Monday, 14 January 2019

Last Week

For myself and O.K., work began again last Monday after the Christmas/New Year break. It was good to see everyone at work again, and the first days were not so busy as to already erase the feeling of being well rested. 
Still, I was surprised at how knackered I felt on Wednesday night - with only three working days under my belt!
 
It started to snow on Wednesday afternoon, and my neighbours' gardens and houses looked like this on Thursday morning around 8:00:


I loved the blue-ish morning light before proper daylight.

Just before lunch, this was my view across the Eastern half of Ludwigsburg from my office on the 9th floor:

It snowed again on Friday, so much so that visibility was very limited:


By the time I arrived home shortly before 5:30 pm, this was the view from my kitchen window:
 

An hour later, I was on my way to O.K.'s. The train trip there went a bit different than planned: Instead of taking a local train to Stuttgart and from there, an InterCity which would take me directly to Offenburg with no further changing of trains, I found out that the local train I meant to get on was cancelled and the IC 90 minutes late. 
The alternative offered required two changes, but I was glad for the opportunity to end up with a total delay of only half an hour by taking a different local train to Stuttgart, from there a TGV (Train Grande Vitesse, a French high-speed train that reduces travel time between Stuttgart and Paris to about 3 hours!), and for the last bit from Karlsruhe to Offenburg, an ICE (InterCity Express).

I must admit I was rather exhausted by the time I arrived there, but O.K. made it well worth by serving a delicious evening meal of salad, bread, our favourite types of cheese and a bottle of red. (Of course it would have been well worth even without anything to eat - just seeing O.K. is enough reason for me!)

Saturday saw the snow being washed away by rain, and when I arrived home on Sunday night (with both my trains being punctual on the dot!), there was not a single snowflake left to see. 

On TV, we see the masses of snow in other parts of Germany and Austria, with thousands of skiing holiday guests being stuck in small towns and villages where all roads leading to and from those places are blocked by snow and fallen trees. Some people have been unwise enough to go skiing off the official slopes, and several have died in avalanches. 
We were talking about this yesterday, and I said that I'd probably not even start my holiday right now if I had booked something in one of the places so badly affected. The firemen, Red Cross staff, volunteers and other helping hands are busy enough as it is.

Today is a mix of cloudy and sunny; not very cold. It gives us a welcome break before more rain or sleet forecast as the week moves on.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

And On We Go

...into this still rather new year which the majority of people on this planet have agreed to count as 2019.

After the very busy back-and-forth period around Christmas and New Year, O.K. and I settled down quietly for a few days at my place. It did us both good, and just being able to sleep in, have meals when we felt like it, and not having any appointments was very relaxing*.
Also, I really enjoy cooking when I know someone is there to appreciate and eat what I have prepared. Last night, for instance, I made a kind of Shepherd's Pie, and was really pleased with the outcome. We had white wine with it; the bottle was a birthday gift back in March from someone at work who has a friend with his own vineyard in Marbach, the small town where I regularly work (and sometimes post pictures of).

I also like to try different combinations of ingredients with my salads, such as pineapple and goat cheese, or dates, feta and nuts (thank you for that excellent idea, Pat!). Our breakfasts this week were rather late and more like lunches, sometimes with crispy fried bacon and eggs sunny side up on buttered toast. 
There was the occasional G&T at night, but other than that, we had mostly coffee and water; somehow, there was enough drinking on the holidays itself so that we simply did not feel like more of the same.
Having said that, I did in fact have more booze than planned on Friday night; we met up with my sister at our favourite (and nearest) Indian restaurant for dinner. I had been looking forward to an ApĂ©rol Spritz for starters, and somehow, the waiter misunderstood me when he took our orders for drinks later on - he brought me another one, and I did not refuse it. But it was with plenty of food, and I was definitely NOT drunk afterwards (ask my sister and O.K.). 

The weather was cold, but not below freezing during the day. When I cleaned up the kitchen on Thursday night, I saw that it had begun to snow. It was a beautiful sight but would have probably been too dark for a good photo, and so I took one on Friday morning. I apologise for the slight blurriness:



We went for a walk in the afternoon, and I was amazed to see not a monochrome world of black trees and white snow, but green patches of grass on some fields, and a lot of rusty browns leftover from autumn.

There were no deer or squirrels coming up for food this time, as they often do in the park; maybe it has not been cold long enough for them to approach humans. Many birds were around, though, some of them sounding like spring.

Yesterday, Saturday, was a bit warmer. It rained on and off all day, and most of the snow is gone by now. We went for a short walk only, because the wind was blowing sprays of rain straight in our faces. How I love coming in after such a walk! The warmth of my flat, lighting a candle, making coffee and having cake or cookies with it - and how grateful I am that I have all that, a warm place to return to and a well-stocked fridge to make dinner from.

Today, the weather is pretty much like yesterday, maybe less windy. I have not been out except for going to the car with O.K. who went home after our (late) breakfast, early enough to (hopefully) beat the worst of the end-of-the-holidays traffic, and to give himself a few hours to unpack and settle down in his cottage before work and daily life will resume tomorrow.

After we were all hoping for a better year health-wise (in both my and O.K.'s families) than what 2018 had put on our plates, this morning I learned that a close family friend had a bad fall at home and is in hospital with half his face broken; surgery is scheduled for Tuesday. I was told not to go and see him today, as there will be other visitors, and he can (and should) not speak. 

Phew. I truly wish for normal life to return.

* Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed all the celebrating, and the travelling back and forth was entirely our own doing. Both our families matter to each other, and we also like meeting friends and neighbours.