I used to drive between 20.000 and 30.000 miles a year up and down Scotland across narrow and winding country roads in my professional days. Now living once again in Central Vienna, a car is no longer a necessity but a burden. As a consequence, we are a car-free (care-free: get it?) household.
Anybody who read my last two reports (Kracher in Illmitz and Café Ministerium) will remember that I announced the third event in succession, the marvellous British Car Excursion on Saturday, for which I needed a lift. I am very grateful to the very kind soul who chauffeured us all day.
The day could not have been more perfect in every respect. The weather was and stayed warm, dry and sunny. The organisation was very efficient. At the meeting point, The Pyramid in Vösendorf, our President, Prof Dr Kurt Tiroch, supported by his son, checked in and registered, following the Corona regulation, all participants. Punctually, we departed and, in convoy, headed towards Sparbach Nature Park, a Trust of the Prince of Liechtenstein. There, our President handed each of us a hiking map, and then we were let loose to roam this extensive park. Some of us even climbed the hill to visit the 13th-century castle of Johannstein, which was ruined in the 16th century by the Turks. Still, it offered a grand view across the wooded valley.
Prof Dr Tiroch had promised this surprise. On our return to the car park, there it stood, as welcoming as an oasis in the desert: The van of the “Prosecceria Andrea”. Andrea and Josef Toman generously served us with a smile their White and Rosé Prosecco.
Nothing lasts forever. Our caravan rolled on through picturesque villages, past many churches through Heiligenkreuz to Kogelhof in Laaben, where the Egger Family is breeding bison for their in house meat production. You won’t be far wrong if your inner eye conjures up thousands and thousands of bison, better known to us Karl May readers as buffaloes, thundering majestically across the endless prairie. Here they were, shedding their winter fur, the 47 buffaloes. They are not only big and around 500 kg heavy but also extremely tasty in the various types of sausages, which we enjoyed.
The final destination took us to Brentenmaisstraße 41 and 43 in Pressbaum. Now let me stop there for a minute.
If the kind reader of these lines already knew about the significance of the addresses, then I apologise. I did not know.
So let me start: Karl Hartweger collects Oldtimers, particularly classic David Brown tractors, and lives in Brentenmaisstraße 41. His neighbour at Brentenmaisstraße 43 is if you have guessed it yet, no one less than our President, Prof Dr Kurt Tiroch.
Latest then, when after our arrival we were treated to the traditional Café Ministerium hospitality with canapés, Beer and wine, the penny had dropped. Where else could it have taken place but in the double garage of our President?
In the meantime, Mr Hartweger arranged for supervised rides on his David Brown tractors and simultaneously made my wife very happy. My wife’s father was a farmer and had a 1953 James Brown tractor on which she sometimes, as a child, used to ride with him. Mr Hartweger invited her to climb up on the 1953 David Brown and took her for a drive before she could object!
A surprise lay in wait for some of us. Our President and his wife invited us on a grand sightseeing tour of their house, which was truly impressive. I have tried to capture this experience in my pictures. And now I am telling a secret. You may recall that I mentioned Karl May casually in the context of the bison or buffaloes at the Kogelhof. Well, Prof Tiroch is the proud owner of a complete collection of Karl May books.