The Prince

You were on TV last night, Prince,’  Veronica told me with a big smile on her face this morning. I have no idea what TV is, but when she tells me something like that it must be important.

I’m a mouse, not your ordinary, grey garden variety mouse, but a handsome, coffee brown  laboratory mouse. I have lived for about twenty months and I’m still going strong. The people looking after me promised me, that I will live longer than any other mouse in history.

Of all the people helping me to achieve this goal, I like Veronica best. She is so beautiful that I wish sometimes, I was not a mouse. But one can’t have everything and I don’t want to complain.

They only feed me every other day with really, really tasty morsels and as I overheard my team saying, it contains thirty-one special ingredients to boost my longevity. I just love the stuff. By the second day I’m so famished that I want to climb up the glass walls of my home. My home contains a small cabin in which I sleep far from prying eyes; a little pipe, through which I run every time I feel like it or in which I can play hide and seek with Veronica.

My glass home  has a treadmill too in which I exercise to my heart’s content. This exercise is important, Veronica told me a while ago, because exercise will facilitate the production of the molecule fractalkine which helps me not getting dementia. And who wants to have dementia when one lives for a very, very long time.

From time to time they give me female company but I’m not telling what we do together when we are alone. A gentleman knows how to keep a secret. But it seems, after they take my night companion away, Veronica knows what has happened.

She takes me out of my glass cage by lifting me up by my pretty long tail and tickles my tummy. Blood is rushing into my head and my eyes are nearly popping out. Then comes the big moment. She swings me up into the air, which is really exciting, and than drops me down on her other hand. This excites me so much that my whiskers start to vibrate and a drop of my golden urine falls onto her rubber glove.

‘You naughty boy, couldn’t contain yourself,’ she says with a grin and her red lips come very close to me and she pretends giving me a kiss.

‘I wish you were an ugly frog, Prince.‘ I have no idea why she wants me to be an ugly frog.

‘You have been amorous during the night. I know, you can’t tell me otherwise, because I have seen the plug.’ And then she laughs and laughs. That is how I know, that she knows.

Besides mine is another glass container. There are several other mice in it and a big sign tells the whole world it is a control group. They get some sort of nasty looking pellets for food. They don’t live long and disappear very quickly. The funny thing is, new ones appear from time to time out of a box, in there.

Sometimes they take me out and give me a complete check up. They weigh me, give me an injection, ‘Against Alzheimer’s,’ Veronica tells me and throws me into a basin full of water. This basin has a little step on one side and when I swim there to climb out Veronica exclaims, ‘He hasn’t forgotten, his brain still works!’

I don’t understand any of it, where else would I climb out? Veronica puts me into a tissue and dries me off. These are the happy moments of my life.

‘If I can get you to live to thirty-three month without the dreaded Alzheimer’s I can write my thesis on longevity and you will be the most famous mouse in all history, you, my Prince and not that silly Mickey Mouse.’

I love Veronica so much, that I want her to succeed.

The Old and the New Australia

The other day, on the First of May actually, we were enticed by the beautiful sunshine to drive into the country site. Not far from where we live, about 70 km is Kangaroo Valley.

On the way there and back we passed through Berry, a town on the Princes Highway. It is “old charm” town where on weekends well to do people from Sydney come to visit and do some shopping for things that do not come from China, like craft work etc.

But before we reached Berry on our way back we still passed through some beautiful scenery of Australian landscape. The Australian landscape is not as much a cultural landscape as much as the European is.

Bush track

An ancient hill and an old tree

Watch out for Wombats

A hidden farm

Uta wanted to see Autumn Leaves on the way back. So, we decided to visit Berry again. This is part of the new Australia where introduced plants change the land and town scapes. In the evergreen Australia it is quite a sight.

Autumn in Berry

Autumn Leaves

We drove a bit further and suddenly saw the town’s Cenotaph erected for the fallen of the two World Wars. The floral tribute from the recent ANZAC Day were still to be seen.

I realised then, that perhaps Berry represents, in equal parts, the modern and the old Australia and the fallen soldiers are the connecting element of this duality. Without knowing it they gave their lives for just the Australia we have become. Migrants of the countries that were fighting in the Great War of 1914/18 are now here. The French bakery and the former migrant attest to that.

And I remembered a poem I wrote a few years ago and it contains the following lines referring to Gallipoli:

When Diggers stormed the Cove
They could not know
That many years hence
Men from the other side
Would come to their Land.

Did they fight and die in vain?
Not so. They prevailed
and shared their Land.
Turned foes into welcome friends.

The Cenotaph

Every fallen soldier has a plaque in the wall and a tree planted in his name.

The trees of Rememberance

There was a war trophy, July 1918,  too, a German heavy mortar

A fire belching monster from another time

Among all the names I noticed two especially, one airman who was flying for the RAF, perhaps he died on an air raid over Berlin where I come from and a seaman on the HMAS Sydney. The sinking of the Sydney was such a tragic event. What a crazy world we live in. I’m so sorry all this happened. But we should look to the future and recognise that we live in an earthly paradise – Australia!

This beautiful Magnolia is to be seen in the centre of Berry

Magnolias have been around for twenty million years. It has been introduced into Australia but it is fitting for such an ancient plant to be here in Australia.

1 May 2012

Early in the morning we heard a song about the Hampden Bridge and we thought why not go there today? It seems to be the right thing to do. First of May is not a holiday in Australia. But what the heck, our life is a constant holiday and we can go to the Kangaroo Valley, that is where the bridge is, any time we want.

So off we went. The Illawarra is a beautiful part of NSW and we are proud to live here.

On the way to the valley we pass other beautiful parts.

Gerroa and Seven Mile Beach

The Highway

We stopped for a snack at Berry, another gem on the South Coast.

A Pub

Traditional Shops

And on we went on the road to Kangaroo Valley

The high winds played with the clouds and we were seeing the same cloud changing shapes for hours.

Our little car climbed up the mountain road.

The cloud changed its shape again.

A dog running in the sky?

We stopped at a heavenly gate but did not dare to enter.

Is this the Pearly Gate?

Up and up we went. We past a completely self-service roadside stall. But there was nothing we fancied.

After we went over the crest and came out of the woods the vista opened and the valley was right in front of us. What a beauty!

Kangaroo Valley

Down the hill and not long after we reached our destination.

Hampden Bridge - Kangaroo Valley - NSW

View from the bridge to an embryonic Shoalhaven River

There was the fancy cloud again

The River

The bridge from down below

From here on the river is gathering strength on it’s way to the Pacific. And we are soon heading home too. I will write another blog, especially about our second stop at Berry.

First of May

When I was still living in Berlin as a youngster the First of May always used to be a beautiful day. A cold night preceded a sunny day with blue sky all over the city. The trams were decorated with fresh green from the Birch trees and they carried the flag of Berlin with the little bear.

Of course, there used to be the rallies organised by the Unions for the rights and a better life for the workers. A couple of times I joined my mother and her colleagues from the post office and we marched through the still bombed out city. Nobody thought of torching the few cars that were parking on the side of the road. There might have been the odd three-wheeled Tempo who belonged to someone who had to earn a crust (this is an Australian expression about someone who earns a little bit of money to feed his family – crust of bread).

Later during the day, when the sun had risen to the zenith and warmed our naked arms – the sleeves were rolled up – we. my friends and I, took our bikes for a ride to the Havel lakes and went for a swim in the still icy water.

The 1st of May was always the start of the most beautiful month in Berlin. Spring was in full swing.