Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Read in 2012 - 19: Netherwood

This is the 2nd book of the small pile Mary gave me when my sister and I went to see the family in England back in May, as mentioned here (plus, if you are interested, there are several blog entries from our week there under the label "Travelling").
"Netherwood" by Jane Sanderson was a good read throughout, although in some cases, I was left with the feeling that I would have liked for the author to explore more of certain character's lives; but, as I gather from the (very nicely done) author's website, there is to be a sequel out in September, so my curiosity may be satisfied then.

The story itself sounds simple enough: Young woman from the humblest of backgrounds meets tragic events that could turn her life this way or that - she decides to fight, and with the help of loyal friends and powerful allies, works her way up to become a successful business woman, finding true love (who would have guessed!) along the way.

What gives "Netherwood" its special appeal to me is that it is set in South Yorkshire, in a small mining town near Barnsley, an area I know well, because it is were my late husband's family come from (in fact, Steve proposed to me in a pub in Barnsley).
I can hear the character's voices, picture the small houses and smell the cooking.
Yes, there is plenty of cooking and baking going on in the book - and some of the recipes are at the end of the book as well as on the website.

Most of the time, I can relate to what the characters do and how they feel; places and people are described in a manner that makes it easy to visualize them, and the flow and pace of the story is neither too complicated nor too fast, but makes for a relaxing read.

I learnt many new and was reminded of old words by the book. Some examples are batch of parkin, knur and spell, laikin, bramleys, filly, britches, pleached hornbeam, attar of roses, and obeisance. Someone's thirst is slaked (never heard that expression before), and Gibson Girls are mentioned. The countess "peals with laughter" at a party, and that made me realise I have no idea how anyone's laughter can be compared to the sound of pealing. Can you? A young man "unfolds himself from the stone balustrade on which he was artfully draped", and can't you just picture that? (Needless to say, that particular young man is quite full of himself and doesn't care much about anyone else but His Lordship.)
Sometimes the way speech is written as dialect can get a bit in the way of reading. Not because I wouldn't understand it (I do), but because of all the 's for dropped letters. An example:
"Aye, well, if Percy Medlicott 'its t'knut, it's a blasted miracle," said Arthur. " 'E's t'only fella I know who calls 'imself an expert at a game 'e can't play."
And that is pretty much how every sentence uttered by the humble Yorkshire miners and their families looks like, and how Eve Williams, the heroine, talks.
So, a bit less of the ', and the book would have been even more pleasurable to read. Yes, I do understand the author used this way of dialect writing to add to the atmosphere, but it wasn't always necessary, I think.
Very good editing; I didn't find any typos or inconsistencies.

And I am probably going to try to make drop scones - they sound easy enough, even for someone like me :-)
Let me finish with a picture of Yorkshire puddings straight from the oven:
Steve made these often for us on Sundays, and I know how to make them, too. Next time, I'll make sure to take new pictures and post the recipe Steve got from Mary.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

A Different Kind of Olympics

Several of my blogging friends have been telling us about how they experience the Olympics, most notably Jenny, who has the advantages of a) living in London and therefore being right THERE where it is all happening, and b) being a professional travel writer and so being able to convey the atmosphere of a place better than someone who, like me, just writes down what comes to their mind in no particular order. If you have not done so already anyway, I also recommend you read Graham's post about the opening ceremony, and what John thinks about the subject.

My weekly paper, the ZEIT, has been mentioned before on my blog; it is to me a very reliable source of interesting reading material which often leads me from one of their articles to more research on a particular subject, sometimes even buying books because of what I have read there.

Yesterday, I found an article in this week's issue about a different kind of Olympics: The Deutsch-Olympiade (German Olympics).
Have any of your ever heard of it before?

There is, of course, all the information about it on the Goethe Institute's website; they organize the whole thing, after all. And doesn't it sound like a great idea, to bring together young people from all over the world for two weeks and have them work together at a goal that will result in some of them being rewarded extra for their efforts?

