Lemons and Pepper

Text read by Mary Peters

Cleaning Hacks.

Here are two recommended cleaning hacks. What do you think?

Clean dishes using a lemon.

Sparkling clean plates, glasses without water spots and a pleasant fresh scent. There is a simple but ingenious dishwasher trick. All you need is half a lemon.

The acid in the lemon cleans limescale deposits, eliminates unpleasant odours, and leaves the dishes sparkling clean at the same time. All you have to do is put a lemon half on the top rack of the dishwasher.

It also minimises kitchen waste. Use squeezed and pitted lemons. If you do not use cored lemon pieces, the pipes can get clogged. However, beware! If you do this too often, the citric acid can attack the rubber seal of the dishwasher.


Put black pepper in the wash.

Pepper is something just about everyone has at home. Black pepper is a super laundry hack. When washed, coloured clothes lose their luminosity, white laundry becomes yellow or grey over time. Black pepper prevents this naturally. Instead of using bleaching chemicals or colour-protecting additives, you can use a natural and cheaper method: pepper!

Add a finely ground teaspoon of black pepper to the regular washing powder the next time you do the washing. However, don’t put it in the washing powder compartment, but directly in the drum. The effect of the pepper unfolds, especially at lower temperatures. The spice removes soap residues from the fibres of the clothes. That is why our clothes fade or discolour over time.

Role of Parents and Teachers in Absolutism of a Child

By Saif Ur Rehman TGT FG Public School Boys Kharian Cantt, Pakistan

Text read by Mary Peters

Absolutism is the concern with rules. According to the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget,
(1896-1980), playing children become aware of this around the age of five. Children have blind faith in rules and ideas of right and wrong that their parents give them. Children regard their parents as the ultimate arbiters of these rules. They perceive these as being quite absolute, subject to no arguments, compromises, or changes of any kind.

Parents and the community play a vital role in the absolutism of the child. A five-year-old child tends to believe the rules. Parents are responsible for refraining from doing anything in front of the child that causes abnormal behaviour. They must expose the child to an environment they want to see in the child as a grown-up. They must keep him away from the company of children who are delinquent and learn substandard behaviour. They must teach and demonstrate before him the values that are standard. Parents should give friendly advice and avoid quarrelling, admonishing abusive language and corporal punishment. Mothers must not cheat the father in domestic matters. Parents should impart punctuality, obedience, politeness, truth, honesty, love, cooperation, tolerance, self-help, a timetable in a friendly way. The long company of parents, proper monitoring and guidance is necessary at this stage.

An important factor is the company of parents. We often observe that parents usually send their child to school, and then, after school, they force the child to attend nearby coaching classes. It spoils the personality of the child and creates a gap between parents and the child. It also exerts pressure on the mind of the child. It constricts the child like a sparrow between the claws of an eagle. In this situation, a child tends towards negative influences. And when once or twice he finds it works, the child develops an attitude that becomes permanent behaviour. Delinquency and crime become the seeds in the child’s personality. A child also reflects this in the classroom. A teacher may notice and try to combat this. However, because the child receives regular reinforcement from his street and home, the attempts by the teacher may prove to be ineffective. 

Parents can arrange for books and electronic devices to help the children remain exposed to such material and develop a better morality. Videos and picture books are ideal for teaching morals. They can give children movies or cartoons as entertainment and share stories with moral lessons again for both education and entertainment.

Absolutism, as hard luck would have it, is ignored in most of our schools. Yet, the learning power of the child is at its height at an early age. Children learn well anything you teach because the mind immediately accepts what the elders or teachers do. It is the ideal learning stage. The English philosopher John Locke (1622-1702) asserted that the child’s mind is a Tableau Rasa (a blank slate) on which you can write anything; it will leave its impression. At this stage, the child has a quick susceptibility for anything he observes and learns. However, children already learn uncountable things before they attend school. Their minds are not “tableau rasa”. All this distracts from classroom rules and management. 

But it would be quite a wrong concept to say that now the teacher has nothing to do. We need active and competent teachers for the children at this very stage. We often see that most of the school headteachers detail newly appointed or untrained teachers in primary classes. It implies that they give no or very little importance to primary school classes, and it is the biggest mistake ever committed by the headteachers. They forget the psychology of the young learners. They do not remember that only a strong foundation can let them construct a skyscraper. The result is dyslexia. We find in many cases that the students of grade five and above do not even have the basic three skills of reading, writing and arithmetic that is the major requirement of the learners at the primary level. We must consign certified, well trained, and experienced teachers to teach young pupils at schools. We must have a robust arrangement of activities, separate places, or playgrounds to play with their classmates. We need to separate their cafes and washrooms. We must remember, if there are high school scholars, they must not mix with these children in any way. When a school holds functions in which students of all grades participate, the gathering of all students can be allowed. However, we must keep their seating separate and under the supervision of class in-charges. We should also remember that only learners in the same grade should participate in competitions and co-curricular contests.  

