Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Guest Post By My Mum: A Strange Coincidence

So far, all my Mum's guest posts have been immensely popular - most of them more so than my own posts ;-) So, here is another one for all of you who like reading them! (If you're new to my blog or wish to re-read an older guest post, simply click on the "Guest Post" label.)

A Strange Coincidence
The 14th of this month would have been my mother's 101st birthday. She died in 2001. Of course I was thinking of her the whole day; many experiences we had together, and my thoughts went back to my childhood, which was a very happy one.

After my father's death in 1989 things became a bit harder, she became blind, had mobility problems. and was often not in the best mood - you can imagine. Sometimes I was not as patient as I should have been, I confess, and I do regret this today very much, but we shared some really good  times.

On her birthday I was watching TV while I was knitting, and a documentary came up about a famous village in Switzerland called Zermatt.

I stopped knitting and watched attentively. The reason was that my mother and I made a trip together in the 1980s. Her great desire was always to travel by the Bernina-Express, a train travelling through beautiful landscape with great views of the Swiss mountains. So we booked 1 week, with a hotel in Zermatt at the foot of the Matterhorn. At that time, she could still see very well, only her legs were not the best, but sitting in a train was not too hard for her.

We stayed at a hotel with views of the Matterhorn. And the next morning my Mum woke me up with the words: "You must get up and have a look, please, wake up!"
My whole life I've been (and still am) a late sleeper, so I was a bit angry about this at 6 am while on holiday. But I rose anyway, and what I saw was really transcendental: 
The Matterhorn was shining in a gorgeous sunrise, the top was all pink and orange! We both were so impressed, we stood on the balcony of our room and did not speak a word, just watching in silence. 

The whole "performance" lasted only a few minutes, but I was thankful that my mother shared this magic moment with me, completely unforgettable.

I know that people come from far away to Zermatt to see this, and often enough they have to leave dissapointed, because the mountain top was in fog, clouds and mist all the time. To see it all pink is rather rare, we spent only one night there and were so lucky!!
As for the coincidence: Just on Mum's 101st birthday, they were showing this on TV, and they also showed the Matterhorn at sunrise! Tears came to my eyes when I remembered Easter 1985.
- - - End of guest post - - -
When my Mum sent me her draft for this post, I felt tears welling up, too. I am so glad my Mum is still around, and we keep sharing so many good times - all our walks, family meals, outings, visits to fashion shows and so on! If you still have your parents, make sure you spend as much time with them as possible.
And Mum, I don't think you have anything to regret. You were looking after your Mum very well when she needed you, and losing your patience every now and then is only human and certainly understandable; I know what she could be like...! 

(Picture from

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Read in 2016 - 10: Whimsy & Soda

"Whimsy & Soda" by Matthew David Brozik was as entertaining as it was short - I found it a delightful, funny little story all lovers of P. G. Wodehouse's "Jeeves"-books will enjoy.

The characters are Bertie Wooster and Jeeves, the pair so well known from many novels. The novelette covers one day in their life, beginning with a morning after a particularly... erm, lively night at the club, when Bertie wakes and finds himself changed beyond recognition.
The ensuing dialogues between the two men, how Jeeves goes about reversing the change in his employer, and Bertie's thoughts - it all makes for fun reading and made me wish for this hommage to Wodehouse to last longer.

Needless to say this was a free ebook from Amazon's kindle store. If you can find it and happen to be a Wodehouse fan (I devoured stacks of his novels in my late teens/early twenties), read it; you won't be disappointed!

The author's website is here. Take some time to browse the site's contents; M. D. Brozik offers a surprising range of subjects well worth exploring. Someone who describes himself as "wordsmithy, fictioneer and lone punman" certainly deserves to be read!

PS: After I had published my last review, I decided to get in touch with the author, as I have done a few times in the past. And I was not disappointed - Arthur Slade replied to my email and posted a comment on my review!