100 students aged 14 to 19 can participate. They have to have a certain command of German and are, if I understand correctly, recommended by their teachers. They are then invited to Frankfurt, Germany, where they spend two weeks with all the other students (and one teacher on every two students), taking quizzes in German, writing newspaper articles in German and working out presentations in German, as well as visiting places of interest - and with so many young people in one place, I bet there is some partying and a lot of fun going on as well.

At the end of the two weeks, the four best students out of the 100 (who came from 46 different nations this year - I don't think I can even name that many countries out of the top of my head!) are rewarded with a prize: a four-week stay in Germany, including a language course at a Goethe Institute. 

Remarkably, out of the four medal winners, three are boys - isn't it commonly expected that girls are more linguistically inclined, while boys are more into maths and physics? 

Of course, this all costs a lot of money, paid for by the Goethe Institute. And of course, it is not entirely done out of pure, unselfish love for humankind. Germany has, as a whole, a problem with recruiting experts; there is a lack of well educated young people willing to work hard in many of the industries that constitute the backbone of our economy. Attracting young, well-learned people to Germany is therefore not a bad idea, and could lead to at least some of them eventually deciding to come here for their studies and later on for work. As far as I am concerned, I think the German Olympics are a good thing - although a lot less glamorous, popular and well known as London 2012 :-)

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Fashion Calendar: July

Finally, after a spell of very unstable weather with plenty of rain and temperatures too low for my liking (and for what one imagines for July in this part of the world), summer is back, and my summer dresses get a chance to be worn.

There was a new addition to my wardrobe a while ago, and no occasion yet to wear it. On the day my Mum and I went to the park (I blogged about that beautiful day here), on our way through the town centre we stopped at the shopping mall, and this little sun dress ended up being carried in a bag all the way around the park and back home.
I instantly liked the cheerful pattern and bright red of the skirt, and the bow to be tied at the back "did it" for me (have I ever mentioned that I really like bows and ribbons?).
The red mules I am wearing in the pictures are new, too; my Mum found them on ebay and surprised me with them upon my return from Lake Garda. They come from the same lady who sold the Laura Ashley dress that was on my Fashion Calendar in June.

Yesterday, at temperatures of almost 30C (that's about 90F), my sister and I met up in town with my Mum for ice cream. It was the perfect weather and the perfect occasion to wear this dress.
Today, we have reached above 30C, and I hope the forecast is not right... it says there will be rain showers on Saturday, and a drop to maybe as low as 19C on Sunday.
Well, until then, I am determined to make use of my summer dresses and wear a different one every day!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Has Anyone Else Had This Request?

You all know how delighted I was when my Mum agreed to write guest posts for my blog (thank you for originally suggesting it, Kay!), and most of you seem to be quite fond of her angel-themed stories.

So far, it has never occurred to me to publish guest posts from other people - which does not mean I dislike the idea, I have simply not thought of it.
Until today.

I had this email in my inbox this morning and am wondering whether anyone else got this - it seems so standardized, and has nothing to do with what my blog is about:


I think of reaching out quickly and let you know that I have been studying your blog.  As a freelance writer, its my hobby finding great sites like [From My Mental Library] that already have interesting articles and an engaged readership. I am hoping for a guest post opportunity so I can increase visibility to me as a writer and provide you with some great free content. As a guest post writer, I’m happy to provide you with content that you can use as you see fit and only ask for link back to my blog http://www.babysittingjobs.com/.  Please go through few of my writing samples:

What do you think about these?  If you're interested, I am happy to get something written up and sent over to you - or if you have another topic you'd like to see  covered, I am more than happy to create a custom article of your choice.

Thank you for your precious time! Looking forward to write up for your blog.

As I said, this request seems rather on the spammy side to me, and here is what I wrote in reply:

Hello Paul,
I am sure that I am not the only recipient of your email, and - forgive my being so frank with you - I doubt that you have really been studying my blog. Otherwise you would have realized that nothing about my blog or my regular readers suggests we are particularly interested in anything related to babysitting.
And of course ALL content on my blog is free - my blog is an entirely private one, not a commercial one anyway.
Guest posts are usually offered to someone who is close to me; a friend or family member, not someone who contacts me entirely out of the blue without ever having appeared as a reader of my blog.
Therefore, maybe you'll be more successful if you approach bloggers who are interested in kids, babies, babysitting and so on.
Good luck!
- Meike.