The subject teachers must teach children in all possible interactive ways. The headteachers must also arrange for the ICT for effective teaching and audio-video aid. The use of a computer can be beneficial here. They can teach using videos and audio. Drills are the most effective tool for these young learners, and computers are the best aid for the purpose. Different poems, stories, and mathematical videos can have a positive and fruitful effect on their learning. Even the repetition through a computer is quite an easy, enjoyable, and time-saving factor in the class of such young learners. 

To forge an atmosphere of creativity, we can use blocks and complete a picture by joining different parts. Only well trained and experienced teachers will skillfully use picture books to improve vocabulary and drawing boards to satiate the aesthetic sense of a child.

To conclude, if we want to produce well educated and learned individuals, we will have to teach and train our young learners in true spirit. Both parents and teachers must be vigilant of the learners and provide them with a comfortable environment to develop good morals.

A Curious Land – New Zealand

Text read by Mary Peters

Part 1: Queenstown.
Geneviève describes the trip of a lifetime.

We were still in the clouds when the flight attendant told us we would land in 5 minutes. And a few minutes later, looking out of the window, the impressive mountains appeared to the right and left. Then the plane landed. In the first hour after our arrival, it rained, snowed, and the sun shone. We were in New Zealand. It was November 2019. Late spring.

We flew from Frankfurt to Abu Dhabi (6 hours), then to Sydney (14 hours). From Sydney to Queenstown was another 4 hours. We had spent 24 hours on a plane. Not to mention the 7 hours of stopovers. Plus, a 12-hour time difference. We arrived around 4 pm, but it was still 4 am at home in Cleebourg.

Arriving in Abu Dhabi
Approaching Sydney, Australia
The entire flight.
Our route on the South Island.

Customs & immigration were very strict. Boots were cleaned to avoid bringing in foreign insects and plants, even worms. Some Australian tourists had to disinfect their bicycles. Queenstown is a centre for downhill cyclists. 

We took the bus to the hosts. During the whole trip, we did not stay in hotels, instead, looked for private accommodation. Our first host was from the United Kingdom. She had come to New Zealand as a young girl. 

Queenstown is a small, quiet town with a population of 16000 inhabitants. The tallest buildings are 3 to 4 stories. 

The area is mountainous. The town is clean, and the buildings are modern because there is no long history. In the summer, the whole area is popular with watersports and downhill cycling enthusiasts. 

There is also a wild bird centre. They raise your awareness for conserving Kiwis (nocturnal) and Weka (their diurnal cousins). The birds fall prey to opossums, rats, stoats, and cats. The Kakapo parrot is also an endangered bird. It does not fly but hobbles and jumps very quickly on the ground. 

The Kiwi is also the national symbol of New Zealand and the people call themselves Kiwis.


Skyline Gondola

From our house, we saw the Skyline Gondola. We planned to take it the next day. We finished our first day exploring the town centre, admiring Lake Wakatipu, and having our first dinner in the country. We ate fish & chips which were delicious and had our first tasting of the local wine. It was excellent. Dusk falls early, and we decided to sleep off the jet lag, which, surprisingly, was not so bad. 

Over breakfast, we had a long chat with our host. She is a member of the local council. She told us about the Lomond Track, named after Ben Lomond, a mountain in the Scottish Highlands, on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond. Not far from the top is the saddle. There you have a splendid view of the town and the valley on the other side. We took the gondola up to the saddle. In the background are the New Zealand Alps, which are snow-covered for the whole year. 

We just enjoyed the scenic panorama and began an ascent to the peak, which is the Lomond Track. The mountain is over 1700 metres high. In the gondola behind us were 3 downhill cyclists who were up to the challenge of racing down the mountain slope.

We reached the halfway point up to the summit, where there is also a restaurant. We hiked for three hours up to the peak. Then the same way down to the gondola station and then, further on, down to Queenstown. During the descent, it started to snow, but it melted straight away, and soon the sun came out again. Mountain goats, happily chewing away, watched us pass.

There is an area with a panoramic view where you can take fantastic pictures. You can also go bungee jumping, but we decided to give it a miss. 

That evening, we strolled along the lake and lakefront in Queenstown. An old steamship still crosses the lake from shore to shore. Dinner was a New Zealand lamb fillet and a glass of red wine. While we were eating, an Aussie asked if he could join us. We fell into conversation and learned that he was building a house in the area in readiness for his retirement. It was another new experience. If there is a free place at a table, people will ask if they can join you. You strike up a conversation, and so, during our trip, we met French, Germans, Aussies, Swiss and many other people. 

