Friday, 24 March 2023

A Varied Weather Week

This week is nearly over, and I have not yet written about last week. Time flies when one is having fun...!

On the morning of Monday, March 13, I arrived home from O.K.'s with both my trains on time. It was a very windy, rather warm day reaching almost 20C (68F), and so the thunderstorm that arrived late in the evening was not surprising. It was very brief, though - I heard precisely one thunder clap, and was aware of lightning only once, too. 

Unfortunately, it was also the day O.K. found out that a co-worker had managed to pass COVID not only to him but to half the department. Of course, I self-tested immediately (and repeated that daily for the rest of the week), but I remained negative and had no symptoms. The four jabs I have had must have done the trick.

My sister and I spent the evening at our Mum's, enjoying her excellent cooking and each other's company.

It was another suny and windy day with some rain on Tuesday, the 14th of March. I worked in Marbach, training the employees of the Literature Archive in data protection. Two time slots were offered, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, so that everyone had a chance to attend. We'll do that again in April, and most likely one more time in autumn.

Giving those trainings/interactive talks to an attentive audience is one of the things I like best about my work. Questions arise, and the most interesting discussions ensue. It is also nice to go for a different walk than usual during my lunch break.

The Schiller National Museum is part of the Literature Archive.

View towards Ludwigsburg from the terrace next to the museum

View towards Benningen from the same spot

A foot bridge connecting two parts of Marbach

Back home after work, I went to pick up my new computer (see previous post).

After the mild days, Wednesday (March 15) was cold enough for snow! There were only a few flakes forming among sleety rain, and there was also sun before and after - a day that had nearly everything in terms of weather.

I was expected at the office and eventually made it there, but trains were again not running to where I needed to go, and I had a combination of walking and taking a totally overcrowded bus which I heartily disliked. Instead of the 17 minutes according to the local trains time table, each way took me one hour.

It was good to work from home on Thursday, the 16th of March! After a frosty morning of -2C (28.4F), the afternoon was much warmer at 12C (53.6F). My Mum, my sister and I met up after work; there was a French Market in town, with about six (really tiny, but nice) genuine French stalls on the courtyard behind the town hall. 

Sunrise from my kitchen window on Thursday

Bread and cheese were bought, we had something to eat and drink and did a bit of people watching before it became too chilly for our liking.

By Friday (March 17) we knew for sure I was going to be on my own for the weekend, with O.K. still having symptoms. After work, I took the train to Marbach for the second time that week. This time, it was for the walk I have mentioned often on my blog, that used to be my Mum and my favourite walk together back when my parents still had their allotment near Steinheim.

After Steinheim, I climbed the hill and walked past the allotments before reaching the woods. A deliberately long loop took me back to Steinheim first and then to Marbach, where I boarded the train home about 18 km, 3 hours and 15 minutes later.

The river Murr in Steinheim

Old vineyard

It was more or less here that I watched the dance of the Red Kites.

One of the most memorable moments of that walk was when I observed a couple of Red Kites on their courting flight. It was like watching a superbly choreographed dance, with every swoop or dive, every flapping of wings perfectly synchronised.

Saturday, the 18th of March, was another sunny day of about 18C (64.4F). A former colleague (now retired) and his wife were hosting a little "spring fest" at their home. The wife is an accomplished storyteller who regularly gathers groups of people at their home, or is booked by various institutions, to tell stories.

The stories are not hers, but fairytales and other stories she has read somewhere and adapts for telling (not reading). It is a wonderful way to spend an evening, and a very different form of entertainment: It is not like reading a book or listening to audio books or podcasts, and it is totally unlike watching TV or Netflix etc. 

Did your parents or grandparents tell you stories when you were little? If they did, do you remember how much you enjoyed that? It was exactly like that, and the buffet was very nice, too :-)

Earlier that day, I spent a couple of hours with my sister at her allotment, getting things ready for spring. It was so warm in the sun that I worked in shorts for the first time this year!

Taking a break around lunch time
Another spectacular sunset near O.K.'s village that same day.
I spent a quiet day on my own on Sunday (March 19). After a 2-hour-walk to Pattonville and back, I rested a little before starting to set up my new computer, as mentioned on my previous post.

O.K. was much better by then and had been testing negative since Saturday. What a relief!

Sunday, 19 March 2023

A Fresh Start

My old PC served me well for at least 15 years. I used it mainly for playing my favourite computer games, but also for blogging, reading and writing emails and doing my tax stuff.