Now, do you think my reaction was too harsh? Or not harsh enough? Have you had the same or a similar request lately?
And are any of you interested in reading guest posts from a proper freelance writer here on my blog..?

Friday, 20 July 2012

Herbs, Rainbows and a Moth

On some of the blogs I am following, pictures of rainbows have been appearing recently. Isn't everyone fascinated by them? More than three years ago, when I had not yet started to add pictures to my blog (at least not often, I think), I mentioned a rainbow in this post, but I can't remember whether I have actually posted any pictures of rainbows before.

Well, here are some I took over the past few weeks - there were several occasions when it was really "raining from the sun", so to speak, and once I even saw a double rainbow.

As usual, the best view of the sky is the one from my kitchen window; anywhere else from my flat there are houses and trees too close to the window for it to make a good shot.

For my birthday in March, I had been given a set of three paper cups with a tiny bag of seeds in each, and a compressed "tablet" of soil. The idea is that you pour water on the tablet and it increases its volume until the cup is filled with soil, and then you put the seeds in and wait what happens. I only started this after we returned from Italy, about a month ago.
The set contained seeds for basil, coriander and thyme. In my previous post (a recipe), I said that I used some of the thyme, but it turns out I actually used coriander - just goes to show what an "expert" gardener I am :-) (or cook, for that matter!)
Never mind, it tasted good. I am a bit worried about the basil. It does look paler than it should, and I am not sure what's wrong - too much sun? Too little? Enough water, or not enough?
For the time being, I shall still buy the potted basil from the supermarket so that we can have our beloved caprese on the weekends.

Some of you (thinking of John and Graham here in particular) are great in taking close-ups of all sorts of insects and other animals. The other night, I found this little beauty on my bedroom wall just above the headboard.
After several attempts that resulted completely out of focus, the best I could come up with was this picture. It was a small moth, probably not more than about 2 cm wingspan, but it was prettily patterned and I just left it where it was. In the morning, it was gone.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Time for Lunch!

Well, maybe not just yet. It is actually not even 8.00 in the morning as I am writing this, and I have not had my breakfast yet, but since it has been ages since I last posted anything about food here, I think it is about time I add another entry to "recipes".

I have written before about how much of my cooking (especially on the rare occasion when it is just for myself) is based on making do, and the other day, I was doing just that.

There were a few spuds left over from the weekend, and half a length of the goat cheese roll (not a roll as in bread, but because it is rolled up in two different layers), plus the herbs on my windowsill in the kitchen had grown enough to be of some use.
Everything else I needed is always in my kitchen: olive oil, salt and pepper.

So I peeled the potatos and cut them in quarters, greased an oven pan with a bit of olive oil, put the spuds in facing the flat sides up, sprinkled them with a bit of salt and left them  at 200 C (390-400 F) for about 25 minutes. No precise timing there; I just kept checking on them after around 20 minutes and then again a little later. 
When they looked soon-to-be-ready with a bit of a golden-brown crust forming at the edges, I took the pan out and put the slices of goat cheese on top.

The spuds and cheese went back into the oven for another 5 minutes or so, just right for the cheese to start melting and the potatos to finish cooking, but not too long; burnt cheese turns bitter and does not smell very nice.
I added some fresh thyme leaves from the pot on my windowsill, a bit of pepper, and my lunch was ready.
For dessert, I had a mug of Cadbury's hot chocolate... it was a chilly enough day, and I had wanted to use up the sachet of chocolate powder for a while (it was a freebie from the bed & breakfast in Ripon where my sister and I spent a week in May).

