Monday 29 July 2019

Summer @ Home, Work & Elsewhere

June and July were proper summer months - some days were a little too hot, some a little too cold, there was not quite enough rain to make fields, gardens and woodland happy, but some days were just perfect with wall-to-wall sunshine, long, warm evenings, beautiful sunsets and nights cool enough to allow fresh air into the flat and make sleeping possible.

You already know some of the things I've been up to this summer so far; there is more, enough material for several posts. This one is just a more or less random collection of what summer was and is like for me at home, at work and elsewhere.

About two or three years after its original flowers, finally my yellow orchid (a gift from my parents when I swapped my bedroom and living room and had them redecorated) is in bloom again:

One particularly hot day at the office (without AC!), chilled coffee was sold at the canteen. I gladly bought one and took it to my desk, where it helped make the hot, hot, hot afternoon a little more bearable.

Both cushion covers were suprise finds in Ripon, the yellow one a few years ago and the one with the foxes this year in March, at the Spring Food Home & Garden Show  at the cathedral.

The bedsheets with their yellow and blue stripes are just perfect for my bedroom, and give it a fresh summery look.

A kind neighbour brought me these cherries - they were delicious! - and the chopping board and key fob, both made by him, to say thank you for a small favour I had done him some weeks ago:

A weekend spent with O.K. at my place; a little chillier than the days before, we were in town for a few things when I met this llama:

Some days were rather hot but cooling down enough by sunset to make a leisurely run feasible. I took up my oldest route again, the one I started training on when I first participated in my home town's city run ten years ago. It leads along a small wooded area between my town and the next, and the bridge spanning the motorway is my turning point. 

The evening light was beautiful, and although I am not a car person, there are moments when even the motorway has particular beauty, as seen in the second picture, taken just before 9:00 pm on the 28th of June:

The second heatwave of this summer broke last Saturday with thunderstorms and rain. It is grey and rather chilly today, but a sunny week is forecast with temperatures no hotter than a very nice 27C (as oppósed to the almost 40 we had last week).

Wednesday 24 July 2019

Village Fête

The first weekend of July (6. and 7.7.) saw O.K.'s village hosting the three-yearly village fête. His is one of three villages that together make up one commune, administratively speaking, but really are still very much three separate villages, and they take turns in hosting the annual fête. As I've known O.K. now for three and a half years, this was my first experience of the fête being held there.

Unlike the May fête, which is hosted and staffed entirely by the village band's members and their families, the village fête engages "everyone" - all the various sports clubs, organisations and institutions have a stall where they sell food and drink. There is also a stage where various bands make music and people can dance. Strings of coloured lights are switched on at night.

Of course we were there, too, starting on Saturday morning at 8:00 (that was the hardest part for me - I like to sleep a little longer on the weekends) with setting up our booth, and then the main work being our shift from 6:00 to 10:00 pm, selling Flammenkuchen straight from the oven.

New official t-shirts had recently been ordered for the band members and helpers, and here I am, proudly wearing mine!

O.K. is originally a fully-trained baker, and although his days in the bakery have ended more than 30 years ago, he still knows what to do with an oven and handles a baker's paddle with ease and grace. 

We did not make the Flammenkuchen from scratch but bought stacks of frozen ones. O.K. was at the oven and I was in charge of the big knife, cutting the finished "cakes" (they are cakes only by name, more like very thin and crisp pizzas) into pieces and serving them to the customers.

Our shift was prime time for people wanting fooooood! There was always a crowd at our stall, and not a minute of boredom. It was busy, but I enjoyed it, as it is so very different from what I do in my "normal" life.
After our shift ended, we remained at the fête for another few hours, finally getting the chance to have a few refreshing drinks ourselves - it was a hot day, thankfully not quite as hot as we'd feared, but working next to two big ovens for several hours can make one very thirsty!
Here are a few more pictures from the beginning of the month and that same weekend. It was perfect summer all around.
View from O.K.'s balcony, 02.07.2019
A walk on Sunday, the 7th:
Spot the buzzard - he was one of many that were around that evening.

Monday 22 July 2019

Read in 2019 - 15: Ghost of a Chance

Ghost of a Chance
Neil Richards and Matthew Costello

Another book that was rather on the short side - it lasted me less than two working days on my short trips to and from work. But I loved it!

The writing was good, the story fast-paced without giving the impression of being rushed, the characters came to life even with just a few bold strokes of the paintbrush, and the mystery was solved to my satisfaction.

Yes, mystery. That's what it was about: A hotel that has seen better days but is trying so hard to cling to its faded Victorian glory hosts a "ghostly" dinner; guests pay for the meal, get to hear a scary story and maybe will even witness the apparition of Freddy, the hotel's very own ghost.

The special dinner has been a tradition for many years, and never anything more happened than what the Master of Ceremonies had planned. This year, though, even as the visiting MC is setting everything up for the evening, a few strange and unexplicable things happen. Then, during the dinner, a heavy chandelier falls from the ceiling, scattering broken glass everywhere - an accident that could have seriously hurt (or worse) some of the guests.
But was it really an accident? And if it wasn't, who is behind it, and why?

Private investigators Sarah and Jack are asked to help, and their questions soon yield more than one possible suspect.The big show-down at the end of the book reveals it all... or does it?

As I said, I loved this book! The two authors are, according to their website, very active in script-writing both for TV and games, and it shows - they are accomplished storytellers who manage to draw the reader into the story from the start. 
I enjoyed the atmosphere of the hotel and the cast of characters, some quirky, some lovable, some (deliberately) less so. Events and people's backgrounds were explained when necessary, and only then. There were no repetitive conversations, the way you find them in some books, where something happens to the hero and then the hero relates the entire thing all over again to someone else, while you as the reader think 'yes, I know...'.

The book is part of a series; it can be read on its own but clearly isn't the first in the series. I wouldn't mind learning more about the two investigators and the setting of the stories - a fictional English village called Cherringham. I shall have a look for the other parts, I think.

Sunday 21 July 2019


As promised in my previous post, here are my pictures of Coburg, mainly of the fortress (Veste Coburg). I did neither go on a guided tour nor read all the information displayed on or near the various buildings, therefore I can't tell you anything about its history or what each of the buildings were for, but if you want to know the facts and figures, click here for the wikipedia article.

Coming up to the fortress and through the tunnel:
A beautiful place, and they even have their own resident dragon:
View from the walls. What you can see there between the trees is the aerodrome, where we had just landed and where our plane was patiently waiting for our return.
A lavender field - with and without a Librarian. The scent and the humming of the bees made me feel as if I were in the South of France.
The sheer size was amazing - there seemed to be yet another archway to go through, yet another corner to turn, yet another courtyard to discover.
In town, I only took a few pictures, as there would have been too many people on them. The first one is approaching the market square, and the second of the top of the Stadthaus (not the town hall, although I first thought so).
These two were taken from where we were sitting and having coffees and cold drinks before getting a taxi to take us back up the hill to where we had parked the plane:
My overall impression of Coburg was that of a beautiful town, very well cared for and with plenty to see and do. Definitely worth a longer visit at some stage.