Wednesday, 10 August 2011

An Evening With Friends

Do you sometimes wonder how it happens that you do not meet some of your friends for months or even years, in spite of living relatively close by? And with slight regret and maybe even feeling a little guilty, you say to yourself "I really must call so-and-so and get together with them for a drink or a meal", but somehow you never get round to do it, and another year goes by and all you do is call or send a card for their birthday and Christmas.
Understandably, we all have full schedules, what with work, family, hobbies and many other things going on in our lives. But there is an easy way to make sure you will keep seeing those of your friends that matter to you: establish a regular meeting.

A group of my friends have established such a meeting about 15 years or so ago. Every 1st Friday of the month, we meet at a restaurant or, when it coincides with a birthday, at one of our houses. Originally, the group consisted of ten women; most of us used to be colleagues, but friends and siblings of some of the women have made their way into the group, too. 

With some moving away, others having small children and others again having lost interest in the group, the original number has not been reached anymore for quite some time now, and these days, more often than not, there's only about five or six of us meeting - but we stick to the appointment, and even if there are just three of us, we meet, hoping that some of the others will be able to make it again next time. Of course, not everybody can be there every time, but the regularity gives us all a chance to see each other several times a year.

Last week Friday was, as you know, the 1st Friday of the month, and so it was time for the regular meeting. We go to a different restaurant every time, and this time, I took the train to travel to the next small town. From the station there, I walked to the restaurant situated on top of a hill in the confines of a castle, and the walk was so nice I took pictures and decided to share them with you.

 The start of the ascent, maybe 10 minutes after I have left the train station.
About half way up I turn around and see this; the small town and, on the horizon, my hometown.
The ascent is getting steeper, but I'm almost there, and my only worry is whether I will make it without having to open my brolly or not.
Looks rather forbidding once you arrive on top of those steps, doesn't it?
To get to the restaurant, I have to walk half way around the ditch (which was never filled with water, by the way).
On top of one of the old towers, I spot a pigeon. Zoomed in with my camera, it looks like this:
A little further on...
...and on...
...coming towards the bridge...
...that crosses the road leading up to the parking area. I am now more or less at the opposite side of the hill from where I got up those steps, having walked half way round the old walls and ditch.
The turret and the tower with the red roof, seen from the other side.
See the bridge leading across the ditch and the red roofed tower above it? There is another red roof just visible behind it, and that's where the restaurant is.
Today as in the past, the castle is used as a prison. In the past, those who entered through that dark passage were quite sure not to come out alive again, or at least not for many many years. Nowadays, it is a prison hospital. Those prisoners who need medical treatment that can not be given in their original prison are transferred here.
Seems an odd choice to have restaurant next to a prison, all in the walls of an old castle, but I guess that hardly anyone who comes to the restaurant thinks of the inmates just a few walls away. It is a very popular venue for family and business gatherings, and you should always book a table there, even if there's just two or three eating together, like we did that evening.

Here is what I had, in German it is called Flammkuchen, and it is NOT pizza:
It was delicious, and I was really glad that the thunderstorm only broke loose after I had arrived there!
By the time we left, it was pitch black dark, and the view from inside the castle through the gate was quite atmospheric:
Well, I hope you enjoyed my evening out with friends - I know I did!


  1. A group of us met for years - not in quite such style, but just to swap books. We called ourselves wine, women and books... no set texts - just an excuse to hang out and catch up...
    I set up a new group when we moved to the south of NZ, but have never got around to it here in the new place....
    Probably time to start a new one really!

  2. What a great outing. And I really enjoyed walking with you and exploring the castle and although it was a bit frustrating looking at the food without being able to taste, the overall experience was exquisite. Thanks for sharing it.

  3. What a lovely way to keep up with friends! Super photos, too.

    By the way, what is Flammkuchen?

  4. Hi Frances Garrood,
    the Flammkuchen is coming from France, exactly from the district Alsace-Lorraine, near the German border. They have a lot of very delicious food and plates, and especially the Flammkuchen (that means flame-cake) we do like so much. You can also eat it with bacon, onions and other different things.