Early the next day, we took a bus to drive the 171 km to Doubtful Sound. En route, we stopped at the small town of Te Anau, which is Maori for swirling waters, and which is the gateway to New Zealand’s Fjordland. We drove along the shores of Lake Wakatipu, the country’s longest and deepest lake. People say it is similar to Loch Ness in Scotland and has been the backdrop for many films, including Lord of the Rings. 

From Te Anau, we continued to Manapouri, where we took a boat to cross Lake Manapouri. On the other side, we continued again by bus. By now, the terrain is rugged, the roads are unpaved but still wide enough for two busses. This is a new road for tourists, and it was one of the most expensive roads to construct on the South Island. All the material had to be transported by boat from either Manapouri or from Doubtful Sound. There are also many waterfalls to see here. 

Next, we boarded a boat and sailed through a rainforest, which was surprising as unexpected. Finally, another boat took us to Doubtful Sound to where it flows into the Tasman Sea. 

The crossing from Doubtful Sound was misty, almost foggy. Occasionally, the sun managed to break through the mist, which created a unique, almost mysterious atmosphere. 

The captain cut the engine in the middle of the sea and invited us to stay quiet to enjoy the sounds of silence. Ever since that song by Simon and Garfunkel has a special meaning for me. 

During the whole boat trip, we did not stop soaking in the landscape. The boat sailed into the Fjords, or into side waters, and then returned to the sound. The vista changed at every turn. The landscape is the same, but it constantly looked different, all the way to the mouth to the Tasman Sea. Here, you can see many large rocks where seals lie in the sun, watched by penguins. It was here where we also felt the roughness of the very cold Tasman Sea. 

We came back to our accommodation, full of impressions. It was a day full of memories for life with the people who matter the most. 

Next stop : Wanaka

All pictures were kindly made available by Geneviève. Many thanks.

Would you like to ask Geneviève any questions? Please use the form below.

Growing up in China

Text read by Mary Peters

Wenya shares moments from her childhood.

I was born in September 1972 in Tianjin, China. My grandmother was a little disappointed because she wanted me to be a boy. What a surprise! Okay, I’m glad I’m a girl.

I lived at the university with my parents, my sister, and my brother. My father worked there as a professor in the political science department.

The first memory of my life is in 1976. Tangshan was devastated by a 7.6 magnitude earthquake, and many houses in my hometown collapsed. So, all the staff and families of the school moved to the playground. I ran excitedly back and forth between tents and open beds, as free as a child in a primitive tribe, completely unaware of the worries and fears of the adults.

In 1979, I started school. I had to walk across the university campus to my school every morning. I smelled fresh toothpaste and soap, and there was the boys’ dormitory with shirts and trainers hanging on the windowsill.

I saw the students, with their lunch boxes, walking to the canteen to get their food.

I found the chemistry department building ugly. It was grey and white, cold, and impersonal. Why didn’t it have warm colours like the houses I built with my wooden blocks? How beautiful!

I loved the outdoor cinema in the summer. I loved lying in the playground, looking up at the star-filled sky and walking through the beautiful flower gardens that opened the gates of China that summer.

One day, a teacher in the foreign language department gave my mother a gift. It was a tea that foreigners drink. It’s called “Coffee”. My mother handed me a cup of black water the morning after. Oh dear, the foreigners’ tea is terrible! My mother explained to me that it was probably bad or expired. Twenty years later, I can’t pass up that bad, expired tea every morning.

Life is so amazing!

Do you have a comment?

Walking on Trees

Text read by Mary Peters

Tommy returns for one last time.

On Bernard’s advice, Tommy returned to Seebach. He still wanted to visit the “Chemin des Cimes” in Drachenbronn.

Drachenbronn used to be a military base at a strategic point near to German border. All the installations were underground. The French military could control the sky over Russia. The Base 901 Drachenbronn was closed in 2018.

The regional authorities inherited a big project; to build a tourist attraction in Cleebourg-Drachenbronn. Now open for two months, there is a forest path named “Chemin des Cimes”. It will open up the heart of the regional park Vosges du Nord and offer a panoramic 360° view. It is a path of 1000 m and leading to an observation tower.  To return, you can walk back or go down a long slide. 

A German Company, EAK (Elebnis Akademie), financed the tower that cost 5.5m€ to build. The site is accessible by a path or a shuttle.

From the top of the tower, you have a unique view of the Rhine Plain, the Black Forest and Vosges du Nord.

Tickets cost 15€ per adult, 12€ for children up to 16 years. A family of four have to pay 35€. Children under 6 are free.

Bernard and Monique took Tommy through the forest to cross the WW2 tank pit to see the progress of the work. Tommy was impressed with/by the tower and the trail. Snacks and souvenirs are available at the kiosk by the entrance.