On returning from Austria

October 15th, 2009
Well, I’m back from the holiday carving in Austria and had a wonderful time. When we arrived the weather was pretty much Summer as far as I was concerned. With the mix of people on the course including Australia and deserts in the US though, not everyone thought this was warm. To give an idea of the weather and the overall setting, this photo shows the valley the carving school is set in.
Valley below the carving school

Valley below the carving school

The course isn’t primarily about the scenery, however, and they soon got us down to carving. The basic format is to carve from one of the models found in their room full of carvings. Select a model, measure it and have the wood cut to size and then off you go. The amount of support you receive from the tutors is sufficient to help make sure that you achieve a reasonable result, which also helps you learn what you need to at each stage in the progresses. The amount of help you get will partly depend on how well you are getting on.

Carving fruit

Carving fruit

Fruit carving

Fruit carving

As this course is 2 weeks long there is a 3 day tour included in the programme. Originally I was dubious of the need for this, but by the time I got to it I was more than happy to have a bit of a carving rest. The tour was wonderful, and these shots may provide an idea of just how good it was.

Tyrol Castle

Tyrol Castle

View from the window

View from the window

Sunk village

Sunk village

The tour included many carving related stops, from churches to the UNIKA art gallery. One of the fascinating aspects of this part of the trip was the way that the sculptures were finished. Mostly flawless, each carving had at least a few cuts and tears left in the surface. Given the quality of the carvings this can’t have been a mistake. I believe it is to make sure that it is clear the pieces are hand-carved wood, and not plastic or mass manufactured.

On returning to the school I was full of enthusiasm to get back to it. The course allows various options, including painting and gilding of the pieces in the traditional style. Although I was originally booked to do the painting course I decided to just keep carving…

Semi-abstract lady

Semi-abstract lady

Carved cat

Carved cat

Again, the tuition was excellent and it allowed me to complete pieces to a standard I would not be able to unsupported. Still though, the carving was not the only attraction – especially towards the end of the week when we were treated to a night of musical entertainment. The evening was lead by the guilding teacher, and several of the carvers joined in. The course also includes a non-carving programme, and they started the evening with a very special number composed for the occasion.

A night of music

A night of music

Overall, the whole experience was very special. I can thoroughly recommend the course, the region and the company to be found there. I would like to take my family back to the region sometime for a holiday, and hope to be learning to improve my carving again there someday. In the mean time, I need to earn lots of brownie points with my wife. She was home looking after the children all this time.


Texas Chilli

September 7th, 2009

From the Internet. I should warn that some may consider this inappropriate…

If you can read this whole story without laughing, then there’s no hope for you. I was crying by the end. Apparently, this is an actual account as relayed to paramedics at a chilli cook-off in Texas.

Note: Please take time to read this slowly. If you pay attention to the first two judges, the reaction of the third judge is even better.

For those of you who have lived in Texas, you know how true this is.

They actually have a Chili Cook-off about the time Halloween comes around. It takes up a major portion of a parking lot at the San Antonio City Park.

Judge ..3 was an inexperienced Chili taster named

Frank, who was visiting from Springfield, IL.

Frank: “Recently, I was honored to be selected as a judge at a chili cook-off. The original person called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge’s table, asking for directions to the Coors Light truck, when the call came in. I was assured by the other two judges (Native Texans) that the chili wouldn’t be all that spicy; and, besides, they told me I could have free beer during the tasting, so I accepted and became Judge 3.”

Here are the scorecard notes from the event:


Judge .. 1 — A little too heavy on the tomato.Amusing kick.

Judge .. 2 — Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild.

Judge .. 3 (Frank) — Holy ****, what the **** is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway. Took me two beers to put the flames out. I hope that’s the worst one. These Texans are crazy.


Judge .. 1 — Smoky, with a hint of pork. Slight jalapeno tang.

Judge .. 2 — Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken seriously.