Monday, 25 April 2016

Gods and Heroes

Imagine your job is to stand on a roof top balustrade day in, day out, in all seasons and weather. Repeat for 200 years, and you won't look your best anymore, I suppose.
Not surprisingly, then, the statues of gods and heroes that adorn Ludwigsburg's palace have suffered in the two centuries since they were put in place, some to the point of losing parts of their limbs.

These larger-than-life people of sandstone have been replaced by copies where the damage was too great. The original statues have found a new protective home in the Lapidarium, a couple of rooms with vaulted ceilings on the ground floor of the palace, once housing the vast collection of silver in the monarch's possession.

 Palace residents and visitors were never meant to come face to face with them; they would always only be visible from afar or from the ground, and yet they were made to high standards of art and craftsmanship. They are the works of at least 5 different sculptors and range from the time construction of the palace started (the foundation stone having been laid in 1704) to the late 18th century.

When my Mum and I went to the park on Tuesday afternoon (see two posts back), we also spent some time at the Lapidarium. It was freezing cold in there, but it is a fascinating place - I've always loved looking at statues, and I guess Edith Nesbit's "The Enchanted Castle", which I read and re-read several times as a child, played a considerable role in that.

In the one of the palace's courtyards, this collection of broken statues and other stone ornaments shows the degree of damage.

Gods and heroes have come together here for an eternally silent party. But who knows what happens at night, when the visitors have all left and the palace is dark?

Saturday, 23 April 2016

The Big Switch - Part V

A lot has been accomplished here since I last showed you the Big Switch's progress! See for yourself:


In the former living room/new bedroom, all paintwork was finished Tuesday afternoon. After I came home from our visit to the palace grounds, I moved my computer desk and computer from the Third Room, as described already two posts back. On Wednesday morning, I set things up on the desk nearly exactly the way they had been in my old bedroom:

Next, I moved the bookcase in from the Third Room: 

At 10:00, Friend-who-paints  arrived. Because it is too high to fit through the doors in my flat, we had to take the wardrobe completely apart and stacked some bits already where they were going to be needed on Friday for the setting up. The chest of drawers that you've seen on most of my "fashion" shots was moved to its final place, too:

While I was busy cleaning the chest of drawers inside out and re-stacking it with its original contents (bedlinen, towels, undies and the like), paintwork in the former bedroom/new living room was progressing rapidly: 

 By 20 past 4, I had cleaned and re-stocked the bookcase, too:

The doorbell rang, and the professional painter who was going to put on the wallpaper delivered the rolls, and I saw them for the first time "for real", not just as a relatively small square piece in a pattern book:

My sister popped in after work and, together with Friend-who-paints, moved the bed from its old to its new home - tonight I was going to sleep in here for the first time! (In my bed, that is; I have slept in this room before, but only on the settee when I had house guests who had use of my bedroom.)


The warmest day of the week - in the afternoon, my Mum measured 23 Celsius on her balcony! I was up and ready in time for the wallpaper man.

Mr. Wallpaper prepared the two walls we had stripped on Saturday, smoothing over any uneven bits - as you can see, there were quite a few of those. They don't matter much when a wall is simply painted over, but with patterned paper, the surface has to be perfectly smooth and even.

Kay, this one is for you :-)

The plasterwork had to dry over night, and I couldn't do anything else. Since it was such an unbelievably glorious day, I went out as soon as the work was done, talking my Mum into yet another walk, this time on the fields.
We went to one of the large farms out there; this one has a farm shop, café and play area for children. At the shop, my Mum bought fresh strawberries (not from the farm - it is too early yet for strawberries in our area), and we ate some while resting on a sunny bench. They were the first strawberries I've had this seaon, and their scent, taste, the sun, birdsong, being out here with my Mum and knowing the Big Switch was going so well all made for a moment of utter bliss.


At 11:00, the first roll of wallpaper was up in the new bedroom - I was delighted!

