Saturday 30 June 2018

Horse Market Parade: Special Moments

This is - I promise! - the last post about the Horse Market parade (at least for this year). Throughout the event, there were special moments which I have tried (more or less successfully) to capture on camera.
See what you make of them!

This first one is the symbol for the entire event "Pferdemarkt" (horse market), not just the parade. It involves a fairground with rides and stalls, a trader's market with everything from hair brushes to instant soup to aprons to novelty toys and kitchen devices, a show ground where various performances of horses and riders can be watched, prize-giving ceremonies for horses, pony riding for children, and - yes, actually - the possibility to buy and sell horses.

The painted horse statue stood in the courtyard of Ludwigsburg palace for a long time. It was stolen or damaged, I can't quite remember which, and a new one was made which you can see here; it looks exactly like the old one:

The next special moment  was one you could also call a typical special Meike moment... because I almost missed it completely simply because I was telling O.K. a story I had told him at least once before and stood with my back to the road... how daft can one be! Well, I can, and therefore I only caught the last of this pack of dogs that were part of a group of riders all dressed as if for a traditional fox chase. 
Until they arrived at the place close to where we were standing, the group had been marching along at the usual parade pace. Then they deliberately paused to create a gap between themselves and the previous group. When the gap was big enough, they made the horses and dogs run - it was pretty impressive, and I could really kick myself for having been so daft to almost miss it! 
(Don't get me wrong; I am absolutely against cruel "sports" like fox hunting and so on. But the sight of a group of neatly turned out riders, polished horses and well trained dogs is something else, and in this case, there was no poor animal involved as their prey.)

This Venetian gondola, complete with gondoliere and a couple in Venetian carnival costumes, was to emphasize the old tradition of Ludwigsburg having a "Venetian Fair" every two years, installed by our Duke Carl Eugen in 1768 - precisely 200 years before my birth :-)
What made this moment extra special was that the couple on board the gondola were singing opera arias at the top of their lungs - and they could sing!

Now here is another group representing a special link from Ludwigsburg's past - a group of "Russian" soldiers. I did talk a bit about our link to Russia here.

This carriage carried a sign informing us that it was an old English mail coach:

The old flag of Wuerttemberg, my home state:

A group wearing costumes based on uniforms from the late 1600s, carrying flags which they later threw in the air to the sound of the drums marching behind them; it looked a lot better in real life than what I can show here with static pictures:

The next special moment is one that I could have just as well placed in the "groups" post, among the "Ludwigsburg international" groups. These people are part of the parade every year; they represent the "Happy Sliders". There still exists a German-American Friendship Club, installed at the time when many Americans were living in Ludwigsburg (the years from just after WWII until the early 1990s, when the American Military base here was dissolved and the military people and their family living in our American suburb Pattonville all left and went back to the US). The group promote square dance and really dance along the route of the parade - no mean feat on such a hot day!

This horse sculpture was created entirely out of old horse shoes, by people who live and work at Ludwigsburg's village-sized facility for the mentally and physically handicapped:

The very last group to end the parade were of a more "artsy" nature than all the others:

Yep, that's it - the Horse Market parade done for another year! I hope you enjoyed these "special moments".

Wednesday 27 June 2018

Read in 2018 - 8: Narrow Margins

Narrow Margins
by Marie Browne

Surprise, surprise: another free ebook I found years ago on Amazon's Kindle shop!
It took me a few chapters to get into the story, but then I quite enjoyed the book and was looking forward to finding out what was going to happen next.

Marie Browne tells her own story here. She and her husband run their own successful business (IT support and project management, if I remember correctly) until their biggest client goes broke and leaves their bills unpaid.
This leads to the couple having to face an uncertain future, with only one thing being clear: Things can not stay as they are, and they can not keep the house.
The decision is made to sell up, buy a narrow boat and live on that.

How they chose a boat and turn it into a home (this takes many months), learn the ropes of moving the boat along without too much harm to themselves, the boat and others, adapt to life on the water, manage minor and major crises and eventually find they are happier than ever before in their lives is told in an unpretentious way, with a good portion of humour thrown in.
Not always the kind of humour that makes me laugh, but humour anyway. And you can tell the author is not a practised or "learned" writer; she rather describes the day-to-day happenings as if you'd be reading someone's blog or emails from a friend.

I liked the descriptions of life aboard the boat and, even though I have never travelled on one, I can imagine it well. I've often seen narrow boats on Ripon Canal and elsewhere.
Would it be for me? Hmm... not sure. I guess I'd miss the comfort and space of a "proper" flat, central heating and reliably hot showers, as well as the familiarity of going to "my" bakery on the corner, of seeing the neigbhours, friends and family I like on a regular basis.
It is certainly a different way of life, and I enjoyed reading about it.

I wish Marie Browne and her family all the best - whereever they may be these days.

Click here for a BBC article with pictures about Marie, the boat and the family's life on board.

Monday 25 June 2018

Horse Market Parade Continued: Couples

Here is a selection of participants at this year's Horse Market parade which all fit under the headline "Couples". Of course I don't know whether the men and women shown here are couples in their daily lives, too, but some of them definitely look like it, and I like to think they are happy; otherwise, would they put in all the time and effort to create and wear costumes for this event (and others throughout the year)?


Not all couples are composed of a man and a woman:


There is one more post I have in mind about the Horse Market parade - and then it's enough of that for another year, I promise!

Tuesday 19 June 2018

Horse Market Parade Continued: Groups

This post is about the groups that walked the Horse Market parade two Sundays ago, some of them bands, some of them representing certain periods in the history of Ludwigsburg, some coming from other towns.

They were all interesting to look at, and it never ceases to amaze me how much time and effort these people put into what they are doing in their free time. More often than not, the costumes are hand-made, and even just to get some of the materials together must cost a lot of money. Then they need to be taken care of, and then comes the "fun" bit - wearing it while walking 2 km in the blazing sun on a hot day like that! Or worse - in the rain, which can't be good for the costumes.

Anyway, it is remarkable, and I want to show my appreciation with this post.
One part of the parade was all about Ludwigsburg's international community with groups representing their countries of origin, ranging from Greece to Equador and quite a few in between.
The historical groups walked in a loose chronological order. Not each and every detail was strictly authentic - shoes were often chosen more for comfort than for their historic accuracy, and not every hairdo was exactly as it would have been at the time a certain costume was supposed to represent. But one should not be too picky about it; altogether, a pretty good idea was given of how folks were dressed through the ages.