Judge .. 3 — Keep this out of the reach of children. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver. They had to rush in more beer when they saw the look on my face.


Judge .. 1 — Excellent firehouse chili. Great kick.

Judge .. 2 — A bit salty, good use of peppers.

Judge .. 3 — Call the EPA. I’ve located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been snorting Drano. Everyone knows the routine by now. Get me more beer before I ignite. Barmaid pounded me on the back, and now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. I’m getting @!&&-faced from all of the beer.


Judge .. 1 — Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.

Judge .. 2 — Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or other mild foods, not much of a chili.

Judge .. 3 — I felt something scraping across my

tongue, but was unable to

taste it. Is it possible to burn out taste buds? Sally, the beer maid, was standing behind me with fresh refills. This 300 lb. woman is starting to look HOT…just like this nuclear waste I’m eating!

Is chili an aphrodisiac?


Judge .. 1 — Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding considerable kick. Very impressive.

Judge .. 2 — Chili using shredded beef, could use more tomato. Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.

Judge .. 3 — My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead and I can no longer focus my eyes. I farted, and four people behind me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I

told her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer directly on it from the pitcher. I wonder if I’m burning my lips off.

It really ticks me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming. Screw them.


Judge .. 1 — Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spices and peppers.

Judge .. 2 — The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and garlic. Superb

Judge .. 3 — My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous, sulfuric flames. I crapped on myself when I farted, and I’m worried it will eat through the chair. No one seems inclined to stand behind me except that

Sally. Can’t feel my lips anymore. I need to wipe my butt with a snow cone.


Judge .. 1 — A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.

Judge .. 2 — Ho hum, tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last moment. **I should take note that I am worried about Judge .. 3. He appears to be in a bit of distress as he is cursing uncontrollably.

Judge .. 3 — You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I wouldn’t feel a thing. I’ve lost sight in one eye, and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili, which slid unnoticed out of my mouth. My pants are full of lava to match my shirt. At least during the autopsy, they’ll know what killed me. I’ve decided to stop breathing. It’s too painful. Screw it; I’m not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need air, I’ll just suck it in through the 4-inch hole in my stomach.


Judge .. 1 — The perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili. Not too bold but spicy enough to declare its existence.

Judge .. 2 — This final entry is a good, balanced chili. Neither mild nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge ..3 farted, passed out, fell over and pulled the chili pot down on top of himself. Not sure if he’s going to make it. poor feller, wonder how he’d have reacted to really hot chili?

Judge .. 3 – No Report.


September 5th, 2009


This is my first blog and im here to say holla .


The Raptor centre !!! :)

September 4th, 2009

I find that the raptor centre great every time i go to see them and am always wanting to go back and see them, like we did just the other day. Wow that’s the first time i had seen MJ, and it was amazing, a real explorer!!! Here is there website…


And for Fuzzball i just hope he stays happy – Even know i would love to do one of there day’s as soon as i’m 16 i also would point anyone younger towards leeds castle as it is most fun and not restricted with age and the people there are most freindly! Here is a link to the leeds castle website….


Why can’t there be more oppertunities like this for people younger than 16?


Wood Carving in Austria

September 3rd, 2009

I am looking forward to going Wood Carving in Austria for 2 weeks at the end of the month. I am going to the Geisler-Moroder school in Elbigenalp.  This will be my thrid visit, having gone twice before in the winter. To say the least I can highly recommend the school. The only negative is that I don’t know any German at all. Not a problem for the teaching, as they have tutors available that speak English almost perfectly. It does limit the social opportunities a little though.

Their web site is here:


Their teaching involves a number of facets. The main one is the copy-carving pieces selected from their carving room. This is backed up with classroom tuition, such as proportion and tool care, and one-to-one tuition as you carve. The results can be impressive, and the whole experience excellent. These two photos should give an idea of what I managed on the two visits…

I have wondered a few times, however, as to why there is nothing of this standard available in the UK. Is it just not commerically viable?