  5. Looks beautiful! Wish I wasn't so ill-traveled!

  6. Fi, yes, you definitely should set up another group. Once something like that gets firmly established in our diaries, we usually do find the time to really stick to it, I find.

    Mark, you are welcome - and sorry for the "teasing" picture! Believe me, it was just as delicious as it looked :-)

    Frances, the sometimes quite useful but not to be overestimated online dictionary at says: "Tarte flambée. a kind of 'French pizza' from Alsace made from a very thin layer of pastry topped with sour cream, chopped onions and bacon."
    It is characteristically very thin and crisp pastry, and really not like pizza at all, neither in pastry nor in topping.

  7. Dear Librarian, I certainly see how it is that you stay so deliciously slim! All that walking. The very idea of taking a train to the next town and then hiking way up to the castle/jail just wears me to a nub. And I wonder, how did you get home, down the hill to the train in the dark. Aren't you nervous to be gallivanting around the country side after dark by yourself?
    I really enjoyed going with you and appreciate you taking the time and effort to include us in your adventures.

  8. Thanks for that getaway today, I needed it! I felt as if I was walking right beside you. Wouldn't mind those prisoners being nearby one little bit...would just be grateful to be in such a gorgeous spot. Hey, are those the new specs? Oh, and I'm thinking you need to duplicate that lovely Flammkuchen at home and give us the recipe.
    Love your getting together with your friends like that... it is so easy to lose touch.

  9. Yes, I can relate! I find that I have a lot of people on my 'short list' to spend time with.

    Great idea to set up a steady date to spend time with friends. Beautiful place to meet up too.


  10. Sonia, I am sure there are nice places to go to near you without having to travel much.

    Jill, one of my friends gave me a lift home, but I wouldn't have had a problem walking back down to the station and taking the train again; I am used to getting from A to B on my own two feet and by public transport.

    Kay, no, that's still the old specs, I got the new ones only this week on Tuesday, and our meeting was last week Friday.

    Elizabeth, the steady date really helps, even if one can't make it (or doesn't feel like it) every time.

  11. What a splendid castle! I wonder: Do the spiral staircases go the right way (like they don't in Stuttgart castle)?
    Walking is a tremendous way to keep trim. So much better than other, less civilised ways.

  12. Perl, I have never come across an ancient spiral staircase in this castle; the only building one can actually go inside as a visitor is the restaurant, and although they do have a spiral staircase in there, it is new and made of wood and metal.

  13. For many years a group of friends met at each of our houses every month for dinner. It was a very comfortable arrangement. Gradually the group of 14 dwindled as people moved away from the Island and now there are none of us left on a permanent basis although a number of us still have houses here. I, for one for example, spend six months of the year in New Zealand. But coincidence upon coincidence I received a telephone call this morning from one of our number who is at her family's house here on holiday from the South of England. She has located several others and we are meeting at her house for dinner in just over an hour from now.

  14. Now I am homesick for Germany a little....Last time I was there was 2009 for a nephew's wedding. My grandson was a Blumenkinder. It was held in Heidenheim and we went many beautiful places nearby during the time we were there. Almost a family reunion of sorts. Thank you for helping me remember all this.

  15. That is an enchanted place, looks deliciously cool and full of that rare thing; peace!

  16. Sounds wonderful. I hope no one imbibed too much - it sounds rather a precarious way down after a few glasses of wine!

  17. GB, how lovely! I hope you all had a wonderful evening together.

    Kristi, I am glad my post triggered off such happy memories in you.

    Julie, it is not always so peaceful; on Sundays, when the weather is nice, a lot of people go there for walks. But that evening, with the thunderstorm looming, I did not meet a single soul until I was at the restaurant.

    Scriptor, none of my friends is given to much drinking; they all drive, and I am usually quite happy with a glass of ginger ale or coke or just plain water. But you are right, I wouldn't want to walk there if I wasn't entirely sober!