Of course I kept maintaining it; I regularly opened the case to dust the fans etc., cleared out unnecessary data, upgraded the OS and software as available, and generally had nothing to complain.

Over the years, the little old machine became slower. It was state of the art when my late husband originally bought it, but of course you all know that in the world of electronic devices, even two years is "old" - 15 years is positively ANCIENT, like Mesopotamian clay tablets with cuneiform writing.

Still, I was happy enough with what my machine could still do. But when February turned into March, I discovered that my favourite game did no longer work. In order to make it work again, I would have to change the app on which it runs, and that new app only works on a 64 bit OS. Needless to say, mine was a 32 bit OS with no way to upgrade it anymore. 

What to do?

Well, for a couple of years now I have been saying (O.K. will confirm this) that it is time for a new PC. In February, I received a bonus from work, and my birthday is next week. Therefore, my birthday present to myself was going to be a new PC!

Last week (March 7), after work I went to the computer shop just down the road from my house. I told the helpful man at the counter what I wanted, and he looked up the requirements for the new computer game I will have as a birthday present from O.K. (Hogwarts Legacy, in case you want to know). Together, we configured the machine to suit my purposes, and I placed my order. We agreed on me coming for pickup on Friday afternoon.

When I arrived at the shop on Friday (March 10) at the arranged time, much to my disappointment I was told that the man's colleague had accidentally sold my computer to someone else that same morning. I wasn't pleased, but it wasn't really a problem, either; I was going to travel to O.K.'s two hours later and would not be home all weekend anyway.

On Monday evening, I found a message on my answering machine that the computer was now indeed ready. As soon as I returned from work on Tuesday, I went to the shop, paid for my computer and - with much puffing and panting and several stops to give my arms a rest - carried the big, heavy parcel home.

Since then, the unopened box has been sitting in my bedroom; for something like setting up a new PC, I need time and a focused mind, neither of which were really available together until today.

I have only just finished - the most time-consuming bit was finding a cable in Steve's huge fundus to connect my old screen (yes, for now I am keeping monitor, keyboard, mouse and sound system - they work perfectly well, and there is no reason to replace them).

Finally, Draco comes out of his box.

My little old white tower is going to go. *sniff*

Draco's side is made of glass.

He's a true gaming machine with fancy lighting in the front...

...and at the side. It even changes colours! (Silly, I know - I didn't NEED that, but it was what the machine came with.)

New set up on (very) old screen.

Here we go - ready for blogging!
Writing this blog post has been my first deed on the new PC!

Now I am going to look at getting my games to run... Wish me luck :-)

Saturday, 18 March 2023

Two Weekend Walks

Saturday, the 11th of March, was another beautiful sunny day with cobalt blue skies. The village band where O.K. plays the trumpet were holding their annual general assembly that evening, and it is their custom to attend Saturday evening mass before the assembly. At that mass they provide the music, and the names of all band members (some of them long retired from active music making) who have died in the last year are read out and commemorated that way.

As O.K. had to be up and ready to play at church late afternoon, we did not venture far from the village, but just had a nice walk around it. Spring is definitely here, and even if there should be (and there have been since) some more frosty nights or the occasional snow fall, it can't and won't be stopped.


Meteorologists say it has been much warmer than average this year, but I can remember a February more than 20 years ago when it was so warm we went out in short sleeves and had ice cream by the lake. Anyway, it was a beautiful afternoon, and we enjoyed it.


It was still mild and sunny on Sunday (March 12), but there were clouds as well, and the sky did not have quite the same brilliance as the day before.

In 2020, O.K. had his 20th anniversary working at the same company. Normally, the company invites all those with "big" anniveraries to celebrate together, hosting a dinner for them and their partners. In 2020, this was not possible; restaurants were closed because of the pandemic, and other restrictions in place, as we all know.

Therefore, O.K. was given a voucher for a restaurant in Prinzbach, a small village near the town where he works. The voucher was valid for 3 years, and so it was time to use it or lose it.

We had booked a table at the restaurant for midday, and arrived well in time. The food was excellent and staff friendly, and we put the voucher to good use.

Prinzbach is nestled in a valley surrounded by the Black Forest, and popular with walkers and hikers. We had a leaflet with a round tour and, after wrapping up our sumptous Sunday lunch with an espresso, donned our hiking boots and set off.