Monday, 16 July 2012

Read in 2012 - 18: Basic Theology for Fallen Women

This is Frances Garrood's third novel, and since I liked the first two very much, I was really looking forward to this one and could hardly wait finishing the book I had been reading when "Basic Theology" became available from the Kindle store.

(If you want to read my reviews on "Dead Ernest" and "The Birds, The Bees and Other Secrets", you can do that here and here.)

Last night, I finished reading "Basic Theology" - and would have liked for the story to go on, to know more about the three main characters. Admittedly, it took me a while to warm up to them: Alice, whose final decision I found hard to understand (and, had it been me, would have probably not taken); Gabs, who was (for me) the most "approachable" of the group and for whom I wished things with the man she loved had turned out differently (by the way - I always thought Gabriel was a male name, and Gabrielle the female equivalent?), and Mavis, who should have done long ago what she did in the end.

The small group of women would, under normal circumstances, most likely never have met at all, and if they had, not become friends; but circumstances for all of them are not what you'd call "normal", and so they find themselves part of a kind of self-help group set up by the Catholic church. When the official meetings stop, they decide to keep those meetings going, and with the official part missing, they open up to each other more and more, and become friends.
Their friendship gets increasingly important to them over the course of the year during which we accomanpy them; their lives take turns that are maybe not quite so unexpected but still need a lot of courage and strength to deal with.

I very much like the way Frances has neatly divided the book into its chapters; each of the three women has chapters dedicated mostly to them, plus there are the meetings every two months as a reference point to mark their year.
Also, just like in her previous books, the characters and the settings are well described so that it is easy to picture everything and everyone, from Mavis' employer and his "little grey wife" to Gabs' customers and Alice's teenage son.

Something I can not remember having noticed in "Dead Ernest" or "The Birds..." were a few typesetting errors and two minor things that an editor should have noticed:
The eyes of Mavis' mother are first described as blue, and a few pages further on they are grey; and the wife of one character is called Angela throughout the book, but at one point she suddenly turns into Janet (in case you want to have that corrected, Frances: it is when they all have the memorable picnic in the park). That Gabs, who is described as tidy, throws one of her wigs (a probably quite valuable part of her working equipment) into a corner of the living room upon coming home from work seems a bit odd, but don't we all do odd things every now and then?

"Basic Theology" was a good read. To learn that and how people who have big stuff to deal with in their lives (and most of it self-made) get through, by their own strength as much as with a little help from their friends, makes for an interesting story well told, with just the right amount of the humour we know to be Frances' own thrown in, without losing its seriousness when required.

And I very much hope there will be more to read from Frances soon!
(In case you don't know her blog yet, it is here.)

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Summer Should Be Like This!

It has been raining at least once a day for the past two weeks or so, and with the rain have come cooler temperatures. I know we are still having more of a summer than other areas, such as England, but still... The weather keeps interfering with my activities, such as going for a run, or attending a street party, or a concert in a park, which my parents and I wanted to go to last night but then decided against it because of the rain.

Two Saturdays ago, we had a wonderful day exactly the way summer should be. It was really warm (some would say hot), warm enough for me to enjoy the shade as much as the sun.
My Mum and I went to the park; the very same one you have often read about here on my blog before (and I suspect it will keep featuring, since we so love going there, and it is never boring).

Here are the pictures I took. They show, in my eyes, what summer should be like:

View from the south entrance to the park. We rested on a bench in the shade for a little while before we walked on.

Topiary figures near the orangery (that's the place where they have changing exhibitions, such as the one with the "interesting" works of "art" I showed you here).

Looking back towards the café-restaurant where we have just had a cold drink.

To my knowledge, this is the only araukarie (sorry, I've forgotten the English name of this tree; only the other day, either Graham or John showed one on their blog, I think) in our park. The picture to the left is how I really saw it from where I stood, and the one on the right zoomed in.

The people who live in this house have some job or other at the palace or in its grounds. Behind the building, they have a nice garden with a wall and high fence around it, so even in the middle of this tourist-filled park, they get to have their privacy. And they have a cat, I've seen it often.