Two hours later, the entire wall was finished, and I was even more delighted - it turned out just the way I had imagined when I chose the paper back in February:

At precisely 3.00 pm, Mr. Wallpaper announced "Finished!" from the new living room, and finished he was:

RJ and I had been putting up the wardrobe in the bedroom. We had it completed and at its final destination by half past four:

Wardrobe, bed, bedside table, lamp and teddy bears were all in place: 

I wasn't allowed to open the windows yet in the two rooms. Mr. Wallpaper said the glue needed to dry slowly and evenly, not by receiving blasts of air from wide open windows. I wasn't particularly looking forward to sleeping in an un-aired bedroom, but that was going to be a small price to pay for what I consider to be a thoroughly successful Big Switch!
Besides, I cheated a little and opened the window a tiny bit over night, with the blinds down, so that no "blasts of air" were going to hit the wall, but I'd be able to breathe.

Next, I restocked the wardrobe - the Third Room was looking more and more like itself again by the minute, and I felt more and more at home in the new bedroom at the same rate:

At half past 9:00 pm, I brought in the vases that have been living on top of the chest of drawers for years - and then I was so knackered I didn't feel like doing any more work for the day.


Today, I moved the bed into the corner just the way it had been in the old bedroom. Some people had advised me against it, but this is, after all, my room; I sleep here, and I've been used to it being like that for 8 years. Having more space between bed and wardrobe matters more to me than being able to walk up to the bed from both sides.

The smaller of the two sideboards was moved to the living room today, too, as well as the old armchair and the coffee table:

The armchair is most likely not going to stay. It does not fit the new colour scheme, and having it upholstered in matching fabric would cost a fortune. My new settee is scheduled to be delivered next week Friday.

Part of today was spent at IKEA, where we bought the lamps I wanted and had already chosen online. Later, I treated all the wooden surfaces with beeswax polish, and cleaned the glass surfaces (coffee table and glass cabinet doors).

Tomorrow, I will put the drawers back into the small sideboard and the shelf boards into the big one, and then bring their contents back in. The weather is forecast to be as awful tomorrow as it has been today (cold and rainy), so I won't be missing out on anything out there.

Well, that's the Big Switch for the moment - I'll show you the rest probably next weekend, when the new settee will be here and the finishing touches will have been made to both rooms.

Friday, 22 April 2016

The Big Switch - Part IV: An Interlude

As YP rightly remarked in his comment on this post, I like order and tidiness in my flat, so all this disruption was getting to me and it was no wonder I was on the window sill, contemplating leaping out.
His comment was certainly spot on in its first part, although not quite so much in the second :-)

Tuesday was a beautiful day, cold to begin with, but looking very promising with plenty of sun and blue skies. I couldn't do anything at home, really, while the painting was going on, and so I fled the "chaos" (it was not as chaotic as it appears from the pictures) and accompanied my Mum into town.

She had to take some books back to the library, a welcome occasion for me to have a look round at the place where I well and truly became a Librarian all those years ago (we are talking 1986 - 1992 here). Ludwigsburg's City Library has undergone many changes in the past years, and I had not yet seen the latest one. Maybe this will warrant its own post; for now, it was just the start of our afternoon out.

We walked across the sunlit market square with the market still going on - the scent of strawberries from one stall was so strong, we nearly fell for it. But we knew we did not want to carry boxes of fruit around all day, and so went on to the palace grounds, where I took these pictures:


I loved playing here as a child, and since there was nobody about but me (my Mum was having a little rest outside those hedges on a bench), I made this experiment with the self-timer on my camera:

When you cross the pond on the stepping stones, each stone does something different: One makes the frogs spit water at you (a big hit with kids on hot summer days!), another one makes the yellow ball go up on a jet of water, one makes the crowns on the frogs' heads move, and yet another one does nothing. I must have gotten soaking wet here countless times when I was little! 