At first, following the sign posts was no problem. Then we arrived at a point where road work had been done recently, and trees cut down. Unfortunately, the signs originally fixed to the trees had not (yet) been replaced properly, and the map on the leaflet was not detailed enough to give us more than a general idea of the intended route.

Please note: Somehow, the following pictures were added to the post in the wrong order. What you see first are the last pictures I took that day; I suggest you start from the bottom up. 

The castle on the hill in the distance is Hohengeroldseck, where we've been a few times in the past 7 years. Our last visit was in October 2021, and you can see the pictures here.

Trees are still bare - won't be long until the first tender green leaves appear.

Tiny wooden chappel at a crossing, next to a dairy farm and cheese maker

I liked this house particularly. We think it is only used on weekends, not permanently lived in.

It's amazing how autumnal the woods still look.


Looking at Prinzbach from half way up to the woods

Prinzbach Church

To cut a long story short, we took at least one wrong turn but still ended up on the right path after a while. We were back at the car after about 11.5 km instead of the full 19 km the leaflet suggested, but that was enough for us, and we were home at about 5:30 pm. 

O.K. did not feel all that well by then, and on Monday morning we knew why... But that's for another post.

Friday, 17 March 2023

A Windblown Week

Last week was VERY windy here - so much so that I did not go for a proper walk until Thursday; it just did not feel good to be out there for longer than necessary.

On Monday, the 6th of March, it was grey and cold; apart from going to Aldi (5 minutes from my flat) and the meeting of my volunteer group after work, I did not leave the house. I made up for it partly by taking out my skipping rope. But I was out of breath much quicker than I used to be, and only managed about half the number of "skips" that were my standard.

Tuesday (March 7) was not much better weather-wise, but the sun did manage to poke through the fast-moving clouds a little. I went to my Mum's for lunch break, and we enjoyed the fried sandwiches she made as much as our chat.

After work, I went to the nearby computer shop where I go for all PC-related stuff, and ordered a new PC - an (early) birthday present to myself. The computer I am still using for personal things is at least 15 years old, and it shows. As some of you know, I have a few favourite computer games, and because the OS on this PC can not be upgraded anymore, they have become unplayable. Of course there are workarounds, but I don't want to go to such lengths; after 15+ years, I don't think I need to justify a new computer. For now, I keep my screen, keyboard and mouse.

Leaving the shop, I did not walk straight home but took a little detour; that and the walk to and from my Mum's at lunch time were my only walking that day.

O.K. sent me these two pictures from his walk near the village the same day. Don't the clouds look like waves crashing onto cliffs, throwing up froth and spray?

I went to work at the office on Wednesday, the 8th of March. The weather had it all that day: clouds, sun, rain and once again plenty of wind. I arrived home with a slight headache that got worse in the course of the evening.

It was my mother-in-law's birthday (Mary turned 89), and so I rang her and we had a pleasant chat.

Thursday (March 9) was milder, but still windy with a mix of sun and cloud. I worked from home, which allowed me to go for a good walk after work. 

Taking in the ruined castle I first wrote about here and then walking through vineyards and orchards to Benningen, where I caught the train back home, took me about 2 1/4 hours with frequent photo stops. The app on my phone said I ended up with just under 12 km, and I felt so much better for it.

View towards Marbach
View across the river towards Neckarweihingen
I made it off the fields and into Benningen just before it became too dark to see where I was going:

Friday, the 10th of March, was more eventful: 

I was told to pick up my new computer from the shop at 3:00 pm, but I arrived there only to learn that the colleague of the man who had configured the  computer for me had accidentally sold it to someone else that same morning. I was a little disappointed, but not too much - I was going to be away all weekend and so would not have had time to set it up anyway.

Back home, I did the usual cleaning and packed my little red suitcase. As I was getting ready to leave, there were rain and sun at the same time. I thought there should be a rainbow and dashed to my kitchen window, and I was just in time to witness the building up of a beautiful rainbow! First there was just one bit in the north-east, then the entire arc, double for a brief time, until it disappeared again. The whole show lasted only a couple of minutes, and I am so glad I cought the "message"!

It was then time to go the train station. My trip to Offenburg was in two parts; the first leg was cancelled (but I had seen this in time to change plans), the second train was delayed by about 40 minutes. It meant a late supper for us but at least I was there!

The Saturday and Sunday will have their own post.