This picture does not do the pond justice. The water lilies were very beautiful, and there were many goldfish.

You can see the contrast between the formal gardens and the more overgrown and "natural" parts of the park; I love them both, but my heart beats for the overgrown bits.

This is what's inside the orangery right now, a sort of palm garden. 

In the evening, a massive thunderstorm swept across town (which meant I was not going to the market square fest but watched the spectacular "show" from my kitchen window), and I was glad we had been out in the park while it was so lovely.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Guest Post By My Mum: Two Angels From Down Under

Yay! My Mum's 4th guest post is here! Do you remember the first three? If not, or if you'd like to re-read them, you can find her 3rd one here, and it contains a link to the 2nd one which in turn will take you to the 1st one. Or you simply put "guest post" in the search bar in the top left corner of my blog.

And without further ado, here goes:

Two Angels From Down Under

Recently we had very lovely visitors from Australia, a couple, which we have known for 40 years.

Long ago, we lived in a small village in a brand new house with several flats in it. 
Our family, meaning my husband, two daughters and myself, had the attic flat, and "down under" in a small 1-room-apartment, those friends of us.
(Picture of the house; ours was the flat on the top floor, the Australian couple lived on the ground floor. The middle flat was rented by another family.)

But at first we didn't know each other, only when the owner of the house called and asked for someone who can speak English, because he didn't, but he had to tell the "young couple down there" something very important.

So I went downstairs and translated for him, and that really was the beginning of a deep friendship. 
I learned that they were on their honeymoon, they had come from Bowen / Great Barrier Reef (Australia) by plane, and stayed in Germany for 2 years. They bought a used car, worked, whatever they could find to do for some weeks, then travelled around Europe, came back to the flat, worked again to earn some money, and so on. 
When they were in, we often met, went on trips together; they loved our two girls (4 and 5 years old), and they did babysitting for us, so my husband and I could spend an evening out from time to time.

They went back to Australia by ship, because they had bought so many things for their new founded household.
They decided to come back to Europe, especially Germany, every 10 years. Well, after 10 years, they really came and stayed 4 weeks. In the meantime they had 4 children, and travelling was not as easy as before.

And now, 30 years after their second trip to Germany, they came back again to see us in our small town, directly from Hongkong and Frankfurt. They rented a car and started from here on a 3-month-trip, Russia and other Eastern countries included. They also will go to France, where they want to rest and relax at a pretty rented cottage.

It was so nice to meet them again, there was no distance between us, though we had not seen each other for 30 years, and not even written that much in the meantime. But we loved to tell what happened to us and to listen what they had to tell. They are such good people, uncomplicated and really generous. It was all in all quite nostalgic.
When they left, we all had tears in our eyes, I don't want to imagine that maybe I won't see them again in my lifetime... My dear angels Bernadette and Walter!

- - - End of guest post - - -

Thank you, Mum, for another guest post! It was indeed wonderful to see Bernadette and Walter again, and like you said, it was as if we'd been meeting all the time and there was no gap to bridge after all those years.

These two, by the way, taught me and my sister our very first English words. We loved playing in the yard (we were 3 and 4 years old when our family moved in, and 4 and 5 by the time we moved out), and when we wanted a drink or needed the toilet, sometimes we couldn't be bothered to climb up all the stairs to our top floor flat. Instead, we would knock at Bernadette and Walter's door, and they were always so kind and fun to be with. They taught us how to say "Please a drink" and some other words in English.
(Me, aged 3-4 (ca. 1972), with the neighbour's cat. Imagine this chubby kid constantly pestering you for drinks!)

Much later, in 2008 I think, their eldest daughter came visiting; she was born after their return to Australia and now wanted to see where her parents had spent such happy years as a young couple. We instantly "clicked", just as it had been with her parents.
And we all hope that we will meet again!

PS: My Mum has put some new items in her Etsy Shop. You can get there directly from my blog, the "Mini Etsy" is on the top left.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

San Vigilio

After we left Sirmione, we drove back to Riva on a different route than on the way down. It was a smaller road leading right along the lake, and very scenic.