The alley lined with yellow tulips:

A year ago to the day (what a coincidence!), I told you about a stork unhappily in love. I was genuinely worried about the poor unfortunate couple back then. Imagine my pleasure when we now found a couple of storks, both "free as birds", nesting at the same spot on the roof of the aviary! I don't know whether one of them is the same stork I observed here last year, but I like to think so, and hope he either found a mate from somewhere else, or they let his chosen one out of the aviary to join him. 

Forgetmenots in abundance:

This was not the end of our outing, but this post is becoming a bit long, so I better stop here.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

The Big Switch - Part III

Guess what - last night, I have slept in my "new" bedroom for the first time!
It was as quiet as expected, no noise from next door neighbours (and definitely no smoke), and from upstairs, only the odd step was heard, but never directly above my head as before.
I went to bed rather early, not being used to physical work, and was certainly tired enough, but did not sleep all that well. This time, I only have myself to blame - I simply was a bit too excited about everything, in my mind going through all the next steps and imagining the whole place as it should look by Friday night.

In the meantime, let me show you the progress that was made here on the 18th and 19th.

The line between walls and ceiling in the new bedroom is done. In the middle of the room, you can see my old, ugly settee which will go as soon as the new one is here. The small cabinet will go into the cellar and hold tools etc.; for now, it serves as a kind of working table. The TV sits on a small table with wheels and can easily be moved to the new living room as soon as we have cleared some space there.

A better view of the new bedroom colours:

The walls are all ready except for the one that is waiting to be covered in wallpaper:

On Tuesday night,  I moved my desk and computer to the new bedroom. I cleaned and wiped every single bit of surface and wondered how shelf boards can become dirty from underneath. Although I've been keeping my flat clean on a very regular basis, I thought this occasion was perfect for doing it more thoroughly.

I connected all the cables, last but not least the network cable of my home LAN. Then I pressed the button on the computer... closed my eyes and sent a little prayer up... and it worked!!!
Of course I knew it should work at first try, but you all know how sometimes technology can play tricks on us... This wasn't such a moment, though :-)
It sounds really silly, but can you believe I was so happy and relieved, I could have danced through the flat (there wasn't enough space for that, I'm afraid).  
When I am away, for business or on holiday, I don't mind not having computer and internet access. But when I am at home and can not do anything involving emails, blogging etc., I really miss it. Tuesday night, I really had to tell myself to go to bed as soon as I'd finish my first blog post after the break, and that is exactly what I did. 

Here is the first glimpse of what the colours look like in the new living room (former bedroom):

There is more to come, but we were about half way there on the 19th :-)

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

The Big Switch - Part II

Thank you, Pondside, for giving me a much better project name than "Room Swapping And Redecorating"! I shall use "The Big Switch" from now on.

Right, let's get on with it. Today, I'll show you the transformation in my bedroom.

This is how it has been looking for the past 6-8 years:
(I say 6 to 8, because I've had the furniture for 8 years but the walls were painted like this only 6 1/2 years ago.)

Small steps first - I emptied the book case one night after work, and it already looked a bit different:

Saturday late afternoon, it looked VERY different:

The computer desk, book case and bedside table have been moved to the Third Room, and the larger of my two sideboards/cupboards has already been moved in from the former living room:

Of course this is not where it is going to stay, but this will be the new living room and therefore its new home. The wardrobe has already been taken apart and will be moved to the new bedroom / former living room today, probably followed by the bed.

We had a bit of an unpleasant surprise when we found one of the corners in this room to be very crumbly. But Friend-who-paints knew the solution and repaired it, so that it can be painted (and papered) over:

Yesterday was a most beautiful day, sunny and - as long as you weren't in the shade and not exposed to the wind - mild.  

I had to "flee" - by now, even the kitchen was being "invaded" by stuff that normally does not belong there, such as the wardrobe doors and other bits. I found a sunny spot where I could wait for my Mum without being in the way anywhere else in the flat:

Since there wasn't much I could do, I decided to leave Friend-who-paints to his work and went to town and the palace grounds with my Mum. More of that in one of my next posts :-)