings). Bees don’t die each time they sting, though; the primary purpose of the stinger is to sting other bees, which doesn’t result in the loss of the stinger.

You might be interested to read on these basic facts ;

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If you see German wasps in your garden the nest is usually less than 500 metres away. The cold kills the wasps, apart from the newly hatched queens in the autumn. They look for a warm dry nook to hibernate over winter. If you are planning to enjoy your coffee and cake in the outdoor cafe, don’t be surprised if you have someone to share it with. They just love to destroy summer picnics and cling on to any sweet fruit or fermented drinks.

I hope the above info could help you be aware of this. 2015 was a terrible year of wasps in Germany and thinking of the rising temperature, they are bound to be hovering everywhere and swarm over your face! So, don’t let the bug carried by these wasps destroy your summer mood.

Have you enjoyed this post?Tell me,  have you ever been stung by a bee? or a wasp?