Sunday 31 August 2014

Back again... my favourite spot in/near the woods is where I wanted to be on that Sunday after our walk to the allotment and a well-deserved break with coffee and cake.
I had last been here on the 19th of June, and if you compare the pictures of that day with the ones in this post, you will notice that there is sill a lot of green about, but there is also a subtle change in colours taking place, colours that eventually will turn from greens to various shades of yellow, orange and brown.

Setting off from the allotment, I enjoyed walking with the sun in my back and having all that wide open space nearly all to myself:

Turning back to look at where I had come from, I saw these big clouds gathering behind me. But they just moved on, and it remained dry throughout the rest of the day and evening.

Now I was getting closer to where "my" grassy path leads off from the narrow tarmac lane to my favourite spot. But what was this? Heavy building machinery blocking my way, and the first part of a new path!

It being Sunday, nobody was working there, and so I gingerly stepped around the machine and was relieved to find the grassy path was still there. I hope they won't build a proper road through here - it would not be the lovely secluded and quiet spot anymore.

It was here that I saw some sure signs of autumn:

From the path, you can look at a small cluster of farm buildings without really being visible yourself.

Going back along the path, past the building machine, I couldn't help wondering what I would find here next time. A lane cutting through the field and through the woods, replacing the grassy path? Just that first bit covered in tarmac, making it more convenient for the farmer? I have no idea!

There is only one way to know: I have to come here again soon :-)

Saturday 30 August 2014

A Sunday in August

You've seen this particular walk several times before on my blog, for instance here in June 2013, here in 2012, or here in July of this year. So, if you've had quite enough of joining me for the same old walk over and over again, simply skip this post and wait for something else to come up on my blog (probably a book review will be next).

It's always the same view, but never really the same, is it:

Apple trees line our way. We also spotted the first autumn flowers in the fields. Summer as such is definitely over.

This time, we didn't see any deer in the vineyards. But we spotted a hare or two, and later met this shy little fellow, safely waiting on the other side of a ditch until we were gone before it made its way over.

Bright red berries on the bushes are a sure sign of autumn approaching. And some more apples - doesn't this tree look like straight out of a picture book?

It was a beautiful day, not too hot, just right for a nice long walk. We were quite ready for it on the Sunday of my Mum's birthday week - something different from the many lovely celebrations and gatherings we'd had!

At the allotment, my Dad had already laid the table for us. Coffee was ready, and so was the delicious apple cake my Mum had made. But you have probably already guessed that this wasn't the last walking for me on that day; I went off again after the coffee and cake break, this time on my own, to my favourite spot in the woods. There, I spotted even more signs of autumn, as you will see in my next post.

Monday 25 August 2014

Some More Birthday Pictures

Although these are not actually "of" my Mum's birthday (I would never get everybody's permission to post pictures of all of us enjoying the speeches, the meal, the champagne on the lawn and the conversation and laughter in between), I took them there and then and decided to show you a bit more of the atmosphere in the palace grounds that evening, after most visitors had gone and only our group was left (plus, of course, the staff at the Park-Café).

This part of the palace ground was of a more formal layout when it was originally designed. It once held what was back then claiming to be one of Europe's biggest opera houses, a wooden structure that was left neglected and eventually demolished when the court moved from Ludwigsburg back to Stuttgart in 1775. According to old maps and plans, it stood where the pond is today.

The way the gardens look nowadays in this part of the grounds is supposed to be more or less how it was done for Charlotte Mathilde, an English princess who married the German duke Friedrich who later became the first king of Wuerttemberg (thanks to a deal with Napoleon - I have written about this before). 

Anyway - the area around the Park-Café is beautiful, and even more so in the evening light when we normally don't get to see it. When the birthday party ended and people were beginning to leave, the only light in the park was the moon. Thankfully, it was nearly full, and no clouds stopped its silvery light from reaching the ground. Only in the shade underneath the trees it was so dark you could hardly see where you went. Most of our guests are not so familiar with the park and needed help in finding their way back to the gates and their cars parked outside, and so my sister and I walked along with some of them. It was a strange, wonderful and mysteriously romantic atmosphere, and my sister was right when she remarked that the two of us had walked these paths countless times all our lives but only now, in our mid-forties, did we see the park at night.

The palace at night. As you can see, everywhere else is pitch black dark.

For me, these moonlit walks just added to the overall effect of a very memorable week.

Friday 22 August 2014

Guest Post By My Mum: A Great Surprise

The last guest post by my Mum was in February; you can read it here if you missed it. Half a year later, what better reason for a new guest post could there be than her 70th birthday, which we celebrated not just for the one night but for nearly a whole week!

Celebrities always get photographed when they make a speech.

How that festive week started is what my Mum wants to tell you about:

A Great Surprise

As you all learned from Meike's next-to-last post, I turned 70 last week. I really cannot believe this, where did time go so fast?

So we decided to invite friends and relations and celebrate it one evening long. But it was going to be different...

As we have relations in Southern France (Provence), and they don't of course make the journey here only for one night, they were supposed to arrive already on the Sunday afternoon (my birthday was the following Tuesday). I baked an apple-cake (of course with apples from our allotment), and my daughters were expected to join us for coffee and cake.