At a place called San Vigilio we stopped; not only because we wanted a break from driving, but also because it looked very beautiful and the sun was shining, and we already knew that back in Riva it was going to be overcast and raining again.
San Vigilio is a peninsula with a tiny harbour at its lowest end and a cypress avenue leading up to its highest point. The harbour, avenue and all the buildings are pretty much as they were 500 years ago - at least from the outside. Inside, there are restaurants and a rather exclusive hotel which has, the website tells me, housed famous guests such as Tsar Alexander III, Winston Churchill, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh in former times and Prince Charles and King Juan Carlos from Spain more recently.
The villa itself is still in possession of the same family who had it originally built in 1540.

We didn't know anything about this place; we just thought it looked lovely, and enjoyed the serene and private atmosphere walking down the cypress avenue and the narrow cobbled street to the harbour. The café there looked as if the people there were all part of a private function, otherwise we would have stopped for something to drink and maybe a snack.

Instead, we just walked round a little more, took some pictures, got back into the car and drove the rest of the way to Riva.

Our last evening in Riva was spent partly at the restaurant that had become our favourite (we went there three times in the one week) and partly by dancing on the piazza in front of the old castle; this time, there was no band playing but they had a DJ and the music was enticing enough - but it started to rain (as expected), and so we didn't stay out very long.

On the next day, Sunday, we left Riva for good and arrived in Ludwigsburg at around 9.00 pm. It had been a long drive with a lot of traffic, but I always feel very safe with RJ in the car, since he is an excellent driver who always takes everybody else's movements into account (just like on the dance floor, really, but at rather different speed levels, of course!).

The view from my kitchen window at the time of our return.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Read in 2012 - 17: Women & Money

My reading habits include switching between fiction and non-fiction books; often, after I have read (and really enjoyed) a novel, I yearn for different reading material to give my mind something to do, and while I know it takes skill and is an art to capture the reader's mind with a good story and well laid-out characters, I think it is even more difficult to write non-fiction that is both entertaining and informative.

Suze Orman's book "Women & Money" aims not only at being informative, but inspirational. And that inspiration is supposed not only to reflect on the financial part of one's life, but on everything; the subtitle "Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny" gives you an idea of what the author has in mind.
It was, you guessed it, another free e-book from the Amazon Kindle shop, but that should not fool anyone into thinking it is worthless - quite the contrary. I believe that a lot of people will find Miss Orman's advice very, very useful, myself included (although I must take away one of the two "verys", since a lot of the information does not apply outside the US, which is of course not the author's fault; she had clearly directed her book at women in the US, and so it is "my fault" that I have read a book only partly meant for me).

"Women & Money" starts off by examining why women often find it so difficult to have a healthy relationship with money - their money -, or simply are not interested in financial matters at all.
The book then sets off to explain what can and should be done to remedy the situation, and at the same time as money and how one deals with it becomes a natural part of one's life, that person's life gains power.

This does NOT mean that women (or men) should be steely-eyed cold-blooded characters whose only interest is money, money, and more money. In fact, quite the opposite. The author teaches her readers how taking control of one's own financial affairs means one can better reflect qualities such as courage, generosity, harmony, balance, wisdom, cleanliness (yes, that is part of dealing with one's own financial matters, too), and even beauty.
Sounds a bit unlikely? Well, it is not; all points in this book are presented in a logical way that is easy to understand.

While I skipped the chapters that are dealing with US-specific topics such as FICO scores, IRAs and 401(k) plans, I liked the way the whole book is set up in the shape of a 5-month-action plan to set the financial part of one's life straight. Miss Orman does at no point promise eternal wealth by some obscure scheme, but she gives clear directions towards financial security. There are check lists at the end of each chapter, and in the introduction of each chapter she talks about what this particular chapter will help you with. Also, there are many references to the author's website, where one can find useful calculating tools, more check lists, detailed tips on how to keep daily spending in check, and so on.