On that Sunday afternoon, the doorbell rang, I pushed the door-opener and up the stairs came a lady who looked quite familiar to me. I thought: She looks like Bernadette, probably she has come to the neighbour next door. Then she smiled at me, and another person came up the stairs, and it was, I could hardly believe it: Bernadette's  husband, Walter! I finally understood it was really them - my dear angels from down under!!! [The original guest post by my Mum about her friends from Australia is here.]
I called out for my husband, he hurried to the door because he thought something bad had happened, but by that time my daughters had also arrived at the top of the stairs and I finally welcomed everybody in.

What a surprise! I never, never thought they would come, all the long way from Australia (about 34 hours all in all), so I hugged and kissed them very intensively.

The relations from France arrived later, we opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate this great event. And so the whole week went on, meals, coffees, sightseeing, shopping, most of it with or by my dear daughters. Bernadette and Walter left on Saturday for another week in France, the Black Forest and at last Frankfurt Airport.

The photos of Tuesday evening from my birthday party at the Park-Café you can see here on Meike's post. We also had friends from Berlin and other far away places in Germany, but Bernie and Wal were top of the list!

I have to thank my girls for having organized everything, after this week of celebration I really felt like a celebrity! I also thank Meike's blog readers who sent congratulations and wishes for me as comments in her next-to-last post.

And last but not least, deeply out of my heart I thank all the good powers that be, which have been safe-guarding and protecting me for all my long and mostly wonderful life.

- - - End of guest post - - -

That really was something! My sister and I had known since November of Bernadette's and Walter's intention to be here for the birthday, and believe me - it wasn't easy to keep it a secret! The hotel where they took a room is a place we sometimes go to for family meals, and so we had to speak to them, too, so that nobody would accidentally mention the guests from Australia to my parents. Also, the Park-Café people needed telling, and I instructed them not to mention the two extra guests when my mother would be in touch about the food, the flowers or anything else.
The surprise worked out very well, and we spent a happy and eventful week with friends and family. I was sad to see them go but hope they will be here again in a few years' time.

Thursday 21 August 2014

Read in 2014 - 29: Midsomer Murders - The Making of an English Crime Classic

Written by Jeff Evans, a true fan of the series, this „Making of“ covers many different aspects of Midsomer Murders and includes a foreword by John Nettles as well as an episode guide for the first 23 episodes.

Although I have not (yet) read any of Caroline Graham’s Inspector Barnaby novels, I found it interesting to read about how – and why – the characters in the TV series partly differ from those in the books. Also, the way a story may work very well in paper but will require some tweaking for a successful transfer to a totally different medium (such as TV) is explained. The process of evolution from the first draft of a script to the finished episode is described, and if anyone has ever doubted the amount of work and effort going into each and every minute we later see on telly, they will understand a lot more after having read this book.

Details matter a lot; for instance, finding the right location can be a big challenge, and every little thing needs checking thoroughly. For example, the name of a fictitious surgeon in an episode must not correspond to any real-life counterpart of the same – or even just similar – name in the area.
While the episode guide will not be the most interesting read for everyone, it provides some background information about the impressive list of guest actors with little snippets of filming memories that I found quite entertaining.

Of course, since the book was published in 2002, long before some major changes occurred (Barnaby’s sergeant was replaced twice; eventually, Barnaby himself retired and was replaced by his “cousin”, who in turn has recently been assigned a new sergeant; Barnaby’s daughter marries, and so on), it seems strange now to read some of the statements that sound as if the main cast was set in stone. But that is natural with a series as long-going as Midsomer Murders, and does not take away from the pleasure of this book.

Monday 18 August 2014

Celebrate Good Times, Come On!

Have I got you humming that funky song now? (Kay, I just know you won't be able to get it out of your head now for a while, he he)
It fits the topic of this post so well, because we have had a great week of celebrating my Mum's 70th birthday. Yes, nearly a whole week! Us mere mortals usually have a party lasting a few hours at best, but my Mum is one very special lady and so she had a fully deserved week of it.
For the past years, we usually had her birthday party at the allotment, as you can see here. But for her 70th, my sister and I insisted on something a bit classier, with less work for her to do; something where she would be able to go nicely dressed up, and then just relax and enjoy her party. Two years ago, my Dad had his 70th birthday "do" in a restaurant (you can read about that here if you like), but we wanted something else this time, a place where we'd be able to enjoy the outdoors as well, weather permitting.

After much deliberation and comparing many different offers from various places, we settled on the café in the palace grounds. Have a look at the venue (fittingly called Parkcafé), isn't it beautiful?

Entrance to the Yellow Salon, which we had to ourselves:

 The beautiful fresco on the ceiling: 

Because the weather turned out to be the nicest it would be all week (how lucky we were!), champagne was served on the lawn in front of the building. Later, we went inside for two speeches - one by my Mum and one by her good friend, my Godmother - and our most delicious meal. Have you eaten yet? If not, how about some mouth-watering pictures:

Sorry - I forgot to take a picture of the first course, which was a huge mound of all kinds of summery goodness in the shape of a leafy salad, surrounded by shrimps. The desserts were Panna Cotta, Crème Brûlée, Mousse au Chocolat and the fruitiest of fruity sorbets I have ever tasted: the raspberry one was pure raspberry, the minty one pure spearmint, and so on. I went to the dessert table twice, although I had been full up already after the first and main course!

But let me get back to what happened during the days leading up to the big event. Or, better still: let me end this post here, and tell you more about it in my next post. Maybe I'll manage to talk my Mum into writing a guest post, there is plenty to tell!