Yes, there is quite a lot of pep talk, but it is well put and probably necessary.
It inspired me to tackle a few issues, too - for instance, already earlier this year, I wanted to speak to my boss about a raise (I have completed my first year with the company in May), and after reading "Women & Money", I have a much clearer idea of what I am going to say, and am more determined to really have this conversation. And soon!

After this interesting excursion into the world of finances, I am very much looking forward to reading Frances Garrood's new book.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


This is going to be the next-to-last of my Lake Garda posts; you can find out more about my week there at the beginning of June either by simply going back a few posts or by clicking on the label "Travelling".
Also, as before, there are more pictures of Sirmione on my photobucket album. Click here if you want to see them all.

After our "nice little walk" in the rain forest, the next morning both RJ and I agreed that we wanted to do a bit less walking and a bit more driving today, and so we took the car and went down to the opposite end of the lake, to Sirmione.

The town is small at less than 9.000 inhabitants, but it is a major tourist attraction, situated on a peninusula extending several kilometres into the lake and making it an ideal location for a castle. And that is what Sirmione is most famous for: the castle.

Already the site of a castle during Roman times, in 1259 building of the Castello Scaligero began, and it is pretty much still what can be seen today.
The only way into the town leads through what used to be a draw bridge but has, for the sake of convenience and safety, been turned into a stone bridge.
Once you're through the narrow passage, you find a rather charming and picturesque old town, with the piazza in front of the castle as its centre.
As was our habit already in Verona and the other places we visited during this holiday, we avoided the throngs of tourists where we could, and chose a less crowded path that lead past the castle and down to the lake front, where we had a very nice walk along the water. It was quite clean there (I saw only one plastic bottle in the water...) with not too many people; some families on the pebbled beach and a few people walking along like we did. 

To get back into the town to find a place to eat, we came past some very elegant mansions and posh hotels. One of those big houses was once chosen by Maria Callas as her holiday home, a plaque on the wall told us.
Similar to what happened in Verona, we found ourselves hungry at a time when most restaurants were not serving meals, but there was a small place on a narrow path off the piazza where they did not stop serving for several hours between lunch and dinner time.

We had an enjoyable meal there in the shade, but an elderly German couple who came in a bit after us obvioiusly did not. Already when they sat down at the table opposite ours, we thought they both looked grumpy. The rather large lady was hung with jewels, and her very red-painted lips were pressed together into a sharp line. Her husband didn't look to be in a much better mood. Together, they ordered one pizza, and a drink each. They ate it - and then, when the waitress came to take the empty plate, they told her that they had found it to be the worst pizza they'd ever come across, as inedible as a shoe sole, and asked her to bring the bill. The poor girl did as she was told, and in front of her eyes, the lady crumpled up the bill and tore it into little pieces, while her husband had gone to the toilet. When he came back, they left without paying, but not before he had loudly grumbled to his wife that there had been no toilet paper.

Both RJ and I were "impressed" - why did they eat the entire pizza if it was so horrible, and not complain to the waitress after the first few bites and asked her to bring something else? Why didn't the man tell the staff that there was no paper in the toilet and asked them to replace it?
Sure, neither of them spoke Italian, but in such a touristy place, almost everyone knows enough German or English for subjects like these. We were convinced that these two simply had been having a very bad day - and it is just not on to take it out on people who have not done anything wrong, but on the contrary are doing their best to give you a nice time at their restaurant, café, shop or whereever.

We tried to sort of make up for the bad behaviour of that couple by being as nice as we usually are, and told the waitress that we had indeed enjoyed our meal, and gave her a relatively generous tip.

After that, we left the old town centre and walked in the sun along the harbour back to our car, which was quite a distance because all cars have to park far from the town.
To drive back to Riva, we chose a different route than on the way there; instead of the motorway, we used the smaller road along the lake, which was very beautiful and picturesque, and led through places such as Bardolino, where the wine by the same name comes from.

We stopped for a while at a small place called San Vigilio. But that, I think, is going to be another post - this one is already longer than I thought it would be!